Science Sunday

Science Sunday: Bleeding Hearts and the Tribulations of Initializing Variables in C

Science Sunday: Bleeding Hearts and the Tribulations of Initializing Variables in C

These are troubled times indeed.  The Heartbleed bug is causing wailing and gnashing of teeth among all administrators of servers, and Bruce Schneier, the man who taught Chuck Norris to divide by zero, has declared this an emergency of 11, on a scale of 1-10. Internet protocols do not have any built-in security measures.  Think about that for a minute.  The internet is a datagram service.  All it ... »

Science Sunday: Go to the Computer!

Science Sunday: Go to the Computer!

Today in news that makes me happy, a computer named Crazy Stone is playing Go so well it can defeat the Japanese Go champion!  This is probably the sexiest supercomputer since Watson.  Though I don’t quite get the way the article is framed, that is, as a competition between machines and humans, since humans built machines.  If we lose to them, it demonstrates how good we are building them an... »

Science Sunday:  Biometric Security and the Impermanence of Fingerprints

Science Sunday: Biometric Security and the Impermanence of Fingerprints

Recently, on my spring break (which now that I am not a student, I can take) I met a delightful older nurse who told me many fun stories about patients with bubonic plague and ebola.  That’s not important.  The important thing was that she also told me that at the clinic where she works, there is an atm-like drug dispenser that nurses must enter a passcode and have their fingerprints scanned... »

Science Sunday: Denial of Service Attacks and the Cost of Security

Science Sunday: Denial of Service Attacks and the Cost of Security

Last week, Skepchick, Freethoughtblogs, and Feminist Frequency all went offline due to distributed denial of service attacks.  Those are nasty.  It’s an easy attack to launch while being difficult to impossible to defend against without adding lots of costly time-consuming security measures to victimized servers. The internet, as we know it, was built on trust, and for better or worse, that&... »

Science Sunday:  Eavesdropping on Computers for Fun and Profit

Science Sunday: Eavesdropping on Computers for Fun and Profit

Some researchers in Israel analyzed the noises a computer was making and used that to analyze exactly what the CPU was doing!  Acoustic cryptoanalysis is a thing now!  This is one of the coolest papers I’ve ever read.  The gist is as follows: As CPUs do differing work they require differing levels of voltage. The fluctuating voltage demands produces noises in the capacitors in the computer. ... »

Science Sunday: Falling Through the Earth

Science Sunday: Falling Through the Earth

Now that Mindy’s teaching everyone about gravity, I thought it would be fun to show the classic gravitational problem, “What happens if you fall though the center of the Earth?” It’s a very common problem, and the math isn’t too difficult. So let’s run through it, shall we? (If you can’t follow the math, it’s ok. I explain everything at the end.) Fir... »

Science Sunday: Bohemian Gravity Explained, or, What is String Theory?

Science Sunday: Bohemian Gravity Explained, or, What is String Theory?

Unless you live under a rock that doesn’t have wifi for some reason, you’ve seen the scientific musical masterpiece that is Bohemian Gravity. Perhaps, after watching that glorious mix of harmonies and science, you were left admiring the beauty of the song, but wondering what, exactly, it was about. Well, after a long day reading Wikipedia, I have come to tell you that I understand it! ... »

Science Sunday: Exoplanets!

Science Sunday: Exoplanets!

It seems like nearly every week there’s a new announcement that astronomers have found another exoplanet, a planet orbiting a different star. Sometimes that planet is a Hot Jupiter, sometimes it’s a Super-Earth, sometimes it’s a planet made entirely of diamond or burning ice. Exoplanets are weird, incredibly diverse, and always fascinating. But there are plenty of ice-burning que... »

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