AirPort Express popping up in some Home apps, raising possibility of AirPlay 2 compatibility

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Reports are circulating that the third generation AirPort Express is popping up for users trying to add a HomeKit accessory in the iOS 11.4 beta, but the appearance is not universal, nor does the networking peripheral actually get added when selected.
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Intel announces 6-core 12-thread i9 laptop CPU; possibility for 2018 MacBook Pro

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Longstanding rumors of Apple making an eventual switch from Intel to its own Mac CPUs may have been given fresh impetus by yesterday’s Bloomberg report, but Macs will be using Intel chips for some time yet.

Intel has today announced a new high-end laptop CPU that could be an interesting candidate for this year’s MacBook Pro …



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iOS 11.3 Security Notes Point To iOS 11.2.6 Kernel Vulnerability With Possibility Of Jailbreak

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Looking to jailbreak iOS 11.3 or iOS 11.2.6? Well, good news is that a jailbreak could emerge for iOS 11.2.6 after the discovery of kernel vulnerability patch in latest firmware.

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Apple’s New Patent Discusses the Possibility of Replacing Physical Keyboards with Touch-Based Capacitive Keyboards

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Apple has filed a new patent with the USPTO, detailing a capacitive keyboard that can work just like a physical keyboard. However, there are a few challenges to conquer before bringing this into fruition as Apple mentions in the patent filing. Apple recently talked about developing a crumb-resistant keyboard in a patent filing. Continue reading
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Comment: Digitimes is almost certainly wrong about Apple abandoning 5.8-inch OLED model, but one possibility exists

Today’s Digitimes report that Apple will abandon a 5.8-inch OLED successor to the iPhone X this year is almost certainly nonsense.

The site suggests that Apple will release only one OLED model this year, which would be the 6.5-inch one first suggested in a KGI report. This year’s 5.8-inch model would, claims Digitimes, be an LCD one …



New commit shows possibility of Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 powered Chromebooks

At the unveiling of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 earlier this month, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced “always-connected” Windows 10 notebook PCs with LTE support and batteries that last throughout the day. For Microsoft’s part, this new initiative is separate from the previous Windows RT releases, as these systems can seamlessly run x86-64 32-bit x86 apps. A newly discovered commit indicates that Snapdragon 845-powered Chromebooks are being developed as well.

The new commits include the “cheza” board powered by “chipset-qc845.” While this would not be the first ARM-powered Chromebook, this would be the first time that a Qualcomm SoC is used to power a Chromebook.

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New commit shows possibility of Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 powered Chromebooks was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Measurements From CERN Suggest the Possibility of a New Physics

A New Quantum Physics?

During the mid- to late-twentieth century, quantum physicists picked apart the unified theory of physics that Einstein’s theory of relativity offered. The physics of the large was governed by gravity, but only quantum physics could describe observations of the small. Since then, a theoretical tug-o-war between gravity and the other three fundamental forces has continued as physicists try to extend gravity or quantum physics to subsume the other as more fundamental.

Recent measurements from the Large Hadron Collider show a discrepancy with Standard Model predictions that may hint at entirely new realms of the universe underlying what’s described by quantum physics. Although repeated tests are required to confirm these anomalies, a confirmation would signify a turning point in our most fundamental description of particle physics to date.

Spirals in space.
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Quantum physicists found in a recent study that mesons don’t decay into kaon and muon particles often enough, according to the Standard Model predictions of frequency. The authors agree that enhancing the power of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will reveal a new kind of particle responsible for this discrepancy. Although errors in data or theory may have caused the discrepancy, instead of a new particle, an improved LHC would prove a boon for several projects on the cutting edge of physics.

The Standard Model

The Standard Model is a well-established fundamental theory of quantum physics that describes three of the four fundamental forces believed to govern our physical reality. Quantum particles occur in two basic types, quarks and leptons. Quarks bind together in different combinations to build particles like protons and neutrons. We’re familiar with protons, neutrons, and electrons because they’re the building blocks of atoms.

The “lepton family” features heavier versions of the electron  like the muon — and the quarks can coalesce into hundreds of other composite particles. Two of these, the Bottom and Kaon mesons, were culprits in this quantum mystery. The Bottom meson (B) decays to a Kaon meson (K) accompanied by a muon (mu-) and anti-muon (mu+) particle.

The Anomaly

They found a 2.5 sigma variance, or 1 in 80 probability, “which means that, in the absence of unexpected effects, i.e. new physics, a distribution more deviant than observed would be produced about 1.25 percent of the time,” Professor Spencer Klein, senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told Futurism. Klein was not involved in the study.

