‘Alexa, call my lawyer!’ Are you legally liable if someone makes a purchase using your virtual assistant?

If you have voice shopping activated on your voice assistant, anyone in your home could potentially purchase items in your name. Shutterstock When Amazon launched its Alexa virtual assistant in 2014, it probably didn’t think that a bird would expose a potentially significant legal...

How to take better photos with your smartphone, thanks to computational photography

A light-trails long exposure of London’s Tower Bridge, shot on iPhone8Plus using the NightCap app. Rob Layton, Author provided Each time you snap a photo with your smartphone – depending on the make and model – it may perform more than a trillion operations for just that single...

Message sent, received but no instant reply: how does that make you feel?

You wait and wait but still no reply. Shutterstock/Alex Ruhl Your phone chimes, it’s a message from your partner. You reply instantly because that’s what you always do. Then you decide to add another message: “By the way, I love you ☺” You see the “read” status...

Forget sharks… here’s why you are more likely to be injured by litter at the beach

Sadly, people plus beach equals litter,   so be careful out there. Wikimedia Commons Our beaches are our summer playgrounds, yet beach litter and marine debris injures one-fifth of beach users, particularly children and older people. Our research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment,...

Why two people see the same thing but have different memories

We both see the same event but have   different conclusions. Shutterstock/Photographee.eu Does it ever strike you as odd that you and a friend can experience the same event at the same time, but come away with different memories of what happened? So why is...

Hooked on a book, podcast or TV show? Here’s how the story changes you

Reading alone is more likely to take you into the world of the story. Shutterstock Every holiday season, you have new worlds at your fingertips. Reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching films and TV shows can help you break away from the frenzy of...

Unpacking the history of how Earth feeds life, and life changes Earth

 At a fleeting glance, the study of life – biology – seems very separate from that of rocks, or geology. But a look back through history shows that geological processes have been key to the evolution of life on Earth. Geology has shaped biology by...

Sunday essay: identity politics and the case for shared values

A scene from the 1961 film West Side Story. The casting of an Australian performer as Maria in a local production of the musical was recently criticised for ‘white washing’ a story about a Puerto Rican immigrant. The Mirisch Corporation,Seven Arts Productions Recently, a group...

Earthrise, a photo that changed the world

Earthrise: astronauts aboard Apollo 8 captured this spectacular photo of Earth rising above the lunar horizon as they emerged from behind the dark side of the Moon. Image Credit: NASA December 24 is the 50th anniversary of Earthrise, arguably one of the most profound images...

It’s not so easy to gain the true measure of things

Some things are just tricky to measure.  Flickr/Patty O'Hearn Kickham I teach measurement – the quantification of things. Some people think this is the most objective of the sciences; just numbers and observations, or what many people call objective facts. Lord Kelvin, a famous British scientist, said: When...