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Industry & Technology

Major Antarctic ice sheet shrank when it wasn’t much warmer than now

Ars Technica - September 20, 2018 - 3:42pm

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

Are the big ice sheets in Antarctica stable in the face of the warming we've already committed to? That's a more serious question than it might sound. The continent is thought to hold enough ice to raise ocean levels by over 55 meters if it were to melt—enough to drown every single bit of coastal infrastructure we have and send people migrating far inland from the present-day shoreline.

But the melting of this ice is a complicated process, one that depends on things like the dynamics of glaciers as they push through coastal hills, the shape of the seafloor where the ice meets it, and the slope of the basins the ice sheets sit in. It's tough to reason out how much ice would be lost for a given bit of warming. As a result, we're left with historical comparisons—the last time it warmed by that amount, how much ice did we lose?

This week, we got some new information on this topic courtesy of a detailed study of Antarctica's Wilkes Subglacial Basin. The work showed that it wasn't so much the amount of warming the ice experienced; it was how long it stayed warm.

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Alexa's next move: Amazon unwraps its latest voice-controlled devices

ZDnet News - September 20, 2018 - 3:41pm
At Amazon headquarters in Seattle, the tech giant is debuting new products and features related to its voice-assisted device business.

New Doctor Who trailer shows Jodie Whittaker fully in charge - CNET - News - September 20, 2018 - 3:31pm
Season 11 starts Oct. 7 on the BBC and BBC America.

Volcanic eruptions get new early warning systems - CNET - News - September 20, 2018 - 3:13pm
Lidar, drones and advanced sensors help scientists better predict when a mountain is about to blow its top.

Amazon Echo subwoofer and Alexa-capable smart plug may be on the way

Ars Technica - September 20, 2018 - 3:10pm


Amazon seems to have given us a glimpse into some of its new, unreleased products. Listings on Amazon UK show a new Echo Sub, a subwoofer designed to work with Echo speakers, and a new Amazon Smart Plug, a socket adapter with Alexa capabilities, both with an availability date of October 11. Amazon has since removed the listings, but reports from Pocket-lint show images and details of the two new devices.

The Echo Sub looks like a fatter version of Amazon's Echo speaker, almost like a clone of Apple's HomePod. The wireless subwoofer includes a 6-inch down-firing woofer and 100W of bass, tech that would certainly improve the quality of existing Echo speakers. Some complained after Amazon released the updated version of the original Echo last year, claiming its sound quality was subpar.

Listed within the device's description is stereo pairing, a feature that hasn't been available to Echo speakers yet. Currently, users can only group multiple speakers together to fill a room with sound, but they won't get that rich, complex left/right stereo sound. It appears that will be possible with the Echo Sub connected to two compatible Echo devices.

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Volkswagen will build a new electric-car factory in North America - Roadshow - News - September 20, 2018 - 2:54pm
The automaker intends to open the new EV plant by 2022.

How Volkswagen's Phaeton plant got a new life building EVs - Roadshow - News - September 20, 2018 - 2:51pm
Intended to assemble luxury sedans, the Transparent Factory now makes the e-Golf.

Sealed with an XSS: IT pros urge Lloyds Group to avoid web cross talk

The Register - September 20, 2018 - 2:50pm
Online login details could be harvested by miscreants – bank says: We're secure

A pair of IT workers have criticised banks within the Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) for substandard security. The group denies anything is amiss, maintaining it follows industry best practice on cyber-security.…

Doctor Who: Season 11 premiere date, trailer, plot details and more - CNET - News - September 20, 2018 - 2:44pm
There's a new season on the way with a new Doctor. Here's what you need to know and what to expect.

Pay just $15 for this amazing collection of ebooks and digital comics - CNET - News - September 20, 2018 - 2:36pm
This is no ordinary bundle. Every work here was controversial, challenged or even outright banned. Combined value: $261.

John Hancock adds fitness tracking to all policies

BBC Technology News - September 20, 2018 - 2:32pm
One of the largest life insurance providers in North America will now sell only "interactive" policies that collect health data.

Tech to solve post-Brexit customs woes doesn't exist yet, peers say

The Register - September 20, 2018 - 2:29pm
Stop us if you've heard this one before...

The UK’s post-Brexit customs arrangements have today come under even greater pressure, as peers warned the tech doesn’t exist to back up the plans.…

Tech to solve post-Brexit customs woes doesn't exist yet, peers say

The Register - September 20, 2018 - 2:29pm
Stop us if you've heard this one before...

The UK’s post-Brexit customs arrangements have today come under even greater pressure, as peers warned the tech doesn’t exist to back up the plans.…

Amazon poised to roll out more Alexa-enabled hardware today

ZDnet News - September 20, 2018 - 2:23pm
The new devices include more home gadgets like a microwave.

Straining a diamond makes silicon-based qubit behave

Ars Technica - September 20, 2018 - 2:18pm

Enlarge / This is a diamond. It probably even has impurities suitable for making a qubit. It is not a quantum computer (credit: Roger Blake)

With the advent of toy quantum computers, I’ve been less interested in reporting on the developments of new qubit systems. That doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring them. Instead, i'm seeing that lots of different types of qubits have deficiencies that are likely to lead to their abandonment at some point. Until I see those overcome, I tend to pay less attention.

Researchers are now reporting that they have overcome one of the major drawbacks in a silicon-doped diamond (SiV-) qubit. The qubit is no longer destroyed so easily and can be manipulated in ways that might make it quite flexible.

Qubits based around a defect in a crystal—in this case, caused by the placement of silicon in an otherwise all-carbon crystal—have been around for a while. But the qubit is way too sensitive to tiny vibrations called phonons. Phonons are basically the crystal’s way of moving heat around, so the amount of energy in a phonon is really tiny and hard to get rid of. Qubits that are readily destroyed by phonons are probably not very useful.

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GoPro Hero 7 stabilisation put to the test

BBC Technology News - September 20, 2018 - 2:03pm
How does the GoPro Hero 7 compare to last year's model - and can it turn the company around?

Bad weather, baulky booster keep ISS 'naut snacks on the ground

The Register - September 20, 2018 - 1:59pm
Fresh fruit, fresh batteries stuck on Japanese launchpad as HTV-7 hopes to catch a break

International Space Station astronauts looking forward to feasting on some fresh food have a little longer to wait as Japan’s cargo ship has suffered yet another launch delay.…

Raise your Halloween game with a free AtmosFX digital decoration - CNET - News - September 20, 2018 - 1:42pm
Cheapskate exclusive! Thrill the neighbors by projecting this awesome spooky animation in a window. And save 35 percent on complete Halloween collections.

Intel co-founder's Silicon Valley pad goes on the market for $22m

The Register - September 20, 2018 - 1:25pm
Includes vineyard, a separate guest house and Chipzilla history

A California home once owned by Intel founder Robert Noyce where the dining room served as Chipzilla’s boardroom in its early days is up for sale.…

Facebook's new Dating service is ready to take on Tinder - CNET - News - September 20, 2018 - 1:12pm
The social network, still grappling with how it handles users' privacy, is getting ready to find you a date -- but only if you live in Colombia.

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