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Less than a week after a maglev train hit a top speed of 590kph (366mph), Japan has broken 600kph for the first time (Japan Times). The new record-breaking speed of 603kph (374mph) was achieved for nearly 11 seconds. Maglev trains, which work by hovering 10cm above tracks and are propelled by electrically charged magnets, will go into public service in Japan in 2027.
A new report commissioned by the American Red Cross claims that drones could have a major impact on disaster relief efforts — but won’t be used until regulations are in place (The Washington Post). Drones fitted with cameras would be able to broadcast live video feeds to emergency workers, helping them to better understand the situation in hard-to-reach areas. Small shipments of emergency supplies could also be delivered to people cut off by disasters.
Last year 22-year-old Dan Dobson became the first person to be arrested while ‘courtsiding’ (BBC News). Dobson was employed by a gambling syndicate to travel the world watching tennis matches and feed back live data faster than betting companies could receive it. Using a small controller hidden in his shorts, Dobson was able to deliver score updates to the syndicate in milliseconds.
In 2013, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt predicted the whole world would be online by the end of the decade (The Wall Street Journal). Companies such as Indonesian startup Ruma, which helps people understand how to use smartphones, are trying to make that happen. Throughout the developing world new apps and services are helping to bring people and businesses online for the first time — with transformative results.
Google has flipped the switch on an update that will bury search results for non-mobile friendly websites when searching on smartphones (TechCrunch). Any websites that require people to zoom in to read text or scroll horizontally to see entire pages will be hidden. According to analysts, nearly 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies will be affected by the update to Google’s algorithm.
Hundreds of taxi drivers brought Oxford Street to a standstill yesterday afternoon in an ongoing row with Transport for London (Evening Standard). London’s black cab drivers claim regulators are failing to properly tackle services such as Uber, which they say are damaging their business. The drivers want tighter regulations that properly differentiate between fully licensed, metered black cabs and minicabs that operate without a meter.
Scientists have called on world leaders to sign up to an eight-point plan during a UN climate change meeting in Paris this December (BBC News). The talks represent a “last chance” to take action, according to the Earth League, which includes 17 scientific research institutions from around the world. Action required includes limited global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, keeping future CO2 emissions below 1,000 gigatonnes and creating a zero-carbon society by 2050.
A prototype set of glasses developed by Mini could one day give drivers heads-up directions and hands-free messaging (Re/code). The goggle-like glasses would also be able to see through the body of the car by using cameras on the outside to provide ‘X-ray’ vision. Mini hasn’t set a timeframe as to when the glasses might be released.
An automated shopping bot that made purchases from dark web marketplaces using bitcoin has been released by police in Switzerland (Coindesk). Last year the Random Darknet Shopper and the items it purchased were put on display at an art museum before being confiscated by police. The group behind the bot say it has now been released from custody.
An elevator ride to the top of the new 1 World Trade Centre in New York City reveals over 500 years of history (The New York Times). Nine 75-inch screens have been fitted into the elevator and as it ascends the history of the city unfolds. The observation deck at the new World Trade Centre, and the unique elevator ride to it, opens next month.
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