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February 2008
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April 2008

"The Google Code": Powering the U.S. Spook World

Google_cia_2I wonder if anyone in the CIA Google'd the Treadstone Project? Where is Robert Ludlum when we need him!

With the increasing intensity of global USA and British electronic and satellite surveillance of al Qaeda, the leadership of the global terrorist groups have gone "dark," an unintended consequence of successful surveillance by NSA and other intelligence sources -many using sophisticated keyword analysis of the daily global electronic communications traffic. To make the spooks job even more difficult, most of the top terrorists have switched from using satellite phones and email to employing centuries-old hand-delivered messenger networks, cutouts at Internet cafes, and a vast network of honey stores that have existed throughout the Islamic world since biblical times to generate income and secretly move weapons, drugs, and agents.

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New Habitable Planets in Space

Dv0506drakefinal0001_2 Frank Drake, the author of the famed "Drake Equation," which estimates the possible range of intelligent civilizations in our home Milky Way Galaxy, which contains about 400 billion stars will be giving a talk on Thursday, March 31, at the Alaska's Barrow Arctic Science Consortium on  "new habitable planets in space, and our new searches for the inhabitants."

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Will Google Maps 'Rewrite' 21st-Century SciFi Novels?

2368138510_7442a66806_o Taking urban sci-fi to another level, the British headquarters of Penguin Books recently premiered a new website called - We Tell Stories. The basic idea is that six authors will tell six stories over a period of six weeks.

The first story, The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming, was created integrating using Google Maps as an integral part of the plot structure.  In Charles Cumming's story, inspired by John Buchan's famed novel The 39 Steps, we follow a man, watching from above, in an omniscient satellite view.

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Our New Robotic Overlords -Tool-Using Octodons?

Vinegar1778381_2 Everyone knows that the Japanese are engineering the imminent robotic destruction of Earth  What you might not know is that's only stage one of their plan.  When the dust settles and the last surviving humans claw their way out of the rubble, they'll immediately be enslaved by their new overlords: tool-using rats.

For reasons best known to their psychologists, researchers at the Japanese RIKEN facility spent two months teaching rats how to use a small rake.  Bush-tailed rats, specifically, and although the species (known as Degu) is technically an Octodon, quibbling over the exact genus of rodent the scientists just trained to replace us isn't the important point here.

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A New Place to Search for Life's Ancient Traces on the Red Planet

Salt1_2 Scientists using a Mars-orbiting camera designed and operated at Arizona State University's Space Flight Facility have discovered the first evidence for deposits of chloride minerals, salts, in numerous places on Mars. These deposits, say the scientists, show where water was once abundant and may also provide evidence for the existence of former life on Mars. Salt deposits point to a lot of water, which could potentially remain standing in pools as it evaporates. For life, it's all about a habitat that endures for some time.

Over a long period of time, water flowing into a basin can concentrate the organic materials that could be well preserved in the salt. On Earth, salt has proven remarkably good at preserving organic material. For example, bacteria have been revived in the laboratory after being preserved in salt deposits for millions of years.

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Harry Potter Wizardry Spawns New Ivy League Sport: Quidditch

Quidditch_0345_zrsmall_2 Monday afternoon, the Middlebury Quidditch team swooped into Princeton University as part of its annual spring break Quidditch tour in an attempt to promote its ground-bound version of the sport at other American universities. So far this year, Middlebury has visited Bard and Penn and has games scheduled against Columbia and Vassar.

Like good Harry's gravity-defying favorite pastime, the non-magical version of Quidditch features seven players on a team, one quaffle, three bludgers and a golden snitch. This is where all similarities between the versions of Quidditch played at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and at Tiger Stadium end.


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