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NASA's InSight lander has likely detected its first 'marsquake,' seismologists say

Los Angeles Times

It sounds like a subway train rushing by. But it's something much more exotic: in all likelihood, the first "marsquake" ever recorded by humans. NASA's InSight mission detected the quake on April 6, four months after the lander's highly sensitive seismometer was installed on the Martian surface. The instrument had previously registered the howling winds of the red planet and the motions of the lander's robotic arm. But the shaking picked up this month is believed to be the first quake from Mars' interior.


Elon Musk claims a million Teslas will drive themselves in a year. Safety advocates have concerns

Los Angeles Times

Tesla, under pressure to show it can generate profits on its main business of making electric cars, on Monday trumpeted a custom-designed computer chip to let its vehicles drive themselves. Even with the new chip -- which comes with all new vehicles and can be installed in older ones -- Teslas still aren't yet fully capable of driving without human intervention. They now have "all hardware necessary," said Elon Musk, Tesla's chief executive officer. "All you have to do is improve the software." The software will be updated over the air to allow full self-driving by the end of the year, he said.


The rise of robots doesn't have to mean the fall of human workers

Los Angeles Times

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of dockworkers, residents and business owners are expected to pack the Board of Harbor Commissioners hearing Tuesday morning in an attempt to block a permit for infrastructure improvements at one Port of Los Angeles terminal that they fear would pave the way for the loss of high-paying jobs and the economic decline of surrounding communities. This small project -- about $1.5 million worth of electric charging stations, poles for Wi-Fi antenna and the like -- would be a precursor to a big change in San Pedro and harbor communities. APM Terminals and Danish shipping giant Maersk intend to automate operations over the next several years, potentially slashing the number of dockworkers in the future. These are middle-class jobs that can often pay workers without a college degree more than $100,000 a year. But, really, this fight goes far beyond APM Terminals.


Removal of fuel at Fukushima's melted nuclear reactor begins

Los Angeles Times

The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant began removing fuel Monday from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in what will be a decades-long process to decommission the facility. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said workers started removing the first of 566 used and unused fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool located high up in reactor buildings are intact despite the disaster, but the pools are not enclosed, so removing the units to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major earthquake similar to the one that caused the 2011 tsunami. TEPCO says the removal at Unit 3 will take two years, followed by the two other reactors, where about 1,000 fuel units remain in the storage pools. Removing fuel units from the cooling pools comes ahead of the real challenge of removing melted fuel from inside the reactors, but details of how that might be done are still largely unknown. Removing the fuel in the cooling pools was delayed more than four years by mishaps, high radiation and radioactive debris from an explosion that occurred at the time of the reactor meltdowns, underscoring the difficulties that remain.


Why Claire Denis cast Robert Pattinson in the sensual science-fiction fable 'High Life'

Los Angeles Times

Claire Denis is a filmmaker's filmmaker. Though the French writer-director has never had a commercial breakthrough in the U.S., she has been a steady presence in international cinema circles from her debut feature "Chocolat" in 1988 through such titles as 1999's "Beau Travail," 2010's "White Material," starring Isabelle Huppert, and "Let the Sunshine In," which starred Juliette Binoche and was released in the U.S. last year. In part, Denis is so well-regarded because she remains so unpredictable. There is no signature style to her work and it remains surprising with each and every film. Her latest, "High Life," which opens in New York and Los Angeles this week via A24, arrives with higher than usual commercial expectations.


'Too complex to fly'? Trump riff on planes shows aversion to technological change and science

Los Angeles Times

He has demanded "goddamned steam" to power the Navy's aircraft carriers and prefers a wall to drones and other technology to secure the country's southern border. He has rejected the scientific consensus on climate change and repeatedly, wrongly, pointed to occasional wintry weather as proof that he's right. And this week, amid a safety scare involving Boeing's 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 airplanes, President Trump complained that modern jets are "too complex to fly." He added: "I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better."


NYPD says its new software is helping analysts track crime patterns more quickly

Los Angeles Times

When a syringe-wielding drill thief tried sticking up a Home Depot near Yankee Stadium, police figured out quickly that it wasn't a one-off. A man had also used a syringe a few weeks earlier while stealing a drill at another Home Depot 7 miles south in Manhattan. The match, though, wasn't made by an officer looking through files. It was done by pattern-recognition computer software developed by the New York Police Department. The software, dubbed Patternizr, allows crime analysts stationed in each of the department's 77 precincts to compare robberies, larcenies and thefts to hundreds of thousands of crimes logged in the NYPD's database, transforming their hunt for crime patterns with the click of a button.


Man told he has days to live via robot video; hospital defends use of telemedicine

Los Angeles Times

Ernest Quintana's family knew he was dying of chronic lung disease when he was taken by ambulance to a hospital, unable to breathe. But they were devastated when a robot machine rolled into his room in the intensive care unit that night and a doctor told the 78-year-old patient by video call that he would probably die within days. "If you're coming to tell us normal news, that's fine, but if you're coming to tell us there's no lung left and we want to put you on a morphine drip until you die, it should be done by a human being and not a machine," his daughter Catherine Quintana said Friday. Ernest Quintana died Tuesday, two days after being taken to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center emergency department in Fremont, Calif. Michelle Gaskill-Hames, senior vice president of Kaiser Permanente Greater Southern Alameda County, called the situation highly unusual and said officials "regret falling short" of the patient's expectations.


If Lyft can't keep its drivers as independent contractors, it may never be profitable

Los Angeles Times

Lyft's entire business model is predicated on its relationship with its drivers. It hinges on recruiting them, keeping them happy, ensuring the company never has to provide them health insurance and other benefits, and eventually finding a way to replace some of them with self-driving cars so Lyft can keep a bigger chunk of the check after every ride. Unfortunately for Lyft there is great uncertainty at each juncture of that driver relationship. In filings last week initiating a planned initial public stock offering, Lyft -- which lost $911.3 million on $2.2 billion in revenue in 2018 -- acknowledged it may never become profitable. That's due in part to both long-standing limitations and new external threats that have left Lyft's relationship with its drivers in flux.


California Inc.: Finally, the Marvel character in tights is a woman

Los Angeles Times

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section. Investors are still digesting news that the nation's economic growth declined at the end of last year for the second straight quarter, denying President Trump the 3% annual increase he had promised his tax cuts would create. And growth this year and next won't hit that level either, economists say. Total economic output rose 2.9% in 2018. Beige Book: The latest Beige Book from the Federal Reserve comes out Wednesday.