The world's first arcade machine

Computer Space sounds like a third-party PC parts wholesaler, but back in 1971 it was the world's first video game arcade machine. Before Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney went off to start some games company called Atari, Computer Space was their first commercial collaboration -- a full year before Pong. The coin-operated computer game was the first of its kind in arcades, even if it wasn't the commercial success they'd hoped it would be. A recently christened game museum in Japan had not one, but four of the original arcade machines -- and an extra (unfortunately beige, non-shimmering) machine to play the game itself -- so we touched a bit of gaming history.

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It seems like most things come in threes: celebrity deaths, game console makers and, well, apparently privatized space-faring companies too. On that note, FireFly Space Systems (which includes former SpaceX and Virgin Galactic employees) has recently shown off its first rocket, appropriately dubbed "Alpha," and the outfit claims it's a bit different from the likes of what we've seen before. FireFly says that its vessel uses an engine that's more aerodynamic and thus more efficient than a traditional rocket's bell-shaped blasters. Another differentiator is the type of fuel is uses -- methane. This serves a few purposes. Namely, it reduces weight because the fuel itself is used to pressurize the engine as opposed to the typical helium, and it apparently simplifies design as well. Moreover, methane is relatively inexpensive; it's the same stuff used to heat houses after all. According to NewScientist, the goal is to provide a low-cost platform for launching clusters of small satellites used for, among other things, providing broadband internet.

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For most of us, the only way we can see the strength of a WiFi network is by the familiar signal icon on any given device. Newcastle University School of Architecture doctorate student Luis Hernan, however, has a different method: spirit photography. He's using the new age-y method of capturing someone's aura via electric coronal discharges -- a Kirlian Device -- with a few geeky augmentations (an Arduino Uno board and WiFi Shield, for example) to illustrate how strong a wireless broadcast is with colors. As Wired notes, these components take account of the nearby signal and convert it into color information that's then beamed onto an LED strip; red being the strongest and blue being weaker sections of the network. To create the pictures like what you see above and at the source, Hernan swung the home-made device around after setting up long-exposure shots with a camera. While we can't know for sure, we'd imagine that something with no signal would look a lot like this.

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Of all the tragic things that come with Alzheimer's disease, its tendency to sneak up on people is one of the toughest to deal with. That's because by the time the condition is even detectable, there's a good chance it's already too late to turn back the tide. Earlier diagnoses could mean the difference between years of mental decline and a life of relative normalcy -- that's why a test developed by researchers at King's College London and Oxford University could be such a game changer. According to The Telegraph, the scientists can predict whether or not Alzheimer's will strike someone with existing memory loss problems by looking for 10 telltale proteins in their blood.

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We had a chance to test the OnePlus One a couple of months ago and it was one sweet piece of tech. The only downside, really, has been the incredibly limited supply. That's what makes this week's giveaway a bit of a standout. The folks at dbrand happened to have one on hand and they've passed it along so that one lucky Engadget reader can break away from the everyday smartphone crowd. The company has also included 16 of its custom OnePlus One skins to make it even more unique. You can even use the company's interactive preview tools to help personalize a variety of smartphones, tablets and game consoles with dbrand's selection of custom skins. As for the phone, the One boasts a 13-megapixel camera, 64GB of storage and runs CyanogenMod, letting users customize the OS almost as much as the exterior. This is an unlocked global version (supporting LTE, GSM and WCMDA) so users on T-Mobile, AT&T and various other carriers should be good to go. Just head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning this OnePlus One and dbrand skins.

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Google is no stranger to having some of its devices up in space, what with the Nexus S and One each taking on different missions in years past. Up next: Project Tango. The search giant's smartphone, which packs 3D sensors that allow it to track and map just about anything around it, has been playing a role in NASA's Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellite program, otherwise known as SPHERES. As Reuters notes, these spherical satellites could one day "take over daily chores for astronauts or even handle risky duties outside of the vessel." Accordingly, on July 11th, NASA and Google are doing good on the promise to launch Project Tango smartphones into orbit, where they will be used as "the brains and eyes" of the bowling ball-sized, hovering robots at the International Space Station.

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Japandroids rock out at Hovefestivalen 2010

We like to imagine that musical talent is just a matter of putting in enough hours. The Beatles became superstars because they spent years honing their craft in Hamburg, right? Well, maybe not. A recently published study from the Karolinska Institute's Miriam Mosing suggests that you need the right genes to become a true maestro. The research compared thousands of identical and fraternal twins to see whether lots of practice improves a person's ability to detect changes in melody, pitch and rhythm. Unfortunately, it didn't make a lick of difference for the identical twins; they had the same level of appreciation, regardless of how much time a given twin spent performing.

