VnutZ's Articles, Page 10 of 74
The PowerBall Lottery is now up to its highest level … ever. The largest previous jackpot was $365 million, but without a winner on Saturday (the 24th), the PowerBall lottery ballooned to $425 million. The nerd in us all knows that a random draw is as random as random can be with no correlation between numbers or mystical “it’s time is due” strategies to winning. But if you’re going to play, it’s hard to not look at statistical patterns in the numbers for making selections. Based on the same analysis previously published here on OmniNerd for MegaMillions, the dynamically updating Pattern Analysis of the PowerBall Lottery site shows trends in most frequent appearance, least frequent appearance, position stratifications, and winning ball combinations to appease anyone’s need for number selection.
As practical science marches on, more and more science fiction technology becomes plausible. A few years ago, a Mexican physicist named Michael Alcubierre postulated a mechanism to make warp drives possible, limited only by an enormous energy requirement. How much energy? According to Baylor University physicists if the entire mass of Jupiter were converted into energy, that would be enough to make the Alcubierre Drive possible. For years, the Alcubierre Drive has entertained researchers with various designs either attempting to reduce the energy requirements or simply to theorize what could be done. Some proposed using metamaterials to attain speeds upwards of 25% faster than light. The main premise of the design is summarized nicely by NASA:
While artificial intelligence has not yet turned out the way science fiction predicted, machine learning systems are definitely working all around us. Many of them aren’t necessarily complex, but they do adapt output based on internal algorithms, learned parameters and external stimulus. Most folks understand a learning system can be corrupted by feeding poor input but the practice of doing so is not so trivial. Some German researchers have developed a proof of concept to ‘poison’ a learning system given some knowledge of the learning vectors (seed data, algorithm, etc.). The impact of their research revealed less about whether poisoning could be done and more about revealing the magnitude by which proper poisoning can sway a system. It wouldn’t be far fetched for a financial institution’s high frequency trading system to become the target of a poisoning attack – one only needs to make it alter its behavior in the slightest of predictable ways to completely cash out on its actions.
People just love to know secrets. Using the pen name Mark Owen, the author was a Navy SEAL on the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. No Easy Day has already become an Amazon best seller before its release date and promises to detail the mission despite the author’s statements to preserve national security. The Department of Defense was initially unaware of the former SEAL’s book and requested an advance copy to screen for potential security risks. In that first screening, the Pentagon’s general counsel is already threatening legal action for disclosures of sensitive information. (Too bad they can’t do that to loose-lipped politicians …) The book spans more than simply the raid on bin Laden’s compound and walks the reader through the author’s own growth in the military through special operations training and missions.
Kentucky lawmakers aren’t doing much to assuage their state’s hill-billy stereotype. A 2009 bill pushed by state republicans was intended to link Kentucky’s education system with national standards. As such, the state utilizes ACT to administer national tests to equate their students with those across the rest of the country. To their chagrin, they’ve recently been ‘surprised’ to discover evolution is a major science component – not creationism. Senator David Givens says:
I think we are very committed to being able to take Kentucky students and put them on a report card beside students across the nation. We’re simply saying to the ACT people we don’t want what is a theory to be taught as a fact in such a way it may damage students’ ability to do critical thinking.
Bill Nye is widely known as the Science Guy educating children (and adults) on science through his 90s television show. He’s emerged again with a recent YouTube video (below) on how teaching creationism is hurting America’s future:
I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, that’s completely inconsistent with the world we observe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it. Because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.
Increased data storage density, retrieval speed and archival accuracy is always a huge IT problem as the volumes of information produced by business, science and academia continue to expand. Half a decade ago, the data demands were already somewhat enormous and growing exponentially. The Harvard Medical School in Boston recently made a breakthrough on the data storage front using DNA. Everyone always talks of the sheer capacity DNA has for storing massive amounts of information densely, however, the manifestation of using DNA for data storage has never come to fruition. Obviously, living organisms have little use for arbitrary data in their DNA and were actually killed by it. Furthermore, if the organisms lived, the natural process of genetic mutation would corrupt the data over time. Synthetic biologist George Church got around the hurdle by storing DNA fragments on the surface of a glass chip, all indexed and cross referenced against one another to ultimately store a genetics textbook as proof of concept. Other researchers utilize genetic watermarks, akin to digital ECC, in order to detect and prevent data mutation.
With exception to Stuxnet, all of the recent big discoveries in malware trampling the Middle East have not been destructive. Duqu, Flame and Gauss among others all seem to be oriented towards spying as they feature the traditional key loggers, microphone enablers, etc. Yet another piece of malware has been found lurking about, this time in Saudi Arabian energy systems and its destructive. The malware has bounced between being named Shamoon and Wiper, based on strings found internally. In a nutshell, reverse engineers have discovered it uses a legitimate, signed driver (stolen) in order to gain low level disk access to perform a data wipe. A continued effort suggests the malware also exfiltrates infomation about the target computer to an internal node used as a single point of presence for assessing its destructive success. All of this is consolidated in a nice, neat little delivery package totaling only about 900kb.
Recent reports call out the silent presence of a Russian Akula class submarine in the Gulf of Mexico as a failure of American national defenses. The matter naturally adds fuel to the running Internet memes that Vladimir Putin is among the most bad-ass of all Russians. In reality, the activity is nothing new per se, the Russians and Americans have parked submarines near each others coasts or flown sorties across each others land masses for decades. The proximity of this particular Akula class submarine and the duration for which it went undetected sets it apart from the others. American officials commented, “The Akula was built for one reason and one reason only: To kill U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarines and their crews. It’s a very stealthy boat so it can sneak around and avoid detection and hope to get past any protective screen a boomer might have in place.”
There have been quite a few anonymous leaks from the present administration – ranging from taking credit for the infamous Stuxnet, the kill lists to details on the bin Laden raid. While all of the actions are egregious disclosures of classified information, the bin Laden raid details particularly raised the ire of the special forces community across the military services. Although the active component has generally simmered in silence, the community’s members that have departed service are now speaking up. One former SEAL commented, “If you disclose how we got there, how we took down the building, what we did, how many people were there, that it’s going to hinder future operations, and certainly hurt the success of those future operations.” And flipping the President’s own words about small business owners back at him, “Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden. America did.” The disgruntled veterans, tired of being used to bolster Obama’s re-election campaign, put together a 22 minute video to air their concerns publicly.
Mothra is a giant butterfly/moth hybrid that terrorized Japan in a series of monster genre movies. Unfortunately for Japan, Patient Zero of the butterfly world has emerged outside of the Fukushima nuclear plant. Thanks to a massive release of radioactive particles, the Zizeeria Maha Serica are showing genetic abnormalities that have only been reproduced scientifically using doses of radiation. These abnormalities have not yet resulted in gigantism or similar destructive features but include changes to wing patterns, antenna length and eye deformities.
So OmniNerds, who is this guy and why should we care? After all, the Vice President really doesn’t do much at all except wait for the President to die.
If you’ve been completely under a rock, Paul Ryan is Mitt Romney’s chosen running mate for Vice President. CNN has a basic rundown of Paul Ryan facts to establish a few starting point metrics. Naturally, the Obama camp already has their this guy is a sham articles up and posted.
No doubt you already know ‘merica has conquered Mars once again. NASA’s Curiosity rover touched down in a dramatic sky crane landing a few days ago. Instead of bouncing across the landscape in a giant beachball like the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, Curiosity plunged through the atmosphere on a parachute whereupon it’s rocket backpack fired before impact allowing it to be lowered to Mars on a rappelling tether. That’s super bad ass NASA … fist bump. Prior to conducting any science, the vehicle is performing integrity checks which included more or less holding an iPhone up to a mirror and taking a picture of its butt. The images were created when the mast instrument checks were performed with the panoramic cameras providing a view of both Curiosity and the surrounding scorch marks from the landing rockets. Curiosity is expected to run for at least two years and packs 15 times as many instruments as its predecessors into its car sized frame.
BlackHat 2012 proved once again to be an interesting conference full of the latest security research, training and hacks. One interesting presentation proved how insecure hotel locks are, specifically the ones utilizing the magnetic card keys. Hacker Cody Brocious used nothing more than a simple Arduino to read digital data and replay it. More specifically, a DC power port on the bottom of Onity locks allows for recharging the on-board battery and configuring a hotel specific code into the door. Using the Arduino, Brocious plugged into the DC port, read the 32bit hotel specific code and simply played it back which has the simple effect of … unlocking the door. A full technical write-up is available at the hacker’s website.