XPRIZE selects winners of autonomous seafloor-mapping competition

XPRIZE selects winners of autonomous seafloor-mapping competition

Enlarge / Part of the winning team’s system. (credit: XPRIZE)

The winners of the latest XPRIZE competition were announced on Friday. Sponsored by Shell with a bonus prize from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the competition focused on the challenge of exploring the seafloor and saw 32 teams from around the world competing for $7 million.

The primary goal was to build an autonomous, high-resolution seafloor-mapping system that could be launched from a similarly uncrewed boat. Seafloor mapping is incredibly expensive, which limits its use. If the research vessel and extensive crew weren’t necessary, a lot more work could get done with the current amount of funding.

XPRIZE’s competition overview.

Nine finalist teams split $1 million last year before the final rounds of testing. Each team took its creations to Kalamata, Greece (an audible after hurricanes scrambled the initial plan to work in Puerto Rico), where

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Review: Amazon’s Good Omens is very bit as entertaining as original novel.

Review: Amazon’s Good Omens is very bit as entertaining as original novel.

Heaven and Hell prepare to face off in the long-planned battle of Armageddon, but an angel, a demon, and a rebellious Antichrist aren’t quite as enthusiastic about the prospect in Good Omens. The six-part limited series is based on the original 1990 novel by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, and it’s every bit as entertaining as the source material.

(Some spoilers for the book and series below.)

Confession: I am an uber-fan, having read the book multiple times over the last 19 years. I’ll likely read it several more times before I kick off this mortal coil, so I’m very much in the target audience for the series. Good Omens is the story of an angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and a demon Crowley (David Tennant) who gradually become friends over the millennia and team up to avert Armageddon. They’ve come to be rather fond of the

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Wireless nanowire lasers absorb infrared, emit blue light

Wireless nanowire lasers absorb infrared, emit blue light

Enlarge / This article is about lasers (not necessarily the one pictured). (credit: Knick Banas / Flickr)

Some of us are anxiously awaiting the photonics revolution, where photons will band together to overthrow the tyranny of electrons. One of the perpetual problems that’s slowing up the revolution is light sources: you need to have a laser that is coupled to a circuit that is going to do something. All of this has to be on a tiny scale that can compete with electronics. It shouldn’t consume much power either.

That’s a hard collection of hurdles to clear. But there is a loophole: a photonic circuit could have the sort of application that electronic devices don’t do very well.

Now, researchers have used that loophole as an excellent excuse to do a very cool experiment in powering lasers. The researchers showed how to power a laser with a laser—something that

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Cryptocurrency firms renew push to break free from SEC rules

Cryptocurrency firms renew push to break free from SEC rules

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Many cryptocurrency startups and investors are unhappy with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s uncertain approach to the sector, saying the agency is killing innovation and driving companies from the US. Now the Canadian social media company Kik—backed by prominent voices in the crypto world—is stepping up its effort to use the courts to force the SEC’s hand.

On Tuesday, Kik announced a crowdfunding effort to help it fight the SEC over the company’s 2017 initial coin offering, in which it sold nearly $100 million worth of a token it called kin. The company says it sold a currency that could be used across a network of apps, whether to get paid for taking surveys or to buy new stickers and themes. The SEC disagrees, arguing in a proposed action last November that kin are securities—investments subject to strict rules about how they can be sold.

Kik’s fight has drawn

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