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    IBM creates the world’s first 2 nm chip / ArsTechnica · 11:42

Thursday, IBM announced a breakthrough in integrated circuit design—the world's first 2 nanometer process. IBM says its new process can produce CPUs capable of either 45 percent higher performance, or 75 percent lower energy use than modern 7 nm designs.

If you've followed recent processor news, you're likely aware that Intel's current desktop processors are still laboring along at 14 nm, while the company struggles to complete a migration downward to 10 nm—and that its rivals are on much smaller processes, with the smallest production chips being Apple's new M1 processors at 5 nm. What's less clear is exactly what that means in the first place.

Originally, process size referred to the literal two-dimensional size of a transistor on the wafer itself—but modern 3D chip fabrication processes have made a hash of that. Foundries still refer to a process size in nanometers, but it's a "2D equivalent metric" only loosely coupled to reality, and its true meaning varies from one fabricator to the next.

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    Unsolved mysteries of the Warhammer 40k universe with loremaster Dan Abnett / ArsTechnica · 11:30

Shot by Adam Lance Garcia and edited by Justin Sloan. Click here for transcript . (video link)

It's been a while since we last got to do an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries," our series wherein we ask creators to take us on a journey into the deeper and more mysterious aspects of their created universes (our most recent episode was about the unsolved mysteries of Mortal Kombat ). But we had an opportunity fall into our laps that was just too good to pass up, though unlike our past couple of episodes, this one isn't (entirely) about video games.

This time, we're sitting down with author Dan Abnett to discuss some unsolved mysteries of the dark far-future Warhammer universe —and man, did he deliver.

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    Why hasn’t Waymo expanded its driverless service? Here’s my theory / ArsTechnica · 10:45

A Waymo-branded minivan prowls suburban streets.

Enlarge (credit: Sundry Photography / Getty Images )

Last October, Waymo did something remarkable: the company launched a fully driverless commercial taxi service called Waymo One. Customers in a 50-square-mile corner of suburban Phoenix can now use their smartphones to hail a Chrysler Pacifica minivan with no one in the driver's seat.

And then... nothing. Seven months later, Waymo has neither expanded the footprint of the Phoenix service nor has it announced a timeline for launching in a second city.

It's as if Steve Jobs had unveiled the iPhone, shipped a few thousand phones to an Apple Store in Phoenix, and then didn't ship any more for months—and wouldn't explain why.

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    What cats’ love of boxes and squares can tell us about their visual perception / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 21:45 · 1 minute

Like most cats, nothing delights Ariel more than an empty box in which to lounge. This might tell us something about feline visual perception of shapes and contours, per a new study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Enlarge / Like most cats, nothing delights Ariel more than an empty box in which to lounge. This might tell us something about feline visual perception of shapes and contours, per a new study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. (credit: Sean Carroll)

It is a truth universally acknowledged—at least by those of the feline persuasion—that an empty box on the floor must be in want of a cat. Ditto for laundry baskets, suitcases, sinks, and even cat carriers (when not used as transport to the vet). This behavior is generally attributed to the fact that cats feel safer when squeezed into small spaces, but it might also be able to tell us something about feline visual perception. That's the rationale behind a new study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science with a colorful title: "If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats ( Felis silvers catus )."

The paper was inspired in part by a 2017 viral Twitter hashtag, #CatSquares, in which users posted pictures of their cats sitting inside squares marked out on the floor with tape—kind of a virtual box. The following year, lead author Gabriella Smith, a graduate student at Hunter College (CUNY) in New York City, attended a lecture by co-author Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, who heads the Thinking Dog Center at Hunter. Byosiere studies canine behavior and cognition, and she spoke about dogs' susceptibility to visual illusions.  While playing with her roommate's cat later that evening, Smith recalled the Twitter hashtag and wondered if she could find a visual illusion that looked like a square to test on cats.

Smith found it in the work of the late Italian psychologist and artist Gaetano Kanizsa , who was interested in illusory (subjective) contours that visually evoke the sense of an edge in the brain even if there isn't really a line or edge there. The Kanizsa square consists of four objects shaped like Pac-Man, oriented with the "mouth" facing inward to form the four corners of a square. Even better, there was a 1988 study that used the Kanizsa square to investigate the susceptibility of two young female cats to illusory contours. The study concluded that, yes, cats are susceptible to the Kanizsa square illusion, suggesting that they perceive subjective contours much like humans.

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    9,000 fliers may have had reused swabs jammed up their noses in Indonesia / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 20:10

A gloved hand rams a cotton swab into an unhappy person

Enlarge / BANGKA BELITUNG ISLANDS, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 21, 2020: Health workers carry out a rapid antigen test on a passenger at Deapti Amir Airport, Pangkal Pinang City. (credit: Getty | Roni Bayu )

Since last December, more than 9,000 airline passengers who took a coronavirus rapid test as they flew out of Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, Indonesia, may have been tested by having previously used cotton swabs jammed into their noses.

Medan police arrested four workers and a local manager of the major pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma, which was working in conjunction with the airport to help perform the tests. The Medan-based Kimia Farma employees were allegedly washing and repacking cotton swabs for the tests while pocketing up to 1.8 billion rupiah (~$125,000), local police said.

Airline passengers in Indonesia are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding, and many opt for the convenience of being tested at the airport. Since the alleged swab scam began in December, Kimia Farma workers were testing between 100 and 200 passengers a day at the airport, some with fresh tests and others with tests that apparently involved reused swabs.

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    Paramount+ hits 36 million subscribers, will stream sci-fi movie Infinite / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 19:50

Two cool bros chat in a hangar in front of private jet.

Enlarge / Actor Mark Wahlberg confers with director Antoine Fuqua on the set of Infinite . (credit: Mark Wahlberg )

On the heels announcing that it has reached just shy of 36 million subscribers, streaming service Paramount+ has announced that it will stream at least one original movie each week, including the long-delayed Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor sci-fi film Infinite .

In March, the streaming service CBS All Access was rebranded Paramount+ , and it got a huge injection of new content directly resulting from the merger between parent company CBS and Viacom. ViacomCBS, the resulting new conglomerate, owns a vast swath of Hollywood brands and studios including CBS, Showtime, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, and others. The desire to show all of that content under one streaming platform's roof was reportedly a key driver of the merger.

Given that CBS All Access was one of traditional Hollywood's first forays into a streaming service to compete with previous platforms from tech companies like Netflix and Amazon, it was a big shift. Since then, we've been wondering whether the rebranding has propped up the streaming service, which before the merger became best known for its various Star Trek reboot series.

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    World of WarCraft: Burning Crusade re-returns on June 1, requires “cloning” / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 19:35 · 1 minute

After World of WarCraft successfully relaunched its original, "vanilla" client in 2019 , fans began wondering whether the WoW Classic universe would eventually march toward expansion packs—like the unofficial WoW Vanilla community had already done. That question was answered earlier this year with news that the official WoW Classic line would indeed adopt 2007's Burning Crusade expansion sometime in 2021.

Blizzard firmed up this plan's timeline on Thursday , confirming that WoW Classic 's Burning Crusade transition will kick in starting June 1. Just like with 2019's launch of WoW Classic , anyone who pays for an ongoing WoW subscription will get full access to WoW Burning Crusade at no additional cost.

Today's news also clarifies the game's march toward "Classic but newer"—it understands that some players may not want to stomp toward new zones like the Outland or new character species like the Blood Elf and Draenei. If you've already been playing WoW Classic since its 2019 launch, you'll be prompted starting on May 18 to peruse a new "cloning" feature , designed to let you do something with your current characters. The default is to pack that character up and move it to a newer Burning Crusade server, thus deleting its pre-expansion state. You can also lock an existing character so that it is not moved forward to a Burning Crusade server, or you can split the difference and have two versions of a beloved character: one on an older server, trapped forever in a pre-expansion bubble, and one on a newer server, ready to march alongside the ever-moving tides of darkness.

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    Today’s best tech deals: New iPad Pro, Amazon devices, and more / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 19:09 · 1 minute

Today’s best tech deals: New iPad Pro, Amazon devices, and more

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster includes a nifty $50 discount on the new 11-inch Apple iPad Pro at Walmart, with the 128GB and 256GB versions of the premium tablet marked down to $749 and $849, respectively. Walmart says orders will ship on May 24.

While our review of the new slates is still forthcoming, the latest iPad Pro comes with the M1 chip that has impressed us in other recent Apple devices, as well as a more future-proof Thunderbolt port and an ostensibly improved front-facing camera. The 11-inch model here does not come with the upgraded Mini LED display of the 12.9-inch version, however. In any case, this will likely continue to be a more niche device for power users, while the iPad Air should remain an appealing compromise for consumers looking to pay a bit less. But if you're dead set on upgrading to Apple's top-end option, any savings might be worthwhile.

If you're not interested in shelling out that much for an iPad, our deals' roundup also has discounts on various Amazon devices, including a much cheaper tablet in the Amazon Fire HD 8, as well as deals on Sony noise-canceling headphones, Roku streamers, a wide variety of video games, and much more. You can take a look at the full roundup below.

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