posted 1 day ago on ars technica
If you browse for video games for either of the major current-gen consoles, your fingers won't get very far before they bump into a "remaster" of a game from the past decade. That specific field has become so crowded, in fact, that remaster games have now had to one-up each other just to stand out. One way to do so is to slap a ton of additional content onto the disc, which Microsoft tried last year with the fumbled launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Well, the company is trying again—this time with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. The new Xbox One game, set to hit stores on August 25, was originally going to launch as a top-to-bottom remaster of the 2006 Xbox 360 hit, complete with newer games' maneuvers and weapons slapped into both single and multiplayer modes. Those upgrades will all still be there, but now Ultimate Edition buyers will get the added bonus of free access to all four original Xbox 360 Gears games, including the very one being remastered, Gears 2, Gears 3, and the Gears of War: Judgment spinoff. There are two catches worth noting: One, these are untouched 360 versions, meaning gamers will have to wait for the Xbox One's 360 backward compatibility to be launched "this fall" before those versions go live. And two, shoppers will need to buy and play the Ultimate Edition online by December 31, 2015 to gain digital access to the older games. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
While Microsoft had plenty to show at E3—including the likes of Halo 5: Guardians, Minecraft on HoloLens, and a brand new game by Rare—in an unusual move, it decided to save the rest of its Xbox One and PC lineup for this year's Gamescom, promising "as much new content" as at E3. That new content is set to debut at Microsoft's Gamescom press conference and showcase event on Tuesday, August 4 at 3:00pm UK time (4:00pm CEST, 10am EDT), and we'll be there to liveblog it. Expect the first proper details on Crackdown, more on Platinum's Xbox One exclusive Scalebound, and the long-awaited time travel shooter Quantum Break from Alan Wake developer Remedy. We're also hoping for more from Rise of the Tomb Raider, Below, and of course Halo 5: Guardians. Plus, rumour has it that the Microsoft-owned developer Press Play, of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba fame, is set to show off its next project. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
The cross-bench life peer Baroness Beeban Kidron has called for all websites used by those under 18 to include a delete button allowing them to edit or remove any of their posts, at any time. The idea forms one of five "iRights," part of a broader campaign "to make the digital world a more transparent and empowering place for children and young people." These iRights range from important general ones, such as a "right to know who is holding or profiting from their information, what their information is being used for and whether it is being copied, sold or traded," to a more practical suggestion for a right to digital literacy. The most problematic is the "right to remove," which would make it easy for every child and young person to edit or delete all content they have created. That sounds like a good idea in theory. After all, young people do frequently post material that they might regret afterwards. They—and their parents—would doubtless welcome the option to erase some of those less-flattering moments from a digital record that could haunt them for the rest of their (adult) lives. But however noble the intention, it is not at all clear how it would work in practice. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
ars.AD.queue.push(["xrailTop", {sz:"300x251", kws:["bottom"], collapse: true}]);While the IT managers of the world stress about Windows 10's buggy mail client, default browser, and dodgy domains, for the gamer, Microsoft's latest and greatest OS is an exciting proposition. Windows 10, if you didn't know, comes with DirectX 12, which promises significant performance increases (particularly for AMD graphics card users), thanks to its new low-level API features. The trouble is, right now, there aren't actually any games out there that use DX12. While Nvidia and AMD have both launched new drivers to bring DX12 support to a range of their current GPUs, there's not a single DX12 game to play. 3DMark has a neat draw call benchmark that gives us some idea of how much faster DX12 will be, but it's entirely synthetic. One of the first games to actually use DX12 will be StarDock's upcoming RTS Ashes of the Singularity, with an early beta build showing a significant uplift in performance. We were hoping to check out a special benchmark build of the game this week, but sadly it's been pushed back. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Hackers have started exploiting an extremely severe vulnerability in a widely used software utility, touching off concerns the in-the-wild attacks could affect the stability of the Internet. The attacks are exploiting a denial-of-service bug in all versions of Bind, the most widely used software for translating human-friendly domain names into IP addresses used by servers. As Ars reported last week, the flaw can be exploited with a single command to crash authoritative and recursive domain name system servers and in theory could allow a single person to take down large swaths of the Internet. There's no practical work-around, although some website firewalls can block many exploits. The only way administrators can ensure they don't fall victim is to install a recently published patch. "Because of it’s severity we've been actively monitoring to see when the exploit would be live," Daniel Cid, founder and CTO of security firm Sucuri, wrote in a blog post published Sunday. "We can confirm that the attacks have begun. DNS is one of the most critical parts of the Internet infrastructure, so having your DNS go down, it also means your e-mail, HTTP, and all other services will be unavailable." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
