An Interstellar Tourist Barrels Through the Solar System

Nobody saw it coming. The rocky object showed up in telescope images the night of October 19. The Pan-STARRS1 telescope, from its perch atop a Hawaiian volcano, photographed it during its nightly search for near-Earth objects, like comets and asteroids. Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, was the first to lay eyes on it, as he sorted through the telescope’s latest haul. The object was moving “rapidly” across the night sky. Weryk thought it was probably a typical asteroid, drifting along in the sun’s orbit “It was only when I went back and found it [in the data from] the night before that… Read More

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Trickles of water on Mars? Scientists say they’re more likely to be trickles of sand

Recurring slope lineae appear as dark streaks in this picture from the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA / JPL / Univ. of Arizona / Lujendra Ojha et al. / Geophysical Research Letters) Scientists have long been intrigued by what seem to be wet streaks that appear on the slopes of Martian craters in warm weather, and disappear in winter. Now a research team reports that the best explanation is that they’re not wet streaks at all, but streaks of dust and sand. The findings, published today in Nature Geoscience, are likely to disappoint those who hoped that the features known as recurring slope lineae, or RSLs, point… Read More

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Mountain lion sighted in hills above UC Berkeley campus

BERKELEY — A mountain lion was spotted Sunday near the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the hills above the Cal campus, according to UC Berkeley police. The lion was sighted at the lab’s parking lot F, outside the LBNL perimeter fence, shortly after 6:30 p.m. Sunday. “The mountain lion was not aggressive and disappeared down the hillside,” UC Berkeley police said in a statement Monday. “The area was searched, but the mountain lion was not found.” There have been several mountain sightings over the past couple of years in the hills above the campus, where there is an abundance of deer, a major food source for the lions, according to… Read More

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Health tech startup spins out of Univ. of Washington, aims to make surgery more efficient with data science

Perimatics Co-Founder and CEO Kalyani Velagapudi. (Perimatics Photo) The University of Washington added yet another startup to its growing list of spinouts Monday: Perimatics, a health technology company that offers data science-based software solutions for hospitals. The company was co-founded by Kalyani Velagapudi, a Microsoft vet and founder of Bellevue, Wash.,-based analytics and data consulting firm Winigent, and Bala Nair, a UW professor who invented the company’s Smart Anesthesia Manager (SAM). Velagapudi serves as the company’s CEO and Nair is the chief solutions architect. Perimatics’ goal is to help hospitals increase profit margins and patient outcomes by using tools rooted in data science. Their tools focus on perioperative care, or… Read More

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In a Tweet, Fox News Seems to Question the Moon Landing

Fox News anchors sometimes remind viewers that: We report. You decide. The company took an especially broad outlook on what kind of information merited a decision on Monday, when it appeared to question the reality of the Apollo missions and the moon landing. “You be the judge: Skeptics say picture debunks moon landing,” the network tweeted. The accompanying story cited an anonymous YouTube conspiracy theorist’s video that claimed to show discrepancies in a photo from the Apollo 17 mission. The story does not have a byline. A spokeswoman for the network did not respond to a request for comment about whether it considers the moon landing up for debate. By… Read More

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U.S. Justice Department lawsuit over AT&T’s Time Warner acquisition appears imminent

The U.S. Department of Justice plans to file a lawsuit to prevent AT&T from gobbling up Time Warner for $85.4 billion, according to multiple reports. The acquisition initially looked like it would go through but a few weeks ago, Makan Delrahim took over as the new U.S. antitrust chief, investigating the deal. He urged the companies to sell off assets to avoid competition concerns, to no avail, according to Bloomberg. GeekWire asked whether Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson plans to join the legal battle. A spokesperson said that the AG’s office had received a complaint from the Justice Department but declined to comment further. It’s the first major acquisition to… Read More

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The Education of Mark Zuckerberg

There’s a story that Mark Zuckerberg has told dozens of times over the years. Shortly after he’d launched Facebook in February 2004, he went to get pizza with Kang-Xing Jin, a coder friend who would become a Facebook executive, at a place around the corner from his dorm. In one telling, Zuckerberg says he was thinking, “this is great that we have this community that now people can connect within our little school, but clearly one day, someone is going to build this for the world.” But there was no reason to expect that this kid and his group of friends would be the people who would build this for… Read More

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Pixvana raises $14M from Vulcan, Microsoft, top VC firms for VR production platform

Madrona Venture Group investors watch Pixvana’s pitch in virtual reality. (Photo via Pixvana) What better way to pitch a virtual or augmented reality startup idea than to strap a bunch of headsets on the heads of venture capitalists and turn a basic presentation into an immersive experience that demonstrates the potential of your company’s technology? That’s what Pixvana did — and it worked. The Seattle startup today announced a $14 million Series A investment led by Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, with participation from new investors like Raine Ventures, Microsoft Ventures, Cisco Investments, and Heart Ventures. Previous backer Madrona Venture Group, which led the company’s $6 million seed round, also joined.… Read More

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Comcast to let viewers use TV remote control to vote on ‘The Voice’ during live broadcasts of hit NBC show

Fans of “The Voice” on NBC can access a ballot and cast a vote through their Comast Xfinity X1 remote. (NBC Photo) When you spin around in your favorite chair in front of the television at home you’ll be able to act even more like a judge during NBC’s reality show “The Voice,” thanks to a first-of-its-kind voice-remote voting capability from Comcast. The new feature is launching Monday as a unique collaboration between the cable provider and NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast. Customers on the Xfinity X1 platform will be able to use their X1 remotes to cast votes in real time for their favorite artist in the musical… Read More

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A peek inside Madrona’s ‘Pioneers’ angel investor group: VC firm creates feeder system to scout early-stage startups

Madrona Managing Director S. “Soma” Somasegar. (GeekWire photo) Madrona Venture Group is tapping into one of the most powerful and secretive trends in venture capital — recruiting a group of elite angel investors to join a “scout program” to help find early-stage startups that might otherwise go unnoticed and unfunded. The Seattle-based venture capital firm quietly launched its “Madrona Pioneers” program last year, assembling a small army of angel investors in the region that essentially operates as a feeder system to Madrona, GeekWire has learned. Led by Madrona Managing Director S. “Soma” Somasegar, the Pioneers group is still in its early stages of development, according to the firm. About a… Read More

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