Hackers crack Google Pixel security in record time

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL.
Image: dustin drankoski/mashable

Uninspiring design aside, Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL are fantastic smartphones that really give the iPhone a run for its money, especially when it comes to taking photos and videos.

Earlier this month, Adrian Ludwig, the director of Android security at Google, told Motherboard at a security conference that the Pixels are as secure as iPhones.

“For almost all threat models [the Pixels and iPhone] are nearly identical in terms of their platform-level capabilities,” Ludwig said.

Well, so much for that. A group of Chinese white hat hackers managed to hack a Pixel in 60 seconds at the PwnFest hacking competition that took place in Seoul on Friday, according to The Register.

The hackers, who work at Qihoo 360, a security solutions company, won $120,000 in cash after demonstrating an exploit that cracked open the Android and gave them full remote access as well as access to personal information such as messages, phone calls, contacts and photos.

Google is now reportedly patching the exploit along with a previous hole that enabled rival white hat hackers at Tencent’s Keen Labs to breach the Pixel’s security at the Mobile Pwn2Own event in Japan last month.

The iPhone’s been widely praised for its tight security, and Apple CEO Tim Cook’s public fight and refusal to create a backdoor for the FBI earlier this year only strengthened the device’s appeal.

Android, on the other hand, because of its many customizations and open source design, is far more vulnerable to hacking.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Apple brags about iOS 10 adoption, throws shade at Google

It wouldn’t be an Apple event without a little shade, right?

Apple CEO Tim Cook opened Thursday’s keynote at the company’s Mac event in Cupertino with a not-so-subtle burn aimed at Google. The subject was mobile operating system adoption, a noted sore spot for Google.

Cook announced that iOS 10, which was released last month, has now reached an adoption rate of 60%. That’s an impressive stat in itself and we’ve previously noted that iOS 10 has been particularly successful in this regard but Cook took it a step further with this graphic comparing it to Android.

The image showed Google comparatively dismal adoption rate of Android 7.0, which has been out longer than iOS 10 but is installed on less than 1% of Android devices.

This is far from surprising, new versions of Android have always taken much longer to reach the masses than Cupertino’s counterpart, primarily because Google doesn’t control the vast majority of Android’s hardware. But it was still a good burn.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/27/apple-ios-10-60-percent/

Starfish-fighting robot and digital eye test catch Google’s attention

Google Impact Challenge 2016 winners.
Image: Anna Warr

SMS support for the ill, an autonomous reef surveying robot and a fish stock app were three of the successful projects to win Australia’s second-ever Google Impact Challenge Wednesday.

At an event held at Google’s Sydney office, the top 10 non-profit ideas, all using technology to solve social and environmental issues, were whittled down to three winners along with two people’s choice awards. Each of the five received A$750,000.

Clara Chow, a cardiologist at Westmead Hospital, helps lead one of the winners, TEXTCARE. The service send personalised text messages to support people with chronic disease.

An excited Chow told Mashable the experience was “amazing.”

“This is something we’ve been working on for five years,” she said. “We think we’re just at that point where we can upscale it … This has given us, one, the confidence, and two, the means, to consolidate our partners to do that.”

The prize money will be vital. “I’m a pretty driven sort of person, I would have tried to find another way,” Chow added. “But, you know, you never know what’s at your door.”

While some winning projects focused on hardware, such as the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s robot that will look for environmental threats, others were app-based.

Hello Sunday Morning, a vaguely “fitspo” mobile program to deal with alcohol dependency, presents more like a startup. That’s something one of the judges, the CSIRO’s CEO Larry Marshall, seemed particularly thrilled about as the winners were announced.

Google.org head Jacquelline Fuller.

Image: Anna Warr.

According to Google.org head Jacquelline Fuller, her team have been amazed by the level of social innovation in Australia.

Fuller was particularly impressed the finalists included startups as well as more traditional charities.

