10 must-read articles for 8 April (Wired UK)


Your WIRED.co.uk daily briefing. Today, billionaires in space, lowering the cost of lab-grown meat, a Kickstarter that wants to make your hob smart and more.

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1. Billionaires in space

Amazon founder Jezz Bezos’ Blue Origin project has taken a big step towards space tourism (The Washington Post). Executives at the company said they had reached a significant milestone with one of its rocket engines and confirmed test flights would take place later this year. It’ll be years before Blue Origin is blasting tourists into near-Earth orbit, with several rounds of testing taking place first.

2. YouTube Kids app draws criticism

“It’s just one, long, uninterrupted ad,” said Jeff Chester from the Centre of Digital Democracy. “It turns back the clock 30 years in terms of the role that advertising plays in kids programming.” (USA Today) The app, available for Android and iOS, features popular kids shows from National Geographic, DreamWorks and Jim Henson TV, but also includes videos of people unwrapping sweets and taking toys out of boxes. Consumer and child advocacy groups have asked US regulators to investigate.

3. Nasa goes lightweight for mission to Mars

The space agency wants to reduce the mass of its spacecraft by 40 percent through using ultra-lightweight materials (io9). Nasa will turn to composite sandwich structures, which attach two thin skins to a lightweight core — traditionally either a honeycomb or foam structure. The decrease in mass will allow humans to venture further than ever before.

4. Google wants to fix your house

Sources close to the company said Google will announce a new service to connect users with local builders, electricians and plumbers (BuzzFeed). The product will be part of Google search and will show local tradespeople when users type in queries about home improvement tasks. Google declined to comment on the rumoured new feature.

5. Uber is popular on expense accounts

In the USA the ride-hailing startup accounted for 47 percent of all rides expensed by employees whose companies use Certify, the second-largest travel and expenses management firm in North America (Bloomberg). That number has jumped from 15 percent in March 2014. During that same period the amount spent on conventional taxis fell from 85 percent to 52 percent of expensed journeys.

6. Lowering the cost of lab-grown meat

Making a lab-grown burger currently costs around €250,000 (£182,000) but once production is scaled that price could fall dramatically (CNET). Professor Mark Post from Maastricht University in The Netherlands, whose team produced the first lab-grown burger, reckons the cost could fall to around £43 per kilo or £6 per 140g patty.

7. Vivendi in talks to buy Dailymotion

The French media-group has started exclusive talks to buy 80 percent of video-sharing website Dailymotion, which is currently owned by Orange (Reuters). Vivendi will pay €217m (£158m) and the offer has the backing of a “large majority” of the Orange board. Orange would retain the remaining 20 percent of Dailymotion and retain the right to veto on key issues relating to the business.

8. This Kickstarter wants to make your hob smart

The Meld smart knob fits to a ‘dumb’ hob and adjusts burner temperature automatically (The New York Times). It is made of three components: the knob which fits on the hob controls, a clip to gauge temperature and an app to automatically adjust burner heat based on what’s being cooking. It’s already reached its fundraising goal on Kickstarter.

9. Lily Allen ‘wrong’ about Jay-Z’s Tidal

Allen claimed Tidal was “expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services” and risked sending a “swarm” of people back to pirating music from torrent sites (The Guardian). But is it better to listen to music on a service owned by artists or one owned by venture capitalists looking for a quick turnaround on their investment?

10. Geological activity may be taking place on Mercury

New images taken by Nasa’s Messenger spacecraft show strange ‘hollows’ on Mercury (Discovery News). The oddly-shaped, flat-floored depressions suggest the tiny planet may have ongoing geological activity. As the areas are free from craters and other marks, Nasa speculates they were created relatively recently.

Popular on WIRED.co.uk

How technology could kill off high street letting agents

High streets up and down the country are littered with letting agents charging sky-high fees for signing simple contracts, ripping-off tenants and landlords alike. As the UK’s housing crisis worsens, more people are being forced to rent — home ownership is at a 25-year low and rental numbers rose to four million households in 2013-14, double the number in 2002. Consumer rights charity Citizens Advice is handling 80,000 complaints about private rental accommodation every month. Something has to give.

WIRED Health returns on April 24

Red Bull Stratos, McLaren and Ogilvy will all be speaking about the future of health and technology at WIRED Health 2015. Find out why you should be there.

WIRED Money is back

Speakers include Taavet Hinrikus, Skype’s first employee who went on to co-found money transfer service TransferWise, which is now valued at $1bn. Last year’s event sold out — register now to avoid disappointment.

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8 April 2015 | 6:49 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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