is your online

NewsReader

Top news

A US Navy ship used a new drone-defense system to take down an Iranian drone
Image: Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck / 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

On Thursday, a US Navy ship in the Persian Gulf reportedly used a new, anti-drone system to take down an Iranian drone that came within a thousand yards, according to Military.com.

In a statement, the Department of Defense confirmed that the USS Boxer was moving through the Strait of Hormuz when it was approached by a fixed-wing drone which “closed within a threatening range,” which prompted the ship’s crew to take “defensive action.” Iran has denied the allegation.

According to C4ISRNET, the Marines aboard the USS Boxer used a new system called a MRZR LMADIS — a Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System. The system is mounted on a Polaris MRZR vehicle, which has appeared in DoD photos of the ship. USNI News says that it’s the “first known kill by a new generation of electronic warfare and directed energy weapons” by the US.

.@DeptofDefense photos of the USS Boxer's inbound transit through the Strait of Hormuz today. During the transit, Marines on board destroyed an Iranian drone that "closed within a threatening range" using counter-drone jamming equipment. pic.twitter.com/Fe0PEtPXFw

— Elizabeth McLaughlin (@Elizabeth_McLau) July 18, 2019

The system is comprised of two vehicles — one a “command node,” and the other a “sensor node.” The vehicles are outfitted with radar sensors, cameras, and radio frequency detectors and jammers. Once the crew is able to detect a threat, they use the jammer to disrupt the signals from the drone. While the system has been tested out on land by ground forces, Military.com reports that the Navy and Marines began testing the system on ships earlier this year.

The incident comes a month after the Iranian military shot down a US spy drone in the same region. The US military has begun to take the threats posed by drones more seriously in recent years as cheap commercial devices have made their way onto the market, and as foreign militaries invest more in the technology.

As USNI News points out, a jamming system is a cost-effective means of defense. A couple of years ago, a US ally used a $3 million Patriot missile to take down a $200 drone — an expensive proposition. In this instance, the USS Boxer had defensive missile systems in place, which it could have used to take down the UAV, or the 5-inch guns that are part of its Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems. But those systems aren’t always effective: guns and missiles can miss. But directed-energy weapons are cheaper to operate and are a bit more effective, as this particular drone discovered.

The US military has launched numerous experiments when it comes to using directed-energy weapons against drones and missiles. The US Air Force unveiled a new system called THOR (Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder) in June, designed to take down swarms of drones, while the US Army began investing in high-powered microwave cannons to take down drones last year.

Read more →
Follow
18 hr.
@ The Verge - All Posts
A Lego designer talks about designing spaceships and collaborating with NASA
Image: LEGO

In 1978, Lego launched the first sets in its line of space toys, almost a decade after the Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon for the first time. Since then, the company has consistently released sets featuring spaceships, astronauts and lunar bases, including detailed sets that draw on the hardware from real space missions.

The Verge spoke with Lego designer Simon Kent recently, who explained that he and his colleagues recently visited with NASA engineers and personnel to compare their toys against the real spaceships, rovers, and space stations currently in operation today. “Across the company, space is such a big theme, that we can tap into it in many different ways, whether its a plaything like Lego City, or a display model that goes into the fine details of the spacecraft’s design,” like the recently-released Apollo 11 Lunar Lander.

“Space is a theme or subject that appeals to kids and adults alike,” Kent explained, “there’s always this sort of need for kids to have space toys to pique that interest.” He noted that over the last four decades, Lego has explored many corners of the universe, from more fantastical sets about aliens, space police, or martian colonists, to more some of the more realistic sets that he and his team are responsible for with the company’s Lego City sets.

He says that in 2019, they’re continuing in this tradition “with a more and more realistic picture of actually what what space agencies like NASA are thinking of doing in the near future.” As such, the company’s latest releases include some fairly realistic-looking playsets: There’s a deep space rocket and mission control, a modular space station, space shuttles, a rover, and more. These sets aren’t exactly like what is currently fielded by NASA and various private companies. There’s “a sort of artistic twist that we tend to put on these themes, where we don’t want to focus necessarily on the pasts; we want to be relevant and future-looking. So we’re looking into what might be launched into space in the next few years.”

The design for the sets started out with a timeline for what might be coming in the next couple of years, and what vehicles are out there, and building something similar. Kent says that they want to “support the stories that kids hear at school or in the media about space agencies like NASA the European Space Agency of SpaceX.”

As such, Kent and his team recently traveled to NASA to gather some inspiration for their latest and upcoming sets, looking at its facilities and some of the projects that they were working on. “The irony is that the stuff we thought pushed the far-future a little too much, when we saw what they were exploring, we were taken aback that they were doing a lot of this stuff already.”

Kent noted that the trip yielded some cool insights that allowed them to make some of their sets more realistic. One such example appears on the Deep Space Rocket and Launch Control set: they included a small vehicle with four, independent wheels, inspired by an experimental rover, and after learning that white paint adds a lot of weight to a rocket, opted to change the color to orange to show that it’s unpainted. Another instance was with the Lunar Space Station model: Kent says that they changed the color of the handrails to better reflect what’s used on the space station. They also incorporated a wide range of characters into the sets, showing off the huge number of people that it takes to support a space mission, from engineers to administrators, scientists, trainers, and more.

Those little differences help provide a bit of an educational aspect to the sets. By adding a bit of realism to the sets, they’ll provide a way for kids to get interested in science and space. They already know that they’ve done that. Kent said that when they visited Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, “nearly all of them had Lego space stuff on their desks,” and that many were inspired by the toys they played with as kids. Hopefully, the latest crop of Lego toys will inspire the next generation of rocket scientists and astronauts.

Read more →
Follow
21 hr.
@ The Verge - All Posts
Catch up on all the trailers from this year’s Comic-Con
Image: CBS

San Diego Comic-Con wraps up today, and with it came a huge number of trailers for films and shows coming out in the next year. While Marvel undoubtably stole the show with its big Hall H announcements, the event’s trailers belonged almost entirely to the world of television.

There were some notable absences this year: Warner Bros. opted to skip the show, meaning we didn’t get looks at projects like the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 or Dune, and while Marvel did show off some footage from Black Widow, that didn’t make its way online (We’ll probably see something at its upcoming D23 Expo.) There were some other conspicuous absences: CBS didn’t show off a trailer for the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, for example.

But what we did get was a good idea what the TV landscape will look like in the coming year. Networks like The CW, HBO, and TBS showed off projects like the final season of Arrow, Westworld, and Snowpiercer, while Amazon and Netflix showed off first looks at The Expanse and the new Dark Crystal revival.

We’ve rounded up all the biggest and best trailers from this year’s show in one place for your viewing convenience. Check them out below.

Agents of Shield Season 6

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD comes to an end with its 7th season, and while ABC didn’t bring a trailer for what’s to come when it premieres, it did bring along a look at the last four episodes of the current season. Season 7 will debut sometime next year.

Arrow

Arrow is coming to an end after eight years on The CW, and the network brought in a teaser for the finale. It included a retrospective for the journey that the series has gone on since it premiered way back in 2012. It’s a fitting way to close out the last season and a good overview for those wanting to get into the show before it begins its final season on October 15th.

Black Lightning

The CW’s Black Lightning returns for its third season on October 21st, and the network brought along a look at what to expect: Jefferson Pierce , aka Black Lightning wrapped up his fight against his nemesis Tobias Whale, and now turns his attention to a coming war against the Markovians while his daughters are developing powers of their own.

Carnival Row

Amazon has teasers its upcoming Neo-Victorian fantasy series Carnival Row in the last couple of months, and it brought two trailers to the con that explain the background of the world and the two principle characters that the series will follow, Viginette and Philo. The two provide an intriguing look at what appears to be a compelling series. It begins streaming on August 30th.

Dark Crystal Age of Resistance

Netflix announced last year that it was making a sequel to Jim Henson’s classic 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal, and released a trailer back in May. It brought along a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming show, revealing the craftsmanship brought to the puppets and world, as well as some of the action that we can look forward to. It’ll premiere on August 30th.

The Expanse

The Expanse began its life on the Syfy channel back in 2015, and when that network canceled it at the end of its third season, Amazon picked it up. Its teaser shows off a new season that brings the crew of the Rosinante to a new planet, where they’ll face some massive problems. Amazon also released an extended clip from the season as well. The show returns on December 13th.

The Flash

Barry Allen has faced a lot of villains over the past few seasons of The Flash. Next up in the forthcoming season 6? Bloodwork, played by Sendhil Ramamurthy, who gives an ominous speech about how metahumans (like Barry and his friends) are a cancer that need to be wiped out.

Harley Quinn Season 1

DC greenlit a new animated series based on antihero Harley Quinn for its streaming service, DC Universe. Its Comic-Con trailer showed off plenty of humor and animated action featuring the character, who’ll be voiced by The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco. The trailer didn’t say when it’ll be available, only that it’s “coming soon.”

His Dark Materials

With Game of Thrones now in the rearview mirror, HBO has been working to assemble a lineup that will keep people coming back. One of those shows is a new fantasy series called His Dark Materials, set in an alternate world. It’s based on a book series by Philip Pullman, and it looks like it’s captured the spirit of the books, as well as its giant armored polar bears. There’s no date on when this will land, unfortunately.

Impulse

YouTube’s Red series Impulse came out last year, about a young woman who has the extraordinary ability to teleport. It’s coming back for a second season, and the trailer for the upcoming season follows “Henry” Coles as she learns how to control her newfound abilities and stay ahead of people who are coming for her. The series will debut this fall, and the first season will be available for free.

Man in the High Castle

Amazon’s Man in the High Castle comes to an end with its fourth season, and the company brought a brief clip from the upcoming premiere, in which Juliana Cain is shot and drops into another dimension. We’ll see how the series wraps up on November 15th.

Picard

During a big Hall H presentation on Saturday, CBS brought along some updates for the next entries in the Star Trek franchise, including a full trailer for its upcoming series, Picard. Set 20 years after Jean Luc Picard left Starfleet, he’s brought back into the fold when he comes across a mysterious young woman. Along the way, there’s some familiar faces from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series will debut sometime in spring 2020.

Short Treks

Another Star Trek project that CBS brought to Hall H was a look at its upcoming second season of Short Treks, a six-episode series of mini-installments, each telling a standalone story. One will lead into Picard, another will revisit tribbles and Spock’s first day on the Enterprise, and two others will be animated.

Snowpiercer

Based on the 2014 film in which the remnants of humanity exist on a single massive train on a frozen Earth, TBS’s Snowpiercer will pick up a couple of years later, where Jennifer Connelly tries to keep a strict, class-based society in order. The series begins in the Spring of 2020.

Steven Universe

Announced last year at SDCC, the first trailer for Steven Universe: The Movie picks up five years after the last episode of the show left off (in what seemed like a fairly conclusive finale). But it seems that Steven and the rest of the Crystal Gems will have to face off against a new threat, which looks to threaten all life on Earth. Also, it’s a musical. Sounds like just another day in Beach City...

Supergirl

Supergirl has a new foe to fight next season, and it sounds harder to battle than any alien invader: social media and technology addiction. (Don’t worry, she’ll also still be facing off against plenty of super-villians and aliens, too.) Season 5 will debut on October 6th.

Terminator: Dark Fate

We didn’t get an official trailer for Tim Miller’s upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate, but he did bring a behind-the-scenes featurette that showed off plenty of new footage and action a panel at Comic-Con on Thursday. The film hits theaters on November 1st.

Top Gun

In the world of unnecessary sequels, there’s little wonder that Tom Cruise is returning for a followup to his film Top Gun. In Top Gun: Maverick, he’ll reprise his role as fighter pilot Maverick, now a flight instructor. There’s plenty of pretty shots of fighter jets streaking across bleak landscapes, as well as throwbacks to the original. The film takes off on June 26th, 2020.

The Walking Dead Movie

Last year at the end of The Walking Dead’s 9th season, we learned that Andrew Lincoln will head up a trilogy of films about his character, Rick Grimes. Universal revealed that the films won’t hit AMC as previously announced: the first will be coming out in theaters. Beyond that tidbit, the teaser was... just a tease: no release date or even a title.

Watchmen

Another new show that HBO brought to Comic-Con was its upcoming “remix” of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s classic graphic novel Watchmen. The trailer shows off plenty of nods to the original story and characters, will follow the lives of a number of vigilantes in an alternate United States during the Cold War. The series will premiere in October.

Westworld

The latest trailer for the upcoming third season of HBO’s Westworld shows that the show is leaving behind its western-themed park for a World War II-themed world, showing off how some of the robotic characters are coping in the real world. The series will be released sometime in 2020.

The Witcher

After months of teasers and speculation, Netflix has finally given fans the first look at its upcoming adaptation of The Witcher — and although the show will only be drawing from Andrzej Sapkowski’s original books, not the far more well known video game series, it looks like a pretty slick fantasy series. There’s still no release date, though.

Read more →
Follow
19 hr.
@ The Verge - All Posts
This limited edition all-black speaker displays animated lyrics
Image: COTODAMA

Japanese company COTODAMA has teamed up with luxury brand Saint Laurent for a limited edition, all-black version of its Lyric Speaker Canvas that is only available to buy in the fashion house’s Rive Droite stores. COTODAMA makes two kinds of lyric speakers, both of which display a song’s lyrics while music is playing.

COTODAMA’s Lyric Speaker Canvas first came out last year and the original has a silver and black design. The silver back board is the actual speaker, while the black front board is the screen that displays song lyrics. It’s one unit, but looks like two pieces, and is meant to evoke the idea of vinyl record jackets leaned up against your wall. The size is a bit bigger than an actual record sleeve, but not by much. The Lyric Speaker Canvas is 18.7 inches wide by 14.7 inches tall, so it’s still pretty compact.

When it plays music, the front panel links with databases like PetitLyrics to grab a song’s lyrics. It then displays the lyrics in time with the song, and analyzes the song’s mood to pick fonts and animations. Blocky text that bursts on the screen might be paired with a bold pop song, and a drifting, handwritten script would go with a slow ballad. If no lyrics can be found, the screen will show abstract animations that move in sync with the music instead. There’s a nifty interactive demonstration on the COTODAMA website that lets you see how it visualizes lyrics for different kinds of songs.

The speaker connects via Wi-Fi with Airplay, Google Cast, and Spotify Connect on the iOS side, and Google Cast, and Spotify Connect if you have Android. If you’re using Android, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music are compatible, and the iOS version also supports Apple Music and a few other regional services like KK BOX.

Saint Laurent x Cotodama made a new limited edition black on black lyric speaker that's meant to look like vinyl records and shut up and take my money pic.twitter.com/aidNlalDsX

— Dani Deahl (@danideahl) July 19, 2019

This edition of the speaker has the same specs as the original, but comes with an all-black colorway and the Saint Laurent logo on the back panel. Slathering products entirely in black instantly makes them look more sleek, and this collaboration is no different. When Leica did an all-black Monochrom camera the result was gorgeous. The all-black OnePlus 3T was equally slick. It’s also similar to another recent Saint Laurent collaboration, which took Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9 and A1 speakers and drenched them in black.

If you want to grab this rare speaker, it costs several hundred dollars more than the original version, but in return you get the all-black aesthetic and Saint Laurent logo. The companies haven’t said how many units will be produced, but it will set you back €1,995 ($2,241) and is only available at Saint Laurent Rive Droite stores in Los Angeles and Paris.

Read more →
Follow
19 hr.
@ The Verge - All Posts
Moonrise looks to the space race to find out what we can learn about returning to the Moon
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

There are a ton of podcasts out there, but finding the right one can be difficult. In our new column Pod Hunters, we cover what we’ve been listening to that we can’t stop thinking about.

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission taking place this weekend, there has been plenty of retrospectives and examinations on the impact of the space race and the lunar missions. In addition to a flood of books and documentaries, there are a handful of podcasts as well. One of those new podcasts is The Washington Post’s Moonrise, hosted by Lillian Cunningham.

Cunningham is the creator of a couple of other excellent podcasts — Constitutional, about the stories behind the US Constitution, and Presid`ential, in which she spent each episode talking about each of the then-44 US presidents. The first episode of Moonrise launched on Friday, and over the next 12 episodes, will chronicling the various beats of the space race between the United States and the USSR, how the US developed the technology, and what went into the decision to launch the space program in the first place.

You can listen to Moonrise on The Washington Post’s website, and on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

 Image: Washington Post

Cunningham told The Verge that she was interested in following up Constitutional and Presidential that she and the Post wanted to do a third investigation of American history,” and that the 50th anniversary represented a good opportunity. “But to me, that actually wasn’t the most interesting thing about it. It was more that with both Presidential and Constitutional, they were podcasts about history, but they were also vehicles for trying to provide context and were an exploration of themes and questions that are on people’s minds right now. It was an opportunity to go back and learn something from history that tells us more about the country that we live in today.”

The story of the space race, she says, was timely. Not because of the 50th anniversary, but because space has become a major topic: the Trump Administration has been pushing for a return to the moon, while private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have been making headlines with their own launches and lunar ambitions. “All that kind of added up into a thought that it would be really interesting to look back at this first chapter of history and see what it has to tell us about what we’re going through today.

In particular, Cunningham explained that she was more interested in why we ended up going to the Moon, rather than the how. “I feel like that doesn’t get explored as much, and especially right now with all of the anniversary coverage,” she said.

“The story is so often about the astronauts and engineers and the incredible achievement of landing these men on the moon. For me, I felt like I had heard that story enough, but what I didn’t understand as well was why exactly Kennedy set that as a goal, who gave him the idea, and what the whole backstory that led to it.”

Along those lines, she opted to focus on that backstory. “I’m not someone who would define myself as a science fiction fan, but I kind of went down this rabbit hole of getting really interested in the influence of science fiction on the decision to go to the Moon.” Indeed, the first episode delves into the story of John W. Campbell Jr, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, who is largely credited with launching the Golden Age of science fiction in the 1930s and 1940s. “A lot of what I spent time thinking and researching about was the way that the missions of the 1960s reflected the dreams of the future that were put forward in the ‘30s and ‘40s.”

Looking back on the research, Cunningham noted that what surprised her the most was how many of our memories and stories about the project don’t exactly line up with contemporary reactions. Most American didn’t freak out about Sputnik, and President Dwight Eisenhower essentially dismissed it. “It was really interesting to look back through old presidential records and memos from the NSA about how much they knew about what was coming, and why they weren’t concerned.” The mythos surrounding President John F. Kennedy also surprised her. “All the stuff about how he started to backtrack on his decision and tried to get Khrushchev to make it a joint mission was really interesting to me.”

Ultimately, Cunningham explained that she hopes that people will take away from Moonrise what they took away from Constitutional and Presidential. “I try to approach these as not just a history podcast,” she says “but part of the mission is to clear away some of the myth-making that has sprung up and to examine the narratives that shape the characters from history today.”

Read more →
Follow
22 hr.
@ The Verge - All Posts
Today or any day the feed may update and bring good news
don't wait
Sign in now for free