This weekâs BSD Now links to a bunch of what I call âresourceâ articles, things that tell you how to do things and use stuff.ÃÂ Itâs good reading if you have the time.
This weekâs BSD Now links to a bunch of what I call âresourceâ articles, things that tell you how to do things and use stuff.ÃÂ Itâs good reading if you have the time.
The United Kingdomâs anti-cybercrime agency is running online ads aimed at young people who search the Web for services that enable computer crimes, specifically trojan horse programs and DDoS-for-hire services. The ad campaign follows a similar initiative launched in late 2017 that academics say measurably dampened demand for such services by explaining that their use to harm others is illegal and can land potential customers in jail.
For example, search in Google for the terms âbooterâ or âstresserâ from a U.K. Internet address, and thereâs a good chance youâll see a paid ad show up on the first page of results warning that using such services to attack others online is illegal. The ads are being paid for by the U.K.âs National Crime Agency, which saw success with a related campaign for six months starting in December 2017.
NCA Senior Manager David Cox said the agency is targeting its ads to U.K. males age 13 to 22 who are searching for booter services or different types of remote access trojans (RATs), as part of an ongoing effort to help steer young men away from cybercrime and toward using their curiosity and skills for good. The ads link to advertorials and to the U.K.âs Cybersecurity Challenge, which tries gamify computer security concepts and highlight potential careers in cybersecurity roles.
âThe fact is, those standing in front of a classroom teaching children have less information about cybercrime than those theyâre trying to teach,â Cox said, noting that the campaign is designed to support so-called âknock-and-talkâ visits, where investigators visit the homes of young people whoâve downloaded malware or purchased DDoS-for-hire services to warn them away from such activity. âThis is all about showing people there are other paths they can take.â
While it may seem obvious to the casual reader that deploying some malware-as-a-service or using a booter to knock someone or something offline can land one in legal hot water, the typical profile of those who frequent these services is young, male, impressionable and participating in online communities of like-minded people in which everyone else is already doing it.
In 2017, the NCA published âPathways into Cyber Crime,â a report that drew upon interviews conducted with a number of young men who were visited by U.K. law enforcement agents in connection with various cybercrime investigations.
Those findings, which the NCA said came about through knock-and-talk interviews with a number of suspected offenders, found that 61 percent of suspects began engaging in criminal hacking before the age of 16, and that the average age of suspects and arrests of those involved in hacking cases was 17 years old.
The majority of those engaged in, or on the periphery of, cyber crime, told the NCA they became involved via an interest in computer gaming.
A large proportion of offenders began to participate in gaming cheat websites and âmoddingâ forums, and later progressed to criminal hacking forums.
The NCA learned the individuals visited had just a handful of primary motivations in mind, including curiosity, overcoming a challenge, or proving oneself to a larger group of peers. According to the report, a typical offender faces a perfect storm of ill-boding circumstances, including a perceived low risk of getting caught, and a perception that their offenses in general amounted to victimless crimes.
âLaw enforcement activity does not act as a deterrent, as individuals consider cyber crime to be low risk,â the NCA report found. âDebrief subjects have stated that they did not consider law enforcement until someone they knew or had heard of was arrested. For deterrence to work, there must be a closing of the gap between offender (or potential offender) with law enforcement agencies functioning as a visible presence for these individuals.â
Cox said the NCA will continue to run the ads indefinitely, and that it is seeking funding from outside sources â including major companies in online gaming industry, whose platforms are perhaps the most targeted by DDoS-for-hire services. He called the program a âgreat success,â noting that in the past 30 days (13 of which the ads werenât running for funding reasons), the ads generated some 5.32 million impressions, and more than 57,000 clicks.
Richard Clayton isÃÂ director of the University of Cambridge Cybercrime Centre, which has been monitoring DDoS attacks for several years using a variety of sensors across the Internet that pretend to be the types of systems which are typically commandeered and abused to help launch such assaults.
Last year, Clayton and fellow Cambridge researchers published a paper showing that law enforcement interventions â including the NCAâs anti-DDoS ad campaign between 2017 and 2018 â demonstrably slowed the growth in demand for DDoS-for-hire services.
âOur data shows that by running that ad campaign, the NCA managed to flatten out demand for booter services over that period,â Clayton said. âIn other words, the demand for these services didnât grow over the period as we would normally see, and we didnât see more people doing it at the end of the period than at the beginning. When we showed this to the NCA, they were ever so pleased, because that campaign cost them less than ten thousand [pounds sterling] and it stopped this type of cybercrime from growing for six months.â
Clayton said part of the problem is that many booter/stresser providers claim theyâre offering lawful services, and many of their would-be customers are all too eager to believe this is true. Also, the price point is affordable: A typical booter service will allow customers to launch fairly high-powered DDoS attacks for just a few dollars per month.
âThere are legitimate companies that provide these types of services in a legal manner, but there are all types of agreements that have to be in place before this can happen,â Clayton said. âAnd you donât get that for ten bucks a month.â
The NCAâs ad campaign is competing directly with Google ads taken out by many of the same people running these DDoS-for-hire services. It may surprise some readers to learn that cybercrime services often advertise on Google and other search sites much like any legitimate business would â paying for leads that might attract new customers.
Several weeks back, KrebsOnSecurity noticed that searching for âbooterâ or âstresserâ in Google turned up paid ads for booter services prominently on the first page of results. But as I noted in a tweet about the finding, this is hardly a new phenomenon.
Cambridgeâs Clayton pointed me to a blog post he wrote in 2018 about the prevalence of such ads, which violate Googleâs policies on acceptable advertisements via its platform. Google says it doesnât allow ads for services that âcause damage, harm or injury,â and that they donât allow adverts for services that âare designed to enable dishonest behavior.â
Clayton said Google eventually took down the offending ads. But as my few seconds of Googling revealed, the company appears to have decided to play wack-a-mole when people complain, instead of expressly prohibiting the placement of (and payment for) ads with these terms.
Google told KrebsOnSecurity that it relies on a combination of technology and people to enforce its policies.
âWe have strict ad policies designed to protect users on our platforms,â Google said in a written statement. âWe prohibit ads that enable dishonest behavior, including services that look to take advantage of or cause harm to users. When we find an ad that violates our policies we take action. In this case, we quickly removed the ads.â
Google pointed to a recent blog post detailing its enforcement efforts in this regard, which said in 2019 the company took down more than 2.7 billion ads that violated its policies â or more than 10 million ads per day â and that it removed a million advertiser accounts for the same reason.
The ad pictured above ceased to appear shortly after my outreach to them. Unfortunately, an ad for a different booter service (shown below) soon replaced the one they took down.
This week we have an exotic EB, explained to us by Dr. Cole Johnston, where the primary star is a subdwarf which is the stripped helium-burning core of a star. The temperature of this star is so high that it illuminates the much cooler secondary star, causing the surface of the secondary star that is facing the primary to heat up and appear much brighter than the side that is facing away. This causes a dramatic increase in brightness approaching and receding from the secondary eclipse (the small dip at the top of the âwaveâ in the above lightcurve). The two stars are so close together that they complete one orbit in just a few hours!ÃÂ The above light curve is phase folded to emphasise the brightening which is known as the âreflection effectâ.
Studying these systems is important because these primary stars are thought to be the tracers of a very strange evolutionary path, whereby the entire hydrogen envelope of an evolving star is stripped away by some mechanism (probably by a binary or high mass planetary companion), just at the point were helium burning starts in the core of the star.
Studying the atmospheres of exoplanets is a process that is fairly well along, especially when it comes to hot Jupiters. Here we have a massive target so close to its star that, when a transit occurs, we can look at the starâs light filtering through the atmosphere of the planet. Even so, clouds are a problem because they prevent accurate readings of atmospheric composition below the upper cloud layers. Aerosols â suspended solid particles or droplets in a gas â are common, range widely in composition, and make studying a planetâs atmosphere harder.
Weâd like to learn more about which aerosols are where and in what kind of conditions, for we have a useful database of planets to work with. Over 70 exoplanets currently have transmission spectra available. A wide range of cloud types, many of them exotic indeed, have been proposed by astronomers to explain what they are seeing.
Imagine clouds of sapphire, or rubies, which is essentially what we get with aerosols of aluminum oxides like corundum. Potassium chloride can produce a molten salt. Sulfides of manganese or zinc can be components, as well as organic hydrocarbon compounds. Which of these are most likely to form and affect our observations? And what about silicates?
A new model, produced by an international team of astronomers, bodes well for future work. The model predicts that the most common type of hot Jupiter cloud consists not of the most exotic of these ingredients but of liquid or solid droplets of silicon and oxygen â think melted quartz.
But much depends on the temperature, with the cooler hot Jupiters (below about 950 Kelvin) marked by hydrocarbon hazes. Peter Gao (UC-Berkeley) is first author of a paper describing the model that pulls all these and more possibilities together:
âThe kinds of clouds that can exist in these hot atmospheres are things that we donât really think of as clouds in the solar system. There have been models that predict various compositions, but the point of this study was to assess which of these compositions actually matter and compare the model to the available data that we haveâ¦ The idea is that the same physical principles guide the formation of all types of clouds. What I have done is to take this model and bring it out to the rest of the galaxy, making it able to simulate silicate clouds and iron clouds and salt clouds.â
Some planets have clear atmospheres, making spectroscopy easier, but all too frequently high clouds block observations of the gases below them. Gao considers such clouds a kind of contamination in the data, making it hard to trace atmospheric elements like water and methane. The new model examines how gases of various atoms or molecules condense into cloud droplets, their patterns of growth or evaporation, and their transport by local winds.
Image: Predicted cloud altitudes and compositions for a range of temperatures common on hot Jupiter planets. The range, in Kelvin, corresponds to about 800-3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, or 427-1,927 degrees Celsius. Credit: UC Berkeley. Image by Peter Gao.
The team worked with computer models of Earthâs clouds and extended them to planets like Jupiter, where we find ammonia and methane clouds, before moving on to hot Jupiter temperatures up to 2,800 K (2,500 degrees Celsius) and the kind of elements that could condense into clouds under these conditions. The scientists simulated the distribution of aerosol particles, studying cloud formation through thermochemical reactions and haze formation through methane photochemistry. This is intricate stuff, modeling condensation from one gas to another, so that we can simulate the emergence of unusual clouds, but it draws on 30 of the exoplanets with recorded transmission spectra as a check on the modelâs accuracy.
Using the model, we can move through layers of atmosphere as mediated by temperature, with the hottest atmospheres showing condensation of aluminum oxides and titanium oxides, producing high-level clouds, while lowering the temperature allows such clouds to form deeper in the planetâs atmosphere, leaving them obscured by bands of higher silicate clouds. Lower the temperatures further and the upper atmosphere becomes clear as the silicate clouds form further down. High-level hazes can form at lower temperatures still.
Looking for a clear sky to study the atmosphere without hindrance? Planets in the range of 950 to 1,400 K are the most likely to produce a cloudless sky, but planets hotter than 2,200 K also fit the bill, says Gao. Hannah Wakeford (University of Bristol, UK) is a co-author on the paper:
âThe presence of clouds has been measured in a number of exoplanet atmospheres before, but it is when we look collectively at a large sample that we can pick apart the physics and chemistry in the atmospheres of these worlds. The dominant cloud species is as common as sand â it is essentially sand â and it will be really exciting to be able to measure the spectral signatures of the clouds themselves for the first time with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).â
The key finding here is that only one type of cloud made of silicates dominates cloud opacity over a wide range of temperatures, and thus has the greatest implications for observation. Silicates dominate above planetary equilibrium temperatures of 950 K and extend out to 2,000 K, while hydrocarbon hazes dominate below 950 K. Many of the most exotic cloud types proposed in the literature simply require too much energy to condense.
Too bad. I liked the idea of sapphire clouds. But as the paper notes: âThe observed trends in warm giant exoplanet cloudiness is a natural consequence of the dominance of only two types of aerosol.â And it continues:
Even though we do not consider the day- and nightside cloud opacity of warm giant exoplanets explicitly in our modelling, our finding that only one type of cloudâsilicatesâdominates exoplanet cloud opacity over a wide range of temperatures has important implications for exoplanet emission and reflected light observations. For example, the brightness temperature of an atmosphere with an optically thick silicate cloud deck would be fixed to a value slightly below the condensation temperature of silicates where the cloud deck becomes optically thin, resulting in minimal variations in the atmospheric brightness temperature for 950 K < Teq < 2,100 K. This is indeed what is observed for the nightsides of warm giant exoplanets, which all have brightness temperatures of ~1,100 Kâ¦ Meanwhile, the relatively high albedo of certain warm giant exoplanets such as Kepler-7b could also be explained by the dominance of silicate clouds, which are highly reflective at optical wavelengths.
The paper is Gao et al., âAerosol composition of hot giant exoplanets dominated by silicates and hydrocarbon hazes,â Nature Astronomy 25 May 2020 (abstract).
âPhysicists like to probe the extreme,â said Garrett Goon, a physicist at Carnegie Mellon University. âThe fact that you canât go further, that something is changing, something is blocking you â something interesting is happening there.â
For decades, black holes have played the headlining role in the thought experiments that physicists use to probe natureâs extremes. These invisible spheres form when matter becomes so concentrated that everything within a certain distance, even light, gets trapped by its gravity. Albert Einstein equated the force of gravity with curves in the space-time continuum, but the curvature grows so extreme near a black holeâs center that Einsteinâs equations break. Thus generations of physicists have looked to black holes for clues about the true, quantum origin of gravity, which must fully reveal itself in their hearts and match Einsteinâs approximate picture everywhere else.
Plumbing black holes for knowledge of quantum gravity originated with Stephen Hawking. In 1974, the British physicist calculated that quantum jitter at the surfaces of black holes cause them to evaporate, slowly shrinking as they radiate heat. Black hole evaporation has informed quantum gravity research ever since.
More recently, physicists have considered the extreme of the extreme â entities called extremal black holes â and found a fruitful new problem.
Black holes become electrically charged when charged stuff falls into them. Physicists calculate that black holes have an âextremal limit,â a saturation point where they store as much electric charge as possible for their size. When a charged black hole evaporates and shrinks in the manner described by Hawking, it will eventually reach this extremal limit. Itâs then as small as it can get, given how charged it is. It canât evaporate further.
But the idea that an extremal black hole âstops radiating and just sits thereâ is implausible, said Grant Remmen, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley. In that case, the universe of the far future will be littered with tiny, indestructible black hole remnants â the remains of any black holes that carry even a touch of charge, since theyâll all become extremal after evaporating enough. Thereâs no fundamental principle protecting these black holes, so physicists donât think they should last forever.
