M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Have some Proxima Centauri with ESPRESSO

January 20, 2020
MThomas

“Proxima is our closest neighbor in an immense universe. How could we not be charmed by it?

Well, the planet may or may not exist (the confirmation data won’t be publicly available for another couple years).

And it is most likely not inhabitable — despite being dubbed a “Super-Earth” (which really only refers to size and not whether it’s “Earth-like” or not).

Still, regardless of these facts, the most important part of this article in Scientific American is the science:

“We tried different tools to prove ourselves wrong, but we failed. However, we have to keep the doors open to all possible doubt and skepticism.

Yes, the astronomers tried to prove their own discovery was a mistake. That’s how it works, folks. Challenge your assumptions, not jump to conclusions. Continue Reading

US phones come with preinstalled Chinese malware

January 9, 2020
MThomas

One of the pre-installed apps, which looks and operates as a wireless update program, automatically installs more apps without user consent, according to Malwarebytes.

And it appears to be a variant of Adups, malware previously traced to China, which transmits text, call-location and app data to a Chinese server every 72 hours.

China is so far ahead of the US in terms of hacking and spyware. And this is only the stuff that they didn’t even bother hiding…

Btw the image used is a repeat from a 2018 article about Lebanon-based spyware installed on phones in five different countries.

Missile strikes are distractions. The next war will be online.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51054901

No, it’s not actually an iPhone. Yes, please stop the sloppy reporting, thanks

January 9, 2020
MThomas

AncientIPhone

This is already a few months old, but I thought I’d finally get around to blogging about it: The “ancient iPhone” of “Russia’s Atlantis.”

Spoiler alert: it’s not one, and there was no such place. But that didn’t stop the “news” from spreading. Continue Reading

Khufu, I mean, Cheops is a go!

December 20, 2019
MThomas

Ever wonder this about “Super Earths”?

Do they have atmospheres and how thick are they? What kind of clouds? Do they possess oceans on their surface? Do they have rings and moons? Cheops ought to be able to address such questions just from looking for these tiny dips in light during a transit.

ESA finally does something! Wow. Go Europe!

I love how BBC says “The Americans” when referring to NASA, as if a) American is an ethnic group and b) all NASA scientists are American.

But anyway…

Prof Didier Queloz, who won this year’s Physics Nobel for discovering the first planet orbiting a Sun-like star in 1995, was on hand to watch the launch.

You can watch/listen to his interview here.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50804258

ESA and NASA? Airbus? Still not ready? 🤦‍♂️

December 6, 2019
MThomas

Right now, engineers have got a dummy rover practising the business of retrieving packaged rock samples. And, yes, the stand-ins really are whiteboard markers.

Yay! Whiteboard markers. Um. OK.

But different agencies and companies are finally working together?

Great!

Wait. What’s the catch?

It is, though, going to take more than a decade to achieve.

Sigh.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50663278

Exoskeletons in the house! Sorry, no mechas (yet)

November 8, 2019
MThomas

The “Every Muscle Suit” has a lot going for it. Weighing just 3.8 kilograms (2.2 pounds), the pneumatic artificial muscle suit is powerful enough to generate up to 25.5 kilogram-force and effectively relieves pressure on users’ backs when performing activities like heavy lifting.

And no batteries. That’s right: it uses air pressure only. Sells for the low low price of ¥149,600 (US$1,380)!

Well, OK, it’s not cheap. But compared to the robots used in heavy industries, this one’s close to affordable. And you can even test-run at the Bic Camera store in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

No mention of mounted laser rifles yet, though. Sorry.

Maybe V. 2.1?

https://soranews24.com/2019/11/05/assistive-exoskeletons-now-available-in-japanese-electronic-stores-lets-you-do-serious-lifting/

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