Samsung's super-fast '5G' antenna: What you need to know

Gigabyte-per-second download speeds? Yes, please, says Chris Gayomali. If the ability to download every season of Game of Thrones in a few seconds is the kind of thing that blows your hair back, you're in luck. Samsung has reportedly been hard at work building a lightning-fast "5G" antenna that would make gigabytes-per-second file-transfers on your phone a legitimate possibility. Here's what you need to know about it:

What is 5G exactly?
Wireless networks like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile rely on spectrum bands to transfer information through the air. The latest and fastest cellular standard in the U.S., 4G, operates in the upper 700 MHz spectrum.

Samsung says it's built an antenna that can transfer data at a rate of up to 1.056 Gbps using the 28 GHz spectrum band. Yes, that means over a gigabyte of data per second — "several hundred times faster" than current 4G networks, notes Mashable.

Translation: Web pages that boot up instantly. Or streaming movies in glorious HD without so much as a hiccup.

(N.B.: 5G as an official standard hasn't been established yet, but Samsung is presumably using it here to characterize whatever high-speed network comes after 4G.)

How does it work?
The technology relies on an array transceiver using 64 different antenna elements. According to Samsung, it's kind of like how "increased water flow requires a wider pipe." So far, the new antenna works for distances up to 2 kilometers, or a little over a mile, and could theoretically be implemented in antenna towers nationwide.

What would a new high-speed network entail?
Hopefully, a 5G network will require fewer ugly cell towers adorning city skylines :-)

Buildings, physical geography like hills and mountains, and even atmospheric disturbances like rain or snow can interfere with a network's signal. That's one of the many reasons why cell towers are built high up. But Samsung's breakthrough reportedly eliminates "atmospheric attenuation," or basically when radio signals get absorbed by rain and snow.

In addition, it's believed that the key to building faster networks — especially indoors — lies in putting a larger number of smaller stations close to where users live, Jens Zander, professor and dean at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, tells PC World.

So can I expect blazing-fast speeds on my phone?
Theoretically, yes. In actuality, well... we'll just have to see. Matt Peckham at TIME notes that just because the upper threshold for speed exists doesn't mean phone- and tablet-owners will be able to reach it:

The trouble's not that my 4G smart phone or tablet connection isn't fast enough (in theory) to instantly stream high quality videos and music — even a 3G connection's capable of competently handling services like Netflix or Spotify, after all — it's that these connections often live down to worst-case expectations because the towers are simply overcrowded.

The reason cell service providers are putting the kibosh on unlimited data plans (and raising usage costs for their real bugaboo, data tethering) has as much to do with crowd control as scraping a little extra from our purses. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: The faster you make mobile communication technology, the more likely people are to use it and the more likely the network’s going to choke.

When is 5G coming?
Samsung says the antenna tech will be ready to commercialize seven years down the road, or around 2020. If we're lucky, maybe Game of Thrones will even be done by then.

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Google vs. Sweden: The linguistic war over the word 'ogooglebar'

The lovely, bouncy word ogooglebar means "something unable to be found on a search engine." And according to Arika Okrent, Google doesn't like it.

The Swedish Language Council is the semi-official authority on matters pertaining to Swedish language use. In addition to issuing recommendations on spelling and grammar, it puts out an annual list of new Swedish words. The list tends toward the playful, covering the same type of coinages that various organizations nominate for "word of the year" in the English speaking world (YOLO, hashtag, fiscal cliff). The Swedes' 2012 list included 40 new words, including "henifiera" — a word for the practice of replacing the gendered "he" and "she" pronouns in Swedish (han and hon) with the neutral "hen."

But more interestingly, for the first time ever, a word has been removed from the list. Today, Language Council director Ann Cederberg announced that they will be removing the word "ogooglebar" (ungoogleable) — thanks to pressure from Google, which objected to the council's definition of the word as "something unable to be found on a search engine." Rather than give in to the company's demands to change the definition to refer to a Google search rather than any old web search, the council has decided to drop the word entirely.

Cederberg makes clear, however, that this doesn't mean the word is gone from the language. "Who has authority over language? We do, the language users. We decide together which words should exist and how they should be defined, used and spelled. Language is the result of an ongoing democratic process. We all participate in deciding which words to let into the language by choosing the words we use. If we want 'ogooglebar' in the language we will use the word, and it is our use that will determine the meaning — not the pressure of a multinational company."

She also points out that anyone who now googles "ogooglebar" will not only find the original Language Council definition, but also all of the surrounding coverage about the decision to take the word off the list. All of it is now part of the history of the word and its usage, on record online for anyone curious about the meaning of this lovely, bouncy word, no matter which search engine they might be using.

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Rainbows and Unicorns: A Linguistic History

It all seems to date back to a 19th-century French book. It's not all rainbows and butterflies, you know. Or rainbows and unicorns. Or butterflies and unicorns. But when it comes to referring to impossibly perfect conditions where everyone's happy and nothing goes wrong, we're living in a golden age of RBUs.

A Google News search for just the past week brings up almost 500 hits for rainbows and unicorns or rainbows and butterflies. On this Google Ngram Viewer graph below, you can see that both expressions, as well as butterflies and rainbows, are on the rise, with rainbows and unicorns in particular shooting steadily up since 2003.

