SciTech Briefs

Doomsday Clock moved minutes closer to midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just moved the Doomsday Clock two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight. Reasons for the decision include increased nuclear proliferation, climate change, a rise in nationalism worldwide, the randomness of the Trump administration and, to a lesser extent, regular disregard for scientific opinion and fact. This is the closest the clock has been to midnight since 1953, when the first hydrogen bombs were being tested.
The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic representation of mankind’s proximity to annihilation, with 12 a.m. being the apocalyptic hour. In 1945, scientists invented the clock after witnessing the immense devastation atomic bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, seeing that humanity possessed the technology to destroy cities in a matter of seconds.

Source: Engadget

Snapchat files for $3 billion IPO, finally goes public

The latest social network to cause a frenzy, Snapchat, has just filed for an initial public offering (IPO) worth $3 billion. Perhaps the most expensive IPO ever, its value surpasses that of Facebook’s and Google’s at the times of their IPOs. This pricey IPO comes at no shock, as the founders of the media sharing juggernaut evaluate the app at $25 billion.
Snapchat and its unique take on how people share photos, filters, video, texts and their daily lives launched it to the top of the social media bubble. So much so that other apps, such as Instagram, copied the successful formula.
An IPO is a company’s first sale of stock to the public, turning it from a private firm to a public one. Selling stock allows a company to generate stock by issuing dept or equity, and several tech companies eventual do so.

Source: Business Insider

Trump’s Twitter found to be insecure by hackers

Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which he uses incessantly, is incredibly unprotected, especially since he is currently the President of the United States. He still uses a phone running an Android operating system. Donald Trump’s account has been hacked before, but that was before he became the leader of the free world. Should hackers gain access to his account, they could manipulate stock markets and foreign policy to their benefit, as Trump’s tweet usually do.
Although Twitter does not offer special protection for politicians, it does provide users with the option of two-factor authentication before access to their accounts is granted. Trump does not employ any of these measures. When attempting to login to the page, hackers even noted that the page is registered with a Gmail account.

Source: Huffington Post

The Milky Way is being pushed by unseen forces

The Milky Way is being pushed through the universe by an unseen force. Scientists published a paper last year detailing what is known as the dipole repeller effect and its effect on the motion of our home galaxy; this is a push-like phenomenon exerted by large expanses of emptiness in space. On the other end of the push is a pull from a large group of galaxies 75 million light-years away called the Shapely Attractor.
The researchers created a 3D map of the flow of galaxies in our region of space. They found that galaxies flow in gravitational streams like water running downhill, repelled by regions of empty space and attracted by areas with denser matter. This repeller force adds to the Milky Way’s velocity of about two million kilometers per hour, which was caused by the expansion of the universe.

Source: CNN

Last year is hottest year on record for third time in a row

2016 is now the hottest year on record. This has happened consecutively for the last three years and 16 times since the beginning of the millennium. The Earth’s temperature has steadily increased throughout the 20th century, but warming accelerated in the 1980s.
The climate scientists that conducted this research concluded that about 75 percent of the increased global temperature is due to human activity. They surmised that such heating has less than one in a million chance of happening had human activity been taken out of the equation. Evidence of climate change has shown itself in several forms, including more frequent extreme weather and the reduction of arctic ice that occurs at a rate of 13.3 percent per decade. Scientists expect warmth records to be continually broken for the foreseeable future.

Source: The New York Times

2020 Olympic medals to be made from old phones

For the 2020 Olympics, Japan will make medals with old phones. The public will be asked to donate their old phones in order to amass two tons of gold, silver and bronze for the 5,000 medals. The Olympic committee cited the limited amount of resources in Japan and on the planet as their reason for the idea; they also wish to create awareness about recycling.
Olympic medals are traditionally made from metal obtained from mines. Japan, however, does not have the luxury of having resource deposits below its territory. It will place boxes in local offices and telecoms around the country, where citizens can drop their unused electronics. Phones contain small amounts of the rare metals such as those needed for the medals, which will be obtained using refining and chemical separation methods.

Source: BBC