Tech Digest daily round up: Scientists invent flat pasta that morphs into 3D shapes


An interdisciplinary team of scientists specialising in material science, mechanical engineering, and computer-aided fabrication are making a new type of pasta dough that remains flat during storage, but can morph into tubes, spirals, twists, and waves when cooked. The scientists, including those from the Morphing Matter Lab at the Carnegie Mellon University in the US, believe this pasta innovation can help improve the packaging and transportation efficiency of instant-pasta products that hit the shelves in markets across the world. According to the researchers, packaging pasta requires large bags and boxes to accommodate the iconic shapes of pastas around the world such as penne, rigatoni, fusilli and rotini. Independent 

When Jeff Bezos’ space tourism venture Blue Origin flies its first astronaut crew to space this summer, one seat will go to the highest bidder. After teasing the announcement over the past week, the company said Wednesday it has opened an online auction for one of six seats aboard the New Shepard, its suborbital vehicle designed for space tourism, for the July 20 flight. The opportunity to fly above the Karman Line — the internationally recognized line of space, at over 300,000 feet, or 62 miles — presents a new market opportunity, the company said. “Only 569 people have ever been over the Karman Line,” said Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s director of astronaut and orbital sales, said during a press briefing Wednesday. “We’re about to change that dramatically.” ABC News 

SpaceX has finally nailed a test flight of the rocket ship that tech billionaire Elon Musk wants to use to send people to Mars. Four previous test flights ended in explosions but the upgraded Starship went vertical just in time for landing on Wednesday, having soared more than its planned maximum altitude of six miles over the Gulf Of Mexico. There was a fire at the base of the 50m rocket after it landed, but this was quickly extinguished. Launch commentator John Insprucker said: “Starbase Flight Control has confirmed, as you can see on the live video, we are down. The Starship has landed.” Mr Musk tweeted: “Starship landing nominal!” Sky News

Almost all of 50 of the UK’s biggest employers questioned by the BBC have said they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time. Some 43 of the firms said they would embrace a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week. Four firms said they were keeping the idea of hybrid working, working from home some of the time, under review. Currently, people who can work from home are still advised to do so. However, that is likely to change in June when the government hopes to end all social distancing restrictions. “We’re never going to go back to working the way we used to work,” said Mark Read, chief executive of advertising firm WPP. BBC

Uber has taken a $600m (£431m) hit from its decision to pay drivers in the UK a guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay. The transport app revealed last night that it was logging the sum to settle historical claims related to the decision to classify drivers as workers, rather than independent contractors. Uber announced in March that 70,000 drivers in the UK would start receiving holiday pay and pension payments, as well as a guaranteed minimum wage, after the company lost a lengthy legal battle over drivers’ employment rights. The $600m accrual relates to historical claims from drivers claiming back payments, and does not cover the cost of the move going forward, which analysts have said could cost up to $350m this year. Telegraph

Chris Price
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