Green Bank, West Virginia, population 143, the quietest town in America: no cell phones, Wi-Fi, television or radio

Green Bank, in Pocahontas County in West Virginia, the United States, is possibly one of the quietest residential places on earth. There is no cell phone reception here, no Wi-Fi, not even radio or television. But Green Bank is not technologically backward. On the contrary, it’s home to the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope on earth – the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The GBT is the reason why this town is electromagnetically silent.

Radio telescopes work by detecting electromagnetic waves that come from distant galaxies. These signals are so faint that the slightest emission of radio waves from electronic gadgets can interfere with the readings of the radio telescopes. For this reason, all cell phones, Wi-Fi, radio and other communication devices are outlawed here. There are no cell phone towers for miles around, no music plays on the radio or soap operas on the television. Not even gas operated cars are allowed because gasoline engines use spark plugs to ignite the fuel-air mixture, and electric sparks produce electromagnetic waves.

 

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The boundaries of the device-free zone extend far beyond Green Bank, covering an area roughly equal to 13,000–square-mile. This region is called the National Radio Quiet Zone, and is located around the sparsely populated countryside that straddles the borders of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Almost all types of radio transmissions and certain electronic devices are banned here so that the powerful Green Bank Radio Telescopes can work without disturbance. Green Bank happens to be the closest community to the Green Bank Telescope.

The tech-free life in Green Bank may seem impossible for those who can’t live without their cell phones, but for the 140-odd residents of the town, life is a bliss. Kids aren’t glued to the glowing screens of their mobile devices. They actually talk to each other instead of texting. Older residents roll down their car windows to greet each other and leave their front doors unlocked. If they must speak to someone out of town, there are pay phones.

 

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The current telescope, completed in 2000, was built following the collapse of the previous Green Bank telescope, a 90.44 m paraboloid erected in 1962. The previous telescope collapsed on 15 November 1988 due to the sudden loss of a gusset plate in the box girder assembly, which was a key component for the structural integrity of the telescope.

Living under the shadow of the giant telescope, some of the residents are not even aware of the technological advances elsewhere.

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“We didn’t realize the rest of the world was getting connected and staying connected constantly, via phones and computers and all that,” said radio host Caleb Diller, who grew up in Pocahontas County. “So we were kinda back in time a little bit. We hadn’t progressed to that.”

Over the last few years, many people have taken up residence in Green Bank. These people claim to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS—a disease not recognized by the scientific community. It’s said that people suffering from EHS get symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rashes, irregular heartbeat, weakness, and chest pains from electromagnetic radiations.

“Life isn’t perfect here,” said Diane Schou, one of the first “electrosensitive” immigrants who came to Green Bank with her husband in 2007. “There’s no grocery store, no restaurants, no hospital nearby. But here, at least, I’m healthy. I can do things. I’m not in bed with a headache all the time.”  As of 2013, an estimated 36 people have moved to Green Bank to escape the effects of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

 

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The previous telescope

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The GBT is fully steerable, and 85% of the entire celestial sphere is accessible. The structure weighs 8500 tons and stands 450 feet above ground. The surface area of the GBT is a 100 by 110 meter active surface with 2,209 actuators (a small motor used to adjust the position) for the 2,004 surface panels. The panels are made from aluminium to a surface accuracy of better than 0.003 inches (76 µm) RMS. The actuators adjust the panel positions to correct for distortions due to gravity which change as the telescope moves. Without this so-called “active surface”, observations at frequencies above 4 GHz would not be as efficient.

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They want to believe. Man thinks he saw Giant UFO while in airliner over Nevada desert.

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Some imaginative fellow was on an airplane flying over Nevada when he was sure he saw a giant UFO below the airplane.  It was massive and giving off extremely bright lights. The guy must have thought Earth was under alien attack.

He took some photos below:

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The “I want to believe” UFO community was abuzz when they saw the photos.  Maybe some real evidence that the little green bastards do exist!  But then a skeptic pointed out that the sighting was almost 99.999 percent a solar energy facility in the desert.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the California Mojave Desert, 64 km (40 miles) southwest of Las Vegas, with a gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW). It deploys 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors, focusing solar energy on boilers located on three centralized solar power towers. Unit 1 of the project was connected to the grid in September 2013 in an initial sync testing. The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014, and it is currently the world’s largest solar thermal power station.

