In this 1915 photo, the children appear to be raising their arms in a siege heil salute of the American flag. Actually, this gesture was part of the Pledge of Allegiance ritual for decades. Then, um, Hitler happened. From Smithsonian : Originally known as the Bellamy Salute, the gesture came to be in the 1890s, when the Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis J. Bellamy. The Christian socialist minister was recruited to write a patriotic pledge to the American flag as part of magazine mogul Daniel Sharp Ford’s quest to get the flag into public schools. At the time... Bellamy and his boss both agreed that the Civil War had divided American loyalties and that the flag might be able to bridge those gaps. His campaign centered around the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the new world. He published his new Pledge as part of a unified Columbus Day ceremony program in September 1892 in the pages of the Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine with a circulation of 500,000. “At a signal from the Principal,” Bellamy wrote, “the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag…'” Then in the 1930s, Hitler reportedly saw Italian Fascists doing a similar gesture, likely based on an ancient Roman custom, and adopted it for the Nazi party.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to watch footage of the amazing drone display aired during the Olympics opening ceremony. Coordinated by Intel, 1, 218 drones performed a lightshow--pre-recorded rather than conducted live, due to logistical issues--and it was posted to Vimeo for those who missed the live broadcast. Sadly, the International Olympics Committee ordered the video removed due to copyright infringement. Fair enough--but then why not post the video themselves, so those who missed it could enjoy it? Neither they nor NBC has made the video available. So I poked around and found a pirated copy on YouTube. It's a truncated version somewhat spoiled by commentary provided by Korean news broadcasters, but at least gives you a taste. Watch it here (it's unembeddable) before the IOC orders it removed. It really is a shame they pulled the video, because the team behind it busted their asses to pull this off. You can see some snippets of the footage in the behind-the-scenes video below: I'm hoping the IOC comes to their senses and re-posts the full version. If they do I'll come back to this post and insert it.
Researchers have cataloged close to 7, 000 distinct human languages on Earth, per Linguistic Society of America's latest count. That may seem like a pretty exhaustive list, but it hasn't stopped anthropologists and linguists from continuing to encounter new languages, like one recently discovered in a village in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula. From a report: According to a press release, researchers from Lund University in Sweden discovered the language during a project called Tongues of the Semang. The documentation effort in villages of the ethnic Semang people was intended to collect data on their languages, which belong to an Austoasiatic language family called Aslian. While researchers were studying a language called Jahai in one village, they came to understand that not everyone there was speaking it. "We realized that a large part of the village spoke a different language. They used words, phonemes and grammatical structures that are not used in Jahai, " says Joanne Yager, lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Linguist Typology. "Some of these words suggested a link with other Aslian languages spoken far away in other parts of the Malay Peninsula." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Enlarge / The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) Apple has new features planned for its big, new iOS update—but not as many as you may expect. According to a Bloomberg report , the next sweeping iOS update, codenamed "Peace" and likely to be called iOS 12, will include a number of app redesigns, the expansion of Animoji into Facetime, and other changes but not some of the biggest rumored changes such as redesigned home screens for iPhone and iPad. Instead of filling iOS 12 with a bevy of new features, Apple is reportedly changing strategies to allow developers more time to perfect the new features to ensure reliability. The biggest change planned for iOS 12, slated for release this fall, is a universal app system that would allow one app to work across iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. Currently, users have to download separate iOS and macOS apps to use the same programs across their mobile devices and desktops or laptops. Along with this change, Apple could bring some mobile-specific apps to macOS, like the Home app that controls HomeKit-enabled smart home devices. Animojis will find another home in Facetime when iOS 12 is released. Apple is reportedly working on increasing the number of AR characters available and allowing users to don them during live Facetime video chats. A new iPad is reportedly in the works that has Apple's FaceID camera, which would allow it to support Animojis as well (Animojis are only currently available on the iPhone X , which has the new FaceID camera). Also planned for the new software update are a revamped stock-trading app and Do Not Disturb feature, an updated search view that leans more heavily on Siri, a new interface for importing photos onto an iPad, and multiplayer augmented reality gameplay. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments
A trivial problem reveals the limits of technology. Fascinating story from The New Yorker: Unsurprisingly, the engineers who specialize in paper jams see them differently. Engineers tend to work in narrow subspecialties, but solving a jam requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design. "It's the ultimate challenge, " Ruiz said. "I wouldn't characterize it as annoying, " Vicki Warner, who leads a team of printer engineers at Xerox, said of discovering a new kind of paper jam. "I would characterize it as almost exciting." When she graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology, in 2006, her friends took jobs in trendy fields, such as automotive design. During her interview at Xerox, however, another engineer showed her the inside of a printing press. All Xerox printers look basically the same: a million-dollar printing press is like an office copier, but twenty-four feet long and eight feet high. Warner watched as the heavy, pale-gray double doors swung open to reveal a steampunk wonderland of gears, wheels, conveyor belts, and circuit boards. As in an office copier, green plastic handles offer access to the "paper path" -- the winding route, from "feeder" to "stacker, " along which sheets of paper are shocked and soaked, curled and decurled, vacuumed and superheated. "Printers are essentially paper torture chambers, " Warner said, smiling behind her glasses. "I thought, This is the coolest thing I've ever seen." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Enlarge / Molybdenum disulfide, one of the 2D materials we knew about. (credit: NC State ) Graphene may seem like a modern wonder-material, but it's been with us for ages in the form of graphite. Graphene is a sheet of carbon atoms bonded to each other, just one atom thick; graphite is just an agglomeration of these sheets layered on top of each other. To study graphene, however, it took someone clever to devise a way of peeling single layers off from this agglomeration (the secret turned out to be a piece of tape). Since then, we've identified a handful of additional chemicals that form sheets that are a few atoms thick. These have a variety of properties—some are semiconductors and have been combined with graphene to make electronic devices . To expand the range of device we can craft that build on the advantages of these atomically thin materials, a larger catalog of chemicals like this would be handy. Now, a Lithuanian-Swiss team says it's done just that. The team has found materials just like graphite: a bulk material with atomically thin layers hidden inside. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments
The 2017 Equifax data breach was already extremely serious by itself, but there are hints it was somehow worse. CNN has learned that Equifax told the US Senate Banking Committee that more data may have been exposed than initially determined. The hack may have compromised more driver's license info, such as the issuing data and host state, as well as tax IDs. In theory, it would be that much easier for intruders to commit fraud. The breach compromised about 145.5 million people, although their level of exposure varied wildly. About 10.9 million Americans' driver's licenses were embroiled in the hack, and just a small fraction of the exposed UK licenses (just under 700, 000) had enough info to jeopardize the victims' privacy. Equifax stressed to CNN that the initial list of exposed data was never meant to be the final, definitive account of the scope of the problem. And that's not unheard of -- companies frequently deliver rough assessments of the damage in the immediate aftermath and refine the numbers as they learn more. However, that explanation might not be enough for officials. Senators are already clamoring for a thorough investigation , and want to know the full extent of what happened. This update gives them more of what they want, but it also raises the question of why the company is still determining the scope of the breach nearly half a year after it was made public. Source: CNN Money
mi shares a report from Phys.Org: The Pacific nation of Tuvalu -- long seen as a prime candidate to disappear as climate change forces up sea levels -- is actually growing in size, new research shows. A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu's nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery. It found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu's total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average. Co-author Paul Kench said the research, published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, challenged the assumption that low-lying island nations would be swamped as the sea rose. It found factors such as wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms could offset the erosion caused by rising water levels. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
MoviePass' $10-per-month subscription service was a hit from the start, enough to crash the company's website when it was first announced. It looks like demand isn't slowing down anytime soon either: it has gained 500, 000 more subscribers merely a month after it reached 1.5 million users. The fact that MoviePass cut off members' access to some popular AMC theaters had little effect, if any. It's easy to see why 2 million would sign up: for 10 bucks a month -- an ongoing promo even cuts the price down to $7.95 -- they're entitled to see one 2D film a day, every day, without paying extra. In 2017, members bought $110 million worth of tickets and generated an additional $146 million in ticket sales by bringing non-members to showings. MoviePass chief Mitch Lowe said in a statement: "We're giving people a reason to go back to the movie theaters, and they're going in droves. With awards season here, we hope we can make Hollywood and exhibitors very happy by filling seats with eager audiences." As Bloomberg said, though, all these new users are both a blessing and a curse to the company. Every time a member watches a movie, the service pays for that subscriber's ticket at full price. It loses money for every member that watches two movies a month, and its accountants apparently already warned the company that its system might not be viable in the long run. AMC shares the same sentiment and once called the business model unsustainable. It's like turning "lead into gold, " the theater chain said in a statement last year. So, how does MoviePass plan to make money if subscribers aren't bringing in the cash? It's hoping to sell ads, merchandise and data on moviegoers' habits, as well as to get a cut of theaters' refreshment sales as they go up from all the viewers it brings to cinemas. The company is also hoping to convince theater chains to sell it tickets for its members at a discounted rate. It's unclear if MoviePass is already making headway with those plans, but when it dropped several AMC locations from its list, it said that the theaters it works with is subject to change as it "continue[s] to strive for mutually-beneficial relationships with" them. AMC chief Adam Aron has been quite a vocal critic of the service and already proclaimed that the chain has no intention of sharing its admissions or concessions revenue. Source: Bloomberg , Variety
One of the biggest problems with cryptocurrency exchanges is that they're a juicy, enticing target for high-tech criminals. Case in point, Italian exchange BitGrail, which lost $170 million worth of Nano tokens, a little-known digital coin previously called RaiBlocks. BitGrail is the second exchange that lost of massive amount of money this year -- and it's only February -- following Tokyo-based Coincheck, which lost between $400 and $534 million worth of coins in a cyberattack on its internet-connected wallet back in January. BitGrail announced on its website that it lost $170 million to fraudulent transactions and that it has already reported them to authorities. It has suspended all withdrawals and deposits "in order to conduct further verifications." However, unlike Coincheck, which promised to give users their money back, BitGrail founder Francesco "The Bomber" Firano announced on Twitter that there's no way to refund 100 percent of what users lost. While BitGrail's loss is in no way as massive as Mt. Gox's , it's still steeped in controversy. The Nano team said that they have no "reason to believe the loss was due to an issue in the Nano protocol" and that the "problems appear to be related to BitGrail's software." They also published a copy of their conversation with the exchange's founder and said that Franceso suggested they modify the ledger to cover his losses. It doesn't help that BitGrail recently required users to verify their accounts to be able to withdraw their coins beyond a certain amount, and some people have reportedly been waiting for verification since December. More recently, the exchange announced that it would no longer serve non-EU users due to what it said are legal complications. Team Nano wrote in their latest statement: "We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time." On Twitter, Francesco said Nano's claims are nothing but "unfounded allegations." He added that he told the police that the Nano team published their private convo, which could compromise the investigation. In the wake of the unfounded accusations made against me by the dev team and of the dissemination of private conversations that compromise police investigations, Bitgrail s.r.l. is forced to contact the police in order to protect its rights and users — Francesco The Bomber (@bomberfrancy) February 10, 2018 NANO on BitGrail have been stolen. Unfortunately there is no way to give it back to you at 100% (we only got 4 MLN XRN right now). The devs, as you have guessed, dont want to collaborate — Francesco The Bomber (@bomberfrancy) February 9, 2018 Source: The Wall Street Journal