The cryptocurrency company that lost $135m

The cryptocurrency company that lost $135m

When the 30-year-old founder of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange died suddenly, he took the whereabouts of some C$180m ($135m; £105m) in cryptocurrency to his grave. Now, tens of thousands of Quadriga CX users are wondering if they will ever see their funds again.

In 2014, one of the world’s biggest online cryptocurrency exchanges – MtGox – unexpectedly shut down after losing 850,000 Bitcoins valued at the time at nearly $0.4bn (£0.3bn).

Its meltdown shook investors in the volatile emerging marketplace – but the calamity at the Tokyo-based company proved a boon for a new Canadian online cryptocurrency exchange.

“People like the fact we’re located in Canada and know where their money is going,” Quadriga CX founder Gerald Cotten said at the time.

Some five years later, Cotten’s sudden, untimely death has left thousands of his customers scrambling for information about their own missing funds.

“We don’t know whether or not we’re going to get our money back,” Tong Zou, who says he is owed C$560,000 – his life savings – told the BBC.

“There’s just a lot of uncertainty.”

This month, Quadriga – which had grown to become Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange – was granted temporary bankruptcy protection in a Canadian court.

The firm said it had spent the weeks since Cotten’s death trying desperately to “locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves”.

In court documents, Quadriga says it owes up to 115,000 users an estimated C$250m – about C$70m in hard currency and between C$180m an C$190m in cryptocurrency, based on recent market rates.

It believes – though it’s not certain – that the bulk of those millions in reserves was locked away by Cotten in cold storage, which is an offline safeguard against hacking and theft.

For now, all trading has been suspended on the platform.

Bernie Doyle, CEO of Refine Labs and head of the Toronto chapter of the Government Blockchain Association, calls what’s happening at Quadriga a “seismic event” in the industry.

The world of digital currency has little regulatory oversight and a history of volatile prices, hacking threats, and minimal consumer protection.

Mr Doyle says this only adds to the nascent sector’s already “checkered history”.

But he says “it’s really unfortunate that the ecosystem takes a hit” amid one firm’s problems.

What happened at Quadriga?

Court documents filed in late January offer some insight into the company.

Quadriga had no offices, no employees and no bank accounts. It was essentially a one-man band run entirely by Cotten wherever he – and his laptop – happened to be, which was usually his home in Fall River, Nova Scotia.

It used some third-party contractors to handle some of the additional work, including payment processing.

His widow, Jennifer Robertson, says she was not involved in the company until her husband died suddenly on 9 December in India from complications related to Crohn’s disease.

In an affidavit, she says she has searched the couple’s home and other properties for business records related to Quadriga, to no avail. The laptop on which he conducted all the business is encrypted and she doesn’t have the password or recovery key.

An investigator hired to assist in recovering any records had little success.

It was also recently revealed the company somehow inadvertently transferred Bitcoins valued at almost half-a-million dollars into cold storage in early February and now can’t access them.

But Quadriga’s troubles didn’t start with missing coins. The company’s liquidity problems began months earlier.

In January 2018, Canadian bank CIBC froze five accounts containing about C$26m linked to Quadriga’s payment processor in a dispute over the real owners of the funds, an issue that ended up in court.

The company says it also has millions in bank drafts it has been unable to deposit because banks have been unwilling to accept them.

Ms Robertson’s affidavit to the court included photos showing stacks of bank drafts placed on a kitchen stove.

Those banking disputes contributed to a “severe liquidity crunch” at the company, with frustrated users facing delays and difficulties trying to access funds.

Who was Gerald Cotten?

In photos and interviews, Cotten comes across as a clean-cut business school graduate who tended to favour the casual shirts and jeans uniform of a tech entrepreneur.

In a statement, Quadriga called him a “visionary leader” who was in India for the opening an orphanage for children in need when he died.

His friend Alex Salkeld described Cotten as a helpful, easy-going young man keen to contribute to the community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

“I don’t think you’ll find anyone willing to say anything bad about him,” he told the BBC.

Mr Salkeld said once a week Vancouver Bitcoin Co-Op members would all head over to the Quadriga’s then-offices “and just talk Bitcoin”.

Like others at the time, he said Cotten saw Bitcoin as a technology with the potential to change the world – a virtual currency free of governments and the banking system.

Mr Salkeld said that since Cotten died, those who knew him have been going back-and-forth over how he could possibly have failed to have a contingency plan in place.

But amid rampant talk online about possible fraud related to the missing coins, Mr Salkeld said that, to him, “it’s looking like a tragic series of unfortunate events strung together in a really unlucky way”.

Cotten’s last will and testament also gives some hints as to his life and assets.

The document, signed shortly before his ill-fated trip to India, shows he appointed Ms Robertson as executor of the estate and left her the bulk of his property.

It offers some detail into those assets: a Lexus, an airplane – he was an amateur pilot – a sailboat, and real estate in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

He even planned for the care of his two chihuahuas, Nitro and Gully.

The case against Quadriga

There are many who are suspicious of Quadriga’s story and who doubt claims that Cotten had the only key to reserves valued in the tens of millions of dollars.

Online sleuths and industry experts have analysed the public transaction history of Quadriga wallets – which are used to store, send, and receive cryptocurrency – and have raised the possibility that the cold storage reserves might not exist at all.

That has led to concern there is more at play than poor business practices and internal company chaos in the wake of Cotten’s death.

Others have wondered whether Cotten faked his own death and that this is all part of an “exit scam” to abscond with the funds.

Amid those rumours, Ms Robertson’s affidavit included a copy of statement of death from a funeral home in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The hospital in Jaipur where Cotten was treated also released a statement detailing the medical interventions he received prior to his death.

His widow says she has received death threats and “slanderous comments” online since Quadriga publicly announced its troubles.

An independent third party monitor has also been appointed to oversee the court proceedings, and is currently in possession of Cotten’s laptop and other devices.

What happens next?

In an online message to its users, Quadriga said it filed for creditor protection to give it time to ensure the future viability of the company.

It also admitted it is in “the early stages of a long process and [does] not have all the answers right now”.

According to court filings, Quadriga is also investigating whether some of the cryptocurrency could be secured on other exchanges and it said it’s considering selling the platform to cover its debts.

A number of affected users, including Tong Zou, have retained lawyers and are seeking representation in the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Canada’s main securities regulator, the Ontario Securities Commission, has confirmed it looking into Quadriga “given the potential harm to Ontario investors”.

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Unboxing Nike’s self-lacing Adapt BB sneakers is like opening a smartphone

Unboxing Nike’s self-lacing Adapt BB sneakers is like opening a smartphone

It was exactly a month ago that Nike took the wraps off of Adapt BB, its latest pair of shoes with power laces, and now the company is finally ready to bring them to the masses. The Adapt BB will launch globally on February 17th, although some lucky people have already been able to get them through Nike’s SNKRS app. Unlike the HyperAdapt 1.0 from 2017, which were more of a concept project, the Adapt BBs are intended to be performance shoes for basketball players. They’re also smarter than the HyperAdapts, thanks to a mobile app that pairs with the shoes via Bluetooth and lets users adjust how the laces fit. You can also use the Adapt application, available for iOS and Android, to change the two LED colors on the shoes.

But, perhaps the craziest difference between Nike’s two self-lacing models is the price: the HyperAdapt 1.0 cost $720 at launch, whereas the Adapt BB are priced for less than half that, at $350. That’s still a lot of money for shoes, sure, but Nike hopes that all the tech inside them will be enough to appeal to many consumers — not just sneakerheads. Dubbed FitAdapt, the BB’s auto-lacing system consists of a custom motor that senses the tension needed by your feet and adjusts itself accordingly to keep each foot snug in the shoes. If you need to tweak the comfort levels, you can do so with the companion Adapt app or the two physical buttons on the BB’s midsole.

Nike is calling FitAdapt its “most advanced fit solution to date,” adding that it is designed to provide a “truly customized fit for every basketball player.” As someone who has worn the Adapt BBs before, I can definitely say that they are more comfortable than I expected them to be. They feel like normal sneakers, which wasn’t the case for the HyperAdapt 1.0. Those felt clunky and, in my case, I had to get a bigger size than I normally would in order to feel comfortable wearing them.



So what are you getting for your $350, you ask? Well, I had the chance to check out a retail version of the Adapt BBs at a Nike event in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the 2019 NBA All-Star game is taking place.

When I opened the package, it actually felt as if I was unboxing a smartphone, not a pair of shoes. That’s namely because of the included QI wireless charging pad, the USB cable/wall charger combo and the starting guide that shows you how to use the Adapt BBs. It’s just not something I’m used to when buying sneakers; if I’m lucky, I’ll get an extra pair of shoelaces in the box, and that’s usually as exciting as it gets.

But this is the thing about the Adapt BBs, that it has the potential to appeal to a lot of people because it combines performance and lifestyle gear with technology. And the same can be said about Puma’s own auto-lacing Fi sneakers, though those won’t arrive until 2020. As for the Adapt BBs, we’ll see if they have sufficient appeal to make them as popular as some of Nike’s analog shoes.

Gallery: Nike Adapt BB unboxing | 9 Photos

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‘Super Mario Maker 2’ hits the Switch this June

‘Super Mario Maker 2’ hits the Switch this June

It took its sweet time, but Super Mario Maker is coming to Nintendo Switch! Far from a port, this is a bonafide sequel, Super Mario Maker 2. Details are scant, but from the brief trailer Nintendo showed during its Nintendo Direct presentation, we noticed some assets from that other superb Wii U game, Super Mario 3D World. The best news? You’ll only have to wait a few months to play it: Super Mario Maker 2 will land in June 2019. Expect to hear a lot more about it in the coming months.

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Google experiments with dark mode for Chrome on phones

Google experiments with dark mode for Chrome on phones


Chris Velazco/Engadget

It took Google quite some time to get on board with the idea of adding a dark mode to its apps and platforms, but it’s definitely looking like the tech giant has gone all in. 9to5Google has discovered that Chrome 73 beta for Android comes with a night theme, a few days after it reported that Google is working on a dark UI for Chrome on Mac and Windows.

The night theme for the experimental mobile browser is still in its very, very early stages. In fact, you’ll only know that it exists when you long press on a link or on an image, and only if Android Pie’s Dark Mode setting under Developer Options is set to Always On. Further, even the panels that already come in dark gray still need some work — some of their text is still in black.

While there’s no guarantee that the feature will make it past beta, there’s a very good chance that we will. Dark mode is an oft- and long-requested feature for Android, since it’s easier on the eyes and could even extend battery life. As 9to5Google noted, we’ll likely see more elements, including the browser’s other menus, dyed a darker color in the future.

Android

Image: 9to5Google

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Cryptocurrency Owners Can’t Access Funds After Exchange CEO Dies—Because No One Knows the Password

Cryptocurrency Owners Can’t Access Funds After Exchange CEO Dies—Because No One Knows the Password

The founder of Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX took security seriously. Users’ cryptocurrency wallets were kept offline, ensuring hackers couldn’t get at them. And he was the only one who had the password.

Then he died. And now, customers who have $190 million in cryptocurrency stores with the company, wonder if they’ll ever see their investment again.

Gerald Cotten, who owned QuadrigaCX, died in December. And his widow says she does not know how to access the cold storage facility, where the roughly 26,000 Bitcoin, 11,000 bitcoin cash, 200,000 Litecoin, over 400,000 Ether and other cryptos are not kept on a public computer.

“The laptop computer from which Gerry carried out the Companies’ business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key. Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere,” said Jennifer Robertson, Cotten’s widow, in an affidavit.

QuadrigaCX, at a court hearing set for Tuesday, is expected to ask a judge to appoint Ernst & Young as an overseer for its financial issues.

“For the past weeks, we have worked extensively to address our liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets, and that are required to satisfy customer cryptocurrency balances on deposit, as well as sourcing a financial institution to accept the bank drafts that are to be transferred to us,” the company said via a statement on its website. “Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”

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FBI reportedly carried out a sting operation on Huawei at a burger joint

FBI reportedly carried out a sting operation on Huawei at a burger joint


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The makers of a super-hard smartphone glass made partially of synthetic diamonds took part in an FBI sting on Huawei, according to a new Bloomberg report. The operation apparently took place at a Prime Burger joint in Vegas during CES last month, while a Businessweek reporter watched from a nearby gelato stand. The embattled Chinese company had ordered samples of the “Miraj Diamond Glass” from US startup Akhan Semiconductor in 2017, only to return them badly damaged. Suspecting Huawei of intellectual property theft, Akhan’s founder Adam Khan reportedly contacted the FBI, which drafted him and COO Carl Shurboff to take part in its Huawei investigations.

