Matthew Sparkes
Matthew Sparkes
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What is the Hertzbleed computer chip hack and should you be worried?

What is the Hertzbleed computer chip hack and should you be worried?

Hertzbleed, a newly identified attack that could be used to grab information from computer chips, has captured the attention of technology security researchers – and technology news websites. Here’s what you need to know about the story. It is a new computer hack that takes advantage of a power-saving feature common to modern computer chips in order to steal sensitive data. It has been demonstrated in the lab and could be used by hackers in the wild.AdvertisementMost chips use a technique called dynamic frequency scaling, or CPU throttling, to increase or reduce the speed with which...

Jun 16
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Why is the UK warning Facebook not to encrypt its messaging services?

Why is the UK warning Facebook not to encrypt its messaging services?

×ByThe UK home secretary, Priti Patel, has warned Facebook that its plans to introduce end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger and Instagram are “unacceptable”. She claims that the technology will allow child abuse to continue online and .The warning came at an event hosted by UK children’s charity NSPCC to debate the trade-off between safety and privacy. and claimed that end-to-end encryption will increase the risk of abuse and stymie attempts to uncover and prevent it. Here’s what you need to know.AdvertisementWhat is end-to-end encryption?In general, encryption involves...

April 19, 2021
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People are bad at spotting simple solutions to problems

People are bad at spotting simple solutions to problems

×ByLeonardo da Vinci said that a poet recognises perfection when there is nothing left to remove. In other words, less is more. But when solving problems, people tend to think the other way, adding elements rather than removing them.Gabrielle Adams at the University of Virginia and colleagues asked people to complete several tasks where solutions involved either adding or subtracting parts. All of the experiments were designed so that subtraction would be one of the most efficient options.AdvertisementIn one, around 200 people had to alter a Lego building to support a weight in order to...

April 9, 2021
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Robot guide dog could help people who are blind navigate

Robot guide dog could help people who are blind navigate

×ByGuide dogs offer social, physical and mental benefits for some people who are blind, but , so researchers have created a robotic alternative.Zhongyu Li at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues programmed a four-legged, to safely guide people with a lead, even when faced with obstacles and narrow passages.The researchers equipped an existing robot with a laser-ranging system to create an accurate map of its surroundings. They also added a rotating camera that remains pointed at …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid...

April 6, 2021
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Should we all wear sensors to avoid being run over by driverless cars?

Should we all wear sensors to avoid being run over by driverless cars?

Pedestrians should wear radar reflectors to avoid being run over by self-driving cars, says a team of researchers that has created a device to make people more visible to a vehicle’s artificial intelligence. Self-driving cars rely on visual sensors, which can be blocked by fog, rain or snow, or radar sensors, which can struggle to pick out objects if they fail to reflect radio waves back to the car. Some cars also use a combination of both sensors. Zhuqi Li at Princeton University and his colleagues say changing

March 8, 2021
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A submersible soft robot survived the pressure in the Mariana trench

A submersible soft robot survived the pressure in the Mariana trench

×A silicone robot has survived a journey to 10,900 metres below the ocean’s surface in the Mariana trench, where the crushing pressure can implode all but the strongest enclosures. This device could lead to lighter and more nimble submersible designs.A team led by Guorui Li at Zhejiang University in China based the robot’s design on snailfish, which have relatively delicate, soft bodies and are among the deepest-living fish. They have been observed .AdvertisementThe submersible robot looks a bit like a manta ray and is 22 centimetres long and 28 centimetres in wingspan. It is made of...

March 4, 2021
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The Perseverance rover runs on processors used in iMacs in the 1990s

The Perseverance rover runs on processors used in iMacs in the 1990s

×Remember the colourful iMac computers from the late 1990s? The same processor that powered those is being used to run NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover.This processor, which is also being used in the , has just 10.4 million transistors – even affordable smartphones now have more than 1000 times as many. So why is such old technology used in a cutting-edge space exploration mission?It all comes down to radiation. Earth’s atmosphere protects us from most of the harmful , but …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive...

February 28, 2021
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AI smashes video game high scores by remembering its past success

AI smashes video game high scores by remembering its past success

×An artificial intelligence that can remember its previous successes and use them to create new strategies has achieved record high scores on some of the hardestMany AI systems use reinforcement learning, in which an algorithm is given positive or negative feedback on its progress towards a particular goal after each step it takes, encouraging it towards a particular solution. This technique was used by AI firm DeepMind to train AlphaGo, which .AdvertisementAdrien Ecoffet at Uber AI Labs and OpenAI in California and his colleagues hypothesised that such algorithms often stumble upon...

February 28, 2021
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Soft gel could power robot muscles that grow stronger with a workout

Soft gel could power robot muscles that grow stronger with a workout

×Our muscles get stronger when put under stress and now robots could do the same, thanks to a that becomes harder when exposed to vibration.Zhao Wang at the University of Chicago and his colleagues created the gel by embedding zinc oxide nanoparticles into a cellulose mixture. They then vibrated the material using a device designed to test car and aeroplane designs and found that the nanoparticles emitted an electrical charge, creating new links within the gel as the material turned into a polymer.The team found that the strength …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link...

February 26, 2021
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Physicists finally figured out why food sticks to a frying pan

Physicists finally figured out why food sticks to a frying pan

×Why does cooking oil sometimes suddenly retreat from the centre of a pan, leaving dry patches that cause food to stick? Scientists have pinpointed the physics behind this, and their findings could help to refine some industrial processes.Alexander Fedorchenko at the Czech Academy of Sciences and a colleague recorded experiments with an overhead camera focused on a commercial non-stick pan with a coating of oil 1.5 millimetres thick. They discovered that uneven heating caused a process known as thermocapillary convection, which can draw oil towards the edges of a pan.In their tests, the oil...

February 3, 2021
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