There are ten huge Solar Generating facilities in the Mojave Desert.  The airplane passenger should have done some research before he came to a UFO conclusion.

 

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173,500 of these heliostats (mirror reflectors).

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Star Trek becomes reality as Microsoft ‘Universal Translator’ turns spoken English into any of 26 different languages

  • Software speaks in user’s own voice
  • Can translate into languages from Spanish to Mandarin
  • Speaks smoothly in sentences, not individual words
  • Could be built into smartphone language apps

It has long been used by James T Kirk to speak to aliens and blue women from space – but now Microsoft is on the brink of making a real, working Universal Translator.

Frank Soong and Rick Rashid have created software which converts English language speech into any of 26 foreign languages – and which ‘speaks’ in the user’s own voice.

All the user has to do is speak English into the machine and it will convert it into anything from Spanish to Mandarin.

 

William Shatner as James T Kirk: The new device is similar to the Universal Translator used in Star Trek, and takes around one hour to get used to a person’s voice then works by comparing the words that have been recorded with stock models for the target language.

 

The hope is that the device will one day allow visitors to foreign countries to have conversations with other people, even though they do not speak the same language – just like in Star Trek.

Mr Soong told Technology Review that his breakthrough could help language students and might also work with navigational devices.

In theory it could one day be installed into a smart phone meaning tourists have a ready made translation device sitting in their pockets.

Mr Soong said: ‘We will be able to do quite a few scenario applications. ‘For a monolingual speaker traveling in a foreign country, we’ll do speech recognition followed by translation, followed by the final text to speech output in a different language, but still in his own voice’.

Mr Soong and Mr Rashid work at Microsoft’s HQ in Redmond, Washington. They created the system with colleagues at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, the company’s second-largest research lab.

 

 

In Star Trek it was supposedly introduced in the late 22nd century and helped the crew of the Enterprise communicate with aliens as the explored the universe.

Mr Soong and Mr Rashid however have made their version today, even if the voice which comes out in the foreign language still sounds a little mechanical.

Their device needs around one hour to get used to a person’s voice then works by comparing the words that have been recorded with stock models for the target language.

The technology has been designed so that it does not just translate words, which would give it a computerised and disjointed sound.

Instead the sounds are carefully manipulated to mimic real speech as realistically as possible.

National Security Agency (NSA) has formidable offensive cyber weapons program

Air Force Cyber Command online for future operations

INFILTRATION. SABOTAGE. MAYHEM. FOR YEARS FOUR-STAR GENERAL KEITH ALEXANDER HAS BEEN BUILDING A SECRET ARMY CAPABLE OF LAUNCHING DEVASTATING CYBERATTACKS. NOW IT’S READY TO UNLEASH HELL.

Inside Fort Meade, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings—the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.

This is the undisputed domain of General Keith Alexander, a man few even in Washington would likely recognize. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.

Alexander runs the nation’s cyberwar efforts, an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe. In his telling, the threat is so mind-bogglingly huge that the nation has little option but to eventually put the entire civilian Internet under his protection, requiring tweets and emails to pass through his filters, and putting the kill switch under the government’s forefinger. “What we see is an increasing level of activity on the networks,” he said at a recent security conference in Canada. “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”

In its tightly controlled public relations, the NSA has focused attention on the threat of cyberattack against the US—the vulnerability of critical infrastructure like power plants and water systems, the susceptibility of the military’s command and control structure, the dependence of the economy on the Internet’s smooth functioning. Defense against these threats was the paramount mission trumpeted by NSA brass at congressional hearings and hashed over at security conferences.

But there is a flip side to this equation that is rarely mentioned: The military has for years been developing offensive capabilities, giving it the power not just to defend the US but to assail its foes. Using so-called cyber-kinetic attacks, Alexander and his forces now have the capability to physically destroy an adversary’s equipment and infrastructure, and potentially even to kill. Alexander—who declined to be interviewed for this article—has concluded that such cyberweapons are as crucial to 21st-century warfare as nuclear arms were in the 20th.

