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Enlarge / Pod of narwhals, northern Canada, August 2005. Image courtesy of Kristin Laidre. (credit: Dr. Kristin Laidre, Polar Science Center, UW NOAA/OAR/OER - NOAA Photolib Library) The warming of the Arctic is bad news for so many species, but for killer whales, it’s offering up a buffet. While the ice had previously prevented access to large areas—like Hudson Bay—the whales can now find their way into those waters during the summer. In areas that they could already access, they can now arrive earlier and stay later. Obviously, any ecosystem that suddenly has new predators hanging around is going to be profoundly affected, but it’s possible that we’ve underestimated just how profoundly. A paper in this week’s PNAS finds that narwhals, one of many marine mammal species preyed on by killer whales, change their behavior substantially when they’re so much as sharing a fjord with killer whales. This kind of large, long-lasting behavioral change suggests that the mere presence of new predators changes ecosystems at a level previously unsuspected. Predators can affect an ecosystem in the obvious way—by eating other animals—but also in less obvious ways, which are known as “nonconsumptive effects.” When prey species know, or think, that they’re at risk of being eaten, they change their behavior. They might avoid certain areas, which limits their access to food. They might be forced to make regular escapes or be permanently on the watch, which means a higher calorie burn. All of these mean fewer reproductive opportunities and more stress. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(A fancy render of) Samsung's latest high-end phone chip. (credit: Samsung) Mobile World Congress is just around the corner, which means news about new mobile processors and modems is flying fast and thick. The latest announcement is from Samsung, which today unveiled its latest flagship Exynos chip for high-end smartphones. The Exynos 9 8895 combines eight CPU cores with an ARM Mali-G71 GPU and a Samsung-designed gigabit LTE modem. The chip is manufactured on Samsung's new 10nm process, which according to Samsung allows for performance increases up to 27 percent while using up to 40 percent less power compared to its 14nm process. The CPU uses four "big" cores and four "little" ones; the small cores are based on ARM's tried-and-true Cortex A53 CPU architecture, the go-to choice for low-power 64-bit cores. The large cores are based on Samsung's "second-generation custom CPU core," called the Samsung M2. Samsung has said very little about it, aside from the fact that it's a 64-bit ARMv8 core and that it was "designed from scratch." As for the GPU, ARM detailed the Mali-G71 last year, and it's a major update. It uses ARM's new "Bifrost" GPU architecture, which fully supports the Vulkan graphics API as well as OpenGL ES and OpenCL. The existing "Midgard" architecture used in the last few generations of ARM GPUs already did that, so what's more significant is its support for HSA, which allows the CPU and GPU to access the same data in system memory at the same time. This eliminates quite a bit of overhead, since that data won't need to be shuffled back and forth between separate "pools" of memory used by the CPU and GPU. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: CDC) It’s hard to imagine anything more despised than mosquitos. They menacingly buzz about, swoop in to feast on your blood, and often leave behind an annoying, itchy lump. But by far the worst bit is that they spread throngs of pathogens—dengue, Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever, West Nile, malaria… the list goes on. Their bites cause hundreds of millions of infections each year. Dengue alone infects around 390 million people a year globally. Malaria strikes around 214 million. What if there was a vaccine that could, in one fell swoop, prevent all of those infections? As a bonus, what if it could also prevent itchy responses to mosquito bites and even knock back the bug’s populations? It sounds like a dream. But SEEK, a UK-based biotech company, and the US National Institutes of Health are hoping it could be a reality some day. This week, the NIH announced the start of a Phase I clinical trial for a vaccine that’s designed to do all of that. It’s called AGS-v, and it has been in the works for nearly a decade. It takes an approach to disease blocking that scientists have danced around for decades but never pulled off—it targets the saliva of mosquitos instead of any individual germ. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Alexa. Did he do it? (credit: Adam Bowie) Amazon is balking at a search warrant seeking cloud-stored data from its Alexa Voice Service. Arkansas authorities want to examine the recorded voice and transcription data as part of a murder investigation. Among other things, the Seattle company claims that the recorded data from an Amazon Echo near a murder scene is protected by the First Amendment, as are the responses from the voice assistant itself. Amazon said that the Bentonville Police Department is essentially going on a fishing expedition with a warrant that could chill speech and even the market for Echo devices and competing products. In a motion to quash the subpoena, the company said that because of the constitutional concerns at issue, the authorities need to demonstrate a "compelling need" for the information and must exhaust other avenues to acquire that data. The motion says: Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / RootMetrics' network rankings for the second half of 2016. Verizon's mobile network has once again been named the best in the US by testing firm RootMetrics, and T-Mobile USA finished last among the four major wireless carriers. While Verizon Wireless bragged about its victory, T-Mobile claimed that the results are meaningless and that its network is the fastest in the US. The RootMetrics reports have been an ongoing problem for T-Mobile, which has repeatedly claimed that the results shouldn't be trusted. RootMetrics releases its reports every six months, based on drive tests conducted throughout the country a few months previously. T-Mobile used to claim that the tests are outdated, but that argument has gotten harder to make as T-Mobile keeps losing to Verizon and AT&T in the tests. In March 2014, T-Mobile said it had been the network leader for "months" and that the RootMetrics data was outdated. Six months later, T-Mobile lost again and predicted that it would "win in their studies in the future as [RootMetrics] data catches up to where our network performance is today." In August 2015, T-Mobile CEO John Legere slammed the RootMetrics reports as "bullshit" and "antiquated." Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The Yubikey Neo (the black USB key) is a FIDO U2F-compliant key that works over NFC or USB. Today, Google announced a new G Suite feature that allows admins to lock down accounts so they can only be accessed by users with a physical USB security key. The FIDO U2F Security Keys have been supported on G Suite and regular Google accounts since 2011, but now new security controls allow admins to make the keys mandatory for anyone who tries to log in. Universal 2nd Factor (U2F)—initially developed by Google and Yubico—is a standard from the FIDO Alliance that allows a physical device to work as a second factor of authentication. After entering your username and password, you'll have to connect your device to your physical authentication key. The keys can support USB, NFC, and/or Bluetooth, allowing them to connect to desktops, laptops, and smartphones. Many services support U2F, like Dropbox, GitHub, Salesforce, Dashlane, and others. The Chrome and Opera browsers support U2F, along with Android and Windows smartphones. Modern iOS devices don't work with the standard, but Google appears to have some kind of workaround. It's a good idea to enable 2FA on any service that supports it. Usually after your username and password you'll get texted or e-mailed a six-digit code to type in, but the security keys are easier and more secure than punching in a rolling code. While anyone in the world could theoretically guess your password and get your code, once you get your key set up, someone would have to physically have the key to access your account. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Andrew Cunningham Good news for people who like running bleeding-edge software on brand-new, expensive hardware: Google has added rudimentary support for the MacBook Pro Touch Bar to the latest release of Chrome's Canary channel, the earliest and least-stable way for consumers and developers to try out new Chrome features. Based on what Apple is doing in the Touch Bar with Safari, Google could definitely push the envelope a little more. Chrome adds a handful of static buttons to the Touch Bar that duplicate the onscreen Back, Forward, Refresh, New Tab, and Favorite buttons, along with a larger button that moves the cursor to the address bar for easy typing and searching; as best as we can tell from digging in the settings, there's no way to customize the Touch Bar to hide or change individual buttons. Safari also adds some buttons to the Touch Bar, but it also changes dynamically to show you bookmarks and lets you switch between your open tabs with a series of tiny preview windows. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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On Wednesday, a team of astronomers revealed the discovery of a planetary system less than 40 light years away containing seven Earth-sized planets. The system's star is an ultracool dwarf, TRAPPIST-1, which is nothing to write home about—but astronomers gradually realized that the system has a plethora of planets, and that three of them could support water oceans on their surface. Google, as it often does, commemorated the discovery with a Doodle: (credit: Google) Google Doodles have been around nearly as long as the search engine itself, with the first one commemorating Burning Man back in 1998: Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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We've had the Nintendo Switch here in Ars' orbiting HQ for a few days now, and while we're still working on a more thorough review ahead of launch, we're now able to share some initial impressions of the final retail system to add to our hands-on time from last month. So far, testing out the Switch has exclusively meant playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the only one of nine confirmed launch games we have our hands on as of yet. Any significant non-gaming or online functions are tied to a "Day One" system update that likely won't be available in time for pre-launch reviews. Further thoughts on the experience of motion controlled games (like 1-2-Switch), or games that support individual Joy-Cons held horizontally (like Super Bomberman R) will also have to wait. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Bob Embleton) For more than six years, the SHA1 cryptographic hash function underpinning Internet security has been at death's door. Now it's officially dead, thanks to the submission of the first known instance of a fatal exploit known as a "collision." Despite more than a decade of warnings about the lack of security of SHA1, the watershed moment comes as the hash function remains widely used. Git, the world's most widely used system for managing software development among multiple people, relies on it for data integrity. The GnuPG e-mail encryption program still deems SHA1 safe. And hundreds if not thousands of big-name software packages rely on SHA1 signatures to ensure installation and update files distributed over the Internet haven't been maliciously altered. A collision occurs when the two different files or messages produce the same cryptographic hash. The most well-known collision occurred sometime around 2010 against the MD5 hash algorithm, which is even weaker than SHA1. A piece of nation-sponsored espionage malware known as Flame used the attack to hijack the Windows update mechanism Microsoft uses to distribute patches to hundreds of millions of customers. By forging the digital signature used to cryptographically prove the authenticity of Microsoft servers, Flame was able to spread from one infected computer to another inside targeted networks. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images) A federal magistrate judge in Chicago recently denied the government’s attempt to force people in a particular building to depress their fingerprints in an attempt to open any seized Apple devices as part of a child pornography investigation. This prosecution, nearly all of which remains sealed, is one of a small but growing number of criminal cases that pit modern smartphone encryption against both the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and also the Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. According to the judge’s opinion, quoting from a still-sealed government filing, "forced fingerprinting" is part of a broader government strategy, likely to combat the prevalence of encrypted devices. Last year, federal investigators sought a similar permission to force residents of two houses in Southern California to fingerprint-unlock a seized phone in a case that also remains sealed. In those cases, and likely in the Illinois case as well, the prosecutors' legal analysis states that there is no Fifth Amendment implication at play. Under the Constitution, defendants cannot be compelled to provide self-incriminating testimony (“what you know”). However, traditionally, giving a fingerprint (“what you are”) for the purposes of identification or matching to an unknown fingerprint found at a crime scene has been allowed. It wasn’t until relatively recently, however, that fingerprints could be used to unlock a smartphone. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / This is what every Tesla driver wants to see upon arrival at a Supercharger station. (credit: Tesla) On Wednesday, Tesla posted a Q4 2016 loss of $121.3 million, but the loss was narrower than the $320 million net loss from the year earlier. The company said it made $2.28 billion in revenue in the quarter, up from $1.24 billion in Q4 the year before. Tesla reported $7 billion in annual gross revenue in 2016. All that comes on the heels of a Q3 in which the company posted a rare profitable quarter that CEO Elon Musk called Tesla’s “best quarter ever.” The company said its gross margin fell between the third and fourth quarters of 2016 due to lower Zero Emissions Vehicle credit sales in Q4 compared to the quarter before. In the last three months of the year, Tesla completed its acquisition of SolarCity as well as Grohmann Engineering, which will become Tesla Advanced Automation Germany. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan says he thinks they did a good job capturing the feel of this very early concept art for Overwatch in the final product. We have to agree. (credit: Kyle Orland) LAS VEGAS—May of 2013 was not a very fun time to be at Blizzard if you hear Game Director and Vice President Jeff Kaplan tell it. After years of work on Project Titan, the massive MMO that was to be Blizzard's big follow-up to World of Warcraft, the game had been unceremoniously canceled (though official confirmation of that cancellation wouldn't come for another year). "For various reasons, we ran into a lot of trouble on the project," as Kaplan put it on stage at Las Vegas' DICE Summit today. In the wake of the cancellation, most of the 140-person Project Titan team was forced to relocate with Blizzard's existing projects or put on "long-term loan" with those franchises. Forty of the remaining team members, however, were tasked with coming up with a brand-new, Titan-replacing idea in order to avoid the same ignominious relocation as their colleagues. After years working on Titan, they were given just six weeks to craft this new game concept. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A higher-res version of this photo, zoomed in on the Garmin fitness tracker and busted runner Jane Seo for an illegitimate half-marathon race time. (credit: Marathon Foto) Hot tip: If you're going to cheat while running a marathon, don't wear a fitness tracking band. A New York food writer found this out the hard way on Tuesday after she was busted for an elaborate run-faking scheme, in which she attempted to use doctored data to back up an illegitimate finish time. In an apologetic Instagram post that was eventually deleted, 24-year-old runner Jane Seo admitted to cutting the course at the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon. An independent marathon-running investigator (yes, that's a thing) named Derek Murphy posted his elaborate analysis of Seo's scheme, and the findings revolved almost entirely around data derived from Seo's Garmin 235 fitness tracker. Suspicions over her second-place finish in the half marathon began after very limited data about her podium-placing run was posted to the Strava fitness-tracking service. The data only listed a distance and completion time, as opposed to more granular statistics. (This followed the release of Seo's official completion times, which showed her running remarkably faster in the half marathon's later stages.) Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: T-Mobile USA) T-Mobile USA is ready to deploy a new LTE technology over the same 5GHz frequencies used by Wi-Fi following US government approval of the first "LTE-U" devices. The Federal Communications Commission today authorized the first LTE-U (LTE for unlicensed spectrum) devices after a controversial process designed to ensure that cellular network use of the 5GHz band won't interfere with Wi-Fi networks. "With LTE-U, starting this spring, T-Mobile customers will be able to tap into the first 20MHz of underutilized unlicensed spectrum on the 5GHz band and use it for additional LTE capacity," T-Mobile said immediately after the FCC decision. T-Mobile is deploying LTE-U technology from Ericsson and Nokia, who had their equipment certified by the FCC today. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 1,000 times: these so-called "anonymous" messaging apps simply aren’t anonymous. To put it another way, if you’re dumb enough to make violent threats on them, you’ll get caught. According to a newly released federal criminal complaint, Garrett Grimsley of Cary, North Carolina, allegedly used the Whisper app to make such remarks on February 19. Hours later, local police and the FBI arrived at his door to search his apartment. As per an FBI affidavit, Grimsley (under the name "Spark_Pure") wrote in a public post: "Salam, some of you are alright, don't go to Cary tomorrow." Another Whisper user, who was not named in the affidavit but is referred to as an unnamed "cooperating witness (CW)," responded: "Why—what's happening in Cary tomorrow?" Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Gage Skidmore) Former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed to be administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week in a 52-46 Senate vote. His narrow confirmation is secure—Pruitt addressed EPA employees as their new boss just yesterday—but a trove of e-mails sent from Pruitt's office during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general was released yesterday evening. Collectively, they could shed light on how closely Pruitt may be willing to work with the industries he’s now in charge of regulating. On Tuesday evening, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) received 2,500 e-mails from the Oklahoma AG’s office that had been sent during Pruitt’s tenure. The CMD had asked for the e-mails in an open records request made in 2015, but the AG’s office only turned over 411 of 3,000 e-mails initially. This month, with Pruitt's confirmation vote just days away, the CMD requested that a judge order the missing documents finally be turned over. The judge gave the Oklahoma AG's office until February 21 to share the remaining e-mails, which comprised more than 7,500 pages. Senate democrats tried to stall the vote on Pruitt’s nomination until the remaining e-mails were released, but they were unsuccessful. The New York Times, which had been able to see some of the e-mails ahead of time due to records requests from the paper’s own reporting, notes that the e-mails “do not appear to include any request for [Pruitt’s] intervention explicitly in exchange for campaign contributions, although Mr. Pruitt was separately working as a member of the Republican Attorneys General Association to raise money from many of the same companies.” Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The "First Amendment audit" of Fort Worth, Texas, police in 2015 by activist Phillip Turner. A divided federal appeals court is ruling for the First Amendment, saying the public has a right to film the police. But the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in upholding the bulk of a lower court's decision against an activist who was conducting what he called a "First Amendment audit" outside a Texas police station, noted that this right is not absolute and is not applicable everywhere. The facts of the dispute are simple. Phillip Turner was 25 in September 2015 when he decided to go outside the Fort Worth police department to test officers' knowledge of the right to film the police. While filming, he was arrested for failing to identify himself to the police. Officers handcuffed and briefly held Turner before releasing him without charges. Turner sued, alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment right against unlawful arrest and detention and his First Amendment right of speech. The 2-1 decision Thursday by Judge Jacques Wiener is among a slew of rulings on the topic, and it provides fresh legal backing for the so-called YouTube society where people are constantly using their mobile phones to film themselves and the police. The American Civil Liberties Union says "there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, we have a number of new deals to share. Now you can get a Samsung 55-inch UltraHD TV that supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision plus a $500 Dell gift card for only $1499. You're essentially getting the gift card for free while the TV itself would be a great upgrade from the old TV you already have. For more Amazon Deals & Coupons go to TechBargains. Featured Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ars Live #10, filmed by Chris Schodt and produced by Jennifer Hahn. (video link) Under President Trump in the United States, we're seeing a dramatic shift in border regulation and the treatment of immigrants. What exactly are your rights at the border, and should you really hand over your social media passwords to a customs agent? UC Hastings law professor Ahmed Ghappour, an expert in national security and cybersecurity, recently talked to Cyrus Farivar and me about the answers in all their complexity. Outside of legal circles, most people don't realize that your Fourth Amendment right to not be subjected to "unreasonable search" is suspended at the borders. Ghappour explained this gives border agents a lot of leeway in terms of how much they search and detain people crossing into the US. He talked to Ars about recent cases where people have been asked to hand over the passwords to their phones and computers, as well as other personal items. During the discussion above, we also touch upon surveillance at the border and what's likely to come next in terms of sensors, drones, and data mining for "national security threats." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge “One person’s trash is another’s treasure” is pretty much the organizing principle of the recycling industry. But what about the refuse that fails to even make it into a trash bin? A shocking amount of plastic ends up in waterways and, ultimately, the ocean. Contrary to some depictions of “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” the problem is not so much a floating landfill of toys and bottles, rather it's an abundance of tiny degraded bits of plastic that a variety of organisms ingest. Plastic undergoes chemical reactions and a physical beating in the ocean that reduces it to specks. Combine that small particle size with the fact that the ocean is rather large, and it should be obvious that it would be virtually impossible to clean up the plastic at this stage of the process. To make a real difference, you have to attack the problem closer to the source—when the plastic is still largely intact and before it reaches the ocean. At beaches or bends in waterways where plastic waste tends to accumulate, plastic items are still in good enough shape that they could actually be recycled. So not only can we intercept some plastic, but somebody can make money doing it. In fact, they are: in a couple of months, Dell is going to start using some of this recycled “ocean plastic” in packaging materials for its products. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The heart of the Pacific Ocean is a vast, barely explored region outside national boundaries, teeming with undiscovered species and dramatic undersea terrain. A few organizations monitor activity here, mostly international fisheries management groups, but it's easy for a vessel to get lost in the enormous distances. That's exactly what many pirate fishing fleets depend on. Though normally we associate the term piracy with rogues who commandeer other people's ships, it's also used as shorthand to describe illegal, unregulated, and unreported (UII) fishing. The Pacific is crawling with fishing pirates. Often their ships are crewed by malnourished slaves who don't see land for months at a time, a practice that's been documented by rights groups and exposed in a 2015 Associated Press investigation. They make their money by fishing illegally, or in poorly regulated areas, then offloading their goods to the crews of large refrigerated cargo vessels called reefers in a process called transshipping. The reefer crews mix their legal catch with the pirate catch then sell it all in port. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple Apple has been building its giant new "spaceship" campus in the company's hometown of Cupertino, California, since December of 2013, and since then fans have paid obsessive attention to the structure. It gets buzzed by drones constantly, and the most popular YouTube videos of the building in progress have amassed well over half-a-million views apiece. The company announced today that the campus will be open to employees starting in April and that the building and environs now have a name: Apple Park. Apple says that moving the 12,000 employees who will work at the campus will take more than six months, and landscaping and construction on some buildings won't be done until the summer. The new campus mostly replaces the university-style Infinite Loop campus Apple has used since 1993, though Apple has said that it will also be keeping the older buildings. The new campus' cost has been estimated at around $5 billion. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) Less than a year ago, an international team of astronomers put the star TRAPPIST-1 in the news. TRAPPIST-1 itself is unremarkable, belonging to the class of small, dim stars known as "ultracool dwarfs." Rather, it was the presence of three planets orbiting the star that made the news. While they probably orbit too close to support liquid water, TRAPPIST-1's proximity to Earth—it's less than 40 light years away—makes detailed observations of any planetary atmospheres a realistic possibility. But the orbit of the outermost planet, TRAPPIST-1d, wasn't well defined by the initial observations, causing its discoverers to go back for some followup observations. Those turned up four more planets, three of which are likely to be in the habitable zone of their host star. As the orbit of the outer one is, once again, uncertain, more observations will undoubtedly be in the works. Who knows what they'll turn up? The TRAPPIST family TRAPPIST-1 got its name from the telescope that first spotted the planets, the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, although researcher Emmanuël Jehin noted, "By the way, Trappist is the name of a famous Belgian special beer." It's a Belgian project that searches nearby dwarf stars for the presence of planets, since the dim star would make observations of planetary atmospheres much easier. The team's first telescope is based in Chile's Atacama desert, but it has since added a second in Morocco. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Elle Cayabyab Gitlin There aren't many events in racing quite like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The second-oldest race in the nation, it wends its death-defying route up the side and over the top of Pikes Peak, just outside of Colorado Springs. Cars and motorbikes race against the clock, starting at at 9,390 feet (2,862m) for their "race to the clouds." In recent years, the annual hill climb has become something of a testbed for electric vehicles. They suffer no altitude-related drop in power, unlike the internal-combustion-powered competitors, and the 12.4-mile (19.99km) course is right-sized for batteries. Even being a spectator requires a little more commitment than your average race. Things get going early on the mountain, and fans who want to see the action from above the tree line need to be there well before dawn. Thankfully this year, there's an alternative. The race organizers and a company called Matchsports have joined forces to livestream it, no mean feat considering the challenges involved. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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