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Here's what to expect from this year's PS4 Black Friday deals

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 18:07

Following in the footsteps of Microsoft last week, Sony has stepped out to confirm the PS4 Black Friday deals that we can expect to see later this month.

For now, all prices are in dollars as you can only read a more detailed breakdown of the deals over on the US PlayStation Blog. I'm assuming the same or similar deals will be confirmed on the European site soon enough, too.

Headlining the lineup is the PS4 Black Friday bundle we first caught wind of a couple of weeks ago. That's the 1TB PS4 with The Last of Us: Remastered, God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition for $199.99. It's a deal that still looks as good as it did a fortnight ago.

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Categories: Video Games

Kerbal Space Program's Breaking Ground expansion lands on consoles next month

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 17:52

After launching on PC earlier this year, Kerbal Space Program: Breaking Ground is finally coming to PS4 and Xbox One on 5th December.

The expansion boasts three new major elements for the Kerbonauts: "exploration, experimentation, and building new technology". Celestial bodies have been updated with new landscapes, and redesigned surface features which players can study to earn "insightful scientific data" to help on their journey through the solar system.

There's a host of new scientific tools to help the Kerbals collect minerals, study geological shifts and even measure atmospheric changes. Players will even have access to brand new robotic parts to make more complex machinery to help them on their travels - or hinder them on their travels, as Private Division's post definitely mentions something about "explosive failures".

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Categories: Video Games

Facebook, Google Donate Heavily To Privacy Advocacy Groups

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 17:22
Few companies have more riding on proposed privacy legislation than Alphabet's Google and Facebook. To try to steer the bill their way, the giant advertising technology companies spend millions of dollars to lobby each year, a fact confirmed by government filings. From a report: Not so well-documented is spending to support highly influential think tanks and public interest groups that are helping shape the privacy debate, ostensibly as independent observers. Bloomberg Law examined seven prominent nonprofit think tanks that work on privacy issues that received a total of $1.5 million over a 18-month period ending Dec. 31, 2018. The groups included such organizations as the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Future of Privacy Forum and the Brookings Institution. The actual total is undoubtedly much higher -- exact totals for contributions were difficult to pin down. The tech giants have "funded scores of nonprofits, including consumer and privacy groups, and academics," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director at the Center for Digital Democracy, a public interest group that does not accept donations from Google or Facebook. Further, he says, their influence is strong. The companies have "opposed federal privacy laws and worked to weaken existing safeguards," Chester said. Accepting donations from these "privacy-killing companies enable them to influence decisions by nonprofits, even subtly," he said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

A Black Hole Threw a Star Out of the Milky Way Galaxy

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 16:43
There are fastballs, and then there are cosmic fastballs. Now it seems that the strongest arm in our galaxy might belong to a supermassive black hole that lives smack in the middle of the Milky Way. From a report: Astronomers recently discovered a star whizzing out of the center of our galaxy at the seriously blinding speed of four million miles an hour. The star, which goes by the typically inscrutable name S5-HVS1, is currently about 29,000 light-years from Earth, streaking through the Grus, or Crane, constellation in the southern sky. It is headed for the darkest, loneliest depths of intergalactic space. The runaway star was spotted by an international team of astronomers led by Ting Li of the Carnegie Observatories. They were using a telescope in Australia for a study known as the Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey -- the S5. The star is about twice as massive as our own sun and ten times more luminous, according to Dr. Li. Drawing on data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft, which has charted the positions and motions of some 1.3 billion stars in the Milky Way, the astronomers traced the streaking star back to the galactic center. That is the home of a black hole known as Sagittarius A*, a gravitational monster with the mass of four million suns.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Roku working on fix after Pokémon Sword and Shield crashes devices

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 16:08

No National Pokédex, a hollow story - what will Pokémon Sword and Shield do wrong next? It'll stop you from being able to stream from a Roku device apparently, as it's been reported the games are causing the devices to crash.

Yesterday, a Pokémon Sword and Shield player took to the Pokémon subreddit reporting the game's function to find other Switches playing Pokémon was getting picked up by their Rokus (thanks, Nintendo Life). Supposedly, the signal being sent by the Switch when a player is searching for other trainers in-game is similar to the data packets Rokus use to function.

The main Roku device this seems to be affecting is the Roku Stick HD, though players have reported other devices have been acting up as well.

