this week

Prototype hyperloop pod reaches a speed of 324 kilometers per hour

The team WARR Hyperloop has won SpaceX's Hyperloop Pod competition with an entry that reached a speed of 324 km/h (201 mi/h). WARR’s carbon-fiber pod, is powered by a 50KW electric motor and features four pneumatic friction brakes that can stop the pod within five seconds.

Source: The Verge

The next Game of Thrones book has been written by a neural network

A software engineer is training a recurrent neural network (RNN) to predict the events of the unfinished sixth Game of Thrones novel, The Winds of Winter. In this version Sansa is a Baratheon, a new character called Greenbeard appears, Jaime kills Cersei and Jon rides a dragon.

Source: Motherboard

The planet is warming at an unprecedented rate

A new study has revealed that our planet is currently warming at an even faster pace than during one of the most dramatic climate change events in Earth's history. The study concluded that the rate of carbon dioxide release was far slower during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum than today.

Source: Ars Technica

Security flaw leaves 745,000 pacemakers open to hackers

A security flaw in 745,000 pacemakers could allow them to be hacked. The flaws could theoretically be used to cause the devices to pace too quickly or run out of battery. The manufacturer, Abbott, said it wasn't aware of any cases of this happening, and said it would require a "highly complex set of circumstances".

Source: BBC

China has its own plan for hyperloop

China has its own plan for a hyperloop system, which is being referred to as a "supersonic flying train". The bullet trains will travel at 4,000km/h (2,485mi/h) with the carriage floating on magnetic levitation tracks and running in tubes that have been pumped out to a near-vacuum. Similar to the hyperloop we know but faster.

Source: The Register

Scientists enhance spider's web to the point that it can hold a human

Scientists led by Nicola Pugno at Italy's University of Trento have succeeded in combining spider silk with graphene and carbon nanotubes to produce a composite material that is five times stronger. Remarkably, the composite is produced by the spider itself, after it drinks water containing the nanotubes.

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC