HansonMB writes: After launching on one of the nation’s Long March rockets and a three-day transit, Chang'E 3 will reach the Moon and enter into a 62 mile orbit. Once settled, the 2,645 pound lander will separate from the roughly 8,200 pound spacecraft and descend into a highly elliptical orbit 62 by 9.5 miles above the surface.
HansonMB writes: To many open-source advocates, however, these are a few of the big, dirty names responsible for what they see as the Web’s rapid consolidation. The prospect of an irreparably centralized Internet, a physical Internet in the hands of a shrinking core of so-called Tier 1 transit networks, keeps Isaac Wilder up at night.
Wilder is the 21-year-old co-founder of the Free Network Foundation. Motherboard first caught up with Wilder at Zuccotti Park during the fledgling days of Occupy Wall Street. The Kansas City native seemed to be running on little sleep. He’d gone hoarse from chanting relentlessly over the first three days of a populist movement that would soon sweep the country and the world. But there was an undeniable urgency and excitement when Wilder told us about the efforts of the FNF, a non-profit, peer-to-peer communications initiative striving to liberate the global Internet from corporate and governmental interference.
HansonMB writes: When the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Force in Washington DC found out that nightclub owner Antoine Jones had links to a drug trafficking ring they set out to get him behind bars.
They installed a camera to monitor the entrance to the club. They requested and received information from his cell phone through a trap and trace warrant. But what did him in was the installation of a GPS on his wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. The device collected more than 2000 pages of data over 4 weeks. This data connected Jones to a house containing $850,000 in cash and 97 kilograms of cocaine.
In 2008, Jones was convicted for possessing 5 kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute and was sentenced to life in prison, Much of his case was based on evidence collected through the GPS tracker. Only thing is: the police didn’t have a valid warrant to track his car with the device.
HansonMB writes: US Congressman and poor-toupee-color-chooser Lamar Smith is the guy who authored the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA, as I'm sure you know, is the shady bill that will introduce way harsher penalties for companies and individuals caught violating copyright laws online (including making the unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime which you could actually go to jail for). If the bill passes, it will destroy the internet and, ultimately, turn the world into Mad Max (for more info, go here).
I decided to check that everything on Lamar's official campaign website was copyright-cleared and on the level. Lamar is using several stock images on his site, two of which I tracked back to the same photographic agency. I contacted the agency to make sure he was paying to use them, but was told that it's very difficult for them to actually check to see if someone has permission to use their images.
HansonMB writes: It seems like biologists have been on a bit of a tear as of late, introducing new species left and right, but this frog takes the cake.
Let’s all say it together: Holy frog that thing is small.
The frog that’s now considered the world’s smallest invertebrate is named Paedophryne amauensis, paying homage to Amau Village in Papua New Guinea where the little guy was found. Taking credit for the discovery is a team of researchers led by Christopher Austin of Louisiana State University, who published their discovery in PLoS ONE.
HansonMB writes: Man, these days it sure feels like everything has a computer chip in it, right? Even notorious doodad purveyors like The Sharper Image and Sky Mall seem to be constantly encroaching on the traditional computer market. Despite the threat of software piracy, the computer industry seems to be doing well at the moment, but what about the future? Will the market for hardcore geek gear survive if it continues to get usurped by the consumer electronics industry?
OK, OK, I admit that sounds a bit alarmist, but it doesn’t sound far off from what some Chicken Littles in Silicon Valley write from time to time. What’s wild is that these are all talking points from 1991. Over twenty years ago, our favorite tech show, Computer Chronicles, paid a visit to CES 1991 to check out the hot new gadgetry set to flood Circuit City and the like.
HansonMB writes: As you can maybe tell from buffmouse.jpg up there, this research is still in mice, but a new study out from the University of Pittsburg published in Nature Communications has big news for fans of not getting old and gross and dying. Shots of stem cells from healthy, young mice delivered to the abdomens of prematurally aging mice have been show to head off many of the effects of old age, leading to lives two to three times as long as would normally be the case. So, yes: a fountain of youth in a syringe full of stem cells. For mice.
“Our experiments showed that mice that have progeria, a disorder of premature aging, were healthier and lived longer after an injection of stem cells from young, healthy animals,” says senior investigator Laura Niedernhofer, M.D., Ph.D. “That tells us that stem cell dysfunction is a cause of the changes we see with aging.”
HansonMB writes: It’s one thing to have the U.S. symbolically ending all major combat operations in Iraq for the second time in eight years. It’s an entirely other thing to watch the Americans physically rolling out of a warzone, especially after a nine-year campaign that cost the U.S. nearly $1 trillion and 4,500 lives, not to mention the lives of over 100,000 Iraqis, mainly unarmed civilians.
