SciTech Briefs

Less massive dark matter discovered

In the Soudan mine of Minnesota, two experiments — the Cyrogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMSII) and the Coherent Germanium Neutrino Technology (CoGeNT) — have yielded results that may lead to new information about the size and sensitivity of dark matter, which is thought to be the most abundant form of matter in the universe.

Two weeks ago, CDMSII discovered particles resembling dark matter in the mine. The underground mine is known for its lack of particle activity, meaning there are few subatomic particles in the atmosphere that one would find in abundance at the earth’s surface. CoGeNT reported they observed similar dark matter particles with a smaller mass. Confirmation of the CoGeNT results would, according to physicist Juan Collar, “shift attention to experiments that are sensitive to lower energies,” since detection of the particles occurred at the lower energy sensitivities of the detectors.

Skepticism concerning results has been strong. The less massive CoGeNT particles do not match up with dark matter being investigated by space satellites. The CoGeNT experiment itself may also be faulty, since it is less shielded and more susceptible to unrelated radio waves than the CDMSII.


TigerText creator makes texting private

Following the revelation of golfer Tiger Wood’s numerous affairs and his subsequent apology last week, former recruiter and headhunter Jeffrey Evans responded by creating the TigerText iPhone app, launched on Feb. 25.

With the app, users who may not want their received text messages to be disclosed to others can store them in the TigerText server and set a certain time limit for the message lifespan. After the time limit has expired, the message disappears from both phones and the server. Recipients can see the texts, but they cannot respond. Any incriminating messages, therefore, can be deleted from existence.

Evans denies any claim that the phone was designed for cheating spouses, or that it was named after Tiger Woods in the first place. He designed it primarily to allow iPhone users to have more control over their privacy. Pointing to a ruling by the European Union in 2006 that phone and Internet providers would hold onto texts for a certain period of time, he claimed that the app was directed toward lawyers and business executives.

Whether this app was a practical investment or, as Time puts it, simply “stupidity insurance” remains to be seen.

Source: Time magazine

China and Google have a standoff

China has threatened to shut down Google’s operations inside China due to Google’s decision to reduce censorship on its Chinese website. The situation began when, in late 2009, a series of Internet attacks against several U.S. corporations, including Google, was found to originate in China. The attacks targeted not only the companies, but also the e-mail accounts of several Chinese human-rights activists. In response, Google declared that it would stop restricting searches on its Chinese language search engine, prompting threats from the Chinese government.

Both powers have considerable influence. Google, according to Rebecca MacKinnon of Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, has a large enough presence “to define the standard operating rules of the Internet.” With the freedom of ideas available online, Google could very well combat any authoritarian regime.

China, however, has had a history of restricting Internet access through a list of blocked IP addresses known as “The Great Firewall.” Although the bandwidth is reaching maximum capacity in the country, China’s circumvention could find any number of unfavorable IP addresses.

Source: Scientific American