Carbon Nanotube Device Channels Heat Into Light
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org:
Rice University scientists are designing arrays of aligned single-wall carbon nanotubes to channel mid-infrared radiation (aka heat) and greatly raise the efficiency of solar energy systems. Their invention is a hyperbolic thermal emitter that can absorb intense heat that would otherwise be spewed into the atmosphere, squeeze it into a narrow bandwidth and emit it as light that can be turned into electricity. The aligned nanotube films are conduits that absorb waste heat and turn it into narrow-bandwidth photons. Because electrons in nanotubes can only travel in one direction, the aligned films are metallic in that direction while insulating in the perpendicular direction, an effect called hyperbolic dispersion. Thermal photons can strike the film from any direction, but can only leave via one. Adding the emitters to standard solar cells could boost their efficiency from the current peak of about 22%. "By squeezing all the wasted thermal energy into a small spectral region, we can turn it into electricity very efficiently," he said. "The theoretical prediction is that we can get 80% efficiency." The study has been
published in the journal ACS Photonics.
Cloudflare Comes Clean On Crashing a Chunk of the Web Earlier This Month
Cloudflare has published a detailed and refreshingly honest report into precisely
what went wrong earlier this month when its systems
fell over and took a big chunk of the internet with it. The Register reports:
We already knew from a quick summary published the next day, and our interview with its CTO John Graham-Cumming, that the 30-minute global outage had been caused by an error in a single line of code in a system the company uses to push rapid software changes. [...] First up the error itself -- it was in this bit of code: .*(?:.*=.*). We won't go into the full workings as to why because the post does so extensively (a Friday treat for coding nerds) but very broadly the code caused a lot of what's called "backtracking," basically repetitive looping. This backtracking got worse -- exponentially worse -- the more complex the request and very, very quickly maxed out the company's CPUs.
The impact wasn't noticed for the simple reason that the test suite didn't measure CPU usage. It soon will -- Cloudflare has an internal deadline of a week from now. The second problem was that a software protection system that would have prevented excessive CPU consumption had been removed "by mistake" just a weeks earlier. That protection is now back in although it clearly needs to be locked down. The software used to run the code -- the expression engine -- also doesn't have the ability to check for the sort of backtracking that occurred. Cloudflare says it will shift to one that does. The post goes on to talk about the speed with which it impacted everyone, why it took them so long to fix it, and why it didn't just do a rollback within minutes and solve the issue while it figured out what was going on.
You can read the full postmortem
Giant Batteries and Cheap Solar Power Are Shoving Fossil Fuels Off the Grid
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine:
This month, officials in Los Angeles, California, are expected to approve a deal that would make solar power cheaper than ever while also addressing its chief flaw: It works only when the sun shines. The deal calls for a huge solar farm backed up by one of the world's largest batteries. It would provide 7% of the city's electricity beginning in 2023 at a cost of 1.997 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the solar power and 1.3 cents per kWh for the battery. That's cheaper than any power generated with fossil fuel. The new solar plus storage effort will be built in Kern County in California by 8minute Solar Energy. The project is expected to create a 400-megawatt solar array, generating roughly 876,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually, enough to power more than 65,000 homes during daylight hours. Its 800-MWh battery will store electricity for after the sun sets, reducing the need for natural gas-fired generators.
US Mayors Resolve Not To Pay Hackers Over Ransomware Attacks
More than 225 U.S. mayors have
signed on to a resolution not to pay ransoms to hackers. It's a collective stand against the ransomware attacks that have crippled city government computer systems in recent years. CNET reports:
The resolution was adopted at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting, which took place late June and early July in Honolulu. "The United States Conference of Mayors stands united against paying ransoms in the event of an IT security breach," the resolution reads. This could give city leaders across the US some leverage against hackers. The 227 mayors who attended the meeting agreed to adopt the resolution, but the US Conference of Mayors represents more than 1,400 cities with populations over 30,000.
A New Study Uses Camera Footage To Track the Frequency of Bystander Intervention
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CityLab:
It's one of the most enduring urban myths of all: If you get in trouble, don't count on anyone nearby to help. Research dating back to the late 1960s documents how the great majority of people who witness crimes or violent behavior refuse to intervene. Psychologists dubbed this non-response as the "bystander effect" -- a phenomenon which has been replicated in scores of subsequent psychological studies. The "bystander effect" holds that the reason people don't intervene is because we look to one another. The presence of many bystanders diffuses our own sense of personal responsibility, leading people to essentially do nothing and wait for someone else to jump in.
