Last year SpaceX CEO Elon Musk briefly touched on a plan that he thought could lead to human colonization of Mars. It was… stunning to say the least. His plan required thousands of launches using the largest rockets ever built. But now Musk has published the outline for the project in the academic journal New Space.The paper doesn’t reveal too much new. But the mission proposal may well be the most ambitious thing people have ever done. Most of the heavy lifting will be done with an array of SpaceX Raptor rockets. These are still under development, but each will be three times burlier than the Merlin engines that drive Musk’s current line of Falcons.If constructed as outlined, the booster for the Interplanetary Transport System (the main spacecraft) would be the most rocket ever constructed by almost an order of magnitude, dwarfing even NASA’s stunning Space Launch System. These boosters would each launch, land, and refuel several times to get the craft ready for its Mars voyage. From there, they’re off. Musk hopes that by launching many of this craft, we can jump-start a Martian colony and have a million people on the planet in just 50 years.This whole plan relies on countless things going really, REALLY well. But Musk is unfazed. As these rockets have to launch, land, refuel, and take off again, the paper suggests that SpaceX will be able to land the booster essentially directly back onto the launch pad so that it could be ready to go again in hours.That, Musk hopes will be enough to get each of the massive ITS crafts crewed and ready to go — these ships will remain in orbit, getting ready before launching when Earth and Mars positioned well in their orbits. Once the ITS delivers its payload, workers will refine Martial soil into fuel to send the ship back to Earth so it can repeat the process. This is the key. The Achilles’ heel of spaceflight is the tremendous cost. Musk’s push for reusability, though, save tens of millions or more on launch costs now. At this scale, the benefits become truly staggering. These missions, if successful, could end up running hundreds of billions less than they otherwise would.When Musk first discussed the plan it seemed like the stuff of dreams. His company had had a launch pad failure — one that crews are still repairing — just weeks before. Since then, though, the company has definitely been spooling up for something big. Elon Musk’s Cheeky ‘Nuke Mars!’ Post Is Taking Over TwitterSpaceX’s Starhopper Is Ready for Its Biggest Hop Test Stay on target For starters, Musk has clearly been prototyping key parts for his mega-rockets. A massive fuel tank was pressure tested not long ago. That’s not much, but these things take years, and Musk says the system won’t be ready for at least another decade.Even so, SpaceX has hundreds of job opening right now — and almost all of them are geared for Martian projects. Let’s not forget that the Falcon Heavy launch is just around the corner, either. What’s more, the company’s demonstrated its ability to investigate failures and address them quickly. SpaceX has since resumed its launch schedule and has been pressing to make up for lost time. That demonstrates a capacity for recognizing and quickly remedying engineer problems — a level of adaptability that’s vital for a project so large. Obviously, it’d be better if the rockets didn’t explode at all, but if it’s going to happen, you might as well learn something from it, right?Oh god… I sound like Musk now. I think I’ve been listening to his speeches a bit too much. *Ahem*Anyway. With due respect, even with the company’s ability to iterate quickly, it’s tough to imagine thousands of launches carrying up to a million people total going totally perfectly without a single lost ship. Even if this mission works, and Musk’s team can really make a city on Mars happen — we’re probably going to have casualties. And they’re going to be sooner rather than later. If this happens, we may be looking a very nuanced era of space travel. We’ve lost people, of course, never dozens or even hundreds at once. For all the hope and wonder space flight can bring, the future of our journey to the stars will be a long and complicated one.Apollo 1 was the first major disaster of the US space program. Three astronauts died in an accident on the ground — before the craft could even launch. NASA honored the lives loves with the posthumous mission motto: Ad Astra Per Aspera.“A rough road leads to the stars.”The road ahead is likely rough indeed, but someone’s gotta be the plucky go-getters in the future, and it might as well be us. Itur ad astra.“To the stars we go.”Let us know how we’re doing
