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Comic for February 18, 2019

Dilbert - February 19, 2019 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

The Weird Rise of Cyber Funerals

Slashdot - 34 min 35 sec ago
Categories: Geek, Opinion

The wrath of grapes: A tale of 12 dead microwaves and plasma-spewing grapes

Ars Technica - 1 hour 49 min ago

Enlarge / Not just for grapes: plasma formed between a pair of hydrogel beads irradiated in a household microwave oven. (credit: Hamza K. Khattak)

DIY science enthusiasts know that, if you put a halved grape into a microwave with just a bit of skin connecting the halves, it'll produce sparks and a fiery plume of ionized gas known as a plasma. There are thousands of YouTube videos documenting the effect. But the standard explanation offered for why this occurs isn't quite right, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And its authors only needed to destroy a dozen microwaves to prove it.

"Many microwaves were in fact harmed during the experiments," admitted co-author Hamza Khattak of Trent University in Canada. "At one point, we had a microwave graveyard in the lab before disposing of the many early iterations in electronic waste."

Co-author Aaron Slepkov first became interested in the phenomenon when, as an undergraduate in 1995, he noticed there was no formal (i.e., scientifically rigorous and peer-reviewed) explanation for how the plasma was being generated. Once he'd finished his PhD and established his own research group at Trent University, he started doing his own experiments (microwaving grapes for science) with one of his undergraduate students. They used thermal imaging and computer simulations of both grapes and hydrogel beads in their experiments.

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Niantic poised to settle Pokémon Go trespassing complaints

Ars Technica - 2 hours 33 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

A proposed settlement filed last week could give homeowners some control over whether or not Pokémon Go's augmented-reality attractions show up in and around their property.

Shortly after its launch in the summer of 2016, Pokémon Go developer Niantic started fielding numerous complaints about players trespassing on private property to access location-dependent Gyms and Pokéstops in the augmented-reality game. Those complaints eventually developed into numerous lawsuits alleging that Niantic was essentially encouraging trespassing by placing its digital attractions on their property.

Those lawsuits were consolidated into a class-action by August, and after winding through the courts for years (and surviving a motion to dismiss), that class-action now seems on the verge of a settlement. A proposal filed by the plaintiffs in district court last week (as noted by The Hollywood Reporter) outlines a number of ways Niantic apparently plans to solve this problem.

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