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Long-running Official Xbox Magazine shuts down

Eurogamer - 1 hour 3 min ago

The Official Xbox Magazine has closed down, Eurogamer has learnt.

OXM folded last week, with the magazine's last few remaining staff let go. Eurogamer understands OXM is one of six magazines closed at Bath-based media company Future, although it is the only gaming magazine among them.

The closure of OXM comes in the same year Microsoft plans to release its next console, the Xbox Series X. Just one day ago the OXM Twitter account advertised an OXM subscription.

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Categories: Video Games

What Happens When Epidemiologists are Undermined By Politics?

Slashdot - 2 hours 52 min ago
Earlier this month Slashdot covered the Imperial College in London forecast of "what happens if the U.S. does absolutely nothing to combat COVID-19," which predicted 2.2 million deaths just in the U.S. and another 510,000 in Great Britain. The paper was co-written by Neil Ferguson, one of the world's leading epidemiologists, and "launched leaders in both countries into action," according to the Washington Post. Earlier this month Ferguson posted on Twitter that Microsoft and GitHub are working to "document, refactor and extend" the thousands of lines of C code written over 13 years ago to run pandemic simulations, "to allow others to use [it] without the multiple days training it would currently require (and which we don't have time to give)." But the Washington Post's national health correspondent and senior political reporter look at a new twist this week: In recent days, a growing contingent of Trump supporters have pushed the narrative that health experts are part of a deep-state plot to hurt Trump's reelection efforts by damaging the economy and keeping the United States shut down as long as possible. Trump himself pushed this idea in the early days of the outbreak... After Ferguson gave new testimony to British officials Wednesday...Fox News host Laura Ingraham wrongly stated that in his testimony Ferguson's projection had been "corrected." The chyron on her show Thursday night stated, "Faulty models may be skewing COVID-19 data...." But in fact, Ferguson had not revised his projections in his testimony, which he made clear in interviews and Twitter. His earlier study had made clear the estimate of 500,000 deaths in Britain and 2.2 million in the United States projected what could happen if both took absolutely no action against the coronavirus. The new estimate of 20,000 deaths in Britain was a projected result now that Britain had implemented strict restrictions, which this week came to include a full lockdown... [O]ne factor many modelers failed to predict was how politicized their work would become in the era of President Trump, and how that in turn could affect their models.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

If you're jonesing for some more Fire Emblem-esque action, Langrisser has you covered

Eurogamer - 3 hours 26 min ago

I'm not going to pretend to have played Langrisser games in their 90s heyday, though I will admit to being vaguely familiar with them. They're the epitome of 16-bit exotica, with only the 1991 original making its way out of Japan, and even then only doing so in North America and under the not-quite-so-striking title Warsong. After that the series remained in the east, where it built up a reputation as a solid alternative on Sega's platforms to Nintendo's burgeoning Fire Emblem series.

Given the rise in popularity of Fire Emblem in recent years - and especially after last year's breakout hit Three Houses introduced a whole new audience to the appeal of strategy RPGs - it makes perfect sense that publisher NISA and developer Chara-Ani would try and repeat the trick with Langrisser, and the recently-released remakes of original developer Masaya's first two games does a fine job of it too. This is a luscious package, presented with care and thought.

And they present two very robust takes on the genre, admirably untouched by more modern concerns. Which is a polite way of saying these are two very old school takes on the genre, with few of the flourishes you find in contemporary Fire Emblem - something which I'm sure many will take as a blessing. There's no tending to a curriculum, or taking time out for tea - this is purely the serious business of battle (although it's worth nothing that Langrisser 2 does introduce branching paths in its story).

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Categories: Video Games

Ask Slashdot: Should the Internet Be A Public Utility?

Slashdot - 5 hours 52 min ago
The pandemic has "proven conclusively that the internet should be a public utility," argues Quartz. "It's a basic necessity in the 21st century, like running water, gas, and electricity. Indeed, the United Nations in 2016 declared that internet access is a human right." Sure, you could theoretically survive without it, just as you might light your home with candles or warm it by fire. Just as you could arguably trek to the closest freshwater source and walk back with buckets of the life-sustaining stuff. But in wealthy societies, like the U.S., those are absurd notions. Living under such conditions is virtually impossible and endangers everyone... [T]hough we have a whole lot of social woes to contend with right now -- pressing medical and economic needs -- it's not too soon to recognize that internet service providers' profits are not the top priority and that lack of access exacerbates existing class divides.... Increasingly, towns, cities, and states are taking a close look at Chattanooga, Tennessee, which built its own high-speed fiber-optic internet network in 2009. A 2018 Consumer Reports survey found the city's broadband was rated best in the US. There are already more than 500 communities nationwide operating public networks or leveraging their massive contracts with broadband providers to ensure free wiring of schools, libraries, and other publicly-accessible wifi hotspots. This patchwork approach to public access is taking hold across the U.S. and there is a growing understanding that internet access is a social issue that has to be addressed by governments, not private companies operating with profit as their sole motivator. Perhaps after the pandemic panic gives way to a new state of normalcy, the people will demand inexpensive and reliable high-quality broadband, and maybe private internet service providers will have to sing a different tune. An anonymous reader asked how exactly this could be accomplished, and long-time Slashdot reader Futurepower(R) suggested towns and cities should own the fiber lines, and then rent it out "to as many Internet-providing companies as are interested." But the original submission also asks, "If you aren't convinced yet, why not?" So share your own opinions in the comments. Should the internet be a public utility?

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Was Magellan's Voyage Riskier Than Sending Humans to Mars?

Slashdot - 8 hours 42 min ago
A Portuguese historian argues that Magellan's famous trip around the world in 1522 was much harder than sending humans to Mars: Tens of guys died making this crossing; of 250 crew, only 18 returned, Henrique Leitao, a historian at the University of Lisbon, told me... [O]nce NASA or other space agencies or private entities actually launch humans on a six month trajectory to the Red planet, they will likely have mitigated the lion's share of risks to the crew. In contrast, Magellan's crew realized that at least a third of them would likely never survive their journey, says Leitao... Is there a comparison between the Age of Discovery and drivers for the exploration and commercialization of space? One could argue that minerals on asteroids could be seen as the present-day equivalent of the Age of Discovery's highly-prized Asian spices. And that actually getting these 16th century spices back to Europe was arguably just as arduous and seemingly difficult as any initiative to return exotic materials from a near-Earth asteroid... Risk is inherent in any off-world human voyage. But when it comes to safety, today's technology and current knowledge of in situ conditions on Mars itself will arguably give future explorers an inherent edge over Magellan's generation. The article also summarizes Leitao observation that one of the crew members who died on the trip was Magellan. "For 40 days Magellan walked around The Philippines; gets involved in a completely absurd fight with locals on a beach and is killed."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

America's FDA Eases Restrictions on Mask-Sterilizing Technology Amid Coronavirus Shortages

Slashdot - 10 hours 39 min ago
USA Today reports: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Sunday afternoon said federal officials have promised to ease restrictions on a technology to clean and reuse the masks deemed the safest for healthcare workers and first responders in the coronavirus outbreak.... Officials are scrambling for the N95 masks and other protective equipment for health care workers as the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to spike over the coming months. On Saturday, DeWine publicly pleaded with the FDA to approve an emergency-use permit for [Columbus-based research firm] Battelle's technology amid a shortage of personal protective equipment, including masks.... The U.S. death total has doubled in two days, climbing above 2,300 Sunday. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been a leading voice in the effort to curb the outbreak, said 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die before the crisis is over. DeWine said those numbers make it urgent for the FDA to clean as many masks as it can... The Battelle process uses "vapor phase hydrogen peroxide" to sanitize the N95 masks, allowing them to be reused up to 20 times, the company said in a statement. Each of the company's Critical Care Decontamination Systems can sterilize 80,000 masks per day, Battelle said... DeWine on Sunday said the FDA authorized Battelle to sterilize just 10,000 surgical masks a day. "They're only approved a fraction of what we can do," DeWine said during the press conference. But DeWine said in his afternoon press conference that an FDA commissioner told him "this would be cleared up today."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Black Hole Photo May Also Have Captured Light From Around the Universe

Slashdot - 11 hours 35 min ago
"When you point a telescope at a black hole, it turns out you don't just see the swirling sizzling doughnut of doom formed by matter falling in," reports the New York Times. "You can also see the whole universe." Light from an infinite array of distant stars and galaxies can wrap around the black hole like ribbons around a maypole, again and again before coming back to your eye, or your telescope. "The image of a black hole actually contains a nested series of rings," said Michael Johnson of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, not unlike the rings that form around your bathtub drain. Dr. Johnson was lead author of a study, describing the proposed method that would allow our telescopes to pry more secrets from the maw of any black hole, that was published in the March 18 edition of the journal Science Advances. He and other authors of the paper are also members of the team operating the Event Horizon Telescope, a globe-girding network of radio telescopes that made that first image of a black hole. Their telescope saw these rings, but it didn't have enough resolution to distinguish them, so they were blurred into a single feature.... Andrew Strominger, a Harvard theorist and co-author of the paper, said, "Understanding the intricate details of this historic experimental observation has forced theorists like myself to think about black holes in a new way..." As Peter Galison of Harvard, another E.H.T. collaborator said, "As we peer into these rings, we are looking at light from all over the visible universe, we are seeing farther and farther into the past, a movie, so to speak, of the history of the visible universe."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Could Robots Help Us Fight Infectious Diseases?

