Science & Technology


Boeing Model 777 Airplanes: Protection from Unauthorized Internal Access

Special Conditions: Boeing Model 777-200, -300, and -300ER Series Airplanes; Aircraft Electronic System Security Protection From Unauthorized Internal Access

A Rule by the Federal Aviation Administration on 11/18/2013


Final Special Conditions.


These special conditions are issued for the Boeing Model 777-200, -300, and -300ER series airplanes. These airplanes, as modified by the Boeing Company, will have novel or unusual design features associated with the architecture and connectivity of the passenger service computer network systems to the airplane critical systems and data networks. This onboard network system will be composed of a network file server, a network extension device, and additional interfaces configured by customer option. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

Big Bang - The greatest fairy tale ever told

Big Bang
© Tallbloke Talkshop
There is freedom of choosing religion in our country so there is no problem what you or I believe. On the other hand there is a problem when scientists mix facts supported by evidence and laws of nature with fantasy, unfounded hypotheses and faith.

There is no qualitative difference being a creationist believing that earth and our galaxy was created 6000 years ago or believing that the universe was created from a small cosmic egg 14 billion years ago. From where did this egg originate and what existed before that?

There must have been something more (or rather, less) than a nuclear bomb within it since at that point not even matter are believed to has existed. None of these beliefs are or can be supported by scientific methods or verified experience. Hence, it cannot be classified as science.

Many years ago a saw a "scientific" 600 page book in a book store. It claimed to tell what happened in the first MINUTE after Big Bang. It was loaded with formulae and unverified hypotheses. To me this book represented a peak of human hubris, a pretention that logic and mathematical models without any verified anchoring in reality could give the answer to the eternal mystery of our existence. Evidently the author was religious or crazy.

Legislation abolishing roaming charges goes through European parliament

Roaming charges for using a mobile phone abroad will be abolished from December 2015 in proposals expected to be voted through the European parliament on Tuesday, but operators have warned that bills could rise domestically to pay for the change.

Posting holiday snaps to Instagram or keeping up with emails while abroad should no longer result in unexpectedly high bills under legislation to be approved by members of the European parliament's industry committee on Tuesday, which is due to be rubber stamped by the full parliament on 3 April.
Arrow Down

Forget GMOs, scientists are creating bionic plants

Nano Plants?
© Juan Pablo Giraldo and Nicole M. Iverson
Near-infrared fluorescence of carbon nanotubes (orange) infiltrated inside leaves (green) could boost photosynthesis and enable the detection of biochemicals and pollutants.
Call it the rise of the nanobionic super-plants: Researchers at MIT are giving plants super powers by placing tiny carbon nanotubes deep within their cells.

Some of the altered plants increased their photosynthetic activity by 30% compared with regular old plants. Others were able to detect tiny traces of pollutants in the air.

And that's just the beginning.

"The idea is to impart plants with functions that are non-native to them," said Michael Strano, professor of chemical engineering at MIT.

Strano's lab has been working at the nexus of plant biology and nanotechnology -- an area called plant nanobionics -- for three years, trying to figure out how to give plants new abilities.

Their first challenge was getting the nanotubes into the plants. Watering plants with a solution that had nanoparticles in it seems to be the obvious choice, but it doesn't work because plant roots have a structure that blocks nanotubes from entering.

Instead, Strano's team turned to the stomata -- small pores on the underside of leaves that let carbon dioxide in and oxygen and water out. The researchers found that if they pressurized a solution that included nanoparticles in a syringe, it would enter the plant through the stomata.

Elephants can differentiate between human languages

© AFP/Anna Zieminski
African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are the largest land animals on Earth and are considered a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and illegal hunting for their ivory tusks.
African elephants can differentiate between human languages and move away from those considered a threat, a skill they have honed to survive in the wild, researchers said.

The study suggests elephants, already known to be intelligent creatures, are even more sophisticated than previously believed when it comes to understanding human dangers.

Researchers played recordings of human voices for elephants at Amboseli National Park in Kenya to see how they would respond, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Some of the voices were from local Maasai men, a group that herds cattle and sometimes comes into conflict with elephants over access to water and grazing space. Occasionally, elephants are killed in clashes with Maasai men, and vice-versa.

Have gravitational waves been detected?

Cosmic Microwave
This detailed map of the cosmic microwave background is created from seven years worth of data. The color variations correspond to temperature variations in the young universe: the seeds for stars and galaxies observed today.
Last week the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) stated rather nonchalantly that they will be hosting a press conference on Monday, March 17th, to announce a "major discovery." Without a potential topic for journalists to muse on, this was as melodramatic as it got.

But then the Guardian posted an article on the subject and the rumors went into overdrive. The speculation is this: a U.S. team is on the verge of confirming they have detected primordial gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of spacetime that carry echoes of the big bang nearly 14 billion years ago.

