VnutZ's Articles, Page 2 of 81

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27 May 16
Newspaper

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in the US

A patient in Pennsylvania is now documented as the first host carrying bacteria resistant to all antibiotics in the United States. The bacteria seems to have been modified by an infection to its own DNA (plasmid) where a gene called mcr-1 made it resistant to even the most powerful antibiotic. Colistin was reserved as the last bastion of antibiotics, reserved for only the most severe infections so as to prevent resistant strains from developing. (Interestingly, WIRED seems to have an unfinished article on Colistin that managed to be indexed by Google.) Although traces of the bacteria have manifested in people in pockets around the globe, this is the first appearance in the United States but its emergence is troubling because the patient had not traveled. The source of the infection is unknown.

26 May 16
Newspaper

Obsolete Technology in the US Government

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report showing a number of highly outdated systems (pdf) used by the government. The report alleges $60B is spent annually on maintaining these ancient systems. Included in the hit list are nuclear control systems that still rely on very legacy floppy disks. At first, the finding seems egregious but one ought to question, if the systems have worked for the past 40+ years without fail, is it worth engaging in some type of future failure of an acquisitions cycle to upgrade (and potentially break them)?

26 May 16
Newspaper

Robots to Replace Fast Food Workers

A $15 minimum wage worker at full time hours costs at least $31,200 worth of wages plus a variety of backend expenses to handle things like insurance, etc. A former McDonalds CEO now raised some hackles when he commented, “if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry—it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries.” But those sentiments are not merely conjecture. Wendy’s already anticipates implementing the practice with these comments from their CEO on the impact to franchises, " look at the opportunity to reduce overall staff, look at the opportunity to certainly reduce hours and any other cost reduction opportunities, not just price. You know there are some people out there who naively say that these wages can simply be passed along in terms of price increases." Along with advances in self-driving cars and improvements to natural language response, many entry level positions will easily succumb to automation in the near future.

20 May 16
Newspaper

Social Media's Influence on the 2016 Election

It’s no secret that social media websites occupy an increasingly large part of a user’s day. For instance, it’s obvious OmniNerd is on the precipice of becoming your sole portal to the Internet. That said, social media sites balance an interesting trend of showing feed content that trends with your history of likes and interest against a more global trend of what content that may be important to you based on advertising or news reports.

The evolution of the news feed as pertaining to the 2016 Presidential Election is very different from how social media presented 2012. Four years ago, the feeds were largely mined by candidates and political researchers for information about user sentiment. For instance, analysis against 2012 Twitter content around geographic centers could be used to ascertain voting trends before results were known. 2016, however, seems to reveal that social media sites may offer less on the observational front and instead influence shaping the vote.

20 May 16
Newspaper

Researching Trip to Mars

What physical and psychological tolls will astronauts endure on a mission to Mars? The European Space Agency (ESA) set out to find out by isolating a crew for 500 days in project Mars500. Although the project ended a half decade ago, researchers are still analyzing the effects of people’s ability to deal with isolation endurance. Despite seeming obvious, the project made clear that mission planners have to address breaking up the monotony of the trip to and from Mars.

11 May 16
Newspaper

Clinton Email Fiasco Continues

The scandal over Hillary Clinton’s privately run email server never seems to fade away. Marcel Lehel Lazar, a Romanian hacker going by the handle Guccifer, testified that he easily broke into the server during its operation and further commented he wasn’t the only actor present on the target. Guccifer is in US custody after his extradition to stand trial for a number of hacking charges. More recently, one of those other actors revealed itself to be the Russians who are now debating whether or not to release 20,000 of the “missing emails” from their repository. The Kremlin previously released some of these messages shortly after Benghazi to embarrass the United States. It certainly would be embarrassing for a foreign government to provide the missing evidence sought by the Americans considering not a single email from the site’s administrator can be located particularly considering its Federal law to not destroy those.

11 May 16
Newspaper

Math Equations Delay Airline

Americans have once again demonstrated their broader ignorance of both culture and mathematics. A University of Pennsylvania professor of economics was seated on an American Airlines flight working on some math equations … which drew the attention of the passenger beside him. She alerted the flight attendants of his suspicious behavior (doing math) was indicative of him being a terrorist and the subsequent procedures to confirm the threat resulted in delaying the flight for everyone.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

08 May 16
Newspaper

Phrack Returns

Phrack, an electronic “zine” first published 30 years ago, has not been seen since 2012. That streak ended with the publishing of Issue 69. This latest issue includes articles on hacking Ruby on Rails applications, rootkits, Adobe Flash, and other topics.


 ... A long time ago in a galaxy far far away ...

                     ______ _                    _
                     | ___ \ |                  | |
                     | |_/ / |__  _ __ __ _  ___| | __
                     |  __/| '_ \| '__/ _` |/ __| |/ /
                     | |   | | | | | | (_| | (__|   <
28 Apr 16
Newspaper

Water Observed Tunneling

Dihydrogen Oxide, the leading compound for human drowning deaths, just revealed a new property – an ability to quantum tunnel. At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers found that water squished into a confined pocket of beryl exhibited delocalization – basically becoming present in six different, symmetric locations simultaneously. The discovery was a first for a molecule of its size to essentially “break through” its bounding walls. According to Alexander Kolesnikov, “this means that the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of the water molecule are ‘delocalized’ and therefore simultaneously present in all six symmetrically equivalent positions in the channel at the same time …. It’s one of those phenomena that only occur in quantum mechanics and has no parallel in our everyday experience.”

27 Apr 16
Newspaper

Failure of Defense Acquisitions

Defense acquisitions may be the most disgusting process anyone in the military can be subjected to. In the past 20-30 years, hardly anything comes to mind as a great program. Despite being a comic farce, The Pentagon Wars is the often cited example of exactly how awful the procedures are and the cause behind the poor quality of the final products.

Today, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter represents the latest failure of the government to produce a meaningful product, on time, on budget. The program is blasted all the time, but lately Senator McCain has joined the bandwagon against the F-35 as he discusses the $400 billion price tag (double) and complete failure to deliver. Not only are the aircraft not in the hands of the end user, they’re demonstrating an inability to defeat the 40 year old vehicles they meant to replace. The F-35 failed against both the F-16 and the A-10.

21 Apr 16
Newspaper

Possible Explanation for EmDrive

One of the greatest hurdles for long duration space flight is the weight cost of fuel in order to sustain maneuverability and impart acceleration over time. The Ion drive used in the Dawn spacecraft revolutionized lightweight propulsion systems using tiny amounts of thrust compounded over time (e.g. 0-60mph in 4 days).

There’s another engine design out there that has puzzled scientists and engineers alike for nearly a decade. It’s called the EmDrive and also uses tiny, compounded forces to create thrust. The weird part about the EmDrive (and the reason it could change everything for spaceflight) is that it requires no propellant. Designed by aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer, the device uses a specially shaped cone (a resonating cavity) into which microwaves are pushed via a magnetron. Obviously this completely lacks a chemical reaction as per normal thrusters and relies on the microwaves imparting tiny forces against the cone. Physicists the world over cried foul as this seems to defy the conservation of momentum laws. However, despite the counter-textbook response, the experiment has been repeated and demonstrated to produce a thrust by notable labs to include NASA. Despite the successful lab tests, nobody could explain why it worked.

20 Apr 16
Newspaper

Weather Forecast Shenanigans

Nearly a decade ago, OmniNerd looked into the accuracy of on-line weather forecasts and found Accuweather as the worst sampling against the competition. Despite producing the poorest short term forecasts, Accuweather was also making unheard of forecasts out to 45 days that riled up the meteorologic community. Clearly, predicting the weather badly was not good enough, so Accuweather opted to extend their forecasts out to 90 days. Despite Accuweather’s founder proclaiming accuracy through an NPR plug, professional forecasters decry these predictions as foul, “these forecasts are actually even worse than the Farmer’s Almanac, since they give rain chances and temperatures for exact points months into the future!”

19 Apr 16
Newspaper

UFO Coverup in NASA Feed

NASA broadcasts a live, HD video stream from the International Space Station. Well … until the aliens arrive. Conspiracy theorists are chomping at the bit after NASA turned off the live feed at the moment a strange, “U”-shaped object was seen in orbit near the ISS. The feed in question was captured and posted to YouTube for all the alien conspirators to froth over. It looks like between aliens hiding behind Sirius and NASA live feed coverups … the end is nigh.

12 Apr 16
Newspaper

Chinese to Modify Human Embryo with CRISPR

A paper published by Guangzhou Medical University in China recently described their efforts to genetically modify human embryos. The CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) technique is an industrial adaptation of a natural process for identifying bad DNA sequences and destroying them but in a controlled fashion for DNA editing. The embryos were previously considered unviable and subsequently obtained with permission under the caveat they would not be allowed to mature into actual people. Although the outcomes of the experiment are not yet clear, the CRISPR technique was used against the embryos to test if it were possible to genetically modify a human to be HIV resistant from birth. The more likely outcome of the research is a new round of global discussion on the ramifications and legalities of human gene editing.

11 Apr 16
Newspaper

Earth is Wobbling

Precision and balance keep a top spinning perfectly. What does that make the Earth? Well, as an imperfect sphere of various, variable densities and a liquid core, perhaps only the frictionless environment within which it resides keep it spinning. However, scientists have identified that global warming’s effect on ice caps have altered the physical weight distribution on the Earth enough to actually affect the planet’s wobble. That’s comforting because without global warming, we might have assumed it was a growing imbalance of overweight people condensed on various population centers.

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