Why it matters to you
Particle physics and some smart computer modeling helped scientists make one of the biggest discoveries in Great Pyramid of Giza in more than 100 years.
By now, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard about the recent discovery of a large hidden chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt. But how exactly did the scientists responsible discover an area that had consistently eluded researchers and other explorers investigating the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? The answer involves some cutting edge particle physics, computer modeling, and a whole lot of math…
What exactly has been achieved here?
As described in a new paper published in Nature, what the Japanese and French research team have discovered is a large secret space hidden within the Great Pyramid of Giza. This space is located above a large 100-foot long room called the Grand Gallery, and is comparable in size. Up until now, no-one was aware of the existence of this space. It is the first major internal structural discovery in the Great Pyramid since the 19th century.
Using a technique called “muon tomography,” the scientists were able to map it out without causing any damage. This is a substantially different approach to the British Egyptologists of the early 1800s, who frequently “investigated” pyramids by using gunpowder to gain access to different sections that had been sealed off.
Next, the researchers want to explore the space in more detail by using tiny flying drones, although this will take time to achieve.
What are muons?
Earth is constantly bombarded with particles, which pass harmlessly through our bodies. A large number of these particles are called muons, which hit Earth’s surface at a rate of approximately 1 per square centimeter each minute of the day. Muons are elementary particles similar to electrons, but don’t lose as much energy when they travel, making them able to penetrate more deeply than other forms of radiation.
They were discovered by American physicists Carl D. Anderson and Seth Neddermeyer in 1936, as part of the pair’s studies into cosmic radiation. Muons can be detected based on the fact that their movement through gas ionizes the gas molecules. This was successfully demonstrated in 1937 through an experiment known as the “cloud chamber,” in which supersaturated vapor in a sealed environment is used to visualize ionizing radiation.
So how do you use them to scan for objects?
Muons are able to penetrate dense materials, such as meters of rock or even steel, more deeply than other types of radiation. Muon Scattering Tomography (MST) is one way of harnessing this ability by using it to peer through much thicker materials than would be possible using x-ray based tomography techniques such as computed tomography (CT) scanning. MST works by scattering the negatively-charged muon particles, and then observing the way they interact with and deflect off other materials.
While they are able to pass through many, they can also be deflected by heavy elements such as uranium, or metals like lead. By using electrodes to collect the signal made by the scattered muons, and then applying some clever geometry and statistical models to measure how they are deflected, it’s possible to work out their trajectory with a high level of accuracy. This allows researchers to build up three-dimensional models of hidden objects, both in terms of shape and material.
Is this the first time that Muon Scattering Tomography has been used?
It’s not. The use of something called muon transmission radiography was actually used back in the late 1960s in a not dissimilar way to look for hidden chambers in the Pyramid of Chephren in Giza. (Check out this 1970 paper, “Search for Hidden Chambers in the Pyramids.”)
The development of Muon Scattering Tomography as an imaging tool, however, is far more recent — and dates back to Los Alamos National Laboratory research in 2003. Since then, it has been used for multiple applications. In notable recent use-cases, it was employed by Toshiba for analyzing the reactor cores at the Fukushima nuclear complex. A company called Decision Sciences International Corporation has also used muon tomography in a scanner for searching for explosives, contraband material, and more, and then producing a 3D image of what has been scanned.
A similar form of muon tomography has additionally been used as a way of imaging magma chambers in volcanos to predict eruptions, and for discovering hidden tunnels inside the Bent Pyramid, named as a result of its unusual shape.
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Kobolds and Catacombs could make Hearthstone more addictive than ever.
When it launches next month, Hearthstone’s seventh expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs, will embrace the game’s crazy side. The new card set will give weapons to every class, and add evolving spell cards that could blow up competitive strategies.
Even more exciting is the game’s new free-to-play single-player mode, Dungeon Run, which sends players on “roguelike” inspired strings of random matches with procedurally generated conditions and rewards. The new mode taps into the, playful side of Hearthstone, but doesn’t stray too far from the core card game that made early adopters, and competitive players, fall in love.
Get ready to run
Dungeon Run puts players through a gauntlet of randomized matches against randomized bosses to earn, you guessed it, randomized loot. It’s an endlessly repeatable version of the single-player raids Blizzard brought to Hearthstone in past expansions like Journey to Un’Goro, and Knights of the Frozen Throne.
The structure of Dungeon Run is simple. After choosing your class, you play a series of eight increasingly difficult matches against randomized “boss” characters. For every match you win, you earn a piece of “treasure,” which either confers a passive bonus or a very powerful card for the rest of the run, and some “loot,” a set of three complementary cards that, again, enhance your deck for the rest of the run.
Dungeon runs bridge the gap between Hearthstone’s more repeatable modes, like competitive play, and the more sensational single-player matches. The boss characters are, at least in the demo we saw, based on monsters rather than World of Warcraft player characters, and their traits vary wildly. In two demo runs with three matches apiece, we encountered enemies with health that ranged from 10 to 40 (in standard play each hero has 30 health), and completely new hero powers, such as the ability to automatically generate a “secret” effect that counters spell cards.
The treasures earned from winning matches veer from what Hearthstone players are used to. We saw treasure bonuses that doubled our hero’s health and automatically gave all our minions +1/+1 for the rest of the run. Similarly, the treasure cards we earned and added to our dungeon run deck would be considered game-breaking in ranked matches.
Dungeon Runs’ random effects are immensely powerful — but that’s what makes it fun.
Seeing the crazy combinations you can create on a given run kindles an easy, distilled version of the satisfaction you get from making a new deck. Since you aren’t playing against other players, and your next opponent could have any number of powerful abilities, the game can create new, strange scenarios. Since both your deck and your opponents are procedurally generated — though some elements, such as the “loot” card sets, are not completely random — those outlandish scenarios feel truly “wild.” You’ll have matches where the cards and bonuses don’t work out in your favor, and have matches that you can win in your sleep. The random effects, both yours and your opponents’, are immensely powerful — but that’s what makes it fun.
We do see a possible problem, though. Rewards. Blizzard has said very little about what players receive – gold, cards, or otherwise – from the mode. That could be a sore point because Hearthstone at its core is a competitive game, and a lack of meaningful reward will turn off serious players. This could be a reaction to past single-player raids, which often rewarded cards so powerful that they were considered a must-have in competitive play. A portion of the community felt that was unfair. It’s also possible Blizzard simply hasn’t decided on the rewards, however, so stay tuned.
Send in the Kobolds!
Dungeon Runs, the gameplay mode, will be available to all players when Kobolds and Catacombs launches, so the expansion itself is effectively a set of new cards. 135 new cards are coming to the Hearthstone library, which is both a lot and a little, when you consider how many cards Blizzard’s added over the years. The expansion will make its mark on how you play, though, thanks to some special cards and a new keyword — a trait that defines how cards interact.
Kobolds and Catacombs’ biggest changes seem focused on making matches move faster. The new keyword, “recruit,” gives cards the ability to summon a minion (or minions) from your deck into play. In its most basic form — a new card, “Gather Your Party,” recruits a random minion from your deck for 6 mana — the effect has the potential swing a match. As more cards are revealed, we expect to see more tempered, conditional recruiting conditions, but no matter what they are, these cards will put more minions on the board, faster.
Kobolds and Catacombs’ changes are focused on making matches move faster.
Though recruit lends itself to minion-heavy classes and builds, Kobolds and Catacombs will have new cards for all kinds of players. The expansions will add new legendary weapon cards for all nine classes, even those that traditionally don’t use weapons. Not all the weapons will deal damage, but instead add bonuses that complement certain types of play. “Dragon Soul,” the 6-cost priest weapon, summons a 5/5 dragon after you cast three spells.
Each class also gets a “spellstone,” a unique spell that evolves as its owner completes certain conditions. The Shaman can draw the “Lesser Sapphire Spellstone,” which summons a copy of a friendly minion for seven mana. However, if you use cards that overload three mana, the card upgrades to a “Sapphire Spellstone,” which summons two copies for the same price. Do the same thing again, and it becomes a “Greater Sapphire Spellstone,” making the card even powerful.
We didn’t get to play with either the legendary weapons or spellstones in our limited time with the game, but both card types seem to push players to play in different, yet specific ways. We’re looking forward to seeing how they mix up the game when Hearthstone: Kobolds and Catacombs launches in December, 2017.
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Why it matters to you
The new feature lets you easily create eye-catching polls for the friends on your Facebook page.
Facebook has added a new picture polling feature that you can add to your posts, including wacky pictures or hilarious GIFs, so all your followers can join in on the fun. The new poll option is available on your desktop browser, Android, or iOS.
