Science SundaySkepticism

Science Sunday: Why We can Feel Confident that the Egyptian Pyramids were not Granaries

A certain politician has remarked recently that it is his personal theory that the pyramids of Egypt were built by a Biblical figure to store grain.  Leaving aside the issue of having personal theories we are proud to bandy about without expertise in a given subject matter, how do we …

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Science Sunday: Introducing Advanced LIGO, the Future of Gravitational Astronomy

On Tuesday, the LIGO Laboratory announced the completion of the Advanced LIGO detector array, which may finally be able to detect elusive gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are a consequence of Einstein’s General Relativity. They operate similar to other kinds of waves, and are thought to carry gravitational energy. Even though all objects with …

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Science Sunday: With Liberty and Internet Access for All

I believe in the internet.  I mean, obviously it exists, that’s not the issue.  I believe that unfettered access to different people and ideas is the best defense against tyranny, whether governmental or the thought policing that religions engage in.  I believe that access to a global commerce network allows …

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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 …

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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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …