Posts tagged ‘Technology’

Was there a paedophile ring in No 10? MP Tom Watson demands probe

2012 10 25

A powerful paedophile network may have operated in Britain protected by its connections to Parliament and Downing Street, a senior Labour politician suggested yesterday.

Speaking from the back benches of the House of Commons, Tom Watson, the deputy chairman of the Labour Party, called on the Metropolitan Police to reopen a closed criminal inquiry into paedophilia.

Indicating his anxiety that there had been an establishment cover-up, Mr Watson referred to the case of Peter Righton, who was convicted in 1992 of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material.

Righton, a former consultant  to the National Children’s Bureau and lecturer at the National Institute for Social Work in London, admitted two illegal importation charges and one charge of possessing obscene material. He was fined £900.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Watson said the evidence  file used to convict Righton “if  it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring”.

He told a hushed Commons: “One of its members boasts of a link to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.

“The leads were not followed up, but if the files still exist, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it, and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.”

In the aftermath of Mr Watson’s remarks, media outlets speculated that he was referring to the  late former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath – who was the subject of unsubstantiated rumours about sex with under-age boys – or to Sir Peter Morrison, a former Downing Street aide who died  in 1995.

However, The Independent understands that Mr Watson’s comments were not aimed at either Sir Edward or Sir Peter, but at a living person associated with Margaret Thatcher’s administration.

They are thought to involve the activities of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a pro-paedophile group in existence between 1974 and 1984, which believed there should be no age of consent.

Responding to the remarks, David Cameron said the MP had raised “a very difficult and complex case”, adding he was unclear which former Prime Minister Mr Watson was referring to.

Criticising the BBC’s record on Savile – who was never caught and died last year aged 84, the Prime Minister said: “These allegations do leave many institutions – perhaps particularly the BBC – with serious questions to answer – I think above all the question, ‘How did he get away with this for so long?’.”

He told MPs: “The most important thing is that the police investigation is properly resourced and is allowed to continue.”

Source – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/was-there-a-paedophile-ring-in-no-10-mp-tom-watson-demands-probe-8224702.html

DARPA’s Cheetah Robot Can Now Outrun Usain Bolt

 

 

2012 09 12

It’s been a little over a year since the military first set out to design a four-legged robot capable of doing mad sprints. Called Cheetah, the robot was meant to be ultra-speedy and agile, able to “chase and evade” even the wiliest of human foes.

Now, that robot has attained a remarkable new milestone: Cheetah can run faster than Usain Bolt.

In a video released today by Boston Dynamics, the company behind the military-funded robot, Cheetah can be seen moving at seemingly superhuman (and super-robotic) speeds. Though still tethered to a treadmill, the robot now maxes out at an astounding 28.3 miles-per-hour. Bolt? His success in London may have secured his spot as the world’s fastest man, but Bolt’s best 20-meter split is 27.78 miles-per-hour.

And Bolt, beware: The Cheetah-bot-of-war is making some swift progress towards getting even swifter. In March, a mere five months ago, Boston Dynamics announced that the robot was capable of running at 18 miles-per-hour, which at the time marked a new speed record for robots. To boost the ‘bots pace, the company increased the oomph of the robot’s power source, and altered the algorithms responsible for controlling the movements of Cheetah’s legs.

Designers behind the robot hope to see Cheetah max out at speeds as fast as 70 miles-per-hour.

If this progress isn’t impressive (and frightening) enough, Boston Dynamics also today announced plans to unleash Cheetah from its treadmill tether. Sometime next year, they anticipate unveiling WildCat, a “free running outdoor Cheetah robot” that can hit those high speeds on myriad types of terrain.

Cheetah, which is one robot in a long line of impressive Pentagon-sponsored robotics feats, has clear military applications, including emergency and disaster response. But DARPA doesn’t seem to be stopping there. Last year, the agency noted that Cheetah robots might also be useful in “advanced agriculture and vehicular travel.”

Cheetah Robot is a fast-running quadruped developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA. It just blazed past its previous speed record, getting up to 28.3 mph, about 0.5 mph faster than Usain Bolt’s fastest 20 meter split. This version of the Cheetah Robot runs on a treadmill with offboard power. Testing on an untethered outdoor version starts early next year. For more information about Cheetah or the other robots we develop, visit http://www.BostonDynamics.com.

Source:- http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiedrummond/2012/09/05/darpa-cheetah/

US Pentagon unveils DARPA-made mule-drone

 

 

2012 09 12

Military researchers working for the Pentagon have released video footage of one of its newest projects, the Legged Squad Support System, and are touting the creation as a cyborg-style animal-drone that will aid troops across a variety of terrains.

Scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, are touting a video of one of its latest endeavors in action. The lab has released footage of an unmanned, four-legged robot nicknamed the LS3 that they expect to send into battle to assist soldiers and Marines in an array of conditions.

“Today’s dismounted warfighter can be saddled with more than 100 pounds of gear, resulting in physical strain, fatigue and degraded performance,” DARPA claims on their website. “Reducing the load on dismounted warfighters has become a major point of emphasis for defense research and development, because the increasing weight of individual equipment has a negative impact on warfighter readiness. The Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges. To help alleviate physical weight on troops, DARPA is developing a four-legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with a squad of Marines or Soldiers.”

DARPA says that, when fully-functioning, the mule-like machine will be able to carry upwards of 400lbs of weapons, supplies and other cargo as troops transverse all sorts of terrain, “similar to a trained animal and its handler.” Additionally, the LS3 is expected to act as an auxiliary power source to recharge handheld devices used in the field.

Scientists completed their first test run of the LS3 back in January and have recently launched a two-year, platform-refinement test cycle in July that is being assisted with aid from the Marine and Army. At the end of this program, says DARPA, the LS3 will ideally be able to accompany troops using its own local perception abilities.

The “LS3 attempts to follow as close as possible to the path its leader takes,” DARPA explains in one example, adding that the craft with also have “freedom to make local path decisions, so the leader doesn’t need to think about LS3’s mobility capabilities.”

Although DARPA says that the LS3 will be able to move across fronts on its own without necessarily relying on direct commands for mobility instructions, the agency has not announced if the finished product will be able to be as intuitive in regards to mounted firearms that may be affixed to its shell.

“The vision for LS3 is to combine the capabilities of a pack mule with the intelligence of a trained animal,” DARPA Program Manager Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt tells reporters.

Source:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19567351#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Chinese scientists unveil mind-controlled drone

Chinese researchers have unveiled a system that allows users to control drones with their thoughts (Screenshot from video / courtesy Youtube user CCNTLab)

Chinese researchers have created a ‘quadcopter’ – a four-rotor helicopter – that can be controlled by thought alone.

The researchers aim to give people with impaired motor abilities a new avenue for interaction – for instance, using the helicopter to take a close-up look at objects which are out of reach.

The team even suggests the helicopters could be used for fun aerial battles in the sky, creating a fun interactive game for both disabled and non-disabled people alike.

The system uses an off-the-shelf ‘electroencephalography’ (EEG) headset, by a company called Amotive, which can interpret brain activity.The Emotiv headset retails for $299 and can simply be plugged into any recent Windows machine to begin working, with apps and games – including Angry Birds – being adapted by enthusiasts to run with simple mind controls. 

Currently, the headset uses Bluetooth to connect to a laptop, which then trasmits the instructions onwards to the helicopter.

However, over time, the technology is likely to shrink and become simpler to use, as well as find more uses.

The team, from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China,may still need to consider how to phrase the controls, however, as New Scientist reports that a user can move the flyer forward by thinking ‘right’, fly up by thinking ‘push’, and turn clockwise by thinking ‘left’.

Thinking ‘left hard’ tells the quadcopter to take off from the ground.

Clenched teeth and blinking both produce a brain signal that the EEG can read, which can tell the helicopter to take a picture or even stream video back to a laptop.

Users can capture a still by blinking four times.

While handicap assistance and gaming is one potential application for the system, only the imagination can limit the potential uses mind-controlled drones could have in the future, both for civilian and other purposes.

A participant is able to fly the rotor by just brain-power alone – deciding to check out flowers in the area around him

Onboard cameras can beam images straight back down to any Windows PC, enabling users to have another pair of eyes

Source :- rt.com/news/mind-controlled-drone-china-157/

Watch Out for the Blue Moon

August 29, 2012: When someone says “Once in a Blue Moon,” you know what they mean:  Rare, seldom, even absurd.

