Daily Archives: October 28, 2016

Global Warming Could Be The Best Way To Terraform Mars

Now/Then

Now/Then

An artist’s conception of what Mars looks like today, juxtaposed with what Mars may have looked like earlier in its history, when the planet had a thicker atmosphere.

We’ve been looking for life on Mars for centuries. Humans have parsed every geological feature that we can find for traces of living neighbors, or at the very least, evidence that some type of creature lived on the red planet in the past. So far, no luck.

In the absence of evidence of life, a not-so-new idea is gaining ground: If we can’t find life on Mars, maybe we could bring life to Mars. Not only that, but we might be able to change the nature of the red planet itself, and turn a dry and lifeless world into a mirror of our own blue and green marble.

It sounds like science fiction, but researchers in the public and private sector are already looking at how current technology can terraform Mars, in part because it would make permanent human settlements much more plausible.

Ancient Mars

Ancient Mars

An artist’s impression of what Mars might have looked like long ago when it had liquid water and a thick atmosphere. Could we make it look like this again?

Is it possible?

Yes, it is possible—but it probably won’t be a dramatic solution like Elon Musk’s plan to repeatedly detonate nuclear weapons in the now-thin Martian atmosphere.

“It’s a mistake to think that there is a lot of energy in nuclear weapons,” says Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA. “If you take all all the nuclear weapons on Earth, all the countries summed together, that adds up to about half an hour of Mars sunlight. You don’t change a planet by detonating nuclear weapons, you change a planet by harnessing sunlight.”

continue http://www.popsci.com/climate-change-on-red-planet

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Hacker’s Icarus machine steals drones midflight

Image composite Maria Dryfhout http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-87499p1.html

PacSec Security researcher Jonathan Andersson has developed a tidy hardware module capable of fully hijacking a variety of popular drones and remote control gear running over the most popular protocol.

Trend Micro’s advanced security group manager told The Register he developed the Icarus box, and it only needs to be within range of a drone to hijack it with injected commands.

Any radio controlled device using the popular DSMx radio platform are affected.

These include drones manufactured by Walkera, AirTronics, and NineEagles, among many others.

Andersson demonstrated the hijack at the PacSec hacking conference in Japan yesterday.

“It’s not a jamming system so i am not competing for control via RF power,” Andersson told Vulture South.

continue http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/27/hackers_icarus_machine_steals_drones_midflight/

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The Big League Prospect Who Became a Mob Hit Man Maurice Lerner

hitman-3-master1050The Buick sedan crawled the Providence streets. The April sky was baby blue, the air pleasant and cool. Perfect baseball weather. The man hunched in the back seat once lived for days like this.

When the maroon car stopped outside Pannone’s Market on Pocasset Avenue, its back-seat passenger leapt out with uncommon grace, a mask over his handsome face, a shotgun in his large hands. An armed and disguised accomplice followed close behind.

The mom-and-pop employees ducked as the nimble gunman found his target, a bookmaker who had defied Raymond L. S. Patriarca, the coal-eyed head of New England organized crime. The wayward bookie caught it from three feet away, his unused gun clattering to rest a few inches from his outstretched hand. His sidekick was dropped near a shelf of canned tomatoes, his face rearranged by buckshot.

Neighborhood children were soon pressing their noses against the storefront window, as investigators examined the two bodies splayed on the blood-slick floor. The Buick was already a memory.

continue http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/sports/baseball/maurice-lerner-prospect-turned-mob-hitman.html

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Merkel says Facebook, Google ‘distort perception,’ demands they ‘reveal algorithms’

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel © Francois Lenoir
German Chancellor Angela Merkel launched a broadside at internet media giants, accusing them of “narrowing perspective,” and demanding they disclose their privately-developed algorithms. Merkel previously blamed social media for anti-immigrant sentiment and the rise of the far right.

“The algorithms must be made public, so that one can inform oneself as an interested citizen on questions like: what influences my behavior on the internet and that of others?” said Merkel during a media conference in Berlin on Tuesday.

“These algorithms, when they are not transparent, can lead to a distortion of our perception, they narrow our breadth of information.”

Google uses an algorithm to decide which search results are first shown to a user, while Facebook arranges the order of the news feed, and decides to include certain posts from a user’s liked pages and friends, at the expense of others. Both sites also promote links to news articles, often based on a user’s own media interests.

continue https://www.rt.com/news/364235-merkel-facebook-google-algorithms/

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Mice Born From Artificial Eggs a ‘Stunning Achievement’

Last month, a team of British scientists successfully made healthy, fertile mice from pseudo-egg cells that resembled fertilized embryos. The story made waves: compared to normal egg cells, the pseudo-eggs were more similar to non-sex cells such as skin cells. The implications were tantalizing: one day, in the far future, we may be able to make “motherless” babies without the need for eggs.

Welcome to the future.

