A slice of Pi

The DIY camera with endless applications

Hello, and welcome to The Edge, the newsletter that brings you groundbreaking stories from the frontiers of technology and science.

We’ve got some great stories for you today, including artificial intelligence systems and patents, NASA and SpaceX making big moves and Raspberry Pi’s new camera. As always, we’ve added extra stories under each article should you find yourself in a curious state of mind.


Crunch time for NASA and SpaceX

Image credit: SpaceX

NASA, SpaceX enter home stretch for commercial crew test flight

A while ago, we covered how SpaceX has been preparing its Crew Dragon capsule for its first commercial test flight. The test flight will see the Crew dragon capsule transport American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space and to the International Space Station.

The launch is set for May 27th at the Kennedy Space Center and will see the Crew Dragon launch on a Falcon 9 rocket. While some tests and reviews are pending, things are moving forward. On May 1st, SpaceX conducted the last test for the Crew Dragon spacecraft parachute, pictured above. NASA officials have also stated that they are now in the final preparations for the launch. If all goes to plan, May 27th will see SpaceX and NASA launch the first astronauts from American soil since 2011.

Despite the exciting developments, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is urging people not to head to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the May 27th launch, but rather to watch the launch from home. Despite the historic nature of this launch, the statement makes sense given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

SpaceX’ Starship is a testament to science and exploration

DIY snaps

Image credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation

Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera opens new doors for DIY projects

Raspberry Pi computers are popular among hobbyists and seasoned IT experts alike. The tiny, cheap computers are great for DIY projects and can help teach kids the ins and outs of basic computer hardware and software. The Raspberry Pi is, in fact, a fully functional, pint-sized computer.

Now, The Raspberry Pi Foundation have released the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera. Connected to a Raspberry Pi computer by a ribbon cable, the camera uses a 12-megapixel Sony IMX447 image sensor which lets the camera gather twice as much light as its predecessor. Lenses are purchased separately. Conveniently, the camera uses security camera lenses which gives buyers plenty of options.

For the DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists, the possibilities are endless - timelapse videos of the garden, a spy camera activated by infrared light detection, bird-watching and countless other things are now possible thanks to the camera.

How the Pi came to be
The importance of computer literacy

Apple keeps the hits coming

Image credit: Apple

MacBook Pro 2020 (13-inch): release date, price, specs and keyboard

2019 was a good year for Apple’s MacBook Pro line, with the release of the 16-inch 2019 model. Considered one of the best MacBook Pros ever, the 16-inch model featured an all-new Apple Magic Keyboard, which replaced the infamous butterfly keyboard. The model also featured smaller bezels and some truly incredible speakers.

These features were initially limited to the 16-inch models. However, Apple have released a 13-inch model which features the same improved keyboard and some seriously impressive specs. These include 10th-generation Intel Ice Lake Processors, up to 32GB of ram and improved battery life (thanks to the efficiency of Ice Lake Processors). The inclusion of the Apple Magic Keyboard sees the touch bar get a bit smaller, but the dedicated TouchID button and escape key should make it easier to use nonetheless.

A defence of the butterfly keyboard…sort of

AIs cannot be patent holders

Image credit: Unsplash

US Patent Office: AIs cannot be credited as inventors

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) has ruled that AIs cannot apply or hold patents, nor be credited as inventors. The decision comes as the USTPO rejected two early filings of inventions by the DABUS AI system.

The DABUS system invented two devices. The first was a shape-shifting food container, the second a new type of emergency flashlight. The patent filings were submitted by the Artificial Inventor Project (AIP) last year but were rejected by the USTPO, as they concluded “only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application.” The case is similar to the infamous ‘monkey selfie case’ that saw PETA argue that an Indonesian macaque should be the holder of the rights to a selfie it took with photographer David Slater’s camera. Interesting times for intellectual property indeed.

What kinds of rights should AI have?