Google Doodle celebrates Trappist-1 planetary discovery



Dwarf star Trappist-1 is tiny, just a little bigger than Jupiter, but it’s making huge news today. As you’ve probably heard, it’s not home to just three Earth-like exoplanets, but a massive seven, three of which could have oceans of water, just like Earth. And it’s only 39 light-years away, which means the planets are close enough that we could find out.

Usually Google Doodles are planned in advance, and celebrate anniversaries and other occasions, but today, the web giant is pulling out all the stops to help commemorate this discovery with an animated Doodle.

Telescopes are already turning their attentions to the system, homing in on the planets’ atmospheres. As they pass in front of the star, the atmospheres are back-lit, which allows spectroscopic analysis of their chemical composition, which will help determine whether there is liquid water. This may be a bit difficult, as the star is very faint, but with a new generation of telescopes seeing first light in the near future, Trappist-1’s secrets might not be so far away either.

In the meantime, you can play with an interactive model of the system on NASA’s website.

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Google’s ride-sharing platform is expanding beyond the Bay Area

While Waze’s carpool service is likely to take a chunk of Uber’s business (which Alphabet is also invested in through it’s venture capital arm Google Ventures), the Waze approach to ride-sharing is a little more casual. As Waze CEO Noam Bardin told the Wall Street Journal, “can we get the average person on his way to work to pick someone up and drop them off once in a while? That’s the biggest challenge.”

Because riders are technically only reimbursing the driver for mileage, trips in the Bay Area are much cheaper than a comparable Lyft or Uber ride: $4.50 to get from Oakland to downtown San Francisco for Waze versus $10-12 minimum for the competition, according to the Journal. The downside is that Waze rides need to be booked further in advance and the service has a less consistent base of drivers. At the moment, riders only pay 54 cents per mile, all of which goes directly to the driver, but the company says it is planning to charge riders an extra 15 percent fee if the service catches on.

Although Waze has not yet announced which cities will be adding the service, any congested city with a large commuter population is a likely target. The service is already available in Tel Aviv, where Waze was originally based, but the Journal hints that further global expansion could come to São Paulo, Brazil and the service could eventually factor into Alphabet’s self-driving Waymo project as well.

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Trade talk: Best deals for Rockets, Mavs, Spurs, Grizz, Pelicans

What win-now move would boost the Rockets? What’s next for the Pelicans? Should the Mavs be buyers or sellers?

Our NBA Insiders answer 10 big questions for the five Southwest Division teams heading into the trade deadline.

  • Atlantic | Southeast | Central | Northwest | Pacific

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Futuristic Apple Park headquarters opens in April

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Apple CEO Tim Cook with an image of company’s new campus.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Apple’s futuristic new headquarters will open in April. The first employees will move into the 175-acre Apple Park campus while building work continues across the large parkland site.

It’ll take six months for Apple’s 12,000 staff to move from the existing Cupertino HQ into the new campus in the Santa Clara valley, which has at its heart a ring-shaped, 2.8 million-square-foot main building clad in curved glass.

Also in the campus is the 1,000-seat Steve Jobs theatre, entered through a 20-foot-tall glass tube measuring 165 feet in diameter.

Despite Apple’s infamous secrecy, the site will be open to the public with a visitor centre, cafe and Apple Store.

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Next-gen Cadillac infotainment promises cloud-based personalization

The much-maligned Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system is about to receive one hell of an upgrade, and it’s arriving shortly.

Cadillac will debut a new version of
starting with the 2017.5 CTS sedan, which should be arriving at dealers in the first quarter of 2017. Along with a new look, CUE 2: Electric Boogaloo promises increased personalization thanks to a greater reliance on the cloud.

The new look is less flashy and more straightforward, which should improve the system’s speed. The new design takes more of a flat approach, with a more smartphone type of look, a trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

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Good riddance, Original CUE.


But the real meat and potatoes of the upgrade is underneath the skin. Personalized profiles are sent to the cloud, and that can include contacts, navigation route preferences, destinations and even the arrangement of the apps on the home screen. If you happen to hop into another vehicle with the new CUE, you can log into your profile and the infotainment system will be exactly as it was in the first car.

There’s also a new connected navigation system. Also relying on the cloud, this subscription service can pick up on your preferred navigation routes, even going so far as to make suggestions based on local factors like traffic and previous destinations. All cars equipped with the new CUE system receive connected navigation for free for 12 months.

Since it’s still a GM product, the automaker’s ubiquitous 4G LTE connection is present. It can be used for over-the-air updates, and its integrated Wi-Fi hotspot lets up to seven devices connect simultaneously. The revised CUE also permits two different phones to be connected via Bluetooth at the same time. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included, as well.

After its debut on the CTS, the revised CUE will make its way into the XTS and ATS sedans at the start of the 2018 model year. It will reach other Cadillac models in subsequent years.

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I’ve always been a fan of flat designs. Sometimes, less is more.


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Crowdfunded ‘MST3K’ revival hits Netflix April 14th

Tonight, after a “Red Carpet Kickstarter Screening” of the first new Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Netflix announced the revived series will launch April 14th. In a message to backers of the biggest crowdfunded video project, creator Joel Hodgson promised that backers with rewards including new episodes or a live screening of the new episodes will “have them by April 14.” Netflix didn’t have anything to share other than the cast photo above, but at least fans can mark their calendars.

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