Big Tech &
Fantasy sports company and bookmaker DraftKings to become public company (2 minute read)
DraftKings has merged with Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp and SBTech, becoming a public company while forgoing the typical IPO process. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2020. Diamond Eagle will change its name to DraftKings. Its ticker symbol will also change. DraftKings offers fantasy sports products and also acts as a gambling bookmaker. Analysts estimate that the company could generate as much as $13 billion in annual revenue by 2023. DraftKings plans to use the money raised from the deal to expand to states that have recently legalized sports gambling.
Uber’s plan to launch an air taxi service in 2023 just got a boost from a secretive startup (3 minute read)
Joby Aviation has joined forces with Uber to launch a flying taxi service by 2023. Joby has been working on electric aviation for over a decade. It was relatively obscure until it raised $100 million from investors last year. The startup has developed an air taxi prototype and has been conducting test flights at its private airfield in Northern California. Joby's operations are kept secret, and there are no recent images of its prototype aircraft. The aircraft is able to fly at twice the speed of a helicopter while generating significantly less noise. Joby will be responsible for supplying and operating electric air taxis and Uber will provide air traffic control help, landing pad construction, ground transportation, and its ride-share network.
Robot With Liquid Metal Tendons Can Heal Itself (3 minute read)
All robots will eventually break, so researchers have been developing ways to help them fix themselves. Some robots have self-healing polymers, but more dynamic robots require stronger materials. Roboticists from the University of Tokyo have developed a robot leg that can autonomously melt and reform some of its parts, repairing fractures. The leg is designed with a weak point that will break in order to protect the robot's other joints. It currently takes about half an hour to heal after a break, and the parts are significantly weaker afterwards. The researchers are working to optimize the system to increase the healed strength. A video is available that shows the self-healing process.
Scientists Gene-Edited Tomatoes to Make Them Grow Like Grapes (2 minute read)
Tomato plants take up a lot of space. Scientists have modified cherry tomatoes so they grow in tighter bunches and take up less space. CRISPR gene-editing technology was used to tweak three key genes within the plant's DNA. Two of the genes control when the plant stops growing and starts flowering and fruiting. The third gene controls the length of the plant's stems. One of the other benefits of the modified tomato plans is that they only take 40 days to grow. Creating new crops using this method could help feed more people using a reduced carbon footprint. NASA has been working to grow plants in space, as well as on the Moon and Mars. Martian soil is challenging to cultivate as it contains compounds that are harmful to humans.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Learn Rust the Dangerous Way (Website)
Learn Rust the Dangerous Way is a series of articles for low-level C programmers who want to learn Rust. The series discusses how to translate C programs to Rust, Rust references and C pointers, optimization, pointer casting, safe wrappers for unsafe operations, and converting programs to mostly-safe code.
What the f*ck Python! (GitHub Repo)
Python is a high-level and interpreter-based programming language that provides many features for the programmer's comfort. Some of the uses for these features might not be obvious at first. This repository contains examples of these features, explanations for how they work, and other interesting tidbits about Python.
Russia Plans to Cut Off Some Internet Access Next Week (3 minute read)
Russia planned a test of its RuNet program on December 23. The test temporarily shut off many of its citizens' internet access. RuNet aims to help the government better control internal digital traffic, launch cyber and information attacks against other nations, and track and censor dissidents. The test evaluated RuNet's ability to intercept subscriber traffic, reveal information about subscribers, and block communication services. Results from the test will help the government assess its ability to control key internet nodes should a crisis develop. Experts are concerned that other countries may attempt to create isolated domestic internets to control citizens. Some countries already suspend internet access as a means of control, but Russia's solution will allow communication and business to continue on the Kremlin's terms.