Last year, Popular Science and Working Mother teamed up to share the most effective ways to clean up during spring cleaning. To keep that list fresh--and account for new cleaning tricks picked up over the past year--we've updated it with newer, better models of certain devices. You don't have the time for a leisurely scrub-down, so we'll cut the crud, showing you the optimal way to sweep a floor, sharing our tips for spring cleaning your electronics, and tracking down the best ways to actually (for real, in real life) remove a stain. And now: we're coming clean about the products that'll make your digs shine, from inventive tech to the stand-bys we swear by. Cleaning doesn't have to be a chore--especially if there are robots.
It took Ernõ Rubik more than a month to solve his namesake puzzle the first time. Today, competitive cubers can best the classic brain teaser in less than five seconds, and casual players can do it in minutes. Their not-so-secret weapon is math. Devising or memorizing sequences of moves that accomplish a particular goal--for instance, swapping two corners--is key to cracking your Rubik's Cube. When game designers start stacking more layers onto a standard 3-by-3-by-3-square cuboid, it doesn't change those algorithms much; it just makes the solve mega-tedious.
On Friday night, Facebook released a statement banning Cambridge Analytica, a data operations team that worked on the Donald Trump campaign for breaking the social network's terms of service regarding data collection about users. It's not a typical breach--in fact, Facebook is careful to point out that it's not technically a breach at all--but reports say information about likes, locations, and names are compromised for up to 50 million users. Check out The Intercept's reporting on the subject here.
Last night, a self-driving cab from an Uber test fleet struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The victim survived the initial accident but later died at a nearby hospital from the resulting injuries. The exact circumstances of the crash are still unclear. Here's what we know: According to the Tempe Police Department, the car was in self-driving mode around 10 p.m. Sunday night. There was a human safety driver in the car as a contingency, but it's unclear at this point if they tried to intervene before the accident.
Would you subscribe to a ride-hailing service like Lyft if you could, just as you might sign up for Netflix or Spotify? On Wednesday, Logan Green, the CEO of Lyft, said that was the future for his company. "We are going to move the entire [car] industry from one based on ownership, to one based on subscription," he said. For example, Green added that a subscription to Lyft could cost something along the lines of $200, which gets you 1,000 miles of traveling around. "You rely on the Lyft network for all your transportation needs," he said.
You can wind up in a self-driving Uber right now in cities like Pittsburgh and Phoenix. But those vehicles still have quaint automotive essentials like steering wheels, pedals, and chaperones (" drivers"). When General Motors rolls out its Cruise AV in 2019, though, the electric vehicle's computers will be in control--all the time--eliminating the need for manual controls. The sedan will join a fleet of app-hailed autonomous taxis. Once the ride shows up, you can space out in its decidedly different cockpit, which offers twice the chance to claim shotgun.
Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, was laughing when it shouldn't. You might have seen tweets about it: The weird, disembodied chuckle bothered people for reasons you can imagine, as well as because it reportedly could happen unprompted--our assistants, after all, are only supposed to listen and speak to us after they hear the wake word. We want them to tell us the weather and set kitchen timers on command, not spook us with laughter. We all know that virtual personas like Alexa, Siri, and the Google Assistant are not real humans. They can't laugh the way we laugh, because they are not alive.
I remember the first time I was introduced to the concept of synesthesia. I was in seventh grade, sitting in the dark, watching an educational video about the neuroscience of the phenomenon in lieu of our typical life science coursework. A British woman with lexical-gustatory synesthesia appeared on screen to describe the way every name she'd ever spoken had a different taste. Many of the particulars of the documentary have faded in the decade since I last saw it, but I still recall the woman saying "the name Catherine tastes like chocolate cake." For years, I have wished (perhaps unfairly) that I had synesthesia, a rare neurological condition where senses enterwine.
Right now, my house is like a party for smart assistants. There are Google Home devices all over the place, a couple Amazon Echoes with Alexa thrown around, and even a Cortana in the kitchen. Shouting a "trigger phrase" in my home sometimes causes a cacophony of responses from every room. Siri, however, showed up fashionably late to the party in the form of the HomePod, which was originally scheduled for release at the end of 2017, but came strolling in here in 2018.