This year it means August 31st.

For the second time this month, the Moon is about to become full.  There was one full Moon on August 1st/2nd, and now a second is coming on August 31st.  According to modern folklore, whenever there are two full Moons in a calendar month, the second one is “blue.”

Cue up the Elvis records! “Blue Moon…. You saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.” In song and literature, blue moons have long symbolized lost love and melancholy. Elvis set the standard for lunar heartbreak in his 1956 pop hit “Blue Moon.”

Watch Out for the Blue Moon (splash)

A new ScienceCast video explores the facts and myths of Blue Moons.

But will the moody Moon of August 31st actually turn blue?  Probably not.

Most Blue Moons look pale gray and white, indistinguishable from any other Moon you’ve ever seen.  Squeezing a second full Moon into a calendar month doesn’t change the physical properties of the Moon itself, so its color remains the same.

With that caveat in mind, however, be aware that on rare occasions it can happen.

A truly-blue Moon usually requires a volcanic eruption. Back in 1883, for example, people saw blue moons almost every night after the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded with the force of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb. Plumes of ash rose to the very top of Earth’s atmosphere, and the Moon … it turned blue!

Krakatoa’s ash was the reason. Some of the plumes were filled with particles 1 micron wide, about the same as the wavelength of red light.  Particles of this special size strongly scatter red light, while allowing blue light to pass through. Krakatoa’s clouds thus acted like a blue filter.

People also saw blue-colored Moons in 1983 after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico. And there are reports of blue Moons caused by Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Certain forest fires can do the same trick.  A famous example is the giant muskeg fire of Sept. 1953 in Alberta, Canada.  Clouds of smoke containing micron-sized oil droplets produced lavender suns and blue Moons all the way from North America to England.

There are plenty of wildfires burning in the hot, dry USA this month.  If any of them produce smoke with an extra dose of micron-sized particles, the full Moon might really turn blue.

On the other hand, maybe it will turn red.  Often, when the moon is hanging low, it looks red for the same reason that sunsets are red.  The atmosphere is full of aerosols much smaller than the ones injected by volcanoes.  Measuring less than a micron in diameter, these aerosols scatter blue light, while leaving the red behind. For this reason, red Blue Moons are far more common than blue Blue Moons.

Sounds absurd? Yes, but that’s what a Blue Moon is all about. Step outside at sunset on August 31st, look east at the moonrise, and see what color presents itself.

Source:- science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/29aug_bluemoon/

Cyborg tissue is half living cells, half electronics

They beat like real heart cells, but the rat cardiomyocytes in a dish at Harvard University are different in one crucial way. Snaking through them are wires and transistors that spy on each cell’s electrical impulses. In future, the wires might control their behaviour too.

Versions of this souped-up, “cyborg” tissue have been created for neurons, muscle and blood vessels. They could be used to test drugs or as the basis for more biological versions of existing implants such as pacemakers. If signals can also be sent to the cells, cyborg tissue could be used in prosthetics or to create tiny robots.

“It allows one to effectively blur the boundary between electronic, inorganic systems and organic, biological ones,” says Charles Lieber, who leads the team behind the cyborg tissue.

Artificial tissue can already be grown on three-dimensional scaffolds made of biological materials that are not electrically active. And electrical components have been added to cultured tissue before, but not integrated into its structure, so they were only able to glean information from the surface.

Bio-scaffolds go electric

Bioengineers at Harvard University have created the first examples of cyborg tissue: Neurons, heart cells, muscle, and blood vessels that are interwoven by nanowires and transistors. Source

Electrically inflamed

Lieber’s team combined these strands of work to create electrically active scaffolds. They created 3D networks of conductive nanowires studded with silicon sensors. Crucially, the wires had to be flexible and extremely small, to avoid impeding the growth of tissue. The scaffold also contained traditional biological materials such as collagen.

The researchers were able to grow rat neurons, heart cells and muscle in these hybrid meshes. In the case of the heart cells, they started to contract just like normal cells, and the researchers used the network to read out the rate of the beats.

When they added a drug that stimulates heart cell contraction, they detected an increase in the rate, indicating the tissue was behaving like normal and that the network could sense such changes.

