As is the case each year, cities worldwide welcomed the New Year with dazzling fireworks shows. In case you missed them, here are a few of the thousands of spectacular displays that lit up the skies around the globe at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2017.
Ever since Apple introduced the front-facing camera in 2010, selfies have become the undisputed king of social media. The incessant need to share breathtaking self-portraits on popular mobile photo services like Instagram and Snapchat has often proved to be dangerous and, in some cases, even deadly. Fortunately, that will not be the case for those using a new art installation in Columbus, Ohio, which transforms an ordinary phone selfie into a 14-feet-high 3D sculpture, which can be admired by all.
As had been widely anticipated, on Thursday, December 14, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to repeal the net neutrality regulations put in place by the agency two years ago. Why should you care? Because if critics are right, it may hinder your ability to access your favorite social media apps, play video games, or stream movies.
Today, December 12, marks the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Since the eight-day celebration begins at the 25th day of Kislev, the ninth month on the Hebrew calendar, its exact date varies from late November to the end of December.
After almost a year of orbiting the sun, on September 22, 2017, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) made its closest flyby of Earth. Moving at speeds of about 19,000 mph, the spacecraft passed within 11,000 miles of the planet’s surface just south of Chile, before zooming over Antarctica. The carefully orchestrated encounter was designed to take advantage of the Earth’s gravity to help launch OSIRIS-REx towards a tiny asteroid named Bennu. Referred to as the slingshot effect, or gravity assist, the ingenious method helps propel spacecrafts to great distances without expending precious fuel.
With the New Year just weeks away, you are probably looking forward to watching the dazzling fireworks shows that will usher in 2018 worldwide. Unfortunately, the over ten million visually impaired and blind Americans, and scores more around the globe, have never been able to experience this joyful celebration. That may change soon thanks to Feeling Fireworks, a tactile fireworks experience invented by the masterminds at the Disney Research Lab in Switzerland.
A week before the December 2 season-opening race of the 2017 FIA Formula E Championship, Techeetah team driver Jean-Éric Vergne got behind the wheel for an unusual challenge. The French driver, who placed fifth at the 2016 FIA championship, tested his driving skills against the world’s fastest land animal – the cheetah. And, unlike the Michael Phelps race against a shark earlier this year, this one did not rely on a CGI animated replica.
Facial recognition is a complex task which requires as many as 200 neurons in the brain’s temporal lobe, called “face patches,” to fire up simultaneously within milliseconds. Hence the skill has always been believed to be the realm of “intelligent” animals such as humans, monkeys, apes, dogs, and horses. Now, British scientists have found that the unassuming cud-chewing sheep also possess this skill.