The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published today that he had reason to believe that software intended to prevent Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from stalling in flight had been activated aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 shortly before its crash. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that “to the best of our knowledge,” the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) for stall prevention was active at the time of the crash.
This is the first time anyone connected to the Flight 302 investigation has specifically referenced the flight software as being involved. Ethiopian and French investigators had noted similarities in flight data to that of the ill-fated Lion Air Flight 610, a crash that was determined to be at least partially caused by the MCAS software’s malfunction due to a faulty sensor input. Investigators also cited the Flight 302 crew’s lack of training on how to shut the MCAS system down in the critical moments before the crash.
Gebremariam did not share what details he had received that led to his conclusion. But he did say that it would be difficult for Boeing to restore trust in the 737 MAX aircraft’s safety, and he was critical of Boeing’s failure to do more to inform airlines of the changes in operation related to MCAS when it was introduced. “In retrospect I would have expected them to have been more transparent on the MCAS, the technicalities of the MCAS, what it does and what it doesn’t do,” he told The Wall Street Journal. And after the first 737 MAX crash in Indonesia, the CEO said, “more should have been done from the Boeing side in terms of disclosure, in terms of coming up with strong procedures, stronger than what they gave us.”
The tally of deadly Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ticked above 1,000 this weekend as health responders continue to struggle to thwart the disease amid violent conflict.
The outbreak has been raging since August in the country’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which sit on the eastern side of the country, bordering South Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda. The World Health Organization reported 1,009 cases (944 confirmed, 65 probable), including 629 deaths (564 confirmed, 65 probable) on Saturday, March 23.
The outbreak is the second largest of all time, surpassed only by the 2014 West African outbreak, which involved more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.
Nintendo has plans to release two new models of the Nintendo Switch "as early as this summer," according to a Wall Street Journal report citing "parts suppliers and software developers for Nintendo."
One model would be a higher-end system with enhanced hardware akin to the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, though not as powerful as either, according to the report. The other would be a "cheaper option" intended to replace the aging Nintendo 3DS, whose sales have finally started to collapse.
This cheaper Switch would reportedly cut costs by losing features such as controller vibration. That's a move which would render portions of games such as 1-2-Switch and Super Mario Party unplayable, but Nintendo "judged the new Switch models won't need the vibration feature because there wouldn't be many games released using the full benefit of it," according to a quoted supplier.
Slow speeds and poor value for money top lists of complaints about big UK broadband providers.
In England, the jobs of women, the young and part-time workers are most at risk from automation.
Only three tropical cyclones are known to have formed in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, the most recent of which was Tropical Storm Anita in 2010.
On Sunday, Brazilian meteorologists began tracking a new tropical storm, Iba, that has formed off the country's southeast coast. According to the Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center, the storm formed maximum winds of 40mph and a central pressure of 1008 millibars. Present estimates suggest it has intensified to 50mph, but it is not expected to directly threaten land.
Although Iba is not all that far from the Brazilian coast, atmospheric steering currents will pick up the storm and carry it to the south and then southwest by Tuesday or Wednesday. Once over the Southern Atlantic Ocean, cooler waters and unfavorable winds should act to dissipate the storm. Over the next day or so, it should come nearest to Brazilian towns Caravelas and Vitoria.
Hewlett-Packard sues Autonomy founder Mike Lynch for almost £4bn over 2011 sale of his company.
As part of a September settlement, Musk promised to get sign-off from Tesla lawyers for any tweets that "contain, or reasonably could contain" material information—legal jargon for information significant to people trading Tesla's stock. The SEC argues that Musk's February tweet, stating that Tesla would produce "around 500k" vehicles in 2019, violated that requirement.
Musk disagrees. He argues that he was merely repeating Tesla's earlier production estimates. And he insists he was entitled to use his own judgment to determine the information was not material—and therefore didn't require pre-approval by Tesla's lawyers.
While researching his 2017 book on the history of heart surgery, medical journalist Thomas Morris perused hundreds of journals from the 19th century. One day, a headline on the page opposite the one he was reading caught his eye: "sudden protrusion of the whole of the intestines into the scrotum." It was a bizarre case from the 1820s, involving a laborer run over by a brick-laden cart. The resulting hernia forced his intestines into his scrotum, and yet the laborer made a full recovery.
Once he got over his initial amused revulsion, Morris was struck by the sheer ingenuity displayed by doctors in treating the man's condition. And he found plenty of other similar bizarre cases as he continued his research, with people surviving truly horrifying injuries—a testament to the resiliency of the human body. "Doctors, even when they had less than a tenth of the knowledge we do today in terms of treating major trauma, could still come up with innovative and ingenious solutions to acute problems," he said.
Many of the most interesting medical cases Morris uncovered are featured in his hugely entertaining compendium of medical oddities, The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth, and Other Curiosities From the History of Medicine. Regular readers of his blog (tagline: "making you grateful for modern medicine") will revel in stories about a sword-swallowing sailor, a soldier who removed his own bladder stone, a man with combustible belches, a woman who peed through her nose, and a boy who inhaled a bird's larynx and started honking like a goose. All are delivered in elegant prose, punctuated with the author's distinctive dry wit. Morris has collected 500 or so of these frequently jaw-dropping cases thus far, and only included 70 or so in the book. So a sequel (or two) isn't out of the question.
Update: Today, March 25, Apple will hold its first public event of 2019 at 1pm ET (10am PT). And press invitations, rumors, and prior evidence indicate this event could hold an unprecedented announcement for the company: its long-anticipated streaming content business. Ars will be on site Monday to find out and liveblog all of it, but for now we're resurfacing our rundown of what to expect from Apple this week and what surprises may be in store. This story originally ran on March 15, 2019 and appears unchanged below.
On March 25, Apple executives and partners will take to the stage in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's Cupertino campus to talk about subscriptions, software, services, entertainment, and media. These are all things Apple has dealt with before, but never before has an event focused so completely on them as we're expecting later this month.
That's not to say it's impossible that hardware will appear. The timing is right for an update to Apple's base iPad model, and reports and rumors have been joined by developer beta evidence to imply that hardware refreshes are imminent for a few Apple products like the iPad, iPad mini, iPod touch, and AirPods. These would fit perfectly in an event focused on services like TV, music, and news: they are media-consumption devices, first and foremost.
Nearly 2,500 years ago, Herodotus described an unusual type of river boat he saw along the Nile while visiting Egypt. Many archaeologists doubted the veracity of the description, because there wasn't any evidence such a ship ever existed. But Herodotus is getting some posthumous revenge, as the discovery of just such a ship has vindicated his account. The details appear in a new published monograph, Ship 17: a Baris from Thonis-Heracleion, by archaeologist and shipwreck specialist Alexander Belov.
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian, often called the "father of history" because his nine-volume work, Histories, essentially founded the field. Around 450 BCE, he traveled to Egypt and wrote about seeing construction of a type of cargo boat called a baris. The passage—a fragment just 23 lines long—talks of shipbuilders cutting planks and arranging them like bricks using long internal ribs called tenons, which would be a form of construction not known before. There was a mast made of acacia, sails of papyrus, a crescent-shaped hull, and a rudder for steering that passed through a hole in the keel. But archaeologists had never found such a boat, with many concluding that the historian may have embellished his account.
Why wouldn't they believe the father of history? Even though Herodotus is required reading among classicists, he has a reputation for being a bit of a fabulist. Plutarch wrote an entire treatise entitled On the Malice of Herodotus, noting that one could fill several tomes with the "lies and fictions" of the Greek historian. The accounts of his travels through Egypt, Africa, and Asia Minor in particular have been dismissed as more fiction than fact. Granted, some of this might be due to errors in translation. For instance, he claimed to witness fox-sized "ants" in Persia, who spread gold dust as they dug their mounds. There is actually a Himalayan marmot that does this, and the Persian words for "mountain ant" and "marmot" are quite similar.
This week, a viral "challenge" took Twitter and other social media by storm. The "Florida Man Challenge" called for people to:
The challenge spread like a cat meme, so much so that typing "Florida Man" into the Google search bar resulted in suggested entries that were almost exclusively calendar dates.
Of course, I wrote about it:https://t.co/nFMWQPbMRT
— Gabrielle Calise (@gabriellecalise) March 21, 2019
Doing this was, as we like to say at Ars, a really bad idea.
At the end of 2018, things looked pretty bleak for the Bloodhound SSC land speed record project. Breaking a land speed record has never been easy, particularly if the goal is to clear 1,000mph (1,600km/h). You need a highly engineered car, a rigorous test program, and a suitable bit of land upon which to run it. Which in turn means somewhere flat and remote enough for the neighbors not to mind, but convenient enough that you don't have to also build a bunch of new roads to get there. Bloodhound SSC found such a place in the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa. But by October 2018, the project entered into administration (a UK equivalent to bankruptcy) when it ran out of funding. By December, with no buyer found, it looked like the dream was over.
Earlier this week, that all changed. The effort—now called Bloodhound LSR—has a new backer in Ian Warhurst, who bought the assets from the administrators at the end of last year. It's also got a new HQ; the car has moved from its former base in Bristol, England, to SGS Berkeley Green University Technical College (UTC) on the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park (also in England).
"Since buying Bloodhound from the administrators last December, the team and I have been overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm the public have shown for the project. Over the last decade, an incredible amount of hard graft has been invested in the project and it would be a tragedy to see it go to waste," Warhurst said in a statement. "Starting with a clean slate, it’s my ambition to let Bloodhound off the leash see just how fast this car can go. I’ve been reviewing the project and I’m confident there is a commercial business proposition to support it. I’ll provide robust financing to ensure there is cashflow to hit the high-speed testing deadlines we set ourselves."
As a beginner or even intermediate musician, you do not hop up on stage with jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie (were he still alive). If you're not confident in your ability to keep up with all the chord changes, where you are in the song's form, or the sheer tempo blowing by like a runaway train, it becomes a disaster. But overcoming intimidation and stretching one's self is part of musical growth. The Mercedes-AMG GT R is the automotive Dizzy Gillespie and taking the wheel is the equivalent of sitting in with him. The timid will run away. But then they'd never know how easy it could actually be to sit in with the jazz master.
With aggressive spoilers, a gaping and hungry toothed grille, huge tires and a pounding V8 engine, the AMG GT R glowers as you approach it, much like an imposing Gillespie might at an open jam session... until the music starts. If the GT R could bark or snarl, it would do that, too. Turns out, though, that the big attitude is largely show.
The AMG GT R does not start life as a normal GT or GT S model with additional boost shoveled on top. And you would be a certifiable lunatic to approach anything even half-way near its limits on public roads.
I've been a dedicated fan of the Assassin's Creed video game franchise for 11 years. It hasn't always been a happy relationship. While the early games captured my imagination and introduced me to whole new modes of gameplay, the series' middle years were laden with misfires, feature bloat, and other serious problems.
I often look at fans raging against the companies that make their favorite franchises—Bethesda or Blizzard are the two most common targets I see—and shake my head in bewilderment. "If you hate their work so much, why don't you just play something else and let everyone else enjoy their games? It's not like there's a shortage of great games to try," I say.
But as I looked back on more than a decade of playing Assassin's Creed games to write this article, I for the first time kind of understood loving something so much that its stumbles make you feel not just disappointed, but a little mad.
Virginia state transit officials are telling The Boring Company "thanks but no thanks," at least for now. The Virginia Mercury reported yesterday that the state's chief of rail transportation, Michael McLaughlin, was not sufficiently impressed by his recent visit to Elon Musk's test tunnel in California to recommend that the state work with the startup.
"It's a car in a very small tunnel," McLaughlin reportedly told the state's Transportation Board public transit subcommittee this week. "If one day we decide it's feasible, we'll obviously come back to you," he added.
Virginia's Transportation Board has been contemplating billion-dollar upgrades to the state's more populated areas, but the promise of The Boring Company is opaque enough that officials are hesitant to engage with the company, even at the cut-rate prices that founder Musk has promised.
On Wednesday night, Tesla sued four former employees and the self-driving startup Zoox for misappropriation of trade secrets. No, you're not having driverless-car lawsuit déjà vu—you're just remembering the time last year when Waymo and Uber settled their own trade secrets case after four days of trial.
Tesla’s suit, filed in the Northern California federal district court, alleges that four of its former employees took proprietary information related to “warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations” when they left the electric automaker, and later, while working for Zoox, used that proprietary information to improve its technology and operations.
Tesla says the former employees—Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craig Emigh—worked in product distribution and warehouse supervising. It alleges that they forwarded the trade secrets to their own personal email accounts or the accounts of other former Tesla employees. “You sly dog you …” Turner allegedly wrote in the body of an email he sent himself, attaching “confidential and proprietary Tesla receiving and inventory procedures, as well as internal schematics and line drawings of the physical layouts of certain Tesla warehouses,” the company's lawyers write in their complaint.
Pope Francis hosts discussions on the future of robotics and ethics at the Vatican in Rome.
There's a steady flow of reports regarding the failures of the US education system. Read the right things and you'll come away convinced that early grades fail to teach basic skills, later grades fail to prepare students for college, and colleges students fail so much that they can't cope with the world outside the campus walls. But this week brought a bit of good news for one particular area: college-level computer science programs appear to be graduating some very competitive students.
This comes despite the fact that US students enter colleges behind their peers in other countries.
The work, done by an international team of researchers, compares US college seniors to those of three countries where US companies have outsourced some of their work: China, India, and Russia. All of these countries have a reputation for first-rate computing talent, with India and China developing large internal markets as well. Many students from these countries also come to study in the US, while Russia and China have been involved in cyber attacks against the United States and/or companies based here.
KĀNEʻOHE, Hawaii—For a first time visitor driving up from Kailua along HI-83, it felt like that John Williams’ “Main Theme” should’ve been playing the entire time as we watched the Hawaiian landscape reveal itself. Then we arrived—and learned we had signed up to tour the actual Jurassic Park.
I have it on good authority that a certain Ars staffer may or may not have appeared in the background of park scenes in 2015’s Jurassic World. In reality, those particular sequences happened at an abandoned theme park outside of New Orleans on a production set. But it turns out the lush nature and endless greenery seen in both the original and the latest Jurassic Park iterations happens to be very genuine and very open to the public for those that can make it to Kualoa Ranch.
Located on the eastern coast of Oahu, Kualoa Ranch spans 4,000 acres of nature preserve. It boasts so many different microclimates and environments that it can rain in one portion of the place while being bone dry in another. It has such stunning scenery that a freaking Motorola phone from 2014 will take photos that look like movie stills at a glance. And because of those two factors—a private remote setting, effortless visual beauty—Kualoa has become a popular destination for big budget productions. Everything from Jurassic World to Battleship to Jumanji (2017) has worked here in recent years (and gems like The Karate Kid or Krippendorf's Tribe did in the past). Evidently Triple Frontier had just been at Kualoa filming one particular cliffside escape scene, utilizing an artificially created three-foot high cliff for safety.