Solar Impulse 2 begins world’s longest flight: Six days

Solar Impulse 2 test flight

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Solar Impulse 2, which is attempting the world’s first solar-powered circumnavigation of Earth, has begun the longest leg of its journey: a single, non-stop flight of about 5078 miles (8172km) from China to Hawaii. The plane, and pilot André Borschberg, will be aloft for six days and five nights, with Borschberg attempting to stay awake for much of that time.

The solar-powered aircraft, which has a larger wingspan than a 747, began its round-the-world trip in March. It departed from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, headed down the Persian Gulf to Oman, hopped over to India, then Myanmar, and finally into Nanjing in China at the end of April. You can watch the current flight live on the Solar Impulse website. (The website is pretty cool; you should check it out.)

This flight, from Nanjing to Hawaii, is the first true test of Solar Impulse’s capabilities, and Borschberg’s endurance. The previous six legs were all fairly short hops; this, the seventh leg, will be longer than the previous six flights combined. The flight to Hawaii will finally showcase whether a solar airplane can reliably stay aloft at night, with lithium-ion batteries providing all of the necessary juice.

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Solar Impulse 2 begins world’s longest flight: Six days

Solar Impulse 2 test flight

9 more images in gallery

Solar Impulse 2, which is attempting the world’s first solar-powered circumnavigation of Earth, has begun the longest leg of its journey: a single, non-stop flight of about 5078 miles (8172km) from China to Hawaii. The plane, and pilot André Borschberg, will be aloft for six days and five nights, with Borschberg attempting to stay awake for much of that time.

The solar-powered aircraft, which has a larger wingspan than a 747, began its round-the-world trip in March. It departed from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, headed down the Persian Gulf to Oman, hopped over to India, then Myanmar, and finally into Nanjing in China at the end of April. You can watch the current flight live on the Solar Impulse website. (The website is pretty cool; you should check it out.)

This flight, from Nanjing to Hawaii, is the first true test of Solar Impulse’s capabilities, and Borschberg’s endurance. The previous six legs were all fairly short hops; this, the seventh leg, will be longer than the previous six flights combined. The flight to Hawaii will finally showcase whether a solar airplane can reliably stay aloft at night, with lithium-ion batteries providing all of the necessary juice.

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“Terrorist elements” are watching today

CIA Director John Brennan said terrorists are heavily monitoring the Senate’s 11th-hour vote Sunday to stop three surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act from expiring at midnight today.

Face the Nation

“I think terrorist elements have watched very carefully what has happened here in the United States. Whether or not it’s disclosures of classified information, or whether it’s changes in the law and policies, they’re looking for the seams to operate within,” Brennan said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “This is something that we can’t afford to deal with right now, because if you look at the horrific terrorist attacks and violence that’s being perpetrated around the globe, we need to keep our country safe.”

Congress was set to begin debate Sunday at 4 pm ET. The floor session is airing live on C-SPAN here. (Floor session, without a vote, has recessed until around 6:30 pm ET. The session returned about 6:25 pm ET.)

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“Terrorist elements” are watching today

CIA Director John Brennan said terrorists are heavily monitoring the Senate’s 11th-hour vote Sunday to stop three surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act from expiring at midnight today.

Face the Nation

“I think terrorist elements have watched very carefully what has happened here in the United States. Whether or not it’s disclosures of classified information, or whether it’s changes in the law and policies, they’re looking for the seams to operate within,” Brennan said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “This is something that we can’t afford to deal with right now, because if you look at the horrific terrorist attacks and violence that’s being perpetrated around the globe, we need to keep our country safe.”

Congress was set to begin debate Sunday at 4 pm ET. The floor session is airing live on C-SPAN here. (Floor session, without a vote, has recessed until around 6:30 pm ET. The session returned about 6:25 pm ET.)

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The Ars Windows laptop guide: Spring 2015

Driven by Moore’s law, Dennard scaling, and other material advances, technology continues to push for ever greater miniaturisation. As such, the standard workhorse computer of the day has repeatedly slimmed down over time. First it was the room-sized mainframe, then the minicomputer, then the desktop PC.

Today, the laptop reigns supreme. It represents a solid blend of price, performance, battery life, and features. For heavy lifting or in situations where mobility simply isn’t required, you can always turn to a desktop PC. And in fact, we have now witnessed the beginnings of a shift towards form factors that are even more mobile than laptops, as tablets and convertibles each offer almost-laptop-level performance in a more portable package.

The vast majority of users and usage scenarios still find a decent laptop is more than enough, however. And currently discussing laptops means navigating the vast array of third-parties offering such machines running Windows. That’s where this Spring 2015 guide comes in. We looked at new laptops from the major Windows OEMs—Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus—plus Microsoft itself. Know up front this is not fully exhaustive: there are thousands of different laptops on the market today, and it would be impossible to test them all. But this exercise provides a useful snapshot of the current landscape much like our 2014 smartphone guide. (If we have missed a laptop that should absolutely be on this list, let us know and we’ll do our best to obtain a review unit for later inclusion.)

Read 63 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Ars Windows laptop guide: Spring 2015

Driven by Moore’s law, Dennard scaling, and other material advances, technology continues to push for ever greater miniaturisation. As such, the standard workhorse computer of the day has repeatedly slimmed down over time. First it was the room-sized mainframe, then the minicomputer, then the desktop PC.

Today, the laptop reigns supreme. It represents a solid blend of price, performance, battery life, and features. For heavy lifting or in situations where mobility simply isn’t required, you can always turn to a desktop PC. And in fact, we have now witnessed the beginnings of a shift towards form factors that are even more mobile than laptops, as tablets and convertibles each offer almost-laptop-level performance in a more portable package.

The vast majority of users and usage scenarios still find a decent laptop is more than enough, however. And currently discussing laptops means navigating the vast array of third-parties offering such machines running Windows. That’s where this Spring 2015 guide comes in. We looked at new laptops from the major Windows OEMs—Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus—plus Microsoft itself. Know up front this is not fully exhaustive: there are thousands of different laptops on the market today, and it would be impossible to test them all. But this exercise provides a useful snapshot of the current landscape much like our 2014 smartphone guide. (If we have missed a laptop that should absolutely be on this list, let us know and we’ll do our best to obtain a review unit for later inclusion.)

Read 63 remaining paragraphs | Comments