I’ve been a fan of the web comic xkcd for a while, so it was sad to read of their recent security troubles.
Hackers breach forum of popular webcomic ‘XKCD’
“The xkcd forums are currently offline. We’ve been alerted that portions of the PHPBB user table from our forums showed up in a leaked data collection. The data includes usernames, email addresses, salted, hashed passwords, and in some cases an IP address from the time of registration,” the forum administrators wrote.
It does give us the opportunity to share one of their comic strips again, though.
See also: password strength, security question, morning news, right click, and of course the big hitters Earth temperature timeline and time.
So black holes are really real, then?
The first photo of a black hole
We have the first photo of a supermassive black hole, from imagery taken two years ago of the elliptical galaxy M87 (in the constellation Virgo) by the Event Horizon Telescope project. The EHT team is a group of 200 scientist that has been working on this project for two decades. The image was created using data captured from radio telescopes from Hawaii to the South Pole and beyond using very long baseline interferometry.
This animation, via the Event Horizon Telescope project website, explains what we’re looking at.
Zooming into a simulated black hole accretion system in M87
As always with space stuff, I have a problem with scale. This helps enormously, though.
xkcd: M87 Black Hole Size Comparison
That’s pretty big. But how about these images of Jupiter.
NASA has released new images of Jupiter, taken by the Juno Spacecraft
Favourite comment: “God I wish Vincent van Gogh was alive to see this”
Yes, I can just imagine Van Gogh looking at these with a ‘told you so’ smile on his face. NASA has some more images from their Juno mission.
One of the dangers at just looking at the numbers.
Progress 8 scores for most schools aren’t that different
There were over 300 schools with P8 scores between -0.05 and +0.05 – a difference of over 300 rank places (10% of schools) between the highest and lowest scoring of them. But what do these numbers mean?
Let’s say the score for School A was +0.05 and School B was -0.05. Taking the numbers at face value, one interpretation is that if you picked two pupils with the same KS2 attainment, the two pupils would have the same grades in seven of the subjects included in Attainment 8 but the pupil from School A would have one grade higher in one and only one subject than the pupil in School B.
Is this an educationally important difference?
And talking of Progress 8 confidence intervals…
xkcd: Error bars
15 years. That’s not bad at all.
NASA’s record-setting Opportunity Rover mission on Mars comes to end
Designed to last just 90 Martian days and travel 1,100 yards (1,000 meters), Opportunity vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity. In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the rover traveled more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on Mars – Perseverance Valley.
Nasa confirms Mars rover Opportunity is dead
“We had expected that dust falling out of the air would accumulate on the solar rays and eventually choke off power,” Callas said. “What we didn’t expect was that wind would come along periodically and blow the dust off the arrays. It allowed us to survive not just the first winter, but all the winters we experienced on Mars.”
A dust storm has killed NASA’s longest-lived Mars rover
In 2005, Opportunity overcame a sand trap and the loss of one wheel to arrive at the Victoria crater, a 2,400-foot hole that it explored for two years, finding features at its bottom again shaped by ancient water. It next explored the Endeavor crater, 13 miles away, starting in 2011. Most recently it had traversed a narrow valley leading down into the larger Endurance crater.
As this video from NASA shows, the Rover had been on an incredible trek these last 15 years.
Opportunity: NASA Rover completes Mars mission
Here’s xkcd’s surprisingly moving take on it.
xkcd: Opportunity Rover
Thanks for bringing us along.
Technologies just change, rather than advance, I think. For all their supposed progression, the level of accompanying frustration seems pretty constant.
Photography philosophy from xkcd. As someone who takes lots of photos, with more enthusiasm than talent, I couldn’t have put it better myself.