NASA picture of Mars ‘doorway’ spawns conspiracy theories – this is what you’re really looking at | Science & Tech News

At first glance a photograph of Mars released by NASA appears to show a doorway carved into the rock.

The grainy image, captured by the Curiosity rover last week, clearly shows a rectangular gap in the rockface and has, perhaps inevitably, spawned conspiracy theories that point to it as evidence of alien life on the red planet.

For as long as humans have looked up to the skies we have seen things that aren’t really there – whether pictures in constellations, a face on the moon or a “mysterious hut” spotted by Chinese scientists that turned out to be a boulder.

The Chinese lunar exploration mission identified a 'mysterious hut'  on the horizon of the moon.  Pic: CNSA/Our Space
The Chinese lunar exploration mission identified a ‘mysterious hut’ on the horizon of the moon. Pic: CNSA/Our Space

And the simple explanation for the “door” on Mars is actually contained within the photograph itself if you look more closely, scientists have said.

It shows evidence that the feature was formed through “normal geological processes”, Professor Sanjeev Gupta at Imperial College London explained to The Daily Telegraph.

A deep crack or fissure is visible inside the “door”, indicating a fracture in the rock – something that happens on both Mars and Earth and could have taken place any time in the past few hundred million years.

“The crack is a fracture and they are plentiful on Mars and Earth – no need for marsquakes to produce them,” said Professor Gupta, who has worked on the Curiosity mission with NASA.

“There is nothing at all strange in the image – these are just normal geological processes.”

Perspective also comes into play – NASA says the fissure only appears to be a full-sized door because the image is extremely zoomed in.

The gap is actually a small crevice in a rock, a spokesperson explained to Snopes, a fact-checking website.

“The team’s scientists underlined just how small it is”, they said, about 30 centimeters by 45 centimeters.

According to the scientists, “there are linear fractures throughout this outcrop, and this is a location where several linear fractures happen to intersect”, they added.

The good news is that the Curiosity rover is continuing with its search for life on Mars, or at least signs that life once existed there.

The NASA rover landed in the Jezero crater on 18 February last year – along with the Ingenuity Mars helicopter – and has been collecting samples and sending back images.

It is due to spend at least two years exploring the area.

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Book ban efforts by conservative parents take aim at library apps

She said book-ban campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have now turned their attention to the tech startups that run the apps, which had existed for years without drawing much controversy.

“It’s not enough to take a book off the shelf,” she said. “Now they want to filter electronic materials that have made it possible for so many people to have access to literature and information they’ve never been able to access before.”

Not just tech

Kimberly Hough, a parent of two children in Brevard Public Schools, said her 9-year-old noticed immediately when the Epic app disappeared a few weeks ago because its collection had become so useful during the pandemic.

“They could look up books by genre, what their interests are, fiction, nonfiction, so it really is an online library for kids to find books they want to read,” she said. She said her daughter would read “everything available” about animals.

Russell Bruhn, a spokesperson for Brevard Public Schools, said the district removed Epic because of a new Florida law that requires book-by-book reviews of online libraries. According to the law, signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, “each book made available to students” through a school library must be “selected by a school district employee.” Epic says its online libraries are curated by employees to make sure they’re age-appropriate.

Bruhn said that no parents complained about the app and that no specific books had concerned school officials but that officials decided the collection needed review.

“We did not receive any complaints about Epic,” Bruhn said, but he acknowledged “it had never been fully vetted or approved by the school system.”

He said he didn’t know how many of the system’s 70,000 students previously had free access, and he didn’t know whether access would eventually be restored.

Bruhn said it would be incorrect to see the removal as part of a censorship campaign.

“We’re not banning books in Brevard County,” he said. “We want to have a consistent review of educational materials.”

Hough, the vice president of Families for Safe Schools, a local group formed last year to counter conservative parents, is running for a seat on the school board because of disagreements with its direction. She said she believes the state mandate and another new law prohibiting classroom discussion of gender identity were creating a climate of fear.

