This Time Lapse Video of the Grand Canyon Will Give You an Existential Crisis

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Image Courtesy of SKYGLOW

What better way to start off your day with a nice, hot cup of existential uncertainty? Forget everything you think you know about yourself or reality, because a gorgeous new video of the Grand Canyon is about to irrevocably fuck you up. In a good way, we think.

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The video is part of a project called SKYGLOW, which aims to educate viewers on the dangers of urban light pollution in North America. In collaboration with the International Dark-Sky Association, SKYGLOW’s two-person team has recorded some of the most stunning views of the night sky in recent memory, including a time lapse of the stars over Hawaii and another of radio astronomy observatories around the US. But this new video captures a rare phenomenon that demands to be seen.

Image Courtesy of SKYGLOW

“Cold air is trapped in the canyon and topped by a layer of warm air, which in combination with moisture and condensation form the phenomenon referred to as the full cloud inversion,” SKYGLOW photographer Harun Mehmedinovic explained in an email to Gizmodo. “We were extremely lucky to be there to capture it, and it’s a collection of unique footage not found anywhere else.”

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Pop on some Enya deep cuts and watch a sea of clouds fill one of the most epic canyons on Earth. Try not to question your reality too hard.

[Vimeo h/t Harun Mehmedinovic]

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How Specialized Changed My Opinion On E-Bikes

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‘If e-bikes are cheating, then I will happily consider myself an adulterous mountain biker.’

ebike
“They’re cheating!” For mountain bike purists e-bikes get an eye roll and dismissal, or much worse. I was in this camp for years, but not because of snobbery; I had a bad experience (read below) and have been biased since.

That is, until two weeks ago, when I rode the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR for review.

The Turbo Levo FSR

Backstory: I Once Had a Horrible E-Bike Experience

A few years back I used an e-bike for the first time. My buddy Jeff invited me to Vail for a preseason ski mission. The plan was to ride e-bikes a few miles up a dirt road to get to the snow line and skin to the top of the resort for some grassy-sloped powder skiing. I knew nothing about e-bikes, except that they had a battery and a drive system. I figured we’d zip up the muddy switchbacks like we were riding motorcycles.

I was really, really wrong. The bike was far too small for my 6’5” 240-pound frame. And, even though the bike had a grip throttle, I had to pedal hard.

Side note, pedaling uphill in ski boots is not any fun at all.

The batteries on both bikes died, transforming them into two-wheeled boulders of sweat and curse words. The quick, fun ski trip turned into a 12-plus-hour slog that ended with a pitch-black coast back down the dirt road. E-bikes, yuck.

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Review: “Flippin’ Awesome”

So you can imagine my skepticism when Specialized offered I test the Turbo Levo FSR ($4,500) mountain bike. I threw a leg over it at Hotel Tacoma on the Oregon coast last month. My opinion on e-bikes changed, and quick.

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR
The 2016 model

This bike feels slightly heavier than a normal mountain bike. But I only noticed the added weight when I wasn’t on the bike. When riding, it was flowy and smooth uphill, downhill, and in the air. It’s burly enough to not get bucked by rocks and roots, but nimble enough to make tight turns and flow through banks.

The Turbo FSR is like Ferrari’s take on a tank with the heart of a ninja.

We rode the Turbo FSR up an old logging road in the muddy woods on the Oregon coast. As soon as I pushed my first down stroke, the pedal assist kicked in, as did my ear-to-ear grin.

I zoomed uphill with post-spinach consumption Popeye power. After we splashed around in rain puddles, we made our way to the beach. The battery tops out at 20 mph but you can pedal past that limit. As I cruised at lightning speed through sandy potholes filled with salt water, I barked out, “This is flippin’ awesome!”

Battery and Motor

The Turbo Levo FSR runs what is known as a pedal assist. The effect is that, while you pedal as normal, an electric motor boosts your effort. Ultimately, you ride the bike as normal, just go a lot faster.

The battery is comprised of forty 18650 3.5mAh LEV cells. This offers the best power to weight performance, according to the brand. The motor is a 36-volt belt driven power unit with a built-in power meter. The integrated drive system and sleek battery location make the bike look normal and keep the ride feeling like a typical trail bike.

Specialized has also created the Mission Control app, which allows the rider to custom tailor the performance of the battery and motor, including tuning the current of the motor.

When a rider wants to stretch the delivery of power from the motor, they can set a max motor current to regulate the flow of power.  This allows a rider to stretch the limits of a charge or increase the level of physical excursion.


Dane Garvik, Specialized’s U.S. brand development manager, explains the app as such: “Think of it like drinking an 8-ounce glass of water from a straw. The larger the straw diameter, the more you consume, faster. If you were to drink from that same glass with the same 8-ounces of water, with a smaller diameter straw, you still have the same amount in reserve but you have consumed it as fast. You are now stretching delivery, regulating it for your needs.”

For example, you can tell the battery that you want to go on a 6-hour ride and return with 11-percent battery. Pretty slick.

