The Super-Secure Quantum Cable Hiding In the Holland Tunnel

5 days 10 hours ago
Zorro shares a report: Commuters inching through rush-hour traffic in the Holland Tunnel between Lower Manhattan and New Jersey don't know it, but a technology likely to be the future of communication is being tested right outside their car windows. Running through the tunnel is a fiber-optic cable that harnesses the power of quantum mechanics to protect critical banking data from potential spies. The cable's trick is a technology called quantum key distribution, or QKD. Any half-decent intelligence agency can physically tap normal fiber optics and intercept whatever messages the networks are carrying: They bend the cable with a small clamp, then use a specialized piece of hardware to split the beam of light that carries digital ones and zeros through the line. The people communicating have no way of knowing someone is eavesdropping, because they're still getting their messages without any perceptible delay. QKD solves this problem by taking advantage of the quantum physics notion that light -- normally thought of as a wave -- can also behave like a particle. At each end of the fiber-optic line, QKD systems, which from the outside look like the generic black-box servers you might find in any data center, use lasers to fire data in weak pulses of light, each just a little bigger than a single photon. If any of the pulses' paths are interrupted and they don't arrive at the endpoint at the expected nanosecond, the sender and receiver know their communication has been compromised.

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Battlefield 5's Poor Sales Numbers Have Become a Disaster For Electronic Arts

5 days 10 hours ago
dryriver writes: Electronic Arts has mismanaged the Battlefield franchise in the past -- BF3 and BF4 were not great from a gameplay perspective -- but with Battlefield 5, Electronic Arts is facing a real disaster that has sent its stock plummeting on the stock exchanges. First came the fierce cultural internet backlash from gamers to the Battlefield 5 reveal trailer -- EA tried to inject so much 21st Century gender diversity and Hollywood action-movie style fighting into what was supposed to be a reasonably historically accurate WWII shooter trailer, that many gamers felt the game would be "a seriously inauthentic portrayal of what WW2 warfare really was like." Then the game sold very poorly after a delayed launch date -- far less than the mildly successful WW1 shooter Battlefield 1 for example -- and is currently discounted by 33% to 50% at all major game retailers to try desperately to push sales numbers up. This was also a disaster for Nvidia, as Battlefield 5 was the tentpole title supposed to entice gamers into buying expensive new realtime ray-tracing Nvidia 2080 RTX GPUs. Electronic Arts had to revise its earnings estimates for 2019, some hedge funds sold off their EA stock, fearing low sales and stiff competition from popular Battle Royal games like Fortnite and PUBG, and EA stock is currently 45% down from its peak value in July 2018. EA had already become seriously unpopular with gamers because of annoying Battlefield franchise in-game mechanisms such as heaving to buy decent-aiming-accuracy weapons with additional cash, having to constantly pay for additional DLC content and game maps, and the very poor multiplayer gameplay of its two Star Wars: Battlefront titles (essentially Battlefield with laser blasters set in the Star Wars Universe). It seems that with Battlefield 5, EA -- not a company known for listening to its customers -- finally hit a brick wall, in the form of many Battlefield fans simply not buying or playing Battlefield 5.

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Android Studio 3.3 Now Available To Download On Stable Channel, New Version Focuses On 'Refinement and Quality'

5 days 10 hours ago
Android Studio 3.3 is now available to download through stable channel, Google said Monday. The top new features of Android Studio 3.3 include a navigation editor, profiler tracking options, improvements on the build system, and lazy task configuration. However, the big focus with the new version was on "refinement and quality," the company said. Further reading: VentureBeat.

