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Jul 26, 2021

‘Holy moly!’: Inside Texas’ fight against a ransomware hack

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, government, media & arts, mobile phones

DALLAS (AP) — It was the start of a steamy Friday two Augusts ago when Jason Whisler settled in for a working breakfast at the Coffee Ranch restaurant in the Texas Panhandle city of Borger. The most pressing agenda item for city officials that morning: planning for a country music concert and anniversary event.

Then Whisler’s phone rang. Borger’s computer system had been hacked.

Workers were frozen out of files. Printers spewed out demands for money. Over the next several days, residents couldn’t pay water bills, the government couldn’t process payroll, police officers couldn’t retrieve certain records. Across Texas, similar scenes played out in nearly two dozen communities hit by a cyberattack officials ultimately tied to a Russia-based criminal syndicate.

Jul 26, 2021

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope to Explore a Neighboring, Dusty Planetary System

Posted by in category: space

Researchers will use NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to study Beta Pictoris, an intriguing young planetary system that sports at least two planets, a jumble of smaller, rocky bodies, and a dusty disk. Their goals include gaining a better understanding of the structures and properties of the dust to better interpret what is happening in the system. Since it’s only about 63 light-years away and chock full of dust, it appears bright in infrared light – and that means there is a lot of information for Webb to gather.

Beta Pictoris is the target of several planned Webb observing programs, including one led by Chris Stark of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and two led by Christine Chen of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Stark’s program will directly image the system after blocking the light of the star to gather a slew of new details about its dust. Chen’s programs will gather spectra, which spread light out like a rainbow to reveal which elements are present. All three observing programs will add critical details to what’s known about this nearby system.

Jul 26, 2021

Forget About Interstellar Flights. Tiny Light Sails Could be Used to Explore the Solar System Today

Posted by in categories: materials, space

Solar sails have been receiving a lot of attention lately. In part that is due to a series of high profile missions that have successfully proven the concept. It’s also in part due to the high profile Breakthrough Starshot project, which is designing a solar sail powered mission to reach Alpha Centauri. But this versatile third propulsion system isn’t only useful for far flung adventures – it has advantages closer to home as well. A new paper by engineers at UCLA defines what those advantages are, and how we might be able to best utilize them.

The literal driving force behind some solar sail projects are lasers. These concentrated beams of light are perfect to provide a pushing force against a solar sail. However, they are also useful as weapons if scaled up too much, vaporizing anything in its path. As such, one of the main design constraints for solar sail systems is around materials that can withstand a high power laser blast, yet still be light enough to not burden the craft it is attached to with extra weight.

For the missions that graduate student Ho-Ting Tung and Dr. Artur Davoyan of UCLA’s Mechanical Engineering Department envision that weight is miniscule. They expect any sailing spacecraft to weigh less than 100 grams. That 100 grams would include a sail array that measures up to 10 cm square.

Jul 26, 2021

Acoustic Tweezers Can Pick Objects Up With Sound Waves – Without Any Physical Contact

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, particle physics

Hemispherical array of ultrasound transducers lifts objects off reflective surfaces.

Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed a new technology which allows non-contact manipulation of small objects using sound waves. They used a hemispherical array of ultrasound transducers to generate a 3D acoustic fields which stably trapped and lifted a small polystyrene ball from a reflective surface. Although their technique employs a method similar to laser trapping in biology, adaptable to a wider range of particle sizes and materials.

Continue reading “Acoustic Tweezers Can Pick Objects Up With Sound Waves – Without Any Physical Contact” »

Jul 26, 2021

Qubit Spin Ice: Emergent Magnetic Monopoles Isolated Using Quantum-Annealing Computer

Posted by in categories: computing, nanotechnology, particle physics, quantum physics

Project offers new step toward study of emergence, ‘materials by design,’ and future nanomagnets.

Using a D-Wave quantum-annealing computer as a testbed, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have shown that it is possible to isolate so-called emergent magnetic monopoles, a class of quasiparticles, creating a new approach to developing “materials by design.”

“We wanted to study emergent magnetic monopoles by exploiting the collective dynamics of qubits,” said Cristiano Nisoli, a lead Los Alamos author of the study. “Magnetic monopoles, as elementary particles with only one magnetic pole, have been hypothesized by many, and famously by Dirac, but have proved elusive so far.”

Jul 26, 2021

Apple Rumored to Have Ordered More Than 100 Million A15 Bionic Chips From TSMC

Posted by in categories: computing, cyborgs, transhumanism

Likely due to high demand expectations, Apple has rumored to have ordered more than 100 million A15 Bionic chips from TSMC.

Jul 26, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg is betting Facebook’s future on the metaverse

Posted by in categories: innovation, internet

The Facebook CEO talks to Casey Newton about why he is putting his company’s resources toward the “metaverse,” a future that imagines an internet that combines physical, augmented, and virtual realities.

Jul 25, 2021

Meteor lights up the night in Norway

Posted by in category: futurism

An “unusually large” meteor illuminated the night sky over southern Scandinavia early Sunday morning before at least some of it came rumbling down near Oslo, the capital of Norway.

The meteor “lit up the sky for a brief time as if broad daylight,” just after 1 a.m., Steinar Midtskogen, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Meteor Network, told CNN.

“A minute later or more a loud rumbling sound could be heard over a large area, perhaps up to 100 km (about 62 miles) away from where the meteor was seen straight overhead,” Midtskogen said in an email.

Jul 25, 2021

50 Years Ago, Scientists Caught Their First Glimpse of Amino Acids From Outer Space

Posted by in categories: chemistry, education, space

In 1970, scientists detected amino acids in a meteorite. Fifty years later, a variety of chemical ingredients for life have been found in other space rocks.

Jul 25, 2021

Nanocatalytic Spontaneous Ignition and Self-Supporting Room-Temperature Combustion

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, particle physics

Circa 2005 o,.o.

Stable and reproducible spontaneous self-ignition and self-supporting combustion have been achieved at room temperature by exposing nanometer-sized catalytic particles to methanol/air or ethanol/air gas mixtures. Without any external ignition, structurally supported platinum nanoparticles instantaneously react with the gas mixtures. The reaction releases heat and produces CO2 and water. Such reactions starting at ambient temperature have reached both high (]600 °C) and low (a few tenths of a degree above room temperature) reaction temperatures. The reaction is controlled by varying the fuel/air mixture. Catalytic activity could be dramatically changed by reducing particle size and changing particle morphology.