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You’re working on your laptop as usual one morning, perusing your favorite social network, when your computer requests a system update. Although nothing seems out of the ordinary, one of those language pack updates you normally barely pay attention to is carrying a not-so-ordinary payload. In the blink of an eye, your system is wrenched from your control, and a complete hard-drive wipe commences, destroying all of your most important work and personal files. An ominous red skeleton appears on your screen with a host of demands. Before you know it, all of your personal files will be shared publicly on the world wide web. This modern-day horror story may seem distant, but company-wide attacks like this occurred just last December, targeting businesses like Sony Pictures Entertainment. These attacks against American individuals and companies have not gone without response. American intelligence agencies traced the attack’s trail across the globe as it bounced from compromised computer to compromised computer until it eventually led to its source — North Korea. The question, however, isn’t how to find cyber criminals, but what to do once they are caught. In the case of the Sony attacks, any actions taken become a sensitive diplomatic move. On Jan. 2, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order instructing several government agencies to take action against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Treasury Department, for example, froze any assets controlled by the American financial system of individual officials, the DPRK and its supporters. On April 1, Obama signed a new, more powerful executive order. This new executive order has no geographic limits and expands possible sanctions to any foreign attackers and their supporters. “Cyber threats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges to the United States, and my administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to confront them,” Obama said in his press conference. “As we have seen in recent months, these threats can emanate from a range of sources and target our critical infrastructure, our companies and our citizens.” The U.S. government is now authorized to freeze the assets of any identified perpetrators. Michael Daniel, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, wrote on the White House Blog, “Our focus will be on the most significant cyber threats we face — namely, on actors whose malicious activities could pose a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, economic health, or financial stability of the United States.” Daniel listed cyber threats that will be targeted by the government: compromising critical services in American infrastructure; disrupting computer or network availability; misappropriating funds, economic resources, trade secrets or personal information for gain; knowingly receiving said misappropriations, or attempting or assisting in any of these attacks. Daniel believes it is also important to note who the U.S. government is not targeting. “These sanctions will in no way target the victims of cyber attacks, like people whose computers are unwittingly hijacked by botnets or hackers. Nor is this Order designed to prevent or interfere with the cybersecurity research community when they are working with companies to identify vulnerabilities so they can improve their cybersecurity,” Daniel said. Looking forward, we can expect further bolstering of U.S. cyber defenses. From diplomacy engagements to trade policy to law enforcement mechanisms, the government will be taking a more severe stance against cyber and technology threats. Congress legislation is currently under works to enhance and modernize the American cybersecurity approach. Thus, while we have been introduced to a new, modern-day horror story, we are also introduced to a new, modern-day hero. As Obama announced upon signing this new executive order: “Starting today, we’re giving notice to those who pose significant threats to our security or economy by damaging our critical infrastructure, disrupting or hijacking our computer networks or stealing the trade secrets of American companies or the personal information of American citizens for profit.”
In August of 1996, U.S. Navy Captain Scott J. Kelly reported to the Johnson Space Center for astronaut training. Nineteen years of service to NASA, three spaceflights and 180 days in the International Space Station (ISS) later, Kelly, 51, begins his most ambitious endeavor yet — a mission to spend an entire year in space. This past Friday, Kelly launched aboard a Soyuz rocket, accompanied by cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka. Kelly is scheduled to return in March 2016 by which time he will have spent more than 500 days in Earth’s orbit. Unlike his cosmonaut colleagues, however, Kelly will provide NASA with a unique opportunity to monitor the effects of a harsh space environment on the human body by bringing his biological twin U.S. Navy Captain Mark E. Kelly into the equation. Mark retired from service in the U.S. Navy and NASA in 2011. Thus, in a near-perfect case study of the “nature vs. nurture” argument, Scott will orbit the Earth, enduring the effects of extended time in space, while Mark remains on solid ground below. This mission holds more significance than satiating mere scientific curiosity. Data collected through observation of the Kelly twins will contribute to the future of space travel as NASA and other space agencies attempt increasingly longer space voyages. In a few decades, this mission may even serve as the bedrock to NASA’s potential missions to Mars. “All of those things really affect the bodies of astronauts,” Julie A. Robinson, NASA’s chief scientist for the space station, said during a news conference in January. “They push them to something not at all unlike aging on Earth, where their balance is disrupted, their hearts are weaker, their immune system isn’t functioning as well, their muscles are weaker and their bones are being lost.” Scott Kelly’s scientific contribution won’t be without its personal drawbacks. While Kelly looks forward to the space station, he also dislikes the confinement. Kelly said that he’ll miss his friends and family, being able to get away from work and going outside. Ultimately, Scott Kelly’s mission is a potent reminder of both what magic lies ahead of us and behind us as we take to the stars.
Just as the elusive dog whistle is beyond our mere human auditory capabilities, there is an entire reality out there full of waves beyond our visual spectrum, patterns beyond our recognition and dimensions beyond our reach.
When we think of cancer research, our first thought is usually of dangerous, but necessary, medical treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and various invasive surgeries, whose destructive forces can kill healthy cells along with the damaged, leaving patients feeling weakened and sick.
One of the modern world’s biggest concerns today is the current energy crisis. Globally, scientists and engineers are searching to find and working to develop new alternative energy sources to replace our dwindling fossil fuel reserves. In response, we’ve turned to wind-power, hydro-power, ethanol and many more green initiatives. Yet, nature’s most powerful energy source has always been the sun. Thus far, solar energy technology has not shown much promise in yielding practical and efficient results to meet today’s energy demands. However, quantum biologists may have finally found a way to harness the sun’s vast energy potential — by mimicking plants.
Something can’t come from nothing, but perhaps nothing is really something to begin with.
Seven thousand tons of dense rock hurtles towards the Earth in a fiery cloud, exploding into smaller fragments about 20 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface. The sheer force of the meteor’s impact with the atmosphere results in a blinding flash and releases the destructive blast of a sonic boom, shattering glass and triggering alarms for miles and miles around.
Those who nostalgically look back on our early school-years of science fairs and baking-soda volcanoes might remember learning a little bit about the abundant and ambiguous theories provided to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs. Among these theories you may racall the giant, killer asteroid that impacted the Earth.
When the life of a loved one is in jeopardy, there are almost no limits to what people will do or try in order to save them. When an unnamed friend of James Eshleman, Associate Director of Johns Hopkins Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory and researcher for the Departments of Oncology and Pathology, was stricken with an ultra-rare form of cancer, his friend’s uncle, who happened to be Vice President of a major pharmaceutical company, asked Eshleman to provide him with a personalized cell line on which he could test every drug his company owned. Eshleman willingly complied with the request to save his friend.
As if you weren’t beating yourself up enough already for taking that fourth “off day” of the week, now the stakes for athletic discipline have risen even higher as scientists have finally explained exactly why working out regularly will benefit your mind and body, aside from the killer abs.
Among the myriad of physical insecurities that already plague the male mind – flabby abs, receding hairlines, penile insecurities – it appears young men may have yet another biological fear to contend with – the quality of their sperm.