$10 virtual Paul McCartney app is mind-blowingly cool




It would have cost you more than $500 for a front-row seat at Paul McCartney’s farewell to Candlestick Park Concert in San Francisco last August — and you wouldn’t have been able to see much.

But as of Thursday, a seat beside McCartney’s piano at that same concert could cost you as little as $10 –- so long you don’t mind that you can only virtually experience one song.

On Thursday, Jaunt VR introduced its first Google Cardboard app called simply Paul McCartney. It’s a 360-degree, fully immersive playback of the former Beatles’ performance of Live and Let Die at the iconic concert Read more…

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Here’s What It Feels Like To Rocket Into Outer Space


space shuttle

Many astronauts agree that the few minutes following lift-off are some of the most terrifying moments of space travel. Luckily, former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who retired last year, is happy to share those thrilling minutes.

Here’s what riding one of the now-retired space shuttles was really like:

While on the launchpad, NASA’s space shuttles weighed 4.5 million pounds and towered at a height equivalent to the length of two football fields.

To launch something like that into space, it takes:

  • Two solid rocket boosters that each burn 1.1 million pounds of fuel in the first 2 minutes.
  • Three main engines on the shuttle itself that ignite exactly 6.6 seconds before liftoff feeding from an external fuel tank that stores liquid hydrogen and oxygen.
  • The three engines burn for about 8.5 minutes after lift off, all the while extracting fuel from the tank at the same rate it would take to empty a family-sized swimming pool in 10 seconds.
  • The three engines burn 1.6 million pounds of fuel propellant total during that 8.5 minutes. So, between the rocket boosters and the main engines, it takes 2.7 million pounds of fuel to get to space.

In the 8.5 minutes it takes the shuttle to reach space, it accelerates from zero to 17,500 miles per hour — 23 times faster than the speed of sound.

Hadfield‘s first-hand account of what that actually feels like will get your heart racing.

"Six seconds before launch of the shuttle the engines start to light and when the engines light it bends the whole thing, so you can actually feel the whole vehicle sway away from you as the engines light," explains Hadfield, in this incredible video below.

shuttle1"You watch the launch pad disappear out the window. By the time we clear it, we’re going 100 miles per hour straight up. And you accelerate at just such a brutal manner. The vibration is so high and, it’s not like an airliner that kind of flops along through the sky, this thing moves like a tuning fork."

shuttle2"[At] 45 seconds, you’re going faster than the speed of sound straight up and you’re accelerating…and it’s a brutal physical ride as you’re shouldering your way through the air."

shuttle3"An after two minutes the solids [rocket boosters] have done their job, so these huge candle sticks are out of fuel and they explode off…And now it’s liquid drive, and you’re just getting pushed above the air faster and faster and faster and getting pinned heavier and heavier and heavier in your seat like something was just pouring sand on you as you get more and more crushed in your chair."

shuttle4"And it just gets harder and harder to breathe and it lasts another 6 minutes and 40 seconds of this steadily increasing weight on you as you’re getting crushed and you’re having to fight for every breath. And then suddenly, at 8 minutes and 42 seconds, the gas tank is out of fuel and the engines shut off and you’re weightless."

shuttle5While the NASA Space Shuttle Program was retired in 2011 (we now rely on Russia to shuttle NASA astronauts), there’s still hope for our space ambitions.

By 2017, NASA astronauts will hopefully have the chance to launch on American soil with space taxis built by the two corporations: SpaceX and Boeing. Funding for these two programs was just announced in October.

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Rosetta Is Sending Back Intriguing Data on the Origins of Earth’s Water


Rosetta Is Sending Back Intriguing Data on the Origins of Earth's Water

While you were worrying about Philae’s landing, the spacecraft Rosetta has been patiently circling the comet, doing its own science. And it’s just dropped some intriguing results into the big debate over how Earth got its water.

In case you’re just, ahem, wading in, the origin of Earth’s water has been a great, unsolved scientific mystery. Baby Earth was a hot ball of magma, so any water on its surface would have evaporated in space. According to one leading theory, at least some of our water came from an onslaught of meteorites crashing into Earth. But did those meteorites start off as comets (balls of dust and ice that melt into a tail near the sun) or asteroids (intact pieces of rock)?

