Vol. 1 / No. 19 — Dorian and/or Satoshi, Daily DRM, and SpaceX Takes on the Kremlin


“I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”

This week the biggest news in cryptocurrency circles was the unmasking and doxxing of the supposed creator of the Bitcoin protocol, Satoshi Nakamoto. If you’re unaware, Bitcoin was created by a pseudonymous entity known to the world as Satoshi Nakamoto; the white paper outlining the system even bears his name and e-mail address. This week a reporter at Newsweek (whose conduct in this I’m really so disappointed with that I refuse even to link to — you can google them yourself) tracked down and revealed to the world the identifying information of one Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, of Los Angeles. A possibly compromised account on the ning.com forums has since denied that the two are the same person, leaving one of two possible situations: either a) they have indeed tracked down the reclusive and privacy-valuing creator of Bitcoin and told the world where to find him, or b) they’ve told millions of people that a 64-year-old retired man, with health concerns and a live-in 96-year-old mother, who builds model trains in his spare time, has the BTC equivalent of $400Million US. Regardless of which is true, one might think journalistic integrity would require a little circumspection — especially when Mr. Nakamoto felt compelled to call the police because of the harassment. The Verge has news that Newsweek standing by its story.

In other Bitcoin news, Britain has scrapped its so-called “Bitcoin tax” — the application of VAT to Bitcoin as applicable to goods and services — making the country once again favourable to the cryptocurrency.

Your Daily Cup of DRM

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, makers of the instant single-cup coffee machine known as the Keurig, announced this week that they’re exploring Digital Rights Management technology for their coffee maker. The concept is simple: right now any coffee manufacturer can make a so-called “k-cup” version of their coffee, and Green Mountain would like that to change. They’ve only had limited success with lawsuits and other anti-competitive actions, so now they’re setting their sights on a making a machine that will only work with their own brand of coffee. This will, I’m sure, go brilliantly, just like it has for the movie and gaming industries. Robinson Meyer over at The Atlantic has more details.

Attempt No Landing There



“In the coming year, we’ll build on our nation’s record of breathtaking and compelling scientific discoveries and achievements in space, with science missions that will reach far into our solar system, reveal unknown aspects of our universe and provide critical knowledge about our home planet.  It includes funding for missions to Mars and the formulation for a mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa. It also funds science missions already heading toward destinations such as Jupiter and Pluto and operating throughout the solar system, a mission to study our planet’s magnetic system, and steady progress on the James Webb Space Telescope.”

Big news out of NASA this week: a mission to Europa is in the works. The plan would be to send a probe to the watery Jovian moon that could land, melt its way through to the oceans buried under the ice, and swim around looking for life. Gizmodo’s Sploid blog reports that the timeframe we’re talking about is in the 2030 range, but even so, it’s very exciting news. If there’s life anywhere else in the solar system, Europa is the most likely bet, given how much more water it has than Earth.

Water, Water Everywhere

Speaking of water, the blue planet has finally finished setting up a nine-satellite system for studying its own water — specifically the kind that falls from the sky. The Global Precipitation Measurement project is a joint NASA/JAXA program to take readings every three hours on all the water that’s falling on Earth. The final piece of the network, the GPM Core Observatory, went up last week, paving the way for a better understanding of how our planet works and how to avoid some of the worst it can throw at us. Megan Garber over The Atlantic has the details.

SpaceX vs. the Kremlin

In the recent news concerning Ukraine’s Russian troubles, it hasn’t escaped the notice of Elon Musk that the US still depends on the (mostly) former soviet state’s space ferry service to get international scientists up to the ISS and back. In this clip, Musk points out that the US is paying $70million a seat, saying that “it’s kind of embarrassing that the US has to thumb rides from the Russians.” Then proceed to ignore the talking heads complaining about “entitlements.”

Meanwhile SpaceX stands ready to qualify for US Air Force launch contracts. Having completed the three demonstration launches, they’re now awaiting the judgement on the last two, which if approved will allow SpaceX to bid on contracts in another sector of the launch market.

Finally, news came out this week that SpaceX is already deep in development of its next generation of rocket engines, the Raptor, which when complete will allow for the next generation of SpaceX heavy rockets: the Falcon X, Falcon X Heavy, and Falcon XX.

Einstein’s “Steady-State” Model

An Irish physicist has recently discovered a piece of Einstein’s work long thought lost — when really it was only misfiled. The document describes Einstein’s work in attempting to find a way around the “big bang” theory that his mathematical models predicted. The so-called “steady state” model of the universe meant that although the universe was expanding, it was always generating new matter in the center, allowing for an infinite universe. More recently of course, scientists have been able to take measurements that show Einstein’s earlier model, which he was so uncomfortable with, was indeed the most likely. The Irish Times has more on the discovery, and arXiv.org has a copy of the now-published and translated paper (with commentary).

Thawed Out

In what’s sure to be terrifying news for amoebae everywhere, a very old giant virus has been resurrected after being found frozen in Siberian ice. At approximately the size of a small bacterium, it’s a great deal larger than most viruses, and although it doesn’t infect humans (only amoebae) it has raised a few concerns over what else might be sleeping in the tundra. Hint: with global temperatures rising, we’re probably going to find out. Ed Yong has the story over at Nature.com.

Best of the Rest

In other news this week, Daniel Dumas at PopSci reports that there’s finally a hydrogen-powered production carJocelyn Kaiser at Science Insider asks if the “NIH cull” has begunElizabeth Gibney at Nature.com asks if dark matter killed the dinosaurs; And if you have a subscription, Helen Knight over at New Scientist has an article explaining how Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion might be another useful piece in the renewable energy market of the future.

Have a great week!