Big Tech &
SpaceX Starlink speeds revealed as beta users get downloads of 11 to 60Mbps (3 minute read)
Starlink beta users are reporting download speeds ranging from 11Mbps to 60Mbps and upload speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 18Mbps, with latencies ranging from 20ms to 94ms. Users have been testing the network over the past two weeks, with some anonymous users posting their speed test results on Reddit. Beta testers must sign non-disclosure agreements, so information is restricted. SpaceX says that its network will eventually reach gigabit speeds and the company is targeting latency below 20ms. Its Starlink network currently has 600 satellites and the company has permission to launch nearly 12,000. Screenshots of the speed tests are available in the article.
AMC movie theaters will reopen on Aug. 20 with 15-cent tickets (2 minute read)
More than 100 AMC cinemas across the US will open on August 20. Tickets will only be 15¢, a throwback to the price the company charged when it was founded in 1920. Theaters were closed in March due to the pandemic. AMC plans to have two-thirds of its theaters opened by September 3. It has promised to give its theaters extra cleaning and sanitizing. AMC Entertainment's shares were up 17% following this announcement. Regal plans to reopen its facilities on August 21.
Ultra slow-mo camera can record light bouncing off mirrors (2 minute read)
The MegaX camera is a single-photon avalanche diode-based image sensor that was used to film light bouncing between mirrors. It can film at 24,000 frames per second. As light isn't usually visible while in flight, the researchers had to focus on the photons from a laser pulse as they scattered off particles in the air. Machine learning algorithms were used to plot the 3D light path. The technique could be used in high-energy physics for fast image detection or in virtual and augmented reality for accurately recreating environments. A one-minute video that includes the clip of light bouncing between mirrors is available in the article.
Chernobyl Fungus Eats Nuclear Radiation Via Radiosynthesis (1 minute read)
A fungus found growing near Chernobyl thrives on nuclear radiation due to radiosynthesis. It uses melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy. NASA scientists grew the fungus inside the ISS and found that it was able to block some incoming radiation. Earth is protected by harmful radiation by its atmosphere and magnetic field. Astronauts don't have this protection and are exposed to radiation levels 20 times higher than on Earth. It may be possible to better protect astronauts and space objects with a layer of this radiation-absorbing fungus.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Karate (GitHub Repo)
Karate is a tool that combines API test-automation, mocks, performance-testing, and UI automation into a single framework. It uses BDD syntax and has powerful JSON and XML assertions built-in. Developers can use Karate to write tests in a simple and readable syntax designed for HTTP, JSON, GraphQL, and XML. Examples and detailed documentation are available.
Libra (GitHub Repo)
Libra is a machine learning API designed for non-technical users. It can be used to build machine learning models using natural language queries. Demos and examples are available in the repository.
Researchers one step closer to bomb-sniffing cyborg locusts (4 minute read)
Locusts can smell explosives and technology can help us direct them and receive signals from them to determine what they are smelling. Scientists at the McKelvey School of Engineering have developed a biorobotic sensing system that can be implanted into locusts to detect and discriminate between different explosive scents, returning the information within a few hundred milliseconds of exposure. The system can determine how strong a scent is, making it ideal for use in searching for explosives.
How romance scams are thriving on dating apps during quarantine (8 minute read)
The pandemic is making it more normal for people to start and develop relationships online without ever meeting in person. For many people, online romance is now the only option. Stories that would have sounded strange before the pandemic, such as a person being stranded overseas and needing emergency funds, now sound more plausible. This has resulted in people falling prey to scams.