Astronomers found a ‘cold super-Earth’ less than 6 light-years away — and it may be the first rocky planet we’ll photograph beyond the solar system


exoplanet extrasolar planet cold super earth barnards star b gj 699 b illustration IEEC Science Wave Guillem Ramisa shutterstock

  • Astronomers think they’ve found a "cold super-Earth" exoplanet orbiting Barnard’s star.
  • Barnard’s star less than 6 light-years away from us and the closest single-star system to our sun.
  • The new world is called Barnard’s star b (or GJ 699 b) and is at least 3.2 times as massive as Earth.
  • It orbits in the "snow line" of its parent star: a region at the edge of a star’s habitable zone where scientists suspect most rocky planets form.
  • This Earth-size exoplanet may be the first to be photographed by a new generation of powerful telescopes.

Astronomers have suspected for decades that a nearby red dwarf star, called Barnard’s star, might be hiding an Earth-size planet.

On Wednesday, researchers revealed that they’ve discovered the first such exoplanet with about 99.2% certainty.

A team of dozens of scientists published the finding in the journal Nature, and said there are even hints that a second world may lurk nearby.

Barnard’s star is just 5.87 light-years away from Earth, making it the closest one-star system to us. Only Proxima Centauri, a three-star system, is closer.

What’s more, the newly discovered world is close enough to Earth — yet far enough from its blindingly bright star — to be photographed by an upcoming generation of giant telescopes.

"This is probably the first Earth-sized planet we will directly image by future missions," Abel Méndez, an astrobiologist at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo who wasn’t involved in the study, told Business Insider.

The new world is currently known as Barnard’s star b or, in other circles, GJ 699 b. The team that found it used more than 20 years of telescope observations, and that data suggests the planet is at least 3.2 times more massive than Earth and has a 233-day-long year.

The world appears to orbit in the "snow line" of Barnard’s star — a region just on the edge of the habitable zone, where liquid water can exist on the surface of a planet.

For that reason, scientists consider the possible planet to be a "cold super-Earth," and some are wondering if alien life might exist there.

What it might be like on Barnard’s star b

exoplanet extrasolar planet cold super earth barnards star b gj 699 b illustration ESO M Kornmesser

Barnard’s star is not like the sun. It’s what astronomers call an M-dwarf, which means it’s smaller, cooler (and redder), less massive, and billions of years older than our own star.

"M dwarfs are prime targets for planetary searches because they favor the detection of small [planets]," Rodrigo F. Díaz, an astrophysicist at University of Buenos Aires who wasn’t part of the research team, wrote in a Nature "News and Views" piece.

This is because M-dwarf stars are small enough to "wobble" when rocky planets orbit them. Such wobbling happens because the gravity of the planet and the star mutually tug at one another (a planet’s orbit is rarely perfectly circular). Some telescopes can detect this behavior.

Barnard’s star b took a long time to find because red dwarf stars often have sunspots, which can throw off sensitive measurements. Pooling together more than two decades of telescope observations, however, helped the research team find the signal of a presumable planet in the noise of Barnard’s star’s light.

exoplanet extrasolar planet cold super earth barnards star b gj 699 b orbits sun distance illustration IEEC Science Wave Guillem Ramisa

The newly discovered planet is about as far from its star as Mercury is from the sun. That’s fairly close. However, next to a smaller and lower-temperature star, this puts Barnard’s star b at the edge of the habitable zone.

Practically, this means the surface temperature of Barnard’s star b is likely -150 degrees Celsius. This is cold enough to freeze carbon dioxide solid into dry ice, let alone water into ice.

But bone-chilling temperatures don’t mean the exoplanet is a dead world bereft of liquid water.

Can a cold super-Earth be habitable?

europa jupiter ice moon half hemisphere 2x1 nasa jpl galileo pia19048

Although Barnard’s star b is -150 degrees, the surface of Europa — an icy moon that orbits Jupiter — is 10 degrees colder. Meanwhile, Ganymede — a smaller icy moon around Saturn — is about 20 degrees colder than that.

Yet both tiny worlds hide expansive oceans of salt water beneath their crusts, and there’s growing evidence that organic molecules are mixed into that liquid, too.