Text-only polls have been an option on Facebook Pages for quite some time, but now you can add them to your regular posts and use images for your answers.
To create a Facebook poll, click on the “Poll” option in the lower right. For each option, hover over the GIF option and choose the one you want. You can also upload your own photos to add a personal touch to your question. There are only two possible poll answers, so choose wisely.
Add the poll question and specify long you’d like the poll to run for, and you’re set to begin bugging your friends for votes. Your question can be as long as you’d like, but the answer field is limited to 25 characters. Responses to Facebook polls are not anonymous — the poster will be able to see how everyone voted in response to the question.
Facebook Questions, a poll-based application, was launched in 2011 to little fanfare and shut down in 2012, but polls are apparently the next big thing at Facebook. The social network has been testing this new polling feature since last September, and Instagram included similar picture polls to Stories a short time ago. Facebook added polls to its Messenger chat app more than a year ago, and it recently acquired the anonymous polling app tbh.
“Whether it’s comparing two of your favorite movies, asking for opinions on which outfit to wear, or polling friends on what photo to use for your next profile pic, the ways you can use polls to gather opinions are endless,” a Facebook representative explained to PCMag.
For its part, Twitter has had a polling option for several years, with four possible responses rather than two.
So, is this new feature a hit or a miss? Break out some of the best GIFs from your favorite TV shows and movies and pose the question to all your loyal Facebook followers.
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Back to business as usual.
For the past week, everyone with an ear on the industry has said that plans for a Sprint and T-Mobile merger were done and the whole idea was scrapped and rumors from Japan suggested that Softbank (Sprint’s parent company) head Masayoshi Son ended talks at the end of October.
Today that becomes official, per the T-Mobile Newsroom.
T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) today announced that it has ceased talks to merge with Sprint, as the companies were unable to find mutually agreeable terms.
T-Mobile says that while the idea of a merger between the two smaller carriers was a compelling idea, it could only happen if there was a clear long-term benefit to T-Mobile shareholders and consumers. We’re not told anything that came out of the talks which would mean it wasn’t in T-Mobile’s best interests, only that the two companies were unable to come to an agreement and T-Mobile will continue on the path they’ve been walking for the past 15 quarters of record growth.
We’re not surprised or saddened by this news, as our opinion has remained that more choice is always better for customers and the industry as a whole. The full, but brief, press release is below in full.
Bellevue, Washington — November 4, 2017 — T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) today announced that it has ceased talks to merge with Sprint, as the companies were unable to find mutually agreeable terms.
“The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders. However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile’s shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record,” said John Legere, President and CEO of T-Mobile US, Inc. “Going forward, T-Mobile will continue disrupting this industry and bringing our proven Un-carrier strategy to more customers and new categories – ultimately redefining the mobile Internet as we know it. We’ve been out-growing this industry for the last 15 quarters, delivering outstanding value for shareholders, and driving significant change across wireless. We won’t stop now.”
So much for T-Mobile’s bid to rescue a potential merger with Sprint. The two carriers have ended their not-so-secret merger talks after they couldn’t find “mutually agreeable terms.” Neither side is specific about what went wrong, but their remarks suggest an uneven power balance. T-Mobile’s John Legere said a union was appealing for a “variety of reasons,” but that a deal had to provide “superior long-term value” for a network that was already doing well on its own. Sprint had the support of its owner SoftBank, but its statement was more conciliatory; it wouldn’t say much more than that it was “best to move forward on our own.”
In practice, it might have come down to two strong-headed companies unwilling to budge on ownership ratios. T-Mobile has already explained its reasoning: why give up control when everything is coming up roses? For Sprint, however, it’s a bit more complicated. SoftBank reportedly held a meeting in late October where it decided that it wouldn’t cede control, putting Sprint in an awkward position where it couldn’t compromise even though it didn’t really have much clout.
Either way, the end to discussions rules out yet another attempt to consolidate the American cellular market. Whether or not it’s a good thing is unclear. More carriers typically means more competition, but there have been concerns that Sprint has been struggling to the point where it might not be as viable a fourth option as you might like. In theory, you might see a more competitive market if AT&T and Verizon had to face off against one very powerful third provider versus two smaller players (one of which might fall flat). That’s all rhetorical discussion at this point, though — for now, the status quo holds firm.
