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Industry & Technology

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

Ars Technica - 21 min 28 sec ago

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

Are the big ice sheets in Antarctica stable in the face of the warming we've already committed to? That's 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 question 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.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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

Ars Technica - 53 min 58 sec ago


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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John Hancock makes fitness tracking 'mandatory' for insurance

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 32 min ago
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 - 1 hour 35 min ago
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 - 1 hour 41 min ago
The new devices include more home gadgets like a microwave.

Surprise! Amazon set to debut new devices today - CNET - News - 1 hour 42 min ago
"We will debut some new features and products related to the Amazon devices business," Amazon tells us ahead of a surprise event starting this morning at 10:30 a.m. PT.

Straining a diamond makes silicon-based qubit behave

Ars Technica - 1 hour 46 min ago

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.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon Echo launch live blog: Event begins at 10:30 a.m. PT - CNET - News - 1 hour 55 min ago
Expect to see plenty of new Alexa-powered devices -- and maybe even a microwave.

GoPro Hero 7 camera films smooth videos without gimbal

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 30 sec ago
The latest action cam automatically stabilises footage to avoid the need for a separate gimbal.

GoPro Hero 7 stabilisation put to the test

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 1 min ago
How does the GoPro Hero 7 compare to last year's model - and can it turn the company around?

Volcanic eruptions get new early warning systems - CNET - News - 2 hours 4 min ago
Lidar, drones and advanced sensors help scientists better predict when a mountain is about to blow its top.

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

The Register - 2 hours 4 min ago
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.…

Pay just $15 for this amazing collection of ebooks and digital comics - CNET - News - 2 hours 13 min ago
This is no ordinary bundle. Every work here was controversial, challenged or even outright banned. Combined value: $261.

Raise your Halloween game with a free AtmosFX digital decoration - CNET - News - 2 hours 21 min ago
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 - 2 hours 38 min ago
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 - 2 hours 52 min ago
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.

Dive deep into AWS Lambda, FaaS and more

The Register - 2 hours 52 min ago
Our Serverless Computing early bird offer finishes in 36 hours

If you’re not already using AWS Lambda, Azure Functions or FaaS it’s highly likely they’ll be appearing on your project schedule soon.…

Deliveroo to bike food to hungry fanbois queuing to buy iPhones

The Register - 3 hours 7 min ago
Waiting in line for hours and fancy some avocado on toast? Pathetic!

The most shameless press release of the week award goes to Deliveroo for trying to share the limelight with Apple by offering to bike food to fanbois queuing for the latest iPhones released tomorrow.…

Harvesting marijuana with robots is hard. Here's how one company figured it out.

ZDnet News - 3 hours 13 min ago
The legal hemp industry is booming. Like many commercial ag sectors, automation is coming.

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