So âthere is a question,â said Sera Cremonini of Lehigh University: âWhat happens to all these extremal black holes?â
Physicists strongly suspect that extremal black holes must decay, resolving the paradox, but by some other route than Hawking evaporation. Investigating the possibilities has led researchers in recent years to major clues about quantum gravity.
Four physicists realized in 2006 that if extremal black holes can decay, this implies that gravity must be the weakest force in any possible universe, a powerful statement about quantum gravityâs relationship to the other quantum forces. This conclusion brought greater scrutiny to extremal black holesâ fates.
Then, two years ago, Remmen and collaborators Clifford Cheung and Junyu Liu of the California Institute of Technology discovered that whether extremal black holes can decay depends directly on another key property of black holes: their entropy â a measure of how many different ways an objectâs constituent parts can be rearranged. Entropy is one of the most studied features of black holes, but it wasnât thought to have anything to do with their extremal limit. âItâs like, wow, OK, two very cool things are connected,â Cheung said.
In the latest surprise, that link turns out to exemplify a general fact about nature. In a paper published in March in Physical Review Letters, Goon and Riccardo Penco broadened the lessons of the earlier work by proving a simple, universal formula relating energy and entropy. The newfound formula applies to a system such as a gas as well as a black hole.
With the recent calculations, âyou really are learning about quantum gravity,â Goon said. âBut maybe even more interesting, youâre learning something about more everyday stuff.â
Physicists see very easily that charged black holes reach an extremal limit. When they combine Einsteinâs gravity equations and the equations of electromagnetism, they calculate that a black holeâs charge, Q, can never surpass its mass, M, when both are converted into the same fundamental units. Together, the black holeâs mass and charge determine its size â the radius of the event horizon. Meanwhile, the black holeâs charge also creates a second, âinnerâ horizon, hidden behind the event horizon. As Q increases, the black holeâs inner horizon expands while the event horizon contracts until, at Q = M, the two horizons coincide.
If Q increased further, the radius of the event horizon would become a complex number (involving the square root of a negative number), rather than a real one. This is unphysical. So, according to a simple mashup of James Clerk Maxwellâs 19th-century theory of electromagnetism and Einsteinian gravity, Q = M must be the limit.
When a black hole hits this point, a simple option for further decay would be to split into two smaller black holes. Yet in order for such splitting to happen, the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of charge require that one of the daughter objects must end up with more charge than mass. This, according to Einstein-Maxwell, is impossible.
But there might be a way for extremal black holes to split in two after all, as Nima Arkani-Hamed, Lubos Motl, Alberto Nicolis and Cumrun Vafa pointed out in 2006. They noted that the combined equations of Einstein and Maxwell donât work well for small, strongly curved black holes. At smaller scales, additional details related to the quantum mechanical properties of gravity become more important. These details contribute corrections to the Einstein-Maxwell equations, changing the prediction of the extremal limit. The four physicists showed that the smaller the black hole, the more important the corrections become, causing the extremal limit to move farther and farther away from Q = M.
The researchers also pointed out that if the corrections have the right sign â positive rather than negative â then small black holes can pack more charge than mass. For them, Q > M, which is exactly whatâs needed for big extremal black holes to decay.
If this is the case, then not only can black holes decay, but Arkani-Hamed, Motl, Nicolis and Vafa showed that another fact about nature also follows: Gravity must be the weakest force. An objectâs charge, Q, is its sensitivity to any force other than gravity. Its mass, M, is its sensitivity to gravity. So Q > M means gravity is the weaker of the two.
From their assumption that black holes ought to be able to decay, the four physicists made a more sweeping conjecture that gravity must be the weakest force in any viable universe. In other words, objects with Q > M will always exist, for any kind of charge Q, whether the objects are particles like electrons (which, indeed, have far more electric charge than mass) or small black holes.
This âweak gravity conjectureâ has become hugely influential, lending support to a number of other ideas about quantum gravity. But Arkani-Hamed, Motl, Nicolis and Vafa didnât prove that Q > M, or that extremal black holes can decay. The quantum gravity corrections to the extremal limit might be negative, in which case small black holes can carry even less charge per unit mass than large ones. Extremal black holes wouldnât decay, and the weak gravity conjecture wouldnât hold.
This all meant that researchers needed to figure out what the sign of the quantum gravity corrections actually is.
The issue of quantum gravity corrections has come up before, in another, seemingly unrelated line of black hole study.
Almost 50 years ago, the late physicists Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking independently discovered that a black holeâs entropy is directly proportional to its surface area. Entropy, commonly thought of as a measure of disorder, counts the number of ways an objectâs internal parts can be rearranged without any change to its overall state. (If a room is messy, or high entropy, for instance, you can move objects around at random and it will stay messy; by contrast, if a room is tidy, or low entropy, moving things around will make it less tidy.) By building a bridge between a black holeâs entropy, which concerns its inner microscopic ingredients, and its geometric surface area, Bekenstein and Hawkingâs entropy area law has become one of physicistsâ strongest footholds for studying black holes and quantum gravity.
Bekenstein and Hawking deduced their law by applying Einsteinâs gravity equations (together with the laws of thermodynamics) to the black holeâs surface. They treated this surface as smooth and ignored any structure that exists over short distances.
In 1993, the physicist Robert Wald of the University of Chicago showed that itâs possible to do better. Wald found clever tricks for inferring the small effects that emanate from more microscopic levels of reality, without knowing what the complete description of that deeper level of reality is. His tactic, pioneered in a different context by the condensed matter physicist Kenneth Wilson, was to write down every possible physical effect. To Einsteinâs equations, Wald showed how to add a series of extra terms â any terms that have the right dimensions and units, constructed of all physically relevant variables â that might describe the unknown short-distance properties of a black holeâs surface. âYou can write down the most general set of terms that you could have in principle that describe curvatures of a certain size,â said Cremonini.
Fortunately, the series can be truncated after the first several terms, since increasingly complicated composites of many variables contribute little to the final answer. Even many of the leading terms in the series can be crossed out because they have the wrong symmetries or violate consistency conditions. This leaves just a few terms of any significance that modify Einsteinâs gravity equations. Solving these new, more complicated equations yields more exact black hole properties.
Wald went through these steps in 1993, calculating how short-distance quantum gravitational effects correct the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy area law. These corrections shift a black holeâs entropy so that itâs not exactly proportional to area. And while itâs not possible to calculate the entropy shift outright â variables with unknown values are involved â whatâs clear is that the corrections grow more significant the smaller the black hole, and therefore so does the entropy shift.
Three years ago, Cheung, Liu and Remmen applied Waldâs same basic approach to the study of charged black holes and the extremal limit. They modified the Einstein-Maxwell equations with a series of extra terms coming from short-distance effects, and they solved the new equations to calculate the new, corrected extremal limit. To their surprise, they recognized the answer: The corrections to the extremal limit of a charged black hole exactly match the corrections to its entropy, as calculated from Waldâs formula; quantum gravity unexpectedly shifts both quantities in the same way.
Remmen remembers the date when they completed the calculation â November 30, 2017 â âbecause it was that exciting,â he said. âThatâs a very deep and exciting thing that we proved, that these terms give a shift in entropy and extremality that are equal to each other.â
But do the matching shifts go in the right direction? Both corrections depend on undetermined variables, so they could in principle be either positive or negative. In their 2018 paper, Cheung and company calculated that the entropy shift is positive in a large class of scenarios and models of quantum gravity. They argue that it also makes intuitive sense that the entropy shift should be positive. Recall that entropy measures all the different possible internal states of a black hole. It seems reasonable that accounting for more microscopic details of a black holeâs surface would reveal new possible states and thus lead to more entropy rather than less. âThe truer theory will have more microstates,â Remmen said.
If so, then the shift in the extremal limit is also positive, allowing smaller black holes to store more charge per mass. In that case, âblack holes can always decay to lighter ones,â Cheung said, and âthe weak gravity conjecture is true.â
But other researchers stress that these findings do not constitute an outright proof of the weak gravity conjecture. Gary Shiu, a theoretical physicist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said the belief that entropy should always increase when you take quantum gravity into account is âan intuition that some might have, but itâs not always true.â
Shiu has identified counterexamples: unrealistic models of quantum gravity in which, through cancellations, short-distance effects decrease black holesâ entropy. These models violate causality or other principles, but the point, according to Shiu, is that the newfound connection to entropy doesnât prove all by itself that extremal black holes can always decay, or that gravity is always the weakest force.
âTo be able to prove would be fantastic,â Shiu said. âThatâs a lot of why weâre still thinking about this problem.â
Gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces in our universe. The weak gravity conjecture says it couldnât have been otherwise. Aside from our universe, the conjecture also appears to hold in all possible theoretical universes derived from string theory. A candidate for the quantum theory of gravity, string theory posits that particles arenât points but rather extended objects (nicknamed strings), and that space-time, close-up, also has extra dimensions. When string theorists write down different sets of strings that might define a universe, they invariably find that gravity â which arises from a type of string â is the weakest force in these model universes. âSeeing how this ends up panning out in case after case after case after case is very striking,â said Jorge Santos, a physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and the University of Cambridge.
The weak gravity conjecture is one of the most important in a network of âswampland conjecturesâ posed by physicists in the last two decades â speculative statements, based on thought experiments and examples, about what kinds of universes are and are not possible. By ruling out possibilities (putting impossible universes in a no-go âswamplandâ), swampland theorists aim to clarify why our universe is the way it is.
If researchers could prove that gravity is inevitably weakest (and that black holes can always decay), the most important implication, according to Santos, is that it means quantum gravity âhas to be a theory of unification.â That is, if Q and M must have a fixed ratio, their associated forces must be part of the same unified mathematical framework. Santos noted that âthe only theory out thereâ that unifies the fundamental forces in a single framework is string theory. Rival approaches such as loop quantum gravity attempt to quantize gravity by dividing space-time into pieces, without connecting gravity with the other forces. âIf the weak gravity conjecture is correct, things like loop quantum gravity are dead,â said Santos.
Jorge Pullin, a loop quantum gravity theorist at Louisiana State University, sees âdeadâ as far too strong a word. The approach could itself be part of a larger unified theory, he said: âLoop quantum gravity doesnât rule out a unification structure, but we havenât pursued it yet.â
The weak gravity conjecture also mutually reinforces several other swampland conjectures, including statements about the roles of symmetry and distance in quantum gravity. According to Shiu, the logical connection between these conjectures âgives us some confidence that even though these statements are made on a conjectural sense, there may be universal truth behind them.â
Shiu compared our current, conjectural understanding of quantum gravity to the early days of quantum mechanics. âThere were a lot of conjectures, a lot of leaps of faith about what is the right theory of the subatomic world,â he said. âEventually many of these guesses turned out to be part of this much bigger picture.â
The recent research might have implications beyond black holes and quantum gravity.
In their March paper, Goon and Penco redid the calculation of the black hole entropy and extremality corrections. Rather than using the language of gravity and black hole surface geometry, they calculated the corrections purely in terms of universal thermodynamic quantities like energy and temperature. This allowed them to discover a thermodynamic relation between energy and entropy that applies generally in nature.
âItâs a beautiful relation,â said Santos.
In the case of black holes, the duoâs formula says what Cheung, Remmen and Liu already proved: that quantum gravity shifts the extremal limit of black holes (allowing them to store more charge per mass), and it shifts their entropy by a proportional amount. Another way of describing the extra storage capacity coming from quantum gravity is that a black hole of fixed charge can have less mass. Mass is a form of energy, and so this drop in mass can be thought of more generally as a shift in energy â one that is inversely proportional to a shift in entropy.
Whereas for a black hole, the equal and opposite shifts in energy and entropy come from unknown details of quantum gravity, an equivalent situation exists for any physical system near its extremal limit.
A gas, for instance, becomes extremal when cooled to absolute zero. Goon and Pencoâs thermodynamic formula says that any changes to the microscopic physics of the gas, such as the type of atoms that comprise it, produce equal and opposite shifts in its energy and entropy. Goon speculated that the relation between energy and entropy might be useful in studies of ultracold gases and other cryogenic experiments, âbecause sometimes one is easier to calculate than the other.â
Whether this entropy-energy relation ever proves useful in earthly domains of physics, researchers still have plenty more work to do to explore the newfound link in the context of black holes and what it means for the nature of gravity.
âBeing able to answer, âWhy is gravity weak?ââ Cheung said. âThe fact that that question is even on the board, the fact that thatâs a question that one can legitimately answer outside the realm of philosophy, and the fact that itâs connected through this long path to entropy, which is like the tried-and-true, most fascinating thing about black holes, â¦ seems crazy.â
Seems like thermal imaging is the security theater technology of today.
These features are so tempting that thermal cameras are being installed at an increasing pace. They're used in airports and other public transportation centers to screen travelers, increasingly used by companies to screen employees and by businesses to screen customers, and even used in health care facilities to screen patients. Despite their prevalence, thermal cameras have many fatal limitations when used to screen for the coronavirus.
- They are not intended for medical purposes.
- Their accuracy can be reduced by their distance from the people being inspected.
- They are "an imprecise method for scanning crowds" now put into a context where precision is critical.
- They will create false positives, leaving people stigmatized, harassed, unfairly quarantined, and denied rightful opportunities to work, travel, shop, or seek medical help.
- They will create false negatives, which, perhaps most significantly for public health purposes, "could miss many of the up to one-quarter or more people infected with the virus who do not exhibit symptoms," as the New York Times recently put it. Thus they will abjectly fail at the core task of slowing or preventing the further spread of the virus.
This month we learned about the PostgreSQL citext extension, safe fuel and air mixture adjustment at altitude while flying airplanes, fast time-series visualization with vector tiles, and pushing refinement types into the database.
Just 17 minutes before its planned launch, SpaceX postponed its first crewed flight to space on Wednesday afternoon due to bad weather over the launch site in Florida. The two passengers on board SpaceXâs capsule â NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley â will try again on Saturday, May 30th.
âNot quite going to make it for this,â one person said over the mission control audio leading up to the flight.
The biggest concern for SpaceX was electrified clouds in the area around Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the companyâs Falcon 9 rocket is meant to take off. Electrified clouds are particularly dangerous for a launch. If a rocket flies close enough, lightning could strike the vehicle,...
On July 8, 2011 the last space shuttle, Atlantis, launched from NASAâs Kennedy Space Center for the International Space Station (ISS). Not only was it the last shuttle liftoff but also the last time a spacecraft launched astronauts into orbit from American soil. Since that time NASA has been paying Russia to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. Like everything else prices have gone up. In 2006 it costs $25 million for a single round-trip âticketâ. This fall the agency will pay $90 million for that same seat in what it hopes will be its last Soyuz capsule flight.
In the meantime NASA granted contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to develop a commercial, U.S-based spacecraft. SpaceX took the lead with its Falcon-9 rocket and Flash Gordon-like space capsule called Dragon. And as long as the weather cooperates, the Crew Dragon mission will launch today (May 27) at 3:33 p.m. CDT from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, the same pad Apollo 11 used to rocket to the moon in July 1969. When it flies, SpaceX will become the first private company to launch humans into orbit.
Iâm as excited as you are about todayâs launch and canât think of a better way to blow away the COVID-19 blues. Virus or not here we go!
You can watch the historic event live at these streaming sites:
As of this writing thereâs only a 50 percent chance of good weather for the launch due to turbulent cumulus clouds and possible rain showers. Should weather force a cancellation the next launch dates are Saturday May 30 at 2:22 p.m. and Sunday May 31 at 2 p.m. **** UPDATE: Due to bad weather the launch was scrubbed about 17 minutes before the planned liftoff. NASA will try again Saturday at 2:22 p.m.
Veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been training for this day since 2018. Their gumdrop-shaped spacecraft sits atop a Falcon 9 rocket. 12 minutes after liftoff Crew Dragon will enter low Earth orbit. The rocket will return and land on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. For the next 19 hours the astronauts will orbit the planet as the Dragon capsule catches up to the space station where it will dock at 10:29 a.m. CDT on May 28.
Due to COVID-19 concerns has closed the usual viewing spots. Like many of you Iâll be watching it live online. Many of us will also have the opportunity to see Crew Dragon pass overhead sky tonight before it docks tomorrow. From the Central Time Zone it will follow the space station by around 40 minutes tonight. Iâve listed several cities and times below to watch. For a list of passes for your city go to Heavens Above, add your city (upper right) and then return to the home page and click on the blue Crew Dragon link on the left side of the page. That will take you to a list of passes. Click on a pass for a map and details. Like the space station, Crew Dragon moves from west to east across the sky.
Not visible from the southern states â northern locations are favored. All times are local and for tonight (Weds.) May 27:
Duluth, Minn. â 9:53 to 9:57 p.m. across the lower third of the northern sky. Magnitude 1.5 (Bright)
Grand Marais, Minn. â 9:54 to 9:57 p.m. halfway up in the northern sky. Magnitude 0.8 (Bright!)
Minneapolis â 9:54 to 9:57 p.m. very low across the northern sky. Magnitude 2.3 (modestly bright, equal to the Big Dipper stars)
Chicago â 9:56 to 9:58 p.m. very low across in the northern sky. Magnitude 2.8 (somewhat dim)
Boston â 9:24 to 9:27 p.m. very low across the northern sky. Magnitude 3.0 (dim)
Cleveland â 10:56 to 10:57 p.m. very low across the northern sky. Magnitude 2.5
Denver â 10:27 to 10:28 p.m. very low across the northern sky. Magnitude 3.1
Fargo, ND â 9:53 to 9:57 p.m. low across the northern sky. Magnitude 1.8
Portland, OR â 9:23 to 9:26 p.m. low in the northern sky. Magnitude 2.5
Seattle â 10:56 to 10:58 p.m. in the western sky and disappearing into Earthâs shadow halfway up. Magnitude 0.3 (Very bright!)
(le franÃ§ais suit)
For Immediate Release
Vancouver and Toronto: Today, the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), the John Howard Society of Canada (JHSC), and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) announced they are ending their cross appeals at the Supreme Court of Canada in their respective solitary confinement cases, bringing the litigation to a conclusion. These rights groups have been challenging the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons for years. In 2019, the groups secured significant victories when the top courts of British Columbia and Ontario ruled that federal laws authorizing prolonged, indefinite solitary confinement were inhumane and unconstitutional. Last month, the federal government finally abandoned its attempt to overturn these historic decisions at the Supreme Court of Canada.
The rights groups are pleased their litigation achieved tremendous progress toward ending prolonged solitary confinement. Indeed, the challenged legislation has now been repealed, and the BC and Ontario Courts of Appeal decisions have been relied on in successful class actions brought by prisoners held in isolation. At the same time, the groups recognize that much work remains to be done to end prolonged solitary confinement in Canada. They remain concerned that the governmentâs new law,Â Bill C-83Â enacted in 2019, will continue to allow prolonged, indefinite solitary confinement in federal prisons under a different name. Additionally, a recent report from the Office of the Correctional Investigator indicates that the Correctional Service of Canada is placing prisoners in solitary confinement to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Further, prolonged solitary confinement continues to be used in provincial jails.
Joe Arvay, QC, OC, OBC (Counsel for the BCCLA and the JHSC)Â states: âProlonged, indefinite solitary confinement is cruel and inhumane. This psychologically destructive practice places prisoners at an increased risk of self-harm and suicide. It also exacerbates inequality, as Indigenous and mentally ill prisoners are more likely to be placed in solitary confinement. The BC and Ontario Court of Appeal decisions are clear: prolonged, indefinite solitary confinement has no place in our constitutional democracy.â
Alison Latimer (Counsel for the BCCLA and the JHSC)Â states: âThese cases have shown that Canada must change the way it uses solitary confinement in its prisons. Time limits and independent external oversight are constitutionally required. In the wake of these decisions, solitary confinement should no longer be used to warehouse prisoners with mental health issues and greater care must be taken to ensure conditions of confinement do not exacerbate inequality for indigenous inmates. While these cases challenged federal laws, the reasoning should pave the way for significant change in both federal and provincial institutions across the country.
Jonathan Lisus, Lax OâSullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP (Counsel for CCLA)Â states: âIn striking down the solitary confinement regime of the Correctional Services Act because it imposed cruel and unusual treatment, Chief Justice Strathy and Justices Benotto and Roberts brought the rule of law into our penitentiaries and closed a dark chapter in Canadian penal history. This bold decision will spare many of societyâs most vulnerable from the gruesome effects of indefinite isolation and bring our prisons into line with international standards.â
Michael Rosenberg, McCarthy TÃ©trault LLP (Counsel for CCLA)Â states: âWhen we started this case there was a law on the books that saw people locked away in tiny, sometimes windowless cells, for twenty-three hours a day or more, every day, indefinitely.Â Too often they stayed locked away long after they were broken, and tragically, too many took their own lives to escape.Â The courts have unanimously condemned the practice of prolonged solitary confinement as cruel and unusual treatment that has no place in this country.Â Because the CCLA, BCCLA, and JHS took a stand, there is now a 15-day hard cap with no exceptions.Â In abandoning its appeal to the Supreme Court, Canada has finally acknowledged this outside limit on human suffering.Â We will be watching closely to ensure that our government lives up to its promise to do better.â
Catherine Latimer (Executive Director of the JHSC) states:Â âThe John Howard Society of Canada is enormously pleased by the important decisions from the BC courts establishing the need for independent, external decision-makers for the isolated confinement of prisoners and recognizing the need for safeguards to protect the mental and physical health of those subjected to such damaging confinement.Â Important Charter rights of prisoners have been recognized and protected.Â It is our hope that the principles from these decisions will inform all carceral confinement that meets the UN definition of solitary confinement.â
Michael Bryant (Executive Director, CCLA)Â states: âThe Canadian Civil Liberties Association, BC Civil Liberties Association, and John Howard Society are separate organizations that banded together to coordinate a powerful change to Canadian law, fought tooth and nail by both Harper and Trudeau governments, until this 11thÂ hour withdrawal by the feds.Â The new legal changes wrought through public interest litigation required heroic and brilliant pro bono lawyering by our counsel.Â Canada is the better for it.â
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv (Equality Program Director, CCLA)Â states: âAfter years of fighting â in the courts, at the Ashley Smith Inquest, before Parliament â we still have a long way to go. These legal victories will hopefully send a signal to every person who has been or will be held in inhumane conditions, that there is room for hope, and a reason to continue fighting for justice and fundamental rights.â
Grace Pastine (Litigation Director for the BCCLA)Â states:Â Â âThis litigation was made possible by the current and former prisoners who bravely stepped forward to provide crucial evidence. They described spending up to 22 hours a day locked in a cell about the size of a parking spot, their only human contact through the meal slot in the door. The cases are victories for prisoners and everyone who objects to the barbaric practice of prolonged solitary confinement, used by the Correctional Service of Canada as a routine form of prison management. We hope that the government will commit itself to upholding the fundamental rights of prisoners and basic human decency by abolishing this abhorrent practice once and for all.â
Jessica Magonet (Staff Counsel at the BCCLA)Â states:Â âWe will continue to monitor the implementation of Bill C-83 to ensure the federal government is not circumventing the strong rulings from the BC and Ontario Courts of Appeal. We are also monitoring the use of prolonged solitary confinement in provincial institutions. We will fight to ensure that prisoners are no longer subjected to this cruel and unconstitutional practice. We are extremely disturbed by the numerous reports that the Correctional Service of Canada is using lengthy solitary confinement to isolate prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health of inmates can and must be protected without resorting to this cruel practice.â
The BCCLA and JHSC are represented by Joe Arvay, OC, OBC, QC of Arvay Finlay LLP and Alison Latimer of Alison Latimer LLP.Â The CCLA is represented byÂ JonathanÂ LisusÂ andÂ LarissaÂ MoscuÂ of Lax OâSullivanÂ LisusÂ GottliebÂ andÂ Michael Rosenberg, Charlotte-AnneÂ Malischewski, andÂ JacobÂ KlugsbergÂ of McCarthyÂ TÃ©trault.
Pour diffusion immÃ©diate
Mercredi 27 mai 2020
Vancouver et Toronto : Aujourdâhui, lâAssociation des libertÃ©s civiles de la Colombie-Britannique (ALCCB), la SociÃ©tÃ© John Howard du Canada (SJHC) et lâAssociation canadienne des libertÃ©s civiles (ACLC) ont annoncÃ© quâelles mettaient fin Ã leurs appels incidents devant la Cour suprÃªme du Canada dans leurs affaires respectives dâisolement cellulaire, mettant ainsi un terme au litige. Ces groupes de dÃ©fense des droits contestent le recours Ã lâisolement cellulaire dans les prisons fÃ©dÃ©rales depuis des annÃ©es. En 2019, les groupes ont remportÃ© dâimportantes victoires lorsque les tribunaux de dernier ressort de la Colombie Britannique et de lâOntario ont statuÃ© que les lois fÃ©dÃ©rales autorisant lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© et indÃ©fini Ã©taient inhumaines et inconstitutionnelles. Le mois dernier, le gouvernement fÃ©dÃ©ral a finalement abandonnÃ© sa tentative dâannuler ces dÃ©cisions historiques devant la Cour suprÃªme du Canada.
Les groupes de dÃ©fense des droits sont heureux que leur action en justice ait permis dâaccomplir des progrÃ¨s considÃ©rables vers la fin de lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ©. En effet, la lÃ©gislation contestÃ©e a maintenant Ã©tÃ© abrogÃ©e, et les dÃ©cisions des cours dâappel de la Colombie-Britannique et de lâOntario ont Ã©tÃ© invoquÃ©es dans le cadre de recours collectifs fructueux intentÃ©s par des prisonniers dÃ©tenus en isolement. Dans le mÃªme temps, les groupes reconnaissent quâil reste beaucoup Ã faire pour mettre fin Ã lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© au Canada. Ils restent prÃ©occupÃ©s par le fait que la nouvelle loi du gouvernement, le projet de loi C-83 promulguÃ© en 2019, continuera Ã autoriser lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© et indÃ©fini dans les prisons fÃ©dÃ©rales sous un autre nom. En outre, un rapport rÃ©cent du Bureau de lâenquÃªteur correctionnel indique que le Service correctionnel du Canada place les prisonniers en isolement cellulaire pour limiter le risque de transmission de COVID-19. De plus, lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© continue dâÃªtre utilisÃ© dans les prisons provinciales.
Joe Arvay, QC, OC, OBC (avocat de lâALCCB et de la SJHC)Â dÃ©clare Â«Â Lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© et indÃ©fini est cruel et inhumain. Cette pratique psychologiquement destructrice expose les prisonniers Ã un risque accru dâautomutilation et de suicide. Elle exacerbe Ã©galement lâinÃ©galitÃ©, car les prisonniers autochtones et les prisonniers atteints dâune maladie mentale sont plus susceptibles dâÃªtre placÃ©s en isolement. Les dÃ©cisions des cours dâappel de la Colombie-Britannique et de lâOntario sont claires : lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© et indÃ©fini nâa pas sa place dans notre dÃ©mocratie constitutionnelleÂ Â».
Alison Latimer (avocate de lâALCCB et de la SJHC)Â dÃ©clare Â«Â Ces affaires ont montrÃ© que le Canada doit changer la faÃ§on dont il utilise lâisolement cellulaire dans ses prisons. Des limites de temps et un contrÃ´le externe indÃ©pendant sont exigÃ©s par la constitution. Suite Ã ces dÃ©cisions, lâisolement cellulaire ne doit plus Ãªtre utilisÃ© pour entreposer les prisonniers ayant des problÃ¨mes de santÃ© mentale et il faut veiller davantage Ã ce que les conditions dâenfermement nâexacerbent pas lâinÃ©galitÃ© pour les dÃ©tenus autochtones. Bien que ces affaires remettent en cause les lois fÃ©dÃ©rales, le raisonnement devrait ouvrir la voie Ã des changements significatifs dans les institutions fÃ©dÃ©rales et provinciales du pays.
Jonathan Lisus, Lax OâSullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP (avocat de lâACLC)Â dÃ©clare Â«Â En invalidant le rÃ©gime dâisolement cellulaire de la Loi sur les services correctionnels parce quâil imposait un traitement cruel et inhabituel, le juge en chef Strathy et les juges Benotto et Roberts ont fait entrer lâÃtat de droit dans nos pÃ©nitenciers et ont clos un chapitre sombre de lâhistoire pÃ©nale canadienne. Cette dÃ©cision audacieuse Ã©pargnera Ã de nombreuses personnes parmi les plus vulnÃ©rables de la sociÃ©tÃ© les effets horribles de lâisolement indÃ©fini et mettra nos prisons en conformitÃ© avec les normes internationalesÂ Â».
Michael Rosenberg, McCarthy TÃ©trault LLP (avocat de lâACLC)Â dÃ©clare Â«Â Lorsque nous avons commencÃ© cette affaire, il existait une loi qui prÃ©voyait dâenfermer les gens dans de minuscules cellules, parfois sans fenÃªtre, pendant vingt-trois heures par jour ou plus, tous les jours, indÃ©finiment. Trop souvent, ils restaient enfermÃ©s longtemps aprÃ¨s avoir Ã©tÃ© brisÃ©s et, tragiquement, trop dâentre eux se suicidaient pour sâÃ©chapper. Les tribunaux ont unanimement condamnÃ© la pratique de lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© comme Ã©tant un traitement cruel et inhabituel qui nâa pas sa place dans ce pays. Parce que lâACLC, lâALCCB et la SJH ont pris position, il y a maintenant un plafond strict de 15 jours sans exception. En abandonnant son recours devant la Cour suprÃªme, le Canada a finalement reconnu cette limite extÃ©rieure en rapport Ã la souffrance humaine. Nous surveillerons de prÃ¨s la situation pour nous assurer que notre gouvernement tient sa promesse dâamÃ©liorer la situationÂ Â».
Catherine Latimer (directrice gÃ©nÃ©rale de la SJHC)Â dÃ©clare Â«Â La SociÃ©tÃ© John Howard du Canada se rÃ©jouit Ã©normÃ©ment des dÃ©cisions importantes des tribunaux de la Colombie-Britannique qui Ã©tablissent la nÃ©cessitÃ© dâavoir des dÃ©cideurs indÃ©pendants et externes pour lâisolement des prisonniers et reconnaissent la nÃ©cessitÃ© de garanties pour protÃ©ger la santÃ© mentale et physique de ceux qui sont soumis Ã un confinement aussi prÃ©judiciable.Â Dâimportants droits des prisonniers ont Ã©tÃ© reconnus et protÃ©gÃ©s par la Charte. Nous espÃ©rons que les principes dÃ©coulant de ces dÃ©cisions guideront tous les types dâinternement qui rÃ©pondent Ã la dÃ©finition de lâONU de lâisolement cellulaireÂ Â».
Michael Bryant (directeur gÃ©nÃ©ral, ACLC)Â dÃ©clare : Â«Â LâAssociation canadienne des libertÃ©s civiles, lâAssociation des libertÃ©s civiles de la Colombie-Britannique et la SociÃ©tÃ© John Howard sont des organismes distincts qui se sont regroupÃ©s pour coordonner un puissant changement de la loi canadienne, combattu bec et ongles par les gouvernements Harper et Trudeau, jusquâÃ ce retrait de derniÃ¨re minute par les fÃ©dÃ©raux. Les nouveaux changements juridiques apportÃ©s par le biais de litiges dâintÃ©rÃªt public ont nÃ©cessitÃ© un travail dâavocat hÃ©roÃ¯que et brillant, effectuÃ© bÃ©nÃ©volement par nos avocats. Le Canada en est beaucoup mieuxÂ Â».
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv (directrice du programme dâÃ©galitÃ©, CCLA)Â dÃ©clare : Â«Â AprÃ¨s des annÃ©es de combat â devant les tribunaux, lors de lâenquÃªte sur Ashley Smith, devant le Parlement â nous avons encore un long chemin Ã parcourir. Nous espÃ©rons que ces victoires juridiques enverront un signal Ã chaque personne qui a Ã©tÃ© ou sera dÃ©tenue dans des conditions inhumaines, quâil y a de la place pour lâespoir et une raison de continuer Ã se battre pour la justice et les droits fondamentauxÂ Â».
Grace Pastine (directrice du contentieux pour lâALCCB)Â dÃ©clare : Â«Â Ce litige a Ã©tÃ© rendu possible par les prisonniers actuels et anciens qui se sont courageusement avancÃ©s pour fournir des preuves cruciales. Ils ont dÃ©crit avoir passÃ© jusquâÃ 22 heures par jour enfermÃ©s dans une cellule de la taille dâune place de stationnement, leur seul contact humain par la fente de repas dans la porte. Ces affaires sont des victoires pour les prisonniers et tous ceux qui sâopposent Ã la pratique barbare de lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ©, utilisÃ©e par le Service correctionnel du Canada comme une forme de gestion courante des prisons. Nous espÃ©rons que le gouvernement sâengagera Ã faire respecter les droits fondamentaux des prisonniers et la dÃ©cence humaine Ã©lÃ©mentaire en abolissant cette pratique odieuse une fois pour toutesÂ Â».
Jessica Magonet (avocate-conseil Ã lâALCCB)Â dÃ©clareÂ : Â«Â Nous continuerons Ã surveiller la mise en Åuvre du projet de loi C-83 pour nous assurer que le gouvernement fÃ©dÃ©ral ne contourne pas les dÃ©cisions sÃ©vÃ¨res des cours dâappel de la Colombie-Britannique et de lâOntario. Nous surveillons Ã©galement le recours Ã lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© dans les institutions provinciales. Nous nous battrons pour que les prisonniers ne soient plus soumis Ã cette pratique cruelle et anticonstitutionnelle. Nous sommes extrÃªmement prÃ©occupÃ©s par les nombreux rapports selon lesquels le Service correctionnel du Canada a recours Ã lâisolement cellulaire prolongÃ© pour isoler les prisonniers pendant la pandÃ©mie COVID-19. La santÃ© des dÃ©tenus peut et doit Ãªtre protÃ©gÃ©e sans avoir recours Ã cette pratique cruelleÂ Â».
LâALCCB et la SJHC sont reprÃ©sentÃ©es par Joe Arvay, OC, OBC, QC dâArvay Finlay LLP et Alison Latimer dâAlison Latimer LLP. LâACLC est reprÃ©sentÃ©e par Jonathan Lisus et Larissa Moscu de Lax OâSullivan Lisus Gottlieb et Michael Rosenberg, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski et Jacob Klugsberg de McCarthy TÃ©trault.
Contacts pour les mÃ©diasÂ :
The post Rights Groups Conclude Solitary Confinement Cases at Supreme Court of Canada appeared first on BC Civil Liberties Association.
Discoveries that transcend boundaries are among the greatest delights of scientific research, but such leaps are often overlooked because they outstrip conventional thinking. Take, for example, a new discovery for treating dementia that defies received wisdom by combining two formerly unrelated areas of research: brain waves and the brainâs immune cells, called microglia. Itâs an important finding, but it still requires the buy-in and understanding of researchers to achieve its true potential. The history of brain waves shows why.
In 1887, Richard Caton announced his discovery of brain waves at a scientific meeting. âRead my paper on the electrical currents of the brain,â he wrote in his personal diary. âIt was well received but not understood by most of the audience.â Even though Catonâs observations of brain waves were correct, his thinking was too unorthodox for others to take seriously. Faced with such a lack of interest, he abandoned his research and the discovery was forgotten for decades.
Flash forward to October 2019. At a gathering of scientists that I helped organize at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, I asked if anyone knew of recent research by neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who had found a new way to treat Alzheimerâs disease by manipulating microglia and brain waves. No one replied.
I understood: Scientists must specialize to succeed. Biologists studying microglia donât tend to read papers about brain waves, and brain wave researchers are generally unaware of glial research. A study that bridges these two traditionally separate disciplines may fail to gain traction. But this study needed attention: Incredible as it may sound, the researchers improved the brains of animals with Alzheimerâs simply by using LED lights that flashed 40 times a second. Even sound played at this charmed frequency, 40 hertz, had a similar effect.
Today, brain waves are a vital part of neuroscience research and medical diagnosis, though doctors have never manipulated them to treat degenerative disease before now. These oscillating electromagnetic fields are produced by neurons in the cerebral cortex firing electrical impulses as they process information. Much as people clapping their hands in synchrony generate thunderous rhythmic applause, the combined activity of thousands of neurons firing together produces brain waves.
These waves come in various forms and in many different frequencies. Alpha waves, for example, oscillate at frequencies of 8 to 12 hertz. They surge when we close our eyes and shut out external stimulation that energizes higher-frequency brain wave activity. Rapidly oscillating gamma waves, which reverberate at frequencies of 30 to 120 hertz, are of particular interest in Alzheimerâs research, because their period of oscillation is well matched to the hundredth-of-a-second time frame of synaptic signaling in neural circuits. Brain waves are important in information processing because they can influence neuronal firing. Neurons fire an electrical impulse when the voltage difference between the inside and outside of the neuron reaches a certain trigger point. The peaks and troughs of voltage oscillations in brain waves nudge the neuron closer to the trigger point or farther away from it, thereby boosting or inhibiting its tendency to fire. The rhythmic voltage surging also groups neurons together, making them fire in synchrony as they ârideâ on different frequencies of brain waves.
I already knew that much, so to better understand the new work and its origins, I sought out Li-Huei Tsai, a neuroscientist at MIT. She said the idea of using one of these frequencies to treat Alzheimerâs came from a curious observation. âWe had noticed in our own data, and in that of other groups, that 40-hertz rhythm power and synchrony are reduced in mouse models of Alzheimerâs disease,â she said, as well as in patients with the disease. Apparently, if you have Alzheimerâs, your brain doesnât produce strong brain waves in that particular frequency. In 2016, her graduate student Hannah Iaccarino reasoned that perhaps boosting the power of these weakened gamma waves would be helpful in treating this severe and irreversible dementia.
To increase gamma wave power, the team turned to optogenetic stimulation, a novel technique that allows researchers to control how and when individual neurons fire by shining lasers directly into them, via fiber-optic cables implanted in the brain. Tsaiâs team stimulated neurons in the visual cortex of mice with Alzheimerâs, making them fire impulses at 40 hertz. The results, published in 2016 in Nature, showed a marked reduction in amyloid plaques, a hallmark of the disease.
It was a good indication that these brain waves might help, but Tsaiâs team knew that an optogenetic approach wasnât an option for humans with the disease, because of ethical concerns. They began to look for other ways of increasing the brainâs gamma wave activity. Tsaiâs MIT colleague Emery Brown pointed her to an older paper showing that you can boost the power of gamma waves in a catâs brain simply by having it stare at a screen illuminated by a strobe light flickering at certain frequencies, which included 40 hertz. âHannah and our collaborators built a system to try that sensory stimulation in mice, and it worked,â Tsai told me. The thinking is that the flashing lights whip up gamma waves because the rhythmic sensory input sets neural circuits ârockingâ at this frequency, like when people rock a stuck car out of a rut by pushing together in rhythm.
In fact, the strobe lights had an additional effect on mice: They also cleared out amyloid plaques. But it wasnât clear exactly how the optogenetic stimulation or the flashing-light therapy could do that.
Following a clue from Alois Alzheimer himself, the researchers quickly shifted their attention from neurons to microglia. In Alzheimerâs first description of brain tissue taken from patients with âpresenile dementia,â which he examined under a microscope near the turn of the 20th century, he noted that the deposits of amyloid plaques were surrounded by these immune cells. Subsequent research confirmed that microglia engulf the plaques pockmarking these patientsâ brains.
Tsai and colleagues decided to check out these immune cells in the animals whose brain waves theyâd boosted. They observed that microglia in all the treated animals had bulked up in size, and more of them were digesting amyloid plaques.
How did these cells know to do this? Unlike immune cells in the bloodstream, which are unaware of neuronal transmissions, the brainâs microglia are tuned in to the rhythms of electrical activity in the brain. While immune cells in the bloodstream and microglia in the brain both have cellular sensors to detect disease and injury, microglia can also detect neurons firing electrical impulses. Thatâs because they have the same neurotransmitter receptors that neurons use to transmit signals through synapses. This gives microglia the ability to âlisten inâ on information flowing through neural networks and, when those transmissions are disturbed, to take action to repair the circuitry. Thus, the right brain waves can drive microglia to consume the toxic protein deposits.
âI find this intersection to be one of the most exciting and intriguing results of our work,â Tsai told me. Her team reported last year in Neuron that prolonging the LED strobe-light flashing for three to six weeks not only cleared out the toxic plaques in mice brains but also prevented neurons from dying and even preserved synapses, which dementia can destroy.
The team wanted to know if other types of rhythmic sensory input could also rock the neural circuits like a stuck car, producing gamma waves that resulted in fewer amyloid plaques. In an expanded study in Cell, they reported that just as seeing flashes at 40 hertz resulted in fewer plaques in the visual cortex, sound stimulation at 40 hertz reduced amyloid protein in the auditory cortex. Other regions were similarly affected, including the hippocampus â crucial for learning and memory â and the treated mice performed better on memory tests. Exposing the mice to both stimuli, a light show synchronized with pulsating sound, had an even more powerful effect, reducing amyloid plaques in regions throughout the cerebral cortex, including the prefrontal region, which carries out higher-level executive functions that are impaired in Alzheimerâs.
I was amazed, so just to make sure I wasnât getting unduly excited about the possibility of using flashing lights and sounds to treat humans, I talked to Hiroaki Wake, a neuroscientist at Kobe University in Japan who was not involved with the work. âIt would be fantastic!â he said. âThe treatment may also be effective for a number of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinsonâs disease and ALS,â where microglia also play a role. He notes, however, that while the link between microglia and brain oscillations is well founded, the biological mechanism by which 40-hertz stimulation prods microglia into removing the plaques and rescuing neurons from destruction remains unknown.
Tsai said the mystery may be solved soon. A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, including Tsai lab veteran Annabelle Singer, laid out a possibility in a February paper. They reported that in normal mice, gamma stimulation with LED lights rapidly induced microglia to generate cytokines, proteins that neurons (and immune cells generally) use to signal one another. Theyâre one of the main regulators of neuroinflammation in response to brain injury and disease, and the microglia released them surprisingly quickly, within just 15 to 60 minutes of the stimulation. âThese effects are faster than you see with many drugs that target immune signaling or inflammation,â Singer said.
Cytokines come in many forms, and the study found that getting the microglia to produce different kinds required specific frequencies. âNeural stimulation doesnât just turn immune signaling on,â Singer said. It took a particular rhythm to produce these particular proteins. âDifferent types of stimulation could be used to tune immune signaling as desired.â
That means doctors could potentially treat different diseases just by varying the light and sound rhythms they use. The different stimuli would rock the neurons into producing appropriate brain wave frequencies, causing nearby microglia to release specific types of cytokines, which tell microglia in general how to go to work repairing the brain.
Of course, it may still be a while before such treatments are available for patients. And even then, there may be side effects. âRhythmic sensory stimulation likely affects many types of cells in brain tissue,â Tsai said. âHow each of them senses and responds to gamma oscillations is unknown.â Wake also pointed out that rhythmic stimulation could do more harm than good, because such stimuli could induce seizures, common in many psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
Still, the potential benefits are great. Tsaiâs team has just begun assessing their strobe-light method on patients, and theyâre sure to be joined by others as more researchers learn of this promising work. (Most experts I talked to were not aware of this research until I asked.)
Just as new species spring up at the boundaries between ecosystems, new science can flourish at the interface between disciplines. It takes a sharp eye to spot it, but as Richard Caton found, it can also require a bit of persuasion to convince others.
Some of the fastest outflows in nature are beginning to turn up in the phenomena known as Fast Blue Optical Transients (FBOTs). These are observed as bursts that quickly fade but leave quite an impression with their spectacular outpouring of energy. The transient AT2018cow was found in 2018, for example, in data from the ATLAS-HKO telescope in Hawaii, an explosion 10 to 100 times as bright as a typical supernova that appeared in the constellation Hercules. It was thought to be produced by the collapse of a star into a neutron star or black hole.
Now we have a new FBOT that is brighter at radio wavelengths than AT2018cow, the third of these events to be studied at radio wavelengths. The burst occurred in a small galaxy about 500 million light years from Earth and was first detected in 2016. Letâs call it CSS161010 (short for CRTS-CSS161010 J045834-081803), and note that it completely upstages its predecessors in terms of the speed of its outflow. The event launched gas and particles at more than 55 percent of the speed of light. Such FBOTs, astronomers believe, begin with the explosion of a massive star, with differences from supernovae and GRBs only showing up in the aftermath.
Deanne Coppejans (Northwestern University) led the study:
âThis was unexpected. We know of energetic explosions that can eject material at almost the speed of light, specifically gamma-ray bursts, but they only launch a small amount of mass â about 1 millionth the mass of the sun. CSS161010 launched 1 to 10 percent the mass of the sun at more than half the speed of light â evidence that this is a new class of transient.â
Image: Keckâs view of where the CSS161010 explosion (red circle) occurred in a dwarf galaxy. Credit: Giacomo Terreran/Northwestern University.
Meanwhile, a second explosion, called ZTF18abvkwla (âThe Koalaâ), has turned up in a galaxy considerably further out at 3.4 billion light years. Caltechâs Anna Ho led the study of this one, with both teams gathering data from the Very Large Array, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. In both cases, it was clear that the type of explosion, bright at radio wavelengths, differed from both supernovae explosions and gamma-ray bursts. âWhen I reduced the data,â said Ho, âI thought I had made a mistake.â
FBOTs became recognized as a specific class of object in 2014, but the assumption is that our archives contain other examples of what Coppejansâ co-author Raffaella Margutti calls âweird supernovae,â a concession to the fact that it is hard to gather information on these objects solely in the optical. The location of the CSS161010 explosion is a dwarf galaxy containing roughly 10 million stars in the southern constellation Eridanus.
Bright FBOTs like CSS161010 and AT2018cow have thus far turned up only in dwarf galaxies, which the authors note is reminiscent of some types of supernovae as well as gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). A transient like this flares up so quickly that it may prove impossible to pin down its origin,, but black holes and neutron stars are prominent in the astronomersâ thinking:
âThe Cow and CSS161010 were very different in how fast they were able to speed up these outflows,â Margutti said. âBut they do share one thing â this presence of a black hole or neutron star inside. Thatâs the key ingredient.â
Even so, the differences between the three FBOTs thus far studied at multiple wavelengths is notable. In the excerpt below, the authors of the Coppejans paper use the term âengine-drivenâ to refer to the rotating accretion disk that produces jets in a neutron star or black hole produced by a supernova core-collapse, which can propel narrow jets of material outward in opposite directions. The authors believe that FBOTs produce this kind of engine, but in this case one surrounded by material shed by the star before it exploded. The surrounding shell as it is struck by the blast wave would be the source of the FBOTâs visible light burst and radio emission.
From the paper:
The three known FBOTs that are detected at radio wavelengths are among the most luminous and fastest-rising among FBOTs in the optical regimeâ¦ Intriguingly, all the multi-wavelength FBOTs also have evidence for a compact object powering their emissionâ¦ We consequently concludeâ¦ that at least some luminous FBOTs must be engine-driven and cannot be accounted for by existing FBOT models that do not invoke compact objects to power their emission across the electromagnetic spectrum. Furthermore, even within this sample of three luminous FBOTs with multiwavelength observations, we see a wide diversity of properties of their fastest ejecta. While CSS161010 and ZTF18abvkwla harbored mildly relativistic outflows, AT 2018cow is instead non-relativistic.
Which is another way of saying that we have a long way to go to understand FBOTs. We see characteristics of supernovae as well as GRBs but distinctive differences. Further observations in radio and X-ray wavelengths are critical for learning more about their physics.
Image: Artistâs conception of the new class of cosmic explosions called Fast Blue Optical Transients. Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF.
The first paper is Coppejans, Margutti et al., âA Mildly Relativistic Outflow from the Energetic, Fast-rising Blue Optical Transient CSS161010 in a Dwarf Galaxy,â Astrophysical Journal Letters Vol. 895, No. 1 (26 May 2020). Abstract.
On the FBOT ZTF18abvkwla, see Ho et al., âThe Koala: A Fast Blue Optical Transient with Luminous Radio Emission from a Starburst Dwarf Galaxy at z = 0.27,â Astrophysical Journal Vol. 895, No. 1 (26 May 2020). Abstract.
Security researcher Charlie Belmer is reporting that commercial websites such as eBay are conducting port scans of their visitors.
Looking at the list of ports they are scanning, they are looking for VNC services being run on the host, which is the same thing that was reported for bank sites. I marked out the ports and what they are known for (with a few blanks for ones I am unfamiliar with):
- 5900: VNC
- 5901: VNC port 2
- 5902: VNC port 3
- 5903: VNC port 4
- 3389: Windows remote desktop / RDP
- 5931: Ammy Admin remote desktop
- 5950: WinVNC
- 6039: X window system
- 6040: X window system
- 63333: TrippLite power alert UPS
- 7070: RealAudio
No one seems to know why:
I could not believe my eyes, but it was quickly reproduced by me (see below for my observation).
I surfed around to several sites, and found one more that does this (the citibank site, see below for my observation)
I further see, at least across ebay.com and citibank.com the same ports, in the same sequence getting scanned. That implies there may be a library in use across both sites that is doing this. (I have not debugged into the matter so far.)
- Is this port scanning "a thing" built into some standard fingerprinting or security library? (if so, which?)
- Is there a plugin for firefox that can block such behavior? (or can such blocking be added to an existing plugin)?
I'm curious, too.
There are a few versions of the breadboard buddy. I started this PCB years ago. To be honest im not sure when. It started off just as a pcb to help power my breadboard and grew into something more. Breadboard Buddy History There are currently about 4 versions of breadboard buddy in the wild.
Part of my series on countering common misconceptions in space journalism.
In popular representations of space exploration, space ship models often get a decal logo slapped on as a finishing touch. It could be the NASA worm or meatball, or product placement, or a fictional megacorporation. What these depictions miss is the harsh reality of developing new systems and actually putting them into production.
Manufacturing is really really hard. JPL is quite good at Mars rovers now, and it still takes thousands of people years to build a single one!
In this series Iâve talked at some length about Moon and Mars exploration architectures, with a particular focus on the merits of the SpaceX Starship for achieving logistic supremacy on the road to self-sufficiency.
Indeed, my first book on Mars stuff focused on the transportation problem, because cheap transport of large quantities of humans and cargo to and from Mars is a necessary part of the big picture.
Necessary, but not sufficient. SpaceX has demonstrated a willingness to develop tech and hardware with or without government support. It is a necessary task, it simply must be done. Yet there will come a day when the rockets will need cargo to fill them. Where does this cargo come from?
It is not impossible that SpaceX could, with sufficient time and money, build everything for the Mars city as well as the rockets. The factories, vehicles, power systems, mining operations, life support, server farms, habs, tents, and everything else needed to replicate the industrial capacity of a large country with just a few people on a frigid, desolate, airless planet.
Building such a company town would overtax the organization and engineering capacities of a single company. Thereâs a better way. Our modern world, and the US in particular, overflows with the specialist engineering knowledge needed to build autonomous factories, pack them into rockets, and deploy them at the other end. Why should SpaceX spool up a division to build rugged utility vehicles when companies like Caterpillar, Komatsu, Hitachi, Belaz, and dozens of others already exist?
I believe that the most expeditious path to a Mars city is to obtain enthusiastic cooperation from the best engineering talent and companies the world over.
So how would this work? Would the boards of these companies be enticed by the lure of new markets and prosperous mines? I donât think so. As Iâve written in this series, there are no business models for Mars cities that can pay for themselves in a classical investment sense. Profitable businesses operating on Mars for Martians, yes, but something that justifies billions in investment from Earth-centric firms, no.
So where does the money come from? In 2017 I wrote a blog on various ideas, missing only the Starlink money machine, by far the most lucrative option. Can contributing industries get a piece of that action? Maybe, but thereâs a much better reason to get involved.
Letâs consider Caterpillar as an example. Caterpillar has about $55b in annual revenue. They invest 3%, or $1.7b/year, on research and development. Their R&D division employs something like 4000 people.
For companies like Caterpillar, building a series of Mars-friendly robot tele-handlers and earth movers would barely stress their R&D petty cash budget. In return, the companies that form the Mars Industrial Coalition would have branding rights on their gear and, more importantly, their engineers would get access to the most exciting research program in the history of sentient life. Even if they had to provide the equipment for free and pay for the shipping cost, it would be worthwhile.
This is a pretty big claim, but itâs easy to justify. Five years ago I could have made an argument that the halo effect and PR would be worth it, but in 2020 thereâs concrete evidence in favor of the proposition that the best companies are the ones that have the best vision.
Where do the best engineering graduates all want to work? SpaceX and Tesla. Why? It sure isnât for the high pay or lax hours. The top engineering companies must compete for the best engineers to make their products work better than everyone else. I have been privileged to work with many people who make up this elite class of âmatter wizardsâ, who can bend the harsh laws of reality to their will. They have the skills and portfolio to work anywhere they want. They can name their price and recruiters will bend over backwards to sign them. But by and large they are idealistic and want to make the world a better place. Given a choice between working on oil rigs, guided bombs, or the electrification of the economy, nearly all choose Tesla. Given a choice between surveillance software, banking software, or rocket landing software, nearly all choose SpaceX. The same goes for other kinds of workers, too!
Of course, the reader has no way of knowing for sure that my perceptions are accurate. But in defense of my claim, letâs look at the scoreboard. Teslaâs 2012 Model S had performance specs that have yet to be beaten by any competitor, despite dozens of cringeworthily lackluster attempts. When the Model 3 was delivered in 2018, its performance was conservatively six years ahead of the competition, based on historical 5% annual improvement in battery tech. The Model Y, delivered in 2020, is at least four more years ahead, and the competition is still behind the oldest Model S. None of the competitors have rolled out a fast charging network, grid scale batteries, autopilot software, or over-the-air updates. Elon Musk is a smart guy but he couldnât have crushed basically all the century-old incumbents in a few years on his own. No, the vision he articulated attracted the best of the best of the best, and they built what no-one else could.
To readers of this blog, the SpaceX story will be more familiar. A different market, a different space, a different technology. Numerous well-funded and well-motivated competitors. And yet none of them have demonstrated booster reflight, or full-flow staged combustion engines, or any of dozens of other crucial innovations. Again, the best rocket scientists, engineers, and techs the world over went there to build the future. They went to the place that articulated a compelling and convincing vision for putting lots of regular humans on another planet.
I understand itâs a tough sell to convince a corporate board that shunting 5% of the R&D budget towards a philanthropic venture will pay dividends, especially if you canât write all of it off against tax. Finance and MBA types are trained to regard engineering talent as fungible. âBuy it when you need it, then layoffs to make the quarter.â This view is incomplete.
The $8.4 billion Tesla short sellers have lost tells another story. Elon Musk understands that money wonât buy the best of the best. Many of my friends have taken pay cuts to work at SpaceX or Tesla, and then never seen their families again. Because Musk understands this, his companies have arbitraged this market irrationality to instantiate his vision for the future.
The best way for other major companies to regain a slice of the elite talent recruiting pie and retain relevance is to join the Mars Industrial Coalition and to be part of building the next step for humanity.
A group of Romanians operating an ATM company in Mexico and suspected of bribing technicians to install sophisticated Bluetooth-based skimmers in cash machines throughout several top Mexican tourist destinations have enjoyed legal protection from a top anti-corruption official in the Mexican attorney generalâs office, according to a new complaint filed with the governmentâs internal affairs division.
As detailed this week by the Mexican daily Reforma, several Mexican federal, state and municipal officers filed a complaint saying the attorney general office responsible for combating corruption had initiated formal proceedings against them for investigating Romanians living in Mexico who are thought to be part of the ATM skimming operation.
Reforma said the complaint centers on Camilo Constantino Rivera, who heads the unit in the Mexican Special Prosecutorâs office responsible for fighting corruption. It alleges Rivera has an inherent conflict of interest because his brother has served as a security escort and lawyer for Floridan Tudor, the reputed boss of a Romanian crime syndicate recently targeted by the FBI for running an ATM skimming and human trafficking network that operates throughout Mexico and the United States.
Tudor, a.k.a. âRechinuâ or âThe Shark,â and his ATM company Intacash, were the subject of a three part investigation by KrebsOnSecurity published in September 2015. That series tracked the activities of a crime gang which was rumored to be bribing and otherwise coercing ATM technicians into installing Bluetooth-based skimming devices inside cash machines throughout popular tourist destinations in and around Mexicoâs Yucatan Peninsula â including Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
In 2018, 44-year-old Romanian national Sorinel Constantin Marcu was found shot dead in his car in Mexico. Marcuâs older brother told KrebsOnSecurity shortly after the murder that his brother was Tudorâs personal bodyguard but at some point had a falling out with Tudor and his associates over money. Marcu the elder said his brother was actually killed in front of a new apartment complex being built and paid for by Mr. Tudor, and that the dead manâs body was moved to make it look like he was slain in his car instead.
On March 31, 2019, police in Cancun, Mexico arrested 42-year-old Tudor and 37-year-old Adrian Nicholae Cosmin for the possession of an illegal firearm and cash totaling nearly 500,000 pesos (~USD $26,000) in both American and Mexican denominations. Two months later, a judge authorized the search of several of Tudorâs properties.
The Reforma report says Riveraâs office subsequently initiated proceedings against and removed several agents who investigated the crime ring, alleging those agents abused their authority and conducted illegal searches. The complaint against Rivera charges that the criminal protection racket also included the former chief of police in Cancun.
In September 2019, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York unsealed indictments and announced arrests against 18 people accused of running an ATM skimming and money laundering operation that netted $20 million. The defendants in that case â nearly all of whom are Romanians living in the United States and Mexico â included Florian Claudio Martin, described by Romanian newspapers as âthe brother of Rechinu,â a.k.a. Tudor.
The news comes on the heels of a public relations campaign launched by Mr. Tudor, who recently denounced harassment from the news media and law enforcement by taking out a full two-page ad in Novedades, the oldest daily newspaper in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo (where Cancun is located). In a news conference with members of the local press, Tudor also reportedly accused this author of having been hired by his enemies to slander him and ruin his legitimate business.
Obviously, there is no truth to Tudorâs accusations, and this would hardly be the first time the reputed head of a transnational crime syndicate has insinuated that I was paid by his enemies to disrupt his operations.