This means the frequency of mesons decaying into strange quarks during the LHC proton-collision tests fell a little below the expected frequency. “The tension here is that, with a 2.5 sigma [or standard deviation from the normal decay rate], either the data is off by a little bit, the theory is off by a little bit, or it’s a hint of something beyond the standard model,” Klein said. “I would say, naïvely, one of the first two is correct.”

To Klein, this variance is inevitable considering the high volume of data run by computers for LHC operations. “With Petabyte-(1015 bytes)-sized datasets from the LHC, and with modern computers, we can make a very large number of measurements of different quantities,” Klein said. “The LHC has produced many hundreds of results. Statistically, some of them are expected to show 2.5 sigma fluctuations.” Klein noted that particle physicists usually wait for a 5-sigma fluctuation before crying wolf — corresponding to roughly a 1-in-3.5-million fluctuation in data.

Physics is studied here at CERN: CMS.
Image Credit: Laura Gilchrist

These latest anomalous observations do not exist in a vacuum. “The interesting aspect of the two taken in combination is how aligned they are with other anomalous measurements of processes involving B mesons that had been made in previous years,” Dr. Tevong You, co-author of the study and junior research fellow in theoretical physics at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, told Futurism. “These independent measurements were less clean but more significant. Altogether, the chance of measuring these different things and having them all deviate from the Standard Model in a consistent way is closer to 1 in 16000 probability, or 4 sigma,” Tevong said.

Extending the Standard Model

Barring statistical or theoretical errors, Tevong suspects that the anomalies mask the presence of entirely new particles, called leptoquarks or Z prime particles. Inside bottom mesons, quantum excitations of new particles could be interfering with normal decay frequency. In the study, researchers conclude that an upgraded LHC could confirm the existence of new particles, making a major update to the Standard Model in the process.

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“It would be revolutionary for our fundamental understanding of the universe,” said Tevong. “For particle physics […] it would mean that we are peeling back another layer of Nature and continuing on a journey of discovering the most elementary building blocks. This would have implications for cosmology, since it relies on our fundamental theories for understanding the early universe,” he added. “The interplay between cosmology and particle physics has been very fruitful in the past. As for dark matter, if it emerges from the same new physics sector in which the Zprime or leptoquark is embedded, then we may also find signs of it when we explore this new sector.”

The Power to Know

So far, scientists at the LHC have only observed ghosts and anomalies hinting at particles that exist at higher energy levels. To prove their existence, physicists “need to confirm the indirect signs […], and that means being patient while the LHCb experiment gathers more data on B decays to make a more precise measurement,” Tevong said. “We will also get an independent confirmation by another experiment, Belle II, that should be coming online in the next few years. After all that, if the measurement of B decays still disagrees with the predictions of the Standard Model, then we can be confident that something beyond the Standard Model must be responsible, and that would point towards leptoquarks or Zprime particles as the explanation,” he added.

To establish their existence, physicists would then aim to produce the particles in colliders the same way Bottom mesons or Higgs bosons are produced, and watch them decay. “We need to be able to see a leptoquark or Zprime pop out of LHC collisions,” Tevong said. “The fact that we haven’t seen any such exotic particles at the LHC (so far) means that they may be too heavy, and more energy will be required to produce them. That is what we estimated in our paper: the feasibility of directly discovering leptoquarks or Zprime particles at future colliders with higher energy.”

Quantum Leap for the LHC

Seeking out new particles in the LHC isn’t a waiting game. The likelihood of observing new phenomena is directly proportional to how many new particles pop up in collisions. “The more the particle appears the higher the chances of spotting it amongst many other background events taking place during those collisions,” Tevong explained. For the purposes of finding new particles, he likens it to searching for a needle in a haystack; it’s easier to find a needle if the haystack is filled with them, as opposed to one. “The rate of production depends on the particle’s mass and couplings: heavier particles require more energy to produce,” he said.

Electricity is studied at a physics research lab.
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This is why Tevong and co-authors B.C. Allanach and Ben Gripaios recommend either extending the LHC loop’s length, thus reducing the amount of magnetic power needed to accelerate particles, or replacing the current magnets with stronger ones.

According to Tevong, the CERN laboratory is slated to keep running the LHC in present configuration until mid-2030s. Afterwards, they might upgrade the LHC’s magnets, roughly doubling its strength. In addition to souped-up magnets, the tunnel could see an enlargement from present 27 to 100 km (17 to 62 miles). “The combined effect […] would give about seven times more energy than the LHC,” Tevong said. “The timescale for completion would be at least in the 2040s, though it is still too early to make any meaningful projections.”

If the leptoquark or Z prime anomalies are confirmed, the Standard Model has to change, Tevong reiterates. “It is very likely that it has to change at energy scales directly accessible to the next generation of colliders, which would guarantee us answers,” he added. While noting that there’s no telling if dark matter has anything to do with the physics behind Zprimes or leptoquarks, the best we can do is seek “as many anomalous measurements as possible, whether at colliders, smaller particle physics experiments, dark matter searches, or cosmological and astrophysical observations,” he said. “Then the dream is that we may be able to form connections between various anomalies that can be linked by a single, elegant theory.”

The post Measurements From CERN Suggest the Possibility of a New Physics appeared first on Futurism.


An Interview with the Directors of ‘Fire Emblem Heroes’: On Events, Design Challenges, and the Possibility of ‘Advance Wars’ on Mobile

With the arrival of the Choose Your Legends event in Fire Emblem Heroes [Free], we had a rare opportunity to speak with the game’s directors and ask them some questions. Most of the talk centered around the development of the game, with some extra questions to try to get at some of the team’s future plans for mobile. A big thank you to Nintendo of America for arranging this interview and facilitating it, and to Mr. Maeda and Mr. Matsushita for giving up their time to talk to us today. Before we get to the interview, I’d like to talk a little bit about the subjects.

Mr. Kouhei Maeda is from Intelligent Systems, the development team behind such famous franchises as Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Paper Mario, and Pushmo. Mr. Maeda in particular has worked on the scenarios for several Fire Emblem and Advance Wars games since the Game Boy Advance era. He also served as the co-director of Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, Fire Emblem Awakening, and Fire Emblem Fates. He takes a similar co-director position on Fire Emblem Heroes.

Mr. Shingo Matsushita is a planner from Nintendo of Japan and has worked on series such as Fossil Fighters, Style Savvy, and Xenoblade. His roles on those games were typically as director, assistant director, or sub-director. He also assisted with the development of Platinum Games’s Wii U titles The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2. He’s the other co-director on Fire Emblem Heroes.

TouchArcade (TA): Fire Emblem was Nintendo’s second mobile game releasing following Mario, which is a very big property. How was the decision made for Fire Emblem to take such a prominent position in the lineup?

Kouhei Maeda (KM): Taking the position as the second game was a little scary, and I’m not exactly sure how we ended up in this wonderful position. But I think when you look at Nintendo’s different franchises, the Fire Emblem series, the gameplay of the series fits well with mobile devices and mobile gameplay. When we started talking that this was going to be our (Intelligent Systems’) first mobile game, we looked at Fire Emblem and we thought that it seemed to be a good fit for mobile.

TA: I’m not sure if anyone present can answer this, but did the response to Super Mario Run affect anything about the design of Fire Emblem Heroes? I know it was well into production by then, but did anything change from that?

Shingo Matsushita (SM): It had no effect at all! Actually, development on Fire Emblem Heroes started before Super Mario Run, and we kind of stuck with our development plan. So it really didn’t affect us.

TA: What were some of the challenges in adapting Fire Emblem for mobile?

KM: When you think about the Fire Emblem franchise, you’ve got that hardcore strategic gameplay, and when you think about games on smart devices, generally you’re thinking about something that’s quick, that’s light, that’s easy. But if we were going to bring Fire Emblem to mobile, we really couldn’t lose what was important about Fire Emblem, that strategic gameplay. That was going to be the big challenge for us. So we took a few months and tried different things and experimented. That kind of got us to where we are.

TA: Fire Emblem Heroes, I think, has been really successful. Did the response to the game surprise you in any way?

KM: Yes, it was kind of surprising to see that people are that passionate about Fire Emblem all around the world.

SM: It was really surprising to experience again just how many people really love the Fire Emblem franchise. This really feeds our development team and gives them a lot of energy.

TA: Fire Emblem Heroes uses a lot of familiar social RPG elements like stamina meters, gatcha-style draws, and friendlists. But I think it uses them in unusual ways. For example, the stamina meter doesn’t increase based on a player level, it’s fixed for everyone. The gatcha has that unique system of being able to choose from a group and draw the rest at a lower and lower cost. What was the thinking behind subverting the normal ways of using these systems?

SM: When we started work on development for Fire Emblem Heroes, with it being a smart device game we did look at other smart device games on the market. So of course it does carry over some of the same essence of smart device games. But one thing that makes Fire Emblem Heroes a bit different is that we were thinking about how we could make the best experience for the player. For example, when you’re looking at the characters, it’s nice for the player if they can get the ones that they really want. Especially with Fire Emblem, as I’m sure you know, there are a lot of characters from the series that people have strong attachments to. We also want players to get to know all of these different characters, so by using a summoning mechanic where you don’t know what you’re going to get, that’s also kind of interesting. I guess what I want to say is, we want to make a game that the player finds interesting. So when we’re developing, we’re always thinking about how we can do that.

TA: Fire Emblem Heroes has gotten a lot of really great updates since it released. Lots of new modes, lots of new play types, lots of new rules have been added through these updates. What I want to know is if all of these modes and play types were planned from the start, or were any of these a response to what players were asking for after the game’s release?

KM: The majority of the updates are probably content based on looking at user feedback. Of course we had a basic plan, but as we started to look at the feedback that the players were sending in, we began work on new modes and new features that went along with that.

SM: As an example, you can look at the Arena. The Arena rules and different parts of the Arena changed based on player feedback, and even the additional mode we added, the Arena Assault, wasn’t something that was originally planned. That was included based on the feedback that we were getting from players.

TA: With regards to the Choose Your Legends event, it’s based on polls that were conducted before the game was out about people’s favorite characters. I think those polls were collected worldwide. Did the final results surprise you at all with regards to which characters were popular?

KM: Some of the results were expected, and some of them were very unexpected. For example, Dorcas from Blazing Blade was one character that we didn’t expect to rank so highly. But you know, hearing that information, hearing what characters the fans feel are their favorites, that’s really good info for us.

SM: We did not expect Lyn to get first place. We knew that Lucina was very popular, but we never expected Lucina to lose to Lyn. One other thing we noticed is that characters from the Game Boy Advance era tended to be popular, and that was a little unexpected. Also, because the final results were a little unexpected, it also meant that development for the Choose Your Legends characters took a bit more time than expected.

TA: That’s interesting. Yes, Lyn is very popular among Western fans. So for both you, do you have any personal favorites among the heroes?

KM: Playing Heroes, I’ve grown to love Ephraim from Sacred Stones. I’ve been working on making my Ephraim much stronger, and by using him so much I’ve come to love him quite a bit. What I think is so great about playing a Fire Emblem game is that you do grow to love the characters.

SM: I’m working on trying to get a +10 Effie. Since Amelia came out, I can really use Effie in the Arena (Shaun’s note: Amelia gives some great bonuses to armored characters like Effie when she stands beside them). I can go all out using Effie now, thanks to Amelia.

TA: There have been lots of summoning events, with lots of new ones arriving all the time. I think just about every game in the series, except maybe Thracia 776, has had a summoning event. With all of these games having had their summoning event focus, what’s the plan for getting people excited about future events?

SM: There are still characters from the Fire Emblem series that haven’t arrived yet, ones that the fans frequently ask us for. So we’d like to think about the requests from the fans and give those characters a little time in the spotlight. On the other hand, we know that the fans have really responded positively to some of the special seasonal summoning events that we’ve had like the Spring Festival or the recent swimsuit events. Fans are asking for those special outfits for characters that they like, so we have much, much more planned. We hope everyone looks forward to it!

TA: Since I’ve got someone from Nintendo and someone from Intelligent Systems here, I have to ask. With Fire Emblem‘s success on mobile, is there any chance at all of seeing a mobile Advance Wars game in a similar style?

SM: It’s not a zero percent chance, but we would need to think about what would be the right idea and the right concept for bringing Advance Wars to mobile. Of course, that’s stuff that we really have to think on. It would really give us a lot of encouragement and energy if we heard from the fans that they want it. So please keep asking for it and tell us what you’d like to see!

TA: I probably already know the answer to this question, but here goes: Nintendo does Virtual Console services on their own systems and hardware, and many of the past Fire Emblem games are available through that service. Now, I know a lot of games that are originally played with buttons aren’t a good fit for mobile, but is there any chance of the classic Fire Emblem games getting a Virtual Console-style release on mobile?

SM: The Fire Emblem Heroes team doesn’t really have any insight into the plans for Virtual Console, so we really don’t have an answer we can give you at this time.

TA: Okay, thanks. I had to ask, lots of our readers are interested in it. One last question, this time about the mechanics of Fire Emblem Heroes. Some of the players feel that the sizes of the stages are a little on the small side and it’s kind of hurting the variety. Are there any plans or ideas of maybe making larger stage sizes at some point, or is this going to continue with how it’s been set?

KM: As for the map sizes, we feel like what we have now is the optimal size for smart devices, but we are always thinking about what’s going to be fun or what’s going to add variety to the game. So we’re not really thinking just about variety through map sizes, but bringing variety to the entire game.

TA: Well, that’s all the questions I had. Thank you so much for your time. If you have any final message you want to give to our readers, feel free to do so now.

KM: We’ll continue to look at user feedback and work on the game, so we’d like to thank everyone for their continued support.

SM: Thanks for thinking about the Advance Wars series as well, and supporting that series as well as Fire Emblem.

TA: Thank you so much.

Well, there you have it. I’d like to once again extend gracious thanks to the staff of Nintendo of America, Nintendo of Japan, and Intelligent Systems for giving us their valuable time. Now, let’s start ringing the lunch bell for Advance Wars, everyone!