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19/04/2019 07:24:22  

Iwastheone shares a report from MIT News: NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, has discovered its first Earth-sized exoplanet. The planet, named HD 21749c, is the smallest world outside our solar system that TESS has identified yet. In a paper published today in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, an MIT-led team of astronomers reports that the new planet orbits the star HD 21749 -- a very nearby star, just 52 light years from Earth. The star also hosts a second planet -- HD 21749b -- a warm "sub-Neptune" with a longer, 36-day orbit, which the team reported previously and now details further in the current paper. The new Earth-sized planet is likely a rocky though uninhabitable world, as it circles its star in just 7.8 days -- a relatively tight orbit that would generate surface temperatures on the planet of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The discovery of this Earth-sized world is nevertheless exciting, as it demonstrates TESS' ability to pick out small planets around nearby stars. In the near future, the TESS team expects the probe should reveal even colder planets, with conditions more suitable for hosting life. Slashdot reader RockDoctor shares a link to the paper at Arxiv, adding: The 'b' object in the system (the largest perturbation on the star's light) is estimated at 2.61*Radius_earth, and 22.7*Mass_earth for a surface gravity of 3.332*littleG_Earth. If it has a "surface" in any recognizable sense rather than gradual transitions between gas mixtures, liquid mixtures, and the digested remains of any "metals" (lithium or higher, as the astronomers say). The 'c' object is more poorly constrained. The authors give a radius (0.892*Radius_earth, derived from the depth of the eclipses), but only put an upper limit on the mass at The TESS mission has a Science Requirement "of providing 50 transiting planets smaller than 4*Radius_earth with measured masses," and the 'b' planet fits that criterion, but the 'c' planet does not, yet, have a well-enough constrained mass. Keep on catching planets!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

17/04/2019 20:24:18  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Gamers of a certain age probably remember being wowed by the quick, smooth scaling and rotation effects of the Super Nintendo's much-ballyhooed "Mode 7" graphics. Looking back, though, those gamers might also notice how chunky and pixelated those background transformations could end up looking, especially when viewed on today's high-end screens. Emulation to the rescue. A modder going by the handle DerKoun has released an "HD Mode 7" patch for the accuracy-focused SNES emulator bsnes. In their own words, the patch "performs Mode 7 transformations... at up to 4 times the horizontal and vertical resolution" of the original hardware. The results, as you can see in the above gallery and the below YouTube video, are practically miraculous. Pieces of Mode 7 maps that used to be boxy smears of color far in the distance are now sharp, straight lines with distinct borders and distinguishable features. It's like looking at a brand-new game. Perhaps the most impressive thing about these effects is that they take place on original SNES ROM and graphics files; DerKoun has said that "no artwork has been modified" in the games since the project was just a proof of concept a month ago. That makes this project different from upscaling emulation efforts for the N64 and other retro consoles, which often require hand-drawn HD texture packs to make old art look good at higher resolutions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

07/04/2019 17:24:35  

NJ Advance Media reports on "an Israeli and Maryland-based startup that claims to be able to quadruple the yield of traditional cannabis grows" -- using indoor, climate-controlled 40-inch-tall "grow fridges" that are tended by robots. You see, despite the old cliche of "growing like a weed," cannabis has actually been something of a high-maintenance slacker when it comes to its cultivation... In shade, it provides far less seed and pollen. It's not tolerant of the cold, and does not reproduce well in drought. It's also very susceptible to fungal infections, so too much water leaves it vulnerable to pathogens... For years, the high price fetched by traditionally farmed cannabis and low cost of human labor conspired to make robotic farming uneconomical. What else is inside the Seedo container besides the plants, gro-bots and soil? Nothing -- which is kind of the whole point: Seedo uses a patented, beyond-surgical grade filtration system that ionizes the air, making it deadly to bacteria, viruses and mold.... At $150,000 per Seedo container, the costs to achieve this are high, but cutting the usual 10 percent to 20 percent loss to disease of a traditionally farmed cannabis crop to disease to less than 5 percent, they rapidly become economical... A traditionally-farmed 1,000 square meter grow operation produces 600 kilograms of cannabis per year. But Levy says 16 Seedo containers (along with a Seedo robot to tend them) can fit into that same space, producing 2.4 tons of dry bud [2,177 kilograms]. And because they can be stacked 5 high, the same robotically farmed footprint can generate up to 12 tons [10,886 kilograms] of dry bud cannabis. "You can make a return on investment very fast," said Levy, whose backers now include include Daniel Birnbaum, the CEO of SodaStream International, acquired by Pepsi late last year for $3.2 billion. "Think of Seedo as the first driverless car for hydroponic growing," explains their web site, noting that their gro-bots control each container's temperature, humidity, lighting, pH sensors, and automated CO2-release systems, with internal cameras offering HD-live streaming to their iOS/Android app. Seedo is now "in negotiations" to export its containers to California and Nevada, according to the article, and also in New Jersey -- assuming New Jersey's state legislature votes to legalize it first.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

