Out of This World


It sounds like the premises for a sci-fi flick: Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics just discovered a rocky distant “mega-earth” that weighs 17 times more than our planet, and that shows plausible implications for life. Given the moniker, Kepler-10c, this newly discovered planet is 560 light years from earth, circles a sun-like star every 45 days, and is approximately 11 billion years old (which resets our idea on the age of the universe). Rocky planets like this offer the best conditions for life. Given the age of this planet, scientists now know they shouldn’t count out old stars when they’re looking for signs of life. So, is there something else out there? Let the hypothesizing begin!

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New Bitcoin Debit Cards may make cryptocurrency a universal coinage


The Bitcoin craze that began a few years ago is yet another one of the unforeseen curveballs that the internet has thrown at us. Although this form of electronic payment may seem futuristic and innovative—and to some parties, illegitimate—there’s no denying that it has altered the landscape of peer to peer payment forever. With financial service institution “Xapo” set to launch a Bitcoin debit card this month, it brings to question what exactly the future of this cryptocurrency and other open source payments may be.

For those who are a little less tech savvy, Bitcoin is a form of digital payment used to purchase goods, services, or merely trade among consumers. Bitcoins are earned through a process called “mining”, where users connect their computer to a server to process countless other Bitcoin transactions. These transactions go to an independent Bitcoin ledger called the “block chain”.

As users gain more Bitcoins, the processing of mining becomes increasingly difficult, and block chain rewards decrease per every block mined. There are only a finite amount of Bitcoins, and this method of accumulation is only expected to last until about 21 million Bitcoins are created. By that point, the only way to make a profit off of Bitcoins will be through payment transaction fees. This could possibly explain why finding alternative ways to use and transfer Bitcoins has become a topic of interest.

According to www.coindesk.com, the Bitcoin debit card will act the same as a regular debit card, and will be usable at any location a Mastercard can be used. Zapo analyzes the user account registered to the card, and then sells the appropriate amount of Bitcoins through the Bitcoin exchange service “Bitstamp”. The merchant will receive whatever localized currency is accepted in the area, so businesses will still receive real money, not Bitcoins.

With Bitcoin value currently fluctuating near $600 USD per coin on www.bitcoinexchangerate.org, this is a huge step forward for the use of this peculiar digital currency. Now, owners and investors will have legitimate ways to spend their Bitcoins on goods and services outside of the internet. But what affect will this new service have on the market value and liquidity of Bitcoins? Will this make Bitcoin a more legitimate form of payment? Bitcoins were highly popular, largely because their fees were so much lower than those of regular credit card processors; how will this affect the price relationship, and what affect will this debit system have on other merchant payment systems? What do you think? Let us know!

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Apple unveils changes to Mac, and hints at potential watch

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Apple recently unveiled their most recent collection of products, most notably the Ios8 mobile phone.

Although there were many improvements with the iPhone, such as multi-app messaging and group message self-removal, there were also several other products that got some upgrades; this includes their signature personal computer, the Mac, and reportedly, a potential watch.

According to www.hufftingtonpost.com, the new Mac computers will run off a program entitled “Yosemite”. Yosemite has a few notable features, one being a new, “flat” design that makes every application on the screen appear more like those on an iPhone. It’s OSX programming allows users to make calls and send text messages from their computers.

Other improvements include an enhanced search bar, as well as enhanced email usability. Users now can send larger documents, and the Apple email app allows users to mark up emails and write signatures.

The most notable improvement may be the ‘DropBox-like’ storage device called iCloud Drive. The program allows users to organize and find documents from both Apple and Windows devices. They are set to be available his fall.

The potential iWatch also has interesting features, reportedly include a new Healthbook software that hosts multiple health-monitoring devices (blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, etc.), and notifies the wearer of any changes during exercise.

The “Quicktype” feature may also be featured for wearers, an app that allows quick messaging to contacts by suggesting words and phrases.

Although one can always speculate about the innovations that Apple intends to make every year, it’s undeniable that their work continues to change the landscape of technology every year. What do you think of the changes to Apple products? Reply and let us know!

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