Saturday, April 14, 2012

Web Freedom May Be A Thing Of The Past

Web Freedom Faces Greatest Threat Ever, Warns Google's Sergey Brin -- The Guardian

Exclusive: Threats range from governments trying to control citizens to the rise of Facebook and Apple-style 'walled gardens'.

The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were "very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world". "I am more worried than I have been in the past," he said. "It's scary."

Read more

My Comment:
He is right, and the push to limit the freedoms that we enjoy on the internet are expanding.

The World's Internet Powerhouse Is Estonia

How Tiny Estonia Stepped Out Of USSR's Shadow To Become An Internet Titan -- The Guardian

The European country where Skype was born made a conscious decision to embrace the web after shaking off Soviet shackles.

In 1995, four years after Estonia broke free from the USSR, Toomas Hendrik Ilves read a "very Luddite" book by Jeremy Rifkin called The End of Work. "It argued that with greater computerisation there would be fewer jobs," remembered Ilves, then a senior diplomat, now the country's president, "which from his point of view was terrible."

Ilves and many of his colleagues saw it differently. In a tiny (population: 1.4 million) and newly independent country like Estonia, politicians realised computers could help quickly compensate for both a minuscule workforce and a chronic lack of physical infrastructure.

Read more

My Comment: They may have a dominant position now .... but threats to the internet as we know it may change this.

Israel's Other Temple

Graphic: The land of the Samaritans and the Jews.

Israel's Other Temple: Research Reveals Ancient Struggle Over Holy Land Supremacy -- Spiegel Online

The Jews had significant competition in antiquity when it came to worshipping Yahweh. Archeologists have discovered a second great temple not far from Jerusalem that predates its better known cousin. It belonged to the Samaritans, and may have been edited out of the Bible once the rivalry had been decided.

Clad in gray coat, Aharon ben Ab-Chisda ben Yaacob, 85, is sitting in the dim light of his house. He strikes up a throaty chant, a litany in ancient Hebrew. He has a full beard and is wearing a red kippah on his head.

The man is a high priest -- and his family tree goes back 132 generations. He says: "I am a direct descendent of Aaron, the brother of the prophet Moses" -- who lived perhaps over 3,000 years ago.

Read more ....

My Comment: This proves once again how old and ancient the biblical lands are.

Did China Just Test A "Kill-Switch" For The Internet?

Image source: Kai Hendry/

China’s Mysterious Internet Outage; Speculation Over A ‘Kill Switch’ -- ZDNeT

Summary: Temporary blackouts leave China’s Internet users unable to access many Chinese Web sites as well as other unblocked foreign sites. Chinese Telecoms deny any network issues.

At approximately 11am local time yesterday, Internet users around China reported significant Internet blackouts. Not only were they unable to access some Chinese sites, but also many foreign Web sites that had not previously been blocked.

The issue was not isolated to China. Web users in Hong Kong and Japan also reported issues with accessing Chinese sites. A number of explanations immediately came to light, with the most viable cause being the 8.7 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia on Wednesday, that might have damaged undersea cables.

Read more ....

More News On The Internet Outage In China

New Clarity on China Internet Outage -- Wall Street Journal
Strange Internet Rumblings Coming From China -- Tech News World
Rumors Are Circulating About China's Internet 'Kill Switch' -- Business Insider
Chinese Internet Outage Raises Questions -- Epoch Times

My Comment: The manner and progression in which the internet was cut reminds me of how both Iran and Egypt cut their internet during the height of their uprisings. This was a Chinese kill-switch test .... and yes .... it was successful.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Pentagon Wants Augmented Reality Displays

Startup Innovega will supply augmented-reality contact lenses and glasses to DARPA.
(Credit: Innovega)

Pentagon Eyes Augmented Reality Displays -- CNET

DARPA orders prototypes of Innovega's iOptik displays that use special contact lenses so a person can focus both on images shown on the lenses and far-away objects for augmented reality.

The Defense Department has reportedly ordered augmented-reality displays from startup Innovega, only a week after Google disclosed its own augmented-reality project.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Innovega has signed a contract to supply the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with a prototype of its iOptik spectacles and accompanying contact lenses, Innovega's CEO Steve Willey told the BBC. The augmented-reality system could improve the awareness of soldiers in the field, he said.

Read more

My Comment: This is far-out-there stuff.

More here.

It's Not Easy To Lauch A Rocket

Why North Korea Sucks At Rocket Technology -- Danger Room

Rockets: They’ve been around for, oh, 70 years. But just because they’re senior citizens doesn’t mean they’re technologically decrepit. As North Korea’s latest failed rocket test shows, launching a rocket into space is still, well, rocket science.

To successfully launch a rocket into space — a necessary achievement for creating the intercontinental ballistic missiles that North Korea wants and breathless American politicians baselessly fear they’ll develop — you need expertise in lots of things. Lots of physics. Lots of safe handling of dangerous chemicals. And lots of experience.

Read more

My Comment: During the heydays of the Soviet Union, my uncle worked in a division that was responsible for developing and assembling satellites, and then configuring them to be put on a rocket. Growing up I always pestered him about his job, and he mentioned to me more than once that assembling and successfully launching a rocket is an incredibly difficult engineering endeavor .... a fact that I am sure a few North Korean engineers are saying right now.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Google Drive Tipped Off By Lucidchart Slipup

(Credit: Google)

Oops! Impending Google Drive Tipped Off By Lucidchart Slipup -- CNET

Google Drive hasn't even been announced yet, but all signs point to the cloud-based storage service from the search giant getting that name.

