In 1908, five years after the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, U.S. Army Lieutenant Thomas Etholen Selfridge earned the dubious distinction as the first person to die in an airplane crash. In fact, the early years of aviation are littered with bodies. Last week, a pair of brothers in Washington state debuted an aircraft they see as the answer to the long-sought dream of perfectly safe flight. With a rigid, winged body held underneath a massive helium-containing envelope, their craft is billed as a fusion of both airplane and blimp technology. It is called “Plimp.”
Have you heard? Siri, the virtual persona that speaks from your iPhone, sounds different now. The new voice officially rolls out today as a part of Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 11. Her new pipes make her sound higher in pitch and younger. She's perkier and more personable. Most important, she sounds more human.
Airplane passengers are in for an increasingly bumpy ride according to a study released today in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. Climate change is altering the jet stream, making severe turbulence more likely. The study builds on earlier work which found that climate change would lead to bumpier airplane rides. What makes the new research unique is that it quantifies how much different kinds of turbulence will increase—59 percent in the case of light turbulence, a 94 percent increase in moderate turbulence, and 149 percent increase in severe turbulence.
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.