July 15, 2014

Anyone who has gone through airport security in the past few decades has surely thought, "There must be a better way." Qylur Security Systems in Silicon Valley has taken that idea and run with it, devising a new, ostensibly better way to scan carry-on luggage for designated threatening objects. But before they can market their new Qylatron Entry Experience Solution, Qylur has to prove that it works in the real world.

"So it went to Brazil, where it was hired by an event operations company running some World Cup games," says Wired's Alex Davies. "Qylur was given responsibility for one entrance to Arena de Baixada stadium, for four games." It apparently worked both at spotting the motley list of objects banned by FIFA at World Cup games and at amusing the people passing through security. Here's how the five-cell, automated scanning machine works, according to Qylur:

The promise of the Qylatron is that you won't have to take laptops or anything else out of your carry-on bag, and a machine will search through your stuff for guns and bombs, not a person. People will still have to walk through a scanner. Four successful World Cup tests almost certainly aren't enough to get the TSA to upend its current airport security system, but give it time: We need something better; this could be part of it. Peter Weber

12:27 p.m. ET

Dave Eggers, Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Cheryl Strayed, Amy Tan, Stephen Elliott, and Jonathan Lethem are among hundreds of novelists, poets, and essayists to have signed a scathing "open letter to the American people" opposing the candidacy of Donald Trump.

"Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power," the letter begins, going on to list objections to Trump including the belief that "knowledge, experience, flexibility, and historical awareness are indispensable in a leader" and "because the history of dictatorship is the history of manipulation and diversion, demagoguery and lies."

The letter has received over 450 signatures and is calling for more:

So far the list includes 10 Pulitzer Prize winners as well as dozens of other award-winning authors. See the full list of signatories at LitHub. Jeva Lange

11:42 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

All in all, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is pretty pleased with his performance in the 2016 Republican presidential race. Despite suspending his campaign in March after losing his home state, Rubio told The Guardian in an interview published Tuesday that, in any other election cycle, his campaign would've been solid. "A lot of times it feels almost like the guy who built this really strong building," Rubio said of the GOP contest, "and it was in the right place, and it was the way these buildings have always been built, but he got hit by a Category 5 hurricane."

That hurricane? Donald Trump. "It's not that we lost," Rubio said, "it's that Donald Trump won."

Read Rubio's full take on the election — including the one debate moment he's still kicking himself over — at The Guardian. Becca Stanek

11:36 a.m. ET
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Nyquist, the racehorse who won the 2016 Kentucky Derby earlier this month, will not compete in the Belmont Stakes on June 11. Trainer Doug O'Neill told Daily Racing Forum Tuesday morning that Nyquist has an elevated white blood cell count as well as a slight fever, and will be treated with antibiotics and remain at Pimlico Race Course stables in Maryland rather than be shipped to New York for the Belmont Stakes.

Nyquist's Triple Crown hopes were dashed May 21 at the Preakness Stakes when he was bested by rival Exaggerator. Trainers had hoped the Belmont Stakes would be the "rubber match" between the horses. Kimberly Alters

10:54 a.m. ET
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China is constructing its first space tracking, telemetry, and command facility outside of its borders in Patagonia, Argentina, and some critics are already expressing concerns that it will be doing more than just looking at the stars.

Chinese military personnel will reportedly operate the space center, although officials have claimed the antenna is "totally civilian, and is not operated by military personnel." While the official purpose of the project is to monitor the moon, others believe that it could also be used to intercept communications from foreign nation's satellites.

The Diplomat points out that in 2015, the former representative of Argentina to the Arms Trade Treaty said the base would have a dual use. It would possess "the capacity to interfere with communications, electronic networks, electromagnetic systems" as well as "the capacity for receiving information about the launching of missiles and other space activities, including of drones, and movement of strategic arms. It has the capacity to collect information of enormous sensitivity in the eventuality of a military competition."

What critics also say is concerning is that China has used this "peaceful use" excuse before — in its highly controversial annexation of islands in the South China Sea.

The space station will be operable beginning March 2017. Jeva Lange

10:28 a.m. ET

While it's now hard to think of Al Gore without his documentary An Inconvenient Truth coming to mind, the one-time presidential candidate admits he almost didn't make the famous film. In an interview with Wired — published 10 years after Gore transformed a slideshow he'd compiled on the threats of climate change into the documentary — Gore confesses that, initially, he "did not want to do a documentary":

It's a dumb reason. I didn't think a slide­show could translate into a movie. I thought back to my days in school, when I tried to take a shortcut studying Shakespeare by watching filmed versions of the plays, where they just set up a camera and filmed the stage. It didn't translate. Participant Media and Davis Guggenheim had to convince me it was a good idea, and I'm so glad they found ways to reveal to me the depths of my ignorance about moviemaking. It's a message that has to be heard. Sorry to risk sounding grandiose, but the future of human civilization is at stake. [Wired]

The documentary went on to win two Oscars and, as NPR puts it, "politicized global warming to an unprecedented level."

Read Gore's full reflections on the battle against climate change — and how he thinks he might finally be "winning" it — over at Wired. Becca Stanek

10:15 a.m. ET
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Ancient Chinese beer drinkers weren't so different from you and me, at least according to evidence found on 5,000-year-old pottery fragments in the Shaanxi province. Thanks to a discovery by Stanford University researcher Jiajing Wang and her team, it appears that Chinese beer-makers actually mastered many modern brewing techniques long before they were thought to have been adopted in the region, The Washington Post reports.

By scraping yellowish residue out of pots, Wang concluded that Chinese brewers had been combining Eastern and Western traditions by taking "barley from the West, millet, Job's tears, and tubers from China" to create their sweet-ish suds. And while rice fermentation has been dated back to 9,000 years ago, Wang and her team have reason to believe that the Shaanxi site is the oldest known beer brewery in China; barley beer had originally been considered a newer invention in Chinese culture, but it now appears to have much older roots.

"It is possible that when barley was introduced from western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China, it came with the knowledge that the grain was a good ingredient for beer brewing. So it was not only the introduction of a new crop, but also the knowledge associated with the crop," Wang said.

Here's the only bummer: You won't be able to drink the ancient beer anytime soon. Despite knowing what went into the beer, Wang and her team aren't able to tell the exact ratio of ingredients. Jeva Lange

9:37 a.m. ET
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Representatives from the nation's largest financial institutions are holding off on questioning Donald Trump's economic agenda — but it's not because they don't have any questions. At a private meeting last week in Washington, D.C., Bloomberg reports that financiers decided the cons of inquiring into Trump's plans just might outweigh the pros:

A few key questions emerged: Would Trump's agenda be aligned with the forthcoming proposal from Hensarling and House Speaker Paul Ryan? And should they reach out to Trump's campaign staff to inquire about his economic agenda?

According to two people who attended the meeting, the group decided against reaching out after several representatives expressed fears that Trump could criticize them on social media if talks took a bad turn. [Bloomberg]

Yes, that's right. The nation's largest financial institutions are apparently avoiding the Republican Party's presumptive nominee because they're afraid of what he might tweet.

Instead, the banking representatives have decided to just hold off on forming any opinion at all on Trump, or his economic agenda. "It's hands off, for now," one of the meeting attendees told Bloomberg. "We're not 'Never Trump,' we're just not ready yet."

As Trump would say: "Sad!" Becca Stanek

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