Amazon has launched a device in the UK that allows customers to call out grocery orders from their kitchen (AMZN)

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Amazon Dash

Amazon has launched a device in the UK that allows customers to order food shopping from their kitchen by calling out ingredients or scanning a bar code.

The Amazon Dash is a small handheld stick that is designed to make it easier for customers to order everything they’d normally get from their supermarket via AmazonFresh — the company’s online food delivery service.

A built-in microphone and an LED scanner allow the Dash to recognise what the customer wants and adds that item to their shopping basket. However, completing the order must be done by logging onto Amazon’s website.

"We’re all used to trying to remember the contents of the fridge and kitchen cupboard and scribbling down reminders on pieces of paper," said Ajay Kavan,VP of AmazonFresh, in a statement on Thursday. "With Dash, at any given time, customers can keep track of products when they come to mind and scan to reorder groceries and household essentials as soon as they run out. At Amazon, we’re always looking to innovate based on feedback and Dash has been designed to continually learn as customers use it."

Amazon is giving the device away for free to anyone that makes two AmazonFresh deliveries between now and August 28. Those that fail to make two deliveries will be charged £35 for it.

In the US, Amazon has released a number of Dash "buttons" that can be placed onto things like washing machines and used to order specific items when they’re depleted. In the washing machine instance, the Amazon Dash button would be pre-programmed to order washing powder or washing tablets when pushed.

amazon dash button washing machine

Amazon has also launched another household device in the US called the Amazon Echo. The Amazon Echo also uses voice recognition technology but it’s arguably more sophisticated than the Dash because it can be used to carry out a plethora of things, including music, light switches, and thermostats. It can also be used to order a Domino’s pizza or request an Uber.

Prior to the launch of all these products, Amazon acquired a Cambridge-based voice recognition startup called Evi Technologies for a reported $26 million (£20 million). 

Business Insider asked Amazon how Evi’s software has been incorporated into Dash but did not immediately hear back. 

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Eat a Lobster the Right Way With This Handy Chart

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Lobsters are a positively delicious seafood, but they’re not exactly the easiest food to eat. Especially if you don’t have it very often. If you’ve never had it, or just need a refresher, this graphic walks you through eating a lobster.

Eating lobster (or crabs or many shelled seafood) the right way is all about maximizing how much of the meat you actually get. You can poke around and get a bit of the meat if you’re clumsy with it, but by being careful and following the right steps, you can get a whole lot more. You’ll need a lobster/nut cracker around for certain parts, though if you’re eating at a restaurant they probably have one available.

How to Eat a Lobster | The Art of Manliness

From the Art of Manliness. Illustration by Ted Slampyak.

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Tonight, a meteor shower created by a mysterious comet will reach its peak — here’s how to watch

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perseid meteor shower andres nieto porras flickr cc by sa 2
Andrés
Nieto Porras/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


The Perseids, one of the most popular meteor showers of the year,
is coming up in just under a month. But you don’t have to wait
until August to see shooting stars light up the sky.

Right now, we are in the middle of a meteor shower called the
Delta Aquarids, which began around July 12.

Tonight and tomorrow, the Delta Aquarids will reach their peak.
Although the shower favors the southern hemisphere, northern
observers won’t be completely left in the dust. During this peak,
you might be able to see as many as 20 meteors an hour.

After the peak, the Delta Aquarids will continue until around
August 23, overlapping with the Perseid meteor shower (which
peaks in mid-August).

How to watch

The best time to watch the sky for these shooting stars is in the
hours between midnight and dawn, around 2 or 3 am.

Because Delta Aquarid meteors can be a little faint, it’s
important to look for them in a dark sky, free of moonlight and
artificial lights.

Since the beginning of August marks a new moon, the peak of the
Delta Aquarids will be blessed with waning crescent moons, which
means darker skies and more visible meteors.

If bad weather or bright lights are preventing you from catching
any meteors, Slooh, an
online observatory, will be offering a live broadcast of the
meteor shower from an observatory on the Canary Islands. See the
broadcast stream below.

During the broadcast, professional astronomers will discuss the
meteor shower and take questions from the public.

What causes a meteor shower?

The orbits of comets are often a little lopsided.

When a comet swings too close to the sun, the sun’s light boils
its icy surface, releasing particles of ice and dust.

This debris follows the comet’s path, forming a tail that points
away from the sun. As Earth crosses the orbit of this comet, we
pass through the tail.

The gravity of our planet attracts the dust and ice that the
comet has left in its wake. When the debris is pulled into our
atmosphere, it rubs up against air molecules, causing the debris
to burn up and streak through the sky.

This results in glowing trails of light that we see as meteors,
or “shooting stars.”

The comet producing the meteors in the Delta Aquarids is a bit of
a mystery. According to EarthSky, it was
originally thought to come from the

Marsden and Kracht sungrazing comets
. More recently, the
Comet 96P Machholz that was discovered in 1986 has been the prime
suspect.

A small fraction of Delta Aquarid meteors leave something called
a persistent meteor train, which is a glowing trail that can
linger for a couple seconds after the meteor has shot by.

The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but if you trace
their paths back, they all appear to come from the same point:
the radiant. That’s because the meteors are all approaching us at
the same angle. Meteor showers are all named after the radiant
that the meteors can be traced back to.

The radiant point for the Delta Aquarids is nearby star Skat, or
Delta Aquarii.

Delta Aquarid vs. Perseid meteors

To figure out whether you’re seeing a Delta Aquarid meteor or a
Perseid meteor, you can trace the meteors backward through the
sky to find their radiant. According to EarthSky, the Delta
Aquarids will appear to radiate from the nearby star Skat, or
Delta Aquarii, which is in the constellation Aquarius the Water
Bearer.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the Delta Aquarids will be
appear to come from the south, while the Perseids, radiating from
the constellation Perseus, appear to originate in the northeast
or north.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Delta Aquarids will appear to
radiate from just about overhead, while the Perseids will dart up
from the northern horizon.

Check out the
livestream from Slooh
 below:

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The Terrifying Reason This Star Flickers Every Two Minutes

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Artist’s impression of the exotic binary system AR Scorpii, with a compact white dwarf star (right) flogging its red dwarf companion with high energy electrons every two minutes. Image: M. Garlick/University of Warwick/ESO

Some 380 light years away in the constellation Scorpius lies a star that has puzzled astronomers for over 40 years. Called AR Scorpii, the star flashes brightly and fades again every couple minutes, like a lightbulb on a dimmer switch. Now, astronomers have identified the cause of the flickering, and it’s a reminder that the cosmos is still rife with terrifying secrets.

AR Scorpii, previously identified as a single, variable star, is actually two, a compact white dwarf the size of the Earth but 200,000 times more massive, and a cool red dwarf a third the size of the Sun. By examining the system with the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and others, astronomers have now learned that the white dwarf is spinning incredibly fast, charging up electrons to almost the speed of light.

As the white dwarf twirls about, these energized particles whip through space, lashing the the cooler companion and releasing a powerful pulse of electromagnetic radiation every 1.97 minutes.

This brutal star-on-star bondage, documented today in Nature, has not only never been seen before; it’s never been imagined before. Pulsing has been observed in neutron stars, extremely dense objects formed by the gravitational collapse of a stellar remnant after a supernova. But while some theories have predicted that white dwarfs could act in a similar manner, the details of this system’s behavior—including the source of the electrons that charge up the cosmic floggings—remain an enigma.

“The strength of the pulsations are unprecedented,” lead study author Thomas Marsh of the University of Warwick told Gizmodo in an email. “The high energy electrons are also very unusual—there is only one other system like this, and relativistic electrons are hard to understand when it comes to white dwarfs which generally do not show high-energy phenomena. I think this is what excites me most—it could be that we are seeing a new form of cosmic particle accelerator.”

Marsh and his collaborators—a team that includes five amateur astronomers—are continuing to study the star closely across the electromagnetic spectrum, using the Very Large Array in New Mexico to and the XMM-Newton X-ray satellite to pick up radio and x-ray emissions, respectively. They’re also hoping to resolve the structure of the mysterious electron beam. “So far it appears as a point source, but it may just be a matter of resolution,” Marsh said.

Naturally, the discovery of AR Scorpii’s true nature also astronomers wondering if there are more like it. Only time will tell. But while scientists continue to probe the violent mysteries of multi-star systems, the rest of us can go about our lives a bit more grateful for this mercifully pacifistic corner of the galaxy we’re lucky enough to live in.

[ESO News]

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