Gene-Hacking Mosquitoes to Be Infertile Backfired Spectacularly

When scientists released gene-hacked mosquitoes into the wild population in Jacobino, Brazil, they thought it would quell the bugs. They had no such luck.

Best-Laid Plans

On its surface, the plan was simple: gene-hack mosquitoes so their offspring immediately die, mix them with disease-spreading bugs in the wild, and watch the population drop off. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite pan out.

The genetically-altered mosquitoes did mix with the wild population, and for a brief period the number of mosquitoes in Jacobino, Brazil did plummet, according to research published in Nature Scientific Reports last week. But 18 months later the population bounced right back up, New Atlas reports — and even worse, the new genetic hybrids may be even more resilient to future attempts to quell their numbers.

Desperate Times

Mosquitoes capable of transmitting dangerous diseases like Zika, dengue, and malaria are spreading farther than ever, thanks to global climate change. To combat them, scientists have sometimes tried to alter the bugs’ genetics so that they couldn’t reproduce.

“The claim was that genes from the release strain would not get into the general population because offspring would die,” Yale researcher Jeffrey Powell, one of the researchers behind the new paper, told New Atlas. “That obviously was not what happened.”

Playing God

In Brazil, the wild mosquitoes mated with the gene-hacked population and created a new sort of genetic hybrid that’s more robust than the wild bugs were. While the new variant isn’t inherently dangerous — or at least not additionally so — the scientists behind the project say they don’t fully understand how things will change for future generations.

“It is the unanticipated outcome that is concerning,” Powell told New Atlas.

READ MORE: Failed GM mosquito control experiment may have strengthened wild bugs [New Atlas]

More on mosquitoes: Mosquito “Birth Control” Could Prevent Millions of Deaths

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Gene-Hacking Mosquitoes to Be Infertile Backfired Spectacularly

Watch This Flying Taxi Soar Over a German City

German flying car startup Volocopter just showed off its flying taxi as it was taking flight at Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Museum

Urban Flight

Enough with the renders of futuristic flying taxis — real-life prototypes of flying cars are finally taking to the skies, and we’re here for it.

German flying car startup Volocopter just showed off its air taxi taking flight at Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Museum. Its remotely-operated flight over a football field near the museum was a striking preview of urban consumer flight.

Safe and Quiet

It’s not the very first flight of the aircraft — it’s demonstrated its flying capabilities on a number of occasions so far. But it’s the first time it’s soared over a city, a crucial step toward making an urban flying cab service a reality.

“As Stuttgart has seen today, they fly safely, quietly, and are fast approching the implementation stage,” Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said in a statement.

World First

The news comes after the company’s Volocopter 2X, the same two-seater multirotor aircraft, made history by becoming the first flying aircraft of its kind to take off from an international airport in August.

The aircraft has a range of about 27 kilometers (16 miles) and reach speeds of up to 100 km/h (62 mph).

READ MORE: Watch all-electric air taxi ‘Volocopter’ make debut urban flight in Stuttgart [Electrek]

More on Volocopter: Flying Taxi Takes Off from International Airport for the First Time

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MIT Scientist Says He Doesn’t Think Pedophilia Is Okay Any More

MIT scientist Richard Stallman backpedaled his statements on the Jeffrey Epstein debacle, clarifying that adults shouldn't have sex with kids.

Take Two

Prominent MIT computer scientist Richard Stallman shared a bold opinion on Saturday: perhaps adults shouldn’t have sex with children.

Stallman got widely roasted last week when he made some appalling comments about Jeffrey Epstein’s sex crimes, suggesting that the financier’s victims somehow consented to the sex trafficking scheme. But now, in the face of near-universal backlash — and scrutiny of even worse comments he’s made in the past — the storied programmer and activist is walking it back.

Are You Kidding

Stallman’s nasty comments last week drew attention to some even more appalling stuff he said back in the mid-2000s. In one 2003 post, the famed coder even wrote that “everyone age 14 or above ought to take part in sex, though not indiscriminately.”

