posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg) The Federal Communications Commission today released the final version of its net neutrality repeal order, three weeks after the December 14 vote to deregulate the broadband industry and eliminate the rules. You can read the entire order here, though it is similar to the draft that has been available since November. Small edits aren't uncommon after FCC votes, and they don't require a second vote. The edits generally respond to concerns raised by commissioners, as we wrote earlier this week. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Each year's ozone hole is a little bit different. (credit: NASA) The Montreal Protocol, which went into effect in 1989, is a rare instance of a global agreement to solve a global problem: the release of vast quantities of ozone-destroying chemicals into the atmosphere. In the decades since, however, changes in ozone have been small and variable, making it hard to tell whether the protocol is making any difference. But evidence has been building that the ozone layer is recovering, and a new paper claims to have directly measured the ozone hole gradually filling back in. CFCs and ozone During the 1970s and '80s, evidence had been building that a class of industrial chemicals, the chloro-flurocarbons (CFCs), were damaging the ozone layer, a region of the stratosphere rich in this reactive form of oxygen. Ozone is able to absorb UV light that would otherwise reach the Earth's surface, where it's capable of damaging DNA. But the levels of ozone had been dropping, and this ultimately resulted in a nearly ozone-free "hole" above the Antarctic. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / We edited the front of the latest Game of Thrones HBO calendar to reflect today's final-season announcement. (credit: HBO/Aurich Lawson) Last month, HBO offered a sneak peek at series, specials, and films to expect from the cable network in 2018. But its new-year teaser reel had one obvious omission: any declaration about the future of Game of Thrones, other than a brief shot of a few series characters. It turns out that fans were right to raise their eyebrows at this reel. HBO issued a Thursday announcement to confirm that Game of Thrones' eighth—and final—season will debut in "2019." The network didn't hint at either a month or release window. Instead, it confirmed that the season will contain six episodes and offered a list of writers and directors on board, including longtime TV series contributors David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Otherwise, the announcement contained nothing in the way of plot or character hints, let alone a trailer. The show's official Twitter feed simply told fans, "Send a raven." The result: GoT will have its first full year off the airwaves since its 2011 debut. HBO hasn't yet announced firmer plans about an oft-rumored GoT prequel series—and, geez, there are five series possibly in the works—so it's unclear whether fans will have to wait similar amounts of time for any other TV series to kick off. Meanwhile, George R.R. Martin remains coy about whether his long-awaited book follow-up, The Winds of Winter, could arrive before HBO's final season starts. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Comcast) Comcast reportedly fired about 500 salespeople shortly before Christmas, despite claiming that the company would create thousands of new jobs in exchange for a big tax cut. Comcast apparently tried to keep the firings secret while it lobbied for the tax cut that was eventually passed into law by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Trump in late December. The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed the Comcast firings this week in an article based on information from an anonymous former employee, Comcast documents, and other sources in the company. The former employee who talked to the Inquirer "could not be identified because of a nondisclosure agreement as part of a severance package," the article said. The Inquirer headline notes that Comcast was able to implement the firings "quietly," avoiding any press coverage until this week. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel Corp., speaks during Automobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, November 15, 2016. (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel, sold millions of dollars worth of Intel stock—all he could part with under corporate bylaws—after Intel learned of Meltdown and Spectre, two related families of security flaws in Intel processors. While an Intel spokesperson told CBS Marketwatch reporter Jeremy Owens that the trades were "unrelated" to the security revelations and Intel financial filings showed that the stock sales were previously scheduled, Krzanich scheduled those sales on October 30. That's a full five months after researchers informed Intel of the vulnerabilities. And Intel has offered no further explanation of why Krzanich abruptly sold off all the stock he was permitted to. As a result of his stock sale, Krzanich received more than $39 million. Intel stock, as of today, is trading at roughly the same price as Krzanich sold stock at, so he did not yield any significant gain from selling before the vulnerability was announced. But the sale may still bring scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission for a number of reasons. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Tesla / Getty / Aurich) The good people over at Inside EVs have done their tabulating, and the numbers are in: in 2017, very nearly 200,000 electric vehicles were sold in the US. The actual number they calculate—199,826—is a significant increase on 2016, itself a banner year for EVs when 158,614 found homes. What's even more impressive is that overall new car sales were actually down year-on-year for the first time since 2009. Still, to keep things in context, more than 17 million new cars were sold in 2017. So electrics have a long way to go. Tesla on top As expected, Tesla remains at the head of the pack. The Model S, now in its fifth year of sales, remains the nation's best-selling EV with 27,060 sold, no mean feat for a vehicle that starts at $74,500. And the Model X SUV had a good year, too, finding more than 21,000 buyers to become the third-best-selling EV. Despite this, Tesla garnered plenty of lukewarm press on Wednesday as it revealed that Model 3 production will remain far lower than Elon Musk had been promising for at least the next quarter. Musk had set a target of 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of 2017, a figure he now says won't happen until Q2 2018 at the earliest. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Democrats vs. Republicans. (credit: Getty Images | Linda Braucht) Some supporters of net neutrality are focusing their attention on Congress and vowing to vote out lawmakers who won't join a legislative effort to reinstate net neutrality rules. "If they don't vote for net neutrality, let's vote them out," says the website launched yesterday by advocacy group Fight for the Future, which also organized recent protests. The website lists which senators have and haven't supported a plan to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to stop the repeal of net neutrality rules. The rules, repealed by the Federal Communications Commission last month, prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling Internet content or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, is forming an unusually high number of massive stars. (credit: NASA) For fans of drama, the Universe can be a bit of a disappointment. Most of the stars it currently produces are red M-dwarfs. With masses less than half that of the Sun, these will burn fuel contentedly for trillions of years and then gradually fade. Massive stars, with 10 or more times the material found in the Sun, will explode and possibly leave an exotic object like a black hole behind. But they're relative rarities in the present Universe. Or so we thought. A new survey of a star-forming region adjacent to the Milky Way has found an excess of stars with 30 or more times the mass of the Sun—and an even larger excess above 60 times the mass of the Sun. The find suggests that we could see a lot more supernovae and black holes. And it also implies that there might be something fundamentally off about our models of star formation. Limits on bigness Stars form from a mix of gas and other material that are drawn together by gravity. But things like angular momentum and the heat of friction fight against the pull of gravity. Star formation ends up being a balancing act, with limits on the amount of material that can accumulate before the star ignites in fusion. Once that happens, the heat and light of the star will drive off any material it hasn't already ingested. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! It's a fairly typical day here at Dealmaster HQ, so we'll get right into it: courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, today we've got discounts on a number of Dell PCs—both of the desktop and laptop varieties—as well an ongoing price cut to Microsoft's Xbox One S and a range of deals on audio and smart home equipment. You can peruse the full list of deals below. (credit: Dell/TechBargains) Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Mike Kane/Bloomberg/Getty Images On Wednesday, Delta Airlines flight 9771 flew from Atlanta to Pinal Airpark in Arizona. It wasn't a full flight—just 48 people on board. But it was a milestone—and not just for the two people who got married mid-flight—for it marked the very last flight of a Boeing 747 being operated by a US airline. Delta's last scheduled passenger service with the jumbo was actually late in December, at which point it conducted a farewell tour and then some charter flights. But as of today, after 51 long years in service, if you want to ride a 747 you'll need to be traveling abroad. Way back in the 1960s, when the white heat of technological progress was burning bright, it looked for a while as if supersonic air travel was going to be the next big thing. France and Britain were collaborating on a new kind of airliner that would fly at twice the speed of sound and shrink the globe. But there was just one thing they hadn't counted on: Boeing and its gargantuan 747 jumbo jet. The double-decker airliner wouldn't break the sound barrier, but its vast size compared to anything else in the skies helped drop the cost of long-haul air travel, opening it up to the people in a way Concorde could never hope to do. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / An extremely small look at the hundreds of millions of Miiverse posts archived on Archiverse (credit: Archiverse) Nintendo's first attempt at creating a real online social network, Miiverse, became a surprisingly robust and meme-filled community of artists and fans in the years after it launched on the Wii U and 3DS. Then, last November, Nintendo unceremoniously shut it down and removed the archives from the Internet, nothing, among other things, that "many users are shifting to social networking services." This week, thanks to the efforts of Archive Team and the Internet Archive, you can search through a nearly 17 terabyte backup of hundreds of millions of posts, screenshots, and drawings from the over 8 million users that made Miiverse such a weird and special place. Archiverse's sheer size makes it a bit hard to get a handle on, but there are still some gems to be found with some quick searching. The posts with the most approving "yeahs" in the Super Mario Maker community, for instance, serve as a quick-and-handy list of good levels to try out. The YouTube community is a great place to search for the kind of black-and-white dot art that helped drive the Miiverse community, including the work of the very popular MemeSenpai. Or, if you're in the mood for some quality "shitposting," the Funky Barn and New Super Luigi U community archives have you covered. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Derek Bacon / Getty Images) Welcome to 2018! We're less than a week into the New Year, and we've already got a number of new dumpster fires fully ablaze. Apple's BatteryGate PR disaster is now burning as hot as a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Microsoft's Kinect died, and nobody knew it—no wonder I couldn't find an adapter for my new Xbox One S. ("Hey Cortana, find me another way to let you surveil my household!") And Hooters is now serving crypto currency with its burgers. What a time to be alive! Last week, we published the Ars 2018 Deathwatch—the list of companies and other entities most at risk of a fiscal, technological, or cultural-relevancy death in the coming year. We asked readers to share their own picks in the comments, just in case we missed any candidates. And, not surprisingly, many of you have strong opinions about this sort of thing. Some of your picks matched up with companies we had debated putting on the list ourselves. Some were… shall we say, wishful thinking. Some were well-reasoned rejoinders to revive companies we've dropped off the list. Others were… not. But who are we to judge? We keep putting HTC on our list even though it keeps coming back year after year somehow, so we're willing to entertain a little debate. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks during the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas on April 25, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Ethan Miller ) Ajit Pai was scheduled to appear at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 9 to speak and answer questions in a "candid conversation" about Federal Communications Commission policymaking. But Pai canceled his appearance, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which runs the CES conference. "Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018," CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said in an announcement emailed to journalists attending CES yesterday. "We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience." Pai and Federal Trade Commission Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen were to appear in a session titled "Insights from the FCC and FTC." His scheduled appearance was announced in November. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Relúmĭno smart glasses made by Samsung's C-Lab. (credit: Samsung) Samsung's Creative Lab program lets employees explore new projects and spin off startup ideas, making devices that come out of the program intriguing. At CES next week, C-Lab will show off a few new projects, including Samsung's Relúmĭno smart glasses, which focus on helping those with vision impairments see more clearly. The spectacles are the first device to build on Samsung's Relúmĭno mobile app that debuted during last year's Mobile World Congress. The smart glasses work in conjunction with the mobile app (so your smartphone does most of the work) to improve different visual situations that pose problems for those with eyesight issues. The glasses' "regular mode" makes blurry images clearer by deciphering the outlines of objects in the person's view and making them more prominent. Another mode dubbed "color invert mode" makes it easier for users to read text on a page or on a screen from normal distances, so they don't have to bring the page or screen closer to their face. It also displays text with high contrast to further improve the reading experience. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Here are just some of the prizes you could win by entering this year’s sweepstakes. If you've been putting off donating to this year's Ars Technica Charity Drive Sweepstakes due to holiday obligations, unawareness, or just sheer laziness, don't put it off any longer. Today is the last day to get your donations in and be entered in the sweepstakes for the company-provided swag we give away every year. So far, over 450 readers have combined to donate nearly $30,000 to the EFF and/or Child's Play in this year's drive. That puts us a bit over $8,000 away from last year's record haul. I know our readers can dig deep and put last year's readers to shame in this final day of giving, so please follow the directions below to get your donation counted and your entry logged for the sweepstakes. And if you have given already, our deepest thanks from everyone here at Ars. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge On Thursday morning, Bosch announced that it is buying a five percent stake in the mapping and location services company Here. In doing so, it joins other shareholders Audi, BMW, Daimler-Benz, and Intel—the automakers having bought the company for $2.7 billion from Nokia in 2015, with Intel then buying a 15 percent stake in early 2017. "Bosch is more than cars," says Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. "Industry 4.0, smart homes, and smart cities are rapidly growing areas of business for us, in which establishing and expanding data-based services will result in synergies with Here." While regular readers will be most familiar with Here as one of the companies working on the very detailed maps to be used by autonomous cars, some drivers won't need to wait that long to benefit from its technology. On Wednesday, Here also announced the commercial launch of its Safety Services Suite, which will provide localized hazard warnings and up-to-date road sign information. The services will first show up in BMWs in North America and Europe in mid-2018. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Valentina Palladino Companies may be producing more premium convertibles than regular laptops, but Dell is giving its less-flexible XPS 13 some love ahead of this year's Consumer Electronics Show. The company announced an updated version of the XPS 13 laptop which features a new white-and-gold finish, a slimmer frame, 8th-generation Intel CPUs, and other upgrades. Dell released the XPS 13 2-in-1 last year, but this is the most significant update the XPS 13 laptop has seen in some time. The new laptop comes in a black and silver configuration, but the white and rose gold model is totally new for Dell. Over the past year or two, we've seen PC OEMs embrace the lighter side of hardware design with cream and soft gold accents, but Dell has been a holdout until now. The new white and rose gold model features a woven glass palm rest that has a slight texture to it, differentiating it from the black model's smooth palm rest. It's finished with a titanium oxide coating for shine, and the anti-stain coating should protect the palm rest from turning yellow. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The iPhone X's display, with rounded edges and the sensor housing—also called the notch. (credit: Samuel Axon) Korean tech site and phone marketplace Cetizen tested OLED displays on the iPhone X, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for 510 hours to measure burn-in as part of its ongoing iPhone X review. In all three cases, maintaining a static image for far longer than a normal use case was necessary to produce noticeable burn-in. The iPhone X took longer to exhibit distracting burn-in than the other two phones. The site left the phone screens displaying a static image at maximum brightness for the test's entire duration. The iPhone X first showed signs of burn-in at 17 hours, but even then the image retention was not bad enough to be noticeable in normal use. The Galaxy Note 8 took longer to exhibit retention, but by 62 hours it was more significant than what was seen on the iPhone X, such that a general user could identify the burned-in spots on the Note 8 at that time, but not on the iPhone X. By the end of the 510-hour test, all three phones had very noticeable image retention that could potentially be permanent. Cetizen did not report trying any methods of clearing the image up. In OLED TVs, retention can occur after several hours—especially with things like network logos on broadcast TV, or persistent UI elements in video games—but it is usually easily reversible with the help of image retention remedies included in the TV's software. But the OLED panels in phones are made very differently than those in TVs, so it's unclear how much the retention is reversible in phones. It could vary from device to device. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Spectre Windows, Linux, and macOS have all received security patches that significantly alter how the operating systems handle virtual memory in order to protect against a hitherto undisclosed flaw. This is more than a little notable; it's been clear that Microsoft and the Linux kernel developers have been informed of some non-public security issue and have been rushing to fix it. But nobody knew quite what the problem was, leading to lots of speculation and experimentation based on pre-releases of the patches. Now we know what the flaw is. And it's not great news, because there are in fact two related families of flaws with similar impact, and only one of them has any easy fix. The flaws have been named Meltdown and Spectre. Meltdown was independently discovered by three groups—researchers from the Technical University of Graz in Austria, German security firm Cerberus Security, and Google's Project Zero. Spectre was discovered independently by Project Zero and independent researcher Paul Kocher. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Tesla) In a statement on Wednesday, Tesla said that it had delivered 1,550 Model 3 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2017. This is a step up from the 260-odd vehicles that had been delivered in Q3 after the delayed model was launched in July, but a significant distance short of what industry-watchers had hoped. Tesla said in last quarter's financial call that the disappointing Q3 Model 3 production numbers were the result of production bottlenecks caused by a sub-contractor at the Gigafactory, the company's massive battery factory outside of Reno, Nevada. But Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that, by the end of Q1 2018, the company would be churning out Model 3s at a rate of 5,000 cars per week. In today's statement, however, Tesla adjusted that projection downward. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A young woman looks at a photovoltaic installation at a booth at the InterSolar Europe trade fair in the southern German city of Munich on June 1, 2017. (credit: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) In anticipation of tariffs that may be levied on solar cell and module imports, foreign solar manufacturers doubled what they shipped to the US in November 2017 compared to November 2016. That's according to trade data seen by The Wall Street Journal. The trade data reflects that importers hope to take advantage of good market conditions before any tariffs are imposed. And a new report from the International Trade Commission (ITC) released last week suggests their efforts won't be wasted. The new supplemental report offers (PDF) some additional support to the Trump administration if it tries to bring a tariff decision before the World Trade Organization (WTO). Specifically, the report suggests that China "took advantage of the existence of programs implemented by the US government to encourage renewable energy consumption" and that the US couldn't have foreseen that market shift. The solar cell and module tariffs in question will be decided on or before January 26 by President Donald Trump. The president is permitted to make any tariff decision he pleases if the International Trade Commission (ITC) finds that trade conditions harmed a certain US industry. In September 2017, the ITC made just such a finding, saying that US solar manufacturers had been harmed by cheap foreign imports of solar cells and modules. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Mike Mozart) AT&T was sued last week by a workers' union that is trying to stop the telco from instituting what it calls a "massive layoff." Thousands of employees are reportedly being laid off by the company, which reported $39.7 billion in revenue and $6.4 billion in operating income last quarter. AT&T is "instituting an unprecedented massive layoff of employees represented by the union while at the same time massively subcontracting work that the employees are trained and qualified to perform," the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said in a lawsuit filed Saturday in US District Court in Austin, Texas. The union also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. When contacted by Ars today, AT&T didn't deny the layoffs but said the union allegations that AT&T violated collective bargaining agreements are "baseless." Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / SpaceX's 18th (and final) mission of 2017 put on a show in the skies above Los Angeles. (credit: SpaceX) For the United States, last year was a watershed in the launch industry. With 29 orbital launches from US soil, America led the world in total launches in 2017 for the first time in more than a decade. And it wasn't really a close competition, as the United States was followed by Russia, with 20 launches, and China, with 19. More than one-third of successful orbital missions flew from US soil last year. All of the 29 US launch attempts were successful, whereas Russia had one failure (a Soyuz 2.1b rocket in November), and China had one failure (a Long March 5 rocket in July) and one partial failure (ChinaSat 9A in June). In 2016, the United States tied China for 22 launch attempts. Prior to that, Russia had led the world in orbital launch attempts every year since 2003, when space shuttle Columbia burnt up during its return through Earth's atmosphere. The surge in US launch attempts last year was led by SpaceX, which had a record year and completed 18 missions with its Falcon 9 rocket. United Launch Alliance contributed eight flights, with six Atlas V missions and two Delta launches. Overall, with 18 flights, SpaceX very nearly exceeded the number of successful missions flown by any other country, with 18 flights compared to Russia's 19. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The iMac Pro. (credit: Samuel Axon) iFixit has done a robust teardown of the iMac Pro, and we finally have a complete picture of which components can be upgraded and how easily. Additionally, the teardown found an impressively large cooling system responsible for the silent running we experienced when we saw the iMac Pro up close last month. As we noted then, the Fusion Drive setup with a standard desktop hard drive from the standard 5K iMac is gone, as is the hatch that allowed upgrading the RAM. These changes and others have made room for a massive, dual-fan cooling system that Apple says offers 80 percent greater cooling capacity than we saw on the existing 5K iMac. There's also a bigger air vent on the back of the machine (see our earlier gallery below for a glimpse at that). Thanks to all this, the machine runs very quietly and is not warm to the touch, except right around the vent. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Optical microscope image of one of the purported microfossils on the left, and a Scanning Electron Microscope image of the same spot after carbon isotopes were measured in three pits on the right. (credit: Schopf et al./PNAS) The title of “oldest evidence of life” has been provisionally claimed by a growing and confusing crowd of discoveries recently. At least until the last few years, the crown rested comfortably on a 3.47 billion-year-old rock from Western Australia called the Apex Chert. First described in the early 1990s, this rock contained a variety of microscopic structures that looked for all the world like the fossilized remains of microbial life. Like other finds in this category, the Apex Chert has seen its fair share of controversy as researchers skeptically poked and prodded. Just two years ago, we covered a study that concluded these microfossils were simply clever lookalikes created by minerals crystallizing near a hydrothermal vent. In that version of events, some carbon (which may or may not have come from living things) stuck to vaguely microbe-shaped mineral crystals. A recent study led by William Schopf—who discovered the Apex Chert in the first place—brings newer tools to bear on the question. And the researchers believe the results show that these microfossils are not impostors. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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