6030 stories
·
0 followers

The best audio interface 2020: our pick of the top audio interfaces for production and music-making

1 Share

If you make music on a PC or Mac, an audio interface is pretty much a must have piece of kit. In a nutshell, the best audio interfaces for production and music-making enable you to get high-quality audio in and out of your computer, and to connect some essential studio gear during your session.

Get your hands on an audio interface and you’ll be able to plug in microphones, electric guitars, synths and other instruments – perhaps even MIDI equipment, too – and to hook up a pair of studio monitors and headphones.

But, as you might expect, there are lots of audio interfaces on the market, all vying for your attention, so you how do you choose the best audio interface for you? You read our guide, of course, which will tell you everything you need to know.

What is the best audio interface?

If you want the best audio interface on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the

, a 2-in/2-out USB device that looks, sounds and feels great. It enables you to plug in microphones and instruments, and offers great value for money.

If you need a bit more I/O, take a look at the third-generation version of Focsurite’s Scarlett 4i4, a USB-C audio interface that gives you double the number of inputs and outputs and sounds great.

At the top end, consider

, a 2-in/6-out audio interface that also enables you to use UA’s range of excellent DSP-powered plugins. 

Best audio interface: buying advice

When choosing the best audio interface for you, the first thing to work out is the number and type of inputs and outputs you need. If you only want to plug in one microphone or instrument at a time, just one or two inputs will be enough, but if you want to record a live band, you’ll need far more than that. 

Multiple outputs can be useful if you want to set up separate headphone mixes or send audio elsewhere for further processing.

You’ll typically find both XLR and 1/4-inch inputs on an audio interface, often combined into combo connectors. Many interfaces have a phantom power option, too, which is required to use certain microphones.

Some audio interfaces have MIDI I/O on them, which could save you from having to buy a separate interface for external gear. If you only intend to use a MIDI keyboard, though, remember that this could plug into one of your computer’s other USB ports.

Audio interfaces typically run over USB or ThunderBolt, and you first need to make sure that the one you choose will plug into your computer. We’re now starting to see interfaces with USB-C connectors, but these can still plug into older USB ports with the right cable or adapter. 

Many are class-compliant, which means you can just plug in and start using them, and bus-powering is a feature to look out for, too. It’s also worth checking to see if your interface has iOS compatibility, if that’s important to you.

Most contemporary audio interfaces offer a low-latency recording option, which means you can stay in time with your project when you’re adding more tracks. Some interfaces also promise latency levels that are low enough to use effect plugins in ‘realtime’ on the input as you record, while others have have their own DSP processing built into them.

In the end, the best audio interface for you will at least partly come down to price, so you’ll be pleased to know that our list of recommendations below covers a broad range. Read on to find out what we consider to be the top audio interfaces on the market right now.

The best audio interfaces to buy today

Image 1 of 4Image 2 of 4Image 3 of 4Image 4 of 4

1. Audient iD4

The best audio interface for smaller budgets

Launch price: $199/£119/€133 | Connectivity: USB 2 | Audio resolution: 24-bit/96kHz | Analogue inputs: 2 | Analogue outputs: 2 | Digital connectivity: None | MIDI I/O: No

Great value for money

Excellent preamp

Well thought-out

Not much to complain about

Arguably the best audio interface you can buy for less than $200, The iD4 is a simple two-input/two-output offering featuring a mic preamp – complete with phantom power for using condenser mics – as well as an instrument level DI for plugging in your guitar or bass. On top of this, there’s a main output for your speakers and dual headphone outputs. 

The whole thing is powered via USB and, with Apple’s camera connection kit, it can also work with an iPhone/iPad. However, the studio devilry is in the detail: Audient has really thought about everything with value and usability in mind, making what is a budget solution feel anything but inexpensive. The Audient iD4 is, quite simply, the best USB audio interface we’ve seen at this price for a long time.

Read our full Audient iD4 review

Image 1 of 4Image 2 of 4Image 3 of 4Image 4 of 4

2. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

A compact, slick 2x2 audio interface at a competitive price

Launch price: $139/£109/€129 | Connectivity: USB 2 | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 2 | Analogue outputs: 2 | Digital connectivity: None | MIDI I/O: No

Super compact

Very slick and stylishly designed

Decent five-part input metering

No scaling on the controls

Komplete Audio 2 is a two-input, two-output design with two identical mic/line/instrument inputs. Connections are on space-saving combi XLRs with individual selector switches to select between line and instrument. 48V phantom power, meanwhile, is engaged globally via a single switch. 

In addition to the inputs, the front panel includes a hardware monitoring balance knob (Input/Host) and headphone output with independent control. 

