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Sat, 03 Dec 2016
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Battery

5,000 years of battery life: Nuclear waste-formed radioactive diamonds provide long-lasting energy

© Martin Poole / Global Look Press
Scientists have discovered a way to convert nuclear waste into radioactive black diamond batteries which last more than 5,000 years.

Researchers at the University of Bristol have found a means of creating a battery capable of generating clean electricity for five millennia.

Scientists found that by heating graphite blocks - used to house uranium rods in nuclear reactors - much of the radioactive carbon is given off as a gas.

This can then be gathered and turned into radioactive diamonds using a high-temperature chemical reaction, in which carbon atoms are left on the surface in small, dark-colored diamond crystals.

Beaker

Doctors in UK will seek permission to create baby with three people's DNA, replacing mother's faulty mitochondria

© Ben Birchall/PA
MRT aims to overcome the problem by replacing the mother’s defective mitochondria with those from a healthy donor. Photograph
Specialists poised to offer mitochondrial replacement therapy if government's fertility regulator approves the treatment

Doctors will seek permission this month to create Britain's first baby from the DNA of three people if the government's fertility regulator approves the treatment for carefully chosen patients.

Specialists in Newcastle are ready to offer mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) to women who are in danger of passing on devastating and often fatal genetic disorders to their children. The conditions affect about one in 10,000 births.

A scientific review commissioned by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) concluded on Wednesday that the therapy should be approved for "cautious clinical use" when children are at risk of inheriting specific genetic diseases.

The HFEA will now consider the findings and invite clinics to apply for licences if it endorses the recommendations at a meeting on 15 December. Last year, parliament changed the law to allow MRT, but scientists continued with further experiments to assess the treatment's safety.

Fireball 2

Fireball alert! Eight NEO asteroids will approach Earth in December

There are currently eight known NEO Asteroids discovered that will pass within approximately 10LD or less (LD stands for "Lunar Distance"), in the month of December 2016. I expect that 10-35 NEOs or more, 10LD or less, will be discovered before month end.

Expect some spectacular bolides, fireballs, and meteors this month and especially large ones 3-5 days before and following the passing of the less than 10LD NEOs and fifteen small mountain-sized NEO asteroids, diameters ranging from 400m-2.0km, that will safely pass this month.
© NASA/JPL
Be ready for some bolide, fireball, and meteor activity Cameras Ready!

Tornado2

Study: Tornado outbreaks are increasing - but scientists don't understand why

© John Allen/Central Michigan University
A tornado near Elk Mountain, west of Laramie Wyoming on the 15th of June, 2015. The tornado passed over mostly rural areas of the county, lasting over 20 minutes.
Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms kill people and damage property every year. Estimated U.S. insured losses due to severe thunderstorms in the first half of 2016 were $8.5 billion. The largest U.S. impacts of tornadoes result from tornado outbreaks, sequences of tornadoes that occur in close succession. Last spring a research team led by Michael Tippett, associate professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia Engineering, published a study showing that the average number of tornadoes during outbreaks—large-scale weather events that can last one to three days and span huge regions—has risen since 1954. But they were not sure why.

In a new paper, published December 1 in Science via First Release, the researchers looked at increasing trends in the severity of tornado outbreaks where they measured severity by the number of tornadoes per outbreak. They found that these trends are increasing fastest for the most extreme outbreaks. While they saw changes in meteorological quantities that are consistent with these upward trends, the meteorological trends were not the ones expected under climate change.

"This study raises new questions about what climate change will do to severe thunderstorms and what is responsible for recent trends," says Tippett, who is also a member of the Data Science Institute and the Columbia Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate. "The fact that we don't see the presently understood meteorological signature of global warming in changing outbreak statistics leaves two possibilities: either the recent increases are not due to a warming climate, or a warming climate has implications for tornado activity that we don't understand. This is an unexpected finding."

Comment: The climate scientists have not considered the importance of atmospheric dust loading and the winning Electric Universe model in their research. Such information and much more, are explained in the book Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection by Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk.
The accumulation of cometary dust in the Earth's atmosphere plays an important role in the increase of tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes and their associated rainfalls, snowfalls and lightning. To understand this mechanism we must first take into account the electric nature of hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones, which are actually manifestations of the same electric phenomenon at different scales or levels of power.
Increasing cometary and volcanic dust loading of the atmosphere (one indicator is the intensification of noctilucent clouds we are witnessing) is accentuating electric charge build-up, whereby we can expect to observe more extreme weather and planetary upheaval as well as awesome light shows and other related mysterious phenomena.


MIB

How it takes just six seconds to hack a credit card

Working out the card number, expiry date and security code of any Visa credit or debit card can take as little as six seconds and uses nothing more than guesswork, new research has shown.

Research published in the academic journal IEEE Security & Privacy, shows how the so-called Distributed Guessing Attack is able to circumvent all the security features put in place to protect online payments from fraud.

Exposing the flaws in the VISA payment system, the team from Newcastle University, UK, found neither the network nor the banks were able to detect attackers making multiple, invalid attempts to get payment card data.

Comment: Guessing card data is one thing, and as demonstrated it's clearly possible to do quickly. But figuring out the full name and actual address associated with the card is far more difficult in many, if not most cases, impossible without direct information about a card holder.

This points out why all online merchants should be including address verification into their credit card processing backend systems - and incidentally address verification is a feature offered by nearly all of the most widely used payment gateway providers, however not all banks provide address verification for the cards they issue - in which case a merchant ought to simply deny the use of the card entirely if address verification fails or isn't available from the bank - all in an effort to protect their shoppers even if that denial is an inconvenience to the shoppers.


2 + 2 = 4

Superconducting bismuth is real, and it's forcing us to rethink the nature of superconductivity

© Alchemist-hp/Wikimedia
Bismuth
Bismuth is one of the weirdest-looking elements on the Periodic Table, but its internal properties just got even stranger. Scientists have discovered that at a fraction of a degree above absolute zero (-273.15°C), bismuth becomes a superconductor - a material that can conduct electricity without resistance.

According to the current theory of superconductivity, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because for 40 years now, scientists have assumed that superconducting materials must be abundant in free-flowing mobile electrons. But in bismuth, there's just one mobile electron for every 100,000 atoms.

Telescope

Contact lost with Russian 'Progress' spaceship carrying supplies to International Space Station

© roscosmos
The Russian space agency has reported disruption of the data signal with its Progress cargo spaceship, which was launched to deliver 2.6 tons of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

"After the launch of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle along with the Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft, telemetry connection was lost on the 383th second of flight," Roscosmos said in a statement.

Comment: There have been reports of an explosion in the skies over Tuva, Russia around the time the cargo ship vanished:



Moon

Brazil to launch its first nanosatellite to the Moon

© NASA
Brazil plans to launch a nanosatellite into Lunar orbit before 2020 to study the effects of the microgravity environment on different life forms. It will become the first Brazilian space probe to venture outside Earth's orbit.

The project, named Garatéa-L, is being developed by a team of University of São Paulo scientists with help from the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.

The nanosatellite will be launched by an Indian PSLV-C11 rocket, which is also slated to send an additional four such satellites to the Moon.

Fireball 3

The man in NASA who stands between Earth and asteroid Armageddon

© Michael Deforge
Lindley Johnson spent 23 years in the U.S. Air Force keeping his eyes above the skies. He helped identify and tackle a growing risk to human space activity—the sheer volume of stuff orbiting the planet—in addition to helping manage and monitor military assets in orbit. In 1982, the Air Force set up a space command to coordinate its activities, not the least of which was making sure the then-new Space Shuttle fleet wouldn't have a tragic encounter with spacefaring material.

In the early 1990s, Johnson's focus turned to natural threats to the planet from near-Earth asteroids, now a large and growing class of rocks that scientists track both for their potential impact risk and to study the solar system. About 1,500 new objects are discovered every year. Since retiring as a lieutenant colonel several years ago, he's become the founding head of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, overseeing a network of ground-based telescope surveys for new asteroids and working with other agencies to prepare for the unlikely event of a direct hit. His job title—no pressure—is Planetary Defense Officer.

A sign on the credenza in his office reads, "Every Day is Asteroid Day," he said.

Laptop

'Gooligan' malware breached security of 1M Google accounts; could compromise 74% of Android devices

© Dado Ruvic / Reuters
"Gooligan" malware has breached the security of 1 million Google accounts and could eventually compromise about 74 percent of Android devices, according to a cybersecurity firm. Gooligan has been found in at least 86 applications at third-party app stores.

Security firm Check Point Software Technologies said Wednesday that apps infected with the malware and installed on an Android device use exploits in Android versions 4 and 5 to access "full control of the device and can execute privileged commands remotely."

"After achieving root access, Gooligan downloads a new, malicious module from the [campaign's Command and Control] server and installs it on the infected device," Check Point wrote. "This module injects code into running Google Play or GMS [Google Mobile Services] to mimic user behavior so Gooligan can avoid detection, a technique first seen with the mobile malware HummingBad."