Technology

An Ariane rocket launches for the 250th time—the views were jawdropping

Two solid rocket boosters provide the majority of thrust off the pad. [credit: Trevor Mahlmann for ESA and ArianeGroup ] Last week, an Ariane 5 rocket launched from Europe’s primary spaceport in French Guiana. Normally, such launches garner little attention outside of aerospace circles because they’re typically successful and take place in a pretty remote …

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Dealmaster: The Cyber Monday tech deals worth knowing about

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica) Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with a jumbo-sized roundup of hand-picked Cyber Monday tech deals. To be candid, many of the discounts we’re seeing on Black Friday’s sister holiday are similar to what we saw last week. We do have some new offers worth noting, including new Nintendo Switch bundles, …

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How neural networks work—and why they’ve become a big business

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty) The last decade has seen remarkable improvements in the ability of computers to understand the world around them. Photo software automatically recognizes people’s faces. Smartphones transcribe spoken words into text. Self-driving cars recognize objects on the road and avoid hitting them. Underlying these breakthroughs is an artificial intelligence technique …

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Never mind the naysayers: emoji are a vital part of online communication

The Emoji Movie (2017) anthromorphized the ubiquitous icons we use to convey emotion in online communications.”> Enlarge / The Emoji Movie (2017) anthromorphized the ubiquitous icons we use to convey emotion in online communications. (credit: YouTube/Sony Pictures) In 1982, a computer scientist named Scott Fahlman was chatting on an online bulletin board, and used a …

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That time a monkey flew to the edge of space and then smashed into a destroyer

This is Sam. He lived in America. Sam the rhesus monkey had already experienced one hell of a ride to the edge of space when he splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean—but his adventure didn’t end there. Although the dry, original accounts of Sam’s 1959 flight offer scant detail about the journey, mainly confirming that …

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Never Surrender is a heartfelt tribute to sci-fi action comedy Galaxy Quest

Trailer for Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary. Galaxy Quest, the glorious 1999 science fiction action comedy starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver (among others), will turn 20 on December 25 of this year. And what better way to celebrate this important milestone than with a documentary feature? Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary is an …

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Quantum computing’s also-rans and their fatal flaws 

Enlarge / IBM’s 16-qubit quantum computer from 2017. (credit: IBM quantum experience) Last month, Google claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy—the overblown name given to the step of proving quantum computers can deliver something that a classical computer can’t. That claim is still a bit controversial, so it may yet turn out that we need …

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Google attempts to protect users from sketchy stem cell clinics

Enlarge / Google logo seen during Google Developer Days (GDD) in Shanghai, China, September 2019. (credit: Lyu Liang | VCG | Getty Images) Transplanted stem cells can be as lifesaving as donated organs, but the Food and Drug Administration in September warned consumers that some stem cell clinics only pretend to be in the business …

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Dealmaster: The best Black Friday gaming deals for PS4, Switch, and Xbox

Enlarge / The Nintendo Switch. (credit: Photo Illustration by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) Today is Black Friday, and that means a lot of video game deals. While the annual shopping event is still filled with offers that push mediocre products or prices that aren’t particularly low, many of the gaming deals the Dealmaster …

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