The main output level is controlled from a large output level knob on the top panel. Here you’ll also find the input meters, alongside phantom and USB indicators. Round the back you’ve got the USB B connector, a pair of balanced outputs on TRS 1⁄4-inch jacks and a Kensington Security slot. 

It makes our best audio interface list because the performance of the Komplete Audio 2 is as slick as its looks, and though the features are basic, it does its job admirably. And when you consider the excellent software bundle, it's great value.

Read our full Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 review

3. Mackie Onyx Producer 2.2

A hard-wearing 2-channel interface with high audio quality

Launch price: $160/£129/ | Connectivity: USB 2 | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 2 | Analogue outputs: 2 | Digital connectivity: None | MIDI I/O: Yes

Up to 24-bit/192kHz operation

Robust build quality

MIDI input and output

Zero latency control affects monitor output

With high-quality Onyx mic pres, balanced analogue connectivity and operation up to 24-bit/192kHz, the bus-powered Onyx Producer 2.2 audio interface is more than capable of getting clean signals in and out of your DAW. There are two identical mic/line inputs with combination XLR/jack connectors. Each has a manual green backlit switch to select a Hi Z instrument, and there’s a global backlit switch for 48V phantom power. 

Input signals can be monitored with zero latency using the Input/DAW Mix knob, and rounding off the front panel are a large Monitor level knob and headphone output with level knob. Round the back you’ll find a pair of 1⁄4-inch jacks for the monitor output, and also a pair of MIDI connectors (In and Out), which is very handy. Throw in the robust metal case and you’ve got a compact workhorse device that should last for years. You also get a DAW, Tracktion T7, in the box.

Read our full Mackie Onyx Producer 2.2 review

Image 1 of 3Image 2 of 3Image 3 of 3

4. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen

A great competitively-priced option with plenty of connectivity

Launch price: $230/£200 | Connectivity: USB-C | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 4 | Analogue outputs: 4 | Digital connectivity: None | MIDI I/O: Yes

New, improved preamp design

‘Air’ transformer stage emulation

MIDI I/O is useful

Focusrite’s Scarlett USB interfaces have traditionally combined excellent sonics and audio flexibility at affordable price points, and the third generation units keep up the good work.

All units in the range have received physical and technical upgrades, with improved preamps (now up to 56dB gain), balanced connectivity throughout, and the inclusion of Focusrite’s ISA transformer preamp emulation option (Air). On the bus-powered Scarlett 4i4 you get two mic/line/instrument inputs with gain, two line-level TRS inputs and four TRS outputs.

The 4i4 supports Focusrite’s Control application, which means that a number of settings can only be made in the software. The app also handles low-latency monitoring.

As we’ve come to expect from the Scarlett series, the sonics are neutral and the drivers reliable. The Air option tilts the frequency response towards high frequencies, and this can be great for taming undesirable proximity or adding high frequency lift.

With a decent software bundle included, this is a solid upgrade and a great affordable audio interface.

Read our full Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen review

Image 1 of 4Image 2 of 4Image 3 of 4Image 4 of 4

5. Steinberg UR22C

A rugged 2-in/2-out audio interface with Yamaha preamps

Launch price: $190/£160/€189 | Connectivity: USB-C | Audio resolution: 32-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 2 | Analogue outputs: 2 | Digital connectivity: None | MIDI I/O: Yes

Built to last

Yamaha preamps

Built-in DSP processing

Steinberg has pimped-up its UR range of audio interfaces, introducing USB 3.0 models for PC, Mac and iOS. The UR22C is the most affordable of these.

Each of the interfaces offers USB Type-C connectivity (or USB 3.1 Gen 1 SuperSpeed, to give it its official title) and operates at 32-bit/192kHz audio resolution. There’s MIDI I/O, too, as well as DSP that provides zero-latency effects that can be used when monitoring. These can be accessed via the dspMixFx mixer.

Unsurprisingly, the UR22C is a 2-in/2-out audio interface. You get a couple of balanced Neutrik combo inputs, each of which sports a Yamaha D-PRE mic preamp, and two balanced line outputs.

With its rugged metal casing, the UR22C is the best audio interface for you if you want something that can be slung in a backpack without fear.

Image 1 of 5Image 2 of 5Image 3 of 5Image 4 of 5Image 5 of 5

6. IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo

The best audio interface if you need a portable powerhouse

Launch price: $199/£149/€199 | Connectivity: USB 2, Lightning, USB OTG | Audio resolution: 24-bit/48kHz | Analogue inputs: 2 | Analogue outputs: 2 | Digital connectivity: None | MIDI I/O: Yes

Completely portable

Works with mobile devices

Record two channels simultaneously

Usage issues when batteries are low

The iRig Pro Pro Duo is IK Multimedia's best mobile audio interface yet. It's got everything you need from a two-channel audio interface (including MIDI, phantom power, direct monitoring, signal metering, combi XLR/Hi-Z inputs) and can be either battery- or mains-powered. The Pro Duo also feels more robust than some of its predecessors. 