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Categories: Video Games

'Sci-fi Makes You Stupid' Study Refuted by Scientists Behind Original Research

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 16:00
The authors of a 2017 study which found that reading science fiction "makes you stupid" have conducted a follow-up that found that it's only bad sci-fi that has this effect: a well-written slice of sci-fi will be read just as thoroughly as a literary story. From a report: Two years ago, Washington and Lee University professors Chris Gavaler and Dan Johnson published a paper in which they revealed that when readers were given a sci-fi story peopled by aliens and androids and set on a space ship, as opposed to a similar one set in reality, "the science fiction setting triggered poorer overall reading" and appeared to "predispose readers to a less effortful and comprehending mode of reading -- or what we might term non-literary reading." But after critics suggested that merely changing elements of a mainstream story into sci-fi tropes did not make for a quality story, Gavaler and Johnson decided to revisit the research. This time, 204 participants were given one of two stories to read: both were called "Ada" and were identical apart from one word, to provide the strictest possible control. The "literary" version begins: "My daughter is standing behind the bar, polishing a wine glass against a white cloth." The science-fiction variant begins: "My robot is standing behind the bar, polishing a wine glass against a white cloth."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

These early Black Friday SSD deals start at under £90

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 14:34

The main event may still be over a week away, but Amazon has already gone live with a handful of tempting SSD deals in its Countdown to Black Friday sale if you're looking to bump up your PC's storage.

This 1TB SanDisk SSD Plus leads the way as the best value deal of the bunch for only £87.99, but there's also a massive 30% off the 4TB Samsung 860 QVO if you're looking for a bulkier option.

As someone who probably paid more than this years ago for a 250GB SSD I'm already considering either as an upgrade. The jump in performance when I first installed the drive was so significant that I'd easily recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and efficient way to speed up their PC. With this drive you'll have room to install more than just the OS and Final Fantasy 14 - unlike me.

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Categories: Video Games

College Students Say Ditching Their Smartphones For a Week Changed Their Lives

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 14:34
"They survived!" reports a local CBS news station, revisiting nearly two dozen students at Adelphi University who went a full week without their cell phones. schwit1 shares their report: It was part of a college course intended to break the powerful addiction of smartphones... an Adelphi University course called "Life Unplugged" where students did the unthinkable one week ago -- handed over their smartphones. "I'm freaking out, I could probably cry right now," one student said. It was a bold experiment to recognize today's compulsive relationships with ever present devices. Seven days later, "who's excited they're getting their phones back today?" Professor Donna Freitas asked. Gone were the nerves and the shakes. "Everything is perfect right now. I'm having a lot better relationships... it's a stress free environment no pressure about social media," Jacob Dannenberg said. "I think it's really refreshing and relaxing... I was able to fall asleep a lot easier," student Adrianna Cigliano. They managed to find their way, even without GPS for a week. "I just had to take the same route everywhere," one student joked. They were also more productive. "Doing homework was 100 percent easier. I got it done faster, I was in the zone," Cigliano said. Prof. Freitas says it's important for everyone to assess their addiction. "Are the conveniences worth it because the drawback are pretty significant," Freitas said. "The face that no one can focus, that my students can't sleep... They feel bad about themselves because of social media, the list goes on and on." Their reunions with the phones "went sour quickly as endless notifications piled up," the article notes. "Oh my God this is so bad...!" they quote one student as saying. "I just want to shut it off now....!"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

One day before release, Google Stadia nearly doubles lacklustre launch line-up

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 14:16

Google Stadia has almost doubled the number of games which will be available to buy and stream on the service when it launches tomorrow.

Previously, 12 games would be available to purchase, alongside Destiny 2, which comes free. Now, that number is 22.

There are no new exclusives. Tequila Works' Gylt remains the only game you can't buy anywhere else.

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Categories: Video Games

Modders already adding cut Pokémon into Sword and Shield

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 13:40

Pokémon fans weren't happy to discover the latest entries to the series wouldn't contain every Pokémon ever made, and now a modder has taken it upon himself to start putting the cut creatures back in.

Michael (@SciresM) on Twitter recently posted a thread showing an Omastar he's managed to import into the game, the model for which was essentially copy pasted from Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee.

In the video above, Michael has edited a Yamper using save editor, PKHeX, to add Omastar's model - the latter hasn't replaced the former however, Omastar has been inserted into the game's model table with its unique species ID.

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Categories: Video Games

Terminator: Resistance review: a first-person shooter out of time

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 13:26

I played Terminator: Resistance as a slut.

This was not something I expected to be able to do in a Terminator game, and yet here we are in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, struggling to survive the war against the machines, with a right thirst on.

