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Comment Re:Marketing (Score 1) 168

Hmm, I suspect that the NSA isn't nearly as good as people are fearing, but how can we prove it?

We can't.

There was a time when the NSA was way ahead of civilians, eg. In the 1970s when they tweaked DES without telling anybody why - turns out they knew about differential cryptanalysis.

Since then the gap has closed. These days there's no reason to suppose they're much ahead of civilians (except in budget,getting people to sign pain-of-death NDAs, install "government approved" black boxes in telephone exchanges, drive around in black SUVs ... etc).

Comment Re:Marketing (Score 1) 168

While I think that NIST related crypto algorithms are probably well compromised by the NSA

AES is one of the most independently studied/analyzed algorithms ever.

I suspect that there is probably not much of anything - certainly nothing on the open market - that the NSA would not already have cracked anyway.


Comment Re:I thought that AES *was* independetly designed? (Score 2) 168

The AES/Rijndael algorithm was independently designed. The number of rounds to be used and the key size decisions to make standardized versions of the algorithm for US Government use were made by NIST with input from the NSA.

Not 100% true. The NIST only messed with the 192 and 256 bit versions. Guess what? They turned out to be weak (and everybody knows about it).

If you're truly paranoid you could use Triple-DES instead of AES but there's no good reason not to trust 128-bit AES, it's one of the most analyzed/studied algorithms ever.

Block ciphers like AES can also be used as hash functions. SHA-n isn't really needed except for efficiency reasons (block cyphers are slower).

Comment Re:Dispensing our reserves? (Score 1) 255

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Does every competing hospital in my region need to run its own MRI machine(and yes, that's the biggest use of helium) wasting dozens of kilograms of liquid helium a year? That won't lower the price of my procedure substantially, but it does throw away literal tons of the most irreplaceable resource on the planet.

When it counts, you can always count on congress to come together, and do the wrong thing.

If it's a closed system then none is wasted.

"Dozens of kilograms" is nothing, eg. look at how much The Mythbusters have wasted over the years....

Comment Re:Balloons (Score 1) 255

Children's balloons use recycled or low grade helium which can't be used for other more worthy purposes. It's not really a waste.


It's not 100% helium, it's mixed with air to make it cheaper, but the idea that they couldn't separate it out is silly.

Also: What's "low grade" helium? Helium is an element, it's one of the few elements that can't be contaminated with anything - it has no stable compounds.

Separation? Medical/scientific helium is usually liquid. Helium liquifies at a different temperature than air so separation of helium from air would a trivial/automatic part of the cooling process (throw away everything that forms a puddle above -270 degrees K).

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