posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Mark Watney knows how to do everything, including turn his rover into a super-car that he lives in for several weeks. (credit: Fox Movies) The best part of The Martian isn't the breathtaking rescue, nor the awe-inspiring dust storm. It's watching Mark Watney grow potatoes. Instead of freaking out over his imminent doom, Mark calmly figures how to grow plants in the Martian regolith by fertilizing them with his own poop, and watering them with a DIY device that makes water by heating hydrogen from his leftover rocket fuel, and combining it with oxygen from the Hab environment. Mark makes The Martian a classic of competence porn by always coming up with a hackerish solution to every problem, just like James Bond or Ellen Ripley with her exoskeleton in Aliens. And he's not the only competence porn star burning up our monitors right now. From Sherlock to The Americans, competence porn is filling us with the satisfaction that comes from watching people attack problems with brains and cunning rather than fists. Well, OK, there are some fists, too. The birth of the trickster smartass Clever characters who can weasel their way out of any situation go back to the earliest days of western literature, when ancient Greek hero Ulysses, star of the Odyssey, outsmarted the cyclops and figured out how to listen to the sirens' song without killing himself. In the east, the character Sun Wukong (AKA the Monkey King) plays a similar role, using his trickster cunning to keep the bad guys down. Indeed, most competence porn heroes have an element of the Monkey King's trickster ways—they may use logic to defeat death, but they'll tell a few jokes and pull a few beards along the way. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: f1uffster (Jeanie)) Birth, like life, is messy. But, while life’s messes often harm health, the untidiness of our entrance into the world may profoundly protect it—at least that’s a leading hypothesis among microbiome researchers. Microbes picked up from mom while in or exiting the womb kick off humans’ lifelong association with the invisible critters that live in and on us and affect our health. In cases where that microbial colonization of a newborn goes awry, researchers have noted links to chronic health problems, such as asthma, obesity, allergies, and immune deficiencies. Researchers have also found that such a microbial debacle is often brought on by Cesarean delivery (C-section), which is a common surgical procedure to birth a baby through the mother’s abdomen rather than the normal shove down the birth canal. To reverse the potential ill-fate of C-section babies, researchers smeared surgically delivered babies with the vaginal fluids from their mothers in the moments just after birth. After tracking the babies and their microbiomes for a month, the researchers report Monday in Nature Medicine that the quick slather partly restored normal microbiome development. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Ron Amadeo) Google's intent to transition to "Alphabet"—a company-full-of-companies that better represents the current layout of Larry Page's conglomerate—was announced back in August 2015. After getting organized and actually going through with the transition, today marks the first quarter of Alphabet's existence and its first earnings report. It even has a brand new investor site to celebrate. For Q4 2015, Alphabet beat analyst estimates of 8.10 per Class A share and 20.77 billion on revenue, with $8.67 per share and 21.33 billion in revenue. The news sent the price of Alphabet stock up over 6 percent in after-hours trading, sending Alphabet's market cap over $550 billion. Apple's market cap is sitting at $538 billion, which makes Alphabet the most valuable company in the world. Alphabet's position as highest company by market cap is a product of both Alphabet's rise and Apple's fall. The amount is a far cry from Apple's all-time high of ~774 billion in February 2015. As the first-ever Alphabet earnings call, Google is breaking out the non-Google parts into a segment called "other bets." Other than Nest and Google Fiber, the "other bets" segment is basically made up of Alphabet's moonshots. The company says the "other bets" segment had $448 million in revenue for 2015 ($327 million this quarter), but overall Alphabet's non-Google companies lost $3.567 billion this year, with $1.942 billion of that coming just this quarter. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Lowering Leona Philpot into the water. (credit: Microsoft) Air conditioning is one of the biggest costs in running data centers. Traditional data centers use as much electricity for cooling as they do for running the actual IT equipment. Accordingly, much of the innovation seen in the high-density cloud server space has been to develop data centers that are cheaper to cool and hence cheaper to run. With its much higher heat capacity than air, water has become the coolant of choice, pumped around and between the computers to transport their heat outside. Project Natick Microsoft has demonstrated an experimental prototype of a new approach: instead of pumping water around the data center, put the data center in the water. Project Natick is a research project to build and run a data center that's submerged in the ocean. The company built an experimental vessel, named the Leona Philpot, and deployed it on the seafloor about 1 kilometer off the Pacific coast. It ran successfully from August to November last year. Leona Philpot and the team that designed her: from left to right, Eric Peterson, Spencer Fowers, Norm Whitaker, Ben Cutler, Jeff Kramer. (credit: Microsoft) As well as the obvious cooling advantage this brings, Microsoft argues that this kind of data center will bring other benefits, too. About half of the world's population lives within 200km of the ocean, and so the ability to put data centers in the water means that they can always be located close to major population centers. This in turn ensures that they offer low latency connections. The company also says that the self-contained units can be deployed quickly, within 90 days, rather than the 2 years it takes to build a conventional building, or the 1 year that Microsoft says its fourth generation data centers take. The units could also be paired with tidal power generation to further reduce their environmental impact. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This official Oral Roberts University photo sure has a lot of Fitbits in it, doesn't it? (credit: Oral Roberts University) Oklahoma's Oral Roberts University opened in 1965 with a fitness course requirement for its newest incoming freshman and transfer students—a rarity among American universities. That requirement became even more unique to the evangelical university in January when the school added a technological requirement to the course: mandatory Fitbit ownership, whose fitness tracking must also be synced to the school's grading system. The school formally announced the change in early January, and the news became better known around the country late last week as college-minded outlet The College Fix wrote about students' thoughts on the change. An Oral Roberts representative confirmed to Ars that students in the course, known as "Health Fitness I," have a student requirement of 10,000 steps a day, and the app-tracked targets account for 20 percent of a student's grade in the course. In its formal press release, Oral Roberts University confirms that over 550 Fitbit units have been sold through its on-campus bookstore, and it describes the initiative as "literally transport[ing] digital electrons from student’s wearable band anywhere on campus into the secure Learning Management System." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Female Aedes aegypti mosquito as she was in the process of obtaining a "blood meal" (credit: US Department of Health and Human Services) The mosquito-spread Zika virus linked to a spike in birth defects and neurological syndromes is a public health emergency of international concern, the World Health Organization declared Monday. The declaration followed an emergency meeting in Geneva, in which health experts from around the world reviewed the data on the outbreak blazing through South and Central Americas. In some areas, infection with the Zika virus has been associated with a paralyzing neurological condition, known as Guillain-Barré syndrome, and microcephaly, in which babies are born with severely shrunken and deformed heads and brains. In Brazil, which reported its first case of Zika last May, the virus has infected an estimated million people and been linked to a 20-fold increase in microcephaly cases. Since the outbreak began, health officials there have reported around 4,000 confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly, compared to just 147 in 2014. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A report from The Information (subscription required) states that Google wants to take "greater control" over the design and building of Nexus phones. Currently, a Nexus device is a co-branded partnership between Google's Android team and an OEM, but this report says Google wants to move to a more "Apple-like" approach. The report says that in the future, "hardware makers will be much more like order-takers, similar to the way contract manufacturers like Hon Hai (Foxconn) follow Apple’s directions for producing the iPhone." Apple designs its phones, SoC, and other parts and then ships the plans off to third-party factories to have them built. Currently it's easy to draw comparisons to Pixel devices, which are also designed and branded by Google and built by third parties. Would this device be called a "Pixel Phone?" Pixel brand devices have typically come from the Chrome group, while Nexus has been from the Android Team. The branding isn't just about the operating system, it's also about which team inside of Google the product comes from. The Pixel group did recently create its first Android device, the Pixel C, but that seems to be more of a last-ditch effort to get the hardware out the door. The two operating systems are reportedly merging, though, so the line between teams and brands could get messier. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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If you don’t pay $99 each year for an Amazon Prime membership, which promises two-day shipping on all orders, regular shipping on Amazon purchases might be slower than it was last year, according to a study from customer service metrics company StellaService. In an interview with Forbes, StellaService vice president of research Kevon Hills said the company tracks how quickly orders from 40 companies are fulfilled. Amazon fell outside of the top 10 fastest companies for the first time this year, losing ground to companies like BestBuy and Apple. Hills said the speed of shipments to Prime customers is unchanged, indicating that Amazon is throwing considerable investment at serving its rapidly growing Prime base—which increased by 51 percent in 2015. Although Amazon does not reveal numbers about how many customers are Prime members, analysts have estimated that Prime membership totals at least 46 million people and could be as high as 80 million. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Websites that rely on the Tor anonymity service to cloak their server address may be leaking their geographic location and other sensitive information thanks to a setting that's turned on by default in many releases of Apache, the world's most widely used Web server. The information leak has long been known to careful administrators who take the time to read Tor documentation, but that hasn't prevented some Tor hidden services from falling victim to it. To plug the hole, darkweb sites that run Apache must disable the mod_status module that by default sets up a server status page displaying a variety of potentially sensitive information about the servers. Details include the number of requests per second sent to the server, the most recent HTTP requests received, CPU usage, and in some cases the approximate longitude of the server. It would appear some hidden services still haven't figured out that many Apache installations display the data by default. In a blog post published over the weekend, an anonymous poster wrote: Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Who needs crypto backdoors when Barbie can spy on you? (credit: Mike Licht) The so-called "going dark" problem—which various government officials claim will be the death knell to the US because Silicon Valley won't bake crypto backdoors into its wares—is greatly overblown. That's because crime fighters are not in the dark, at least technologically, and are now presented with a vast array of spy tools at their disposal. Specifically, modern espionage is piggybacking on the Internet of Things (IoT) tools, from televisions to toasters, that enable wanton spying. "The audio and video sensors on IoT devices will open up numerous avenues for government actors to demand access to real-time and recorded communications," according to a Berkman Center for Internet & Society report published Monday. The report added: Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Matt Wade) Privacy researcher Ashkan Soltani, who worked on several Washington Post stories regarding the Snowden leaks, has been barred from working at the White House. In December, Soltani was hired to be senior adviser to White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. On Friday, Soltani said on Twitter that to his disappointment, the White House Office of Personnel Security denied him a security authorization to work there. "I'm told this is something that happens from time to time and I won't speculate on the reasons," said Soltani in a statement. "I do want to say that I am proud of my work, I passed the mandatory drug screening some time ago, and the FBI background check was still underway. There was also no allegation that it was based on the quality or integrity of my work." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A Google Titan drone. If a report from The Guardian is to be believed, Google has yet another Internet-in-the-sky program in the works. This one is called "Project Skybender" and aims to outfit drones with millimeter wave transceivers—radios that work in a slice of the spectrum that could be used in next-generation "5G" networks. Apparently, Google currently has drones whizzing around the airspace of Spaceport America in New Mexico, where the project shares a hangar with Virgin Galactic. Currently, the drone hardware seems to be an "optionally piloted" commercial aircraft called the "Centaur," along with the solar-powered drones from Google Titan. Both aircraft are "plane like" drones with wings and front-facing propellers. The report says that Google is using the drones to "experiment with millimeter-wave radio transmissions" and that the project "ultimately envisages thousands of high altitude 'self-flying aircraft' delivering Internet access around the world." The FCC has said that 5G millimeter wave networks could hit speeds between 1Gbps and 10Gbps. Currently engineers are working around natural distance and signal propagation issues inherent in the lower frequency. While millimeter-wave transceivers might eventually be integrated into a smartphone, Google is presently using several stationary antennas around Spaceport America. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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One of the thousands of e-mails from Hillary Clinton's personal mail server that have been publicly released by the State Department. Now, 22 have been labeled with a Top Secret or higher classification. The US State Department has declared 22 of the e-mails stored on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal mail server to contain information classified as "top secret." In some cases, those e-mails were related to "special access programs"—the highest level of classification for government secrets, reserved for protected intelligence and other information kept closely protected because of its sensitivity. The State Department did not reveal whether the messages were all sent to Clinton or if she authored any of them. Clinton has maintained that she never sent any classified information using her personal e-mail—a hosted Exchange server that initially was operated from her own home. The messages were "upgraded at the request of the intelligence community," State Department spokesperson John Kirby told the Associated Press, indicating that they had not been marked with that level of classification initially. There is no indication whether the information was sent or received by Clinton or whether it bore any classification mark to begin with. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A Comcast customer who is dissatisfied with Internet speeds set up a Raspberry Pi to automatically tweet at Comcast each time speeds are much lower than advertised. "I pay for 150Mbps down and 10Mbps up," Reddit user AlekseyP wrote over the weekend. "The Raspberry Pi runs a series of speed tests every hour and stores the data. Whenever the down[load] speed is below 50Mbps the Pi uses a Twitter API to send an automatic tweet to Comcast listing the speeds. I know some people might say I should not be complaining about 50Mbps down, but when they advertise 150 and I get 10-30 I am unsatisfied." AlekseyP made the Twitter bot's code available on Pastebin. "I am by no means some fancy programmer so there is no need to point out that my code is ugly or could be better," the Redditor wrote. AlekseyP set the tweeting threshold at 50Mbps in part because the Raspberry Pi's Ethernet port tops out at 100Mbps. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: shodan.io) One of the benefits of the next-generation Internet protocol known as IPv6 is the enhanced privacy it offers over its IPv4 predecessor. With a staggering 2128 (or about 3.4×1038) theoretical addresses available, its IP pool is immune to the types of systematic scans that criminal hackers and researchers routinely perform to locate vulnerable devices and networks with IPv4 addresses. What's more, IPv6 addresses can contain regularly changing, partially randomized extensions. Together, the IPv6 features cloak devices in a quasi anonymity that's not possible with IPv4. Now, network administrators have discovered a clever way that scanners are piercing the IPv6 cloak of obscurity. By setting up an IPv6-based network time protocol service most Internet-connected devices rely on to keep their internal clocks accurate, the operators can harvest huge numbers of IPv6 addresses that would otherwise remain unknown. The server operators can then scan hundreds or thousands of ports attached to each address to identify publicly available surveillance cameras, unpatched servers, and similar vulnerabilities. Shodan—the vulnerability search engine that indexes Internet-connected devices—has been quietly contributing NTP services for months to the cluster of volunteer time servers known as the NTP Pool Project. To increase the number of connections to three recently identified Shodan-run servers, each one had 15 virtual IP addresses. The added addresses effectively multiplied the volume of traffic they received by 15-fold, increasing the odds that Shodan would see new devices. Within seconds of one of the Shodan's NTP servers receiving a query from an IPv6 device, Shodan's main scanning engine would scan more than 100 ports belonging to the device. The Shodan scanner would then revisit the device roughly once a day. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Wait... which is which? I'm confused! When you looked at the recent Need for Speed games from EA subsidiary Ghost Games, did you mistakenly think you were actually buying a game in the long-running Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series. No? Well, Ubisoft is worried that you might be confused, now or in the future. That's why the company is officially opposing EA's application to trademark the "Ghost" name with the US Patent and Trademark Office. In a Notice of Opposition posted on the USPTO site, Ubisoft correctly points out that the "Ghost Recon" name has been in use since 2001, long before the first game under the Ghost Games label came out in 2013. But Ubisoft goes on to claim that "applicant’s proposed mark GHOST mark is nearly identical to the GHOST RECON marks used and owned by [Ubisoft]" and that the new mark is "likely... to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive." "Consumers are likely to believe, mistakenly, that the goods and services [EA] offers under Applicant’s Mark are provided, sponsored, endorsed, or approved by [Ubisoft], or are in some way affiliated, connected, or associated with [Ubisoft], all to the detriment of [Ubisoft]," the filing argues. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The hyperloop pod design contest took place in Texas A&M University's Hall of Champions. (credit: Eric Berger) COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS—For years, the Hyperloop was a much buzzed-about myth. Finally, in 2013, Elon Musk provided a bit of substance by outlining the proposal in a research paper. People riding inside a tube, he said, could go from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 30 minutes at speeds exceeding 700mph. But Musk had rockets and electric cars and batteries to build, and he expressed a hope that others would step forward to help carry the idea forward as an open source project. Now some help has arrived. While SpaceX is building a test track near its southern California headquarters, more than 100 teams of student engineers have spent the fall and winter months designing “pods” to run inside the Hyperloop. And perhaps more importantly still, this weekend US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said that the idea merits consideration for a public-private partnership to develop it further. On Friday and Saturday, the student teams gathered in central Texas to show off their homegrown designs, taking the first step toward building pods and making the future Elon Musk a reality. In these teens and young twenty-somethings, Musk has found not only some of the world’s brightest minds but also believers. Musk had inspired them, and in the students he had found the youthful energy to push forward a brash idea like the Hyperloop. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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How deep does the rabbit hole go? (credit: Aurich and Eva Lawson) For some, rejection of the human role in climate change reduces to a conspiracy: the world’s climate scientists are part of a socialist cabal falsifying research to justify energy regulations. Someone who has never met a climate scientist or looked closely at published studies can simply hold onto this idea rather than deal with the mountain of scientific evidence. Of course, it is patently ridiculous. The conspiracy would include an incredible number of scientists around the world, perfectly coordinating for decades, with nary a leak to give the game away—and that's before getting into all the socialists who would have to be involved. In a recent paper, Oxford physicist and cancer researcher David Robert Grimes decided to try to create a mathematical measure for just how stupidly implausible that idea is—a sort of conspiracy probability equation. (Isn’t that exactly the kind of thing the cabal would use to throw the sheeple off the scent? Grimes must be in on it!) The equation calculates the probability of a conspiracy-busting leak as 1-e-tφ, where φ includes the (potentially changing) number of conspirators over time and the odds that one of those people leaks information in a given year. To estimate the odds that your average conspirator spills the beans, Grimes turned to some historical examples of events fitting the academic definition of “conspiracy”: the NSA’s PRISM program, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and the FBI’s shoddy forensics uncovered by Frederic Whitehurst in the late 1990s. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / What might have been. (credit: Lee Hutchinson / NASA / NOAA) February 1, 2016: One of the most tragic events in the history of space exploration is the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and all seven of its crew on February 1, 2003—a tragedy made worse because it didn’t have to happen. But just as it is human nature to look to the future and wonder what might be, so too is it in our nature to look at the past and wonder, “what if?” Today, 13 years after the event, Ars is rerunning our detailed 2014 examination of the biggest Columbia “what if” of all—what if NASA had recognized the danger? Could NASA have done something to save the crew? If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life. —Astronaut Gus Grissom, 1965 It is important to note at the outset that Columbia broke up during a phase of flight that, given the current design of the Orbiter, offered no possibility of crew survival. —Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report At 10:39 Eastern Standard Time on January 16, 2003, space shuttle Columbia lifted off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A mere 81.7 seconds later, a chunk of insulating foam tore free from the orange external tank and smashed into the leading edge of the orbiter's left wing at a relative velocity of at least 400 miles per hour (640 kph), but Columbia continued to climb toward orbit. The foam strike was not observed live. Only after the shuttle was orbiting Earth did NASA's launch imagery review reveal that the wing had been hit. Foam strikes during launch were not uncommon events, and shuttle program managers elected not to take on-orbit images of Columbia to visually assess any potential damage. Instead, NASA's Debris Assessment Team mathematically modeled the foam strike but could not reach any definitive conclusions about the state of the shuttle's wing. The mission continued. Read 90 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Telegeography) Efforts to secure a new data transfer pact between the US and the European Union failed to meet a January 31 deadline set by national privacy regulators in the 28-member-state bloc. Data watchdogs in the EU will meet tomorrow to finalise their own views on how data can be transferred from one side of the Atlantic to another, following a European Court of Justice ruling in October last year, which deemed the EU-US Safe Harbour pact invalid. It's expected that the national data authorities will publish their own judgment on Wednesday. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Andrii Degeler A few sheets of flexiramics 4 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } Modern chemistry can sometimes produce the most unlikely things, including materials familiar to everyone but with totally new—and useful—properties. A recent example of such a material is "flexiramics," which is being developed by Dutch startup Eurekite at the University of Twente. As the name suggests, flexiramics is a foldable, tissue-like material that is also fireproof and non-conducting, like most other ceramics. As Eurekite commercializes flexiramics and prepares to take it to market, we decided to pay the startup a visit. The startup's founding team consists of three people: two international students coming from Spain and Azerbaijan and their academic supervisor. Eurekite CEO Gerard Cadafalch Gazquez, who came to the Netherlands from Barcelona in 2010 to pursue a Master's and then a PhD degree, showed his favorite trick with a sheet of flexiramics: Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Amanda) Coffee is one of the most popular drinks worldwide, with countless cups of the dark, alluring elixir brewed up each