Archive for the ‘Modern Science’ Category
10:39AM GMT 02 Mar 2015
A US military satellite exploded after detecting an unexplained “sudden spike in temperature”, sending dozens of chunks of debris tumbling into different orbits around Earth.
Air Force Space Command confirmed to SpaceNews.com that the “catastrophic event” came after “a sudden spike in temperature” was detected, followed by “an unrecoverable loss of attitude control”.
The satellite was an ageing component of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program which the US military began developing the in the 1960s to help plan reconnaissance and surveillance missions.
The lost satellite was the 13th to be launched as part of DMSP, designated DMSP-F13, and had been in Earth orbit since 1995.
Like all DMSP satellites it orbited the earth at an altitude of around 500 miles in a “sun-synchronous orbit” – meaning that they flew in a path taking in the north and south poles.
On each path around the earth, which took roughly 101 minutes, they would see a slightly different part of the planet. This would give each satellite a complete view of the entire planet’s surface twice a day.
15 January 2015
The UK and US are to carry out "war game" cyber attacks on each other as part of a new joint defence against online criminals.
The first exercise, a staged attack on the financial sector, will take place later this year, Downing Street said.
The "unprecedented" arrangement between the two countries was announced as Prime Minister David Cameron held talks with US President Barack Obama.
Agents will also co-operate in "cyber cells" on both sides of the Atlantic.
Downing Street said this was the first "cyber cell" the UK had established with another country.
The measures come in the wake of recent cyber attacks on Sony Pictures and US Central Command.
Businesses and governments around the world increasingly are turning to voice biometrics, or voiceprints, to pay pensions, collect taxes, track criminals and replace passwords.
"We sometimes call it the invisible biometric," said Mike Goldgof, an executive at Madrid-based AGNITiO, one of about 10 leading companies in the field.
Those companies have helped enter more than 65 million voiceprints into corporate and government databases, according to Associated Press interviews with dozens of industry representatives and records requests in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
"There’s a misconception that the technology we have today is only in the domain of the intelligence services, or the domain of ‘Star Trek,’" said Paul Burmester, of London-based ValidSoft, a voice biometric vendor. "The technology is here today, well-proven and commonly available."
And in high demand.
Dan Miller, an analyst with Opus Research in San Francisco, estimates that the industry’s revenue will roughly double from just under $400 million last year to between $730 million and $900 million next year.
A legal scholar says he and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can predict, with 70 percent accuracy, whether the US Supreme Court will uphold or reverse the lower-court decision before it.
"Using only data available prior to the date of decision, our model correctly identifies 69.7 percent of the Court’s overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes," Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law scholar, wrote on his blog Tuesday.
"Our model generates many randomized decision trees that try to predict the outcome of the cases, with different variables receiving different weights. This is known as the “extremely randomized trees” method," he said. "Then, the model compares the predictions of the trees to what actually happened, and learns what works, and what doesn’t. This process is repeated… many, many times, to calculate the weights that should be afforded to different variables. In the end, the model creates a general model to predict all cases across all courts."
Secret state: Trevor Paglen documents the hidden world of governmental surveillance, from drone bases to "black sites"
Sunday 15 June 2014
Since he was a postgraduate geography student at UCLA 10 years ago, Paglen has dedicated himself to a very 21st-century challenge: seeing and recording what our political masters do everything in their power to render secret and invisible.
Above our heads more than 200 secret American surveillance satellites constantly orbit the Earth: with the help of fanatical amateur astronomers who track their courses, Paglen has photographed them. A secret air force base deep in the desert outside Las Vegas is the control centre for the US’s huge fleet of drones: Paglen has photographed these tiny dots hurtling through the Nevada skies. To carry out the extraordinary rendition programme which was one of President George W Bush’s answers to the 9/11 attacks, seizing suspects from the streets and spiriting them off to countries relaxed about torture, the CIA created numerous front companies: grinding through flight records and using the methods of a private detective, Paglen identified them, visiting and covertly photographing their offices and managers. The men and women who carried out the rendition programme were equipped with fake identities: Paglen has made a collection of these people’s unconvincing and fluctuating signatures, "people," as he puts it, "who don’t exist because they’re in the business of disappearing other people".
"The war on terror was getting started and I very early on got the sense that these blank spots on the map were somehow paradigmatic of something that was happening politically." As the World Trade Center smouldered, Vice-President Dick Cheney announced that the nation would have to engage its "dark side" to find the culprits. "We’ve got to spend time in the shadows," he said. "It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective." Paglen had his cue.
In his quest to unveil a world committed to staying hidden, his most bizarre discovery was that America’s secret soldiers and airmen wear distinctive uniform patches like regular servicemen, and many of them give broad hints about their work. In his tireless fashion, he tracked them down. Later he was amused to discover that I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World, the book in which he collected the images, had become a bestseller among the special forces themselves. "Apparently all of them have that book in their office now," he laughs.
In contrast to the dreary world of the secret bases and prisons, here the secret forces let rip. The images on the patches include a wizard shooting lightning bolts from his staff, dragons dropping bombs, and skunks firing laser beams. One of the more sinister has the Latin tag Oderint Dum Metuant: "Let them hate as long as they fear".