Hüsker Dü — ‘I Apologize’

Traffic sucks, so why not start your morning off with some music? You provide the toast and we’ll provide the jams.

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The world’s first hydrogen train is now in service

The world's first (and second) hydrogen-powered trains have entered service in northern Germany, marking the start of a new era for sustainable travel. Two Coradia iLint trains, made by Alstom, have begun working the line between Cuxhaven and Buxtehu…

Tesla’s built-in dashcam feature is coming with Autopilot 9

Tesla's upgraded Autopilot hardware comes with eight cameras equipped all over a vehicle. All those "eyes" will eventually enable full autonomy, but they also make another smaller-but-important feature possible: a built-in dashcam for Tesla's cars. T…

The math of why it’s so hard to build a spherical Death Star in space

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Enlarge / Geometry puts some real design constraints on Darth Vader’s desire for a spherical Death Star. (credit: Ben Orlin)

Opting to build the Death Star in the shape of a sphere may not have been classic Star Wars villain Darth Vader’s wisest move, according to math teacher Ben Orlin. He investigates this burning question, and so much more, in his fabulous new book, Math With Bad Drawings, after Orlin’s blog of the same name.

Orlin started using his crude drawings as a teaching tool. He drew a figure of a dog one day on his chalkboard to illustrate a math problem, and it was so bad the class broke out in laughter. “To see the alleged expert reveal himself as the worst in the room at something—anything—can humanize him and, perhaps, by extension, the subject,” he writes. When he started his blog, he knew that pictures would be crucial to helping readers visualize the mathematical abstractions. Since he had no particular artistic talent, he opted to just cop to it upfront. And thus, the Math With Bad Drawings blog was born.

The book is a more polished, extensive discussion of the concepts that pepper Orlin’s blog, featuring his trademark caustic wit, a refreshingly breezy conversational tone, and of course, lots and lots of very bad drawings. It’s a great, entertaining read for neophytes and math fans alike, because Orlin excels at finding novel ways to connect the math to real-world problems—or in the case of the Death Star, to problems in fictional worlds.

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NASA isn’t going to pay for the BFR, so Musk charts a new course

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Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks as Yusaku Maezawa, founder and president of Start Today Co., looks on at an event at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on Monday, (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On a Monday night filled with emotion as much as engineering, one of the most poignant moments came toward the end the program at SpaceX’s rocket factory in California. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, choked up as he described the financial contribution from a Japanese businessman, Yusaku Maezawa, to his Big Falcon Rocket project.

“I’ll tell you, it’s done a lot to restore my faith in humanity,” Musk said, seated in front of the end of a Falcon 9 rocket and its nine engines. “That somebody is willing to do this, take their money and help fund this new project that’s risky, might not succeed, it’s dangerous. He’s like donating seats. These are great things.”

The headline news out of Monday’s event was that Maezawa has bought all of the seats on the first human flight of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) and upper stage spaceship (BFS)—a sortie around the Moon as early as 2023. Although neither Musk nor Maezawa would specify how much it had cost, Musk said “This is a non-trivial amount that will have a material impact on the BFR program.”

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Google’s ‘Family Link’ parental controls expands to teens

"Family Link," Google's parental controls for Android and Chromebooks, is growing up. Well, in a sense. For one, it's no longer limited to kids — soon adults will also be able to manage their teen's devices with existing Google accounts. Wisely, tha…

Lyft brings its electric scooters to Santa Monica

You no longer have to be a Denver resident to try Lyft's electric scooters. The two-wheeled transports are now available in Santa Monica, California under a city pilot program. As usual, it'll cost you $1 to unlock a scooter and 15 cents for every…

Judge to Georgia voting officials: you’re terrible at digital security

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Enlarge / An electronic voting machine sits in a privacy booth at a polling location during the Georgia primary runoff elections in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (credit: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Georgia’s upcoming November 6, 2018 election will remain purely electronic, and will not switch to paper to ward off potential hackers, a federal judge in Atlanta ruled on Monday evening.

But as US District Judge Amy Totenberg wrote, she is not at all happy with the inadequate efforts by state officials to shore up their digital security measures.

“The Court advises the Defendants that further delay is not tolerable in their confronting and tackling the challenges before the State’s election balloting system,” she wrote in her order.

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YouTube’s $5-per-month Membership bonuses come to more channels

When YouTube first launched Memberships to give creators another way to earn money on the platform, it only offered the opportunity to channels with 100,000 subscribers. Now, the Google-owned video-sharing website is lowering the barrier of entry, gi…

Withings makes its comeback with the Steel HR Sport

In 2016, Nokia bought Withings, which was then renamed to Nokia Health as part of an overall strategy to re-enter the consumer market — but that didn't quite work out as planned. The health and fitness industry is apparently a lot harder than it…