The sun’s magnetic field is expected to flip in the next three to four months and it could lead to changes in our climate, storms and disruption to satellites.
This solar event only happens once every 11 years and signals what physicists call the Solar Maximum – a time when the Sun’s solar activity is at its highest.
During this peak in activity the outbursts of solar energy can increase the amount of cosmic and UV rays coming towards Earth and this can interfere with radio communications, cause solar bursts of light – known as flares – and can affect the planet’s temperature.
via Mail Online.
No one tell Al Gore that it’s really the sun that affects the Earth’s temperature. Oh, let’s hope the “flip” is particularly violent, like it was in 1859.
On a cool September night in 1859, campers out in Colorado were roused from sleep by a “light so bright that one could easily read common print,” as one newspaper described it. Some of them, confused, got up and began making breakfast.
Click on the picture for a full map showing how space weather can affect the Earth.
Farther east, thousands of New Yorkers ran out onto their sidewalks to watch the sky glow, ribboned in yellow, white and crimson. Few people had ever seen an aurora that far south — and this one lit up the whole city.
At the time, it was a dazzling display of nature. Yet if the same thing happened today, it would be an utter catastrophe.
The auroras of 1859, known as the “Carrington Event,” came after the sun unleashed a large coronal mass ejection, a burst of charged plasma aimed directly at the Earth. When the particles hit our magnetosphere, they triggered an especially fierce geomagnetic storm that lit up the sky and frazzled communication wires around the world. Telegraphs in Philadelphia were spitting out “fantastical and unreadable messages,” one paper reported, with some systems unusable for hours.
Today, electric utilities and the insurance industry are grappling with a scary possibility. A solar storm on the scale of that in 1859 would wreak havoc on power grids, pipelines and satellites. In the worst case, it could leave 20 million to 40 million people in the Northeast without power — possibly for years — as utilities struggled to replace thousands of fried transformers stretching from Washington to Boston. Chaos and riots might ensue.
via. Washington Post.
Wouldn’t that be interesting?
The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.
If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused. …
Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.
via CNET News.
Well this sure has gotten ridiculous.
Lockheed has developed a special material that doesn’t need as much energy to drag water through the filter.
Graphene is a substance made of pure carbon. Carbon atoms are arranged in a regular hexagonal or honeycomb pattern in a one-atom thick sheet.
This special material is a film of a special structure of carbon, a honeycomb lattice called graphene. Because of its structure, the sheet is dotted with holes that are one nanometer or less. These holes between carbon atoms trap the salt and other impurities.
Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing the wonder-material.
In addition, the film is super thin — just a single atom thick — so that the water simply “pops through the very, very small holes that we make in the graphene and leaves the salt behind,” John Stetson, the chief technologist at Lockheed for this initiative told Business Insider.
via Business Insider.
Good… Great news for developing countries and ocean going vessels. Hopefully it will lead to cheap, easy to use water filtration products for everyone to use. Can’t live without drinkable water.
An 8 minute history lesson about the power of an air rifle.
There’s a story about Einstein’s brain over at the Washington Post. It’s your basic nature vs. nurture about how this guy got to have this unique piece of gray matter between his ears.
It appears quite a few Wash. Post readers don’t think much of Ol’ Albert or his accomplishments. One particular genius wrote:
He didn’t invent, or come up with, relativity. That has existed since time began … he was the person that first -realized- it existed and then fashioned working mathematical relationships to describe it. If it wasn’t Albert Einstein, it would have been someone else that first put 2 and 2 together ….
Brilliant!! Because yes, yes, the work Einstein did is really nothing more than 2 + 2.
This leads another commenter to write something I’ve thought for a long time:
So amusing to read the pronouncments of our typical modern day (Obongo supporting) clueless clowns with a little knowlege passing judgment on one of mankind’s greatest thinkers. Utterly underserved confidence in the most meager of abilities has been the only discernible triumph of the US liberal dominated dysfunctional education system in the last 50 years.
via The Washington Post.
The combination of arrogance and ignorance is very dangerous and has infected a significant portion of the population. People — you know who you are — have become so enamored with themselves that they either cannot or simply refuse to see real genius in others.
I’ve taken four college semesters of calculus ending with differential equations. These classes would not begin to cover the mathematics that Einstein did without the assistance of a computer or even a hand-held calculator. To imply that just anyone would come along and discover 2 + 2 shows just how little the average person walking down the street actually knows about math.
It’s very very sad. Ignorance is truly bliss; but at least years ago people knew enough to keep their trap shut when they didn’t know anything.
It all started simple enough.
Six days. That’s how long it took to build this level 9 Earthquake-resistant, sound-proofed, thermal-insulated 15-story hotel in Changsha, complete with everything, from the cabling to three-pane windows. The foundations were already built, but it’s just impressive.
While still in basking in the glow of success the same group decided to up the stakes a little …
The hotel is so solid that it can resist a 9 magnitude earthquake, as tested by the China Academy of Building Research (there’s a scene in which you can see the testing process, at 1:49). They claim this is five times more earthquake-resistant than conventional buildings.
The company also says that it is five times more energy efficient, with 6-inch thick glass curtain wall insulation and four-paned windows with built-in shades, a heat recovery system and 3-stage filtration air conditioning process that purifies indoor air to be 20 times purer than the air outside. They even have air quality monitoring in every room which, given the pollution problem in China, seems to be an important selling point there.
I guess since the two proof-of-principles have worked out it’s time to go straight to the head of the class.
According to its engineers, this will be the tallest skyscraper in the world by the end of March of 2013. Its name is Sky City, and its 2,749 feet (838 meters) distributed in 220 floors will grow in just 90 days in Changsha city, by the Xiangjiang river. Ninety days!
For those too lazy to click, the magic here is that the building is pre-fab. Not so much like a trailer but more like a very cool and very complicated erector set. There’s video at the second link.
If this project goes off it will be time to seriously think — or re-think — about how we build things. This technology appears to be something incredible. Something we should be using here.
Are unmanned aircraft, known to have difficulty avoiding collisions, safe to use in America’s crowded airspace? And would their widespread use for surveillance result in unconstitutional invasions of privacy?
Yes, and no seem like pretty straightforward answers to these questions.
But the elected idiots who man the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus have taken over $8 million in campaign contributions from drone developers.
So do you feel safe yet?
After falling behind Asia and Europe in the great race, where success is measured in FLOPS floating-point operations per second, the US has struck back at the new high-tech Olympians with Titan: quite possibly the fastest supercomputer in the world. …
All of that might now change, as a new supercomputing giant hailing from the Smokey Mountains was unveiled by the US Department of Energy’s DOE on Monday. More than 10 times faster and five times more energy efficient than its predecessor Jaguar, Titan is the brainchild of the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory ORNL, nestled in the Tennessee highlands. Titan’s theoretical peak is 20 petaflops – 20 quadrillion calculations per second – with 299,008 CPUs central processing units and 18,688 graphics processing units GPUs spinning at breakneck speeds to make to make scientific breakthroughs in record times.
Titan’s blistering computation speed will be the equivalent of “the world’s 7 billion people being able to carry out 3 million calculations per second,” ORNL says.
You all realize this is the Super Bowl of computers right?