The Apple Pips

Inside All Apple Products

Author: arstechnica (Page 2 of 1326)

Coming out as a Slytherin

Cecilia Tan is the award-winning fiction author of over 20 books and a co-writer of GEEK ACTUALLY, a fiction serial celebrating fandom, female friendship and sexuality, and the power of online spaces to connect communities. Her new series, The Vanished Chronicles, will launch in 2018 from Tor Books.

It's Pride month, but I have a slightly different story of coming out to tell you. This is the story of how I became a Slytherin. More precisely, it's about how I discovered I already was a Slytherin and how internalized Slytherphobia had me in denial until I found my people.

Going to my first Harry Potter convention was very much like going to my first Pride parade. I loved Harry Potter from the moment I read the very first book, but I didn't fall headlong into the community of fandom until around 2005 when I started reading copious amounts of Harry Potter fanfic online.

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For Sunday’s launch, SpaceX to test “significantly upgraded” grid fins

Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (credit: SpaceX)

Chances are, if you're a SpaceX employee, you've had a busy weekend. On Friday, the company successfully launched its second "used" Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now, two days later, the company will attempt to launch a new Falcon 9 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:24pm ET.

This is a fairly conventional launch for SpaceX except for one novelty, revealed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday night. After lifting 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to return to a droneship with a new, more durable pair of grid fins, which help to stabilize the rocket as it descends back to Earth.

During prior missions these grid fins, manufactured from aluminum with added thermal protection, have caught fire due to atmospheric heating. To address this problem the company has forged new grid fins from titanium. "Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins," Musk tweeted. "Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding." The new fins are a bit heavier, but are designed for multiple re-uses as SpaceX seeks to more toward rapid reuse of its first stage booster.

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A pigeon-piloted bomb, odd powders, and cryptic science—Ars goes to NIST

Enlarge / This Priest-Lange Reflectometer helps measure colors. It was inspired to help end a feud about the "yellowness" of margarine.

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—Visiting the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is always immeasurably fun. The agency’s headquarters—a green and sprawling 234-hectare campus, just a jaunt from Washington, DC—is studded with scientific wonders. There’s the building in which scientists repeatedly build other little buildings and then try to destroy them in blazing infernos. There’s the net-zero energy house. There’s a decades-old wall just for studying how different types of stone ages. And there’s the bunch of laboratories 12 meters below the ground on a structurally isolated floor that is cushioned by pneumatic air-springs which prevent any geological jostling from disturbing super-sensitive scientific instruments and the assembly of atomic structures. Last but not least are the scads of scientific gadgets, doodads, and data that scientists use to measure, study, and standardize our natural and manufactured world.

On a recent sweltering day in June, I headed to the administration building. It might sound boring, but this building houses the agency’s rich archive and museum of NIST treasures. Since that agency was founded in 1901—then called the National Bureau of Standards—NIST has amassed a collection of scientific instruments, objects, and historic artifacts unlike any other.

Perhaps the largest and most striking piece sits in the building’s lobby: a warped steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center. It’s overwhelmingly tall and as emotionally heavy as one might expect. But it’s also very curved. The once perfectly straight beam was sent to NIST so the agency’s scientists could help figure out why it lost its shape. It’s common for NIST to receive bits and pieces of national tragedies to understand and prevent them; the agency also has a critical piece of the Silver Bridge, which collapsed during rush hour in 1967, killing 46.

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Doctor Who: World Enough and Time review

Enlarge (credit: Simon Ridgway/Ray Burmiston/BBC)

This is a post-UK broadcast review of Doctor Who: World Enough and Time. River Song always warned the Doctor against spoilers, so be sure to watch the episode first. Doctor Who, season 10, airs on Saturdays at 6:45pm UK time on BBC One, and 9pm EDT on BBC America.

Season 10 of Doctor Who has been incredibly lopsided—floating in and out of decent stories, while teasing us with a subtle Missy narrative that is finally, tantalisingly coming to full fruition in World Enough and Time. It's just a shame that the engines have been on reverse thrust a little too often over the past few weeks.

There have been some good standalone episodes and an excellent opening to a deeply disappointing trilogy. The popular sci-fi-on-a-shoestring-budget drama has also failed to bring an instant hit with any of the new monsters introduced over the last 10 weeks: too much cheap CGI in the absence of made-you-look, made-you-jump detail, perhaps with the exception of Knock Knock and its quirky use of 3D surround sound. And while lead performances have been one of the highlights—particularly with the introduction of Bill, played by Pearl Mackie—some of the flimsier scripts have made the series feel like a washout.

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Single-player modding returns to GTA V after publisher takedown

Enlarge / This image represents Take-Two saying "Well, I guess, there's nothing illegal here after all. Never mind that legal threat." (credit: Take-Two Interactive)

When popular Grand Theft Auto V modding tool OpenIV was taken down by a cease-and-desist request from publisher Take-Two earlier this month, the fan reaction was fast and blistering. Players bombarded Grand Theft Auto V with thousands of negative reviews on Steam, and over 77,000 people signed an online petition demanding the tool be restored.

Apparently, those gamers' cries have been heard loud and clear. As of yesterday evening, OpenIV is once again being updated and distributed by its creators.

While publisher Take-Two has been going after cheating tools in GTA Online of late, developer Rockstar long ago said it wouldn't go after Grand Theft Auto V players for using single-player mods. That's why Take-Two's sudden legal threat against the single-player-focused OpenIV earlier this month was a bit surprising, to say the least.

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