Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Boeing 747 'Jumbo Jet' Takes Its Final U.S. Commercial Flight This Week


Boeing’s 747 is perhaps the most iconic commercial airplane of all time. Introduced half a century ago in 1968, it was a technological marvel and a dependable workhorse. Through that time, they’ve built more than 1,500 of these winged beasts. Production has recently dropped way off, and Boeing’s customers have stopped…

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Large Swathes of Southern California Are in Ruins Thanks to the Catastrophic Thomas Fire


Wildfires in California have continued to ravage large portions of the state, with the Thomas fire in southern California now entering its 13th day and claiming over 267,500 acres of land, CNN reported. The wildfire is now the third-largest in California history and is just 40 percent contained, with over 8,400…

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

China is betting big on electromagnetic railguns and catapults

Type 055 055A destroyer cruise China

Just as the U.S. Navy is pulling away from the technology.

China has been making under-radar advances in railguns and other electromagnetic technologies. It's particularly notable considering the U.S. Navy has recently reduced…
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A deep dive into the race to preserve our digital heritage

Science Friday's beautiful "File Not Found" series looks at the thorny questions of digital preservation: finding surviving copies of data, preserving the media it is recorded upon, finding working equipment to read that media, finding working software to decode the information once it's read, clearing the rights to archive it, and maintaining safe, long term archives -- all while being mindful of privacy and other equities. (more…)
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Historic Willow Run Site Now Testing Autonomous Cars in Bad Weather



A test track for connected and autonomous vehicles built on the grounds of a dilapidated auto factory in southeastern Michigan has officially opened for business, and perhaps at the perfect time. Operations at the American Center for Mobility (ACM) began just as the winter’s first major snowstorm hit the state. Snow and icy weather present some of the most vexing challenges in preparing self-driving vehicles for widespread use, and the ability to test in poor conditions on a closed track will be welcomed by manufacturers.


Visteon Corporation and the Toyota Research Institute were the first two companies to use the facility. Visteon, a leading supplier of vehicle electronics headquartered in nearby Van Buren Township, tested its autonomous highway functionality amid the snowfall and intends to focus on vetting its driving algorithms and vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology. Toyota engineers began orientation and driver training.




Ford and others are on next week’s schedule. Ford’s upcoming appearance on the track will mark something of a homecoming that’s roughly seven decades in the making—the company constructed the Willow Run factory that first resided on these grounds, using it to build B-24 bombers during World War II. Ford left the plant after the war ended, and General Motors purchased the facility in 1953 and built transmissions in the factory until it shuttered operations in 2010. Since then, a trust created to manage the property and the state’s economic development arm have worked to resurrect the 335-acre property.


Construction started in early 2017. In its first iteration, the test facility includes a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double-deck overpasses, and intersections and roundabouts. Part of U.S. 12, a local highway that abuts the northern edge of the property, has been used as part of the highway loop. Starting next spring, workers will begin construction of a second phase, which will feature a city-style driving environment and tech park. That construction is expected to continue into 2019. So far, the American Center for Mobility has secured $110 million to pay for the first two phases of the project, according to an announcement signaling the start of testing. Initial private investors include Ford, Toyota, Visteon, Hyundai, and AT&T.




“We have been moving rapidly, and along with good input from our founders, a great deal of work has gone into developing this site,” said John Maddox, president and chief executive officer of ACM. “Opening our doors is just the beginning.”


A third phase remains under consideration. The project’s leaders are hoping to secure funding to build, among other things, a cybersecurity center to help industry engineers figure out how to keep hackers out of connected cars and a conference area where industry executives and standards bodies can convene.




The American Center for Mobility is one of 10 locations across the country that received an official test-site designation from the U.S. Department of Transportation in January 2017, joining others that include locations in Pittsburgh, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Absent from the DOT’s list is Mcity, a test facility opened to much fanfare on the campus of the University of Michigan in 2015. Although located only 11 miles apart, the ACM and Mcity sites aren’t necessarily competitors. The university site focuses on early-stage research on a shorter test track, while ACM intends to concentrate on later-state development, testing, and validation.

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The CDC has been prohibited from using 7 words in documentation for next year’s budget

The Washington Post reports that the Trump Administration has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using seven words in official documents used for next year’s budget.

The agency was informed of the prohibition at a meeting on Thursday by those who oversee its budget. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The Post says that policy analysts were provided with some alternatives to use: instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested wording was “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” In some cases, the agency was not provided with alternative wording.


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Are you still using an RSS reader?

It’s been close to five years since Google decided to shut down Reader, the ubiquitous and beloved RSS news client. At one point, I used to do almost all my internet reading through RSS. I kept my feeds meticulously clean, poring over personal blog entries and tabbing quickly down the news, opening stories that piqued my interest. The loss of my favorite platform felt like a personal betrayal.

After Reader died, I switched to Feedly, which I’m still using today. But my relationship with it is very different. If Reader was a neat lawn, my Feedly is now an overgrown lot. I’ve got nearly 30,000 unread articles across 186 feeds, including several for websites that no longer exist — I leave some of them on the list because I’m lazy, and some...

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Apple has a history of choosing cash over startups

 Apple has more cash than any other tech company on the planet. Yet, that hasn’t translated into spending on acquisitions. Over the past five years, Apple has spent the least on M&A out of all the “Big Five” most valuable U.S. tech companies. That’s despite the fact that it is estimated to have more than $260 billion in cash and cash equivalents. So, is it buying… Read More
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Apple adds indoor maps for JFK, LaGuardia, LAX, and other major airports

Apple has added indoor maps of some major airports around the world to its Maps app. Los Angeles International (LAX) airport, London’s Heathrow (LHR), as well as New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA) are all now supported in Apple Maps.

This means that when Apple Maps users go to these airports they’ll now see accurate locations of gates, check-in counters, baggage claim, security checkpoints, shops, bathrooms, restaurants, and lounges, all as part of an interactive overall layout — including a 3D view of each airport. The Maps app will even let you ask Siri to direct you to any one of these places inside each airport.

(Apple involves each airport in the process of making these indoor maps, so if you still balk at the...

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Watch Blue Origin's test dummy experience space tourism

DRDBUD9UQAAr9DF.jpgYesterday we got an exterior view of the first flight for Blue Origin's Crew Capsule 2.0, but now the company is back to show us what it's like from inside. Its plan is to offer "space tourism" trips that take six people at a time beyond the Karman L...
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