Huvitavaid artikleid nädalavahetuseks

Assassins had Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in sight as soon as he got to Dubai – kõige paremini sobib seda artiklit vist kirjeldama fraas “elu nagu filmis” või “nii kuidas külvad, nii ka lõikad”, sest artikkel on nagu mõne Bourne’i filmi stsenaariumi visand ja paralleelid Spielbergi “München’iga” torkavad samuti vägisi silma:

Stepping out of the lift, al-Mabhouh was escorted to room 230 by a member of staff at the Al Bustan Rotana hotel, near Dubai airport. Unnoticed, the taller man followed him down the corridor, clocking his room number and that of the room opposite, 237. In the hours that followed, room 237 became the staging post for the audacious murder of the senior Hamas official.

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The Human Shuffle – kuna kasutan MacBook Pro’d, siis on kaamera arvutisse sisse ehitatud ja panin ka ennast ChatRoulette “mängus” proovile, kuid ei pidanud sellele üllatavaltki köitvale ideele praktikas vastu rohkem kui neli raundi, mis olid möödas kiiremini kui 5 sekundiga – iga “next” tundus nagu hukkamõist:

The site activates your webcam automatically; when you click “start” you’re suddenly staring at another human on your screen and they’re staring back at you, at which point you can either choose to chat (via text or voice) or just click “next,” instantly calling up someone else. The result is surreal on many levels. Early ChatRoulette users traded anecdotes on comment boards with the eerie intensity of shipwreck survivors, both excited and freaked out by what they’d seen.

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The Physics of Space Battles – huvitav mõtteharjutus atmosfääri ja kosmose inseneri poolt, kes armastab ulmekirjandust ja on natuke tõsisemalt mõelnud võimalike kosmoselahingute mehaanika üle sealjuures võttes arvesse füüsika poolt seatud piiranguid, tehnoloogilisi võimalusi ja praktilisi lahendusi:

One implication of rocket propulsion is that there will be relatively long periods during which Newtonian physics govern the motions of dogfighting spacecraft, punctuated by relatively short periods of maneuvering. Another is that combat in orbit would be very different from combat in “deep space,” which is what you probably think of as how space combat should be – where a spacecraft thrusts one way, and then keeps going that way forever. No, around a planet, the tactical advantage in a battle would be determined by orbit dynamics: which ship is in a lower (and faster) orbit than which; who has a circular orbit and who has gone for an ellipse; relative rendezvous trajectories that look like winding spirals rather than straight lines.

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Should We Clone Neanderthals? – küsimusele otsitakse vastust pikemas artiklis, mis annab ühtlasi hea ettekujutuse kui keerulise küsimusega on tegu – lisaks tehnilistel probleemidele, mis seotud kloonimisega, tuleb veel lahendada ka moraalsed, eetilised ja juriidilised küsimused:

Legal precedent in the United States seems to be on the side of Neanderthal human rights. In 1997, Stuart Newman, a biology professor at New York Medical School attempted to patent the genome of a chimpanzee-human hybrid as a means of preventing anyone from creating such a creature. The patent office, however, turned down his application on the basis that it would violate the Constitution’s 13th amendment prohibition against slavery. Andrews believes the patent office’s ruling shows the law recognizes that an individual with a half-chimpanzee and half-human genome would deserve human rights. A Neanderthal would have a genome that is even more recognizably human than Newman’s hybrid. “If we are going to give the Neanderthals humans rights…what’s going to happen to that individual?” Andrews says. “Obviously, it won’t have traditional freedoms. It’s going to be studied and it’s going to be experimented on. And yet, if it is accorded legal protections, it will have the right to not be the subject of research, so the very reasons for which you would create it would be an abridgment of rights.”

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Scrapheap Transhumanism – huvitav lugu mitte niivõrd seal kirjeldatu kui suhtumise poolest, mis annab sisuliselt tunnistust, et kui inimestel on kuskile võimalik minna või midagi teha, siis varem või hiljem üritavad seda ka entusiastid, kes leiavad selleks uusi ja odavamaid meetodeid. Kõige fantastilisemad tundusid kaks lõiku täiendava taju saamisest – kas tänane ekstreemsus on vilksatus enamuse tulevikust:

There’s an entire world of electromagnetic radiation out there, invisible to most. Our cities are saturated with it. A radio, for instance, gives off a field that’s bigger than the device itself. So do power supplies and wires in the walls. The implants pick up on the fields, and because they’re magnets, they fizz with gentle electricity, telling you this hard drive is currently active, that one is turned off, there’s the main line in the wall. Holding a mobile phone, you can feel the signals it sends and receives. You know it’s ringing before it starts to play any sounds, and when you answer it, you stick the touchscreen stylus to the back of your hand to hold it, then to your finger to type.

After a while, you don’t notice anything novel about this at all. Building computers, you pick up screws that have fallen down into the motherboard with one fingertip and stick them on the back of your wrist for safekeeping. You know not to touch the board when it’s powered, because your hands can “see” whether it is or not, just like you can see whether the hard drives being tested on the machine next to it are actually being written to or not. It’s just like any other sense, except that this one can be given to you for the price of a node, a needle and a bottle of antiseptic. A new way of seeing the world, all for about fifty euros. There’s nothing stopping you except your own sense of self-preservation. I say all this not to show off, but to invite more people in. I dream of seeing more body-tweakers around who are into these things. I know there are people out there who could open up home modification like we’ve never dreamed.

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The Chemist’s War – õpetlik lugu sellest, kuidas USA valitsusametnikud kuiva seaduse ajal tööstusliku alkoholi metanooliga mürgitasid ja kõike seda õilsa eesmärgi nimel inimeste alkoholitarbimist vähendada. Mõistagi olid odava illegaalse alkoholi tarbijad pigem vaesed:

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

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First breath: Earth’s billion-year struggle for oxygen – New Scientist’is ilmunud artikkel sellest, kuidas hapnik üldse sellistes kogustes nagu teda praegu võib  leida, atmosfääri sai. Ühtlasi annab artikkel ka võimalus mõista, kuidas kujuneb teaduslik konsensus – kuidas uued avastused sunnivad vanu järeldusi üle vaatama:

The finding fitted a global pattern. Other 3.5-billion-year-old Australian rocks contained rippling structures that looked like fossil stromatolites. A few examples of these structures, domed edifices up to a metre high built by cyanobacteria, still eke out a marginal existence in salty lagoons on the coast of Western Australia and elsewhere. Meanwhile, 3.8-billion-year-old rocks from Greenland had reduced levels of one of the two stable carbon isotopes, carbon-13, compared with the other, carbon-12 – a chemical signature of photosynthesis. It seemed that life had come early to Earth: astonishingly soon after our planet formed some 4.6 billion years ago, photosynthesising bacteria were widespread.

This emerging consensus lasted only until 2002, when palaeontologist Martin Brasier of the University of Oxford unleashed a barrage of criticisms. The Apex cherts, he claimed, were far from being the tranquil sedimentary basin evoked by Schopf. In fact, they were shot through with hydrothermal veins that were no setting for cyanobacteria. Other evidence that the rocks had undergone convulsions in the past made the rippling stromatolites no more biological in origin than ripples on a sandy beach. As for the microfossils Schopf had identified, they ranged from the “almost plausible to the completely ridiculous”.

The Physics of Space Battles

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