News & Updates

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Saturn has an extensive ring system that extends out to 282,000km away from the planet, or about three quarters of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Within this structure there are a dozen or so significant gaps, one of which is the Keeler Gap located near the outer edge of the planet’s main rings. The tiny moon Daphnis has cleared this gap, which measures just 42km across.

One of the main benefits of having an orbiting spacecraft in a planetary system is multiple opportunities to image fine features—such as the 8km-wide moon Daphnis grazing through this narrow gap. And on Monday NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured an amazing view of this interaction as Daphnis grazed Saturn’s rings.

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Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

Amazon’s Dash Buttons make buying stuff from the online retailer easier when you’re not in front of a computer. Now the company is taking that idea back to its digital storefront: Amazon has created digital versions of Dash Buttons that have started to appear on its homepage and in its app for Prime members. According to a report from Recode, Amazon will automatically create digital Dash Buttons for items that Prime members recently purchased or buy often from the site, making it easier to repurchase those items at a later date.

The report also states that Amazon can make these digital buttons for “tens of millions” of products, but the one caveat is that they must be available for Prime delivery. Items that cannot be shipped under Prime delivery apparently aren’t Dash Button-ready.

Amazon generates the buttons based on your purchases, but you can edit your digital Dash Buttons at any time. You can organize the order in which they appear on your homepage, and you can add new buttons by going to a specific item on Amazon and clicking the “Add to Your Dash Buttons” prompt, which appears near the “Add to List” button on the right-hand side of the page.

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Enlarge / A buried male, and shell mosaics, from the Yangshao culture. (credit: Prof. Gary Lee Todd)

Around 7,000 years ago in China’s Central Plains, the Yangshao culture began to flourish along the Yellow River. It was another example of the same widespread Neolithic culture that was also emerging in Europe around the time, with new developments in pottery and agriculture. In China, it dominated the region for approximately 2,000 years.

Yangshao remains have offered a team of international researchers insight into an interesting question: did gender differences change alongside agricultural practices? They argue that gender inequality emerged along with the new crops among Yangshao. The archaeological data have some interesting signs, but it’s possible that the researchers are overstating their case: the only evidence they have is of inequality in people’s diets, which doesn’t tell us much about the structure of inequality of societies.

Millet cereals were domesticated in the region as early as 10,000 years ago, and were the primary crop of Yangshao cultures. Wheat, barley, and soybeans were introduced to the region after the end of Yangshao, around 4,000 years ago, although archaeological traces of them remain low for centuries. According to historical records, they were thought to be inferior foods, suitable only for protecting the poor against famine. That only changed around 2,000 years ago, when improved technological methods made it easier to refine them.

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Enlarge / Jordan Clarence Rogers fired a laser similar to this one that was aimed upwards in Egypt in 2012. (credit: Ed Giles / Getty Images News)

A Kansas City man was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty in September 2016 to pointing a laser at a local police helicopter.

Jordan Clarence Rogers has now joined the ranks of people who have been convicted of laser strikes relative to the thousands of incidents that are reported to the Federal Aviation Administration every year.

The federal government takes such laser strikes very seriously and prosecutes cases when and where it can. The Department of Justice told Ars that more than 28,000 laser illumination incidents in the United States have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration between 2011 and 2015. But as of 2014, only 134 arrests were made, and there were only 80 convictions.

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A Chinese app which allegedly makes selfies look more attractive—or more like an anime character, at any rate—has a dark secret: it demands permissions for far more personal data than it needs, including users’ IMEIs, phone numbers, and GPS coordinates.

Meitu, an app which has been out for years on both iOS and Android in China, has shot to fame outside the country in the last few weeks, due to the “beauty” filters it can apply to people’s selfies. Among other functions, it can sharpen people’s jaws, put a sparkle in their eyes, and smooth out and lighten their skin.

The result? Meitu-filtered pictures are suddenly everywhere. The backlash, however, has been just as swift.

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Square Enix has been re-releasing Dragon Quest games on the DS and 3DS for a decade now, if you can believe it—beginning with 2007’s Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen, the developer has released five remade mainline DQ games for Nintendo’s dual-screened handhelds (plus Dragon Quest IX, a new title first released on the DS).

Up until now, all of those remakes have been upgrades from the originals—the DS was more powerful than the NES and the SNES and the 3DS is more powerful than the original PlayStation. Square Enix used the extra power to give all the games a shiny new coat of paint in addition to the streamlined gameplay and new content. The 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII, released in the US today, is different. Rather than being a ground-up redesign of the game as Dragon Quest VII was, VIII is more-or-less a straight port of the PS2 original with a few changes stacked on top.

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Enlarge (credit: Paul Jansen)

Adam MacLeod is an associate professor at Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and author of Property and Practical Reason (Cambridge University Press). This post originally appeared in Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, NJ and is reprinted with permission.

The traffic-camera ticket: like a parking ticket, it looks lawful enough. When they receive one, most people simply write the check. It seems like the sensible and law-abiding thing to do.

But this is not a parking ticket. In legal terms, it is not a proceeding in rem—against your car. It is a legal action against you personally. And before you pay the fine, you might want to hear my story.

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Enlarge (credit: GHETTO UBER DRIVER)

On Thursday, Uber agreed to pay $20 million to end a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission, which alleged the startup had exaggerated what drivers could expect to earn in various cities nationwide.

In the civil complaint, which was filed with a federal court in San Francisco just before the settlement was announced, the FTC noted that Uber had advertised on Craigslist in numerous cities that drivers could make $16 to $29 per hour. However, in some cities, including Boston, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, less than 10 percent of drivers actually averaged the advertised rate. On Twitter, the FTC said that the money would go to affected drivers.

The FTC also alleged that Uber’s “Vehicle Solutions Program,” which aided financing of vehicles, ended up costing far more than drivers had initially been told that it would.

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Carbanak – One of the most successful cybercriminal gangs ever that’s known for the theft of one billion dollars from over 100 banks across 30 countries back in 2015 – is back with a BANG!

The Carbanak cyber gang has been found abusing various Google services to issue command and control (C&C) communications for monitoring and controlling the machines of unsuspecting malware victims.


Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 19: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice as Secretary of Energy, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Capitol Hill January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. Perry is expected to face questions about his connections to the oil and gas industry. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

On Thursday, former Texas Governor Rick Perry appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to answer questions from the senators, who will vote on whether Perry will become the nation’s Energy Secretary. The Republican-controlled Senate gave him little trouble this morning, although Democratic and Independent senators lobbed a few tough questions.

Perry’s nomination has been controversial, notably because in a 2011 presidential primary election debate, he couldn’t remember the name of one of the departments he promised to eliminate as president—that department was the Department of Energy (DOE). He also drew criticism after The New York Times reported last night that Perry had accepted the energy secretary nomination unaware that more than half of the Department of Energy’s budget is devoted to managing the US nuclear arsenal as well as directing nuclear energy facilities’ cleanup and maintenance. 

At the Senate hearing today, Perry attempted to persuade senators that he actually wanted the job. “My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said in his opening statements. “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

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