03/04/2019 10:21:54  

Sega’s retro reboot is no mere gimmick. It’s a joyous gift to make you a child again – but with all of 2019’s HD trimmings

Those disappointed by the recent PlayStation Classic, with its limited range of built-in and mundanely emulated games, may well be wondering what the higher end of the retro console market looks lie. Well, this is it. Built by specialist company Analogue, previously responsible for the Super Nt and Nt Mini machines, the Mega Sg is billed as a “reimagining” of Sega’s original Mega Drive, the bad boy underdog of the 16-bit era.

Unlike the PlayStation Classic, the Mini SNES, or even the recently announced Sega Mega Drive Mini (coming in September), the Mega Sg doesn’t come with a pre-loaded games library. Instead it has a cartridge slot that will accept any original Mega Drive cart, and two joypad ports that can take your old controllers (it will also work with modern wireless alternatives, although these aren’t supplied). In short, this isn’t a nostalgic toy designed for a few hours of fun reminiscence, but the gaming equivalent of a high-end turntable that plays all your old records as they were meant to be played.

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28/03/2019 22:20:25  

An anonymous reader shares a report: What better way to replace New York City's thousands of aging pay phones than with 9.5-foot-tall kiosks outfitted with 55-inch HD displays, gigabit internet, and Android tablets preloaded with informational apps? So went the thinking back in 2014, when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a competition -- the Reinvent Payphones initiative -- calling on private enterprises, residents, and nonprofits to submit designs for spruced-up, publicly accessible hubs that would provide advertising-subsidized services to the public. CityBridge's LinkNYC beat out piezoelectric pressure plates, EV charging stations, and other competing proposals for a contract, and the consortium wasted no time in getting to work. Intersection -- which with Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes manages the kiosks -- said it plans to spend $200 million laying down 400 miles of new communication cables and installing as many as 10,000 Links that supply free Wi-Fi to passersby within a 150-foot radius. The first kiosk went online in January, though the project has quite a ways to go -- 1,780 Links are active currently, short of the initial goal of 4,500 kiosks by July of this year. [...] And the initial kiosks have really taken off. According to Intersection, the LinkNYC network now has more than 6 million unique users who have used 8.597 terabytes of data collectively -- equivalent to about 1.3 billion songs or 292 billion WhatsApp messages. And the project facilitates 600,000 phone calls every month, up from 500,000 in September of last year. Further reading: Free Municipal Wi-Fi May Be the Next Front In the War Against Privacy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

24/03/2019 10:20:33  

Huge screens, dynamic range, lots of pixels, OLED … cut through the telly jargon to find the right one for your home

Let’s face it. Your current TV is showing its age. Its resolution is resolutely HD (so very 00s) and it doesn’t even respond to voice commands, no matter how loud you bawl. Maybe the time has come to upgrade to something cutting edge.

Connected smart TVs are now standard fare. With integrated streaming services, you can season binge from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video without the need for an additional set top box or dongle – or multiple remotes. Just connect the TV to your home wifi or router.

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21/03/2019 10:20:47  

Chris wants to know if a Windows laptop with a 17in screen would be easier for his ‘pensioner eyes’

For home use, would a 17in Full HD laptop screen be better or worse than a 13in or 14in model? Will the clarity and crispness be better for my pensioner eyes? Chris

According to my pensioner eyes, clarity and crispness are less important than size. And in one of life’s little ironies, increasing the resolution of a screen, to make things look crisper, leads directly to a decrease in size.

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