Around the world today, hackers are working hard to find vulnerabilities in the information technology systems our lives rely on. They hack these systems by intercepting supposedly secure communication, altering messages, and using that information for personal gain. There are white hat hackers, hacking for good and working for places like Apple and the Pentagon to find weaknesses in their technology and fix it. There are black hat hackers, hacking for bad and doing things like accessing email accounts or stealing credit card information. Some hackers just do it because they can and have no real agenda. But try to imagine for a second who the first hacker was, the first ever person to intercept a secure message and change it or alter it. Are you a picturing a Soviet KGB agent figuring out a way to read communiqués from the Kennedy white house during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Maybe you have in mind a teenager in their parents’ garage figuring out a way into the Department of Defense’s “secure” network in the mid-1980s?
What if I told you that the first hacker was a stage magician?
What if I told you this magician did it to call someone a “diddler of the public”?
They may do good science, but research labs produce lots of garbage. By some estimate, the plastic waste generated by biology labs in one year weighs the same as 67-cruise ships.
Laboratory waste may not be the biggest contributor to the global garbage mountain, but many scientists are reevaluating common research practices because of climate change. As a result, a growing “green labs” movement has emerged that works to improve sustainability in research laboratories.
Another SNF-workshopped article on the Popular Mechanics blog:
It’s the bane of every web surfer, the internet’s version of fingernails on the chalkboard. Click almost any link that dates back to pre-2005 and brace for the inevitable: “HTTP 404 Not Found.”
Anyone who’s spent time near an internet connection is familiar with the 404 error, a webserver’s way of saying you’ve reached a dead end. What’s less well known is that this very error is what allowed the World Wide Web to exist in the first place.
Read the whole article on the Popular Mechanics website.
Do you remember this piece of shoddy math from when the Powerball made it to more than a billion dollars back in early 2016?
The creator suggested that instead of only giving the winnings of the lottery to the winners of the lottery, we should divide it evenly to everyone in the country. If everyone in the U.S. received 4.33 million dollars, poverty in this country certainly would be solved! Continue reading
Growing up reading Harry Potter, my favorite parts of the series weren’t the coming of age stories, nor the magical spells, nor the combat and adventure. Instead I obsessed over the mythical science, potions, and creatures. I was captivated by the Harry Potter companion book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and wondered, did such fantastic creatures exist in our world?
We tend to think that all parts of the map that were once labelled “Here be dragons” are free from mysteries. True magic may not exist, but there are still beasts at the corners of the world with abilities so magical that scientists have not yet entirely figured them out. Let’s take a look at five entries in a modern-day muggle edition of Newt Scamander’s encyclopedia.
From an article reviewed by SNF and posted yesterday on Scientific American’s guest blog:
The cleverest card trick I’ve ever seen was performed not by a magician, but by a math professor.
A teaching assistant (let’s call him Nick), acting as magician’s assistant, recruited five student participants. Each student picked a card from a 52-card deck and handed it back to Nick, face up but invisible to Tom, the professor. Nick laid out four of these cards in front of Tom. To our astonishment, Tom immediately identified the missing fifth card.
The professor revealed the trick at the end of class. But when I came back to my dorm, bursting with excitement, my suitemate Benjamin refused to let me explain it; he had to figure this out on his own. He wandered off to his room muttering to himself, blissfully unaware that within twenty-four hours, this puzzle would prove disastrous to his dignity.
Read the whole article on the Scientific American website.
Earlier this July, my childhood dream finally came true. Over the series’ 20 year history, I’ve played more than 30 Pokemon video games, and with each new release I’ve wanted to become a gym leader and to catch ‘em all – a feat I accomplished, once, back in the first game. Now, as a 28-year old working on a Ph.D., I can finally achieve my dream with the help of Niantic’s latest augmented reality game, Pokemon GO.
I can find a Pidgey (the Pigeon Pokemon) on a city sidewalk thanks to GPS telling Pokemon GO where I am. Finding a Goldeen (the Goldfish Pokemon) on the same city street would not make sense.
In Pokemon GO, as I wander around my city, my phone periodically vibrates indicating that I’ve found a Pokemon. I quickly look at my phone and tap on the Pokemon to enter a battle with it. The game knows where I am thanks to GPS, the Global Positioning System, and uses that information to show me location-appropriate Pokemon, such as Water-type Pokemon close to rivers and Fire-type Pokemon in deserts.