Monday, May 17, 2010

Intelligence Games and Computer Worms

Fascinating and eerie description of the evolution of a sophisticated computer worm, and the hunt for its mysterious controller. Whoever this is has got millions of computers under his control...whenever he decides to activate the worm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Use a nuke to stop the oil spill!

Well, it worked for the Russkies, at least with gas well fires. The nuclear bomb: the Swiss Army knife of mineral exploration!

Did Nixon prevent a Soviet nuclear strike on China?

Well, according to Liu Chenshan, a Chinese historian writing in an officially-sanctioned Chinese publication. According to his claim, during a 1969 border war, the Soviets told the United States that they wanted to stop the Chinese threat with a nuclear strike, and they wanted the US to remain neutral.

The US responded that we'd launch a nuclear strike of our own against the USSR if they did so, and this threat worked, sending the Soviets to the negotiating table.

Interesting. Probably a controversial claim, or at least an aspect of history we haven't heard before. I'm curious to see how this holds up.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Quantum entanglement might help bird navigation

From Popular Science. That seemed a bit too far out for me at first, but...

It's been thought for a while that birds navigate using the Earth's magnetic fields. One molecule that's a candidate for their magnetic sense is called "cryptochrome." Here's my reading of their idea how this all might work: When exposed to certain colors of light, cryptochrome can become "activated," producing a pair of entangled electrons, a system in which each electron senses the other's spin direction. A magnetic field affects how long the cryptochrome stays activated. In turn, activated cryptochrome might affect how the retina sees light. This would mean the bird could see magnetic fields with its eyes.

Below is Wikipedia's entry:

According to one model, cryptochrome when exposed to blue light forms a pair of two radicals (molecules with a single unpaired electron) where the spins of the two unpaired electrons are correlated. The occurrence of such light-generated radical pairs and the correlation of the radical pair state have been confirmed recently in a cryptochrome of Xenopus laevis. The surrounding magnetic field affects the kind of this correlation (parallel or anti-parallel), and this in turn affects the length of time cryptochrome stays in its activated state. Activation of cryptochrome may affect the light-sensitivity of retinal neurons, with the overall result that the animal can "see" the magnetic field.