Tag Archives: aliens

The Apocalypticon ~ Doomsday clock, sensorium, tech, Earth, aliens,


It’s two minutes to midnight. And that’s really bad news if you’re a fan of planet Earth. The so-called Doomsday Clock, a symbol of how close the world is to total annihilation, has been moved 30 seconds closer to midnight.
The last time it was at two minutes to midnight was when the United States and the Soviet Union both conducted hydrogen bomb tests way back in 1953. [Can’t think why …. sh, don’t say ‘Trump’, Damn, it!]
Speaking of, then, why aren’t there more smart Americans? Americans are wondering, having just, presumably, caught up with the rest of the world. To emphasise the point, perhaps, the US has dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. The Governor of Hawaii didn’t correct that false missile alert sooner because … he didn’t know his Twitter password.
President Trump took to Twitter [its brevity matches his attention span] to announce he has signed a six-year renewal of a powerful government surveillance tool. Worried? Of course not. The US National Security Agency maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement. Earlier this month, the agency made a discreet change: it removed ‘honesty’ as its top priority. [That, combined with the current President, is the slippery slope that leads to Fascism, folks.]

How’re your sensors? Watch out for transduction attacks, which spoof data by exploiting the physics of sensors. Seriously, it’s a thing. Or might be soon, anyway.
While we’re talking about tech, YouTube was recently caught displaying ads that covertly leach off visitors’ CPUs and electricity to generate digital currency on behalf of anonymous attackers.
Using machine learning and AI to swap celebrities’ faces onto porn performers’, resulting in fake celebrity porn seamless enough to be mistaken for the real thing. Early victims include Daisy Ridley, Gal Gadot, Scarlett Johansson and Taylor Swift. [So can they swap Keannu Reeves’ face with that of an actor?]
Facebook said it could offer no assurance that social media was on balance good for democracy. [And we can all remember when it was good for democracy? But hey, it still makes a sh_t-ton of money, so it doesn’t matter.]

Breaking up is hard to do — If you want to get an idea of how quickly sentiment has shifted against US tech giants, check out NYU professor Scott Galloway: “After spending the majority of the last two years of my life really trying to understand them and the relationship of the ecosystem, I’ve become 100% convinced that it’s time to break these companies up.” It’s an audacious claim from anyone, even more startling coming from someone who has been such a close and bullish observer of these tech giants. Yet for Galloway, it is clear that the four companies have simply become too big, and too powerful. [The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse indeed.]
And Kim Dotcom, the founder of file-sharing site Megaupload, is suing the New Zealand government for billions of dollars in damages over his arrest in 2012. The internet entrepreneur is fighting extradition to the US to stand trial for copyright infringement and fraud. Dotcom says an invalid arrest warrant negated all charges against him. [John Key, you’re the one who should be fronting for this.]

(Image from Which)

Life on Earth and all that — Yes we could cool the Earth artificially, but we really really shouldn’t. When we see a large cat capturing its prey on the African savannah, we’re literally watching millions of years of evolution in action. This could disappear almost overnight in the ‘cooling the Earth artificially’ scenario. But Australian birds of prey have been spreading bush fires. Seems crazy, but apparently not.
In New Zealand, ‘gene drive’ may be used to wipe out imported predators[Surely, that means people?] But genetically-targeted poison might be the easier option.
Plastic is still a huge problem, but we don’t seem to be taking it seriously yet. A new study based on four years of diving on 159 reefs in the Pacific shows that reefs in four countries (Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar) are heavily contaminated with plastic. It clings to the coral, especially branching coral. And where it clings, it sickens or kills.

But hey, people don’t just ignore the Earth’s feelings — Remember those World War II shipwrecks that mysteriously vanished from the bottom of the Java Sea? When they were found to be missing in 2016, it was heavily suspected that illegal salvagers exploded the ships and then looted them for metal. According to new reports, those metal scavengers also brought up substantial remains of Dutch and British sailors – and then unceremoniously dumped them into mass graves.

I found an alien! (Is this the right number?) Faced with some six-eyed slime-being rooting through your trash, or a spacecraft idling above your backyard, who exactly would you think to call? And what would whoever you called do, when you called them?

Finally, some good news — Scientists have been investigating the impact of violent video games on behavior for more than two decades, and the results are still being debated. In a 2015 resolution on games, the American Psychological Association reported that multiple studies found a link between violent game exposure and aggressive behavior, though critics at the time questioned the findings. Now, a new study published by researchers at the University of York in the journal Computers in Human Behavior further challenges the connection.
{Hoorah! Once more into the breech, then …]

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Futurology ~ space, aliens and all, molecule transistor, human-like robot, stiff cheese, gloop-power, mountain warming, global warming, dining air-con


Giddy! R U D 2?
Giddy! R U D 2?

In a system like ours, far, far away … An international team of astronomers has detected a planet very similar to Jupiter orbiting at the same distance from a Sun-like star. And because the age and chemical composition of this system is similar to our own, it likely features an inner collection of rocky planets. Call it solar system 2.0.
~ Greetings x8.

Why aliens love the number 8 — When aliens finally come, the mathematicians are going to be the ones to make successful first contact because it’s far easier to convey numbers without common language.
~ That’s me off the comms team, then. 

Molecule anda few atoms make a transistor — An international team, including researchers from the US Naval Research Laboratory and the NTT Basic Research Laboratories in Japan, built a tiny little device using a scanning tunnelling microscope. They used that to position an organic molecule on a piece of indium arsenide, then placed charged metal atoms around it.
~ This is boom times for international teams. 

Robot did something human-like — An experiment shows how artificial self-awareness can be programmed into our technology. Roboticists at the Ransselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Lab adapted three old NOA robots to see if they could pass a simple reasoning test indicative of self-awareness.
~ Don’t they build cars already? Humans can do that too, apparently. 

New super-stiff material is like Swiss cheese — An example of a new kind of super-strong material sandwiches a metal foam between two layers of carbon. The material was created by researchers from the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. First, the foam is made by encapsulating hollow alumina particles within aluminium alloy. Then, sheets of carbon fabric face-sheets are applied. The result is light, stiff and able to absorb incredible amounts of energy. Its creators reckon it will be used in automobiles, trains and ships.
~ And tanks, naturally. 

Japanese houses use heat from inside the mountain — A cosy, seven-unit residential complex is nestled at (and into) the foot of Mineyama Mountain in Takamatsu, Kagawa prefecture, in southern Japan. The great thing about sticking buildings directly into mountains is that internal temperatures are controlled geothermally, since the building is almost completely surrounded by earth.
~ A grounded approach. 

2014 was warm — A lengthy report compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration using work from hundreds of scientists across 58 countries has found that 2014 was the hottest year on record.
~ And no doubt the authors will be decried as weirdos with some kind of agenda.

This century will run on gloop — As we march deeper into the twenty-first century, we could have a lucrative new fuel on our hands. It’s blue-green and sometimes a little smelly. It’s found in wastewater, but it’s capable of powering jets. It’s microalgae. Though it looks like green scum or strands of hair floating on the water, microalgae is actually made up of microscopic, single-celled organisms capable of photosynthesis, like plants. It slurps in sunlight, and converts it to energy.

No more flu shots, just patches — The worst part about getting vaccinated is the shot. It’s painful and annoying. But now a group of researchers in Japan has tested a new ‘dissolving needle’ that is basically a painless patch that you stick to your arm. And it works.
~ I still shudder at the thought of metal going into flesh.

Table works as passive air-con — An unorthodox alternative to humming, power-sucking air-con is a giant heatsink dining table that promises to cool a room to a pleasant 22C. It’s a thermal sponge: the ZEF table works not unlike the ridged heatsink you’ll find perched atop a processor inside a computer. On the surface is a stylish solid oak panel, but beneath that is a folded sheet of anodised aluminium with tiny wax balls filling the gaps in-between.
~ Eat cool.