EA has a penchant for sports games whose stories go beyond the actual match, and that now includes the UFC series. The publisher has unveiled UFC 3, and its centerpiece is a GOAT Career Mode where your choices outside the Octagon determine the fights you’ll have inside. You have to make “promotional choices” to grow your fan base, generate hype and score big contracts. There’s even a social networking element. You can be the quintessential smack-talker (ahem) or the calm-and-collected fighter who only proves themselves in the ring.
Yes, EA is making improvements to the actual fighting as well. There’s a new Real Player Motion system that promises both fluid and responsive animation. You should see more graceful transitions between moves and more natural-looking reactions. A FIFA-style Ultimate Team option lets you fill the shoes of a well-known fighter and customize them to your tastes.
Also, EA is very much aware that UFC is tailor-made for fast bouts with friends. It’s adding a handful of multiplayer modes designed for fast gameplay, such as Stand & Bang (a “quick social experience”), Submission Showdown and a custom quick mode that lets you bend the game’s rules on stamina or damage. If you want higher-stakes matches, there’s a bracket-based Tournament Mode that preserves your character’s health (or lack thereof) between fights.
UFC 3 is launching on February 2nd for both PS4 and Xbox One (sorry, no Switch version). It’s not as dramatic a change to the gameplay formula as with FIFA or Madden, but it’s evident that EA wants added depth across as many sports titles as possible — whatever keeps you invested in your athlete and coming back for more.
Source: EA Press Room
The Ring Protect DIY home security system might not make it under anybody’s tree this Christmas. A judge in Delaware has temporarily blocked Protect’s sales due to a lawsuit filed by rival electronic security provider ADT. The bigger home security company is accusing Ring of stealing and using the platform originally developed for its products.
According to the lawsuit, ADT sunk $36 million into a company called Zonoff, commissioning it to develop the Z1 home security platform. ADT said the company defaulted on its debts and Zonoff CEO Mike Harris handed Ring’s reps a USB stick loaded with Z1’s secrets during a covert meeting at a parking lot. Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff said, however, that his company paid $1.2 million for Zonoff’s help in developing a platform of its own. Zonoff shut its doors a couple of months after Ring paid and before it could fulfill its obligation to either company.
The court has yet to reveal its final verdict, but the injunction will definitely affect Ring’s sales, considering it’s already the holiday shopping season. Ring, which is mostly known for its video doorbells, launched the Protect home security system last month. A bundle with a base station, a keypad, a contact sensor, a motion detector and a range extender costs $199. Subscription costs only $10 per month on top of that, much more affordable than ADT’s $37 monthly fee. Ring’s lawyer told Law360 that ADT is “trying to slow roll the case” in order to “keep Ring out of the market during the holiday season.” The plaintiff said in a statement, however:
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision to enter a preliminary injunction against Ring’s improper use of ADT’s intellectual property. ADT respects the intellectual property of others, as we expect others to respect our own; and we look forward to a successful final resolution of this matter.”
Afghanistan’s government has ordered a block on messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram, according to a letter sent to the country’s internet providers that was widely shared over social media on Saturday.
The letter was reportedly sent to Afghan ISPs after the country’s National Directorate for Security ordered the move, in what some observers believe is an attempt to prevent use of the encrypted messaging services by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
According to Reuters, the letter by telecoms regulator ATRA, dated November 1 and signed by an official of the regulator, directed internet companies to block Telegram and Facebook’s WhatsApp services “without delay” for a period of 20 days.
However, the temporary ban does not yet appear to have been enforced, with both services said to be still working normally on Saturday on both state-owned operator Salaam and private service providers.
Afghan government instructed telecom companies to shutdown @WhatsApp & @telegram in Afghanistan. Reason unknown. #AFG pic.twitter.com/l156HBC0ri
— Ahmad Mukhtar (@AhMukhtar) November 2, 2017
Public use of mobile phones has boomed in Afghanistan since the Taliban was removed from power by a U.S-led campaign in 2001, while use of services like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Viber are popular among the country’s politicians as well as the Taliban, which also maintains a sophisticated social media operation.
However, civil rights groups and Afghan social media users have criticized the attempt to block the chat platforms. Many argue such a ban is unenforceable anyway because it can be circumvented by the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).
Prominent newspaper editor Parwiz Kawa told the BBC that his country was finally an open society after years of censorship, therefore any ban on social media would not be tolerated.
“The public reaction – including our own front page – is to resist,” he said. “We can’t tolerate any ban on social media or any censorship.”
Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
Tags: WhatsApp, Telegram, Afghanistan
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Apple’s website now lists iPhone X availability at its retail stores in the United States and several other countries around the world.
Simply visit the iPhone X purchase page for your country from the list below, select a carrier if required, choose a color, and then click on “Pickup: Check Availability” below your desired storage capacity.
• The Netherlands
• United Kingdom
• United States
A window will pop open with iPhone X availability—if any—at nearby Apple stores based on your ZIP or postal code.
At stores where the iPhone X is available, customers can complete the checkout process and reserve the device for same day in-store pickup. We recommend bringing at least one valid government-issued photo ID with you.
At the time this article is published, for example, the iPhone X is available for pickup today at several Apple stores in the Los Angeles area. However, many countries outside of the United States don’t have any stock today.
iPhone X availability tool is now enabled on Apple’s website
The tool is also a good indicator of iPhone X availability for customers who are planning to walk into a store and purchase one, although in most cases it’s more convenient and guaranteed to reserve one for in-store pickup.
In the handful of countries outside of the United States listed below, Apple also resumed its similar Reserve and Pickup system today.
• United Arab Emirates
• United Kingdom
Starting at 6:00 a.m. local time across Canada, for example, the page came online and allowed customers to reserve their desired iPhone X configuration at a nearby Apple retail store at full retail price, with payment completed in store.
iPhone X supplies were depleted within just minutes, and the Reserve and Pickup page now advises customers to check back again at 6:00 a.m. local time tomorrow. If you refresh periodically, however, sometimes a few models appear.
Apple’s Reserve and Pickup system outside of the United States
iPhone X pre-orders began October 27 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, and within just minutes, shipping estimates slipped to 5-6 weeks around the world. The estimate has since improved to 3-4 weeks for orders placed today.
Given the long wait time for online orders, trying to purchase an iPhone X with in-store pickup or as a walk-in customer may be quicker options, and Apple’s availability tool makes it easy to check supplies without leaving your home.
Related Roundup: iPhone XBuyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Why it matters to you
Life on the Red Planet just got a lot greener.
It’s hard to say exactly how humans will live on Mars, if and when we occupy the planet. Maybe we’ll burrow in lava tubes. Maybe we’ll reside in giant greenhouses. However their shelters end up, the Red Planet’s first residents will be a long way from Earth (around nine months and 140 million miles on average), so they’ll have to sustain themselves without a whole lot of intervention.
Now we have a vision of what life on Mars might look like, thanks to a team of urban designers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose “Redwood Forest” habitats won the Mars City Design 2017 in architecture.
The immense domed greenhouse is designed to shelter 50 people, equipped with open spaces of plants and water harvested from the Martian plains, in a community of 10,000. Beneath the domes, tunnels intertwine like tree roots, offering private quarters and underground routes to other nearby habitats.
“On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local Martian resources such as ice and water, regolith (or soil), and sun to support life,” Valentina Sumini, an MIT postdoc who spearheaded the project, said. “Designing a forest also symbolizes the potential for outward growth as nature spreads across the Martian landscape. Each tree habitat incorporates a branching structural system and an inflated membrane enclosure, anchored by tunneling roots.”
In addition to providing access to nearby communities, the underground network offers residents protection from space dangers such as cosmic radiation, micrometeorites, and extreme changes in temperature.
Water is key to life on Earth and it will be key to developing sustainable communities on Mars.
“Every tree habitat in Redwood Forest will collect energy from the sun and use it to process and transport the water throughout the tree, and every tree is designed as a water-rich environment,” George Lordos, an MIT doctoral student who led development of the Redwood Forest’s system architecture, said. “Water fills the soft cells inside the dome, providing protection from radiation, helps manage heat loads, and supplies hydroponic farms for growing fish and greens. Solar panels produce energy to split the stored water for the production of rocket fuel, oxygen, and for charging hydrogen fuel cells, which are necessary to power long-range vehicles as well as provide backup energy storage in case of dust storms.”
Although the Redwood Forest was designed with Mars in mind, it features technologies familiar to us on Earth and valuable for our sustainable future. For example, electric vehicles and hydroponic gardens are each essential to the plan. Similar lush structures may also provide alternative shelter for people in harsh environments, from deserts to mountaintops. Life on the Red Planet is beginning to look a lot greener.
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