Watch the Orionid Meteor Shower Peak This Weekend

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Image: Mike Lewinski/Flickr

The Earth is once again passing through the debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, producing the Orionid meteors that peak this weekend. Go outside! Look at space!

The Orionids produce a shower annually, peaking at around 20 to 25 meteors per hour. As with all meteor showers, they’re named for the constellation they appear to stem from in the sky, Orion in this case (or more accurately, on the border of Orion and Gemini. You should care because space is great.

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Meteoroids are pebble-sized bits of space debris that become meteors when they flash as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. They can streak across the sky with average speeds around 150,000 mph according to Space.com. They’re called meteorites once they hit the ground.

As with any shower, it’s best to look a little further away from Orion—this will make the meteors you do manage to spot look longer.

Meteors in a shower all originate from the same place in the sky and generally fall parallel to one another. It’s sort of like sitting in the middle of a set of parallel stripes converging far away—distances look differently depending on which stripe you look at. As for Halley’s comet, that iconic chunk of ice and rock won’t be visiting Earth again until 2061.

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If you head out late at night, the Moon should have set before the best part of the show—generally between midnight and sunrise, according to the American Meteor Society. If you don’t feel like going outside or it’s cloudy, the Slooh online telescope will be broadcasting it (you have to register).

Space!!!

[American Meteor Society, SPACE.com]

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PlansMatter Brings Design-Savvy Travelers To Unforgettable Places

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PlansMatter Brings Design-Savvy Travelers To Unforgettable Places

Created by a pair of architects from the midwest, PlansMatter is a platform for fans of design and architecture that offers unique travel experiences where guests stay in stylish, modernist homes. Like Airbnb but in well-appointed modern spaces from chic urban centers to the remote wilderness. They currently offer properties on 5 continents, including a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Wisconsin.

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Ben Heck’s oscilloscope throwdown

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Let’s get started reviewing oscilloscopes! In the world of electronics engineering, an oscilloscope is crucial to helping diagnose problems with noise and data communications. Each of the five oscilloscopes reviewed in this episode, from Tektronix, Keysight and Rohde and Schwarz, have their own set of features and trade-offs. Which one do you prefer? Or are you still figuring out how to use one? Let the team know over on the element14 Community.

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You Can Now Read Stephen Hawking’s Ph.D Thesis for Free Here

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Image: AP

You might not want anyone to read the work you put together as a university student—I sure don’t. But we’re not Stephen Hawking, world-famous physicist, whose Ph.D thesis you can now read for free online.

The University of Cambridge has made Hawking’s work, “Properties of Expanding Universes,free for anyone, given extraordinary demand. After all, it’s the most requested item in their online Open Access repository, according to a news release. Hawking told Cambridge that he made the decision hoping to “inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet.”

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People seem to like this Stephen Hawking guy. His book, A Brief History of Time, has sold ten million copies. He’s made pop culture appearances far and wide, from The Big Bang Theory to The Simpsons. He’s the subject of the Oscar-winning film, The Theory of Everything. But he’s known in science for exploring more esoteric topics in physics. Perhaps his most famous idea is “Hawking radiation,” the theory that links the mathematics of gravity with quantum physics to conclude that black holes evaporate by spitting out particles from their surface.

The thesis discusses some of the most talked-about points in physics, specifically the “implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe.” Such expansion causes difficulties to one theory of gravitation and has implications for how gravity radiates through the universe, moving its energy along as waves. It also describes the inevitability of singularities, regions of infinite density and zero volume found in the centers of black holes or the start of the universe.

These ideas continue to spark debate. Meanwhile, Hawking himself, at 75 years old, is still a living public figure despite his 50-year-log struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease” or ALS), a disease whose victims rarely survive a decade.

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The news release comes alongside increasing interest in the Open Access movement, allowing us to access published science papers for free. Open Access hasn’t been without controversy as shady scientific journals have attempted to game the system to make a quick buck. Cambridge encourages its students to make their Ph.Ds open access when they deposit it online, according to the release.

So, if you’ve got some free time, enjoy the light reading of a preeminent physicist’s 120-page Ph.D thesis.

