Wednesday, July 28, 2021

French Navy To Test New Laser Weapon System At Sea

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA), French Company CILAS and the French Navy (Marine Nationale) are set to test the HELMA-P laser weapon system from a vessel at sea in 2022. This development was made in a context where drones are taking an increasingly important place on the battlefield with the use by terrorist organizations of civilian drones – transformed into reconnaissance drones – or military-made kamikaze attack drones used in recent conflicts. The DGA started tests in 2020. As the results were better than expected according to the engineering project manager, the military hopes to make this experimental system operational by 2024 for the Olympic Games in Paris. HELMA-P, up until now, was tested only from land. But it will also be installed on vehicles and ships announced Florence Parly during the event: “The success of the demonstrator is very promising. I believe in you to perfect this technology with the CILAS teams. In terms of power, range and mobility: the smaller the systems will be, the easier they will be to deploy. In fact, I have asked for these laser weapons to be tested on French Navy ships in the first half of 2022.” (Naval News)


Spyware infects iPhones, says report

Sophisticated spyware has landed on iPhones. The phones were hacked using a so-called “zero-click” iMessage exploit, where hackers can gain control over a device without human interaction, according to an investigation by Amnesty International, which said the spyware was developed by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group. The investigation was done in coordination with Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit. The attacks exposed journalists and politicians who risk having their location and their personal information monitored and possibly used against them, the human rights group said. Spyware surreptitiously gathers information about you, such as internet usage data, and then sends it to another party. The most malicious spyware will install software that changes the settings on your phone and/or steals usernames and passwords. It typically lands on your phone along with a program or app that you installed yourself. (Fox News)


Florida man’s walk on water ends short of goal to reach NYC

A man from Bunnell, Florida was in a cylindrical floating contraption that washed ashore in Florida recently in an apparent attempt to walk on water to New York as an attempt to raise money for charity. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office reported that the man left St. Augustine in the vessel with the goal of reaching New York. The department posted photos of the vessel on Facebook. It wasn’t his first time trying to cross Atlantic waters in a flotation device. In 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued him while he tried to reach Bermuda from Florida in a homemade “hyrdo pod.” (Flagler County, Florida Sheriff’s Office Facebook)


Despite evidence that social media acts as a divisive tool in our lives, a new study found that supportive and positive language is much more likely to be shared and spread than opposing and negative language

Researchers at the University of Toronto found that tweets about something one supported were about 22 times as likely to be retweeted as messages about something one opposed. This may still reinforce online tribalism, but it suggests that people have a predisposition for being positive and sharing positive language with others. The findings held across multiple topics, including politics, public health measures, and even brands. (Study Finds)


Some Americans suffering from so-called “long covid” can be considered disabled under civil rights laws

President Biden announced recently in a speech commemorating the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Biden said the brain fog, fatigue, and chronic health problems associated with long covid “sometimes rise to the level of a disability.” In order to qualify as a disability, the long-term symptoms of COVID-19 experienced by an individual must be independently assessed to determine that their condition “substantially limits” their daily life. The Department of Education concurrently issued guidelines for schools to provide accommodations for students suffering from long covid. There is limited data on the prevalence of long covid, though some researchers estimate that up to 10% of those infected with COVID-19 suffer from lingering symptoms. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. (The Washington Post)


Women are claiming ‘boobs get bigger’ after having Pfizer jab

Women who have had the Pfizer vaccine are reporting an unexpected side effect, claiming their breasts have grown bigger after having the jab. Pfizer is one of two vaccinations currently being rolled out across Australia in the fight against Covid-19. Common side effects from Covid-19 vaccines include pain at the injection site, headaches, fatigue, or feeling flu-like symptoms. But many women have noticed their breasts and lymph nodes had “swollen” after receiving their jabs, dubbing the effect the “Pfizer boob job”. According to Australian Department of Health, inflamed lymph nodes are a less common side effect of the vaccinations. In the US, where the vaccination rollout is further along than Australia, doctors have reported an influx of newly vaccinated women making mammogram appointments. In Australia, women over 50 who require regular mammograms have been advised to either have a mammogram first, or delay it until six weeks after vaccination, to avoid any confusion. When people have vaccines in their upper arm, it’s normal for the lymph nodes in the armpit on that side of the body to be activated and swell. It’s your body preparing a protective immune response. (New Zealand Herald)


Should I stay or should I quit?

As the “Great Resignation” continues, how can you be sure it’s the right time to quit your job? A management professor at Texas A&M University who studies resignations is saying that most of the workforce is currently experiencing “turnover shocks,” as changes in our lives and jobs prompt us to reassess our careers. Before deciding to resign from your position, it’s advised to:

  • Act slowly and think carefully before making a move;
  • Consider whether alternatives to quitting may be preferable, such as a change in responsibilities or a leave of absence;
  • Think about how it may affect your ability to secure your next role.