Email and text communications between the startup and a Huawei engineer were reportedly forwarded to the agency as part of the inquiry. A phone call between Khan, Shurboff and the same Huawei representative was also allegedly tapped on December 10th. Then came the Vegas sting, with the same Huawei staffer in attendance along with her colleague, Jennifer Lo, a senior official with the company in Santa Clara, California. Unbeknown to them, Khan and Shurboff were allegedly taping the entire get-together.

Throughout the meeting, the Huawei reps denied that it had violated US export laws, including provisions of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which control the export of materials with defense applications — diamond being one of those materials. They also “claimed ignorance” when it came to the damaged samples.

Just weeks later, prosecutors would file 10 trade secret-related charges and 13 linked to sanction violations against Huawei as part of a separate investigation. In another case, Huawei was indicted for stealing smartphone testing tech from T-Mobile and for violating sanction laws by selling US technology to Iran.

Huawei supposedly told Khan that it was still interested in his patented panel, likely in the hopes of using it as an alternative to Corning’s industry-leading Gorilla Glass. Khan’s startup had been pitching its invention as six times stronger and ten times more scratch-resistant than Corning’s. Huawei’s rival Samsung has also developed its own “unbreakable” smartphone display in-house, which it intends to deploy on future phones.

According to Bloomberg, it’s unclear what will come of the investigation: the FBI could conclude that there’s no grounds for indictment. Or that Huawei did indeed steal tech secrets from an American company. This case, however, shows that while Huawei stands accused of spying on the US, the US had the chance to do the same in order to gain more insight into what the company is up to.

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Facebook took down over 750 pages from Iran for ‘inauthentic behavior’

Facebook took down over 750 pages from Iran for ‘inauthentic behavior’


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Facebook announced today that it has removed 783 pages, groups and accounts that were apparently engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” tied to Iran. According to Facebook, these accounts mostly operated under a false or concealed identity, and were repurposing Iranian state media content as if it was their own. They appeared to be targeting audiences in the Middle East and South Asia, and seem to be part of a network created to spread misleading news. According to Facebook, some of this activity dates back to 2010.

Of the accounts taken down, 262 pages, 356 accounts and 3 groups were from Facebook, and 162 accounts were from Instagram. At least one of the Pages had around 2 million followers, around 1,600 accounts joined at least one of the groups and at least one of Instagram accounts has more than 254,000 followers.

“The removal is not related to the nature of the content or who is saying it,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, on a call to the press. He said that the reason Facebook took them down is because they represented themselves to be independent news outlets, when they weren’t. “We can see that they are controlled by operators from Iran.” Facebook wouldn’t specify if the accounts were run by the Iranian government specifically, as there isn’t enough evidence to do so, but the implication seems to be that those running the fake accounts were spreading information that was sympathetic to the Iranian state.

Some of the commentary were repurposed Iranian state media on topics relating to Israel-Palestine relations as well as conflicts in the Syria and Yemen that mentioned the roles of other countries like the US, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Developing…

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Earth’s largest extinction event likely took plants first

Earth’s largest extinction event likely took plants first

Little life could endure the Earth-spanning cataclysm known as the Great Dying, but plants may have suffered its wrath long before many animal counterparts, says new research led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

About 252 million years ago, with the planet’s continental crust mashed into the supercontinent called Pangaea, volcanoes in modern-day Siberia began erupting. Spewing carbon and methane into the atmosphere for roughly 2 million years, the eruption helped extinguish about 96 percent of oceanic life and 70 percent of land-based vertebrates — the largest extinction event in Earth’s history.

Yet the new study suggests that a byproduct of the eruption — nickel — may have driven some Australian plant life to extinction nearly 400,000 years before most marine species perished.

“That’s big news,” said lead author Christopher Fielding, professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences. “People have hinted at that, but nobody’s previously pinned it down. Now we have a timeline.”

The researchers reached the conclusion by studying fossilized pollen, the chemical composition and age of rock, and the layering of sediment on the southeastern cliffsides of Australia. There they discovered surprisingly high concentrations of nickel in the Sydney Basin’s mud-rock — surprising because there are no local sources of the element.

Tracy Frank, professor and chair of Earth and atmospheric sciences, said the finding points to the eruption of lava through nickel deposits in Siberia. That volcanism could have converted the nickel into an aerosol that drifted thousands of miles southward before descending on, and poisoning, much of the plant life there. Similar spikes in nickel have been recorded in other parts of the world, she said.

“So it was a combination of circumstances,” Fielding said. “And that’s a recurring theme through all five of the major mass extinctions in Earth’s history.”

If true, the phenomenon may have triggered a series of others: herbivores dying from the lack of plants, carnivores dying from a lack of herbivores, and toxic sediment eventually flushing into seas already reeling from rising carbon dioxide, acidification and temperatures.

‘It Lets Us See What’s Possible’

One of three married couples on the research team, Fielding and Frank also found evidence for another surprise. Much of the previous research into the Great Dying — often conducted at sites now near the equator — has unearthed abrupt coloration changes in sediment deposited during that span.

Shifts from grey to red sediment generally indicate that the volcanism’s ejection of ash and greenhouse gases altered the world’s climate in major ways, the researchers said. Yet that grey-red gradient is much more gradual at the Sydney Basin, Fielding said, suggesting that its distance from the eruption initially helped buffer it against the intense rises in temperature and aridity found elsewhere.

Though the time scale and magnitude of the Great Dying exceeded the planet’s current ecological crises, Frank said the emerging similarities — especially the spikes in greenhouse gases and continuous disappearance of species — make it a lesson worth studying.

“Looking back at these events in Earth’s history is useful because it lets us see what’s possible,” she said. “How has the Earth’s system been perturbed in the past? What happened where? How fast were the changes? It gives us a foundation to work from — a context for what’s happening now.”

The researchers detailed their findings in the journal Nature Communications. Fielding and Frank authored the study with Allen Tevyaw, graduate student in geosciences at Nebraska; Stephen McLoughlin, Vivi Vajda and Chris Mays from the Swedish Museum of Natural History; Arne Winguth and Cornelia Winguth from the University of Texas at Arlington; Robert Nicoll of Geoscience Australia; Malcolm Bocking of Bocking Associates; and James Crowley of Boise State University.

The National Science Foundation and the Swedish Research Council funded the team’s work.

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iRobot Terra mower cuts your lawn with Roomba-like smarts

iRobot Terra mower cuts your lawn with Roomba-like smarts


iRobot

If you took a look at newer Roombas and wondered why that clever mapping couldn’t be used to cut your lawn… well, you’re not alone. iRobot has unveiled the Terra, a robotic lawn mower that uses the company’s mapping tech to trim your grass with minimal fuss. Instead of marking your lawn area with boundary wires as you do with many existing robomowers, you place wireless beacons (shown below) and drive the bot once around the perimeter. After that, it’s largely hands-off. Like a Roomba, the Terra will automatically make the rounds and return to a charging base whenever it’s low on power.

You can use iRobot’s Home app to schedule lawn cutting, fine-tune the grass height and specify areas that are off-limits. It shouldn’t shred your petunias, then. The bot itself is built to survive the rain and can handle the not-so-forgiving terrain in your yard.

Don’t expect to buy a Terra all that soon. iRobot is only promising to sell the mower sometime in 2019, and the company has only committed to launches in both Germany and (in beta form) the US. This is more of a tentative step into an unfamiliar category than a full-on leap. With that said, this might help take robotic mowers into the mainstream. It eliminates some of the complexity of robot mowers and comes from what’s arguably the best-known name in household robotics. There’s no guarantee it’ll succeed, especially when pricing remains an unknown, but it stands a better chance than most.

iRobot Terra wireless beacon

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Boeing’s self-flying taxi completes its first flight

Boeing’s self-flying taxi completes its first flight


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Multiple companies have outlined plans for flying taxis, but Boeing just took an important step toward making them a practical reality. The aircraft maker has completed the first test flight of its autonomous electric VTOL aircraft, verifying that the machine can take off, hover and land. It’s a modest start, to put it mildly — the taxi has yet to fly forward, let alone transition from vertical to forward flight modes. That still puts it ahead of competitors, though, and it’s no mean feat when the aircraft existed as little more than a concept roughly one year ago.

