Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Less benign use of Arduino

Some of you will have seen the Arduino demonstrated at my recent talk. This article is about how one has been used to defeat the electronic locks found in most hotel rooms around the world.

Quite frightening really ......  and one to take into account when you are traveling.  For those of you interested in the background, following the links in the article gives the full detail of what is possible and how to do it..... even more frightening. It appears that with basically the board I demonstrated and a little(?) know-how, most hotel rooms are an "open door".  This information is now in the public domain and there are a lot of clever and unscrupulous (you need to be both!)  people out there. It looks like the basic problem is that the lock makers never expected anyone to be able to do this sort of thing, so left easy access to the lock codes wide open.

James Gleick - Royal Society Winter Prize

Some of you may have seen that science author James Gleick has just won the Royal Society Winter Prize for his book "The Information - A History - A Theory - A Flood.

Gleick is a favourite of mine and I recommend his biographies of Richard Feynman and Isaac Newton.  As it happens, I am 95% through his prize winning tome, and it's good too: albeit it starts easy but gets rather hard. Eg, is quantum information destroyed when matter enters a black hole?  Stephen Hawking once thought it was, but now thinks it isn't! Enjoy.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Re SWF Forum

I've now glanced at the South Woodham Ferrers Forum - which is here

It does seem to have lost momentum, with few contributions in the last 6 months - but the latest relates to Raspberry Pi, as well as an earlier one which is rather ill informed.

Interesting to see the 'voting' on the items in their programme

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

South Pole

Someone said to me recently that when Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1912 he planted the Norwegian flag, then sent men out north, south, east and west, 5 miles in each direction, to take readings to confirm his position. In fact they discovered he was a few miles out, and he moved the flag to a new position.

This got me wondering, what instruments did they use, and what degree of accuracy could they achieve?

Atomic Structure

The talk I gave in November, A Sketch of Atomic Structure is now on the web at my ondotdot site or through the Cheltenham U3A Science & Technology site.

It is a bit fuller than the talk and you can look at it in a more leisurely fashion.