In some ways, a critical review of Rare Replay, the new 30-games-over-30-years-for-30-bucks compilation on Xbox One, won't matter to its target audience. So many of Rare's biggest video games—Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, Goldeneye 007—filled gaming magazines of old, the ones whose critical matrices hinged on graphics and "bang for the buck," and they all scored stupid-high numbers. The buck only bangs louder on a content-loaded set like this; if you told an old GamePro or EGM magazine editor that one day, they'd get most of Rare's hits on a single, cheap disc, they might call you a witch and tie you to a stake. Yet Rare Replay not only anthologizes its source developer, it also memorializes it. Let's face it: Rare technically still exists but only as a shadow of its former self. Founding brothers Tim and Chris Stamper left the company in 2007, and coincidentally, this collection comes to an abrupt halt with a game that launched in 2008, just before the company took a major Kinect Sports detour. This is current company owner Microsoft coming not to praise Rare, but to bury it. (And Since Microsoft is doing so, that means a few major games have been left off the roster as well). As a result, the compilation's best attributes, as much as its worst ones, come less from offering a bunch of games and more from its capacity as a Rare time capsule. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
It’s been more than a year since food substitute/replacement Soylent launched its 1.0 product, and manufacturer Rosa Labs hasn’t been standing still. The company has iterated on the launch formula several times, and the current "version" of Soylent—version 1.5—tastes very different and has a much-modified ingredient makeup from its predecessors. But this morning, Soylent creator Rob Rhinehart has announced a new development: ready-to-drink Soylent. Called "Soylent 2.0," the premixed product will ship in October to the US and Canada (more international shipping is coming, both for the old powder and the new liquid, but there isn't a solid timeframe). The new premixed liquid will come in 400 calorie bottles, sold in packs of 12, for $29 (if you subscribe to regular Soylent deliveries). That’s about $2.41-ish per 14oz (414ml) HDPE recyclable bottle. Assuming five drinks per day to hit 2,000 calories, that works out to about $12 per day of food. The per-day cost of powdered Soylent runs about $9 per day at its cheapest price. The 2.0 premixed form again alters the fat/carb/protein ratios of the product, going from 43/40/17 to 47/33/20. The shift results in a glycemic index of 49.2. Soylent 2.0 remains vegan, like the powder, and Rhinehart stressed to Ars that about half of the lipid calories come from algal sources, which he calls a "very efficient, very sustainable way of producing food." The powder has always contained some soy lecithin, but the liquid actually shifts from rice protein to soy for its primary protein source. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on ars technica
During an IAmA on reddit last week, actor Nichelle Nichols—known to many as Communications Officer Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek—revealed she's preparing to fly on an official NASA mission at the age of 82. She won't be going into space, however. The television pioneer will instead work with the SOFIA mission, NASA's initiative involving the world's largest airborne observatory. "SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space," Nichols told fans during the online Q&A. "It's an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible. I was on a similar flight, the first airborne observatory, back in 1977. It's an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from Earth. I do hope someone gets some great pictures." Nichols later clarified on celebrity fundraising site starpower.co that her previous airborne observatory experience was the Keiper Airborne Observatory, "which I also had the honor being able to fly on and even operate the equipment!" She hinted that she's working with NASA to see if there's a way to allow "VIP fans supporting the great causes" on starpower.co to share in the event with her. According to Nichols, the flight will take place in September. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on ars technica
