Brave birds run around racetrack to teach us about dinosaurs

In a quest to learn how two-legged dinosaurs moved, scientists watched their descendants — birds — run around on a race track. After all, chickens were once carnivorous dinosaurs that stalked the Earth on giant drumsticks.

For all the movies that show dinosaurs chasing after humans, we don’t actually know much about what a walking or running dinosaur looked like. Footprints and fossils, for example, can’t tell us whether a dino strode or strutted. “They’re static records of an animal or its movement,” says Peter Bishop, a scientist at the Queensland Museum. For movement, he says, “That’s when you’ve got to study animals that are living today.”

Only, there aren’t any dinosaurs wandering around anymore. So Bishop and his colleagues turned…

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Microsoft and Xiaomi are partnering to make AI-powered speakers, smartphones, and more

Microsoft and Xiaomi have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work closely in cloud computing, AI, and hardware. It has so far been uncommon for a US company to partner with a Chinese company on artificial intelligence, but it definitely makes sense as both countries are the biggest markets for those products and services.

Microsoft is planning to allow Xiaomi to use its cloud computing products, including Azure, to develop upgraded phones, laptops, and smart devices to bring them to an international market. At the same time, the partnership will also give Microsoft more reach and access to the Chinese market.

Xiaomi

The two are also in discussions about possibly integrating Microsoft Cortana with the Mi…

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Black Panther’s Wakanda is a transportation utopia with a dash of reality

Wakanda, the fictional African nation at the heart of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, is a dazzling, technological utopia chock-full of science fiction gadgets and gizmos to make gearheads go gaga. What I didn’t expect, though, when settling into the seat of my Brooklyn theater last Saturday, was for the transportation-nerd parts of my brain to be so thoroughly tickled. Black Panther is a transit buff’s dream come true, with an array of cool planes, trains, and cars — and just a dash of reality to ensure these Afrofuturist dreams maintain some believability. (Spoilers ahead.)

Our first glance at the Golden City, Wakanda’s capital, is when King T’Challa’s airship pushes past the holographic camouflage that keeps the nation hidden from…

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Colorado police turned to Snapchat to solve a drug murder

Newly unsealed documents show that Snapchat played an unexpected role in the investigation of an apparent drug murder in Colorado in 2016. Devon Smeltz disappeared in August 2016, shortly after a late-night disturbance was captured on surveillance video near his home in Fort Collins. Eight days after the incident, Smeltz’s body was discovered in a rural county one hour east of the city, launching an investigation by Fort Collins police.

The prime suspects in the disappearance were a group of five associates from Cincinnati. Shortly after Smeltz’s disappearance, the group was stopped by Illinois highway police driving a white Mercedes sedan registered to Smeltz. A subsequent search of the car turned up a loaded firearm, traces of blood,…

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Tesla will supply free charging stations to office parking lots

Tesla is expanding its charging infrastructure into a new area: office parking lots. A new “workplace charging” program unveiled today offers businesses free Tesla wall connectors and will also cover installation, provided they meet certain qualifications set forth by the California carmaker. Tesla won’t cover the cost of operating the charging stations, and the company says there could be other permitting, construction, zoning, or labor costs.

The workplace charging stations will be compatible with all Tesla cars, but not with other EVs, and they won’t show up on publicly available Tesla charging maps. The wall chargers are 240 volts, or “Level 2,” which is capable of topping off a battery pack in a handful of hours, though the company…

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