Northern Lights Tour, Iceland and Norway

Remember the factors: darkness, a week-long stay, good clear weather, picking your location and planning your itinerary. With all these taken into account, hopefully you will look up and be dazzled by the beautiful dancing lights. And if they don’t show themselves, you will still have had a great adventure in Iceland!

From the Northern Lights website

Leaving Monday for Iceland and Oslo, Norway to see Aurora Borealis.

Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere) due to Earth’s magnetic field, where their energy is lost.

The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying color and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles. Precipitating protons generally produce optical emissions as incident hydrogen atoms after gaining electrons from the atmosphere. Proton auroras are usually observed at lower latitudes.[2]

Wikipedia

So, besides learning to spell Reyjavik, I’ve learned that there are two Auroras, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Arora Australis (Southern Lights).

Auroras are created by atoms colliding and releasing photons as they interact with the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth. A wonderful blend of both astrophysics and elemental physics:

The northern lights are caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere. These electrons originate in the magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field. As they rain into the atmosphere, the electrons impart energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making them excited. When the molecules return to their normal state, they release photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light.

Northern Lights as seen from the ISS – NASA.gov

Some other facts in case you are appearing on Jeopardy!:

  • Seneca wrote about auroras in the first book of his Naturales Quaestiones,
  • Benjamin Franklin hypothesized the explanation for the phenomenon in his paper, Aurora Borealis, Suppositions and Conjectures towards forming an Hypothesis for its Explanation
  • During the Battle of Fredericksburg, an aurora was seen from the battlefield.

Forecast says rain and snow, so we will see.

For convenience, I plan to use Reykjavik Sailors:

 

 

 

I figure the added possibility of mobility will increase the odds. There are plenty of opportunities to see them in Norway, so I’ll give it a shot there.

 

Mozilla Releases Firefox 57, AKA Quantum

Mozilla has a new version of Firefox called Quantum, or version 57. It is a near-total rewrite. Firefox had fallen behind in speed over the years, but many, many people still had a fondness for the open-source browser, even though it’s speed was much, uchslower than Chrome and Safari.

I’ve been teting the new version on Apple and Windows products, and am changing my default browser for a few days to get a real-world feel for how it works. So far, so good.

The Linux Gamer has a quick rundown on the practical reasons why he is blown away, and it is not all about speed or battery life specs:

Insecurity Are Us: Why the NSA Breach Has Harmed Everyone

The NSA, presumably the most stalwart of the United States’ cybersecurity organizations, was infiltrated by a group know as the Shadow Brokers over a year ago. The group stole the NSA’s hacking tools, and provided them to everyone for money. State-sponsored hacking never had it so easy.

These hacking tools are causing miilions, if not billions, of dollars of harm all over the world, including small businesses and individuals. The recent cryptoware WannaCry was spread worldwide by use of the NSA’s lost tools:

Millions of people saw their computers shut down by ransomware, with demands for payments in digital currency to have their access restored. Tens of thousands of employees at Mondelez International, the maker of Oreo cookies, had their data completely wiped. FedEx reported that an attack on a European subsidiary had halted deliveries and cost $300 million. Hospitals in Pennsylvania, Britain and Indonesia had to turn away patients. The attacks disrupted production at a car plant in France, an oil company in Brazil and a chocolate factory in Tasmania, among thousands of enterprises affected worldwide.

New York Times, Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core. By SCOTT SHANE, NICOLE PERLROTH and DAVID E. SANGER NOV. 12, 2017 

It gets worse:

…they have a new suite of tools and vulnerabilities in newer software. The possible targets include Microsoft’s Windows 10, which was unaffected by the initial attack and is on at least 500m devices around the world.

The Guardian, Shadow Brokers threaten to unleash more hacking tools – Samuel Gibbs, May 17, 2017 07.56 EDT

And they don’t have a clue who they are:

Fifteen months into a wide-ranging investigation by the agency’s counterintelligence arm, known as Q Group, and the F.B.I., officials still do not know whether the N.S.A. is the victim of a brilliantly executed hack, with Russia as the most likely perpetrator, an insider’s leak, or both.

Imagine if Apple provides a “back-door” to law enforcement agencies in response to isolated incidents of terror. The NSA can’t even keep their tools safe. Do you think the FBI, New York State Police or Sherriff Andy Taylor would be able to keep these vulnerabilities out of everyone’s hands?

Vulnerabilities exist. They always have, and they likely always will. The way to privacy and security for all is to guard against any attempt to weaken security endeavors.

Apple’s business model does not include selling their customer’s personal information. Nor does most open-source software companies (like Firefox). Facebook, Google, and others harvesting data and building extensive dossiers on every single user of their services. The data is shared with their clients for highly targeted advertising and other uses. Think that data is safe? Think it already hasn’t been used against your best interests?

TKS 250 Feedback

Chris and I had a great time doing the show yesterday. Thanks for all the great feedback. It was like we never stopped. We will be back soon with another show!

Tesla Semi and One More Thing: A Maximum Plaid Roadster

Tesla Semi and One More Thing: A Maximum Plaid Roadster

Last night, Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Semi, and One More Thing.

Oh, what a ride(s).

Musk spent the days before Twitter-teasing the event:

Tesla Semi Truck unveil to be webcast live on Thursday at 8pm! This will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension. Just need to find my portal gun …

It can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte

This appears to be a game-changer for what is widely believed to a resistant-to-change industry. However, WalMart and JB Hunt have announced plans to buy some of Tesla’s Semis, so there are some forward-thinking individuals in the industry.

Tesla Semi Basics:

  • 0-60, no trailer or empty trailer: 5 seconds
  • 0-60, 80,000 pound load: 20 seconds
  • 65mph on a 5% grade versus 45mph (earning 50% more per mile than a diesel truck
  • 500 mile range
  • Lower drag coefficient than a Bugatti Chiron (.36 versus .38)
  • Completely flat bottom
  • 4 independent motors on rear wheels
  • No gear changing (no gears to change!)
  • Center seating for complete visibility
  • 400 miles of range in 30 minutes
  • Charge at Origin or Destination
  • Guaranteed $.07 electricity rate to refuel
  • Megachargers worldwide
  • Safety for everyone: (Enhanced Autopilot, Automatic Lane Keeping, Forward Collision Warning)
  • Jack-knifes are totally eliminated
  • 1,000,000 mile warranty against breakdown
  • Brakepads last forever.
  • Thermonuclear explosion-proof glass (apparently glass-breakage is a major downtime for semi rigs)
  • Phone app provides service, diagnostics, predictive maintenance notifications, comm. with dispatch

It turns out these is some cargo in the truck…

Internal Combustion Engine: Ask not for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.

Cummins stock is down 5% today.

More to come, especially on the New Tom Kirkham Show tomorrow at 10am Central.

More coverage from Vox.

More coverage from The Verge.

@Elon – why wasn’t I invited?