Google is widely believed to be nearing the launch of a cloud-based storage service, and another leak seems to point to the company calling it Google Drive.

Venturebeat reporter Sean Ludwig yesterday came across a posting in Lucidchart, a service that lets people create free diagrams, pointing to Google Drive integration.

Read more ....

Are Four Big Quakes In Two Days Connected?

The red star marks where the Sumatra quake hit. USGS

Are Four Big Quakes In Two Days Connected? -- MSNBC/Live Science

Shaking from Sumatra quake picked up by US seismic monitoring stations.

The 8.6-magnitude earthquake that hit off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia Wednesday was followed by several decent-size shakes along the west coast of North America, but researchers can't say for certain whether all the temblors were related.

It's possible, geophysicists say, that quakes off the coast of Oregon, Michoacan, Mexico, and in the Gulf of California ranging from magnitudes 5.9 to 6.9 on the Richter Scale had something to do with the large earthquake that struck near Indonesia. But the West Coast quakes were fairly standard for their location.

Read more ....

Mu Comment: Talk about coincidences .... 4 major quakes in two days.

How The Stuxnet Virus Was Delivered To Infect Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility

(Credit: CBS Interactive)

Report: Stuxnet Delivered To Iranian Nuclear Plant On Thumb Drive -- CBS News/CNET

(CNET) An Iranian double agent working for Israel used a standard thumb drive carrying a deadly payload to infect Iran's Natanz nuclear facility with the highly destructive Stuxnet computer worm, according to a story by ISSSource.

Stuxnet quickly propagated throughout Natanz -- knocking that facility offline and at least temporarily crippling Iran's nuclear program -- once a user did nothing more than click on a Windows icon. The worm was discovered nearly two years ago.

Read more

More News On How The Stuxnet Virus Was Delivered to Infect Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility

Stuxnet Loaded by Iran Double Agents -- ISSSource
Stuxnet worm reportedly planted by Iranian double agent using memory stick -- Ars Technica
The Stuxnet Virus At Iran's Nuclear Facility Was Planted By An Iranian Double Agent -- Business Insider
Stuxnet was planted by Israeli backed terrorists -- TechEye

My Comment: Why the leak now .... on the eve of the meeting between Iran's nuclear negotiator and the major powers.

Pentagon Wants Cyberweapons NOW

The U.S. Navy's Cyber Defense Operations Command U.S. Navy

Pentagon Announces New Strategy: Rapidly Develop Cyberweapons to Attack Specific Targets -- Popular Science

The Pentagon wants cyberweapons, and it wants them fast. Deftly recognizing that cyberweapons are nothing like the materiel of physical warfare, the DoD is devising a means to fast-track and field certain cyberweapons, some of which will take only days to go from development to deployment.

Read more

My Comment: Why the rush? What are they not telling us?

Artificial Intelligence Will Soon Be Passing The Turing Test

Artificial Intelligence Could Be On Brink of Passing Turing Test -- Wired Science

One hundred years after Alan Turing was born, his eponymous test remains an elusive benchmark for artificial intelligence. Now, for the first time in decades, it’s possible to imagine a machine making the grade.

Turing was one of the 20th century’s great mathematicians, a conceptual architect of modern computing whose codebreaking played a decisive part in World War II. His test, described in a seminal dawn-of-the-computer-age paper, was deceptively simple: If a machine could pass for human in conversation, the machine could be considered intelligent.

Read more ....

My Comment:
Some would say that we are there already.

What Happened To The USS Scorpion?

USS Scorpion (SSN-589). Wikipedia

Experts Out To Solve Deep-Sea Mystery Of The USS Scorpion -- USA Today

Shipwreck disaster experts are calling for a deep-sea expedition to a lost U.S. nuclear attack sub, the USS Scorpion, in an effort to verify a new theory on what caused the Cold War vessel to sink.

The Scorpion was lost May 22, 1968, killing 99 men, about 400 miles south of the Azores Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The sub has been inspected by undersea recovery teams, including a visit in 1985 by oceanographer Robert Ballard before his team's discovery of the Titanic shipwreck.

The cause of the sub's loss remains hotly disputed. A Navy Court of Inquiry found "the cause of the loss cannot be definitively ascertained."

Read more ....

My Comment: I am surprised that it has taken them this long to make the decision to now go out and find the definitive answer on why did the USS Scorpion sink to the bottom of the Atlantic in 1968.

Life On Mars?

Viking 2 Lander image (dated Nov. 2, 1976) showing the rocks of Utopia Planitia in the background. NASA

Mars Viking Robots 'Found Life' -- Discovery News

Mathematical analysis adds to growing body of work questioning the negative results of a life-detection experiment 36 years ago.

* New results question the finding that the Mars Viking experiments did not find life.
* The analysis was based on studying the mathematically complexity of the experiment results.
* The idea is that living systems are more complicated than purely physical ones, a concept that can be represented mathematically.

New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week.

Read more ....

My Comment: One more reason on why we she go back.

The Building Blocks Of Future Planets Comes From Dying Stars

Dying Stars Are The Building Blocks Of Future Planets -- Red Orbit

Scientists report in a new study that they have solved a long-standing mystery about how dying stars release their precious matter, compounds that are an important ingredient in the building blocks of future planets.

Their discovery was made after observing the violent ends of three ‘red giants’ having their atmospheres ripped away by super winds containing dusty grains of silica, producing massive sandstorms in space. These grains were unexpectedly large in size for stellar wind particles, measuring nearly a micrometer across, the scientists said.

Read more

My Comment: A zero sum universe.

A Flowering Plant Blooms After 30,000 Years

Regenerated Pleistocene Age plant. David Gilichinsky/Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil, Russian Academy of Sciences

Flowering Plant Revived After 30,000 Years In Russian Permafrost -- ABC News

The plant in this picture dates from the Pleistocene Age, 30,000 years ago, before agriculture, before writing, before the end of the last Ice Age. And while it’s not accurate to say the plant itself is that old, scientists in Russia say they regenerated it from frozen cells they found beneath 125 feet of permafrost in what is now northeastern Siberia.

Read more

My Comment:
Nice flowers.

The Economics Of Engagement Rings

Norman Chan/Shutterstock

The Strange (and Formerly Sexist) Economics of Engagement Rings -- The Atlantic

Diamonds are forever, but the meaning of the diamond engagement ring has changed dramatically in the last century. Today's symbol of love was once something more like virginity insurance.

Why do men buy diamond rings for our fiancées? There's the emotional story. We enjoy making grand gestures of commitment to the people we love. Behind that, there's the marketing story. DeBeers' historic ad campaign, crafted by the real-life mad men at N.W. Ayers, convinced generations of lovers that diamond bands were synonymous with eternal devotion. But behind that, there is economic story that is just as important and fascinating.

Read more ....

My Comment: Gone down this road .... and yes .... never again.

'Advanced' Dinosaurs On Other Planets?

New scientific research raises the possibility that advanced versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs -- monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans -- may be the life forms that evolved on other planets in the universe. (Credit: © DX / Fotolia)

Could 'Advanced' Dinosaurs Rule Other Planets? -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2012) — New scientific research raises the possibility that advanced versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs -- monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans -- may be the life forms that evolved on other planets in the universe. "We would be better off not meeting them," concludes the study, which appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Read more

My Comment: Intelligence dinosaurs?

Alcohol Sharpens The Mind

Men who drank the equivalent of two pints of beer answered 40 per cent more test questions correctly. Photo: REUTERS

Alcohol Sharpens The Mind, Research finds -- The Telegraph

Men who drink two pints of beer before tackling brain teasers perform better than those who attempt the riddles sober, scientists have found.

In findings that will be toasted by pub quiz aficionados, researchers found drinkers got more test questions right and were quicker in delivering the right answers.

It is thought alcohol hinders analytical thinking and allows 'creative' thoughts that might otherwise by stifled to take root, allowing test subjects to come up with more imaginative solutions.

Read more

My Comment:I am an easy drunk .... 2 pints usually put me in a sleepy mood.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

U.S. Sues Apple Over 'Price Fixing' E-Book Deal With Five Major Publishers

Ebooks To Be Cheaper As U.S. Sues Apple Over 'Price Fixing' Deal With Five Major Publishers -- Daily Mail

* Justice Department to sue Apple
* Separate deal with publishers
* Could end 'price fixing' for ebooks
* Ebook prices risen up to 50% in last two years

America's Justice Department could sue Apple as early as Wednesday over alleged electronic book price fixing.

The DoJ will settle with several publishers as early as this week, two people familiar with the matter said.

The case could have major knock-on effects for pricing on electronic books online and on devices such as Amazon's Kindle.

Read more ....

My Comment: Some Publishers are already settling with the Justice Department, and some are predicting that the DoJ will lose their case.

Death Of The Paperback

Photo: The rise of e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle has seen paperback sales decline

Death Of The Paperback In E-Reader Revolution: Sales Drop By 25% In A Year -- Daily Mail

From the Da Vinci Code to Harry Potter, the paperback has been a literary staple for decades.

It was almost 80 years ago when the likes of Penguin Books made quality fiction available for mass market consumption at affordable prices.

But now, with sales down by nearly 25 per cent year-on-year, some senior industry experts are heralding the ‘death of the paperback’.

Read more ....

My Comment: And I expect this trend to continue.

Can Another Titanic Disaster Happen Today?

The bow of Titanic photographed in June 2004, by the ROV Hercules during an expedition returning to the shipwreck of the Titanic. CREDIT: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island

Could the Titanic Disaster Happen Today? -- Live Science

A century ago on Sunday, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank to a watery grave, killing 1,514 passengers. The disaster conjures images of luxury and hubris, cowardice and heroism, as well as one haunting question: Could it happen again?

In many ways, it already has, according to maritime experts. The Northern Maritime Research shipwreck database, for example, lists more than 470,000 shipwrecks in North America in the 20th century alone.

Read more

My Comment: 470,000 shipwrecks in North America in the 20th century alone .... wow.

A Challenge To Facebook's News Feed

Image: Wavii automatically creates status updates about its user's interests

Wavii Poses A Challenge To Facebook's News Feed -- BBC

A new personalised news stream service has been launched by some of technology's most respected developers.

Wavii searches the net - including tweets, news stories and blogs - to offer a customised feed.

It is offered via the web or as a smartphone app, and was created by engineers who had previously worked for Amazon and Microsoft.

It is likely to compete with Facebook's news feed, prompting speculation that it could become a takeover target.

Read more

Quantum Walkers Have Now Been Created

Quantum computing will revolutionise the speed and performance of computers. Credit: Macquarie University

Quantum Walk Towards New Supercomputers -- Cosmos

LONDON: Quantum walkers, which are single sub-atomic quantum particles that can be made to travel on a two-dimensional grid, have been created in a new step towards quantum walker-based quantum computing.

