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The Government Shutdown Is Messing With North

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 18:14
The effects of the government shutdown are wide-reaching, to the extent that they're messing with the concept of North. Scientific attempts to correct for the changing location of the North Magnetic Pole have been put on halt due to the U.S government ...

What opponents of genetically modified food get wrong (quite a lot, it seems)

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 16:16
The staunchest opponents of genetically modified food tested were pretty sure of themselves, but showed the weakest grasp of scientific facts, according to new research.

Contact lens recycling scheme launched across UK

Health News BBC - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 15:10
The programme will give contact lens wearers the opportunity to recycle their lenses for free.

Vane Review - In Vain

Game Spot Reviews - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 14:00

Vane opens in a storm, as the small child you're controlling is buffeted by strong winds and must figure out the path forward. Invisible walls stop you from going the wrong way, a lot of the debris flying around is clearly floating up through the floor, and the ambiguities of the scene--you’re not told anything about your character or their situation--make it hard to get invested. Vane doesn’t make a strong first impression.

After this brief opening, you're thrown into a new sequence where you're playing as a bird. You take flight and soar through a huge environment, looking for the distant sparkles of windsocks that you need to find and land on so as to meet and unite other birds. This is all communicated wordlessly, and despite the enormity of the environment those sparkles signpost where you need to go and what you need to do. The controls take some getting used to, but it feels great to be let loose on a huge expanse after that earlier, restrained experience. This opening represents the duality of Vane, a game that occasionally feels epic and exciting but which is also burdened by moments of sluggishness, all manner of glitches, and a camera that refuses to behave.

The child you control can, for reasons unexplained, turn into a bird, morphing if you jump off a high ledge. If the bird comes close to the gold dust that appears in several places throughout the game world, it turns back into the kid. This mechanic is used to good effect early on as you fly around various environments switching between the two forms to progress. This is Vane at its best, as you come to grips with the strengths and weaknesses of both forms and figure out the way forward.

But in the game's back half, the bird form is largely put aside. You spend most of your time in human form, moving slower and exploring your environments on foot. Your ability to interact with the world is limited--you can jump, there's a seldom-used interact button, and you can use a "call" button to call to other birds or children as you encounter them.

There aren't really puzzles in Vane, per se--being observant and exploring the environment thoroughly is more important than critical thinking. You're not given much guidance on where to go next, or what your exact objective is, in most parts of the game--it's almost entirely devoid of instruction, beyond the very occasional button prompt. This means that figuring out the way forward usually means just reading your environment, but that's not always easy. The camera in Vane is uncooperative, frequently getting stuck in parts of the environment or not turning as you'd like it to. In bird form, flying close to the ground can make the camera clip through it, which can be very frustrating.

The kid you're playing as is rendered with little detail, as is much of the world. This is clearly an intentional style choice, and for the most part it works well, with the angular visuals and moody synth soundtrack doing a good job of conveying the inherent weirdness of the world. The simple style works in service of a later game mechanic that allows you to morph the world around you--in one section, for instance, you're pushing a giant orb through an environment, and the orb will change parts of the environment it gets close to. If there's a gap between two platforms, the orb might generate a bridge between them.

Unfortunately, this is also the section of the game where I was hit by the most frequent game-breaking glitches--I got stuck in the environment more than once, and at one point the orb disappeared, forcing me to restart at a checkpoint very far back. I was hit by another issue right near the game's end, encountering a glitch during the game's trippy finale that sent me on a maddening goose chase; without getting into specifics of how the game ends, a structure that was meant to grow in front of me simply did not, causing me to go in the wrong direction for several minutes until the game unceremoniously reset me to the beginning of the sequence.

These are issues that could be fixed with patches, of course (the first pre-launch patch made substantial improvements to the camera), but there are also fundamental design issues here. Vane is more committed to mood than storytelling, and by the end of the experience it's difficult to say what, exactly, just happened. There's room for analysis, of course, and the game conjures up what it's like to be a scared and lonely child in a few scenes, but it's all too vague to really feel meaningful. There's value in being mysterious, but Vane could use more payoff.