It’s only fitting, too, that footage of a final American convoy discreetly exiting Iraq early Sunday morning comes by way of a U.S. Predator surveillance drone. That the U.S. even had an unmanned aerial vehicle loitering high above yesterday’s dawn departure suggests that America’s stake in a seemingly endless Iraq conflict isn’t flat ending, but is simply phasing into something else – something with a lot more drones.
HansonMB writes: Call it researching disease in the cloud or just plain illuminating, but Princeton researchers today published a paper in Science that demonstrates how aerial night images can be used to monitor the spread of epidemic in the developing world by tracking light density.
That’s a mouthful, but the concept is really pretty straightforward. In developing nations with migratory populations, there are parts of the year when everyone tends to meet up, creating localized, seasonal population booms. Those booms, with a large number of people in a concentrated area, are a hotspot for the spread of disease. Unfortunately for health agencies, tracking migratory populations has never been an easy task, which means epidemic can get out of hand quickly.
HansonMB writes: Apart from the networks of infected computers and poorly-translated emails offering shady pharmaceutical drugs, the inner workings of the shadowy criminal empires that deal in Internet spam remain a mystery. Every once in a while though, we match a face to junkmail. He’s called “the King of Spam” among members of the internet’s seedy underground, and now he’s been caught by authorities — 24 year old Oleg Nikolaenko, aka “Docent,” is the alleged owner of the “Mega-D” botnet, an enormous web of zombie-computers that collectively sends around 10 billion spam messages per day.
HansonMB writes: If the world’s combined space fleet was in a school classroom together, NASA’s Voyager probes would be those annoying kids who constantly show up the the rest of the class with perfect assignments, extra credit homework and general overachievement.
Like Spirit and Opportunity – the equally keen Mars rovers who continued to work for years after they could have quit – the twin Voyagers just keep on turning in new science reports, three decades after their launch. As if discovering Jupiter’s faint ring system, Neptune’s Great Dark Spot, active volcanoes on Io, giant magnetic bubbles and, oh, a little something called entering the heliosheath wasn’t enough, the Voyagers have now allowed scientists to detect the long sought-after Lyman-alpha emission from our galaxy.
HansonMB writes: It can’t be very hard for Bertrand Piccard to explain to his family why he wants to fly around the world with only sunlight for fuel. In the 1930s, his grandfather, Auguste Piccard, a physicist and inventor, applied his excitement and interest in ballooning to designing a high-flying balloon attached to a pressurized aluminum gondola. The first of its kind, Auguste’s flying machine completed a record-breaking climb more than 50,000 feet into the air, gathering valuable data about the Earth’s upper atmosphere along the way. Fitting that Bertrand, for what it’s worth, defeated the notorious Sir Richard Branson by becoming the first man to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon in 1999.
HansonMB writes: Massive oil spills like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster last year – or the ongoing disaster along the Niger Delta – are fortunately rare. But smaller scale ocean pollution isn’t, and collectively it adds up to cause enough damage to alter ecosystems and affect fish stocks. A key to protecting the oceans (and the ecosystems and industries that live there) is collecting regular data on pollution levels to help target clean-up efforts. But given the scale of the world’s oceans, how can we monitor them effectively and cheaply?
Dr. Huosheng Hu of the University of Essex has a rather elegant solution: setting loose a fleet of robotic fish to continually monitor water quality, without the costly man-hours of sending marine scientists out on boats. Like Cesar Harada, the drone sailboat fleet builder, Huosheng’s working towards a future where artificially-intelligent, self-sustaining robots swim alongside their living brethren, continually sending data about water conditions via wireless signals to collection points on shore.
HansonMB writes: Worse, it was as if someone along the way purposefully destroyed all confiscated electronics, a strategic smashing of at least part of the digital record logged by full-on occupiers. “Dude, all the laptops are in a row," he tells us, baffled and raking his shock of brown hair. "They’ve all been smashed with bats.” When asked about the mangled property, LiPani admits that, inevitably, certain items could’ve been damaged in the shuffle: “I’m not surprised,” he says, to hear of damaged laptops. He adds that the DSNY is providing clearance forms to those occupiers concerned their property may’ve been mishandled or misplaced.
HansonMB writes: Given one of my more immediate life goals is to be living in a somewhat self-contained cabin somewhere far away from all of this — yet still have a way to keep my deer meat frozen and my laptop charged — the Volo Stirling engine is very relevant to my interests. Basically, it’s a lot like an internal combustion engine, except instead of the heat coming from inside the engine via exploding gasoline, the heat comes from outside the engine, like from a woodstove. It’s an old concept, dating back to 1812, that got shoved to the side with the advent of the grid and the internal combustion engine. Detroiter Tim Sefton and his Volo Designs are aiming to bring it back, with plans to have a consumer-ready Stirling engine capable of generating a household’s worth of electricity ready by spring 2012, for less than $100.