Sickeningly, he also opined that some kids “are ready earlier.”

Stop Posting

But on Saturday, Stallman posted on his personal webpage that he’d changed his mind.

“Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it,” Stallman wrote. “Through personal conversations in recent years, I’ve learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why.”

Stallman also posted a second bizarre statement on Saturday, pushing back against media coverage that he had defended Epstein.

More on Richard Stallman: MIT Community Horrified by Famed Researcher’s Epstein Outburst

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Astronomers Just Spotted the Most Massive Neutron Star Ever

A team of astronomers from West Virginia University claim they've discovered the most massive neutron star to date.

Mad Dense

A team of astronomers from West Virginia University claim they’ve discovered the most massive neutron star to date, packing in more than double the mass of the Sun into a sphere that’s only 15 miles across.

Neutron stars are directly observable from Earth mostly in pulsar form — radiating neutron stars that emit powerful radio waves — and are the densest observable objects in the universe. And this is the heaviest yet.

Absolute Unit

A neutron star is the corpse of a massive celestial body that was once between 10 and 29 times the mass of the Sun but collapsed in on itself in a supernova explosion.

The star, which has the catchy name J0740+6620 some, is is one such pulsar. It was detected using the Green Bank Telescope in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, and a paper detailing the team’s discovery was published today in Nature Astronomy.

Gravity Warp

To figure out its mass, the researchers measured how much gravity is warped around it from a nearby companion star. The result: a tiny sugar-cube’s worth would weigh 100 million tons on Earth, or the weight of every single human on Earth combined.

“These stars are very exotic,” professor of physics and astronomy Maura McLaughlin, co-author of the paper, said in a statement. “We don’t know what they’re made of and one really important question is, ‘How massive can you make one of these stars?’ It has implications for very exotic material that we simply can’t create in a laboratory on Earth.”

READ MORE: Astronomers detect the most massive neutron star ever measured [West Virgina University]

More on neutron stars: Scientists Have Learned Why Neutron Stars Shine So Bright

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China Appears to Be Censoring Hong Kong Protests From TikTok

Chinese-owned video social media sharing app TikTok is accused of censoring its user's content surrounding protests against in the government in Hong Kong.

Pull out Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and search for the Hong Kong protests. You’ll likely see videos of hundreds of thousands of umbrella-sheathed marchers filling through the streets of the Chinese city, as well as some pro-government propaganda, or even more gruesome images of police spraying the bloodied heads of protesters with pepper spray.

Make the same search on the widely-popular video sharing app TikTok, though, and you won’t know there’s a protest at all. According to The Washington Post, that’s almost certainly a “politically convenient reality” created by TikTok owner ByteDance on behalf of the Chinese government — a terrifying example of how social media can be manipulated as a form of social control.

Researchers are concerned that China is censoring the app’s Chinese users in order to strangle the voice of protestors and stem the global spread of information, according to the Post. The protests in Hong Kong first sparked off three months ago in opposition to a since-shelved extradition bill, but have since grown to call for “full democracy” and police accountability.

ByteDance declined to speak with the Post about its “purported independence from censors in Beijing.” Instead, it released a statement claiming the app is “a place for entertainment, not politics,” and that the app’s audience gravitates toward more “positive and joyful content.”

That’s a dubious claim. The app is arguably one of China’s “most successful social-media exports,” currently installed on a staggering 1.3 billion phones around the world, and the content shared through its bite-sized videos goes way beyond singing tweens and latte art.

Users do riff on pop culture and record their cute pets, but just as often it’s used by protesters across the globe — as well as hate groups spewing vitriol. Just last month, Chinese users on Douyin, the original version of TikTok, posted videos solemnly posing in front of photographs of their relatives who had reportedly disappeared in the internment camps in China’s Xinjiang region.

Whether app developers plan for it or not, social media continues to provide a voice to political and social unrest, allowing citizens of even the most censored countries and regions to amplify their beliefs to viewers across the world. The only problem: those developers can decide to click the mute button.

As the Post reports, it’s nearly impossible to tell what content is being censored by TikTok, whether that be videos of protests or even hate speech and extremism. The lack of Hong Kong protest videos could even be attributed to users’ fear that the government is closely monitoring their content.

But regardless of the cause, the opacity of TikTok’s operations and policies should brew concern for any users of the app. The same extreme censoring methods could extend unchecked throughout the app’s ever-growing global audience.

READ MORE: TikTok’s Beijing roots fuel censorship suspicion as it builds a huge U.S. audience [Washington Post]

More on the protests in Hong Kong: Police are spraying protesters with dye to round them up later

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This Video Shows Horrifying Devastation of US-Russia Nuclear War

A new simulation by researchers at Princeton University paints a terrifying picture of what a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia might look like.

Plan A

A new simulation by researchers at Princeton University paints a terrifying picture of what a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia might look like: 90 million “immediate casualties,” followed by countless more from fallout and radiation poisoning.

“This project is motivated by the need to highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current U.S. and Russian nuclear war plans,” reads an official blog post. “The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years as the United States and Russia have abandoned long-standing nuclear arms control treaties.”

The Escalation

A four-minute video uploaded by Alex Glaser, co-editor of the journal Science & Global Security, illustrates the horrifying mayhem that would ensue from a war between the U.S. and Russia.

The simulation starts with a single targeted attack from Russia at the border of Germany and Poland. U.S. retaliation and the involvement of NATO members escalates the war within hours, causing over 34 million immediate deaths.

“[The simulation] uses extensive data sets of the nuclear weapons currently deployed, weapon yields, and possible targets for particular weapons […] to show the evolution of the nuclear conflict from tactical, to strategic to city-targeting phase,” reads the blog post.

READ MORE: Even ‘Limited’ Nuclear War Could Cause 90 Million Casualties in a Few Hours [VICE]

More on nuclear weapons: This Is What Would Happen if the US and Russia Nuked Each Other

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This Video Shows Horrifying Devastation of US-Russia Nuclear War

Former Google Engineer: Killer Bots Could Commit “Mass Atrocities”

Former Googler Laura Nolan warns that the military should never use fully-autonomous weapons, lest they accidentally spark a war.

Warning Signs

If governments turn control of their weapons systems over to fully-autonomous machines, we may face devastating, unintentional calamities or acts of war.

So warns Laura Nolan, a former Google software engineer who left the company in protest of Project Maven, Google’s since-abandoned AI development program for military drones. She told The Guardian this week that there should always be a human finger on the trigger — lest the tech do “calamitous things that they were not originally programmed for.”

Collateral Damage

Major military powers including Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. have invested heavily in autonomous weapons, military drones, and battlefield robots. But the idea isn’t as popular outside of military circles, with growing numbers of scientists calling on governments to ban fully-autonomous weaponry.

“You could have a scenario where autonomous weapons that have been sent out to do a job confront unexpected radar signals in an area they are searching,” Nolan told The Guardian, illustrating a hypothetical problem area, suggesting that a machine might mistake hunters for enemy combatants and open fire.

“Very few people are talking about this but if we are not careful one or more of these weapons, these killer robots, could accidentally start a flash war, destroy a nuclear power station and cause mass atrocities,” Nolan added.

READ MORE: Ex-Google worker fears ‘killer robots’ could cause mass atrocities [The Guardian]

More on autonomous weapons: Experts: It’d Be “Relatively Easy” to Deploy Killer Robots by 2021

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Former Google Engineer: Killer Bots Could Commit “Mass Atrocities”

Navy Confirms That Three UFO Encounter Videos Are Real

Three U.S. military videos that show footage of

Close Encounters

Three U.S. military videos that show footage of “unidentified aerial phenomenon” are authentic, according to U.S. Navy statements obtained by The Black Vault, a blog dedicated to exposing government secrets.

“The Navy designates the objects contained in these videos as unidentified aerial phenomena,” Joseph Gradisher, official spokesperson for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, told The Black Vault.

Star Power

The videos first revealed to the public back in 2017 by The New York Times and To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, a UFO organization co-founded by former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge.