Rainbows and butterflies came together first. The earliest attestation I've found is from an 1864 book by Jenny d' Hericourt (translated from French) titled A Woman's Philosophy of Woman, where on pages 191 and 192 we read:

...if [women] were free and happy they would be less eager for illusions and cajoleries and it would no longer be necessary in writing to them to place rainbows and butterflies' wings under contribution…

It's butterfly wings instead of entire butterflies, but the sentiment seems the same. The phrase also occurs in William S. Lord's 1897 poem Jingle and Jangle, which lists some things that the pleasant sound of a jingling bell brings to mind:

Sunshine and sugar and honey and bees
Rainbows and butterflies wings,
Bird songs and brook songs and wide spreading trees,
Of joy little Jingle bell sings.

Butterflies and rainbows also appears in the late 19th century, in an 1896 editorial that scornfully refers to the idea of moving the U.S. to a dual gold-and-silver standard as "chasing free silver butterflies and rainbows."

Pairings of rainbows with butterflies (not just butterflies' wings) continue to appear on into the 20th century, often as the objects of chasing, before the steady rise in the graph that began in the 1970s. Since then, "rainbows and butterflies" has been the title of a 1983 song by Billy Swan, the title of two books of poetry, and part of the lyrics of Maroon 5's 2005 song "She Will Be Loved."

In the 1980s, unicorns made their entry, at around the same time that Hasbro began marketing its My Little Pony line of toys, which included both a Rainbow Ponies and a Unicorn Ponies collection. However, I can't claim that this event was the you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter moment for rainbows and unicorns; it may be that an increasing popularity of unicorns was responsible for both phenomena. A 2010 post on the Zandl Marketing Group's blog puts the increasing popularity of rainbows and unicorns in the context of the mainstreaming of gay cultural symbols. In any case, in the mid-80s we begin to see examples like this one from 1984:

The only calendars left in the stores just before the holidays are those with unicorns and rainbows on them.

Although unicorns arrived late to the party, they've hit it off so well with rainbows that for some, it's not enough just to have the two words conjoined by and. In the past few years, unicorns that fart rainbows seem to have become their own meme. For an even tighter linkage, there's Lady Rainicorn, a half-rainbow, half-unicorn character in Cartoon Network's Adventure Time series.

These days, unicorns sometimes get together with butterflies to the exclusion of rainbows. There aren't enough examples to have been captured in the Google Ngram corpus, but Google Books has a 1996 example of butterflies and unicorns in Skywriting, by Margarita Engle:

I would take the alligators out of its rivers and the scorpions out of its soil, replacing them with butterflies and unicorns.

In the other order, "Unicorns and Butterflies" is the name of not one but two blogs, each begun sometime in the last two years.

Some people prefer not to choose between unicorns and butterflies with their rainbows. The "Rainbows and Butterflies and Unicorns" Facebook page doesn't. And in the 2008 movie Horton Hears a Who, a child character takes that earlier scatological unicorn-rainbow connection, reverses its direction, and brings in the butterflies, telling of an imaginary world where "there are unicorns who eat rainbows and poop butterflies!"

Other words to appear in RBU contexts include smiles, sunshine, balloons, bunnies, kittens, and lollipops. In a 1981 monologue, Steve Martin declares that he believes in "rainbows and puppy dogs and fairy tales." Three-syllable nouns, it seems, tend to be favored for rainbow collocations; specifically, three-syllable nouns consisting of an unstressed syllable sandwiched between two stressed syllables: BUTTerflies, Unicorns, LOLlipops, PUPpydogs, FAIRy tales. This kind of three-syllable string is known in poetry circles as a cretic.

So if you'd like to enrich the language with some new rainbow-cretic collocations, I offer my suggestion: Rainbows and boogeymen and heart attacks.

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How 3-D Printers Might Help Us Build a Base on the Moon

Mankind's quest to live among the stars gets a little more realistic with the advent of 3-D printing.

If humanity's longtime dream of a moon colony is ever going to be achieved, its architects will have to deal with the fundamental logistical problem of having to haul boatloads of building materials into outer space — an expensive and time-consuming endeavor that, quite simply, isn't feasible considering the financial troubles NASA is currently facing.

So... what then? The answer, say skyward-looking engineers, is to harvest available materials from the moon itself. The European Space Agency recently revealed plans to use a 3-D printer to build the complex shapes and pieces of equipment that would make up an inhabitable space base.

3-D printing, lest you forget, is a technique that allows users to "print" three-dimensional objects layer-by-layer. Usually, the printers employ plastic in place of ink, but a diverse range of materials like metal, clay, and yes, even chocolate can be used to print toys, furniture, or whatever else can be sketched out with AutoCAD, software for computer-assisted design and drafting. More recently, 3-D printers have been the subject of intense scrutiny, with several media outlets reporting that people can theoretically build operational handguns and rifles at home if they download the correct plans.

Now, a team of researchers from the architecture firm Foster + Partners is exploring the possibility of using portable 3-D printers to convert lunar material into a moon base. Working with a UK-based company called Monolite, researchers were able to chemically mold sand-like material together with a special kind of binding salt that forms into a sturdy, stone-hard solid. "Our current printer builds at a rate of around 2 m per hour," Monolite founder Enrico Dini tells Discovery News, "while our next-generation design should attain 3.5 m per hour, completing an entire building in a week." (Take a look at the base and the machine here.)

This, however, isn't the first time 3-D printing has been tapped to possibly build a moon base. Last year, NASA challenged researchers at Washington State University to develop a technique to build smooth, cylindrical shapes for a future space habitat.


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