Daily Archives: 16 Jan 14

This Is How the World Could Have Ended

‘This is a plan for the end of the world, dated 1970.

The arrows are armies and the red vertical symbols are nuclear bombs, all part of a part of Cold War contingency plan crafted by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies in case of war.

War that would have destroyed civilization…’ (Medium).

Why ‘Her’ Is the Best Movie Ever Made About the Singularity

‘The pop-culture tuning fork known as the Academy Awards will reveal its film nominations on Thursday, and if the recent Golden Globes win by Her on Sunday for best screenplay is any indication, the film’s writer and director, Spike Jonze, may score his first-ever Oscar win.

But the film, which depicts a man in the not-too-distant future who falls in love with his computer operating system, may be less important as an epic love story and far more relevant as the best and most widely accessible film we’ve seen about … the Singularity…’ (Mashable)

Atomic scientists: We’re still dangerously close to the apocalypse

‘ Each year since 1945, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sends a letter to the UN Security Council in which they tell them how close we are from nuclear holocaust using a Doomsday Clock. In 1960 we were two minutes from midnight. Their new 2014 report says we\’re still five minutes from the Apocalypse. “Five minutes is too close,” they say.

The organization—which was founded by some of the researchers who participated in the Manhattan Project—counts with the collaboration of a board of sponsors that includes 18 Nobel laureates to analyze current data to give this estimate. They always give good reasons:

“Speaking at Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate in mid-June, President Obama proposed a reduction in the limit on US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads from the current New START level—1,550 warheads on each side—to 1,000.

Obama’s speech came just days after Iran elected a new president, Hassan Rouhani, who quickly changed the tone of the country’s foreign policy, clearing the path for the first direct talks between the United States and Iran in 35 years.

[…]

Around the world, much nuclear material remains unsecured.

Soon after Obama’s Brandenburg Gate speech, Russia offered political asylum to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked US classified documents, creating an international media sensation, and Obama called off a planned summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. There appears to have been little movement since on nuclear agreements between the United States and Russia.

China is reported to be modernizing and quantitatively increasing its nuclear arsenal, albeit at a slow pace. India and Pakistan continue to expand their arsenals and stockpiles of fissile materials. Both countries are developing and testing new missiles, many nuclear-capable. India plans to build a nuclear submarine fleet and to develop a ballistic missile-defense system, the deployment of which could destabilize the subcontinent.

Despite authoritative reports that it has a nuclear weapons arsenal, Israel continues a policy of nuclear ambiguity while strenuously trying to scuttle talks on Iran\’s nuclear efforts. In February 2013, North Korea conducted yet another nuclear weapon test, the first under its new leader, Kim Jong-un, and issued a series of military threats, some involving the use of nuclear weapons.” ‘ (Sploid)

Most failed stars have clouds and rain, says NASA

‘The scene seems like a storm over a sea of lava somewhere in Mordor, but you are looking at the surface of a failed star—the weather on a brown dwarf based on new data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. It\’s spectacular. Even more so when you think that\’s not water falling from the sky.

Published in a NASA article titled Stormy Stars? NASA\’s Spitzer Probes Weather on Brown Dwarfs, this artist rendering is based on the findings of a study of “44 brown dwarfs as they rotated on their axis for up to 20 hours.” The artists did a great job because the storms must be really spectacular, according to their description:

“Scientists think that the cloudy regions on brown dwarfs take the form of torrential storms, accompanied by winds and, possibly, lightning more violent than that at Jupiter or any other planet in our solar system. However, the brown dwarfs studied so far are too hot for water rain; instead, astronomers believe the rain in these storms, like the clouds themselves, is made of hot sand, molten iron or salts.” ‘ (Sploid)