Archive for February 3, 2012

Darpa Implants Could Track Your Stress Level 24/7

February 3, 2012 Comments off

Photo: U.S. Air Force

Plenty of geeks are already obsessed with self-tracking, from monitoring sleep rhythms to graphing caffeine intake versus productivity. Now, the Department of Defense’s far-out research agency is after the ultimate kind of Quantified Self: Soldiers with implanted body sensors that keep intimate tabs on their health, around the clock.

In a new call for research, Darpa is asking for proposals to devise prototype implantable biosensors. Once inserted under a soldier’s skin, Darpa wants the sensors to provide real-time, accurate measurements of “DoD-relevant biomarkers” including stress hormones, like cortisol, and compounds that signal inflammation, like histamine.

Implantable sensors are only the latest of several Pentagon-backed ventures to track a soldier’s health. Darpa’s already looked into tracking “nutritional biomarkers” to evaluate troops’ diets. And as part of the agency’s “Peak Soldier Performance” program, Darpa studied how one’s genes impact physical ability, and tried to manipulate cellular mitochondria to boost the body’s energy levels.

Sensors alone won’t make troops stronger, smarter or more resilient. But they’d probably offer the kind of information that could. For one thing, the sensors would provide military docs an array of reliable info about the health of every single soldier. Plus, they’d tell leaders how a soldier’s body stood up to Read more…

Digital Privacy and the Fifth Amendment

February 3, 2012 Comments off

The Internet has vastly changed society. It’s one of those things that we can’t imagine living without, and we can’t imagine how we got by without the Internet just a few decades ago. However, something that changes society as drastically as the Internet has also alters legal boundaries, laws, and interpretations. The 5th Amendment, which protects American citizens’ right to due process and against self-incrimination, among other things, is no exception.

A federal judge in Colorado recently ruled that your computer is not granted those protections under the 5th Amendment. Even encrypted data that’s stored on your computer or an external hard drive would be subject to investigation, and giving up that information is equivalent to complying with a search warrant. The question of the 5th Amendment, privacy, and the law has always been a muddy one. How much digital privacy do people actually have? Is handing over our digital information, such as Read more…

Categories: internet, Privacy Tags: ,

US No-Fly List of Terror Suspect Doubles in 1 Year

February 3, 2012 2 comments

WASHINGTON — Even as the Obama administration says it’s close to defeating al-Qaida, the size of the government’s secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States has more than doubled in the past year, The Associated Press has learned.

The no-fly list jumped from about 10,000 known or suspected terrorists one year ago to about 21,000, according to government figures provided to the AP. Most people on the list are from other countries; about 500 are Americans.

The flood of new names began after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner. The government lowered the standard for putting people on the list, and then scoured its files for anyone who qualified. The government will not disclose who is on its list or why someone might have been placed on it.

The surge in the size of the no-fly list comes even as the U.S. has killed many senior members of al-Qaida. That’s because the government believes the Read more…

Have Chinese Had Enough?

February 3, 2012 Comments off

Chinese leaders have always identified international politics with struggle – the struggle for sovereignty, status and prosperity. In recent years, offering lucrative business opportunities to other countries and investing in scores of official dialogues allowed Beijing to claim a course of peaceful development. And many countries gave it the benefit of the doubt, at least for a while.

But China now faces growing resistance as even some Chinese begin to question how peaceful the country’s rise can really be. Either way, the Year of the Dragon looks set to be a strategic watershed for Chinese diplomacy.

Centrality invariably means trouble in geopolitics, and certainly for China. I remember strolling underneath the weeping willows of Beijing’s Ritan Park with a retired ambassador who neatly summed up the problem China faces: “If we do well, our neighbors see that as a threat. If we are in trouble, that is perceived as a threat as well. We are a challenge just by being here.”

It’s this diplomatic claustrophobia that explains why Chinese leaders have been so eager to Read more…

Categories: China Tags:

Earth twin discovered 22 light-years away

February 3, 2012 Comments off

The Kepler mission initiated to find habitable Earth-like planets near our own has turned up another candidate for places we might visit in the future: GJ 667Cc. This planet has an orbital period of about 28 days regularly and has a mass that’s at least 4.5 larger than Earth. This planet is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface, and it sits aside two or three additional planets that may well be similar enough to also be Earth candidates. This newest discovery was made by astronomers from UC Santa Cruz Steven Vogt and Eugenio Rivera, lead by Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution for Science.


The host star in this system is called GJ 667C and is an M-class dwarf star. Two more stars sit in the Read more…

Categories: astronomy Tags: , ,

Floods create ‘inland sea’ in Australia

February 3, 2012 Comments off

New South Wales flooding via AFP
 SYDNEY — Major flooding hit parts of Australia’s east on Friday, stranding thousands of residents, prompting a military airlift and leaving some communities only accessible by helicopter.

The deluge, which has sparked dozens of rescues and left about 7,275 people isolated in various parts of New South Wales state has also impacted Queensland to the north where homes have reportedly been inundated.

“From the air it looks like an inland sea,” New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell said after visiting the region.

Evacuations have been ordered from some houses and businesses in the New South Wales town of Moree, where more than 600 people have registered with an evacuation shelter as the Mehi River peaked, the State Emergency Service said.

“The town of Moree is inundated with water — so north Moree is not only cut off, but Read more…