Links for 26th October 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. The Workings of an Ancient Nuclear Reactor

    "It is truly amazing that more than a dozen natural reactors spontaneously sprang into existence and that they managed to maintain a modest power output for perhaps a few hundred millennia. Why is it that these parts of the deposit did not explode and destroy themselves right after nuclear chain reactions began? What mechanism provided the necessary self-regulation? Did these reactors run steadily or in fits and starts? The solutions to these puzzles emerged slowly after initial discovery of the Oklo phenomenon. Indeed, the last question lingered for more than three decades before my colleagues and I at Washington University in St. Louis began to address it by examining a piece of this enigmatic African ore."

    Tagged with: sciencenaturegeologynuclearreactor

  2. New Route To Nano Self-assembly Found

    "Bring together the right basic components — nanoparticles, polymers and small molecules — stimulate the mix with a combination of heat, light or some other factors, and these components will assemble into sophisticated structures or patterns," says Xu. "It is not dissimilar from how nature does it."

    Tagged with: sciencetechnologynanotechmanufacturingself-assembly

  3. Toiling in the data-mines: what data exploration feels like

    "It often feels somewhat pressured: time is tight and whilst an hour spend going down the wrong alley is fine, a day spent fruitlessly is somewhat less practical. At the same time, without doing this exploration, you won’t even know what is “fruitless”. It can be frightening to feel so directionless, and overcoming that fear – trusting that any new information is the goal – is tough, but important to making progress."

    Tagged with: datadata-miningvisualizationexplorationwebsemantics

  4. The Spaghetti Western Database

    Sweeeeeeeet. 🙂

    Tagged with: spaghetti-westerncinemawikidatabasemoviereferenceresource

  5. Anarchism and science fiction

    "The listing does not pretend to be complete. In particular, my own research dates mainly from the 1970s and 1980s, so though I have added to it from other sources, in particular the invaluable (but now mostly moribund) anarchysf Internet mailing list, there are likely to be omissions from the later period. The survey is restricted to written sf.

    There is probably a degree of in-built bias against anarcho-capitalism, free-market anarchism, and the libertarian right, though some works with this orientation are included."

    Tagged with: sfsciencefictionliteraturereading-listanarchismpoliticsphilosophy

  6. Schneier on Security: "Evil Maid" Attacks on Encrypted Hard Drives

    "You can see why it's called the "evil maid" attack; a likely scenario is that you leave your encrypted computer in your hotel room when you go out to dinner, and the maid sneaks in and installs the hacked bootloader. The same maid could even sneak back the next night and erase any traces of her actions.

    This attack exploits the same basic vulnerability as the "Cold Boot" attack from last year, and the "Stoned Boot" attack from earlier this year, and there's no real defense to this sort of thing. As soon as you give up physical control of your computer, all bets are off."

    Tagged with: computersecurityhackingcryptographyfilesystemencryptionevil-maid

  7. Creating Fictional Villians

    "Nothing spoils an otherwise competent piece of fiction as a weak or blasé villain. Spend the time creating a villain that readers will love to hate. Learn to see the world through your villain’s eyes. Find his flawed nobility."

    Tagged with: writingfictionvillainscharacterisation

  8. Immigration judges: ‘Afghanistan is not in a state of war’

    "Three judges of the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal ruled on Wednesday that the level of "indiscriminate violence" was not enough to permit Afghans to claim general humanitarian protection in the United Kingdom. Hundreds of asylum-seekers a year are returned to Afghanistan if they have not convinced a court they are in fear of persecution or that their lives are in danger. The ruling on Wednesday prevents them from arguing that the country is a dangerous place." Well, let's look on the bright side – if Afghanistan is not in a state of war, we can get all non-Afghani troops out of there immediately, right? Oh, is that not quite how you meant it?

    Tagged with: UKimmigrationsemanticsdeportationAfghanistanpolitics

  9. Gaza Tunnels: Palestinian Smugglers Trade Despite Danger

    "If Gaza runs off a tunnel economy, Rafah is its tunnel town. In Najma Square, in the center of Rafah, the fruits of tunnel labor meet their first customers. Encircling the square are tables of TV sets, fans, blenders and generators; stalls packed with refrigerators, washing machines and ovens — and this is just the electrical side of town. Moving west toward the border, you see more goods: boxes of cigarettes, giant sacks of potato chips and sacks of cement. Then you pass the warehouses that sell the tools used to physically shape the tunnel industry: shovels, rope, pulleys and electrical cords, plus pickaxes, hammers, nuts, bolts and screws in all sizes. The industry of making the tunnels is a booming business on its own."

    Tagged with: illiciteconomicsborderstradebusinessnation-statesGazasmugglingtunnels

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