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The Wrap: 19 March

The great asteroid hunt

NASA has launched a challenge for geeky space junkies with a conscience. It wants you to help it search for asteroids that could strike us and potentially wipe out humankind.

NASA is looking for coders, hardware makers, writer and people who share on social media to help them on this mission. “Asteroid hunting is an activity everyone can involved in,” says the cheery narrator, making it sound like fruit picking or macrame. Apparently it’s also an opportunity to be smarter than the dinosaurs. As NASA tells us, “survival is its own reward.”

App killer

Frequency is one of those apps we’re afraid to use because it shows us how addicted we are to some of our smartphone apps and how silly we were to download others we thought we’d use but don’t. You can sort how you view the time spent using your installed apps, whether it’s the last day, week, six months or since you downloaded your first. And the ability to uninstall apps from within Frequency is a particularly handy.

Man vs robot

If you’re wondering how long it will be before robots put humans out of work completely, take a look at this duel between German table tennis pro Timo Boll and the KUKA KR AGILUS robot. The match was held to celebrate Kuka’s launch of its robotics factory in Shanghai, where it will produce the robots and a universal controller for the Asian market. Spoiler alert: the robot loses, but it’s close.


Under the microscope

A US bioengineering assistant professor, Manu Prakash, has a new version of the microscope that has the power to make disease treatment far more accessible. The Foldoscope can be die or laser cut from paper for the princely sum of US50c, according to YouTube videos posted by the university and Ted Global Talks, where Prakash is a fellow. Prakash’s team was out to create a tool for cheap distribution in countries where malaria rates and the need to test people were highest. The scope can be made in less than 20 minutes and thrown away after one use.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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