It's all over very soon, too. This is a short game that constantly feels like it's still gearing up towards something better, a way to tie together all its mechanics. The last sections of the game are quite lackadaisical, simplifying the game's systems right down while relying on an investment in the game's thin lore. It's not just that the game doesn't give you easy answers--it also gives you little incentive to come up with your own. There are moments where you can see what the game could have been--like when you soar through a valley in bird form, or morph the world around you--but Vane lacks a voice and a strong sense of purpose.

Rebecca Henderson: Transplant hope for rucksack heart woman

Health News BBC - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 10:27
Scans show Rebecca Henderson has been clear of cancer for a year and is now eligible for a donor heart.

Family bids to get premature baby home to Wales from Vietnam

Health News BBC - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 10:08
The mother of a baby girl born at 27 weeks says coming home is "the only thing keeping me going".

Breast cancer risk test 'game changer'

Health News BBC - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 09:07
GPs would use the online calculator to tell women their risk of getting breast cancer, say scientists.

The cotton seeds China carried to the moon have sprouted

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 05:31
Humans have been able to grow plants in the space—including zinnias, sunflowers and leafy greens on the International Space Station—but never on the Moon.

Steam-Powered Asteroid Hopper Offers Revolutionary New Way To Explore Our Solar System

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 03:58
Revolutionary new steam-powered space technology should enable future space probes to hop from asteroid to asteroid; around the surface of the Moon or Mars; or even on a far-flung Kuiper Belt object for decades at a time.

Commentary: Three cheers for space robots

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 03:03
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, now exploring the vast region of our solar system beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper belt, completed yet another trip full of superlatives: This month, it celebrated its closest approach to Ultima Thule, the farthest ...

Here's One Thing You Need to Know About People Who Strongly Oppose GMOs

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 02:52
Here's a funny one: genetically modified food. Okay, so maybe it's not all that funny. But people's reactions to it certainly are.

What is 'Oumuamua: Harvard Professor Avi Loeb defends his proposal it is an alien probe

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 02:07
Harvard University Astronomy Department chair Avi Loeb is no stranger to controversy. His suggestion a strange object spotted entering our solar system from deep space could be an alien probe is just the most recent example.

What is the right age to lose your virginity?

Health News BBC - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 00:40
More than a third of women and a quarter of men think they got it wrong, research suggests.

Why the Chang'e-4 Moon landing is unique

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 00:05
The world is following China's Chang'e-4 landing on the far side of the Moon as an historic first for humanity. However, missing from most analyses is the rather unique nature of this landing for China's long-term space ambitions and goals.

Student makes bucket list after cancer diagnosis

Health News BBC - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 00:04
Laura Nuttall had just started university when a routine eye test discovered several brain tumours.

How supermassive black holes get so big: Researchers spot unprecedented 'star swallowing frenzy'

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 23:28
Astronomers have shed new light on the mystery of how supermassive black holes get so big. For the first time they believe they have spotted a 'star swallowing' event.

This Quadruple Star System Is Unlike Anything We've Ever Seen Before

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 22:45
Astronomers using the ALMA telescope have discovered an oddly tilted planet-forming disk within a double binary star system, a configuration that up until this point only existed in theory.

China and NASA shared data about historic moon landing

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 22:04
BEIJING - China exchanged data with NASA on its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint ...

ALIEN SHOCK: Oumuamua 'may be one of QUADRILLION probes sent by alien civilisation'

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 21:41
Avi Loeb, the chairman of the university's Astronomy Department, made his sensational claims in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Ice loss from Antarctica has sextupled since the 1970s, new research finds

Google Science Feeds - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 20:02
Antarctic glaciers have been melting at an accelerating pace over the past four decades thanks to an influx of warm ocean water - a startling new finding that researchers say could mean sea levels are poised to rise more quickly than predicted in ...

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