_michael

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Could autonomous ships make the open seas safer?

Advocates say the technology is in place, but large-scale deployment is still years away<p>Earlier this month, the El Faro cargo ship mysteriously disappeared as it approached the Bahamas, where it collided with the 125-mph winds and 50-foot seas of Hurricane Joaquin. The US Coast Guard believes the …

First seed withdrawal from 'doomsday' vault prompted by Syrian civil war

Scientists are preparing to make the first ever withdrawal from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed bank built in an abandoned Arctic coal mine that's designed to preserve crops and plants in the event of global disaster. The civil war in Syria has prompted the withdrawal, with researchers in …

Why a VR Game About Flirting Is as Scary as a Horror Game

On the surface, the two PlayStation VR games on display at Sony's Tokyo Game Show booth couldn't be any more different. One is a horror scenario that …

The Unmanageables

When a crusading but conflict-averse billionaire bankrolls several of journalism’s most prominent mavericks to create a hard-nosed investigative news organization, it’s a recipe for turmoil. eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s differences with First Look Media staff have been all over the press. Two top …

I almost killed someone with a drone

I flew the Phantom a couple of times the first day without incident. There was a lot of wind, and I didn’t feel comfortable taking it above 100 feet. I’ve flown the unit much higher than that before, but in much nicer weather. I was also having some trouble with the GPS lock. The light would go …

The New Face of Richard Norris

For fifteen years, Richard Norris had a face too hideous to show. Then, one day, a maverick doctor gave him a miracle too fantastic to believe. Richard got a face transplant, a new life, and a new set of burdens too strange to predict. What's it like to live with a face that wasn't yours—and that …

Fears can be inherited through smell

Mouse study explains how specific fears can be inherited from parental figures, even when mother and child aren't related<p>When researchers look at trauma, they don’t just look at the lives of those who experience traumatic events. Often, they turn their attention to offspring, because numerous …

How Radioactive Poison Became the Assassin’s Weapon of Choice

The mysterious life and brutal death of a Russian dissident.<p><b>TUCKED INTO THE</b> Millennium Hotel on London’s Grosvenor Square, the Pine Bar is a place of …

Drowning Kiribati

The spruce man with the trim mustache and the grim-faced bodyguard is dozing in his seat. A flight attendant leaves him a hot towel, and then …

Bjork Explaining Television Is Everything You'd Imagine Bjork Explaining Television to Be

"This is what an Icelandic poet told me. And I became so scared to television that I always got headaches when I watched it. Then, later on, when I got my Danish book on television, I stopped being afraid because I read the truth, the scientifical truth and it was much better."<p>Björk.<p>Ethereal, tiny, …

Violence gone viral: new study plots how crime spreads like a disease

Can police use social networks to predict who'll die from gun violence?<p>When gun violence makes the news, it's often described as an epidemic, implying that the violence is out of control on a massive scale, akin to a rampant disease. The term is used largely as a buzzword — but new research out of …

Nine hours in a capsule: sleeping in a sci-fi hotel that wants you to leave

I'd been looking forward to this night's sleep more than most in recent memory. I'd heard that Nine Hours, a capsule hotel in Kyoto known for its stark sci-fi design and innovative sleeping technology, would be closing down at the end of October, and I knew I'd have to make the trip across Japan …

Why the CIA isn't handing over its drone assassins to the military

...even though so much of Washington thinks it should<p>On Tuesday, <i>Foreign Policy</i> reported some surprising news: despite earlier rumors, the CIA will continue running its drone program separately from the Pentagon, at least for the time being. More than six months after the initial reports, progress …

Will the global NSA backlash break the internet?

