Science & Technology


U.S. plans to develop "psychic supercomputer" to predict attacks

© Flickr/Carolyn Speranza
As the US government begins looking for creative solutions to its cybersecurity woes, it's focusing on "psychic computers," machines capable of predicting attacks long before they happen. But an army of omniscient supercomputers may raise new concerns for privacy advocates.

Every morning, hundreds of meteorologists wake, fill their coffee mugs, and take one bold look at the sky. What will tomorrow bring? Rain, sun, snow? Hurricane? Polar vortex? These are the predictions that meteorologists make every day.

Now imagine using the same idea to foresee the next cyberattack.

The US government is hoping to develop a computer which would do just that. The intelligence community is opening a contest to software engineers to see who can develop the technology.

Known as the Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment, or CAUSE, the project was conceived by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) as a four-year race to develop the software. Whoever does so first will receive an as-yet undetermined financial prize.

Comment: This technology is a slippery slope. It may be originally used for cyberattacks, but it could applied in so many other ways that should give us all pause. There should be serious concerns for all if government implements a real life Minority Report

Comet 2

Newly discovered comet whizzed by the sun, surprising astronomers

NASA has captured the unexpected trajectory of a comet in a 15-second space video as it whizzed around the sun within 2.2 million miles (3.54 million km) of its blazing hot surface.

Discovered by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), Comet 2,875 is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it is not part of any known family of comets. Most comets seen by SOHO belong to the Kreutz family - a single comet that breaks into smaller comets the closer they moved towards the sun. Secondly, most comets that come close to the sun, called sungrazers, do not survive as they are evaporated by the intense heat. The action of comet 2,875 was caught on February 18 - 21.
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

reporters receiving orders
© 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?

chelyabinsk fireball
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:
comet 67P surface
© 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

future car
© 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

light beam over Escanaba Power Plant

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.