To be clear, the new statement doesn’t mean the Navy is claiming aliens are real: “unidentified aerial phenomena” are simply just that — unidentified and unexplained; no little green men necessary.

“What the…”

One of the videos, dating back to 2004, shows a so-far unexplained object that “appeared suddenly at 80,000 feet, and then hurtled toward the sea, eventually stopping at 20,000 feet and hovering,” as The New York Times wrote in its 2017 report.

Another shows footage taken by a fighter jet in 2015 of an object that passes below at extremely high speeds. “What the […] is that thing?” one of the pilots asks in the video.

Black Box

The videos were also never meant to be seen by the public.

“The videos were never officially released to the general public by the DoD and should still be withheld,” Pentagon Spokesperson Susan Gough told The Black Vault earlier this year.

READ MORE: Video Shows U.S. Navy Run-in With UFO [Popular Mechanics]

More on UFOs: The U.S. Navy Will Start Taking UFO Sightings Much More Seriously

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MIT Researcher Who Defended Sex With Children Resigns

Richard Stallman, who only recently reversed his position that kids and adults should have sex, resigned from MIT after backlash for comments on Epstein.

Stepping Back

Richard Stallman — the famous computer scientist who defended the idea of having sex with children and suggested that one of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims was “entirely willing” — has resigned from his position at MIT.

Stallman announced his resignation on his website on Monday. Startlingly, he used the post to double down on his previous assertion that the backlash against him was “a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.”

Bad Look

The controversy flared up when Stallman inserted himself into the Epstein news cycle, defending late AI pioneer Marvin Minsky against allegations that he had sexually assaulted a minor who Epstein trafficked.

The comments drew attention to more unpleasant remarks, in 2003, when Stallman suggested that there was nothing inherently wrong with adults having sex with minors aged 14 and younger — a position he didn’t reverse until this past Saturday.

Bad Apple

Stallman’s work with the free software movement had made him a minor celebrity among many software developers.

He had a reputation for eccentricity — and, in some circles, poor hygiene. But his rapid ouster from MIT and the Free Software Foundation, where he also resigned as president last night, shows that the open source community is only willing to tolerate so much.

READ MORE: Computer Scientist Richard Stallman Resigns From MIT Over Epstein Comments [Motherboard]

More on Richard Stallman: MIT Scientist Says he Doesn’t Think Pedophilia Is Okay Any More

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MIT Researcher Who Defended Sex With Children Resigns

Elon Musk’s Legal Defense: “Pedo Guy” Doesn’t Mean “Pedophile”

Musk has gathered his best legal team to help him build a defense after calling a Thai rescuer a pedo last July:

Pedo Guy

Remember last year, when eccentric entrepreneur Elon Musk got mad at a diver who was helping rescue children trapped in a cave — and called him a “pedo guy” on Twitter?

Now the diver, Vernon Unsworth, is suing Musk for defamation. And Musk’s legal team has an eyebrow-raising defense: “pedo guy” didn’t actually mean Unsworth was a pedophile.

Slang Game

Yeah, you read that right. In fact, Musk says “pedo guy” is just a childhood insult from South Africa, where he grew up.

“By referring to Mr. Unsworth as ‘pedo guy,’ I did not intend to convey any facts or imply that Mr. Unsworth had engaged in acts of pedophilia,” Musk said according to a court filing on Monday. “Pedo guy was a common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up. It is synonymous with ‘creepy old man’ and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanor, not accuse a person of pedophilia.”

Smearing Names

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Unsworth’s attorney argued that “the motion filed by Elon Musk today is a disgusting and transparent effort to continue falsely smearing Vernon Unsworth without any credible or verified supporting evidence.”

Musk’s lawyers, meanwhile, are requesting that the judge dismisses the case before a December trial.

