The start of each year is mostly a hard one for most video game enthusiasts, as most big publishers are holding onto major game releases until better sales periods start. As we delve deeper into 2015, big titles are slowly making their way onto shelves and digital stores; arguably, this year’s first major release is PlayStation 4-exclusive Bloodborne – which seems to have lit a fire under reviewers and fans alike.
As it stands now, the Sony-published title holds an average reviewer score of 93 on aggregating site Metacritic, based on scores from 44 different reviewers. More impressive though is that it hold a 9.0 average user review score, as the site is known for posting large difference between critic and user score, especially on highly anticipated games – for example, 2012 Bioware game Mass Effect 3 holds a commendable 89 aggregate score from reviewers, while the user average is as low as 5.3.
What’s so special about Bloodborne, you may ask? Well, for starters, it’s not really that kind of game that builds its hype around excessive marketing or controversy, such as well-known franchises as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Instead, it borrows its following from a phenomenon either loved or hated that started in Japan.
Bloodborne is the “spiritual successor” to the popular “Souls” franchise made by developer From Software, which encompasses Demon Souls and Dark Souls 1 and 2. Although it doesn’t encompass the word Souls into its title, it shares a similar style with the previous games – all of them are fantasy-themed third person action-role playing games, with emphasis on monster slaying and exploration; a style that prompted many to deem them as “modern Legend of Zelda games.
But the defining characteristic shared by all of the games, and what earns both their cult following and critics, is the high difficulty level and the “never hold the player’s hand” approach. Players are usually driven through a paltry tutorial that teaches them basic game mechanics and after that are let loose upon the game’s world – no quest log, marker or other kind of directional help. The game itself rewards mostly players who are patient and analytical about their mistakes – because they WILL happen; an in-game Dark Souls II counter for example showed that players had died over two million times in the first 24 hours since launch.
Critics and users alike agree that Bloodborne keeps the fundamentals that earned its predecessors a cult following, while also changing enough to avoid repetition. Gamespot’s Kevin VanOrd, which scored the game a 9 out 10, praised the game’s agile enemies, and also its Victorian-London inspired setting and deep story themes. His opinion was shared by The Guardian’s Simon Parkin, who also commended the humor of its characters.
Many feel that the game’s quality should be attributed to the return of Hidetaka Miyazaki to the series, which directed Demon Souls and Dark Souls but skipped a fairly user criticized Dark Souls 2. Whatever the case, Bloodborne seems like a first serious contender for end of the year titles. It can be purchased from most major retailer, such as Amazon or BestBuy, at a price tag of $60.
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Google continued its tradition of paying homage to important past personalities on Monday by displaying a personalized doodle meant to commemorate 133 years since the birth of German female mathematician Emmy Noether, widely regarded as the most important female contributor to the discipline in history.
The doodle, designed by graphic artist Sophie Diao, is formed out of a number of circles near a representation of Noether, with each circle outside of those containing the letters that spell Google representing mathematical or physics branches and ideas in which the German savant brought her contribution, ranging from topology to group theory and even time.
Amalie Emmy Noether was born on the 23rd of March 1882 in the Bavarian city of Erlangen into a family of Jewish origins. She overcame gender-based obstacles of Germany’s educational system at the time to become only one of the two female students at the University of Erlangen, out of the over 900 individuals in her promotion.
Noether then went on to teach without pay at Erlangen between 1908 and 1915, sometimes substituting for her father Max, an important contributor to algebraic geometry.
In 1915, she left Erlangen to join the mathematics department at the University of Gottingen at the behest of fellow savants David Hilbert and Felix Klein, but again due to gender based restrictions in the academic world of the time she was forced to teach without pay, with her lectures being advertised under Hilbert’s name.
Post World War I social changes eventually got Noether a small salary for her teaching activity during the 1920’s. Her activity in Germany was halted by the emergence of the Nazi regime, which made her ineligible to teach because of her Jewish descendance. She emigrated to the United States in 1933, where she spent her final years researching for the Bryn Mawr college, before succumbing in 1935 to an ovarian disease.
Her contribution to science ranges from abstract algebra to theoretical physics, with her eponymous theory explaining the connection between symmetry and conservation laws, among other. This made a number of savants such as Albert Einstein, Norbert Wiener or Pavel Alexandrov acknowledge her as the most important female contributor in the history of mathematics.
Image Source: Washington Post
The Robert Durst case might take a turn for the worse for the American billionaire, as the Los Angeles police has informed the public that they are mounting a criminal case against his wife, in cooperation with the FBI, with the ultimate aim of forcing her to testify against him.