“Sometimes the big, global [non-governmental organisations] aren’t always the ones on the cutting edge of innovation. I think it’s really terrific that we saw the full range,” she said.

What’s also important, she suggested, is that the winners are willing to share their data, their innovation and their experiences. “We don’t want organisations all around the world to reinvent the wheel,” Fuller said. “So if what we have created is helpful, we want to give them that, and help them to localise it.”

As well as the cash, the winners will get mentorship from Google staff. “We hadn’t realised in the past how important it was to also get Googlers to volunteer to help make the projects a reality,” she said.

Jason Pellegrino, managing director at Google Australia and New Zealand, told Mashable it was very rare for Google to bring its Impact Challenge back to the same country twice.

The return was thanks to the impact of the first round in 2014, as well as Australia’s relationship with the tech giant. “This was our second international office outside of the U.S,” he said. “Right from the start, this has always been a country that has been technologically forward.

“It’s always an easy place to bring a competition like this, and know you’re going to get great support and great outcomes.”

The five runners-up will also receive A$250,000.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/27/google-impact-challenge-australia-2016/

Review: Google Daydream View

The bestthings about the Daydream View, Google’s $79 mobile-driven virtual reality headset that comes out today, arewhat it isn’t: Complicated. Heavy. Expensive. Finicky. Most importantly of all, though, it’s not Cardboard. Google knows for Daydream to take off, the VR platform has to be as simple as as the assemble-it-yourself cheapo phone holster that’s brought so many people into immersive virtual worldsfor the first time—just better. Much better.

Much like the Google Pixel phone that powers it, the View is almost entirely featureless. Very unlike the Pixel, though—and unlike every other VR headset out there—the View manages to look and feel cozy. The eyebox is an uninterrupted swatch of soft heathered material. When you slip it over your head, a single wide fabric strap keeps everything secure, and a padded linerlets the headset rest snugly on your face withoutleaving pressure marks. The linercan even be removed and hand-washedwhich, seriously, you may want to consider doing every now and then. Your T-zone will thank you.

Google Daydream View

8/10

Wired

Comfortable for long spells. Feels good to the touch. Fast, responsive trackingespecially impressive after Cardboard’s disappointing performance. A versatile controller that enhances every experience.

Tired

Unreliable NFC pairing. A launch slate that’s overreliant on Google’s own apps.

How We Rate

  • 1/10A complete failure in every way
  • 2/10Sad, really
  • 3/10Serious flaws; proceed with caution
  • 4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
  • 5/10Recommended with reservations
  • 6/10Solid with some issues
  • 7/10Very good, but not quite great
  • 8/10Excellent, with room to kvetch
  • 9/10Nearly flawless
  • 10/10Metaphysical perfection

Flip down the faceplate, place your Pixel on the four contact points, and the View should recognize it immediately via NFC and prompt you to close the lid. “Should” being the operative word. If I’d recently restarted the phone, all happened as expected, but many times I needed to explicitly launch a VR app just to receive the prompt to place my Pixel in the View—and sometimes I got no prompt at all, leading to a frustrating game of Home Screen Bingo to see what would trigger the launch sequence.

Google

Once things start running, though, and the View is on your head, it (with a little help from you) pairs with the headset’s not-so-secret weapon: the companion controller. As my colleague David has already pointed out, the small pillbox-shaped device functions like a cross between the Apple TV’s remote and a Wiimote, though VR fans will find the Oculus Rift’s remote the handiest comparison. Yet, it’s an improvement on all of those, as well as handily eclipsing the touchpad-on-the-side-of-the-headset input scheme of theSamsung Gear VR, the View’s nearest competitor. It’s your all-in-one Daydream input device, taking various forms depending on what you’re doing. Because it’s motion-tracked, it act asa laser pointer, an aiming reticle, a flashlight, a wand, or just about anything you need it to be. Its buttons bring up in-game options or kick you back to an app-selection screen; around area near the top for your thumbcan function as a joystick, a rotary selector, or a swipe-able touchpad. It’s versatile, powerful, andwhilethe pairing dropped a handful times during my testing, it enhances everything you do in Daydream.

