Photo: Antana, CC-BY-SA
This week’s biggest digital culture news was the sheer peculiarity of the announcement on Monday that the formerly-suspected Craig Stephen Wright was claiming to be the man behind the Bitcoin inventor pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, a claim that was essentially abandoned by Thursday in one of the oddest, most passive-aggressive non-apologies the Bitcoin sphere has seen to date. It’s strange when the most plausible explanation is of an intensely hubristic con-man who never expected to need to prove his claim publicly with the most basic of cryptographic proof, because the other options all seem to involve conspiracies. My favourite is that Craig Wright, Gavin Andresen, and Jon Matonis were all involved in the creation of Bitcoin and were deliberately discrediting themselves so that no-one would ever again suspect them of being Satoshi Nakamoto (it would at least explain Matonis’s peculiar conviction that there won’t be another Satoshi). But as I say, the simplest explanations tending to be the most likely, Wright is simply a clever con-man who “bamboozled” Andresen and Matonis with a bit of trickery he couldn’t replicate in the public sphere, perhaps out of some desire to take credit for the invention. It’s hard to say. But, thankfully (as I’ve written before) it doesn’t matter who Satoshi Nakamoto was (or were), what matters is the world-changing technology he/they gave us. More on the story from Thursday’s post here. [Full disclosure: the author is an editor at the fledgling academic journal Ledger, the only academic journal devoted entirely to cryptocurrencies and blockchain research.]
Early Friday morning (EDT — it was still late Thursday night on North America’s west coast) SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon 9 FT, this one carrying the truly astounding-looking JCSAT-14, a coms satellite built for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation by Space Systems/Loral. Even more impressively, SpaceX managed to land the first stage once again on its don’t-call-it-a-barge autonomous drone ship the Of Course I Still Love You just minutes later. The excitement from the landing was amazing: just check out the video of the crowd watching from SpaceX control. There’s a moment where everyone thinks it’s gone out with a bang, and then suddenly it’s there in one piece on the ship, and everyone’s cheering. This is great news, if only because the launch — and therefore the return — was so much higher-energy than the previous attempts, and may even mean that forthcoming Falcon Heavy boosters will be able to return for reuse as well. For more on the story, check out Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog over at Slate.
“Wellness” Blogger Facing Legal Action
In quackery and snake-oil news, “wellness” blogger and general fraudster Belle Gibson is facing a civil suit from the government of Australia which seeks more than a million dollars in fines for her role in perpetrating a massive fraud. Gibson claimed that she had beaten brain cancer through dietary and lifestyle changes, and had marketed and sold a book, “The Whole Pantry,” effectively claiming that others could do the same. The publisher of the book, Penguin, may also face fines of $30,000 for failing to verify the book’s claims, and, more interestingly, may be forced to include warnings about books peddling similar woo and the unproven nature of their claims. All of this is, of course, still pending leave to file, because Gibson’s company is currently in liquidation and owes over $80,000 in taxes. If nothing else, I hope the warning label requirement goes through, because there’s no reason to include fiction in the non-fiction aisle where it can do real harm. Australian newspaper The Age has all the details.
Here’s what else we got up to this week:
- On Monday I talked about how woo for pets is an actual thing you need to be aware of now
- On Tuesday I talked about how Australia’s using a virus to kill its overabundant invasive carp
- On Wednesday I rewrote part of an Eminem song
- On Thursday I took a minute to explain what was going on with this whole Satoshi thing this time, and
- On Friday Lindsey looked at the case of a schoolteacher who’s been fired for saying “vagina”
If you missed any of those posts, now’s your chance!
Best of the Rest
Other things happened this week! For real!
- Spaceflight Now reported that SpaceX still isn’t sure who’ll get the first ride on their Falcon Heavy
- Science Alert posted a link to a live feed of scientists exploring the Mariana Trench (warning, watching will eat your life)
- AAAS Science reports that scientists drilling into the Chixulub crater have “hit paydirt”
- Popular Science is reporting that Solar Impulse is making its way across America now
- The Gap doesn’t know when the space shuttles were launched
- Holographic smartphones are a thing that might actually happen
- The Genetic Literacy Project wants you to know why GMO labeling is a terrible idea, and
- Someone strapped a GoPro to a suborbital rocket and captured some awesome video
That’s all for today! Remember, I only get paid in my own (and your) enthusiasm, so please like This Week In Tomorrow on Facebook,follow me on Twitter @TWITomorrow, and tell your friends about the site!
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