Science & Technology

Cell Phone

Apple's newest patent: iPhones trackable even when turned off

© Reuters/Adrees Latif
Your next iPhone may be trackable even when it's turned off, if Apple's newest patent is anything to go by. The Cupertino tech giant has just patented a technology that would "periodically exit an unpowered state and transmit location data."

The patent documentation details a "wireless data processing device" that would include "a timer to periodically power up the wireless device or portion thereof in response to reaching a predetermined time" and "a location services module determining a current location of the wireless data processing device using one or more specified location determination techniques."

What this means in practice is that the device would "fake" being turned off if it receives the wrong security code a certain number of times, and would periodically transmit location data. While this should help track down stolen devices, the patent raises privacy concerns.


Two tales of time: Carlo Rovelli vs. Lee Smolin

New Direction in the Foundations of Physics 2014

Following the New Directions in the Foundations of Physics conference, two interesting consecutive talks made the case for opposite points of view and it is best to present them at the same time. On one hand, Carlo Rovelli made the case for the emergence of space and time and talked about the possibility of having fundamental physical theories without talking about space and time at all. On the other hand Lee Smolin made the point for the reality of time and the possibility of change for the physical laws. Because the problem of time is very hard and there is no universally accepted solution, this debate cannot be settled for now.

Let's start with Carlo Rovelli's position. From general quantum gravity considerations, it is not that strange to consider the possibility that space-time is not continuous. But how can you recover time? There are intuitive arguments and mathematical rigorous arguments available.

Comment: The only reason we discuss time at all is because we experience it. As philosophers like Alfred Whitehead and David Ray Griffin suggest, the experience of time is inextricably linked to consciousness, perhaps irreducibly so. Perhaps the nature of time has more to do with the nature of consciousness than many physicists presume, or account for in their models?


Corrupt science: Panic over peer-reviewed climate paper's evaluation of global warming models

© W. M. Briggs
"Chief, we got a guy here who claims climate models are no good. How do you want me to discredit him?"
You've heard it said that the science is settled. And it's true. It is settled - settled beyond the possibility of any dispute. A fundamental, inescapable, indubitable bedrock scientific principle is that lousy theories make lousy predictions.

Climate forecasts are lousy, therefore it is settled science that they must necessarily be based on lousy theories. And lousy theories should not be trusted.

Put it this way. Climate forecasts, of the type relied upon by the IPCC and over governmental entities, stink. They are no good. They have been promising ever increasing temperatures for decades, but the observations have been more or less steady. This must mean - it is inescapable - that something is very badly wrong with the theory behind the models. What?

Comment: When even notorious tabloids like Nature magazine participate in character assassination instead of discussing the science of a published work, it is clear that the official scientific establishment is not based upon scientific and ethical principles. In this instance the UN/IPCC (and intelligence-related organizations like Greenpeace) are desperate to cover up of the observed fact that their computer models on climate change are unreliable.


Skyfall: Does the Russian meteor explosion portend more disasters?

In mid-February 2013, a meteor fireball streaked across the sky and slammed into the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The shock-wave resulting from the overhead explosion equaled the energy released from about 20 nuclear bombs. It damaged nearly every building in the city and injured thousands of people. RT went to central Russia to talk with witnesses and scientists, and to find out whether the Russia should get ready for more such phenomena.

Comment: Etymology of 'disaster':
1590s, from M.Fr. désastre (1560s), from It. disastro "ill-starred," from dis-, here merely pejorative (see dis-) + astro "star, planet," from L. astrum, from Gk. astron (see star). The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet.
...and before astronomy was 'adjusted' to become the science of the study of planets, it was concerned with the study of comets and when they would return...


CT scan reveals 1,000 year old mummy inside statue of Buddha

© Screenshot from video
Dutch scientists have scanned a statue of Buddha, dating back to the 11th or 12th century, to reveal a mummy inside. They've also taken samples of the mummy's insides and discovered scraps of paper with ancient Chinese characters on them.

A human skeleton glows through the statue's silhouette on the computed tomography scan, done in the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Comment: Pretty amazing find.


Rosetta dips low into comet 67P's alien world

On Saturday, Valentine's Day, the Rosetta spacecraft dipped down low over the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. How low? At one point, it was less than 9 kilometers from the surface!

Given that the comet is 4.3 kilometers long and shaped like a rubber ducky that's been sitting in the Sun for 4 billion years, this was a pretty low and gutsy pass. It was done to get extremely high-resolution pictures of the comet, of course, but the spacecraft will also be making a series of more distant passes to sample the environment around the comet at different locations.

Around the time of closest approach, the lower resolution NAVCAM instrument was used to snap photos of the comet. One of them showed the very, very weird Imhotep region of the comet, and, well, see for yourself:
© ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
Fantastic high-resolution image of the surface of the comet seen from less than 9 kilometers away.