Geometry, Specs

The geometry is based on the Stumpjumper platform. FSR models have 140mm front suspension and 135mm rear. The Levo FSR has 27.5+ tires called 6fatties. This tire combination gives “69-percent more traction and 53-percent more volume” over a standard 27.5 or 29 tire option, the brand states.

Boost spacing in the front and rear gives the bike the ability to run both the 6fattie configuration or a set of 29er wheels.

Specialized offers the bike in several builds, from $4,500 on up to $9,500 S-Works turbo model.

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR

The Turbo series launched in 2012 and sees typical upgrades every year. Specialized launched the brand new Vado, a commuter bike version, in late April, which will be available in the U.S. later this month.

If e-bikes are cheating, then I will happily consider myself an adulterous mountain biker. Something this right just can’t be wrong.

The post How Specialized Changed My Opinion On E-Bikes appeared first on GearJunkie.

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No one wants to name their baby Donald anymore

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No one wants to name their baby Donald anymore

Goodbye Donald, hello Kylo.
Goodbye Donald, hello Kylo.

Image: Shutterstock / Kichigin

For some reason — and we really can’t think why — no one wants to name their babies Donald anymore.

According to 2016 data from the U.S. Social Security Administration released Friday, the name “Donald” hit a new low and decreased in popularity quite dramatically.

Our president’s first name was ranked at just 443 in 2015 but last year it dropped 45 spots to an even more pathetic 488. 

Anyone else catch that 45-point drop? Any connection to Trump being the 45th president? Anyway, The Donald and Donald Jr. can be somewhat reassured that the biggest decrease went to the male name “Jonael” with a 475-point drop. But still, the value of our president’s first name has dropped. He can’t say he has the best name.

TV personality and erstwhile Trump supporter Caitlyn Jenner seems to be having a similar effect, with her name and three variations of its spelling topping the female list of biggest decreases in popularity. The first four slots are filled with “Caitlin,” “Caitlyn,” “Katelynn,” and “Kaitlynn.”

Suffice it to say Donald and Caitlyn didn’t make it into the Top 10 for male or female names. These are the ones that did:

  1. Noah/Emma

  2. Liam/Olivia

  3. William/Ava

  4. Mason/Sophia

  5. James/Isabella

  6. Benjamin/Mia

  7. Jacob/Charlotte

  8. Michael/Abigail

  9. Elijah/Emily

  10. Ethan/Harper

To the 621 kids that were actually named Donald in 2016, don’t worry. He should be long gone before you grow up.

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Developers of the MP3 Have Officially Killed It

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MP3, the digital audio coding format, changed the way we listen to music and drove the adoption of countless new devices over the last couple of decades. And now, it’s dead. The developer of the format announced this week that it has officially terminated its licensing program.

The actual ownership history of the various patent rights involved in MP3 technology is complicated and messy. But the Fraunhofer Institute has claimed the right to license certain MP3 patents to software developers who want to “distribute and/or sell decoders and/or encoders” for it. The announcement that the company will end its licensing program was accompanied by a statement that reads in part:

Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.

The decision is largely symbolic, but it’s kind of like when all manufacturers start installing CD-ROMs instead of floppy drives. There will be some stragglers who still support the MP3 but newer formats will be the standard. AAC — or “Advanced Audio Coding,” — was developed in part by the Fraunhofer Institute and is considered the standard today.

The MP3 is dead but its effect on the digital landscape is profound. It enabled easier downloading of audio files during the broadband days of the internet and drove technical newcomers to join the cyber age. The iPod and iTunes both fueled a new era for Apple and led to the iPhone and all of its imitators that dominate the way we communicate today.

Unlike vinyl or the cassette, it seems unlikely that MP3 will ever have a nostalgic resurgence. The audio quality is trash by modern standards and some research has even suggested that its compression reinforces perceived negative emotional characteristics in musical instruments to the detriment of positive emotional characteristics.

In honor of the MP3, let’s all listen to the song (“Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega) that Karlheinz Brandenburg used as a reference track while he was developing it. Below that, you’ll find an embed of all the audio that’s lost on the track when it’s run through MP3 compression.

[Fraunhofer Institute via NPR]

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If We Live Another Billion Years, a Lot of Crazy Shit Is Going to Happen

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GIF
GIF: RealLifeLore

Let’s just throw this one in the science fiction category. Everyone knows humans aren’t even going to survive the next few decades. But what would happen if we did live another billion years? Some really cool things with a healthy dose of horrific disaster.

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Again, this video by RealLifeLore is just evidence-based speculation, but it’s fascinating evidence-based speculation. For instance, if we make it to the year 10,000 AD, we’ll have to deal with Y10K. It’ll be just like Y2K but there will be another digit to contend with.

By 20,000 AD, only one percent of modern language will still be in use. Jumping ahead to a million years, a near-extinction level volcanic eruption is expected on Earth, so hopefully, we’ll have accomplished the goal of fully terraforming Mars which is estimated to be possible by 100,000 AD. If we’re traveling through the stars and colonizing other planets, by 2,000,000 AD we could be evolving into entirely different species.

