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DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg

If you've been using DuckDuckGo's privacy-focused search engine to get around China's stringent censorship while also hiding your tracks, you'd better start looking for an alternative. The company's Gabriel Weinberg (above) has confirmed that China blocked DuckDuckGo at some point in recent memory; GreatFire suggests that the crackdown came on September 4th. No matter when it happened, the move makes it that much harder to search the full internet when you're in the country. Given that Google is already blocked, you're now largely relegated to censored versions of Bing, Yahoo and domestic sites like Baidu. That's a particularly sore point if you're traveling to China with an iPhone -- Apple added DuckDuckGo as a default search choice in iOS 8, but you won't get to use it while you're sojourning in Shanghai.

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In Iowa, there's a 3,000-acre farm that uses machines to accomplish most tasks, from seeding to fertilizing and chemical application. This land, owned by the Mitchell family, is known as one of the most mechanized farms in the United States, and it's far from being unique. The Mitchells and their equally high-tech neighbors are some of the top corn producers in the US, thanks to their machines. But more and more farmers in the country are also turning to agricultural robots, as laborers start dwindling in number and demands for crops and produce continue to grow. After all, they need all the help they can get to feed millions of people, since it's just not feasible to farm by hand anymore as it was a hundred years ago. Seeing as the US population has grown by 22.5 percent between 1990 (253,339,000) and 2010 (310,384,000), and the Census Bureau expects it to balloon to 420,080,587 in 2050, you can expect to see more robots doing the dirty work on more American farms.

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Libyan schoolgirl uses a PC

The Xprize organization has inspired people to take on some pretty lofty goals, ranging from sequencing genomes to literal moonshots. Today, though, it's focusing on a very practical objective: improving education for hundreds of millions of kids. Its new Global Learning Xprize will offer a total of $15 million to teams that build open source, easily scaled software that lets young ones in developing countries teach themselves math, reading and writing. Anyone hoping to join in will have 18 months to craft their tools, which will be tested in at least 100 villages. The top five entrants will get $1 million each, while the winning entry will get a hefty $10 million. It may not be the flashiest competition, but it could go a long, long way toward tackling the chronic shortages of schools and teachers that ultimately hurt kids' futures.

[Image credit: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images]

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Friends ("The One Where the Monkey Gets Away") is on TV, Alanis Morissette is angrily screaming "You oughta know" on the radio, your bff messages you on WhatsApp. What's this misfit in this picture? Nothing if you're rocking LG's Wine Smart -- a rare smartphone flip phone. Nostalgia from the 90s (or, really, 2007) aside, the Wine Smart isn't all that unusual. Flip phones are still popular in certain markets, and why wouldn't you want one with the latest version of Android, a 1.2GHz processor, 8-megapixel camera and expandable memory? Well, that's exactly what the Wine smart has, although if you were hoping LG's 2K display might filter down from the G3, you'd be fresh outta luck (3.5-inch, 480 x 320 is what you'll have to settle for). The inclusion of a "safe keeper" function that alerts friends or family if you fall suggest this is pitched at an older crowd. But, then there's a dedicated button for a instant messaging app, too. We're sure LG knows its market though, so who are we to question? Oh, there's an FM radio too. Perfect for that Morissette revival, whenever and wherever LG decides to release it.

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Whenever NASA achieves something, row after row of neatly-dressed mission controllers all begin whooping and clapping. The reason for today's jubilation is the news that, after nearly a year, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe has successfully entered orbit around the red planet. MAVEN began its tour of duty at 10:24pm EDT Sunday night, and after a six-week test phase, will analyze the upper atmosphere of Mars in an attempt to understand how its climate has influenced the surface below. In addition, the information will help other white shirt-and-pocket-protector-wearing analysts to determine if, when, and how best to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. You never know, maybe MAVEN will be able to find some Methane in the atmosphere and make David Bowie very happy.

[Image Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center]

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Remember when IKEA started selling solar panels in the UK despite its famous lack of sunshine? It must have been successful, because company CEO Peter Agnefjäll has just pledged that eight more nations will get the service in the next 18 months. First up is the Netherlands, which will begin offering the gear on October 28th, while Swiss stores will launch just before Christmas. The company's remaining tight-lipped on the other six locations, but we'd imagine the bulk of them will be in neighboring European countries. At the same time, Agnefjäll also pledged that, by 2020, all of IKEA's plastic products will be sourced from recycled plastic or renewable materials as part of a pledge to save 700,000 tons of CO2 each year. Clearly someone's been listening to those clever folks down at the UN.

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We're no strangers to projects that try to capture the power of the human body, but here's one with a peculiar twist. A pair of researchers from Montreal's École de Technologie Supérieure have cooked up a headset that, while extremely goofy-looking, can harness the power of your mighty jaw muscles while you chew, gab on the phone and stress-grind your teeth into a fine powder.

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HTC One M8

Rumors of an HTC-made Nexus device have swirled for some time, but only recently have details of a next-generation tablet started to become apparent. Not long after NVIDIA inadvertently leaked that the Taiwanese company is linking up with Google to launch the Nexus 9, the Wall Street Journal has added even more credibility to reports by stating that HTC engineers have been regularly flying to Google's Mountain View HQ in order to finalize the 9-inch device. As part of a patent lawsuit against Qualcomm and Samsung earlier this month, NVIDIA revealed that it would be providing the muscle for the Android L-powered slate, HTC's first since the Flyer, which is expected to feature its Tegra K1 processor and launch within the third quarter. However, we're now just over a week away from the end of September, so it looks increasingly likely that we'll see something official next month. Remember, Google has a history of scheduling events in October.

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Pibot flying a simulator using real controls

Autonomous aircraft are likely to be the future of air travel, but we're not quite there yet; even with autopilot systems in place, most airplanes are designed with human pilots in mind. South Korean researchers may have a clever robotic stopgap, however. Their tiny PIBOT automaton uses a mixture of flight data and visuals to fly using real controls. It still needs intervention shortly before touchdown, but it can otherwise take to the skies as well as many organic air crews -- it may even be a bit better in a few areas, since it uses its camera to align neatly with the runway on takeoff and landing.

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One small piece of Dirk Loechel's spaceship comparison chart

If you regularly follow geek culture, you've probably seen early versions of Dirk Loechel's spaceship comparison chart, which shows the relative sizes of vehicles from science fiction games, movies and TV shows. Well, it's finished -- and it's even more authoritative than the last time around. Get the full-size version and you'll see Babylon 5's Vorlon Planet Killer, Mass Effect's Normandy and seemingly everything in between. The chart even includes a real vessel, the International Space Station -- at 328 feet long, it seems downright puny next to its make-believe counterparts. Some story franchises have better representation than others (EVE is full of colossal ships), and you won't see moon-sized spacecraft like Star Wars' Death Star, but it's otherwise hard to imagine a more complete view of sci-fi transportation.

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