Comment: One simple truth will explain all the strangeness related to comets. NASA, mainstream scientists and the MSM promote comets as dirty snowballs ignoring all the evidence to the contrary:

Electric Comet Theory: The Enduring - Yet Downplayed - Mysteries of Comets

The True Origins of Electric Comet Theory

Electric Universe: Where Do Asteroids Come From?

Eye 1

'Smart cars' are harvesting tons of information about consumers' driving habits

© hongklat
Nothing's driving the acquisition of data faster than, well, driving. As new technology makes its way into vehicles, so does the apparent desire to harvest information about the vehicle itself. Between the outside harvesting (automatic plate readers that gather plate/location data, as well as photos of vehicle occupants) and the "inside" transmissions, there's very little any number of unknown entities won't know about a person's driving habits. And that's not even including what's transmitted and collected by drivers' omnipresent smartphones and their installed apps.

Sen. Edward Markey has expressed some alarm at the amount of data being collected (and distributed) by vehicle manufacturers. His office has produced a report [pdf link] showing that while many manufacturers are involved in collecting data, very few of them seem concerned about the attendant risks. Even worse, many respondents to his office's questionnaire seem to show very little understanding of the underlying technology and most have not made an effort to fully inform customers as to how much is being collected or how it's being distributed.

Drivers of today's connected cars aren't going to like the report's findings.
Nearly 100% of cars on the market include wireless technologies that could pose vulnerabilities to hacking or privacy intrusions.

Comment: Smart cars. Smart phones. Smart meters. Smart homes. Too bad we're so dumb about our privacy.


SOTT Exclusive: Solar System 'grounding': Transformer explosions and electrical anomalies

Images of light beam over Escanaba Power Plant, Michigan on February 2nd 2015
On February 2nd, an explosion at an substation in Michigan caused widespread power outages across the city. A lot of attention was given to the subsequent light beam. Although quite spectacular to observe, such light pillars or crepuscular rays have a rational explanation. Yet could there be something more to the story?

In Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, Pierre Lescaudron presents the possibility that certain types of buildings or factories can act as attractors for dramatic electrical discharges, possibly 'sparked' - via electrical discharges 'at a distance' - by incoming comet fragments or meteors, or unusual atmospheric conditions producing strong lightning strikes and even 'invisible' discharges. If you're following, you'll know just how common meteor fireballs are these days, and how strong the likelihood is that they are starting to cause serious damage... 'Was the West Texas explosion a meteorite impact?'

Perhaps such 'sparking' is also responsible for some other recent infrastructure explosions, which seem to be occurring with increased regularity, such as the 200 manhole explosions in New York, oil refinery explosions in California and Ohio, a fuel truck explosion in Mexico, the West Virginia pipeline explosion and household gas explosions. Probably most of these incidents, but not necessarily all, have a conventional cause of ignition.

Cell Phone

Hackers can track phone users' location by monitoring power supply usage

© Reuters / Eduardo Muno
Researchers have found out it is possible to track someone's mobile phone by looking at how much battery has been used. The data does not need the users' permission to be shared, while it can help track a phone with up to 90 percent accuracy.

The findings were carried out by a group of researchers at Stanford University and the Israeli defense company Rafael. They created a technique, which they have named PowerSpy and can gather information concerning the location of Android phones. It does this by simply tracking how much power has been used over a certain time.

How much power is used depends on a number of factors. For example, the further away the phone is from a transmitter, the more power is needed to get a signal. Physical objects such as mountains or buildings also have an impact on the amount of battery needed as these obstacles can block the phone's signal, meaning there are temporary 'power drains' on the devices.

"A sufficiently long power measurement (several minutes) enables the learning algorithm to 'see' through the noise," the researchers said, which was reported by Wired. "We show that measuring the phone's aggregate power consumption over time completely reveals the phone's location and movement."

Comment: There just seems to be no way around it; use a cell phone and know that you can be tracked.

Comet 2

Stray 'icy' comet comes out of nowhere to surive close brush with Sun

Astronomers are puzzling over a comet that passed "insanely close" to the sun on Feb. 19th. At first glance it appeared to be a small object, not much bigger than a comet-boulder, doomed to disintegrate in the fierce heat. Instead, it has emerged apparently intact and is actually brightening as it recedes from the sun.

Unofficially, the icy visitor is being called "SOHO-2875," because it is SOHO's 2,875th comet discovery.

Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab explains what's odd about SOHO-2875: "It's a 'non-group comet,' meaning that it does not appear to be related to any other comet or comet family that we have on record."

Comment: How many more times do they have to witness this before they realize the electric nature of ROCKY comets???

Comets are just electrically-glowing asteroids!!!

In addition, a cometary body's size is a relatively insignificant factor in determining how brightly it will shine, and when and where it will shine.