So far, the evidence seems to be tipping toward asteroids. The key clue is deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen that contains an extra neutron. Deuterium can replace hydrogen in water, and astronomers have pointing telescopes at the tails of comets to determine their deuterium-hydrogen ratios. The ratios haven’t match up with Earth’s for number of comets, but then in 2011, astronomers found Earth-like water on Hartley 2.

Rosetta’s results, however, seem to be another knock against the comet origin of water. Eric Hand reports for Science:

And ROSINA, a Rosetta instrument that uses spectrometers to measure gas abundances, has obtained a highly sought after result: the so-called deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio of water in the comet’s thin atmosphere, or coma. The measured value for 67P is much higher than the ratio in Earth’s oceans and higher than in other comets, says ROSINA principal investigator Kathrin Altwegg, of the University of Bern.

This doesn’t settle the debate once and for all, but it is yet another data point giving weight to the asteroid theory.

Finding out the comet’s deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio was a key reason for the Rosetta mission, and here we already have some preliminary data on hand. It’s also a good reminder that the Rosetta mission is far more than little, battery-dead Philae. Rosetta the spacecraft still has months to go. [Science]

Top image: ESA

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A Leaked Internal Uber Presentation Shows What The Company Really Values In Its Employees


Ryan Graves Travis Kalanick

Uber has two rather divergent reputations as a company.

For consumers, it’s a fantastic, dead-simple service that delivers cars on-demand. 

In the media, it is often portrayed as an arrogant, ruthless company that does whatever it takes to succeed.

Those two reputations may be divergent, but they’re not mutually exclusive. One may lead to the other. 

We obtained an internal Uber presentation that sheds some light into how the company operates and what it thinks of itself. It also helps explain how Uber’s do-whatever-it-takes attitude may have led to its success.

One page of the document defined which qualities all Uber employees are expected to possess. Those qualities, or "Uber Competencies," are:

  • Vision
  • Quality Obsession
  • Innovation
  • Fierceness
  • Execution
  • Scale
  • Communication
  • Super Pumpedness

All employees are rated annually by themselves, their managers, and their peers on these traits. Their scores can directly influence their compensation and bonus recommendation for the following year.

For managers, there’s a higher emphasis on "scale" and "super pumpedness" in these internal reviews.

Here’s the relevant portion of the document reviewed by Business Insider:

uber competencies"Super pumped" is an Uber term that goes back to the startup’s first year. When cofounder Travis Kalanick replaced stand-in Ryan Graves as CEO in 2010, Graves told TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington he was "super pumped" about a move that sounded an awful lot like a demotion.

"Personally, I’m super pumped about how well-rounded the team has become with Travis on board full time," Graves told Arrington then.

Graves is still a big-time executive at Uber who is on the company’s board, so going with the humble approach to the news was a smart way to go in terms of his stock options.

What exactly do "fierceness" and "super pumpedness" traits look like for employees?

One person familiar with the company’s recruitment strategy defines them as a common "hustle" mindset all employees must possess.

"[It] really comes down to the specific thing that all Uber employees share, and that’s the degree of ‘hustle’ that they have," this person told Business Insider. "The ‘fierceness’ is to which degree employees are willing to make bold, game-changing moves, whether that be through slogging (driver recruitment) or out-of-the-box product updates/partnerships (think Spotify+Uber), or any other innovative approach to increase user acquisition. ‘Super pumpedness’ is all about moving the team forward, working long hours — pretty much a do-whatever-it-takes attitude to move the company in the right direction."

When reached for comment, an Uber spokesperson defined the traits as:

  • Super Pumpedness — Bring energy and infectious enthusiasm to everything you do. For Managers: Motivate and inspire team members to perform their best, and stretch themselves professionally.
  • Fierceness — Be fierce. Do whatever it takes to make Uber a success, even when it’s hard and takes some risk to get there.

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