Mr. Unsworth cannot establish a defamation case just because Mr. Musk insulted him on Twitter and sent a private email to a reporter,” Musk’s legal team wrote in the filing. “The Constitution does not allow that.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk claims ‘pedo guy’ is actually a South African insult that doesn’t mean pedophile [Washington Post]

More on Musk: Elon Musk: “Next Gen” Craft Could Be Twice the Size of Starship

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A New Bioreactor Captures as Much Carbon as an Acre of Trees

Gas Guzzling

A new algae bioreactor can suck as much carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as roughly an acre of forest — potentially giving dense cities a new weapon in the fight against catastrophic climate change.

Development firm Hypergiant Industries used AI systems to make its newly-announced Eos Bioreactor prototype, a 63-cubic foot box which is filled with algae. The startup says it takes in as much carbon as 400 trees and keeps it out of the environment.

Looming Threat

It’s a somber reality that carbon capture technology could be a crucial part of our fight against climate change, but no one has figured out how to build a carbon capture system at a large enough scale to be practical.

Algae bioreactors take a biological approach to carbon sequestration. Already an established concept — one’s being tested at the International Space Station — the algae thrives on carbon dioxide emissions. The algae could theoretically then be harvested for use as a material or a source of dietary protein.

Open Source

A Hypergiant spokesperson told Futurism that the company plans to release the blueprints for its system so that people can come up with new variants that might be easier to build into homes or office buildings.

“This device is one of our first efforts focused on fixing the planet we are on,” said Hypergiant CEO Ben Lamm in a press release reviewed by Futurism. “We hope to inspire and collaborate with others on a similar mission.”

More on carbon capture: New Carbon Capture System Generates Electricity by Sucking up CO2

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New Lasers May Be Powerful Enough to Drill a Hole in Reality

According to Ars Technica, cutting-edge research into ultra-powerful lasers could pulse a laser

Paper Cutter

The prestigious academic physics journal Physical Review Letters published a paper this week about cutting-edge laser tech — and, if bloggers are to be believed, it could have juicy ramifications.

The paper itself is dry and technical, but the prominent tech blog Ars Technica‘s interpretation of its findings is anything but. According to Ars, in fact, the tech it describes could pulse a laser “through fabric of the Universe.”

Plasma Mirror

A key problem with super-powerful lasers, according to Ars’ explanation, is that they tend to shred anything you use to focus the beam.

The idea behind the paper, by a researcher at the Université Paris-Saclay, is that you could use a mirror made out of plasma — you know, the ultra-hot stuff the Sun is made out of — to focus the beam.

From Beyond

And if they can pull that off, according to Ars — we should point out again that this all sounds very hypothetical — the laser could tear into “the very fabric of space and time.”

“Will it work in reality? I think so,” wrote Ars writer Chris Lee. “Then, of course, they can all stare in wonder at the hole they made.”

READ MORE: Trampoline mirror may push laser pulse through fabric of the Universe [Ars Technica]

More on reality: Physicists Are Starting to Suspect Physical Reality Is an Illusion

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Biohackers Got Scammed by a Company Selling “Hydrogen Water”

A company called Trusii told customers it would pay them monthly if they took out a loan to participate in a study testing its hydrogen water machine.

A bizarre startup called Trusii is under fire for scamming its customers — a mix of curious biohackers and people with medical conditions desperate for a cure.

Trusii’s pitch was a $6,700 machine that infuses water with additional hydrogen, according to CNBC. According to promotional social media posts — more on those later — hydrogen water can help with conditions ranging from muscle pain and concussions to lupus and depression. The posts also claim it could treat autism spectrum disorder.

The company offered up its machines as part of what it called a “case study.” Customers would agree to a $10,000 loan, arranged by Trusii and a financial partner — an arrangement that’s now gotten the company named in a lawsuit claiming it committed fraud.

Trusii told customers it would send them money every month for three years until the loan had been entirely paid off in exchange for regular feedback and the occasional promotional social media post.

But horror stories soon rolled in — CNBC reports that customers were often shipped broken systems or machines that quickly developed mold. Meanwhile, Trusii often stopped responding to complaints or providing any sort of payments, leaving customers on the hook for the loans they had taken out.

