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NASA's newest mission, ICON, launches Wednesday

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 02:34
Bright swaths of red in the upper atmosphere, known as airglow, can be seen in this image taken from the International Space Station.

Supermarket bakeries 'unclear on allergies'

Health News BBC - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 01:36
Information on potentially lethal ingredients is not always easy to obtain, undercover reporters find.

Epilepsy: 'I'm not daydreaming Miss, I'm having a seizure'

Health News BBC - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 01:22
Teachers are urged to spot the signs that a child might have epilepsy.

Soyuz Rocket Launches European Weather Satellite MetOp-C Into Orbit

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 01:21
Europe's latest Earth-observation satellite blasted off into orbit today (Nov. 6) on a mission to improve weather forecasts and monitor changing climates around the globe.

Wearable bioreactor stimulates limb regrowth in frogs

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 01:01
Whether it's the Mexican axolotl that can regrow its legs in weeks, the green anole lizard that sprouts new tails as needed, or the ability of newts to replace pretty whatever limb they happen to be missing, the regenerative abilities of certain ...

Starman driving Tesla Roadster beyond Mars now, SpaceX says

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 00:45
SpaceX recently updated the status of Starman aboard the Tesla Roadster that it launched into space earlier this year. >> Read more trending news.

Voting in space? How astronauts vote while floating

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 00:38
How do you voice your vote in the vacuum of space? While voters head to polling locations across the country in the 2018 Midterm Elections, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are floating over 200 miles away.

'I call my OCD Olivia'

Health News BBC - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 00:38
Catherine Benfield was diagnosed with OCD as a young mum. Creating a character who personifies her condition helped her recovery.

China unveils new 'Heavenly Palace' space station as ISS days numbered

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 00:36
CHINA has unveiled a replica of its first permanently crewed space station, which would replace the international community's orbiting laboratory and symbolises the country's major ambitions beyond Earth.

'Dust moons' spotted orbiting Earth, confirming decades of speculation

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 00:26
Earth has two so-called "dust moons", researchers say, after their study confirmed the presence of astronomical clouds orbiting our planet.

The Quiet Man Review - Silent, But Not Golden

Game Spot Reviews - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 00:12

The interactive movie--that nebulous, hard-to-define genre briefly fashionable in the mid-1990s, when CD-ROM technology made it possible for developers to integrate live-action footage into games--is not exactly remembered for its high quality. But even in the tradition responsible for such notorious follies as Night Trap, Sewer Shark, and Who Shot Johnny Rock, The Quiet Man is astonishingly dire--a graceless, outdated game that belongs squarely in the era of laserdiscs and the Philips CD-i. When it isn't an interactive movie, it's a simple 3D beat-em-up of the kind once ubiquitous at arcades. But an interest in the past does not make The Quiet Man a love letter to video game history, and its ideas are poorly realized.

The Quiet Man boasts a formal conceit that is at least moderately interesting. You play as a svelte blonde 20-something named Dane, who is deaf, and as a consequence the game is almost totally silent. You hear only the muffled patter of footfalls while walking, some indistinct notes of synthesizer to represent voices, and a faint patina of generic ambience elsewhere. The marketing materials describe this as an effort to allow the player to "experience the world in the way Dane does." But we clearly do not experience the world as Dane does. Dane reads lips; he communicates extensively and effortlessly with every character he encounters. So why are these conversations not subtitled? In one lengthy scene of dialogue after another, people talk with Dane, presumably advancing the story. Meanwhile, we have no earthly clue what's being said or what's going on.

This sort of inexplicable design is entirely typical of The Quiet Man. It’s difficult to understand so much of what transpires. Consider an early narrative sequence in which Dane meets either a colleague or a friend--the relationship was not apparent to me and only gets more confusing over the course of the story--and converses with him in his office. In a series of mundane closeups the other man speaks as Dane nods along, rapt; the nature of their discussion is opaque, and their performances, amateurish and hammy, are abysmal. You can imagine this scene being staged in such a way that the content would be clear even without sound or subtitles. The Quiet Man doesn't even try.

When these mystifying, interminable full-motion-video scenes at last end, the actors are switched out for crudely animated substitutions, many of whom bear such a poor resemblance to their real-life counterparts that it is frequently unclear who's who. It's never hard to pick out Dane in the heat of battle, though, because he's the only one who's white. The endless procession of villainous henchmen you're asked to brutally dispatch are uniformly latino, broad caricatures of "cholos" in street-gang garb who sneer at you between pummellings. You fight them pretty much exclusively throughout. The political implications of the game's demographic makeup are appalling, in this fraught time of wall-building especially, and the end result is plainly, unforgivably racist.

In any case, it's quite fitting for the enemies to be the same cliched type repeated ad nauseam, because repetitiveness is the very nature of The Quiet Man's beat-em-up combat system. Brawling has what might generously be described as an arcade-like simplicity: one button to punch, one to kick, and one to dodge, plus a finishing move that can be triggered on occasion. It would be more accurate to call this rudimentary. Almost every battle boils down to a dull frenzy of button-mashing, as enemies rarely block, scarcely fight back, and practically never come at you more than one at a time. Though waves of 10 or even 20 must be defeated to clear a given room, they don't change their approach or vary their style, and mostly seem to stand around awaiting their turn to be vanquished. There's no way to vary your own attacks, either, which gives every encounter the air of a chore.

Boss battles aren't much different in terms of character or technique. They distinguish themselves instead in terms of overwhelming difficulty. I almost never lost a fight in the course of regular gameplay; each of the handful of boss battles, though, kept me stuck for a long time, as I labored through dust-ups with enemies that seemed absurdly overpowered and virtually invulnerable to damage. Worse than simply losing these battles was how consistently vague they proved to be. Seldom is it apparent why you might be losing a fight. The game doesn't track damage or show the enemy's health, and it's never certain whether your hits are landing or registering much effect--hitboxes are indistinct and attacks almost always clip through bodies, which makes the whole process feel at once feeble, confusing, and outrageously imprecise.

Simplistic, ungainly combat is all the more surprising given that it is The Quiet Man's only gameplay mechanic. From beginning to end there is nothing else to do — no places to navigate, no items to collect, no weapons to wield, no puzzles to solve. It's just those same mind-numbing punches and kicks broken up by extended narrative scenes that by virtue of the enforced silence you can't hope to follow or understand. The broad contours of the plot are vaguely discernible: the drama involves childhood trauma, a seedy metropolitan underbelly, various acts of conspiracy and revenge. As for the details, it's impossible to say. The game's final moments tease an upcoming addition that will allow you to play it through a second time with the sound restored. This feels like both a preposterous cop-out--it's walking back the main conceit!--and a cruel punishment. With sound the story will surely make more sense. But having suffered through The Quiet Man once, I can't bear to try it again.

How US crew members aboard International Space Station vote during elections

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 22:08
As millions of Americans rush to the polls to cast their vote down here on Earth Tuesday, Nov. 6, a select few have already cast their ballots from 254 miles above our planet's surface.

Metric system overhaul will dethrone the one, true kilogram

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 21:11
Like an aging monarch, Le Grand K is about to bow to modernity. For 130 years, this gleaming cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy has served as the world's standard for mass.

NASA's photo of the day showcases 'flying saucer' crash-landing in US desert

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 21:06
While NASA's photo of the day sheds light on a "flying saucer's" crash-landing in a Utah desert from back in 2004, it's important to note that "no space aliens were involved" in this close encounter.

Russia says one of its space station computers failed but two others are A-OK

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 21:03
One of the three computers on the Russian side of the International Space Station has crashed, but orbital operations are unaffected because the two other systems are in working order, Russia's space agency reported today.

NASA Will Launch a Satellite to Study the Edge of Space Overnight. Here's How to Watch.

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:38
NASA's much-delayed Ionospheric Connection Explorer is scheduled to launch early tomorrow morning (Nov. 7) to begin studying the boundary where Earth's atmosphere meets space.

China Unveils Earth's Next Orbiting Space Station –“The Heavenly Palace”

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:24
China unveiled on Tuesday a replica of its first permanently crewed “Heavenly Palace” (Tiangong) space station that will be composed of three parts-a core module attached to two space labs-having a combined weight of more than 90 metric tons, the ...

Cities: Skylines - Industries Review - The Up And Up

Game Spot Reviews - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:21

If my nearly 10 years as a small-town mayor in Canada have taught me anything, it is that bringing in industrial growth is an extremely demanding task. So much production has moved offshore in recent decades that it has become tough to keep the industries that we still have, let alone add new ones. But this isn't quite the case in Industries, the new expansion for Cities: Skylines that adds character to your carefully crafted municipalities without much in the way of difficulty. While being able to concentrate on specific industries adds an involving and entertaining new dimension to city creation, the lack of challenge and reward when building these new districts makes the add-on less than essential.

