TIME Innovation

Google VP Breaks Record for Highest Skydive

Google Aims To Boost Video, Banner Ad Business In China
Robert Alan Eustace, Google Inc.'s senior vice president for engineering, speaks at the Google Innovation Forum in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. Nelson Ching—Bloomberg / Getty Images

“It was a wild, wild ride”

A senior vice president for Google cut himself loose from a balloon and parachuted 135,908 feet to earth on Friday, setting a new world record in skydiving.

Alan Eustace, 57, broke the previous record holder’s jump by more than 7,000 feet, the New York Times reports. It took roughly 2 hours for Eustace to make the ascent into the stratosphere and only 15 minutes to plummet back to earth. He made the jump wearing a spacesuit specially designed to withstand extreme altitudes and speeds topping 800 miles-per-hour. Witnesses on the ground reported hearing a sonic boom.

“It was beautiful,” Eustace said after the jump. “You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”

[NYT]

TIME

This 1 Extension Makes Google Chrome Even More Awesome

Inside The Google Chromebook Store
The logo of Google Inc. Chrome is displayed at a Currys and PC World 2 in 1 store, operated by Dixons Retail Plc, on Tottenham Court Road in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

One small tweak to Google Maps, one giant time-suck for mankind

The Google Maps team has just torpedoed the productivity of Chrome users with the launch of “Earth View,” a new browser extension that displays a random and beautiful satellite image of the earth’s surface each time the user opens a new tab.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking technology — in fact, it just a marries two existing technologies from Chrome and Google Earth. But the sheer variety of terrains on display, from the schematic street-view of downtown Chicago to a frozen mountain range in Antarctica, makes opening a new tab an oddly hypnotic experience and opening dozens of tabs nearly irresistible.

The app launched with little fanfare on October 14, rapidly climbing the ranks of most downloaded Chrome extensions with more than 50,000 users to date.

You can download the extension for yourself here.

TIME Money

This Is the Scariest Number Facing the Middle Class

Official Figures Indicate Britain Is Heading Into Recession
Christopher Furlong—Getty Images

The $20,000 retirement plan

The average middle class American has only $20,000 in retirement savings, according to a new survey that shows large swathes of the public are aware of those shortfalls and feeling anxious about their golden years.

Wells Fargo surveyed more than 1,000 middle class Americans about the state of their savings plans. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said saving for retirement was “harder” than they had anticipated. A full one-third of Americans said they won’t have sufficient funds to “survive,” a glum assessment that flared out among the older respondents. Nearly half of Americans in their 50s shared that concern.

But perhaps the most startling response came from the 22% of Americans who said they would prefer to suffer an “early death” than retire without enough funds to support a comfortable standard of living.

TIME apps

Google’s New Email App Wants to Save You From Your Inbox

Opening an email could become a thing of the past, if 'Inbox' can get the right information up front

Google launched a new email app called “Inbox” Wednesday that strips essential information from your incoming messages, displaying it in a stream similar to a social media newsfeed.

Inbox Google

Rather than display messages by subject line, Inbox cuts straight to the body of your emails and attempts to prune out everything but the essential bits, such as flight times, event invitations and attached photos. A flight, for instance, will have your flight times clearly displayed up front without the airline’s preamble. The app can also draw pertinent information from the web, such as your flight’s status. The app also attempts to automatically populate to-do lists and calendar appointments, sparing you from copying the details, flipping to a new app and pasting the information into all of the related fields.

The question remains how well a machine can gauge “pertinent” information to a human user. Early hands-on demonstrations suggest an intuitive user experience. For now, only a select group of users will get to use Inbox by invitation only, who, in turn will be able to invite friends and collectively will decide whether this app will replace regular email for good.

TIME Web

25% of Women Say They’ve Been Sexually Harassed Online

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Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

Name calling and humiliation are pervasive, but stalking and sexual harassment disproportionately affect young women

Four out of 10 adults have experienced some form of online harassment, but some of the most alarming variants — stalking and sexual harassment — disproportionately affect upon young women, according to a Pew survey released Wednesday.

The survey breaks down online harassment into six categories, from name calling and humiliation to physical and sexual threats. The milder attacks crossed gender lines and occurred so pervasively that many respondents said they chose to ignore their attacker rather than engage or withdraw from the forum.

But beneath the white noise of insults, experiences varied dramatically depending on the respondents’ age and gender. Roughly one-quarter of women aged 18 to 24 said they have been stalked or sexually harassed online, making them visible stand-outs from an otherwise level field of insults.

PI_2014.10.22__online-harassment-02 2

The Pew survey also exposes deeper divides that can exact a greater emotional toll on Internet users. “Those who exclusively experience less severe forms of harassment report fewer emotional or personal impacts,” the study authors write, “while those with more severe harassment experiences often report more serious emotional tolls.” It lends empirical weight to the argument that there’s no comparing male and female harassment online.

 

TIME Drugs

Colorado Health Officials Recommend Pot Brownie Ban

Inside The Champs Counter-Culture Trade Show
An instant brownie mix by Blazin' Brownies sits on display during the Champs Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Jacob Kepler—Bloomberg / Getty Images

State health officials warned that pot-laced edibles posed a heightened risk to children

Colorado health officials are urging lawmakers to consider a statewide ban on all appetizing pot-laced products,short of “lozenges and tinctures,” according to a statement released Monday by the state’s health department.

“Edibles pose a definite risk to children,” read the statement, first covered by local news broadcaster WDBJ7, “and that’s why we recommended limiting marijuana-infused products to tinctures and lozenges.”

The proposal comes on the heels of a video posted to the Denver Police Department’s official YouTube account warning parents of trick-or-treaters to watch out for marijuana-infused candy this Halloween.

TIME Syria

US Airdrop to Kurdish Fighters Seized by ISIS

Syrian Kurds Battle IS To Retain Control Of Kobani
Smoke rises through the air after an explosion rocks Syrian city of Kobane on October 20, 2014. Gokhan Sahin—Getty Images

ISIS-affiliated social media accounts posted sarcastic "thank you" notes to social media

A U.S. airdrop intended to arm Kurdish fighters in northern Syria ended up in the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) fighters, local activists said Tuesday, underscoring the challenge of arming Kurdish fighters along fluid and ill-defined battle lines.

ISIS-affiliated social media accounts filled with images of what appeared to be the intercepted weapons cache, which included ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades, along with sarcastic thank you notes to “Team USA.” Activists for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Associated Press that ISIS fighters had seized at least one package.

The U.S. deployed three C-130 cargo planes on Monday to airdrop supplies to the embattled bordertown of Kobani, as Kurdish forces struggled to repel an onslaught of IS fighters near the Turkish border.

[AP]

TIME Afghanistan

Afghan Troop Death Toll Hits Record High

Afghan Army handover
Afghan Army soldiers carry their comrade in a wheel-barrow after he was shot during a firefight on Tuesday April 2, 2013 in Wardak Province. Michel du Cille—The Washington Post / Getty Images

2014 marked the deadliest year for Afghan forces struggling to take control of the country

More than 4,000 Afghan troops died in combat in 2014, a record high since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2001, according to new casualty figures released by the Afghan defense ministry.

The new figure marks the first update to the death toll since 2013, when a mounting number of casualties prompted officials to suspend the count rather than risk doing harm to troop morale, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The updated tally counts roughly 4,380 casualties suffered by Afghanistan soldiers and police since the beginning of 2014, underscoring an escalating battle between Taliban rebels and Afghanistan’s fledgeling administration, which is racing to gain control of the country before the last remaining US combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

[WSJ]

TIME Autos

Supplier of Faulty Air Bags Sees Stock Plummet

Takata Airbags Lead Toyota, Nissan To Recall 3 Million Cars
The airbag unit for the passenger seat of a Toyota Motor Corp. vehicle is seen at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, April 11, 2013. Koichi Kamoshida—Bloomberg / Getty Images

The share price on Takata Corp. nosedived after U.S. regulators warned drivers to have the airbags fixed "immediately"

Shares of the Takata Corporation dropped 23% on Tuesday following news that the airbag manufacturer had supplied potentially defective parts to a range of automakers, including Toyota, Honda and General Motors.

The market reaction was swift and decisive, the Wall Street Journal reports, after U.S. regulators issued an unusually urgent public warning to “act immediately” to resolve the defect.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating two deaths and a number of other incidents that indicate the airbags might explode under conditions of high humidity, potentially sending scraps of metal flying into passengers.

The warning prompted Toyota to recall 247,000 vehicles on Monday and warn passengers to avoid sitting in the passenger seat.

[WSJ]

TIME 2014 Election

Watch Obama Encounter a Jealous Boyfriend: ‘Don’t Touch My Girlfriend’

Politicans cast early vote ballots
President Barack Obama casts his early votes at Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center in Chicago Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Antonio Perez—Chicago Tribune / Getty Images

'I really wasn't planning on it'

President Barack Obama held his own against a jealous boyfriend in Chicago on Monday.

“Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend,” said a man identified by CNN as Mike Jones, as Obama cast his early ballot in the Illinois state elections next to a woman named Aia Cooper.

“I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama said, without looking up from his ballot, as Cooper laughed. A visibly embarrassed Cooper then offered an apology on behalf of her fiancé. Obama was sympathetic, though, joking “there’s an example of a brother just embarrassing me for no reason.”

After a brief conversation as the two finished voting, the video shows, Obama gave Cooper a quick kiss on the cheek, to give Jones “something to talk about.”

[CNN]

Read next: Obama Votes Early in Chicago

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