How to Stream the 2016 Olympics Online, No Cable Required

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How to Stream the 2016 Olympics Online, No Cable Required

Yesterday 3:45pm

The 2016 Summer Olympics are here, and the world’s greatest athletes are ready to show us what they’re made of. If you want to catch all the suspense, drama, and victory, but you don’t have cable, here’s how you can medal in streaming for free.

Stream It Right from NBC

NBC is making it easier than ever to stream the Olympics… if you’re a cable subscriber. However, if you can borrow a friend or family member’s cable credentials both and the NBC Sports app (free on iOS, Apple TV, Android, Windows devices, Xbox, and Roku) will be streaming over 4,500 hours of live coverage during the games, including the opening and closing ceremonies. You’ll pretty much be able to see it all on almost any device if someone is nice enough to let you use their credentials. You can also watch live coverage of the Olympics for free on a time-delay if you have an Over-the-Air (OTA) antenna hooked up to your TV. If none of those work for you, don’t fret, there are still a couple other ways you can watch.

Use Free Sling TV or PlayStation Vue Trials to Catch the Action

There are two internet TV services you can use to catch most of the Olympic action: Sling TV and Playstation Vue.

Sling TV’s basic package includes every channel that’s covering the games, including MSNBC and CNBC, even though they’re not normally part of the basic package (they’re free for the month of August). You can create a new Sling TV account right now and get a seven-day free trial (credit card required). Just make sure you select the Blue tier to get all the NBC channels, and remember to cancel before your free trial is up or you’ll be out $25.

Sling TV is available on Mac, Windows, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku,Google Chromecast, Android TV, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire devices, and Xbox One.

Playstation Vue offers a similar seven-day free trial, and you don’t need a Playstation 3 or Playstation 4 to watch. The service is available on iOS,Android, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast. You’ll need a free Playstation Network account to use it, and be sure to choose the lowest service tier, Access, to get the NBC channels you need. Playstation Vue credentials will also act like a cable provider and let you sign into the NBC Sports app or use to stream from your browser. You won’t see it on the main list of providers, but there should be an option to “See a full list of providers” with Playstation Vue on it. Again, remember to cancel before your seven days are up if you don’t want to fork over $40 for a full month.

Here’s a bonus tip: The combination of those two trials should last long enough to catch most of the games. As soon as you finish your first trial, cancel, and move on to the next one. And if you’re afraid you won’t remember to cancel your subscription before your free trials end, check if you have any prepaid Visa gift cards around. If you have one with only a few bucks on it (at least $1.00), you can use it as your credit card when you sign up and not have to worry.

Use a VPN to Watch International Olympics Coverage

In the U.S., NBC has exclusive rights to the Olympics, so there’s not too many ways around their streaming paywalls, but that also means you only see the games NBC wants to show you, on a time delay that NBC chooses. But other countries have their own TV networks covering the games, and many of them offer free streaming too. With a VPN, you can re-route your connection to another country that offers free Olympic streaming, bypass location restrictions, and watch like you’re actually there. Here are all of the international networks that are offering their own free streaming of the Olympics:

For English speakers in U.S. time zones, BBC and CBC are going to be your best options. Historically, they also stream more sports, and more varied sports, than US networks provide. As long as your VPN provider has an exit node in the UK or Canada, you’re all set. Depending on which VPN provider you go with, though, this option probably won’t be free, so you’ll want to choose wisely.

TunnelBear, our favorite VPN for bypassing location restrictions like these, gives you 500MB of free data every month, but you’ll chew through that pretty fast if you’re streaming video. You’ll be better off with TunnelBear’s unlimited data plan for $7.99 per month, if you go with them. It lets you use VPNs on three different devices, including iOS and Android devices, that way you can use the BBC Sport app (iOS, Android) and CBC Rio 2016 app (iOS,Android) to watch on your phone. In fact, if you plan to do most of your streaming on your mobile devices, there’s a mobile-only subscription tier for $2.99 per month that you can choose within the TunnelBear app. It’s not a totally free option, but it’s a lot cheaper than paying for cable. Plenty of other VPNs will work for this too, so if Tunnelbear isn’t up your alley, this comparison chart will help you pick one that’s right for you.

Find the Events You Want to Watch

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to watch, you need to know when to watch. There’s a lot going on all day, every day, so take a look at the network schedules and plan accordingly:

If you have access to NBC and its affiliate networks—either through cable login credentials, Sling TV, or Playstation Vue—the folks at Cut Cable Todayhave a great rundown of which NBC networks will be covering what. Here are some of the big things you should know:

  • NBCSN will host 330 hours of coverage, including most medal ceremonies, track and field, boxing, fencing, field hockey, basketball, soccer, archery, swimming, weightlifting, wrestling, and more. If you can only watch one, this channel will have more events than any other.
  • NBC will host 260.5 hours of coverage, including the Olympics Opening Ceremony (Friday, August 5 4pm PT/7pm ET) and Closing Ceremony, as well as a mix of event coverage and athlete interviews and features.
  • Bravo will host 94.5 hours of coverage, and be the only place to watch Men’s and Women’s Olympic Tennis in the U.S.

If you’re not sure what events you should be looking for, Bing’s Events to Watch tool will suggest the most potentially-exciting events to watch every day and when they air. It takes several things into consideration, including projected upsets, potential new world records, and highlighting events that are sure to be filled with drama.

Illustration by Angelica Alzona.

Io’s Atmosphere Just Collapsed

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Io’s Atmosphere Just Collapsed

Tuesday 2:15pm
Artist’s concept of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, whose volcanoes create an ephemeral atmosphere during sunlit hours. Image: Southwest Research Institute

Reason number 9,000 not to colonize Jupiter’s moon Io: not only is it a frigid hellscape covered in eruptive ice volcanoes and lashed by the gas giant’s powerful radiation belts, but the atmosphere just collapsed.

In fact, it collapses all the time, according to observations by astronomers at the Southwest Research Institute that are published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research. It turns out that every time Io is eclipsed by mighty Jupiter (which happens for about 2 hours a day), the surface temperature plummets and the moon’s sulfur dioxide (SO2)-rich atmosphere begins to deflate.

By the time Io is in full shadow, the atmosphere is like a punctured balloon, blanketing the moon’s surface in a thin coating of SO2 frost. As Io migrates back into the sun, this frost layer re-sublimates, and a new atmosphere develops.

“This confirms that Io’s atmosphere is in a constant state of collapse and repair, and shows that a large fraction of the atmosphere is supported by sublimation of SO2 ice,” study co-author John Spencer said in a statement. “We’ve long suspected this, but can finally watch it happen.”

So there you have it—full atmospheric collapse happening in our cosmic backyard just about every day. Who knows what other nightmares await us in orbit around Jupiter?

[Journal of Geophysical Research]

Strange Minerals From Siberian Mine Are Unlike Anything Found in Nature

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Strange Minerals From Siberian Mine Are Unlike Anything Found in Nature

Yesterday 2:00pm
Sample of zhemchuzhnikovite (Image: Igor Huskić, Friščić Research Group, McGill University)

From deep inside a Siberian mine, researchers have catalogued a series of materials unlike any others yet found in the ground. They do, however, bear a startling similarity to certain lab-grown materials that weren’t thought to exist in nature at all—until now.

In the last few decades, chemists have been crafting a series of new materials in their labs called metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. These materials are “molecular sponges,” capable of soaking up gases like hydrogen or carbon dioxide—even storing them for future use, like a cell. A new paper in Science Advances reveals that not only are these materials also found in nature, we’ve had them in our hands for over 70 years. We just didn’t know what they were.

The samples of the two minerals, stepanovite and zhemchuzhnikovite, were originally catalogued by geologists starting in the 1940s after being pulled from mines in Siberia. With the technical limitations of the time, however, their unusual properties went by mostly unnoticed. Then, in 2010, chemistry professor and senior author of today’s paper, Tomislav Friščić of McGill University, came across an account of the samples in an old article in a mineralogy journal. He was struck by certain structural similarities between the minerals and today’s lab-generated MOFs.

With the original samples in Russia unavailable, grad student and first author Igor Huskic, also of McGill, set about creating synthetic versions of the samples using the details from the old mineralogy journal. He was successful and the synthetic versions of the minerals did, indeed, mimic the MOF materials. But it wasn’t until their Russian co-authors tracked down actual samples from decades ago that the team could confirm that finding.

Left: Zhemchuzhnikovite crystal sample (Image: Igor Huskić, Friščić Research Group, McGill University) Right: Chemical structure of the mineral (Image: Luzia Germann, Dinnebier Research Group, MPI Stuttgart and Igor Huskić, Friščić Research Group, McGill University)

“It’s the opposite of how it’s usually done. Usually what happens is a type of material is discovered in nature, it’s analyzed,” Friščić told Gizmodo, “and then we find it has interesting properties, which we can then mimic in the lab.”

The lab-grown versions of the MOFs have generated considerable excitement among researchers because of their possible applications. Among the potential uses is using them as carbon sequesters for the carbon dioxide we pump out into the atmosphere or even using them to create incredibly-efficient fuel cells. But those applications are still down the road, raising the question of what might have been had we recognized these properties earlier.

“One conclusion I can make is, if it were possible in the ‘40s to perform structural analysis like this, then the whole area of MOFs would have been accelerated by 50 years,” Friščić said.

The conditions in which these samples were found were unusual. The mine in Siberia was 250 meters deep and under a layer of thawing permafrost. So only a very small amount of the samples were collected. Still, Friščić is optimistic that there could be other sources out there—easier to get to and much more more abundant—with similar properties to MOFs.

The next step is to figure out just where similar minerals could be found, and continue to work out just what we might be able to do with both them and their lab-grown equivalents.

The So-Called Alien Megastructure Just Got Even More Mysterious

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The So-Called Alien Megastructure Just Got Even More Mysterious

Image: NASA, JPL-Caltech

Last fall, a little-known star called KIC 8462852 became our planetary obsession when astronomers said that its erratic flickering could be the result of an alien megastructure. Further observation of Tabby’s Star yielded no signs of aliens, but the sudden dips in luminosity continue to defy explanation. Now, things just got a bit weirder.

In an unpublished paper posted today to arXiv, Caltech astronomer Ben Montet and Joshua Simon of the Carnegie Institute describe the results of a new photometric analysis of Tabby’s Star, which was first flagged in the Kepler Space Telescope’s database by citizen science astronomers.

By carefully examining all the full-frame images collected during Kepler’s observational campaign, Montet and Simon discovered something astonishing: Not only did the star’s light output occasionally dip by up to 20 percent, its total stellar flux diminished continuously over the course of four years.

For the first 1000 days of Kepler’s campaign, Tabby’s Star decreased in luminosity by approximately 0.34 percent per year. For the next 200 days, the star dimmed more rapidly, its total stellar flux dropping by 2 percent before leveling off. Overall, Tabby’s Star faded roughly 3 percent during the four years that Kepler stared at it—an absolutely enormous, inexplicable amount. The astronomers looked at 500 other stars in the vicinity, and saw nothing else like it.

“The part that really surprised me was just how rapid and non-linear it was,” Montet told Gizmodo. “We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to.”

Photometry of KIC8462852 as measured by Kepler data. The analysis reveals a slow but steady decrease in the star’s luminosity for about 1000 days, followed by a period of more rapid decline. Image: Montet & Simon 2016

This isn’t the first time astronomers have claimed that Tabby’s Star is fading. Earlier this year, Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University decided to examine the star in old photographic plates of sky dating back to the 19th century. He found that over the past 100 years, the star’s total light output has diminished by a whopping 19 percent. But shortly after publishing his claims, other astronomers started poking holes in them, saying that the observed dimming was the result of flawed data. Schaefer pushed back, and things got a little bit ugly.

The controversy over Schaefer’s work is what prompted Montet to look for long-term trends in another way. “We realized that in order to settle this, you needed either a long baseline, or high precision data,” Montet said. “Kepler has the latter.” Montet added that the rate of dimming he measured in the Kepler data is about twice what Schaefer found, which “is different, but not necessarily inconsistent.”

