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Tue, 25 Apr 2017
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Radar

Noise-damping coating to make Russian submarines indistinguishable from whales

© Yuri Maltsev / Reuters
Russian submarines are to be layered with specialized 'masked' coatings, rendering it indistinguishable from whales and orcas.

Arms maker Tecmash, which is part of Rostec Corporation, said it's going to be busy producing the state-of-the-art submarine rubber coating for the next five years in accordance with the state order.

"We've launched new high-tech lines for manufacturing special rubber plates in September 2016. Today we already have an order for its production for the next five years. The main feature of this coating lies in its high noise-damping ability," Sergey Rusakov, Tecmash CEO, said as cited by the company's press service.

Telescope

NASA's Hubble sees intense auroras on Uranus

© NASA, ESA, and L. Lamy (Observatory of Paris, CNRS, CNES)
These composite images show Uranian auroras, which scientists caught glimpses of through the Hubble in 2011. In the left image, you can clearly see how the aurora stands high above the planet’s denser atmosphere. These photos combine Hubble pictures made in UV and visible light by Hubble with photos of Uranus’ disk from the Voyager 2 and a third image of the rings from the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Chile. The auroras are located close to the planet’s north magnetic pole, making these northern lights.
Earth doesn't have a corner on auroras. Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune have their own distinctive versions. Jupiter's are massive and powerful; Martian auroras patchy and weak.

Auroras are caused by streams of charged particles like electrons that originate with solar winds and in the case of Jupiter, volcanic gases spewed by the moon Io. Whether solar particles or volcanic sulfur, the material gets caught in powerful magnetic fields surrounding a planet and channeled into the upper atmosphere. There, the particles interact with atmospheric gases such as oxygen or nitrogen and spectacular bursts of light result. With Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus excited hydrogen is responsible for the show.

Auroras on Earth, Jupiter and Saturn have been well-studied but not so on the ice-giant planet Uranus. In 2011, the Hubble Space Telescope took the first-ever image of the auroras on Uranus. Then in 2012 and 2014 a team from the Paris Observatory took a second look at the auroras in ultraviolet light using the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) installed on Hubble.

Better Earth

Shining Sea: 75% of Ocean's animals glow

© Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock
The sea is full of bio-luminescent creatures, like this moon jellyfish.
The ocean is a dark, dark place. Below about 656 feet (200 meters), light doesn't penetrate. Considering that the average depth of the ocean is around 14,000 feet (4,267 m), that leaves a lot of room for inky blackness.

Marine life has figured out a way to cope. New research finds that a full three-quarters of sea animals make their own light.

The study, published April 4 in the journal Scientific Reports, is the first to really quantify animal bioluminescence in the ocean. It turns out that the ability to glow isn't rare at all.

"I'm not sure people realize how common bioluminescence is," study researcher Séverine Martini, a postdoctoral researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), said in a statement. "It's not just a few deep-sea fishes, like the angler fish. It's jellies, worms, squids ... all sorts of things." [Gallery: Images of Glowing Aquatic Life]

Blue Planet

Signs of life possibly discovered at deepest point on Earth

© Earth & Universe HD / YouTube
Scientists have unearthed rock fragments containing organic matter six miles below the Mariana trench, presenting the possibility that this could be the deepest microbial life ever found on Earth.

The fragments were brought to the sea floor by massive mud volcanoes near the Mariana trench - the deepest place on the planet. If scientists confirm evidence of microbial life in the material it will triple the previous estimated depth limit for life within the Earth's mantle.

A team of scientists lead by Oliver Plümper, a researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. During an analysis of the mineral-rich mud, the team did not find intact microbes but did observe traces of organic material.

Hydrocarbons, lipids, and amino acids were found in 46 rock samples drilled from the mud volcano chemicals associated with bacterial waste products, reported Science Alert.

"This is another hint at a great, deep biosphere on our planet," Plumper told National Geographic. "It could be huge or very small, but there is definitely something going on that we don't understand yet."

Cell Phone

Study shows smartphone fingerprint sensors can be hacked using fake fingerprints

Fingerprint sensors have turned modern smartphones into miracles of convenience. A touch of a finger unlocks the phone — no password required. With services like Apple Pay or Android Pay, a fingerprint can buy a bag of groceries, a new laptop or even a $1 million vintage Aston Martin. And pressing a finger inside a banking app allows the user to pay bills or transfer thousands of dollars.

While such wizardry is convenient, it has also left a gaping security hole.

New findings published Monday by researchers at New York University and Michigan State University suggest that smartphones can easily be fooled by fake fingerprints digitally composed of many common features found in human prints. In computer simulations, the researchers from the universities were able to develop a set of artificial "MasterPrints" that could match real prints similar to those used by phones as much as 65 percent of the time.

