From Ars Technica: A warmer planet means bigger hurricane surges

View of Hurricane Isabel from the International Space Station.

Almost every major storm is now accompanied by a climate change discussion. Everybody wants to ask whether human impacts on the climate system “caused” the storm. Unless framed carefully, it’s kind of a lousy question. We can’t say for sure that an individual storm wouldn’t have occurred if we hadn’t warmed the planet by roughly 1°C—climate is, by definition, statistical. So we use analogies like the climate loading the dice (or juicing its hits like a steroid-assisted major leaguer). What we do know is that every storm now takes place in a world that’s notably warmer than it was a century ago.

Perhaps no type of storm draws as much attention in the US as hurricanes, but the science of these storms has been dissatisfyingly uncertain. Some studies have projected more hurricanes in the future, but others have projected fewer. The best information available today points to decreasing frequency but increasing strength, but it comes with significant uncertainties.

One challenge is that global climate models used to make projections for the future have a hard time effectively simulating the fine-scale processes within hurricanes, which has contributed to the present uncertainty. Modern hurricane observations are also much better than they were in the past, so it’s difficult to identify historical trends in any of these details.

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From Ars Technica: Audio pioneers of Star Wars sue Apple over speaker tech

THX Ltd., the audio technology company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, has filed a lawsuit saying that Apple’s iPhones, iMacs, and iPads all infringe a patent it owns that covers “narrow-profile speakers.”

The three-page lawsuit [PDF], filed in San Jose federal court, is slim on details. It simply says that most Apple products “incorporate narrow-profile speaker units that output sound through a duct or aperture having a narrow dimension.” The patent at issue was granted in 2008.

Like most tech companies, Apple gets sued for patent infringement quite regularly. Most of those suits come from “patent trolls” that just sue over patents, while others are a result of the corporate smartphone patent wars that Apple had a hand in starting a few years ago.

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From Ars Technica: Verizon wants to only pay for channels that TV customers actually watch

Verizon wants to disrupt the television industry with a simple idea: smaller networks and media outlets shouldn’t be paid as much as big networks that offer channels on cable and satellite providers.

Verizon pays a per-subscriber fee for the right to air various channels via FiOS TV (it’s the sixth-largest provider in the US). But that fee is a flat amount based on how many potential viewers those channels could have, not the actual number of viewers.

“We are paying for a customer who never goes to the channel,” Terry Denson, the phone company’s chief programming negotiator, told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

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