Imagine trying to isolate a single sub-atomic quantum particle that you can't see, with no mass and no charge, that will readily pop in and out of existence, and then make it travel through a virtual dot-to-dot grid obeying a strict set of rules.

Read more ....

Zombie Survival Maps

How safe are you when the zombies come for your brain? Photo: Google Maps/Doejo

Zombie Survival Maps Show Danger Zones, Armories and Food Sources for Entire U.S. -- Gadget Lab

The Walking Dead teaches us that well-stocked pantries and armories are paramount to the survival of the human race after a zombie infestation. Canned food and ammunition: You can never have enough of these key essentials.

Enter the Map of the Dead from Doejo, which overlays zombie danger zones and potential supply locations on a Google Map of your local haunts. Red areas denote population centers where zombies might graze, while dark gray zones cover parks and wilderness areas, which are most likely to be walker-free. Supply locations are annotated with helpful descriptions — liquor stores, hospitals, gun shops, military bases and cemeteries are just some of the locations highlighted.

Read more ....

Why No Devastating Tsunami After Today's Sumatra Earthquake

Why Earthquake Off Sumatra Did Not Trigger A Devastating Tsunami -- The Guardian

Main shock was magnitude 8.6 but horizontal seafloor movement meant warning buoys only measured small waves.

The earthquake off the coast of northern Sumatra in Indonesia began with a sudden shift in a strike-slip fault, a line of weakness in the sea floor where two huge bodies of rock can slide past one another.

Unlike the earthquake that triggered the devastating 2004 tsunami in the region, the sea floor moved sideways instead of vertically, meaning it displaced less water and did not send giant waves around the Indian Ocean.

Read more

My Comment: There region was lucky this time.

Yachting Enters The Space Age

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
The superyacht is 42.5 meters in length, 16 metres in width and weighs 52 tons

Shipping Enters The Space Age: The $15m Superyacht That Took Five Years To Build -- Daily Mail

* The Adastra's range is 4,000 miles, enough to go from the UK to New York in a single trip without refueling
* The 42m yacht has a maximum speed of 22.5 knots

Described as ‘one of the world's most amazing super yachts’, the $15 million, 42-metre luxury trimaran yacht Adastra certainly turned a few heads at its launching ceremony yesterday in China.

Commissioned by Hong Kong clients Anto and Elaine Marden, it is the result of five years of planning and construction.

Read more ....

My Comment: WOW!!!! But $15 million is steep. Still .... WOW!!!

30% Of All Web Traffic Is Porn

Xvideos: The world's biggest porn site receives billions of hits a month

Is The Whole World Looking At Porn? Biggest Site Gets Over FOUR BILLION Hits A Month -- Daily Mail

* 30% of all web traffic is porn, according to a report

‘The internet is for porn,’ is the title of a song on hit musical Avenue Q.

And it turns out the lyricists had touched on a home truth, because researchers have discovered that a staggering 30 per cent of all internet traffic is pornography.

The biggest porn site on the web - Xvideos - receives 4.4billion page views and 350million unique visits per month, according to a report on the ExtremeTech website.

Read more

My Comment: Only 30% .... I thought that it was higher.

Creating A Quantum Computer

IBM's 2-D Superconducting Qubit Mounted on a Chip IBM Research via Flickr

How It Would Work: Creating a Quantum Computer -- Popular Science

A working, large-scale quantum computer is still a decade away, but researchers are currently turning a critical corner from theory to building the first small quantum systems.

Silicon semiconductors have taken us a dazzling distance along the computing road. But even if they continue unabated to get faster and more powerful (and it’s growing more difficult to make that happen) there’s a limit to what classical computing can do.

Read more ....

My Comment: A Quantum computer is still a long way-off .... but we are getting there.

Most Convincing 'Robot Woman' Ever

Living Doll? 'Geminoid F' Is Most Convincing 'Robot Woman' Ever - She Has 65 Facial Expressions, Talks And Even Sings -- Daily Mail

It may only be a matter of months before boy bands and teen actresses are replaced by robots - after a talking, singing fem-bot with 65 facial expressions wowed crowds in China.

Geminoid F can produce smiles and even enigmatic, quizzical expressions, using mechanical actuators underneath her rubber 'skin'.

Her creator says his goal is to create a robot that can fool people into believing it's a human being.

Read more ....

My Comment: Yup .... they are getting better every year.

US Unaffected By Global Warming

US Ecosystems Basically Unaffected By Global Warming, Studies Show -- The Register

Streams fail to dry up as expected at test sites.

Scientists monitoring water flow in streams at test sites across the USA have found, unexpectedly, that the global warming seen in the late 20th century had basically no effect on most of the ecosystems they studied.

The world in general is thought to have warmed up by approximately half a degree C from 1980 to the year 2000, and while the past decade has seen no further increase, most full-time professional climate scientists expect warming to resume in the near future. However there has been much disagreement as to just what effects this could have.

Read more ....

My Comment: I can guarantee you that this story will have (almost zero play) in the US main stream media.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Making Whiskey In Space

Photo: The unmatured whisky was mixed with charred oak on board the space station to see how low gravity affected the maturation process

Where No Dram Has Gone Before: Whisky Company Matures New Malt In Zero-G On The Space Station -- Daily Mail

* Whisky mixed with charcoal to see how zero-gravity affects flavours
* Mix will remain on Space Station for two years

The astronauts on the International Space Station are used to rocket fuel - but even so, a delivery of a container of rough, unmatured whisky must have come as a surprise.

