posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Goldman Sachs bank logo is seen reflected on the screen of a mobile phone in this photo illustration on November 15, 2017. (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) One-shot cures for diseases are not great for business—more specifically, they’re bad for longterm profits—Goldman Sachs analysts noted in an April 10 report for biotech clients, first reported by CNBC. The investment banks’ report, titled “The Genome Revolution,” asks clients the touchy question: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” The answer is “no,” according to follow-up information provided. Analyst Salveen Richter and colleagues laid it out: Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks to the media after the vote to repeal net neutrality rules on December 14, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Alex Wong ) Democratic lawmakers yesterday followed in President Trump's footsteps by asking the Federal Communications Commission to consider revoking licenses from a broadcaster. While Trump called for the FCC to consider revoking NBC licenses because of "fake news" in October 2017, Senate Democrats asked Pai yesterday to consider revoking licenses from the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai shot the request down, telling Democrats that he will stand up for First Amendment press freedoms and that the FCC doesn't have the authority to revoke licenses based on the content of newscasts. Pai said much the same after Trump made his statement regarding NBC—but there were some notable differences between Pai's response to the Trump incident and this week's dispute with Democrats. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Elon Musk unveiling the Model X in 2012. (credit: Tim Rue/Corbis via Getty Images) The National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday that it has revoked Tesla's status as a party to its investigation of a fatal Model X crash in Mountain View, California last month. Being a party to an investigation allows a company to fully participate in the investigation process, sharing information with the agency and viewing information uncovered by NTSB while the investigation is still ongoing. For example, Uber is working with the NTSB to investigate the cause of last month's fatal self-driving car crash in Tempe, Arizona. But parties must agree to respect the confidentiality of the process while it's underway, and the agency says that Tesla has broken that agreement with recent comments about the Mountain View crash. In a statement this week to Silicon Valley television station ABC 7, for example, Tesla argued that the crash occurred because driver Walter Huang "was not paying attention to the road." Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Luke Woodham (left) is a professional drift racer. Theo Thomas (right) is a gamer and vlogger. They both raced on an off-road track in real cars but without being able to see out the windshield. (credit: Castrol / EA Games) I don't know about you, but when I play racing games—which I do quite often—I'm quite particular about which camera angle I use. It's almost exclusively the "front bumper cam" these days; after several years using the in-car view (where offered), I've found I'm just that bit faster without peering through a simulated windshield. It's a POV I came to love in the first Gran Turismo game two decades ago, and, for me, it remains the best. I've never been able to come to grips with the "over the shoulder" external view, where a camera is above and behind your car—it just feels so unnatural, especially if I'm using a steering wheel and pedals. So I'd probably have fared pretty badly in this challenge between a professional drift racer and a prolific gamer, organized by Castrol and Need For Speed Payback. A brief disclaimer: yes, at the end of the day this stunt is an advert for Castrol's products and the latest NFS game, but that doesn't make it any less cool. It involved Luke Woodham, a pro drift racer who competes in Europe, and Theo Thomas, a gamer with a sizable following on YouTube. They competed to see who could set a faster time in a point-to-point race across a dirt road in the desert, using identical Ford Mustangs. But there was a catch—all the windows on the cars were blacked out. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Windows Admin Center Announced last year as Project Honolulu, Microsoft today released Windows Admin Center, the new Web-based graphical administrative interface for Windows systems. Admin Center is intended to provide a common interface for remote management of Windows machines running Windows Server (2012 or newer) or Windows 10, whether on physical hardware, virtual hardware, or in the cloud. Admin Center is built to offer a common remote admin interface that replaces the mess of MMC applets, control panels, settings apps, and dashboards that are currently used to graphically configure and maintain Windows machines. It operates at the server, failover cluster, and hyper-converged infrastructure level. The intent behind Admin Center is that it should replace the mix of remote and local admin tools that are used for ad hoc administrative tasks, many of which might traditionally be done with Remote Desktop. To that end, it has interfaces for tasks such as registry editing, managing network settings, listing and ending processes, and managing hardware. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Uber ride-sharing app is seen on a mobile phone on February 12, 2018. (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) The Federal Trade Commission will expand its oversight of Uber following the disclosure of its improper withholding of a 2016 security breach that exposed sensitive data for more than 25 million users. The ride-hailing service was already bound to an agreement reached last year requiring it to undergo privacy audits every two years for the next two decades. The settlement also required Uber to implement a comprehensive privacy program that protected the personal information the company collected. The 2017 agreement settled FTC charges that Uber misrepresented the level of access its employees had to user data and the steps it took to secure that data. Following reports in 2014 that Uber employees used an administrative tool internally dubbed God-view to monitor active Uber cars and customers—and sometimes observed specific users' locations for amusement—Uber promised to use a newly created system to monitor and restrict employee access to such information. Last year's FTC charges stemmed, in part, from Uber ending use of that system less than a year after it was put in place. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Amazon on Thursday announced it has sealed its acquisition of smart home device-maker Ring, and to celebrate, the company is doing a very Amazon thing and slashing the price of its latest gadget. The company now lists the original Ring Video Doorbell for $99, which is about $80 off its going rate over the last few months. Now, this isn't the most robust video doorbell on the market—or even in Ring's lineup—but it still does the basics of video doorbell-ing well enough for those new to this type of device. It shoots in 720p, it's relatively easy to set up, with its own rechargeable battery, and it works with Amazon's Alexa assistant. Ring still requires you to pay a $3 a month (or $30 a year) subscription if you want to record videos and view them back in the cloud, which is a bummer, but the lowered starting price does make up for that somewhat. Also note that you may have to wait a few extra days for some color options to ship as of this writing; the $100 price is locked in either way, though. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / That's Kubrick Mons to you, sir! (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute) On Wednesday, the International Astronomical Union officially announced the names of features on Pluto's moon Charon. The features were revealed when the New Horizons probe shot past Pluto and its five moons, and the names were provided by the public. While astronomers working on the New Horizons data had been using the monikers provisionally, the IAU's announcement makes them formal designations that will be used in all scientific publications about Charon. While four of Pluto's moons are so small that New Horizons captured them as pixellated blobs, Charon is quite different. And, while all moons and their planets orbit a common center of gravity, usually the size difference is large enough that the center of gravity resides inside the planet. The Pluto-Charon system is the big exception, as the size difference between the two is small enough that Pluto orbits a point that's located outside the dwarf planet's radius. That makes Charon one of the largest bodies among the icy worlds of the Kuiper Belt, and it's the second largest body we've gotten a detailed look at. While Charon doesn't seem to be as dynamic as Pluto, it does have many notable features, including large peaks, deep canyons, and massive craters, as well as a dusting of material that has evaporated off Pluto. In 2015, the public was invited to give these names; the New Horizons team informally adopted a number of suggestions, and the IAU has made them official. The theme of the names centers around travel and exploration, often (but not always) with a connection to the underworld or the deeps. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Book Catalog) Facebook recently teamed up with Google, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon in order to kill a privacy law that's being considered in California. The five companies each donated $200,000 to create a $1 million fund to oppose the California Consumer Privacy Act, a ballot question that could be voted on in the November 2018 state election. If approved, the law would make it easier for consumers to find out what information is collected about them and to opt out of the sale or sharing of any personal information. But as Facebook handles the fallout from a privacy breach affecting up to 87 million users, the social network is dropping its public opposition to the proposed privacy law and won't donate any more money to the opposition. Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Sweet potatoes growing in a field. (credit: Robert Scotland) Sweet potatoes are a staple food crop in most of the world today, but they're also a bit of an enigma. We don't know for sure how or when they evolved from their closest wild relatives or whether humans were involved. A new genetic study answers some of those burning questions about the sweet potato's past, and, in the process, it casts some doubt on a popular idea about pre-Columbian sea travel between the Americas and the islands of Polynesia. Pre-Columbian cultural exchange? A few tantalizing threads of evidence have emerged over the years to suggest that the people of the Polynesian Islands and the people of the Americas could have maintained at least sporadic contact with each other long before Europeans arrived in either place. None of that evidence has stood up to much scrutiny, though—except for one fact: sweet potatoes, a crop native to Central and South America, had already firmly taken root in the islands of Polynesia by the time Europeans arrived. It seemed logical that someone must have carried them across the Pacific. But a new study says sweet potatoes actually reached the islands long before there were even people in the Americas—at least 111,500 years ago, and possibly even earlier. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
