How Scientists Tracked Antarctica’s Stunning Ice Loss

When the Antarctic wants to rid itself of ice, it has to get creative. The cold is too stubborn to allow surface ice to gently melt into oblivion. Instead, crushed by the immense build-up, ice gets shoved slowly along valleys and gorges until it finally reaches the edge of the continent, walking the plank into its watery grave.

Back in the 1980s, scientists would plant stakes on these so-called “ice streams” to see how fast (or how slowly) they moved. The difficulty, cost, and danger limited the number of measurements. These days, however, scientists studying ice movement on the Antarctic are inundated by measurements—so much so that today, a group of scientists has published the combined results of 24 different surveys of Antarctic ice loss in an edition of Nature. Together, they suggest that the rate of melting has tripled in the last five years. Led by investigators Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds and Erik Ivins of NASA, they believe that the loss, [...]  read more

Sphero raises $12M as it focuses on education

This year has been a rough one for Sphero. The Colorado-based toy robotics startup kicked off the year with dozens of layoffs, a result of tepid interest in its line of Disney-branded consumer products.

Here’s a little good news, however. The company has raised another $12 million, bringing its total up to around $119 million, according to Crunchbase. The latest round will go into helping shape the BB-8 maker into an education-first company.

“The recent round of funding has currently raised $12 million, and we anticipate at the time of final closing up to $20 million may be raised in total,” Sphero said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. Funding has/will come from existing and new investors and will be used for working capital as we engage in a larger strategy that focuses on the intersection of play and learning.”

It’s a tricky play, given how overcrowded the world of coding toys is at the moment, but Sphero has long been building out its play [...]  read more

Apple confirms iOS updates will lock out some police cracking tools

“At Apple, we put the customer at the center of everything we design,” the company said in a statement to Engadget. “We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data. We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.”

This could frustrate the FBI and other agencies that have been frustrated by Apple’s security measures and have wanted the company to weaken those safeguards through backdoors. It’s not a complete shutout, as law enforcement theoretically has a chance if it gets an iOS device to a cracking machine [...]  read more

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