If there is evidence for gravitational waves, it will be a landmark discovery, ultimately changing the face of physics.

Not only are gravitational waves the last untested prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, but primordial gravitational waves will allow astronomers to glimpse the universe in its infancy.
Cloud Lightning

Are lightning deaths on the rise?

lightning strikes
In Brazil lightning strikes are increasing - and so are the casualties
Lightning appears to be killing and injuring increasing numbers of people in developing countries, meteorologists and experts say.

The total casualties could even be higher than other weather-related disasters like floods, landslides and droughts.

"The frequency of lightning has somehow increased from what it used to be," says Michael Nkalubo, commissioner at Meteorological Department of Uganda, a country where lightning storms are common.

"I cannot say that a study has been carried out on this but I am saying this on the basis of my general observation.

"It is something increasing every year and we think this is a manifestation of climate change but we also need to establish whether deforestation has also contributed."

South Africa is another country in the African continent where lightning-related deaths and injuries are or the rise, officials say.

In South East Asia too experts believe lightning incidents and casualties are going up.

"It is a growing problem in the region," said Hartono Zainal Abidin, a lightning protection expert in Malaysia.

The replacement of the forest by urban areas has been causing an increase in the lightning activity in the Amazon region, Brazilian researchers suggest.

According to a study led by scientist Osmar Pinto Junior of Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, the city of Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, has seen a 50% rise in lightning strikes in the past 30 years, reaching a current rate of 13.5 strikes per km² per year.

Looking at satellite images, Mr Pinto Junior and his team have found that, over the city, the lightning activity is larger than that in neighbour regions.

"Our results indicate that such changes have been caused by what we call Urban Heat Island (UHI)", he said.

"While in the last three decades the surface air temperature in the tropics has increased by approximately 0.4C, it has increased by 0.7C in Manaus."

Pinto Junior explains that this phenomenon occurs when green areas are replaced by buildings and other urban features, pushing the temperatures up and prompting more lightning storms.

Chernobyl forests aren't decaying properly - significant risk of fires further spreading radiation

Chernobyl forest
© T.A.Mousseau & A.P. Møller
Fallen trees in Chernobyl's infamous red forest.

It wasn't just people, animals and trees that were affected by radiation exposure at Chernobyl, but also the decomposers: insects, microbes, and fungi

Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today. Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals and plants still show signs of radiation poisoning.

Birds around Chernobyl have significantly smaller brains that those living in non-radiation poisoned areas; trees there grow slower; and fewer spiders and insects - including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers - live there. Additionally, game animals such as wild boar caught outside of the exclusion zone - including some bagged as far away as Germany - continue to show abnormal and dangerous levels of radiation.

However, there are even more fundamental issues going on in the environment. According to a new study published in Oecologia, decomposers - organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay - have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil. Issues with such a basic-level process, the authors of the study think, could have compounding effects for the entire ecosystem.

The team decided to investigate this question in part because of a peculiar field observation. "We have conducted research in Chernobyl since 1991 and have noticed a significant accumulation of litter over time," the write. Moreover, trees in the infamous Red Forest - an area where all of the pine trees turned a reddish color and then died shortly after the accident - did not seem to be decaying, even 15 to 20 years after the meltdown.

Surprise! Scientists behind official pro-GMO report in UK all have strong ties to the industry

Opposition: Critics of GM described the 'independent' report as 'biased and downright dangerous'. Pictured is an anti-GM protest in 2002
The authors of a study calling for GM crops to be fast-tracked into Britain's farms and kitchens all have links to the industry, it can be revealed.

The report was presented as the work of 'independent' scientists and was published on Thursday by a government advisory body.

It was used to support a bid to speed up the development of the controversial crops in the UK, but it has emerged that all five authors have a vested interest in promoting GM crops and food - and some are part-funded by the industry.
Comet 2

New Comet: C/2014 E2 (JACQUES)

Cbet nr. 3828, issued on 2014, March 14, announces the discovery of a comet on CCD images taken by C. Jacques, E. Pimentel and J. Barros using a 0.45-m f/2.9 reflector at the SONEAR Observatory near Oliveira, Brazil. The new comet has been designated C/2014 E2 (JACQUES).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 19 unfiltered exposures, 30-sec each, obtained remotely from MPC code Q62 (iTelescope, Siding Spring) on 2014, March 13.6 through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet: very bright coma nearly 2 arcmin in diameter elongated in PA 10.

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version).
C/2014 E2 (Jacques)
© Remanzacco Observatory
M.P.E.C. 2014-E84 assigns the following very preliminary parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2014 E2: 2014 June 29.52; e= 1.0; Peri. = 349.10; q = 0.60; Incl.= 157.19

Big Congrats to our friend Cristovao Jacques and all the SONEAR team for the discovery of their second comet! Click here to find more info about their first comet.