[Cambridge]

Update 12:ooPM: The BBC reports that Cambridge’s download website has been crashing intermittently due to the heavy traffic, lol. At least 30,000 have tried to download the PDF. Honestly, I preferred Hawking’s later stuff.

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Nintendo’s Switch is better than ever, but it’s still missing 7 huge features that the competition has had for years

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With a huge new Super Mario game on the verge of launching, there’s never been a better time to own a Nintendo Switch

Super Mario Odyssey

Between "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" back in March, and the upcoming "Super Mario Odyssey," 2017 is a pretty incredible year for Nintendo’s newest system.

At the same time, for a console that launched in 2017, there are some glaring holes in what the Switch offers. No Netflix? No online voice chat or cloud saves? Some stuff that’s become standardized in gaming, whether you’re playing on a PlayStation 4 or an iPhone, simply doesn’t exist on Nintendo’s console. 

Here are the biggest missing features on Nintendo’s otherwise excellent little console.

SEE ALSO: 11 reasons why now is the perfect time to buy a Nintendo Switch

1. A unified profile that tracks your game library and saved data.

The main point of the Switch is its ability to bring your games anywhere. You can literally pick up the console and bring it with you, or plop it into the Nintendo Switch Dock and play on your TV (seen above). 

That’s why it’s especially baffling that the same concept isn’t applied to your Nintendo Switch profile data. Yes, you can sign in with your Nintendo Account on another Switch and it’ll allow you to download your purchased games. Unfortunately, all the saved data on your profile for anything you’ve played is locked — physically — to your Switch.

There’s a new method for transferring that data in the latest Switch firmware update, but it’s limited in use. You have connect both of the Switch consoles to the same WiFi network, for instance. On the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you can simply upload your game saved data to their respective cloud services and re-download them whenever you want. It’s a great fail-safe back-up if, say, your console breaks.

It’s a little thing, no doubt, but one that makes a huge difference.

2. The ability to easily chat with friends online.

The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 — consoles that have been outright replaced by subsequent generations in the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively — had system-level voice chat functionality.

What that means in English is that you could group up with friends, online, and chat in a private room while playing whatever game together. Maybe you weren’t even playing games together! Think of it like group Skype on game consoles.

The same goes for general voice chat: If you’re so inclined, you can put on a chat headset and speak with random strangers in online games on the Xbox and PlayStation platforms. 

Not so with the Switch: The only solution is the convoluted madness you see above, which involves plugging the Switch and your phone into a dongle. This also doesn’t work on a system level — you can’t jump from game-to-game with friends while chatting. It’s the kind of thing that’s now expected as standard on all other gaming platforms, and it’s bizarrely missing from the Nintendo Switch.

3. Video recording on the system level.

Nintendo just added video recording to the Switch in a recent update ("Version 4.0"). You can record gameplay by holding down the capture button. But there are some huge caveats:

-The maximum recording is the last 30 seconds of gameplay.

-You can’t record video at any time.

-You can only record video of supported games, and the list of games thus far is short ("Breath of the Wild," "Splatoon 2," "Arms," and "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe." The upcoming "Super Mario Odyssey will also allow it.)

On both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you can record gameplay of any game — and your maximum length is far longer. The PS4 automatically records the last 15 minutes of gameplay at any given time, for instance. The built-in editing software on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is also far more substantial; on the Switch, you can edit length, but nothing else.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Machine-Learning and Artificial Intelligence: The Difference, and What They’re For [Infographic]

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By now you’ve heard of machine-learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), but understanding these technologies can be overwhelming.

Today’s infographic explores what ML and AI can do for marketers and why these technologies are more than just buzzwords.

First, the basics: what’s the difference between the two? According to an infographic by Dropbox Business

  • Machine-learning is the “ability to give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves.”
  • Artificial intelligence is “a machine’s ability to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider ‘smart.'”

The infographic shows how various industries are achieving results with ML and AI, including a statistic that the technologies have helped retail companies report a 30% increase in online sales with dynamic pricing and personalization. Also, retailers are seeing two million fewer product returns thanks to more accurate demand forecasting.

In a B2B sense, companies expect higher content ROI because they can quickly and accurately surface the best-performing content, the infographic explains.

