In October, Disney+ will debut its new series, The Right Stuff, based on the 1979 book by Tom Wolfe.
A team of elite military test pilots finds itself tapped to be astronauts for Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program in the United States, in The Right Stuff, a new eight-episode dramatic series debuting in October on Disney+. Like Philip Kaufman's Oscar-winning 1983 film of the same name, the series is based on the bestselling 1979 book by Tom Wolfe.
Wolfe became interested in the US space program while on assignment by Rolling Stone to cover the launch of Apollo 17, NASA's last Moon mission. He spent the next seven years writing The Right Stuff, intent on capturing the drive and ethos of those early astronauts. (In a foreword to the 1983 edition, he pondered "What makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle... and wait for someone to light the fuse.") Wolfe spent a great deal of time consulting with General Chuck Yeager, who was shut out of the astronaut program and ended up as a contrasting character to the college-degreed Project Mercury team featured in the book. The Right Stuff won widespread critical praise, as well as the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
When United Artists decided to finance a film adaptation, the studio hired William Goldman (The Princess Bride) to adapt the screenplay, but his vision was very different from that of director Philip Kaufman, and Goldman quit the project. Kaufman wrote his own draft script in eight weeks, making Yeager more of a central figure; Goldman's script ignored Yeager entirely. Goldman later wrote that "Phil [Kaufman]'s heart was with Yeager. And not only that, he felt the astronauts, rather than being heroic, were really minor leaguers, mechanical men of no particular quality, not great pilots at all, simply the product of hype."
Microsoft Flight Simulator produces some stunning realism most of the time, but there’s the odd occasion where things go hilariously wrong. PC players inside simulated airplanes have been scouring the globe this week and have discovered some rather amusing glitches.
The biggest discovery is a giant mountain-high obelisk in Melbourne, Australia. The unusually tall building doesn’t exist in real life, but Bing Maps thinks a giant obelisk dominates the skies of northern Melbourne. Microsoft Flight Simulator utilizes Microsoft’s Bing Maps technology — streaming data directly from two petabytes of storage in the cloud — so it’s likely that this particular glitch is based on incorrect Bing Maps data.
In Microsoft Flight Simulator a bizarrely eldritch, impossibly narrow skyscraper pierces the skies of Melbourne's North like a suburban Australian version of Half-Life 2's Citadel, and I am -all for it- pic.twitter.com/6AH4xgIAWg
Giant obelisks aren’t the only things going awry in Microsoft Flight Simulator. The game uses Azure-powered procedural generation technology to fill any gaps in the Bing Maps data. Landmarks and bridges can’t be generated with AI, so they need to be built by hand. That leaves some parts of cities looking a little odd if you look too close.
Flight Simulator players discovered that Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Britain’s monarchs, has been turned into an office building. Similarly, the Washington Monument in Washington DC has also been turned into a narrow skyscraper.
Over on the west coast, the game seems to be struggling with palm trees that line the streets of southern California. In Flight Simulator they’ve turned into weird angular structures jutting out of the ground like prehistoric shark teeth.
By far my favorite Microsoft Flight Simulator quirk is that it doesn't know how to handle palm trees, so Southern California is full of these terrifying obelisks jutting forth from the pavement like so many teeth. pic.twitter.com/OqkmuSfimn
Some of the glitches could be down to the data streaming settings that players pick in Flight Simulator, though. One player discovered that TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida looks like it has been filled with grass with a sunken office-like building in the middle of the stadium.
We visited the TIAA Bank Field this morning, and it rendered in all its glory with all the data streaming settings enabled. It’s unlikely that Asobo Studio, the developers behind Microsoft Flight Simulator, fixed the stadium in less than 24 hours. Some of the visual glitches that people are experiencing could be related to internet connectivity to the streaming data used to power Flight Simulator, or simply due to players not enabling the full data download when the game is configured.
The glitches are more amusing than they are game breaking, and you’re not likely to notice some of the inaccuracies unless you’re flying low or you know how many buildings are supposed to look in a particular city or area. I’ve spent hours flying around parts of the world I’ve never visited in Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s still a stunningly realistic virtual version of our planet, even if some giant obelisks are creating some virtual air traffic over Australia.
I just played Death Stranding on my wife’s beat-up Samsung Chromebook Plus. That’s because Nvidia just made it possible to do so with its GeForce Now cloud streaming service, which launched in beta for Chrome OS today. While gaming natively isn’t necessarily a strong suit of Chrome OS, support for Google’s Stadia and GeForce Now means that you can probably access many of the games in your back catalog from the cloud, wherever you are with your Chromebook. Nvidia is keeping tabs on supported games right here.
Granted, this assumes you have one that’s capable enough to provide a decent experience, along with a mouse or gamepad plugged in for good measure since Chromebook trackpads usually aren’t great.
What’s cool about the beta is that Nvidia isn’t preventing any Chromebook user from going to play.geforcenow.com and giving it a try themselves, although the company does offer some recommended specs that it says ensure a good experience:
CPU: Intel Core M3 (seventh gen or later) or a Core i3, i5, or i7 processor
GPU: Intel HD graphics 600 or higher
RAM: 4GB or higher
Plus at least 15Mbps internet (25Mbps recommended)
To that end, it shared a bunch of models that Nvidia has tested internally and confirm provide a good experience. It’s worth noting that some of these don’t match its recommended specs in every department:
Acer Chromebook 15 CB3-532-C4ZZ
Acer Chromebook 715*1
Acer Chromebook Spin 13
Asus C101P Flip
Asus Flip C302CA
Asus Chromebook Flip C434*
Google PixelBook Go
HP Chromebook x360*
Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
Samsung Chromebook 3
Samsung Chromebook Plus*
Samsung Chromebook XE350XBA (Chromebook 4)*
(Note: the asterisk denotes models where Nvidia says voice chat isn’t recommended)
I spent time testing it out the beta on our 2017 Chromebook Plus, which straddles the line in terms of meeting the recommended specs. It has a beautiful 2400 x 1600 resolution 3:2 aspect ratio display that still looks fantastic today, and it meets the 4GB RAM requirement. But I was more than a little worried about its Rockchip OP1 ARM processor, despite it being optimized at the time for Chrome OS, as my colleague Dieter Bohn dug up.
I briefly tested out Death Stranding and Rocket League through Steam and Control through the Epic Games Store to see how each looked and ran. I have fairly speedy internet (250Mbps down, 25Mbps up), and since I’m at home, I was seated pretty close to our Wi-Fi router. My experience was better than I expected from our then-$350 Chromebook.
Once I went to the front of the queue for a virtual rig and got booted into each game, the performance was great. Generally, the games I tested seemed to swing between 40 and 50 frames per second. It wasn’t a consistent, smooth 60 frames per second that I love to see. Still, with a gamepad plugged in and headphones on, I sometimes forgot I was streaming games over the cloud. Loading times were usually very fast, and the games themselves looked good on their recommended graphical settings.
Visuals aside, the input lag from my wired Nintendo Switch Pro controller was noticeable throughout my time testing GeForce Now on Chrome OS. It was less of an issue in Control, where the movements are a little slower, but it was kind of a deal-breaker in Rocket League, especially if you’re playing online matches. I should again note that I played exclusively over Wi-Fi, which Nvidia doesn’t suggest anyone do if they’re trying to get the best results. I likely would have had an even better experience in terms of input lag and visual fidelity if I’d had an Ethernet to USB-C adapter.
One nitpick as someone using a 3:2 aspect ratio display: it was difficult to get each game to match my screen’s resolution. Nvidia’s GeForce Now settings let me adjust my preferred resolution to a 16:10 aspect ratio, which reduced the black bars I saw with the default 16:9 aspect ratio presentation. That was about as good as it got, and for a temporary “game while I’m away from my PC” experience, that’s good enough for me. If your Chromebook has a 16:9 aspect ratio screen (most of them do), you shouldn’t need to do any tweaking.
I’d love to test out the service on a more capable machine, like the new Acer Chromebook Spin 713, and a weaker one, like the Samsung Chromebook 3 that released in 2016. It goes without saying that more powerful hardware will make for a better experience, but I’m curious just how low you can go in price and still get relatively smooth gameplay.
You can join the service for free, though each game will take a few minutes to boot into, and sessions will be capped at one hour each. If you have a Chromebook, give it a try and let us know in the comments how your experience was.
Early Monday morning, a cable suspended over the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico broke and left a 100-foot-long gash in the dish of the iconic radio telescope. The 3-inch-diameter cable also caused damage to the panels of the Gregorian dome that is suspended hundreds of feet above the dish and houses the telescope’s receivers. It is unclear what caused the cable to break or when radio astronomers using the telescope will be able to resume their research.
“This was an auxiliary cable used to support the weight of the platform, and we are in the process of assessing why it broke,” says Zenaida Kotala, the assistant vice president for strategic initiatives at the University of Central Florida, which manages the observatory. “We are working with engineers to determine a strategy for repairs. Our goal is to get the facility operational as soon as it is possible to do so safely.”
Astronomers have used the Arecibo radio telescope to study the cosmos since 1963. For most of its life, the observatory was far and away the largest telescope of its kind in the world. (It was only recently surpassed by China’s FAST radio telescope.) Its 1,000-foot radio dish is built into a natural depression in the surrounding hills and acts like a giant ear listening for faint radio signals from galaxies far, far away.