Staff label and package items in the on-site dispatch hall inside one of Britain's largest Amazon warehouses in Dunfermline, Fife, as the online shopping giant gears up for the Christmas rush and the forthcoming Black Friday sales. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Amazon two patents for a wristband that would precisely track its warehouse workers’ movements. While the wristbands may help increase productivity, critics warn that the technology raises serious privacy concerns, and would add an extra layer of surveillance to an already intense work environment.

We may not think much about what happens to our Amazon purchases between when we click “order” and when it arrives at our door, but that single click sets a streamlined process in motion. The details of the order are transmitted to a worker via a handheld computer. The worker then retrieves the product from an inventory bin or shelf, and packs it into a delivery box. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Keep reading... Show less

Good news, health-conscious readers. You can now buy water here in the United States that is gluten-free, non-GMO and even organic. Just swing over to the website for “Clara Gluten-Free Water” if it’s not carried in your local health food store. This water is meant for “health-conscious individuals worried about the source” of their water, and is “guaranteed gluten-free with a surprisingly fresh taste on the palate.”

There’s just one problem. There’s no such thing as water with gluten. (Unless you’re talking about bottling the water you boil your pasta in.) There is also no such thing as genetically-modified water or non-organic water.

Keep reading... Show less

The 2015 murder of an 18-year-old girl ended in a conviction earlier this month, thanks to a Facebook selfie.

Two years ago, the body of 18-year-old Brittney Gargol was discovered on a road near the Canadian city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. Years went by before police arrested Gargol’s best friend, Cheyenne Rose Antoine, for the murder.

Keep reading... Show less
Jurgen Vogt/Getty Images

If you haven’t gotten around to setting up your Twitter account yet, you might have missed your chance to have your tweets immortalized in the Library of Congress. The Library announced that beginning January 1, 2018, it will no longer archive every public tweet posted to Twitter.

In 2010, the Library of Congress announced its acquisition of a groundbreaking gift from Twitter—the entire archive of public tweets, beginning with the first tweets of 2006 through 2010.

Keep reading... Show less

You’re on a date. Things are starting to heat up. You turn to your partner and whisper suggestively, “Would you just swipe on this app here so I can get your legal consent to this sexual encounter?”

That’s what Dutch company LegalThlings is envisioning with their new app, LegalFling, which they hope to release next month. “Asking someone to sign a contract before having sex is a little uncomfortable,” said LegalThings CEO Rick Schmitz. “With LegalFling, a simple swipe to consent is enough to legally justify the fling.”

Keep reading... Show less
NASA.

Here on earth, litter and pollution are problems. But thanks to old satellites and other manmade contraptions, earth’s orbit is also littered with junk.

The magnitude of space junk is problematic for more than existential reasons. The high-speed junk is a “deadly cascade,” said experts at the European Space Agency, threatening future space missions and satellites already in orbit.

Keep reading... Show less

Imagine lying on a pristine beach. You are alone, with nothing but a beach chair and the sound of those turquoise waves breaking on the white sand to keep you company. Can you picture it? Yes, but can you actually picture it? Like, do you see the waves moving and breaking, do you see the sand sifting between your toes? Or do you see… nothing?

If you’re like about two percent of the population, you see nothing—a newly-discovered condition known as aphantasia. Discovered in 2015, the study of aphantasia is complicated by the fact that it’s hard to determine whether aphantasia is even real. We can’t look into each other’s minds to see what the other sees.  So when people are asked to imagine things and describe what they see, it’s hard to tell whether they are just seeing the same thing and describing them differently.  

Keep reading... Show less