Science, Technology and Innovation

A ‘samurai’ swordsmith is designing a space probe

The ‘tamahagane’ steel used in traditional weapons may be the perfect material to cut through asteroids. Chris Baraniuk BBC If you wanted to slice stuff up in space, what would you bring with you? ‘Samurai’ swords, which have been made in Japan for centuries, might be on your list because the… There are plenty of videos online showing these Japanese swords, also called ‘katana’, cutting up everything from thick boards of wood to metal pipes. Now, a trio of engineers have ... Read More »

How China diverts, then spies on Australia’s internet traffic

Internet traffic heading to Australia was diverted via mainland China over a six-day period last year, in what some experts believe may have enabled a targeted data theft. Nick McKenzie, Angus Grigg & Chris Uhlmann The Canberra Times The diverted traffic from Europe and North America was logged as a routing error by the state-owned China Telecom, according to data released for the first time by researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Naval War College in the US. “We ... Read More »

IT contractors shown the door en masse at Home Affairs

Hundreds of IT contractors were shown the door at the Department of Home Affairs in Canberra this week due to budget pressures, with industry experts fearing a flood of workers will push down incomes across the sector. Sally Whyte The Canberra Times It’s understood that anywhere between 170 and 300 contractors, working on various information technology contracts across the department, were told this week that they were no longer required, with their work to be finishing up in the next ... Read More »

‘A disaster’: Forest deals reignite tension between loggers and conservationists

Dejan Stojanovic was aghast. The biologist had pulled to the side of a remote dirt road in southern Tasmania, expecting to find the stately blue gum forest he’d frequented for years. Nicole Hasham The Age He had come in search of the rare swift parrot, known to nest in the nooks of old local trees. But the bulldozers had got there first. Only disfigured brown earth remained. “I was enraged,” Stojanovic says, recalling the day in November last year. “This ... Read More »

Seafood industry calls for Senate inquiry into seismic testing

Members of the Australian seafood industry are persisting in their calls for an inquiry into seismic testing, despite the Senate having twice rejected the idea. ABC West Coast SA By Samantha Jonscher Seismic surveys, which are used to search for undersea oil and gas deposits, involve firing intense soundwaves into the ocean floor, which fishers worry could disrupt the behaviour of marine life. Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association President Brian Jeffriess said not enough is known about the impacts of ... Read More »

UK to sell ‘UNLIMITED’ amount of military equipment to China in MASSIVE rebuke to Trump

A UK DEFENCE company is preparing to sell an “unlimited quantity of goods” to the Chinese military, including advanced radar technology and tracking systems, in a possible challenge to the Trump administration which has imposed massive sanctions on the… James Bickerton Express The revelation was made by the South China Morning Post, based on information from within the UK’s Department for International Trade. According to the leak, a UK company, which hasn’t been identified, has been granted an Open Individual ... Read More »

The ancient Greeks would have loved Alexa

Classical mythology is full of robots, automata, artificial intelligence and technology. Think not only Pandora, but self-opening gates and libation-pouring statues Peter Stothard The Spectator Among the myths of Ancient Greece the Cyclops has become forever famous, the Talos not so much. While both were monsters who hurled giant boulders at Mediterranean shipping, the… The Talos was more alien, by some accounts a mere machine, manufactured in metal by a god and pre-programmed only to sink ships and roast invaders ... Read More »

‘I felt like I failed’: Michelle Obama opens up on miscarriage, IVF

Michelle Obama says she felt “lost and alone” after suffering a miscarriage 20 years ago and she and Barack Obama underwent in vitro fertilization to conceive their two daughters. The Canberra Times AP “We were trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t going well,” Mrs Obama, 54, writes in her upcoming memoir. “We had one pregnancy test come back positive, which caused us both to forget every worry and swoon with joy, but a couple of weeks later I had ... Read More »

Could consciousness all come down to the way things vibrate?

Why is my awareness here, while yours is over there? Why is the universe split in two for each of us, into a subject and an infinity of objects? Tam Hunt The Conversation How is each of us our own center of experience, receiving information about the rest of the world out there? Why are some things conscious and others apparently not? Is a rat conscious? A gnat? A bacterium? These questions are all aspects of the ancient “mind-body problem,” which ... Read More »

Bitcoin Pioneer Who Gave Away Over $100 Million Has No Regrets

Jeff Garzik started writing software code for Bitcoin after reading a blog postabout the digital currency in July 2010. Olga Kharif Bloomberg At the time, he was working remotely for open-source powerhouse Red Hat Inc. from an RV parked in an empty lot in Raleigh, North Carolina. He soon became the third-biggest contributor to Bitcoin’s code after the cryptocurrency’s anonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto and developer Gavin Andresen, and remained so through 2014. Looking back 10 years after its creation, Garzik says he is ... Read More »

What mass shootings do to those not shot: Social consequences of mass gun violence

Mass shootings seem to have become a sad new normal in the American life. They happen too often, and in very unexpected places. Concerts, movie theaters, places of worship, schools, bars and restaurants are no longer secure from gun violence. Arash Javanbakht The Conversation Often, and especially when a person who is not a minority or Muslim perpetrates a mass shooting, mental health is raised as a real concern or, critics say, a diversion from the real issue easy access ... Read More »

‘Bionic mushrooms’ which generate electricity could power our future lighting, say scientists

White button mushrooms have been developed into a new source of green power Sally Guyoncourt The Scotsman Ordinary white button mushrooms have been transformed into ‘bionic’ fungi capable of producing eco-friendly electricity with a little help from some bacteria and nanotechnology. Researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey have added cyanobacteria (commonly known as blue-green bacteria) and graphene nanoribbons to the cap of the mushrooms to generate and… Manu Mannoor, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the… ... Read More »

Pakistan has cost effective solutions to India’s ballistic missile defence system: Report

Pakistan has “cost effective solutions” to India’s latest ballistic missile defence system and would also find a counter to its nuclear capable submarine, a media report said on Wednesday quoting a… Pakistan Defence Addressing a conference on ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Strategic Stability in South Asia’ hosted by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Adviser to the National Command Authority (NCA) Lt Gen (retd… “The history of our strategic force development clearly indicates that Pakistan has never allowed this (strategic) balance to ... Read More »

Uzi: The Israeli Super Machine Gun That Conquered the World

Uzi was a textbook example of a simple project successfully completed by a nascent arms industry. Kyle Mizokami The National Interest A well-designed, reliable submachine gun made of stamped parts, it was simple to build and had universal appeal. Although mostly out of service, the Uzi’s profile will be recognizable for decades to come. Outside of Israel the Uzi proliferated widely, contributing to its global image. Countries as diverse as Japan, Germany, Belgium, Peru and Brazil all used the Uzi ... Read More »

Khashoggi murder: how states are increasingly repressing dissidents beyond their borders

Authoritarian states have long tried to suppress dissidents who oppose the regime But in the age of globalisation, they are increasingly able to mobilise beyond their territorial borders and target political opponents overseas. Aurhors: The Conversation The brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a former Saudi regime insider who became a critic in self exile of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is an extreme example of this new reality. Although the precise details of Khashoggi’s murder have yet to be proved, his grim fate – he ... Read More »

A cure for cancer: how to kill a killer

Revolutionary work on the body’s immune system and a host of new drug trials mean that beating cancer may be achievable Charles Graeber The Guardian Last month, the Nobel prize in medicine was awarded for two breakthrough scientific discoveries heralded as having “revolutionised cancer treatment”, and “fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed”. One of them went to a charismatic, harmonica-playing Texan named Jim Allison for his breakthrough advances in cancer immunotherapy. His discovery had resulted in transformative outcomes for ... Read More »