(The Wall Street Journal)


Family can’t access $5.8M cryptocurrency wallet & asks for help

A married couple purchased 3,000 Ethereum coins in 2014 during a pre-sale offered by the Ethereum Foundation. They used Coinbase and 1.5 bitcoin to make the purchase. They claim a password was created but the very important JSON file which acts as a private key to open a crypto wallet never completely downloaded online. “The instructions were to leave your computer on for an hour and a half and as the progression bar showed it populating the JSON file would appear. Unfortunately for us, it did not appear,” they said. They got the coins in their wallet and can see them but can’t open the wallet. The website states that they have to email the Foundation and it would send a wallet backup in an email that contained a backup JSON file. They never got that email. They reached out to the Foundation based in Switzerland and handed over proof of purchase and screenshots of the issue. When the Foundation didn’t hand over a backup Json file, they hired a law firm in Switzerland. Two weeks later, the family’s attorney said the Foundation’s law firm stated they’re trying their best to recover the JSON file, but it takes time. The couples 3,000 coins are now worth millions. So now, their next move is to hire a law firm to help them file a lawsuit in court in Switzerland to demand that the Ethereum Foundation hand over a JSON file. However, the international court is not cheap. The family has set up a page to help cover court costs. (WJLA)


Angry crowd stones to death gunman who reportedly killed partygoer and wounded 3 others

Police say a group of people in Fort Worth stoned a gunman to death after he killed one person and injured three others. The incident happened about 1 AM Monday in Fort Worth, TX. Police said a “small gathering” was happening in someone’s backyard when a person became upset and left. He shortly returned with another person and got into an argument with multiple people. At that point, he shot at least one person, non-fatally, police said. After that, the other people at the party started chasing the shooter. The gunman then turned around and fired into the small crowd. In response, they began throwing landscaping stones and bricks back at the gunman. Police said the group eventually caught up to the gunman. At that point, the gunman resumed firing at the crowd and hit at least two more people. One person died from their injuries at the scene. A handgun believed to be used by the gunman was found by police. (KDFW)


Hubble Telescope finds first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede

For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. This water vapor forms when ice from the moon’s surface sublimates, turning from solid to gas. Scientists used new and archival datasets from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery. Previous research has offered circumstantial evidence that Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, contains more water than all of Earth’s oceans. However, temperatures there are so cold that water on the surface is frozen solid. Ganymede’s ocean would reside roughly 100 miles below the crust; therefore, the water vapor would not represent the evaporation of this ocean. Astronomers re-examined Hubble observations from the last two decades to find this evidence of water vapor. This finding adds anticipation to ESA (European Space Agency)’s upcoming mission, JUICE, which stands for JUpiter ICy moons Explorer. JUICE is the first large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Planned for launch in 2022 and arrival at Jupiter in 2029, it will spend at least three years making detailed observations of Jupiter and three of its largest moons, with particular emphasis on Ganymede as a planetary body and potential habitat. Ganymede was identified for detailed investigation because it provides a natural laboratory for analysis of the nature, evolution and potential habitability of icy worlds in general, the role it plays within the system of Galilean satellites, and its unique magnetic and plasma interactions with Jupiter and its environment. (NASA)


Brain study finds image memories are stored in the visual cortex, but the recollection of a series of images relies on assistance from the hippocampus

A new MIT study of how a mammalian brain remembers what it sees shows that while individual images are stored in the visual cortex, the ability to recognize a sequence of sights critically depends on guidance from the hippocampus, a deeper structure strongly associated with memory but shrouded in mystery about exactly how. The new research can bring neuroscientists closer to understanding how the brain coordinates long-term visual memory across key regions. Essentially, the hippocampus acts to influence how images are stored in the cortex if they have a sequential relationship. The new study produces a clear distinction through the division of labor in visual memory between simple recognition of images and the more complex task of recognizing of sequence structure. (The Picower Institute)


President Biden said U.S. forces would end their 18-year combat mission in Iraq this year

Approximately 2,500 American troops will continue to assist the Iraqi military fighting Islamic State. The announcement came after President Biden met with Iraq’s Prime Minister at the White House. The Prime Minister said the Iraq-U.S. relationship was “stronger than ever,” and the nations are collaborating on “the economy, the environment, health, education, culture, and more.” The United States withdrawal from Afghanistan, after a 20-year occupation, has led to an escalation of violence. (BBC)


NASA Physicists developed a machine-learning algorithm to help them calibrate solar telescopes

Solar telescopes must regularly be calibrated and checked due to the damaging effects of the sun. The calibration process was previously conducted using sounding rockets, which carried a second telescope to identify changes in the telescope’s lenses. The physicists trained the algorithm using images from the sounding rockets to identify the required level of calibration at any given moment. This process was “infrequent, complex, and limited to a single vantage point.” The new approach can potentially help calibrate instruments deployed in deep space, which won’t have the option of sounding rocket calibration. (ZME Science)


Wednesday Talks Smack With:

  • Buffalo Soldiers Day
  • Milk Chocolate Day
  • Waterpark Day
  • World Hepatitis Day


Historical Events

  • 1364 – Troops of the Republic of Pisa and of the Republic of Florence clash in the Battle of Cascina.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Ezra Church – Confederate troops make a third unsuccessful attempt to drive Union forces from Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is certified, establishing African-American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.
  • 1914 – World War I: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia after Serbia rejects the conditions of an ultimatum sent by Austria on July 23 following the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand.
  • 1933 – Diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Spain are established.
  • 1943 – World War II: Operation Gomorrah – The British bomb Hamburg causing a firestorm that kills 42,000 German civilians.
  • 1948 – The Metropolitan Police Flying Squad foils a bullion robbery in the “Battle of London Airport”.
  • 1996 – The remains of a prehistoric man are discovered near Kennewick, Washington. Such remains will be known as the Kennewick Man.
  • 2002 – Nine coal miners trapped in the flooded Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, are rescued after 77 hours underground.
  • 2008 – The historic Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare burns down for the second time in 80 years.