pacopico writes: Most people think of the Mojave Desert as a wasteland located somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For decades, though, Mojave has served as something of an engineering playground for people in the automotive and aerospace industries. Bloomberg has produced a documentary that looks at what's taking place with these engineers in 2016. There's a dude trying to make a flying car, Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, a group called Hackrod using AI software to make a car chassis and the hacker George Hotz taking his self-driving car along the Las Vegas strip for the first time. One of the cooler parts of the show has a team of students from UCSD sending up a rocket with a 3D printed engine — the first time any university team had pulled something like this off. Overall, it's a cool look at the strange desert rat tinkerers.
pacopico writes: Over the decades, plenty of places have tried and largely failed to replicate the outpouring of innovation present in Silicon Valley. One country, though, has done surprisingly well at pumping out new ideas, funding them and creating big businesses — Israel. Bloomberg Businessweek has produced a documentary charting Israel's rise as the so-called Start-up Nation. The show digs into the ways that Israel's military culture has influenced the creation of security, software, science and consumer products. It also explores the state of the Arab tech scene in Israel and how Arab companies are starting to get funding and become serious players. It's a bit heavy at times but pretty informative.
pacopico writes: How did Sweden end up as a nation of unicorns? That's what this mini-documentary from Bloomberg tries to answer. Despite having only 9 million people, Sweden has emerged as Europe's premiere technology powerhouse. It produced a ton of torrent sites and Skype and then later things like Spotify and Minecraft. Sweden also has a massive Internet infrastructure fueled by cheap power produced near the Arctic Circle where Facebook has one of its largest data centers. The country's economy is booming thanks to tech, but its culture is also undergoing painful changes as millionaires flood Stockholm.
pacopico writes: For the first time in a long while, someone has taken a shot at producing a technology travel show. Bloomberg's "Hello World" just debuted with the first episode taking place in New Zealand. The show seems to be about two-thirds tech and one-third travel and had the first inside look at Rocket Lab, some weird AI baby and some VR stuff being made by offshoots of Peter Jackson's film studio. It's a pretty show and pretty smart.
pacopico writes: The story of Rocket Lab is pretty nuts. A New Zealander named Peter Beck was a self-taught engineer who started making rocket bikes and rocket cars and is now making actual space rockets in Auckland. He founded Rocket Lab a few years ago and has built a rocket based on 3D printed engines that can get 250 pounds of stuff to space for $5 million. The company has more or less done what SpaceX originally set out do with the Falcon 1 (before killing it off), which is make space really cheap to see if it lets more scientists and businesses come up with ideas. Bloomberg appears to be the first news org to get inside the company, see the rocket and interview Beck.
pacopico writes: Bloomberg has just released a new TV show called "Hello World" about all the technology being built outside of Silicon Valley. The first show takes place in New Zealand and leads with a weird creation called BabyX. Its inventor Mark Sagar is trying to reverse engineer the human brain by building facial models, brain activity models and neuronal maps. The end result is a baby that can read, answer questions and sort of start to think. It's weird. Really weird.
pacopico writes: A start-up out of Denver called Boom Technology has just come out of stealth mode, talking up their supersonic jet. It would carry 40 passengers and travel at Mach 2.2. The company claims that it's about 30 percent more fuel efficient than the Concorde and, based on this, it could get its prices down to the equivalent of a business class seat on long haul flights. At Mach 2.2, a trip from New York to London would take 3.4 hours. Boom is meant to start test flights next year out of John Denver's old hangar.
pacopico writes: It's taken more than 80 years, but someone has finally overtaken Thomas Edison as America's top inventor. The dude is named Lowell Wood, and he was once behind the infamous "Star Wars" space laser project and a protege of Edward Teller. Wood seems to be using his powers more for good these days and has become the right hand inventor for Bill Gates and his philanthropic endeavors. He's making efficient nuclear reactors, universal vaccines and anti-concussion football helmets. Quite the life.
pacopico writes: Gennady Korotkevich — aka Tourist — has spent a decade ruling the world of sport coding. He dominates TopCoder, Codeforces and just about every tournament sponsored by the likes of Google and Facebook. Bloomberg has profiled Korotkevich's rise through the sport coding ranks and taken a deep look at what makes this sport weirdly wonderful. The big takeaway from the piece seems to be that sport coding has emerged as a way for very young coders to make names for themselves and get top jobs — sometimes by skipping college altogether.
pacopico writes: In a new biography on him, Elon Musk goes into gory details on his plans for colonizing Mars. The author of the book subsequently decided to run those plans by Andy Weir, the author of The Martian. Weir's book is famous for its technical acumen around getting to and fro The Red Planet. His conclusion is that Musk's technology, which includes the biggest rocket ever built, is feasible but that Musk will not be the first man on Mars. The interview also hits on the future of NASA and what we need to get to Mars. Good stuff.
pacopico writes: Among the revelations in a new biography on Elon Musk are some pretty insane details on the lengths SpaceX's competitors have gone to to try and undermine the start-up. The book quotes Lori Garver, the former #2 at NASA, saying her life was threatened as a result of backing SpaceX. “I had death threats and fake anthrax sent to me,” she said. Garver also ran across SpaceX competitors that tried to spread unfounded gossip about the company and Musk. “They claimed he was in violation of tax laws in South Africa and had another, secret family there. I said, ‘You’re making this stuff up.’" Most of this came from SpaceX's competition in the US, but Musk is afraid of overseas threats now too. "The list of people that would not mind if I were gone is growing," Musk told the author. "My family fears that Russia will assassinate me." The space business is apparently pretty dang rough.
pacopico writes: In a typically blunt interview, Linus Torvalds has said for the first time that if he were to die, Linux could safely continue on its own. Bloomberg has the report, which includes a video with Torvalds at his home office. Torvalds insists that people like Greg Kroah-Hartman have taken over huge parts of the day-to-day work maintaining Linux and that they've built up enough trust to be respected. This all comes as Torvalds has been irking more and more people with his aggressive attitude.
pacopico writes: From the — didn't see that one coming files — is the news that Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has decided to try and revive tennis. Bloomberg Businessweek has a feature outlining Ellison's plans to create a new American tennis tour, a junior academy and a celebrity-packed event near Los Angeles. He's already sunk more than $100 million into the project and has Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer backing him.
pacopico writes: A few years ago, Steve Ballmer was describing Linux as a "cancer." Now, in an interview with Businessweek, he's admitting for the first time that Microsoft's nasty FUD campaign against Linux and open-source software was misplaced. "Linux didn’t end up being the broadside we expected," Ballmer says. The statement discounts the effect Linux had on Microsoft's server business but is at least part of a series of mea culpas Ballmer is making as he tries to figure out what to do next. Ballmer has been discussing his takes on other topics like Apple and Microsoft's marketing campaigns while teaching an MBA course at Stanford.
pacopico writes: Things have gotten downright nasty between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin, Bezos's rocket company, has partnered with United Launch Alliance to make engines for future rockets. The deal, as combines the two mortal enemies of SpaceX and heats up the race to build reusable rockets. NBC has a story in which Musk welcomes the coming battle while talking to the author of his upcoming biography. "Competitors ganging up against you is the sincerest form of flattery," Musk said.