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Why Presidents Are Also Celebrities

September 18, 2014 In October of 1912, as he was leaving Milwaukee’s Gilpatrick Hotel to deliver a speech at the city’s auditorium, Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest. He was campaigning at the time for a third party and third term in the White House; John Schrank, an unemployed saloonkeeper, blamed TR...

Brain Drain Is Threatening the Future of U.S. Robotics

June 30, 2014 ASPEN, Colo.—Should the U.S. establish a new federal agency to regulate robots? Here's one potential problem with that proposal—one that has very little to do with the law, and very much to do with technology: "The government has virtually no experts on the inside that understand autonomous robotic systems." That's...

We're Not Ready for a Federal Robotics Department

June 30, 2014 Should the U.S. establish a new federal agency to regulate robots? Here's one potential problem with that proposal—one that has very little to do with the law, and very much to do with technology: "The government has virtually no experts on the inside that understand autonomous robotic systems." That's according...

At This School, You Can Check Out Drones Like Library Books

June 24, 2014 The University of South Florida recently received a grant to expand its "Digital Media Commons"—part of a broader effort to remodel the school's facilities with new technologies. After a year applying that grant money, however, something crazy happened: The Tampa-based university found itself with leftover funds. So it decided to...

'Why-Fi' or 'Wiffy'? How Americans Pronounce Common Tech Terms

June 23, 2014 Okay, once and for all: Is it "gif" or "jif"? EBay Deals, which runs a blog, decided to find out. Its team surveyed 1,100 people—U.S. residents, ranging in age from 18 to 45—asking them about the terms they use to describe some of the most common objects and actions of...

One Closed API at a Time, the Era of the Open Web May Be Waning

June 17, 2014 On Friday, Netflix's VP of edge engineering, Daniel Jacobson, sent the following letter to the service's third-party developers: Netflix API Developers, As Netflix continues to grow internationally, the emphasis of our engineering efforts is to satisfy a growing member base and a growing number of devices. To better focus our...

Tetris Turns 30

June 6, 2014 On June 6, 1984, the computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov launched the side project he'd been working on at Moscow's Academy of Science of the USSR: a simple video game—an almost ridiculously simple video game—he called Tetris. In short order, his creation would be called "by far, the most addictive game...

We're Now Putting Ads on the Moon

May 16, 2014 Here is a partial list of the trash that humans have left on the moon: more than 70 spacecraft, including rovers, modules, and crashed orbiters; 12 pairs of boots; 2 golf balls; an assortment of empty packages of space food; TV cameras; various hammers, tongs, rakes, and shovels; backpacks; insulating...

A Magic 8 Ball, Armed With Data

May 1, 2014 There is an allure to a Magic 8 Ball. You roll the thing in your hands, you ask it a question, and—presto!—you have an answer. The whole thing is wonderfully simple. The only problem—and it's a big problem—is that it's random. Can you really rely on the Magic 8 Ball's...

When Your Hearing Aid Is an iPhone

April 16, 2014 The world is loud. As a partial result of this, the typical human aging process involves hearing loss that ranges from mild to severe. And though that loss can be a big problem—"blindness separates people from things," Helen Keller said, while "deafness separates people from people"—it's one that has a...

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