2008-08-27

Quantum physics, in laymen's terms

Tonight, thanks to cracked.com, I read both the most concise and hilarious description of quantum physics that will perhaps ever be penned. From the article The 5 Scientific Experiments Most Likely to End The World:

To grossly simplify it, on a scale smaller than atoms, the quantum level, everything suddenly turns into a goddamn circus. Quantum physics is to regular everyday physics as a David Lynch film is to a mainstream blockbuster. We're talking particles popping in and out of existence, being in two places at the same time, and generally acting like assholes.
Look at that particle. What an asshole.

And, for what it's worth, I've been following the LHC experiment mentioned in the article with eager anticipation over the last 8 months or so. If you're unfamiliar with it, I recommend you read up. This may be the physics gold mine of a generation, and even if it isn't, it's a scientific and engineering achievement without parallel in many disciplines, from physics to electrical engineering to computer science.

2008-08-25

Obama on security

The next president will play the most pivotal role thus far in the role of the United States in the information security domain, and will arguably make decisions that will lead to victory or defeat in the country's first major conflict which will involve significant "cyber operations," to use the military vernacular. Recently, the USAF has stood up, and subsequently down, an entire command to address the problem of military operations in the "cyber domain" (I will continue to put "cyber" in quotes because I feel it's a worthlessly ambiguous term, but acknowledge its widespread use in the military). Clearly, leadership is needed, from all levels of policymakers in the US.

That's why I was very happy to read the following excerpts from Barack Obama's Summit on Confronting New Threats at Purdue University in July:

we can - and must - strengthen our cyber defenses in the 21st century.
...
We know that cyber-espionage and common crime is already on the rise. And yet while countries like China have been quick to recognize this change, for the last eight years we have been dragging our feet.

To quote a famous hip-hop artist, and many others, "talk is cheap." I sincerely hope that this is on Barack Obama, and John McCain's, radars as an issue in need of attention early in their presidency. Bruce Schneier recently articulated what he felt were the most important security-related issues for the next president. I feel one was left out: a comprehensive platform on dealing with electronic espionage and a well-articulated plan for response to and consequences for those actions. It sounds like this is starting to make it onto the radars of at least some of our near-future policymakers. It's about time.

Image courtesy echosphere.net.