9 great reads from CNET this week: X-59 aircraft, phone upgrades, Bond villains and more

Among the topics we brought you: designing a supersonic aircraft that loses the boom, holding onto your phone for more than two years and rating the best Bond villain lairs.

CNET News staff
2 min read

There's fast, and then there's supersonic. Aircraft that hit supersonic speeds outrace the very air that they're pushing ahead of them, and that leads to the sonic booms that everyone below the flight path can hear -- and complain about. But hush, darling, there may be a way around that.

NASA and Lockheed Martin are building a new, incredibly sleek aircraft called the X-59 QueSST, which aims to take a lot of the thunder out of supersonic travel. If they can get that plane to produce a milder "sonic thump," it's not just an engineering feat. It could bring about a new era of high-speed air travel for all of us who aren't fighter pilots. CNET's Claire Reilly got an exclusive look at the X-59, which you can find right here.

That story and the accompanying video are among the in-depth features and thought-provoking commentaries that appeared on CNET this week. So, here you go. These are the stories you don't want to miss:  

The quiet supersonic airplane that could let you fly faster than ever

With the X-59, NASA and Lockheed Martin want to do the seemingly impossible -- build a jet that flies faster than the speed of sound, without the explosive boom.

A render of the X-59 quiet supersonic airplane flying above the desert.
Lockheed Martin

Wait a second, does the 2-year phone upgrade still make sense? I think not 

Commentary: Flagship phones are giving us only incremental improvements, and our upgrade culture makes less sense than ever.

iPhone 12 in purple
Sarah Tew/CNET

James Bond villains build the best lairs, from volcanoes to space

When you're evil and have money to burn, these are the most memorable places to call home.

Scene from Goldfinger, with gangsters
Bob Haswell/Getty Images

Google's 'hypocritical' remote work policies anger employees

Employees were already stirred up over opaque policies on remote work. Then a senior executive announced he's moving to New Zealand in what some workers consider special treatment.

Urs Holzle, senior vice president for technical infrastructure at Google, announces Google Compute Engine at the Google I/O conference in 2012.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

Virgin Galactic's big space launch: Why you should pay attention

A flight 17 years in the making is about a lot more than just one rich guy and his employees taking a very high-altitude joyride.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceSshipTwo pulls away from its launch aircraft
Virgin Galactic

GPS at risk: Those signals are more vulnerable than you realize

That has people worried about how to protect them and what we're doing for backup. 

Bumper sticker on a truck reading "Vehicle speed monitored by GPS"
Jon Skillings/CNET

Nintendo Switch OLED: Why I'm not worried about burn-in  

Commentary: OLED screens can exhibit image retention or ghosting, but I doubt it'll be a problem on the new Switch.  

Nintendo Switch OLED

I got to design my dream Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport

When you can spec your Bugatti literally however you want, why not go crazy?


Mass Effect: How my non-gamer dad finished the trilogy in one month

Everything in moderation, even alien romance.  

Mass Effect Legendary Edition character Liara
BioWare; screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET
Watch this: Inside NASA's X-59 plane: Supersonic flight without the boom