Next week, KrebsOnSecurity will publish highlights from an upcoming lengthy investigation into Tudor and his company by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a consortium of investigative journalists operating in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Central America.
Hereâs a small teaser: Earlier this year, I was interviewed on camera by reporters with the OCCRP, who at one point in the discussion handed me a transcript of some text messages shared by law enforcement officials that allegedly occurred between Tudor and his associates directly after the publication of my 2015 investigation into Intacash.
The text messages suggested my story had blown the cover off their entire operation, and that they intended to shut it all down after the series was picked up in the Mexican newspapers. One text exchange seems to indicate the group even briefly contemplated taking out a hit on this author in retribution.
The Mexican attorney generalâs office could not be immediately reached for comment. The âcontact usâ email link on the officeâs homepage leads to a blank email address, and a message sent to the one email address listed there as the main contact for the Mexican government portal (firstname.lastname@example.org) bounced back as an attempt to deliver to a non-existent domain name.
As countries and local governments begin cautious steps toward reopening parts of society that have been shut down by the coronavirus outbreak, various types of clear plastic barriers are going up in places where people interact regularly. Schools, restaurants, workplaces, and shops have installed plexiglass shields, plastic curtains, tents, and screens, as measures to prevent the spread of the virus, leading to a new social landscape of clear plastic barriers. Some nursing homes have been using chambers with plastic walls to keep visitors separate, yet allow much-needed contact. Collected below, from recent weeks, some views of our new plastic-separated world.
If you look at the crescent moon this evening (May 26) youâll notice two bright stars to its right. Theyâre Castor and Pollux the mythical Greek twins. Iâve also read they were half-brothers so it depends on the story. Either way theyâre bonded together for eternity in the constellation Gemini the twins. The two were said to get along famously. Castor was a horseman and Pollux an accomplished boxer. Both loved adventure and accompanied Jason and the Argonauts in search of the golden fleece, a gold-haired, winged ram.
Gemini is a prominent winter constellation now slowly sinking in the western sky. Thanks to tonightâs moon we can easily find its two most prominent stars. Stars appear as so many pinpricks of light and would forever be so were it not for astrophysics, the science of determining their nature using chemistry, physics and computer modeling.
Astrophysics began in the 19th century with the invention of the spectroscope, a device that used a prism to spread apart the colors of a starâs light. Within that rainbow of light called a spectrum were narrow, dark lines that matched the bright lines visible in the spectra of elements and chemicals when they were burned in a hot flame in the laboratory. With the spectroscope astronomers now could determine the composition of a star remotely without having to send a rocket there and wait a hundreds of thousands of years for it to return.
Using the spectroscope and other instruments of the trade we know that despite their similar appearance Pollux and Castor are anything but twins. Pollux is an orange giant star 9-10 times the size of the sun located 34 light years away while Castor is actually six stars in one 51 light years away. Although Pollux is cooler than the sun it radiates 46 times as much energy because itâs so enormous. More noteworthy, Pollux is a the brightest star in the sky orbited by another planet. Named Thestias, the planet is about 3 times as massive as Jupiter and circles the star a little farther than Mars does from our sun with a period of 1.6 years. From Thestias Pollux would appear almost 3Â° across or nearly six times bigger than the sun does to us.
Astronomers measure the diameter of the large stars like Pollux using a technique called interferometry. Light from two widely separated mirrors aimed at the same star are beamed together through a pair of narrow slits. Each produces a set of fringes overlapping the other. The distance between the mirrors and slits can be varied until the overlapping fringes disappear. Using the known separations between the mirrors and slits, a simple mathematical formula will give the diameter of the star in fractions of a degree. When combined with its distance astronomers then calculate its diameter.
Castor appears single but itâs actually a bright triple star in a small telescope consisting of two white, Vega-like suns a few arc-seconds apart and a fainter red dwarf star orbiting farther away. Each one of these is in turn double again, comprising a âfamilyâ of three pairs orbiting about the other. What an amazing sight weâd see from a potential planet in the Castor system. Six sunsof varying size and brightness parading across the sky day and night.
Castor A and B â the brightest two â make a stunning sight in a small telescope magnifying around 70-100x. Castor A is 2.4 times as massive as the sun; Castor B weighs in a 1.9 solar masses. Why are all the stars we talk about here typically so much bigger and brighter than the sun? Theyâre bright and easy to see, thatâs why. And to be bright you either have to be big or close or both. Modest stars like the sun struggle to be seen from planets around other stars. But to us itâs the brightest thing in the sky and in so many ways the center of our lives.
Our galaxy is 10,000 times more massive than Sagittarius, a dwarf galaxy discovered in the 1990s. But weâre learning that Sagittarius may have had a profound effect on the far larger galaxy it orbits, colliding with it on at least three occasions in the past six billion years. These interactions would have triggered periods of star formation that we can, for the first time, begin to map with data from the Gaia mission, a challenge tackled in a new study in Nature Astronomy.
The paper in question, produced by a team led by TomÃ¡s Ruiz-Lara (Instituto de AstrofÃsica de Canarias, Tenerife), argues that the influence of Sagittarius was substantial. The data show three periods of increased star formation, with peaks at 5.7 billion years ago, 1.9 billion years ago and 1 billion years ago, corresponding to the passage of Sagittarius through the Milky Way disk.
The work is built around Gaia Data Release 2, examining the photometry and parallax information combined with modeling of observed color-magnitude diagrams to build a star formation history within a bubble around the Sun with a radius of 2 kiloparsecs (about 6500 light years). The star formation âenhancements,â as the paper calls them, are well-defined, though with decreasing strength, with a possible fourth burst spanning the last 70 million years
Ruiz-Lara sees the disruption caused by Sagittarius as substantial, a follow-on to an earlier merger:
âAt the beginning you have a galaxy, the Milky Way, which is relatively quiet. After an initial violent epoch of star formation, partly triggered by an earlier merger as we described in a previous study, the Milky Way had reached a balanced state in which stars were forming steadily. Suddenly, you have Sagittarius fall in and disrupt the equilibrium, causing all the previously still gas and dust inside the larger galaxy to slosh around like ripples on the water.â
Image: The Sagittarius dwarf galaxy has been orbiting the Milky Way for billions for years. As its orbit around the 10,000 times more massive Milky Way gradually tightened, it started colliding with our galaxyâs disc. The three known collisions between Sagittarius and the Milky Way have, according to a new study, triggered major star formation episodes, one of which may have given rise to the Solar System. Credit: ESA.
The idea is that higher concentrations of gas and dust are produced in some areas as others empty, the newly dense material triggering star formation. According to the paper, the 2 kiloparsec local volume is:
â¦characterized by an episodic SFH [star formation history], with clear enhancements of star formation ~ 5.7, 1.9 and 1.0 Gyr ago. All evidence seems to suggest that recurrent interactions between the Milky Way and Sgr dwarf galaxy are behind such enhancements. These findings imply that low mass satellites not only affect the Milky Way disk dynamics, but also are able to trigger notable events of star formation throughout its disk. The precise dating of such star forming episodes provided in this work sets useful boundary conditions to properly model the orbit of Sgr and its interaction with the Milky Way. In addition, this work provides important constraints on the modelling of the interstellar medium and star formation within hydrodynamical simulations, manifesting the need of understanding physical processes at subresolution scales and of further analysis to unveil the physical mechanisms behind global and repeated star formation events induced by satellite interaction.
Could the passage of Sagittarius through the Milky Way be behind the Sunâs formation? That seems a stretch given the length of time between the first disruption and the Sunâs formation some 4.6 billion years ago, but co-author Carme Gallart (IAC) doesnât rule it out:
âThe Sun formed at the time when stars were forming in the Milky Way because of the first passage of Sagittarius. We donât know if the particular cloud of gas and dust that turned into the Sun collapsed because of the effects of Sagittarius or not. But it is a possible scenario because the age of the Sun is consistent with a star formed as a result of the Sagittarius effect.â
What I learned here is that understanding the physical processes behind star formation and incorporating that understanding into workable models is a problematic issue for astronomers today, because ongoing work is challenging earlier views of what happens when galaxies merge. The paper points out that while we have a number of colliding galaxies to examine, there is little theoretical work on the impact of a single satellite galaxy on a spiral galaxy.
And a key point: ââ¦although we can easily link the reported enhancements with possible perientric passages of Sgr, we cannot pinpoint what exact physical mechanisms are triggering such events.â Plenty of opportunity ahead for researchers looking into the Milky Wayâs history.
The paper is Ruiz-Lara et al., âThe recurrent impact of the Sagittarius dwarf on the star formation history of the Milky Way,â published in Nature Astronomy 25 May 2020 (abstract).
Amid the chaotic chains of events that ensue when protons smash together at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe, one particle has popped up that appears to go to pieces in a peculiar way.
All eyes are on the B meson, a yoked pair of quark particles. Having caught whiffs of unexpected B meson behavior before, researchers with the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment (LHCb) have spent years documenting rare collision events featuring the particles, in hopes of conclusively proving that some novel fundamental particle or effect is meddling with them.
In their latest analysis, first presented at a seminar in March, the LHCb physicists found that several measurements involving the decay of B mesons conflict slightly with the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics â the reigning set of equations describing the subatomic world. Taken alone, each oddity looks like a statistical fluctuation, and they may all evaporate with additional data, as has happened before. But their collective drift suggests that the aberrations may be breadcrumbs leading beyond the Standard Model to a more complete theory.
âFor the first time in certainly my working life, there are a confluence of different decays that are showing anomalies that match up,â said Mitesh Patel, a particle physicist at Imperial College London who is part of LHCb.
The B meson is so named because it contains a bottom quark, one of six fundamental quark particles that account for most of the universeâs visible matter. For unknown reasons, the quarks break down into three generations: heavy, medium and light, each with quarks of opposite electric charge. Heavier quarks decay into their lighter variations, almost always switching their charge, too. For instance, when the negatively charged heavy bottom quark in a B meson drops a generation, it usually becomes a middleweight, positively charged âcharmâ quark.
The LHCb collaboration scours the wreckage of particle pileups for exceptions to this rule. For every million B meson decays they see, one fringe event showcases a rebellious bottom quark metamorphosing into a âstrangeâ quark instead, dropping a generation but keeping its negative charge. The Standard Model predicts the exceedingly low rate of these events and how they will play out. But because they are so rare, any tweaks coming from undiscovered particles or effects should be obvious.
LHCbâs new analysis covered about 4,500 rare B meson decays, roughly doubling the data from their previous study in 2015. Each transformation ends with four outbound particles hitting a ring-shaped detector. When experimentalists compared the various angles between the particles with the angles predicted by the Standard Model, they found a deviation from the expected pattern. The collective significance of the anomalous angles grew slightly since the last analysis, and researchers say the new measurements also tell a more unified story. âSuddenly the consistency between the different angular observables got much better,â said Felix Kress, an LHCb researcher who helped crunch the numbers.
Statistically, the deviation in the angular pattern is equivalent to flipping a coin 100 times and getting 66 heads, rather than the usual 50 or so. For a fair coin, the odds of such a deviation are about 1 in 1,000.
But amid oodles of particle collisions, statistical fluctuations are bound to arise, so a 1-in-1,000 deviation doesnât count as hard proof of a break with the Standard Model. For that, the physicists will need to accumulate enough B meson decays to demonstrate a deviation of 1 in 1.7 million, akin to flipping 75 heads. âIf this is new physics,â Jure Zupan, a theoretical physicist at the University of Cincinnati, said of the current update, âitâs not significant enough.â
Still, the observed pattern hints that something is off with B meson decay products in the lepton family, the other category of matter particles aside from quarks. Like quarks, leptons come in heavy, medium and light generations (called tau particles, muons and electrons, respectively); the Standard Model says theyâre all identical except for their mass. Each B meson decay ends by shooting off a twin pair of any of the three types of leptons. LHCbâs latest update focused on the anomalous angular pattern produced by muon events, which are easiest to detect.
The experiment also logs a smaller number of B meson decays ending with electrons. The Standard Model demands that both types of decays should play out in exactly the same way, but a 2014 analysis by the LHCb team uncovered a possible difference between the muon events and the electron events. Taken together, the anomalies could mean that the novelty may lie not only with muons, but with electrons as well.
Patelâs group is currently working on an update to the electron-versus-muon measurement, which he said makes for a much âcleaner,â unambiguous observation than the muon angle measurements alone. âThis is a Standard Model killer,â he said.
If the B meson anomalies are real, physicists have two leading theories to explain them.
A new, hypothetical force-carrying particle called the ZÊ¹ boson would resemble the standard weak force that turns one matter particle into another, except that it would influence electrons and muons differently. As a bonus, the ZÊ¹ boson would also imply the existence of an additional massive particle that could make up the universeâs missing dark matter. âWe are moving to the next step, which is trying not just to explain the anomaly, but to connect the anomaly to other problems,â said Joaquim Matias, a theoretical physicist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
The more exotic possibility is that LHCb researchers are detecting hints of a fabled particle â the leptoquark â that can turn a quark into a lepton and vice versa. Theorists have long contemplated the possibility of leptoquarks, but the idea has grown less popular as experiments have ruled out the simplest kinds. Still, the three-generation quark family tree looks suspiciously like the lepton family tree, and neither pattern is well understood.Â Decaying B mesons may be revealing a leptoquark link between them. âThatâs the dream,â said Zupan.
As theorists consider these possibilities, the LHCb team will have to see if they can flip enough heads to prove that their coin is definitely not standard â an endeavor that may take the rest of the decade.
Ultimately, however, the particle physics community will hold out for confirmation from a different apparatus, such as the Belle II experiment in Japan, or one of the LHCâs two main detectors. Either proving or eliminating the B meson anomalies will be a herculean endeavor, but researchers have all the tools they need. âWith four experiments that can chip in,â Zupan said, âthe future is bright.â
ItÃ¢â¬â¢s been a long road to get here
Takeoff is scheduled for 3:22PM ET on May 30th
This is new research on a Bluetooth vulnerability (called BIAS) that allows someone to impersonate a trusted device:
Abstract: Bluetooth (BR/EDR) is a pervasive technology for wireless communication used by billions of devices. The Bluetooth standard includes a legacy authentication procedure and a secure authentication procedure, allowing devices to authenticate to each other using a long term key. Those procedures are used during pairing and secure connection establishment to prevent impersonation attacks. In this paper, we show that the Bluetooth specification contains vulnerabilities enabling to perform impersonation attacks during secure connection establishment. Such vulnerabilities include the lack of mandatory mutual authentication, overly permissive role switching, and an authentication procedure downgrade. We describe each vulnerability in detail, and we exploit them to design, implement, and evaluate master and slave impersonation attacks on both the legacy authentication procedure and the secure authentication procedure. We refer to our attacks as Bluetooth Impersonation AttackS (BIAS).
