‘Modernist Bread’ finds new twists in ancient food

Nathan Myhrvold

Technologist Nathan Myhrvold is on a mission with “Modernist Bread.” (The Cooking Lab, LLC)

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Did you ever try inflating bread dough with a bicycle pump? Gourmet technologist Nathan Myhrvold did — and after thumbing through the 2,642 pages of his latest opus, “Modernist Bread,” you just might, too.

Like “Modernist Cuisine,” his earlier work, the new five-volume set of books is bigger than a bread box and costs hundreds of dollars. But although “Modernist Bread” offers hundreds of recipes, these are no common cookbooks: Myhrvold and his co-author, head chef Francisco Migoya, delve into the history of one of the world’s oldest foods, the science and technology of breadmaking, and why stunts like pumping up bread actually work.

“Some people ask me how I could possibly make a 2,600-page book on bread,” Myhrvold told GeekWire, “My answer is, ‘Because I had to hold the line somewhere.’ Seriously, we had lots of material that we had to cut.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Posted in GeekWire | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Satellites track the West’s fading mountain glaciers

Mount Rainier glaciers

This map shows the elevation change of Mount Rainier glaciers between 1970 and 2016. The earlier observations are from USGS maps, while the recent data use the satellite stereo imaging technique. Glacier surface elevations have dropped more than 40 meters (130 feet) in some places. (University of Washington Photo / David Shean)

Elevation readings captured by satellites confirm that glaciers in the western United States are fading away at a worrisome rate.

The fade-out isn’t a surprise, considering the rise in global mean temperatures that’s ascribed to climate change. The new twist has to do with how the measurements were made.

University of Washington researcher David Shean looked back at satellite readings that have been amassed in databases, plus fresh readings that are being taken by DigitalGlobe’s constellation of GeoEye and WorldView satellites.

An analysis of the data, facilitated with NASA’s Ames Stereo Pipeline software, produces a 3-D elevation model of mountainous terrain. The method supplements other techniques to estimate glacier size, including area measurements based on aerial imagery and depth measurements made using stakes in the snow.

The result is a year-by-year record tracing the ups and downs of a glacier.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Posted in GeekWire | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

NASA spacewalkers install new HD camera

NASA astronauts finished up this month’s trio of spacewalks with a nearly seven-hour-long outing today — highlighted by the installation of a new HD camera on the International Space Station’s exterior, plus the replacement of a faulty camera-light assembly on the end of the station’s robotic arm.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

Posted in GeekWire | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

VR takes you on a trip to Mars and other worlds

Mars rover in VR

“Access Mars” provides 3-D views of the Red Planet as captured by NASA’s Curiosity rover. (NASA / JPL Illustration)

NASA has been offering virtual-reality tours of Mars for years — but now, with Google’s help, the space agency has come up with one of the most accessible tours yet.

“Access Mars” lays out a 3-D terrain for five of the spots scanned by NASA’s Curiosity rover, ranging from its landing site to the place where it’s hanging out now, more than five years later.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Posted in GeekWire | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Elon Musk pushes ahead with his tunnel venture

Boring machine

The tunnel boring machine nicknamed “Godot” sits in a below-ground chamber. Elon Musk reportedly acquired the pre-owned machine from L.A. Metro. (Elon Musk via Instagram)

One of billionaire Elon Musk’s lesser-known ventures is taking the spotlight with word that The Boring Company is looking into digging a rapid-transit tunnel between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

That’s not all: Musk says the company is putting the finishing touches on a second tunneling machine, which will be nicknamed Line-Storm as a tribute to a Robert Frost poem. The first machine is named Godot, after the Samuel Beckett play. It’s being employed to dig a tunnel in Hawthorne, Calif., where Musk’s SpaceX rocket venture is headquartered.

Musk is even selling Boring Company hats. More than 6,400 of them, at last report.

In June, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla estimated that he spent only about 2 percent of his working time on The Boring Company, which focuses on lowering the cost of tunneling to facilitate high-speed underground transit. He must have saved up a lot of that time for this week.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Posted in GeekWire | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Success! Blue Origin fires up BE-4 rocket engine

BE-4 engine firing

Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine blasts through its initial hot-fire test. (Blue Origin Photo)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture says it has successfully test-fired its BE-4 rocket engine, marking a key step in the development of its own New Glenn rocket as well as United Launch Alliance’s next-generation rocket.

Billions of dollars are at stake in the BE-4 project, United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno told GeekWire last year.

ULA has been waiting for months to get good news about the BE-4 tests in West Texas. The company wanted to see a successful full-scale test before going ahead with plans to use the BE-4 engine on its Vulcan rocket, which is due to have its first flight in 2019.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Posted in GeekWire | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Boeing HorizonX invests in Near Earth Autonomy

Near Earth drone

Near Earth Solutions works on software and sensor technologies for autonomous aircraft ranging in size from drones to helicopters. (Near Earth Solutions Photo)

Boeing’s venture capital arm, Boeing HorizonX, says it has made a substantial investment in Near Earth Autonomy, a Pittsburgh-based startup that focuses on technologies for autonomous flight.

Boeing and Near Earth also announced a partnership to explore future products and applications for emerging markets such as urban mobility.

The move follows up on Boeing’s acquisition of a more established company in the realm of autonomous flight, Aurora Flight Sciences, and underscores the fact that the aerospace giant is turning more attention to robotic flying machines.

Neither Boeing nor Near Earth Autonomy said precisely how much was being invested.

“What I can tell you is that Boeing HorizonX typically makes investments that span the single millions up to the low double-digit millions,” Boeing spokeswoman Megan Hilfer told GeekWire in an email. “The investment in Near Earth Autonomy is at the higher end of that range.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Posted in GeekWire | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment