Radioactivity stirs primal fears in many people—but an undue sense of its risks can cause real harm. »
If you use Google’s new Photos app, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Skype’s new translation function, you’re using a form of AI on a daily basis. AI was first dreamed up in the 1950s, but has only recently become a practical reality — all thanks to software systems called neural networks. This is how they work. »
On July 14th, the New Horizons spacecraft will make history when it sails past Pluto, formerly known as the ninth planet. Even more incredible is how fast we got there. The spacecraft traveled 3 billion miles in nine and a half years. That’s about a million miles a day for almost ten years. How the heck did we do it? »
You know the smell. It’s hard to describe, but the second you step on an airplane, a flood of familiarity flies up your nostrils. Airplane smell is equal parts comforting and off-putting. And it’s actually a little bit dangerous. But what is it exactly? »
Before he shot nine black Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, 21-year-old Dylann Roof posed for photos holding a symbol of racial hatred. The same symbol that’s worn on t-shirts, wrapped around beer coozies, intertwined with American pop culture. Even if the flag is removed from South Carolina’s… »
None of us would be alive today without plants, and if humans want to survive beyond Earth long-term, we’ll need to bring our leafy greens with us. Eventually, astronauts are going to have to become space farmers. »
Twenty five years ago, Michael Crichton captured our imaginations with the crazy idea that scientists might one day resurrect dinosaurs. But on the eve of Jurassic World’s release a quarter century later, the prospect of bringing back extinct creatures is looking a lot less science fictional. »
Switching your camera out of Auto mode can be daunting, but it’s the only path toward taking control of how your photos look. Of course, it helps to know what things like f-stop and shutter speed do, but just as important are the various modes that appear on almost every camera’s dial. We made this handy video… »
America woke up to some frustrating news today. Charter, the fourth-largest cable company in America, wants to buy Time Warner Cable, the second-largest, as well as Bright House, the tenth-largest. If the deal goes through it’s going to affect come 23 million internet customers directly. Not in a good way.
You’ve decided to buy a new pair of shoes, and you’re going to pay for them by tapping your smartphone against the checkout stand. It’s just like using your credit card — except that it isn’t. Here’s what’s really happening to the money on your phone, when you spend it and when you are just carrying it around. »
Last week brought the horrifying news that the Ebola virus can live in the eyeballs of survivors, even after it’s been eliminated from the rest of the body. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though. Viruses have always hidden in parts of our bodies you’d never expect. In fact, we’re all walking virus reservoirs.
Driving a car is easy. Engine on, eyes open, foot on the gas and you’re all set. So why is it taking autonomous cars so long to learn? »
You know that Louis C.K. joke about wifi on airplanes? He says, “It’s fast, and I’m watching YouTube clips. It’s amazing—I’m on an airplane! And then it breaks down.… And the guy next to me goes, ‘This is bullshit.’” It’s so true. »
Completely deleting something from the internet is like corralling drunk, feral geese after setting them loose: Damn near impossible. But there are ways to conceal the web content you don’t want anyone to lay eyes on. You can hide all sorts of webpages with what’s essentially a “Keep Out” sign for search engines: a… »
You hear the phrase all the time when you’re working with computers, especially on customer service calls: “Please reboot your computer.” Why do we use the word reboot to mean “turn it off and on again”? It all goes back to tech history — and to one of the most revolutionary aspects of these computing machines. »
It’s going to unshackle us from the oppressive dungeon of fiat currency! But also criminals and rogue cops use it to do nefarious drug stuff! Digital currency is often defined by its volatile hype cycle. And yet its most promising feature is incredibly mundane-sounding: a bookkeeping system called “the blockchain.” »
While pundits point fingers at who’s to blame for California’s catastrophic drought, it seems that the state is finally taking one big step towards action. Last week, California’s water board sent a letter to senior water rights holders warning that their rights might be curtailed. But what does this really mean?
For nearly as long as hard disk drives have been placed in personal computers running certain popular operating systems (notably MS-DOS/Windows), the primary hard disk has been designated with the letter “C”. But why? »