This week, a team from Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan successfully used skin cells to make fully functional mouse egg cells completely in a dish. When artificially inseminated and brought to term in surrogate mothers, the artificial eggs developed into healthy baby mice that lived normal lives, eventually giving birth to pups of their own. The study was published in the prestigious academic journal Nature.

“This is a very exciting study, to be able to make robust and functional mouse oocytes (egg cells) over and over again entirely in a dish,” wrote Dr. Jacob Hanna, a reproductive scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Revohot, Israel, who was not involved in the study, in an email to Singularity Hub.

continue http://singularityhub.com/2016/10/25/mice-born-from-artificial-eggs-a-stunning-achievement/

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Consumer Surveillance Is Leaking Into Physical Stores

You just wanted to shop for a birthday gift in peace—instead, you got ads that follow you around the internet, and coupons in your email that remember exactly which products you clicked on. So you shut down your computer, stick your hands into your pockets, and walk to the store. Here, among the throngs of shoppers, you may feel more anonymous than you do behind a screen unburdened by cookies and tracking pixels, and you can browse in peace.

Except not really. If you brought your smartphone, its GPS probably tattled on you before you even walked through the doors. Take your phone out and it might start picking up inaudible sounds broadcast throughout the store to pinpoint your location and send you targeted ads. Surveillance cameras hidden in light fixtures track your movement through the aisles, and could even be using facial-recognition software to understand your preferences and habits and attach them to your personal profile.

For the past five years or so, brick-and-mortar retail stores have been trying to catch up with their online counterparts in tracking and personalization. Joseph Turow, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, has been studying the marketing and advertising industries for decades. He chronicled the most recent developments in retail surveillance for his forthcoming book, The Aisles Have Eyes, which will be released by Yale University Press in January.

continue https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/10/incessant-consumer-surveillance-is-leaking-into-physical-stores/504821/

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Cops’ facial recognition database has half of US adults on file

American law enforcement agencies have created a massive facial recognition database. If you’re an adult in the US, you might already be in it. According to a comprehensive report by the Center for Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, the law enforcement’s database has 117 million American adults on file. That’s one of two adults in the US or half of the 18-and-above population. The report says authorities used driver’s license IDs from 26 states to build the database, which includes people who’ve never committed any kind of crime before.

That’s already a problem in and of itself, but it’s compounded by the lack of oversight on how it’s used. Clare Garvie, the report’s lead author, said “there are no standards ensuring its accuracy” and “it has no systems checking for bias.”

continue https://www.engadget.com/2016/10/19/cops-facial-recognition-database-half-us-adults/

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88% of employees lack awareness to stop privacy or security incidents

The results of a new survey testing employee data privacy and cybersecurity knowledge reveal that 88 percent lack the awareness to stop preventable cyber incidents.

employees lack awareness

MediaPro surveyed 1,000 employees across the U.S. to quantify the current state of privacy and security awareness, and revealed employee knowledge trends across eight risk domains, ranging from working remotely to identifying phishing attempts, and assigned three risk profiles indicating employees’ privacy and security awareness IQ.

These risk profiles are Risk, Novice, and Hero, and are based on the number of proper behaviors correctly identified. The more correct behaviors an employee can identify, the less of a privacy or security risk they represent.

Key findings

  • 16 percent of respondents scored low enough to warrant a “Risk” profile by exhibiting behaviors that put their organizations at serious risk for a privacy or security incident.
  • 72 percent of respondents were given a “Novice” profile, meaning they understand the basics but are dangerously close to one wrong decision or mistake leading to a security or privacy incident.
  • Only 12 percent of respondents were given a “Hero” profile, indicating a strong knowledge of security and privacy best practices, and are likely well-prepared to deal with many cyber threats.

continue https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2016/10/27/employees-lack-awareness/

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Is That Bug A Spy?

1940s_bugs

DARPA

Moth Experiments

The glass tube, when unblocked, lets both halves of the moth develop normally. Well, as close to normal as a moth cut in half and then connected by a glass tube could ever be.

There are few better infiltrators that insects. Small, flexible, and ubiquitous, bugs are easy to overlook. Surely, one might think, there’s a way to turn that creepy-crawly ability into a military surveillance tool. DARPA, the Pentagon’s future-projects wing, has decades of experience looking into insects, or insect-sized robots, as spy machines, and not only that, this investigation predates DARPA.

The information comes to us from a Freedom of Information Act request by Susan Maret, a lecturer at San Jose State University who blogs at secrecy {fragments}. In July 2015, she requested information on “DARPA’s role in the development and application of Hybrid Insect Microelectromechanical Systems and microelectromechanical (HI-MEMS) systems,” as well as several other, related subjects. The fruit of that request is an 88 page document, most of it presentations from DARPA in 2006 and 2007 on the feasability of small flying robots.

Continue http://www.popsci.com/is-that-bug-spy?

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