VnutZ's Articles, Page 5 of 82

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10 Feb 16
Newspaper

North Korean Satellite ... Tumbles

Shortly after the most recent North Korean nuclear test, the tiny nation launched a satellite into space. At first, that’s a fairly impressive accomplishment for them considering most of their ballistic missile tests result in failed disaster over Japan and crash somewhere in the Pacific. Nevertheless, the North Koreans succeeded at adding to the orbiting rubbish circling the Earth as analysts already determined the satellite is tumbling uselessly in orbit. Let that not become an indicator of safety for the rest of the world as an ability to put a “satellite” into failed orbit is more or less identical to putting a re-entry-ready warhead into space and therefore anywhere in the world. The only assurance is the North Koreans are terrible at delivering their warheads to the intended target but you only need to be close in a game of horseshoes and nuclear weapons.

04 Feb 16
Newspaper

Resting Bitch Face

Scientists Abbe Macbeth and Jason Rogers have confirmed that Resting Bitch Face is in fact, a real thing. Working for Noldus Information Technology, the duo ran a series of 10,000 neutral images through the software to determine traces of emotion from more than 500 expressive points. Typically, the software detects 97% “neutral” emotion with the remainder representing traces of happiness or anger. In visages that are commonly described as Resting Bitch Faces, the software detected a consistent 6% emotion level and most of it was labeled as contempt.

03 Feb 16
Newspaper

Germany to Test Stellarator

Germany is on the verge of conducting a hydrogen fusion test of the Wendelstein 7-X Stellarator in Greifswald. The device is similar in nature to the Russian Tokamak design being constructed in France as ITER except it uses magnetic coils instead of an electric field to stabilize the plasma. One of the most significant challenges to nuclear fusion is developing the technology to handle the 180 million degree furnace. The Stellarator has already demonstrated the containment of a Helium plasma and it’s looking like the Stellarator may leap ahead of ITER, which is already facing a six year delay.

02 Feb 16
Newspaper

Air Force Firewalls are Weapons

The Air Force … has declared the firewall a cyber weapon system. According to Air Force Colonel Pamela Wooley, “Designating something as a weapons system really does help us justify our funding …. It is really pretty exciting for our airmen.” In case you’re still scratching your head, we are talking about the firewall in the context of network security but in this particular instance, the Air Force is referring to a larger system designed to protect the gateways into its military network. Still, it’s hard not to mock the Air Force for this.

29 Jan 16
Newspaper

Consciousness Defined by Neural Pathways

What makes a human being conscious? While the answer to that remains a mystery, European researchers published into Journal of the Royal Society Interface a study on neural pathways and their connection to consciousness. After drugging their volunteers with propofol within an MRI, the researchers studied the degrading neural activity. The effect of the propofol is a loss of consciousness and during the effect, the activity mesh between the neurons dramatically slows leading to the conclusion that, “consciousness in the brain is merely, in a physical sense, a state where there is an optimal level of neural network connectedness.”

13 Jan 16
Newspaper

Free Range Kids are Legal

The term “free range” often makes one think of chickens … but these days, it also refers to kids. In a nutshell, the term refers to a throwback of parenting to the days of yore when kids were not constantly sheltered by helicopter parents. One might wonder why there’s a “movement” for something that until the past generation was quite normal. We can’t have nice things because helicopter parents are SOOOO prevalent in contemporary society that free range kids look abnormal, so much so that police have detained children walking alone and arrested their parents. However, a recently approved Federal Law under the Every Student Succeeds Act (note: seems to be a poorly configured website … bet it gets hacked soon) has section (page 857) protecting parents from being criminalized for allowing their kids autonomy within reason.

13 Jan 16
Newspaper

Implications of Winning $1B in PowerBall Lottery

The jackpot for the PowerBall lottery has reached a record-breaking $1.5 billion payout for prospective winners. This more than doubles the previous high lottery of $656 million for MegaMillions. What happens if you win? The first decision comes with the choice between a monthly annuity and a lump sum payment. The next have very little to do with choice as government takes their 39.6% income tax cut followed by state and municipal taxes which combined may equal more than half the winnings. Following these come the actual behavior choices that often lead to ruin for many unfortunate lottery winners. The usual recommendations for big money lottery winners are to:

06 Jan 16
Newspaper

Obama's Executive Orders on Gun Control

President Obama played the crying card the other night to his selected audience of mass-shooting victim family members while announcing his new Executive Action (White House release). According to the President, “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.” What’s the skinny on the action though? Basically, it merely emphasized that the existing laws ought to actually be followed and enforced (background checks, licensed dealers, etc.) About the only change was an increase in funding by $500M for handling mental illness.

06 Jan 16
Newspaper

North Korea Detonates Nuclear Device

North Korea has presumably detonated it’s fourth nuclear weapon since 2006. This time, however, the isolated country declared the weapon to be a thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb. The test itself was conducted at an underground facility and triggered a 5.1 magnitude event on seismic sensors. Thermonuclear bombs are significantly more powerful than their plutonium based, fission counterparts.

04 Jan 16
Newspaper

Huge New No Fly Zone Over DC

The FAA has published updated guidance for the new year that explicitly bans drones in a 30 mile radius surrounding Reagan National Airport. This increased swath spans nearly 3000 square miles and increases the restricted airspace by 400%. At first, many people may assume this simply means the rising growth of quadcopter drones but the flight ban for the SFRA (Special Flight Rules Area) includes regular model airplanes that have been operating for decades. Notifications were sent out to clubs such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics advising them to inform members the flight bans included their aircraft. According to an FAA spokesman to eWeek:

29 Dec 15
Newspaper

STEM Not Required to Teach Computer Science

The United States makes a fairly good showing for top tier universities offering quality computer science programs but essentially falls completely on its face with regard to the public education system. The statistics for K-12 computer science in America are dreadful with only 5% of US High Schools being certified to teach CS along with a flat-line growth in students taking the CS AP exam. A report titled Running On Empty by the ACM really highlights the decline of America’s fundamental knowledge of computers.

24 Dec 15
Newspaper

Technique for Extracting Information from a Black Hole

Once particles (or information) enters a black hole, it’s lost forever right? Physicists at the California Institute of Technology have devised a technique to extract a single bit of information after it’s been consumed. The first step, involves quantum entanglement. Having two entangled electrons allows one to be measured, to instantly “know” the state of the other. But this technique goes a step further and also uses quantum teleportation to imprint the state of one particle onto another (not entangled). Using these two principles, a scientist can capture an entangled photon of Hawking Radiation which gives information about a photon already inside the blackhole. A measurement of the blackhole’s angular momentum is taken (an easy exercise for any advanced physicist) and an electron is tossed in. Despite it’s small size, the electron affects the blackhole’s angular momentum thanks to conservation laws. Combined with a new measurement of the blackhole’s angular momentum (for the delta), a quantum teleportation of information from the consumed electron to the photon, and the entanglement from the photon to the observable photon … a scientist can recover unknown information about the “lost” electron. slide rule … drop

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.

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