Smells Like … a Keyboard

Compromising your keyboard by sniffing the EM radiation signature.

We found 4 different ways (including the Kuhn attack) to fully or partially recover keystrokes from wired keyboards at a distance up to 20 meters, even through walls. We tested 11 different wired keyboard models bought between 2001 and 2008 (PS/2, USB and laptop). They are all vulnerable to at least one of our 4 attacks.

Neal Stephenson did this in Cryptonomicon. Of course, fictional events are trumped by actual results.

It's About Time: More NPR Physics Discussions

A Light Take On The Gravity-Time Relationship

Brian Greene explains the link between gravity and time.

Greene has written a short (less than 40 cardboard pages) new picture book called Icarus at the Edge of Time. It tells the story of a young boy who slips off in a space ship and cruises over to a black hole, only to discover that he’s made a terrible mistake: He forgot one of Einstein’s fundamental observations, which is that time is not the same for everybody everywhere.


Einstein’s theories posit that as one gets closer to a center of gravity, time will “slow down.” So if you spend the rest of your life closer to the Earth’s center of gravity on 34th Street while I spend the rest of my life at the top of the Empire State Building, time for you will tick a teeny, teeny bit more slowly than time for me.

Einstein meant this not poetically, but literally. If you and I each had a watch, ticking off hundred-billionths of seconds, the watch on your wrist down below on the street would tick fewer times than the watch I was wearing up in the sky. It wouldn’t be a big difference — a few billionths of a second over 20 years — but it would be a real difference. If we decided after several decades to meet and compare watches, we’d see that they would literally differ, that time for the two of us had indeed ticked differently.

via Physics Buzz

There's One Thing That's Perpetual

Credulous media will apparently never run out.

Blacklight Power bolsters its impossible claims of a new renewable energy source

It’s difficult to pay attention to these claims, because scientific history is littered with ambitious, revolutionary theories that turned out to be groundless. But Blacklight is an interesting case. Its “hydrino” theory isn’t put forth by a single crackpot; instead, the company employs a good handful of high-level scientists who would presumably rebel if the idea was totally false.

No, not really. Creationism, for example, has a few credentialed scientists among its ranks. Pons and Fleischmann really thought they had fusion. Scientists in any field will cover a spectrum — there will always be some on the fringe. A lot of outlandish “theories” have the backing of somebody with a degree. That’s not the right metric for measurement.

As I noted in May, it would be odd, if Blacklight were a complete sham, for Mills to place himself in an end game in which he would be definitively proven wrong within just a year or two. So there does seem to be something deeper here.

As with the above, this isn’t the right way to look at it. There are numerous free-energy advocates out there, convinced they are right, with a working model just around the corner (or so they claim), or gee, it was working yesterday, right before I was going to show it off. Remember Steorn?

Proof here is a working model, producing energy. I’m not holding my breath.

Say It Isn't So

In the 80s music videos link from the other day I noticed the unsurprising absence of BLOTTO, a favorite Albany (NY)-based band from my high school/ college days (along with Fear of Strangers, aka The Units). So I went and looked for them on YouTube.

I must protest what I found.

This has to be the worse attempt at striking gold in the 80’s punk rock scene.

Punk? Dude, Blotto was not punk. They were a campy spoof-music band. Worst music video ever? Please.

I Wanna Be A Lifeguard

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

And I was there when they filmed the live footage. (I’m pretty sure I know one of the people visible in the crowd shot at 2:37, though she has kids now and is taking the fifth.)

Metalhead is after the jump. Sarge would always bite the head off of something during the song.
Continue reading

A Slice of PI

What We Research at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Researchers at PI build on the two great revolutionary advances of 20th century physics – the relativity and quantum theories:

Einstein discovered that space and time are not separate entities, but are different aspects of a single geometrical entity called spacetime, which dynamically twists and warps as it dances with matter and energy. This dance, called gravity, governs the behaviour of the universe on large scales, from the solar system and galaxies to the entire cosmos as a whole.

The fathers of quantum theory, on the other hand, such as Bohr, Heisenberg, and Schrödinger, discovered strange new laws that were eventually seen to govern the behaviour of all matter and forces on very small scales – the atomic and subatomic worlds, with the exception of gravity, whose quantum nature continues to elude physicists.Both are profoundly powerful theories which not only explain, with extraordinary accuracy, many previously puzzling aspects of the universe, but have also successfully predicted a wealth of completely unexpected new phenomena, from black holes and gravitational waves to lasers and quantum teleportation.

Links to Quantum Gravity, Superstring Theory, Quantum Foundations, Quantum Information, Cosmology and Particle Physics.

Me, Robot

It’s not as funny as the I Love Lucy episode with the chocolates, but it’s still pretty neat.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

What Definition of 'Shortage' Shall We Use?

What Shortage of Scientists and Engineers?

So why do we keep hearing complaints about a shortage? One recent reason is that it’s been harder for foreign scientists and engineers to get visas since the Sept. 11 attacks. But the quickest and cheapest way to deal with that problem is to increase the number of visas (as Mr. Obama has promised to do).

Ah, I see. There is no shortage because we “import” scientists and engineers, which we wouldn’t need to do if we had enough scientists and engineers. From what I can tell, you have to have a job offer to get an H-1B, and 65,000 bachelor degree visas were granted last year, along with 20,000 more to those with Master’s or PhDs. There were 133,000 applicants, implying 68,000 more jobs would have been available.

But don’t worry. The quick and easy fix means we don’t have to teach our kids math, science and technology. We’ll just trust conditions never reach the point where foreign workers can get good tech jobs in their home country.