Durst, who is under investigation for the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman, was allegedly helped by his 58-year old wife Debrah Lee Charatan on an attempt to flee to Cuba. The authorities hope that she will then offer more details about Berman’s murder to escape prosecution; else she might face up to five years in prison for aiding the flight of an individual soon to be prosecuted. Durst could face capital punishment if he is charged, with Berman being considered a witness in the 1982 disappearance of his wife.
Robert Durst was arrested on March 14th, after having a first degree murder warrant issued in the Berman case. He was apprehended by an FBI task force in New Orleans, having also been filed with weapon and drug possession charges, and was incarcerated on suicide watch row at a Louisiana penitentiary. His lawyers have contested the legality of his arrest on Friday, stating that there is no actual reason to keep him confined and accusing authorities of trying to make a publicity stunt.
The 71 year old billionaire is believed to have murdered journalist, author and longtime friend Susan Berman, who was found executed in her house on Christmas Eve in 2000. Investigators believe this might be related to the fact that Berman had information regarding the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathy, for which he was a main suspect but ultimately remained without charges. The case regarding Kathy Durst was set to be re-opened at the time, with investigators planning to question Berman on the matter.
Durst was arrested after he unintentionally admitted the murder while being wired with a microphone. This happened during filming for the HBO series The Jinx, a multi-part documentary about his life, with Durst talking to himself while in a bathroom, unaware that his wireless microphone was still on and that everything he said was being heard in the control room. The documentary’s crew then chose to announce authorities about the incident, with the billionaire’s off-screen remarks having good chances of being considered valid evidence in court.
Image Source: The Toast
After having received complaints about the insufficient clarity of user guidelines regarding nudity, hate speech, self-harm, violence and other criteria for being banned from Facebook, the social media company decided to clarify its principles on this touchy issue.
Hate speech (including any direct attack on someone based on their race, ethnicity, origin, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, as well as disease or disability) can be shared on Facebook only in order to criticize its practice or to raise awareness regarding its harmful effect. This is allowed only if the critical purpose is clear and the Facebook user unambiguously detaches himself/herself from the hate message in the content. Humor is allowed, as well as satire or social commentary, but the Page owners have to take responsibility for any “insensitive” content. Monika Bickert (Facebook’s head of global policy management) and Chris Sonderby (Facebook Deputy General Counsel) explained in their blog post announcing these changes that it is hard to design a global politics against hate speech on Facebook, because sometimes the site administrators lack context details, but they guaranteed that reported content is seriously evaluated.
As to nudity, images of genitalia are removed from Facebook and fully exposed adult bottoms are not allowed, either. Images of female breasts that include nipples are also restricted, unless they are pictures of mothers breastfeeding their children. Breasts with post-mastectomy scars are allowed, in order to raise cancer awareness. Breastfeeding used to be an issue in Facebook posts, because there were protests against censoring pictures of it in 2008 and once more in 2012. Nudity is allowed in paintings, sculptures and other artistic representations.
Facebook’s policy on dangerous organizations has also been clarified. Groups that plan to organize or have organized terrorist activity, groups involved in organized crime, and groups promoting hate speech as defined by the Facebook hate speech regulations are automatically banned from the social media platform. Content from other users that expresses support for this kind of groups (promoting violence, criminal activity or hate) is banned from Facebook. Users are not allowed to support or praise the heads of such organizations or express agreement with their violent acts. Threats to public celebrities are also removed and can cause a Facebook ban, although jokes about and criticism of famous people are allowed.
image source: Mashable
A recent study published in the Hippocampus journal concludes that those who used cannabis frequently in their youth have a higher chance of suffering from poor memory than non-pot smokers.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Northwestern University of Chicago and confirms a previous 2008 Australian study that linked heavy-marijuana use to development of an abnormal brain structure.
The study was done on 97 participants, both with or without mental illnesses and a heavy pot-smoking history. The marijuana users were selected on the basis of not having consumed other drugs and had used the substance daily in age periods between 16 and 20. Participants were also selected from those that had reported not using the drug in the past two years.
They were required to take a “narrative memory” test, where they were asked to recall as many details as possible from short stories they were told 20 to 30 minutes prior.
Former pot users scored on average 18% worse than their marijuana-free counterparts, with participants diagnosed with schizophrenia having scored 26% worse if they used to be heavy pot smokers. The research also confirmed past study that indicated heavy marijuana users display an abnormally structured hippocampus, a part of the brain which is very important for the ability to remember specific events. This might suggest the neuron and axons inside that part being damaged by heavy pot use.
The degrees of abnormality in hippocampus shape were higher for those who admitted to the longest term of frequent marijuana use.
However, the study is inconclusive as it stands, as while various degrees of marijuana use seem to match corresponding degrees of abnormal brain structure, the relation between the two can only be implied. A study done on a longer time period would be the only one capable of proving the link between pot smoking and poorer memory.
Marijuana use is increasing in the United States and several states have already legalized it for private use. The latest debate concerning the legalization of THC based smoking substances has the country capital’s District of Columbia stand-off with the Republican-led Congress, with an overwhelming popular support being gathered by legalize campaigns.
Image Source: USA Today
A new study has revealed that the Milky Way galaxy is actually much bigger than humans previously thought. According to new measurements, the Milky Way galaxy is 50% bigger than it was thought and our own solar system occupies a smaller space in this enormous galaxy.
Past studies have estimated that our Milky Way galaxy is around 100,000 light years, where one light year is around 6 trillion miles. Scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New Jersey, United States have done new research that suggests the Milky Way galaxy is 50 % bigger than that, which puts it at around 50,000 light years bigger.
Lead author of the study, Professor Yan Xu from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said that after extensive research, astronomers observed that the number of the stars in the Milky Way diminishes rapidly at around 50,000 light years from the center of our galaxy. After that, a ring of stars appears at around 60,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way.
This ring first discovered in 2002 is a band of stars called the Monoceros Ring and it surrounds the outer corners of the Miley Way. At first, scientists believed that these stars were just a tidal debris steam left over from a neighboring dwarf galaxy, but a new debate has recently sparked that questions the initial belief. Some scientists now believe that the stars are actually part of our own galaxy, which would make the Milk Way 50% bigger than originally thought.
Heidi Newberg, an astronomer involved in the study said that the Monoceros Ring and the Milky Way may be related because the ring is following the same spiral structure of the galaxy. Newberg was involved in the discovery of the Monoceros Ring back in 2002 and it is very much surprised by the new measurements and studies that show the Milky Way galaxy is 50% bigger than former estimates.
Professor Xu stated:
We identified an asymmetry in disk stars that oscillates from the north to the south, to the north to the south across the galactic plane in the anticenter direction. What we see now is that this apparent ring is actually a ripple in the disk. And it may well be that there are more ripples further out which we have not yet seen.
The scientists are hoping that high resolution 3D images of the Monoceros Ring are helpful in revealing even more details about the size of our galaxy. The next step for the researchers is to use the Gaia telescope in Europe to continue their investigations.
Image Source: ThinkInc
A new paper released by the US Geological Survey states that the chance California will suffer an earthquake with a magnitude bigger than 8.0 on the Richter scale has gone up to 7%, up from the previous estimate of 4,7%.
The risk of lower magnitude, but still serious earthquakes, is even higher, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. The study itself, named the “Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast” bases its estimates on a time span ranging to 2044.
“The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously” explained lead study author Ned Field, a research at the USGS.
The paper also calculates the chance earthquakes will happen alongside individual fault lines that run through the state. The biggest possibility of an earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.7 is around Hayward Fault line, near the Santa Clara county city of Milpitas, with 22.3% chance of serious seismic activity over the next thirty years.
However, the frequency of earthquakes happening near the 6.7 mark has decreased from almost one every 5 years to one every 6.3 years. California is such a high seismic activity-risk zone because of the complex and intertwined system of fault lines it has.
An earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or more would be only the second to hit the lower 48 US states in the history of recorded seismic activity, and the first since the formation of the United States as a nation.
The only previous one was the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, which hit a 600 mile wide region pertaining today to the states of California, Washington and Oregon with a magnitude of 9.0 in January 1700. It was so intense that records of it suggest it also created damage on the shores of Japan.
Besides that, the largest earthquake in California was the Fort Tejon 1857 earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.9. However, earthquakes don’t necessarily need to match its intensity to cause widespread disaster.
The 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake in 1994 managed to destroy an Interstate 5 connector and caused over $15 billion in damage. The consequences of a large earthquake range from the destruction of houses and loss human lives to irreparable damage to irrigation systems, transport networks and disruption of communications infrastructure.
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A new patent application filed by Apple hints at the fact that their new smartphone, the iPhone 6S is going to be waterproof.
iPhone users have been pining for a waterproof smartphone for quite some time now and it seems that Apple has finally caved in and is giving its clients what they want.
A new patent filing was submitted by Apple in which various methods of preventing core components of the smartphone to become damaged by liquids are detailed and explained. The title of the patent is Methods for shielding electronic components from moisture and after a quick scan over it, it is clear that Apple plants to make their iPhone waterproof by applying a hydrophobic coating to the device’s components.