The unit comes complete with a plethora of cabling for connecting to your devices of choice, including MIDI breakout cables. One thing we did notice was that, as the batteries ran down, the unit became less stable. This is, of course, only a minor gripe, but if you're out and about, remember to bring spares.

Read our full IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo review

Image 1 of 4Image 2 of 4Image 3 of 4Image 4 of 4

7. Arturia AudioFuse

A classy audio interface with a wealth of connectivity options

Launch price: $599/£519/€599 | Connectivity: USB 2 | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 4 | Analogue outputs: 4 | Digital connectivity: ADAT I/O and S/PDIF I/O | MIDI I/O: Yes

Great sound

Loads of connectivity

Stylish design

Pricey compared to similar models

AudioFuse is an attractive and portable Mac, PC and iOS-compatible interface with a raft of features. Despite its compact frame, there’s plenty of connectivity on offer. Along the front edge, you’ll find combi inputs and two fully independent headphone feeds. In turn, these can accommodate both mini-jack and 1/4-inch plugs. 

At the back, there are speaker outputs for two pairs of monitors, line level connectors, MIDI In/Out ports (which, due to size restrictions, have been replaced by mini-jack connectors, which you’ll find in the box) and - for digital interfacing - both S/PDIF and ADAT In/Out. There are also inserts for inputs 1 and 2, allowing you to track through hardware compressors or channel strips. 

AudioFuse connects via USB 2, but USB connectivity goes further; Arturia has built a USB hub into it, providing three extra USB ports. AudioFuse provides a beautiful and contemporary approach to USB audio interfacing with a great design, compatibility with a huge range of possible audio sources, a great sound and a highly tactile control set.

Read our full Arturia AudioFuse review

Image 1 of 4Image 2 of 4Image 3 of 4Image 4 of 4

8. Universal Audio UAD Apollo Twin MkII

High-quality audio and DSP-powered plugins

Launch price: From $699/£600/€699 | Connectivity: Thunderbolt | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 2 | Analogue outputs: 6 | Digital connectivity: Optical Toslink | MIDI I/O: No

Incredible audio quality

Superb UAD-2 plugins

Thunderbolt only at the moment

No MIDI

Still a desktop-format 2-in/-6-out interface with 24-bit/192kHz capabilities, the Apollo Twin MkII would be almost indistinguishable from the original were it not now black rather than silver. It connects to your Mac or PC via Thunderbolt (there’s no cable in the box), but it has to be powered from the wall. The back panel and front edge house the inputs and outputs, while the top panel centres on a satisfyingly oversized knob. 

Also a DSP box for powering UAD plugin effects (you can choose from Solo, Duo and Quad options), the Apollo Twin MkII features the same game-changing Unison preamps as its predecessor, fed by the Mic/Line and Hi-Z ins. These enable a gradually expanding subset of UA’s classic hardware emulation plugins to be inserted directly into each input path. 

This is a musically empowering hardware/software hybrid that's capable of elevating even the humblest of home and project studios to genuinely professional-quality heights, and certainly one of the best audio interfaces you can buy.

Read our full Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII review 

Image 1 of 3Image 2 of 3Image 3 of 3

9. Antelope Audio Zen Tour

A high-end portable audio interface that guitarists will love

Launch price: $1495/£1415/€1495 | Connectivity: USB 2 and Thunderbolt | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 8 | Analogue outputs: 8 | Digital connectivity: S/PDIF, ADAT | MIDI I/O: No

Great, latency-free DSP FX

Truly portable

Incredibly flexible

Only one compressor 

Antelope doesn't tend to scrimp on the quality of its products and the Zen Tour is no exception. It’s very compact given how much functionality it offers, and feels solid. It has a small but useful touchscreen which enables you access to all the basic functions of the unit, with the likes of input gains, headphone levels and talkback directly accessible using buttons on the front panel and the large 'soft' knob. 

At the front are two headphone outs, two re-amping outs and four line/Hi Z inputs, all on 1/4-inch jacks. To the rear are four dual XLR/1/4-inch inputs, two pairs of monitor outs on 1/4-inch jacks, eight analogue outs on a DB25, two RCA sockets for S/PDIF in and out, a power connector and USB and Thunderbolt sockets. On the left-hand side are two pairs of ADAT ins and outs. 

