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By Ather Fawaz
Virgin Hyperloop: The first human passengers have traveled safely through a hyperloop
by Ather Fawaz
Image via The Verge On Sunday, November 8, two passengers safely traveled on the Virgin Hyperloop north of Las Vegas, in the desert of Nevada. The test marks the first time in history that the famed hyperloop technology, which promises rapid transportation of people and cargo at speeds close to and above 600 mph, was put to the test with humans onboard.
Image via Virgin Hyperloop Trial passengers Sara Luchian and Josh Giegel, both company employees at Virgin Hyperloop, were ensconced in molded seats covered in white vegan leather, housed inside the all-white carbon fiber clad Pegasus pod (XP-2). Once strapped in, they were sped up to 107mph (172km/h) in 6.25s, in the 500m long Devloop. While this is certainly slow by the lofty figures that hyperloops promise, company officials decided to limit the speed for safety measures.
Image via The Verge Weighing 2.5 tons and measuring 15-18 feet long, the Pegasus XP-2 pod that housed Giegel and Luchian, represents a scaled-down version of the full-sized pod that will be carrying up to 23 passengers, reaching speeds of up to 671mph (1080km/h). While the company says it has conducted over 400 tests on the DevLoop, they'd never done it before with human passengers. CEO of Virgin Hyperloop, Jay Walder commented on the bold initiative, stating that:
Image via Virgin Hyperloop After the test ran its course, Josh Giegel, one of the passengers onboard likened the experience to that in a sports car, and remarked that “The No. 1 question I get from investors is, ‘Is it safe enough to ride? We’re everyday people, we’re not astronauts. This shows that it’s safe, and observers can take this back to their investors and interested municipalities.” Sara Luchian, the other passenger onboard corroborated this statement, describing the ride as "much smoother than [she] expected." And that unlike an airplane, there were no lateral forces that would have caused the pod to sway.
Image via The Verge Envisaged back in 2012 by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the raison d'être of hyperloops is to cut down on travel time. Two years later in 2014, Virgin Hyperloop was founded on the same principles and with the same premise. Should the company's advertised speeds become a reality, a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco could take less than an hour.
Virgin Hyperloop has doubled its workforce to 300 over the last couple of years and raised over $400 million in funding. Corroborating the statement above, The New York Times reports that several projects are already in the planning stages: a route between Pune and Mumbai in India; another between Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; and one connecting Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh.
Elon Musk's SpaceX has also started building a spaceport of its own near the Boca Chica in Brownsville, teasing hypersonic commute for both humans and cargo through hyperloops. Though testing for that is still a fair way away, one thing is for sure: with Virgin Hyperloop's successful test run, we may very well be on the cusp of realizing rapid land travel.
Here’s what Earth might look like to aliens
"When Earthly astronomers train their telescopes on exoplanets beyond our solar system, they’re lucky to see even a single dot of light. How can they figure out whether it might have suitable conditions for life? To find out how they might know more, a team of scientists turned the problem on its head: They took images of a habitable planet—Earth—and transformed them into something alien astronomers light-years away would see.
The team started with about 10,000 images of our planet taken by NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, which sits at a gravitational balance point between Earth and the sun, allowing it to see only the daytime side of the planet. The images were taken at 10 specific wavelengths every 1 to 2 hours during 2016 and 2017.
To simulate an alien point of view, the researchers reduced the images into a single brightness reading for each wavelength—10 “dots” that, when plotted over time, produce 10 light curves that represent what a distant observer might see if they steadily watched exoplanet Earth over 2 years."
Experts baffled by mysterious creature discovered in Kiwi's kitchen
What do you guys think?
Researchers believe aliens could send malware and destroy humanity
by Christopher White
There's no doubt that we have a lot of computer security issues on our planet right now. Ransomware seems to be a daily issue, with new variants constantly being released; hardware issues in CPUs give bad guys the ability to steal your data; and lax security in the "Internet of Things" (IoT) enables bad guys to run denial of service attacks against the biggest companies in the world. However these may be simple annoyances compared to what extraterrestrials could do to our planet's IT infrastructure.
In a paper written by Michael Hippke and John G. Learned, the researchers explain various ways an alien civilization could destroy the world, either intentionally or unintentionally, by embedding code in a message. They speculate that even simple markup languages like TeX and LaTeX could be used maliciously, and highlight the difficulty in decoding the languages manually. In addition, the paper details that an alien AI could begin a negotiation with humanity, in essence social engineering an attack.
One recommended solution is to build a "prison" on the moon, a computer that is used to decode alien messages, but is isolated from other networks and which could be remotely destroyed if necessary. However they go on to say that, "[c]urrent research indicates that even well designed boxes are useless, and a sufficiently intelligent AI will be able to persuade or trick its human keepers into releasing it." While there are no silver bullets to this problem, and the researchers note that the overall risk to humanity is low, it's a topic that can be fun to think about.
This topic is hardly new as there have been many books and movies that explore the concept of malicious invaders. For example, in the movie Species, the SETI project received a transmission with details on how to splice alien DNA with human DNA and the result was mayhem. What other interesting books, movies, and TV shows have you seen that address this topic?
Source: Cornell University via Schneier.com| Image courtesy of Evolving Science