“Our laws now have made everyone that a parent is going to sue the school district over what they don’t really know if they’re allowed to have or not have, because the laws are so vague,” she said.

Critics of the e-reader apps have also been taken aback by how swiftly schools can take down entire collections.

“Within 24 hours, they shut it down,” Trisha Lucente, the mother of the kindergartner in Williamson County, Tennessee, said in a recent interview on a conservative YouTube show. Lucente is the president of Parents Choice Tennessee, a conservative group.

“That was a pretty drastic response,” she said, adding that she

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How we test PC gaming hardware

We put a whole heap of different technological goodies through their paces here at PC Gamer, and we work hard to make sure that all our testing is reliable, repeatable, trustworthy, and ultimately fair. 

It’s not just about how fast a given component might be, or what fancy RGB lighting has been arrayed around a product, we’re PC gamers at heart and we need to know how it’s going to work in-game and how it’s going to work for you, our readers. Value is always a key part of our testing methodology; whether it’s the latest graphics card, some shiny new streaming mic, or hyperfast gaming monitor, tech needs to make sense at the checkout as well as on your desktop.

That doesn’t mean we’re only interested in the cheap stuff, though. The best PC gaming tech can be expensive, but if it does something nothing else can, then it can still be great value. And you need to know that when you’re spending the sort of money today’s PC hardware costs, you’re making the right calls.

With well over fifty years of combined hardware journalistic experience in the core writers alone, your PC Gamer hardware team is dedicated to making sure we cover everything that matters to you and to our hobby as a whole.

What does PC Gamer review?

With the sheer volume of hardware releases every month it’s not possible for us to test everything out there, which means we have to be selective about the tech that we get into the office for testing.

We’ll always test the latest graphics cards, with the key releases covered on day one, though we won’t necessarily pick every single processor from AMD and Intel to review. The flagship products, and what we see as the CPUs most relevant to gamers, will get our attention. We’ll also keep an eye on the post-launch buzz and affordability down the line, too. If a chip suddenly becomes more affordable and is therefore garnering more interest we’ll be on hand to see whether it’s worth your money.

We’ll also check out new gaming laptops with the latest mobile technology inside them, but again we cannot review every SKU on the shelves. We’re looking for something new, something interesting to differentiate them, whether that’s a new GPU, new mobile chip architecture, or screen configuration. 

That same ethos goes for what SSDs, gaming monitors, and peripherals we test. Looking at yet another Cherry MX Red mechanical keyboard doesn’t interest us unless it’s offering something new. That could be something as simple as a new, lower price point, or a new feature or technology.

The breakneck pace of PC innovation means prices and the competitive landscape rapidly changes, and so we’ll occasionally update tech reviews, and that may sometimes mean we change the score. Our aim is to be able to offer you the most relevant, up-to-date hardware buying advice no matter when you read a review.

We’re not talking about updating a five year-old monitor

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Hardware, Software, And Everything In Between –

Gaming has evolved from a simple pastime into a multi-billion dollar industry. Today, the most successful games are capable of reaching a global audience in an instant. But it’s not just about gaming consoles and smartphones: Games also need talented developers, great distribution platforms, and even funding to thrive. In this guide, we’ll show you how it all comes together.


Hardware is the physical device used to play games. These include consoles, controllers, and accessories. Hardware can be purchased from stores that sell gaming hardware like GameStop or Best Buy, as well as online shops like Amazon or eBay.

The gaming industry’s wide variety of options makes it easy for beginners to find a product they’re interested in playing on. The most popular types of hardware are:

  • Consoles – These are devices that connect to televisions and allow you to play video games with an immersive experience not possible on phones or tablets. They range from extremely cheap (like the $30 Raspberry Pi 3) to very expensive ($500+). You can find them in all shapes and sizes with different features (such as 4K resolution). Popular examples include PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X/XS/XL, Nintendo Switch Lite/Pro Lite-iPad Pro 12″ (dark gray), Google Pixel Slate Tablet 2019 Edition Silver 128GB SSD 16GB RAM 8GB LPDDR4X RAM Intel Core i7 8565U Quad -Core Processor 1TB NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive 10 hours battery life


Software is the code that makes games work. It’s also often the most expensive part of a gaming system, and it’s one of the most important and complex parts of a gaming system as well.

You use software to play games when you’re not playing them in person, and it’s what allows you to customize your control scheme, graphics options, and other settings for each game you play.


There are a few different platforms that can be used to play games. This can be confusing if you’re new, so let’s break it down:

  • Consoles – These are the big ones, like PlayStation and Xbox. They connect to televisions and usually require paying a monthly fee to use them.
  • PCs – Computers running Windows or macOS (Mac OSX) that have graphics cards that allow for higher performance than their mobile counterparts, allowing for high-end graphical experiences on addictive games like Overwatch and PUBG.
  • Mobile – Your smartphone or tablet computer like an iPhone or iPad are generally called mobile devices because they don’t use much processing power compared to computers but still provide great gaming experiences in spite of their limited capabilities due largely in part because of touchscreen technology making navigation easier than ever before (and more fun!).

aoc agon 4 pro ag324ux stand and aoc keyboard

Digital distribution

Digital distribution is the delivery of content, especially computer software, over the Internet. It is a method of selling content online and an alternative to physical distribution. Digital distribution can be used to sell digital goods such as software and media (such as books), or physical items. This method of distribution allows for a lower

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Meet the smallest ever remote-controlled walking robot | Science & Tech News

Engineers have unveiled the smallest remote-controlled walking robot ever created – even smaller than a flea.

The tiny robotic crab can “walk, bend, twist, turn and jump” according to engineers from Northwestern University in the US. It could signal the beginning of a new era of microscale robotics.

The little machine isn’t powered by miniaturized hardware and electronics, but instead by a shape-memory alloy material that transforms when it is heated.

The robot was given the shape of a crab because it amused students.  Pic: Northwestern University
The robot was given the shape of a crab because it amused students. Pic: Northwestern University

How do they move?

The researchers use a scanned laser beam to rapidly heat the device at different locations across its body to make them transform and effectively force the robot to move.

One of the tricks the researchers used was covering the device in a thin coating of glass that forces that part of the robot’s structure to return to its deformed shape after it cools.

“Because these structures are so tiny, the rate of cooling is very fast. In fact, reducing the sizes of these robots allows them to run faster,” explained Professor John Rogers, who led the experimental research.

Part of the achievement was in the manufacturing process, which involves bonding flat precursors on to slightly stretched rubber – which forces the crabs to take on a 3D shape like a pop-up book.

The work remains exploratory and experimental, however.

Despite the comparable range of movement and size, the crab bot is much slower than a flea and has “an average speed of half its body length per second,” according to Professor Yonggang Huang, who led the theoretical work.

“This is very challenging to achieve at such small scales for terrestrial robots,” Prof Huang added.

The tiny robot is small enough to stand on the edge of a coin.  Pic: John Rogers / Northwestern University
The tiny robot is small enough to stand on the edge of a coin. Pic: John Rogers / Northwestern University

Created on a whim

Northwestern University stated: “Although the research is exploratory at this point, the researchers believe their technology might bring the field closer to realizing micro-sized robots that can perform practical tasks inside tightly confined spaces.”

“You might imagine micro-robots as agents to repair or assemble small structures or machines in industry or as surgical assistants to clear clogged arteries, to stop internal bleeding or to eliminate cancerous tumors – all in minimally invasive procedures,” added Prof Rogers.

The team can manufacture the tiny crabs using a pop-up book style process.  Pic: Northwestern University
The team can manufacture the tiny crabs using a pop-up book style process. Pic: Northwestern University

Millimetre-sized robots resembling inchworms, crickets, and beetles were also created – but Prof Rogers’ and Huang’s students settled on peekytoe crabs.

“We can build walking robots with almost any sizes or 3D shapes,” Prof Rogers said.

“But the students felt inspired and amused by the sideways crawling motions of tiny crabs. It was a creative whim.”

The research has been published in the journal Science Robotics.

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