Science & Technology



Google launches Chat to compete with Apple's iMessage

Google is launching a new text messaging system for its Android platform to challenge Apple's iMessage in smartphone text messaging supremacy.

With Chat, Google is updating its current Short Messaging Service-run Android Messages app so that it can send and receive high-definition images and videos, set up group texts and allow reading receipts...Read more

Campaign against online video-game bullies flops

CHICAGO -- It seemed like a killer idea: combat sexist harassment in online video games by unleashing hit squads of talented female players to slay the bullies.

But after marketing agency FCB Chicago launched "Bully Hunters" last week with a splashy livestream, the campaign was mocked by gamers, criticized by harassment experts and disowned by ...Read more

The more humans spread across the globe, the smaller other mammals get

LOS ANGELES--Thirteen thousand years ago Southern California was crawling with enormous mammals -- all of which are extinct today.

There were massive mammoths three times bigger than modern-day elephants, giant ground sloths up to 20 feet in length, and strange, armadillo-like beasts known as glyptodons that were roughly the size of a VW bus.

...Read more

Airbus, Bill Gates and others back video imaging satellite venture

SEATTLE -- Airbus, Bill Gates and Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son have joined to back a spinoff from Bellevue, Wash.-based Intellectual Ventures that aims to launch a constellation of imaging satellites "that will deliver real-time, continuous video of almost anywhere on Earth."

Russell Hannigan, founder and chief executive of the new ...Read more

The food that goes bad in your fridge amounts to trillions of gallons of wasted water

You walk into the grocery store with the best intentions, filing your cart with kale, broccolini, tofu and Greek yogurt.

Then you get home, feel pressed for time and order a pizza.

Before you know it, the perishables are going bad at the back of the fridge. They'll wind up in the trash, like so many other well-intentioned meals that never came...Read more

Engineers: Southwest jet likely felled by fatigue, failure of engine's 'bulletproof vest'

PHILADELPHIA -- The very day of the emergency landing in Philadelphia by Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, investigators were blaming a type of failure that spells alarm for materials engineers everywhere: metal fatigue.

That means one of the engine's titanium fan blades, after vibrating or otherwise flexing many thousands of times over its ...Read more

San Francisco impounds electric scooters, execs called 'spoiled brats'

So much for the utopian idea of eco-friendly, electric scooters helping solve the Bay Area's urban transportation woes.

A week after impounding 66 rentable scooters that were blocking sidewalks and doorways, the San Francisco city attorney this week declared them a "public nuisance" and issued "cease and desist" orders to the three companies ...Read more

Defense contract pits Amazon against the rest of Big Tech

A wide range of technology giants find themselves unified by a single concern: that Amazon has the inside track to win a huge winner-take-all government cloud-computing contract that could help accelerate the Seattle company's lead in the fast-growing industry.

The Department of Defense this week released more than 1,000 comments it received in...Read more

A news subscription for your iPhone? Apple may launch one by 2019: report

Last month, Apple announced it acquired the digital magazine distributor Texture as an entry to the journalism world. Now, it plans to use its platform to launch a premium news subscription by 2019.

Apple plans to integrate Texture's platform -- which catalogued more than 200 magazines and curated them based on the user's interests for a $9.99-...Read more

Tech Q&A: Finding the cause of vanishing disk space

Q: My Windows 7 laptop has been steadily losing hard disk space as new data is stored on it from a source that I can't determine. The amount of stored data has been climbing at a rate of about 270 megabytes per day for nearly five months. I haven't added anything to the PC but recommended updates and a few spreadsheets and text files. I suspect ...Read more

Meijer to launch self-scanning app to speed grocery checkout

CHICAGO -- Meijer plans to launch a self-scanning mobile application in Chicago-area stores by the end of the summer, a move likely to be followed by some larger retailers in the near future.

The Shop & Scan service allows shoppers to scan products as they shop with a Meijer app downloaded on their phones and bag the groceries on the go. To ...Read more

One of the solar system's early planets didn't survive, but its diamonds are now on Earth

Scientists have found the first hard evidence of a large and ancient protoplanet embedded in extraterrestrial diamonds that fell to Earth about 10 years ago.

To be clear, the diamonds did not fall to Earth on their own. Instead, they were discovered inside a small asteroid that slammed into the atmosphere over the Nubian Desert in northeastern ...Read more

More than 3,300 Android apps are improperly tracking kids, study finds

Thousands of family-friendly apps from the Google Play Store are potentially violating federal law, according to a new large-scale study from North American and European universities and organizations.

The research, recently published in the journal Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, showed that 3,337 Android apps on Google Play ...Read more

Helpware: The state of stuff I can do without

In previous columns I wrote about computer hardware and software I rely on nearly every day. This week I'll tackle the state of stuff I don't need and, in some instances, stuff I wish I hadn't bought.

Computers -- laptops or desktops -- with less than eight gigabytes of memory: Eight gigs are the minimum for either Windows PCs or Macs. ...Read more

NASA is about to step up its planet-hunting game with the launch of TESS

On a cold, clear night in January, Massachusetts Institute of Technology astrophysicist George Ricker and his students stepped onto a rooftop on campus and aimed a camera at the highest point in the sky.

That camera, an engineering model of the four being launched with NASA's TESS mission, revealed a night so thick with stars that they obscured...Read more

As Facebook embraces artificial intelligence tools, will it further spook consumers?

WASHINGTON -- Social media companies have embraced artificial intelligence tools to scrub their platforms of hate speech, terrorist propaganda and other content deemed noxious. But will those tools censor other content? Can a program judge the value of speech?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Congress last week that his company is rapidly ...Read more

Reddit CEO says racism allowed, but not 'welcome,' on the site

Reddit has a history of allowing its users to say just about anything. On Wednesday, its CEO said racist language is just fine -- officially giving license to the hatred that already lives on the site, which bills itself as the front page of the internet.

Now he's backpedaling a bit.

As tech companies face increasing pressure to police content...Read more

Sea turtles use magnetic fields 'like GPS.' But sometimes they get the wrong address

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Research from North Carolina biologists shows that loggerhead sea turtles use the Earth's magnetic fields to navigate back to their home beaches.

But sometimes, another beach has such a similar magnetic field, the sea turtles head to that one instead, as if their internal GPS has just slightly mixed up addresses -- even if ...Read more

Too much sitting may thin the part of your brain that's important for memory, study suggests

If you want to take a good stroll down memory lane, new research suggests you'd better get out of that chair more often.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have found that in people middle-aged and older, a brain structure that is key to learning and memory is plumpest in those who spend the most time standing up and moving. At every age...Read more

Bay Area still dominates U.S. venture capital industry but cracks may be showing

Despite all the talk of technology companies and workers leaving the Bay Area for cheaper pastures, Silicon Valley looks strong as ever -- for now.

Technology companies in the Bay Area raised more than $10 billion in the first three months of 2018, according to a new report Wednesday on the venture capital industry by Dow Jones. A total of 408 ...Read more