Apple M1 💻 Biomining 🦠 Autonomous delivery 📬!

Technology News

Apple unleashes M1

Apple has announced M1, the most powerful chip it has ever created and the first chip designed specifically for the Mac. M1 is optimized for Mac systems in which small size and power efficiency are critically important. It features the world’s fastest CPU core in low-power silicon, the world’s best CPU performance per watt, the world’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer, and breakthrough machine learning performance with the Apple Neural Engine. M1 delivers up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, up to 6x faster GPU performance, and up to 15x faster machine learning, all while enabling battery life up to 2x longer than previous-generation Macs.

Xiaomi is testing retractable camera lenses for phones

Xiaomi tweeted two camera concepts – one is a retractable 120mm-equivalent wide aperture lens and the other a 50mm-equivalent telemacro. Xiaomi said the concept was inspired by “traditional camera designs” and is “optimized with bigger aperture and upgraded stabilizer” for better portraits and low-light shots. The telemacro lens would allow smartphone photographers get sharp, bright colors even in super close up photos. The telemacro is a 2-in-1 telephoto and macro lens that zooms in closer to a subject and lets users adjust focus when ready. There is no official word from Xiaomi on when we’d see these features on an actual phone.

Science News

Asteroid-munching microbes could mine materials from space rocks

The International Space Station (ISS) has shown that microbes can extract valuable and useful elements from rocks in microgravity, suggesting “biomining” might be key to making use of asteroids. When the researchers measured the elements leached by the microbes, they found that one – Sphingomonas desiccabilis – extracted rare earth elements just as well in microgravity as it does on Earth. ” A lot of the copper and gold on the Earth today is mined using microbes, so this method is not pie in the sky.” Biomining could be used to harvest materials for settlements on the moon or Mars so they don’t need to be shipped from Earth.

Burnout can exacerbate work stress, further promoting a vicious circle

A new study shows that work stress and burnout are mutually reinforcing. However, contrary to popular belief, burnout has a much greater impact on work stress than vice versa. “This means that the more severe a person’s burnout becomes, the more stressed they will feel at work, such as being under time pressure.” Once burnout begins, it develops only very gradually, building up slowly over time. Ultimately it leads to work being increasingly perceived as stressful: The amount of work is too much, time is too short, and work stress is too great. “When exhausted, the ability to cope with stress usually decreases. As a result, even smaller tasks can be perceived as significantly more strenuous.”

Business News

Walmart to test deliveries by self-driving car with General Motors’ Cruise

Starting next year, some of Walmart’s deliveries of groceries and other items will be dropped off at customers’ homes by a small fleet of electric-powered, driverless cars. The pilot program will be kicked off with General Motors’ all-electric vehicle subsidiary, Cruise. Walmart has experimented with different tech-enabled ways to smooth out inefficient or expensive aspects of its business. One area of focus is solutions for the final stretch of a package’s journey that drives much of its delivery costs. “Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also be helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about.”

Europe charges Amazon with using dominance and data to squeeze rivals

The European Union has charged Amazon with damaging retail competition, alleging that it uses its size, power and data to gain an unfair advantage over smaller merchants that sell on its platform. “The use of these data allows Amazon to focus on the sale of the best-selling products and it marginalises third-party sellers and caps their ability to grow.” The regulator said the charges related to Amazon’s activities in France and Germany, its two biggest markets in Europe and where it is the dominant player. A final EU decision could come next year. Amazon faces being fined up to 10% of its global turnover if found guilty of breaching antitrust rules.

Miscellaneous News

Two-million-year-old skull of human ‘cousin’ unearthed

Australian researchers say the discovery of a two-million-year-old skull in South Africa throws more light on human evolution. The skull was a male Paranthropus robustus, a “cousin species” to Homo erectus – a species thought to be direct ancestors of modern humans. The two species lived around the same time, but Paranthropus robustus died out earlier. The researchers found the skull’s fragments in 2018 at the Drimolen archaeological site north of Johannesburg and then spent the past few years piecing together and analysing the fossil.

Devastating 2020 Atlantic hurricane season breaks all records

The annual record for the number of major storms forming in the Atlantic has been shattered, with Subtropical Storm Theta becoming the 29th named event in a hyperactive hurricane season. Storms are named once they hit a wind speed of 39mph, with 12 of 2020’s named storms accelerating further to become hurricanes. The US National Hurricane Center said the development of Theta had broken a record that stood since 2005, when there were 28 named storms. Yet another named storm could be in the works, with meteorologists tracking one through the Caribbean.

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