Bees manage some impressive feats. They not only remember the location of good food sources, but they’re able to communicate this information to their peers. They also care for the hive’s young and organize attacks against intruders.
They’re brilliant at construction, too. Almost every honeycomb in a hive is a perfect hexagon, with each side the same length. This is despite the fact that bees have to build hexagons of different sizes for workers and drones, and they often merge honeycombs started on opposite walls of the hive. How do they manage these complexities?
A new paper uses an automated image-analysis system to identify the different ways that bees manage these transitions. The researchers who made the system find that bees see issues coming in advance and start making smaller adjustments that, in the end, help avoid the need for larger changes.
In what is usually one of its slowest growth quarters in a given year, Apple today reported a nearly 50 percent year-over-year increase in iPhone sales, among other positive numbers that beat analyst expectations. The numbers were published today as part of Apple’s quarterly earnings report.
Overall, Apple saw $81.41 billion in revenue in Q3 of 2021, up 36 percent year-over-year. iPhone revenue was $39.57 billion (up 49.78 percent), and services raked in $17.48 billion (up 33 percent).
The Mac and iPad also grew, albeit by a smaller amount. The Mac generated $8.24 billion, up 16 percent over last year, while the iPad came in at $7.37 billion and 12 percent.
Fully vaccinated Americans should go back to masking up in schools and areas of high or substantial COVID-19 transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday.
The CDC says its stark reversal in mask guidance is prompted by the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the hyper-transmissible delta variant, which is now dominant in the US and thought to be more than twice as contagious as previous versions of the virus.
Specifically, the CDC says new data from outbreak investigations in the US and elsewhere suggests that fully vaccinated people who have breakthrough infections with the delta variant carry similar levels of viral loads in their respiratory tracts as unvaccinated people infected with the delta variant. This raises concern that fully vaccinated people can spread the delta variant to others.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife moves the setting from New York City to Summerville, Oklahoma. [credit: YouTube/Sony Pictures
We finally have a new trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was delayed multiple times before landing on its current November release date. This sequel to the iconic Ghostbusters films from the 1980s introduces a new generation to the franchise. So it’s fitting that the film is directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking), son of Ivan Reitman, director of the 1980s’ films and one of the producers on Afterlife.
As I’ve written previously, Vanity Fair offered a first look at the latest film in [checks notes] December 2019, featuring several stills—including one showing the tricked-out ambulance from the original Ghostbusters. Per the official synopsis, “A single mother and her two children move to Summerville, Oklahoma, after inheriting property from a previously unknown relative. They discover their family’s legacy to the original Ghostbusters, who have become something of a myth, as many have long since forgotten the events of the ‘Manhattan Crossrip of 1984′”—i.e., the events of the original film.
Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) plays mom Callie, while Mckenna Grace (The Haunting of Hill House) plays her science-loving daughter Phoebe. Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) plays son Trevor. Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) plays summer school teacher Mr. Grooberson. The cast also includes Logan Kim as Podcast, Celeste O’Connor as Lucky, Oliver Cooper as Elton, Bokeem Woodbine as Sheriff Domingo, Marlon Kazadi as Thickneck, Tracy Letts as Jack, and Sydney Mae Diaz as Swayze.
A group of Activision Blizzard employees are planning a “Walkout for Equality” Wednesday to protest their feeling that “our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.”
In a statement, walkout organizers said they’re asking management to work with them to develop new recruiting practices, publish employee pay rates, and undertake third-party audits to improves staff diversity and prevent harassment. Currently, organizers write, “women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination” are subject to unfair discrimination in hiring, pay, and promotion and harassment from other employees.
The Federal Communications Commission wants SpaceX to give up a portion of the $885.51 million in broadband funding it was awarded in a reverse auction in December 2020.
SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband division was one of the biggest winners in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) grants announced in Ajit Pai’s last full month as FCC chairman. Overall, Pai’s FCC awarded $9.2 billion over 10 years ($920 million per year) to 180 bidders nationwide, with SpaceX slated to get $885.51 million over 10 years to serve homes and businesses in parts of 35 states.
Pai apparently mismanaged the auction, as an announcement yesterday from Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s office said the FCC has to “clean up issues with the program’s design originating from its adoption in 2020.” The FCC cited “complaints that the program was poised to fund broadband to parking lots and well-served urban areas.” The FCC suggested that SpaceX give up its funding in about 6 percent of the census blocks where it’s slated to get money. Other ISPs are being asked to give up smaller portions of their funding.
Google’s reputation for aggressively killing products and services is hurting the company’s brand. Any new product launch from Google is no longer a reason for optimism; instead, the company is met with questions about when the product will be shut down. It’s a problem entirely of Google’s own making, and it’s yet another barrier that discourages customers from investing (either time, money, or data) in the latest Google thing. The wide public skepticism of Google Stadia is a great example of the problem.
A Google division with similar issues is Google Cloud Platform, which asks companies and developers to build a product or service powered by Google’s cloud infrastructure. Like the rest of Google, Cloud Platform has a reputation for instability, thanks to quickly deprecating APIs, which require any project hosted on Google’s platform to be continuously updated to keep up with the latest changes. Google Cloud wants to address this issue, though, with a new “Enterprise API” designation.
Enterprise APIs basically get a roadmap that promises stability for certain APIs. Google says, “The burden is on us: Our working principle is that no feature may be removed (or changed in a way that is not backwards compatible) for as long as customers are actively using it. If a deprecation or breaking change is inevitable, then the burden is on us to make the migration as effortless as possible.”
Executives at Toyota had a moment of inspiration when the company first developed the Prius. That moment, apparently, has long since passed.
The Prius was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, years ahead of any competitors. The first model, a small sedan, was classic Toyota—a reliable vehicle tailor-made for commuting. After a major redesign in 2004, sales took off. The Prius’ Kammback profile was instantly recognizable, and the car’s combination of fuel economy and practicality was unparalleled. People snapped them up. Even celebrities looking to burnish their eco-friendly bona fides were smitten with the car. Leonardo DiCaprio appeared at the 2008 Oscars in one.
As the Prius’ hybrid technology was refined over the years, it started appearing in other models, from the small Prius c to the three-row Highlander. Even the company’s luxury brand, Lexus, hybridized several of its cars and SUVs.
Facebook’s VR division is recalling every single foam facial liner included in its Oculus Quest 2 VR headset in North America, the company confirmed, as part of a US CPSC recall notice. An investigation found 5,716 reports of “skin irritation” from system owners, along with “approximately 45 reports of consumers that required medical attention.”
The recall applies to “about 4 million” customers, which is the closest public estimate we’ve yet seen for Quest 2 hardware sales in the US since the system went on sale in late 2020. Since this estimate includes standalone purchases of face covers, it’s not an exact measure, but considering how ho-hum the default face masks are, we’re confident that few people were rushing to buy duplicates of it, as opposed to superior third-party options.
In light of the recall, Facebook is also taking the extreme measure of pausing all Oculus Quest 2 sales in North America, in addition to offering silicon-liner replacements to all existing owners. This news comes after UploadVR confirmed Facebook’s plans to launch a new price point for the VR system in August: $299 for a 128GB model (up from 64GB) and $399 for a 256GB model (up from 128GB). Facebook now says that the August 24 relaunch will mark the system’s return to retail outlets with an updated silicon face cover packed in by default.
When we originally covered startup Framework’s ambitious plans for a fully repairable, modular laptop aiming to compete on even ground with industry champions like Dell’s XPS 13, it seemed like quite a long shot.
The company’s proposed 13-inch laptop was to be its very first product and include custom-built hardware features no other company had ever offered—most notably, four modular bays replacing the usual collection of hardwired laptop I/O ports. Each bay features a deeply recessed USB-C port that can accept a module offering the user an external USB-A, USB-C, DisplayPort, HDMI, or MicroSD port.
Designing and building a feature like that is a big risk—doing so for the first time while planning to compete evenly with industry-leading compact laptops like Dell’s XPS 13 in weight, width, thickness, and price raised our eyebrows so far it hurt. But we’ve spent several days with a review unit—and Framework has satisfied all of its major claims. Its new laptop isn’t perfect, but it’s a solid competitor that lives up to its promises.
In late May, a rumor concerning Blue Origin’s large New Glenn rocket broke on several social media sites frequented by spaceflight enthusiasts.
According to the rumor, Blue Origin was changing the primary structural material of its new rocket from an aluminum alloy to stainless steel. The social media posts sparked considerable interest, as they implied that the company would mimic a competitor in its choice of materials—SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy are made primarily from stainless steel. Moreover, such a change also augured further delays in the New Glenn development program, which was already years behind schedule.
At the time, I checked with a source and found the rumor to be false. New Glenn was not swapping its first stage to stainless steel.
We love seeing all the wonderful things people are doing in the community — that’s why we’re sharing our new series of short films documenting some of the incredible journeys of community members in all corners of the globe!
