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Doomscrolling is slowly eroding your mental health

Doomscrolling is slowly eroding your mental health

It's 11:37pm and the pattern shows no signs of shifting. At 1:12am, it’s more of the same. Thumb down, thumb up. , , and—if you’re feeling particularly wrought/masochistic—. Ever since the left a great many people locked down in their homes in early March, the evening ritual has been codifying: Each night ends the way the day began, with an endless scroll through social media in a desperate search for clarity.To those who have become purveyors of the perverse exercise, like , this habit has become known as doomsurfing, or “falling into deep, morbid rabbit holes filled with coronavirus...

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Jun 27
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Plastic rain is the new acid rain

Plastic rain is the new acid rain

Hoof it through the national parks of the western United States—Joshua Tree, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon—and breathe deep the pristine air. These are unspoiled lands, collectively a great American conservation story. Yet an invisible menace is actually blowing through the air and falling via raindrops: Microplastic particles, tiny chunks (by , less than 5 millimeters long) of fragmented plastic bottles and microfibers that fray from clothes, all pollutants that get caught up in Earth’s atmospheric systems and deposited in the wilderness.in the journal Science, researchers report a...

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Jun 12
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The rocket motor of the future “breathes” air like a jet engine

The rocket motor of the future “breathes” air like a jet engine

There's a small airfield about a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles that sits on the edge of a vast expanse of desert and attracts aerospace mavericks like moths to a flame. The Mojave Air & Space Port is home to companies like Scaled Composites, the first to send a private astronaut to space, and Masten Space Systems, which is in the business of building lunar landers. It’s the proving ground for America’s most audacious space projects, and when Aaron Davis and Scott Stegman arrived at the hallowed tarmac last July, they knew they were in the right place.The two men arrived at the...

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Jun 27
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Deepfakes aren’t very good—nor are the tools to detect them

Deepfakes aren’t very good—nor are the tools to detect them

We're lucky that aren’t a big problem yet. The best deepfake detector to emerge from a major Facebook-led effort to combat the altered videos would only catch about two-thirds of them.In September, as speculation about the danger of deepfakes grew, challenged wizards to develop techniques for detecting deepfake videos. In January, the company also used to spread misinformation.Facebook’s , in collaboration with Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and the , was , a platform for coding contests that is owned by Google. It provided a vast collection of face-swap videos: 100,000 deepfake clips,...

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Jun 14
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Spies can eavesdrop by watching a light bulb’s variations

Spies can eavesdrop by watching a light bulb’s variations

The list of sophisticated eavesdropping techniques has grown steadily over years: wiretaps, hacked phones, bugs in the wall—even . Now add another tool for audio spies: Any light bulb in a room that might be visible from a window.Researchers from Israeli's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Weizmann Institute of Science today revealed a new technique for long-distance eavesdropping they call "." They say it allows anyone with a laptop and less than a thousand dollars of equipment—just a telescope and a $400 electro-optical sensor—to listen in on any sounds in a room that's hundreds...

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Jun 13
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Walmart employees are out to show its anti-shoplifting AI doesn’t work

Walmart employees are out to show its anti-shoplifting AI doesn’t work

In January, my coworker received a peculiar email. The message, which she forwarded to me, was from a handful of corporate Walmart employees calling themselves the “Concerned Home Office Associates.” (Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, is often referred to as the Home Office.) While it’s not unusual for journalists to receive anonymous tips, they don’t usually come with their own slickly produced videos.The employees said they were “past their breaking point” with Everseen, a small artificial intelligence firm based in Cork, Ireland, whose technology Walmart began using in...

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May 31
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Nine Amazon workers describe the daily risks they face in the pandemic

Nine Amazon workers describe the daily risks they face in the pandemic

As the novel coronavirus sweeps the globe, an otherwise marginalized class of workers is suddenly in the spotlight. Often undervalued and poorly paid, they are grocery store clerks, sanitation workers, medical professionals, and other employees who can’t stay home—even when the nation is on lockdown. In the United States, of these so-called essential workers are employed by or contract for Amazon, whose delivery network has emerged as a for millions of Americans their homes.Wired spoke with nine people working for Amazon during the Covid-19 crisis over the past two weeks and is publishing...