On July 17, a smiling and seemingly harmless robot named HitchBOT set out to accomplish its dream—roadtripping across America through the kindness of strangers. The little fellow comes from a Canadian research team made up of students and professors at McMaster, Ryerson, and the University of Toronto, and in 2014 it managed to make a similar trek across Canada and parts of Europe.  The whole goal, according to the team, was simple: "to see whether robots could trust humans." Tragically, about two weeks later, little HitchBOT learned a rough life lesson. According to the Associated Press, the bot met its demise in Philadelphia, home of sports fans who notoriously have thrown batteries at opposing players or snowballs at Santa Claus. At the time of this article, the specifics of what happened to HitchBOT remain unknown. Its creators are attempting to investigate, and HitchBOT's official site states details should be made available on August 5. "The creators were sent an image of the vandalized robot Saturday but cannot track its location because the battery is dead," the Associated Press reported. "They said they don’t know who destroyed it or why. But co-creator Frauke Zeller said many children who adored the robot are now heartbroken." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on ars technica
We know that genes play a role in how well children do in school, but there are gaps in our knowledge: is this the same for different topics in school? And can this be explained largely by intelligence, or do other genetic factors contribute? A recent paper in Nature Scientific Reports conducted a large-scale study on twins and unrelated people, finding that genes contribute to success in the full range of subjects from maths to art—and that the genetic influence stuck around even after they factored out the effects of intelligence. Other genetic, inherited traits might include mental health, personality, or motivation. Twin studies are used widely in behavioural genetics, because they remain one of the best methods we have to tease apart the effects of genes and environment. Both identical twins and non-identical twins share an environment, but identical twins have a more similar genome than their non-identical counterparts. If identical twins show greater similarity in some regard—like school results—than non-identical twins, we can infer that genes are responsible for some of the variation on that behaviour. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Since late 2009, Steam's regular platform-wide sales have been a major attention grabber for the downloadable game service, causing gamers to hide their wallets and developers to (presumably) see massive bumps in the sales of their work. But just how much of a sales improvement can a developer expect by being featured as part of one of these sales? That's the latest question we set out to answer using data from the Steam Gauge project, which estimates game sales based on a random sample of public user profiles. Unsurprisingly, we found games that received featured placement during the 11 days of this year's Steam Summer Sale generally saw a sizable increase in sales compared to the pre-sale period. However, it was a bit of a shocker that larger discounts didn't always correlate with larger sales increases, and the reduced sale prices often meant games brought in seemingly less overall revenue during the sale period. What do we mean by "sale"? To start, we should clarify what games we're looking at specifically when we talk about games "featured" in the Steam Summer Sale. After all, practically every developer on Steam these days tries to jump on the sale bandwagon with some sort of self-imposed discount during the event. According to price trackers, nearly 4,400 of the over 5,700 games listed on Steam saw a price reduction during the 11 days of this year's sale (June 11 through 21). Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on ars technica
The investigation of two journalists on the German digital rights news site Netzpolitik.org for alleged treason was halted Friday by Germany's prosecutor general, Harald Range, following widespread protests by the media and politicians. The Guardian reports that Range said he was pausing inquiries "for the good of press and media freedom" and that he would "await the results of an internal investigation into whether the journalists from the news platform netzpolitik.org had quoted from a classified intelligence report before deciding how to proceed." The head of German intelligence services, Hans-Georg Maassen, still defended the idea of bringing criminal charges against the site's writers. He told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag "to continue the fight against extremism and terrorism…it was necessary to guard against the publication of documents classified as confidential or secret." As Ars reported last Thursday, Netzpolitik.org published two leaked documents earlier this year detailing plans to expand surveillance of social networks by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, of which Maassen is president. Initially, the investigation was believed to be into whoever was responsible for the leaks, but the search was widened last week to include two Netzpolitik.org journalists: Markus Beckedahl, the site's editor-in-chief, and Andre Meister. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on ars technica
It's widely agreed that a truly competitive market can spark innovation and price competition, both of which should end up benefitting society at large. But there are some places where markets are an awkward fit, and electricity production is one of them. In the developed world, we effectively view having electricity as a human right, something required to fully participate in society. And the production of electricity comes with some rather large externalities, costs that are borne by society as a whole, like the health impacts of burning coal. Nevertheless, in the US, we've generally tried to open up utilities to competition, under the view that it should help lower prices for consumers. While deregulation may have had that effect, it also seems to have generated infuriating behavior, the pinnacle of which was Enron's illegal manipulation of California's market, which led to widespread energy shortages. I'm reminded of this because I recently came across an article that's almost equally infuriating, although in a different way. It concerns FirstEnergy Corp., an Ohio-based utility. Back in 2008, FirstEnergy was a big proponent of deregulation. During the same time, it bet big on coal and nuclear, figuring that two sources of electricity with relatively stable prices would stand it in good stead. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on ars technica