Thankfully, the delivery was for an experiment, rather than an impromtu celebration, so the astronauts carried out their duties with their usual sober dedication.

Read more ....

My Comment: It should produce an interesting smell and taste.

Military ‘Battle Lab’ Relies On Solar Energy

Image via U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen

Military ‘Battle Lab’ Cashes In On Solar Savings -- Earth Techling

No one ever said training for battle was easy, nor energy-efficient. The “Battle Lab” is a U.S. military facility in New Jersey where more than 20,000 soldiers prepare and train for battle. The lab includes shooting ranges, vehicle rollover trainers and other high-tech simulators. But those high-tech tools suck up millions of kilowatts of power.

Now, more than a quarter of the training facility’s power is being provided by renewable energy sources. The Army Corps of Engineers along with the help of contractor P & S Construction helped complete a solar power project onsite at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Photovoltaic solar panels were mounted to the roof of the Battle Lab, covering approximately 71,000 square feet.

Read more ....

Pentagon Is Speeding Up Its Cyberweapon Research

The Pentagon is creating a next-generation cyberweapon.(Reuters / Rick Wilking)

Pentagon To Fast-Track Cyberweapons Acquisition -- Washington Post

The Pentagon is planning to dramatically speed up the development of new cyberweapons, giving it the ability in some cases to field weapons against specific targets in a matter of days, according to a new Pentagon report to Congress.

The rapid acquisition process is designed to respond to “urgent, mission-critical” needs when the risk to operations and personnel is unacceptable if threats are not addressed quickly, according to the 16-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. Congress required the Pentagon to prepare the report on how it could accelerate acquisition of cyberweapons.

Read more ....

More News On The Pentagon's Quest For Cyberweapons

U.S. accelerating cyberweapon research -- Washington Post
Pentagon creating new-generation cyberweapon -- RT
DoD: Cyber Weapons May Be Better Than Cyber Espionage Tools -- Nextgov
Cyber warfare rules still being written -- Washington Times
DOD working on guidelines for cyberwar operations -- Stars and Stripes
DoD’s cyber rules of engagement -- DoD Buzz
DARPA Director: Cyber Research Needs Innovation, Talent -- Defpro
U.S. Military Readies Cyber 'Rules of Engagement' -- Information Week
3 factors inhibit DOD cyber infrastructure defense -- Defense Systems

Budget cuts put cybersecurity at risk
-- Politico

DARPA Wants Humanoid Robots

DARPA's Robotics Challenge is a contest to design robots for dangerous disaster relief situations from natural or industrial disasters. (Credit: DARPA)

Disaster Zone Robot Competition Announced By Pentagon -- BBC

A competition to develop next-generation robots capable of saving lives in disaster zones has been unveiled by the Pentagon's advanced research laboratory.

Darpa says it wants "adaptable robots with the ability to use human tools - from hand tools to vehicles".

It plans to hold a series of emergency response physical challenges.

A $2m (£1.3m) prize is being offered to the team with the best technology. The competition begins in October.

The agency says it hopes software engineers, video game developers and other experts from fields outside robotics will take part "to increase the diversity of innovative solutions".

Read more ....

More News On DARPA's Quest For A Humanoid Robot

US military offers millions for the first humanoid robot -- MSNBC
Seeking Robots to Go Where First Responders Can’t -- New York Times
DARPA Wants Humanoid Robots That Can Drive Tractors, Open Doors and Save the Day -- Popular Science
DARPA: Build us robots that drive -- and use power tools -- CNET
DARPA Seeking to Build (Friendly) Terminators -- PC Mag
The U.S military wants YOU, to build a humanoid robot -- Ubergizmo
DARPA Challenge Seeks Robots To Drive Into Disasters -- Information Week
DARPA wants rescue robots, offers $2M prize -- TG Daily
Humanoid Robots DARPA Hopes Will Save Human Lives -- Atlantic Wire
DARPA's Next Grand Challenge - Humanoid Robots -- The Future Of Things
DARPA's next Grand Challenge to focus on humanoid robots -- Endgadget
Pentagon eyes 'human like' handyman robots: But why? -- RT

Tsunami Projections Raises Concerns In Japan

Tsunami Projections Offer Bleak Fate for Many Japanese Towns -- New York Times

KUROSHIO, Japan — The simulations shocked this sleepy community on the tip of Japan’s Shikoku island: a huge undersea quake could bring a tsunami as high as 112 feet here, a government-appointed expert panel said. The waves could arrive in minutes and engulf most of the town, swallowing up even the foothills that the residents had counted on for high ground.

“We’d never make it if such big waves came,” said Hachiro Okumoto, 70, a fisherman who has worked off the Kuroshio coast for half a century. “It would be a wall of water. It would block out the sun.”

Just a year after a tsunami destroyed much of Japan’s northern Pacific coast, an updated hazard map detailing the damage that could be unleashed by another quake of a similar magnitude has been met with alarm across the country.

Read more ....

My Comment: You cannot live in fear forever. A tsunami may hit today .... or maybe centuries from now.

The Real World Of Robots Does Not Match Fantasy

Robot Realities Fail Fictional Fantasies -- BBC

Our mental fantasy of what a robot should look like is so clouded by movies that many of us would struggle to identify a real one, writes Quentin Cooper.