The researchers’ estimate of the new world’s temperature also assumes it has no atmosphere. But there very well could be.

"Since the planet is more massive than Earth, it may retain a hydrogen atmosphere," Sara Seager, the deputy science director for NASA’s TESS mission and an astrophysicist at MIT who wasn’t involved in the study, told Business Insider. "Hydrogen is a potent greenhouse gas and could conceivably keep the surface temperature warm enough for life, if the atmosphere pressure is high enough."

It’s not a far-fetched idea. Seager said all planets — even Earth — are born with a hydrogen atmosphere. This is because hydrogen is the dominant material in nebulas, the clouds of gas and dust out of which stars (and their planets) form.

"Assuming it has the estimated minimum mass, then it is probably a rocky or frozen ocean world with a thick atmosphere, maybe like Titan in the solar system," Méndez said.

On the other hand, 3.2 Earth masses is a minimum estimate for the new world’s size. "Its mass could be larger and therefore a mini-Neptune," Méndez added.

The first photo of a rocky exoplanet

thirty meter telescope laser guide illustration tmt corporation

Astronomers have already taken photos of very large exoplanets. These worlds are akin to giant Jupiters or failed stars, though, which means they’re all extremely hot, gassy, and uninhabitable.

Future ground observatories like the European Extremely Large Telescope in Chile, or perhaps even the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii, may be able to capture a small image of Barnard’s star b.

Assuming the exoplanet does indeed exist, it may look like a tiny dot or blob in an image. But yhe data trapped in such a picture could tell scientists whether the planet is small and rocky like Earth, big and gassy like Neptune, or somewhere in between.

What’s more, some of the light that passes through or bounces off the world’s atmosphere might even be sampled for indirect signs of life. Such gases might include methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and perhaps 14,000 other so-called biosignatures.

Red dwarf stars typically blast out a lot of flares and solar storms, which can harm or destroy planetary atmospheres. They’re also very bright in ultraviolet (UV) light, which can break down biosignatures. But she says Barnard’s star, as an M dwarf, is calmer and gives off less UV light — so its presumable planet may be able to accumulate biosignatures to detectable levels.

But even if Barnard’s star b is a bust for biosignatures, future observations may find that the Earth-size world isn’t alone.

"I don’t discard the possibility of smaller Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of Barnard’s Star. Now we know that Barnard has planets and there is plenty of space between the star and this new planet for a few small ones," Méndez said.

This story has been updated.

SEE ALSO: 28 iconic photos of the Earth from space that will make you feel puny and insignificant

DON’T MISS: A ‘mind-boggling’ telescope observation has revealed the point of no return for our galaxy’s monster black hole

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Stephen Hawking warned us about contacting aliens, but this astronomer says it’s ‘too late’

from SAI

How to Switch Careers in under 6 months!

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We all have those moments, days where we actually sit down and wonder if we made a mistake in choosing our career path. Along with the anticipation as well as fear of all the things unknown, it is a blank slate of sorts. But no worries, it is never too late and if you are sure and have decided to make the move, then the next step onto the new path is some planning in advance! To help you make this switch successfully, the article below by Caileen Kehayas jots down simple things you can do to ensure you accomplish your goals. So read through and start brushing up your skills to make your new career your new year’s resolution!
Looking to hire a talented designer? Post a job with us to source the best talent for your requirement.
Want to switch careers with an amazing internship or job opportunity? Check out YD Job Board to work at some of the best design companies in the world.

