The continuing die-off of the world’s coral reefs is a depressing reminder of the reality of climate change, but it’s also something we can actively push back on. Conservationists have a new tool to do so with LarvalBot, an underwater robot platform that may greatly accelerate efforts to re-seed old corals with healthy new polyps.
The high profile but fortunately non-lethal failure of a crewed mission atop a Soyuz rocket in October has been investigated thoroughly enough that American, European, and Russian space agencies are willing to ride aboard the venerable launch system. Roscosmos announced that a crewed mission will fly to the International Space Station on December 3, less than two months after the anomaly.
Robots just want to get things done, but it’s frustrating when their rigid bodies simply don’t allow them to do so. Solution: bodies that can be reconfigured on the fly! Sure, it’s probably bad news for humanity in the long run, but in the meantime it makes for fascinating research.
SpaceX is changing the lineup at the Seattle-based offices of Starlink, the company’s nascent satellite broadband division. A Reuters report depicts a whirlwind visit by CEO Elon Musk as a middle management bloodbath, but SpaceX says it’s just the usual fast-moving space company stuff.
After nine years of service, half a million stars surveyed, and thousands of planets discovered around those stars, NASA’s astonishingly successful Kepler space telescope is finally taking a well-earned rest. Out of fuel but in a safe orbit, the spacecraft will drift through the solar system looking at nothing in particular as its immense trove of data continues to drive discoveries here on Earth.
This is a public service announcement. The latest and greatest iPad, namely the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, will cost you $2,227 to buy in its best configuration and with the basic accessories that make it worth having in the first place. Plus tax, of course. I’m not making a value judgment here, just stating the facts. Tablets are getting pretty damn expensive.
MacBook Air fans aren’t hard to find. Although I admit to being a bit skeptical at its introduction, the laptop grew from an underpowered runt to an underappreciated workhorse over the years. But the design has hardly changed in the decade (!) since it came out — at least until today’s Apple event, when the company took the wraps off a totally redesigned Air with a retina display and Touch ID — and a new $1,199 price.
Google and a group of game cetologists have undertaken an AI-based investigation of years of undersea recordings, hoping to create a machine learning model that can spot humpback whale calls. It’s part of the company’s new “AI for social good” program that’s rather obviously positioned to counter the narrative that AI is mostly used for facial recognition and ad targeting.
The new iPhones have some great new photography features, but the XR lacks a couple, for instance portrait mode for non-people subjects, owing to its sadly having only the one camera. So last year! Fortunately third party camera app Halide is here to help you get that professional-looking bokeh in your doggo shots.
You think you own your phone, but you don’t. Copyright law prohibits you from modifying its software in certain ways, opening you up to a voided warranty, cancelled service, or even a lawsuit — but that’s slowly changing as the government acknowledges the need (and arguably right) to repair our own devices. A favorable decision from the Copyright Office gives you considerably more freedom with your gadgets, but it’s far from an ideal solution.