Big Tech &
Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX's New Starship, Designed To Fly To The Moon, Mars And Beyond (3 minute read)
Since 2002, SpaceX has been working to make space travel cheaper and more accessible. Its Starship is a large vehicle that could theoretically carry people into space and land safely back on Earth. Starship will be able to return to space multiple times using a rapidly reusable orbital rocket. Spaceships need to become more like airplanes, with reusable vehicles, in order for them to be a viable form of transport. SpaceX plans to have more prototypes of Starship built in the next six months. A Japanese billionaire has announced that he has booked a trip as a private passenger with SpaceX for a voyage to the moon next year. SpaceX has partnered with NASA on the Commercial Crew Program to transport crew to and from the International Space Station.
Apple will reportedly release films in theaters weeks before they come to Apple TV Plus (4 minute read)
Apple may be rolling out some of its biggest original films in theaters before they become available on Apple TV Plus. The films will be distributed via boutique distributors and will be available on Apple TV Plus just a few weeks after the theater release. Apple's films are all possible Oscar contenders this year. Netflix has never given a movie a 12-week theater release and has never had a movie play in a major national theater chain. Apple's strategy of releasing movies in theaters first may help it attract talent.
NASA wants to send nuclear rockets to the Moon and Mars (4 minute read)
A nuclear rocket engine would be twice as efficient as the chemical engines powering rockets today. Chemical propulsion to the moon and to Mars is possible, but it is much better to use nuclear propulsion if we want to go further than that. A spaceship that uses nuclear propulsion will first use regular chemically propelled rockets to launch into orbit before switching to using a nuclear reactor in space. The power obtained from the nuclear reactor can be used to sustain human outposts on other worlds. One of the biggest hurdles in building a nuclear rocket is making sure that the parts can withstand the heat required. Before a nuclear engine will be able to fly, NASA needs to change its regulations for launching nuclear materials. The first flight of a nuclear engine may be as soon as 2024.
CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus (5 minute read)
The Colombian government has confirmed that a banana-killing fungus has invaded the Americas. Farmers cannot breed disease resistance into commercial bananas as these bananas are sterile and are populated by cloning. The most popular variety of banana in the first half of the 1900s was nearly wiped out by a fungus. It was replaced with the Cavendish banana, which had a natural resistance to the fungus. The Cavendish is not resistant to the new type of fungus, but scientists are working out how to give the banana resistance. To save the Cavendish, scientists are looking into adding genes for resistance, switching on existing but dormant genes that will give resistance, or shutting off the genes affected by the disease. Even if scientists are successful with creating bananas that are resistant against the fungal outbreak, it will still be some time before they are approved for sale by government regulators.
Programming, Design & Data Science
ipwndfu (GitHub Repo)
ipwndfu is an open-source jailbreaking tool for many iOS devices. It is meant for researchers and will require more work to install Cydia. Users should back up their devices before attempting to use ipwndfu, as it could potentially brick your device.
Spriteling (GitHub Repo)
We Need a PBS for Social Media (5 minute read)
Social media has become a place where false information is allowed to spread, resulting in damage to our society and culture. These companies operate on the same basic model where they try to occupy as much attention as possible in order to collect data from their customers, which they then sell. Nonprofit public media was created 50 years ago to ensure that a medium will always exist to be used for the public interest. A public social media product would not have to increase engagement and would allow people to focus more on the community and its members. There would be no brand accounts as the network would be for people only. Smaller networks, such as Discord and Mastodon, have been successful as they provide something that the larger social networks do not have, a safer community with less noise. While large social networks have benefitted our society greatly, these platforms extract a price, and it would be a lot healthier if there were more options available.