Articles, Page 9 of 217

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09 Sep 15
Cup

Interesting Space Observation

I was just browsing the Internet and came across this interesting story about discovering alien civilizations based on nuclear space holocaust. The Drake Equation gives an estimate on the probable number of alien civilizations throughout the universe. Extrapolating a bit on that, one could infer that nuclear technologies would be harnessed by some subset of those civilizations. Furthermore, either nuclear space disasters or interstellar nuclear wars might leave trace evidence that is detectable from Earth allowing us to identify their location.

09 Sep 15
Newspaper

Lexus Hoverboard

Lexus has gone and brought the hoverboard from Back to the Future II closer to reality. Their board weighs in at 25 pounds and features liquid nitrogen chilled superconducting blocks allowing for ten minutes of hover shenanigans. But how does it work? The superconductors allow the board to exploit the Meissner-Ochsenfeld effect to “push away” magnetic fields while also taking advantage of flux-pinning “lock” the board into a stable position. Basically, this is the same technology as the quantum locking demonstration from nearly half a decade ago. Just like the demonstration, the Lexus hoverboard can only work on a specially built track.

09 Sep 15
Newspaper

Reviving Ancient Viruses

Scientists are planning to reanimate a 30,000 year old virus from Siberia. The logic behind this move is that climate change is warming up areas where long forgotten or unknown diseases have been encased in the permafrost. As humans expand into Siberia for oil and resources, we should be prepared in advance for the illnesses that may come with the territory. This didn’t work out so well in the X-Files when the Russians stumbled upon the “Purity” (aka black oil) virus.

02 Sep 15
Newspaper

Developments in Spintronics

Modern digital electronics owe their simplicity to measuring an electron’s charge to determine either a 0 or 1 state. But that comes at a cost in terms of speed and power consumption. Spintronics is a similar manner of determining binary state but it uses the up or down spin of an electron as a discriminator. The technology has already been used in magnetic hard drives as a manner of using alternate physical materials, using less power, and measuring the state faster all as a means of increasing data density and throughput speeds. Now, the technology is under evaluation for use in MRAM and even CPU caches where it is hoped to achieve power efficiency savings upwards of 80%.

02 Sep 15
Newspaper

Cross Referencing Exposed Government Data

Almost two months ago, the Office of Personnel Management had its servers breached by Chinese hackers which subsequently exposed the personal information for nearly every government employee. The data is obviously a goldmine for nation state counter-intelligence units to cross reference against other collected data in a search for spies. The latest twist to the story is now leveraging the enormous Ashley Madison site leak in order to correlate government employees for blackmail opportunities. Employees were obviously infuriated by the lax security and the vastness of the breach. Perhaps more insultingly, OPM is offering identity protection through CSID – but a quick WHOIS query against CSID shows they’re hosted with Rackspace which has a data mirroring policy across it’s datacenters that includes China.

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.

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