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Elon Musk Eyes Texas For His Hyperloop Test Track, Get The Details Here

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HyperloopA 30-minute trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco is inching closer and closer to becoming a reality. SpaceX and Tesla head, and general technologically forward thinking dude, Elon Musk, has been kicking around the idea of a high-speed Hyperloop transit system for some time, and he recently took to social medial to offer some updates on its progress.

The project includes work from established players like of Boeing, Tesla, and SpaceX, as well as from engineering students at UCLA’s SupraStudio. Musk took to Twitter to say that the Hyperloop is getting a new test facility that will most likely be constructed somewhere in Texas (SpaceX has regional offices in Houston). The track will be roughly five miles long and both the student teams and the companies will be able to use this facility to test out their pods.

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Richard Branson Reflects On Virgin Galactic And The Future Of Privatized Space Travel

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Virgin GalacticThe quest for privatized space flight took a huge hit last October with the tragic fatal crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which took the life of one pilot, Mike Alsbury, and injured the other. This doesn’t mean that the company is going to back off of their ultimate goal of opening up access to the galaxy to everyone (or at least those with the discretionary income to be able to afford it). Virgin founder Richard Branson recently released a statement reflecting on the tragedy and clarifying the future of the company’s mission.

Never one to sit on the sidelines, after taking a few months to examine and digest the situation, as well as for the authorities to investigate the accident—which was chalked up to pilot error of some sort—Branson says that he, and Virgin Galactic, will not let this unfortunate calamity disrupt their plans for the future, or their hopes for changing space travel and the world.

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Japan’s Attack On Titan Exhibit Is Both Humongous And Terrifying

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attack on titanI consider myself a progressively oddball person, but there’s no denying that I would get swallowed alive if I ever made my way to Japan. Universal Studios Japan will soon celebrate the manga and anime series Attack on Titan with an insanely massive attraction, as well as other amazing looking installments that will honor other popular titles like Resident Evil and Monster Hunter. 2015 is the year of giant scary shit, apparently.

The Universal Cool Japan event, as it’s called, will run from January 23 to May 10, and the “Attack on Titan The Real” exhibit will feature a full-size, 49-foot-tall version of Eren Yeager, who develops the ability to grow into a Titan, the franchise’s huge antagonists. (Eren is a good guy, though.) There will also be a 46-foot-tall female Titan, and the two will be set up in combative stances. Audiences can also witness the scene where a Titan eats Eren’s mother, though I’m clueless as to what kind of technology they’ll use to allow that to happen.

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Using Smartphones Is Reprogramming Our Brains

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touchtypeAs 2014 draws to a close, many people contemplate resolutions for next year. I can get a little carried away when it comes to my goals to the extent that remembering them causes me some stress (it’s pretty hard to, say, become fluent in Mandarin over the course of one year while living in the U.S.). More and more, my goals involve technology—learning about it and experimenting with it, sure, but I’m increasingly resolved to limit my interactions with it, particularly on social media (thanks, Black Mirror), and to spend more time reading actual books. Part of this is due to recent studies that suggest just how bad it is to spend so much time in front of a screen, particularly before bed, as well as a new study that offers insight into how spending so much time on our devices is reprogramming our brains.

The screen-sleep connection isn’t a new one, though its seriousness has recently come to light in recent studies, particularly one published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found that anyone whose winding down ritual involves using a smartphone, eReader, computer, or most types of TV might be doing themselves serious sleep damage. Scientists already knew that the light from the screen suppresses sleep-inducing melatonin, which makes it tough for people to fall asleep. But the new study indicates “comprehensive results of a direct comparison between reading with a light-emitting device and reading a printed book and the consequences on sleep.” In a two-week study, people who read on an iPad before bed took longer to fall asleep, got less REM sleep, and produced less melatonin than print book readers. They also felt more tired after 8 hours of sleep.

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Offices In The Future Could Be Cool Enough To Enjoy Working There

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RAAAFAs much as I’m enjoying the holiday break from work, and as loathe as I am to spend any time at all thinking about returning to the office, I have to wonder if part of that apprehension is about the office itself, rather than the job. My current office situation is the best I’ve ever had, in that I actually have one that I don’t have to share. It’s decorated with all kinds of geeky robot and space-themed stuff, and it’s a small sanctuary from the University’s hallways stuffed with students. Still, even in that space, I get restless fast. It’s tiny, and there are a couple chairs, but after a few hours of trying to work in there I need to make a break for the outside, even if it’s raining or freezing out. I feel my thoughts stagnating as I sit in one confined spot for too long, which impacts my work, and I know I’m not alone in this. But there’s good news — a Dutch design firm and researchers from the Netherlands’ University of Groningen are collaborating on ways to fundamentally change office work spaces for the better.

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The Year Of Hacking: Remembering The 10 Biggest Cyber Attacks Of 2014

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hacksOf all the technology stories of 2014, the topic that leaves the biggest impression is hacking. The big Target hack happened just before Christmas 2013, and while that certainly wasn’t the first time a company or organization got infiltrated, it was at the time the biggest, and paved the way for hackers’ domination in 2014. These incidents from 2014 have made a few things clear: 1. that no company is immune to the mischief of hackers; 2. that hacking is poised to be re-characterized as “cyber terrorism,” for better or for worse, and 3. these breaches are becoming the new normal. That may not be the cheeriest news, but it means that everyone, individuals and corporations alike, need to be aware of these threats and do whatever they can to protect themselves.

While the Sony hack remains front and center given the ensuing terror threats, movie screening cancellation, subsequent release of The Interview, and then the hacking of Xbox and Playstation networks on Christmas by a group calling itself “Lizard Squad,” there are a slew of other incidents this year that were bigger and worse (at least, for the masses) than Sony’s.

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