Technology

This Week in Space: Cassini, the James Webb Space Telescope, and Bricks

NASA finally unfurled the James Webb Space Telescope! The JWST has been undergoing acoustic and vibration testing for months, but it’s been fully opened because now it’s time for the next phase of testing. That will take place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. There, mission techs and scientists will test and calibrate the telescope’s instruments. The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to the Hubble telescope. Behold here the completely opened telescope mirror in all its glossy, high-tech beauty: Bears a certain resemblance to an ...

Read More »

Windows Phone Is Dead and Surface Sales are Slipping

Microsoft announced its quarterly results last night, and the figures were generally good, with revenue of $ 23.6 billion (up 6%), increased operating income, and higher earnings per share. The one ugly spot was More Personal Computing — the business segment that includes Windows 10, Bing, Surface devices, Windows Phone, and the Xbox business. Here’s how Microsoft’s CFO, Amy Hood, described the situation: [R]evenue was $ 8.8 billion, declining 7 percent, as Phone and Surface results offset healthy growth in Windows, search, and gaming. Our OEM business grew 5% this ...

Read More »

Nintendo Announces New 2DS XL, Returns to Clamshell Design

A few years back, Nintendo launched a low-cost follow-up to its 3DS. The 2DS was a slate instead of a clamshell, and it dropped the 3D capabilities Nintendo built into the 3DS, all while selling for a lower price ($ 129 at launch compared with $ 170 for the 3DS at the time). Now, Nintendo has released a new budget-oriented version of its 3DS XL, the New 2DS XL. The New 2DS XL drops the slate form factor that the 2DS favored and returns to a clamshell design. As the ...

Read More »

Cassini’s First Grand Finale Images of Saturn Are In, and They’re Stunning

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been observing Saturn since 2004, but mission control has been careful not to get too close to the ringed planet for fear of damaging the probe. Now, Cassini is nearly out of fuel, and it’s time to take some risks. Cassini began altering its trajectory early this week for the “Grand Finale,” a series of orbits that will take the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before. The first images from the Grand Finale have been sent back to NASA, and they’re stunning. They’re also just the ...

Read More »

Intel Will Rebrand Xeons, Preps Gold, Platinum Workstation Processors

For the last six years, Intel has followed the same naming conventions for its server chips. The Xeon E3, E5, and E7 families mirror the Core i3, i5, and i7 families, in that each successive tier of products adds features and capabilities. Intel’s E3v5 family, for example, are single-socket chips based on the Skylake CPU core, E3v6 uses Kaby Lake, etc. In Intel’s parlance, the first digit of a product family tells you how many sockets that CPU supports, while the following digits are a relative metric meant to indicate ...

Read More »

Wetern Digital Ships 12TB Helium-Filled Hard Drive

Every time you buy a hard drive, you probably think it’s plenty of space. Why would you ever need more? Inevitably, you end up in the red again a year or two later. Files just keep getting bigger with all these 4K videos and cameras with a zillion megapixels. Western Digital has come through on its promise late last year to release a 12TB hard drive. It’s headed to retailers now, but better prepare yourself for sticker shock. The new drive is being released under Western Digital’s HGST brand, which ...

Read More »

Study: Humans Arrived in North America 100,000 Years Earlier Than Thought

Conventional wisdom holds that the first humans arrived in North America at most 25,000 years ago. What if the real date is much earlier? A team of researchers suggests that humans of some sort existed in North America some 130,000 years ago. This claim is based on a reexamination of purported stone tools and broken mastodon bones that were uncovered in the early 1990s. However, not all researchers who have seen the research agree with the findings. Our tale begins in 1992, when the state of California was building a ...

Read More »

Nintendo Switch Sales Boom, Could Surpass Wii U in Just Over a Year

When Nintendo announced the Switch, many weren’t quite sure what to make of it, or how much of an opportunity it represented. The platform’s hybrid living room / portable mode was something new and the launch lineup was frankly anemic. Fortunately for Nintendo, all of these issues have proven minor hiccups rather than show-stopping problems. The Switch ($ 299.99 at Amazon) is reported to have sold 2.74 million units in March, with Nintendo claiming it now expects to ship up to 10 million Switches this year. The Wii U, for ...

Read More »

Despite What You May Have Heard, Licking Frogs Does Not Cure the Flu

Amphibian skin is an interesting thing, between the chemicals secreted by the animals themselves and the microbes that thrive on their skin. Poison dart frogs, those neon cuties of the rainforest, are thusly named because their skins secrete a chemical so poisonous that the indigenous people of the Amazon hunt down these teensy frogs and rub their hunting darts on them. The skin microbiome of certain amphibians could help us figure out how to curb the fungal epidemic called chytridiomycosis that threatens tropical frogs. You’ve probably heard about dogs — ...

Read More »

NASA Debuts 3D-Printed Space Chain Mail

When it comes to applied material science, it’s hard to beat NASA. Their solid-state wizards have been working on multiple ambitious projects, including silicon dioxide wafers and about a dozen kinds of ceramic composites. Now some folks at the JPL have debuted a new kind of engineered metallic fabric that they hope will see diverse applications in space — and on other worlds. The new metal fabric is a flexible hybrid of chain mail and plate armor, in the horticultural sense of a hybrid: the offshoot of two different parents, ...

Read More »