At the end of May, my wife and I received a note from Comcast explaining that we had been getting undercharged for our cable service—and to expect that to stop pretty darn quick. This note set in motion a course of events that would lead to my trip last week to Comcast's Baltimore customer service center to turn in our cable boxes once and for all and cut the cable cord. Well, sort of. But I'll get to that in a minute. The move by HBO to break free of cable and offer its programming streamed over the internet certainly played a role in my wife's ascent to the termination of our consumer relationship with Comcast. But it was just one of a number of evolutionary changes in our viewing habits that had all but assured the cable box's demise. When my wife was recovering from surgery just over two years ago, the Ars staff gave her a Roku box to keep her entertained while on home bedrest. We had an Apple TV as well (the first generation), but it hadn't been used for much other than streaming iTunes to our living room. And then when the XBox One arrived last year, it broke things open a bit more. Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on ars technica
Ars Technica rides a SoloWheel. Video shot by Will Lemke of Propadata Films, edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link) SEATTLE—"You know you're in a sandal factory, right?" Luna Sandals founder "Barefoot" Ted McDonald said in a small retail room on a recent sunny day. The room is covered in photos of himself jogging, hiking, and exploring various exotic locales, and from there, he led me around the corner to a modest assembly and boxing room. At that time, the shop had no other customers, which I noticed because McDonald was moving around indoors by gliding on an electric, one-wheeled apparatus known as the SoloWheel. McDonald has become a bug-eyed advocate—and official salesperson—for the device, and he made a point to ride it around as we talked, presumably to prove just how nimble and precise his motion can be on such hardware. It was effective—he could whip around and stop on a dime in impressive fashion—but in cities like Seattle, however, such advocacy isn't even so necessary. The single-wheeled devices, with no handles and two tiny flaps to stand on, have already started to become fixtures in hilly tech cities where people are buying into their efficient, glide-next-to-pedestrians style of movement. ars.AD.queue.push(["xrailTop", {sz:"300x251", kws:["bottom"], collapse: true}]);Where McDonald comes in is to encourage people to buy the models designed and manufactured by SoloWheel inventor and patent holder Shane Chen, as opposed to "around 150 knockoffs from Beijing," as McDonald described them. His sales pitch wasn't timid. This is a man who is obsessed with human motion, seemingly born from his experience as a marathon jogger (some of his stories were chronicled in the athletic-freaks-of-nature nonfiction book Born To Run), and his sales pitch vacillated from its technology and its efficiency to how it emulates the "runner's high" feeling he is obsessed with. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on ars technica
The world is largely colorless because the in-game developers couldn't agree on what color to make anything. Seriously. 8 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } There are surprisingly few video games about the process of making video games. Critically acclaimed movies like Argo and The Artist dramatize the work of Hollywood. Authors often love nothing more than writing about the struggles of fictional authors. But games have been slow to take that self-referential look at their own creation. This is slowly beginning to change. In recent years, we've seen titles like Hack 'n' Slash and Code Hero turn the tedium and minutiae of computer programming into an actual game mechanic. We've also seen Game Dev Tycoon and Game Dev Story look at the making of games through a light-hearted business lens. The Magic Circle takes a bit from both camps, telling a fictional story of a troubled game's development from within that troubled, fictional game itself. Even writing about The Magic Circle requires getting incredibly meta from the get-go. The game you play, The Magic Circle, is presented as the alpha, test version of "The Magic Circle," a massively multiplayer fantasy world that's been in development for over a decade by the time you get to it. The game-within-a-game is in incredibly rough shape, despite the development time, full of blocky, colorless graphics, placeholders where epic quests should go, animations controlled like puppets by human guides, and "puzzles" that are an insult to the name. After a quick ten-minute trip through that alpha world, you dive in again in "Pro" mode and start to learn how the game-within-the-game got to this sorry state. The "live testbed" world you play in is overseen by members of the development team, who take the form of giant, unblinking eyes that float through the world and observe your actions. They're omnipotent gods here, but they're also flawed and fractured human beings in the real world, evidenced by the sounds of them squabbling through headsets while they monitor the test. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on ars technica