Our attacks are standard compliant, and are therefore effective against any standard compliant Bluetooth device regardless the Bluetooth version, the security mode (e.g., Secure Connections), the device manufacturer, and the implementation details. Our attacks are stealthy because the Bluetooth standard does not require to notify end users about the outcome of an authentication procedure, or the lack of mutual authentication. To confirm that the BIAS attacks are practical, we successfully conduct them against 31 Bluetooth devices (28 unique Bluetooth chips) from major hardware and software vendors, implementing all the major Bluetooth versions, including Apple, Qualcomm, Intel, Cypress, Broadcom, Samsung, and CSR.
Coming up this Wednesday, May 27th:
It hardly seems possible, but the Hackaday Prize, the worldâs greatest hardware design contest, is once more at hand. But the world of 2020 is vastly different than it was last year, and the challenges we all suddenly face have become both more numerous and more acute as a result. Weâve seen hackers rise to the challenges presented by the events of the last few months in unexpected ways, coming up with imaginative solutions and pressing the limits of whatâs possible. What this community can do when it is faced with a real challenge is inspiring.
Now itâs time to take that momentum and apply it to some of the other problems the world is facing. ForÂ the 2020 Hackaday Prize, weâre asking you to throw your creativity at challenges in conservation, disaster response, assistive technology, and renewable resources. Weâve teamed up with leading non-profits in those areas, each of which has specific challenges they need you to address.
With $200,000 in prize money at stake, weâre sure youâre going to want to step up to the challenge. To help get you started, Majenta Strongheart, Head of Design and Partnerships at Supplyframe, will drop by the Hack Chat with all the details on the 2020 Hackaday Prize. Come prepared to pick her brain on what needs doing and how best to tackle the problems that the Prize is trying to address. And find out about all the extras, like the âDream Teamâ microgrants, the wild card prize, and the community picks.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.ioÂ Hack Chat group messaging. This week weâll be sitting down on Wednesday, May 27 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we haveÂ a handy time zone converter.
Sometimes you see a design online and just have to 3D print it!
This is an amazing 3D topographic map of the Hawaiian island Oahu, and for anyone thatâs been there you should be able to make out the airport, Pearl Harbour and Waikiki areas. Thanks to Eric Pavey who created this model and detailed the process of using a tool called Terrain2STL on his blog. Itâs also available on Thingiverse. The detail is amazing!
For something a bit different, I wanted to do a two-tone print to separate the water and land. Using the Pause at Height feature in Cura, I was able to swap out filament after the first handful of layers, going from eSun white PLA, to eSun bamboo filament. I must admit, the pause feature didnât quite work how Iâd like it to on my Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus, not actually pausing the print and allowing me to resume it again when I was ready, but I was able to time my prints and catch the feature in time to quickly do a swap during the 30 seconds or so that the Pause at Height feature ran. All it did was move the extruder to the home position and extruded a bunch of material, and then resumed automatically. I might need to create some better G-code for this next time.
However, Iâm very pleased with the effect, especially when you move a light around the model!
â Posted by James Novak
No I didnât.
Hey howâs it going. Itâs everyoneâs favourite blogger person. Not really because only like 3 people look at my website. But, that doesnât matter now because it just doesnât. However, it would help out if you shared this. Today, I did school. I also am going to eat dinner. My mom is making ginger snap cookies and they smell really good. The quality of this website is slowly declining and rising at the same time. How, you may ask? I donât know. I am super bored and I donât know what to write. I am abou t to fall aslepp . So b,ye.
Â hoursÂ minutesÂ seconds
I regain my sanity
This movie has been recommended to me many times, and now after watching it I honestly donât get the hype. The overall idea is cool and card counting is interesting to me but the movie really drags on and the pacing often felt all over the place. I thought that there should have been more scenes that established the relationship between Ben and Miles. It often felt like he had no purpose to the story and was thrown in just to mess up Benâs moral compass at the end of the second act. I also found that the casino montages were annoying, obnoxious, and much to plentiful. It often felt like those specific scenes were copying the style of Edgar Wright, but if that was the case then it was done quite badly. I wouldnât recommend this to anyone unless I knew they had an idea of what they were in for
This was disappointing. The first two Pitch Perfects were fun and heartfelt and over all enjoyable, but this one was just kind of lifeless and dry. The whole plot point with Fat Amyâs dad felt so predictable and over used. It was entertainment, but not great entertainment.
This was originally published a while ago but I just reposted it as a blog post.
Â hoursÂ minutesÂ seconds
Fantastic Mr. Fox Delivery
Whatâs up world, this is everyoneâs favorite talk show host. Today I am achy. I woke up hurting, and it hasnât gone away yet. The pain, that is. Itâs not that bad though. Yesterday my family and I went on a hike at Burnaby Mountain. Then I did a lot of skateboarding and fell a bunch. that is probably why I am achy. I just got done with school for the day, and it was boring as ever. I had to do algebra and it is definitely not my favorite kind of math. But oh well. Today some packages came, but they were not my movie which is kind of sad. They were from Indigo but I donât know who they were for. Ok I guess this isnât that big of an announcement but I just wanted to say that I will be getting rid of the âReviewsâ page on the site. But I will be adding the current reviews as blog posts and any further reviews will be blog posts as well. Ok well that is all I wanted to say so I guess this is then end now. Bye for now!
Update May 25th, 5:20PM ET: Virgin Orbitâs test flight ended in failure shortly after LauncherOne dropped from under the companyâs carrier 747 airplane. Virgin Orbit confirmed that the drop was successful and that the rocketâs main engine ignited. But then it quickly suffered some kind of anomaly at the beginning of the flight. The company says no one was hurt during the test and the team will be digging into the data to learn what went wrong.
Iâll go to bed tonight smarter than I was when I woke up. Iâm grateful for that, and proud of the team. Today, we tackled the biggest technical risk of the program. Thereâs a lot more to learn, but that is huge!!! pic.twitter.com/5keyW4r8Lrâ William Pomerantz (@Pomerantz) May 26, 2020
Taking full advantage of a reduced workload these past few days, I found myself thinking of DMR again after stumbling across the Zumspot AMBE Server.Â That seemed like an excellent non-radio means of bringing up DMR, DSTAR or Fusion on any Windows box here at the house.Â So I placed an order and hopefully will be able to play around with it in a week or so.
Meanwhile, it seems like PA7LIMâs BlueDV is the software that many people are using with the AMBE Server or various USB Dongles, so I downloaded a copy in hopes of getting it to work with my old DV3K Dongle, something I had only used for DSTAR using DVTool.Â Since that used a AMBE3000R chip, I felt there was a small chance it might work with BlueDV, which would make it usable on DMR, Fusion, and DSTAR as well.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out it worked quite well, and within about 30 minutes of trying a few options, BlueDV was up and running.
The setup was pretty simple.Â I guessed that the slower baud rate was used for the old device (located on COM6 on my PC), and assumed all the DMR ID settings would be mine (3144032).Â (Just a FYI, it appears the SETUP menu canât be selected if any of the SERIAL, DMR, DSTAR, or FUSION switches are Active along the left side of the screen.)
The only non-obvious thing to me was a need to setup the AMBE tab (along the top), as it was completely blank when I started things going.Â However, when I pulled down the choices I saw my mic and speaker selections which made perfect sense.
Finally I guessed that I needed to use the other AMBE tab to the right to select a talk group, and I set that to AMSAT 98006 (BrandMeister).
My last two stumbling blocks were forgetting that nothing would happen on DMR until I pressed âPTTâ to get the Talk Group set.Â Now where is that PTT button????Â That took a tad bit of exploring and I found a YouTube video from TechMinds that revealed the magic solution â use the bottom right âAMBE3000â slider by clicking on it to turn TX on, and clicking again to turn TX off!
I look forward to trying this with the AMBE Server â that will make this a solution I can run from pretty much everywhere.
For Immediate Release
VANCOUVER â COAST SALISH TERRITORIES â Today, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (âBCCLAâ) will fight to ensure that the rights and civil liberties of all are taken into account at the first round of hearings of the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia.
These initial hearings will provide an overview of the money laundering topic and regulatory models. Due to the global pandemic, these hearings will be held via videoconferencing.
Megan Tweedie, Staff Counsel:Â âThe BCCLA is supportive of efforts to combat money laundering in the province. However, the recommendations proposed to date call for significant expansions of police and regulatory powers and the over-collection, retention, and sharing of private information, without evidence demonstrating that these changes would be effective in combatting money laundering.â
At these hearings, the BCCLA will advocate for the protection of the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens in developing appropriate responses to moneyâlaundering in British Columbia. The BCCLA will argue that there must be checks and balances in place for all measures recommended by the Commission to ensure that they operate in a manner that does not unduly infringe on the rights and liberties of Canadians.
Megan Tweedie continued, âThe risk to the privacy rights and civil liberties of British Columbians is profound. Developing an effective anti-money laundering regime cannot simply reflect calls for more invasive powers, broader disclosures of sensitive, highly prejudicial information, and more resources for policing and FINTRAC. The implications for the rights and liberties of Canadians must form a part of the analysis.â
The BCCLA will bring its expertise in criminal law reform, police accountability, access to justice, due process, and privacy rights to its role as a participant in the Inquiry in order to provide a muchâneeded civil libertiesâbased perspective. This perspective is crucial; the BCCLA intends to place the civil liberties and human rights of all at the forefront of this Inquiry.
The BCCLA is represented by staff counsel, Megan Tweedie, Emily Lapper, and Latoya Farrell of the BCCLA.
The BCCLAâs written opening statement delivered to the Commission in February 2020 is available here.
TheÂ AXIOM BetaÂ Power Board sits between theÂ Beta Main BoardÂ and theÂ MicroZed in the cameraâsÂ PCB stack. It generates all the different supply voltages for the chips and logic on the otherÂ PCBâsÂ inside the camera. It also monitors currents so that it can estimate remaining power based on the recorded consumption. Version 1 of the Beta Power Board has the 8 different voltage rails calibrated at factory. In case of a future hardware upgrade that require any power rail to have a different reference voltage this calibration needs to be redone.
In retrospect, I donât know how well the Han Solo joke works. Of course, my first impulse when making a joke about having someone fire a laser at someone would be to make a Goldfinger joke, but itâs usually a good idea to ignore the first instinct as too predictable. Also, Goldfingerâs getting to be a really dated reference.
Itâll be interesting to see how long it takes before they stop bothering to make up new stories for James Bond movies and start remaking the classics. One might assume that they never will because they wonât think they can ever live up to the original classics. To anyone who thinks that, I suggest you re-watch the classics with a critical eye, rather than letting nostalgia color it for you.
A surprising amount of time in both the book and movie Goldfinger is spent cheating at either cards or golf.
After thinking a while about why self-replicating robots do not exist (thanks, Casey: https://caseyhandmer.wordpress.com/2019/09/02/self-replicating-robots-do-not-exist/ ), weâre reminded that living things do this regularly. Iâm tempted to write âa human is a von Neumann probe,â but that wouldnât be accurate. A single human cannot reproduce, and even a pair would quickly run into survival problems unless they got lucky (and thereâs some amount of genetic variety needed, with the minimum number of individuals being somewhere between 50 and 5,000 to ensure enough genetic diversity). The human is by default in society, usually a band or tribe in the past and now in cities. Our survival depends on it. This has enabled us to span from pole to pole with a vast array of lifestyles.
Even a band (10-50 people) enables specialization and folklore. A full tribe (made of several bands, enough for genetic diversity) is a self-contained unit of humanity. Enough to replicate and perpetuate neolithic technology, which includes domesticated animals, plants, spoken language, and perhaps even written language. An individual or family would have difficulty maintaining this, but a tribe should be capable of it. And with the tools of written technology, could maintain knowledge and learn between generations.
Whatâs interesting about neolithic technology versus later developments is that this is before humanity became dependent on vast trade routes and city-state social structures (although those did develop in that time). Still small enough to be self-contained within a tribe and replicated most places on Earth (with adaption). Other than biological materials (seeds, animalsâ¦ which are reproducible and not a fundamentally limited geological resource), it is still really easy to bootstrap neolithic technology and could be done by a small group of people. The Bronze Age requires tin and bronze, which are very limited in geologic availability (requiring vast trade networks) and require more sophisticated processing.
My favorite exploration of Neolithic technology is the Primitive Technology Youtube channel. He bootstraps from nothing (no knives, etc, just himself in shorts) and has gotten extremely far in technology development. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P73REgj-3UE
No doubt his efforts rely on a lot of free time enabled by modern food distribution systems, but they all could be replicated by a tribe. He has made some interesting advances, such as a sort of centrifugal blower and the beginnings of a bootstrapping of iron technology using iron bacteria (found all over) instead of geographically limited iron ore. He also makes use of domesticated yams.
Now Iâve been thinking a lot about potatoes. Theyâre remarkably easy to grow and extremely efficient in area, store reasonably well, easy to propagate, etc. It really is a good choice if you had to pick one staple to survive on Mars with (hello, Matt Damon). But they were not introduced into the New World until the 1500s. Same with corn (maize), and a bunch of other things. Corn is a particularly efficient way of growing calories. A similar thing is true of other domesticated crops. â¦and animals, such as donkeys, horse, oxen, etc. Any neolithic tribe couldâve utilized these resources, but these resources werenât all available until the modern era (i.e. starting in the 1500s). Thereâs some evidence that domestication of, say, potatoes, helped speed the industrial revolution due to their efficiency. You could say that it was these domestic plants and animals that enabled the industrial revolution as much as any other particular scientific, economic, etc advance.
Any of these couldâve been introduced to neolithic tribes 10,000 years ago or even earlier. Maybe 100,000 years ago. One could have taught them writing. A single tribe had enough resources to bootstrap these âtechnologies,â and their productivity wouldâve been vastly improved. Unlike our heavy industry today, they do not require a vast, globe-spanning economy to replicate. They can be planted and replicated by a single, neolithic tribe to their great benefit. Self-contained, self-replicatingâ¦ (or requiring just some assistance from people to replicate).
Domestic plants and animals are remarkable technologies. Seeds in particularâ¦ little, unassuming von Neumann machines. Iron bacteria couldâve bootstrapped the Iron Age 100,000 years earlier. Give a tractor to a neolithic tribe, and it would stop as soon as it ran out of gas. A steam tractor maybe couldâve lasted longer and maybe animal grease could serve as oil, but the industrial toolchain in order to maintain any such engine would be beyond a single tribeâs ability. But oxen or other beasts of burden? Easy to maintain and replicate in comparison. Even with some amount of semi-autonomous intelligence. There are your self-replicating robots!
