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100 seconds to midnight, and more

🎂 Good morning! Today I get to share my birthday with all of you and I’m grateful for you reading and sharing and podcasting and such. Thank you!

Doomsday Clock

As a kid, I was always somewhat fascinated and terrified by the Doomsday Clock; the symbol that represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe.

It is ominously updated in January each year, by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It’s a little bit less tech than what usually goes around these parts but it’s emblematic of the world around us.


  • From two minutes to midnight, the symbolic countdown was moved 20 seconds, and we are now 100 seconds to midnight.
  • Doomsday has never been closer, thanks to the "existential danger" from nuclear war and climate change: “Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. Climate change that could devastate the planet is undeniably happening. And for a variety of reasons that include a corrupted and manipulated media environment, democratic governments and other institutions that should be working to address these threats have failed to rise to the challenge.
  • The furthest the clock has ever been from Doomsday was 17 minutes, when the clock was wound back a full seven minutes in 1991 after the United States and Soviet Union signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), and the Soviet Union dissolved on December 26.
  • I applaud the move from minutes to seconds, changing the timescale completely. It’s ingenious - I always wondered how they’d keep cutting minutes.

What they said:

  • “This is no mere analogy,” said former Ireland President Mary Robinson “We are 100 seconds from midnight and the planet needs to wake up.”
  • “Despite these devastating warnings, and all of a sudden governments echoing many scientists use of the term ‘climate emergency,’ their policies are hardly commensurate to an emergency,” said Sivan Kartha, a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and senior scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute.

Timeline - via Wikipedia:

Bonus: Alibaba said it sold 80 million face masks on its Taobao website on Monday and Tuesday, as the Wuhan coronavirus concerns peaked (BBC).

Round Up:

📂 Another Galaxy Z Flip leak reveals camera and second screen details (Android Authority).

📲 Google I/O 2020 starts May 12 this year, and the Pixel 4a is expected (Android Authority).

💧 Samsung is working on an AirDrop alternative, but is it what Android users want? (Android Authority).

📶 A breakdown of US carrier options for 5G connectivity shows it’s going to struggle until it’s affordable (Android Authority).

🔧 Sprint will fix your broken Samsung Galaxy screen for $49, regardless of your carrier (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple thinks EU regulation for common phone charger could do more harm than good, but Apple would say that I guess?

🔜 iPhone 9 (aka iPhone SE 2) - here's how Apple can make it successful. The time is ripe yet again for a truly budget iPhone (CNET).

🏃‍♂️ Samsung’s T7 Touch puts a speedier SSD in a smaller, more secure case, with up to 1,050MB/s read and 1,000MB/s write speeds. These are some of the best SSDs on the market, but not cheap (The Verge).

🕐 Time check: Examining the Doomsday Clock’s move to 100 seconds to midnight (Ars Technica).

🤔 Google’s ads on desktop just look like search results now. Google is really blurring the lines, completely intentionally, especially when you consider older ad styles (The Verge).

🧬 23andMe lays off 100 workers amid shrinking demand for DNA tests (Engadget).

📊 Google’s Dataset Search comes out of beta, with 25 million free data sets (TechCrunch).

🛰 DirecTV races to decommission broken Boeing satellite before it explodes (Ars Technica).

🔊 Teenage Engineering’s IKEA collection brings more next month: FREKVENS, a portable, modular music system (Engadget).

Release the Kratom: Inside America's hottest new drug culture (Wired).

🔋 Rolls-Royce plans mini nuclear reactors by 2029 (BBC). I’m on the side of pro-nuclear power - using hot rocks to make steam is one of the cleanest options for power, and Rolls-Royce is the right company to explore new tech. It’s controversial, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

📕 An open source eReader that's free of corporate restrictions is exactly the answer (Gizmodo).

🧲 Could you bungee-jump using only magnets? (Wired). (Only if you don’t need to live after jumping)

🤔 “Russians of reddit, what is the older generation opinion on the USSR?” (r/askreddit)

☕ Friday Fun

How to make the perfect cup of coffee – with a little help from science (The Conversation) is the accessible article from researchers Jamie Foster, a Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth, and Christopher H. Hendon, Assistant Professor of Computational Materials Chemistry, University of Oregon.

  • For one: “the most reproducible thing you can do is use less coffee.”
  • Yes, less is best. 
  • The findings: use 15 grams of coffee instead of 20 grams, with a coarser grind for your coffee beans. Then, run the espresso machine for 7 to 14 seconds, not 25 seconds. 
  • This ends up extracting more positive flavors from the beans, so the strength of the cup is not dramatically reduced. 
  • Bitter and off-tasting flavors don’t even have a chance, with the method said to lead to “fast, bright, sweet and acidic shots that taste the same each time”.
  • By using less coffee, money is saved: “in the US coffee market alone, the total savings would amount to $1.1 billion in America’s cafes per year” write the authors.

Bonus: If you’re interested, the next big booze trend may be hard coffee (Thrillist).

Have a great weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.


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