For instance, Margaux Gunning signed up for the case study in hopes it would help with her Lyme Disease, but she was shipped a broken machine and is still responsible for her loan payments despite Trusii never sending money.

“They’re taking advantage of people who are sick, who are so broke from trying to help themselves,” Gunning told CNBC.

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Some CBD Tainted With Substance That Causes Death, Comas, Insanity

An AP investigation shows that a troubling number of CBD products are spiked with synthetic marijuana, which can cause comas, psychotic behavior, and death.

A troubling trend: vapes and other products advertised as containing CBD are actually spiked with synthetic marijuana, a dangerous drug that’s been linked with deaths, serious hospitalizations, and psychosis.

Poring over a collection of police records and the findings of its own investigation into CBD products, The Associated Press found that many products labeled as CBD products only contain trace amounts of the chemical, which advocates claim treats a range of medical maladies.

But many contained dangerous synthetic marijuana — and tracking down the perpetrators meant leaping down a rabbit hole of weak government regulations and shady business practices.

In a separate report, the AP found that 128 of the 350 CBD products tested by American law enforcement agencies contained synthetic marijuana, as did ten of the 30 tested by the AP.

“It’s Russian roulette,” James Neal-Kababick told the AP. He’s the director of Flora Research Laboratories, which the AP commissioned to run the tests CBD products. Synthetic marijuana poses an ongoing problem that’s unrelated to recent cases of a mysterious “vape lung” illness.

The AP also profiled cases like one in which a college student fell into a coma after two hits of a spiked CBD vape. In Utah, that same brand hospitalized 33 people. In another case, an eight-year-old boy was hospitalized when his parents tried to treat his seizures with spiked CBD oil. In Europe, the synthetic marijuana that popped up in the AP‘s investigation has killed 11. In those and other cases investigated by the AP, the products’ packaging made no mention of synthetic marijuana.

The FDA is in charge of regulating CBD because it’s approved at least one pharmaceutical that uses the drug as an active ingredient. A spokesperson told the AP that if synthetic marijuana is found in a product, it becomes the DEA’s problem. But a DEA spokesperson told the AP that synthetic marijuana is a low priority for the agency.

“As long as it remains unregulated like it currently is,” Virginia Commonwealth University researcher Michelle Peace told the AP, “you just give a really wide space for nefarious activity to continue.”

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The Air Force Is Inviting Hackers to Breach a Satellite

After hackers revealed flaws in the F-15's cybersecurity, the Air Force plans to invite white hat hackers to probe an active satellite for vulnerabilities.


The Air Force will soon issue an unusual invitation to white-hat hackers: infiltrate and take control of a military satellite orbiting the Earth.

The news comes one month after the Air Force invited hackers — under close supervision — to ransack the F-15 fighter jet’s flimsily-secured software for vulnerabilities, Wired reports. The Air Force was reportedly so pleased with the results of that hack that it’s continuing the program next year, ending a long tradition of closing itself off from outside experts to improve its cybersecurity.

Higher Stakes

Soon, the Air Force will request submissions from hackers who think they can handle its next challenge: taking over an active satellite’s Earth-facing camera.

Hackers can either target the satellite itself or its terrestrial control station, Will Roper, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, told Wired.

“We will have opportunities for contestants to do both,” he said. “But what they’re going to do is try to take over the satellite by any means they find.”

Everybody Wins

During the F-15 hack, most of the problem areas reportedly came from specific components built by smaller contractors, Wired reports, which don’t have the resources to secure their products as well as bigger companies like Lockheed Martin might.

By collaborating with hackers who excel at finding security flaws, Roper told Wired that he hopes the entire military cybersecurity supply chain can be patched up.

READ MORE: The Air Force Will Let Hackers Try to Hijack an Orbiting Satellite [Wired]

More on cybersecurity: Hackers Are Stealing Sensitive Documents From The U.S. Military And Selling Them

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The Air Force Is Inviting Hackers to Breach a Satellite

The U.S. Says China is Stealing Military Spacecraft Technology

Pengyi Li from China attempted to smuggle sensitive spacecraft and military missile components out of the U.S. according to documents obtained by Quartz.

Tech Theft

China’s space industry is still in its early stages compared to the U.S., but the Department of Homeland Security suspects that China is trying to get ahead by stealing military space technology.

Pengyi Li, a Chinese national, attempted to smuggle sensitive spacecraft and missile components out of the U.S. according to documents obtained by Quartz and got caught red-handed, thanks to a two-year undercover investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.

Sensitive Tech

U.S. agents sold Li specialized microchips and sensors, which require special export licenses, for more than $150,000, according to Quartz. And many of these sensitive parts are banned from sale in China, as they could be used in military satellites and missiles and give China an advantage.

The U.S. and China have been waging a bitter trade war in which a key issue has been theft of American intellectual property. According to Quartz, there were at least eight other prosecutions by the Department of Justice just like this one within the last ten years, suggesting a greater trend of sensitive technologies flowing overseas.

READ MORE: China is trying to steal military space tech. The US is running stings to stop it. [Quartz]

More on U.S.-China relations: Has a Space War Between US, China, Russia Already Started?

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A Derelict Space Habitat May Crash Into an Old Russian Satellite

There's a small chance that a defunct space habitat collides with a retired Russian satellite on Wednesday, illustrating the threat of space debris.

Crash Course

There’s a small chance that two derelict satellites, still orbiting the Earth, could crash into each other on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, the space habitat development company Bigelow Aerospace tweeted some troubling news. The Air Force sent them a heads up that their long-retired experimental habitat, Genesis II, might collide with an old Russian satellite named Cosmos 1300. While the odds of a crash are only 5.6 percent, it’s another troubling sign that Earth’s orbit is becoming dangerously crowded.

Today, we were notified by the US Air Force that there is a 5.6% chance that Genesis II will collide with dead Russian satellite Cosmos 1300 in 15 hours. Although this is a relatively low probability, it brings to light that low Earth orbit is becoming increasingly more littered. pic.twitter.com/l6McbDgRNo

— Bigelow Aerospace (@BigelowSpace) September 17, 2019

Ships Passing

Bigelow Aerospace followed up with a warning about the rapid proliferation of space junk, which was most recently illustrated when one of SpaceX’s numerous StarLink satellites nearly crashed into a European Space Agency observation satellite.

As more satellites — including those launched by Bigelow Aerospace itself — fill the sky and begin their inevitable transition to becoming space junk, low Earth orbit will increasingly become a minefield for current and future space station inhabitants.

“This proliferation, if not controlled in number, could become very dangerous to human life in low Earth orbit,” Bigelow Aerospace tweeted.

Future habitable space stations will face this reality and danger. This proliferation, if not controlled in number, could become very dangerous to human life in low Earth orbit.

— Bigelow Aerospace (@BigelowSpace) September 17, 2019

More on space junk: Watch a Harpoon Attached to a Satellite Spear a Piece of Space Debris

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Can an AI Scan Your Messages to Detect if Someone’s Flirting?

New apps use AI to scrutinize your texts and determine whether someone is really into you or if you might not be the best match.


For those who can never tell when someone’s flirting, some new AI apps might be able to help.

Apps are popping up to help romantics determine whether they’re actually compatible with a prospective partner, according to Wired. But using AI to scrutinize texts is a risky move, since reading comprehension is historically one of AI’s weaker subject areas — a problem Wired‘s Arielle Pardes ran into when she took the tech for a spin.

Algorithmic Romance

One app, called Mei, analyzes text conversations and provides a “compatibility score” with a potential mate. Pardes’ experience testing out the app yielded some off-base results — it was pretty good at determining when people were clearly incompatible, but seemed to overlook messages that Pardes described as “R-rated.”

Mei developer Es Lee told Wired that he wanted to help people pick up on the subtext of messaged conversations by training an algorithm on thousands of texts that were annotated to clarify what people were really saying.