Comment: For more information the reader might find these articles interesting:


Camcorder

Big Brobot: US Navy funding development of robotic surveillance system, spy in incredible detail

© CFACMVSP
Research chiefs want to harness the power of machines to build a snooping network that's a 'single entity with many eyes'

The U.S. Navy is funding the development of a new super-surveillance system which uses robots to snoop on humans in terrifying detail. It has handed a $1.7 million (£1.4 million) grant to researchers from Cornell University, who are working to build a system which can "conduct surveillance as a single entity with many eyes".

The cash was handed over by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which is dedicated to developing new forms of military and civilian technology.

Last year, we exclusively revealed that the same department discussed plans to fit humans with microchips and track their every move. Now it wants to develop a system which lets teams of surveillance robots gather and share intelligence "at the speed of light". "Once you have robots that cooperate you can do all sorts of things," said Kilian Weinberger, associate professor of computer science.

Comment: Bye-bye privacy. Never alone, never again.


Seismograph

Earthquake seismic data comes to life in eerie 'songs'

© National Geographic
SeismoDome shows enable people to hear the previously inaudible sounds of earthquakes deep in the Earth—and that may lead to better safety

Is it possible to "hear" an earthquake? Not the rumbling of the ground that results, but the earthquake itself. Even if you could, what's the point of listening?

About a dozen years ago, geophysicist Ben Holtzman and musician/sound designer Jason Candler set out to answer these questions, with a side goal of sharing their passion for earthquakes with the public. From the fruits of their research, the SeismoDome show was born.

Holtzman and Candler co-produce the show—with Holtzman writing scientific content, creating sounds from seismic data, and working with collaborators to produce the visual elements, while Candler handles the sound engineering and design and helps with the writing and conception of the show.


Info

'Great Cold Spot' discovered in Jupiter's atmosphere

© Associated Press
The 'Great Dark Spot' could rival Jupiter's famed Red Spot as a distinctive feature.
A 'giant cold spot' stretching for thousands of kilometres has been discovered on the surface of Jupiter by scientists.

Researchers believe the stain is a permanent raging storm spreading up to 24,000 km across and driven by magnetic energy.

It is one of the most dramatic discoveries on Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, since the its famous Great Red Spot was identified in 1830.

The team from the University of Leicester said the dark spot could shed new light on the planet's weather system.

Dr Tom Stallard, the study's lead author, said the discovery is one of the first signs of a consistent weather feature in Jupiter's atmosphere.
The Great Cold Spot is much more volatile than the slowly changing Great Red Spot, changing dramatically in shape and size over only a few days and weeks, but it has re-appeared, for as long as we have data to search for it, for over 15 years.

That suggests that it continually reforms itself, and as a result it might be as old as the aurorae that form it - perhaps many thousands of years old.
- Dr Tom Stallard

Attention

Hackers can steal PINs and passwords by tracking the motion of your phone

Hackers are able to decipher PINs and passwords just from the way we tilt our phone when we are typing in the information.

Cyber experts at Newcastle University, UK, have revealed the ease with which malicious websites, as well as installed apps, can spy on us using just the information from the motion sensors in our mobile phones.

Analysing the movement of the device as we type in information, they have shown it is possible to crack four-digit PINs with a 70% accuracy on the first guess - 100% by the fifth guess - using just the data collected via the phone's numerous internal sensors.

Despite the threat, the research shows that people are unaware of the risks and most of us have little idea what the majority of the twenty five different sensors available on current smart phones do.

And while all the major players in the industry are aware of the problem, no-one has yet been able to find a solution.

Publishing their findings today in the International Journal of Information Security, the team are now looking at the additional risks posed by personal fitness trackers which are linked up to our online profiles and can potentially be used to interpret the slightest wrist movements as well as general physical activities such as sitting, walking, running, and different forms of commute.

Calculator

Banks scramble to fix old systems as COBOL language 'cowboys' ride into sunset

© IBM
Banks scramble to fix old systems as IT 'cowboys' ride into sunset IBM engineers work with a System 360 mainframe computer using business programs written in an early version of the COBOL language in this undated handout photo.
Bill Hinshaw is not a typical 75-year-old. He divides his time between his family - he has 32 grandchildren and great-grandchildren - and helping U.S. companies avert crippling computer meltdowns.

Hinshaw, who got into programming in the 1960s when computers took up entire rooms and programmers used punch cards, is a member of a dwindling community of IT veterans who specialise in a vintage programming language called COBOL.

The Common Business-Oriented Language was developed nearly 60 years ago and has been gradually replaced by newer, more versatile languages such as Java, C and Python. Although few universities still offer COBOL courses, the language remains crucial to businesses and institutions around the world.

In the United States, the financial sector, major corporations and parts of the federal government still largely rely on it because it underpins powerful systems that were built in the 70s or 80s and never fully replaced.