The Verge Red alert, people! Gmail is being redesigned. Google sent out an email to G Suite administrators warning them a "fresh, clean look" would be coming to Gmail.com soon. Shortly after the email went out, leaked pictures of the design were posted to Android Authority and The Verge, so we have a ton of pictures to obsess over. So let's dive in. The existing Gmail for Web design is one of Google's oldest, dating all the way back to 2011. While some Google services seem to get a redesign every year or two (like YouTube) the lack of a redesign for Gmail always felt more like it stemmed from a "fear of screwing it up" than anything else. Some people who live inside Gmail will be very vocal if Google breaks anything. Even the 2011 redesign did not go over well. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Artist's conception of Mitchell reacting to the news (actually a parody of Mitchell featured in a Regular Show cartoon, but still...) Twin Galaxies, the long-running video game high score tracker recognized by Guinness World Records, has banned Billy Mitchell and removed all of his past scores from its listings after determining that two million-plus-point Donkey Kong performances he submitted were actually created with an emulator and not on original arcade hardware as he consistently claimed. The move means that the organization now recognizes Steve Wiebe as the first player to achieve a million-point game in Donkey Kong, a question central to the 2007 cult classic documentary The King of Kong. Nearly two months ago, Mitchell's scores were also removed from the leaderboards at Donkey Kong Forum. Forum moderator Jeremy "Xelnia" Young cited frame-by-frame analysis of the board transitions in Mitchell's Donkey Kong tapes, which showed visual artifacts suggesting they were generated by early versions of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) and not original Donkey Kong arcade hardware. After checking Mitchell's original submitted score tapes and "meticulously test[ing] and investigat[ing] the dispute case assertions as well as a number of relevant contingent factors," the Twin Galaxies administration unanimously determined that two of Mitchell's disputed scores were created by an emulator: A 1.047 million point performance that was highlighted in The King of Kong and a 1.05 million point score achieved at a Mortgage Brokers convention in 2007. Twin Galaxies wasn't able to make a definitive determination on a third, 1.06 million point score Mitchell claimed to have at Florida's Boomers arcade in 2010. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Max Schrems is leading a group called Europe vs. Facebook to force the social network to comply with EU data protection law. (credit: Europe vs. Facebook) The Irish High Court has formally asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to figure out whether it's legal under European law for Facebook to routinely transfer user data to the United States. The referral to the court was published Thursday, and Facebook has until the end of the month to respond to the Irish court. If the CJEU rules against Facebook, it could put a slew of American tech giants on notice and throw what is generally a smooth and orderly process into chaos. Right now, European Twitter, Google, and Facebook users have their data captured in their home countries but processed and/or stored by the American parent companies. As part of a five-year legal battle involving an Austrian privacy activist, Max Schrems, the CJEU is now being asked to determine whether the current set of rules that govern those transfers, known as "Privacy Shield," are adequate. The case is being heard in Ireland as it involves Facebook Ireland, which keeps all non-American and non-Canadian data is funneled through. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty | John Greim) It is fairly common knowledge that the uterine environment affects fetal development; if you don’t believe that, you have clearly never tried to order a coffee or have a sip of wine in public while pregnant. It's enough to elicit dirty looks and even nasty reprimands from complete strangers. But it's not just chemicals. Historical analyses indicate that waves of neurodevelopmental disorders occur after viral and bacterial pandemics. Studies in mice suggest that it is maternal inflammation, rather than a direct infection, that elicits these disorders; when pregnant mice are given proinflammatory molecules without any infectious agent, their pups exhibit altered behaviors. But the implications for human health haven't been clear. Now, a team has some evidence of a direct connection between inflammation in humans and changes in their offspring. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / In January, Rocket Lab reached orbit for the first time with the second launch of its Electron vehicle. (credit: Rocket Lab) Life is pretty good for Rocket Lab and its founder Peter Beck right now. With two test flights of its Electron rocket completed in the last 10.5 months, the company says it will move into commercial operations later this month. The 14-day launch window for the "It's Business Time" mission, carrying two private payloads, opens on April 20. In an interview, Beck said Rocket Lab hopes to fly eight missions in 2018 and reach a monthly launch cadence by the end of the year. The company's initial test flight in May 2017 failed to reach orbit, but a second flight in January of this year was almost entirely successful. Rocket Lab will become the first of a number of small-satellite launch companies to begin serving customers. As a result of that January test flight, Beck said customers have responded. "Over the years, companies in this market have come and gone, and at some point in time, customers said, 'show me when it works,'" Beck said. "Now we have proof that it works. Since January, the sales team has just been going flat out. It’s fairly obvious when you have a pent-up market, and you have a solution, life becomes good." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Tesla's Model X. (credit: Jordan Golson) Tesla on Tuesday escalated its media battle with the family of Apple engineer Walter Huang. Huang died in Silicon Valley last month when his Model X vehicle crashed into a concrete lane divider at high speed. Tesla's Autopilot driver assistance system was engaged at the time. Tesla made its clearest statement yet that Huang—not Tesla—bore responsibility for his death on a Mountain View freeway. Huang's family has hired an attorney to sue Tesla. In an on-camera interview with local television station ABC 7, Huang's wife, Sevonne, said that prior to his death, Huang had complained to her that the car had a tendency to drive toward the exact traffic barrier that ultimately killed him. But in a statement to ABC 7 on Tuesday evening, Tesla turned this argument around. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Jeff Dunn Vizio has announced its newest crop of televisions for 2018. The Irvine, California-based company this week refreshed its entire lineup, with updates to its affordable E- and D-Series, midrange M-Series, and higher-end P-Series sets. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Mother with newborn. (credit: Getty | Tim Clayton) In the US, the rate of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth is higher than in any other developed country—much, much higher. And we’re bucking the global trend of improving the situation. While the rest of the world largely saw its maternal mortality rates drop by more than a third between 2000 and 2015, the US was one of the few countries that seemed to experience increases in the rate of women dying from pregnancy-related causes. The state of maternal health in the US is so grim that researchers can’t even get quality data on the deaths. In fact, the country has not published an official maternal mortality rate since 2007 due to the lack of accurate data from individual states. In 2016, a group of researchers didn’t mince words about the situation: “It is an international embarrassment that the United States, since 2007, has not been able to provide a national maternal mortality rate to international data repositories,” the researchers concluded in a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Now, a new study in the same journal goes further to highlight just how bad the state of maternal health data is in the US. The study links a dramatic rise in maternal deaths in Texas to errors from a poorly designed drop-down menu in the state’s electronic death records system. While the discovery drags down the state’s stratospheric maternal mortality rate, the corrected numbers are still extremely high for a developed country. Moreover, having to make these types of corrections squanders precious resources, experts note. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Eric Bangeman) Like many Gen Xers, my first car was a Volkswagen—a 1973 Beetle, to be exact. Back then, VW was known primarily for making quirky, fun cars like the Beetle, the Thing, the Bus, and the Karmann Ghia. You could get behind the wheel of a Rabbit or Jetta for a more conventional driving experience, but that was not VW's strong spot a few decades ago. Times have changed. Volkswagen is now one of the three largest car companies in the world, and its lineup reflects that reality. And as of the 2018 model year, VW's vehicle lineup includes a three-row SUV, the Atlas. Even though it has been on the market for only a year, the Atlas had become VW's second-most-popular car in the German automaker's lineup in March 2018, showing that the American car-buying public's thirst for crossovers and SUVs remains unslaked. (The small crossover Tiguan topped VW's sales charts.) Marketed as a "family SUV," the Atlas starts at $30,750 and comes in five trim levels. As is the norm for press cars, the Atlas I drove was the SEL Premium with 4MOTION, the highest trim level with all the bells and whistles for $49,415. VW offers two engine options: a standard four-cylinder, 2.0L turbocharged direct injection engine that gives you 235hp (175kW) and 258lb-ft (350nM) of torque that comes standard, and a 3.6L V6 engine that generates 276 horsepower (206kW) and 266lb⋅ft (361Nm) of torque. Both are available across the Atlas, except for the Premium, which excludes the 2.0L power plant. All told, the Atlas weighs in at 4,728lb (2,144kg) with the V6 and AWD. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / "It really has been a meaningful journey full of mutual understanding, hasn't it son?" / "Dad, let go, I want to go play with my friends!" Hey, remember Kratos? You know, Kratos... the bloodthirsty Greek god in the God of War series who slaughtered thousands upon thousands of victims, both mortal and immortal, with an icy cold heart largely devoid of mercy? Well... get this. What if Kratos had a kid sidekick? And what if that kid was a sickly, sensitive weakling? Wouldn't that just be crazy? This concept drives the new God of War reboot for the PS4, and at the start it plays out a lot like the cringe-worthy, sitcom-level twist you'd expect from such a pitch. Kratos is now bearded, slightly more aged, and relocated to the cold and unfamiliar climes of Scandinavia. He's paying his final respects to a wife we don't get to see. Left behind with Kratos is a son, the small and frail Atreus, who is over-eager to accompany his dad on a quest to spread his mom's ashes from "the highest peak in all the realms." (That's a welcome respite from the usual "save/destroy the world" impetus driving most action games, at least.) After a slow and somewhat annoying start, though, Atreus proves to be just the shot in the arm this series needed for a new generation of consoles and players. The addition of a child to play off adds much-needed depth and development to the remorseless revenge machine featured in previous God of War games. Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / High Sierra wallpaper. The low-hanging clouds in the background may or may not be related to the name. (credit: Apple) Today and tomorrow, macOS users will begin seeing notifications informing them that 32-bit apps will not be supported in a future version of macOS, Apple representatives told Ars. Starting at midnight April 12, 2018 in the user's local time zone, they will see the following message the first time they launch an app that only supports 32-bit in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4: This app needs to be updated by its developer to improve compatibility. Along with that message, they'll see a "learn more" link that takes them to Apple's support page on the subject with more information. The support page broadly explains Apple's plans to "eventually" require all Mac software to be 64-bit. It also reiterates several statements Apple has made to developers in the past, like specifying that High Sierra will be the last version to run 32-bit apps "without compromise": Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / President Donald Trump, before signing the "Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act" at the White House. (credit: Getty Images | Chris Kleponis) President Donald Trump today signed the controversial FOSTA/SESTA bill into law, paving the way for more law enforcement actions against websites that facilitate prostitution. Websites started shutting down sex-work forums even before Trump signed the bill. Craigslist removed its "Personals" section, Reddit removed some sex-related subreddits, and the Erotic Review blocked any user who appears to be visiting the website from the United States. The bill becoming law will likely lead to more "voluntary" site shutdowns or law enforcement actions against sites that continue to be used for prostitution. The White House said the action "makes it a Federal crime to own, manage, or operate a website with the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Penn.), shows his phone to the media as he FaceTimes his daughter at the Capitol in 2015. (credit: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images) VirnetX Holding Corporation—a Nevada company that many would dub a "patent troll" as it has no meaningful source of income outside of patent litigation—has won a $502.6 million judgement against Apple in a legal case that has dragged on since 2012. In October 2017, Apple was also ordered to pay over $439 million as its "VPN on Demand" feature and FaceTime were determined to violate VirnetX's patents. However, this verdict may not stand on appeal. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
The Vela pulsar, as imaged by the Chandra X-ray telescope. (credit: NASA/CXC/University of Toronto/M. Durant, et al.) Neutron stars are the most dense form of matter in our Universe (black holes cram more stuff into a smaller space, and it's not clear if that stuff is still "matter"). A neutron star is produced by the collapse of a stellar core, which crams a bit more mass than our Sun into a sphere about 20 kilometers across. At this density, matter does strange things. Models based on theoretical considerations suggest that there's a distinct "crust" that sits atop a superfluid of subatomic particles, but it's not like we can visit one and confirm this. Now, researchers have done the next-best thing: they've arranged for a telescope to stare at a neutron star for three years, waiting for it to undergo a "glitch" in its normal behavior. The results give us one of our first direct tests of competing models for what's beneath the surface of a neutron star. The glitch While a neutron star is composed primarily of neutrons (duh!), there are also protons present in its interior. All the particles there form a superfluid, which can flow without any friction. The flow of these charged particles inside the star can create an intense magnetic field, one that can accelerate charged particles near the star and cause them to emit photons. The rapid rotation of the star means that these jets of charged particles sweep a large area of space with the photons they produce. On Earth, we see this as a flash of light appearing from the same source many times a second—a pulsar. The pulses of photons that give these stars their name arrive with such regularity that we've used them as an extremely precise test of relativity. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Mike Mozart) AT&T says its 5G wireless trials have been producing speeds of more than a gigabit per second from millimeter wave frequencies, even in bad weather and—in some cases—without a line-of-sight connection. Latencies have been as low as 9ms, the company said. Current-generation 4G LTE networks generally use frequencies below 1GHz, which are best for covering long distances and penetrating obstacles such as building walls. 5G networks are expected to rely heavily on millimeter wave signals—30GHz and above—which are easily blocked by obstacles and generally require line-of-sight connections. AT&T and other carriers plan to use 5G for smartphones connecting directly to mobile networks and for fixed wireless connections in areas that lack fiber-to-the-premises or cable. There is a lot of available millimeter wave spectrum, which means carriers can easily ramp up the bits per second. But there will be challenges in actually getting that data to smartphones when there are obstacles between the cell sites and handheld devices. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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