To see how companies are using ML and AI to gain valuable insights, boost productivity, and spend less time researching prospects and qualifying leads, check out the infographic. Just tap or click to see a larger version:

 

Laura Forer is the manager of MarketingProfs: Made to Order, Original Content Services, which helps clients generate leads, drive site traffic, and build their brands through useful, well-designed content.

LinkedIn: Laura Forer

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Super Surfer: Cloning the Honda Cub

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Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
Not ready to let go of the weekend? We’ve got the solution, and it involves a surfboard, the beach, and a cute little scooter.

This little slice of summer is called ‘El Gordo,’ [‘fat’ in Spanish] and it’s the first build from Dutch crew KRUK. Mark van Meerkerk and Ton Everaers hold down day jobs, but combine their talents after hours to make cool things.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
Mark’s one of Holland’s top surfers, and works as a mechanical engineering technician and theatrical automation specialist. He’s well versed in custom motorcycles, having owned and built a bunch of them over the years.

Ton’s a graphic and audio-visual designer, and while he’s owned numerous classic bikes and cars most of his life, the custom scene is new ground for him. Both guys wrench regularly in their own sheds, but El Gordo was put together in Ton’s workshop in Delfgauw, just outside Rotterdam.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
So what is El Gordo? We assumed it was a Honda Cub, but we were wrong. It’s a Super 50, a Chinese-made Cub clone imported by Super Motor Company in Amsterdam. “It was kind of weird to chop up a brand new bike,” says Ton, “but it saved us the hassle of rebuilding a possibly worn out engine and battling rust.”

As for the direction the guys wanted to take, that was a fairly easy decision: “Since we’re both avid surfers and bikers, we’ve always been charmed by surf explorer bikes with board racks attached to them.”

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
From a distance there doesn’t seem to be much going on, other than a board rack and a new paint job. But the mods are both extensive and subtle. There’s a mix of Yamaha, Honda and Puch parts at play, sourced from auto-jumbles and the internet, along with a few off-the-shelf bits.

Mark and Ton ditched the Super 50’s plastic rear fender, then welded in a shortened Honda Cub number with a neat ducktail on the end. Then they bolted on a luggage rack and taillight from their oddball pool of parts.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
They also tossed the original seat, replacing it with a hand-made unit covered in an anti-slip fabric, “so you won’t slip off when cruising around in your wetties.” You’d normally flip the seat up to access the gas cap, but the new seat has a hole in it for quick access.

“If a solution like this is good enough for vintage British race bikes it sure is good enough for El Gordo,” Ton jokes.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
KRUK were on a mission to rid the little Cub look-a-like of as much bulk and plastic as possible. So they dismantled the steering and headlight assembly and rebuilt it piece-by-piece, starting with a custom-made top yoke and a set of aftermarket handlebar clamps.

The handlebars are from a 70s Honda CB, cut a little narrower to suit the bike, and capped off with Beston grips.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
Keeping the bike road legal was key, so it still sports turn signals and a headlight. The guys tried to use as many of the scoot’s existing mounting points as possible, but Mark still had to whip up a bunch of small bits on the lathe to piece everything together.

Reworking the front end also meant rewiring everything. The ignition switch and starter button—originally integrated into the steering unit—were moved to the left side of the bike. A set of replica Honda Dax switches was added, and all the wires moved to inside the handlebars and frame. Even the horn and side-stand switch still work as per original spec.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
KRUK took care of a few nifty upgrades too. An aftermarket exhaust system and open filter were added, and the carb re-jetted, for a little more go. “Semi automatics don’t really give a punch,” admits Ton, “but now it’s a nice ride with a decent top speed.” Fitting the exhaust meant scavenging a heat shield and mounting brackets from another donor.

The suspension was sorely lacking, so the guys upgraded the rear shocks with a pair of open spring units. Then they fitted the widest rubber that the frame and forks would take: 3.00×17 Heidenau K58 scooter tires.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
The inspiration for El Gordo’s unique hue came from an unusual source. “We chose a brown tint that was on a Marlboro cardboard box we used to transport El Gordo’s parts to the paint-shop,” explains Ton. “It was by coincidence exactly the type of brown we were after, and the painter did a great job matching it.”

Parts like the handlebars and rims were powder coated flat black to complement it. As a final touch, Mark and Ton fabricated a surfboard rack, finishing it off with caramel leather handlebar grip tape and hand-made elastic fasteners.

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK
“The original idea behind this little Cub was to build a one-off bike that could be fairly cheap and easily reproduced if the demand was there,” says Ton. “The bike is road legal, has registration and insurance and is ready to explore all those remote surf spots.”

Who else feels like heading down to the beach right now?

Visit KRUK Customs on Facebook | Photos by Aad Hoogendoorn | Surfboard on loan from Ollywood Surfboards

Honda Cub clone with surfboard rack by KRUK

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Traces of Alzheimer’s Disease Detected in Wild Animal for the First Time

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Images: University of Oxford

An international team of researchers has uncovered tell-tale signs of Alzheimer’s disease in dolphins, marking the first time that the age-related disorder has been detected in a wild animal.

Until very recently, scientists thought that only humans were susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. That changed back in August of this year when researchers from Kent State University detected traces of the disease in chimps, or at least, the brains of chimps who died from natural causes at zoos and research centers. A new study published this week in Alzheimer’s & Dementia is now the first to find two key markers of the disease—protein plaques and tangles—in a wild animal, namely dolphins. This latest finding is further evidence that Alzheimer’s is not a human-specific disease, and that other animals can be used to study the dreaded condition.

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Most animals die very shortly after the end of their fertile years, but dolphins and orca whales, like humans, tend to live past their reproductive years (cool fact: female orca whales go through menopause). This got Oxford University scientist Simon Lovestone wondering: Are dolphins, as a result of their long lives, susceptible to age-related neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s? To find out, he and his colleagues studied the brains of dolphins who had died naturally in the wild and whose bodies washed ashore along the Spanish coast.

The researchers found plaques of a protein called beta amyloid, along with the tangles of another protein called tau. Together, these proteins are the smoking guns of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. In healthy brains, amyloid beta breaks down and goes away, but for people with Alzheimer’s, this protein lingers, resulting in the formation of plaques between neurons. These plaques subsequently set another process in motion, whereby tau forms tangles that destabilize brain cells. Together, these two neurological disruptions produce dementia.

Importantly, this study doesn’t tell us how the dolphins may be affected by their specific version of the disease, or whether they suffer from any associated memory loss or confusion. We won’t know until we perform behavioral tests on captive dolphins—something the researchers do not advocate.

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That said, the discovery points to potential causes of the disease, with altered insulin function being a common denominator. Insulin regulates the levels of sugar in the blood, setting off a complex chemical cascade known as insulin signaling. Changes in insulin signaling can cause diabetes in humans and other mammals. At the same time, however, extreme caloric restriction also affects insulin signaling, extending the lifespans of certain animals by significant amounts. In some animals, such as fruit flies and mice, caloric restriction can extend life by up to three times.

‘We think that in humans, the insulin signalling has evolved to work in a way similar to that artificially produced by giving a mouse very few calories,” said Lovestone in a statement. “That has the effect of prolonging lifespan beyond the fertile years, but it also leaves us open to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Previously, scientists had shown that insulin resistance predicts the development of Alzheimer’s in humans, and people with diabetes are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

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“But our study suggests that dolphins and orcas (who also have a long post fertility life span) are similar to humans in many ways; they have an insulin signalling system that makes them an interesting model of diabetes, and now we have shown that dolphin brains show signs of Alzheimer’s identical to those seen in people,” said Lovestone.

So while it sucks that dolphins are susceptible to Alzheimer’s, the good news is that we now have a new “model” for the disease. Future comparative analyses of dolphin and human brains with Alzheimer’s will tease out the various factors responsible for the disease, which will hopefully lead to new treatments.

[Alzheimer’s & Dementia]

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Someone created a storm lamp that produces lightning every time Trump tweets

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This lamp stirs up a lightning storm every time Trump tweetsParse/Error created ‘The Political Lamp’ so that political events on Twitter could be materialized in real-time. The company chose Trump because "he perfectly embodies a dangerous era. A world where the words of one man … can endanger the fate of millions by spreading the ghost of nuclear war on the planet." Read more…

More about Tech, Twitter, Technology, Mashable Video, and Weather

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