Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fake Dutch Moon Rock

The Dutch apparently got ripped off, after a chunk of what was allegedly moon rock turned out to be petrified wood. The BBC reports on how it was given to the then prime minister as a gift by the Apollo 11 astronauts and shown in the Rijksmuseum after he died.

Methane Seeping From Arctic Seabed

In what might explain part of the positive feedback mechanism of greenhouse gases the BBC reports on a finding by a British and German research team that methane gas is seeping up from the Artctic seabed. The Arctic is already melting a record rate with some predicting that the region will be ice free by the summer of 2013. With temperatures rising, the methane is now escaping and although most of it will be dissolved in the water, some will break through to the ocean surface. The question is how much and how big an influence this will have on the increase in temperature.

The Arctic Sea Finally Found

This one has to make a good script for a movie. The BBC has been covering the disappearance of the Arctic Sea, a Maltese registered ship carrying Finnish timber that was reportedly hijacked and went missing. The Russians located and rescued the crew off the Cape Verde islands. However, a couple of weeks on from this amazing story and there still doesn´t seem to be a clear story about what happened, with rumours aplenty about the ship carrying a secret cargo such drugs or even missiles for Iran. Where there´s smoke there´s fire, and it looks like something fishy was going on behind the scenes with this one.

More Microsoft Dirty Tricks Against Linux

Ars Technica has an interesting article about how on the one side, Microsoft is showing some support for open source, and on the other is auctioning any patents that could be used to attack Linux to a patent troll. This tactic means that any counter-litigation arisng from a patent lawsuit would not hit Microsoft directly. Miscrosoft have a history of proxy legal support against Unix and open source, most notable the SCO case against IBM. Luckily the Open Invention Network is buying the patents to protect Linux from the courtroom. More to the point however is the fact that there are increasingly mixed environments in use by customers and by attacking Linux, Microsoft is hitting some of its own customers, instead of pro-actively working on interoperability.

Crysis On An iPhone

Ars Technica reports on a demonstration of an AMD GPU that can actually run Crysis on an iPhone. It isn´t actually running Crysis, but uses the iPhone as a client for a web-based gaming service, in which the game itself runs on a server and graphical output is sent to the client, in a similar way to terminal services. Obviously the network must have sufficient bandwidth for this to work though the article says about 20Mbps is sufficient to produce an experience that is equivalent to running the game locally. I remember hearing about these services earlier this year and although my worry was about how many servers must be running to allow all those gamers to play, the concept isn´t that strange so long as the network bandwidth is sufficient. Considering the slow but steady convergence of TV, internet, films and gaming to PCs, consoles ans set-top boxes, this seems like a very logical evolution.

Turing Receives Posthumous Apology

Dr. Alan Turing has been given a posthumous apology by the British Prime Minister, following a petition to the government, the BBC reports. Alan Turing was a pioneer of computing and played an important role in code breaking during WWII. Unfortunately Turing was gay and in a society which was less tolerant than today, Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, stripped of his privileges that effectively prevented him from carrying out his work at the GCHQ and committed suicide in 1954.

Pigeon Beats ADSL

Infrastructure in South Africa obviously isn´t quite up to scratch. The BBC reports on a publicity stunt in which 4GB of data is transferred via ADSL over a distance of 60 miles and a pigeon is given a 4GB memory stick to travel the same distance. The pigeon won, with only 4% of the data being transferred in the time it took the pigeon to arrive (a little over an hour).

Zombie Attack

The BBC reports on how the Universities of Ottawa and Carleton have used zombies as a model of how deadly infectious diseases should be combated. The conclusion is that the only way to be rid of them completely is to attack hard and frequently. They draw parallels between the spread of zombies and infectious diseases, saying that the only difference is that zombies can come back to life if not dealt with properly.