Once you have the software installed on your computer and connected you are ready to go. There are six amplifier emulations covering vintage to modern and clean to downright filthy. They sound great and, unlike some software emulations, have a great dynamic response. You also get a great range of EQs and a single compressor. 

If you want a high-quality audio interface for studio, rehearsals and gigs you have to look at this. It sounds great and is supremely flexible. Certainly one of the best audio interfaces for guitarists you can buy.

Read our full Antelope Audio Zen Tour review

Image 1 of 4Image 2 of 4Image 3 of 4Image 4 of 4

10. Apogee Element 46

Great sound and superb software control

Launch price: $999/£859/€895 | Connectivity: Thunderbolt | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 4 | Analogue outputs: 6 | Digital connectivity: ADAT, SMUX and S/PDIF I/O | MIDI I/O: No

Sumptuous audio quality 

Highly flexible

Remote control costs extra

No MIDI I/O

One of the best audio interfaces for Mac on the market, the Element 46 prioritises function over form: it’s an extremely simple and rather plain-looking unit with not an LED or LCD in sight. Don’t let the featureless look throw you, though - the (optional) Remote Control unit might look like the more interesting piece of kit, but that plain grey box plays host to the real action. 

The real ace up Apogee’s sleeve is that the Element interfaces aren’t actually designed for physical interaction at all - instead, they’re designed to be put to one side on a surface in your studio, with their microphone connections (front-mounted for convenience) the only part you’ll get hands-on with during the recording process. 

Everything else is handled by software, with that aforementioned Remote Control or a free iOS app providing extra hands-on interaction should you wish. While nearly all of the best audio interfaces now provide software control over hardware, Element Control goes further than most, providing an essential front end to Apogee’s superb preamps and A/D conversion. 

Read our full Apogee Element 46 review

11. Steinberg AXR4

Steinberg is offering a genuine high-end audio interface alternative

Launch price: $2,799/£2,200/€2,499 | Connectivity: Thunderbolt 2 | Audio resolution: 32-bit/384kHz | Analogue inputs: 28 | Analogue outputs: 24 | Digital connectivity: ADAT, S/PDIF, AES/EBU I/O | MIDI I/O: Yes

Great performance and loads of I/O

Intuitive setup

No Thunderbolt cable included

Front panel configuration is fiddly

Steinberg has entered the Thunderbolt audio race with the the AXR4, a rack-mountable interface aimed at professional producers and engineers. This 28-in/24-out box offers latency-free DSP-powered monitoring and effects, stacks of I/O and plenty of routing flexibility. Up front you’ll find four Neutrik combo inputs and two headphone outputs, while the back panel houses eight TRS line inputs, eight TRS line outputs and two sets of ADAT I/O doubling as S/PDIF. 

The second pair provides an alternative AES/EBU Sub-D connector. MIDI I/O sits alongside word clock I/O, while two Thunderbolt 2 ports enable computer connection and daisy-chaining of up to three interfaces. The four hybrid mic preamps benefit from refined transformer circuitry and Rupert Neve Designs SILK processing, while DSP effects include the VCM 276 compressor, VCM EQ601, the Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip and the REV-X reverb. 

The Steinberg AXR4 oozes quality from every pore, making it a serious contender in the pro audio interfacing arena.

Read our full Steinberg AXR4 review

Image 1 of 3Image 2 of 3Image 3 of 3

12. Prism Sound Atlas

The best audio interface if you want a pro choice (at a pro price)

Launch price: $4,795/£3,594/€4,799 | Connectivity: USB 2 | Audio resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 8 | Analogue outputs: 8 | Digital connectivity: S/PDIF, ADAT | MIDI I/O: No

Fantastic, studio-level quality

Comprehensive software control

Highly expandable

Definitely for pros only

Prism Sound has quickly developed a reputation as a go-to choice for many professional users and studios seeking exemplary audio quality at the interfacing stage. Atlas is a 2U USB interface with plenty of I/O possibilities, but the extra ace up its sleeve is an MDIO port, which provides additional, flexible interfacing capability. 

The rear panel shows the internal interfacing capabilities Atlas offers, with eight coveted Prism Sound preamps provided, which allow for either XLR or TRS connections, alongside eight dedicated balanced 1/4-inch outputs. You'll also find digital inputs, with supported formats including S/PDIF and ADAT, meaning that Atlas is capable of recording up to 18 channels at once, at up to 192kHz, though digital track count becomes lower at super-high resolution. 

In use, Atlas feels like a thoroughbred interface from the moment it's up and running. You can configure some settings from the front panel, but Prism Sound also provides a comprehensive Control application to allow you to set up Atlas's assorted I/O over software. 

Atlas is a sumptuous interface, offering unparalleled sound quality. Prism Sound's reputation is further enhanced with its arrival and, since the quality of its interfaces was already seen as excellent, that's a glowing endorsement.

Read our full Prism Sound Atlas Audio Interface review

Read the whole story
MJF312
22 days ago
reply
River Forest, Ill
Share this story
Delete

2004 Hunter 36 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

1 Share

2004 Hunter 36

Read the whole story
MJF312
444 days ago
reply
River Forest, Ill
Share this story
Delete

NYC to Chicago Questions - Cruisers & Sailing Forums

1 Share

Hey Jake,


If you take the Erie Barge canal, of which I'd recommend, the mast needs to come down. There are several places along the

Hudson

to get it lowered. (The maximum air daft is something like 19 feet). I'd plan on a week, and enjoy this section some. It's a nice area with friendly, accommodating people. Once in the Lakes,

wind

direction permitting (somewhat difficult on Erie), I'd put in some overnights and just get it done. Yes, there is always the chance of debris in rivers as Chris mentioned. But if you're in a hurry, I'd recommend traversing the rivers at night. The ships and barges are actually easier to see at night, along with the

shipping

lanes. This would help maximize you're sailing time on the Lakes. Ten days overall on the Lakes should be sufficient, depending on your abilities and what you do with the

weather

that comes your way.


Good Luck,


Mark

Read the whole story
MJF312
444 days ago
reply
River Forest, Ill
Share this story
Delete

Have Aliens Found Us? An Interview with the Harvard Astronomer Avi Loeb About the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua

1 Share

On October 19, 2017, astronomers at the University of Hawaii spotted a strange object travelling through our solar system, which they later described as “a red and extremely elongated asteroid.” It was the first interstellar object to be detected within our solar system; the scientists named it ‘Oumuamua, the Hawaiian word for a scout or messenger. The following October, Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s astronomy department, co-wrote a paper (with a Harvard postdoctoral fellow, Shmuel Bialy) that examined ‘Oumuamua’s “peculiar acceleration” and suggested that the object “may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth’s vicinity by an alien civilization.” Loeb has long been interested in the search for extraterrestrial life, and he recently made further headlines by suggesting that we might communicate with the civilization that sent the probe. “If these beings are peaceful, we could learn a lot from them,” he told Der Spiegel.

I recently spoke by phone with Loeb, who was frustrated that scientists saw ‘Oumuamua too late in its journey to photograph the object. “My motivation for writing the paper is to alert the community to pay a lot more attention to the next visitor,” he told me. During our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed why Loeb thinks we need to consider the possibility that ‘Oumuamua was sent by aliens, the dangers of unscientific speculation, and what belief in an advanced extraterrestrial civilization has in common with faith in God.

Your explanation of why ‘Oumuamua might be an interstellar probe may be hard for laypeople to understand. Why might this be the case, beyond the fact that lots of things are possible?

There is a Scientific American article I wrote where I summarized six strange facts about ‘Oumuamua. The first one is that we didn’t expect this object to exist in the first place. We see the solar system and we can calculate at what rate it ejected rocks during its history. And if we assume all planetary systems around other stars are doing the same thing, we can figure out what the population of interstellar objects should be. That calculation results in a lot of possibilities, but the range is much less than needed to explain the discovery of ‘Oumuamua.

There is another peculiar fact about this object. When you look at all the stars in the vicinity of the sun, they move relative to the sun, the sun moves relative to them, but only one in five hundred stars in that frame is moving as slow as ‘Oumuamua. You would expect that most rocks would move roughly at the speed of the star they came from. If this object came from another star, that star would have to be very special.

What are some of the other strange facts?

When it was discovered, we realized it spins every eight hours, and its brightness changed by at least a factor of ten. The fact that its brightness varies by a factor of ten as it spins means that it is at least ten times longer than it is wide. We don’t have a photo, but, in all the artists’ illustrations that you have seen on the Web, it looks like a cigar. That’s one possibility. But it’s also possible that it’s a pancake-like geometry, and, in fact, that is favored.

What would be the meaning of a pancake-like geometry—

Wait. The most unusual fact about it is that it deviates from an orbit that is shaped purely by the gravitational force of the sun. Usually, in the case of comets, such a deviation is caused by the evaporation of ice on the surface of the comet, creating gases that push the comet, like the rocket effect. That’s what comets show: a cometary tail of evaporated gas. We don’t see a cometary tail here, but, nevertheless, we see a deviation from the expected orbit. And that is the thing that triggered the paper. Once I realized that the object is moving differently than expected, then the question is what gives it the extra push. And, by the way, after our paper appeared, another paper came out with analysis that showed very tight limits on any carbon-based molecules in the vicinity of this object.

What is the significance of that?

