Monday, May 31, 2004

Insecure password horror story of the day: During much of the 1970's, the US Minuteman nuclear ICBM missiles had their launch authorization codes set to "00000000" (without the knowledge of the President or Secretary of Defense) and that "everyone" at Strategic Air Command knew the "secret" password. According to the author, a former nuclear weapons officer:
The Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha quietly decided to set the "locks" to all zeros in order to circumvent this safeguard. During the early to mid-1970s, during my stint as a Minuteman launch officer, they still had not been changed. Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel.

SAC remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders. And so the "secret unlock code" during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War remained constant at 00000000.
The locks were eventually activated in 1977. (Via Slashdot.)
A student who has been expelled from his degree program for internet plagiarism is suing the university for having caught him too late. He claims that the school "should have spotted what he was doing and stopped him sooner."

According to this article, his argument is as follows:
It's a technique I've used since I started the course and I never dreamt it was a problem. I can see there is evidence that I have gone against the rules, but they've taken my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished. If they had pulled me up with my first essay, and warned me of the problems, it would be fair enough. But all my essays were handed back with good marks and no one spotted it.
"Japanese and U.S. scientists have genetically engineered a bovine embryo that is resistant to the deadly mad cow disease..."
Space robots that will need to work in the frictionless conditions in outer space are being trained on Earth on air hockey tables.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Chemists have constructed a molecular version of the Borromean rings.
Take the Geek Test. Slightly dated, but still informative. Alas, I am merely a "Total Geek". (Via MetaFilter.)
MMTW: Massive Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling. (Via Boing Boing.)

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Is "collective" intelligence superior to individual intelligence? Find out in the Wisdom of Crowds challenge. The author's primary thesis is clearly closely related to the so-called Efficient Market Hypothesis. (Via Tim Hsieh.)
Is the "ninja death touch" real?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

What you need to know about electronic voting machines.
Invention of the day: A roll-up flexible piano keyboard. On Star Trek: Next Generation, there was an episode "Lessons" in which Nella Daren played a duet on a similar-looking (fictional) instrument with Captain Picard on the Ressikan flute. The real-life version costs only 15,540 Japanese yen or $140 US. (Via Gadgeteer.)
Watch this guy solve a 20x20x20 Rubik's cube. (Via Memepool.)
Falling dots illusion. (Via BBspot.)
The Infinite Cat Project
Weird sex is all around us in nature. (Via SciTech Daily.)
Invention of the day: A robot that is sufficiently dextrous to perform origami.
Admin note: Our ISP problems appear to be solved. Regular posting will resume shortly. Thank you all for your patience!

Monday, May 24, 2004

Admin note: Due to problems with our ISP, we're having severe connectivity problems. Hence GeekPress may not return for a while until the ISP is up and running again. We apologize for the delay, and we'll be back as soon as possible.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Admin note: GeekPress will be going on a 2 week hiatus. We'll be back on Monday May 24!
Infinity in your browser. Ok, I'm dizzy now... (Via Quare.)
Invention of the day: The microprocessor-controlled self-adjusting running shoe from Adidas.
Dude, Where's My Robotic Mine-Sweeping Mini-Submarine Drone?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Robots with gender?
"Did Eskimos really put their elderly on ice floes to die?" Read the answer here.
When a couple is in love, their hormone levels converge.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

"Create your own Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Column"
Nanotechnology researchers are getting closer to developing molecular self-assembly.
Instead of performing precise but energy-intensive calculations, a new generation of frugal "probabilistic chips" saves time and energy by guessing the right answer.
Domino clock. (Via BBspot.)

Monday, May 03, 2004

Congratulations to Hanah Metchis and Sasha Volokh who are now engaged!
"Ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick is a hero to the small town of River Rouge, Michigan, after using his tech skills to help officials nab the culprit behind a harrowing series of bomb threats."
90% of adults have trouble opening "childproof" medicine containers.
"Will RSS Readers Clog the Web?"

Sunday, May 02, 2004

How to calculate the speed of light with a microwave oven and some marshmallows. (Via Linkfilter.)
Invention of the day: The self-chilling beer can. Here's the corporate website. (Via MBWHA.)
The Google Drinking Game! (Via Gravity Lens.)
Google's IPO could be a huge windfall for the company's early financial backers. Those initial investors could receive up to $150 - $400 for each $1 they put in.
If you're thinking of investing in Google, you first need to know how to calculate a company's value.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Even porn is being outsourced. Brazilian X-rated actresses reportedly charge only $175 per sex scene, compared to a much higher rate for Los Angeles porn actresses. (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)
The strangest looking moon in the solar system is Io, which has a bizarre yellow color due to its high sulfur content. Here's a true-color picture of Io.
Funny collection of signs. A couple of them might be photoshopped, but I think most of them are genuine. But my favorite one in the collection isn't a sign but this newspaper ad. (Via Tom McMahon.)