WIRED UK Jan/Feb 2020

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United Kingdom
Conde Nast Publications Ltd
6 期号


creating wired

BEAUTY AND THE BEES Photographer Levon Biss learns how the scientists behind the BioDAR project are attempting to spot swarms of bees on weather radar, in order to assess just how steep the crash in their numbers has been. Part of the process involves coating the insects in a micro-thin layer of gold palladium and then scanning them, so they know what shapes to look for in the radar data. “I find this story fascinating, because this aspect of weather data, where insects intrude, is normally discarded or ignored – yet it is hugely important for biodiversity research,” he says. “Information on insect population decline is harder to gather than that of mammals, so projects such as BioDAR are essential for finding out how many we have left, where they are,…

what kind of internet do we want? (let’s not ask facebook)

I didn’t want to write my last editor’s letter of 2019 about Facebook. Honestly. For a while it looked as if WeWork founder Adam Neumann would be a good lens through which to examine the year in tech. Yet, somehow, Facebook managed to trump even one of the most calamitous corporate refinancing events of all time, brilliantly upping the ante by demonstrating mendacity in its corporate policy and an unparalleled tin ear when it comes to communications. Yes, it’s hard to ignore a company with such unmatched market power so consistently plummeting to new lows in corporate demeanour. In January this year, I sat in the audience at the DLD conference watching Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg give a talk entitled. “What kind of internet do we want?”, aimed at persuading us that Facebook…

an unobstructed, live view from above

Clouds are the enemy of observation But Finnish firm ICEYE is launching a constellation of micro satellites that can see through the haze, thanks to synthetic aperture radar technology. Each low-orbit unit emits thousands of pulses of light per second, enabling the system to capture real-time, high-resolution pictures of Earth, regardless of cloud cover – and can distinguish between objects that are less than one metre apart. Co-founder Pekka Laurila says he wants ICEYE to be like a GPS system for live monitoring. “It’s ground-breaking being able to monitor on a real-time basis,” he says. “It’s a continuous reliable and objective measurement of what’s going on.” Alex Lee iceye.com…

the sound of silicon allee

Just a few stops on Berlin’s U-Bahn separate a cluster of the world’s leading music technology startups: Native Instruments, Beatport, Ableton, SoundCloud, Skoove, LANDR and Endel. How did the German capital become the heart of a global industry? “Before the tech came the music,” says Heiko Hoffmann, director of artist relations at Beatport (an online record store for electronic music), a former editor-in-chief of electronic music magazine Groove, and an avid clubber. Like many in the industry, he has a long history with the music culture of Berlin. Hoffmann looks out from the company’s Kreuzberg headquarters, across the river Spree, where the remains of the Berlin Wall stand. “Until the wall came down, this was actually the least desirable area of West Berlin,” he says. “Then a lot of clubs started happening…

feeling lonely? spin the buddyhub wheel and join a real-world social network

In a typical week, some 2.6 million Brits aged 65 and older say they speak to less than three people they know, and that loneliness even robs them of the confidence to go out. BuddyHub is a startup that connects Londoners over 55 with younger volunteers in their local area. After signing up to the online “friendship wheel”, seniors will be matched with up to three “buddies” who all live no more than a 30-minute walk away and share common interests. Seniors and buddies form a social circle and can arrange to meet up one-on-one or as a group every week. “For buddies, it means that if something comes up and they are struggling to find the time, one of the other buddies in the friendship wheel should be able to…

energy unlimited

An attempt to generate unlimited clean energy from nuclear fusion is under way in Provence, France. Due for completion in 2025, ITER (formerly the International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor) is a massive international undertaking, costing more than €20 billion (£17.8 billion). “We’re communicating with people from more than 35 countries around the world,” says Sarah Griffiths, a design engineer at ITER. The process involves the collision of hydrogen atoms at incredibly high temperatures in an experimental machine called a tokamak, which uses magnetic forces to confine plasma in a torus shape. The energy released will power turbines that produce electricity. “If we can demonstrate that fusion can be achieved, it could help resolve our energy crisis,” says Griffiths. “If we can produce net energy, it’ll be life-changing.” iter.org…