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“It’s never too late to try something new.”
While the popular adage is true, sometimes the time spend and money send can get in the way of truly following a new path. With technology, making a career change (within reason) has never been easier. Using tools like LinkedIn, Udemy, and, yes even YouTube, you can learn the skills of a trade and connect with the masters within it.
Use these steps to learn how to gather the skills, resources, and connections to make a meaningful career move within months (without incurring another wave of student debt!)
 Assess your current job and your skills
Maybe you hate your current job. Maybe you’re simply nonplussed with the day to day work and you want something more. Maybe you actually like the function of your job, but dislike your current company. Whatever it is, make sure to identify the why of your desired career move before you take action.
From there, assess your best skills along with your passions. Perhaps you’ve been drafting press releases or doing ad-hoc social media work for your current company. Maybe you’ve done a little sketching work as needed outside of your other roles. Combine your interests and relative experience in order to determine your desired career direction.
Activate your connections
So you want to be a product designer? Awesome! You know those LinkedIn connections you made in college; the friend of a friend of a former coworker?
Rifle through these connections. You might be surprised what you find hiding in your own LinkedIn connections of Facebook friends. Speaking of friends, speak to them too. More often than not, someone will know someone who is open to talking to you. Reach out to see if they’d be willing to meet with you. While they might not have a job hot and ready, it’s a perfect opportunity to ask a few questions over a coffee.
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Take a Class
Unless you’re looking to become an anesthesiologist or a trial attorney, you can likely build your skill set without applying to graduate school.
There are boundless opportunities to learn things on the internet. Resources like Udemy, Coursera, and Alison offer hundreds of free classes—you can learn anything from project management to web design.
Even if you’re not looking to change your career (why are you reading this?) you should take advantage of these free classes. Heck, we all should learn about Probabilistic Graphical Models because, why not?
Send some cold emails
This is my personal favorite thing to do, so approach with wary pessimism if you must.
Once you have a clear idea of the position you want and type of company you’d like to work for, considering reaching out the employees there. A personalized, well-researched cold email can be the perfect way to garner a new relationship.
You don’t have to come in too hot, revealing that you went 80 weeks deep into a CEO’s Instagram, but you can express a knowledgeable, thoughtful sentence or two. In addition, lay out your interest in the company and inquire as to whether they will be hiring for *your role* in the near future. If you see a gap in the team roster, you might even suggest the need for *your role* and why.
Consider sending out a few cold emails to your dream companies that might hold your dream future job. You can even reach out to employees at your dream company using LinkedIn! At best, you will manifest a miraculous job opening in your field. At worst, you will receive no reply.
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Move within your company or industry
If you love the company you are currently with, you might consider this option. Speak to your HR manager about the moves you’re thinking of making.
Before reaching out to HR or your manager, have a good case ready. If you’re looking to move from Sales to Design, have a good plan in place. Does the graphic design department have an opening? Is there a particular project that you can participate in on a trial basis? Would you be willing to train your replacement? Is there a possibility of a hybrid role?
If your current company is not responsive to your ideas, then consider making the move within your industry. Having a working knowledge of the business landscape within your particular industry is key. When applying to this new position in a new company, make sure to explain your career transition. Use your working knowledge of the industry as a tool to set you apart from the other candidate.
It’s never too late to make a career change. However, it is important to weigh your expectations when doing so. Typically, when making a complete change in your career, you will in effect “lose” some of your experience. This can translate to a lower salary than you’re used to receiving. So before making any huge moves, make sure to reevaluate your salary expectations.
Ultimately, we want you to feel fulfilled in your career. And if you know that it’s time for a transition, we support you in that. These tips will help you to begin your pursuit of a new industry, position, or company—whatever you decide your next move is.

YD’s endeavor is to increase your efficiency by connecting employers to their ideal candidates. Yanko Design has curated Industrial Design followers for the past 15+ years, and we know these are the best match for your company. To recruit now, post a job with us!

The original write up by Caileen Kehayas published on Career Contessa can be found here.

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from Yanko Design

How To Plan Astrophotography With The Photopills App


One of the most important lessons that astrophotography has taught me is the importance of planning. I’m a huge advocate of planning your photos in advance, no matter what your subject may be. With most genres of photography, you can wing it and still come home with some great photos. With astrophotography, you’re a lot less likely to get lucky if you don’t plan ahead.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

There are many factors that come into play when photographing the night sky. You can’t just pick a location and hope for the best. A successful image will depend on sunrise/set, moonrise/set, the phase of the moon, milky way position, galactic center visibility, time of year, and light levels.

If all that feels a bit overwhelming, don’t stress. There are many tools available to help you research and plan your night sky photos. I’ve used a number of them over the years, but there’s really only one that I rely on these days.

The PhotoPills App

You may have heard of PhotoPills already. It’s a popular app among landscape photographers. I’ve used it for a while now, and I can’t imagine planning my travel and landscape photos without it.

