Lego and Unity have teamed up on a new “Microgame” project that lets you create a short 3D game in under an hour without writing a line of code. You just have to walk through tutorials in the Unity Editor — special Lego “Behavior Bricks” have gameplay actions already built-in, and there are minifig characters ready to go. If you want to personalize the experience, you can add Creative Mods as well as Asset Store themes. This is an effort to drum up Unity adoption among both newcomers and developers thinking of switching game engines. Nonetheless, it shows how much game engine tools have progressed over the years.
Researchers have been developing the world’s first fleet of autonomous boats for the City of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and have recently added a new, larger vessel to the group: “Roboat II.” Now sitting at 2 meters long, the new robotic boat is capable of carrying passengers. “Roboat II navigates autonomously using algorithms similar to those used by self-driving cars, but now adapted for water,”. Aided by powerful algorithms, Roboat II autonomously navigated the canals of Amsterdam for three hours collecting data, and returned back to its start location with an error margin of only 0.17 meters, or fewer than 7 inches.
In a study of mice, neuroscientists have identified a brain circuit that is critical for maintaining motivation to learn new things or engage in everyday activities. As mice learned a task, striosomes showed higher activity than other parts of the striatum, and that this activity correlated with the mice’s behavioral responses. This suggests that striosomes could be critical for assigning subjective value to a particular outcome. Using genetically targeted drugs to boost activity in the striosomes, they found that the mice became more engaged in performance of the task. Conversely, suppressing striosomal activity led to disengagement.
Researchers have developed a powerful, low-cost method for recycling used cooking oil and agricultural waste into biodiesel, and turning food scraps and plastic rubbish into high-value products. To make the catalyst, the team fabricated a micron-sized ceramic sponge (100 times thinner than a human hair) that is highly porous and contains different specialised active components. It is so efficient it could double the productivity of manufacturing processes for transforming rubbish like food scraps, microplastics and old tyres into high-value chemical precursors used to make anything from medicines and fertilisers to biodegradable packaging.
Shopify will partner with TikTok to help its one million-plus merchants more easily advertise their products on the video-sharing app. The partnership will allow merchants to sell product in the form of shoppable video ads, where TikTok users can click on an ad to buy. All transactions will happen via Shopify’s site, helping firm drive sales online, while the two companies “will also collaborate to test new commerce features” over the coming months. “We’re thrilled to be the first partner to welcome TikTok to the world of commerce, particularly right now, as our merchants prepare for a busy online holiday shopping season”.
Capping off a year of massive change for semiconductors, AMD agreed to buy rival chipmaker Xilinx in a $35 billion deal. The all-stock transaction will create the industry’s largest high-performance computing company and further bolster AMD’s growing portfolio. Combined, it will have 13,000 employees with the deal expected to close at the end of 2021. Together, the companies are hoping to further establish itself against Intel and other rivals as demand booms for chips needed for computers, cars and aerospace. The acquisition marks the latest big tie-up in the rapidly consolidating semiconductor industry.
A photo of a Komodo dragon facing a truck has raised concerns about a “Jurassic Park” attraction being built on an Indonesian island. The site is part of the government’s plans to overhaul tourism in Komodo National Park. The viral image has sparked questions about the impact on the conservation of the famed dragons, the world’s largest lizards. Komodo dragons are only found on a handful of Indonesian islands and draw visitors from around the world. In recent years, authorities have grappled with how to manage conservation and tourism in the national park.
A charity that feeds millions of poor children in India has joined the drive to end holiday hunger in England. Hot vegetarian dishes cooked for less than £2 each using a model developed to feed the hungry in cities such as Mumbai and Ahmedabad were dispatched to a school in north London amid growing pressure on the government to reverse its decision not to fund free school meals this half-term. The charity is planning to set up similar kitchens in Leicester and east London and expects to keep delivering free meals to schools in the Christmas holidays.