Brazil and Germany make moves to protect online privacy, but experts see a troubling trend toward Balkanization<p>The NSA's ongoing surveillance has spurred many governments to pursue stronger data-protection laws, but there are growing concerns that this backlash could divide the internet along …

Brighter than the sun: stunning new details on the meteor that exploded over Russia

Thanks largely to eyewitnesses and video footage, researchers have documented Chelyabinsk with incredible detail<p>It was the blast felt around the world: when the Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over Russia in February, its shock wave was powerful enough to emit subsonic waves to far-flung regions across …

How a Ryan Gosling meme helped its creator cope with cancer

People followed Ryan McHenry for his funny Vines, but now they're getting something more personal<p><i>Ryan McHenry.</i><p>Two weeks ago, Ryan McHenry had a cancerous tumor removed from his right leg. The doctors told him there was a 50 percent chance they’d have to amputate the entire limb — but they wouldn’t …

Portraits of War: From the Civil War to Afghanistan | The Washington Post

Extreme synesthesia: Texas teenager says she can 'feel' the machines around her

<i>Wassily Kandinsky's</i> Composition X<i>. Kandinsky is widely believed to have been a synesthete.</i><p>Synesthesia, loosely defined as the phenomenon of a sensation creating an unnatural secondary sensation, is actually quite common; some humans perceive numbers as colors, for instance. But <i>Psychology Today</i> …

Minting Cash: how Square designed a product with no design at all

Is the best interface no interface?<p>Robert Andersen was feeling flustered. Square founder Jack Dorsey had asked him to design a product that was so simple, it wouldn’t even have an interface. "Square Cash" would let people send money over email. Andersen had previously designed email receipts for …

The Nexus 5 isn't pure Android, it's pure Google

In this, the fifth year of Android's existence, we also have seen the release of the fifth Nexus phone — appropriately enough called the Nexus 5. Meanwhile, it's been two years since we saw the release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich — and since then we've only seen "point" updates, up to and …

DC police use ShotSpotter to analyze sound waves and detect gunshots in real time

At a macro level, solving the issue of gun violence is dauntingly difficult. However, police departments are increasingly turning to tools that allow them to address the epidemic in some of America’s most violent cities. ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system employed by 65 police agencies across …

Broken news: struggling to find facts in the Twitter maelstrom

LAX shooting shows that the rules of retraction on Twitter are still unwritten — especially for old media<p><i>By Adi Robertson and Russell Brandom</i><p>As with Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombings, and countless other major stories, news of today's shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport …

Ring of fire: why our military's toxic burn pits are making soldiers sick

One<p>At the height of the war in Iraq, US forces operated out of 505 bases scattered across the country. Joint Base Balad, a 15-square-mile outpost north of Baghdad, was the second largest. Home to 36,000 military personnel and contractors at its peak, the base was considered a vital hub for …

NASA video captures breathtaking 'canyon of fire' on surface of the Sun

The Sun may make life possible here on Earth, but make no mistake: it's one inhospitable place. If you needed any reminder of that, NASA's released a video compiled from satellite data to show the Sun's most recent coronal mass ejection, a visually-stunning event that sent a 200,000 mile-long …

The psychedelic and grotesque proto-GIFs of the 19th century

Meet the man preserving the lost masterpieces of early animation<p><i>Phenakistoscope disc, Fores (publisher), Moving Panorama, England, 1833.</i><p>Richard Balzer’s love affair began about 40 years ago, when he saw his first magic lantern — an early image projector invented in the 1600s. The experience would …

Special Report: Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters

IWAKI, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Tetsuya Hayashi went to Fukushima to take a job at ground zero of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. He lasted less than two weeks.<p>Hayashi, 41, says he was recruited for a job monitoring the radiation exposure of workers leaving the plant in the summer of 2012. …

Vaccine deniers: inside the dumb, dangerous new fad

In San Francisco’s upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood, some 200 students from kindergarten to the eighth grade attend classes at the private San Francisco Waldorf School. On any given afternoon outside of the cheerful, modern white building, parents congregate to wait for their kids. Chit-chat …

The Devil You Know

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia brought the Devil out of the darkness and into the limelight. In an expansive interview with <i>New York</i> magazine, after talking about Heaven and Hell, he said, “I even believe in the Devil.”<p>“You do?” said the interviewer, Jennifer Senior.<p>“Yeah, he’s a …

Snuff: Murder and torture on the internet, and the people who watch it

Most people had never heard of Luka Magnotta… until a severed human hand and foot were mailed to Canadian government officials. But by the time the 29-year old alleged killer was arrested in an Internet café in Germany less than a week later on June 4th, his name and back-story were infamous. …