The Science of New Zealand’s Eruption, Toy Store Surveillance, and More News

Toy stores are spying and nature is defying, but first: a cartoon about robot unhappy hour.

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Today’s News

Why volcanologists didn’t predict New Zealand’s deadly eruption

Every year more than 13,000 tourists head to New Zealand’s White Island to snap a selfie and explore, but as the world found out earlier this week, White Island is one of several volcanoes in New Zealand that can produce explosive, steam-driven eruptions at any time. While data had suggested an increased likelihood of an event like Monday’s fatal eruption, scientists monitoring the island didn’t observe anything signaling an imminent eruption. It serves as a sobering reminder that even in the age of high-tech sensors and big data-crunching algorithms, some forces of nature still elude prediction.

Toys “R” Us is back—now with more surveillance

Following a bankruptcy claim and the closure of more than 800 stores last year, the toy store chain Toys “R” Us is back in the news, but not in the way they hoped. Media reports revealed the stores installed sensors in the ceilings to track people as they shop, sparking outrage at the idea of a toy store spying on kids. But the companies behind the technology say the products are designed not to record children at all. They say the cameras are generally trained to ignore “objects, including people, less than four feet tall.” That’s not exactly ideal, given that a normal American 10-year-old can stand almost five feet.

Fast Fact: More Than 20 Percent

That’s how much of retailers’ annual sales for goods like televisions, phones, cameras, and games occurs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which means it’s officially game time for Best Buy, the store that has defied the ecommerce trend for years.

WIRED Recommends: Gifts for Board Game Lovers

Maybe you know someone who loves board games, or maybe you have a tradition of playing a new board game with your family every New Years Eve. (Or is that just me?) Either way, here are the best board games money can buy.

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