The pilot of the drone shot down Sunday evening over a Kentucky property has now come forward with video provided to Ars, seemingly showing that the drone wasn’t nearly as close as the property owner made it out to be. However, the federal legal standard for how far into the air a person’s private property extends remains in dispute. According to the telemetry provided by David Boggs, the drone pilot, his aircraft was only in flight for barely two minutes before it was shot down. The data also shows that it was well over 200 feet above the ground before the fatal shots fired by William Merideth. David Boggs provided this video to Ars, which he describes as his "statement." (video link) Boggs told Ars that this was the maiden voyage of his DJI Phantom 3, and that his intentions were not to snoop on anyone—his aim was simply to fly over a vacationing friend’s property, a few doors away from Merideth’s property in Hillview, Kentucky, south of Louisville. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on ars technica
It's hard to imagine a game as defiantly old-fashioned as Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse being released without the help of crowdfunding. While it bears the sharp high-definition visuals and steep production values of a modern game, you could just as easily imagine playing it under a veil of blocky pixels and low-fi voice acting. Most publishers wouldn't even give it a chance. Today's adventure game is less point-and-click, and more interactive story; the challenge of esoteric, abstract-thinking puzzles dumbed down in favour of a more accessible narrative. This isn't always a bad thing of course: just look at the likes of Telltale Games' brilliant The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead. But the Kickstarter successes of Broken Sword 5 and Double Fine Adventure in 2012 showed that there's a small, but dedicated group out there that crave the challenging puzzles and quirky dialogue of a late-'80s and early-'90s adventure game. It's thanks to the likes of Kickstarter, Apple's App Store, and the openness of the PC platform, that these games can find a home. For Charles Cecil MBE, famed developer and creator of the Broken Sword series, it was specifically Kickstarter and Apple's App Store that were the catalyst for reviving his company Revolution Software. iOS remasters of classic point-and-click games like Beneath a Steel Sky and Broken Sword sold well on the App Store, and set the company on a path towards its Kickstarter success with Broken Sword 5, a game that brought in nearly $800,000 (£500,000) and attracted over 14,000 backers. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 4 days ago on ars technica
Mt. Gox head Mark Karpelès was arrested by Japanese police on Saturday, more than a year after the exchange folded amidst the loss of 650,000 bitcoins.Karpelès hasn't been formally charged but "police are alleging that he manipulated the company’s computer system to inflate its assets," The Wall Street Journal reported. "Japanese media aired footage of Mr. Karpelès being led by police officers from his apartment before 7 a.m. Saturday," the Journal report said. "An official familiar with the investigation said authorities allege that Mr. Karpelès manipulated the balance of a company account and used it to counter orders from customers. Some of the coins that he said were lost may not have existed, the official said." Karpelès, a 30-year-old from France, "is suspected of having accessed the exchange's computer system to falsify data on its outstanding balance," the BBC wrote. The exchange "claimed it was caused by a bug but it later filed for bankruptcy." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 4 days ago on ars technica
NBC has released a 2014 slide from a secret NSA Threat Operations Center (NTOC) briefing—a map that shows the locations of "every single successful computer intrusion" by Chinese state-sponsored hackers over a five-year period. More than 600 US businesses and institutions were breached during that period. The slide was provided to NBC by an unnamed "intelligence source," who said the briefing "highlighted China's interest in Google and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, and in air traffic control systems... [and] catalogued the documents and data Chinese government hackers have exfiltrated," the network reported. The report suggests that the NSA has been tracking Chinese cyber-attacks for years and that its own network surveillance of China gives the agency the ability to correlate those attacks with specific sources. The briefing shown to NBC listed locations for the sources of each of the "exploitations and attacks," NBC reported. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 4 days ago on ars technica