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But that’s all in the near future. Let’s skip forward to 250 million AD when all of Earth’s continents will fuse together, and then they’ll break apart again a couple hundred million years later. Once we’ve hit the 600 million year mark, Earth will be mostly uninhabitable due to numerous likely events including 99 percent of plant life being dead. And after one billion years, Earth’s surface temperature will likely be hovering around 117 degrees Fahrenheit and its water will have evaporated.

Check out all of those events and many more in the full video below.

[RealLifeLore]

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The 22-year-old who saved the world from a malware virus has been named

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Marcus Hutchins

The 22-year-old who slowed down the spread from a malware virus has been named as Marcus Hutchins. 

Hutchins, a British cybersecurity researcher, has been credited with stopping the WannaCry ransomware attack‘s spread from a small bedroom in his parent’s house. The Telegraph reports that he lives in a seaside resort on the north Devon coast. 

Photos emerged on Sunday night of Hutchins’s self-assembled IT hub, which consists of computer servers, at least three monitors, and video games. Other images reportedly show the self-taught coder at DefCon in Las Vegas, which is a renowned conference for the hacking community. 

Marcus Hutchins surfing

The researcher — who is known as MalwareTech on Twitter and has been described as an "accidental hero" — registered a garbled domain name hidden in the malware to track the virus, unintentionally halting it in the process. Hutchins described his efforts in a detailed blog post titled "How to Accidentally Stop a Global Cyber Attacks" on Saturday. 

"I was quickly able to get a sample of the malware with the help of Kafeine, a good friend and fellow researcher. Upon running the sample in my analysis environment I instantly noticed it queried an unregistered domain, which i promptly registered," wrote Hutchins. 

"We prevented the spread of the ransomware and prevented it ransoming any new computer since the registration of the domain (I initially kept quiet about this while i reverse engineered the code myself to triple check this was the case, but by now Darien’s tweet had gotten a lot of traction)."

Marcus Hutchins servers

 

Andrew Mabbitt, the cofounder of Fidus, said on Twitter that Hutchins is "one of the most intelligent and talented people I know". 

"He gets paid to do his hobby which is most people’s dream in life," he added.

The cyber attack plunged NHS England into disarray on Friday, and affected organisations around the world including French car manufacturers, Russian banks, and a Spanish telecoms operator, according to reports over the weekend

The attack took the form of ransomware that is nicknamed "WannaCry". Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts data on your computer, then asks for payment in return for decryption. In this case, messages seen by affected NHS staff showed that the attackers were asking for $300 (£232) in Bitcoin in exchange for decryption.

A BBC analysis found people paid the hackers £22,080 in Bitcoin so far.

Europol’s executive director Robert Wainwright told ITV that there were at least 200,000 victims, including the NHS, across 150 countries so far, and that number will go up on Monday morning when people go back to work.

And things could be about to get worse. Hutchins told the BBC there was "another one coming … quite likely on Monday." He is currently working with GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre to head off another attack, according to The Telegraph

Additional reporting by Shona Ghosh. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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Test-approved app could kill off the graphing calculator

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Math students have a love-hate relationship with the funky, expensive TI-84 graphing calculators, but thanks to a new deal, they’ll soon get a free option. Starting this spring, pupils in 14 US states will be able to use the TI-like Desmos online calculator during standardized testing run by the Smarter Balanced consortium. "We think students shouldn’t have to buy this old, underpowered device anymore," Desmos CEO Eli Luberoff told Quartz.

The Desmos calculator will be embedded directly into the assessments, meaning students will have access during tests with no need for an external device. It’ll also be available to students in grades 6 through 8 and high school throughout the year. The calculator is free to use, and the company makes money by charging organizations to use it, according to Bloomberg.

The Desmos calculator is more advanced than the TI-84 or other devices, offering a friendlier interface, live graphing updates, and free access via a smartphone, tablet or any other connected device. Thanks to an earlier deal with Smarter Balanced, it also provides accessibility features for the blind and visually impaired. It’s used by students in 146 countries and racks up over 300,000 hours of use per month, the company says.

A Texas Instruments TI-84 calculator hangs on a display rack

Not cheap: the TI-84 graphing calculator (Getty Images)

TI has monopolized the graphing calculator market for years, but Desmos has made rapid inroads since it launched its calculator app in 2011. It’s backed by the world’s largest education company, Pearson PLC, which uses it for its enVision high-school math program. It’s also supported by SAT exam administrator The College Board, which endorses it for drills, practice exams and curriculum assessments.

There are lots of online graphing calculators available, but educators are reluctant to allow them during tests. "Our products include only the features that students need in the classroom, without the many distractions or test security concerns that come with smartphones, tablets and internet access," Texas Instruments’ Peter Balyta told Bloomberg.

However, the Desmos and Smarter Balanced consortium’s deal negates that concern by embedding the calculator directly into the test, cutting off any outside access. That means students can use the calculator app while studying and have access to the same tech during tests, without needing to spend a bundle on a TI-84 or other calculator. The need for pricey calculators is "a huge source of inequity, and it’s just not the best way to learn," says Luberoff.

Via: Bloomberg

Source: Smarter Balanced Consortium

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