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The best tech of CES 2021 isn't real


Even though CES 2021 was fully virtual, we still saw tons of new devices, including laptops, drones, TVs, wearables, smart home gadgets, and more. But this was also the year we saw a lot of product concepts. You see, the "beauty" of shows like CES is the ability write about our hands-on experiences with products. But since we couldn't roam the halls of CES in person this year, it was the perfect time for brands to announce gadgets that weren't ready for store shelves. And, it turns out these concepts were actually the best tech of CES, too.

Quantum internet signals beamed between drones a kilometre apart

New Scientist

Entangled photons have been sent between two drones hovering a kilometre apart, demonstrating technology that could form the building blocks of a quantum internet. When a pair of photons are quantum entangled, you can instantly deduce the state of one by measuring the other, regardless of the distance separating them. This phenomenon, which Albert Einstein dismissively called "spooky action at a distance", is the basis of quantum encryption – using entangled particles to ensure communications are secret. Quantum networks are far more secure than the existing internet because any attempt to eavesdrop changes the state of the photons, alerting the recipient to foul play. Entangled photons have been transported more than 1000 kilometres in tests between a satellite and ground stations before, but now Zhenda Xie at Nanjing University in China and his colleagues have shown that links can be made over shorter distances with relatively inexpensive hardware.

NASA abandons InSight mission to crack the surface of Mars


NASA has been forced to end its mission to drill down into the Martian soil after its unique geology proved too much for the InSight lander. The InSight probe was equipped with a probe -- dubbed the Mole -- which was going to drill up to 10 feet into the ground. However, the agency said that the soil's "unexpected tendency to clump" meant that the drill could never get enough purchase to function properly. It's the end of a long saga that began at the start of 2019 when the properties of Mars' soil proved tough to crack. After plenty of trial-and-error, and some help from InSight's robotic arm, the hardware only managed to reach a few centimeters into the ground.

Global Big Data Conference


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 80% of the ocean "remains unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored" – despite constituting more than 70% of the planet's surface. Now, a pair of Navy veterans are looking to change that with a line of autonomous robot vehicles that will plunge the ocean's depths in search of big data for the company's clients. "The company really started when Joe [Wolfel] and I first got together, which was back in 2004," said Judson Kauffman, who shares the CEO role with Wolfel, in an interview with Datanami. "We met in [Navy] SEAL training together, and ended up being assigned the same unit, and then went into combat together and became very close friends. There, they developed the idea for Terradepth, which "stemmed from some knowledge that we gained in the Navy" – really, Kauffman said, "just of how ignorant humanity is of what's underwater, what's in the sea." "It was shocking to learn how little we know, how little the U.S. Navy knew," he continued – and the more they dug into the issue after their time in the Navy, the more surprised they were.

Masks, sanitizers, and social distancing gadgets: The COVID tech that dominated CES 2021


With virtual booths and digital portals taking the place of convention center halls and showcases, CES in the time of coronavirus looked different. So did some of the tech. COVID-oriented tech products stood out at this year's CES. Some brands debuted new products made for the pandemic, others found that items they'd been working on all along now have newfound applications and relevance. But is "COVID tech" really necessary? After all, the best way to slow the spread of the virus is to practice social distancing and wear a face mask, which can be as simple as a bandana or a repurposed old T-shirt -- fundamentally low-tech strategies.

Los Angeles man admits flying drone that struck LAPD helicopter over Hollywood

Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles man admitted in federal court Thursday that he flew a drone that struck a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter that was responding to a crime scene in Hollywood. Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, made the admission in pleading guilty to one count of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, a misdemeanor. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said Hernandez is believed to be the first person in the country to be convicted of that offense, which carries a punishment of up to one year in prison. In his plea agreement, Hernandez admitted that he "recklessly interfered with and disrupted" the operation of the LAPD helicopter, which was responding to a burglary of a pharmacy, and that his actions "posed an imminent safety hazard" to the chopper's occupants. Reached by phone Thursday, Hernandez declined to comment.

Robot Vacuums Don't Need a Lot of Frills. Try This Powerful Budget Model, Now on Sale.


Slate has relationships with various online retailers. If you buy something through our links, Slate may earn an affiliate commission. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. All prices were up to date at the time of publication. Why you want this: As robot vacuums have become increasingly popular, we've had to accept that they are not wholly autonomous.

Engineers create school of robotic fish that can coordinate their movements

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A school of robotic fish that are able to coordinate their movements underwater - just like real fish - have been created by a team of engineers. Harvard University experts created the fish-inspired bots to work without any external control, mimicking the collective behaviours groups of fish demonstrate. Schools of fish exhibit complex, synchronised behaviours that help them find food, migrate and evade predators with no one fish coordinating the movements. The robotic fish can synchronise their movements like a real school of fish, without any external control - the first time this complex behaviour has been show in robots. The team say in future a similar swarm of robotic fish could be deployed to perform environmental monitoring and search in fragile environments like coral reefs.