When finished, the vehicle will serve as an “urban air mobility” solution that shuttles passengers across town in situations where ground transportation would be slow or impractical, with a peak range of 50 miles. The electric powerplant isn’t just for the sake of environmental responsibility — it would ensure the aircraft is quiet enough to operate without irritating people below. There are plans for a cargo-oriented counterpart that could haul up to 500lbs of goods, and it’s poised to move from indoor to outdoor testing in 2019.

The greater challenge might be to find customers for these vehicles. Local governments have been receptive to tests, but they still have regulatory and practical hurdles to clear. Where do you place their landing pads? Where and when would these aircraft be allowed to fly? Companies have to develop flying taxis to answer at least some of these questions, though, and Boeing is at least inching forward on that front.

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Scientists name ancient shark species after arcade classic ‘Galaga’

Scientists name ancient shark species after arcade classic ‘Galaga’


Velizar Simeonovski/Field Museum

Paleontologists took a cue from retro games when naming a prehistoric shark — they dubbed it Galagadon nordquistae after ’80s arcade shooter Galaga. They bestowed the unusual name upon the newly discovered species because its teeth look a bit like the classic game’s spaceships.

Galagadon nordquistae teeth

While Galagadon lived alongside T. rex and Triceratops around 67 million years ago, it’s not exactly the kind of colossal beast you’d find Jason Statham battling in a big-budget movie. This shark was about 30-45 cm long, and its distinctive teeth measure less than a millimeter across. It’s actually related to modern-day carpet sharks.

North Carolina State University lecturer Terry Gates and volunteer Karen Nordquist (after whom the creature is also named) meticulously sifted through two tons of sediment left after the discovery of famous T. rex specimen Sue in South Dakota. They found more than two dozen Galagadon teeth.

“It amazes me that we can find microscopic shark teeth sitting right beside the bones of the largest predators of all time,” said Gates, a co-author of a paper on the shark that was published this week in the Journal of Paleontology. “These teeth are the size of a sand grain. Without a microscope you’d just throw them away.”

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Waymo will build self-driving cars in Michigan

Waymo will build self-driving cars in Michigan


Waymo

Waymo just took another major step toward bringing self-driving cars into the mainstream. The Alphabet-owned brand has received approval to establish a factory for its driverless vehicles in Michigan. This will be the first factory in the world to be completely devoted to mass-producing Level 4 autonomous vehicles, the company said.

It may be a while before the first vehicles roll off the line. Waymo first plans to “identify a facility” somewhere in southeastern Michigan, and it’s not clear when that factory might be ready. The company hopes to create “hundreds” of local jobs over the space of a few years.

The state is an obvious choice for manufacturing self-driving cars. On top of its close association with the car industry and the sheer number of qualified workers, it’s a good testing environment. This gives Waymo a better opportunity to prove that its cars can handle snow and other less-than-forgiving weather conditions. Many self-driving projects in the US, including Waymo’s own work in Arizona, tend to favor southern states where conditions are favorable year-round.

It’s not certain just what mix of vehicles Waymo will produce. However, it suggests the planned factory is mainly meant for integrating autonomy into existing vehicles, as it does with Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar. You might not see it produce driverless cars made completely from scratch as a result. It’s nonetheless a start, and it’s no secret that many established brands see autonomous car production as the future.

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NBA refs will return to Twitter to answer fans’ questions

NBA refs will return to Twitter to answer fans’ questions


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Last year during the NBA finals, some of the league’s refs took to Twitter in order to discuss calls made during a game and answer fans’ questions. Feedback was positive, ESPN reports. Positive enough for the NBA and the National Basketball Referees Association to decide to do it again this season but during even more games. For the first two #RefWatchParty events this season, referees will engage with fans when the Golden State Warriors take on the Los Angeles Lakers on the 21st and during the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers game on the 23rd.

The referees union and the NBA are planning to offer these real-time Twitter discussions throughout the rest of the season, including during some playoff games, according to ESPN. And the refs participating will have access to the NBA’s replay center while they tweet.

If you want to participate, you can tweet at the @OfficialNBARefs account or by using the #RefWatchParty tag.

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The Morning After: An egg is winning Instagram

The Morning After: An egg is winning Instagram

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

While we prepared for a future of self-lacing basketball shoes, an egg took over the title of ‘most liked’ Instagram photo. How was your Monday?


