We here at Gizmodo had a lot of questions this week, and we did our best to give you some answers because you’re probably wondering some of the same things. For instance, if you’ve ever asked yourself who is regulating police drones to keep them from being abused, the answer is, “Pretty much nobody is right now, but we better get someone on it quickly.”
Other questions are a little harder to provide a conclusion for. Should your family be able to inherit your Facebook messages? That’s likely up to you, and is a good reminder that we have all sorts of digital “property” that our loved ones will have to sort out after we die. Best have a plan for what should be done with it.
And of course, some questions are rhetorical. Is Elon Musk serious? An exacerbated sigh should do the trick for that one. Are you going to read all of the best stories Gizmodo published this week? Damn right you are.
The Police Foundation doesn’t want the police to call drones “drones.” Because of the public’s association with “military-style weapons like the Predator,” the organization’s 311 page report reads, the term “drone” is “a major obstacle to law enforcement’s ability to convince the public” that police drone programs “could actually increase public safety, not jeopardize it.”
Instead, the report—“Community Policing and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Guidelines to Enhance Community Trust,” published in 2016—suggests the clunky “Unmanned Aircraft System” as an alternative. UAS was coined by the Department of Defense in 2001, now repurposed by police, to make military weapons more palatable.
This week, a German federal court ruled that Facebook must give the mother of a dead 15-year-old access to her entire account. They’re not just talking about access to a memorial page, either. The mother gets access to everything, including private messages. In Germany, the judges decided, heirs should be able to inherit a social media account in the same way that they might inherit a box of letters.
That seems like a bad idea, right?
People in cities around the world—from Taos, New Mexico, to Windsor, Ontario, to Blackburn, England, to Auckland, New Zealand—have reported hearing strange humming noises that have no obvious source. The hums are often compared to the sound of idling trucks, and for the people who can hear them, they can be maddening, causing nausea and insomnia.
City officials and scientists have investigated various potential causes of the hums, including industrial plants, electricity pylons, mating fish, and even mass hysteria. In the first episode of our new series “Sound Mysteries,” we look into the case of the mysterious hums that have vexed people across the globe.
A kid-sized submarine arrived in northern Thailand, just a few hours before the final four members of a youth soccer team and their coach were rescued from the flooded Tham Luang cave complex. Elon Musk, whose minions had built the sub out of SpaceX rocket materials for the sole purpose of moving the trapped boys to safety, delivered the mini sub himself and announced his presence in a tweet to his 22 million followers. Meanwhile, the rescue chief said that the kid-sized submarine was “not practical” for the boys, as thousands heaped praise onto Musk for doing—well—it’s unclear if the bombastic billionaire really did anything helpful. Which makes you wonder: is Elon Musk serious with this shit?
Cosmic Ray Mystery Finally Cracked Thanks to Supermassive Black Hole Beaming Energy Straight at Earth
Every so often, protons and even entire atomic nuclei strike the Earth with extremely high energies—much higher than what scientists can produce in their most powerful physics experiments. Since the discovery of “cosmic rays” a hundred years ago, no one knew for sure where the most energetic of these particles came from—until now.
On Thursday, scientists from institutions across the globe announced they have confirmed a source of these ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, thanks to combined data from light and a single high-energy neutrino particle. That source is a blazar, a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy emitting high-energy jets of light and radiation pointed straight at Earth. The discovery is a highlight of the new “multimessenger” era of astronomy, in which particles other than light, like neutrinos, aid in scientists’ understanding of the cosmos.
If your horror-movie enjoyment requires high production values, plots delivered without yawning holes, and dialogue that always makes sense, well, best move along. If, however, you delight in horror that’s so “bad” it’s gone all the way back to good—and is genuinely entertaining—have we got a fun list for you.
There’s a growing, bewildering movement of folks who reject the most basic learnings of science in favor of conspiracy theories and hocus pocus—as a science journalist, I regularly get emails from people who firmly believe the Earth is flat, as shocking as that may seem. I recently chatted with Brian Cox, host of BBC science show and podcast The Infinite Monkey Cage and a physics professor at University of Manchester, about the emergence of these alarming ideas and other trends in science. I also asked him about some slightly silly things, like how we know that ghosts aren’t real.
It’s really, really hard to find a good Microsoft Windows device for under $500. There are some diamonds in the rough—devices that sacrifice display quality or form or speed to get the price way down. Yet until today there was no clear winner. Microsoft’s new Surface Go could change that.
In the 1980s, scientists learned that all humans living today are descended from a woman, dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve,” who lived in Africa between 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. This discovery, along with other evidence, suggested humans evolved from a single ancestral population—an interpretation that is not standing the test of time. The story of human evolution, as the latest research suggests, is more complicated than that.
Under Oprah’s Eye. We’ve ended yet another year in Gilead, and things are looking bleak. To commemorate another heartbreaking season inside a patriarchal dystopia, the staff of io9 have gotten together to talk about the second season finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, including that shocking ending that’s divided even hardcore fans of the series.
The FCC knows that Americans hate telecoms, and it’s doing everything it can to give us reason to hate them more. On Tuesday, a proposal to kneecap the informal complaint process at the agency sparked cries of anti-consumerism. Now, the rule changes have been approved—and formal complaints will still cost you $225.
With a ridiculous 83x zoom, people have used the super long lens on Nikon’s Coolpix P900 to snap pics of Saturn or pull off the kind of shots you normally only see in spy movies. But apparently that wasn’t good enough, so today, Nikon is announcing the new Coolpix P1000 featuring frankly ridiculous 125x zoom, which is now the longest lens of any superzoom camera on the market.
After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, in which 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed, a slew of companies sought to distance themselves from the National Rifle Association.
Getting iPhones to play nice with Windows can be a challenge, but so can getting Android to play nice with Macs—and it’s that second setup we’re going to tackle here. Read on to find out how to get all your apps working together and your files seamlessly synced between a Google-powered phone and an Apple-powered computer.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun movie, but there’s something about the time it spends in the Quantum Realm that’s been picking away at me—and maybe you, too, if you were paying very close attention.