day. And, lucky for those coffee-guzzlers out there, mounting data suggest it’s good for you; moderate coffee drinking has been linked to lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, liver diseases, diabetes, and an overall lowered risk of dying too soon. But, as coffee-lovers happily continue sipping their morning fix with a dash of self-satisfaction, it’s worth noting that not every cup of coffee is equal. Brewed coffee can vary wildly in its flavor and chemical make-up, particularly the chemicals linked to health benefits. Everything that happens before the pour—from the bean selection, roast, grind, water, and brew method—can affect the taste and quality of a cup of joe. So far, there’s little to no data on the health impact of drinking one type of coffee over another. In studies linking coffee to lowered risks of disease and death, researchers mostly clumped all coffee types together, even decaffeinated coffee, in some cases. But, there is a fair amount of data on individual components of coffee that are flavorful and beneficial—and how to squeeze as much them as possible into your mug. Here’s what the science says: Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Neato Botvac Connected. 16 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } It's been about two months since I've vacuumed my house, and the floor has never been cleaner. That's because I haven't been doing it—a robot has. For the past two months we've had a Neato Botvac Connected rolling around the house, the latest robo vac in Neato's lineup. Like all Neato robots, this has a spinning LIDAR unit that maps out the house. In this new "Connected" version, it's got Wi-Fi and a smartphone app. The household name in household robots is definitely iRobot's Roomba, a round robotic vacuum cleaner that popularized the idea of having a little bot clean up after you. The fundamentals of the Roomba haven't changed much since its introduction: it's a vacuum on motorized wheels with a bumper plate in the front. When the plate bumps into something, the robot knows it hit an obstacle and changes directions. Start a Roomba on floor and usually it will spiral outward until it hits a wall, try to feel out the perimeter of the room, and then ping pong all across the center of the house in an attempt to cover the interior space. Most Roombas can't "see." Its only window to the outside world is the little bumper plate—it feels its way around a space by running into stuff. Roomba will say it takes this limited information and runs it through an algorithm to be a little smarter than "randomly driving around," but to the human eye, there's little logic to where the little disk is driving. Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Rob Woolsey Dayonta International Speedway, the home of NASCAR and IMSA (the organizing body for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship). The track just received a $400 million upgrade. 21 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—The Rolex 24 at Daytona is the start of the American sportscar racing season. Since it happened to coincide with my 40th birthday, we decided to fly down to Florida to check it out. The main event is a 24-hour race for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which you might remember last year as the Tudor United SportsCar Championship. The race involves four different classes of car racing on track at the same time. The fastest cars race in the Prototype class, a mix of older Daytona Prototypes (tubeframe race cars) and LMP2s (carbon fiber prototypes that race at Le Mans). Next quickest are the GTLM cars, which are factory-supported racecars based on roadgoing machines like the Corvette Z06 and Porsche 911. Both Prototypes and GTLM feature lineups of professional drivers, many of whom are world-class. Several stars of NASCAR and IndyCar were in the field this year. The next two classes are pro-am, where wealthy amateurs are joined by professional hotshoes. There are the Prototype Challenge cars, which are all identical open-cockpit cars with Chevy V8s. The other pro-am class is GTD, which this year uses the GT3 technical ruleset. Like the GTLM cars, these are based on road-going machines like Lamborghini Huracáns and Dodge Vipers, but there is less room for technical development. It's been an action-packed race so far (with almost six hours left to run at the time of writing). Who wins is anyone's call. You can catch the end of the race on Fox Sports or streaming via the IMSA website or app. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Anderson Dawes runs the OPA on Ceres Station. His belter accent—multilingual slang delivered by Jared Harris with an accent that wouldn't sound out-of-place in Attack the Block—is a joy to listen to. (credit: SyFy) Attention all would-be OPA members: Du sif wang wit milowda fo yam seng unte revelushang! (Translation—join us for drinks and revolution!) This Wednesday, February 3, 2016, come join Ars’ Tech Culture Editor Annalee Newitz and me at Longitude bar in downtown Oakland, California. Not only will you be among friends and fellow fans of The Expanse, but you’ll be able to hang out and learn Belter from the man who created it—Nick Farmer, the language consultant for the show. Farmer is well-trained in many languages, including Swedish, Spanish, and a smattering of others to various degrees. At Longitude, he'll give all of us a basic lesson in Belter 101—a fascinating and poorly-understood (at least by us Earthers) creole. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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