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UK faces its own fixed-line challenges

UK’s telephone companies have yet again announced inflation-busting increases in telephone line rental charges. Why, in a world that is increasingly mobile-first – or even mobile-only – are we still paying so much for landlines? The latest figures from UK telecoms regulator Ofcom show that around 16% of

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Alan Turing’s enduring legacy

Alan Turing is one of the world’s best known mathematicians, and probably the best known in the past century. This is partly for his work on cracking German codes in World War 2, and partly for his arrest, conviction and punishment for homosexuality in the 1950s. The mathematics that made him

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Why the SKA is the ultimate in big data

Telescopes have come a long way since the days when they were all about lone astronomers watching the night sky through their upstairs windows. Today, teams of astrophysicists build and use much more modern instruments

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Nations fret over US Internet dominance

While there is only one world power on the Internet, that situation will not last forever. The Internet’s underpinning technologies were mostly created in the US, the initial networks were based there and today the US hosts the majority of the most powerful Internet companies. Although minor battles

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Broadband: E Africa’s new railway to the world

The excitement over the potentially transformative effects of the Internet in low-income countries is nowhere more evident than in East Africa — the last major populated region of the world to gain a wired connection to the Internet. Before 2009, there wasn’t a single fibre-optic cable connecting the region

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Is it time to terminate e-mail?

This year saw the 43rd anniversary of e-mail. Compared to a human working life, e-mail has after more than four decades on the job now reached retirement age. Is it time for e-mail to step aside to allow us to embrace the alternative? Every minute in 2012 saw 168m e-mails sent around the world

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How mankind landed a robot on a comet

Imagine launching a robotic spacecraft on a 10-year mission to land on a comet 600m kilometres from Earth knowing that you will not be able to make any physical repairs to the craft during the journey. This daunting engineering challenge has been the ultimate goal of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta

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Interstellar’s spectacular view of hard science

In Interstellar’s near-ish future, our climate has failed catastrophically, crops die in vast blights and America is a barely-habitable dustbowl. Little education beyond farming methods is tolerated and students are taught that the Apollo landings were Cold War propaganda hoaxes. Against this unpromising

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