Lieber’s team also managed to grow an entire blood vessel about 1.5 centimetres long from human cells, with wires snaking through it. By recording electrical signals from inside and outside the vessel– something that was never possible before– the team was able to detect electrical patterns that they say could give clues to inflammation, whether tissue has undergone changes that make it prone to tumour formation or suggest impending heart disease.

Commanding cells

“You could use these things to directly measure the effects of drugs in synthetically grown human tissue without ever having to test them in an actual human being,” says Lieber’s colleague Daniel Kohane. He also envisions tissue patches that could be added to the surface of a heart, say, to monitor for problems.

Vladimir Parpura, a neurobiologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who was not involved in the study, suggests using the tissue to build tiny, biomimetic robots or implants that repair damaged tissue via electronic pulses.

So far, though, the researchers have only used the electrical scaffolds to record signals– they have yet to feed commands to cells. So Lieber’s next step is to add components to the nanoscaffold that could “talk” to neurons. He says the goal is to “wire up tissue and communicate with it in the same way a biological system does”.

Journal reference: Nature Materials, DOI: 10.1038/nmat3404

Two Suns? Twin Stars Could Be Visible From Earth By 2012

Earth could be getting a second sun, at least temporarily.

Dr. Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland, outlined the scenario to news.com.au. Betelgeuse, one of the night sky’s brightest stars, is losing mass, indicating it is collapsing. It could run out of fuel and go super-nova at any time.

When that happens, for at least a few weeks, we’d see a second sun, Carter says. There may also be no night during that timeframe.

The Star Wars-esque scenario could happen by 2012, Carter says… or it could take longer. The explosion could also cause a neutron star or result in the formation of a black hole 1300 light years from Earth, reports news.com.au.

But doomsday sayers should be careful about speculation on this one. If the star does go super-nova, Earth will be showered with harmless particles, according to Carter. “They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever,” he told news.com.au.

In fact, a neutrino shower could be beneficial to Earth. According to Carter this “star stuff” makes up the universe. “It literally makes things like gold, silver – all the heavy elements – even things like uranium….a star like Betelgeuse is instantly forming for us all sorts of heavy elements and atoms that our own Earth and our own bodies have from long past supernovi,” said Carter.

UPDATE: To clarify, the news.com.au article does not say a neutrino shower could be beneficial to Earth, but implies a supernova could be beneficial, stating, “Far from being a sign of the apocalypse, according to Dr Carter the supernova will provide Earth with elements necessary for survival and continuity.”

Source - Huffingtonpost.com

The article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

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Wolf Moon Rising

Jan. 19, 2011 Upton, Lincolnshire, UK

 

It’s called the Wolf Moon because of folklore: northern Native Americans named it after packs of singing wolves they once heard during the winter month of January.

 

Source – Spaceweather.com

The article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Jets on the Sun

 

Explanation: Imagine a pipe as wide as a state and as long as the Earth. Now imagine that this pipe is filled with hot gas moving 50,000 kilometers per hour. Further imagine that this pipe is not made of metal but a transparent magnetic field. You are envisioning just one of thousands of young spicules on the active Sun. Pictured above is one of the highest resolution image yet of these enigmatic solar flux tubes. Spicules line the above frame of solar active region 11092 that crossed the Sun last month, but are particularly evident converging on the sunspot on the lower left. Time-sequenced images have recently shown that spicules last about five minutes, starting out as tall tubes of rapidly rising gas but eventually fading as the gas peaks and falls back down to the Sun. What determines the creation and dynamics of spicules remains a topic of active research.

 

The article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

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What in The World are They Spraying by G. Edward Griffin & Michael J. Murphy

 

Filmmaker Michael J. Murphy and G. Edward Griffin: What in the World Are They Spraying, a documentary that covers chemtrails and the rapidly developing industry called geo-engineering driven by scientists, corporations, and governments intent on changing global climate, controlling the weather, and altering the chemical composition of soil and water — all supposedly for the betterment of mankind. Michael J. Murphy is an independent journalist and political activist from the Los Angeles area whose work focuses on issues that go beyond the interest of the corporate mainstream media. G. Edward Griffin is an author, film producer, and political lecturer. Griffin founded Freedom Force International, a libertarian activist network, and is the other of numerous books, including the classic The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve.

 

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