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Wed, 22 Aug 2018
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'Inverse spectre attack': The newest security flaw with Intel processors

microchip carta
A new security flaw has been detected by German researchers in relation to Intel. This comes on the back of earlier concerns from January and March 2018. The flaw means that passwords can potentially be stolen.

For several decades, malicious software has been able to abstract data from the inner workings of operating systems and hardware. Although significant research resources have been spent on assuring software security, vulnerabilities remain.

Earlier in 2018, research indicated a security flaw with Intel processors. Since the resolution of this, technologist working at the CISPA Helmholtz Centre (Saarbrücken, Germany) have identified a new security gap. As EE News reports, researchers described the new flaw enables an "inverse spectre attack".

With the earlier issues, in January 2918, computer firms needed to fix the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that, under a given set of conditions, would allow attackers to steal data. Later on, a new concern was raised in relation to a new bug called Spectre Next Generation. Spectre NG is similar to the previously patched flaws, allowing third parties to extract sensitive information such as passwords stored in memory.

Comment: See also:


Study on spectacular space storms shows geomagnetic threat occurs before auroras

2015 St. Patrick's Day aurora
© NASA/Sebastian Saarloos
The 2015 St. Patrick's Day aurora seen in Donnelly Creek, Alaska.
On St. Patrick's Day in 2015, people living as far south as Tennessee spotted brilliant green and red auroras glowing in the night skies. The northern lights-which are typically visible only at high latitudes-were caused by a space storm so intense it disrupted electrical fields on Earth's surface. Now, a new study helps to explain how space storms produce powerful, ground-level electric currents that disrupt power grids, gas and oil pipelines, and communication systems.

Scientists have long known that these currents, called geomagnetically induced currents (GICs), result from interactions between the fluctuating solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere, a region around the upper atmosphere dominated by the magnetic field that buffers our planet from space radiation. The ionosphere, a pulsating layer of charged particles that produces auroras, also plays an important role. Precisely how the storms produce the on-the-ground electric currents has been difficult to pinpoint, however.

Comment: With the sun reaching its lowest activity in years and consequently our planets protective magnetosphere weakening, one can expect our vulnerability to electromagnetic storms will be heightened. The strange sky phenomena being documented with increasing regularity demonstrates how dramatically our atmosphere is changing:


HSBC warns governments and corporations are not prepared for climate change

vanishing road
© Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Road to the future?
One of the world's largest banks, HSBC, has highlighted research indicating that Earth is running out of resources to sustain life and that governments and corporations are failing to prepare for the effects of climate change.

The world has spent its entire budget of natural resources for the year after crossing the threshold on August 1. The date, dubbed 'Earth Overshoot Day', marks the earliest point the planet hit its annual resource limit.

HSBC highlighted the issue using research from the Global Footprint Network (GFN), an independent think tank that promotes conservation and sustainability. The bank blamed businesses and governments for not adequately preparing for climate change, and not using natural resources efficiently.

The bank noted extreme weather events, such as rising temperatures across Europe and wildfires in California, Greece and Scandinavia in its remarks about the research. "As scientists work on attribution analysis for specific events - the general consensus is that climate change is making these events more likely to occur and more severe," HSBC said, according to Business Insider.

Comment: IPCC's faulty predictions of rising temperatures are based on a faulty premise and therefore the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures' financial risk assessments will be faulty as well. That said, and given we are entering a massive cold spell, some of the above statistics have relativistic value and implication. We shouldn't doubt that human consumption is outstripping the Earth's capacity to provide, compounded by scant evidence of compensating preparation for a future lack of resources in terms of an ice age.


When and how did the Aboriginal people first arrive in Australia?

Kata Tjuta Australia
© Alan Cooper
Humans would have first seen Kata Tjuta very shortly after arriving in Australia 50,000 years ago.
Many Aboriginal Australians would say with conviction that they have always been here. Their ancestors and traditional learnings tell them of this history, and their precise place within it.

Our review of the scientific evidence, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that for all practical purposes, this is indeed the case.

Their ancestors arrived shortly after 50,000 years ago - effectively forever, given that modern human populations only moved out of Africa 50,000-55,000 years ago.


"Extraordinary" electromagnetic waves spotted coming out of Jupiter's moon Ganymede

© By NASA/JPL/DLR /Wikimedia
Enhanced-color Galileo spacecraft image of Ganymede's trailing hemisphere.[48] The crater Tashmetum's prominent rays are at lower right, and the large ejecta field of Hershef at upper right. Part of dark Nicholson Regio is at lower left, bounded on its upper right by Harpagia Sulcus.
Electromagnetic activity a million times more intense than on Earth

Scientists have spotted "extraordinary", intense waves coming out of Jupiter's moon Ganymede.

The "chorus waves" are a million times more powerful than they are on Earth, and could have disastrous effects on spacecraft.

On Earth, listening to electromagnetic waves around the planet is something like the soft chirping of birds in the morning, which gives chorus waves their name. They can cause spectacular polar lights but can also create "killer" electrons that can damage spacecraft.

Comment: More information on the magnetic environment surrounding Jupiter and its moons.


Russia conducting trials on 'perpetual' nuclear sub reactor

russian submarine
© Sarah Christine Noergaard / AFP
A Rosatom subsidiary said it has developed and successfully tested a "perpetual reactor" capable of powering Russia's newest nuclear submarines during their entire lifetime - without having to be refueled.

The new nuclear reactor will be able to run during the whole lifecycle of a next-generation submarine, Afrikantov Design Bureau, a Rosatom subsidiary, said in an annual report. It said the company upgraded and tested newer design of the so-called 'active zone' - a heart of every reactor - allowing it to generate more power than its predecessors.

While being enormously efficient in terms of generated energy, a submarine-mounted nuclear reactor has to be refueled after several years in service. Normally, refueling means a lengthy and costly procedure which involves replacement of exhausted nuclear fuel as well as fix-ups, renovation and sometimes an upgrade of the entire vessel.

Now, with the new invention coming into use, Russian submarines will no longer need to undergo refueling and a reactor overhaul. Admiral Vladimir Popov, previously a Northern Fleet commander, suggested the "perpetual reactor" will see a rapid increase in the Navy's capabilities, according to RIA Novosti.

Comment: This is what happens when you have an industry concerned with results, not profits. The Russian military creates technology to work. The U.S. military contractors, by contrast, make sure to use the most expensive parts, from various manufacturers (even if they're not totally compatible), in order to jack up costs to the limit, so their no-bid contracts from the government will net them huge profits. (They also just bribe the government to get such contracts.) And they can't even produce decent tech as a result. Just like at the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the F-35...

Christmas Tree

The mysterious relationship between the boab tree of Australia and the Baobab tree of Africa

boab tree
© Kevin Smith
Boabs are a striking tree that grow in many parts of the Kimberley and a small area of the Top End.
They are striking, fat-trunked trees unique to parts of the Kimberley and a small section of the Top End, but two scientists studying how they came from Africa or Madagascar have widely different explanations.

If you've ever seen a boab tree you don't need to be a botanist to realise something strange is going on.

Their trunks are swollen and wrinkly - as if someone has planted an elephant which has sprouted into a tree.

They are so unlike any other Australian tree that you can't help but wonder where they came from.

But if you see an African or Madagascan baobab then it's immediately apparent there has got to be a connection there.

Comment: Clues to the mystery will lie in the recent DNA discoveries of human evolution which discredit the Out Of Africa hypothesis, as well as in the documented, dramatic sea level rise and the epic climate shifts our planet underwent many thousands of years ago:


Unknown mineral discovered inside meteorite

© Public Domain
A new mineral has been discovered in a meteorite in Eastern Russia, and scientists are sure that it is never been found on our planet before.

Named "uakitite" after the Uakit region of Siberia where the meteorite was discovered by gold hunters two years ago, the mineral was found by a group that mistook the yellow rock for a rare metal. According to researchers, 98 percent of the Uakit meteorite is an iron alloy called kamacite, which so far has only been found in other meteorites. The other two percent is comprised of minerals that form in space. When the scientists looked at the rock under a microscope, they found tiny uakitite grains 25 times smaller than a grain of rice.

"Unfortunately, we failed to obtain all physical and optical properties of uakitite because of the very small sizes of the grains," wrote lead researcher and geologist at the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Victor Sharygin, in an article [PDF] presented during the Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society in Moscow.


Russia's Su-35 is the plane the US Air Force should fear

The Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E is the top Russian air-superiority fighter in service today, and represents the pinnacle of fourth-generation jet fighter design. It will remain so until Russia succeeds in bringing its fifth-generation PAK-FA stealth fighter into production.

SU-35S Russian plane
© Creative Commons
Distinguished by its unrivaled maneuverability, most of the Su-35's electronics and weapons capabilities have caught up with those of Western equivalents, like the F-15 Eagle. But while it may be a deadly adversary to F-15s, Eurofighters and Rafales, the big question mark remains how effectively it can contend with fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the F-22 and F-35.

Comment: See also:

Microscope 2

Pigs lungs grown in lab using own cells and successfully re-transplanted


In the U.S. alone, more than 1,400 people are waiting for a lung transplant - there simply aren't enough donor lungs available to meet the need. Soon, though, patients might have a new source for brand new lungs: the lab.

On Wednesday, researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch published a new paper in the journal Science Translational Medicine. In it, they detail their latest milestone along the path to creating lab-grown lungs for humans: they can now successfully transplant these bioengineered lungs into pigs.


To grow the lungs, the researchers first created four lung scaffolds. To do this, they removed all of the cells and blood from pig lungs using a mix of sugar and detergent. This left them with just the proteins of each lung - essentially, its skeleton.

Comment: This is certainly more promising than projects like the gene tampering project CRISPR which has been plagued with problems, and for the most extreme cases, technology like this may prove to be life saving. But for the majority of cases it could be that alternatives like stem cell therapy would be just as effective: