Category Archives: Gadget News, Reviews, And Features

What it takes to chase the total solar eclipse coast to coast



You’ve probably heard by now that a total solar eclipse will move across the contiguous United States on August 21, blotting out the sun for a few brief minutes at each spot along the path as the Earth rotates through the shadow cast by the moon (also known as the “umbra“).

But it almost seems cruel that a total eclipse is so rare and also so brief. Surely if you could move at the speed of the eclipse, you could see the whole thing, from coast to coast, rather than just settling for a few brief minutes on the plains of Wyoming or wherever you might manage to find yourself along the path of totality on Monday.

Unfortunately, the shadow will move across the surface of our planet at quite a clip. Driving east down the highway at top speed isn’t going to extend your eclipse experience by any noticeable amount, aside from being an incredibly dangerous thing to do while staring up at the sky.

According to Xavier Jubier’s very useful total eclipse map, the shadow will be moving fastest when it hits the coast of Oregon in the morning at a speed of over 2,400 miles per hour (3,862 km/h). At that velocity, your only hope of keeping up with the eclipse would be a flight in one of world’s fastest fighter jets.

Because of the geometry of the Earth’s surface, the eclipse shadow moves faster at the start and end of its path and at its slowest in the middle. That means that near the point of greatest eclipse in Kentucky, it will “slow down” to a mere 1,448 mph (2,330 km/h), which is just a little bit faster than the top speed of the commercial Concorde jet.


A Concorde jet like this one once chased a solar eclipse for over an hour in 1973.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

While the Concorde has been out of service for over a decade now, it was once used to chase a total solar eclipse all the way back in 1973

Flying at 1,370 mph (over 2,200 km/h) over the Sahara Desert, the supersonic plane flew astronomers and scientists within the umbra for a whopping 75 minutes, by far the longest eclipse experience had by any humans in history and more than 10 times longer than anyone could ever behold from the ground over the next several thousand years.

There is hope for the civilian dream of chasing an eclipse from the air in the future, though. A company called Boom Supersonic hopes to become the Concorde’s successor with a passenger jet capable of 1,450 mph (roughly 2300 km/h).

Unfortunately, Boom won’t take off until at least 2023, but that debut could come just in time to chase the next total solar eclipse that will cross the continent from Mexico to southeast Canada in 2024.

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Apple Watch for cheap? Aetna may expand health subsidy

Well, this is a weird one. CNBC is reporting that health insurer Aetna has been having secret negotations with Apple to bring free or discounted Apple Watches to millions of covered employees. 

Admittedly, that sounds pretty great.

The only problem: There’s nothing secret about that idea. Aetna publicly told us that it’d start subsidizing Apple Watches for employees on its health insurance plans back in September 2016, and CNET understands that’s exactly what the company already did — though admittedly only through “select large employers” that chose to participate in the program.

Still, it’s possible that CNBC is right about the thrust of its reporting: that Aetna and Apple now intend to bring those subsidies to millions of additional people.

Aetna declined to comment. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to multiple reports, the next Apple Watch could arrive as soon as this September, and feature built-in LTE cellular connectivity. Read more about that here.

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D&D’s revamped RPG companion site is live

When we peeked into DD Beyond, we liked what we saw: Finally, you can parse through the game’s Fifth Edition rulebooks and search for particular terms, which is a godsend for anyone who’s gotten lost in the official tomes. The step-by-step character creation process is great for players new and old, especially since you can fold in your own homebrew rules.

Best of all, you can use DD Beyond without paying a dime — though there are benefits to subscribing. The ad-supported free tier grants most of the service’s features including the full site tools and access to the community forums, though it caps users at a 6-character roster. For $3 per month, the first paid option gives unlimited characters and allows users to load public fan-made content (spells, monsters and the like). The pricier $6 tier is for more serious party-forming players and dungeon masters, granting them bonus official materials.

While it’s currently only on the web, Wizards plans to expand DD Beyond to mobile apps for an even more manageable experience. While the ultimate goal is to fully transition the game’s manuals and documents to digital platforms like DD Beyond, they’ll keep printing books so long as the demand exists. After all, there’s nothing like cracking open your heavily-tabbed Monster’s Manual to find the next beast you’ll throw at your unwitting party…

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Ford GT’s new Heritage theme pays homage to Le Mans ’67

Ford is not shy about revisiting the time when it beat Ferrari at Le Mans four years in a row. The automaker already released a Ford GT Heritage livery for the 1966 race, and now, it’s time for 1967.

As with the ’66 Heritage edition, the ’67 Heritage getup for the Ford GT is solely aesthetic. There’s a bright Race Red paint job with white stripes, some exposed carbon fiber, red brake calipers and silver mirror caps. The hood and door are adorned with #1 graphics, which was the race number of the Ford GT that won Le Mans in 1967.

ford-gt-heritage-article-promoEnlarge Image

If you miss this one, there’s probably two more years of these special editions on the way.


Fun fact: The 1967 running of Le Mans remains the only Le Mans victory that involved an American-built car, an American race team and American drivers. Every other Ford GT victory has been a bit more of a melting pot.

Inside, there’s new leather trim on the carbon fiber seats, some red accent stitching on both the seats and steering wheel, and the seat belt webbing is also red. The instrument panel features stainless steel with a satin finish, and there’s exposed matte carbon fiber all about. Buyers also get an identification plate, which will help when flipping the car for three times its original value.

Only a limited number of ’67 Heritage editions will be made available during the Ford GT’s 2018-model-year run. Thankfully, Ford also won in 1968 and 1969, so if you don’t mind waiting, this probably won’t be the last Heritage edition to come from the Multimatic plant in Ontario, Canada.

2018 Ford GT '67 Heritage edition

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Is Samsung sneakily snorting at Apple again?

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


A skewering of “Think Different”?

Samsung/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The mere sniff of new phones in the air is stronger than any new car smell.

Those on Apple’s side are mesmerized by what its new phone — or even phones — will be called.

Those on Samsung’s side have pulsating loins at the idea of a non-explosive Galaxy Note 8.

Indeed, in teasing this new phone, has Samsung gone back to a little poking of Apple’s more sensitive parts?

I ask because the Galaxy Note 8 teaser ad released Monday leaves itself open to anti-Apple interpretation.

It’s a simple thing that juxtaposes words that don’t apply to Samsung and its new phone and those that do.

So “talk” is not a Samsung concept, “act” is. Might this be a touching tweak of Apple’s constant hype machine and even its hyperbole-heavy events?

Then there’s the contrast between “update” and “innovate,” the latter being the word that describes Samsung’s new phone. 

Would this suggest that Apple’s new phone will be more of an update than a true innovation?

How about “closed” versus Samsung’s “open”? Now that’s surely a reference to Apple’s walled garden being set against Samsung’s open system in which anyone can play.

As for “follow” versus “lead.” Well, many have felt that Apple is always letting others take the lead, while trying to perfect what those others get wrong.

But the one that seemed like the biggest dig in this ad was “think” versus “do.” 

Apple’s famous tagline is “Think Different.” Surely, surely, this was a barely veiled needle being stuck into an Apple rib. 

Samsung didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. We can only wait, then, to see what the company does.

After all, it’s apparently all about the doing. 

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The Morning After: Tuesday, August 15th 2017

Where we’re going, we won’t need roads, but we will need sophisticated air-traffic control.
DeLorean’s next car is a flying one

Didn’t the DeLorean always fly? Oh wait…

It can also play your offline Spotify songs.
Samsung’s next Gear Fit will track your swimming

The Gear Fit 2 Pro appears to look much like its predecessor, complete with a tall, curved display, but with some big design upgrades. Most notably, it would add 5 ATM water resistance and that hoped-for swim tracking. It may just be a leak for now, but if you’ve missed aquatic-fitness metric tracking — this could be the (niche) wearable for you.

Buyers can see how much they’ll save with solar panels and a Powerwall battery.
Tesla’s Tiny House roadshow demystifies its energy tech

Renewable energy is good for the planet, but it can be great for consumers — depending on your location, you can actually make a profit using solar panels and backup battery storage. Those benefits can be hard for consumers to grok, however, so Tesla has launched the Tiny House tour in Australia with all of its latest technology in tow (literally).

I’m glad I walked away from it.
A break from Twitter showed me how broken it is

Senior Editor Daniel Cooper decided to take a week-long break from the platform to see if, like all those other quitters, he’d find life is happier on the other side.

The psychic cat for only the very best.
Fighting Mewtwo in ‘Pokémon Go’ is invite-only

Mewtwo finally made an appearance in Pokémon Go today in Japan. The legendary pocket monster helped show off the new Exclusive Raid Battle system in Japan, and soon will be making its way to domestic shores.

But wait, there’s more…

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