This is the potential of biology in simplifying the technology bootstrap process. Itâs unfortunate that biological processes tend to be so inefficient. Their relevance to bootstrapping a Mars civilization may be difficult to gauge relative to the more energy-efficient heavy machinery approachâ¦ Also, not only is it inefficient, itâs also only viable in a relatively narrow temperature and pressure range which mostly makes it irrelevant to space settlementâ¦
â¦but perhaps this is worth another look. I think the fact that biology can play a part in bootstrapping is one of the most important arguments for (at least partial) terrraformingâ¦ if you can make Mars Earth-like enough for at least SOMETHING to grow, maybe we can use biology to help bootstrap human civilization there. If Mars is terraformed, then the basic human unit, the tribe, would be sufficient to replicate civilization given a continuity of knowledge of written language.
â¦but maybe something smaller than full terraforming is sufficient? Humans, even with just neolithic technology, are remarkably adaptable (if we can find an energy source). We can live indefinitely in the Arctic by harvesting animals (including fish, etc) using neolithic technology. Some humans live nearly their whole lives on the water using pre-modern tech. Perhaps with some clever new inventions that could be bootstrapped with neolithic-level-tech, there may be some future domesticated plants or animals (or other?) that enable humans to live on a partially terraformed Mars with something as small as a tribe. After all, we used animal intestines to produce the impermeable gas bags of the mighty zeppelins. What new domesticated life form might enable us to live on Mars with a much simpler bootstrap chain?
Can we harden living things for the Martian environment? Iâm reminded that the Armstrong Limit of pressure is dictated by the boiling point of water at the human body temperature. Other living things, such as lizards (not to mention hardy plants), can still live and move with body temperatures low enough that Marsâ pressure at Hellas Basin would be high that water would not boil. Thereâs also the possibility of some sort of toughened skin designed to maintain internal pressure and temperature. Lichen or similar lifeforms may even be able to photosynthesize under Martian conditions: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20402583/
â¦so what is the REAL Martian potato? Could some domesticated lichen produce food and important chemicals for a growing Martian civilization? Maybe some sort of domesticated lichen that produces hydrogen peroxide? Could some sort of genetically modified reptile beasts of burden serve as our self-replicating robots? Could we grow tough membranes (with built-in molecular pressure pumps powered by photosynthesis) to make our pressurized cities? How can we simplify the industrial tool-chain so self-sufficiency becomes tractable?
|VE3MNE working on his new portable antenna.|
|Today's operating position|
Well, not the last chance in your lifetime. But you have less than a week left in Venusâs current run as âevening starâ for one of visual astronomyâs greatest challenges â to see the crescent Venus with nothing more than your eyes. No binoculars. No telescope. To aid you in your quest I want to share a new technique briefly mentioned by Sky & Telescope columnist Fred Schaaf in the magazineâs May issue.
I stared at Venus a week ago trying to eke out a crescent but couldnât. It looked spiky to me, a little like a porcupine. I squinted but that didnât help either. Binoculars show the phase beautifully but my eyes were hopeless. Then I heard that if you look at the planet through a pinhole device it reduces the glare and porcupine spines. So I tried it on May 21. I have small metal eyepiece barrel with a neat 1/16-inch (1.6 mm) hole drilled through it. I held this up to my eye and peered at Venus through the tiny aperture and lo and behold the planet appeared much sharper.
The same principle applies when you want to get more of a scene in focus with your camera. If you decrease the size of the aperture the light passes through it will increase the cameraâs depth of field, making both foreground and background sharp.
Now that Venus appeared sharper could I see the crescent? The planet spanned 53.5 arc-seconds at the time or 6.5 arc-seconds shy of the theoretical naked-eye limit of 60 arc-seconds. Close enough. A word about terminology. One degree (1Â°) equals 60 arc-minutes, and one arc-minute equals 60 arc-seconds. The full moon is 0.5Â° or 30 arc-minutes wide so Venus is about 1/30th the apparent size of the full moon right now.
I peered through the hole on and off for 10 minutes, and this is what I discovered. While I couldnât convince myself of seeing the crescent I did notice that Venus wasnât round. Instead of a dot it appeared like a bar or short streak of light tilted on its side like this: /Â â¦ only a little shorter.
Occasionally, I thought I saw the crescent with its horns pointing in the right direction (up) but a few moments later they looked pointed down in the wrong direction. So while I couldnât see a precise shape, at the very least discern I could tell that Venus was elongated and tilted in the right direction. Iâve looked at Venus for over 50 years, and this was the first time Iâve ever seen a whiff of crescent.
I encourage you to try the same technique. Drill a 1/16-inch (1.6 mm) hole in a bottle cap and make sure you remove any excess plastic for a completely unobstructed view. For the best results try to find Venus as close to sunset as possible and then follow it down. A bright sky will temper the planetâs glare and make the shape easier to see. Although Venus is quite low itâs also a little bigger compared to when I saw it â almost 55 arc-seconds across.
I would love to hear about your attempt to see the crescent. Use the comments area here or send me an e-mail at email@example.com
Idaho is one of the most sparsely populated states in the union, with fewer than 1.8 million residents living on about 83,500 square miles, or about 21 people per square mile. Much of the land is protected protected wilderness area, or held by the U.S. Forest Service. Here are a few glimpses of the landscape of Idaho and some of the wildlife and people calling it home.
This photo story is part of Fifty, a collection of images from each of the United States.
AMSAT has a Sexagesimal Award for satellite operators who have confirmed contacts with 60 different Canadian call areas, US States, or DX Countries.
I figured I would check on my progress.Â Turns out Iâve worked VE1, VE2, VE3, VE9, VO2 qand VY2 in Canada, plus 37 states, and 9 DXCC Countries, for a total of 52.Â Gonna take a bit of work to get those final eight!
Maybe that explains why only 187 awards have been issued in 45 years (congratulations to KS1G who just got his a few days ago)!
Exciting flex PCB project from the Hackaday blog:
Earrings have been a hackersâ target for electronic attachment for quite a while, but combining the needed components into a package small enough to wear in that finicky location is quite a challenge. IfÂ [Sawaiz Syed]âs Art Deco EarringsÂ are anything to go by, ear computers have a bright future ahead of them!
This is a project unusually well described by its name. It is in fact an earring, with art deco styling. But that sells it way too short. This sliver of a flex circuit board is double sided to host an ATtiny, accelerometer, LDO, and eight 2020 formfactor controller-integrated LEDs. Of course itâs motion sensitive, reacting to the wearerâs movement via LED pattern. [Sawaiz] makes reference to wearing it while dancing, and we canât help but imagine an entire ballroom all aglow with tiny points of LED light.
Itâs rare, but I was able to collect most of these links more than 24 hours before you are reading them.
I had a chance to get my Satellite rig on the air and added in information for HuskySat-1 and RS-44.Â Never heard HuskySat, but during a pass around 23:45Z, I worked KS1G on CW, and N3CAL, W4ZXT + W5CBF on SSB.Â Heard a bunch of European stations as well.
This satellite seems to have amazingly fast and deep fades, so the antenna must be occluded frequently (Iâm using CP antennas).Â I would often hear only part of a callsign before it would swing from S9 to in the noise.Â That made for a challenge.
Funny coincidence; this is the first satellite that my Uplink didnât have to be calibrated.Â The default Uplink and Downlink values that I put into Doppler.sqf were spot on for my IC-9700.
(ED: 3 of the 4 have already confirmed in LotW â Thanks!)
I donât know, you figure it out. Howâs it going? Ok. I am doing not bad, except VERY TIRED. I am just going to have a nap on the keyboard. Uefjfjcj gyuceue Dudu End-user dudcncjej Ed ddii dodo COD,d disks keep Siemens . Ah! I am awake. Ooh, thatâs a big gibberish. Yup, also a big fish. Fish go âlemon lemon omeletteâ mm hmm. Yup. Fish make noise. What am Doing I doing with my life? I donât know. Just trying to bring people âquality contentâ.I am so tired my brain is melting into ice cream.mmmm, ice cream. Yum. Now I want ice cream but I already had a donut so I canât. But it was a mini donut. Very mini small. 1.5 inch tall donut. In case you canât tell, I am out of things to write about. So I might post again later. Bye.
This is diamond sword to Major Steve, your gonna find diamondsâ Minecraft Awesome Parodys Steve
Whatâs up fam, this is the internetâs favorite theater actor. Today I am feeling xtra tired. I fell asleep at like 2:00 A.M. yesterday and woke up at like 11:30. Last night me and Eli stayed up and watched Back to the Future. It was super cool and is probably one of my favorite films of all time. I used to like the second one better than the first and third, but I since then I have come to my senses and formed a solid opinion that the first movie is the best, then the third, and finally the second. Donât get me wrong, the second is still a really good movie but it just feels really messy with how much they are jumping around the timeline. Still very enjoyable though. This morning, after I had pancakes for breakfast, me and Eli went out for a walk. It was ok but we were both very tired and therefore very irritable and therefore very irritating. But it was nice to get outside. After we got home we played some go fish and I had a piece of peanut-butter toast for lunch. Yum. Yesterday I went with Eli and my mom to go get some mini donuts from the PNE. I wonât say too much because we made a vlog about it. You can find the video here:
It was really fun and the donuts were really tasty. We got 12 each and I have 3 left.
I have decided to start a countdown until my Fantastic Mr. Fox Blu Ray is supposed to be delivered.
Â hoursÂ minutesÂ seconds
Fantastic Mr. Fox Delivery
So yeah thatâs pretty cool that you can add that with WordPress. Ok well thatâs basically all that I wanted to talk about for today. I hope everyone reading this has a good day, and see you next time. Bye for now!
*Obnoxious jazz outro music plays*
Crows and ravens get a bad rap. In movies theyâre often associated with doom, death and evil. Is it the raucousâcaw-cawâ that sets people on edge or do we associate their black plumage with darkness and death? I like crows and ravens. Theyâre clever and intelligent birds. Some use twigs and branches to tease out insects from under tree bark and car traffic to crack open hard-shelled nuts. Remember Uncle Billyâs raven in Itâs a Wonderful Life and the crow that landed on the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz?Â Jimmy the raven played both parts and had hundreds of other roles in Hollywood movies from the 1930s through the 1950s.
While no dog or cat constellation graces the sky our ancestors happily bequeathed us a crow in the form ofÂ Corvus. If youâve never seen Corvus direct your eyes to the southern sky as soon as darkness falls. Corvus isnât a bright constellation but its compact form makes it easy to find.Â Four third magnitude stars outline a small trapezoid to the lower right of the bright star Spica around 10-10:30 p.m. at the end evening twilight.
Spica, Virgoâs brightest star, is located about three balled fists above the southern horizon. Itâs the only bright star in the lower half of the southern sky. Corvus perches a fist and a half to the lower right of Spica. The crow got its permanent celestial roost when Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, decided one day to offer a sacrifice to his father Zeus. He gave a crow a cup and sent it to fetch water from a spring.
En route, the crow spotted a fig tree with unripe fruit. Instead of proceeding to the task at hand, the bird waited several days for the fruit to ripen into a tasty meal, forcing Apollo to get the water himself. When the crow finally returned he needed an excuse for his tardiness, so he snatched a water-snake from the spring and explained to Apollo that the snake had prevented him from filling the cup. Apollo smelled a lie and condemned the crow to a life of thirst. Further, he placed the snake, cup and bird in the sky as a lesson to all future crows lest they get cocky, too. Huh, maybe thatâs how the bad news about crows got started.
Corvus is a small constellation, ranking 70th out of 88 in size. Itâs home to the pretty double star Algorab also know as Delta Corvi. Your eyes will see a single star here but a small telescope will reveal that Algorab has a 9th magnitude companion close by to the southwest.
I always associate Corvus with the Southern Cross. That constellation never clears the horizon from my northerly location in Duluth, but if you happen to be in Key West, it stands just above southern horizon at nightfall. To find it, locate Corvus and look a little more than three fists directly beneath.
I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to venture into the digital voice modes. Well, I did. I was successful in getting a hotspot up and running, although I did hit a snag along the way.
Yeah, I know; as usual, Iâm late to the party on this stuff. Up until now, Iâve had only limited experience with D-Star. Years ago, I used a borrowed Icom ID-1 for 1.2GHz data during a couple of ARES-RACES exercises. I hadnât used D-Star again until I bought a Kenwood TH-D74A six months ago. Even then, I had only used D-Star to check into aÂ local ARES-RACES netÂ over a nearby D-Star repeater.
My localÂ ARES-RACES groupÂ here in Chester County, PA, held one of our monthly Tech Rallies using Zoom. Jim WA3NOA gave an interesting talk on digital voice hotspots. Inspired by Jimâs talk, I went ahead and ordered anÂ MMDVM hotspot from Amazon.
While waiting for the hotspot to arrive, I started studying up. I found lots of great articles and videos out there.Â W6GPSâs videosÂ on the TH-D74 and D-Star were particularly helpful. FollowingÂ one of his videos, I picked a hotspot frequency and programmed it into my radio.
The hotspot arrived a few days later. I was immediately struck how tiny this thing is. The instructions that came with it were sparse but clear enough to get started. I was able to successfully connect my laptop to the hotspotâs internal WiFi hotspot and access the Pi-Star configuration screens.
Long story shortâ¦ Before too long, I had the hotspot connected to my home WiFi network and had the D-Star section configured. I keyed up my radio and received the expected D-Star response from the hotspot. Then, I tried to connect to some reflectors. No matter which one I tried, I got a âreflector is busyâ message on my radio. Hmmmâ¦
I sent screenshots of my hotspot configuration screens to Jim, but he didnât see anything out of wack. I next focused on my WiFi router. I tried connecting the hotspot to other WiFi networks. No joy.
Finally, I went out and checked the status of myÂ D-Star registration. That showed that my registration from way-back-when was missing aÂ Terminal ID. An email exchange with WA3NOA confirmed that was likely my issue. My D-Star registration password no longer worked, so I reached out to Jim W3BIF, the admin for the W3EOC D-Star repeater.
The next morning I had an email from W3BIF saying he had straightened out my incomplete D-Star registration. Within minutes, I was connected to a reflector and having a QSO with a ham in Georgia. He reported that my audio sounded great.Â
I used to be one of those guys who thought this stuff isnât real ham radio. I guess Iâve come around a bit. I wonât be giving up CW any time soon, but I will admit it has been fun playing around with this new (to me)mode over the past week.Â
Over time, I might branch out to try some other digital voice modes. In the meantime, you can often find me monitoring D-Star reflector, REF20A or REF30C.ÃÂ
73, Craig WB3GCK
TheÂ 2020 Hackaday PrizeÂ begins right now. Our global engineering challenge seeks solutions to real-world problems. If you like to come up with creative solutions to tough problems, four non-profits can use your help. We need hackers, designers, and engineers throughout the world to work on designs for conservation, disaster relief, renewable resources, and assistive devices.