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Google lets you explore new heritage sites with help from the State Department

Engadget - Mon, 2022-04-18 08:05

The US Department of State is making it easier for people to explore cultural heritage sites from around the world thanks to a partnership with Google Arts & Culture. Announced as part of World Heritage Day, the dedicated section will let people virtually explore heritage sites from 1,100 Ambassadors Fund projects in over 130 countries around the world.

"Cultural heritage sites, objects, and traditions are a point of pride for people the world over, but they also require care and vigilance," wrote the US Department of State's Lee Satterfield. "That’s why the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center works with governments and organizations to preserve and protect cultural heritage from both natural and man-made threats through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP)."

This #worldheritageday, @heritageatstate has partnered with @googlearts to share our work protecting and preserving #culturalheritage in 130+ countries. #AFCPhttps://t.co/4vJWGdrIrP@ECAatState@ECA_AS@WorldMonuments

— Heritage at State (@HeritageAtState) April 18, 2022

Some of the sites on display include the Wat Chaiwatthanaram at Ayutthaya in Thailand, the al-Imam al-Shafi’i Mausoleum in Egypt and the Ancient Nabataean Flash Flood Protection System at Petra. All told, the Cultural Heritage Center added over 100 new images of sites. Along with those, there's a story about cultural heritage preservation, complete with video and images, created by the US Department of State's Cultural Heritage Center.

The Cultural Heritage Center promised to update the site with future stories down the road. And since the biggest threat to heritage sites is climate change, it also pointed folks to Google Arts & Culture's Heritage on the Edge project. 

Best Portable Generators for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Mon, 2022-04-18 08:00
When the power goes out, these generators kick into gear to keep the essentials up and running.

Richard Stallman Speaks on Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, GNU Taler, and Encryption

SlashDot - Mon, 2022-04-18 07:34
During a 92-minute presentation Wednesday on the state of the free software movement, Richard Stallman spoke at length on a wide variety of topics, including the need for freedom-respecting package systems. But Stallman also shared his deepest thoughts on a topic dear to the hearts of Slashdot readers: privacy and currency: I won't order from online stores, because I can't pay them . For one thing, the payment services require running non-free JavaScript... [And] to pay remotely you've got to do it by credit card, and that's tracking people, and I want to resist tracking too.... This is a really serious problem for society, that you can't order things remotely anonymously. But GNU Taler is part of the path to fixing that. You'll be able to get a Taler token from your bank, or a whole bunch of Taler tokens, and then you'll be able to use those to pay anonymously. Then if the store can send the thing you bought to a delivery box in your neighborhood, the store doesn't ever have to know who you are. But there's another issue Stallman touched on earlier in his talk: There is a proposed U.S. law called KOSA which would require mandatory age-verification of users -- which means mandatory identification of users, which is likely to mean via face recognition. And it would be in every commercial software application or electronic service that connects to the internet.... [It's] supposedly for protecting children. That's one of the favorite excuses for surveillance and repression: to protect the children. Whether it would actually protect anyone is dubious, but they hope that won't actually be checked.... You can always propose a completely useless method that will repress everyone.... So instead, Stallman suggests that age verification could be handled by.... GNU Taler: Suppose there's some sort of service which charges money, or even a tiny amount of money, and is only for people over 16, or people over 18 or whatever it is. Well, you could get from your bank a Taler token that says the person using this token is over 16. This bank has verified that.... So then the site only needs to insist on a 16-or-over Taler token, and your age is verified, but the site has no idea who you are. Unfortunately that won't help if user-identifying age-tracking systems are legislated now. The code of Taler works, but it's still being integrated with a bank so that people could actually start to use it with real businesses. Read on for Slashdot's report on Stallman's remarks on cryptocurrencies and encryption, or jump ahead to... Can GNU Taler accounts be frozen? Why cryptocurrency shouldn't replace banking The problem with VPN apps - and how interoperable encryption could protect your freedom

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Astronomers Gear Up to Grapple with the High-Tension Cosmos

Scientifc America - Mon, 2022-04-18 06:45
A debate over conflicting measurements of key cosmological properties is set to shape the next decade of astronomy and astrophysics

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Researchers break world record for quantum-encrypted communications

Engadget - Mon, 2022-04-18 06:43

Researchers in Beijing have set a new quantum secure direct communication (QSDC) world record of 102.2 km (64 miles), smashing the previous mark of 18 km (11 miles), The Eurasian Times reported. Transmission speeds were extremely slow at 0.54 bits per second, but still good enough for text message and phone call encryption over a distance of 30 km (19 miles), wrote research lead Long Guilu in Nature. The work could eventually lead to hack-proof communication, as any eavesdropping attempt on a quantum line can be instantly detected. 

QSDC uses the principal of entanglement to secure networks. Quantum physics dictates that entangled particles are linked, so that if you change the property of one by measuring it, the other will instantly change, too — effectively making hacking impossible. In theory, the particles stay linked even if they're light-years apart, so such systems should work over great distances. 

The same research team set the previous fiber record, and devised a "novel design of physical system with a new protocol" to achieve the longer distance. They simplified it by eliminating the "complicated active compensation subsystem" used in the previous model. "This enables an ultra-low quantum bit error rate (QBER) and the long-term stability against environmental noises." 

As a result, the system can withstand much more so-called channel loss that makes it impossible to decode encrypted messages. That in turn allowed them to extend the fiber from 28.3km to the record 102.2 km distance. "The experiment shows that intercity quantum secure direct communication through the fiber is feasible with present-day technology," the team wrote in Nature

Researchers in China previously made a secure quantum-enabled video call by satellite, but fiber poses a different set of challenges. "If we replace parts of the internet today, where more eavesdropping attacks happen, with quantum channels, those parts will have the added ability to sense and prevent eavesdropping, making communication even safer," said Long. 

Applications Surged After Colleges Started Ignoring Standardized Test Scores

SlashDot - Mon, 2022-04-18 04:04
What happened when college admissions offices started ignoring the standardized test scores? NBC News asked college administrators like Jon Burdick, Cornell's vice provost for enrollment: When the health crisis closed testing sites in 2020, four of Cornell's undergraduate colleges decided to go test optional, meaning students could submit a test score if they thought it would help them, but didn't have to. Three of Cornell's colleges adopted test-blind policies, meaning admissions officers wouldn't look at any student's scores. The effects were immediate, Burdick said. Like many other colleges and universities, Cornell was inundated with applications — roughly 71,000 compared to 50,000 in a typical year. And the new applications — particularly those that arrived without test scores attached — were far more likely to come from "students that have felt historically excluded," Burdick said. The university had always looked at many factors in making admissions decisions, and low test scores were never singularly disqualifying, Burdick said. But it became clear that students had been self-rejecting, deciding not to apply to places like Cornell because they thought their lower SAT scores meant they couldn't get in, he said. Other colleges also saw a similar surge in applications.... At Cornell, managing the surge in applications wasn't easy, Burdick said. The university hired several admissions officers and about a dozen part-time application readers — paid for in part by the additional application fees.... In the end, Cornell enrolled a more diverse class, including a nearly 50 percent increase in the share of first-generation college students. "It showed me that these students, given the opportunity, can show really impressive competitive credentials and get admitted with the test barrier reduced or eliminated," Burdick said. Research on colleges that went test optional years ago shows that students admitted without test scores come from more diverse backgrounds and do about as well in their classes once they arrive as peers who did submit test scores.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ultra-Rare Black Hole Ancestor Detected at the Dawn of the Universe

SlashDot - Mon, 2022-04-18 01:05
"Astronomers have discovered a dusty, red object 13 billion light-years from Earth that may be the earliest known ancestor of a supermassive black hole," reports Live Science: The ancient object shows characteristics that fall between dusty, star-forming galaxies and brightly glowing black holes known as quasars, according to the authors of a new study, published April 13 in the journal Nature. Born just 750 million years after the Big Bang, during an epoch called the "cosmic dawn," the object appears to be the first direct evidence of an early galaxy weaving stardust into the foundations of a supermassive black hole. Objects like these, known as transitioning red quasars, have been theorized to exist in the early universe, but they have never been observed — until now.... Prior research has shown that quasars existed within the first 700 million years of the universe, the study authors wrote; however, it's unclear exactly how these supermassive objects formed so quickly after the Big Bang. Simulations suggest that some sort of fast-growing transition phase occurs in dusty, star-dense galaxies. "Theorists have predicted that these black holes undergo an early phase of rapid growth: a dust-reddened compact object emerges from a heavily dust-obscured starburst galaxy," study co-author Gabriel Brammer, an associate professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, said in the statement. In their new paper, the researchers claim to have detected one of these rare transitional objects — officially named GNz7q — while studying an ancient, star-forming galaxy with the Hubble Space Telescope. The team caught the early galaxy in the midst of a stellar baby boom, with the galaxy seemingly churning out new stars 1,600 times faster than the Milky Way does today. All those newborn stars produced an immense amount of heat, which warmed the galaxy's ambient gas and caused it to glow brightly in infrared wavelengths. The galaxy became so hot, in fact, that its dust shines brighter than any other known object from the cosmic dawn period, the researchers said. Amid that brightly glowing dust, the researchers detected a single red point of light — a large, compact object tinged by the enormous fog of dust around it. According to the researchers, this red dot's luminosity and color perfectly match the predicted characteristics of a transitioning red quasar.... [T]here are likely many, many others like it just waiting to be discovered by telescopes that can peer even further back, into the earliest eras of the universe. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which launched on Dec. 25, 2021, will be able to hunt for these elusive objects with much greater clarity than Hubble, the researchers wrote, hopefully shedding a bit more light onto the dusty cosmic dawn.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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