Past studies have used police reports to estimate the effect, but results ranged from 11 percent to 74 percent of incidents being interventions. Now, widespread surveillance cameras allow for a new method to assess real-life human interactions. A new study published this year in the American Psychologist finds that this well-established bystander effect may largely be a myth. The study uses footage of more than 200 incidents from surveillance cameras in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England. The study finds that in nine out of 10 incidents, at least one bystander intervened, with an average of 3.8 interveners. There was also no significant difference across the three countries and cities, even though they differ greatly in levels of crime and violence. The study actually found that the more bystanders there were, the more likely it was that at least someone would intervene to help. "This is a powerful corrective to the common perception of 'stranger danger' and the 'unknown other,'" reports CityLab. "It suggests that people are willing to self-police to protect their communities and others."
Judge Dismisses Oracle Lawsuit Over $10 Billion Pentagon JEDI Cloud Contract
Last year, Oracle
filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government complaining about the procurement process around the Pentagon's $10 billion, decade-long JEDI cloud contract. "They claimed a potential conflict of interest on the part of a procurement team member (who was a former AWS employee)," reports TechCrunch. "Today, that case
was dismissed in federal court." From the report:
In dismissing the case, Federal Claims Court Senior Judge Eric Bruggink ruled that the company had failed to prove a conflict in the procurement process, something the DOD's own internal audits found in two separate investigations. Judge Bruggink ultimately agreed with the DoD's findings: "We conclude as well that the contracting officer's findings that an organizational conflict of interest does not exist and that individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement, were not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record is therefore denied."
Today's ruling opens the door for the announcement of a winner of the $10 billion contract, as early as next month. The DoD previously announced that it had chosen Microsoft and Amazon as the two finalists for the winner-take-all bid.
Amazon Becomes Fastest-Growing Music Streaming Service
The music app that is adding subscribers to its service at the fastest rate is not Apple Music or Spotify or Google Music, it is Amazon,
Financial Times reported this week
[Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From the report:
The number of people subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited has grown by about 70 per cent in the past year, according to people briefed on its performance. In April Amazon had more than 32m subscribers to all its music services including Unlimited and Prime Music. By contrast, Spotify, the world's largest streaming service with 100m subscribers, is growing at about 25 per cent a year. "Amazon is the dark horse [in music]," said Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Midia Research. "People don't pay as much attention to it [as to Apple and Spotify], but it's been hugely effective." [...] Amazon has gained momentum in recent months, propelled by its ubiquity with consumers and Alexa, its popular intelligent assistant, which can play music through voice commands issued to its wireless Echo speaker.
Monroe College Hit With Ransomware, $2 Million Demanded
A ransomware attack in New York City's Monroe College has shut down the college's computer systems at campuses located in Manhattan, New Rochelle and St. Lucia. The attackers
are seeking 170 bitcoins or approximately $2 million dollars in order to decrypt the entire college's network. Bleeping Computer reports:
According to the Daily News, Monroe College was hacked on Wednesday at 6:45 AM and ransomware was installed throughout the college's network. It is not known at this time what ransomware was installed on the system, but it is likely to be Ryuk, IEncrypt, or Sodinokibi, which are known to target enterprise networks. The college has not indicated at this time whether they will be paying the ransom or restoring from backups while gradually bringing their network back online. "The good news is that the college was founded in 1933, so we know how to teach and educate without these tools," Monroe College spokesperson Jackie Ruegger
told the Daily News. "Right now we are finding workarounds for our students taking online classes so they have their assignments."
A Feud Between Japan and South Korea Is Threatening Global Supplies of Memory Chips
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN:
South Korea has warned that an escalating trade dispute with Japan could hurt the global tech industry. President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that Japan's decision to restrict exports to South Korea of materials used in memory chips are a "blow to the economy" and threaten to disrupt global supplies. Japan announced earlier this month that companies would need a government license to export three materials to South Korea. The materials -- fluorinated polyamides, photoresists and hydrogen fluoride -- are used to make memory chips and smartphones.
The export controls are a massive headache for South Korean firms Samsung and SK Hynix, who between them control over 63% of the global memory chip market, according to the latest figures from the Korea International Trade Association. South Korean firms sourced 94% of fluorinated polyamides, 92% of photoresists and about 44% of hydrogen fluoride from Japan In the first quarter of this year, data from the association showed. Samsung, the world's biggest seller of smartphones, said in a statement to CNN Business that it was "assessing the current situation and reviewing a number of measures to minimize the impact on our production."
Billions of Air Pollution Particles Found in Hearts of City Dwellers
The hearts of young city dwellers contain billions of toxic air pollution particles,
research has revealed. The Guardian:
Even in the study's youngest subject, who was three, damage could be seen in the cells of the organ's critical pumping muscles that contained the tiny particles. The study suggests these iron-rich particles, produced by vehicles and industry, could be the underlying cause of the long-established statistical link between dirty air and heart disease. The scientists said the abundance of the nanoparticles might represent a serious public health concern and that particle air pollution must be reduced urgently. More than 90% of the world's population lives with toxic air, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the issue a global "public health emergency."
The scientists acknowledged some uncertainties in their research, but Prof Barbara Maher, of Lancaster University, said: "This is a preliminary study in a way, but the findings and implications were too important not to get the information out there." Maher and colleagues found in 2016 that the same nanoparticles were present in human brains and were associated with Alzheimers-like damage, another disease linked to air pollution. While all ages were affected, Maher said she was particularly concerned about children.
Revealed: This Is Palantir's Top-Secret User Manual For Cops
popcornfan679 shares a report:
Through a public record request, Motherboard has obtained a user manual that gives unprecedented insight into Palantir Gotham (Palantir's other services, Palantir Foundry, is an enterprise data platform), which is used by law enforcement agencies like the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. (Palantir is one of the most significant and secretive companies in big data analysis.) The NCRIC serves around 300 communities in northern California and is what is known as a "fusion center," a Department of Homeland Security intelligence center that aggregates and investigates information from state, local, and federal agencies, as well as some private entities, into large databases that can be searched using software like Palantir. Fusion centers have become a target of civil liberties groups in part because they collect and aggregate data from so many different public and private entities.
The guide doesn't just show how Gotham works. It also shows how police are instructed to use the software. This guide seems to be specifically made by Palantir for the California law enforcement because it includes examples specific to California. We don't know exactly what information is excluded, or what changes have been made since the document was first created. The first eight pages that we received in response to our request is undated, but the remaining twenty-one pages were copyrighted in 2016. (Palantir did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) The Palantir user guide shows that police can start with almost no information about a person of interest and instantly know extremely intimate details about their lives.
FTC Approves Roughly $5 Billion Facebook Settlement
The Federal Trade Commission voted this week to approve a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook over a
long-running probe into the tech giant's privacy missteps,
WSJ reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter
[Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From the report:
The 3-2 vote by FTC commissioners broke along party lines, with the Republican majority lining up to support the pact while Democratic commissioners objected, the people said. The matter has been moved to the Justice Department's civil division and it is unclear how long it will take to finalize, the person said. Justice Department reviews are part of the FTC's procedure but typically don't change the outcome of an FTC decision. A settlement is expected to include other government restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy. The additional terms of the settlement couldn't immediately be learned. An FTC spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a Facebook spokesman. Facebook said April 24 that it was expecting to pay up to $5 billion to settle the probe. A resolution was bogged down by a split between Republicans and Democrats on the FTC, with the Democrats pushing for tougher oversight of the social-media giant.
Fatal Accident With Metal Straw Highlights a Risk
The disturbing death of a woman in Britain
renewed a debate that has followed bans on plastic straws around the world. From a report:
A British woman was impaled by a metal straw after falling at her home, a coroner said in an inquest this week that highlighted the potential dangers of metal straws. Such straws have surged in popularity as cities, states and even countries have banned single-use plastic straws. A British straw ban will go into effect in April, but the worldwide environmental push against single-use straws has encountered opposition from some caregivers and advocates for people with disabilities. They have voiced worries about the safety of rigid straws and the overall availability of straws for people who are unable to drink without them. [...] Many people with disabilities rely on straws to drink, Ms. Sauder said, but could have difficulties finding them in states and cities, such as California and Seattle, that have banned or restricted single-use straws.
