posted about 7 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Former Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz speaks at an ARPA-E event in 2016. (credit: DOE / Flickr) In 2009, the US Department of Energy started funding energy research through the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (or ARPA-E) program. The goal was take more risks than traditional federal efforts and help new renewable energy technologies get off the ground. Private investment had been flagging due to slow returns, but the huge societal benefits of clean energy was deemed to justify government support. The hope was that the funding could accelerate the timeline for new technology to mature to the point that private investors would find the technology more attractive. At least, that was the idea. A team led by University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Anna Goldstein figured that ARPA-E’s first class is now old enough to check in on. She and her colleagues looked at a limited sample of 25 startups and found some interesting ways in which these companies seem to have beaten out the competition—and some in which they haven’t. Best in class The 25 startups selected in ARPA-E’s first round were compared to several other groups of companies that were born around the same time. The first group consists of the 39 companies that applied for ARPA-E funding and didn’t get it but still received an “encouraged” runner-up rating. In the next group are the 70 companies that received funding from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) with related government stimulus spending. And finally, there are almost 1,200 other clean energy startups that found their funding elsewhere.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 7 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / There both is and is not a ban in effect on WeChat. (credit: Budrul Chukrut | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images) A federal judge in California put a temporary halt on the White House's efforts to ban WeChat inside the United States, preventing that ban from going into effect at midnight tonight. "The plaintiffs have shown serious questions going to the merits of their First Amendment Claim," US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler wrote in her ruling (PDF) early this morning. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of WeChat users inside the US. The group, organized as the US WeChat Users Alliance, argued in their complaint that the ban violated their First and Fifth Amendment rights as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. The group also argues that the law cited in the executive order banning WeChat does not in fact give President Donald Trump the authority claimed in the order. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 7 hours ago on ars technica
BMW has given the current X5 and X6 SUVs the M treatment. [credit: BMW ] Yes. Another SUV review. Sorry, but couples, families, singles, alt-lifestylers, outdoor-seekers, bankers, lawyers, doctors, musicians, actors, and even website developers are continuing to drive the SUV segment into utter dominance. And it doesn't matter where you live: the sales figures in Europe are accelerating more swiftly to the SUV camp than in North America, where it's dominated for many years already. This is not a value judgment on the goodness or evil of SUVs. It just is. And consider this: of BMW's 15 different lines of automobiles, seven of them are SUVs. Mercedes has a staggering eight lines of SUVs. But BMW is nothing if not a company aware of and amenable to splitting niches, be they product lines (like all those hatchback variations on sedans) or ultra-high-performance flavors of big SUVs. That's where we pick up this particular train coming into the station: the 2020 X5 M and the related X6 M. These two add the engine and legs of a thoroughbred sports sedan to the sport-utility, resulting in SUVs with not just room and girth but also abilities in the twisties and the vast open road on the order of a top sports sedan. The new Ms snarl with 600hp (447kW) from their twin-turbo, 4.4L V8 engines, though that figure can be boosted even more to 617hp (460kW) with the lily-gilding optional Competition Package. (We can't help thinking that any 5,200-plus-pound SUV wearing a badge that reads "Competition" is just a trifle incongruous, unless it's an eating competition.) And yes, that's damn near twice the output of the base X5 and X6 powertrain (in the US market), which puffs out a comparatively paltry 335hp (250kW), though no one would could legitimately call that engine deficient.Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images) Spare bedrooms and living rooms could soon become part of vibrant trading floors as one of the world’s biggest investment banks considers providing staff with augmented reality headsets. UBS has experimented with issuing its London-based traders with Microsoft HoloLenses, which would allow staff to recreate the experience of working in a packed trading floor without leaving their homes. Banks have been desperate to bring workers back to the office, especially for regulatory-sensitive roles such as trading, but surges in coronavirus infection rates have meant many staff are wary about using public transport.Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
(credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images) We've established a bit of a tradition here at Ars. Every year at Google I/O, we have a sit-down talk to learn more about Android directly from the people that make it. Of course, this year, just about every major event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, nothing is really normal, and Google I/O never happened. We can still do interviews over the Internet though! So while it happened later in the year than normal, we were still able to hold our annual chat with some of the most important Googlers at Android HQ: Dave Burke, Android's VP of Engineering, and Iliyan Malchev, Principal Engineer at Android and the lead of Project Treble. We came prepped with questions about the more mysterious corners of Android 11, which actually led to a lot of interesting talk about the future. You'll learn about a coming re-write of the Bluetooth stack, and there's lots of talk about modularity and easy updating (like plans will hopefully, someday, allow you to update the Linux kernel and developer APIs as easily as you download an app update).Read 78 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 10 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images) Google and Apple have taken steps this year they say will help users shield themselves from hundreds of companies that compile profiles based on online behavior. Meanwhile, other companies are devising new ways to probe more deeply into other aspects of our lives. In January, Google said it would phase out third-party cookies on its Chrome browser, making it harder for advertisers to track our browsing habits. Publishers and advertisers use cookies to compile our shopping, browsing, and search data into extensive user profiles. These profiles reflect our political interests, health, shopping behavior, race, gender, and more. Tellingly, Google will still collect data from its own search engine, plus sites like YouTube or Gmail. Apple, meanwhile, says it will require apps in a forthcoming version of iOS to ask users before tracking them across services, though it delayed the effective date until next year after complaints from Facebook. A poll from June showed as many as 80 percent of respondents would not opt in to such tracking.Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 23 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / It's official... kind of. (credit: Chesnot | Getty Images) President Donald Trump has reportedly granted his personal approval of Oracle's proposal to invest in TikTok, moving the entire saga one step closer to an end. The president told reporters this afternoon he approved the deal "in concept," according to Bloomberg News. "I have given the deal my blessing," Trump said. "I approved the deal in concept."Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica) Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice discount on HyperX's Cloud Stinger gaming headset, which is currently available for just under $30 at Amazon. Normally retailing in the $50 range, this discount marks the second-best price we've seen outside of a brief drop to $26 this past March. The Cloud Stinger was our top budget pick in a past guide to the best gaming headsets. It's an old-fashioned wired pair that HyperX has sold for several years, but it continues to provide a commendable blend of comfort and audio quality at a wallet-friendly price. It has a lightweight design that doesn't clamp too harshly on the head. Its ear cups are spacious enough, its headband is highly adjustable, and it cushions both with ample memory foam. It doesn't have an especially detailed or balanced sound profile, but its hyped-up bass and treble give it an exciting quality and bring a little more oomph to in-game effects. Its built-in mic is a plus, too, lending voices greater clarity than a typical wireless headset. The Cloud Stinger is still a budget-level gaming headset, so it has its share of shortcomings. That microphone isn't detachable, nor is the included 3.5mm cable. Its earcups don't fold up for easier storage. A simple volume slider is all it has in terms of built-in controls. And its plastic-heavy build makes it feel like an inexpensive device. Still, the Cloud Stinger does well where it matters most. Because it's a wired headset, it'll have no problem working with any console or PC, either, the upcoming PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X included. It's a solid value at its usual going rate, so if you're in the market for a new headset on the cheap, this deal is well worth a look.Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson) In December 2004, my boyfriend showed up at my apartment door carrying a box. "I brought you a present!" he said, clearly excited. "Open it!" 'Tis the season, I thought, unwrapping it. I turned the box around. "A... Nintendo... DS? Is this, like... a Game Boy kind of thing?" As I fought my way through layers of cardboard and plastic to open my new toy, he pulled a matching unit out of his own messenger bag, opened it up, and began to explain. I had never owned a portable console—I'd barely ever even owned a regular console, I was a lifelong PC gamer—and while I tried to greet the gift with good cheer, I bluntly had no idea why on Earth he had given it to me. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Ana (center) is the star of Spelunky 2, and she's on a search for her adventuring parents after they abandoned her to look for treasure on the Moon. (credit: Mossmouth) My recent work at Ars Technica has mostly revolved around high-end gadgets like VR headsets, GPUs, and next-gen consoles. It's fun stuff. But while swimming through embargoed hardware and frantic news announcements, I keep coming back to a single video game well outside the "next-generation" mold. Spelunky 2 is likely the most "dated" game I'll slap the "Ars Approved" sticker onto in 2020. The adjective "dated" works in part because the game's success builds largely, and loudly, upon the foundation of 2012's 2D smash Spelunky HD... and that title builds upon the 16-bit genius of 2009's freeware original. (Which you can still download! For free! Right next to its source code!) A certain class of gamer will hear that "Spelunky 2 is everything good about Spelunky HD, only better" and wish to hear nothing more. That's fair (especially for players who will hold out for the game's launch on PC in two weeks, after its timed PlayStation 4 exclusivity runs out). The charm of Spelunky 2, like its predecessor, comes from how it cleverly shakes a cup full of gameplay and level-construction elements, dumps them onto a table, and shouts "Yahtzee!" as it surprises you again and again. (To be clear, in this game's case, "Yahtzee" is a synonym for "You died!" You will die repeatedly in Spelunky 2.)Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Luna Wedler (left) plays a young medical student with a secret in in the German drama Biohackers, and Cornelia Gröschel (right) stars as a diner waitress who discovers she has super strength in the German film, Freaks: You're One of Us. Both are currently streaming on Netflix. (credit: Netflix/Sean Carroll) As someone who enjoys discovering lesser-known films and TV series from around the world, I applaud Netflix's continued commitment to bringing a wide range of international fare to its platform—whether it's South Korean zombie horror/period drama,   modern Norwegian reworkings of Norse mythology, Arabic supernatural YA dramas, or Belgian sci-fi thrillers. And the excellent sci-fi series Dark recently wrapped a mind-bending third and final season on Netflix. If that's left you peckish for more German Netflix fare, you might check out two recent debuts: a sci-fi thriller series, Biohackers, about an ambitious young medical student seeking revenge on her mentor for the scientific sins of the past; and a film called Freaks: You're One of Us, about a fast food diner waitress who discovers she has a superpower—and she's not the only "freak" with a special gift. Neither even comes close to the multi-layered conceptual level of Dark, alas, but both provide well-executed, solid entertainment—and you won't need a chart of multiple timelines to follow the plot. (Some spoilers below, but no major reveals.)Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Three Atlas crew members on the Moon: Ato essandoh as Dr. Kwesi Weisberg-Abban, Ray Panthaki as Ram Arya, and Vivian Wu as Lu Wang. [credit: Diyah Pera/Netflix ] One evening in early November 2017, I met Andrew Hinderaker at a Houston restaurant named Nobi. Located just down the road from Johnson Space Center, Nobi offers a fantastic combination of Vietnamese food and a rich, rotating selection of draft beer. It’s a classic Houston joint, a fusion of cultures that is the better for it. As such, the restaurant serves as a popular watering hole for the space set. Hinderaker and a friend of mine named Chris Jones were starting to write on a television show about a realistic human mission to Mars. “From the beginning, Chris and I have believed that this show should be neither naive nor pessimistic,” Hinderaker explained to me. “We believe that there is something aspirational about space exploration, even if the mechanisms that enable it are often bureaucratic.” I loved the idea. Then, as now, I covered spaceflight, particularly the efforts of NASA, other space agencies, and private companies to expand humanity beyond low-Earth orbit. I had thought a lot about the politics and the technology that might one day enable a small band of humans to travel from Earth to Mars, land on the red planet for a while, and travel back. So Hinderaker and I talked through these issues.Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The repeated light and dark pattern you can see down the side of this embryo is caused by the presence of somites. (credit: Flickr user Lunar Caustic) There's a bit of a problem in biology that's so obvious that most biologists don't end up thinking of it as a problem. Humans and mice (and most other mammals) all make pretty much the same collection of stuff as they develop from a fertilized egg. And they do that using a near-identical set of genes. But mice do it all in 21 days; it takes humans over 10 times longer to do it. You might try to ascribe that to the different number of cells, but as you move across the diversity of mammals, none of that really lines up. Things get even more confusing when you try to account for things like birds and reptiles, which also use the same genes to make many of the same things. The math just doesn't work out. How do developing organisms manage to consistently balance cell number, development time, and a static network of genes? Biologists are just starting to figure that out, and two papers published this week mark some major progress in the field.Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Juniper Hills, CA, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 - A fire engine drives into air thick with smoke along Juniper Hills Rd. as the Bobcat Fire advances North into the Antelope Valley. (credit: Robert Gauthier | Getty Images) The West Coast’s wildfire crisis is no longer just the West Coast’s wildfire crisis: As massive blazes continue to burn across California, Oregon, and Washington, they’re spewing smoke high into the atmosphere. Winds pick the haze up and transport it clear across the country, tainting the skies above the East Coast. But what are you breathing, exactly, when these forests combust and waft smoke near and far? Charred trees and shrubs, of course, but also the synthetic materials from homes and other structures lost in the blazes. Along with a variety of gases, these give off tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller), that weasel their way deep into human lungs. All told, the mixture of solids and gases actually transforms chemically as it crosses the country, creating different consequences for the health of humans thousands of miles apart. In other words, what you breathe in, and how hazardous it remains, may depend on how far you live from the Pacific coast. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Rampant Kitty has been targeting Telegram like a feline to twine. (credit: Check Point) Researchers said they have uncovered an ongoing surveillance campaign that for years has been stealing a wide range of data on Windows and Android devices used by Iranian expatriates and dissidents. The campaign, which security firm Check Point has named Rampant Kitten, comprises two main components, one for Windows and the other for Android. Rampant Kitten’s objective is to steal Telegram messages, passwords, and two-factor authentication codes sent by SMS and then also take screenshots and record sounds within earshot of an infected phone, the researchers said in a post published on Friday. The Windows infostealer is installed through a Microsoft Office document with a title that roughly translates to “The Regime Fears the Spread of the Revolutionary Cannons.docx.” Once opened, it urges readers to enable macros. If a user complies, a malicious macro downloads and installs the malware. The Android infostealer is installed through an app that masquerades as a service to help Persian-language speakers in Sweden get their driver’s license.Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Tesla Gigafactory under construction in 2016. Tripp would start work there the following year. (credit: Troy Harvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images) A federal judge in Nevada has thrown out a defamation case by former Tesla employee Martin Tripp against his former employer. At the same time, Judge Miranda Du refused to dismiss Tesla's charge that Tripp had violated Nevada's computer crime law when he provided confidential Tesla information to a reporter. Tripp came to public attention in the spring of 2018 when he told several news organizations—including Ars Technica—that he had evidence that Tesla was wasting raw materials and exaggerating its progress toward producing 5,000 Model 3 cars per week. When a friend of Tripp's called Tesla to warn that Tripp was heavily armed and might "come back and shoot people," Tesla repeated the claim to news organizations. The accusation proved unfounded. Tesla sued Tripp for violating trade secret and computer crime laws. Tripp counter-sued for defamation over the shooting claims. In a Thursday ruling, Du dismissed Tripp's defamation claims but let some of Tesla's claims move forward to trial.Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Amazon boxes. (credit: Getty Images | Julie Clopper) Six people were indicted on allegations of paying over $100,000 in bribes to Amazon employees and contractors as part of a scheme to give third-party sellers unfair advantages on the Amazon marketplace. Among other things, the indictment says that Amazon workers who accepted bribes reinstated sellers whose accounts had been suspended for offering dangerous products, and these workers suspended the seller accounts of fraudulent sellers' competitors. The US Department of Justice today announced the indictment handed down by a grand jury in the Western District of Washington. The "defendants paid bribes to at least ten different Amazon employees and contractors," the DOJ said. In one case, a 31-year-old defendant named Nishad Kunju "accepted bribes as a seller-support associate in Hyderabad, India, before becoming an outside consultant who recruited and paid bribes to his former colleagues," the DOJ said. In exchange for bribes, Amazon workers "baselessly and fraudulently conferred tens of millions of dollars of competitive benefits upon hundreds of [third-party] seller accounts that the Defendants purported to represent," the indictment said. The DOJ said that workers "helped reinstate products and merchant accounts that Amazon had suspended or blocked entirely from doing business on the Amazon Marketplace," and that "the fraudulently reinstated products included dietary supplements that had been suspended because of customer-safety complaints, household electronics that had been flagged as flammable, consumer goods that had been flagged for intellectual-property violations, and other goods." These fraudulently reinstated seller accounts included ones Amazon had "suspended for manipulating product reviews to deceive consumers, making improper contact with consumers, and other violations of Amazon's seller policies and codes of conduct," the DOJ said.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters stands in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. As the novel coronavirus has spread in the US, the CDC is under increasing heat to defend a shaky rollout of crucial testing kits. Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Getty | Bloomberg) In a dramatic move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday restored its recommendation to test people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms—erasing politically motivated changes made by members of the Trump administration without the support or input from CDC scientists. The CDC had—until August 24—always recommended testing for all people who have had close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with someone infected with the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, regardless of symptoms. The CDC stated clearly that this is “important” and should be done quickly “because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission,” which is largely thought to drive the pandemic. But the guidance was abruptly and quietly changed August 24 to say that exposed people who do not have symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.”Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Across the country, GameStop locations had many more $499 Standard Edition PS5 systems for preorder than the $399 Digital Edition The $399, disc-drive-free Digital Edition of the PlayStation 5 may be in much shorter supply at US retailers this holiday season than the $499 version with a standard disc drive. That's based on an Ars Technica analysis of PS5 preorder hardware allocations this week at GameStop locations across the country. Ars was able to confirm the initial PS5 preorder allocations for nine separate GameStop locations. All told, roughly 24 percent of the stock available at these locations was taken up by the Digital Edition, with the remaining 76 percent for the Standard Edition. The Digital Edition ratios at individual locations ranged from 13 to 33 percent of all the available PS5 preorders, with 20 percent being the most common ratio. Each individual GameStop location in our sample received anywhere from 15 to 30 PS5 units total, with 20 being the most common number.Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Screenshot of the Internet Archive's home page, including the WayBack Machine's search box. (credit: Internet Archive) The Internet Archive and Cloudflare have teamed up to archive the content of websites that use Cloudflare's Always Online service, increasing the odds that users will be able to view a recent version of a website during outages. The partnership will increase the number of webpages scanned by the Internet Archive, making the organization's Wayback Machine more useful to Internet users in general. "Websites that enable Cloudflare's Always Online service will now have their content automatically archived, and if by chance the original host is not available to Cloudflare, then the Internet Archive will step in to make sure the pages get through to users," said an announcement by Mark Graham, director of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Cloudflare says its Always Online feature saves "a limited copy of your cached website to keep it online for your visitors" when the origin server is unavailable, ensuring that a website's "most popular pages are represented." Using the Wayback Machine will improve the Always Online service, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
The new Apple Watch in Blue and Red Aluminum. [credit: Apple ] Three days after they were all announced in a livestream on Tuesday, three new Apple products are arriving at consumers' doorsteps and available at retail: the Apple Watch Series 6, the Apple Watch SE, and the 8th-generation iPad. The Apple Watch Series 6 adds new color options (like blue aluminum, gold stainless steel, graphite stainless steel, and Product Red red), an altimeter, and blood oxygen level monitoring, among other features. It succeeds the Series 5 as Apple's flagship watch and offers the key features of its predecessor as well, like an always-on display. The Series 6 is available in two sizes and starts at $399, but that price can go way up, depending on the customization options like material or band. The Apple Watch SE doesn't have an always-on display, but it's a lot cheaper. It offers a more basic set of features—but it includes most of the sensors in the Series 6—for $279 and up. That said, it's not the lowest-end Apple Watch; the Series 3 is still available for $199 and up, making that the cheapest option.Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Frankfurt, Germany - July 12, 2016: Tesla Model S luxury electric sedan. (credit: typhoonski / Getty) Police in Alberta, Canada, arrested a driver in July who was going 140km/h (87mph) in a Tesla Model S. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced the arrest yesterday. The officer reported seeing "both front seats completely reclined and both occupants appearing to be asleep." The car "appeared to be self-driving," the RCMP says. When the officer turned on his emergency lights, the vehicle sped up to 150km/h (93mph). Eventually, the RCMP pulled over the 20-year-old driver and charged him with speeding. They later added a dangerous driving charge.Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Stewart et al. 2020) About 120,000 years ago, two or three people walked along the shore of a shallow lake in what is now northern Saudi Arabia. They left behind at least seven footprints in the mud, and today those tracks are the oldest known evidence of our species’ presence in Arabia. A Pleistocene walk by the lake Imagine that you’re a hunter-gatherer about 120,000 years ago, and you’re walking out of eastern Africa into Eurasia. Paleoanthropologists are still debating exactly why you’ve decided to do such a thing, and you almost certainly don’t have a destination in mind, but for now we’ll take it for granted that you just want to take a really, really long walk. Almost inevitably, you’ll come to the Levant, on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. From that important geographical crossroads, you’ve got some options: you could head north through Syria and Turkey, then veer east into Asia or west into Europe. You could also strike out east, across the northern end of the Arabian Peninsula. That was a better option then than it sounds now. Off and on during the Pleistocene, the Arabian Peninsula had a wetter climate than it does today. Evidence from ancient sediments, pollen, and animal fossils all suggest that today’s deserts were once grasslands and woods, crossed by rivers and dotted with lakes like the one at Alathar in the western Nefud Desert.Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / SHENZHEN, CHINA - AUGUST 19: A woman walks outside the headquarters of Tencent on August 19, 2020 in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images) The US government is reportedly scrutinizing Chinese tech giant Tencent and the US gaming companies in which it has an investment interest. Bloomberg reports that the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) has asked companies including Epic Games and Riot Games to answer questions about their data-security standards, according to "people familiar with the matter." CFIUS has the authority to examine foreign investment in US companies when those investments could have an impact on national security. Historically, that has often meant examining foreign access to US natural resources or military secrets, More recently, though, CFIUS has taken an expanded interest in potential foreign access to US customer data. “When you’re talking about massive amounts of data, there’s probably something for the committee to look at,” former Treasury Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Investment Security Aimen Mir told Bloomberg yesterday. “The question then becomes is the risk high enough that it actually warrants forcing deals apart?”Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Hey, another warm month... (credit: NOAA) We’re reaching the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the weather in the US has been about as eventful as one expects for the year 2020. A highly active Atlantic hurricane season has lived up to expectations so far, while record-setting wildfires have blanketed the drought-beset West Coast, creating smoke that has drifted clear across the country. NOAA’s latest monthly summary shows how all this developed in August and what we have to look forward to in the next three months. Critically, La Niña conditions in the Pacific seem to have settled in, which has implications for winter patterns across North America and beyond. Looking back Globally, this was the second warmest August on record (going back to 1880) and the third warmest June-August stretch. Looking at the entire year through August, 2020 is the second warmest on record just behind 2016. With so little of the year left, it’s very unlikely to drop in the rankings, and it still has a chance at the top spot. NOAA currently puts the odds of a new record at about 40 percent, while other estimates continue to be a bit higher. La Niña conditions will hold down the global average, so topping 2016 and its warm El Niño would be remarkable.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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