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The Last of Manhattan's Original Video Arcades

5 days 11 hours ago
Video arcades -- those recreational arenas of illuminated screens and 8-bit soundtracks -- have been fading from the cultural landscape since the end of the Donkey Kong '80s. The advent of home video game consoles, hand-held gaming devices and smartphones has all but rendered them relics of a Gen X childhood. Yet somehow, Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center lives on. From a report: The cramped downtown institution is among the last of the city's old-school arcades, often filled with gamers too young to remember Street Fighter IV a decade ago, let alone Missile Command in the Reagan years. "Chinatown Fair should have closed years ago, along with all the other arcades in the city, due to rising rent and the shift to online gaming," said Kurt Vincent, who directed "The Lost Arcade," a 2016 documentary about the arcade's enduring legacy in the city. "But it's still there on Mott Street after all these years because young people need a place to come together." Say this about Chinatown Fair: It has been defying the odds for decades. The place opened in the 1940s as an "amusement arcade" in an era when Skee-Ball represented the apex of arcade fun. As youth tastes changed in the ensuing years, so too did Chinatown Fair. The arcade survived the rise and fall of pinball, the rise and fall of Pac-Man, the rise and fall of Super Nintendo, and perhaps most unimaginably, the rise, and rise some more, of Manhattan real estate prices.

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GoDaddy is Injecting Site-Breaking JavaScript Into Customer Websites

5 days 12 hours ago
Web hosting service GoDaddy is injecting JavaScript into customer websites that could impact the overall performance of the website or even render it inoperable, according to Australian programmer Igor Kromin. From a report: GoDaddy's analytics system is based on W3C Navigation Timing, but the company's practice of unilaterally opting in paying customers to an analytics service -- tracking the visitors to websites hosted on GoDaddy services -- without forewarning is deserving of criticism. GoDaddy claims the technology, which it calls "Real User Metrics" (RUM), "[allows] us to identify internal bottlenecks and optimization opportunities by inserting a small snippet of javascript code into customer websites," that will "measure and track the performance of your website, and collects information such as connection time and page load time," adding that the script does not collect user information. The script name "Real User Metrics" is somewhat at odds with that claim; likewise, GoDaddy provides no definition of "user information." GoDaddy claims "most customers won't experience issues when opted-in to RUM, but the JavaScript used may cause issues including slower site performance, or a broken/inoperable website," particularly for users of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and websites with pages containing multiple ending tags.

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Streaming TV May Never Again Be as Simple, or as Affordable, as It is Now

5 days 12 hours ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Disney and WarnerMedia are each launching their own streaming services in 2019 in a challenge to Netflix's dominance. Netflix viewers will no longer be able to watch hit movies such as "Black Panther" or "Moana," which will soon reside on Disney's subscription service. WarnerMedia, a unit of AT&T, will also soon have its own service to showcase its library of blockbuster films and HBO series. Families will have to decide between paying more each month or losing access to some of their favorite dramas, comedies, musicals and action flicks. "There's definitely a lot of change coming," said Paul Verna at eMarketer, a digital research company. "People will have more choices of what to stream, but at the same time the market is already fragmented and intimidating and it is only going to get more so." Media companies are seeking to capitalize on the popularity and profitability of streaming. But by fragmenting the market, they're also narrowing the once wide selection that fueled the rise of internet-based video. About 55 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to paid streaming video services, up from just 10 percent in 2009, according to research firm Deloitte. Just as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime tempted people to "cut the cord" by canceling traditional cable TV packages, the newer services are looking to dismember those more-inclusive options. [...] The cost of multiple streaming services could quickly approach the average cost of a cable bill -- not counting the cost of internet service. That's around $107 per month, according to Leichtman Research Group.

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A Guy Made a Computer Mouse That is Also a Functional Laptop

5 days 13 hours ago
A YouTube user who goes by Electronic Grenade has designed a computer mouse that is also a functional laptop. From a report: As detailed in a video published on Sunday, the computer mouse computer consists of a 3d-printed mouse, a Raspberry Pi microcontroller, a small keyboard, and a handful of components that were taken from a normal computer mouse. "Even though the screen is attached to the mouse, the sensitivity of the mouse makes it not that hard to follow along with what is happening on the screen," Electronic Grenade said in the video. Nevertheless, the mouse does have its faults. According to Electronic Grenade, a few resource intensive applications will occasionally cause the mouse computer to crash.

