Tech news stories

Solar Eclipse Research Thrives in Darkness
20th August 2017 | Space, Tech

Scroll through an incredible photogallery covering 12 small articles compiled by the National Science Foundation related to scientific experimented either planned or implemented around the sun’s anatomy and eclipses.

Eclipse to Test California’s Solar Power Grid
19th August 2017 | | Earth, Space, Tech

Unlike most eclipse-watchers in the United States, Eric Schmitt wouldn’t mind seeing a few clouds in the sky when the moon starts blotting out the sun on Monday August 21. “A cloudy morning might even be helpful for us,” he said.  That’s because, as the vice president for operations at the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s electric grid, he will be dealing with an unusual challenge.

Meet the Folk Art Collector Who Makes NASA-Approved Solar Eclipse Glasses
19th August 2017 | | Humans, Space, Tech

John Jerit may be one of the very few people in America you could describe as “eclipse rich.” Jerit’s business, American Paper Optics—one of the major American manufacturers of NASA-approved eclipse glasses — booms every time the sun’s disk gets covered by the moon.  Jerit also happens to be one of the major American collectors of visionary folk art. His sprawling collection of work by “outsider” artists is, in a literal sense, purchased with the help of celestial movements.

NASA 3D Simulation: What to Expect When Viewing the Eclipse
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

What does a partial eclipse look like, anyway? A new web-based tool from NASA lets anyone preview the event from any location, making it easy to see the difference between the upcoming total eclipse traversing a narrow band of the country, and the partial event most Americans will experience. The Eyes on the Eclipse application allows users to simulate a view of the eclipse from any point on the planet, and can be used with any web browser.

New Braille Book, Rumble Map, and Multisensory Eclipse App for the Deaf or Visually Impaired
19th August 2017 | | Humans, Space, Tech

The Eclipse Soundscapes Project uses sound to create a multisensory eclipse experience. The app includes audio descriptions of the eclipse in real time, as well as recordings of environmental sounds that tend to change during an eclipse. Users can also visualize the eclipse through touch, using the app’s interactive “rumble map.”  NASA, too, is helping blind people experience the eclipse. The agency has created a Braille book called “Getting a Feel for Eclipses,” which features graphics that help users learn more about the total solar eclipse and the science behind the celestial event. More than 5,000 copies of the book have been distributed to schools and libraries for the blind, as well as other educational institutions.  According to a spokesperson, NASA is privileged to help bring this historic eclipse to a segment of our population who have previously not had an opportunity to enjoy these celestial phenomena.

Computer Simulation Provides Preview of Upcoming Solar Eclipse
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

Scientists have forecast the corona of the sun during the upcoming eclipse. The findings shed light on what the eclipse of the sun might look like August 21 when it will be visible across much of the US, tracing a 70-mile-wide band across 14 states.  Researchers used the Stampede2 supercomputer to predict what the eclipse will look like.

How Eclipses Drove 2,000 Years of Math
19th August 2017 | | Ancient, Space, Tech

Stephen Wolfram, one of the biggest names in mathematical computing, has built a new tool to help skywatchers prepare for the total solar eclipse of August 21, and penned a deep dive into how eclipses have driven mathematics.  It is nothing less than a multimillenium tale of computation.

Why the Total Eclipse Has Solar Physicists Very Excited
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

To this day, many aspects of the Sun remain a mystery: What causes solar flares when massive amounts of energy and plasma are ejected from the sun?  Why is the corona, the solar atmosphere, actually hotter than the surface?  This Great American Solar Eclipse event provides a natural experiment and a unique opportunity for scientists to test some of these questions during conditions which cannot be manually recreated.

Sunsquatch Map? : A Collection of the Best – and Quirkiest – Maps for the Total Solar Eclipse
19th August 2017 | Space, Tech, Weird

The 2017 total solar eclipse has inspired many American mapmakers to create a wide variety of maps, from practical guides for eclipse chasers to whimsical mashups of the eclipse path with unrelated phenomena. It’s the first major eclipse to cross the continent since digital mapping became as popular, accessible and ubiquitous as it is. The folks at National Geographic have gathered some of the prettiest, most informative, and most fun maps being released for the eclipse. One of these called The Sunsquatch Map details the best places to see the eclipse and Bigfoot at the same time.  There is also another for viewing UFOs and the eclipse.

Do’s and Don’ts of Solar Eclipse Viewing Safety
19th August 2017 | | Humans, Space, Tech

Anticipating the serious need for caution during the eclipse, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released its eclipse guide on Friday, outlining some of the biggest dos and don’ts for this monumental event. This isn’t to say it’s all doom and gloom.  Just keep in mind that you’ll better be able to enjoy the eclipse if you know you’re safe and don’t get fuzzy eyes.

Why This Year’s Solar Eclipse is Such a Big Deal for Scientists
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

The sky will go dark. The temperature will drop. Stars will shine in the middle of the day. For the first time in nearly a century, millions of Americans from coast-to-coast will witness a total solar eclipse. Those who have watched the sun suddenly snuff out say it’s an otherworldly feeling. It can be humbling. It can be spiritual. It can change the course of history.  But as the moon passes in front of the sun during the August 21 Great American Eclipse, scientists will be doing some serious work.

Learning a Ton of New Science from 2 Minutes of a Total Solar Eclipse
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

The 2017 total solar eclipse is special. Unlike 1918, we now have the technology to study its entire journey over the US.  This short video explains some of what will be gleaned during the event.

Volvo SUV Models Get Free Moonroof Solar Eclipse Viewer Shades
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

Volvo doesn’t want you to be among your fellow citizens, marveling in the magnitude of the cosmos. Rather, it wants to you to stay the hermetically sealed environment of its SUV.  The Swedish automaker has manufactured a batch of oversized sun shades that can be clipped on to the 2018 XC60 SUV’s panoramic moonroof using magnets. The shade is made from ISO-certified material, allowing you watch the eclipse without protective eyewear or going blind. Volvo has distributed them to dealerships in states that are in the eclipse’s path of totality, including Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Missouri, and South Carolina. The viewers are supposed to be free, which is a small comfort given the overwhelming message of this product flies directly in the face of the communal spirit of the Great American Eclipse.

How to Photograph the Solar Eclipse Without Damaging Your Camera
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

Most Americans will at least see some of what was once thought of to be a celestial dragon devouring the Sun.  There are ways you can photograph the Great American Eclipse without damaging your camera or phone (or eyes), but if you do it wrong, you could permanently damage your devices. Looking at the Sun with the naked eye can burn your retinas, even if that star we orbit is almost entirely covered by the Moon. That’s why you need to wear protective glasses or use some other method to view the eclipse safely.

Sky High Solar Eclipse? Here’s What You Might See From an Airplane
19th August 2017 | | Space, Tech

No matter where you are in the contiguous United States on 21 August, if skies are clear, you’ll see something that hasn’t been glimpsed since 1918 – a total solar eclipse visible across the country from coast to coast.  But what if you’re not on the ground? What if you happen to be midair on an airplane during the total solar eclipse?

Google Trained Vizier A.I. Computers with Chocolate Chip Cookies
18th August 2017 | | Tech

Google has turned to an unusual source to train its high-tech AI: chocolate chip cookie recipes. Tasking programmers with helping an AI learn from data through trial-and-error is tedious and time-consuming, so the company has employed a neural network called Vizier to help another neural networks learn via a type of training automation called hyperparameter tuning. To teach Vizier, Google tasked it with formatting the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, considering taste-tester feedback until it for the recipe just right.

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