Articles, Page 7 of 217
It’s a simple question really – let Syrian refugees in or not?
There are, of course, the folks that lean towards a total ban on allowing them entry into our country (a view that is mirrored internationally) on the basis that terrorists are hiding among them. This approach was adopted by more than half of the US state governors following the attacks in Paris. On the other hand, there are folks making the case that denying refugees a safe harbor is playing exactly into the hands of ISIS. Again this view is also shared internationally.
Most of the time when people hear about child support in a negative light, it’s cast as mothers that are struggling to get by while dead-beat dads fail to provide child support. It’s unfortunate that society seems to allow the opposite side of that spectrum basically get away with being dead-beat moms.
Walk with me through a quick scenario. A family of three on a median annual income of $50,000 in the United States is neither wealthy nor poor. But as a national median, nobody could argue the child does not have the opportunity to be provided for (given frugal budgeting and appropriate spending). If the same salary existed for a single parent – $50,000 – there would be no argument to the general public or the court that they deserved a handout.
Machine Learning is an aspect of computer science related to the construction of algorithms to make predictions or decisions about new data after being trained on a known sample of data. To that end, one of the big names in machine learning research and application is none other than Google. They can leverage the technology for intelligent searching and ad matching as the most obvious applications but it goes deeper into image or video tagging amongst other uses. Nevertheless, Google took the unprecedented move to open source their machine learning engine – TensorFlow.
At this point, everyone knows Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens is only a month away. Nearly a year after the first teaser was released, the third and final trailer hit the Internet … or did it? Apparently, astute Star Wars aficionados watched the release trailers for different countries and discovered the Japanese version included different footage than anything released in the United States.
Budding mad scientists intent on destroying the Earth by creating a local black hole have been limited by the need to construct giant super colliders like the LHC. But new research by the University of Maryland may open the door for portable particle accelerators for everyone to enjoy. The problem was the high energies required to get particles up to nearly the speed of light for the subsequent collision. Their research was able to accelerate particles using only the energy of a standard lightbulb using what is called a plasma wakefield acceleration. In a nutshell, the lasers are able to push particles in an electron free plasma (hydrogen) and create a wake that all subsequent particles ride in which permits achieving supercollider speeds in less than a meter.
In the words of the great philosophers, the Wyld Stallions, Be Excellent to Each Other. However, it would appear that a religious upbringing may reduce the level of excellence once demonstrates towards others. A study looking into the nature of sharing in children correlated a diminished tendency towards those with a higher exposure to religion. The researchers believe the behavior may be explained by “moral licensing” – much like having carbon credits exonerates one from environmental excess. It is postulated that people who do good by practicing faith, believe those in less fortunate situations may be deserving of it or that they themselves have less consequences for their own actions. According to the study’s lead:
The Volkswagen diesel emission cheating scandal has barely cooled in the press and already the company is facing additional issues. The issues aren’t the reduced performance hit for the vehicles once they are re-programmed to always perform to emissions requirements. It’s also not quite the potential $35 billion in fines across the various countries whose emissions laws were violated. Volkswagen is now in hot water because some of the regular gas vehicles show anomalies in the testing for mileage certification. This is different from the diesel scandal in that the diesels were modifying their engine performance during mandatory emissions tests. The gas engines were simply tested under non-standard conditions in order to exaggerate their fuel efficiency claims for sales purposes.
Bitcoins have gone through turbulent years to say the least. However, a recent price surge saw Bitcoins break the $400 barrier. Why the sudden surge remains a bit of a mystery and theorists speculate it could be related to the European ruling that Bitcoins are a currency and not subject to VAT or perhaps the tightening of Chinese regulations causing people to hide their money in digital form. Despite the surge, $400 is still a mere third of the peak value back in 2013.
Russia’s military game has ramped up slowly but surely over the past several years. Earlier in 2015, the were flying bombers off the coast of California in what seemed to be a basic show of capability, a reminder to the United States that Russia could reach out and touch America. Of course, in the past month, Russia entered the Syrian conflict and is operating combat missions at the behest of the reigning Syrian government. In the Pacific near Korea, the Russians flew Tu-95 surveillance craft in close proximity to American warships which follows on Russian interception of US vessels in the Black Sea earlier in the year. And now the Russians are also deploying intelligence ships alongside the US coast precariously near the undersea cables carrying virtually all American commerce.
Not too long ago, astronomers determined that Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, actually harbored a large ocean beneath an icy layer. The analysis came from studying how the moon apparently wobbled, from various gravitational effects, in a way that indicated a liquid interior. Further analysis determined this ocean is likely salty with mixtures of NaCl and Na2CO3. It so happens that Enceladus’ ice layer is fissured on the southern pole with jets of ocean spray spewing forth. NASA redirected the Cassini spacecraft to fly within 30 miles of the moon through the spray in order to collect samples. Researchers hope the data will provide evidence indicating the possibility of life.
There are always lots of anecdotes and heresay surrounding the art of running securely. The rules of thumb vary depending on the expert and vary from using Tails, ToR, LiveCDs, rolled back VMs, anti-virus products, meticulously configured operating systems, etc. What do you actually do in practice?
The Zeno Effect when applied to quantum physics boils down to the notion that if you observe a system with increased frequency, it ceases to change. As strange as that sounds, students at Cornell have proven it using near 0K temperatures and lasers to hold a Rubidium gas still by watching it. At just above absolute zero, the Rubidium atoms form into a lattice but exhibit an odd property of tunneling about from place to place. But if the atom’s are observed using a pulsed laser (which causes them to fluoresce), the students discovered they stayed still as opposed to being observed moving about. The proof of the effect opens future opportunities according to the lead student by giving, “us an unprecedented tool to control a quantum system, perhaps even atom by atom.”
Previous debates on gun control on this site inspired by various gun massacres, have been ended by statistics that show that murderous gun deaths are actually decreasing in the USA in recent years, or that the cost of gun control could be better spent on other things that would save more lives.
Even if we accept these things as being true, should we then abandon any hope of avoiding the massacres of young innocents that now seem to be separated by only a few months? These are real tragedies affecting many lives, and a national disgrace. Even our powerful President is periodically reduced to frustrated rants about the hopelessness of the situation, and gloomy despair: why is America so sick at heart that it keeps producing (seemingly ordinary) people who can do these terrible inhuman acts?
Most in the astronomy community would align with the statement by Jason Wright, a Penn State astronomy professor that, “you should reserve your alien hypothesis as a last resort.” But that’s not to say the matter never gets suggested. There is a star, creatively named KIC 8462852, with a dimming behavior scientists can’t explain. Naturally, the discussion turned to aliens constructing enormous superstructures that happen to be blocking the stars light from us. The peculiar behavior was discovered by Planet Hunters, and organization that combs through troves of databases to analyze dimming of stars to detect exoplanets (and they’re quite successful with this technique). Ultimately, there are many plausible explanations that may apply to the situation …. but aliens are hard to resist.