As summer slowly begins to fade into fall and then later winter, it can affect some people differently. Some succumb to terrible depression as the seasons change, some become anxious about school, work, and other difficulties of everyday life. Some are just unhappy and anxious in general, which is completely normal. With proper treatment and support, these feelings can be overcome, and it does get better, but unfortunately, some individuals end up taking their own lives because they don’t feel strong enough to cope anymore. Youth suicide, tragically, has been on the rise in Japan, which is an even sadder prospect.That’s why one zoo in Tokyo is working to make anyone who feels upset or depressed or anxious or anyone who feels like they can’t escape the situation they’re in now that the zoo can be their sanctuary. The zoo sent out a special treat that you can see below on August 30, no doubt addressing the rise of youth suicide in the country:学校に行きたくないと思い悩んでいるみなさんへアメリカバクは敵から逃げる時は、一目散に水の中へ飛び込みます逃げる時に誰かの許可はいりません。脇目も振らず逃げて下さいもし逃げ場所がなければ、動物園にいらっしゃい。人間社会なんぞに縛られないたくさんの生物があなたを待っていますから pic.twitter.com/fWYygNKydJ— 上野動物園［公式］ (@UenoZooGardens) August 30, 2017Translated by RocketNews4, the tweet reads:“To everyone who’s feeling distressed about going back to school,When running away from predators, the American tapir dives straight into the water.You don’t need anyone’ permission to run away. Please, when you need to run, run.If you have nowhere to run to, please come to the zoo. There are many animals, who aren’t bound by the unhappy aspects of human society, waiting for you.”The zoo is meant to be a safe place and a reflective area where you can go and see the animals and perhaps feel encouraged and supported by all the animals there. It’s tough to read these kind words and not feel a little moved by the entire sentiment, or the comments shared by some that the zoo can not only be a peaceful place, but somewhere anyone can go to seek respite from a frustrating and sometimes scary world.If you’re experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide, it is our suggestion that you please seek help. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s always support to be found out there, even if you’re far away from the Ueno Zoo.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target How AMC’s ‘The Terror’ Uses American History to Delive…33 Killed in Suspected Arson Attack on Kyoto Animation Studio in Japan
Stay on target After Madame L’Angelle nearly choked the life out of Jesse for trying to escape last week, he spends this whole episode under her thumb. Fortunately, Preacher knew that wouldn’t be much fun to watch for a whole hour. Instead, we got an episode mainly focused on Tulip. It’s about time we saw her in action this season. From season one, Tulip always had the best action scenes. With her forced out of action at the end of last season though, it’s been too long since we’ve seen her fight. This episode starts fixing that.This episode really feels like it’s here to get the entire season on track. As a TV show, Preacher has never been as fast and wild as the comics, but it at least usually had a little more momentum than this season started with. A lot of that’s because Season Two left it in an odd place. Jesse had a small victory over The Grail, sure, but Tulip was dead and Cassidy hated Jesse. It’s a decent cliffhanger, but not the most fun dynamic to start a season. It’s hard to bring us violent hijinks when two of the heroes can barely stand to look at each other. It did promise us Angelville, but in its first two episodes, the season couldn’t make Jesse’s birthplace feel dangerous. That certainly changed last night too.Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) and God (Mark Harelik) Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC/Sony Pictures TelevisionRight away, the episode knows that Tulip is the character we really want to follow. We’ve watched slow recovery and build-up for two weeks now, and we’re finally getting what we came for. Tulip speeds to The Grail office in New Orleans. You get the feeling everyone involved in this show couldn’t wait to get her back on her own two feet. This really was Tulip’s comeback episode after having spent too long out of action. We get a fun scene of her storming the place, casually beating up the guy sweeping the floors (hey, mistakes were made), and finding the place empty. Having failed God’s command to “get those sonsabitches,” she drives back to Angelville disappointed… until she meets God Himself (still in dog fetish gear) on the way in. And strangely, he looks exactly like the actor who played him back in Season One.Of course, he’s a huge condescending ass about everything. He dismisses everything Tulip points out as “by design,” even her failure to take out The Grail. Basically, He’s just here to send a message to Tulip and Jesse: Back off, everything’s going according to plan. He talks about a test He’s planning for humanity. That could be foreshadowing a larger story coming, but he could just be trying to stop Jesse from pursuing him. Jesse may not have Genesis anymore, but he’s already come too close to getting it back. Either way, Tulip isn’t happy about it. She starts trying to fight back, but He knocks her back to her car with a lightning blast. Yes, I guess this really is God after all.Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC/Sony Pictures TelevisionLater, in bed with Jesse, she tells him everything, including how she’s determined to kick his ass. The brief image of her kicking God in the balls might be my favorite moment of the episode. Hey, this is the show that gave Jesus an explicit, extended sex scene, and made His descendant an inbred moron. Did you really think they were going to treat God with respect? Though I do love the fact that when Jesse figured out the man in the gimp suit really was God, he thought it was a test. Now, that really doesn’t seem like the case. Now that we’ve seen him on his motorcycle with a biker chick, God really does appear to be going through something of a mid-eternity crisis. It’s more likely that, rather than testing Jesse, he really was in New Orleans for a little backdoor play.Tulip’s adventure continues while Jesse is out with Jody recruiting glue addicts to be Madame L’Angelle’s customers. For the most part, Jesse’s scenes this episode doesn’t lead to much beyond a few good glue huffing jokes. Because those are always good for a laugh. Tulip, meanwhile, sneaks around a bit and finds a huge drawer full of bloody cloths. She also finally gets some answers from T.C. by, um, agreeing to look at his dingle. It turns out those blood cloths are the contracts Madame L’Angelle uses to enforce debts. They have power over the person who’s blood is spilled on them. That explains why Jesse started choking when Madame L’Angelle started twisting his last week. And to really drive the point home, we see what happened when a husband tried to buy his wife’s blood compact back. As he tore it apart, her body tore in half. It’s gruesome, but it gets the point across.Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) and God (Mark Harelik) Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC/Sony Pictures TelevisionT.C. gets deadly serious when Tulip starts asking about the compacts. He knows exactly what she’s trying to do. Fortunately for Tulip, he’s not that smart. She offers to touch his dingle, and squeezes the hell out of it to get answers. We see it too. Because apparently, you can show a penis on basic cable TV at 10 p.m. …As long as it doesn’t look anything like a penis. In the brief glimpse of it we do get, it has all these weird growths branching off the tip and sides. It looks like a fleshy dead tree. You know, I’ve been wondering where the gross-out was this season. Whether it remains a quick shock or if we ever find out why his dingle is shaped like that… well, we’ll just have to wait and see. Still, that’s an image that’ll linger for a while.While Tulip’s story drove home exactly what Jesse got himself into by coming here, and why he’s so desperate for the rest of them to leave, Cassidy’s story really lets us know how much danger they’re all in. After Cassidy took a bullet in the last episode, Jody and T.C. are helping to patch him up. They’re also getting suspicious about how fast Cassidy’s healing. Jesse tries to throw them off the scent by taking away his blood packs and reopening his wound. What’s promising about his story is there’s a hint that their relationship will improve. It’s still in the toilet now. Cassidy still loves Tulip and suspects Jesse of trying to keep them apart. But Jesse, for the first time, tells Cassidy that he’s his best friend. Cassidy still hates Jesse, but it’s clear how much that touches him. Then, at the end of the episode, though Cassidy may not appreciate it just yet, Jesse saves Cassidy’s life.Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) and T.C. (Colin Cunningham) Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC/Sony Pictures TelevisionSee, we find out the reason Jesse was so desperate to get Cassidy to leave. As Cassidy puts together from a picture by the stairs, this family kills vampires. They hang them by a tree and wait for the sun to come up. As soon as we learn this, Angelville becomes 100 percent scarier. Every scene involving Cassidy has an air of tension and dread hanging over it. We’re just waiting for him to be found out. And he soon is. Thirsty for blood, he resorts to draining a chicken outside the house. T.C. sees the whole thing. They bring Jesse out as they tie Cassidy to the tree, and Jesse swears he didn’t know Cass was a vampire. But still, he finds a way to save his friend’s life. Even if he does have to make it much worse for now. After an earlier scene where Jesse’s clearly freaked out by the prospect of The Tombs reopening, we learn what they are. In Madame L’Angelle’s basement, where the soulless are kept, Jesse (in a tophat that readers of the comics will surely recognize) hosts a fighting arena. To live, Cassidy has to fight the pedophile teacher from last week’s episode.Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Jody (Jeremy Childs) and T.C. (Colin Cunningham) Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC/Sony Pictures TelevisionAngelville is certainly a scarier place thanks to last night’s Preacher. Now that the show has firmly established this season’s setting, I’m excited to see where it takes things. That conversation between Jesse and Cassidy is a promising that they’ll eventually be a team again. Even if it’s going to take a while after Jesse makes him fight soulless zombies. I’m even more excited about Tulip, though. She’s all the way back now, and I can’t wait to see the creative ways she’ll kick ass this season. Especially now that she’s been captured by Madame L’Angelle’s competition, Madame Boyd. I just wish we didn’t have to wait until next week to find out what her deal is.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. 11 Forgotten Vertigo Comics That Would Make Awesome TV ShowsThe Greatest Romances in Comic Book History
With the PS4 confirmed for release this year, the PS3 is on its way out, but Sony isn’t letting it bow out without one final retail push. As well as some potentially great game releases happening later this year (The Last of Us, Gran Turismo 6), Sony is launching a new console bundle this week.It is called the PS3 Legacy bundle and will cost $299. The last bundle at that price point included a 500GB PS3, Assassin’s Creed III, and 30 days of PlayStation Plus membership. The Legacy bundle goes one better and adds a second free game. As well as a 500GB PS3 and 30 days of PS Plus, Sony has included Gran Turismo 5 XL and inFamous 2.How much value that offers depends on your gaming tastes. Both included titles are quite cheap to purchase separately already, but you can’t complain at them being free. One thing that would make me think twice about purchasing at the moment, though, is the potential for a further hardware price drop closer to the launch of the PS4.It seems unlikely Sony would keep the PS3 at $300 when the new console launches. If Sony repeats what it has done with previous generations of its hardware, the PS3 will be aimed at younger gamers and those new to gaming who can’t afford or don’t want to pay the premium for a PS4.With that in mind, it may be worth waiting a few months, or even until the launch of the PS4 is over to consider a new PS3 purchase. And with no backwards compatibility on offer with the new console, a cheap new PS3 to keep playing your library of games on for years to come might not be a bad idea.
Top Movies and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019’The Flash’ Season 5 Finale Recap: 2 Big Bads and 1 Pre-Crisis The family drama in this season of The Flash has been especially strong, and we get plenty more if it this week. With Grace Gibbons, the girl Team Flash thinks is the daughter of Cicada, identified, Barry Allen goes straight to the hospital looking for info on her father. He doesn’t count on the fact that Grace’s doctor is helping Cicada stay hidden and hunt down metahumans. She sends Barry away, telling him Grace’s parents are both dead. That turns out to be a good thing, because Barry would have gotten a face full of Cicada blade if he walked into the hospital room. Turns out the doctor wasn’t lying, though. In a brief flashback, we see pre-Cicada learning that his sister and brother-in-law were killed when Thinker’s satellites fell. Grace is his niece.Thinking he’s hit a dead end, Barry and Iris start preparing for their first Thanksgiving at their apartment. Joe and Cecile are spending it with her family, which is this week’s reason for Jesse L. Martin’s absence. (I hope the dude’s OK. He’s one of my favorite actors on this show.) Yes, this is a Thanksgiving episode, which would have made much more sense last week, but TV schedules are weird, especially during election years. Oh well. The scenes focusing on family have been the surprising high points of the season, and this episode allows for plenty more. Particularly between Nora and Iris, who are still bonding after Nora realized how cool her mother is.Jessica Parker Kennedy as XS and Grant Gustin as The Flash (Photo Credit: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW)That reconciliation isn’t entirely stable yet, though. This whole season has seen Nora worshiping her father as a hero. Imagining how exciting it must have been to see him save the city. Iris has to be the one to point out that it’s not exactly cool when you’re living through it. It’s terrifying. What really drives the point home is when a mysterious, localized storm turns up out of nowhere. In trying to ward off the storm Barry collides with a lightning bolt and dies. Nora has to be the one to revive him. She’s clearly traumatized, and blames her mother for making the call that got Barry (temporarily) killed.Given that this was a weather-based attack, the obvious culprit is Weather Wizard. Barry, Nora and Iris visit Iron Heights to make sure he’s still locked up and, oddly enough, he is. There’s no way he could have carried out the attack. The mystery is quickly solved when his another weather-controlling meta shows