PhotoPills is a great tool for figuring out the best time to photograph the outdoors. It gives you a bunch of useful information about the sun and moon at a specific time and location, which is great for planning sunrise and sunset photos.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

It does so much more than that, though. It’s actually an incredibly feature-rich app that provides far more tools than I could cover here. If you’re new to PhotoPills, I recommend learning the basics of the app first. I’m just going to show you how to use PhotoPills to plan astrophotography.

Ambient Light

The single most important factor in successful night sky photography is darkness. There are three main factors that will affect the amount of ambient light in the scene and potentially ruin your photos.

The first, and most obvious, is daylight. Photographing the night sky while the sun is still shining is difficult. While you may think that you just need to wait until after sunset, it’s not quite that simple. The light from the sun illuminates the sky for a lot longer than you may realize.

As the ambient light from the sun fades in or out at the end of the day, it goes through four phases. You’ve likely heard of golden hour and blue hour. There’s also nautical twilight and astronomical twilight. You don’t need to understand what these terms mean, just that there will still be light from the sun that your camera will see.

For the darkest sky possible, you want to shoot after astronomical twilight ends and before it begins again. In the PhotoPills app, open the Sun pill, select the calendar view, and tap on the date you’re planning to shoot. You’ll be able to see the exact times from golden hour and sunset, through the twilight phases, and into night time. The sky will be darkest between that time and the beginning of astronomical twilight the next day.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

Light Pollution

The second factor is light pollution caused by man-made light. This is most noticeable in or near built-up areas, so getting away from these is crucial.

The simplest way to find locations that have minimal light pollution is to look at a light pollution map such as Blue Marble Navigator. You can easily find locations far enough away from light pollution to photograph the night sky.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

The Moon

The third factor that can affect the amount of ambient light in your night sky photos is the moon. The moon can reflect a surprising amount of the sun’s light and wash out your night sky photos. It can also illuminate the foreground, which may be something you want to take advantage of. Unfortunately, you can’t have the moonlight on the foreground without it illuminating the sky also.

If you want to eliminate moonlight from your night sky photos, there are two ways to do it. The first, and easiest, is to shoot during a new moon. A new moon is the opposite to a full moon, meaning it’s completely dark. No matter where it is in the sky, it won’t reflect any light or affect your photos at all.

The second way is to plan your photos so that you’re shooting while the moon is below the horizon. That means before moonrise and after moonset. This isn’t as effective as timing your photography with a new moon, but you can come home with some great images using this technique.

PhotoPills makes it easy to plan using both these options. To plan for a new moon, open the Moon pill and go to the calendar view. You’ll be able to look ahead and see the date of the new moon each month. The new moon is completely black with the little circle next to the date. A day either side is also usually safe.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

To figure out what time the moon will rise and set on a specific date, tap on that date while still in the calendar view. You’ll be shown a list of events for that date, including moonrise and moonset.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

The Milky Way

If you want to include the Milky Way in your night sky photos, you’ll need to consider a couple of things. Firstly, although the Milky Way is visible all year round, the galactic center is only visible for part of the year. This is between March and October, or slightly longer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The second thing you need to remember is that the Milky Way moves through the sky as the earth rotates, just like the sun and moon. What this means is that when planning your astrophotography, you’ll need to consider the time that the galactic center is visible.

PhotoPills makes this super easy. Going back to the Sun pill, you’ll see that galactic canter visibility appears in the event list for your selected date. Note that this may not be the time that the galactic center rises and sets, it may be the time that the sky is dark enough to see it.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

One of the coolest and most useful features of the PhotoPills app is augmented reality (AR). In the Planner pill, go to the date and location you’re planning to photograph, then tap Night AR in the option bar at the bottom. This will show you an AR view that superimposes the Milky Way over your screen.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

This is useful for seeing where the milky way and galactic center will be at your selected date and location. You’ll be able to see the angle and relative position of the Milky Way, as well as watch how it will move across the sky by sliding your finger across the screen.

PhotoPills Widgets

PhotoPills makes it super easy to see all this info in one place. Instead of having to go into each pill to find the relevant information you want, you can take a quick look at the PhotoPills widget and see times for the next sun, moon, and galactic center events.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

This won’t work for planning future photos, but if you want to see if tonight is a good night for astrophotography, you can find out at a glance. I’m sure you’ll find it useful once you have a good understanding of the right conditions for night sky photography.

Dig Deeper Into PhotoPills

As I mentioned, the PhotoPills app is incredibly powerful and feature-rich. It includes many more useful tools, such as Star Trails, Spot Stars, and Time Lapse. If you want to dig deeper and find out what PhotoPills can really do, I encourage you to buy the app and spend some time working through the User Guide on their website. There’s a wealth of tutorials and how-to videos that will help you make the most of the app.

I would love to see the night sky photos that you create with PhotoPills. Feel free to share them below.

The post How To Plan Astrophotography With The Photopills App appeared first on Digital Photography School.

from Digital Photography School

Judge orders Amazon to turn over Echo recordings in double murder case


A New Hampshire judge has ordered Amazon to turn over two days of Amazon Echo recordings in a double murder case.

Prosecutors believe that recordings from an Amazon Echo in a Farmington home where two women were murdered in January 2017 may yield further clues to their killer. Although police seized the Echo when they secured the crime scene, any recordings are stored on Amazon servers.

The order granting the search warrant, obtained by TechCrunch, said that there is “probable cause to believe” that the Echo picked up “audio recordings capturing the attack” and “any events that preceded or succeeded the attack.”

Amazon is also directed to turn over any “information identifying any cellular devices that were linked to the smart speaker during that time period,” the order said.

Timothy Verrill, a resident of neighboring Dover, New Hampshire, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.

When reached, an Amazon spokesperson did not comment — but the company told the Associated Press last week that it won’t release the information “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.”

New Hampshire doesn’t provide electronic access to court records, so it’s not readily known if Amazon has complied with the order, signed by Justice Steven Houran, on November 5.

A court order signed by New Hampshire Superior Court on November 5 ordering Amazon to turn over Echo recordings. (Image: TechCrunch)

It’s not the first time Amazon has been ordered to turn over recordings that prosecutors believe may help a police investigation.

Three years ago, an Arkansas man was accused of murder. Prosecutors pushed Amazon to turn over data from an Echo found in the house where the body was found. Amazon initially resisted the request citing First Amendment grounds — but later conceded and complied. Police and prosecutors generally don’t expect much evidence from Echo recordings — if any — because Echo speakers are activated with a wake word — usually “Alexa,” the name of the voice assistant. But, sometimes fragment of recordings can be inadvertently picked up, which could help piece together events from a crime scene.

But these two cases represent a fraction of the number of requests Amazon receives for Echo data. Although Amazon publishes a biannual transparency report detailing the number of warrants and orders it receives across its entire business, the company doesn’t — and refuses — to break down how many requests for data it receives for Echo data.

In most cases, any request for Echo recordings are only known through court orders.

In fact, when TechCrunch reached out to the major players in the smart home space, only one device maker had a transparency report and most had no future plans to publish one — leaving consumers in the dark on how these companies protect your private information from overly broad demands.

Although the evidence in the Verrill case is compelling, exactly what comes back from Amazon — or the company’s refusal to budge — will be telling.

from TechCrunch

Marvel Released An Emotional Tribute To Stan Lee

Stan Lee

Getty Image / Ann Johansson/Corbis

The world lost Stan Lee this week. He was a man who needed no introduction. The former EIC, Publisher, and Chairman of Marvel might be best known to younger millennials for his cameos in Marvel films. To older comic fans he’s the man who brought the world Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, The X-Men, and many others.

It’s hard to overstate Stan Lee’s impact in the world of comic books. Most of the people in the industry credit Stan Lee for where they’re at today, either directly or indirectly.

Marvel released this heartfelt tribute to Stan Lee in which a bunch of employees go through and share the ways in which he impacted their lives. There have been a million Stan Lee tributes released this week, probably several million, but this is the on that seems to have resonated with the most people because it’s Marvel employees speaking from the heart.

I feel like it would be a dereliction of my duties if I shared that Stan Lee tribute above and didn’t at least make mention of his film cameos. That was his calling card later in life, appearing in every Marvel film for a brief moment.

CBR released this updated supercut which shows every Stan Lee Marvel film cameo from Spider-Man on through Infinity-War. I’m sure someone has pondered the question of whether or not his cameo was filmed yet for the untitled Avengers 4 film. If he hadn’t, I fully expect there to be a CGI cameo as well as a lengthy tribute before or after the film. anyway, here’s that compilation of all his cameos.

What a life he lived.


Badass Records Goodbye Message To His Family Before Driving Through Raging Wall Of Cali Wildfire, Survives



At the time of me writing this, the California wildfires have claimed 44 lives, as emergency workers recently discovered 13 more bodies in Northern California. The death toll makes the fires the deadliest in the state’s history, and that number is only expected to rise as nearly 100 remain missing. Previously, the deadliest fire was the Griffith Park Fire which killed 29 people in October of 1933.

The raging fires have also destroyed more than 7,600 structures destroyed, most of them homes. Joel N. Myers, founder and president of AccuWeather, estimates that the total damage and economic impact of the California wildfires has already surpassed $80 billion, and will likely climb to nearly $200 billion by next week.

The Camp Fire, which began blazing in Northern California on Thursday, has killed at least 42 people and torched 117,000 acres of land. According to the New York Times, as of Monday night, the fire remained just 30 percent contained.

As death, destruction, fear, and panic ravage California, stories of heroes will rise above the ashes. One already did.

Jack Nicas of the New York Times detailed an incredible story of a man named Allyn Pierce who was faced with a wall of fire as he sit trapped in his truck.

“I was like, ‘I think I’m done,’” said Mr. Pierce, a registered nurse who was trapped in traffic in Paradise, Calif., where most of the community was burned. “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m going to die in melting plastic.’”

I’ll let Jack Nicas take the story from there.

In the wake of such a catastrophe, it’s always also to be reminded of the human spirit. If you feel inclined to help out the Pierce family, who lost their home, they’d appreciate it greatly. Here is the link to the GoFundMe.

I know it’s only Tuesday, but this dude may be a shoe-in for Bro of the Week. If you have any stories of heroism or simple good deeds coming out of Cali in these tough times, please send submissions to to be featured on Friday’s Bro of the Week column.



In gorgeous ETHER, a handmade micro lens brings cymatics closer


Sound is physical, but we don’t often get to see that physicality. In this gorgeous video for Thomas Vaquié, directed by Nico Neefs, those worlds of vibrations explode across your screen. It’s the latest release from ANTIVJ, and it’s spellbinding.

The sounds really do generate the visuals here, from generating terrain from an analysis from the waveform to revealing footage of metal powder animated by sonic vibrations. A self-made micro lens provides the optics.

Everything in this video was made using the sound waves of the track Ether.
Equipped with a home-made micro lens, a camera travels inside physical representations of the musical composition, from a concrete mountain built from the spectrogram of the music, to eruptions of metal powder caused by rhythmic impulsions.

(Impulsion is a word; look it up! I had to do so.)

Still from the video.

Nico Neefs is the director, working with images he created with Corentin Kopp. It’s set to music from Belgian producer Thomas Vaquié’s new album Ecume, on Antivj Recordings. That imprint has for over a decade been a label for audiovisual creations across media – release, installation, performance. Simon Geilfus developed the tool for visualization.

They’ve employed the same techniques to make a very attractive physical release. The image you see in the artwork is cast from a concrete mold. For a limited edition box set, they’re producing 33cm x 33cm plates cast from that mold in dark resin. And it’s ready to mount to a wall if you choose; hardware included. Or if you feel instead like you own enough things, there’s a digital edition.

Ultra-limited handmade physical release.

Concrete mold.

Concrete mold; detail.

The whole album is beautiful; I’m especially fond of the bell-like resonances in the opening piece. It’s a sumptuous, sonic environment, full of evocative sound designs that rustle and ring in easy, organic assemblies, part synthetic, part string. Those then break into broken, warped grooves that push forward. (Hey, more impulsion – like a horse.)

The music was repurposed from installations and art contexts:

These are all derivations of compositions for site-specific and installation projects, the original pieces having been created as a response to place and space, to light and architecture, to code and motion. Now separated and transformed from their original context, the music takes on an independent existence in these new realisations.

That does lend the whole release an environmental quality – spaces you can step in and out of – but is nonetheless present emotionally. There’s impact, listening top to bottom, enough so that you might not immediately assume the earlier context. And the release is fully consistent and coherent as a whole. (It is very possible you heard an installation here or there. Vaquié has produced compositions for Centre Pompidou Metz the Old Port of Montreal’s metallic conveyor tower, in Songdo South Korea, at Oaxaca’s ethnobotanical gardens, and at Hala Stulecia, Poland’s huge concrete dome.)

And there’s thoroughly fine string writing throughout – with a sense that strings and electronic media are always attuned to one another.

Cover artwork.

Thomas Vaquié.

Poetic explanation accompanies the album:

Ether embodies the world that exists above the skies.
It is the air that the gods breathe.
It is that feeling of dizziness,
that asphyxiation that we feel when faced with immensity.

Full video credits:

Music by Thomas Vaquié
Video directed by Nico Neefs
Images by Nico Neefs & Corentin Kopp
Edit & Post-production by Nico Neefs
Video produced by Charles Kinoo for Less Is More Studio and Thomas Vaquié
Filmed at BFC Studio, Brussels 2018.

More, including downloads / physical purchases:


from Create Digital Music

Meet the Magecart hackers, a persistent credit card skimmer group of groups you’ve never heard of


There have been few hacker groups that have been responsible for as many headlines this year as Magecart.

You might not know the name, but you probably haven’t missed their work — highly targeted credit card skimming attacks, hitting Ticketmaster and British Airways, as well as consumer electronics giant Newegg and likely many more sites that have been silently hacked to scrape consumer credit card data at the checkout.

Nobody knows those attacks better than Yonathan Klijnsma, a threat researcher at security firm RiskIQ, who’s been tracking Magecart for more than a year.

In a new report published with risk intelligence firm Flashpoint, Klijnsma has exposed the inner workings of the hackers — a group of groups, rather than a single entity — all with different modus operandi and targets, which he described as a “thriving criminal underworld that has operated in the shadows for years.”

“Magecart is only now becoming a household name,” the researcher said.

Chief among Klijnsma’s findings is that there are at least six distinct groups operating Magecart skimming scams, each taking their own approach. Group 1 began as early as 2014 by targeting thousands of sites with attacks and single-use servers for hosting the malware and storing the collected data, while Group 2 and Group 3 expanded their reach and honed their attacks to hook their card skimming malware on a greater range of payment providers. Group 4 took the bulk of the victims — more than 3,000 sites hacked — with its scattergun approach, grabbing as many cards as it could from as many sites as it could.

The groups have been going where the money is — breaking into websites using known server vulnerabilities, injecting card payment skimming code and siphoning off credit card numbers, names and security codes on an attacker-controlled server, often for months at a time.

If they get caught, they just move on to their next victim.

Magecart’s most high-profile victims were the work of Group 5, which carried out supply chain attacks by hitting third-party code providers — like customer service chat boxes — that are installed on thousands of sites and carrying the group’s malware with it, expanding the group’s reach on a massive scale. It was Group 5 that RiskIQ blames on targeting many of Ticketmaster’s global sites. Group 6, meanwhile, also began highly selective attacks that only targeted major players — including British Airways and Newegg.

Between the half-dozen groups that RiskIQ has identified so far, at least 6,400 sites have been affected.

And that’s just the start.

Once a steady stream of credit card numbers come in, the hackers will sell the data — often on the dark web, making it easier to hide their activities from the law.

Magecart’s credit card skimming cycle. (Image: RiskIQ/Flashpoint)

Klijnsma warned that there will be many more card skimming groups and many more websites affected — larger and lesser-known sites alike that have yet to be discovered.

Case in point: Earlier this year, little-known New Jersey-based electronics retailer TechRabbit disclosed a data breach. Like so many other sites, it went largely unnoticed — except, upon closer inspection, the breach had all the hallmarks of Magecart. Willem de Groot, a security researcher cited in the Magecart report, confirmed on Twitter — and independently verified by TechCrunch — that the site had been hit again months later.

We reached out to the company’s chief executive, Joel Lerner, to inform him of the card skimming malware. “Who is TechCruch [sic] and what do you know about TechRabbit?” he said.

After several emails back and forth, including a screenshot sample of the malware on the site’s checkout pages, he expressed concern but stopped responding.

Klijnsma conceded that although his research has given an unprecedented insight into how the Magecart groups work, “that doesn’t mean we will be able to spot every instance and every attack,” he said. There are likely many more sites affected by card skimming malware — as of yet undetected. “We’d like to call on the industry and everyone who encounters these attacks to help take it down,” he said.

To combat the threat from Magecart, RiskIQ and other cybersecurity firms can sinkhole domains associated with Magecart infrastructure, pulling them offline and out of operation.

Klijnsma said it requires a layered approach — like website owners improving their security with security patches and segregating servers. “You don’t catch this with just one security control but rather you stack them and try to catch it at at least one of these steps,” he said.

“Basically any vector is game among these groups with some groups utilizing all of them to reach their goal of breaching a target,” he said.

from TechCrunch

What if two car companies merged their design styles?



We’ve looked at a lot of design-semantic switches where we imagine one company designing a product out of their usual catalog (but with their design style)… cases in point, a lot of PDF Haus’s work.

Today we look at a design-language-fusion, if you will. Created by rendering firm NeoMam Studios, this series looks at cars that are a result of two companies coming together to fuse their styles. You’ve got a BMW + Lamborghini mashup right above that combines the Italian supercar manufacturer’s edgy style and signature yellow body-color with BMW’s signature kidney grille. At the end of the day, the car’s still a stunner!

Scroll down below and you’ll see, in order, a Bentley + Ferrari mashup that combines British class ant Italian fervor and passion. Followed by a Nissan + Porsche harmony that would truly be a feat of engineering. Next, we have a Volkswagen + Ford mashup that combines the strategic sensibility found in both companies. Following that is a strange combination of David and Goliath, Smart and Range Rover. This alliance gives smart-cars their much-needed rugged makeover, allowing them to look less puny and more dominating on the asphalt. Lastly, and a personal favorite is the combination of two classic American Muscle brands, Dodge and Chevrolet. Looking like a Charger and a Camaro had a beautiful love-child, the car is quite literally the ultimate mash-up automobile!

Designer: NeoMam Studios






from Yanko Design

Intel’s ‘neural network on a stick’ brings AI training to you



Ahead of its first AI developers conference in Beijing, Intel has announced it’s making the process of imparting intelligence into smart home gadgets and other network edge devices faster and easier thanks to the company’s latest invention: the Neural Compute Stick 2.

Edge devices are generally defined as any piece of hardware that controls the flow of data between the boundaries of two networks. These include not just routers, switches and gateways but also a range IoT gadgets like Ring doorbell cameras, industrial robots, smart medical devices or self-guided camera drones. Intel’s NCS2 is essentially a self-contained neural network on a thumbdrive and should make developing those sorts of devices faster and easier by offloading much of the processing power required to train them to its onboard Movidius Myriad X vision processing unit (VPU).


“We can do some incredible things with artificial intelligence, and one of the fastest growing data types, as we all know, is video data,” Steen Graham, General Manager of Channels and Ecosystem in Intel’s Internet of Things group, told reporters during a press call on Friday. “The camera is the ultimate sensor.”

Basically, it enables you to develop AI algorithms and computer vision systems locally (ie on your laptop) without needing a connection to the Cloud or even the internet. Users simply need to be running it on a Linux-based OS with a USB 3.0 port. What’s more, the NCS2’s added processing cores reportedly enable it to perform eight times faster than its predecessor, which was released last year.


Intel has already pre-released the NCS2 to a handful of developers who’ve used it to develop a variety of helpful applications including Clean Water AI, which combines machine vision with a microscope to detect harmful bacteria in water; BlueScan AI, which scans skin for signs of melanoma; and ASL Classification, which translates American Sign Language into text — all in real-time.

The NSC2 retails for $100 and is available through Intel. There aren’t any restrictions on who can buy one. Whether you’re a leading AI researcher or a hobbyist, if you’ve got a Benjamin, you can get an NCS2. That could be cause for celebration since, with a broader developer base, the rest of us will likely see more and better improvements to our existing IoT and edge devices as well as new gadgets and capabilities we haven’t even considered yet.

from Engadget