GeekSpeak for 2013-10-12

Lavabit Touches Passwords with Solar-Powered CAT Scanner

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Lavabit stands against the FBI, largest solar power plant goes live, cave women were the artists, and all the reasons why your passwords don’t work.

Largest US Power Storing Solar Array Goes Live

“The switch has been flipped on a massive solar array field near Phoenix, producing up to 280 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 70,000 households.”

Complete with bath salts! Oops! Make that salt (sodium) baths.

CT Scanners for Cars

The Fraunhofer Development Center is using the biggest CT scanner it can find to analyze wrecked cars. Researchers hope to gain some insight into how individual components react under the forces of a collision.

Fraunhofer says a CT provides analysts with a three-dimensional view of the wreckage, without disturbing anything.

$100 Bill Made Its Debut

The bill was originally due to reach banks in 2011. But three years ago the Federal Reserve announced that a problem with the currency’s new security measures was causing the bills to crease during printing, which left blank spaces on the bills.

The new bill has several features designed to make it easier for the public to authenticate but more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate. Those measures include a blue, 3-D security ribbon, as well as color-shifting ink that changes from copper to green when the note is tilted. That ink can be found on a large “100” on the back of the bill, on one of the “100’s” on the front, and on a new image of an ink well that’s also on the front.

E-Mail Provider Defied FBI Demands to Turn Over Crypto Keys

“The U.S. government in July obtained a search warrant demanding that Edward Snowden’s e-mail provider, Lavabit, turn over the private SSL keys that protected all web traffic to the site, according to to newly unsealed documents.”

Haptic Feedback Above Screens

Researchers from Britain’s University of Bristol have demonstrated an “ultrahaptics” or mid-air tactile feedback prototype that allows people to interact with computer interfaces without touching them.

UltraHaptics allows people interacting with a screen to feel what is displayed and also receive invisible information before touching it.

The technology [PDF] works through the use of acoustic radiation force, projected through ultrasonic transducers. These emit very high frequency sound waves which when they meet mid-air, create a sensation on a person’s skin.

By combining several waves, the researchers were able to create multiple points of tactile feedback with different properties that can be distinguished by users.

All Your Password Are Belong To Us

“Early last year, password security researcher Kevin Young was hitting a brick wall. Over the previous few weeks, he made steady progress decoding cryptographically protected password data leaked from the then-recent hack of intelligence firm Stratfor. But with about 60 percent of the more than 860,000 password hashes cracked, his attempts to decipher the remaining 40 percent were failing.”

Were The First Artists Mostly Women?

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female.

Red Cross: Penalize war crimes in video games

“Some war video games have reached an incredible level of realism and sophistication in their depiction of armed conflict. Everyday gamers can immerse themselves in the same sort of video games used to train real soldiers. The International Committee of the Red Cross wants these kinds of games to be so real as to also depict punishments for war crimes.”

Red Cross Wants Consequences for Video-Game Mayhem

“Some war video games have reached an incredible level of realism and sophistication in their depiction of armed conflict. Everyday gamers can immerse themselves in the same sort of video games used to train real soldiers. The International Committee of the Red Cross wants these kinds of games to be so real as to also depict punishments for war crimes.”