VnutZ's Articles, Page 5 of 78

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02 Sep 15
Question

Where is the Factory Diesel Wrangler

Rumors of a factory diesel engine for the Jeep Wrangler have been circulating since 2008, 2013, and early 2015. They’ve been available in overseas markets forever but have long been denied to American buyers. It’s shame, too, because the 3.0L eco-diesel is a potent powerplant that has already proven itself to meet US emissions standards so it’s lack of availability is simply a marketing decision slap in the face of the brand’s enthusiast base. In the meantime, owning a “diesel Jeep Wrangler in America” will continue to be limited to a small niche.

01 Sep 15
Newspaper

Breakthroughs with Perfect Fluids

A perfect fluid is a liquid that exhibits nearly zero viscosity. However, there is a lower limit to what is physically possible defined by a ratio of viscosity against entropy – ħ/4π where ħ is the Plank constant. Despite this theoretical limit, nearly no fluids exhibited behaviors anywhere close except for quark-gluon plasmas. Unfortunately, until recently, scientists were struggling with how to measure the fleetingly short-lived, primordial soup substance. In order to study it, researchers learned they could measure particle jets of known energy that are ejected from the quark-gluon plasma. After creating mathematical models for the plasma based on relativistic hydrodynamics, the scientists were able to study how the jets passed through the plasma in order to infer information about the plasma itself. The discovery of the “perfect fluids” was made nearly 10 years ago, but the existing data from the RHIC and LHC against the new models have allowed researchers to expand into creating quark-gluon plasmas from unexpected sources. According to physicists at the University of Colorado, “The idea that collisions of small particles with larger nuclei might create minute droplets of primordial quark-gluon plasma has guided a series of experiments to test this idea and alternative explanations, and stimulated a rich debate about the implications of these findings …. These experiments are revealing the key elements required for creating quark-gluon plasma and could also offer insight into the initial state characteristics of the colliding particles.”

01 Sep 15
Newspaper

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

The Department of Energy recently approved a 3.2 gigapixel camera called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Weighing in at nearly 3 tons, the LSST will capture an unprecedented swath of the sky per image. It features a fancy, automatic filter adjustment system allowing the camera to record the spectrum from near-ultraviolet through near-infrared. Everything will be built in Cerro Pachón in Chile and is expected to be operational by 2022.

01 Sep 15
Newspaper

movfuscator

At DEFCON 23, security researcher Chris Domas unveiled the movfuscator. Essentially, Chris built off the work of Stephen Dolan’s proof that the x86 instruction mov is Turing Complete. When a machine is defined as Turing Complete, in colloquial programming terms it simply means that it can simulate all general computing tasks. Thus, in declaring mov as Turing Complete, Stephen says that an entire program can be written with nothing but combinations of that one instruction. Chris in turn built the movfuscator to take a binary as its input and output a new binary composed of nothing but mov instructions. Certainly, any reverse engineer opening a binary of nothing but an endless list of mov will quickly hate their life.

20 Aug 15
Question

Quantum Entanglement Time Machine Text Messages

The OmniNerd “good idea fairy” is flapping its wings and sprinkling some dust trying to figure out ways to save humanity from the Great Purge. Let’s begin with this statement: our ability to have a functional time machine or cross-temporal-messaging device is no longer limited by today’s technology. As a matter of fact, researchers may have already demonstrated the necessary technology exists through existing and on-going quantum entanglement experiments. What tools are already at our disposal:

19 Aug 15
Newspaper

Canadians Patent Space Elevator

Getting into space is expensive and demanding. Scientists have researched alternatives to rocket boosters for decades as means of mitigating cost, danger, and the barriers to entry. One of the more peculiar concepts is known as the space elevator which varies in idea from being a staging point to putting an object fully into orbit. Thoth Technology of Toronto was just granted a patent for a new space elevator design using kevlar composites and helium filled tubes to support a 12 mile, free-standing elevator. The goal behind the elevator is to enable cheaper launches from a higher altitude or to simply scale the elevator all the way out to 200km.

18 Aug 15
Newspaper

DNA Data Storage

Before the information age, the best way to store data for perpetuity was in books. Perhaps that’s still true as many current digital mediums still do not last for more than a handful of years. Right now, scientists are looking at leveraging sequences within DNA for archival storage based on the notion they can last for thousands of years. DNA is estimated to be capable of storing 300,000 TB of encoded data. Current experiments have successfully “saved” 83 KB of information and recovered it without error.