up. Weather Wizard’s daughter, Jocelyn. She appears to me more powerful than her father, too. Though Barry and Nora immediately race Weather Wizard back to S.T.A.R. Labs and run back, she demands they return him to her. She puts a point on her demand by blasting a hole in Iron Heights’ roof and teleporting out via lightning bolt.Reina Hardesty as Joss/Weather Witch (Photo Credit: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW)Cisco and Caitlin do a little bit of research on Joss, and find out that she’s not a metahuman herself. She’s a storm chaser and self-taught meteorologist. She controls the weather with a weather vane embedded with a piece of Thinker’s dark matter satellite. Meta Tech is back. Caitlin even gets to name the villain this time: Weather Witch. Don’t listen to Cisco’s resigned “I’ll allow it,” you know he likes it. Team Flash even comes up with a decent plan to capture her. At first it seems like another idiotic Barry Allen special: Give her exactly what she wants. Barry appears to show up, as agreed, with Weather Wizard. The genius of the plan doesn’t become clear until after it fails, though. After blasting both Flash And XS with lightning, she drops a truck on her dad’s head. That’s when it’s revealed to be a hologram, controlled by Iris. It’s a fun reveal, even if it doesn’t work out. Weather Witch, angry at being tricked, vows to destroy the city, and escapes before Flash and XS can do anything.Before the episode’s big fight can happen, we get a real emotional scene from Nora. We finally get to the core of what she’s been so angry about, be it with Iris or just the way Team Flash does things. Looking up to her dad as a hero all her life, she blamed his absence on criminals. Now that she’s met him, and saw him temporarily die in front of her, her true feelings come to the surface. More than anyone else, she’s angry at Barry. His insistence on being The Flash is what causes his disappearance. It’s what forces her to grow up without a dad. She asks Barry to stop being The Flash, and he replies people need him. That’s not the answer she was looking for. Jessica Parker Kennedy plays this scene so well. With her performance, you really feel XS’ pain here.Jessica Parker Kennedy as Nora West – Allen and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen (Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW)Barry can’t reconcile right away though. Weather Witch soon attacks the city, and conditions are only getting more dangerous. He gets everyone as close to safety as they can, and Nora shows up with Weather Wizard’s wand so Barry can counteract the weather. There’s still one problem: Weather Witch makes a tornado out of lightning. It looks cool as hell, but it’s also dangerous. The only way Barry can stop it is to use the wand to attract the tornado’s lightning. It has a very real chance of killing him. Just before he does, Nora reconciles with her father, telling him she knows it’s what he has to do. It doesn’t work. I get that seeing a villain directly threaten the lives of innocent people makes her realize why her dad needs to be a hero. It still happens too easy. Like a switch got flipped in her head. It’s too sudden, and has none of the emotion we saw from her just one scene ago. At least it leads to a cool battle. The Flash firing all the built-up lightning at Weather Witch, while she sends her own blast at him is such a badass image. And even though we know Barry’s gonna survive (which he does), it still pulls off the tension and uncertainty of not knowing who’s going to walk out of the fog. That works, even if Nora’s epiphany doesn’t.Chris Klein as Orlin Dwyer and Islie Hirvonen as Grace Gibbons (Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW)Nora’s not the only one struggling with family this episode, though. We get an extended series of flashbacks leading up to Orlin’s transformation into Cicada. After taking his niece in, he struggles with being a parent. He feeds her Chinese takeout that’s been sitting on his counter a few days. He ignores her and watches TV. She finally calls him out on it when she gets in trouble at school, telling him she hates him and he hates himself. Realizing she has a point, he makes an effort to be better. He finds a house for them he can fix up, along with a doll house for her. The two work together on making both feel like home, and soon they’re just like father and daughter. That’s when The Thinker launches his attack. These flashbacks tell an effective story. This is the most I’ve ever felt for a Flash big bad.The C-story is fun too, even if it’s given less time than normal. That’s for the best. It’s not substantial enough to merit more than the handful of scenes it’s given. Basically, Caitlin and Cisco try to explain Thanksgiving to Sherloque, who immediately deduces the depressing history behind the holiday. Disillusioned with the whole weekend, the three become pouty sad sacks who refuse to attend Barry and Iris’ Thanksgiving dinner. The