Gort in the original The Day The Earth Stood Still; Bender from Futurama; the huge Talos in Jason & The Argonauts; Robby in Forbidden Planet; the Gunslinger in Westworld; Huey, Dewey & Louie in Silent Running; ED-209 from Robocop, and the (admittedly obscure) Yo-Yo in 70s TV series Holmes & Yo-Yo. They’re just a few of my favourite film robots, and that’s without bringing in androids, replicants, cyborgs or semi-sentient computers.

Read more ....

My Comment: No 'terminator robots' running around in the near future.

Communication Secrets Of Great Leaders

10 Communication Secrets Of Great Leaders -- Forbes

It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. I hope you noticed the previous sentence didn’t refer to being a great talker – big difference. The key to becoming a skillful communicator is rarely found in what has been taught in the world of academia. From our earliest days in the classroom we are trained to focus on enunciation, vocabulary, presence, delivery, grammar, syntax and the like. In other words, we are taught to focus on ourselves. While I don’t mean to belittle these things as they’re important to learn, it’s the more subtle elements of communication rarely taught in the classroom (the elements that focus on others), which leaders desperately need to learn. It is the ability to develop a keen external awareness that separates the truly great communicators from those who muddle through their interactions with others. In today’s column I’ll share a few of the communication traits, which if used consistently, will help you achieve better communication results.

Read more ....

My Comment: Unfortunately .... this is not what most leaders follow.

Canada To Have It's Own Crypto-Currency

Canada To Mint Its Own Crypto-Currency -- Technology Review

The Royal Canadian Mint has invented a new, digital currency called MintChip intended to be an alternative to using debit and credit cards.

MintChip is modeled somewhat on Bitcoin, a digital currency invented by an unknown programmer that looked like it might succeed last year before falling prey to a serious of security and regulatory problems. The promo video for MintChip promises that transactions as small as $0.01 will be possible, something not feasible with credit cards due to the fees on each transaction. A competition is underway that will reward programmers with the best demonstration uses for MintChip.

Read more

My Comment: More news on this currency can be read here.

Google's Augmented Reality Glasses

Video: Google's Straight-Out-of-Sci-Fi Augmented Reality Glasses -- Popular Science

Google announced just a month or two ago that they were in the advanced stages of work on a pair of augmented reality glasses--a concept we've been waiting for since some sci-fi writer thought of it in decades ago. The company was short on details or, importantly for our fantasies, imagery, until today, when it posted a concept video showing how these glasses might be used. And it's pretty amazing. Video after the jump.

Read more ....

My Comment: Awesome.

Population Growth: Fastest Growing Urban Area?

Population Growth: Fastest Growing Urban Area? It May Surprise You -- L.A. Times

It has a smaller population than San Jose, Calif. -- but it’s the fastest growing urban area in the world.

New estimates from the United Nations peg Samut Prakan as the population center expected to grow the most between 2010 and 2015, its population anticipated to surge 9%. The Thai province located south of Bangkok is known for its fishing and boasts that it has the world’s largest crocodile farm.

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Iran Preparing To 'Disconnect' From The Internet

Iranian schoolgirls chat online at an internet cafe. (Photo: Reuters)

Iran To Shut Down Internet Permanently; 'Clean' National Intranet In Pipeline -- International Business Times

Millions of Internet users in Iran will be permanently denied access to the World Wide Web and cut off from popular social networking sites and email services, as the government has announced its plans to establish a national Intranet within five months.

In a statement released Thursday, Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, announced the setting up of a national Intranet and the effective blockage of services like Google, Gmail, Google Plus, Yahoo and Hotmail, in line with Iran's plan for a "clean Internet."

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Update: Iran expected to permanently cut off Internet by August -- CNET

My Comment: They are already starting to block sites .... including the 2012 Olympics official website.

The U.S. Navy Is Looking For Hackers

The government wants to pay $177,000 for the ability to monitor game systems

Know How To Hack A Video Game Console? The U.S. Navy Wants You! -- Y! Tech

For players just looking to have a good time when gaming online, hackers are a major nuisance. But regardless of how frustrating playing against someone with an unfair advantage can be, the practice of game console hacking has apparently caught the eye of the United States military. It seems the U.S. Navy is looking for a few good hackers to create both hardware and virtual modifications that will allow officials to monitor the messaging functions of specific game consoles — and they're prepared to pay over $150,000 for the final product.

Read more ....

My Comment
: Chinese gamers .... watch out!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Telepathic Troops In 5 Years?

Fiction or reality? The film The Men Who Stare At Goats, starring George Clooney, depicts some of the mind control experiments previously used by military intelligence

Pentagon Plans For Telepathic Troops Who Can Read Each Others' Minds... And They Could Be In The Field Within Five Years -- Daily Mail

he U.S. Army is dedicating millions of research dollars into discovering building helmets to allow soldiers to telepathically communicate with one another on the battlefield.

The technology, which seems like something out of a science fiction novel, would use electrodes to pick up code words that soldiers were thinking.

Those codewords would then be transmitted back to a computer where the soldier's position and message- telling, for instance, that it is safe to progress towards a target- which would be transmitted to their peers in the field.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am skeptical on this one.

Police Use Of Cell Phone Tracking Becoming Routine

A recent study from the ACLU found a high number of law enforcement agencies track cellphone movement. (Michelle Maltais / Los Angeles Times / April 4, 2012)

Police Tracking Of Cellphones Raises Concerns -- L.A. Times

You check in on Foursquare, post geotagged photos on Facebook and tweet every mundane detail of your life. You overshare. But do you really want the cops tracking your cellphone without your knowledge?

