Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Insecure Voting

"Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States":
In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had "provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006," which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them.

The statement contradicts what the company told me and fact checkers for a story I wrote for the New York Times in February. At that time, a spokesperson said ES&S had never installed pcAnywhere on any election system it sold. "None of the employees, … including long-tenured employees, has any knowledge that our voting systems have ever been sold with remote-access software," the spokesperson said.

Wacky Gene Names

"Sonic hedgehog and Beethoven: An oral history of how some genes got their names"

Genomes To Face

"Researchers produce images of people's faces from their genomes":
Creating pictures of people’s faces from their genomes has a number of potential uses, especially in forensic science. It might be possible to reconstruct the face of a perpetrator from any genetic material they have left behind, such as blood or body fluids. That would allow police to “see” the face of suspects in cases of murder, assault and rape. It could also help with identifying unrecognisable victims who have been burned or maimed. Unsolved cases might be reopened if suitable samples were still available.

As Dr Venter is quick to point out, this technology has other implications, among them for privacy. He considers that genomic information must now be treated as personal information, even if it is presented as an anonymised sequence of letters—as is currently the case in some countries...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018

Robo-Grading

"More States Opting To 'Robo-Grade' Student Essays By Computer"

Psychology of Roller Coasters

"The History and Psychology of Roller Coasters"

Oldest Color

"Scientists discover world's oldest colour -- bright pink". (Via H.R.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Blazar Update

"The IceCube Neutrino Detector at the South Pole Hits Paydirt":
...And these led to the first ever identification of the birthplace of a neutrino from outside our galaxy: in this case, the unimaginably violent cosmic forge of a blazar.

Blazars are incredibly bright natural sources of radio waves. They form when some of the swirling material falling into a supermassive black hole is converted into a hot radiating soup of elementary particles and then gets blasted back out into space in the form of twin jets moving at close to the speed of light.

2018 Macbook Pros

"Apple's new 2018 MacBook Pros are now available, and the top specs are much faster". (Via H.R.)

Vatican Keymaster

"Meet the Man With the Keys to the Vatican"

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Blogging may be lighter than usual the rest of this week and next week due to external obligations.

Police Technology Update

"Secret Policing: How Local Authorities Surveil Americans"

40 Years Of IVF

"Seven ways IVF changed the world"

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Spider Ballooning

"Spiders Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Using Electricity"

Ping Pong Ball Trick Shots

"Insane ping pong ball trick shots". Click through to see the videos.

How Lawn Mower Blades Cut Grass

"The Physics of How Lawn Mower Blades Cut Grass (at 50,000 FRAMES PER SECOND)".

Direct link to video:

Monday, July 09, 2018

Drone-Ception

"The US has an anti-drone gun that shoots drones at other drones"

Roller Coaster In Living Room

Resourceful dad gives his daughter an awesome roller coaster ride in the living room.

(Note: Lots of laughter and shrieking.) #DadOfTheYear

Homemade Underground Temple

"Man Spends 23 Years Carving Sprawling Underground Temple Under His House":
Levon Arakelyan was 44 years old in 1985, when his wife asked him to dig a potato storage pit under their house in the village of Arinj, in Armenia’s Kotayk region. He obliged, but after finishing work on the pit, he just couldn’t stop chiselling, so he kept at it every day, for the next 23 years...

Friday, July 06, 2018

IEEE Statement On Strong Encryption

"IEEE Statement on Strong Encryption vs. Backdoors"
IEEE supports the use of unfettered strong encryption to protect confidentiality and integrity of data and communications. We oppose efforts by governments to restrict the use of strong encryption and/or to mandate exceptional access mechanisms such as "backdoors" or "key escrow schemes" in order to facilitate government access to encrypted data. Governments have legitimate law enforcement and national security interests. IEEE believes that mandating the intentional creation of backdoors or escrow schemes -- no matter how well intentioned -- does not serve those interests well and will lead to the creation of vulnerabilities that would result in unforeseen effects as well as some predictable negative consequences
You can read their full statement here.

Three-Torus

"Stepping into a Three-Torus"

Fermi Paradox Revisited

"Why haven’t we found aliens yet? A new paper on the Fermi paradox convincingly shows why we will probably never find aliens."

I'm actually still not convinced. But I thought it was worth flagging this argument for others to read.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Chaotic Clouds of Jupiter

NASA: "Chaotic Clouds of Jupiter":
NASA’s Juno spacecraft took this color-enhanced image at 10:23 p.m. PDT on May 23, 2018 (1:23 a.m. EDT on May 24), as the spacecraft performed its 13th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 9,600 miles (15,500 kilometers) from the planet's cloud tops, above a northern latitude of 56 degrees.

The region seen here is somewhat chaotic and turbulent, given the various swirling cloud formations. In general, the darker cloud material is deeper in Jupiter’s atmosphere, while bright cloud material is high. The bright clouds are most likely ammonia or ammonia and water, mixed with a sprinkling of unknown chemical ingredients.

A bright oval at bottom center stands out in the scene. This feature appears uniformly white in ground-based telescope observations. However, with JunoCam we can observe the fine-scale structure within this weather system, including additional structures within it...

Too Many Meetings

"Tortured by meetings"

NYT On Descending Testicles

NYT: "The Evolutionary Origin of Descending Testicles"

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Star Trek Spirits

"'Kirk Bourbon Whiskey' Launches Line of STAR TREK Spirits".

Available for pre-order here.

AI Vs. Dermatologists

"AI detects skin cancers with more accuracy than dermatologists":
“The CNN [convolutional neural network] missed fewer melanomas, meaning it had a higher sensitivity than the dermatologists, and it misdiagnosed fewer benign moles as malignant melanoma, which means it had a higher specificity,” Haenssle said. “This would result in less surgery.”

Amazon Delivery To The Himalayas

"Delivering Amazon Packages to the Top of the World". (Via H.R.)

Monday, July 02, 2018

Medieval Trade Routes

"Behold an Incredibly Detailed, Handmade Map Of Medieval Trade Routes"

Future Phones

"Whoa! Meet the future phones that fold up, have 9 cameras and charge over thin air."

Magnetically Activated Micromachines

"Magnetically Activated Micromachines to Operate Remotely Inside Body":
Engineers at MIT have created a class of magnetically activated bug-like microdevices that may foreshadow remote-controlled surgical tools and externally powered heart-assist pumps. These interesting devices have an origami-like look and a variety of them have been built that crawl, jump, grasp, and do other things. They’re actually printed from soft materials that have ferromagnetic nanoparticles within their interior, allowing a magnet to manipulate them.