Undersea Observatory Survives Setback

Neptune Canada recovers from an outage and its U.S. counterpart finally gets started

3 min read
Undersea instruments: The Tempo-Mini platform, part of Neptune Canada, houses temperature and chemical sensors.

Few things make engineers as proud as seeing their creations shrug off a failure and keep delivering. That's exactly how the designers and operators of Neptune Canadathe world's largest remotely operated undersea observatory—must feel. Since going live in December 2009, Neptune has weathered several insults, including a dangerous encounter with a trawler, but it has still produced a near-continuous stream of live data from over 125 instruments at depths of nearly 2400 meters, including deep-sea video cameras, sonars, seismometers, and robotic crawlers.

At the end of last year, Neptune Canada had managed to bounce back from its biggest technical troubles yet, but now it faces a budget crunch that could put it on life support as early as next month. And that's happening just as the observatory's colleagues in the U.S. Pacific Northwest seem to finally be overcoming budget constraints that held up a sister observatory.

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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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