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Original author: 
Sean Gallagher


A frame of Timelapse's view of the growth of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Google, USGS

This story has been updated with additional information and corrections provided by Google after the interview.

In May, Google unveiled Earth Engine, a set of technologies and services that combine Google's existing global mapping capabilities with decades of historical satellite data from both NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS). One of the first products emerging from Earth Engine is Timelapse—a Web-based view of changes on the Earth's surface over the past three decades, published in collaboration with Time magazine.

The "Global Timelapse" images are also viewable through the Earth Engine site, which allows you to pan and zoom to any location on the planet and watch 30 years of change, thanks to 66 million streaming video tiles. The result is "an incontrovertible description of what's happened on our planet due to urban growth, climate change, et cetera," said Google Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives Alfred Spector.

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Enlarge / Scanning electron micrograph of graphene, showing the hexagonal structure of the single layer of carbon atoms.

Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory

Graphene—a two-dimensional sheet of carbon one atom thick—is exciting stuff. Combining good electrical properties, flexibility, mechanical strength, and other advantages, graphene can seem like a miracle material, especially when potential applications are listed. Talk of graphene-based protective coatings, flexible transparent electronics, super powerful capacitors, and so forth may seem like something from a Neal Stephenson science fiction novel, but they've all been seriously considered.

The material's potential is so high that its discovery merited the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics, awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. Certainly my fellow Ars Technica writers and I have spilled a lot of digital ink on the subject.

However, with so much excitement, you would be forgiven for wondering if at least some of it is hype. (After all, graphene has been around for a number of years, but we don't have our transparent computers yet.) For this reason, Nobel Laureate Konstantin Novoselov and colleagues have written a critical, yet optimistic, assessment of the state of graphene research and production.

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Responsible responsive design demands responsive images—images whose dimensions and file size suit the viewport and bandwidth of the receiving device. As HTML provides no standard element to achieve this purpose, serving responsive images has meant using JavaScript trickery, and accepting that your solution will fail for some users.

Then a few months ago, in response to an article here, a W3C Responsive Images Community Group formed—and proposed a simple-to-understand HTML picture element capable of serving responsive images. The group even delivered picture functionality to older browsers via two polyfills: namely, Scott Jehl’s Picturefill and Abban Dunne’s jQuery Picture. The WHATWG has responded by ignoring the community’s work on the picture element, and proposing a more complicated img set element.

Which proposed standard is better, and for whom? Which will win? And what can you do to help avert an “us versus them” crisis that could hurt end-users and turn developers off to the standards process? ALA’s own Mat Marquis explains the ins and outs of responsive images and web standards at the turning point.

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Located on a rather nondescript industrial estate in a suburb of Leicester you'll find an equally nondescript warehouse unit. Nestled amongst the usual glut of logistics companies and scrap metal merchants, the building in question once housed a firm that was poised to dramatically alter the world of interactive entertainment as we know it, and worked with such illustrious partners as Sega, Atari, Ford and IBM.

That company was Virtuality. Founded by a dashing and charismatic Phd graduate by the name of Jonathan D. Waldern, it placed the UK at the vanguard of a Virtual Reality revolution that captured the imagination of millions before collapsing spectacularly amid unfulfilled promises and public apathy.

The genesis of VR begins a few years prior to Virtuality's birth in its grey and uninspiring industrial surroundings. The technology was born outside of the entertainment industry, with NASA and the US Air Force cooking up what would prove to be the first VR systems, intended primarily for training and research. The late '80s and very early '90s saw much academic interest in the potential of VR, but typically, it took a slice of Hollywood hokum to really jettison the concept into the global consciousness and create a new buzzword for the masses.

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Long Beach, California—Vijay Kumar's videos have already been a hit on YouTube, as people have been fascinated to watch swarms of robotic quadrotors perform various feats, like flying through narrow windows and coasting across a room in formation. But Kumar still had a few tricks up his sleeve when he took the stage at TED, and he seized the opportunity to show some serious ways in which aerial robots will change our world. 

Some could say that aerial robots are already making a huge impact, primarily in military applications where (very) remote humans often pilot drones in hostile territories. 

Kumar, however, envisions aerial robots that can fly themselves and carry out their tasks, on their own, or with minimal human input beyond initial design and programming. His drones offload even more of the job of stabilizing their flight to computers that aren't even on-board the copter (a weight and complexity advantage). Once airborne, the entire flight is computer-controlled.

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In this in-depth analysis, I offer my perspective on the subtle player direction tricks that makes Super Metroid a tight and focused experience, while never quite letting the player out of the illusion that they are exploring Zebes on their own.

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Computer scientists in the field of artificial intelligence have made an important advance that blends computer vision, machine learning and automated planning, and created a new system that may improve everything from factory efficiency to airport operation or nursing care. And it's based on watching the Oregon State University Beavers play football.

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From the MAKE Flickr photo pool

Andrew from Boulder, CO created an orientation aware USB camera and imaging software to go with it - First I built a circuit to make it so I could read a 3-axis magnetometer and a 3-axis accelerometer over USB, just for the heck of it. Then later, while trying to come up with something interesting to do with such a device, I decided it could be neat to throw a webcam in the mix.
After I got everything to work, and after a while of playing around with different ideas for software to make use of all that data, I came up with the app in the video.Excellent! The potential applications run deep with this one. Hope he plans to share more on the design and software. - Orientation aware camera demo

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