New Products


![Figure][1] The McPherson 234/302 compact vacuum-ultraviolet spectrometer has a digital grating drive for precise wavelength selection and positioning from 30 nm to 1,100 nm. Micrometer adjustable slits vary from 0.01 mm ~3 mm in width and 2 mm ~20 mm in height. Software is available along with LabVIEW drivers. This instrument's normal incidence design has optional multiple input or output ports. It can also be easily used as a spectrograph with a microchannel plate intensifier or charge-coupled device detector, or as a scanning monochromator—one instrument can do both functions while remaining under vacuum. There are many options for customization: We can provide ultrahigh vacuum nonmagnetic versions or customized adapters for the customer's vacuum pumps, detectors, or light sources. Double monochromators for exceptionally low stray light and high spectral purity are also available. Special or standard, every instrument ships with certified spectral calibration. Compatible with all 2D-barcoded tube racks in SBS format and with a footprint of only slightly more than one plate/rack position, the Ziath DataPaq Express offers a space-saving way to integrate a fast full-rack scanner onto a liquid-handling robot. Designed with a separate power and processing box that can be positioned under your liquid-handling robot and under your deck, this compact scanner frees up vital deck space. Its uniquely low form factor allows liquid-handling robots easy gripper access to simply pick up and dispense from racks on top of the scanner. Offering rapid image scanning and decoding in just 2 s, the camera-based DataPaq Express will also help improve your robotic workflow. Baseplates and drivers are available to enable easy integration with most commercial liquid-handling robots. The Smart Evaporator C1 from BioChromato is an easy-to-use, affordable system optimized to concentrate or dry single samples directly from any tube or vial (up to 32-mm neck diameter) in even high-boiling solvents such as DMSO, DMF, or water. Drawing on BioChromato's patented spiral plug evaporation technology, the compact, benchtop system offers fast, effective evaporation in tubes or vials without solvent bumping, eliminating the risk of sample loss and cross-contamination and saving valuable time. The Smart Evaporator C1 can handle solvent volumes up to 40 mL, which can be extremely useful for concentrating compounds after organic synthesis or for drying analytical samples at relatively high speeds. The versatile C1 can also manage small tubes and vials (e.g., 1.5 mL) where solvent volumes can be as little as 0.1 mL or less. Porvair Sciences provides a complete design and manufacture service to help customers develop new and innovative custom microplates for specialist applications. We are widely recognized as a leader in the field of molding ultrapure plastic materials such as polystyrene, polypropylene, and polycarbonate. Decades of experience in ultrasonic welding, surface treatment techniques, co-sintering of polymers/silicas, and specialist assembly, combined with a strong understanding of analytical applications, make us an ideal OEM partner for development and production of optimized custom microplate solutions. From single-well to 1,536-well microplates, Porvair Sciences has the knowledge, expertise, and flexibility to design and manufacture to customer specifications. Our team of engineers and creative thinkers allows us to develop high-quality products for filtration, storage, and separation and to push the boundaries of microplate design for the life science and analytical markets. With its unique safety-locking mechanism and robust, adjustable support frame/lifting platform option, the Multicell PLUS high-pressure reactor from Asynt sets a new benchmark for operator safety, all-round accessibility, and ease-of-use. Manufactured from 316 stainless steel, the unit operates at pressures up to 50 barg and temperatures up to 200ºC. Asynt offers options for the system to be manufactured from alternative materials that can withstand highly corrosive/caustic chemicals, and for increased operational conditions up to 200 barg and temperatures of over 300ºC. While the Multicell PLUS accommodates 8 × 30 mL cells as standard, options are offered for 4-, 6-, and 10-cell arrangements with individual cell volumes up to 100 mL. Motor-driven, magnetically coupled overhead stirring is also offered as an option for more viscous reaction mixtures. Optional independent isolation of each cell allows the user to charge each vessel with differing chemistry and pressures without cross-contamination between cells. Milo is the world's first automated single-cell Western (scWestern) platform. The instrument measures protein expression in thousands of cells in a single run, allowing you to profile heterogeneity in your samples through single-cell analysis. Just load your cell suspension, and the scWest chip captures ~1,000 single cells. Milo then performs a fast, 1-min SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulphate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) separation on each single-cell lysate on-chip. Then just probe with your favorite conventional Western blot antibodies to measure ~12 proteins per cell using a variety of multiplexing strategies. Milo's Single-Cell Western technology unlocks the single-cell proteome to measure more of the proteome than is possible with any other single-cell protein analysis technique. [1]: pending:yes

It would be impossible to pull the plug on AI that wanted to harm humans, scientists warn

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The idea of an artificial intelligence (AI) uprising may sound like the plot of a science-fiction film, but the notion is a topic of a new study that finds it is possible and we would not be able to stop it. A team of international scientists designed a theoretical containment algorithm that ensures a super-intelligent system could not harm people under any circumstance, by simulating the AI and blocking it from wrecking havoc on humanity. However, the analysis shows current algorithms do not have the ability to halt AI, because commanding the system to not destroy the world would inadvertently halt the algorithm's own operations. Iyad Rahwan, Director of the Center for Humans and Machines, said: 'If this happened, you would not know whether the containment algorithm is still analyzing the threat, or whether it has stopped to contain the harmful AI.' 'In effect, this makes the containment algorithm unusable.' AI has been fascinating humans for years, as we are in awe by machines that control cars, compose symphonies or beat the world's best chess player at their own game.