After a long night of work by more than 400 Paris firefighters, the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral is beginning to cool as of 7:00pm Eastern Time (1:00am in Paris). We're still not sure about the extent of the damage, but as Paris and the rest of the world watch the fire slowly dying, attention starts to shift to what can be salvaged and rebuilt. And art historians and architects have incredible records of the cathedral, which has been damaged, rebuilt, nearly abandoned, and renovated many times throughout its long history.Roof and main spire destroyed, extent of damage unknown
Notre Dame's roof and its support structure of 800-year-old oak timbers had almost completely succumbed to the flames. Firefighters reported the cathedral's bell towers safe and said that many works of art had been rescued or were already stored in areas believed safe from the fire. The main spire—750 tons of oak lined with lead—collapsed in flames around 2pm ET, landing on the wooden roof.
The trees that made up the roof's wooden structure were cut down around 1160, and some sources estimate that the beams accounted for 13,000 trees, or about 21 hectares of Medieval forest, many of which had been growing since the 800s or 900s. "You have a stage in France where deforestation was a problem; these buildings consumed huge amounts of wood." That's according to Columbia University art historian Stephen Murray, who spoke with Ars Technica. All that wood, he said, supported an outer roof of lead—until the wood burned and the roof collapsed.
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On Monday, German prosecutors filed a criminal indictment against former Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn for participating in the fraud that led to the diesel-emissions scandal that rocked the company in 2015. Four other managers were also indicted today, but their names were not released.
In 2015, US officials accused VW Group of putting illegal software on diesel Audis, Volkswagens, and Porsches. The software would essentially kill the cars' emissions-reduction systems during real-world driving to improve performance, but under laboratory conditions, the cars would pass emissions tests easily. Later, it was discovered that VW Group's diesels were using the same mechanism to subvert European Union vehicle emissions standards. Winterkorn and other VW Group management said they had no knowledge of this software and blamed its presence on "rogue engineers."
Winterkorn stepped down from his position shortly after VW Group's cheating was made public.
A few years have gone by since we've seen hardware at Google I/O, but it looks like this year that will change. Today, a teaser on the Google Store promises "something is coming to the Pixel universe" on May 7, the first day of Google I/O. Considering that we've been expecting the Pixel 3a and 3a XL—cheaper versions of Google's Pixel 3 flagship—to be released sometime this summer, it's a good bet this is referring to these devices.
Google's teaser page is extremely vague. It's mostly an ad for the Avengers: Endgame movie due out April 26, complete with an Avengers-themed Google logo and a crossover video ad for the existing Pixel 3 and the new movie. Just like with Stadia, though, we'll remind you that the Google Store is for hardware, not software, and it's hard to imagine teases like "something big is coming to the Pixel universe" and "meet a new hero" are not referring to a new phone. Stephen Hall of 9to5Google even claimed he heard whispers of a May 7 release date for the Pixel 3a a few days before this teaser.
The "Pixel 3a" and "Pixel 3a XL" are supposedly stripped-down versions of Google's existing flagship smartphone. We've seen reports of a "mid-range" Pixel going all the way back to last summer, and pictures of a real device first started popping up about five months ago. We've seen a few spec lists reported, but the latest claims that the devices will have OLED displays, a Snapdragon 670, and 4GB of RAM. According to reports, part of the cost cutting involves swapping out the glass back of the Pixel 3 for plastic. Two big things to note: the mid-range Pixels will reportedly have the same amazing camera as the more expensive Pixel 3s, and the mid-range devices improve on the flagships with the addition of a headphone jack.
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Over the past several years, OpenAI, a startup with the mission of ensuring that "artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity," has been developing a machine-learning-driven bot to play Dota 2, the greatest game in the universe. Starting from a very cut-down version of the full game, the bot has been developed over the years through playing millions upon millions of matches against itself, learning not just how to play the five-on-five team game but how to win, consistently.
We've been able to watch the bot's development over a number of show matches, with each one using a more complete version of a game and more skilled human opponents. This culminated in what's expected to be the final show match over the weekend, when OpenAI Five was pitted in a best-of-three match against OG, the team that won the biggest competition in all of esports last year, The International.
OpenAI is subject to a few handicaps in the name of keeping things interesting. Each of its five AI players is running an identical version of the bot software, with no communication among them: they're five independent players who happen to think very alike but have no direct means of coordinating their actions. OpenAI's reaction time is artificially slowed down to ensure that the game isn't simply a showcase of superhuman reflexes. And the bot still isn't using the full version of the game: only a limited selection of heroes is available, and items that create controllable minions or illusions are banned because it's felt that the bot would be able to micromanage its minions more effectively than any human could.
Following a November report on Microsoft's plans for a disc-free Xbox One S option, new reports suggest that new hardware will arrive on May 7 and sell for €229 in Europe.
Thurrott.com's Brad Sams, who has been reliable on Microsoft-related hardware rumors in the past, this weekend pointed to reporting from German site WinFuture which "confirm everything I have reported so far." That report includes purported shots of the "All Digital Edition" of the Xbox One S and its European packaging. The hardware displayed there looks identical to the existing Xbox One S—right down to the sizing—save for the lack of a hole for the disc drive on the front panel.
The reported packaging for the 1TB system includes logos for first-party title Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 3. It's unclear if those games will be bundled with the hardware or simply included as part of a potential Xbox Games Pass subscription.