Today we bring you the third wonderful film in this series of community stories. For the series, we’ve been super lucky to collaborate with digital makers all over the world, and today’s story exemplifies how truly global the community is.
Watch our video to find out how this ambitious young digital maker’s passion for creating with technology has propelled her around the world!
Say hi to Laura
Laura’s journey began in her hometown of Timișoara, Romania. In Laura’s words: “I joined my local CoderDojo, and it changed my life.”
Laura (17) started attending her CoderDojo coding club four years ago because she loves problem-solving and wanted to learn more about how digital technology works. Her biggest discovery at CoderDojo, however, was the other young people there, who were just as passionate about technology as she was. Laura says, “I had the opportunity to meet people with the same interests. Everybody was working, exchanging ideas, having fun!”
Laura and the new friends she made worked together to solve problems in their local community: they built an autonomous waste-collecting robot and a drone-mounted air pollution monitor.
“I want to bring a change to the world.”
But Laura’s tech journey did not stop there. In 2017, she travelled to Dublin to present her latest project — a Raspberry Pi-powered, mind-controlled robot! — at Coolest Projects International, which introduced her to a global community of digital makers. And since then she’s even taken part in a robotics competition at MIT!
Working alongside like-minded peers and connecting with a global community of young tech creators has had a profound impact on Laura. She says, “I never imagined that I would have so many opportunities to travel, expand my horizons, and meet so many people. It’s thanks to CoderDojo and Coolest Projects that I’ve been able to build an amazing network of friends, and together we’re ready to take on the world.”
We are so excited to see what Laura will do next. Help us celebrate Laura by liking and sharing her story on Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook!
Intel’s graph of the past and future. [credit: Intel
Earlier this year, Intel got a new CEO and kicked off a new business plan that would open its foundries to other chip-design firms, just like how TSMC and Samsung Semiconductor operate. At its “Intel Accelerated” event today, the company laid out a roadmap for its future as a for-hire foundry. Besides the future of ever-smaller process nodes, the company also announced it has scored one of the world’s biggest chip designers, Qualcomm, as a future foundry customer.
As part of entering the foundry market, Intel will start naming its process nodes more like its rivals. The process-node numbers used for chips like “5nm” started out life as a measurement of transistor size, but eventually the marketers got hold of them and companies started cheating down their numbers to look more advanced. Intel says its new naming scheme will better align with how TSMC and Samsung talk about their foundry technologies. Gone are the days of “Intel 10nm Enhanced Super Fin”—instead, the node is called “Intel 7.” It should have a comparable density to the TSMC and Samsung 7 nm nodes and will be ready for production in Q1 2022 (TSMC and Samsung are currently shipping “5nm” products). “Intel 4″—which Intel previously called “7nm”—is now said to be equivalent to TSMC and Samsung’s 4 nm node, and it will begin manufacturing products in 2023.
If you’re wondering what happens when we run out of “nm” numbers, Intel’s sales pitch for that is the “Angstrom” era, a unit of measurement that is one-tenth of a nanometer. In 2024, the company wants to ramp up the “Intel 20A” process node (so a “2nm” equivalent, but Intel was calling this node “5nm” previously, but remember these are marketing numbers and not really units of measurement). In early, 2025 the company will be working on “Intel 18A.”
The ongoing COVID-19 surge among unvaccinated people is pushing the US toward more vaccine mandates, renewed mask use, and other mitigation efforts.
With around 51 percent of the country not fully vaccinated and the hypertransmissible delta variant spreading rapidly, the country’s pandemic outlook is grim and getting grimmer. Cases are still increasing in all 50 states and up 170 percent in the last two weeks, with the pace of case increases also accelerating.
COVID-19 is thriving in places with relatively low vaccination rates. Arkansas and Louisiana have the highest rates of new cases, and both states have only 36 percent of their residents vaccinated. Florida, Missouri, and Mississippi are also seeing surges among the unvaccinated.
In 1920, Serbian-born inventor Nikola Tesla designed and patented what he called a “valvular conduit“: a pipe whose internal design ensures that a fluid will flow in one preferred direction, with no need for moving parts, making it ideal for microfluidics applications, among other uses. According to a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the Tesla valve also provides a useful model for how food moves through the digestive system of many species of shark. Based on new CT scans of shark intestines, scientists have concluded that the intestines are naturally occurring Tesla valves.
“It’s high time that some modern technology was used to look at these really amazing spiral intestines of sharks,” said co-author Samantha Leigh of California State University, Dominguez Hills. “We developed a new method to digitally scan these tissues and now can look at the soft tissues in such great detail without having to slice into them.”
The key to Tesla’s ingenious valve design is a set of interconnected, asymmetric, tear-shaped loops. In his patent application, Tesla described this series of 11 flow-control segments as being made of “enlargements, recessions, projections, baffles, or buckets which, while offering virtually no resistant to the passage of fluid in one direction, other than surface friction, constitute an almost impassable barrier to its flow in the opposite direction.” And because it achieves this with no moving parts, a Tesla valve is much more resistant to the wear and tear of frequent operation.
Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Although there is at least half a decade before it potentially opens its doors, Nagasaki is getting serious about human resources development for its prospective Integrated Resort (IR) including a casino at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo.
The Kyushu Nagasaki International Tourism Human Resource Development Consortium Preparatory Committee will be holding its second human resources development seminar this coming Saturday, July 31, featuring four main speakers.
The intention to establish this educational consortium was first revealed in late April. It is being launched by four inaugural members—Nagasaki International University, the University of Nagasaki, the Nagasaki prefectural government, and the Sasebo municipal government. It may be expanded to other institutions in the Kyushu region in the future, should Nagasaki be licensed to construct an IR.
At Saturday’s event, the main presentation will be delivered by Professor Hideya Inoue, head of international tourism studies at Nagasaki International University, before turning the floor over to three guests with specialized knowledge about the casino and IR industry.
Joji Kokuryo of Bay City Ventures and Chris Wieners of Hogo Digital will share their experiences working for companies in the gambling and tourism hospitality industries, and also touch upon how their involvement and exposure to international business has helped them develop skills in running their own companies.
Mototsugu Asada of KPG Resort & Hotel will provide specific examples about the importance of hospitality in the food, beverage, and restaurant management segments, and also relate stories from his time running Mizumi, the main Japanese restaurant at Wynn Palace in Macau.
Nagasaki is one of four local governments competing for the three possible IR licenses that the central government is expected to issue next years. At present, its three likely competitors are Yokohama, Osaka, and Wakayama.
Privacy-tools-seller Windscribe said it failed to encrypt company VPN servers that were recently confiscated by authorities in Ukraine, a lapse that made it possible for the authorities to impersonate Windscribe servers and capture and decrypt traffic passing through them.
The Ontario, Canada-based company said earlier this month that two servers hosted in Ukraine were seized as part of an investigation into activity that had occurred a year earlier. The servers, which ran the OpenVPN virtual private network software, were also configured to use a setting that was deprecated in 2018 after security research revealed vulnerabilities that could allow adversaries to decrypt data.
“On the disk of those two servers was an OpenVPN server certificate and its private key,” a Windscribe representative wrote in the July 8 post. “Although we have encrypted servers in high-sensitivity regions, the servers in question were running a legacy stack and were not encrypted. We are currently enacting our plan to address this.”
Activision Blizzard’s statements from lawyers and executives last week alleged that the California State’s lawsuit’s allegations were “distorted, and in many cases false,” and the petition aims its words squarely at that characterization. The letter argues that such a corporate response “creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims” and “casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future.”
That’s according to a recent IGN video interview in which Valve Hardware Engineer Yazan Aldehayyat said that “all the games that we wanted to be playable had really good [performance], a really good experience” in Steam Deck testing. Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais expanded on that statement by saying that “all the games that we wanted to be playable” means “really the entire Steam library.”
“We haven’t really found something we could throw at this device that it couldn’t handle yet,” he added.
A UK government agency is worried that OneWeb, SpaceX’s Starlink, and similar low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite-broadband systems could block each others’ signals.
Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, proposed new rules today in a report that details its interference concerns. Ofcom also said it intends to amend satellite licenses already issued to SpaceX and OneWeb to require coordination of frequency use. Without new requirements, the risk of interference could prevent competition by shutting new players out of the market, Ofcom said.
Non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems are more complex than the traditional geostationary type because they use hundreds or thousands of satellites, Ofcom noted. “Satellite dishes need to track these satellites as they move across the sky, unlike existing satellite networks, where the dishes are fixed pointing at a single satellite which is stationary in the sky,” the Ofcom report said. Because so many low-Earth-orbit satellites are being launched, “there is a risk of satellites from two different operators appearing to be in the same part of the sky,” causing interference known as “in-line events” in which multiple operators’ satellites are lined up in the sky, Ofcom wrote.