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 23:49
In the journal Science Robotics, an international group of robotic experts wrote an editorial arguing COVID-19 "may drive further research in robotics to address risks of infectious diseases," and urging more funding. The Washington Post reports: Robots already have been enlisted in the fight against the virus. In Hong Kong, a fleet of miniature robots disinfects the city's subways; in China, an entire field hospital was staffed by robots designed to relieve overworked health-care workers. In the United States, robots played a role in the country's first known case of covid-19. One outfitted with a stethoscope and a microphone was used with a 35-year-old man in Everett, Washington, who was confined to an isolated unit after showing symptoms of the coronavirus. He later made a full recovery. "Already, we have seen robots being deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls," the researchers write. They identify plenty of other ways to use robots in the pandemic response. Robots could assist with testing and screening; already, researchers have created a device that can identify a suitable vein and perform a blood draw. Or they could take over hospital disinfection entirely, providing continuous sterilization of high-touch areas with UV light. The researchers hope covid-19 will catalyze robotics research for the sake of public health.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Ambitious Project Seeks to Re-Create Every Structure on Earth in Minecraft

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 22:51
An anonymous reader quotes Rock, Paper, Shotgun: For as long as there's been Minecraft, there's been people who want to re-create the world in Minecraft. For one modder, though, it's not enough to have a to-scale replica of our pale blue dot recreated in Mojang's block-builder. A new project named Build The Earth is looking for talented builders with too much time on their hands, bringing them together to fully recreate every last man-made structure on Earth in Minecraft. YouTuber PippinFTS unveiled the project in a YouTube video earlier this week. It's awfully dramatic, but give the guy a break — he's only trying to go and build a planet. PippenFTS' project is building from Terra 1 to 1, a project headed up by modders orangeadam3 and shejan0. Using a few extra mods to get around the game's strict world limitations, Terra 1 to 1 uses public terrain datasets, street maps and forest databases to accurately map the earth's terrain, roads and woodland areas in Minecraft... [H]e wants to build a community that can collectively recreate thousands of years of human history by filling out every single man-made structure on Earth. His "Build The Earth" project hopes to crowdsource player-recreated cities, towns, stadiums, bridges and otherwise. PippenFTS himself will contribute with his own hometown. "Regardless," he writes, wistful in his obligation, "I will build Seattle. Super excited." The project already has a Patreon account -- plus 5,500 members in its subreddit.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

After 5 Years of Construction, 'Space Fence' Finally Declared Operational

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 21:59
An anonymous reader quotes Space News: The space surveillance radar site known as the Space Fence is ready for use after five years in construction, the U.S. Space Force announced March 27. The $1.5 billion Space Fence — located on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands — is a ground-based radar system that tracks satellites and space debris primarily in low Earth orbit... The Space Fence can track tiny objects as small as a marble. It also provides a search capability for objects at higher orbits. Data from the Space Fence will feed into the military's Space Surveillance Network. The Space Surveillance Network tracks about 26,000 objects. The addition of the Space Fence will increase the catalog size significantly over time, the Space Force said in a news release... "Space Fence is revolutionizing the way we view space by providing timely, precise orbital data on objects that threaten both manned and unmanned military and commercial space assets," said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond.

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Is Uranus Losing Its Atmosphere?

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 20:59
Mars was once covered by oceans, but lost its atmosphere over time, according to Gina DiBraccio, a space physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and project scientist for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN mission. Is the same thing happening to Uranus? The magnetic bubble surrounding the giant gas planet may be siphoning its atmosphere off into space, reports Digital Trends: Uranus's atmospheric loss is driven by its strange magnetic field, the axis of which points at an angle compared to the axis on which the planet spins. That means its magnetosphere wobbles as it moves, which makes it very difficult to model. "The structure, the way that it moves," DiBraccio said, "Uranus is really on its own." Due to the wobbling of the magnetosphere, bits of the atmosphere are drained away in what are called plasmoids — bubbles of plasma which pinch off from the magnetic field as it is blown around by the Sun. Although these plasmoids have been seen on Earth and on some other planets, they had never been observed on Uranus before the recent analysis of old Voyager 2 data. Interestingly, the theory comes from a new analysis of 30-year-old data gathered by the Voyager 2 space probe -- long before it reached the edge of our solar system.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Bay Area Group Pushes $1,000 Universal Basic Income For Everyone

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 19:34
"Gisele Huff is convinced universal basic income is finally having its moment," reports the Bay Area newsgroup, describing the 84-year-old president of a nonprofit promoting universal basic incomes to honor their recently-deceased son, a Tesla software engineer: While Huff's organization is only a few years old, it has already made its mark in the Bay Area. Santa Clara County's Board of Supervisors is considering a pilot program that would provide youth exiting foster care with a basic $1,000 monthly income. If approved later this year, the program would likely be the first of its kind in the nation... Q: Different people have different ideas about what exactly UBI should look like. What's yours? A: It would be $1,000 a month and it runs like social security. It's an automatic system. All you need is a bank account. So UBI is a direct payment to your bank account on a monthly basis. It has no requirements. When you're 18 it starts and it goes on until you die. Q: And everyone would get the same amount? Including the wealthiest households? A: Yes. For the people who are wealthy, it will disappear because $1,000 doesn't mean anything. But it will mean the world for the people who are so marginalized now, like foster kids or abused women who can't leave a situation because they don't have a dime to their name. It is a huge incentive for people to move on, to do things, take risks that they would not do before. Q: Some critics of UBI say that it could incentivize people not to work, because no matter what they do they will get a monthly paycheck. What is your response? A: If you have a job, you're not going to stop working for $1,000 a month. What you're going to do is you're going to tell your boss: "No, I'm not doing this because it's not acceptable and I have $1,000 dollars that I can use for the next two months until I find a better job." So if you want that job done as a boss, you're going to have to improve the conditions or the pay...." Q: And your son was concerned about those same issues? How did he come to his perspective on UBI? A: Gerald was the software engineer for the Model 3 Tesla. So he has been a techie all of his life and what really spurred him on to look into this in a deeper way was his fear of technological unemployment. The robots are coming. And the potential of that technology is what Gerald was aware of — it's immense.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Rhianna Pratchett's Lost Words: Beyond the Page is out now if you have Stadia

Eurogamer - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 19:21

Lost Words: Beyond the Page - an "emotionally moving, fully-voiced" platformer written by Tomb Raider reboot writer Rhianna Pratchett - is out now, and it's exclusive to Google Stadia for one year.

Whilst we haven't seen a lot of the game in the lead up to release, we did find out last month that the game would be exclusive to the streaming platform Stadia. This means you won't see it on Steam until at least March 2021.

"'Stadia First' - what does this means for other platforms? Steam shows plain 2020," a commenter asked Modus Games on Twitter a few weeks back (thanks, PC Gamer), to which the publisher replied: "It will be exclusive to Stadia for the first year."

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Categories: Video Games

GameStop is closing another 300+ stores this year

Eurogamer - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 18:35

US specialist retailer, GameStop, has confirmed it's closing at least 320 stores over the next 12 months.

The company has already closed 321 stores as part of restructuring efforts in the financial year ending February 2020, and now a similar number of its 5,500 stores are expected to shut by the end of this financial year, too.

The closures come in spite of the company reporting a net income of $21 million (£16.8 million) at the end of the last financial year.

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Categories: Video Games

Remote City Council Meeting Interrupted By Pornographic Videos

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 18:34
Friday's first-ever remote meeting for the Los Angeles City Council had to shut down for 20 minutes because of pranksters posting "pornographic videos". The Los Angeles Daily News has the story: Council President Nury Martinez called a recess about an hour into the meeting, which is centered around a Los Angeles-centric relief package for workers, renters and homeless people during the public health crisis. She said there were "inappropriate videos" being posted. Soon afterward, city officials' voices could be heard discussing turning peoples' video capabilities off on the channel. The reporter posted on Twitter that the meeting faced other challenges. "Councilman Joe Buscaino just yelled at his kids to be quiet." ("Maybe it's past Joe's bedtime," joked an assistant news editor.) The meeting ran on for nearly 11 hours, and by the end just six people remained in Zoom's meeting room. "Seven people on the 15-member City Council voted to ban all evictions in Los Angeles, with 6 against. But that was not enough to pass the ban. They needed 8 votes."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

These latest Fortnite glitches almost guarantee a win

Eurogamer - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 17:34

Two new glitches have popped up in Fortnite - one is making players invisible, and the other permits the players to break the sky boundary, escaping not only enemy fire but damage from the circle, too.