joke remains funny by never outstaying its welcome when it’s brought up. Plus, it gets us a truly great appearance from Killer Frost. She’s so frustrated by the situation, she comes out of Caitlin to scold them all for being so lame. The holiday may have crappy origins, but good food and drinking with friends outweighs bad food and drinking alone any day.Tom Cavanagh as Sherloque Wells (Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW)It may be close to a week late for the holiday it’s about, but The Flash gave us another solid episode this week. It was sweet, funny and the family drama continues to be among the strongest of the series. Nora’s anger feels real and justified, which makes for good TV even if the resolution happens too easily. We see where both she and her dad are coming from, and there wasn’t even a need for the can-I-talk-to-you hallway. It even gave the show some momentum going into next week. Cisco, Caitlin and Sherloque’s detective work finally pays off. They figure out the exact identity of Cicada. Now we just have to wait and see what the show does with that reveal.The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.Previously on The Flash:The Flash Season 5, Episode 6 recapThe Flash Season 5, Episode 5 recapThe Flash Season 5, Episode 4 recap Stay on target
Vintage Shelf: Spike Lee Brings the Heat in ‘Do The Right Thing…Top Movie and TV Trailers You Might Have Missed This Week Stay on target Toy Story 4’s cast just finished their final recording session and it was a very emotional moment for all involved.On Wednesday, Toy Story 4 actors, including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Tony Hale, posted bittersweet statements on Twitter about their last day, and how thankful they were to have been part of the animated story, which hits theaters on June 21, 2019.Final line, final session as Woody of Toy Story 4. We rode like the wind, to infinity and beyond. Hanx pic.twitter.com/v87ZYNyzx8— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) January 30, 2019“Final line, final session as Woody of Toy Story 4,” Hanks wrote on Twitter. “We rode like the wind, to infinity and beyond. Hanx” Hanks has played the vintage cowboy doll for more than 20 years.Finished my Buzz for Toy Story 4 today and it got emotional. Wonderful full body story. You are all going to love the work this incredible team at Pixar created. We are all going to love this story….man its got everything.— Tim Allen (@ofctimallen) January 31, 2019Allen, who voiced Buzz Lightyear in the film, said his final recording for the character was “emotional, ” and that he’s excited for fans to see the storyline Pixar created for all the toys.Final day recording Toy Story 4 with these wonderful people. Can’t wait for everyone to see it! #forkylives pic.twitter.com/P4FhD95VY8— Tony Hale (@MrTonyHale) January 31, 2019Tony Hale, who plays Forky, a new arts and crafts project that becomes friends with the Toy Story gang, also wrote a cute statement on the movie’s final recording day, and added the hashtag #forkylives. (Spoiler plot there?)The waterworks might start right now, but we’ll hang tight for the song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”More on Geek.com:‘Toy Story 4’ Teaser Trailer Debuts Cute Forky Character‘The Batman’ Will Hit the Big Screen in 2021 Without Ben AffleckZack Snyder Is Directing Netflix’s ‘Army of the Dead’ Zombie Thriller
Think that the two-inch touchscreen on a smartwatch is a bit too cramped to allow for good interaction? Just bolt on an interactive surface that covers your entire arm. Problem solved!A team from Carnegie Mellon University’s Future Interfaces Group has developed a system called SkinTrack. It works by tracking skin-to-skin signals using a two-piece setup. There’s a band with integrated electrodes that goes on your watch-wearing wrist and a special ring for your other hand that emits the signal those electrodes track.Just like the glove-friendly touchscreens some smartphones pack, SkinTrack will work even when there’s a little fabric separating your finger from your forearm. A sport coat might get in the way, but something like a dress shirt won’t interfere with its tracking abilities.The SkinTrack hardware is a little rough-looking right now, but good looks aren’t a major concern. The CMU team is focused on proving that their system really does work — and could improve the smartwatch user experience. Their video demo is impressive enough — even the MSPaint-ish smiley face at around the 40 second mark, because, hey, it’s being drawn on the back of a hand.Flicking through apps, scrolling through a music library, and banging away on a virtual numeric keypad all look just as easy with SkinTrack as they do on a touchscreen.They do that with a surprising level of accuracy, too. According to their blog post, the 7.6mm margin of error puts SkinTrack right in line with other on-skin systems and is within striking distance of the touchscreens that it’s meant to complement.
Last weekend Germany’s power grid was swimming in renewable energy, so much so that power prices went negative. The country was generating so much renewable energy on Sunday that, for a few hours, residents actually earned money from using electricity.The weather was the cause of this monumental occasion—it was a particularly sunny and windy day—which allowed the country’s wind, solar, hydro, and biomass power plants to supply the country with 87 percent of its energy.Gas plants actually shutdown because of the momentary surge, but nuclear and coal plants were unable to wind-down fast enough, causing a surplus. This extra power on this grid meant for a limited time, some consumers were earning money keeping the lights on.The news brings hope that the promises made at the 2015 Paris Climate Summit will be kept. Germany has made a pledge to have its country’s electricity supply come from 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and emissions 40 percent below what they were in 1990 by 2020.Renewable energy adoption has grown significantly in the United States, thanks to the lowering of costs to install solar panels combined with government incentives. The city of San Francisco recently passed an ordinance requiring all new buildings to have solar panels. It makes a world run wholly on renewable energy seem within sight.Germany’s weekend renewable energy surge is great news as the world continues to move toward a zero-emission economy. But when news of these occurrences becomes so commonplace it no longer makes headlines, that will be a truly momentous occasion.Image Credit: Jeroen Komen/ Flickr
You’ve heard of bitcoin. You probably aren’t exactly sure what it is, but you’ve likely heard of it while browsing around online. But there’s something new that could be on the horizon. It’s the J Coin, a special kind of currency Japan’s banks are planning to launch in a bid to help citizens stop using so much cash. It’s all in response to China’s Alibaba, who launched a special mobile phone payment system, just in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.A group of banks headed by Mizuho Financial Group and Japan Post Bank is looking to bring the J Coin into reality, a digital currency that can be used to pay for things and to transfer money to others with the press of a button via smartphone. The J Coin would be used via smartphone app and QR codes in stores, convertible into yen. It would be free to consumers, but users would be giving more information to the banks on what kind of money they spend on various items.There’s heavy concern from Japanese banks about how Alibaba’s Alipay could be sending information on Japanese consumers to China, as well as the country’s dependency on cash. As it turns out, Japan relies on cash more than any other country at 70% usage. Using this service could help bolster the Japanese economy by a billion yen by reducing settlement fees and cash-handling costs. Thus, the J Coin is planned to be announced in the coming days.If this is something Japan does plan on introducing in its country to help resolve its revenue woes, it wouldn’t be surprising to see something like this occur in other countries as popularity and ease of use grows. Of course, it would be a challenge for those who still refuse to switch to their smartphone as their primary payment method. Time will tell if this is a good move for the country.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target How AMC’s ‘The Terror’ Uses American History to Delive…33 Killed in Suspected Arson Attack on Kyoto Animation Studio in Japan
Stay on target Get Used to ‘Fortnite’s’ Powerful Mech SuitsSwatting Attack Targets Fortnite World Champion Earlier this week, it was reported that the Android edition of Fortnite would not be available through the Google Play Store. This was discovered inside of the source of the Fortnite mobile page on Epic Games’ website. Within the code are instructions on how to download the game from Epic’s site to one’s Android smartphone. Today, Epic has officially announced that Fortnite for Android will indeed not be available through the Google Play store.According to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney (as reported by The Verge), there are two main reasons why the company decided to not distribute Fortnite through Google’s store. The first reason is that the company wants to maintain a direct connection with its consumers. This part isn’t all that surprising given how Epic distributes the PC version of Fortnite on its Epic Games Launcher and not on Steam.“Epic wants to have a direct relationship with our customers on all platforms where that’s possible,” said Tim Sweeney to The Verge over email. “The great thing about the Internet and the digital revolution is that this is possible, now that physical storefronts and middlemen distributors are no longer required.”The second reason why folks can only get Fortnite from Epic Games is financial. For those who don’t know, Google takes a 30 percent cut from anything sold on its store. “The 30 percent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 percent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games,” said Sweeney. “There’s a rationale for this on console where there’s enormous investment in hardware, often sold below cost, and marketing campaigns in broad partnership with publishers. 30 percent is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service.” Sweeney went on to say that Epic is “intimately familiar with these costs” from offering Fortnite directly on Mac and PC.It is unclear how all of this will pan out. Android users have to take the extra step of going through Epic to get Fortnite instead of just downloading it right on their phone through Google Play. Even iPhone users do not have to go through this. As stated by The Verge, Apple doesn’t allow its users to download applications which aren’t first approved by its internal review processes and are distributed through its own marketplaces. Fortnite is still a hot commodity, so it’s possible Android users will deal with the added step of going through Epic Games’ site to get it. Epic doesn’t think this will impact the game, but it’s hard to tell at this time.There is no definitive release date for the Android version of Fortnite. If rumors are true, it’s possible it’ll launch around the time the Galaxy Note 9 is released.Keep up to date with everything Fortnite here.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.