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Sunday, October 21, 2018

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Last February, Astro Teller, the director of Google's (GOOG) secretive research lab, Google X, went to seek approval from Chief Executive Officer Larry Page for an unlikely acquisition. Teller was proposing that Google buy Makani Power, a startup that develops wind turbines mounted on unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft tethered to the ground like a kite. The startup, Teller told Page, was seeing promising results, and, he added proudly, its prototypes had survived all recent tests intact.

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Page approved Google X's acquisition of Makani, which was being completed for an undisclosed amount at press time. He also had a demand. "He said we could have the budget and the people to go do this," Teller says, "but that we had to make sure to crash at least five of the devices in the near future."

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This has to be one of the most surreal, psychedelic and fun forms of public transport. The Tunnel connects East Nanjin Rd on the Bund, and Pudong near the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, running under the Huangpu river in Shanghai, China. It's a psychedelic trip in a glass capsule along the 647-meter flashing, strobing tunnel.

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Apple's iPhone and its rivals may have introduced touchscreens to the masses, but now a raft of technologies promise to change the way we interact with computers forever.

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It is a similar story with computers. Take Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system, due to be launched by the end of 2012. Its colourful, tile-laden start screen may look startlingly different to older versions of Windows, but beneath the eye candy it's still heavily reliant on the keyboard and mouse. In fact, with one or two notable exceptions, it is striking just how little the way we interact with computers has changed in the last few decades. "The keyboard and mouse are certainly a hard act to follow," says George Fitzmaurice, head of user interface research for US software maker Autodesk. But, despite an apparent lack of apparent novelty in the majority of interfaces of today's mass market devices, there are plenty of ideas in the pipeline.

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A trans-Atlantic journey of just sixty minutes has been promised since the dawn of supersonic flight, but is it now closer to reality?

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The US Air Force has said an attempt to fly its hypersonic jet Waverider at Mach 6 (3,600mph; 5795km/h) failed.  In late September, a secretive experimental vehicle roared into the clear blue skies above a military base deep within the Arctic Circle in Norway. As the sleek, rocket approached its target altitude of 350km (218 miles), it began to arc back to earth, gradually accelerating to so-called hypersonic speeds of up to Mach 8 – about 9,800km/h (6,100 mph).

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The latest version of Apple's increasingly universally accepted cellular phone will be available for purchase worldwide starting on September 28, 2012.

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In addition to all its suddenly old features, the new model includes updates for live-in computer aide Siri, a new operating system and a wider screen.  The new iPhone is 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S. However, it does not feature an NFC (near field communication) chip to allow it to make touch-less payments.