We had some great explainers on Giz this week, elucidating in-flight wifi, DNA editing, and the problem with electric bicycles. Also: exploding Apple Watches, “X-Philes” fandom, and some weird-ass gadget erotica. Here are the favorites.
CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?
When The X-Files debuted, nobody knew the small, weird show would be a success. But it had something better than a marketing blitz: It had the internet as a way to connect people who wanted to believe.
If you ever try to book a rental on Airbnb and the owner asks you to pay via wire transfer, don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. It’s a scam. It’s always a scam.
When I got back from vacation in Mexico, my bank sent me an alarming email with the subject “Declined Purchases,” which struck me as weird because I didn’t get declined the whole trip. The bank listed the locations—a perfume store and an Autozone in a town I didn’t visit—and I yelled: “I’ve been skimmed!”
I’m dancing on the grave of Microsoft’s original Surface tablet, and I feel no remorse. It’s hard to feel sad—it was a beautifully crafted ten-inch tablet that ran a crippled version of Windows. It was awful. Now it’s dead, and I’ve got a way better tablet. I’m so happy.
Years ago, wannabe engineers might’ve sat in a basement tearing up VCRs to concoct homemade electronics, pounding can after can of Tab to fuel their DiY compulsions. That’s still happening today—except with DVD burners, cans of Red Bull, and with millions of people watching the mad scientists on YouTube.
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.
Recently, we did an experiment: We took an outdated issue of a respected popular science magazine, Scientific American, and researched exactly what happened to the highly-touted breakthroughs of the era that would supposedly change everything. What we discovered is just how terrible we are at predicting the long arc of scientific discovery.
I called Richard Ryan late on a Thursday evening. His voice through the phone was scratchy and you could hear these faint “pops” every so often. This wasn’t the fault of some piss-poor cell reception. This was something else. “Sorry about the explosives going off in the background,” he said.
A new electric bike — the Koben, from Karmic Bikes — promises to fix what ails the electric bicycle industry. We spoke to its designer to find out what those problems are, and how he thinks he’s solved them.
Have you wondered what it’s like to get fucked by the Apple Watch?