For most of us, ice isn’t something we’ve thought about in detail since our high school science classes. For most of us, we pour some tap water into the ice trays, slam it in the freezer, and forget about it. Then we lob the frozen misshapen cubes into a beer and enjoy a quite literally ice-cold beverage.
However, there’s so much more fun to be had with ice if you really get into it. If you’ve ever wondered how pretentious cocktail bars make their fancy ice spheres or transparent cubes, read on!
Continue reading “The Art And Science Of Making Beautiful Transparent Ice” →
In an ideal world we would never lose our belongings, and not spend a single hour fruitlessly searching for some keys, a piece of luggage, a smartphone or one of the two dozen remote controls which are scattered around the average home these days. Since we do not live in this ideal world, we have had to come up with ways to keep track of our belongings, whether inside or outside our homes, which has led to today’s ubiquitous personal tracking devices.
Today’s popular Bluetooth-based trackers constantly announce their presence to devices set up to listen for them. Within a home, this range is generally enough to find the tracker and associated item using a smartphone, after which using special software the tracker can be made to sound its built-in speaker to ease localizing it by ear. Outside the home, these trackers can use mesh networks formed by smartphones and other devices to ‘phone home’ to paired devices.
This is great when it’s your purse. But this also gives anyone the ability to stick such a tracker device onto a victim’s belongings and track them without their consent, for whatever nefarious purpose. Yet it is this duality between useful and illegal that has people on edge when it comes to these trackers. How can we still use the benefits they offer, without giving stalkers and criminals free reign? A draft proposal by Apple and Google, submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), seeks to address these points but it remains complicated.
Continue reading “AirTags, Tiles, SmartTags And The Dilemmas Of Personal Tracking Devices” →
When it comes to the issue of climate change, naysayers often contend that we have an incomplete understanding of the Earth’s systems. While humanity is yet to uncover all the secrets of the world, that doesn’t mean we can’t act on what we know. In many cases, as climate scientists delve deeper, they find yet more supporting evidence of the potential turmoil to come.
In the stark landscapes of Greenland, a team of intrepid researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have unearthed a hidden facet of ice-ocean interaction. Their discovery could potentially flip our understanding of sea level rise on its head.
Continue reading “Faster Glacier Melting Mechanism Could Cause Huge Sea Level Rises” →
In the constant pursuit of innovation, it’s easy to overlook the wisdom of the past. The scientific method and modern research techniques have brought us much innovation, which can often lead us to dismiss traditional cultural beliefs.
However, sometimes, there are still valuable kernels of truth in the folklore of yesteryear. This holds true in a medical study from Finland, which focused on the traditional use of spruce resin to treat chronic wounds, breathing new life into an age-old therapy.
Continue reading “Revisiting Folk Wisdom For Modern Chronic Wound Care” →
Everyone in security will tell you need two-factor authentication (2FA), and we agree. End of article? Nope. The devil, as always with security, is in the details. Case in point: in the last few weeks, none less than Google messed up with their Google Authenticator app. The security community screamed out loud, and while it’s not over yet, it looks like Google is on the way to fixing the issue.
Since 2FA has become a part of all of our lives – or at least it should – let’s take a quick dip into how it works, the many challenges of implementing 2FA correctly, what happened with Google Authenticator, and what options you’ve got to keep yourself safe online.
Continue reading “Two Factor Authentication Apps: Mistakes To Malware” →
A recent study in Nature Scientific Reports by Jonathan P. R. Scott and colleagues makes the case for sending exclusively all-female crews on long-duration missions. The reasoning here is simple: women have significant less body mass, with in the US the 50th percentile for women being 59.2 kg and 81.8 kg for men. This directly translates into a low total energy expenditure (TEE), along with a lower need for everything from food to water to oxygen. On a long-duration mission, this could conceivably save a lot of resources, thus increasing the likelihood of success.
With this in mind, it does raise the question of why female astronauts aren’t more commonly seen throughout Western space history, with Sally Ride being the first US astronaut to fly in 1983. This happened decades after the first female Soviet cosmonaut, when Valentina Tereshkova made history in 1963 on Vostok 6, followed by Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982 and again in 1984, when she became the first woman to perform a spacewalk.
With women becoming an increasingly more common sight in space, it does bear looking at what blocked Western women for so long, despite efforts to change this. It all starts with the unofficial parallel female astronaut selection program of the 1950s.
Continue reading “Making The Case For All-Female Exploration Missions To Mars And Beyond” →
When the Space Race kicked off in earnest in the 1950s, in some ways it was hard to pin down where sci-fi began and reality ended. As the first artificial satellites began zipping around the Earth, this was soon followed by manned spaceflight, first in low Earth orbit, then to the Moon with manned spaceflights to Mars and Venus already in the planning. The first space stations were being launched following or alongside Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and countless other books and movies during the 1960s and 1970s such as Moonraker which portrayed people living (and fighting) out in space.
Perhaps ironically, considering the portrayal of space stations in Western media, virtually all of the space stations launched during the 20th century were Soviet, leaving Skylab as the sole US space station to this day. The Soviet Union established a near-permanent presence of cosmonauts in Earth orbit since the 1970s as part of the Salyut program. These Salyut space stations also served as cover for the military Almaz space stations that were intended to be used for reconnaissance as well as weapon platforms.
Although the US unquestionably won out on racing the USSR to the Moon, the latter nation’s achievements granted us invaluable knowledge on how to make space stations work, which benefits us all to this very day.
Continue reading “The Soviet Space Station Program: From Military Satellites To The ISS” →