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Towletech v. 130: Fighting Mechs, Terminator, Dark Energy, Buzz Aldrin, Ambulance Drone

Megabots

BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web

Road A Kickstarter campaign by MegaBots Inc. is hoping to raise $1.8 million towards the creation of a manned robot combat sport. It sounds like science fiction, but as this video shows, these guys are dead serious about their plans to have giant mechs duke it out arena-style. 

Road Responding to Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo test flight crash on Friday that claimed the life of one pilot, Sir Richard Branson wrote "Space is hard - but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together."

Road NASA has finished construction on the first Orion spacecraft - the spaceship that may one day take us to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids in deep space. 

Road HP is launching the Sprout - a new PC that blends touchscreens, scanners, and a camera in a way you've likely never seen before in a desktop. See the unique computer in action below:

 

Road The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a new report imploring the world community to phase out fossil fuels by 2100 or risk "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage to the environment and our civilization. Said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side"

TerminatorRoad Disney has patented an upcoming search engine that ranks sites on legitimacy rather than on popularity (i.e. illegal streaming sites will no longer be at the top of your search results should you happen to want to watch Star Wars online).

Road Entertainment Weekly dives into the upcoming Terminator: Genesys film with shocking plot details and a cover featuring Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor and Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese.

Road The New York Times looks at how slow and expensive America's internet is when compared to other countries. "Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection. In Los Angeles, New York and Washington, downloading the same movie takes 1.4 minutes for people with the fastest Internet available, and they pay $300 a month for the privilege..."

Road A little late for Halloween, but check out this video below showing the terrifying possibilities of virtual reality horror games: 

 

Road Google announced ambitious new plans for magnetic, nanoparticle-covered pills that could help detect signs of cancer or an impending heart attack by coursing through a patient's bloodstream. However, significant hurdles remain that must be addressed before such technology becomes medical reality. MIT Technology Review reports: In addition to challenges in delivering the nanoparticles and reading a signal from them, another key question is whether the system will be safe, says MIT professor Robert Langer. Indeed, says John McDonald, a professor at Georgia Tech, “one of the big hurdles we had with magnetic nanoparticles was their toxicity.” McDonald says that “Although anything is possible, I think there may be more effective ways to detect cancer and other diseases at an early stage than the approach envisioned by Google.”

StarRoad Check out these 5 eerie space pictures Space.com published to celebrate Halloween.

Road A new study finds dark matter - the mysterious "stuff" estimated to constitute 23% of all the mass and energy in the universe (regular matter makes up only 4%) - is being swallowed up by dark energy (the other 73%). Said researcher David Wands, Director of Portsmouth's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, “This study is about the fundamental properties of space-time. On a cosmic scale, this is about our Universe and its fate. If the dark energy is growing and dark matter is evaporating we will end up with a big, empty, boring Universe with almost nothing in it. Dark matter provides a framework for structures to grow in the Universe. The galaxies we see are built on that scaffolding and what we are seeing here, in these findings, suggests that dark matter is evaporating, slowing that growth of structure.” 

Road Buzz Aldrin returns to Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) discussion on colonizing Mars, life on other planets, and collaborating with Snoop Dogg. 

Road A look at some of the therapeutic, educational, cinematic and scientific applications of the virtual reality boom. 

Road James Cameron, meanwhile, isn't all that impressed with virtual reality's potential. "There seems to be a lot of excitement around something that, to me, is a yawn, frankly. The question that always occurred to me is, when is it going to be mature, when is it going to be accepted by the public at large, when are people going to start authoring in VR and what will that be? What will the level of interactivity with the user be other than just ‘I can stand and look around,'" he elaborated, adding: "If you want to move through a virtual reality it’s called a video game, it’s been around forever."

CurrencyRoad U.S. currency re-imagined to celebrate ideas and accomplishments rather than "codifying myth or legend"

Road In one of the coolest interactive ads to come around in a long time, Honda's new Civic Type R commercial enables viewers to press the "R" button on the keyboard and switch between two parallel stories - one showing a father picking up his kids from school and the other revealing this dad's night job as a getaway driver. Do yourself a favor and check out the video here

Road Robert Downy Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man appearances in other Marvel superhero films could reach "double digits" according to the actor. 

Road Introducing the Ambulance Drone

Road The FCC is considering a net neutrality "hybrid" proposal that would allow the agency to control the flow of Internet traffic. The New York Times has more: "But unlike policies previously considered, which treated the entire Internet ecosystem as a single universe, the hybrid proposal would establish a divide between “wholesale” and “retail” transactions. It would apply utilitylike regulation to the wholesale portion, the exchange of data from the content provider to the Internet service provider for passage through to the end consumer. The retail portion, the transaction that sends data through the Internet service provider to the consumer and which allows the consumer to access any legal content on the Internet, would receive a lighter regulatory touch."