Platonic Ideal

Another app, called Keigo, maps compatibility based on Meyers-Briggs personality types, according to Wired. Managing Director Teemu Huttunen told the magazine that the app could help people navigate all their interactions, romantic or not. Based on their tweets, Keigo told Pardes that she and Oprah Winfrey would probably be buds.

“To be honest, we were hoping that people would use this in other forms than just dating,” Huttunen said, “but the dating one is the most obvious.”

READ MORE: Flirty or Friendzone? New AI Scans Your Texts for True Love [Wired]

More on AI Romance: Here’s Where You Can Flirt With a Sexting AI Called Slutbot

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Can an AI Scan Your Messages to Detect if Someone’s Flirting?

Tesla’s Model S Just Crushed Porsche’s Lap Time in Germany

According to a German magazine, the Tesla Model S just sliced an impressive 20 seconds off of Porsche's recent Nürburgring race track record.

20 Seconds Faster

The battle between Tesla and German automaker Porsche is heating up.

According to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, a special variant of Tesla’s Model S just sliced an impressive 20 seconds off of Porsche’s all-electric Taycan sportscar’s lap time at Germany’s Nürburgring race track — escalating a high-profile spat in the world of electric cars.

Beat Down

Witnesses surveying the track measured a lap time of just 7 minutes and 23 seconds by hand — roughly 20 seconds faster than the Taycan’s 7 minutes and 42 seconds. The results have yet to be verified by on-site officials.

It’s also not clear how either vehicle differs from actual production cars under the hood. Neither carmaker published official specs of the vehicles that set the times as Teslarati points out.

Nürburg Drift

The tiff between Tesla and Porsche began when Elon Musk mocked the German carmaker for calling one of the versions of its all-electric sports car “Turbo” earlier this month, since an electric vehicle can’t take advantage of a turbocharger.

Ever since, Tesla has been coming after the German carmaker, going so far as to ship a specially modified Model S with a “Spaceballs”-themed “Plaid powertrain” to the same German race car track where Porsche recently set its record.

And you might be able to get your hands on one of these track-ready Model S sedans yourself. In a Tuesday tweet, Musk confirmed that a special “7 seat Model S Plaid variant” will go into production next fall.

READ MORE: Tesla Model S beats Porsche Taycan’s Nurburgring lap by ~20 secs: German auto mag [Teslarati]

More on Tesla and Porsche: Elon Musk: Tesla Model S Set a New Track Record in California

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Tesla’s Model S Just Crushed Porsche’s Lap Time in Germany

A Giant Volcano on One of Jupiter’s Moons Is About to Erupt

On Jupiter's moon Io, the strongest volcano in the solar system is likely about to erupt within the next couple of days, according to new calculations.

Space Volcano

Loki, a volcano on Jupiter’s moon Io named after the Norse trickster god, is probably going to erupt within the next few days.

Io is a volatile world, pockmarked by active volcanos, the largest of which is Loki. If new calculations reported by Europlanet Society are correct, it’s due to go off any day now. If the scientists are correct, the findings could bring about a better understanding of the strongest volcano in the solar system.


Scientists have been making sense of Loki’s activity for decades, Space.com reported last month. The new calculations, which Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Julie Rathburn presented at a conference on Tuesday, can supposedly track eruptions down to the day.

And with a predicted cycle of 475 days between eruptions, Loki is running down the clock. The last eruption was in May 2018, which ended 474 days ago.

“We think that Loki could be predictable because it is so large,” Rathburn told Europlanet Society. “Because of its size, basic physics are likely to dominate when it erupts, so the small complications that affect smaller volcanoes are likely to not affect Loki as much.”


Loki is characterized by a large lava lake that rhythmically erupts, solidifies, and erupts all over again, according to research from 2006. By watching that cycle for decades, scientists think they have a good grip on its lifecycle.

“However, you have to be careful because Loki is named after a trickster god and the volcano has not been known to behave itself,” Rathburn told Europlanet Society.

READ MORE: Is huge volcano on Jupiter’s moon Io about to erupt this month? [Europlanet Society]

More on Jupiter: Jupiter May Have Absorbed a Smaller Planet

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