You can relax: A man in China did not just discover the world’s largest mosquito

April 27, 2018 by  
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This week, a scientist in China made news across the internet for claiming to have caught the world’s biggest mosquito with a wingspan of over 10 inches . At first the news gave us nightmares about massive mosquitoes snuffing out our citronella candles with their giant wings (or was that just me?) – but it turns out that the insect Zhoa Li caught isn’t the bloodsucking kind, but a massive crane fly instead. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); A giant mosquito with a wing span of 11.15 centimeters is shown at the Insect Museum of West China in Chengdu, capital… Posted by China Xinhua News on  Tuesday, April 24, 2018 Zhoa Li is famous for discovering the longest insect in the world – a two-foot-long megastick insect. Now he has identified a massive insect in China’s Sichuan province and declared it to be the largest mosquito ever. The specimen Li located could possibly the largest of its type on record, but it isn’t a mosquito. The insect’s scientific name is Holorusia mikado , it originated in Japan and it’s known to be the largest crane fly species in the world. The confusion seems to have arisen because some cultures refer to crane flies as “big mosquitoes.” Related: Recycled tire traps are seven times more effective than traditional mosquito traps Both the mosquito and the crane fly belong to the Nematocera suborder of flies, but from there the insects differ. The insect Li discovered belongs to the crane fly family (Tipulidae). “Different countries have different ways to call and define insects, but from a biological perspective, Holorusia mikado are categorized as mosquitoes,” Li told the Daily Mail . We beg to differ – any “mosquito” that doesn’t draw blood to survive isn’t going to keep us up at night. And entomologists agree . Image via Wikimedia

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You can relax: A man in China did not just discover the world’s largest mosquito

Elon Musk says he is building a cyborg dragon

April 26, 2018 by  
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If you’re running three companies and selling hats and flamethrowers in your spare time, why wouldn’t you then build a cyborg dragon? This sentence could only apply to Elon Musk — and that’s what he said he’s doing on Twitter . His statement naturally sparked a flurry of questions about whether or not he’ll actually construct the fanciful creature. Oh btw I’m building a cyborg dragon — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2018 Yesterday afternoon, Musk said some music sounded great riding his cyborg, capping off his tweet with a dragon emoji. About ten minutes later he followed up on that tweet with, “Oh btw I’m building a cyborg dragon.” Sounds great riding my cyborg ? — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2018 Related: Elon Musk warns AI could become an ‘immortal’ digital dictator Naturally, the Internet had a blast with that one. Twitter user @illbzo1 told Musk it was about time, and Musk agreed , saying the market was underserved. The Game of Thrones Twitter account commanded Musk to “ bend the knee to House Targaryen ,” signing off with the hashtag #Dracarys, and Musk was quick to fire back, saying, “Don’t make me use my space lasers.” Don’t make me use my space lasers … — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2018 So Musk is definitely kidding, right? Of course, he’s known to have a great sense of humor . And The Independent said perhaps he’s obliquely referring to SpaceX’s Dragon capsule. But they also pointed out Musk has a habit of making ridiculous concepts aired on Twitter into reality. A tweet about Los Angeles traffic morphed into a company that’s finished a segment of tunnel in LA and has verbal approval to build a Hyperloop between Washington, D.C. and New York City. After selling thousands of Boring Company hats, Musk said on Twitter they’d turn to flamethrowers and made good on that idea too . But a cyborg dragon? We can’t wait to see if Musk follows through on this one. + Elon Musk Twitter Via The Independent Image via arbitragery on Flickr

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Elon Musk says he is building a cyborg dragon

New infrared communications channel is 300X more energy efficient than WiFi

January 9, 2018 by  
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ARON – or Augmented-Reality Optical Narrowcasting – is a new communications channel that operates without relying on cellular networks or the Internet , instead depending on infrared light. SureFire , a tactical equipment company, is debuting the technology that could be groundbreaking at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show . The company says ARON is “300 times more energy efficient than Wi-Fi , and can operate on solar power .” ARON could change the way humans interact with the world, according to SureFire. The new communications system sends data via infrared light waves, using “a patented combination of optical beacons and signals.” Users can send any kind of digital information such as high-definition videos on the optical communications channel – as far away as 400 meters, or around 1,312 feet, in the daytime and 1,200 meters, or around 3,937 feet, at night, according to Engadget . Related: Ericsson’s new mixed-reality platform envisions urban design in “real life” ARON acts as an alternative to radio frequency waves, already used by smartphones , and is said to be secure and fast. The communications platform is as of now unregulated, potentially opening up a lot of opportunities for companies. SureFire’s video shows people utilizing the communications channel for augmented reality on smartphones, glasses, and car windshields. The company is also marketing ARON as useful during a natural disaster – it allows public information to flow even if the power is down, so first responders could reach trapped people, for example. Engadget pointed out it will take a while to deploy ARON on a large scale – someone would have to install sensors on buildings, freeways, or any other object or person needing to send data. They said the technology currently exists in demo form. SureFire’s video says the system can be installed in any car or mobile device, and “is inexpensive to deploy and use.” + ARON Via SureFire/PRNewswire and Engadget Images via Depositphotos and ARON video

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Spin’s new station-less electric bike travels 50 miles on a single charge

January 9, 2018 by  
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San Francisco-based Spin has added its first electric bike to their bike-share collection — and it doesn’t require a station. The company envisions its adoption of electric bikes as an important step towards making urban biking more inviting and accessible. “We see e-bikes as a key enabler of our mission to bring accessible and affordable transport to cities and campuses,” said Spin CEO Derrick Ko. The bike is able to travel up to 50 miles on a single charge while batteries are easily exchangeable for quick recharges. The bike’s movement can be assisted by pedal power and can travel up to 15 MPH with the electric engine’s assistance. Founded in 2016, Spin offers station-less bike sharing in which users can leave their borrowed bike in any responsible place rather than return it to a station. The electric bike, or e-bike, will join hundreds of traditional bikes in the Spin system. The e-bike was designed by Spin and produced by an as-of-yet unrevealed manufacturer, said to be one of the largest in the world. With its latest innovation, Spin hopes to expand bike-sharing in new, inclusive ways. “Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, have been shown to break down barriers to biking including hills, disabilities, age, and distance,” said Zaizhuang Cheng, chief technology officer at Spin. Related: Manta5’s new electric water bike lets you cycle on rivers and lakes Spin currently maintains station-less bike programs at 24 locations in the United States, including cities like Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Washington DC. In Seattle , Spin collaborated with the city’s Department of Transportation to create the nation’s first station-less bike permit system and has provided over a half-million rides since its debut in 2017. The first regions to receive e-bikes in their Spin bike-sharing networks will be places like Miami , University of California San Diego and Rochester Institute of Technology, all of which were early adopters of the original concept. Via TechCrunch Images via Spin

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Spin’s new station-less electric bike travels 50 miles on a single charge

VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing

December 4, 2017 by  
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Uber , get ready for more competition. Volkswagen’s mobility startup Moia just introduced a fully electric vehicle optimized for ridesharing . Unveiled at TechCrunch in Berlin, the concept also includes an app so customers can book and pay for rides easily. The startup plans to roll out the six-seaterout on the streets of Hamburg, Germany next year, with an overall goal of removing one million cars from roads. Moia could offer travelers an easy, eco-friendly new way to get around cities. The startup, which began just a year ago at TechCrunch in London, aims to get cars off the streets to ensure cleaner air and reduced traffic . Six people can ride inside the vehicle, which features standalone seats with USB ports and dimmable reading lights so everyone’s comfortable. Passengers can check their emails or surf the Internet with WiFi. There’s also a storage area next to the driver for luggage or bags. Moia’s range is 300 kilometers, or over 186 miles, and can be charged to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Osnabrück designed and built it in a record 10 months. Related: Volkswagen confirms when the Microbus is coming back as an EV With the app, users can see available cars and ride costs before booking. The startup said they’ll employ a pooling algorithm to put riders with similar destinations in the same car to avoid detours and have as many people riding in one car as possible. Since October of this year, Moia has been testing their service in Hannover. They’ll debut the concept in Hamburg, with more locations to follow. CEO Ole Harms said in a statement, “In 2018, we’ll be ready to launch our ride pooling concept internationally and take the first steps toward our goal of reducing the number of cars in major cities by one million in Europe and the USA by 2025.” + Moia Via Moia Images via Moia

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VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing

These optical illusion Star Wars lamps will take you to a galaxy far, far away

October 23, 2017 by  
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With the countdown ticking until the release of The Last Jedi on December 15, Star Wars products are flooding the Internet. But few top these awesome optical illusion lamps that illuminate 3D images of favorite characters like Darth Vader or spaceships like the Millennium Falcon. The lamps are said to have a lifespan of more than 50,000 hours. The Death Star or BB-8 could light up your room with these Star Wars LED lamps . Turned off, it’s two dimensional etched acrylic glass, according to Fatherly, but when switched on via a touch button on the base, the lamp shines with a 3D appearance. Most lamps have multiple colors; this one from The 3D Lamp boasts white, red, blue, green, yellow, pink, or cyan. They’re nine-inches-tall. A USB port allows the lamps to get power. Related: Star Wars-inspired NASA observatory will offer galactic views in Cyprus The lamps are said to be energy efficient , producing little heat, making them safe for a kid’s room or nursery. They’re often marked as limited edition, but as Fatherly pointed out, can be found on multiple online stores; there doesn’t seem to be a shortage. Mashable is offering Megalamps’ Star Wars lamp for $39.99 with the option of a 15 percent discount for a limited time; LEDMiracles is offering theirs for $38.99 . The 3D Lamp shop has their Star Wars LED lamps priced at $29.99 . R2-D2, Yoda, a Tie Fighter, Darth Maul, an X-Wing, and a stormtrooper helmet are among the other delightfully nerdy options for lamps to light up a room. Other optical illusion LED lamp designs are also being offered online, such as superheroes, flowers, or sports-themed lamps. + Megalamps Via Mashable and Fatherly Images via Megalamps and The 3D Lamp ( 1 , 2 )

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IKEA’s new augmented reality app could totally change the way we shop

September 13, 2017 by  
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Ever purchased a piece of furniture, only to find out later it didn’t fit the style or size of the room? Swedish furniture maker IKEA is tackling this problem with a free augmented reality (AR) application that utilizes Apple’s new ARKit technology . The app will let users experience how sofas, armchairs, coffee tables and other furnishing items will fit into their homes in augmented reality. According to the IKEA press release, all products experienced through the app are 3D and true to scale. This ensures “every choice is just the right size, design and function.” Said Michael Valdsgaard, Leader Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA Systems, “IKEA Place makes it easier to make buying decisions in your own place, to get inspired and try many different products, styles, and colors in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger. Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster.” Users will also have the option of capturing the setting in the app and sharing it as an image or a video with friends. Related: IKEA’s SPACE10 lab is bringing a pop-up vertical farm to London IKEA is the first home furnishing company to build on Apple’s new technology to create an AR app that ensures customers are confident with their purchases. Reportedly, the app has a 98 percent accuracy as it scales products based on room dimensions. “The AR technology is so precise that you will be able to see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on your furnishings,” says the press release. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. Beginning late-September, users with an iOs 11 may download and enjoy the app. In total, 2,000 IKEA products will be available to experiment with. The first release will focus on larger furniture products, including all sofas, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and top-selling “storage solutions” that can be placed on the floor.  Data collected from the application will also play a role in the launch of new product lines. “Now, technology has caught up with our ambition. AR lets us redefine the experience for furniture retail once more, in our restless quest to create a better everyday life for everyone, everywhere,” said Valdsgaard. To use the IKEA app, all one needs to do is: upgrade their device to iOS 11, download the IKEA Place app for free from the Apple store, scan the floor in your home, browse the list of available products in the app, select a chosen furniture item to experience, and move and place the product into the space. It is that simple! + IKEA  Images via IKEA

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

August 28, 2017 by  
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Until recently, few people could afford to shop at Whole Foods regularly. Now that Amazon has bought out the grocery chain for $13.7 billion , however, big changes are underway. On its first day, the internet giant slashed some of the store’s prices by up to 43 percent. The goal is to upend the way customers shop and ensure more people have access to affordable, healthy food. The first step to addressing the store’s reputation for being overpriced (which has led some to call it Whole Paycheck) was to mark down the prices of food. Bloomberg reports that at the Whole Foods store on East 57th Street in Manhattan , organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49. Similarly, organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 from $13.99 and organic avocados changed from $2.79 each to $1.99. All of the marked-down items have orange signs reading, “Whole Foods + Amazon .” The sign also lists that there is “More to come.” “Price was the largest barrier to Whole Foods’ customers,” said Mark Baum, a senior vice president at the Food Marketing Institute. “Amazon has demonstrated that it is willing to invest to dominate the categories that it decides to compete in. Food retailers of all sizes need to look really hard at their pricing strategies, and maybe find some funding sources to build a war chest.” 60-year-old Simon Salamon couldn’t be more pleased by the marriage between Amazon and Whole Foods . He said, “It reminded me why I shop at Amazon. Ninety-nine percent of the time they have the best prices and their return policy is great. With the prices lower, I think we’re more likely to shop here every day.” While Walmart has invested billions into lowering prices all around, it’s Costco that might be Whole Foods’ biggest competitor. The chain has a slate of organic items that are priced about 30 percent cheaper than Whole Foods, according to Sanford Bernstein. Prices can remain low, as Costco charges membership fees and sells bulk-sized goods to customers. Related: Whole Foods reveals the bleak future of dessert without bees Now that the deal is done, only time will tell if the organic grocery chain will be successful at changing its reputation and, in the process, serving a wider clientele. Via Bloomberg Images via Whole Foods , Pixabay

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

August 10, 2017 by  
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Mushrooms are not a common crop in Syria . With government blockades creating food shortages, however, Syrians in embattled rebel strongholds like Douma are increasingly turning to mushrooms as a substitute for meat. As years of drawn-out sieges place meat and other staples of Syrian cuisine beyond most people’s reach, The Adala Foundation, a local nonprofit, began brainstorming alternatives. “We turned to cultivating mushrooms because they’re a food that has high nutritional value, similar to meat, and can be grown inside houses and basements,” Abu Nabil, an engineer who is project director of the group, told AFP . Mushrooms have proven to be a good source of protein and mineral salts, according to Muayad Mohieddin, Adala’s director. In addition, mushroom farming requires neither copious space nor deep pockets. Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms There was just one problem: “This type of cultivation was totally unknown in Ghouta before the war,” said Mohieddin. Growing bags of mushrooms in a climate-controlled room known as the incubator, Adala has managed to distribute 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of mushrooms a week to 500 people across Douma and other parts of Eastern Ghota at no cost. “The distribution is free for the poorest families, and for those suffering malnutrition or spinal cord injuries that need lots of nutrients,” Abu Nabil said. Many of the project’s recipients were unfamiliar with mushrooms and had never eaten them before. One psychosocial center organized a workshop to teach people how to cook with mushrooms. Others turned to the Internet for tips. “On the first day, I fried them up with some onions, and on the second day I cooked them in a yoghurt sauce,” said Abu Adnan al-Sidawi, who received mushrooms through Adala. “Mushrooms are delicious cooked and we liked them in the yogurt sauce.” Via AFP Photos by Harshal Hirve and Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash

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Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

Former NASA chief scientist says Americans ‘under siege’ from fake climate news

June 12, 2017 by  
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The science is in on climate change – it’s real and hurting Earth right now. But not all Americans are aware of the threat, according to former NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. She said the country’s citizens are “under siege by fake information that’s being put forward by people who have a profit motive.” Stofan said the science on climate change is unequivocal. Nevertheless there are still deniers of the phenomenon in the United States – some holding top government positions. Stofan said disinformation and half-truths designed to confuse people have been spread about climate change, and now many people in the country are unaware of the pressing consequences of carbon emissions continuing as is. Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation She said oil and coal companies have been behind the disinformation, telling The Guardian, “Fake news is so harmful because once people take on a concept it’s very hard to dislodge it.” Stofan said she saw “an erosion of people’s ability to scrutinize information” across the political spectrum, not just on the left or the right. “All of us have a responsibility. There’s this attitude of ‘I read it on the Internet therefore it must be true,” she said. Stofan said the American science community has been realizing the threat of climate change fake news during the past six months, and are working to communicate more with the public and share information with the press. During her career Stofan pointed to planetary science as important for understanding the environment here on Earth. She said planetary science has offered proof that atmospheric carbon dioxide results in a warmer climate . She finds similarities between Earth’s carbon emissions and the runaway greenhouse effect on the planet Venus . Venus once had oceans but now the volcano and lava plain-strewn planet has temperatures nearing 500 degrees Celsius – Space.com described the planet as “our solar system’s analog to hell.” Stofan told The Guardian, “We won’t go all the way to Venus, but the consequences of putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere are really dire. There are models that suggest if we burn off all our fossil fuels , the Earth would become uninhabitable for humans.” She said our first job should be to keep Earth habitable. Via The Guardian Images via Pexels and Wikimedia Commons

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