On Mars, an autonomous rover and helicopter will roam free

Open Sourced logo

NASA’s Perseverance rover launched at 7:50 am ET on July 30, the first day of a flight that will take the fifth NASA rover to Mars. During its mission, the boxy, car-sized vehicle and its extendable arm will be charged with looking for signs of ancient life and gathering data about Mars’s geology and climate. It will even lay the groundwork for eventual human exploration of the planet.

To make all that possible, the rover carries a stunning display of technology designed especially for Perseverance’s historic mission, from pieces of a new spacesuit to an autonomous helicopter, the first aircraft …

Amazon just posted record sales and profit in the middle of a pandemic

Amazon registered nearly $89 billion in sales and $5 billion in profit over the last three months, setting company records on both figures and blowing away Wall Street expectations as Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns pushed more shoppers online and into Amazon’s arms.

CEO Jeff Bezos had said last quarter that the company planned to spend around $4 billion on pandemic-related health and safety efforts for its workers throughout April, May, and June, and that those expenses might wipe out all of the company’s profit over the quarter. Instead, Amazon customers surprised company executives by expanding their pandemic-driven purchases beyond low-profit goods …

Why Facebook and Twitter won’t fact-check Trump’s latest false claims about voting

Twitter and Facebook are not fact-checking factually unsupported claims about mail-in voting in the 2020 election posted by President Trump on both platforms Wednesday. The inaction has angered some critics, who say these companies allow the spread of dangerous misinformation to go unchecked online, harming the integrity of the election as a whole.

Trump’s posts made the completely unsubstantiated assertion that universal vote-by-mail, a practice in which states automatically mail a ballot to all registered voters, will lead to the most “inaccurate” and “fraudulent” election in history, and then went on to suggest delaying the election “until people can properly, …

In this joyous fantasy novel, books and art are the key to cheating death

There’s something about the books of fantasy novelist Jo Walton that resist straightforward reading. Technically, they are marvels: The prose is always rich and pleasurable, the characters fully dimensional, the world-building immersive, the philosophical questions twisting and intricate. But every time I try to sink myself fully into her books, I find myself fidgeting, uncomfortable, viscerally trapped — as if, I wrote a few months ago, I am inside the skull of an alien creature, and the skull is the wrong shape.

Reading Walton’s latest novel Or What You Will, I didn’t feel that sense of constraint any …

James Baldwin’s faith in America

If I could bring back from the dead any American writer and ask them to describe the country they see today, it would be James Baldwin, the great 20th-century essayist and novelist.

I don’t know what the Black experience is like in America, but I can say that no writer made it as visceral or vivid for me as Baldwin. He had a rare combination of raw literary talent and intellectual honesty that made him uniquely equipped to communicate an alien reality to someone like me, a white kid growing up in the South.

As it happens, Baldwin, who would …

Jeff Bezos’s antitrust grilling was a reminder of Amazon’s power over its sellers

The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, testified before US Congress members for the first time on Wednesday, but he said little to assuage one of their biggest concerns: that Amazon’s grip on online retail gives it the power to make or break small merchants on a whim.

Bezos, along with the CEOs of Apple, Google, and Facebook, appeared via videoconference before a bipartisan group of 15 US House members who have been investigating the four tech giants over the last year. The stated goal of this antitrust subcommittee’s investigation has been to document whether these corporate titans abuse their power …