There are dialogue choices to make in this first-person shooter from the people behind the terrible Rambo game of 2014. At one point I was presented with the opportunity to have sex with the woman who leads the resistance faction you're fighting for. She wanted me to kill someone for her. I wasn't so sure I fancied doing that, in part because I dreaded the prospect of playing yet another mind-numbing away mission. But, she said she would make it worth my while. Then, a dialogue choice presented itself: press heart to bang (I'm paraphrasing), or walk away? Press heart to bang!

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Categories: Video Games

Pokémon Sword is the biggest single-format release this year

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 13:21

Nintendo Switch exclusives Pokémon Sword and Shield are a monster sales success in the UK.

On its own, the game's Sword version topped the boxed game chart this week - beating EA's big new release Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order into second place.

The game's Shield version came in third, while a Dual Edition featuring both versions entered the chart in seventh.

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Categories: Video Games

Wind Farms Are Sending Giant Turbine Blades To Landfills

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 10:34
The Associated Press reports that renewable energy companies like MidAmerican Energy face an unexpected problem when they try to replace the giant blades from their wind turbines Landfill operators thought the composite blades, cut in 40-foot or larger sections, could be readily crushed and compacted. "But blades are so strong -- because they need to be strong to do their job -- they just don't break," said Amie Davidson, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources solid waste supervisor. "Sometimes pieces fly off and damage equipment" in the compacting process, she said. "Landfills are really struggling to manage them, and they just decide they can't accept them...." Bill Rowland, president of the Iowa Society of Solid Waste Operations, said he's unsure "we as a society" considered what would happen to the blades as older turbines are repowered. "There wasn't a plan in place to say, 'How are we going to recycle these?' 'How are we going to reduce the impact on landfills?'" said Rowland, director of the Landfill of North Iowa near Clear Lake... When it started investing in wind, MidAmerican believed a blade recycling option would emerge. "Thus far, it hasn't," said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for MidAmerican, adding that the company is talking with other wind developers that may be interested in using the blades for their own projects... The difficulty in reusing blades adds to the complaints opponents make against wind energy. Some who live near the turbines complain that low-frequency noise and light flickering from the blades make them ill. And the spinning blades can kill migrating birds and bats.... Kerri Johannsen, the Iowa Environmental Council's energy program director, said more recycling solutions are needed. But, she added, it's not a reason to "turn away from wind energy -- a solution that can help mitigate the most dangerous threats from climate change...." According to the article, one U.S. Department of Energy researcher told the Des Moines Register that wind energy will create over one million tons of fiberglass and other composite waste, adding that "The scale of the issue is quite large... And it's a larger sustainability issue."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends review - a simple, satisfying revival of an all-time great

Eurogamer - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 10:00

It's been a mighty fine year for comebacks, so you'll be excused if you've missed one of the more remarkable revivals of them all. Yu Suzuki and Hideo Kojima's return to the frontlines of game dev have grabbed the headlines, but Taito's resurgence has been a touch more low-key; first we had the impeccable Darius Cozmic Collection, then Ninja Warriors and now the titan of early arcade scene is back with perhaps its best-known series. And what a delight to discover that Bubble Bobble, in what's nominally its fourth outing, is as brilliant as it's ever been.

It helps that not much has really changed over the years. You can see that for yourself by playing the 1986 original, included here as a bonus that's unlocked from the start, and a sharp reminder that the late Fukio 'MTJ' Mitsuji got it so, so right first time around. There's a blissful alchemy in Bubble Bobble's design, from the simplicity of the task at hand - clear the screen of enemies to progress to the next - to the tactility of it all. Trap a monster in a bubble then pop it with Bub or Bob's serrated spine - pop! Playing Bubble Bobble is like poking away at a piece of sentient bubble-wrap, and it remains a timeless pleasure.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends doesn't really mess with the formula at all. There's support for up to four players (as that title might suggest - or it might be suggesting this is the fourth instalment in the series, which given the many spin-offs and reboots over the years seems like a slightly fuzzy business) while the boss battles of Memories and Symphony return with screen-filling enemies every 10 levels. There are 100 levels all-told, though you can probably halve that number seeing that the latter 50 are more hard-edged remixes of the first 'family-friendly' 50. Couple that with a price point that's only just shy of a full-priced game and you might think Taito is being a touch optimistic here.