This particular approach is very interesting, as many of the waterproof smartphones on the market today simply offer the seal-tight approach.
The method that was described in the patent included the use of a chemical vapor deposition technology that will coat water-sensitive components and prevent water damage. This waterproof coating is applied to the electromagnetic interference shield as well as to the printed circuit board in the smartphone.
Also, other circuit boards in the device can be protected through silicon seals that are placed so that they frame electrical connectors.
This is a fragment of the patent application:
Many electronic devices are susceptible to water damage because they are not fully sealed and include various openings for charging, connecting peripherals, and inputting and outputting audio. While bulky cases have had a certain amount of success at mitigating water entry through the aforementioned openings, a protective case is of little or no value once water has entered a device housing.
Samsung’s previous flagship model, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the most popular waterproof smartphones. It has a rating of IP67, which means that you can keep it submerged in water up to 1 meter in depth for a whopping 30 minutes and it will be just fine. It is also dustproof, as no dust particles can enter it. All you need to do is secure the plastic flat that covers the USB port and you’re good to go.
Samsung Galaxy S5 was a hit and it was praised for its waterproof capabilities, yet Samsung shocked the smartphone world when it introduced its newest flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S6 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month and the device was no longer waterproof.
In order for the waterproof iPhone 6S to be a success, it needs to make waterproofing spectacular.
Image Source: Forbes
It was announced by Tinder that the company would introduce new features as a part of their new Tinder Plus service.
The new Tinder Plus service features two brand new paid features that allow users to connect with people in other areas of the world and also undo a swipe.
Tinder is one of the most popular dating applications that uses a very simple principle: if you like someone’s profile (which usually consists of a few pictures and a little caption) then you swipe right, if you don’t like their profile, you swipe left. But it is not uncommon for users to swipe left when they actually want to swipe left, so to undo a swipe is something users have been begging for and it appears that Tinder has finally heard its users. The new feature that allows users to undo a swipe is called Rewind and the feature that allows people to connect from around the world is called Passport.
But there’s a trick that has been causing quite a lot of controversy is the price of the new Tinder Plus service: for people who are over 30 the service will cost $19.99 and for those who are under 30 it will cost just $9.99.
According to the Vice President of corporate communications, Rosette Pambakian, the reasoning behind this decision is simple: older people can afford to pay. She stated:
We’ve priced Tinder Plus based on a combination of factors, including what we’ve learned through our testing, and we’ve found that these price points were adopted very well by certain age demographics.
But many are wondering if that is really the reason behind this decision and are suggesting that Tinder is encouraging ageism with the new Tinder Plus pricing.
Prices will also vary based on geographical location. For example, in developing countries, the fee for the new Tinder Plus is going to be $2.99 a month and if the United Kingdom it is going to be £3.99 for users between 18 and 27 and £14.99 for users over 28.
Tinder has also announced that users who do not wish to sign up for the new Tinder Plus will need to be extra careful when deciding when to swipe right, because it will begin to place limits on how many people they can choose.
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A recent study performed by researchers at Cambridge University and the University of Warick from the United Kingdom, found that oversleeping increase the risk of a stroke. The results of the study were published in the journal Neurology.
The study showed that people who got more than eight hours of sleep a night had an increased risk of developing a stroke, when compared to people who slept 6 to 8 hours per night. It was also discovered that people who changed their sleeping habits from less than 6 hours of sleep per night to 8 hours quadruple their risk of developing a stroke later on in life.
The scientists haven’t really managed to translate the results of the study and explain why oversleeping increases the risk of a stroke.
The researchers used data from a previous cancer study, the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer which was conducted over a decade. The study collected information from 9,500 Brits with ages between 40 and 79, about eating habits, stress levels and sleep patterns and habits, among other things.
The scientists who analyzed the data also took into account other factors that could have influenced the outcome, such as body mass index (BMI), family history, cardiovascular disease, age and smoking.
Researchers found that 350 participants experienced a stroke during the 10 years of the study and 67 people died as a result of a stroke. After careful examination of the data, it was concluded that people who slept more than 8 hours a day had a much higher possibility of developing a stroke. It was also noticed that women who overslept were more predisposed at having a stroke than men were.
Yue Leng, doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge, said that it is apparent from the data collected from the participants that there is a link between sleeping longer than 8 hours and an increased risk of stroke.
It was noted by the scientists study that more research is needed to validate the current results. The main reason is that the study does not prove causation, only correlation. Researchers concluded that oversleeping is also a sign of other health issues, such as neurological deterioration, depression and cancer.
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