Monthly Archives: November 2015

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Watch What You Say: The Cloud Might Be Listening Let’s say you’re talking to your brand-new Apple TV. You click the remote and rainbow-colored sine waves on your flatscreen indicate Siri is listening. It’s slick: You ask for a channel or to replay a scene and it responds smoothly. But then you say, “Show me some new comedies,” and maybe it suggests … Pixels. Of course, Pixels is a wretched movie, so you look at the next suggestion, and oh, man: Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Now you’re cursing into the remote, just to see what happens. The thing is, Apple TV doesn’t keep your foul language to itself. To understand your speech, it sends the audio to Siri’s cloud servers, where it’s processed—and archived, for up to two years. Welcome to the latest, weirdest phase of our relationship with technology: machines that eavesdrop on us. It’s a side effect […]

A Once Powerful Antibiotic Goes the Way of All Flesh As is customary before the impending death of important people drugs, WIRED has prepared an obituary for colistin—the antibiotic of last resort for curing otherwise drug-resistant superbug infections. The editors realized colistin’s days are numbered, like that so many other antibiotics before it, when bacteria resistant to colistin showed up on a Chinese pig farm. In the long-term, bacteria eventually will develop resistance to any antibiotic, but the more colistin is overused, the faster resistance will spread.  XXDATEXX AWAITING FINAL Colistin, a toxic antibiotic used to treat only the worst drug-resistant infections, died on XX at age XX. It was a gradual death, coming after a series of XX colistin-resistant bacteria outbreaks at hospitals in XX countries. Colistin leaves distant relations among the class of antibiotics known as polymyxins, but no immediate family or friends. Indeed, the drug’s passing leaves medical […]

I Turned Off JavaScript for a Whole Week and It Was Glorious There’s another web out there, a better web hiding just below the surface of the one we surf from our phones and tablets and laptops every day. A web with no ads, no endlessly scrolling pages, and no annoying modal windows begging you to share the site on social media or sign up for a newsletter. The best part is that you don’t need a special browser extension or an invite-only app to access this alternate reality. All you need to do is change one little setting in your browser of choice. Just un-tick the checkbox that enables “JavaScript” and away you go, to a simpler, cleaner web.JavaScript is a programming language that can run inside nearly all modern web browsers. In the early days of the web, the language was used to create simple scripts that did […]

Flying (Navy) SEAL Soars a World Record 18 Miles in a Wingsuit When you think of raising awareness for a cause, does your mind first go to Greenpeace volunteers asking if you have an extra minute to protect the children? Because when former Navy SEAL Andy Stumpf wants to give voice to a cause, he throws his body out of a plane and flies record distances wearing a wingsuit. We’re not talking about a regular wingsuit flight here, the kind where a plane takes up to 13,000 feet and you spend one to two minutes in free fall before drifting gently to the Earth. To break the absolute distance record of 17.8 miles, Stumpf had to climb almost three times higher than typical jumping altitude—up to where 747s fly—and tear through the air for seven minutes in a rigid isometric hold while enduring a 150 degree temperature swing. (The troposphere is […]

This Living Clothing Morphs When You Sweat MIT Humans have been bending electronics to our will for more than a century. Biology, on the other hand, has always been a little harder to tame. A new project from the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group called BioLogic is exploring how we might gain a little more control over the biological side of things. The investigation, led by Lining Yao of MIT, focuses on how we can grow actuators that control the interfaces around us instead of manufacturing them in a factory. In other words: Yao and her team want to use the natural behavior of certain microorganisms to power objects and interfaces, the same way a motor might. To power its inventions, BioLogic relies on Bacillus subtilis natto—a bacterium, commonly used in Japanese cooking, that reacts to atmospheric moisture. Like pinecones, these hydromorphic “natto cells” will expand and contract depending on the amount of humidity in the air—the more humidity […]