VnutZ's Articles, Page 5 of 81

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22 Dec 15
Newspaper

SpaceX Lands Reusable Rocket

Although Virgin was the first to achieve private spaceflight, SpaceX has revolutionized the commercial side of the business. Just over a half decade ago, SpaceX achieved the first commercial orbit and within two years of that, were powering unmanned resupply ships to the International Space Station. Their offering is about to become far more affordable. After three previous failed attempts, SpaceX successfully landed their launch rocket after delivering a resupply vessel to the ISS. As the SpaceX blog detailing the procedure says:

21 Dec 15
Newspaper

Universe is not a Hologram

Physicists are always proposing mind-bending approaches to describe the universe, especially to reign in the edge cases of mathematical models. There was a theory the world was all just a hologram, relying on an encoding of information allowing multi-dimensions to seem to exist even if they did not.

Of course, I’m probably butchering this because nobody but the most hardcore physicists actually understand string theory and its tenets. But it doesn’t matter anymore because at the Department of Energy’s Fermilab, physicists spent $2.5M to prove we DO NOT live in a hologram. They used a holometer, which was a pair of laser interferometers shooting beams through a splitter down a distance after which they are recombined. The device essentially allows scientists to determine whether there are fluctuations in space-time. What did the holometer prove? Well, a particular quantum jitter that should exist if we are in a hologram was not present so the world as we know it … is status quo.

21 Dec 15
Newspaper

Vuvuzela

TOR, the Onion Router, provides a generally anonymous solution for accessing the Internet by encrypting elements of connection metadata to create a separation from the source and destination points of a data connection. However, despite the overall ability of the network to achieve this function, it is still generally possible to profile the traffic traversing the system and with enough data, identify sources. Enter Vuvuzela, not the annoying horn but a next level TOR. The system essentially schedules delivery of packets and controls size such that everything traversing the system looks identical and adds arbitrary noise packets into the flow as well in order to let Vuvuzela eliminate all methods of performing statistical analysis.

18 Dec 15
Newspaper

Virginia Schools Close Over World Religion Course

Americans have once again shoved their heads in the sand and demonstrated the double standard of religious “tolerance.” A Virginia school, as part of a lesson block on world religions, introduced the nature of Islam and the calligraphy forms of Arabic writing. Naturally, as can be expected in America, parents went ape-shit. Some parents were quoted with typical lines such as, “I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian”.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

18 Dec 15
Newspaper

Humans Keep Hitting Autonomous Cars

Human beings and their unpredictability continue to be the cause of most autonomous vehicle accidents. As a surprising statistic, nearly all of the accidents involving an autonomous vehicle thus far have proven to be the fault of the human. It’s somewhat incredible considering the field is barely a decade old, Stanley only won the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2006. Researchers looking into the current rash of accidents have basically determined the autonomous vehicles are having issues because they obey the laws and humans do not. Much like the though problem from a few years ago regarding how an AI should choose which fatality was the best choice, the new question is whether an autonomous vehicle should break the law in order to behave more safely with humans. The most frequently cited example is high speed merges onto highways where a legal speed will result in getting rear ended.

08 Dec 15
Newspaper

Donald Trump Calls to Ban Muslims from US

Not long after the San Bernadino attacks were declared terrorism related, the political rhetoric began to really heat up. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, while campaigning in the south, openly called to block Muslims from entering the United States. While drawing cheers of support at his campaign rally, the move has drawn ire around the world.

Despite the extreme campaign platform that Trump has run on – he continues to dominate the GOP in terms of voter approval. So while many look at his campaign as a sign of Trump’s own ignorance or hate – is it really or is he just in touch with what America seems to want?

07 Dec 15
Newspaper

Environmental Impact of Christmas

Christmas may be one of the worst holidays for having a terrible impact to the environment. But for the sake of this quick article, let’s ignore the ramifications of wrapping paper, mall traffic, tree destruction, landfill waste, travel, and all the other negatives of consumerism. Instead, let’s focus real quick on just the electrical demands of one piece of the holiday season.

The kill-a-watt is a nice simple product that can tell you exactly how much power a plugged in device is consuming. So I simply attached my Christmas lights to it. My arrangement is simple – just some blue icicle lights in my front facing windows – five total strands. Using the kill-a-watt, I determined a single strand uses 40W of power so I’m using 200W total for the windows. Using a highly unscientific method of guessing, here are my conclusions:

03 Dec 15
Newspaper

Magnetic Invisibility Cloak

Chinese researchers have developed an invisibility cloak … for magnetic fields. Using a superconducting inner shell and a ferromagnetic outershell, the scientists carefully constructed a sphere whose attraction and repulsion properties are perfectly balanced. This in turn prevents magnetic objects inside the sphere from having their fields affect external objects and vice versa. Nefarious applications of the technology would allow ne’er-do-wells to transport metal (firearms) into airports in their undetectable metamaterial spheres. No TSA agent would ever notice the sphere nor its liquid nitrogen tanks for keeping the superconductors at 90K.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Formula E Driverless Racing

Formula E racing began in 2014 and represents a new class of high performance championships. 10 teams are allowed to compete with electric vehicles in a format similar to Formula One racing. Even more interesting, Formula E is about to introduce the RoboRaces where competing AIs (artificial intelligences) will pilot driverless race cars for victory.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

American ISIS Support

ISIS continues to rampage around causing mayhem and trouble. Generally speaking, they’ve kept their trouble making activities overseas away from the homeland. However, the FBI has tracked a number, and growing at that, of domestic ISIS sympathizers in the United States. (To understand that, perhaps eyeball Stupid People Find Nonsense Profound) Much of that support is still in the form of propaganda spreading via numerous handles on Twitter. But it’s only a matter of time before a local decides to act on their own in the name of ISIS – especially considering there are open fatwahs to kill US military, police, and EMS workers.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Padlocks Easily Susceptible to Hammers

Just about every hacker or security researcher at some point explores the art of lock picking. For most, it ends with tumblers but professionals, ardent enthusiasts, and criminals aspire to open everything. Bosnian Bill, as he is known, recently showed that Masterlock padlocks can be opened in under 90 seconds using nothing but a small hammer. The technique was not brute force but a sequence of taps that caused the internal mechanisms to loosen, allowing the shackle to open.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Stupid People Find Nonsense Profound

Gordon Pennycook, a university researcher, conducted a study by generating random, four-word phrases and evaluating how test subjects felt the text was in terms of its profundity. It should come as no surprise that human beings generally found value in meaningless drivel when they suspected it was deep.

Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions [beliefs in things for which there is no empirical evidence (i.e. that prayers have the ability to heal)] and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Opinions of 2016 Candidates

In a nutshell, as the cards and dust are starting to settle, Americans are basically faced with a final set of candidates going forward into 2016.

Democrats

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Bernie Sanders

Republicans

  • Donald Trump
  • Ben Carson
  • Marco Rubio
26 Nov 15
Newspaper

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Aircraft

Both sides disagree on the circumstances, of course, but the bottom line is the Turkish military shot down a Russian Su-24 aircraft along the Syrian border. To further exacerbate the situation, the Russian pilots were shot at while parachuting down from the destroyed aircraft (a violation of the Geneva Convention) which killed one of them. Currently, the United States and France have been unusually quiet on the matter as Turkey is a NATO ally. Despite the incident, bombing runs against ISIS targets have continued.

20 Nov 15
Cup

Unity of Support - Shallow or Effective?

Okay, so in the past week, social media profiles have show “overwhelming support” to France by placing a transparent image of their flag atop a user’s profile picture. Seriously … what good is that?

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