Jason Wright, the Penn State astronomer who first suggested that Tabby’s Star might be the site of a vast alien construction project, agreed that the new analysis lends credibility to Schaefer’s claim of century-long dimming. “The new paper states, and I agree, that we don’t have any really good models for this sort of behavior,” he said. “That’s exciting!”

Keivan Stassun, an astronomer at Vanderbilt who disputed the idea of long-term dimming, said that Tabby’s star continues to defy explanation. “[Montet’s] intriguing new findings suggest that none of the considered phenomena can alone explain the observations,” he told Gizmodo. “In the end, figuring out this puzzle may require accounting for a combination of effects.”

Some of the most credible explanations to date include a swarm of cometary fragments, the effect of a distorted star, or the remnants of a shattered planet. Certain things can explain long-term dimming while others can explain short-term flickering, but as Montet put it, “nothing nicely explains everything.”

What’s clear is that we aren’t going to solve this mystery until we get a better look at this star, which is exactly what Tabby Boyajian—the astronomer who first discovered it—is gearing up to do.

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign to secure time at the the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Boyajian is going to observe her namesake star for a full year, with the hope of catching it in the act of flickering. If that happens, other telescopes around the world will be alerted and swiftly mobilized. We’ll be able to watch the star wink at us across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and hopefully, decode its message.

This weird hexagon on Saturn has puzzled scientists for decades

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This weird hexagon on Saturn has puzzled scientists for decades


(Hexagon observations made by Cassini in 2012NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University)
Thirty years ago, scientists discovered an intriguing structure on Saturn’s north pole. Nothing even resembling this structure has ever been seen on any other planet … in the entire universe.

The six-sided structure, nicknamed “the hexagon,” is about 20,000 miles in diameter and extends about 60 miles down into Saturn’s atmosphere.

Scientists have figured out that it’s actually a cloud pattern created by a gigantic hurricane roiling at the center of the north pole. The eye of this hurricane is 50 times bigger than a typical hurricane eye on Earth.

Using NASA’s Voyager and Cassini spacecrafts, scientists noticed that points of this hexagon rotate around its center at nearly the same rate that Saturn rotates on its axis. They also noticed an Earth-like jet stream air current flowing eastward on Saturn at about 220 miles per hour, seemingly following along the rim of the hexagon.

But even though they have a pretty good idea what it is, they’re not quite sure how this bizarre hexagon formed.

“Scientists have bandied about a number of explanations for the hexagon’s origin,” reports. “For instance, water swirling inside a bucket can generate whirlpools possessing holes with geometric shapes. However, there is of course no giant bucket on Saturn holding this gargantuan hexagon.”

In this movie, taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, has been colorized to emphasize certain aspects of the hurricane. You can see this monstrous hurricane spin as a bunch of small vortices move around.

“The hexagon is just a current of air, and weather features out there that share similarities to this are notoriously turbulent and unstable,” Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member, said in a NASA press release. “A hurricane on Earth typically lasts a week, but this has been here for decades — and who knows — maybe centuries.”

NOW WATCH: Scientists can’t explain these mysterious spots on one of Saturn’s most remarkable moons

Floating ‘Alien’ Orb Spotted by Fisherman Off Australian Coast

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Science Fri, Aug 5 8:21 AM PDT

Let the Calm Wash Over You as This Dam Opens Its Spillway for the Very First Time

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Let the Calm Wash Over You as This Dam Opens Its Spillway for the Very First Time

Tuesday 2:10pm

Behold the majestic Banja Dam in Albania. It’s a huge hydroelectric project that hit a big milestone over the weekend—its reservoir reached over 550 meters above sea level. To release some of the excess water, dam operators opened the spillway for the very first time and filmed the event from the air. The dang thing just keeps. On. Going.

Starting from just past the dam itself, the camera slowly backs off and up until we’re hundreds of feet above, watching as miniature waves roll over one another. Something about it is intensely calming—grounding even. Maybe it’s humanity’s attraction to the life-giving properties of water…Or maybe it’s just a unique scenario that doesn’t need too much examination.

While the opening of Banja’s spillway is sans-soundtrack, I’d suggest something on the relaxed, instrumental side, like Nujabes, Whitewoods, orClams Casino. Or do your own thing, I’m not a cop.