Category Archives: Science

Galaxy S8 – Why now is a good and bad time to buy Samsung’s flagship phone

SAMSUNG’S Galaxy S8 will soon get overtaken by the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus – here’s the reasons why you should and shouldn’t buy one right now.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus marked the start of a huge renaissance for the South Korean tech giant after the Note 7 exploding battery fiasco.

The stunning Infinity Display, great battery life, slick design and zippy processor made the S8 a huge hit with consumers and critics alike.

Samsung liked the look of the S8 so much that the Note 8 ended up mimicking it, with both devices two of the best smartphones 2017 had to offer.

But as the almost year-old smartphone gets set to be superseded by the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, is now or good time to jump in and buy the S8?

For fans thinking of buying the S8 at the moment, one of the big draws is the great money saving deals on offer right now.

Currently, Amazon UK are offering a huge saving on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

The S8 and S8 Plus had an RRP of £689 and £779 respectively.

But Amazon currently has the S8 available for £557.98 – a huge saving of over £130.

Amazon UK are also offering a similar saving on the S8 Plus, with it available for £649.98.

That’s around £129 off the usual asking price.

Amazon Prime subscribers can also get free one-day delivery so their new S8 and S8 Plus arrives as soon as possible.

The S8 is also available on contracts at a great price right now.

The recommended deal is for a Vodafone contract, which boasts 4GB of monthly data, unlimited minutes and unlimited texts.

To get the deal, you’ll need to sign up to a two year contract with monthly payments of £23 and also pay a £185 upfront fee.

The deal works out at £737 over the course of the two year contract.

While there are plenty of great deals on offer now, there is one thing that may be holding fans back from stumping up the cash right now.

Trailer for Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

And that’s the looming shadow of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

While CES 2018 was taking place this week, Samsung revealed the launch date for the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

The next entry in the hugely-successful Galaxy S smartphone range will be unveiled next month.

DJ Koh, president of the technology company’s mobile division, confirmed the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will launch at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) tradeshow in February.

It’s been rumoured that the S9 and S9 Plus could get a release date soon afterwards in March.

This would mean the S9 is launching earlier in the year than the S8 did, which went on sale during April 2017.

Initial rumours had suggested the S9 could increase the size of the S8’s Infinity Display, with a much smaller bezel at the bottom of the gadget.

It would have meant the front of the S9 would be virtually all taken up with the screen, with only a bezel towards the top visible.

But a slew of more recent rumours have suggested the S9 and S9 Plus will sport an almost identical design to their predecessors.

While on the outside it will look like business on usual, on the inside there are expected to be number of changes.


The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are two of the best phones money can buy

Sources have said the S9 and S9 Plus will include built-in AKG stereo speakers, which would be a huge draw for audiophiles.

The inclusion of AKG stereo speakers should dramatically improve the performance of the built-in speakers.

The Galaxy S9+ is also tipped to include the same dual-camera set-up that debuted with the Galaxy Note 8 earlier this year.

Also, it’s rumoured the biggest issue with the S8 and S8 Plus will be fixed with the S9 and S9 Plus.

According to rumours, the fingerprint scanner on the S9 will be moved.

Instead of the S8’s location right next to the lens, which made it easy to smudge the camera, the S9 will allegedly move it underneath the snapper.

So, the S9 looks set to offer a number of improvements on the S8.

But if you do decide to buy the current Galaxy S phone you won’t be disappointed with it being one of the best smartphones Samsung has ever made.

Samsung 5G breaks record for FASTEST data transmission

In our review, published before the release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, we said: “The Galaxy S8 is jaw-droppingly beautiful and eye-wateringly powerful.

“It’s also incredibly annoying – thanks to the frustrating fingerprint scanner and its unreliable alternatives.

“But even with these imperfections, Samsung Galaxy S8 still stands head and shoulders above the competition.

“There’s no doubt that rival companies will catch-up and replicate the Infinity Display design eventually, but those who want to hold the future today, need look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S8.”

What stars will hatch from the Tarantula Nebula? NASA’s flying observatory seeks to find out

To have a full picture of the lives of massive stars, researchers need to study them in all stages – from when they’re a mass of unformed gas and dust, to their often dynamic end-of-life explosions.


NASA’s flying , the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is particularly well-suited for studying the pre-natal stage of stellar development in , such as the Tarantula Nebula, a giant mass of gas and dust located within the Large Magellanic Cloud, or LMC.

Researchers from the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, led by Michael Gordon, went aboard SOFIA to identify and characterize the brightness, ages and dust content of three young star-forming regions within the LMC.

“The Large Magellanic Cloud has always been an interesting and excellent laboratory for massive star formation,” said Gordon. “The chemical properties of star-forming regions in the LMC are significantly different than in the Milky Way, which means the stars forming there potentially mirror the conditions of star formation in dwarf galaxies at earlier times in the universe.”

In our galactic neighborhood, which includes the LMC,  – generally classified as stars more than eight times the mass of Earth’s Sun – are believed to form exclusively in very dense molecular clouds. The dark dust and gas absorb background light, which prevents traditional optical telescopes from imaging these areas.

“The mid-infrared capabilities of SOFIA are ideal for piercing through infrared dark clouds to capture images of potential massive star-forming regions,” Gordon said.

The observations were completed with the Faint Object infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope, known as FORCAST. This infrared camera also performs spectroscopy, which identifies the elements present.

Astronomers study stars evolving in both the optical and the infrared to learn more about the photosphere, and the population of stars in the photosphere. The mid- and far-infrared data from SOFIA reaffirm dust temperature and mass accretion rates that are consistent with prior research of the LMC.

“We want to combine as many observations as we can from the optical, as seen through images from the Hubble Space Telescope, all the way out to the far infrared, imaged using the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory, to get as broad a picture as possible,” Gordon continued. “No previous researchers have used FORCAST’s wavelength range to effectively study massive star formations. We needed SOFIA to fill in the 20- to 40-micron gap to give us the whole picture of what’s taking place.”

In summer 2017, further research of the Tarantula Nebula was accomplished aboard SOFIA during the observatory’s six-week science campaign operating from Christchurch, New Zealand, to study the sky in the Southern Hemisphere. Gordon and his team are hopeful that when analyzed, data obtained from the Christchurch flights will reveal previously undiscovered young massive  forming in the region, which have never been observed outside of the Milky Way.

SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 100-inch diameter telescope. It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR.

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Autonomous vehicle testing is nothing new in San Francisco. Waymo has been introducing their vehicles to the road in the bay area since 2009. It’s no surprise then that the company’s self-driving fleet is back for more testing with their latest vehicle addition, the autonomous, hybrid Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

A Waymo spokesperson explained to TechCrunch why they keep returning to test in this region, stating “Now that we have the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving cars running in Arizona, the hilly and foggy streets of San Francisco will give our cars even more practice in different terrains and environments.”

While testing across the country is important to expose the technology to human driving behaviors and a wide range of conditions, San Fransisco has a unique set of difficulties for autonomous vehicles to overcome, making it a preferred testing ground for many. It has fog, steep and sudden road inclines, challenging and often dense traffic, a thriving bike community, frequent construction and roadwork, and a high level of activity as it is a bustling city and tourist destination.


Waymo is a driving force in the adoption and advancement of autonomous vehicles. The self-driving tech company has even launched a public trial of their vehicles, an “early rider program,” in Phoenix, Ariz, and are testing them in a variety of states, including California, Texas, Washington, and Arizona.

Waymo "early riders". Image Credit: Waymo
Waymo “early riders”. Image Credit: Waymo

Waymo’s impressive fleet has totaled over 4 million test miles, though so far most of those miles have been in city environments. In 2017, the company announced that they not only have fully autonomous vehicles, but plan to create a ride-hailing service using these vehicles.

While Waymo is certainly not the only company interested in applying autonomous tech to ride-hailing services, the Chrysler Pacifica minivan represents a a shift towards a somewhat undeserved crowd in the world of self-driving vehicles — families. In the coming years, we may see autonomous vehicles that cater not only to the super rich or individual commuters, but to soccer moms and dads as well. This is good news, as autonomous functionalities could very well save lives.

Chinese engineer claims space station is not out of control

BEIJING – China’s Tiangong-1 space station is not out of control and does not pose a safety threat, a top Chinese spaceflight engineer said on Monday, after reports that the station was falling toward earth.

The Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace 1,” China’s first space lab, was launched into orbit in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments as part of China’s ambitious space program, which aims to place a permanent station in orbit by 2023.

Tiangong-1 was originally planned to be decommissioned in 2013 but China has repeatedly extended the length of its mission. The delay of re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, which China said would happen in late 2017, had led some experts to suggest the space laboratory may be out of control.

Zhu Congpeng, a top engineer at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, told the state-backed Science and Technology Daily newspaper that the space station was not crashing and did not pose a safety or environmental threat.

“We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year,” Zhu told the newspaper.

“It will burn up on entering the atmosphere and the remaining wreckage will fall into a designated area of the sea, without endangering the surface,” he said.

Re-entry was delayed in September 2017 in order to ensure that the wreckage would fall into an area of the South Pacific ocean where debris from Russian and US space stations had previously landed, the paper said.

The California-based Aerospace Corporation, a non-profit group that works the US government, said the Tiangong-1’s re-entry was unlikely to be controlled but was highly unlikely to hit people or damage property, according to a post on its website last updated on Jan 3.

“Although not declared officially, it is suspected that control of Tiangong-1 was lost and will not be regained before re-entry,” it said. There may be hazardous material on board that could survive re-entry, it said.

Advancing China’s space program is a priority for President Xi Jinping, who has called for China to become a global space power with both advanced civilian space flight and capabilities that strengthen national security.

Beijing insists that its space program is for peaceful purposes, but the US Defense Department has said China’s program could be aimed at blocking adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.

A science news preview of 2018

2018 will see a raft of space missions that highlight the international nature of present-day space exploration. First up is Chandrayaan 2, India’s follow-up to its groundbreaking lunar mission launched in 2008.

While its predecessor was an orbiter, Chandrayaan 2 will comprise an orbiter, lander and rover developed by the country’s space agency, ISRO. The mission is currently slated to launch on a GSLV rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh around March.

In May, Nasa will launch its Insight spacecraft to Mars. Insight will use a sophisticated suite of instruments to probe deep beneath the surface of the Red Planet, looking for clues to how it formed. It will also listen for “marsquakes” which could shed light on the planet’s internal structure.

Insight landerImage copyrightNASA
Image captionNasa’s Insight mission will look for “Marsquakes”

In July, the Japanese space agency’s (Jaxa) Hayabusa 2 spacecraft will arrive at its target, the asteroid 162173 Ryugu, in an effort to return samples of this space rock to Earth. Its predecessor, Hayabusa, captured the world’s imagination when, in 2005, it reached asteroid Itokawa.

Although that mission suffered some mishaps, it managed to return to Earth with some tiny specks of asteroid material – enough for scientists to get information from.

Engineers have made several improvements for Hayabusa 2, which aims to build on its pioneering predecessor by returning even more asteroid material and successfully deploying several small landers to Ryugu’s surface.

Japan won’t be the only country to visit an asteroid next year. Nasa’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft, launched in 2016, is due to rendezvous with the object known as 101955 Bennu in August. Osiris-Rex will also aims to collect a sample of soil and rock and get it back to our planet for analysis.

Finally, Europe and Japan could despatch a mission to explore the first planet from the Sun: Mercury. The mission, Bepi Colombo, will seek to deepen and extend the knowledge gained at Mercury by the US space agency’s recent Messenger spacecraft.

BepiColombo consists of two spacecraft launched on one rocket; the mission will carry out detailed mapping and investigate the planet’s magnetic field. Scientists hope to shed light on key questions, such as why Mercury seems to consist of a large iron core with just a thin shell of silicate rocks on the outside.

Commercial space race

Falcon HeavyImage copyrightSPACEX
Image captionElon Musk tweeted pictures of the Falcon Heavy under assembly

2018 should be the year Elon Musk’s private launch company SpaceX lofts one of the most powerful rockets ever built: the Falcon Heavy.

In December, Mr Musk tweeted tantalising photos of the huge vehicle under assembly at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The heavy-lift rocket consists of two of the company’s existing Falcon 9 boosters strapped to a central core stage. The 70m-long leviathan has been designed to launch payloads up to 57 metric tonnes into space, allowing SpaceX to move into new satellite launch markets and – eventually – loft astronauts beyond Earth orbit.

Private firms could also take significant steps towards their goal of transporting crews to the International Space Station (ISS) – but it’s always possible the schedule could slip to 2019.

Under current plans, SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing would perform the first crewed launches from US soil since Nasa’s space shuttle was retired in July 2011. Since then, the US has been reliant on Russia’s Soyuz launcher for transporting crew to the ISS – something that has rankled many who work in the American spaceflight sector.

Boeing starlinerImage copyrightBOEING
Image captionBoeing’s Starliner could eventually transport astronauts to the International Space Station

Both companies plan to test their launch systems, performing uncrewed demonstrations in the first instance to gather engineering data. Then, they are expected to launch astronauts in the vehicles. But with the lives of Nasa astronauts at stake on a brand new launch system, nobody will be taking any chances – so delays are not out of the question.

But successful tests (whenever they happen) should lead to both systems being human-certified by the US space agency, allowing SpaceX and Boeing to begin fulfilling contracts to transport astronauts to the space station.

These craft should later be joined by Nasa’s own launch system – the long-awaited (and expensive) Orion capsule and SLS rocket, which will be used to send people beyond low-Earth orbit. If everything proceeds to plan, Orion could be launched on an uncrewed test flight in 2019 and a launch with astronauts in 2021.

Need for speed

BloodhoundImage copyrightEPA

After several schedule slips, the UK’s Bloodhound car should step up its assault on the land speed record in the autumn.

Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, the car was put through its paces on the runway at Newquay airport in 2017. That was “slow speed” testing – at just 200mph (320km/h).

Next, the team aims to exceed 500mph (800km/h) on South Africa’s Hakskeen Pan this coming October.

That’s still short of the existing world land speed record (763mph/1,228km/h), but it ought to provide the necessary engineering data to push the car to ever higher speeds in 2019 and 2020.

World’s coolest chip runs at near absolute zero

How do you find out what happens to physics near absolute zero (aka 0 kelvin), the temperature where particle motion virtually stops? Scientists at the University of Basel might have just the device to do it. They’ve developed a nanoelectronics chip that they can successfully cool to a record-setting, bitterly cold 2.8 millikelvin. The trick involved a clever use of magnetic fields to eliminate virtually all sources of heat.

The team started by using magnetic cooling (where you ramp down an applied magnetic field) to lower all the chip’s electrical connections down to 150 microkelvin. After that, they integrated another, specially constructed magnetic field system that let the researchers cool a Couloumb blockade thermometer — yes, even a thermometer’s heat is problematic when you’re edging close to absolute zero. It was successful enough that the chip could stay cold for 7 hours, which is plenty of time for tests.

This is about more than bragging rights, of course. A chip that can run in such frigid conditions could help understand physics at its very limit. You might see strange behavior, for instance. It could also be helpful in creating ideal conditions for quantum physics experiments. And there’s still some room for improvement, to boot. The scientists are “optimistic” they can refine their method to lower the overall temperature to an even chillier 1 millikelvin.

WhatsApp will ditch Blackberry OS and Windows Phone by New Year’s

WhatsApp is bidding farewell to older mobile operating systems as the year draws to a close. Specifically, it’s ending support for BlackBerry OS (including BlackBerry 10) and Windows Phone 8.0 and older on December 31st. Although the Facebook-owned messaging app will continue to work on these platforms, users won’t be able to create new accounts or re-verify existing accounts. Oh, and WhatsApp claims its app could stop functioning at any time, so maybe it’s time for that upgrade.

In the past few months alone, WhatsApp has unveiled some handy features (like quick delete for sent texts, real-time location sharing, and new universal emojis). But, it seems older platforms don’t boast the “capabilities” the company needs to expand its functions going forward.

After extending its deadline for ending BlackBerry 10 support, WhatsApp is clearly done with the OS once and for all. If you’re a BlackBerry user who prefers the messaging app over BBM (who doesn’t?), you can always grab a newer device that runs on Android. Meanwhile, Windows Phone users on 8.1 or above needn’t worry about a thing (well, apart from Microsoftturning its back on the OS, along with Windows Mobile 10).

CNN cleared to fly drones over crowds at news events

CNN was cleared by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to fly small drones over crowds of people at newsworthy events, according to a report.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday CNN, which began researching using drones for newsgathering in early  got the waiver to use a small camera attached to four spinning rotors called a “Snap” drone.

The drone is manufactured by Vantage Robotics and can fly up to 30 miles per hour, according to the company’s website.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ still dominating the movie galaxy

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is continuing its dominance over the movie galaxy as expected, outpacing three new releases. The eighth installment in the Disney-owned space saga is expected to add another nearly $69 million to its coffers over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Sony’s adventure caper “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” debuted in second place with $34 million. A pair of critically panned new musicals followed: Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3″ opened in third place with $20.4 million and Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” debuted in fourth with $8.6 million.

These three new releases collectively earned less than “The Last Jedi” since opening on Friday.

“It’s an overwhelming array of options at the movie theater, which could prove daunting to most moviegoers,” said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of comScore. “But you’d have to be a Scrooge not to find a movie you like in this marketplace.”

Sony’s president of distribution, Adrian Smith, said he was “absolutely pleased” with the performance of “Jumanji” so far.

“It’s above our expectations,” he said. “We have incredible momentum as we head into one of the biggest movie-going weeks of the year.”

Dergarabedian said the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day is traditionally among the busiest times at the Cineplex. Families are together and theaters are brimming with blockbusters and awards-season hopefuls. Two celebrated films, “Darkest Hour” and “The Shape of Water,” expanded to hundreds more screens this weekend.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Tuesday.

1. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” $68.5 million ($75.1 million international).

2. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” $34 million ($49.5 million international).

3. “Pitch Perfect 3,” $20.4 million ($9.8 million international).

4. “The Greatest Showman,” $8.6 million ($4.1 million international).

5. “Ferdinand,” $7 million ($21.5 million international).

6. “Coco,” $5.2 million ($13.3 million international).

7. “Downsizing,” $4.6 million.

8. “Darkest Hour,” $4.1 million.

9. “Father Figures,” $3.2 million.

10. “The Shape of Water,” $3 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” $75.1 million.

2. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” $49.5 million.

3. “Youth,” $34.5 million.

4. “Legend of the Demon Cat,” $33.5 million.

5. “Bleeding Steel,” $27.3 million.

6. “Ferdinand,” $21.5 million.

7. “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds,” $21 million.

8. “The Liquidator,” $19.5 million.

9. “Coco,” $13.3 million.

10. “Pitch Perfect 3,” $9.8 million.


Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.