And he and his cyberwarriors have already launched their first attack. The cyberweapon that came to be known as Stuxnet was created and built by the NSA in partnership with the CIA and Israeli intelligence in the mid-2000s. The first known piece of malware designed to destroy physical equipment, Stuxnet was aimed at Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz. By surreptitiously taking control of an industrial control link known as a Scada (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, the sophisticated worm was able to damage about a thousand centrifuges used to enrich nuclear material.

 

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Cubesats: Miniature research satellites launched from the International Space Station

A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), has a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms, and typically uses commercial off-the-shelf components for its electronics.

Beginning in 1999, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and Stanford University developed the CubeSat specifications to help universities worldwide to perform space science and exploration.

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The CubeSat specification accomplishes several high-level goals. Simplification of the satellite’s infrastructure makes it possible to design and produce a workable satellite at low cost. Encapsulation of the launcher–payload interface takes away the prohibitive amount of managerial work that would previously be required for mating a piggyback satellite with its launcher. Unification among payloads and launchers enables quick exchanges of payloads and utilization of launch opportunities on short notice.

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Since CubeSats are all 10×10 cm (regardless of length) they can all be launched and deployed using a common deployment system. CubeSats are typically launched and deployed from a mechanism called a Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD), also developed and built by Cal Poly. P-PODs are mounted to a launch vehicle and carry CubeSats into orbit and deploy them once the proper signal is received from the launch vehicle. P-PODs have deployed over 90% of all CubeSats launched to date (including un-successful launches), and 100% of all CubeSats launched since 2006. The P-POD Mk III has capacity for three 1U CubeSats, or other 1U, 2U, or 3U CubeSats combination up to a maximum volume of 3U.

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Future projects

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QB50 is a proposed international network of 50 CubeSats for multi-point, in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere (90–350 km) and re-entry research. QB50 is an initiative of the Von Karman Institute and is funded by the European Commission as part of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). Double-unit (2U) CubeSats (10×10×20 cm) are developed, with one unit (the ‘functional’ unit) providing the usual satellite functions and the other unit (the ‘science’ unit) accommodating a set of standardised sensors for lower thermosphere and re-entry research. 35 CubeSats are envisaged to be provided by universities in 19 European countries, 10 by universities in the US, 2 by universities in Canada, 3 by Japanese universities, 1 by an institute in Brazil, and others. Ten 2U or 3U CubeSats are foreseen to serve for in-orbit technology demonstration of new space technologies.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the QB50 CubeSat was released on February 15, 2012. Two “precursor” QB50 satellites were launched aboard a Dnepr rocket on June 19, 2014. All 50 CubeSats were supposed to be launched together on a single Cyclone-4 launch vehicle in February 2016, but due to the unavailability of the launch vehicle, 40 satellites are now planned to be launched aboard Cygnus CRS OA-7 in March 2017 and subsequently deployed from the ISS. Eight other cubesats have been manifested on two further Dnepr flights but the availability of this launcher has been in doubt since its last flight in 2015.

2018 InSight mission: MarCO CubeSats

The May 2018 launch, of the InSight stationary lander to Mars, will include two CubeSats to flyby Mars to provide additional relay communications from InSight to Earth during entry and landing. This will be the first flight of CubeSats in deep space. The mission CubeSat technology is called Mars Cube One (MarCO), a six-unit CubeSat, 14.4 inches (36.6 centimeters) by 9.5 inches (24.3 centimeters) by 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters). MarCo is an experiment, but not necessary for the InSight mission, to add relay communications to space missions in important time durations, in this landing from the time of InSight atmospheric entry and landing.

MarCO will launch in May 2018 with the InSight lander and will separate after launch and then travel in their own trajectories to Mars. After separation, MarCO will deploy two radio antennas and two solar panels. The high-gain, X-band antenna is a flat panel to direct radio waves. MarCO will navigate to Mars independently from the InSight lander, making their own course adjustments on the flight.

During InSight’s planned entry, descent and landing (EDL) in November 2018, the lander will transmit information in the UHF radio band to NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) flying overhead. MRO will forward EDL information to Earth using a radio frequency in the X band, but cannot simultaneously receive information in one band if transmitting on another. Confirmation of a successful landing could be received on Earth several hours after, so MarCO would be a technology demonstration of real-time telemetry during the landing.

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InSight lander with labeled instruments