It means that there is no evidence of gas that relates to the evaporation of ice. We don’t see the telltale signatures of cometary tail. Moreover, if it was cometary activity, then we would expect the spin period of this object to change, and we don’t see that. All of these things are indicative of the fact that it is nothing like a comet that we have seen before in the solar system. And it is also nothing like an asteroid. Its brightness varies by a factor of ten, and the maximum you typically observe is a factor of three. It has a much more extreme geometry, and there is some other force pushing it. The question is, what’s providing this force, and that was the trigger for our paper.

The only thing that came to my mind is that maybe the light from the sun, as it bounces off its surface, gives it an extra push. It’s just like a wind bouncing off a sail on a sailboat. So we checked that and found that you need the thickness of the object to be less than a millimetre in order for that to work. If it is indeed less than a millimetre thick, if it is pushed by the sunlight, then it is maybe a light sail, and I could not think of any natural process that would make a light sail. It is much more likely that it is being made by artificial means, by a technological civilization.

I should say, just as background, I do not view the possibility of a technological civilization as speculative, for two reasons. The first is that we exist. And the second is that at least a quarter of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy have a planet like Earth, with surface conditions that are very similar to Earth, and the chemistry of life as we know it could develop. If you roll the dice so many times, and there are tens of billions of stars in the Milky Way, it is quite likely we are not alone.

So this civilization would be out of the solar system and in the galaxy?

In the galaxy. It may be dead by now, because we don’t take good care of our planet. Imagine another history, in which the Nazis have a nuclear weapon and the Second World War ends differently. You can imagine a civilization that develops technology like that, which would lead to its own destruction.

It’s possible that the civilization is not alive anymore, but it did send out a spacecraft. We ourselves sent out Voyager I and Voyager II. There could be a lot of equipment out there. The point is that this is the very first object we found from outside the solar system. It is very similar to when I walk on the beach with my daughter and look at the seashells that are swept ashore. Every now and then we find an object of artificial origin. And this could be a message in a bottle, and we should be open-minded. So we put this sentence in the paper.

It’s different, of course, but the way you said that reminded me of an argument I have heard for creationism, which is that if you find a watch on the beach, you know it must be man-made, and, since our eyes are as complex as a watch, we must also be designed by a creator.

An advanced technological civilization is a good approximation to God. Suppose you took a cell phone and showed it to a caveperson. The caveperson would say it was a nice rock. The caveperson is used to rocks. So now imagine this object—‘Oumuamua—being the iPhone and us being the cave people. We look at it and say it’s a rock. It’s just an unusual rock. The point of this analogy is that, for a caveperson, the technologies we have today would have been magic. They would have been God-given.

Coryn Bailer-Jones, an astronomer quoted in one of the pieces on your paper, wrote, “In science we must ask ourselves, ‘Where is the evidence? Not’ ”—

Exactly! Exactly!

Hold on. “ ‘Not where is the lack of evidence so that I can fit in any hypothesis that I like?’ ” [Bailer-Jones, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, in Heidelberg, Germany, has identified four possible home stars for ‘Oumuamua, and was asked to respond to Loeb’s light-sail theory by NBC.]

Well, it’s exactly the approach that I took. I approached this with a scientific mind, like I approach any other problem in astronomy or science that I work on. The point is that we follow the evidence, and the evidence in this particular case is that there are six peculiar facts. And one of these facts is that it deviated from an orbit shaped by gravity while not showing any of the telltale signs of cometary outgassing activity. So we don’t see the gas around it, we don’t see the cometary tail. It has an extreme shape that we have never seen before in either asteroids or comets. We know that we couldn’t detect any heat from it and that it’s much more shiny, by a factor of ten, than a typical asteroid or comet. All of these are facts. I am following the facts.

Last year, I wrote a paper about cosmology where there was an unusual result, which showed that perhaps the gas in the universe was much colder than we expected. And so we postulated that maybe dark matter has some property that makes the gas cooler. And nobody cares, nobody is worried about it, no one says it is not science. Everyone says that is mainstream—to consider dark matter, a substance we have never seen. That’s completely fine. It doesn’t bother anyone.

But when you mention the possibility that there could be equipment out there that is coming from another civilization—which, to my mind, is much less speculative, because we have already sent things into space—then that is regarded as unscientific. But we didn’t just invent this thing out of thin air. The reason we were driven to put in that sentence was because of the evidence, because of the facts. If someone else has a better explanation, they should write a paper about it rather than just saying what you said.

One of your responses to these criticisms was, “I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: ‘When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ ” But when it comes to things we can’t explain or don’t understand, don’t we often turn to concepts that do exist in popular culture and society—

No. No! No. Let me give you a better example for the kind of argument you are making. The multiverse is a mainstream idea—that anything that can happen will happen an infinite number of times. And I think that is not scientific, because it cannot be tested. Whereas the next time we see an object like this one, we can contemplate taking a photograph. My motivation, in part, is to motivate the scientific community to collect more data on the next object rather than argue a priori that they know the answer. In the multiverse case, we have no way of testing it, and everyone is happy to say, “Ya!”

Another mainstream idea is the extra dimension. You see that in string theory, which gets a lot of good press, and awards are given to members of that community. Not only has it not been tested empirically for almost forty years now but there is no hope it will be tested in the next forty years. And yet your friend has no problem with that! Whoever you are quoting has no problem with the multiverse, with string theory. No problem!

We don’t know what the person, Coryn Bailer-Jones, thinks about these things, to be clear.

He never complains about it, he never mentions it.

I don’t even know it’s a “he,” and I don’t know his or her opinions.

O.K., whoever.

The point I was trying to make is that we live in a culture where people talk about aliens.

No, but that’s different.

Hold on. Let me finish. The term U.F.O., in popular usage, has basically come to mean aliens of some sort. My question is whether we tend to see things that we can’t know or understand through the prism of things we have heard about since we were kids. Aren’t we more likely to see something like an alien society as an explanation than something we maybe can’t even comprehend or put into words?

I don’t enjoy science fiction because there are things in science fiction that violate the laws of physics. I like science and I like fiction separately. The main argument against any of the U.F.O. stories that you may have heard about is that the technology of detection have improved dramatically over the past few decades. We have cameras that are far better than we used to have, and nevertheless the evidence remains marginal. And so that is why there is no scientific credibility to U.F.O.s.

What we are talking about today is part of science. We have seen an object from outside the solar system, and we are trying to figure what it is made of and where it came from. We don’t have as much data as I would like. Given the data that we have, I am putting this on the table, and it bothers people to even think about that, just like it bothered the Church in the days of Galileo to even think about the possibility that the Earth moves around the sun. Prejudice is based on experience in the past. The problem is that it prevents you from making discoveries. If you put the probability at zero per cent of an object coming into the solar system, you would never find it!

Have your religious beliefs, or beliefs about God, changed in any way in the time you have been studying astronomy?

I am not religious. Why do you make that assumption?

I didn’t. I was wondering if your thoughts had changed one way or the other.

First of all, it depends on what you mean by God. But if you take something that is zero and multiple it by any number, it remains zero. I was secular to start with. I am not religious. I am struck by the order we find in the universe, by the regularity, by the existence of laws of nature. That is something I am always in awe of, how the laws of nature we find here on Earth seem to apply all the way out to the edge of the universe. That is quite remarkable. The universe could have been chaotic and very disorganized. But it obeys a set of laws much better than people obey a set of laws here. My work as a scientist is purely based on evidence and rational thinking. That’s all.

Read the whole story
MJF312
445 days ago
reply
River Forest, Ill
Share this story
Delete

Gun Deaths In America | FiveThirtyEight

1 Share

This interactive graphic is part of our project exploring the more than 33,000 annual gun deaths in America and what it would take to bring that number down. See our stories on suicides among middle-age men, homicides of young black men and accidental deaths, or explore the menu for more coverage.


Methodology

The data in this interactive graphic comes primarily from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Multiple Cause of Death database, which is derived from death certificates from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is widely considered the most comprehensive estimate of firearm deaths. In keeping with the CDC’s practice, deaths of non-U.S. residents that take place in the U.S. (about 50 per year) are excluded. All figures are averages from the years 2012 to 2014, except for police shootings of civilians, which are from 2014.

The “homicides” category includes deaths by both assault and legal intervention (primarily shootings by police officers). “Young men” are those ages 15 to 34; “women” are ages 15 and older. Because the CDC’s estimates of police shootings are unreliable, we used estimates from non-governmental sources. Our figure is for 2014, the first year for which such estimates are generally available. (For more on the data we used, see Carl Bialik’s story on police shootings.)

For shootings of police officers, we used the FBI’s count of law enforcement officers “feloniously killed” by firearms in the line of duty. This figure excludes accidental shootings. The FBI counts all killings of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who meet certain criteria, including that they were sworn officers who ordinarily carried a badge and a gun.

For mass shootings, we used Mother Jones’s database of public mass shootings. For 2012 and earlier, Mother Jones includes only incidents in which at least four people (excluding the shooter) were killed; beginning in 2013, Mother Jones lowered the threshold to three fatalities. In order to use a consistent definition, we excluded the one incident in 2013-14 in which exactly three people were killed.

