Discussion Post: Week 10
Well, it’s been a very unusual week in COM 315, to say the least. Here’s hoping for a return to some measure of normalcy in the coming days.
Remember the crisis in Japan a few months ago, when the Fukushima power plant failed amidst an earthquake and tsunami? The plant ultimately leaked a great deal of radiation into the atmosphere, affecting scores of citizens, many of whom had already lost their homes in the calamity. Well, it turns out that the damage was worse than anyone thought. Recent reports suggest that the Fukushima plant released “twice as much” radioactive material than we first thought. At its worst, the plant released about 42% as much radioactive material as the infamous Chernobyl incident.
Let’s touch upon another developing story. You’ll remember from our previous discussions that a group of physicists stumbled upon what appeared to be faster-than-light travel when the subatomic particles they were testing arrived at their intended destinations more quickly than the supposed universal speed limit. Scientists are now preparing to re-run those neutrino experiments in order to see if any systematic errors could have caused incorrect results. We’ll keep an eye on their research as it progresses.
Neither of these, though, are the longest-developing science stories this week. A team of Swedish and American linguists are claiming to have cracked the Copiale Cipher, a sizeable, baffling 18th century text that mixed Roman characters with unknown symbols. The scientists used statistics-based translation techniques like expected word frequency to attack the cipher, which they now say holds its roots in German.
Earlier this month, we discussed reports of air force drones being infected with a keylogger virus. Now, NASA has reported that an observation satellite was hacked twice in 2008. Some have speculated that the hack was perpetrated by members of the Chinese military, although those claims have not been confirmed. In any case, it does not appear that data was manipulated or that commands were successfully entered to change the satellite’s behavior, but it is quite possible that information could have been extracted from the satellite.
On the election front, a recent poll suggests that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would perform better against individual Republican candidates in head-to-head matchups than would incumbent Barack Obama. Given the nature of the political scene, this hardly makes a White House run likely for Clinton in 2012, but it’s interesting to note in the context of the campaign. The other side of the aisle also brings some curious news, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry is considering pulling out of future Republican primary debates now that he has lost his frontrunner standing in the race. The idea is that staying out of the debates is safer, and the move may induce other candidates to avoid the debates, as well. With a record number of Republican candidates in the primary elections, we’ll have to see whether Perry’s move shakes up the field.
In sporting news, the NBA season is shrinking by the week, as a full month of games have now been cancelled. Many had hoped a deal would be struck during negotiations on Friday, but that hope continues to wane as the calendar remains empty when fans are accustomed to enjoying the start of the season. We’ll see if the players and owners can resolve their revenue-sharing disagreements, or if we’re destined to see the entire 2011-12 season vanish. Perhaps 2K Sports had the right idea by promoting NBA 2K12 more on the basis of historical teams than current competitors.
And, of course, on Friday evening the St. Louis Cardinals won the deciding Game 7 of the World Series over the Texas Rangers, capping an underdog story for the ages. The Cardinals, who trailed in the Wild Card race by a whopping 10½ games with just over a month left in the season, who earned their postseason tickets on the very last day of the regular season, and who were one strike from elimination twice during Game 6 on Thursday, can now call themselves the 2011 World Series Champions.
That’s all for this week. You know what to do!
Other articles of interest:
Syria’s government confident, but country polarized
U.S. Firm Acknowledges Syria Uses Its Gear to Block Web
Occupy Oakland: Tents return as documentary filmmaker Michael Moore energizes protesters
Protesters Arrested in Tenn. After Curfew Defied
Oakland protesters plan march, mayor apologizes
Public Support Of Health Law Drops Sharply
Statue of Liberty turns 125 as immigrants declare oath of American citizenship in honor of monument
‘Steve Jobs’ delves deep into complex man’s life
Apple engineers contacting iPhone 4S owners to solve battery life puzzle
Experts differ on Klout’s clout
YouTube Tees Up Big Talent
Facebook says 600,000 account logins compromised every day
NASA Launches Advanced Climate Satellite