Thursday, September 10, 2015

You might have missed: Pats, Jeter, Ashley, and Apple

The Buttfumble: nothing to do with what happened this week

... So Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter had homosexual relationships with each other, inside the Yankees facilities.  Or they may not have.  Must be written by a closet Red Sox fan.  Still hilarious.


The New England Patriots are serial cheaters, have been for years, and the rest of the league knows it. Why doesn't any of the other teams cry foul? Probably a case of "don't bite the hand that feeds you."


Hacked adultery website Ashley Madison has been bending over backwards to hide the real truth of its scam business model, from its millions of customers and potential customers, even from the California attorney general.   Perhaps the company doesn't expect its users to report to authorities because of the site's premise as a cheater's paradise --  it would be like a drug addict calling the cops after his dealer stole his coke stash.

On a related note, researchers cracked 11 million of passwords from the Ashley Madison data dump despite the company's strong bcrypt encryption, because the programmers kept a cache of weakly-encrypted (SHA) hash of the same password list.  And the most commonly used passwords are "123456" and "password".   Again, technology is pretty damn secure, but human stupidity is not.


Apple launched some new shit, which is the same as the old shit, but better, faster and costs more (there's even a new program designed to rip you off for all of eternity).  Bombshell: technology moves forward and inflation happens. They're gonna sell 500 million of these next quarter.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Mad Respect to New Horizons

Pluto's surface -- seen from New Horizons

NASA's New Horizons probe successfully completed a flyby above dwarf planet Pluto in July, after a meandering 9-year, 3-billion-mile journey across our Solar System - - a first for humankind.   Before 2015 we only know Pluto from a blurry picture of the dwarf planet taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, but now we have a full topographical map in high resolution.  This is a huge step forward for science.

Pluto -- as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope (2010)
Pluto -- as seen from New Horizons (2015)

Why so difficult to see Pluto even with the huge, $2bn scope? Well first, it's really tiny.  To understand how small Pluto is, check out the illustration below of the Solar System objects drawn to scale (but not to distance).   The Sun is the big glowing yellow ball in the background, obviously.  Earth is the third ball at the bottom left, followed by the moon, Venus, and gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus.  Pluto is one the last 4 tiny dots on the right, along with some other Kuiper Belt Objects.

And Pluto is also far: its orbit is 30 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

Makes you think about how huge (and empty) the outer space is.   You see, New Horizons is speeding at ~40,000 mph away from the Sun, one of the fastest man-made objects in space.  Proxima Centauri, the closest star in our Milky Way galaxy, is 4 light years away.  If we send a spaceship going at the same (constant) speed as New Horizons, it would take 60,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri  (don't forget, thanks to the Sun's gravitational pull, the ship would continuously slow down unless it expends a lot of energy).  And that's just the closest star in our own galaxy.

So If you ever have doubts whether we'll ever find life beyond Earth, keep in mind that we've only scratched a tiny surface.

Proxima Centauri