For terrorism gun deaths, we used the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. Our count of fatalities excludes perpetrators killed during their attacks. There was one incident, the 2012 attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, that qualified as both an act of terrorism and a mass shooting. Seven law-enforcement officers were killed in incidents that the terrorism database classifies as acts of terrorism.

Population totals (used to calculate death rates per 100,000 people) are based on 2012-14 American Community Survey microdata from the University of Minnesota’s IPUMS project. As a result, death rates will not perfectly match official figures from the CDC, which are based on a different set of numbers from the Census Bureau. Racial and ethnic categories are mutually exclusive: All people who were designated as Hispanic in the CDC data are coded as “Hispanic” in ours; all other racial categories are non-Hispanic. “Native American” includes American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Data and code for this project are available on our GitHub page.

Additional contributions by Kshitij Aranke. David Nield contributed research.

Read the whole story
MJF312
445 days ago
reply
River Forest, Ill
Share this story
Delete

The NewsBlur Blog

1 Share

For some sites, you want to know when they publish as soon as they publish. Maybe you want to immediately be notified of everything a site publishes, like a monthly meetup that posts an event only once a month. Or perhaps you want to be immediately notified of everything the NYTimes publishes about the companies in your stock portfolio. Or you just really enjoy reading your daily comics and want them emailed to you so you never miss a beat.

image

Today I’m proud to launch push notifications simultaneously across all three native platforms on NewsBlur (that’s web, iOS, and Android). That means that you can setup notifications for all Unread stories or only Focus stories that you’ve trained to be pushed to you over email, iOS, Android, or through browser notifications on the web.

You can setup all four types of notifications on both web and mobile. And you can employ your intelligence training to only surface the stories that have use certain tags, have specific keywords in the titles, or are written by specific authors. Additionally, it’s easy to hide stories using that same training so that you don’t receive notifications that you want to ignore.

To start with notifications on iOS, you can use the new swipe-to-the right gesture on the feed list (replacing the trainer on the swipe gesture). It’s very easy to turn notifications on and off or to even step up the filtering on a site so that you only get Focus stories instead.

This way you can overprovision notifications for yourself and easily dial them back to where you get just the right number of notifications.

image

Today version 7.0 of the NewsBlur iOS app is being released and here’s a list of what’s new and fixed on iOS:

  • Push notifications: real-time push notifications on a per-feed basis.
  • Swipe-to-the-right on a feed to change its notifications.
  • A new optional app badge for unread counts. Enable under Preferences.
  • Stories now automatically are marked as read on scroll. Disable under Preferences.
  • Better image support on iPad and fixes for drag-and-dropping the story titles bar (at bottom of the story detail).
  • A note on that: you can move story titles to the bottom on iPad. Just drag the bottom bar up.
  • Fixed issue with sharing stories not working or disappearing on iPad.
  • Fixed theme issues in the activity share sheet.
  • Fixed a crash from opening stories with no permalink.
  • Fixed size of intelligence control on bottom of feed list on iPhone SE.
  • Fixed issues when story titles are set to the bottom layout on iPad.
  • Fixed issues with the interactions dialog.

Android also gets a new version today. Version 6.0 gets notifications and new custom reading fonts as well as the mark read on scroll behavior that iOS and web have enjoyed.

image

Here’s a list of what’s new and fixed on Android:

  • Mark as read on scroll is a new preference to automatically mark stories as read as you scroll past them.
  • New fonts for reading: Whitney, Chronicle, Gotham Narrow make their way to Android from the web.
  • Also supporting native Android fonts Noto Sans, Noto Serif, Open Sans Condensed, and Anonymous Pro.
  • Switching between Text and Story view is now sticky per-feed (similar to iOS and web).
  • Fixed issues where feed list would not update.

image

Browser notifications are handy for those sites that you only want to read on your desktop. For example, you could setup web notifications for an RSS feed for a status feed, letting you know when migrations and downtime will have some effect on you.

image

Setting up and tuning notifications is also just as easy to do on the web. You’ll find it under Manage > Notifications as well as in the Read Filter Popover (top right of the app) when reading an individual feed.

Finally, for those use cases not covered under web or mobile, you can now have websites automatically email you when they publish new stories.

image

This is for those stories that you don’t want to miss and want to ensure that you read. For instance, I use email notifications for worrydream’s quote blog that serves me a single paragraph of insight once a week because I loved having quotes emailed to me.

There you have it, four new ways to consume the news. If you love using NewsBlur and want to see it continue to launch new features like these, please tell friends and followers about your news reader. People often ask for ways to stay on top of the game and NewsBlur is the most powerful way to do it.

Read the whole story
MJF312
445 days ago
reply
River Forest, Ill
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories