The Internet Google Can’t See

        The Dark Web is a phrase that is becoming more and more popular in the mainstream ever since groups like Anonymous and The Lizard Squad have been making headlines over the last few years. A recent article by popular science takes an in depth look  at what exactly the  Dark Web is, and what type of services one can find if you are able to actually access it. It’s a world of elicit activity, protected by safeguards and passwords. You can find everything from drugs to weapons, to murder for hire services. It is made possible through the use of bitcoin services allowing users to anonymously make payments for goods and services without ever being able to be traced. Fortunately, although it represents a large percentage of the internet as a whole,  it’s user base is much smaller than the known, or “surface” internet. It’s an interesting insight into a hard to access world, but one that people need to be aware of as the internet becomes more and more a fixture of modern society.

-CDL

World First: Scientists Discover Networks Linked To Intelligence

        For the first time in history, scientists believe they have discovered the neural networks that are directly linked to intelligence in the human brain. These networks are collections of specific genes that are attributed to things such as memory, attention span, and reasoning. Even more importantly than their discovery is the knowledge that we may have located the “master switches” that regulate these links. Hopefully through careful study we can learn how to open and close these switches in order to help enhance human cognitive ability in the future. Although things are still early in the game at this point, researchers are hopeful that this is the step towards some huge breakthroughs in the future.

-CDL

For the full article, click here.

Here is the link to the actual study found in Nature Neuroscience.

Congress to Fund Deep Space Habitat

        It is no secret that at some point in the distant future humanity is going to have to move out into our solar system and beyond in order to continue to grow and thrive. As many scientists have stated, the first step towards making this future a reality will be the exploration and colonization of Mars. It is the big project of our generation, and one that NASA hopes to be moving forward with by 2030. One of the biggest hurdles that they have yet to overcome is how the astronauts are going to survive on the 6+ month trip to the Martian surface. Although we have already developed the spacecraft that will take us there, the Orion, there has yet to be any progress towards a permanent habitable space that the astronauts could live and function in during transit. Hopefully this is a problem that will soon be solved as it was announced today that congress has allocated $55 million in funds to allow NASA to research and develop a prototype that will be up and running by 2018. Luckily this fits in perfectly with the working timetable that NASA has to get us to Mars by 2030, and is a big boost that is long overdue. Follow the link to learn more about the project.

-CDL

Pacifism: Beating Fallout 4 With No Kills

        When Fallout 4’s creator Todd Howard was interviewed about his game back in July, he stated that there wasn’t really a way to beat it without violence. Of course any time you tell a hardcore group of gamers that they can’t do something one of the first responses you will get is “challenge accepted”. That was the case when Fallout player Kyle Hinckley not only beat the game without a single kill, but beat it on its hardest setting. He documented the entire event on his youtube channel The Weirdestcomplete from beginning to end to prove that he did indeed do it. Not only is the feat itself impressive, but it is made even more so when you see how difficult it actually was to achieve, not only because of the difficulty setting, but because there are certain portions of the game where you are actually required to kill certain characters, and Kyle not doing so would cause playthrough breaking bugs. However he was eventually able to overcome these through some enterprising and creative ways. Someone give this guy a trophy already!!!

-CDL

For more information and the original Kotaku article click here

Below is the first of the no kill playthrough videos.

China Passes Controversial Encryption Access Law

        This past Sunday China passed a new anti-terrorism law that has caused many countries around the world, including the United States and the UK to speak out against the new regulations. The new law requires that Telecommunication companies to provide access and assistance to the Chinese authorities in order to help detect and prevent terrorist activities. Now it should be stated that the new law does not require the companies to hand over their encryption keys, however those that are voicing their concerns about the new law are worried that that is where this could be headed.

        As the need to protect people both in the real world and online against terrorism becomes more and more of an issue in the modern age, the steps that governments are taking in the name of national security are something to be concerned about. The law comes into effect on Jan 1, 2016 and is sure to provide a catalyst to some serious talks on online freedom and the boundaries of government oversight.

-CDL

For more on the law itself, click here.

The Beauty of Fluid Dynamics

        Every once in awhile science and art are able to come together, and the results are typically something beautiful. The New York Times recently released this video showing the fluid dynamics of certain natural systems at work. It is part of a science series that they run and if you go to their site you can find longer versions of the clips in the following video. It’s incredible that there is so much going on in something as simple as the flap of a birds wings or a drop of water hitting the surface of the lake. Take some time out of your day to watch the clip, you will not be disappointed.

-CDL

Light Out of Gravity, Power For The Poor

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         For many families in third world countries, when the sun goes down at the end of the day, that’s the end of the light. Anything else that needs to be done that day is either going to be done in the dark, or by expensive kerosene lanterns and candles. The money that it takes to pay for these light sources can become a large burden for families who don’t make more than a few dollars per day. Hopefully, this will no longer be the case. A group of engineers from the UK has successfully used Indiegogo to fund their newest project: the GravityLight. The GravityLight is a new type of lamp that uses the potential energy of a 20lb weight to provide between 20-30 minutes of light at a time. The best part is the light only costs around $10 per unit to make, which is HUGE for those that have so little disposable income in the first place. The potential of such a device cannot be understated as it represents so many new possibilities for those who live so far below the worldwide poverty line. They are currently seeking funding for a new longer-lasting light on Indiegogo, with a goal of raising $199,000. Here’s hoping they are able to raise the funds!

For a video on how the light works, click here.

To donate to their most recent funding campaign click here.

-CDL

All The Known Data in Our World Could Fit In a Few Cubic Meters of DNA

(Credit: Lonelyleap)

        It’s a fact of our modern world that as time goes by there is more and more information to be preserved about ourselves and our known universe. At the beginning of time it was stored on cave paintings, then etchings, paper, and now computers. As our information has become more and more dense we have had to come up with better and more efficient ways  in which to store it. But with so MUCH info, what is the best way to do it? There aren’t enough hard drives in the world, and even if there were by the time we got all of our information on there we would have to immediately replace them with a newer, bigger model do to the exponential increase in what we  know (it’s called the information age for a reason). Luckily, it looks like mother nature has already taken care of it for us. Enter Researchers Robert Grass and Reinhard Heckel, two scientists who are working on a way to convert all known information into DNA. Think about that for a second, we could fit it all inside the same basic DNA that we have floating around inside our bodies right now. Basically you are a walking super computer so hey, pat yourself on the back! Follow the link to the video on how they are doing it!

-CDL

Torrent Sites Making Millions off Malware

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        According to a recent study done by the DCA (Digital Citizens Alliance), one in three pirate torrent sites contain malware, and are using it to infect and profit off of thousands of users personal information. The study was called “Digital Bait” and was conducted by RiskIQ an online security firm that specializes in preventing these types of Malware. After surveying hundreds of illegal torrent sites they came to the conclusion that users were over 20 times more likely to become infected with  unwanted software than the control group. The malware that is installed is then used to steal users personal information for sale, or to hack computers into doing things such as DDOS attacks that have become so prevalent over the last few years. Even though the study will likely not reduce the number of people going to these sites every day in order to get access to free movies and games, it is still something to be aware of. If you are going to be a pirate, make sure to protect yourself from other pirates as well!

-CDL

For more information on the study click here.

Rare: The Making of Perfect Dark

 

        I received quite a bit of good feedback this week regarding my article on Dream, the original version of Banjo Kazzooie. Here is a follow up video from rare, this time going over the making of one of their other smash hits, Perfect Dark. You can find the video here, it’s another great insight into the inner workings of one of the greatest game developers of the Super Nintendo and N64 era.

-CDL