Road Scientists are hoping to extend your dog's life (and one day even your own life) with the anti-aging drug rapamycin. 

Road Hands on with Microsoft's new fitness tracker Band. 

Road Meet the woman who teaches robots the art of learning for a living


Towletech v.129: Stephen Hawking Joins Facebook, Space Dive, Virtual Reality Horror, Gamergate

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 7.10.34 PM

BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web

Road Stephen Hawking joins Facebook, accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Road Google has introduced a new email service called Inbox that hopes to ease the clutter and confusion from your regular Gmail account. Facebook also rolled out a new app called "Rooms" which allows users to create mobile forums about any topic you want. 

Road Google's senior vice president Alan Eustace beat Felix Baumgartner's free fall record on Friday, plummeting from the edge of space nearly 26 miles in the air in a custom space suit. Check out a cool video on the jump below:

 

Road CVS is the latest company to join the growing list of retailers who will not be accepting the Apple Pay mobile payment system over competing investments in a separate mobile wallet company. 

Batman and robinRoad Director Joel Schumacher is reportedly working on a 12-issue comic that will complete the Batman trilogy he began with the camp-tastic Batman Forever and Batman & Robin

Road At a MIT talk on Friday, Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk reiterated his warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence, calling it our "biggest existential threat." Said Musk: "I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out." 

Road Banshee Chapter, a 2013 horror film produced by Zachary Quinto, has now been adapted for Oculus Rift - opening the door to a world of frightening possibilities in the future of immersive, virtual reality experiences. Check out a video of the cast and crew talk about the new edition below:

 

Road China has launched the first privately funded mission to the moon. 

DexmoRoad Tech company Dexta Robotics has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its new Dexmo glove that uses force feedback to enable users to touch objects in virtual reality. 

Road Take a tour of the Minecraft city that took two years to build

Road DC is looking for a female director to helm its upcoming Wonder Woman film. 

Road Former NFL-er, LGBT ally, and creative wordsmith Chris Kluwe takes the "slackjawed pickletits" who support #Gamergate to task for their role defending misogyny and the harassment of women in the video game industry. 

Road Apple will reportedly be relaunching it's newly acquired Beats Music streaming platform as part of iTunes sometime next year.

Road The surprising science behind Christopher Nolan's Interstellar


Towletech v.128: Cinematic Reality, Smart Cuffs, Siding Spring Comet, Airborne Wind Turbines

Magic leap

BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web

Road Google is planning a massive push into the augmented reality field with a $500 million investment into Magic Leap - a company specializing in "cinematic reality" that claims it can deliver a more realistic 3D experience than Oculus Rift. "On Oculus Rift and pretty much every other virtual and augmented reality experience, what the viewer sees is flat and floating in space at a set distance. What Magic Leap purports to do is make you think you’re seeing a real 3-D object on top of the real world."

Road Check out this simulation that compares the spread of ebola to other diseases - illustrating how ebola kills more than other diseases, but spreads at a slower rate.

Road The U.S. Air Force's unmanned X-37B space plane returned to earth this week after spending 674 days in orbit. No details on its mission have been released by the military, but conspiracy theories have bounced around ideas ranging from "space bombing" to spying on the Chinese space station. Check out a CNN video on the mysterious craft below:

 

Road On Wednesday, Will.i.am unveiled the Puls, a smart 'cuff' that makes phone calls, plays music, and monitors fitness - just don't call it a smartwatch (he said so repeatedly). Microsoft, meanwhile, is also planning on launching a fitness band of its own in the coming weeks. 

HardyRoad Tom Hardy is reportedly in the running for the title role in Bryan Singer's upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.

 Road The Telegraph dives into the current age of the cyborg. “This is the frontline of the Human Enhancement Revolution,” wrote the technology author and philosopher Patrick Lin last year. “We now know enough about biology, neuroscience, computing, robotics, and materials to hack the human body.”

Road Terminator director James Cameron on why he's a proud owner of a 10-year-old flip phone: "Apple has enough people with their devices being tracked by the government. Every place you go with that thing they know exactly where you are. So you want to talk Skynet...Skynet has already won. Everyone is already wired to their computers."

Road Check out this faux-trailer for WALL-E, if the Pixar classic was a Christopher Nolan film instead (a la Insterstellar):

 

Road Biometrics company Zwipe is teaming up with MasterCard to create the world's first fingerprint-activated, contact-free credit card. 

Siding SpringRoad A mountain-sized comet known as Siding Spring charged past Mars earlier today at 125,000mph, and missed it by a little more than one-third the distance of the Earth to the Moon. Martian rovers were able to capture dramatic photos [such as the one to the right] of the passing comet. 

Road Popular Science looks at the possibility of using suspended animation in our future space travel - and what scientists still need to learn before we give the green light.

Road Game of Thrones casts Lost actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko) as a new, made-for-tv character named Malko.  

BATRoad The world's first airborne wind turbine will soon debut in Alaska and bring renewable energy and WiFi to Fairbanks residents. 

Road Someone (with presumably way too much free time) has built a functioning iPhone within the popular sandbox game Minecraft

Road An infographic on the 40 upcoming Marvel and DC superhero films that will be consuming your life from 2014-2020.


Towletech v.127: 3D Printed Cars, Smart Rings, Drone Boats, E-Ink Credit Cards

3d printed car

 

BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web

Road Mashable takes the world's first 3D printed car for a test drive.

Road But don't get too excited for the possibility of 3D printed flying cars in the future, as Space X and Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained this week why flying cars might not be such a good idea after all. "If the sky was full of cars flying all over the place, it would affect how things look. It would affect the skyline. And it would be noisier and there would be a greater probability of something falling on your head. Those are not good things." You can still get excited for ground travel though, as Musk this week unveiled Tesla's all-wheel drive 'D' model.

Road Check out this NASA video showing how Orion - the spaceship that will one day take us to the Moon and Mars - will be launched on top of a Delta rocket December 4. 

 

Road Earlier this week, Facebook launched hyper-local advertising that can target you with ads for businesses within a mile of your current location. The company is also working on a stand-alone app that allows users to anonymously interact with one another.

PlastcRoad Introducing the Plastc card, the e-ink card that may one day replace everything in your wallet. 

Road Google chairman Eric Schmidt warns that the government's mass surveillance programs may end up "breaking the internet" In related news, Twitter is suing the federal government to protect its right to provide information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance on individuals.

Road The science behind why orange juice tastes gross after brushing your teeth. 

Road A group of engineering grad students from MIT are predicting the 2022 Mars One colonists will suffocate on the red planet a mere 68 days after arrival. "At about 68 days, the first wheat crop will reach maturity and the level of oxygen will spike. To avoid a huge fire hazard, the oxygen will need to be vented, but there is not yet a reliable way to preferentially vent oxygen without also venting the nitrogen used to maintain pressure. Thus, the colony will run out of nitrogen almost immediately. The end result, says the paper, is suffocation due to low air pressure. Well, that or the habitat explodes and the survivors suffocate outside."

Road A Japanese company has created a cloud control "smart ring" that enables wearers to control their smartphone, smart home appliances, smartwatches, and Google Glass. The aptly named Ring has already completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and can be yours for $269.99. Check out the promo video below:

 

Road The Boston Globe looks at the growing number of post-doctoral science students languishing without jobs due to federal funding cuts. 

Road The U.S. Navy is testing the use of "drone" boats to swarm enemy vessels. 

AtlasRoad A robot first responder that can go where humans can't. "Atlas was designed by Boston Dynamics, a leading robotics company, under contract with the Pentagon. The goal was to create a bot that could replace rescue workers in dangerous areas— Yosemite during last year's wildfires, for example, or the Philippines after a massive typhoon, or Napa, California, after the 6.0 earthquake in August. Thousands of first responders each year are put in danger, or die, at such sites. The 6-foot 2-inch, 330-pound Atlas uses hydraulically driven joints to exert massive force—one kick can turn a cinder block into crumbs. Hydraulics also allow Atlas to right itself if it's thrown off balance. When Atlas runs, range-finding sensors render the way forward in 3D so it won't trip. Tools such as screwdrivers fit onto its articulated hands."

Road In related news, tech research firm Gartner is predicting robots will replace a third of all jobs by 2025.

 Road The case for a "code" of virtual reality ethics and morality. "Most people in the modern world have been brought up in such a way that it’s both ethically and morally wrong to murder someone in real life or to abuse a child. I would argue that if our virtual experiences approach the realism of real life — which they surely will — then it would be a good idea for us to try and behave with at least a modicum of morality. This could be as simple as a code of conduct for developers and publishers of VR experiences, or as complex/overreaching as an active policing system that keeps VR users within bounds."

Road Batman's Batcave and Christopher Nolan's Interstellar get the virtual reality treatment. 


Towletech v.126: Mars Colony, Windows 10, Drone Battles, Lost

Mars

BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

Road Space X CEO Elon Musk reiterates the importance of establishing a human colony on Mars. "I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary...in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen, in which case being poor or having a disease would be irrelevant, because humanity would be extinct. It would be like, “Good news, the problems of poverty and disease have been solved, but the bad news is there aren’t any humans left."'

Road Microsoft has finally unveiled it's next operating system - Windows 10. The OS is a hybrid of the tablet-like Windows 8 and the more traditional Windows 7 and isn't being called Windows 9 because some speculate Microsoft is trying to distance itself from the notoriously user-unfriendly Windows 8.   

Road Check out this cool video of Disney using blank fondant and projection mapping to create one of the coolest cakes ever for one lucky couple's Fairy Tale Wedding.

 

Road Check out the Olive - the Fitbit-esque bracelet that helps you manage your stress levels by having it track and analyze your physical indicators and habits that contribute to the strain of life.  

CcRoad A Google Glass app that provides real-time closed captioning for everyday conversations. 

Road Speaking of Google, the company is reportedly developing displays that can connect like Legos to form one big, seamless picture. 

Road Hacker puts Windows 95 on a smartwatch...just because. 

Road A DIY Survival Guide for a zombie apocalypse. 

Road A NASA-backed study looks into the option of putting astronauts into a deep sleep (or "torpor") during a human expedition to Mars. "Economically, the payoff looks impressive. Crews can live inside smaller ships with fewer amenities like galleys, exercise gear and of course water, food and clothing. One design includes a spinning habitat to provide a low-gravity environment to help offset bone and muscle loss." 

Road It's all led up to this - Jimmy Fallon vs Tyler Perry in a drone battle. 

 

Road The best places to trade-in your old phone for an iPhone 6. 

AlcatrazRoad Check this out: Alcatraz reimagined as the lavish fortress home of a powerful tech mogel. 

Road The world's first genetically modified babies will graduate high school this year

Road Education, military and 3 other areas that will be transformed by 3D printer technology

Road NASA has revealed details of its mission to redirect an asteroid to orbit the moon and send humans to explore it in the 2020s. 

Road A visualization of the ebola spreading rate compared to HIV and other diseases

LostRoad Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse thinks the show's return is "inevitable" - "It’s like the Narnia chronicles. There are [seven] books, they were all written by CS Lewis, but they all visit Narnia at different times and different configurations and different ways. Someone is going to come up with a way to tell another Lost story. I think it’s inevitable. I don’t know what it is or how it would work, but I can’t imagine something else won’t be done with the franchise."

Road Researchers discover Egypt-sized cyanide cloud over Saturn's largest moon Titan. 


Towletech v.125: Drones, Bendgate, Earthships, Exoplanet H20, GoPro for Dogs

Sparked

BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

DroneRoad Lots of drone-related news this week, as Facebook revealed further plans for the creation of thousands of jumbo jet-sized, internet-connected drones come 2015. "The team is focused on developing countries, prioritizing the number of people who are not connected. Maguire cited India as an example, where more than 15% of people don't have any connectivity whatsoever. They've identified a set of about 21 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, which actually affect how the planes are designed — that is, how the sun hits the solar panels."

Road Similarly, Cirque du Soleil is also branching out into the world of drones with 'Sparked' - a new flying dance performance featuring quadcopters. Check out the mesmerizing video below: 

 

Road Aiden Gillen (aka Game of Thrones' Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish) joins Maze Runner sequel as its villain. 

Pied piperRoad Openly gay supervillain/superhero Pied Piper has been confirmed for a "midseason" appearance in the upcoming The Flash television series starring Grant Gustin as the titular speedster. 

Road Comcast president Neil Smit admits it "may take years" to improve the company's crappy customer service reputation. 

Road The fan-favorite Pixar Theory - the theory that all Pixar films are connected and occur in the same universe - now has a video explanation

Road Apple CEO Tim Cook says tackling global warming is a "core value" of the company - “The long-term consequences of not addressing climate are huge, I don’t think anyone can overstate that.”

Road In other Apple news: you've likely heard about Bendgate - the "controversy" over the malleability of the newly released iPhone 6 Plus. YouTube user Lewis Hilsenteger has already demonstrated how relatively easy it is to bend the deluxe sized smartphone, but he's back now with a new video to show how the competition holds up under the pressure (including the regular iPhone 6). Check out his video below:

 

Road How to tell if that letter you received in the mail was written by a robot or human. 

EarthshipsRoad Are Earthships - sustainable solar homes made from old junk - the future of green living

Road Ridley Scott says Prometheus 2 will be completely devoid of Aliens

Road Scientists have discovered water vapor on a Neptune-sized planet 124 light years away from Earth, the first time an exoplanet smaller than Jupiter has been found with H20. 

Road Behold, the perfectly engineered ice cream scoop

Road Solar power, vehicle automation, and 8 other technologies that will revolutionize car manufacturing

Road FetchFind out what the world looks like from your dog's perspective with Fetch - a GoPro harness that enables your pet to become a little Steven Spielberg of his or her own.

Road Introducing the latest addition to the growing wearable tech field: drone bracelets

Road South Africa will soon be able to "Share Happiness" over the internet, as Coca-Cola has started sticking wi-fi hotspots inside the country's vending machines.

Road Watch Wolfram Alpha search engine creator Stephen Wolfram explain why humans will one day be able to live forever


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