With that said, this enhanced industrial focus has been seamlessly incorporated into the base Cities: Skylines game as if it had always been there. In addition to still being able to zone properties for random industrial use, there is a new option to paint part of your municipality as an industrial district specifically for forest, farming, ore, or oil. It is very easy to establish these zones. Mark them out, drop a main building to get started, and then lay down facilities to gather resources. You instantly start rolling in the logs, crops, rocks, and black gold. Levels are then gained based on the number of materials produced and employees hired, which unlocks new buildings. These industrial districts soon turn into into beehives of activity.

Getting these industrial districts up and running is satisfying, as it is the one employment area in Cities: Skylines where you directly construct industries and create jobs. As such, building industrial districts is more hands-on, as opposed to the usual "zone it and let it go" approach in the game's standard industrial, commercial, and residential development. The process is still straightforward, though. While industrial districts require a certain amount of micro-management, creating and running them is relatively easy to handle, especially for Cities: Skylines veterans. Start with something like a main forestry building and a few tree plantations and you can soon expand into sawmills, storage yards, biomass wood pellet plants, planed wood production, pulp mills, and factories making finished goods like furniture and paper products at a printing press.

Industrial districts add character to cities, making them more products of their environment than the mostly generic burgs of the original Cities: Skylines. Everything looks and feels more natural. Have a city surrounded by trees? Industries based on wood products are the only sensible option. There is also a lot to be said for finally taking full advantage of the natural resources on city maps, as previously there was little way to commodify what was all around you. Now, for example, a forest map plays like a forest map should play, with industries based on what is right in the neighborhood.

Playing on a map with multiple resource types makes things even better, as you can set up numerous industrial districts that feed into specific unique factories. The toy factory, for instance, needs both the plastic that comes from oil and the paper that comes from wood, so you need both to make sure junior is happy on Christmas morning. Districts tie into each other, making the entire industrial process operate as something of a mini-game; resource gathering, production, and warehousing all form a chain with these factories at the end of the line.

Just two minor drawbacks cause issues. First up is the need to reserve a ton of room on the map for industrial districts, as you have to build a lot of resource-gathering facilities and storage yards/warehouses to keep production humming and raw materials on hand. Second is the way that managing industries can become so involved that you forget about the rest of your city. I had a number of occasions where I spent so much attention on an industrial district that I didn't notice garbage piling up elsewhere or corpses going unclaimed in homes because I neglected to keep pace with population growth. Still, spending time dealing solely with industries is a welcome break from the other aspects of the game. As great as Cities: Skylines is, it has also become pretty familiar for those of us who have been with it since the beginning. A little micro-management isn't a bad thing in this case.

Industrial districts also never seem entirely necessary. While they are always enjoyable to plan out, and it is pretty easy to turn them into serious money-making machines, just about anyone who has played Cities: Skylines for a dozen hours or so likely has little trouble staying in the black with the original industrial zoning options. I really enjoyed turning forests into furniture and playing J.R. Ewing with oil, but I never needed the extra cash that these businesses generated. So as much as I appreciated the novelty, running these industries also seemed like extra work with questionable end benefit.

Other features added to Cities: Skylines are fairly minor. Snail mail has finally come to residents. Postal services operate much like other regional city facilities such as police stations, bus stops, and so on. Set up a post office or postal sorting station and watch happy faces sprout up all over a neighborhood. Toll booths can now be installed on city roads, letting you earn extra revenue from vehicular traffic at the small price of slowing everybody down a bit.

Industries somehow feels like both a worthwhile and an unnecessary addition to the Cities: Skylines family. Requiring direct management of industrial development definitely adds dimension to budding metropolises. Paying attention to nothing but smokestacks and jobs for a while also represents a needed change of pace from what has become a familiar city-building experience. Still, there are no significant new gameplay challenges to overcome here or enough unique rewards that make it an absolute must to create industries like an oil patch or ore mines. While this expansion provides a better, more involved experience when it comes to industry, virtual mayors can give this one a pass if they're satisfied with the factories of the original game.

First study of Humpback whale survivors of orca attacks in the Southeastern Pacific

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:04
Humpback whales bear stark battle scars from violent encounters with orcas, also known as killer whales. Analysis of rake marks on more than 3000 humpback whale tails or flukes suggest that attacks on these undersea giants may be on the rise, according ...

The Ozone Hole Could Heal in Our Lifetimes, UN Reports

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 19:55
When the world gets its act together, it can actually solve big problems. Case in point: The ozone hole, which if everything goes according to plan could be healed up by the 2060s, according to a new report from the United Nations.

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