Windows 8 was the first Windows to include a Store, along with a pair of new apps: Music and Video. While those apps had some nice features, they were both designed for the hard sell, better suited to being storefronts than media players. Windows 8.1 shook up the store and included brand new Music and Video apps. Store features weren't gone, but they were no longer the priority. Windows 10 shakes up the store again. The Music and Video apps have shed the Xbox branding that they used in Windows 8 and are now "Groove Music" and "Movies and TV." If we thought the effort to sell was a little too overwhelming in the Windows 8 apps, the Windows 10 ones swing too far in the other direction. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 4 days ago on ars technica
After giving the world's gay community quite possibly its most iconic studly-man image in decades, the Russian government has since gone on a legislative and regulatory tear against all things gay. This week, the controversial "gay propaganda" bill that President Vladimir Putin signed into law in 2013 was linked to an apparent effort by a Russian agency to discover pro-gay communications on social networks, especially those that include emoji and emoticons with same-sex kisses and family images with two dads or two moms. The Russian-newspaper story was reported in the United States by Vocativ on Wednesday. It explained that the country's Roskomnadzor media-watchdog agency reached out to a pro-government youth activism group, known as Young Guard of United Russia, and asked its members to essentially snitch on anybody whose social media posts broke the country's Article 6.13.1 law, which forbids, among other things, "propaganda of homosexuality among minors." According to the original Russian report, the uncovered letter sent to this activism group by Roskomnadzor Deputy Head Konstantin Vladimirovich Marchenko contained specific guidances about emoji on Facebook, along with his concerns that "most" social media users are minors—even though a cursory glance at not-so-concrete surveys reveals that most Russian social media users are not minors and are therefore not under the purview of the law in question. We, like Vocativ, also wonder whether Marchenko's request made any mention of the eggplant emoji in this regard. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 4 days ago on ars technica
Friends! Arsians! Lend me your ears—and your resumes because we are a-hiring! Ars is looking to hire on a tech reviewer and gadgetologist to join our butt-kicking gadget review team. Perks of the job include being able to argue about Android in-person with Ron Amadeo, hear wisdom from Andrew Cunningham's Reviews Cat, touch Peter Bright's glorious beard, and maybe even down some Soylent shots with me in a well-ventilated location. We need someone who's sharp, tech-savvy, personable, and who doesn't mind appearing on camera, since you're going to see a lot more video on Ars in the near future. There are two catches: first, this is not an entry-level job. We need someone who's been in the reviewing game before, at least a bit, and we need to see some writing samples. Second: you have to be in the New York City area, no exceptions. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 4 days ago on ars technica
The discovery that it was possible to isolate graphene, a single-atom thick sheet of carbon, has opened the door to the development of a variety of atomically thin materials, many with distinctive properties. But developing devices using these 2D materials is challenging. A lot of the traditional techniques for manipulating their behavior either don't work or require that the 2D material be linked to bulkier, three-dimensional hardware. Now, some researchers may have taken a tiny step toward developing a device that's entirely one atom thick. They've managed to create a key electrical junction, used in devices like diodes and transistors, from two different 2D materials. The border between these materials is atomically sharp, and the sheets themselves are only a few hundred picometers deep. The device in question is called a p-n junction. It's formed at the boundary between (wait for it) p-type semiconductors and n-type semiconductors. The p-type tends to have "holes" that are missing an electron, while the n-type is characterized by an excess of electrons. Normally, these are formed by "doping," or adding small numbers of other atoms to a crystal of silicon. They're key components of diodes, transistors, LEDs, and photovoltaic cells, so being able to produce them is critical to pretty much all of modern electronics. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 4 days ago on ars technica
Facebook has made significant progress in a project to build solar-powered drones that can deliver Internet connectivity using lasers, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday. "I'm excited to announce we’ve completed construction of our first full scale aircraft, Aquila, as part of our Internet.org effort," Zuckerberg wrote. "Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down Internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time. We've also made a breakthrough in laser communications technology. We've successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That's ten times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away."Obviously, that 10Gbps would be shared among multiple users, but it could connect a lot of people to the Internet. Facebook's Internet.org project aims to bring Internet service to parts of the world where people have little or no access. Today, Facebook is working with mobile operators to provide free access to parts of the Web on low-end phones. But that won't be enough, Zuckerberg wrote. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...