Pandas are cute—there's no two ways about it. They have to eat 30 pounds of bamboo a day and then have to poop about 40 times a day, but look at those eye patches! And their fuzzy white butts! There are plenty of adorable bears, so what is it about the panda that's so distinctive?
My job is to find cool stuff. Throughout the week I spend hours scouring the web for things that are useful or fun or ridiculously cheap. Often times, these choices coalesce into a guide of like items—for example, the best cases and covers for your phone, science kits for your children, or gifts for your very good dog. But I often stumble across some pretty awesome stuff that doesn't really fit into a list. So I made a list for those. The only thing they have in common is that I like them—and think you will too.
A robot is movement, controlled. This is as true for plane-sized flying machines as it is for micrometer-sized contraptions, like the amoeba-inspired robot recently created by researchers at Japan's Tohoku University. It isn't the smallest robot ever made, as there are a few robots at the nanometer scale, but it's one of the smallest robots whose movement can actually be controlled.
Opioids come with a lot of downsides. They are highly addictive, and come with a slew of unwanted side effects like constipation, not to mention life-threatening ones like respiratory distress. But we just can't quit them: Opioids are extremely effective at controlling pain. Unfortunately, there's no way to get the beneficial, pain-relieving effect of opioids without those unwanted side effects, so we take the good with the bad.
Amazon's Echo is a robot that sits in your house and listens. The virtual personal assistant can be summoned into action by saying its name, Alexa, and will then act on commands, like ordering a dollhouse and cookies when asked to do so by a too-clever kindergartener. And because it works by listening, Alexa is an always-on surveillance device, quietly storing snippets of information. Which has placed a particular Echo unit in an uncomfortable role: possible witness to a murder.
The future of bots is sitting in thousands of documents folders, waiting to be born. At least, that's the premise of Albert, a bot and bot-creation tool from NoHold, which released a pro version on Monday. The premise behind Albert is straightforward: upload a document, and then ask the Albert-generated bot to answer questions with information based on that document. Albert is a product of the modern era of chatbots, but Albert's origins are, by tech standards, positively ancient: the key work dates back to a patent filed in 1999.
Doug Hines, CEO of a software company in Decatur, GA, has logged hundreds of miles in his Tesla. In addition to the obvious perks of owning an all-electric car—little maintenance, no exhaust, and just downright fun to drive — there was one he hadn't expected: the unfailing generosity of people willing to offer up their home chargers to a stranger, often for free.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced a new earthquake forecast on Wednesday, highlighting areas in the country that can expect to shake in the next year. “Overall the rates of Earthquakes have declined in the central and eastern U.S. That's the good news, that we've had these declines,” says Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. “But it's a more complicated story because we've had more magnitude 5 earthquakes in Oklahoma than ever before.”
Each day we as a species send around 4 billion Facebook messages, 500 million tweets and 200 billion emails out into the world—and each day, some of the stories and images we share catch like wildfire, seemingly spreading all over the internet in a heartbeat. These "viral" links can end up shaping our understanding of the world. Now researchers think they might understand what drives us to share: our brain activity is pretty good at predicting what articles are going to go viral.
Colorectal cancer is on the rise in young people. Don't freak out. Let's start with the facts. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the U.S. It's called "colorectal" because it covers cancers that arise in the colon (which you know better as your intestines) or your rectum (come on, you know this one). This year about 130,000 - 140,000 people will be diagnosed and about 50,000 people will die from it (though most of them won't be people who were diagnosed this year). Those rates have been dropping steadily since 1975. Back then, for every 100,000 people in the population, about 60 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer (this is called the incidence rate). In 2013 that number was down to 37. And that general trend is still true, regardless of the reported rise in young people.