Jul 17, 2014

Chicago is installing a superconducting cable that can stop power outages in a disaster

posted by Larra Morris

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Commonwealth Edison will soon begin work on a new system that would keep the city's business center, the Loop, protected during a catastrophe, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Knocking out a single susbstation — the middlemen between power plants and customers — can disrupt the flow of electricity for a huge area. But there's a way to return power to that area after it's been knocked out. Commonwealth Edison will soon begin laying superconducting cable underground, parallel to the wire that usually ferries electricity to the Loop. The new cable can carry 10 times the power of a standard cable, so if a substation is damaged, the new cable is powerful enough to reroute power from other areas and into the Loop.
via The Verge

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Jul 17, 2014

Read the Apollo 11 flight plan in its 353-page entirety

posted by Larra Morris

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Exactly 45 years ago today, after months of preparation, Apollo 11 embarked on its now-legendary mission to the moon. But what exactly does it take to send three men into the great, vacuous unknown? See for yourself.
via Gizmodo

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Jul 17, 2014

Mathematics makes strong case that “snoopy2” can be just fine as a password

posted by Larra Morris

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By now, most readers know the advice cold. Use long, randomly generated passwords to lock down your digital assets. Never use the same password across two or more accounts. In abstract terms, the dictates are some of the best ways to protect against breaches suffered by one site—say, the one that hit Gawker in 2010 that exposed poorly cryptographically scrambled passwords for 1.3 million users—that spread like wildfire. Once hackers cracked weak passwords found in the Gawker database, they were able to compromise accounts across a variety of other websites when victims used the same passcode.

A team of researchers says the widely repeated advice isn't feasible in practice, and they've provided the math they say proves it. The burden stems from the two foundations of password security that (A1) passwords should be random and strong and (A2) passwords shouldn't be reused across multiple accounts. Those principles are sound when protecting a handful of accounts, particularly those such as bank accounts, where the value of the assets being protected is considered extremely high. Where things break down is when the dictates are applied across a large body of passwords that protect multiple accounts, some of which store extremely low-value data, such as the ability to post comments on a single website.
via Ars Technica

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Image: Florencio et al.

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Jul 16, 2014

Artist recreates his childhood drawings as an adult

posted by Larra Morris

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This is 'Kiddie Arts', a series of digital paintings by Dutch artist Telmo Pieper inspired by the drawings he made when he was four.
via Geekologie

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Images: Telmo Pieper

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Jul 16, 2014

Fossil of massive four-winged raptor found in China

posted by Larra Morris

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The fossil of a newly discovered dinosaur has been found in China. At nine pounds and four feet long, the four-winged carnivore is believed to have been three times heavier and 60 percent longer than the second biggest four-winged dinosaur.
via The Wire

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Image: DINOSAUR INSTITUTE, NHM

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Jul 16, 2014

Heart rate monitoring car seats keep you from drifting off

posted by Larra Morris

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The sensors can detect a driver's ECG—or electrocardiogram—through their clothing, even multiple layers of a suit, but are invisible since they're stitched and integrated into the car seat's fabric. And while most automotive fatigue-sensing systems simply alert the driver or attempt to wake them up in some way, the researchers at Nottingham Trent University in the UK envision them being used to activate a car's cruise control systems and lane-keeping functionality to prevent an accident should they drift off.
via Gizmodo

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Image: Innovation In Textiles 

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Jul 15, 2014

Long-distance call from across the universe leaves astronomers baffled

posted by Laura Domela

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Talk about a long-distance call! Astronomers have stumbled across a mysterious radio signal that appears to have traveled from not just from outside of our solar system – but beyond even our Milky Way galaxy.

The largest cosmic ear in the world, the 305-metre-wide Arecibo radio dish in Puerto Rico, picked up a momentary burst of radio waves on Nov. 2, 2012. The signal itself was quite modest – nothing more than radio blip lasting only three one-thousandths of a second long. It was so fast that the human ear alone could not detect it, but its ramifications could be huge in the research community.

The same signal had been heard a few times before, but only by the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. Astronomers, however, questioned its origin, thinking that since only that one observatory was hearing it, it must be coming from close to our planet, most likely somewhere within Earth's environment. They thought it could have been an errant communication signal bouncing off the upper atmosphere or a satellite.
via Yahoo News

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Image: The bright sun greets the International Space Station in this Nov. 22
scene from the Russian section of the orbital outpost, photographed by one
of the STS-129 crew members. Image credit: NASA.

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Jul 15, 2014

Explore New York City according to the music it inspired

posted by Larra Morris

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New York City has not only provided the backdrop for a countless songs, but it's also birthed entire genres of music. So when you start to plot where each of these moments happened, you're soon left with a pretty exciting guided tour of one of the world's biggest cultural capitals. YouTube links make it even better.

This is exactly what real estate developer and known internet prankster Constantine Valhouli did with his new NYC Music Map. The formula was simple: Valhouli combed Wikipedia's list of songs mentioning New York City and dropped a pin with a link to that YouTube video on a Google Map of the city.
via Gizmodo

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Jul 15, 2014

Rocket scientist adds fins to pans and nearly doubles their efficiency

posted by Laura Domela

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One rocket scientist has turned his attention to cookware, designing a new set of pots and pans that are touted as nearly double the energy efficiency of your ordinary round cookware. What's different? The addition of fins.

The new pots were designed by Oxford University professor of engineering Thomas Povey, who has developed what he calls the Flare Pan. With this pan, which is being sold through maker Lakeland, comes a promised 40-percent decrease in energy usage over conventional cooking pans, as well as the ability to heat up faster.
via Slashgear

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Jul 15, 2014

Finland's largest city wants to replace cars with apps

posted by Larra Morris

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Car sharing has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to the internet and smartphones. But now the city government of Helsinki, Finland, wants to take that idea to its logical endpoint: replacing most privately owned cars by 2025 with a comprehensive route-planner app that would also offer access to all of the city's shared-transportation options, plus weather forecasts. As The Helsinki Times reported earlier this month, the idea is to offer every commuter a series of transportation options tailored directly to them and their circumstances: so if it's due to start raining, the app would recommend exactly when to swap a bike-share for a cab, for example.
via The Verge

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Image: Hans Põldoja/Flickr

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