New Samsung phone: Nicer camera, static design, higher price

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This Wednesday Feb, 21, 2018, photo shows the camera lens of a Samsung Galaxy S9 mobile phone. (AP)
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In this Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, photo, the Bixby virtual assistant software of a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus mobile phone translates a foreign language sign during a product preview in New York. (AP)
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In this Feb. 21, 2018, photo, the dual camera lens of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus mobile phone is shown in this photo during a product preview in New York. (AP)
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In this Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, photo, the Bixby virtual assistant software of a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus mobile phone translates a foreign language sign during a product preview in New York. (AP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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New Samsung phone: Nicer camera, static design, higher price

NEW YORK: Samsung unveiled new smartphones with largely unchanged designs and incremental improvements such as a better camera — accompanied by a second annual price increase for many customers.
The static design of the new Galaxy S9 underscores both the slowing pace of smartphone innovation and the extent to which other manufacturers, particularly Apple, have caught up with Samsung features that once stood out. That includes everything from edge-to-edge screens to facial recognition to a water-resistant body.
The new phone’s biggest selling point is a collection of minor improvements to its camera, which is already among the best in the smartphone business . The S9 promises even better low-light shots, while offering a video mode that appears to freeze fast-moving objects, matching a feature in some Sony phones. The S9 can automatically detect when there’s high-speed motion to record, such as a cork popping off a bottle of champagne. A fifth of a second of video gets stretched out into six seconds.
While single features like this aren’t likely to drive buying decisions, the slow-motion effect could be “the kind of thing that will get a lot of attention,” said Bob O’Donnell of the research firm Technalysis.
For the first time in a major phone, the S9 will let you change the camera’s aperture to let in more light, making for better images in dark settings.
But analyst Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies warns that despite the improvements, the new camera is competing with already good cameras in earlier Samsung phones.
Nonetheless, you may have to pay more, though nothing quite at the level of last year’s $100 price hikes for the Galaxy S8. For instance, AT&T is raising prices of the base model by $40 to $790. As people hold onto phones longer before upgrading, manufacturers and carriers often hike prices to make up for lost revenue. Some of the increases will be offset with promotions. And T-Mobile will cut prices from last year’s models.
The new phones were unveiled Sunday in Barcelona, Spain, and will be available March 16. Advance orders begin this Friday. Unlike Apple, Samsung lets carriers set their own prices and typically doesn’t make an unlocked version available right away.
Here are some additional things to know:
UNCHANGED: The S9 features the same screen, same virtual home button and same battery capacity as the S8. Samsung did move the fingerprint sensor on the back to reduce smears on the camera lens.
A SECOND LENS: The camera on the Plus model now has a second lens with twice the magnification, a feature already available in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 and some iPhones. This means sharper close-ups.
FUN WITH SELFIES: Snap a selfie, and Samsung’s software will turn that into an emoji version of you for sharing. It’s usually a static image, though you can produce an animated version — much like the iPhone X’s Animoji feature.
VISUAL ASSISTANT: Samsung’s Bixby digital assistant mimics a similar Google feature that pulls up information on landmarks or other items you’ve just photographed. New Bixby capabilities let it instantly translate signs (point the camera, and the phone replaces the sign’s text in a matching color and font) and provide nutritional info for that restaurant meal you’re splurging on.


Upgrade to boost capacity of CERN’s giant particle smasher

Updated 15 June 2018
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Upgrade to boost capacity of CERN’s giant particle smasher

  • The LHC is undergoing a major upgrade to help further explore the fundamental building blocks of the universe
  • The work involves heavy civil engineering at CERN's LHC’s two main sites in Switzerland and France

GENEVA: A major upgrade began Friday for the world’s most powerful proton smasher to increase the number of particle collisions inside the Large Hadron Collider and help further explore the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
The work involves heavy civil engineering at the LHC’s two main sites in Switzerland and France which are run by Europe’s physics lab CERN, that will allow it to operate in a high-luminosity mode from 2026.
“By 2026, this major upgrade will have considerably improved the performance of the LHC, by increasing the number of collisions in the large experiments and thus boosting the probability of the discovery of new physics phenomena,” CERN said.
The aim is increase tenfold the amount of data which can be picked up by the LHC, which is housed in a 27-kilometer (17-mile) ring-shaped tunnel buried more than 100 meters underground that runs beneath the border of Switzerland and France.
The powerful accelerator, which began operating in 2010, smashes high-energy protons into each other at velocities near the speed of light.
These collisions generate new particles, giving physicists an unprecedented look at the laws of nature in the hope of better understanding particles and matter.
Until now, the LHC has been able to generate nearly a billion collisions per second but the so-called high-luminosity upgrade will allow it to increase the collision rate, thereby allowing for the accumulation of 10 times more data between 2026 and 2036.
“The High-Luminosity LHC will extend the LHC’s reach beyond its initial mission, bringing new opportunities for discovery, measuring the properties of particles such as the Higgs Boson with greater precision, and exploring the fundamental constituents of the universe ever more profoundly,” said CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti.
In 2012, the LHC was used to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson — also dubbed the God particle — which has allowed scientists to make great progress in understanding how particles acquire mass.
A year later, two of the scientists who had theorized the particle’s existence nearly five decades earlier, won the Nobel physics prize for its discovery.
In the works since 2011, the upgrade will allow the LHC to start producing data in high-luminosity mode from 2026.
The project will involve the replacement of high-tech components along 1.2 kilometers of the machine, such as magnets, collimators and radiofrequency cavities.
It will also see the construction of new buildings, shafts, caverns and underground galleries, as well as tunnels and halls to house the new cryogenic equipment, as well as power supplies and cooling and ventilation kit.