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Google Buys In on Musk's Space Internet Plans
January 21, 2015
SpaceX, the space transport services company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has raised $1 billion in funding from Google and Fidelity Investments. Together, they will together own almost 10 percent of SpaceX. Musk last November confirmed that SpaceX was developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations and would make an announcement in two to three months.
Sid Meier's Starships on the Horizon
January 20, 2015
2K Games and Firaxis have announced Sid Meier's Starships, an interstellar strategy game of exploration and conquest. It will arrive later this year for the PC, Mac and iPad. Assuming the role of a fleet commander, players will be tasked with leading their starships across the universe to save planets from eradication, build an empire, and bring peace and order to the galaxy.
Texas May Be Ground Zero for Musk's Hyperloop Dreams
January 16, 2015
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced plans to build a test track, most likely in Texas, for his envisioned Hyperloop high-speed transportation system. The goal is to allow experimentation with Hyperloop pods, the equivalent of train carriages. The project will be "entirely funded by Musk's companies and other interested private companies," said Frost & Sullivan's said Vishwas Shankar.
Gadget Ogling: A Swank Walkman, a Brainy Grill, and Oh, So Much More From CES
January 10, 2015
Welcome to the year's first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements. The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we'll look at some of the most notable and notorious, including Sony's latest Walkman, a smart grill and more.
Researchers Turn Computer Into Poker Shark
January 09, 2015
A computer program dubbed "Cepheus" has solved the game of poker, researchers at the University of Alberta announced. The Computer Poker Research Group, which created Cepheus, claims it not only can play heads-up limit Texas hold'em poker, but also beat human opponents. Games such as poker and chess have been used as test beds by researchers developing new concepts in artificial intelligence.
Kepler-438b and 442b: Are These the Planets We're Looking For?
January 08, 2015
Astronomers have discovered eight new potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system, including two that are the most similar to Earth of any discovered so far. First identified by NASA's Kepler mission, all eight of the planets are located in their distant suns' "habitable zone," or the region where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet.
SpaceX Seeks to Defy Odds With Ocean-Platform Rocket Landing
January 02, 2015
SpaceX next week will try for the first time to land the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a custom-built ocean platform in the Atlantic Ocean. The experiment originally was scheduled to take place in mid-December but was postponed to Jan. 6.The Falcon 9 first stage is some 14 stories tall and will be traveling at a speed of nearly a mile per second.
The Halting Progress of Mind-Controlled Robot Tech
December 30, 2014
new mind-controlled robotic arm in a project run by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Earlier this year, demonstrated her ability to use her thoughts to move the robot hand into different positions while controlling the wrist and arm. Mastering four distinct movements gave Scheuermann control of the hand in 10 dimensions. However, the school recently closed down the project.
Fraud-Proofing Credit Cards Through Quantum Physics
December 26, 2014
Researchers at the University of Twente and the Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with what they claim is an unprecedentedly secure way to authenticate credit cards, IDs, biometrics, and parties involved in quantum cryptography. The method -- quantum-secure authentication of optical keys -- basically consists of sending a beam of light at cards treated with a special paint.
Gadget Ogling: Budget Fitness Tracking, Focused Writing and Red-Hot Wearables
December 22, 2014
Gather around, friends, for another edition of the column that holds up just-announced gadgets to scrutiny, Gadget Dreams and Nightmares. In the stocking for our pre-holidays edition are a smartphone-controlled lock, an inexpensive fitness tracker, a red-hot wearable and much more. While I've looked before at smartphone-enabled door locks, Sony's take on the idea, the Qrio, stands out.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 06, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, and set aside that last leftover-turkey sandwich for a short while as we explore the murky landscape of freshly announced gadgets. On the menu in our post-Thanksgiving edition are a pair of e-ink smart devices, wearables with a health focus, an intelligent home brewing kit, a kitschy kitchen product, and perhaps the most useless item we've included in this column to date.
Orion's Test Flight Triumph Fuels Mars Hopes
December 05, 2014
NASA's Orion spacecraft on Friday successfully completed its first test flight, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 8:29 a.m. PST after orbiting the Earth twice in roughly four and a half hours. Orion traveled some 60,000 miles during the mission and journeyed 3,600 miles into space -- 15 times more distant than the International Space Station.
Hawking Sounds Alarm Over AI's End Game
December 05, 2014
Artificial intelligence eventually could bring about mankind's demise, according to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. "Once humans develop [full] artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Rosetta Plants 1st Human Kiss on a Comet
November 12, 2014
The ESA's Rosetta mission on Wednesday achieved a first for humankind by successfully landing its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Now, the lander's fate hangs in the balance following a tense descent and the apparent failure of several key anchoring systems. "We are extremely relieved to be safely on the surface of the comet," said Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager.
Are Tiny Internet Satellites Twinkling in Musk's Eyes?
November 10, 2014
Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, soon may be venturing into new territory: the Internet satellite sector. Musk reportedly is working with ex-Googler Greg Wyler, founder of WorldVu Satellites, on a $1 billion project to develop a fleet of 700 relatively small and inexpensive models that can be used to provide Internet access around the globe.
Dell: Using Technology to Change the World
November 10, 2014
I was at Dell World last week, and it is kind of amazing how far the company has come since it went private. Interestingly, much of the big tent content was less about Dell's technology and more about how technology was being used to change the world. This was kind of a scary event in some cases, because we are far from ready for some of the changes.
Foodini: Presto Chango, Your Dinner Is Printed
November 07, 2014
Natural Machines this week took to the stage at the Web Summit in Dublin to demonstrate Foodini, a 3D printer that can be used to create pizza, pasta, burgers and a wide range of other savory and sweet foods. Users begin by choosing the recipe they want to print, either from the Internet-connected device's onboard touchscreen or from their own PC or mobile device.
New Jawbone Fitness Trackers Stretch High and Low
November 06, 2014
Jawbone has announced two new fitness trackers: the high-end Up3 wristband and the entry-level Up Move clip device. Using a multisensor platform, the $179.99 Up3 captures detailed information about the wearer's heart rate, sleep stages and physical activity over the course of the day. It also connects with the Up App to deliver Smart Coach, an intelligent system that tracks the user's progress.
NTSB Gives Last Press Briefing on SpaceShipTwo Crash Investigation
November 04, 2014
Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the United States National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash last week of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, on Monday delivered his final press briefing on the initial stage of the investigation. Hart clarified on Monday that it was not known whether Alsbury or copilot Peter Siebold had moved the feathering lever.
Take a Nano Pill and Call Google in the Morning?
November 03, 2014
Google is in the early stages of developing a nanoparticle-covered pill to detect cancer and other serious health problems such as heart disease, according to Andrew Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google X, who revealed the project last week. The pill would work in tandem with a wearable magnetic device worn by the patient; the device would guide the pill to different parts of the body.
Ghost Hunters Kinect With Spirits
October 31, 2014
Microsoft's Kinect motion controller may have been intended to keep gamers moving while in the throes of play, but some intrepid explorers have been using it for a different purpose: hunting ghosts. Its skeletal-tracking and infrared-sensing capabilities let Kinect can "see" as many as six players in a room. What makes spines start to tingle, however, is when it sees some who aren't there.
Gadget Ogling: Logged Jogs, Manual Music, Smart Weapons and Skinny Phones
October 31, 2014
Welcome to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly look at the treats and horrors revealed as manufacturers pull back their curtains. Behind door number one is a selection of updated activity trackers from one of the oldest dogs in the yard, with the other shiny prizes including a music controller, a smart accessory for police firearms, and the planet's thinnest smartphone.

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