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ISEE-3 interplanetary explorer probe

The last time ISEE-3 fired its engines, Madonna was moving up the charts, the stock market was booming and President Reagan was busily denying that he'd secretly sold weapons to Iran. After that final gasp from its thrusters, in February 1987, the International Sun-Earth Explorer probe would have drifted into permanent retirement -- if a $150,000 crowdfunded project hadn't come along to save it at the last minute. That project has just scored it first big success, by remotely reawakening the 36-year-old craft's engines and altering its course in order to make it easier to communicate with. Keith Cowing, who's co-leading the private group in charge of the resurrection, blogged that it was "all in all, a very good day." If the next steps go equally well, the idea is to reconfigure ISEE-3's onboard computers and sensors so that they can be used for a bit of citizen science during remaining two-month, four million-mile journey back to earth.

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It's a catch-22: the lenses of ground-based telescopes can be made huge, but are hamstrung by distortion from the atmosphere. Hubble-type telescopes don't have that issue, but must be small to be launched into space, and good luck fixing them. That's where NASA's SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) comes in: by sticking a 17-ton telescope into a Boeing 747, you can launch it up to 45,000 feet and get past 99 percent of our atmosphere's water vapor. That way, SOFIA astronomers can scan infrared signals to study planetary atmospheres, comets and interstellar star chemistry, to name a few projects. Naturally, it's a science- and gadget-lovers smorgasbord -- check the gallery and video below, or head over to NASA's SOFIA mission site.

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Last month, you might remember seeing the work of storyboard artist Marty Cooper (aka Hombre McSteez). If you didn't (then go watch it right now), he's the man behind "Aug(De)mented Reality," a three minute collection of entertaining stop-motion cartoons that have been brought into the real world. He does so using only transparent plastic cells, a sharpie, Wite Out, then capturing it all on his iPhone 5s. If it left you wondering what iPhone app Cooper uses (StopMotion Recorder) or how he manages to match each frame with the scene, then you're in luck, as he's taken the time to show none other than Mythbusters legend Adam Savage the tricks of the trade. In the video below, Cooper unleashes one of his creations inside the workshop, giving you a taste of how to bring your own imaginary monsters to life without any special effects.

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57245.JPG Closeup of Chain with Lock Steve Cole

A coder/activist is trying to walk a fine line with his encryption program called MiniLock, according to Wired. On the one hand, Nadim Kobeissi has developed a simple drag-and-drop interface for the browser plugin to make it accessible to all. But its public-key encryption backbone also needs to satisfy the vocal cryptographic community by being robust enough to handle any attack, even from experienced hackers (like the NSA). Judging by skeptical comments on Reddit, the latter aim will be daunting, particularly since his last effort (Cryptocat) wasn't well regarded. Nevertheless, Kobeissi will introduce an experimental beta of the new program at the HOPE X hacker conference later this month in order to have it poked and prodded by that community. As for the interface, he told Wired that "it's super simple, approachable, and it's almost impossible to be confused by it." If he manages to run the gauntlet at HOPE, MiniLock will eventually be released as a free browser plugin so that even your dear old gran can protect the family brownie recipe.

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solar energy panels against sky

Many scientists now think that slowing down global warming isn't enough anymore and that we now need to clear some of the CO2 already in the air. Existing solutions like carbon sequestration aren't ideal, and strategies like vacuuming the sky are still a UN pipe dream. However, scientists at Princeton have come up with an artificial photosynthesis system that could one day turn CO2 into useful things. The idea was to create an electrolysis cell that transforms water and waste CO2 into formic acid, used in airplane de-icing salts and experimental fuel cells. To do that, they used commercial solar panels for energy, carefully matched the current to the cell and stacked the cells -- resulting in a system with two percent efficiency. That may not sound like much, but it easily trumps the previous artificial photosynthesis champ, Panasonic, and is twice as efficient as actual plants. A practical application is still a ways off, though, so in the meantime maybe just go plant a tree.

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While 3D-printed organs sound like a great idea -- imagine no longer waiting around for a transplant -- a major hurdle for printing internal ones thus far have been creating intricate blood vessels and ventricles that are required for the organ to actually, you know, work. Now, a collaboration between scientists from the University of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT have discovered a way to do just that. The team used an advanced bioprinter to create tiny interconnected fibers, and then coated them in human endothelial cells and a protein-based material, which hardens under light. They then removed the fibers, and voilà -- a network of capillaries was born.

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Zach Lieberman and his

If Google promised to fund your bohemian lifestyle for six months, in return for some kind of interactive art installation, what would you create? For the New York-based artist, Zach Lieberman, the answer was something totally out of the ordinary: He built the world's most connected digital piano, which plays notes extracted from our planet's cacophony of live radio streams.

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