Starbucks plans to eliminate its ubiquitous green plastic straws at 28,000 of its locations around the world in 2020. It's not easy being green for Starbucks, however. In 2016, the coffee chain recalled stainless steel straws sold at its shops because they posed an injury risk. At the time, Starbucks said it had received reports of three children in the United States and one in Canada who had been lacerated by the straws, which were sold with reusable beverage containers. Dentists say that improper use of metal or glass straws can also be bad for teeth. "Clearly, chewing on a metal or glass straw can be hazardous to your teeth and your health," said Dr. Timothy Chase of SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in New York. "Just like we tell people not to chew on pens." Dr. Chase added that it's important to keep reusable straws clean to avoid infection-causing bacteria.
Streaming Online Pornography Produces as Much CO2 as Belgium
The transmission and viewing of online videos
generates 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or nearly 1 per cent of global emissions. On-demand video services such as Netflix account for a third of this, with online pornographic videos generating another third. From a report:
This means the watching of pornographic videos generates as much CO2 per year as is emitted by countries such as Belgium, Bangladesh and Nigeria. That's the conclusion of a French think tank called The Shift Project. Earlier this year, it estimated that digital technologies produce 4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and that this figure could soar to 8 per cent by 2025. Now it has estimated the CO2 emissions due to online videos alone. The report's authors used 2018 reports by companies Cisco and Sandvine to work out global video internet traffic. They then estimated how much electricity was used to carry this video data and view it on different devices, from phones to TVs. Finally, they estimated the overall emissions using global average figures for carbon emissions from electricity generation. Online video accounted for 60 per cent of global data flows in 2018, the report states, or 1 zettabyte of data (one thousand billion billion bytes).
Bird, One of the World's Largest Scooter Startups, Lost $100 Million in Three Months
Bird has its eyes on another capital raise, according to a report. Business Insider:
The scooter company, one of the largest in a swarm of similar micromobility startups, has already raised $718 million in its short lifetime, according to Pitchbook data, and now it reportedly needs up to $300 more by the end of the summer. A fresh infusion could raise the Santa Monica, California-based company's valuation beyond its current $2.3 billion, potentially helping Bird pass its competitor Lime as the most highly valued startup in the space. The Information also reported that Bird lost $100 million in the first quarter of 2019, with its revenue shrinking to $15 million during the same time period.
Congress is Bad at Rocket League
An anonymous reader shared a story:
On Wednesday, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) hosted a Rocket League tournament in Congress, pitting members against each other in 2v2 matches. The ESA paired up with Congress' Future Forum caucus to teach members about the e-sports and gaming communities. A whole slate of members picked up the game and faced off head-to-head, teaming up with staff members. The two-hour event was streamed on Twitch and featured Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Katie Hill (D-CA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA).
The event included everything from professional commentary to post-game interviews and minor trolls from the chat calling for lawmakers to learn how to use their boosts. "SOMEONE TELL THEM THE BOOST KEY PLEASE," one person in the chat wrote. "Next time, we could do a first-person shooter. That's more my thing," Hill said. The only thing they left out was a winners ceremony. It's unclear who actually won, but it didn't seem like any of the members cared. It was obvious the lawmakers weren't pros at Rocket League, and an ESA representative said on the stream that they were looking to find a game that was easy to pick up and play, something that wouldn't take much time for them to master.
Donald Trump Blasts Bitcoin, Facebook Libra, Demands They Face Banking Regulations
President Donald Trump on Thursday night
warned Facebook over its plan to create digital currency Libra, a move that poses a new obstacle to the company's cryptocurrency ambitions. From a report:
"Facebook Libra's 'virtual currency' will have little standing or dependability. If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks," Trump said in a series of posts on Twitter. In the tweets, the president also expressed scepticism of digital currencies in general. "I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air," Trump wrote. "Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity." Trump's entrance into the debate over Bitcoin and Libra could mark a significant development for crypto enthusiasts. The White House has largely remained silent on the subject even as federal regulators like the Securities Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and units of the Treasury Department have grappled with how to regulate virtual coins.
Bitpoint Cryptocurrency Exchange Hacked For $32 Million
Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitpoint announced it
lost 3.5 billion yen (roughly $32 million) worth of cryptocurrency assets after a hack that happened late yesterday, July 11. From a report:
The exchange suspended all deposits and withdrawals this morning to investigate the hack, it said in a press release. In a more detailed document released by RemixPoint, the legal entity behind Bitpoint, the company said that hackers stole funds from both of its "hot" and "cold" wallets. This suggests the exchange's network was thoroughly compromised. Hot wallets are used to store funds for current transactions, while the cold wallets are offline devices storing emergency and long-term funds. Bitpoint reported the attackers stole funds in five cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple, and Ethereal. The exchange said it detected the hack because of errors related to the remittance of Ripple funds to customers. Twenty-seven minutes after detecting the errors, Bitpoint admins realized they had been hacked, and three hours later, they discovered thefts from other cryptocurrency assets.
Streaming's Bounty of Choices Overwhelms Consumers
Consumers are so stressed about finding the right thing to watch on their streaming services that, after a few minutes scanning the options, many decide to watch something they've already seen,
revert to traditional TV, or turn the tube off altogether. From a report:
As more companies jump into the streaming wars, the choice-overload problem could alienate customers, drive away subscribers and limit the industry's growth. U.S. adults typically spend a little over 7 minutes searching for something to watch on a streaming service, according to a new report from Nielsen's MediaTech Trender, a quarterly consumer tracking survey focused on emerging technology. Younger adults ages 18-49 take between 8 and 10 minutes to browse before giving up, while older adults typically spend around 5 minutes. Overall, 21% of respondents say that "when they want to watch, but they don't know exactly what," they end up giving up the hunt.
Microsoft is Making Windows 10 Passwordless
Microsoft is planning to make Windows 10 PCs work without passwords. From a report:
While the company has been working on removing passwords from Windows 10 and its Microsoft Accounts for a number of months now, the next major update to Windows 10 next year will go one step further. You'll soon be able to enable a passwordless sign-in for Microsoft accounts on a Windows 10 device. This means PCs will use Windows Hello face authentication, fingerprints, or a PIN code. The password option will simply disappear from the login screen, if you decide to opt in to this new "make your device passwordless" feature. [...] This will also extend to business users through Azure Active Directory, allowing businesses to go fully passwordless with security keys, the authenticator app, or Windows Hello.
Microsoft Defends Planned Partner Program Changes, But Many Aren't Buying It
Last week, Microsoft quietly published information to its partner web site which made it clear that one of its program's main benefits -- internal use rights (IURs) --
would be axed in July 2020. Since then, Microsoft's been attempting to do damage control, including by holding a webcast that meant to shed more light on the reasoning behind the move. But most partners seem unconvinced about Microsoft's stated reasons, with more than a few saying they might go so far as to quit the partner program as a result. ZDNet:
In a 20-minute recorded Ask Me Anything (AMA) entitled "Partner Transformation and Partner Business Investments" recorded on July 10, Microsoft execs talked about the priorities and trade-offs the company is making in regard to its partner program in fiscal 2020 and beyond. More than 230 partners attended the presentation live. (Note: It looks like Microsoft has removed the video of the AMA from YouTube.) Erez Wohl, General Manager of Business Strategy and Partner Investments in the One Commercial Partner organization, told partners that Microsoft "has the richest incentive portfolio in the industry," and that it would spend $400 million more on its partner program in fiscal 2020 (starting July 1, 2019) than it did in the previous year. He and his colleague Toby Richards, General Manager of Go-To-Market & Programs in the Microsoft One Commercial Partner organization, talked up some of the advanced specializations, new commerce capabilities and other new partner benefits that would be coming to the program this year.
But webcast attendees were largely there for one reason: To dispute Microsoft's plan to eliminate internal use rights. Yet Microsoft officials held fast to their stance, saying the company had to make some trade-offs in order to deliver on other priorities, such as making it easier for partners to connect with more users, partners and sellers. [...] For what it's worth, someone I know at Microsoft said Microsoft is currently incurring about $200 million in costs annually (and growing) resulting from its services being used by partners via IUR products.
Microsoft capitulates and agrees to undo planned partner product-licensing changes.
