Black Holes. “If you want to crown them then crown their ass”. Title dates back to a Denny Green football rant. Plus Afghanistan and our buddies the NSA.

I honestly wish I knew more about astronomy. I have heard it said it may be the toughest field to be an expert in. Almost everyone has an IQ above 160. Competition is fierce apparently. What if we rethought black holes? Stephan Hawking apparently has. Some of his thoughts are very interesting.

“””””Black holes don’t actually exist in the way we traditionally think of them, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has proposed in a short but potentially revolutionary paper.

Classical theory holds that no energy or information can ever escape a black hole, but the principles of quantum physics suggest it can. This contradiction has been the subject of debate among physicists for years. In the paper, “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes,” Dr. Hawking proposes a solution to this paradox: instead of devouring information and energy permanently, black holes release it back into the universe in a garbled, unrecognizable form.

Traditionally, black holes were thought to contain an “event horizon,” a sharp boundary beyond which even light cannot escape the gravitational pull of the black hole’s infinitely dense core. Now Dr. Hawking proposes a shifting boundary, the “apparent” horizon, which fluctuates according to quantum effects.


Among other implications, this new theory would have consequences for any astronaut who happened to fall into a black hole. According to quantum physics, the unlucky astronaut would immediately burn up in a “firewall” of intense radiation. Relativity, however, holds that the astronaut would be gradually pulled and stretched like pasta until being crushed at the black hole’s core. Hawking’s theory dispenses with the paradox because without an event horizon, there would be no firewall.”””””””

verge article on

Here is a link to Hawkins paper. It is fairly short.

Hawkins paper

Historical Black hole theory

“””””””The story starts in 1784, when a geologist named John Michell was thinking deeply about Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. In Newtonian physics, a cannonball can be shot into orbit around the Earth if it surpasses a particular speed, known as the planet’s escape velocity. This speed depends on the mass and radius of the object you are trying to escape from. Michell’s insight was to imagine a body whose escape velocity was so great that it exceeded the speed of light – 300,000 kilometers per second – first measured in 1676 by the Danish astronomer Ole Romer.

Michell presented his results to other scientists, who speculated that massive “dark stars” might exist in abundance in the sky but be invisible because light can’t escape their surfaces. The French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace later made an independent discovery of these “dark stars” and both luminaries correctly calculated the very small radius – 6 kilometers – such an object would have if it were as massive as our sun.

After the revolutions of 20th century physics, black holes got much weirder. In 1916, a short while after Einstein published the complex equations underpinning General Relativity (which Einstein himself couldn’t entirely solve), a German astronomer named Karl Schwarzschild showed that a massive object squeezed to a single point would warp space around it so much that even light couldn’t escape. Though the cartoon version of black holes has them sucking everything up like a vacuum cleaner, light would only be unable to escape Schwarzschild’s object if it was inside a particular radius, called the Schwarzschild radius. Beyond this “event horizon,” you could safely leave the vicinity of a black hole.

Neither Schwarzschild nor Einstein believed this object was anything other than a mathematical curiosity. It took a much better understanding of the lives of stars before black holes were taken seriously. You see, a star only works because it preserves a delicate balance between gravity, which is constantly trying to pull its mass inward, and the nuclear furnace in its belly, which exerts pressure outward. At some point a star runs out of fuel and the fusion at its core turns off. Gravity is given the upper hand, causing the star to collapse. For stars like our sun, this collapse is halted when the electrons in the star’s atoms get so close that they generate a quantum mechanical force called electron degeneracy pressure. An object held up by this pressure is called a white dwarf.”””””

wired article on black hole theory in History

Afghanistan pullout seen as a peril to US drone mission

” I am not here… This isn’t happening”
Radiohead–How to disappear completely.

Apparently a big concern of pulling out the troops is we will lose use of airbases that we attack militants, women and children with. It seems like a smoke screen to me to be a concern of a pullout might affect something else. Why can we just not build more efficient drones that could take off from further away? Can’t we launch drones from Aircraft carriers or other bases in the Middle East? Hasn’t drone technology improved to the point they can almost fly 24 hours non stop? ( I believe the giant new Navy Drone can do that).

Can I say as matter of my opinion. Karzhi was one of the worst decisions that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield ever had. In my estimation they had some seriously horrible decision blunders ( Patriot Act, NSA global surveillance, enhanced interrogation, rendition program! black site prisons—I could go on and on) but he is a train wreck that we backed, financed and trained.

“”””””WASHINGTON — The risk that President Obama may be forced to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year has set off concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their air bases used for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region.

Until now, the debate here and in Kabul about the size and duration of an American-led allied force in Afghanistan after 2014 had focused on that country’s long-term security. But these new concerns also reflect how troop levels in Afghanistan directly affect long-term American security interests in neighboring Pakistan, according to administration, military and intelligence officials.

The concern has become serious enough that the Obama administration has organized a team of intelligence, military and policy specialists to devise alternatives to mitigate the damage if a final security deal cannot be struck with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who has declined to enact an agreement that American officials thought was completed last year.”””””

Times article discussing drones

NSA– pulling massive data from your apps.

If you follow this blog you know I am fascinated and repulsed to some degree what big brother… I mean the NSA is doing. Nothing would surprise me at this point. I personally use emails that are encrypted and have started using the TOR browser to remain secure on my iMac. I have nothing to hide but it is the point. Why make it easy for them to read you like a book… Somewhere they have a huge database about you, me and almost everyone on the planet.

“””””””””New leaked NSA documents shed a new light on the agency’s assault on the data leaked by smartphone apps. By targeting the app configuration data, the NSA and GCHQ are able to pull date ranging from general characteristics like age and ethnicity to specific location based on GPS. The documents outline multiple tactics for unearthing this data, including a direct tap on app configuration data and information sent to ad networks. Using app data permissions as a jumping off point, the NSA is able to pull any data advertisers have access to, plotting data collected in this manner against the Marina database of web-based metadata. The documents point out Angry Birds as an example of an ad-supported app that sends potentially useful data to ad networks, allowing the NSA to grab the data in transit.


The documents also specifically instruct agency staffers in “intercepting Google Maps queries made on smartphones, and using them to collect large volumes of location information.” A 2010 documents also highlights Android phones as sending GPS information “in the clear” (without encryption), giving the NSA the user’s location every time he or she pulls up Google Maps.””””””””

verge article on apps being used massively by NSA

From the Guardian article

“””””””””The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet, according to top secret documents.

The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect.

Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica, detail the NSA and GCHQ efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes.

Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or from international mobile networks – rather than solely from hacking into individual mobile handsets.

Exploiting phone information and location is a high-priority effort for the intelligence agencies, as terrorists and other intelligence targets make substantial use of phones in planning and carrying out their activities, for example by using phones as triggering devices in conflict zones. The NSA has cumulatively spent more than $1bn in its phone targeting efforts.

The disclosures also reveal how much the shift towards smartphone browsing could benefit spy agencies’ collection efforts.”””””””””””””

Guardian article outlining program



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