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Categories: Video Games

Germany Makes Measles Vaccinations Compulsory For Children

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 08:39
An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Germany's parliament has voted to make measles vaccinations compulsory for children, with parents who fail to immunize their children facing fines of €2,500 ($2,750). The Measles Protection Act, which the Bundestag approved on Thursday, requires all parents to provide evidence that their child has received two measles vaccinations before they are enrolled in school or kindergarten. Medical staff, daycare workers, teachers and workers at community facilities must also be vaccinated under the act, which is due to come into effect in March 2020, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health told CNN. There has been a resurgence of measles -- a highly infectious viral illness that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes -- across the globe... Almost 350,000 measles cases were reported globally in 2018, according to the United Nations children's agency UNICEF -- more than doubling from 2017.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Declaring State of Emergency, Samoa Makes Measles Vaccinations Compulsory

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 06:39
"Samoa was finalising plans for a compulsory measles vaccination programme Monday, after declaring a state of emergency as a deadly epidemic sweeps the Pacific nation," reports the International Business Times: At least six fatalities, including five children, have been linked to the outbreak of the virus, which has also hit other island states such as Tonga and Fiji. Samoa is the worst affected with more than 700 cases reported from across all areas of the country, prompting the government on Friday to invoke emergency powers. Declaring a state of emergency, the government said plans for compulsory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisations would be published on Monday. "MMR vaccinations for members of the public who have not yet received a vaccination injection is now a mandatory legal requirement for all of Samoa," it said... Samoa has closed all schools, kindergartens and the country's only university in a bid to halt the virus' spread... Neighbouring Tonga last week announced government primary schools and kindergartens would be closed until later this month as the number of measles cases in the kingdom approaches 200.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

'Justice League' Stars Demand Release of Director Zack Snyder's Original Cut

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 04:45
"On the 2-year anniversary of DC and Warner Bros.' Justice League, Wonder Woman and Batman themselves have joined fans' calls for the release of director Zack Snyder's cut of the much-maligned 2017 film," reports Entertainment Weekly: Both Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot tweeted "#ReleaseTheSnyderCut" on Sunday, with Gadot also posting a photo of her character, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman... Affleck and Gadot joined other DC actors, like Ray Fisher (Cyborg) and Christina Wren (Major Carrie Farris), who posted on social media for the anniversary to demand the release of Snyder's original vision for Justice League... Jason Momoa and director Kevin Smith added fuel to the fire this summer after they said they've either seen the Snyder cut or heard about it from reliable sources. In August, Momoa posted an Instagram video with Snyder, saying the director had shown him the cut and that it was "ssssiiicccckkkkkk." Smith was less complimentary, saying the cut was "not a finished movie by any stretch of the imagination." Still, it is a big deal that Justice League's own stars are calling for a redo of sorts. Momoa, who plays Aquaman, said in early November "I think the public needs to see it," according to CNET. But The Hollywood Reporter isn't convinced that will happen. "Despite the groundswell, and speculation that a Snyder Cut could go to Warner Bros.' upcoming streaming service HBO Max, insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter no announcement of a release of a Snyder Cut is imminent.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Why Two Pentesters In Iowa Are Facing A Criminal Investigation and Trespassing Charges

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 02:50
Ars Technica's security editor re-visits the story of two security penetration testers from Coalfire who were arrested one midnight in the county courthouse in Adel, Iowa (population 3,682): "They were crouched down like turkeys peeking over the balcony," Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard said in an interview. "Here we are at 12:30 in the morning confronted with this issue -- on September 11, no less. We have two unknown people in our courthouse -- in a government building -- carrying backpacks that remind me and several other deputies of maybe the pressure cooker bombs." After more deputies arrived, Justin Wynn, 29 of Naples, Florida, and Gary De Mercurio, 43 of Seattle, slowly proceeded down the stairs with hands raised. They then presented the deputies with a letter that explained the intruders weren't criminals but rather penetration testers who had been hired by Iowa's State Court Administration to test the security of its court information system. After calling one or more of the state court officials listed in the letter, the deputies were satisfied the men were authorized to be in the building... When Leonard arrived on the scene, the mood quickly changed. Leonard read the letter and sized the men up. It said the men were authorized to perform "physical social engineering to attempt to gain access" to courthouse systems... The letter also listed tasks that should not be performed, including alarm subversion, force-opening doors, and accessing environments that require personal protective equipment. The pentesters had already said they used a tool to open the front door. Leonard took that to mean the men had violated the restriction against forcing doors open. Leonard also said the men attempted to turn off the alarm -- something Coalfire officials vehemently deny. In Leonard's mind that was a second violation. Another reason for doubt: one of the people listed as a contact on the get-out-of-jail-free letter didn't answer the deputies' calls, while another said he didn't believe the men had permission to conduct physical intrusions. The sheriff also said he and his deputies smelled alcohol on the breath of one of the men. (Leonard, who didn't identify which Coalfire employee it was, said a test later showed the pentester had a blood alcohol content of 0.05, the equivalent of one or two drinks. It is below the 0.08 threshold for an operating while intoxicated conviction.) Leonard promptly had the men arrested on felony third-degree burglary charges... The charges have since been reduced to misdemeanor trespassing charges. Trial is scheduled for April. Meanwhile, the sheriff's department in nearby Polk County is conducting a criminal investigation into a September 10 break-in on its courthouse under the same arrangement with the State Judicial Administration.... The get-out-of-jail-free letter "said you won't manipulate doors," Leonard said. "Well, they picked four doors. It said they won't manipulate the alarm system. They went right up to the alarm and tried to shut it off. The biggest issue is they were only supposed to work from 6AM to 6PM. They came out in the middle of the night and broke in." Equally important, Leonard said, is what he believed to be the overstepping of Iowa officials who retained Coalfire. When the sheriff confronted the men that night, he said: "The State of Iowa has no authority to allow you to break into a county building. You're going to jail."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

The Next Graphene? Shiny and Magnetic, a New Form of Pure Carbon Dazzles

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 01:50
sciencehabit quotes Science magazine: A "happy accident" has yielded a new, stable form of pure carbon made from cheap feedstocks, researchers say. Like diamond and graphene, two other guises of carbon, the material seems to have extraordinary physical properties. It is harder than stainless steel, about as conductive, and as reflective as a polished aluminum mirror. Perhaps most surprising, the substance appears to be ferromagnetic, behaving like a permanent magnet at temperatures up to 125 degrees C -- a first for carbon. The discovery, announced by physicist Joel Therrien of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell on 4 November here at the International Symposium on Clusters and Nanomaterials, could lead to lightweight coatings, medical products, and novel electronic devices.... The magnetism adds to a suite of properties never before seen together in a form of pure carbon. They include tremendous hardness that presumably results from the bonds joining adjacent layers: "We've tried scratching it with steel wool, and it comes off clean," Therrien says. "The only thing we can say verifiably scratches it is a diamond scribe." Though the group has yet to measure the tensile strength of the material, the fact that vanishingly thin flakes hold together at millimeter size suggest it may be as strong as some metals, he says. Then there is the mirrorlike appearance, seen in photos Therrien showed at the meeting. The team's measurements indicate that the film, even when just 50 nanometers thick, reflects more than 90% of incoming light at wavelengths ranging from the far-ultraviolet to the midinfrared. That attribute could make it a useful reflective coating, more durable than the standard aluminum, for mirrors in cameras and telescopes. Its electrical conductivity turned out to be just shy of that of stainless steel. But it can also display other electronic properties. Annealing the material by slowly heating it to 1000 degrees C dims its shine and turns it into a semiconductor with a band gap -- the energy required to liberate an electron -- similar to that of amorphous silicon, which can turn light into electricity. That makes it a candidate material for photovoltaic cells, Therrien suggests.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

This Company Is Using Mushrooms To Reduce Plastic Waste

Slashdot - Mon, 18/11/2019 - 00:50
The New York-based biotech startup Ecovative wants to replace plastic with mycelium, the below-ground root-like structure of a mushroom, writes CNN Business. pgmrdlm shared their report: The company says it has developed a way to grow mycelium into specific shapes and sizes. The method, according to Ecovative, involves taking organic plant waste and inoculating it with mycelium. After the mycelium grows through and around the agricultural materials, it binds them together, providing a natural alternative to packaging materials made out styrofoam. It's a process that takes about a week with minimal water and electricity consumed to make the parts. At the end of the mycelium substance's useful life, you can break it up and you can put it in your own garden. "So it's a nutrient, not a pollutant," said Ecovative's CEO and co-founder Eben Bayer . The company also believes mycelium could play a major role in construction, as mycelium building materials are both insulative and structural and can be used in the same ways as conventional building material, Bayer said. In fact, packaging materials may be just the start. The startup has its eyes on another audacious goal: building organs. "My dream is to one day grow a lung and seed it with lung cells and use the mycelium to create the capillary network and use the human cells to create the actual lung," said Bayer. The company's vision "has helped Ecovative attract millions from investors like 3M Company, the conglomerate behind Post-it notes and Scotch tape, and even a $9.1 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense," reports CNN, adding that CEO Bayer believes the use of mycelium "really has boundless possibilities." Ecovative is now even developing plant-based meats, including Mycelium bacon.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff
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