Why Apple is the new NASA

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Apple Watch swimming app
Apple analyzed the performance of 700 swimmers to develop new Workout app routines.
Photo: Apple

Thirty minutes into Apple’s special event last week, one tidbit of information blew my mind.

Onstage, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams was talking about the Workout app on the new “swim-proof” Apple Watch Series 2 and the effort the company put into advancing the software that makes the fitness device tick. The amount of research deployed, all in the pursuit of updating a segment of an app many Apple Watch wearers will never use, offers a peek into the enormous resources that Apple R&D commands.

It paints Apple, with its enduring emphasis on developing new materials, manufacturing processes and sophisticated software, as a scientific force to be reckoned with — a new NASA for the 21st century.

Apple celebrates NASA’s Juno mission with hypnotic space video

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Music and space have a lot more in common than you'd think.
Music and space have a lot more in common than you'd think.
Photo: Apple

NASA’s Juno mission is set to arrive at Jupiter on July 4th, so to celebrate the space agency did the most sensible thing it could think of: team up with Apple and Weezer to make awesome videos about space and music.

While Weezer created the patriotic rock anthem “I Love the USA” to mark the occasion, Apple created a hypnotic short film called “Visions of Harmony” that explores the link between space travel and music. The soundtrack for the hypnotic film was created by Nine Inch Nails frontman and Apple VP Trent Reznor and collaborator Atticus Ross.

Watch it below:

Hello Sitter, Perchang, and other awesome apps of the week

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'Appy weekend
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

It’s the weekend again, and what better way to spend the remaining hours of Sunday than by checking out the best new apps — and major app updates — to hit the App Store? From a stunning real-time feed of Earth from space to a tremendous Rube Goldberg-style puzzler, you’re almost certain to find something of interest in this week’s picks.

Check them out below.

NASA’s Apple TV app gives you realtime view of Earth from the stars

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HEADING
Your own private window from the International Space Station!
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple loves talking about Apple TV’s impressive screensavers, which let viewers fly through some of the most jaw-dropping locations on the planet. You know what’s even more impressive than the world’s most gorgeous locations, though? The most dazzling locations out of this world!

That’s the concept behind NASA’s stunning new Apple TV app, which offers realtime views of the Earth as glimpsed from the International Space Station, among other space-age features.

Bored at your job? NASA is looking for new astronauts

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The job of astronaut may require some travel.
The job of astronaut may require some travel.
Photo: NASA/Flickr CC

When companies list “frequent travel may be required” in their job postings, they usually mean flying business class to the annual convention in Omaha and staying at the airport Ramada.

It’s a good business practice to let candidates know this up front — especially when the company doing the hiring is NASA and the openings are for astronauts.

NASA announced Monday it is looking for people with the Right Stuff for work aboard the International Space Station and flights in new commercial spacecraft and well-traveled Russian Soyuz ships. Oh yeah, a trip to Mars is said to be in the works.

Google’s mind-bending quantum computer actually works

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Quantum computers will lead to advancements in artificial intelligence.
Photo: D-Wave Systems Inc.

A major breakthrough from Google’s quantum-computing team could eventually lead to artificial-intelligence systems complex enough to make sci-fi nerds lose sleep in fear of the robot apocalypse. The breakthrough sounds simple, but it has massive implications: The quantum computer the team co-operates with NASA actually works.

And not only does it work, but it can do the same process up to 100 million times faster than its predecessors.

Future spacecraft could repair its own skin

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The International Space Station occasionally has to dodge pieces of debris floating in space.
The International Space Station occasionally has to dodge pieces of debris floating in space.
Photo: NASA

To see a satellite image of the field of space debris that floats around the earth is like looking at fleas swarming an unfortunate dog. About a half-million pieces of debris are the size of a marble, but even tiny pieces that travel more than 17,000 miles per hour could be deadly to a spacecraft with astronauts.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and NASA have developed a self-healing material that could instantly plug up a hole in the hull of a ship just milliseconds after impact.

Be the first in your family to land on Mars

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I've got my ticket to Mars. How about you?
I've got my ticket to Mars. How about you?
Photo: NASA

There’s a good chance I will be the first Pierini to land on Mars. No, I did not win some contest that sends me on a one-way trip to the Red Planet in the name of reality TV.

But I did register my name with NASA to have it embedded on a microchip headed to Mars. Now it’s your turn.

NASA’s space shuttle to fly again – or at least pieces of it

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NASA recently pulled the water tanks from the space shuttle Endeavor.
NASA recently pulled the water tanks from the space shuttle Endeavor.
Photo: California Science Center

If you get to a museum to see one of the shuttles that actually flew in space, your jaw may drop. Just don’t mind the guys pulling parts from it.

NASA recently sent engineers to the California Science Center in Los Angeles to dust off the mothballs of the space shuttle Endeavor and remove four water storage tanks for future use aboard the International Space Station.

NASA needs a smartwatch app for its astronauts

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked with iPad during a recent mission on the International Space Station. NASA wants astronauts to start using smartwatches for some of their tasks.
ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked with iPad during a recent mission on the International Space Station. NASA wants astronauts to start using smartwatches for some of their tasks.
Photo: NASA

There’s a smartwatch app for almost everything, but very few are useful to the men and women who work in microgravity.

So NASA is asking the pubic to design a smartwatch app for its astronauts to do everything from keeping them organized during science experiments to alerting them to space debris approaching.