As demonstrated by livestreamer LazarBeam (thanks, Slashgear), players that hide in a cardboard box and crouch whilst aiming the harpoon gun will remain invisible to opposing players.

Interestingly you can't use any other firearm - they'll be visible even if you're not - and canny players have already learned to be cautious of open cardboard boxes.

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Categories: Video Games

Whatever Happened to Ashley Madison? Affairs in the Time of Coronavirus

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 17:34
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: Ashley Madison's tagline has taken on a new ring amid the COVID-19 pandemic — "Life's short. Have an affair." And the "married dating" site, used to conduct clandestine affairs, has found itself in the midst of a boom. Despite the fact that it's harder than ever to physically meet up with a fellow cheater, Ashley Madison is seeing a surge in users. Some are just looking to chat with someone other than a spouse, some are seeking emotional validation or the fantasy of pursuing a secret sex life... The company became a household name in July 2015, when hackers stole data on 32 million cheating spouses. The leak of sensitive data led to spouses discovering that their significant others were cheating. Divorces, breakups, and suicides ensued. The hackers also exposed that Ashley Madison used bots posing as attractive young women to lure men into engaging more with the site. The company says it has since beefed up its security and rid itself of the bots. And now it's more than double the size it was at the time of the hack, with over 65 million members last year. During 2019, the company added 15,500 new members a day. More recently, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been adding 17,000 new members a day. Its chief strategy officer tells them that after their massive data breach "we were signing up more than 100,000 people a day... [W]e also saw revenues jump during that small time frame." (And the site also acquired "a whole new security team...") Interestingly, he also says Facebook won't allow them to buy ads, which seems especially anticompetitive since Facebook runs its own dating site. "They block us but let other dating platforms advertise... We have had multiple conversations with them, and no, it's a fruitless conversation, unfortunately... This is part of the problem with Facebook, in general, in that they get to pick and choose which companies are going to advertise on the second-largest, if not the largest, digital advertising platform in the world. We question the validity of that."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Zoom Removes Code That Sends Data to Facebook

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 16:41
An anonymous reader quotes Motherboard: On Friday video-conferencing software Zoom issued an update to its iOS app which stops it sending certain pieces of data to Facebook. The move comes after a Motherboard analysis of the app found it sent information such as when a user opened the app, their timezone, city, and device details to the social network giant. When Motherboard analyzed the app, Zoom's privacy policy did not make the data transfer to Facebook clear. "Zoom takes its users' privacy extremely seriously. We originally implemented the 'Login with Facebook' feature using the Facebook SDK in order to provide our users with another convenient way to access our platform. However, we were recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data," Zoom told Motherboard in a statement on Friday.... "We sincerely apologize for this oversight, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users' data," Zoom's statement concluded.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Yes, Netflix's Castlevania is coming back for a fourth season

Eurogamer - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 15:44

Netflix's animated Castlevania series is returning for a fourth season.

Making the announcement on the NXOnNetflix Twitter account - "Netflix's home of all things geek" - fans were encouraged to reply with clap emojis to summon Sir Mirror with news of the show. Naturally, they obliged, and just nine minutes later, this update appeared:

I know: it doesn't tell us much, does it? We'll have to wait for more concrete details but for now, all we can confirm for sure is that "season four is coming".

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Categories: Video Games

Astronomers Have Finally Found the Edge of the Milky Way

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 15:34
Iwastheone quotes Science News: Astronomers have long known that the brightest part of the Milky Way, the pancake-shaped disk of stars that houses the sun, is some 120,000 light-years across. Beyond this stellar disk is a disk of gas. A vast halo of dark matter, presumably full of invisible particles, engulfs both disks and stretches far beyond them. But because the dark halo emits no light, its diameter is hard to measure. Now, Alis Deason, an astrophysicist at Durham University in England, and her colleagues have used nearby galaxies to locate the Milky Way's edge... To find the Milky Way's edge, Deason's team conducted computer simulations of how giant galaxies like the Milky Way form. In particular, the scientists sought cases where two giant galaxies arose side by side, like the Milky Way and Andromeda, our nearest giant neighbor, because each galaxy's gravity tugs on the other. The simulations showed that just beyond the edge of a giant galaxy's dark halo, the velocities of small nearby galaxies drop sharply. Using existing telescope observations, Deason and her colleagues found a similar plunge in the speeds of small galaxies near the Milky Way. This occurred at a distance of about 950,000 light-years from the Milky Way's center, marking the galaxy's edge, the scientists say.

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