Watch a supernova with binoculars (Ursa Major, September 9th 2011)

Discovery, at Palomar Telescope (San Diego, CA, USA), of the closest (type 1) supernova found in the past 25 years. It is “only” 21 million light-years away, in the Pinwheel Galaxy.

To locate it, take the last two stars in the handle of the “big dipper” formed by the Ursa Major constellation, and form an equilateral triangle heading North. You should be able to see it by Friday night.

Stuxnet & sons: anatomy of computer viruses that can destroy plants

Stuxnet is a very sophisticated virus, famous for having destroyed nuclear installations in Iran. Variants are now being developed. They can attack, as Stuxnet did, so called “SCADA” (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) IT systems, which are used to monitor, in real time, large scale technical installations, for instance to control industrial machines and processes, or to supervise the production and distribution of energy (electricity – with smartgrids – gas, oil) or water with potentially catastrophic consequences (massive power outage or water shortage, explosions, toxic spills…).
The risk strategy of industrial companies, whatever their size, must increasingly take into account this kind of threat.

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus de Patrick Clair

How complex systems appear

In a city such as New York alone, there are more than 10 billion distinct products or services being traded.
How such a complex system can work? The story of the Universe in 17 minutes, to understand how complex systems appear, from Big Bang to global social networks.