The first place you’ll use it is in Daydream’s pastoral home environment, a forest clearing with a waterfall to your right and a stream flowing nearby. In front of you hovers thesame tiledselection of apps that has emerged as VR’s default UI. (Passing your controller’s selector over the icons in Daydream, though,triggers a nifty 3D animation.) Our review unit included a small selection of titles, from Google’s own products like Street Viewand YouTube VR to third-party games and experiences: astronomy exploration tool Star Chartis a standout, as is cute if inconsequential puzzle game Mekorama.

Google

The good news is that the vast majority of these are flawlessly comfortable experiences. The View might be significantly more wearable than a Google Cardboard viewer, but it’s still essentially the same thing: a phone holster with some lenses in it. There’s no focus wheel, no interpupillary distance adjustment—no input whatsoever. While the Samsung Gear VR has some onboard motion sensors and establishes a hard connection with the phone via its mini-USB jack, the View eschews all that, instead relying solely on the Pixel’s (and controller’s) internal sensors for all tracking. And it does so surprisingly well.

My only brush with VRdiscomfort was in a mini-game collection called Wonderglade:something about the top-down view and the game’s detached camera control came together in unholy matrimony and turned what should have beena pleasant gameof minigolf into a headache I’ve come to know as a precursor to simulator sickness. That’s the fault of the game design, though, notDaydream’s tracking. (By contrast, I found action-RPGHunters Gateto beperfectly comfortable,despite needing to use my thumb and my controller in different waysand looking around at my surroundingswhile doing both.)

For all the good, keep in mind that this is still mobile VR. You can swivel in a chair or look up and down, but you can’t physically move through a virtual space. Fully positionally-tracked VR isn’t yet available in a standalone or mobile-driven headset; for now, if you want to be cable-free or avoid buying a PC or PlayStation 4 (and the multi-hundred-dollar headset to go with it), you’re looking at a somewhat constrained VR experience.

But for a constrained VR experience, this is as good as I’ve seen. A Pixel XL’s Quad HD OLED screen delivers an image as good as you’ll get using a Galaxy phone with the Gear VR, and Google has done a lot of work to optimize the phone to deliver great VR. If you’re not a Verizon customer, you’ll need to wait until there’s a Daydream-ready phone on your own carrier, but that won’t be a long wait: as Google announced in May,at least eight differentAndroid manufacturers, from Asusto Xiaomi,will be rolling out Daydream-capable phones. (There’ll even be other Daydream headsets eventually.)

Daydream also has the benefit of coming nearly two years after the Oculus Store first launched. The VR pipeline is robust, and growing all the time. There are more than 40 other games, experiences and apps arriving on Daydream over the next two months,While many of those are already staples of most other VR platforms (Netflix, NYT VR, cartoonish racer VR Karts, the bomb-defusing game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes), a healthy number of them are newcomers. That infusion of talent is integral to people not just buying in, but using VR.

When Google first surprised us withits Cardboard viewer, it was 2014: the first version of the Samsung Gear VR was still months away.Simply by representing an affordable buy-in, Cardboardspawned a seemingly endless paradeofcheap and easy(and, sure, mostlycrappy) phone-based headsets.Google knew that the quality would come; it just wanted people to be willing to tryVR. Now it’s got them thereand it’s giving them a better View.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/daydream-view-review/

Google’s first real stab at a VR headset needs more VR content

Google’s Daydream View is wrapped in soft microfiber fabric.
Image: lili sams/mashable

The world of virtual reality is a convoluted mess right now, divided into three categories: low, mid and high end.

On the low end you’ve got Google Cardboard and all the “viewers” that don’t have any kind of head tracking or controllers. These are pretty terrible in most cases.

In the middle, you’ve got Samsung’s Gear VR and a dozen of clones that provide good VR experiences with limited head-tracking and controller support (either built-in or wireless).

And on the high-end, there’s the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which require expensive, powerful gaming PCs to work. But man, are the VR experiences worth it. Sony’s PlayStation VR gets lumped into this category, too, but it’s a notch down from the Rift and Vive.

The sweet spot will be self-contained VR headsets something Intel and others are hard at work on that give you a near high-end experience with the portability of the Gear VR.

But until we get there, most people who don’t want to blow a small fortune on VR are going to settle for good enough. Which is why Google’s launching the DayDream View, an $80 VR headset that’s designed to knock out the Gear VR.

It’s familiar, yet different, but still the same idea: Slot your phone into the headset and jack into the matrix VR world.

Soft and cozy

The Pixel XL sticks out pretty bad on Daydream View.

Image: lili sams/mashable

At least that’s how Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR, described Daydream View during its unveil at last month’s Pixel launch event.

It’s just not sleek looking at all.

“We looked at what people actually wear; we wear stuff that’s soft, stuff that’s flexible and breathable, and so we crafted our headset out of that same comfortable stuff,” Bavor said.

I can confirm Daydream View is indeed soft; the outside is wrapped in microfiber. The look is less Best Buy and more Crate & Barrel.

But despite its significantly smaller size compared to the Gear VR, it’s still a thing you strap to your face with an elastic band. Until these VR headsets that look like sunglasses, they’ll always look dorky.

Daydream View is 57 percent lighter than Samsung’s Gear VR.

Image: lili sams/mashable

As for cozy, I can’t say I entirely agree. Though Daydream View is about 57 percent lighter (without phones) than the Gear VR it’s not noticeably lighter during actual usage. And while the face pad (the padding between your face and the lenses) is soft as well, it also lets in quite a bit of light around the nose region something you definitely don’t want to happen when you’re looking at virtual dinosaurs or immersing yourself in 360-degree videos on YouTube.

I also don’t love how the Pixel and Pixel XL (the only two phones that currently work support Daydream) stick out between the front flap and the headset. It’s just not sleek looking at all.

The facepad is removable and washable.

Image: lili sams/mashable

The controller fits snuggly into the headset for storage.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

There are some clever Daydream View features. The remote-like controller fits inside of the headset for convenient storage, and the face pad is removable and washable. It’s also nice there isn’t a band on the top to flatten and ruin your hair.

Not much to do yet

You’re going to be disappointed if you buy a Daydream View today expecting to get lost in an endless portal of immersive VR content.

The sad reality is there just isn’t much to see or do with Daydream View right now; there are fewer than dozen VR apps and most of them are so-so.

But let’s start with Google’s Daydream VR interface because it’s really simple and easy to navigate, and similar to the Oculus experience you get with the Gear VR.

Daydream’s “homescreen”.

Image: google

There are two rows to Daydream (three if you count the last row of round icons: Play Store, Library and Settings). The top row shows three VR apps and you can swipe on the controller’s touchpad to bring up new ones. The row just below it shows the four most recently opened VR apps with the newest on the left.

To launch apps just point your controller, aim the little dot-shaped cursor on the screen and click on the touchpad. A single press on the home button (O) always brings you back to the main Daydream homescreen. If you’ve used Android or a set-top box of any kind, you’ll be right at home.

The Google Play Store for Daydream.

Image: google

Buying and installing apps from Google Play is also pretty straightforward. All I had to do was enter my PIN code after making making sure my Google account had money loaded up.

Design-wise, I like that the controller is wireless and separate from the headset. You could blame me for having weak arms from typing all day, but constantly holding my arm up to the Gear VR’s side-mounted touchpad gets tiring.

Functionally, though, the Gear VR is superior; the in-headset cursor never gets misaligned, unlike the Daydream View’s controller and cursor which constantly needs to be re-calibrated and re-aligned during usage. Re-calibrating the controller is extremely easy (just long press on the home button), but it’s annoying when you have to do it every few minutes.