Scientists Use Camera With Human-Like Vision To Capture 5,400 FPS Video
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PetaPixel:
A team of scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) have figured out how to capture super slow-motion footage using what's called an "Event Camera." That is: a camera that sees the world in a continuous stream of information, the way humans do. Regular cameras work by capturing discrete frames, recapturing the same scene 24 or more times per second and then stitching it together to create a video. Event cameras are different. They capture "pixel-level brightness changes" as they happen, basically recording each individual light "event" as it happens, without wasting time capturing all the stuff that remains the same frame by frame.
As ETH Zurich explains, some of the advantages of this type of image capture is "a very high dynamic range, no motion blur, and a latency in the order of microseconds." The downside is that there's no easy way to process the resulting "footage" into something you can display using current algorithms because they all expect to receive a set of discrete frames. Well, there was no easy way. This is what the folks at ETH Zurich just improved upon, developing a reconstruction model that can interpret the footage to the tune of 5,000+ frames per second. The results are astounding: a 20% increase in the reconstructed image quality over any model that existed before, and the ability to output "high frame rate videos (more than 5,000 frames per second) of high-speed phenomena (e.g. a bullet hitting an object)," even in high dynamic range "challenging lighting conditions." Their findings have been published in a research paper titled
High Speed and High Dynamic Range Video with an Event Camera.
Prenda 'Copyright Troll' Lawyer Sentenced To Five Years In Prison
John Steele, one of the attorneys behind the 'copyright troll' law firm Prenda,
has been sentenced to five years in prison. The attorney was one of the masterminds behind the fraudulent scheme that extracted settlements from alleged pirates. Because of Steele's cooperative stance, his sentence is significantly
lower than that of co-conspirator Paul Hansmeier. TorrentFreak reports:
During a hearing this morning, U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen convicted Steele to a five-year prison sentence. In addition, the disbarred attorney must pay his victims little over $1.5 million in restitution. Today's sentencing ironically comes 11 years after Steele was first admitted to the bar. The lower sentence, compared to Hansmeier, comes as no surprise. It was specifically recommended by the prosecution, which stressed that Steele didn't shy away from the ugly truth of his crimes and was very cooperative following the indictment.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Steele deserved a significant prison term. However, his cooperation and genuine remorse should be taken into account. Based on the sentencing guidelines Steele faced a potential prison sentence of more than 12 years, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Langner recommended five years in prison instead. Judge Ericksen went along with this recommendation. The Judge noted that courts "are not a tool in the box for anybody's hustle," adding that the five-year sentence was "imminently fair," as the Star Tribune report. "I condemn the actions that you took in committing this crime. I congratulate you, however, on the actions you took" in responding to the charges, Judge Ericksen said.
A Sunken Cold War Nuclear Sub Is Leaking Radiation At Levels 800,000 Times Normal
Using a robotic sub, a team of investigators
has detected traces of radiation leaking from Komsomolets -- a Soviet nuclear submarine that sank 30 years ago in the Norwegian Sea. The recorded radiation levels are unusually high, but scientists say it's not threatening humans or marine life. Gizmodo reports:
On April 7, 1989, while cruising at a depth of 380 meters (1,250 feet), a fire broke out in the aft section of Komsomolets, a Soviet nuclear-powered attack submarine out on its first patrol. Its captain managed to bring the beleaguered sub to the surface, but it sank about five hours later. All 42 sailors were killed in the incident, known as the Komsomolets disaster. The 120-meter-long (400-foot) nuclear submarine still rests some 1,700 meters (5,575 feet) below the surface of the Norwegian Sea, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland.
And it's leaking radiation, according to a press release issued by Norway's Institute of Marine Research (IMR). The amount of cesium radiation leaking from the wreck is significant, at about 800,000 times the typical reading for the Norwegian Sea, but it "poses no risk to people or fish," according to a collaborative research team involving IMR and the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA). A leaking radioactive sub certainly sounds scary, but this research suggests the wreck is not currently endangering the Norwegian Sea and outlying areas. Normally, radiation levels in the Norwegian Sea are at 0.001 Becquerel (Bq) per liter. Around the wreck, however, they are as high as 100 Bq per liter. For reference, the acceptable amount of radiation in food is 600 Bq per kilogram, as established by the Norwegian government in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster.