Science & Technology

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Tech Q&A: Weighing the risks of outdated software

Q: I use Microsoft Office 2007, which I load from a disk instead of my hard drive. After a recent Windows 10 update, most of the icons for my Word documents changed from a blue "W" to an orange "MS."

When I click on those icons, a message tells me that I don't have Office on my PC, then offers to let me try or buy Office 2013.

I checked on ...Read more

Alaska Airlines, Bill Gates team up with Code.org to teach how computers work

SEATTLE -- Seat-back video screens on Alaska Airlines flights will now offer a bit more than HGTV reruns or the chance to see a semi-new-release movie.

Alaska has started airing, free for passengers, a series of short videos featuring Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates teaching how computers work.

The new in-flight entertainment comes out of a ...Read more

Facebook urged to pull plug on Messenger Kids

Saying young children are "simply not ready" for social media, health experts and children's advocates are urging Facebook to discontinue Messenger Kids, its new messaging app.

The app is aimed at younger than 13, which until now has been the minimum age of users of Facebook and other social networks. When Facebook introduced it last month, ...Read more

Helpware: A graphics tablet for doodlers

When I was gainfully employed and swamped with meetings that seemingly had neither beginnings nor ends, I'd pass the time doodling. My coworkers on each side of me would look at my doodling, including sketches of the group leader droning on, and there'd be smiles and nods of encouragement. In a typical meeting I'd go through a dozen sheets on a ...Read more

Brain scans reveal that friends really are on the same wavelength

What can an astronaut, baby sloths, a sentimental music video and an MRI scanner reveal about your friends? Quite a lot, a new study reveals.

Researchers put 42 business school students in an MRI machine and showed them a series of 14 videos. As they watched the clips, the scanner recorded the activity in their brains.

Those patterns could be ...Read more

This dinosaur from Egypt is a really big deal — in more ways than one

Introducing Mansourasaurus shahinae, a newly discovered dinosaur from Egypt.

It's a big discovery in more ways than one.

This dinosaur is a titanosaur, so it belongs to the same group as some of the largest creatures that ever walked the Earth.

It's also Africa's most complete dinosaur specimen from the late Cretaceous epoch, researchers say....Read more

Will a machine pick your next medication?

What once seemed like a scene from a 22nd century sci-fi movie is reality today. High speed, big data-processing computers combine artificial intelligence with human know-how to crack complex health care conditions. This deep computer analysis may unveil new patterns that could bolster your provider's ability to prescribe precise therapies, make...Read more

Science: Discovery of an ALS accomplice

Researchers studying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, have long been suspicious about the protein known as TDP-43. Now, in a publication in Nature Neuroscience, Mayo researchers provide enough evidence to indict the protein as an ALS accomplice. TDP-43 turns up in the brains of 97 percent of ALS patients. It's also found in other ...Read more

SpaceX aiming for first Falcon Heavy launch on Feb. 6

SpaceX is aiming to launch its long-awaited Falcon Heavy rocket in less than two weeks.

Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted Saturday that the Hawthorne, Calif., space company is targeting Feb. 6 for the demonstration launch of its heavy-lift rocket.

The Falcon Heavy will launch from the former Apollo launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida...Read more

A spider that hunts other spiders: 18 new species of this bizarre Madagascar arachnid are unveiled

An unusual spider lurks in Madagascar's rainforests.

With an elongated neck and a curved, beak-like mouth, this spider bears a striking resemblance to a pelican. But to other arachnids, these "pelican spiders" look like an eight-legged nightmare -- if they even see them coming.

The tiny assassins hunt other spiders, and they use their strange ...Read more

The search for life on other planets could get a boost from biosignatures

By studying the atmospheric contents of ancient and present-day Earth, scientists say they've discovered specific chemical combinations that could reveal the presence of biological activity on other planets.

These biosignatures, described in the journal Science Advances, could offer a key tool in the search for extraterrestrial life.

"There's ...Read more

Fossil found in Israeli cave may change story of human migration out of Africa

The story of how and when modern humans first left Africa may be more ancient and more complex than anyone knew.

This week, anthropologists excavating a collapsed cave in Israel described a Homo sapiens fossil fragment that has been dated to between 194,000 and 175,000 years ago.

It is the earliest known modern human fossil to be found outside...Read more

Tobacco giant presses its case for a better-for-you cigarette

Philip Morris International, the company that supplies Marlboros, Parliaments and Virginia Slims to smokers across the globe, is looking to get into a less dangerous line of business. At a meeting this week outside Washington, the world's premier purveyor of cigarettes is trying to convince a panel convened by the Food and Drug Administration ...Read more

Earthquake fault runs through Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills' shopping district, California geologists say

LOS ANGELES -- New data from state geologists show that an earthquake fault runs below Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills' shopping district, heightening the known seismic risk in an area famous for Cartier, Gucci, Prada and other luxury brands.

The California Geological Survey's final map has the Santa Monica fault zone cutting through the so-...Read more

Why the imported washing machine you want is getting more expensive

CHICAGO -- At $1,899, one of the priciest washing machines for sale at Abt Electronics in Glenview, Ill., is Samsung's two-washers-in-one-machine Steel FlexWash. As a result of new tariffs approved by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, that price tag is about to get steeper.

Consumers considering solar panels are going to feel a similar sticker...Read more

Helpware: An auteur who doesn't go by the book

Why is it so difficult to edit a five-minute home movie? Why aren't movie-editing programs more intuitive? Why do they keep crashing? How thick do windows have to be to prevent neighbors from hearing full-throated cussing? Lots of questions; no good answers.

Movie-editing programs have basic moves in common. First, organize the film clips and ...Read more

Tech Q&A: How to fix a PC that's 'out of memory'

Q: I frequently get an "out of memory" message on my Windows 7 PC, and usually have to shut down the PC to get rid of it. What can I do about this?

Margaret Lonergan, Minneapolis

A: There are several possible reasons you got the "out of memory" message, but often it means your PC's RAM (random access memory) is full.

RAM, or computer chip ...Read more

Company aims to digitize paper-recycling industry

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A Minnesota company hopes a new partnership will help make the movement of recycled paper goods more efficient.

Third-party logistics provider C.H. Robinson will work with MerQbiz -- a joint venture between German technology group Voith and Boston Consulting Group's Digital Ventures -- to allow buyers and sellers of ...Read more

Jennifer Van Grove: The smartphone trap (or why it's time to put your phone down)

Are we raising digital monsters? Absolutely. And everyone from parents to Facebook and society as a whole is to blame.

So instead of playing the blame game, I think the most constructive way forward is to take every opportunity we -- not just parents -- have to put the phone down. In the bedroom. While driving. During meals and conversations. ...Read more