September 18, 2018

Robot jellyfish could save the world’s coral reefs

The world's coral reefs are in dire need of some love. Global warming and ocean temperature spikes have left massive stretches of vital coral reefs damaged, possibly beyond all repair, and if we don't do something to stop the continuing damage it's going to cost mankind dearly. But studying coral is no easy task, so researchers from the US Office of Naval Research and Florida Atlantic University have come up with a solution. The issue at hand is the fragility of coral itself. It's incredibly hard to monitor reef habitats and the health of the reef ecosystem using human divers or bulky equipment which could cause damage. The solution? Soft-bodied robotic jellyfish. Using the moon jellyfish as inspiration, the scientists built prototypes to test the feasibility of using a simple hydraulic movement system to allow their creation to move around in the water with very little effort. The work paid off, and the result is a small robot that can move effortlessly along a coral reef without risking any damage. A research paper based on the work was published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics. "A main application of the robot is exploring and monitoring delicate ecosystems, so we chose soft hydraulic network actuators to prevent inadvertent damage," Dr. Erik Engeberg of Florida Atlantic University said in a statement. "Additionally, live jellyfish have neutral buoyancy. To mimic this, we used water to inflate the hydraulic network actuators while swimming." The soft exterior of the robot, which is made of a rubbery silicon material, allows it to squeeze through tiny gaps. A future iteration of the robot could even incorporate a sonar sensor to gauge the size of openings before muscling through them, Dr. Engeberg noted. In the future, robotic jellyfish like these could be outfitted with any number of sensors to monitor water temperature and quality or even relay images of various parts of the reef to scientists on shore. These eyes-in-the-sea, so to speak, could be vital to monitoring ongoing reef recovery efforts worldwide.
September 18, 2018

Netflix picks up hit BBC drama ‘Bodyguard’

Netflix has purchased the streaming rights to Bodyguard -- a six-part BBC One series that has been raking in viewers in the UK. The show had a strong premiere, drawing in 10.4 million viewers, which is the highest launch figure for any new dra...
September 18, 2018

Thanks to a juicy Star Wars leak, it seems the First Order has a traitor among them

A new rumor about Star Wars Episode 9 that suggests a potentially big plot twist is in the cards has been making the rounds. It involves the First Order, the dictatorship that emerged after the fall of the galactic empire, and specifically Kylo Ren feverishly trying to smoke out a traitor he believes is operating within the order. A traitor who may even be feeding information to the Resistance. Hoo boy. The Sunday Express appears to have kicked this off, though it added a dubious-sounding element -- the suspicion that said traitor is none other than actor Domnhall Gleeson’s character, General Hux. Here's a bit more from CinemaBlend: "To be clear, according to this rumor ... Hux hasn't been a secret mole working for the Resistance the entire time. He's not even actually sympathetic to the Resistance at all. Rather, Hux hates Kylo Ren so much, no real surprise there, that he's going to help the Resistance in order to show the rest of the First Order what a terrible leader Ben Solo is. Hux seems to think that he can take down Kylo Ren and then, perhaps, take over the First Order himself, so he's not looking to destroy, it, just harm it enough that he can come in and save the day."
How's that for a twist as the Skywalker saga comes to a close? It's certainly a tantalizing prospect to consider, whether or not it's true or not anywhere close to being true. As CinemaBlend goes on to note, going full traitor sounds like a bit of a stretch for the general -- but, then again, he does hate Kylo and we can't see him toeing the line behind the new Supreme Leader. "We'd expect Hux to do something, and we'd expect him to do it in the most weaselly, underhanded, method he could come up with. Coming at Ren head-on wouldn't be Hux's style."
As a reminder, Star Wars: Episode IX (directed by J.J. Abrams) is still more than a year away, as it's set to hit theaters on Dec. 20, 2019. News is slowly trickling out about what we can expect -- and who we can expect to see, with headlines in recent days including the news that Abrams' former Lost actors Dominic Monaghan and Greg Grunberg will both have roles in the movie.
September 18, 2018

New ‘Avengers 4’ theory pitches a thrilling tale of travel through time

In the five months since Avengers: Infinity War hit cinemas I’ve seen numerous fan theories about what had just happened in the MCU and about what we might see next in the Avengers 4 sequel. Some are heartbreaking wishful thinking stories, while others make more sense, and are extremely elaborate and well explained. But the following one, which has time travel at its core, must take the cake, as it’s looking at the new movie from a solid perspective, the characters arcs. Here’s how Reddit user Ramennov starts this “Tale of Two Timelines” fan theory:
When coming up with fan theories for movies, especially well-written movies in a serial, it is important to consider character arcs and ensure that our theories are consistent with them. This is especially true for the MCU and theories for Avengers 4, since they will need to conclude the arcs of several key characters that have been developed for over a decade.
The theory suggests that Iron Man and Nebula will each embark on their own different journey. Tony Stark will travel back in time to ensure the Thanos Snap never happens, while Nebula will go hunting her father, having the same goal in mind. Doctor Strange is key to Stark’s new arc, as the theory says he willingly gave Thanos a copy of the Time Stone, with the actual stone being sent forward in time on Titan so that Stark would get it.
[The] next best option was to allow Thanos to succeed for two reasons: that he would leave Titan believing he had won and stop pursuing the Avengers, and that the Snap would cause Tony Stark to fully realize the consequences of his ego and guilt. Tony will descend into despair until the Time Stone reappears and Tony, having some familiarity with the Stones and a newfound hope, will use it to go back in time. Throughout the MCU, Tony is cursed with the well-intentioned need to protect the world but being utterly incapable of it due to his ego and guilt. His actions dissolve the Avengers and rendered them unable to defend against Thanos. Tony's worst fear having occurred (the Snap) finally gives him the clear-headedness and sense of purpose he needs to do the right thing and change key moments in the MCU's history using the Time Stone.
Ant-Man, who’s stuck in the Quantum Realm will probably use time vortexes to comprehend what’s happening and help Stark along the way. Nebula, meanwhile, will search that elusive revenge she’s been seeking.
At the end of Infinity War, Nebula remains behind on Titan after the Snap. It's no coincidence that her arc is incomplete, and that being one of the few remaining characters in the movie has elevated her importance so that she may complete it. Nebula's arc is connected to Gamora and Thanos. Nebula's relationship with Gamora has evolved from antagonistic to compassionate, with Nebula being concerned for Gamora's safety. Indeed, she mourns Gamora after Thanos says he killed her. This builds on Nebula's unresolved animus for Thanos that she's been harboring throughout the MCU. I speculate Nebula will almost certainly seek revenge on Thanos, and that she will leave Titan to seek him out shortly before the Time Stone reappears.
Nebula’s quest may even force Thanos to seek help from the Avengers, the theory says, as Nebula will become an unwitting villain as she ends up wielding her father’s Gauntlet. Both Stark and Nebula would actually try to fix the same problem, but only one of them can succeed. And, if the Avengers are to win this fight, only Tony’s solution is viable:
Both Nebula and Tony will try to prevent the Snap from happening, but only one may succeed. It has to be Tony. Nebula rewinding time to before the Snap leads to two results: an infinite loop in which the Avengers are still dissolved and ineffective against Thanos, and Tony prevented from going back in time. Tony will end up uniting the Avengers and in his timeline, Thanos will be defeated on Earth when he comes for the Mind Stone. The Snap will not only be undone, but will be prevented from happening in the first place. The older heroes (at least some) will die bringing back the newer heroes, giving the audience a passing-of-the-torch moment. After their success, Doctor Strange will use the Reality and Space Stones to transport the Time Stone back to Titan, ensuring their current timeline will happen (Strange is willing to give the Time Stone away in this infinite loop because doing so also protects it). Tony's success also prevents Nebula from seizing the Gauntlet and dissolves her "present" timeline. Note that Tony's actions only succeed in building up enough of a defense on Earth and will not affect events beyond Earth. This means that any characters who died prior to the fight on Titan will remain dead, because Thanos had to arrive on Titan to retrieve the Time Stone.
The fan theory also suggests other interesting details, such as Clint’s entire family being Snapped, or Hulk and Bruce Banner finally solving their brewing conflict. Ultimately, someone will die, with the Reddit user also pointing at Captain America and Tony as the likely characters to perish while saving everyone else.
September 18, 2018

Bikini Kill’s riot grrl punk is available to stream for the first time

Prince, The Beatles and other well-known artists gave into the siren's call of streaming music years ago, but not Bikini Kill -- you still had to get the iconic riot grrl group's music the old-fashioned way. Until now, that is. The feminist punk gr...
September 18, 2018

$25 power pack doubles your Nintendo Switch’s battery life

We love the Nintendo Switch so much that it’s almost painful to admit that it’s not perfect. But alas, there are some areas where the Switch can definitely be improved, and battery life is one of them. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re running low on juice when you’re in the middle of gaming on the go, but now there’s an easy way to more than double the battery life on your Switch. Check out the Nyko Power Pak for Nintendo Switch, which is on sale right now for less than $25.

Here’s what you need to know from the product page:

  • Extended playing time: keep playing after the internal battery runs out - 5, 000 mAh, 5V, 2.1 Amp
  • Light indicates charging status of the Console
  • Rapidly recharge the power Pak through the included Type-C
  • Kickstand built into the power Pak
September 18, 2018

This massive solar-powered yacht will let oligarchs cruise the seas without stopping for gas

Electric vehicles certainly seem to be the future, with just about every major auto brand following Tesla's lead to a gas-free future, but will the same be true for boats? Yachts are a big status symbol for wealthy folks, but they're also huge gas-guzzlers. Now, a Swedish company called Solar Impact is hoping to change that with a gorgeous pleasure boat that never sips a drop of fuel. The ship is a technological marvel — which, it should be noted, has yet to actually be built — and is absolutely covered in power-generating solar panels. The ability to generate its own power gives the yacht unlimited range, but that claim comes with a bit of an asterisk. Called simply the Solar Impact Yacht (that might change at some point), the nearly 80-foot long vessel offers three floors of fun. A total of six cabins are tucked away below while large social areas dominate the main deck, and a lounge area is situated up top. This mighty vessel is rated at over 1,300 horsepower, and when at full throttle it can cruise at an impressive 22 knots. However, that speed would drain the large 800kWh battery faster than the solar panels can actually recharge it. For truly unlimited range you'd need to scale back your speed to a much slower 5 knots. When in electric mode, the yacht is "noiseless," according to its manufacturer. If you find yourself stuck with cloud-covered skies and an empty battery you can either wait for the Sun to shine through again or start up the dual diesel backup engines to push you along. Along with these power options, the company claims that the yacht comes with some kind of artificial intelligence, though it hasn't exactly explained how it works. Despite plenty of specs and a detailed layout available to browse on its website, the company has left a lot of questions unanswered. No actual availability information is available aside from a vague hint that "next year" is when the yacht may or may not actually be a real thing. Most importantly, there's not even a ballpark price, but an all-electric solar-powered super yacht sure sounds like something that only about a dozen people on Earth will be able to afford.
September 18, 2018

Who is Yusaku Maezawa, SpaceX’s first lunar tourist?

Elon Musk shocked the world on Monday when he revealed the identity of SpaceX's first lunar orbit tourist to be Mr. Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire who made his fortune in online fashion retail.
September 18, 2018

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL press renders are our best look yet at the phones

With less than a month to go before the launch event in Paris (and with the iPhone XS reveal out of the way), focus has begun to shift to Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Google has yet to officially announce the new phones, but it did share a few teasers on its website in recent days, confirming that something with the number "3" in its name is coming (and possibly a new color as well). But once again, Google has been outdone by leaks. On Tuesday, Dutch mobile blog Nieuwemobiel shared leaked images of what it claims are official renders of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. This is far from the first time we've seen the designs of the two models on display, but these are the first purported renders that have leaked online. Previous leaks centered around the device itself. Most everything in the render has already been uncovered in previous leaks, including the notch atop the Pixel 3 XL, the single rear cameras, and the dual front cameras, rumored to be used for something called 'Super Selfies.' We get a good look at the fabric cases that have become somewhat iconic for the Pixel brand too. Unfortunately, this means the backs of the phones are covered up, but nothing especially important is missing. Finally, Android Police points out that the old voice icon on the right side of the Google pill widget at the bottom of the display has been replaced by a Google Assistant button. It's also possible that the time in the upper-left corner (9:00) indicates that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will ship with Android 9.0 Pie, rather than 9.1. Google will officially unveil the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones at an event in NYC on October 9th.
September 18, 2018

Sony’s reborn Aibo robot is available for pre-order in the US

Sony's relentlessly adorable Aibo robot is finally ready to return to American shores. After months of waiting, you can pre-order a First Litter Edition of the robo-pup in the US ahead of an expected mid-December ship date. You'll be spending a sta...