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The debate over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has reached a critical point after a federal appeals court last week ruled the practice illegal, dramatically raising the stakes for pending Congressional legislation that would fully or partially reinstate the program. An army of pundits promptly took to television screens, with many of them brushing off concerns about the surveillance.
The talking heads have been backstopping the NSA’s mass surveillance more or less continuously since it was revealed. They spoke out to support the agency when NSA contractor Edward Snowden released details of its programs in 2013, and they’ve kept up their advocacy ever since — on television news shows, newspaper op-ed pages, online and at Congressional hearings. But it’s often unclear just how financially cozy these pundits are with the surveillance state they defend, since they’re typically identified with titles that give no clues about their conflicts of interest.
Tag Archives | Science & Technology
For people of a certain age, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster is one of those events where one remembers where they were and what they were doing, not unlike JFK’s assassination or the morning of September 11, 2001.
It was the worst space program disaster since Apollo 1, resulting in the deaths of all astronauts aboard the Challenger. Or so we have been led to believe.
The official details of the disaster are fairly straight forward, as the Wikipedia entry attests:
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The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger (OV-099) (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members, which included five NASA astronauts and two payload specialists. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC).
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DURHAM — A terrifying few moments flying into the top of an active thunderstorm in a research aircraft has led to an unexpected discovery that could help explain the longstanding mystery of how lightning gets initiated inside a thunderstorm.
University of New Hampshire physicist Joseph Dwyer and lightning science colleagues from the University of California at Santa Cruz and Florida Tech describe the turbulent encounter and discovery in a paper to be published in the Journal of Plasma Physics.
In August 2009, Dwyer and colleagues were aboard a National Center for Atmospheric Research Gulfstream V when it inadvertently flew into the extremely violent thunderstorm—and, it turned out, through a large cloud of positrons, the antimatter opposite of electrons, that should not have been there.
To encounter a cloud of positrons without other associated physical phenomena such as energetic gamma-ray emissions was completely unexpected, thoroughly perplexing and contrary to currently understood physics.
The Heavens abound with no shortage of weirdness, mystery and wonder and despite intense scrutiny there is a dearth of solid, factual information; fantastic speculation isn’t going to stop any time soon and that suits your Humble Narrator just fine.
Who wants to get weird?
Beginning in the mid-fifties (though some reports claim the 1940’s and certain weird rumors assert that Tesla himself discovered something strange back in the latter days of the 19th century) a curious phenomenon manifested itself in the heart and minds of a population’s budding fascination with Unidentified Flying Objects — the discovery of an unknown satellite in Polar Orbit, possibly broadcasting something to unknown agencies allegedly before humans had the technology to accomplish such a feat.
Needless to say, with the Cold War raging accusations and suspicious abounded.
According to TIME magazine on Monday, March 07, 1960:
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Three weeks ago, headlines announced that the U.S.
Marty Leeds is the author of several books and a researcher on the subjects of myth, math, spirituality, philosophy and lost civilizations. He has an ongoing lecture series available on Youtube and he hosts The Marty Leeds’ Mathemagical Radio Hour.
After pretending we know what we’re doing for a few decades and attempting to deal with whatever attention-eating obligation fodder society flings our way, our childlike sense of wonder tends to seep out of us. We simply don’t have the energy to marvel at the omnipresent harmony around us while we’re being crushed by a mountain of student loan debt or whispering profanities at Turbo Tax.
Devoid of that underlying sense of purpose and awe, our existence becomes hollow. Try as we might, we just can’t fill that void through our usual repertoire of mundane behaviors. The more we ignore it, the more the issue becomes inflamed.… Read the rest
Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.
We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.
— Carl Sagan
As the 100th anniversary of World War I rolls around, dignitaries and diplomats are commemorating the costly victories and tragic losses of that brutal and gaseous four-year melee which resulted in the deaths of somewhere between ten to sixteen million people. World War I set the stage for its horrific sequel, World War II, which showcased another four years of agonizing mayhem, replicated genocides, and the creation of a Hell on Earth. Millions of people died on battlefields, in death camps, and of disease, starvation, and lack of sanitation in galactic pits of unfathomable misery and suffering. World War II then set the stage for the Cold War, in which the United States, the Soviet Union, and eventually other jingoistic nuclear powers, held humanity hostage through aggressive threats of apocalyptic war.… Read the rest
Mark Walton via Ars Technica:
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How far is too far when it comes to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality? As VR devices grow ever more sophisticated—and the tools to create software for them ever more accessible—where do we draw the line between what’s ethically acceptable in the real world and what’s ethically acceptable in the virtual world?
One of the developers putting this question to the test is Australia-based Paranormal Games. Project Elysium, its entry into the upcoming Oculus VR Jam 2015, treads some shaky moral ground by promising to create a “personalized afterlife experience,” reuniting people with loved ones who have passed on. Exactly how the developer hopes to do this isn’t clear at this point (it will be required to showcase screenshots by April 27, followed by video footage the week after to be eligible for the jam’s grand prize), although a screenshot from Project Elysium’s development does show a friend of the studio being transformed into a 3D model.
Jasmine Wright and Margaret Myers Via PBS.org:
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Hubble’s contributions to space exploration are countless. Its images, explains Hubble Space Telescope Senior Project Scientist Jennifer Wiseman, have shown the first definitive detection of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. They also have provided measurement of the expansion rate of the universe, and detection (along with ground-based telescopes) of acceleration in that expansion, caused by mysterious “dark energy” that appears to be pushing the universe apart.
“Hubble will go down in history as having changed the textbooks by totally revolutionizing humanity’s view of the universe, and our place in it,” Wiseman says.
Cecilia Avendaño Bobillier. Santiago, Chile 1980.
Cecilia Avendaño Bobillier graduated from University of Chile where she studied visual arts and photography. Cecilia began exhibiting her work in 2002, participating in numerous group exhibitions in Chile and abroad. She’s participated in outstanding one person shows including Sala Cero at Animal Gallery, National Museum of Fine Arts, as well as BAC! Festival in Barcelona’s MACBA, Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of Chile, Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires Argentina. Her most recent work includes digital post production operations on photography where she composes images that become portraits, but operates with different concepts related to identity construction. She has been selected twice for the National Fund FONDART, plus obtaining the second place in the art contest “Artists of the XXI Century” organized by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and Banco Santander. She currently lives and works in Santiago, Chile.
Joseph Roche is an astrophysicist who applied for Mars One on a lark. His experience suggests that the organization is all about making bank on the hype it generates, rather than an earnest attempt to explore space. This from a piece by Elmo Keep at Medium:
As Roche observed the process from an insider’s perspective, his concerns increased. Chief among them: that some leading contenders for the mission had bought their way into that position, and are being encouraged to “donate” any appearance fees back to Mars One — which seemed to him very strange for an outfit that needs billions of dollars to complete its objective.
“When you join the ‘Mars One Community,’ which happens automatically if you applied as a candidate, they start giving you points,” Roche explained to me in an email. “You get points for getting through each round of the selection process (but just an arbitrary number of points, not anything to do with ranking), and then the only way to get more points is to buy merchandise from Mars One or to donate money to them.”
“Community members” can redeem points by purchasing merchandise like T-shirts, hoodies, and posters, as well as through gifts and donations: The group also solicits larger investment from its supporters.… Read the rest