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In CEO Search, Intel Still Hasn't Found What It's Looking For

5 days 14 hours ago
Intel has been trying to fill the most prominent role in the $400-billion chip industry for more than six months. The company's board still hasn't found what it's looking for. From a report: Intel directors have ruled out some candidates for the vacant chief executive officer post, passed up obvious ones, been rejected by some and decided to go back and re-interview others, extending the search, according to people familiar with the process. Chairman Andy Bryant told some employees recently that the chipmaker may go with a "non-traditional" candidate, suggesting a CEO from outside the company is a possibility. Whoever is chosen will take the reins at a company that's churning out record results, but is facing rising competition. The new CEO will have to convince investors that Intel's loss of manufacturing leadership -- a cornerstone of its dominance -- won't cost it market share in the lucrative semiconductor market. He or she will also have to deliver on the company's promise to maintain growth by winning orders beyond personal computer and server chips. "The new CEO will have many difficult decisions to make in a short amount of time," said Kevin Cassidy, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. "The company can perform well in the near term due to good demand for PC and servers, but longer-term decisions and strategy need a CEO soon."

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Top Android Phone Makers Are Killing Useful Background Processes and Breaking 3rd-Party Apps To 'Superficially Improve' Battery Life, Developers Allege

5 days 15 hours ago
A team of developers has accused several popular smartphone vendors of compromising the functionality of third-party apps and other background processes on their phones in an attempt to "superficially improve" the battery life. The team, Urbandroid, further alleges that these vendors have not correctly implemented Doze mode feature that Google introduced with Android Marshmallow. They also say that Google appears to be doing nothing about it. Among the worst offenders are, per developers (in descending order): Nokia, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Huawei, Meizu, Sony, Samsung, and HTC.

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Too Many Workers Are Trapped By Non-Competes

5 days 15 hours ago
Why have wages been so slow to rise at a time when demand for workers has pushed the U.S. unemployment rate to its lowest point in nearly half a century? One answer: contracts that tie millions of unspecialized workers to their jobs. Bloomberg reports: In far too many cases, these so-called noncompetes are an unwarranted restriction on freedom to transact and a drag on growth. If Congress won't act to narrow their scope, states should take the lead. The desire to keep workers from defecting to rival employers is as old as employment itself. As far back as the 15th century, English masters, such as dyers or blacksmiths, made apprentices promise not to set up shop nearby. Courts often refused to uphold such agreements, viewing them as coercive. As a House of Lords decision put it in 1893, "There is obviously more freedom of contract between buyer and seller than between master and servant or between an employer and a person seeking employment." More than a century later, the idea is back in vogue, as companies exploit the power that comes with increasing size and market concentration. In the U.S., new employees are commonly required to sign contracts that forbid them to work in the same industry for a given period. The practice makes sense for highly paid jobs involving big investments in training, and for staff with valuable proprietary knowledge. But it isn't being limited to those kinds of employees. A 2014 survey found that about two in five workers were or had at some point been bound in this way, including workers such as security guards and camp counselors. Some 12 percent of employees without a bachelor's degree and earning less than $40,000 a year were tied down.

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USB Type-C Headphones Were Nowhere in Sight at CES 2019

5 days 16 hours ago
In a sea of 3D audio products and true-wireless earbuds, USB Type-C headphones were nowhere in sight at CES 2019. From a report: This absence isn't an accident, however. Rather, it's the deafening silence of an abandoned product category. While many looked to USB-C audio as the successor to the famed physical port, the available models aren't catching on, and they don't seem to be going anywhere. Their absence at CES 2019 doesn't paint a rosy picture of their future, either. In general, it takes new standards quite a while to catch on, however, USB-C was thrust into the limelight far before its time. When Apple and Google ditched their headphone jacks, it limited the pool of audio peripherals to Bluetooth, or the very young USB-C category. Perhaps with a little more time and backing from a few more serious partners this could have matured alongside its older brother the TRRS plug, but it just wasn't to be. [...] One of the biggest issues that companies need to navigate pertains to source and peripheral device compatibility. USB Type-C headphone cables can either be active or passive -- or manifest as a dongle adapter. This inconsistency, paired with the fact that Audio Accessory Mode has yet to be universally supported, results in a barrage of compatibility issues. Hence why many users are unable to operate playback controls or use a headset's integrated microphone.

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Google Reportedly Blacklists 'Ethereum' As a Google Ad Keyword, Startup Claims

5 days 17 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Yahoo: Google has reportedly blacklisted keywords mentioning Ethereum (ETH) on its advertising platform Google Ads, smart contract auditing startup Decenter tweeted on Jan. 10. The official Google Ads account replied to the tweet stating that cryptocurrency exchanges targeting the United States and Japan can be advertised on the platform, and that targeting other countries could be the reason for the ad rejection. When Decenter explained that they are a group of developers doing smart contract security audits and that they were seeing the error message when trying to use the "ethereum development services" and "ethereum security audits" keywords, Google Ads' official account answered: "Although we wouldn't be able to preemptively confirm if your keyword is eligible to trigger ads, we'd recommend that you refer to the 'Cryptocurrencies' section of our policy on Financial products and services." When Decenter asked the Ethereum community on Reddit in an open query about the alleged Google Ads policy changes, the team specified that: "Any of the keywords that contain "ethereum" in our campaigns are no longer showing ads as of January 9th and are now reporting the following error." Decenter said they have tested keywords for "ethereum smart contract audits" and "eos smart contract audits" and found that only the EOS-referenced keyword showed ads. Google banned all cryptocurrency-related advertising of all types in June 2018. However, Google announced in September 2018 that it would change its ad policy in October, reallowing some crypto businesses to advertise on its platform. Namely, the changes allow cryptocurrency exchanges ads in the United States and Japan.

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World's Longest Aircraft Gets Full-Production Go-Ahead

5 days 20 hours ago
The Airlander 10 -- the world's longest aircraft -- is set to go into full production with the model designed to take its first passengers. "It comes after the prototype Airlander 10 -- a combined plane and airship -- was formally retired following successful final testing," reports the BBC. "As a result, Bedford firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has been given Production Organization Approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)." From the report: An eyewitness said the aircraft appeared to "break in two" after breaking its moorings and deflating, in November that year, less than 24 hours after completing its sixth successful test flight. The firm was given Design Organization Approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) in October. Stephen McGlennan, HAV's chief executive, said 2018 had been very good, with Easa's backing a "huge highlight." He said the firm had changed its focus last year towards the production of Airlander 10 as a commercial aircraft for customers. "The prototype served its purpose as the world's first full-sized hybrid aircraft, providing us with the data we needed to move forward from prototype to production standard," he said. It is now hoped the full commercial model will take to the skies with its first paying passengers "in the early 2020s." Approval from the CAA and Easa now puts the firm in a "strong position to launch production."

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A Neural Network Can Learn To Recognize the World It Sees Into Concepts

6 days 1 hour ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: As good as they are at causing mischief, researchers from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab realized GANs, or generative adversarial networks, are also a powerful tool: because they paint what they're "thinking," they could give humans insight into how neural networks learn and reason. [T]he researchers began probing a GAN's learning mechanics by feeding it various photos of scenery -- trees, grass, buildings, and sky. They wanted to see whether it would learn to organize the pixels into sensible groups without being explicitly told how. Stunningly, over time, it did. By turning "on" and "off" various "neurons" and asking the GAN to paint what it thought, the researchers found distinct neuron clusters that had learned to represent a tree, for example. Other clusters represented grass, while still others represented walls or doors. In other words, it had managed to group tree pixels with tree pixels and door pixels with door pixels regardless of how these objects changed color from photo to photo in the training set. Not only that, but the GAN seemed to know what kind of door to paint depending on the type of wall pictured in an image. It would paint a Georgian-style door on a brick building with Georgian architecture, or a stone door on a Gothic building. It also refused to paint any doors on a piece of sky. Without being told, the GAN had somehow grasped certain unspoken truths about the world. Being able to identify which clusters correspond to which concepts makes it possible to control the neural network's output. The team has now released an app called GANpaint that turns this newfound ability into an artistic tool. It allows you to turn on specific neuron clusters to paint scenes of buildings in grassy fields with lots of doors. Beyond its silliness as a playful outlet, it also speaks to the greater potential of this research.

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GNOME Internet Radio Locator 1.6.0 Released

6 days 3 hours ago
Longtime Slashdot reader ole writes: GNOME Internet Radio Locator 1.6.0 is now freely available for GNOME systems. The 1.6.0 release is a stable release with Internet radio stations from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England, Scotland, France and Belgium, as well as U.S.A., Canada, Mexico and Guatemala, mapped for GNOME Maps and city text search interface with auto-completion for 76 world cities that are featured in this release. You may download the 1.6.0 release of GNOME Internet Radio Locator here and download packages for Fedora 28 and 29 on x86_64 here

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200 Million Chinese Resumes Leak In Huge Database Breach

6 days 4 hours ago
According to a report from HackenProof, a database containing resumes of over 200 million job seekers in China was exposed last month. "The leaked info included not just the name and working experience of people, but also their mobile phone number, email, marriage status, children, politics, height, weight, driver license, and literacy level as well," reports The Next Web. From the report: Bob Diachenko, Director of Cyber Risk Research at Hacken.io and bug bounty platform HackenProof, found an unprotected instance of MongoDB containing these resumes on December 28. Diachenko found the resumes in the open database search engines Shodan and BinaryEdge. The 854GB database didn't have any password protection and was open to anyone to read. Diachenko wasn't able to identify who generated the database or who owned it, but a now-defunct GitHub code repository featured a code that used an identical data structure to the leaked database. The database contained scraped data from multiple Chinese classified websites like bj.58.com. However, in a blog post, the website's spokesperson denied the leak. Interestingly, the database was taken down as soon as Diachenko posted about the database on Twitter. Sadly, the MongoDB log showed at least a dozen IP addresses that read the instance before it went off the grid.

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Arborists Are Bringing the 'Dinosaur of Trees' Back To Life

6 days 7 hours ago
Arborists are cloning saplings from the stumps of the world's largest, strongest, and longest-lived trees -- felled for timber more than a century ago -- to create redwood "super groves" that can help fight climate change. "Using saplings made from the basal sprouts of these super trees to plant new groves in temperate countries around the world means the growths have a better chance than most to become giants themselves," reports Quartz. "Their ancestors grew up to 400 ft (122 m) tall and to 35 ft in diameter, after all, larger than the largest living redwood today, a giant sequoia in California's Sequoia National Park." From the report: Already, super saplings from the project are thriving in groves in Canada, England, Wales, France, New Zealand, and Australia. None of these locales are places where coastal redwoods grow naturally, but they all have cool temperatures and sufficient fog for the redwoods, which drink moisture from the air in summer rather than relying on rain. [David Milarch, founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a U.S. nonprofit that propagates the world's largest trees] calls this "assisted migration." Last month, his organization planted another such grove in the Presidio in San Francisco, California. The park lies along the U.S. west's redwood corridor, which runs from Oregon to California, home to the stumps the saplings were cloned from. But 95% of giant growths there were cut long ago. Many of the redwoods along the corridor now are young trees. Milarch notes that as the local climate is getting hotter and less foggy, it's no longer as conducive to producing the mega growths of yore. Now, 75 saplings created from the basal sprouts of the most rugged and massive ancient tree stumps of the coastal region will grow in the Presidio. They may eventually become the hardiest and tallest trees around, if their ancestors are any indication.

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Apple's AirPower Wireless Charging Mat Is In Production

6 days 9 hours ago
Apple's long-delayed AirPower wireless charging mat might finally be in production. According to a tweet from ChargerLAB, a "credible source" says that Apple has begun manufacturing the long-delayed wireless charging mat. The Verge reports: If true, it could mean that the long-overdue product could finally reach the hands of consumers before too much longer. Apple announced in September 2017, that it was introducing wireless charging capabilities in with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and gave a preview for its own wireless charging mat that would not only charge the iPhone, but its Apple Watch and AirPods. At the time, Apple didn't announce a price -- only that it was expected to be released sometime in 2018. That obviously didn't happen... If what ChargerLAB says is accurate, that could mean that we'll see more about them in the near future. The site's tweet says that the devices are being manufactured at Luxshare Precision, which already manufactures Apple's AirPods and some cords. MacRumors translated a screenshot of ChargerLAB's WeChat conversation, in which the site's source expects the device be released soon. But given the charger's history of delays and technical challenges, it's probably best not to get one's hopes up just yet.

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Aaron Swartz's Federal Judge Gives Anonymous Hacker 10 Years In Prison For DDoS Attacks On Children's Hospitals

6 days 10 hours ago
Danngggg writes: Many will remember Martin Gottesfeld since he was arrested on a speedboat coming from Cuba. He volunteered at trial that he and his wife had just been denied political asylum by Castro. Gottesfeld has said he did it to defend the life of an innocent child named Justina Pelletier. On Thursday, the same judge that over saw the Aaron Swartz case sentenced the Anonymous hacktivist to 10 years in federal prison for a DDoS of Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and Wayside Youth and Family. The sentence included $440,000 in restitution, 3 years supervised release, and other conditions. The week before, Gottesfeld docketed a 690-page affidavit (including exhibits) documenting the judge's conflicts of interest and why he doesn't belong anywhere near the case. That's available on the FreeMartyG website. Local news spoke to his wife after the sentencing hearing as well.

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Plants Can Hear Animals Using Their Flowers

6 days 11 hours ago
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via The Atlantic: The latest experiments in this niche but increasingly vocal field come from Lilach Hadany and Yossi Yovel at Tel Aviv University. In one set, they showed that some plants can hear the sounds of animal pollinators and react by rapidly sweetening their nectar. In a second set, they found that other plants make high-pitched noises that lie beyond the scope of human hearing but can nonetheless be detected some distance away. After the team released early copies of two papers describing their work, not yet published in a scientific journal, I ran them past several independent researchers. Some of these researchers have argued that plants are surprisingly communicative; others have doubted the idea. Their views on the new studies, however, didn't fall along obvious partisan lines. Almost unanimously, they loved the paper asserting that plants can hear and were skeptical about the one reporting that plants make noise. Those opposite responses to work done by the same team underscore how controversial this line of research still is, and how hard it is to study the sensory worlds of organisms that are so different from us. First, two team members, Marine Veits and Itzhak Khait, checked whether beach evening primroses could hear. In both lab experiments and outdoor trials, they found that the plants would react to recordings of a bee's wingbeats by increasing the concentration of sugar in their nectar by about 20 percent. They did so in response only to the wingbeats and low frequency, pollinator-like sounds, not to those of higher pitch. And they reacted very quickly, sweetening their nectar in less than three minutes. That's probably fast enough to affect a visiting bee, but even if that insect flies away too quickly, the plant is ready to better entice the next visitor. After all, the presence of one pollinator almost always means that there are more around. But if plants can hear, what are their ears? The team's answer is surprising, yet tidy: It's the flowers themselves. They used lasers to show that the primrose's petals vibrate when hit by the sounds of a bee's wingbeats. If they covered the blooms with glass jars, those vibrations never happened, and the nectar never sweetened. The flower, then, could act like the fleshy folds of our outer ears, channeling sound further into the plant. (Where? No one knows yet!)

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