A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web
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.
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."
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.
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:
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"
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).
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.
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..."
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.”
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.”
Buzz Aldrin returns to Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) discussion on colonizing Mars, life on other planets, and collaborating with Snoop Dogg.
A look at some of the therapeutic, educational, cinematic and scientific applications of the virtual reality boom.
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."
U.S. currency re-imagined to celebrate ideas and accomplishments rather than "codifying myth or legend"
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.
Robert Downy Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man appearances in other Marvel superhero films could reach "double digits" according to the actor.
Introducing the Ambulance Drone.
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."
Scientists are hoping to extend your dog's life (and one day even your own life) with the anti-aging drug rapamycin.
Hands on with Microsoft's new fitness tracker Band.
Meet the woman who teaches robots the art of learning for a living.