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Apr 12
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When school is online, the digital divide grows greater

When school is online, the digital divide grows greater

Like many students around the world, Nora Medina is adapting to online learning. But Medina, a high school senior in Quincy, Washington, who also takes classes at a local community college, faces an additional challenge: She doesn't have reliable Internet service at home. She lives 7 miles outside of town where she says neither cable nor DSL Internet is available.She can access the Internet on her phone, and her family has a wireless hotspot, but she says the service isn’t up to the task of doing homework online. "It's hit and miss," she says. "Sometimes I can watch a video, but sometimes I...

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Apr 11
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How to refuel a nuclear power plant during a pandemic

How to refuel a nuclear power plant during a pandemic

Each spring, nearly 1,000 highly specialized technicians from around the US descend on the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station near Phoenix, Arizona, to refuel one of the plant’s three . As America’s largest power plant—nuclear or otherwise—Palo Verde provides around-the-clock power to 4 million people in the Southwest. Even under normal circumstances, refueling one of its reactors is a laborious, month-long process. But now that the US is in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the plant operators have had to adapt their refueling plans.Palo Verde is expected to begin refueling one of...

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Apr 5
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High-stakes security setups are making remote work impossible

High-stakes security setups are making remote work impossible

It's a rule of thumb in cybersecurity that the more sensitive your system, the less you want it to touch the internet. But as the US hunkers down to limit the spread of Covid-19, cybersecurity measures present a difficult technical challenge to working remotely for employees at critical infrastructure, intelligence agencies, and anywhere else with high-security networks. In some cases, working from home isn't an option at all.Companies with especially sensitive data or operations often limit remote connections, segment networks to limit a hacker's access if they do get in, and sometimes...

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Mar 15
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Singapore was ready for COVID-19—other countries, take note

Singapore was ready for COVID-19—other countries, take note

This pandemic—the , the virus SARS-CoV-2—is not Singapore’s first epidemiological nightmare. In 2002 and 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the original SARS, tore out of China and through Asia, in Singapore and sparking wholesale revisions to the city-state’s public health system. “They realized they wanted to invest for the future to reduce that economic cost if the same thing were to happen again,” says Martin Hibberd, an infectious disease researcher now at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who worked in Singapore on SARS.So Singapore instituted new travel...

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Mar 13
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How a hacker’s mom broke into prison—and the warden’s computer

How a hacker’s mom broke into prison—and the warden’s computer

John Strand breaks into things for a living. As a penetration tester, he gets hired by organizations to attack their defenses, helping reveal weaknesses before actual bad guys find them. Normally, Strand embarks on these missions himself or deploys one of his experienced colleagues at Black Hills Information Security. But in July 2014, prepping for a pen test of a South Dakota correctional facility, he took a decidedly different tack. He sent his mom.In fairness, it was Rita Strand's idea. Then 58, she had signed on as chief financial officer of Black Hills the previous year after three...

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Mar 2
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Signal is finally bringing its secure messaging to the masses

Signal is finally bringing its secure messaging to the masses

Last month, the cryptographer and coder known as Moxie Marlinspike was getting settled on an airplane when his seatmate, a midwestern-looking man in his 60s, asked for help. He couldn't figure out how to enable airplane mode on his aging Android phone. But when Marlinspike saw the screen, he wondered for a moment if he was being trolled: Among just a handful of apps installed on the phone was Signal.Marlinspike launched Signal, widely considered the world's most secure end-to-end encrypted messaging app, , and today heads the nonprofit Signal Foundation that maintains it. But the man on the...

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Feb 17
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Welcome to the era of supercharged lithium-ion batteries

Welcome to the era of supercharged lithium-ion batteries

Gene Berdichevsky believes in batteries. As employee number seven at Tesla, he helmed the team that designed the lithium-ion battery pack for the company’s , the Roadster, which convinced the world to take electric vehicles seriously. A decade later, against your average gas guzzler, but there’s still a large trade-off between the shelf life of their batteries and the amount of energy packed into them. If we want to totally electrify our roads, Berdichevsky realized, it would require a fundamentally different approach.In 2011, Berdichevsky founded Sila Nanotechnologies to . His secret...

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Feb 11
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