A recent review of law-enforcement practices by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that it's not uncommon for cellphones to be virtually tailed using either the phone's own GPS or cellular triangulation -- without obtaining a warrant or subpoena.

Read more ....

More News On Police Departments Tracking Cell Phones

ACLU: Police track cellphones, too -- MSNBC
Police Are Using Phone Tracking as a Routine Tool -- New York Times
ACLU: Local police departments tracking cellphones without warrants -- Washington Post
ACLU: Most Police Departments Track Cellphones Without Warrants -- National Journal
More Police Agencies Using Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking in Surveillance -- New American
ACLU report: Warrantless tracking of cellphones ‘pervasive and frequent’ -- The Hill
Big Brother in Your Pocket: How Police Use Your Cell Phone to Track You -- The Atlantic

The 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan

BMW 3 Series Sedan courtesy BMW

Test Drive: The 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan -- Popular Science

The classic German sedan gets an exciting upgrade.

When BMW rolls out an all-new 3 Series, it's big news, since these have been the benchmark of German sedans for the last 30 years or more. It also sets off a tectonic shift in the entry-level luxury market, with the Mercedes-Benz C Class, Audi A, not to mention the Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G and the Lexus GS suddenly called upon to step up their game to follow along.

This automotive war of attrition becomes a win for the consumer, as the arms race among the automakers gives the consumer a lot more choice. Really, who can argue with better, faster and safer cars every few years?

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My Comment: Owned a BMW for a few years .... sighh .... it is a great car to drive.

The US Navy's Fire Scout To Be Upgraded To Recognize Somali Pirate Ships

Fire Scout, Now Hunting Pirates U.S. Navy

Navy's Robot Helicopters Are Getting New Onboard Brains That Will Help Them Fight Somali Pirates -- Popular Science

It’s tough being a pirate these days. Facing off with Navy SEALs and missile cruisers on their home turf of the high seas is tough enough for small-arms wielding pirates in diminutive watercraft. Now, the Navy is bringing in the robots. The Office of Naval Research has plans to imbue its Fire Scout unmanned, ship-launched helicopters with electronic brains capable of identifying the small boats generally used by pirates.

Read more ....

My Comment: Instead of facial recognition for humans .... we now have 'ship recognition'. Quite smart if you ask me.

World’s Biggest Wind Farm Is Being Planned For The South Coast Of England

What lies ahead: A mock-up of the Navitus Bay wind farm, which would cover an area the size of Glasgow

World's Biggest Wind Farm 'To Blight The South Coast' If 200 Near 700ft Turbines Are Erected Just Off Stunning Shore -- Daily Mail

The world’s biggest wind farm is being planned for the South Coast of England.

The 200 turbines would earn Dutch company Eneco billions of pounds in Government subsidies. Critics say they will ruin coastal views, while yachtsmen warn they could cause crashes.

The Royal Yacht Squadron, the prestigious sailing club whose patron is the Queen, has written to 200 sailing clubs on the Isle of Wight and along the South Coast to call for action against the development, named Navitus Bay.

Read more

My Comment: The sailors are going to be pissed.

Electric DeLorean Races Toward A 2013 Release

The Electric DeLorean
The electric version of the DeLorean sports car featured in the Back to the Future films has arrived at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, touting an iPhone dock, Bluetooth capabilities and a battery-powered engine.

Electric DeLorean Races Toward 2013 Release [PICS] -- Mashable Tech

The not-yet-released electric version of the iconic DeLorean sports car featured in the Back to the Future films has arrived at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, touting an iPhone dock, Bluetooth capabilities and a battery-powered engine.

The electric DeLorean, which will hit the U.S. market in 2013, was originally announced in October 2011 but it’s making a surprise appearance at the auto show this week.

The latest DeLorean still comes with recognizable gull-wing doors, a stainless steel body and a rear-mounted engine. However this sucker is electrical: It features a 32-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion phosphate battery system. It’s still sporty, too: The car can go from 0 mph to 60 mph in less than six seconds.

Although DeLoreans typically run for $65,000, the electric model will cost $95,000.

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My Comment: $95,000 for an electric DeLorean .... hmmmm .... not cheap.

How To Destroy An Incoming Killer Asteroid With A Nuclear Blast

Earth, and the Near-Earth Objects that Threaten It ESA - P.Carril

How it Would Work: Destroying an Incoming Killer Asteroid With a Nuclear Blast -- Popular Science

Simulations show how unleashing Earth's destructive arsenal into deep space could save the planet.

One way or another, it’s on everyone’s minds, living somewhere in the back of our collective consciousness. Hollywood knows it, and continues to plumb it for box office numbers. Sci-fi is rife with it. The fossil record shouts warnings across millennia about it. Even the dinosaurs developed a particular, albeit brief, loathing for it. The killer asteroid--the one that we might never even see coming--could end life on this planet and there would be nothing humans could do about it. It creates a kind of helplessness that’s difficult to even think about, and it’s Robert Weaver’s job to think about it all the time.

Read more ....

An App On The History Of Math

1,000 Years Of Maths... Via An App: IBM Creates A (Very Long) iPad Timeline History Of Geeks' Favourite Subject -- Daily Mail

To celebrate the history of maths and its impact on the world, IBM has released Minds of Modern Mathematics - an iPad app that re-imagines a classic 50-foot infographic on the history of maths.

