Monthly Archives: March 2018

Everyday Theory #AmWriting



I was just thinking, had Stephen Hawking been a Rock & Roll musician, he would have had R&B crossover appeal!   Because there’s a little baseline funk attached to his classical theory.

Yesterday, Stephen Hawking died.  I did not know him, but like so many others, I benefitted greatly from his scientific discoveries and more recently found solace in how he lived his life in a wheelchair, unable to move after having been born with functioning limbs.  He was 21 years old when he was diagnosed with  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

It is hard to imagine what it must be like to no longer be able to run, chew or walk up to the ocean and feel it teasingly lap at your ankles.  And I think how strong of a man he must have been to survive the anguish, the self doubt and self-pity.  His family must have had an exceptional capacity for love, the great lengths it must have taken to support him, his spirit and his brilliant mind.  We can’t know…

But technology didn’t fail him.  It allowed him to communicate with the world and to share his knowledge of the universe.  He brought physics down to earth, so that even the layperson could appreciate theories and wonder about the universe and our role in it.  We understand so much more now, than we did when I was growing up, back then no one spoke of quantum mechanics and classical physics in high school.

But this man got us talking about black holes and because of that, most of us now understand that a black hole exists in space and acts as a vacuum.  And even more of us understand that scientists are challenged daily, to find a compatible way to describe the motion of large bodies in the universe and the motion of the tiny particles in the universe, as the tiny particles make up the large bodies.

The fact that so many every day people now understand our physical world is due to his impact.  Television shows like Star Trek and movies like Back to The Future, acted as a pipeline from Stephen Hawking’s brilliant mind to typewriters and made fictional accounts of time and space more plausible.

It worked.  It got so many of us hooked on science, on astronomy and technology… all the wonderful advancements that we’ve made and continue to make are in great part due to Stephen Hawking.  He was a super hero in the scientific world and even in my less geeky world.

The fact that he passed away on National Pi Day doesn’t seem like a coincidence.  To me, it seems accurate and precise, like his science.  And now, Stephen Hawking is superman flying around in an eternal state of bliss.  Rest in Peace.  Thank You, Sir.

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Golden Oldie vs. Shiny New Internet #CyberSecurity

$1 lathe

If the internet were made of metal, it would probably be old and rusted, because it was created in the 1960’s…  Think about that.

Most of us in the modern world use it with no idea of how it works or its life expectancy.  Have you ever wondered?  Me either.

In 1958 The Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first man-made satellite into space, named Sputnik.  In response to that threat, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) with an emphasis on computer science.  Computers at that time were in their infancy, unable to network together they used magnetic tape and punch cards for processing, but with enormous potential.  And in 1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) became the first computer network.

It connected four different operating systems using two technologies, packet switching and the protocol suite of Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol.  These provided end-to end data communication and specifies how data should be addressed, routed, transmitted and received.  These are still the foundations of today’s internet.

It was built forty-nine years ago! It seems like we would have created more than just abstraction layers, that we would have built a self-correcting system that protects our data and our privacy.  Instead the internet isn’t built of metal and there’s no rust, no visual indication of it’s age, or whether it’s even running unsecured.

Which should give us all reason to pause. Especially because there’s always another cyber attack lurking.  Like this week’s attack at GitHub, a site where developers store code.  GitHub had a DDoS attack in machines with unsecured internet connections (see CloudFlare).

2 GitHub MemCache

Could it have been avoided?  What if the internet gave visual clues to a potential flaw, a location where a data breach might occur before it was abused?  Details about its weak points and its strength reported ahead of the attack.

I’ve been asked if I could imagine a world where data flows freely, where there are no barriers and no limits to where data can be transmitted- or how connectivity can create impact in our world.  And it got me to thinking…

What if the internet was agile and counter-intuitive, able to shut down and isolate areas of cyber activity before things get bad?  Or are we really stuck with an internet that has gotten a little old and a little bit funky, like grandpa’s old chair?

Imagine…  How nice would it be to have a new shiny internet.  New technology would perform flawlessly!  It would be like driving a connected car on a newly paved road, hugging the curves, and picking up speed on straightaways.  Connected traffic lights that utilized BigData and on-ramps that allow traffic to flow, all in real time.  Cars moving into oncoming traffic, like a zipper, streamlining and coming together efficiently.  No more traffic jams, that’s what I imagine.

Let’s face it, the 4th Industrial Revolution isn’t much of a revolution if were surfing on a twenty-five year old web, still arguing about the merits of Net Neutrality and unable to keep our data safe.

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Filed under cyber-security, Internet, Internet of Things