18 Aug 15
Newspaper

Women to Graduate Ranger School

Two women are set to make history on Friday as they become the first females to graduate US Army Ranger School. They began the three phases in April 2015 with 19 women and 381 men whereupon the herd began thinning out due to recycles and course drops. By the time the class completed the swamp phase, only two women and ninety-four men remained. Only about 45% of students that begin Ranger School actually make it graduation. Throughout their attendance, military forums exploded with controversy about whether standards were loosened, whether women should even be there, and what their role was afterwards. Currently, the Pentagon still has restrictions on women applying to the 75th Ranger Regiment and there are no published plans for further women to attend the course following this integration test.

17 Aug 15
Newspaper

Predisposed to Picky Eating

Why are you a picky eater? Some of the reasons may include conditioning but there is a genetic portion as well. There’s a gene that regulates how bitter certain foods taste and this is often the cue by which picky eaters shun a food. That gene, amongst other factors, is TAS2R38 and it triggers from glucosinolates in plants. Some theorize it existed to keep humans from killing themselves eating poisonous things in our more primitive days.

17 Aug 15
Newspaper

Pending Impact of a Solar Minimum

We’ve all come to expect that Global Warming is a thing and many people have embraced it for the awesome experience that it will bring – endless bikini pool parties.

But what about when nature’s pendulum swings back the other direction and as per usual, overpowers all of mankind’s tiny inputs? Scientists are considering the prolonged lack of solar activity in cycle 24 to be indicative of a significant solar minimum. The last time the sun was so inactive was a period lasting for nearly 70 years known as a Little Ice Age (the Maunder Minimum and Dalton Minimum). It will be interesting nonetheless given modern equipment and sensors to really see how anomalous solar activity affects the Earth’s climate.

17 Aug 15
Newspaper

Interrogation's Cognitive Model

Arguments go back and forth in American society about torture as an interrogative method – even here on OmniNerd (2009, 2012). However, simply acknowledging that torture methods are not necessarily effective does not address the challenge – how does one extract information from a suspect “that knows”? Psychologists are now pushing the Cognitive Interview which studies are showing can extract up to 80% more information. The method is also credited with effectively countering deception as well because over the course of time, lies are shallower and less detailed than the truth and trained interrogators are taught to tell the difference. Sometimes it does make one wonder, however, what methods are really used as the fear of torture and getting caught can still be quite the psychological deterrent.

14 Aug 15
Newspaper

Supercomputer Models Frozen Water Droplets

The Department of Energy offers a portion of its massive, 20+ petaflop supercomputer Titan up to the public for scientific research. Recently, GE engineers updated an older code base for simulating how a water droplet freezes to make use of Titan’s mammoth array of NVidia GPUs to nearly quintuple the simulation’s performance. Of course the purpose wasn’t to merely run the simulation faster, it was to run a deeper simulation increasing the model to one million water molecules in order to study how the droplet freezes. As a result of the research, scientists can develop better anti-icing materials for things like wind turbines in the arctic or off-shore drilling rigs. A time lapse video of the droplet’s freezing can be viewed here: https://www.olcf.ornl.gov/2013/10/25/titan-propels-ge-wind-turbine-research-into-new-territory/

14 Aug 15
Newspaper

Clinton's Classified Emails

It’s hard these days to not be aware of the e-mail handling accusations against the former Secretary of State. Claims have gone back and forth about never handling classified information, how does one conduct state business without anything being classified, that multiple email accounts were too difficult, that coincidentally everything about topic A, B, or C was deleted, etc. etc. Of course there are ironic things such as the State Department cable issued by Clinton advising personnel about the security threats of using private, personal email accounts. A fairly decent timeline of the shenanigans was compiled by the Washington Post. The latest development finds there were Top Secret emails on her server after all, to include details of drone use.

13 Feb 15
Newspaper

Gas Pump Hacking

I’ve been chatting with my colleagues about how this process works for awhile and how it ought to be relatively easy to corrupt. For starters, think of the gas-point programs that many supermarkets offer. You buy at their supermarket where every spent dollar equals a point and then 100 points saves you 10¢. You show up at the gas station and swipe this card and without interaction from the station owner, the pump automatically lowers the price per gallon. At first, one would think this only works because each station has explicitly configured their pumps to work with only certain programs – which makes sense – but how technical are all of these station owners? This process needs to be dirt simple and largely self configuring.

04 Feb 15
Question

Taxing Prior Year Returns

Amongst other things – does anybody else find it particularly wrong for the government to be able to tax your prior year’s return? After all, that return is based on an overpayment of taxes to the government for that year’s income. It is not “new income”, it’s simply “already taxed income that has nothing to do with the current year”. Hence, it just seems like a double tax.

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