It was created by husband-and-wife design team Charles and Ray Eames and displayed at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.

The app is designed as an ‘interactive vintage-meets-digital experience for students, teachers, and tech fans that illustrates how mathematics has advanced art, science, music and architecture’.

Read more ....

My Comment: The history of science has always a fascination for me .... having an app for it .... divine.

Mysterious UFO That Shocked Plane Passengers As It Was Filmed Zooming Around Them

Going, going.... The UFO suddenly rises upwards as the person filming tries to zoom in

Wing And A Scare: The Mysterious UFO That Shocked Plane Passengers As It Was Filmed Zooming Around Them -- Daily Mail

* The white round object was spotted above Seoul in South Korea
If it’s an April Fool's joke, it’s a few days too late.

A mysterious round white object was filmed whizzing around a passenger plane above Seoul, the capital of South Korea, on April 7.

The clip, which has been uploaded to YouTube, begins with the ‘craft’ at the bottom of the screen, keeping pace with the passenger plane.

But then it speeds up and rises in altitude before zipping off out of shot, just as the startled person filming it tries to zoom in for a closer look.

Read more ....

Malaria is Spreading

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes

Resistance Spread 'Compromising' Fight Against Malaria -- BBC

Scientists have found new evidence that resistance to the front-line treatments for malaria is increasing.

They have confirmed that resistant strains of the malaria parasite on the border between Thailand and Burma, 500 miles (800km) away from previous sites.

Researchers say that the rise of resistance means the effort to eliminate malaria is "seriously compromised".

The details have been published in The Lancet medical journal.

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My Comment: This is not comforting news.

What Plants Will Survive Climate Change

Wilted tree leaves in a Hawaiian forest during the extreme drought of 2010-11, which was the worst in at least 11 years and was federally designated a natural disaster. The tree is an alahee (Psydrax odorata). (Credit: Faith Inman-Narahari)

Which Plants Will Survive Droughts, Climate Change? -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2012) — New research by UCLA life scientists could lead to predictions of which plant species will escape extinction from climate change.

Droughts are worsening around the world, posing a great challenge to plants in all ecosystems, said Lawren Sack, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the research. Scientists have debated for more than a century how to predict which species are most vulnerable.

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My Comment: I would also like to see a study on what plants will prosper with climate change .... that severe droughts in one area may result in heavy rainfalls and/or warmer climates in another that in the past was more accustom to colder/dryer periods.

Conserving The Titanic Wreck

The sunken Titanic in a grab from a video shot by Dr Robert Ballard in 2004 Photo: National Geographic

Titanic Explorer 'To Dispatch Deep-Water Robots To Conserve The Wreck' -- The Telegraph

The ocean explorer who led the team that discovered the remains of the Titanic has drawn up plans to dispatch deep-water robots to the floor of the North Atlantic to conserve the wreck.

Robert Ballard fears that the Titanic is at risk of disintegration.

It was 100 years ago this week that the liner set sail from Southampton for New York on her maiden voyage. Maritime officials and experts have warned the vessel, which hit an iceberg in April 1912 is rusting away at the bottom of the ocean.

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My Comment: Faster please.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Radio Telescope Will Be Powered by $43-Million IBM Supercomputer

Radio Telescope Square Kilometer Array Will Be Powered by $43-Million IBM Supercomputer -- Sci Tech Daily

The world’s largest telescope will be the Square Kilometer Array, and when it starts peering into radio waves emanating from the skies, it will generate 1,000,000 terabytes of data each day. All of this data needs to be processed, and IBM is building a supercomputer to handle it.

1,000,000 terabytes, or one exabyte, is a lot of information, and it will be generated by 15,000 small antennas and 77 larger stations. The main focus of the Square Kilometer Array is to shed light on the origins of the Big Bang. One exabyte a day, that’s twice as much information as there is traffic on the Internet each day.

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My Comment: I can see the line-up of radio astronomers waiting to get their hands on the data from this project.

Rise Of The Drones: Photos Of Unmanned Aircraft

Amazing Unmanned Aircraft
Credit: NASADrones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are used by the military in a number of ways, including missile testing, air strikes, aerial refueling, surveillance, transporting cargo, live-fire exercises and even long-range bombing. The U.S. military began experimenting with unmanned aircrafts as early as World War I, but they were called remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) at the time. Today, UAVs are used by various organizations, including the U.S. Air Force, Navy and the U.S. Geological Survey.

WNU Editor: The photo gallery starts here.

The Business Of Cancer

The Business Of Cancer -- Al Jazeera

As advancements in DNA sequencing technology lead to personalised treatments, we examine the cost of the war on cancer.

It has been more than 40 years since Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971, beginning the 'war on cancer'. There have been notable successes since, particularly with childhood cancers. Childhood leukemia, once a death sentence, now has survival rates approaching 90 per cent. The American Cancer Society estimates that 767,000 cancer deaths were prevented over the last 20 years.

Read more ....

My Comment: In short .... it's big business.

Origins Of The Universe

Origins Of The Universe Exposed In Dazzling 3D Videos -- Live Science

Some of the greatest mysteries of the universe, such as how the first stars were formed, spring to life in a new series of awe-inspiring 3D videos that will be shown at museums and universities in California and New York.

The full-color, high-definition 3D animations depict a range of compelling cosmic scenes, including swirling veils of gas and dust from exploding stars, colorful galaxy clusters, dynamic star formation and enigmatic dark matter.

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My Comment: Awesome video.