The wireless controller that comes with Daydream View.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Now back to the apps. Because a VR headset is useless without any content.

During my review period, I had access to YouTube VR, Google Street View, Google Arts & Culture VR, Google Play Movies & TV, Star Chart VR, WSJ VR and a three games including Hunters Gate, Wonder Glade and Mekorama VR. And that’s it.

As you can see, it’s not a whole lot.

I was less amused by apps like Google Street View (360-degree landmarks), Google Arts & Culture VR (viewing museum paintings) and WSJ VR (a weird Wall Street Journal app that takes place within a modern Gordon Gekko-like penthouse office with several of its 360 videos and, of course, stocks shown in 3D graphs).

Use the controller to point and click.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Nothing was that great. Either they weren’t very immersive or the content was dull. Of the apps provided, the games were the most engrossing and promising. Hunters Gate is a third-person top-down shooter where you have to shoot demons, Wonder Glade offers an amusement park of mini-games including a mini-golf game where you swing the the controller like a golf club (kind of like Wii Golf), and Mekorama VR has you helping a robot make its way through a 3D puzzle.

Google has a list of more exciting VR content like Need for Speed: No Limits VR, experiences based on the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Netflix and Hulu are coming before the end of the year. But it would have been great to see more variety at launch. When you’re playing catch-up you have to come hard and Daydream View’s launch content is really soft.

YouTube in VR

Image: google

The only app resembling a killer Daydream app is YouTube VR.

Google’s designed the app from the ground up just for VR and I have to say it’s quite good. There are three main panels: On the left is a panel for a video’s description, the center panel shows videos, and the right panel shows videos that are “Up Next.”

At first glance, the panels are a little overwhelming, but as you start pointing your controller and clicking on things, it feels less so.

YouTube VR has a great chance of becoming the place to see new 360 and VR videos.

The majority of videos are in 2D, and you view them in a dark room that’s super barebones with just a giant screen (resizable by swiping up or down touchpad) in front of you. It would have been nice for Google to put some more thought into this simulated “theater” view; on the Gear VR you at least feel like you’re in a movie theater with real seats around you or on the moon. (Even the Google Play Movies & TV VR app show 2D videos on a giant screen on a campsite.)

The app’s got a curated 360-degree video section so you don’t need to look for the content yourself. It’s great except most of the quality of the videos look pretty bad (even on a fast Wi-Fi connection). There are a few gems like Help and the fan-made Star Wars 360 VR: Hunting of the Fallen, but they’re scarce.

Even so, the interface is solid and there’s more than enough content to get lost in for a few hours. Just as YouTube has become the primary place for online video, YouTube VR has a great chance of becoming the place to see new 360 and VR videos.

Building a VR ecosystem

Image: lili sams/mashable

The best analogy for Daydream View is a Nexus phone. Daydream View is like a reference model, so to speak, for other hardware makers to model their own Daydream-compatible VR headsets and controllers after.

But more than just a headset, Daydream View is a jumping-off point for Google’s grand plan to own the mobile VR space. The Gear VR has the Oculus Store and Daydream View (and future Daydream VR headsets) has Daydream, which has access to VR apps and content from the Google Play Store and the YouTube VR app.

With Daydream View, Google’s laying the framework to standardize phones (they must meet certain requirements on screen resolution, refresh rate, processing, etc.) for optimal mobile VR experiences and for the Daydream platform to flourish.

As such, Daydream View feels exactly like what it is: version 1.0. It’ll improve and get better with newer versions and there will be tons more content to experience with Daydream weeks, months and years from now.

If you’ve got a Pixel and want to dip your toes in VR waters, Daydream View is a good place to start. It won’t deliver the superior ocular and audio experience of the Gear VR or an Oculus Rift, but at least it’s not as terrible as Cardboard.

Google Daydream View

The Good

Washable face pad Storage slot for controller within headset YouTube VR curates 360 videos into one place

The Bad

Smaller field of view than Gear VR Not much to experience in Daydream (yet) Pixel XL sticks out of the headset Controller constantly needs recalibrating

The Bottom Line

Daydream View feels like what it is: a version 1.0 product.

WATCH: People try Daydream View VR headset for the first time

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/10/google-daydream-view-vr-headset-review/

Google’s mobile ad push is paying off

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks during a ceremony announcing a $300 million expansion of Google’s data center operations in Lithia Springs, Ga.
Image: Associated press/David Goldman, File

Google and Facebook currently have a near-duopoly stranglehold on the mobile ads market.

But the trajectory of each company’s growth in the sector has worried some of the search giant’s investors, who see the social network eating into Google’s share of the business.

Thursday’s earnings release from Google parent Alphabet, however, suggests the company’s efforts to turn this situation around have been at least partly successful.

The Mountain View company reported earnings and revenue on Thursday that surpassed Wall Street’s already-rosy estimates.

Google pulled in revenues of $22.5 billion and earnings per share of $9.06, beating the Thomson Reuters consensus predictions of $22.1 billion and $8.64 respectively.

Executives credited the boost to its mobile ads business particularly strong forward momentum in mobile search and YouTube ad sales.

Research firm eMarketer estimates that 60 percent of Google’s ad revenues will come from mobile this year, up from 46 percent last year. Meanwhile, Facebook derives a whopping 82 percent of sales from ad on smartphones.

As of last fall, the firm’s analysts say Google still owns a larger chunk of the mobile market 32 percent versus 19 percent but Facebook’s slice is expected to continue to rapidly grow, while Google’s is projected to stagnate.

Google is still primarily an advertising business, the largest on the internet, but it also has its fingers in several other pies, including subsidiaries, hardware sales and pet ventures.

The company launched a new line of devices earlier this month including its first-ever smartphone, the Pixel leading some to even speculate whether Google was turning into a hardware company (It’s not, according to these numbers).

Google didn’t break out specific numbers on pre-order sales for these products, and in many respects it’s still too early to gauge their success.

The company has also been trimming down some of its more ambitious bets in a bid to tighten focus on its core business.

Google announced Wednesday that it would lay off members of its Fiber division a massive undertaking to lay optics cables that would bring internet access to households as it switched to more efficient wireless methods.

It also recently spun off its driverless car business into a separate entity within the Alphabet umbrella.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/27/alphabet-google-earnings-third-quarter/

How does the pill work? You asked Google – heres the answer | Holly Grigg-Spall

Every day millions of internet users ask Google lifes most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

The pill was the first drug to be created and prescribed for healthy people. Oral contraceptives became available in 1961 and within a decade were so ubiquitous as to gain the pet name of the pill. Fast-forward to the present: 100 million women will take a form of the pill today, right after brushing their teeth or before they go to bed. In fact, 80% of women will use oral contraceptives at some point during their lives. Many women now start taking the pill during their teens and continue taking it, every day, for several decades. The pill has become such a normalised, commonplace part of womens daily routine that its easy to forget that the pill is actually a powerful medication. But all of us, at some point, will want to know: How does the pill work?

The pill is made up of a synthetic estrogen and synthetic progesterone (known as progestin). These synthetic hormones are not the same as the hormones produced by the female body. The pill actually stops the production of those endogenous hormones via the brain. It suppresses the creation and fluctuation of hormones that make up the menstrual cycle and replaces that cycle with an artificial, flat stream of synthetic hormones. The body stops producing its own hormones and the pill acts as hormone replacement.

This process switches off the ovaries, preventing ovulation (the release of the egg from the ovary). The pill also prevents the production of fertile cervical fluid (essential for sperm to reach the egg). Plus, the lining of the uterus does not grow thicker (this uterine lining is what would usually, in an unmedicated cycle, become your period). This is the three-fold action by which the pill prevents pregnancy. Although women are only able to get pregnant on six days per menstrual cycle, the pill is taken every day to ensure infertility.

The usual language used for describing how the pill works is too often a mix of half-truths, platitudes, and a simple fudging of the facts. Understanding how the female body works when not on the pill can help us understand how the pill works. However, the female body and reproductive health have long been after-thoughts in science, as in our society. As a result, the pill has become both a product and a proponent of a sexist set-up, creating a gap in knowledge that gets filled with a host of medical myths.

For example, you may have heard that the pill regulates periods. The pill doesnt manage the menstrual cycle, it replaces it, and therefore the pill does not regulate the menstrual cycle. When women take the pill, they do not experience a cycle or periods. When they take a break from the pill once a month or take the placebo/sugar pills and bleed, this is not menstruation. The bleed experienced on the pill is a withdrawal bleed (your body is withdrawing from the synthetic hormones) and very different from a physiological period.

Why birth control can never regulate periods

Early pill researchers decided to create the break week (or the few days of placebo pills) to allow women to experience a bleed each month. At the time, it was considered a good sales tactic to design the pill packs this way; they thought women would be concerned by not bleeding month-in-month-out and, as such, would be reluctant to take the pill. Today youll often hear that there is no medical reason to have periods on the pill. What is meant is that theres no medical reason to have withdrawal bleeds on the pill, and thats precisely because the bleeds on the pill are not real periods. Withdrawal bleeds are an inessential design feature of the pill, but actual menstruation is different. There are many good medical reasons to have a period in fact, the American Committee of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women view their periods as the fifth vital sign of health.

Part of the mythology that surrounds the pill is the idea that menstruation is unnatural. This developed from the paleofantasy of one doctor. He assumed that, because paleolithic women did not experience many periods in a lifetime (presuming they were pregnant often, breastfeeding, and then, of course, dying very young) in comparison to modern-day women, it is therefore more natural for women today to not have a menstrual cycle. It is more natural, he reasons, for them to be on hormonal birth control. So, the theory is that the pill takes women back to our presumed natural state of constant pregnancy and breastfeeding (no ovulation, no periods).

But its just a theory, without evidence, as we cannot know what occurred pre-science, or pre-society for that matter. Anyway, the pill does not actually mimic pregnancy; what happens to the body on the pill is more like a chemically induced menopause. The pregnancy hormones are estradiol, estriol and progesterone, which give many benefits. The pill contains ethinylestradiol and a synthetic progestin (like levonorgestrel or drospirenone, for example, as there are many kinds), which do not give the same benefits, and actually have many of the opposite effects.

Rather than questioning if a biological function is natural, it makes more sense to investigate whether it is important for good health. Its interesting to note that there are few functions of the male body we consider obsolete, unnecessary, or unnatural. Ive yet to hear a doctor make the argument that men might actually ejaculate too much, and as such should avoid ejaculation (preferably with ejaculation-preventive drugs), unless its for the purpose of conceiving a child.

The connection between the menstrual cycle and womens health is not theory, but scientific fact. The menstrual cycle and ovulation, specifically female biology, allows women to get pregnant and give birth, but thats not its only reason for being. Menstruation and ovulation are two connected parts of the same biological system. That we ask do women need periods? rather than do women need to ovulate? reveals that theorising around the necessity of menstruation is always wrapped up in the culture of period shaming and taboo.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/google-autocomplete-how-does-pill-work

Google trends reveal just how confused the country is right now

Image: AP/charles krupa

If our parents or president can’t provide the answers, Americans turn to Google.

After last night’s historic upset, many people searched online for help understanding what just happened. Some, it appeared, were looking for facts. Others wanted emotional reassurance that the electoral map that they were looking was somehow, magically, wrong.

First and foremost, Americans wanted to know basic facts about their often confusing electoral system:

They didn’t understand how the candidate every poll projected would win, didn’t win:

Some were looking out for Hillary Clinton:

Mostly, they just wanted to know how this happened.

Hopefully, they’ll find the Google answer they’re looking for.

BONUS: Van Jones on CNN.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/09/election-night-google-searches/