Category Archives: Tech

Terrafugia’s first flying car should finally go on sale in 2019

Terrafugia's Transition flying car has been in development purgatory for years, but it's finally here… almost. The company has announced that the first production models of the Transition will go on sale sometime in 2019. While that does sound like…

Fujifilm’s oddball XF10 fixed-lens camera costs only $500

Fujifilm has proven again that it's not afraid to build unusual cameras by launching the XF10, a premium fixed-lens compact. It's got an 18.5mm f/2.8 fixed lens (equivalent to 27.8mm in full-frame terms) and a 24.2-megapixel APS-C (not X-Trans) senso…

Duolingo launches Hindi language course for English speakers

Today, Duolingo's Hindi language course for English speakers officially launched on its website. The course is not yet available on iOS or Android apps, but it will be making its way to these devices in the future. The course has been in development…

Hyperloop TT will build a test track in China

The Hyperloop race is much of a political battle as it is a technical one, with companies grabbing territory like players starting a game of Risk. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the crowdsourced enterprise that has lagged behind rivals in som…

VR standard promises an end to headset connector headaches

If you've used a wired VR headset, you probably know the connector situation is inconsistent and messy: you frequently have to plug multiple cables into your PC, which is space consuming at best and potentially impractical if you have a laptop. That…

Spotify users still can’t block followers, but that could change

Spotify isn't as much of a haven from harassment as many might like. Since the service shares your plays with followers by default, it's possible for harassers to keep up with your listening habits and exploit that to their advantage (say, by findin…

Bang & Olufsen’s B&O Play brand is going away

While it's possible you know Bang & Olufsen for its expensive top-tier TVs, you're likely more familiar with its range of artfully-designed headphones and speakers, especially under its budget-friendly B&O Play sub-brand. But in an annual ear…

AI plus a chemistry robot finds all the reactions that will work

Simple robots have been part of chemistry for years. (credit: Greg Russ)

Chemistry is a sort of applied physics, with the behavior of electrons and their orbitals dictating a set of rules for which reactions can take place and what products will remain stable. At a very rough level, the basics of these rules are simple enough that experienced chemists can keep them all in their brain and intuit how to fit together pieces in a way that ultimately produces the starting material they want. Unfortunately, there are some parts of the chemical landscape that we don’t have much experience with, and strange things sometimes happen when intuition meets a reaction flask. This is why some critical drugs still have to be purified from biological sources.

It’s possible to get more precise than intuition, but that generally requires full quantum-level simulations run on a cluster, and even these don’t always capture some of the quirks that come about because of things like choice of solvents and reaction temperatures or the presence of minor contaminants.

But improvements in AI have led to a number of impressive demonstrations of its use in chemistry. And it’s easy to see why this works; AIs can figure out their own rules, without the same constraints traditionally imparted by a chemistry education. Now, a team at Glasgow University has paired a machine-learning system with a robot that can run and analyze its own chemical reaction. The result is a system that can figure out every reaction that’s possible from a given set of starting materials.

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Gorilla Glass 6 gives phones a better shot at surviving multiple drops

Toughened glass has long protected your phone against a singular drop, but one-and-done isn't how it works in real life — we've all seen butterfingers users whose device falls to the floor on a seemingly weekly basis. Those not-so-coordinated peopl…

“An almond doesn’t lactate:” FDA to crack down on use of the word “milk”

The US Food and Drug Administration seems to have soured on nondairy milk-alternative products that use the term “milk” in their marketing and labeling—like popular soy and almond milk products.

In a talk hosted by Politico, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced Tuesday that the FDA will soon issue a new guidance on the use of the term. But he added that products aren’t abiding by FDA policies as they stand now. He referenced a so-called “standard of identity” policy that regulates how milk is defined and should be identified.

“If you look at our standard of identity—there is a reference somewhere in the standard of identity to a lactating animal,” he said. “And, you know, an almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.”

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