Be their guest.Sling TV debuts free streaming option on Roku

Sling TV is trying a new way to reach potential users with a free option of its streaming platform. Through a “browse as guest” option, newcomers to Sling will be able to check out episodes from some shows (including Billions, Shameless and Ray Donovan) at no cost, though it seems only one episode is available for each of those series. You can also subscribe to standalone channels, such as Showtime, without having to pony up for a Sling package.


If you can live with a non-programmable arpeggiator.Korg Minilogue XD synthesizer review

The $650 Korg Monologue XD improves on what was arguably the best-bang-for-your-buck analog synthesizer by adding a user-programmable digital oscillator, an improved sequencer and tweaking the filter.


Marty McFly.Nike teases self-lacing shoes you can control from your phone

Ahead of the launch of its first self-lacing basketball shoes this week, Nike just posted a major tease to get people hyped. It didn’t show off the shoes, just the reactions of players like Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma and De’Aaron Fox as they experienced wearing them and (apparently) controlling the fit with an app on a smartphone. We’ll find out everything about “the future of the game” of basketball tomorrow, so stay tuned to our site for more coverage from Nike’s event.


318 HP and range of over 500 miles on a single tank of gas.Ford’s 2020 Explorer Hybrid adds range without losing storage capacity

Unlike other Ford hybrid vehicles that sacrificed space for big, awkwardly-placed battery packs, this one slides its specially designed liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery into the chassis beneath the second row seats so owners don’t have to give up legroom or cargo space.


Git gud.‘Battlefield V’ does a better job of explaining why you died

The latest Battlefield V update makes significant changes to the “death experience” to clearly explain why you died. There’s now a camera that tracks your killer, and you’ll see their name in the game world when they take you down. It should be clearer when you’re under threat, too — tracer rounds should consistently appear as if they’re coming from the shooter, and directional damage indicators are more accurate.


39 million likes and counting.Stock photo of an egg beats Kylie Jenner’s Instagram record

That happened.


Play everywhere.Now ‘Rocket League’ supports cross-play on every console, even PS4

Sony announced Monday that Rocket League has entered the PlayStation Cross-Play Beta program, meaning the popular game now has full cross-platform support. Players on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam PC can now team up or play against one another in all online match types, including casual and competitive modes.

But wait, there’s more…


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Researchers may have witnessed the birth of a black hole

Researchers may have witnessed the birth of a black hole


Raffaella Margutti/Northwestern University

Researchers believe they might have an explanation for an incredibly bright event that took place in a distant dwarf galaxy. Scientists observed it last June when the object in question lit up and then faded over the course of 16 days, and it has continued to spark interest and debate. Based on the data collected at the time, a number of researchers now think the event was the creation of either a black hole or a neutron star.

Officially called AT2018cow, the object has been nicknamed “The Cow,” and if it is indeed a neutron star or a black hole — both of which can form when a massive star collapses — it will help scientists understand what exactly takes place when that kind of event occurs. “We know from theory that black holes and neutron stars form when a star dies,” Northwestern University Professor Raffaella Margutti said in a statement, “but we’ve never seen them right after they are born. Never.” Margutti headed Northwestern University’s investigation of the bright event and presented her team’s findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting. The work will also be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

At first, researchers thought The Cow might be a supernova, but because it was 10 to 100 times brighter that a typical supernova, scientists began looking for alternative explanations. They also used a number of observatories to study The Cow, viewing it with X-rays, hard X-rays, radio waves and gamma rays, all of which allowed them to get a more comprehensive look at The Cow.

And a few lucky breaks helped out as well. The dwarf galaxy that houses The Cow is around two hundred million light years away, which may seem like a lot, but is pretty close by astronomical standards. Plus, there was less than usual amounts of material surrounding The Cow during the event, allowing astronomers to see through it to observe The Cow’s “central engine.”

Other researchers involved in the work support the notion of the formation of a black hole or a neutron star. But some believe the data suggests The Cow is the result of a black hole engulfing a white dwarf.

While it’s still unclear exactly what The Cow is, the collaborative way in which it was observed could help scientists spot more events like it in the future. “The Cow is a great example of a type of observation that’s becoming critical in astronomy: rapid response to transient events,” Keck Observatory Chief Scientist John O’Meara said in a statement. “Looking forward, we are implementing new observational policies and telescope instrumentation that allow us to be as quick on the sky and to the science as we can.”

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