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Facebook to alert affected accounts

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Facebook Informing to affected People

After all the criticism to Facebook for its Cambridge Analytics Scandal, Facebook has taken initiative to alert every affected account that is all 87 million users including all Indian users as well. In this Scandal, data analytics firm took all the personal information from social networks to influence voters.

This news comes before CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s meeting with Testify, for the Facebook’s role in this scandal.

It is important to note that 87 million is just not an accurate count of the number of accounts affected says, Mark Zuckerberg.According to him, Facebook noted this number by calculating the maximum number of friends a user could have while using the personality quiz designed by Cambridge Analytics and due to lack of logs, Facebook is unable to determine the accurate count of affected accounts.

According to Christopher Wylie, a worker at Cambridge Analytica who exposed this data collection told that this count can a lot bigger than estimated and the data might be stored in Russia as, Aleksander Kogan, the data scientist who worked with this firm frequently traveled to Russia from the UK.

Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica says that they only had data of 30 million users.

It is the hardest time for Facebook as it is being questioned for its privacy scandal and also its valuation has dropped to $456 Billion from $556 Billion.

That’s all for this news, do comment down below what do you think, will Facebook be able to recover from this scandal.

Science

Beginning of Apollo Space Program

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In the shadow of the atomic bomb, science and politics became entwined. And as World War II progressed, countries began to capitalize on the power of technology. This shift in wartime strategy gave way to rapid advancements in weaponry like the development of the world’s first long-range, self-guided ballistic missile. And unlike those before it, this rocket had the potential to go to space and its creation would ultimately lead to a man on the moon. In the final years of the war, Nazi scientists successfully tested the V-2 rocket, the world’s most sophisticated missile and the first man-made object to cross the Karman line which is commonly represented as the start of space. When the war ended in 1945, the new world powers were dead set on acquiring the Nazi’s V-2 technology. This man, Wernher von Braun, was known as the brains behind the rocket.

He, along with other Nazi scientists, surrendered to the Americans and were transported to the US under a top secret project known as “Operation Paperclip”. The Germans were put to work, helping American scientists design and build military missiles that would ultimately be used in the beginnings of the space program. Meanwhile, Soviet scientists were repurposing the remains of Nazi rockets, and they were working much faster than the Americans. By the mid-1950s, the USSR developed an intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a multi-stage design and multi-engine propulsion system making it capable of reaching orbit. On October 4th, 1957, the Soviet Union used its new missile to launch the first artificial satellite into space. The satellite known as Sputnik sent a wave of paranoia over the United States. Its Cold War enemy now had a vantage point from space, increasing the fear of a nuclear attack.

 The Space Race had officially begun. The US quickly tried to match the Soviet’s success by launching the Vanguard satellite. But the rocket only made it about a meter off the ground before its embarrassing explosion, earning the nickname, “flopnik”. Now in full Sputnik crisis mode, the government shifted its priority to the space race. President Dwight D. Eisenhower accelerated the 1958 launch of Explorer 1 – the first US satellite to reach space and established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Within eleven days, NASA launched its first spacecraft and within six months it announced the United States’ first man-in-space program.

Project Mercury had three objectives:

1. orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth
2. Investigate man’s ability to function in space

3. recover both man and spacecraft safely.

In the late 1950s, these were seemingly improbable tasks considering this was all happening around the same time the first computer hard disk was used, the electric printer was invented. Needless to say, technology had a long way to go. On top of that, NASA’s first astronauts had never actually been to space. They did, however, meet all the other necessary qualifications for a job that hadn’t been done before. The candidates were all military pilots, were highly educated and physically fit and they were the right height and weight to squeeze into the one-man Mercury spacecraft. The seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury were painted as American heroes. And for a country inundated with a fear of nuclear attack, they provided much-needed hope and distraction. After a series of errors, tests and a brave chimp named HAM, in May 1961 astronaut Alan Shepard became the second human in space. The US came up short… again. Less than one month earlier, Russian Astronaut, Yuri Gagarin became the first man to complete an orbital mission. But the trajectory of the Space Race was about to change.

NASA President said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieve the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Under pressure to catch up to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy set an ambitious deadline. And from that moment forward, NASA’s human spaceflight efforts were guided by a single goal. NASA’s second man in space program acted as a bridge to the moon.


Project Gemini had four main objectives:

1. test an astronaut’s ability to fly long-duration missions

2. understand how spacecraft could rendezvous and dock in orbit

3. perfect re-entry and landing methods

4. further understand the effects of long space flight on astronauts.

 

All the while, Project Mercury was achieving major milestones. And on February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. By 1965, the first crewed Gemini mission took flight. The missions to follow set a series of firsts not just for the United States but for the world.
A new race was on for the United States. But now it was a race against time. In under five years, NASA needed to land a man on the moon. The Apollo Program would become one of the country’s biggest challenges, costing billions of dollars and risking dozens of lives. But if the decades of war and innovation leading up to this moment proved anything, it was that some of the biggest breakthroughs unfold when pressure is at its highest. And, just like challenges before it, Apollo would redefine the boundaries of possibility, taking humanity on a ride to an entirely new world.

This was how the Apollo program started. Stay tuned to know about the Apollo 11. Turn on the notification to get reminded.

Source: Seeker
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Business

How Elon saved SpaceX and Tesla from Bankruptcy

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SpaceX & Tesla: you would be hard pressed to find two companies that are more popular today. And yet, in the not too distant past, both companies were basically unknown and were in fact simultaneously on the verge of bankruptcy. Today we’ll learn how Elon Musk did what no other American CEO had ever done before: he created and then rescued two companies at the same time and brought them both to multi-billion dollar valuations.
In the early 2000s Elon Musk achieved what any entrepreneur would dream of achieving: he successfully sold his company for over a billion dollars. He personally received $165 million, and now this is where most people would call it quits, but for Elon this was just the beginning. He wanted to change the world for the better, and one of his ideas was to send a greenhouse to Mars in order to boost public interest in space exploration and hopefully increase NASA’s budget. The idea was outlandishly ambitious, especially because Elon wanted to spend no more than $20 million on it. Now at the time, sending just 500 pounds to orbit could easily cost upwards of $30 million, but Elon had a plan. He travelled to Russia, where he tried to buy refurbished Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. But the lowest price the Russians gave him was $8 million a piece, about 50% above his budget for the rocket itself. On the way back from Moscow, Elon did some back-of-the-napkin calculations and he figured out that the raw materials used in the making of a rocket were only about 3% of the final sales price.
Instantly, Elon knew what he had to do if he wanted to send anything to Mars, he’d have to build himself a vertically-integrated rocket company. To that end, he read several books on rocketry from the Cold War and in June 2002 he incorporated Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX for short. He then set about recruiting the right people who could make his vision a reality: his ideal candidate was young, single, educated and ready to give up his social life for SpaceX Elon’s recruitment strategy was very straightforward: he’d basically call up anyone fitting that profile, from fresh aerospace graduates to the rising stars in Boeing and Lockheed Martin. At first people thought Elon was making pranks, but within a year he had assembled some of the brightest engineers in America. Together they would design almost everything for SpaceX: from the engines and rocket bodies to even smallest details, like the circuitry. In many cases, the engineers could build stronger and more lightweight components at just a fraction of the regular price. These components would be used to build the Merlin engine, which in turn would power Elon’s first rocket, the Falcon 1. Development was far from smooth, of course, but nevertheless progress was being made.
But then, Elon decided to up the ante. In early 2004 he participated in the funding round of a new electric car company called Tesla. Elon personally invested a little over $6 million and in return became the chairman of the company’s board. Right off the bat Elon began applying his experience from SpaceX at Tesla. The company’s logo, for example, was created by the same people that made the logo for SpaceX. And of course, Elon was quick to use the same aggressive hiring strategy he used to assemble the SpaceX team. This time, however, instead of poaching employees from Boeing, he was hiring from Apple. Before long, the Tesla team was working on their first electric car, the Tesla Roadster. Back at SpaceX, engineers were clocking in 60-hour workweeks, while Elon was promising very ambitious timelines. In fact, his original estimate was to launch the Falcon 1 in November 2003, just 18 months
after the company was founded.
Of course, that estimate got pushed back, and the Falcon 1 wouldn’t lift off until March 2006, when it spent a total of 41 seconds in the air before crashing down violently. Like for SpaceX, 2006 was a big year for Tesla. In July, the Tesla Roadster made its first official appearance and recorded 100 pre-orders in its first day.  But, like with the Falcon 1, the actual production wasn’t going very well. Tesla’s CEO at the time was Martin Eberhard, and like Elon he was promising unrealistic timeframes. At first, the idea was to deliver the Roadster in early 2007, but an escalating series of production issues pushed the release date farther and farther away.  In the end, Martin’s mismanagement of the Roadster project got him ousted from the very company he had founded, leaving Elon in charge of everything. With full responsibility over both companies, the stress was starting to pile up. Elon witnessed the second failure of the Falcon 1 rocket, which didn’t complete its only 2007 flight. At Tesla, Elon struggled fixing the mess left behind by Eberhard, and in fact, the Roadster’s production would not begin until March 2008.
But then, things got worse: in August, Elon launched his third Falcon 1, which never made it to orbit and then just one month later his wife publicly announced their divorce. Both of Elon’s companies were struggling to make a viable product and were running out of money fast. In fact, by late October Tesla had only $9 million left to fund the entire company. Salaries were being delayed and Elon was faced with a choice.  He had already spent $70 million on Tesla and $100 million on SpaceX. With what little he had left, Elon had to choose whether to fund and secure the future of one company or to risk everything and gamble on saving both. Fate gave Elon little time to think: the fourth and potentially final flight of the Falcon 1 was approaching. On September 28th, Elon got ready for his last chance to survive. He stood in the SpaceX control center in LA and waited in silence. Then, the rocket took off, and the center burst out in ecstatic applause. SpaceX had finally delivered a working product: the Falcon 1 became the first privately-developed rocket to go into orbit around Earth. But Elon wasn’t in the clear just yet that a working product would mean nothing if the company behind it went bankrupt. In a frantic scramble, Elon had to figure out funding solutions for both his companies before the end of 2008, and the timing couldn’t have been worse. One of the largest American banks, Lehman Brothers, had collapsed and the global economy was heading towards disaster.
In the midst of this, Elon was raising all the personal funds he could to save Tesla: he liquidated his few remaining assets and even got his cousins to pitch in. But getting investors on board doesn’t happen overnight, and December was creeping in. Elon had managed to scrape together $20 million himself, another $20 million from various investors and $50 from the German car company Daimler. Days before Christmas, it seemed as if only Tesla was going to make it, but then on December 23 Elon received a very unexpected call: NASA had awarded SpaceX with a $1.6 billion contract to resupply the International Space Station. Then, on Christmas Eve, the Tesla deal went through. Elon had successfully saved both companies from bankruptcy. In later interviews, he’d recall these final days in December in painful detail. He’d admit that this was the closest he had ever gotten to a nervous breakdown and honestly, any lesser man would’ve outright given up. So regardless of the struggles Elon might be facing today, it’s worth knowing that ten years ago he overcame the impossible. This story is just a brief chapter in the journey of Elon Musk. You can read the complete story of his life in his autobiography which is even more facinating.
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Tech

Cicada 3301: An Internet Mystery

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Cicada 3301

On the 4th of January, 2012, a user on 4chan posted an image to the site’s infamous /b/ or random board. The anonymous author, who went by the four-digit pseudonym 3301, challenged users to uncover a message hidden within the image.

Unbeknownst to those who stumbled across it, someone had just set in motion one of the most elaborate scavengers hunts the internet has ever seen. Within minutes of the image being posted someone discovered that by opening the file using a text editor an appended string of readable text could be found. The string contained a cipher that, once deciphered, formed a link to yet another image.

At first, this appeared to be a dead end but using an application known as Outguess users were able to extract hidden information embedded within the first image. The extracted information lead to a subreddit which in turn contained information about a book.

The book along with a code could then be used to uncover a phone number that, when called, played a pre-recorded message. By the following day, the initial image had been reposted all over the internet. A growing community of armchair detectives sought to unravel this elaborate puzzle but no one was quite sure what to make off it. What was the puzzle for? Who was behind it? What happens when you reach the end?

Some naturally dismissed it as an elaborate joke while others perceived its complexity as evidence against it being the work of a mere troll. Before long, rumors began to circulate that this could be the work of some secret society or intelligence agency with the intent of recruiting individuals proficient in cryptography, steganography, and other related fields. Of course, it was nothing but a rumor. The two missing numbers mentioned in the recording proved to be the dimensions of the original image. After multiplying the width and height with 3301 and using the product as a web address, users were taken to a website. The website consisted of a countdown as well as an image of a cicada.

When the countdown reached zero, the page was updated with a list of coordinates.

The coordinates pointed to locations around the globe. 14 locations in 5 different countries. It was now up to participants living near the specified coordinates to rise from their comfortable armchairs and venture outside. Those who believed Cicada to be the work of an organization now felt their beliefs had been justified. In their opinion, only some international collective possessed the means and resources to create a scavenger hunt of this magnitude. This was not the work of your average troll.  No, this had to be something else. At each location was a poster with the cicada symbol and a QR code. …on the bike shelter over here. See I got it… I got it right there.

You can see the corners, I just kinda ripped it off. The codes linked to an image, the image contained a riddle, the riddle lead to a book, and the book leads to a website.

But here, the puzzle took an unexpected turn. Only a select group of first arrivals to this website were accepted into the final stage of the puzzle. The site eventually closed down with the message: “We want the best, not the followers.” The finalists were also warned not to collaborate with others nor to share the details of this private stage of the puzzle. Well, given that we know this, it’s safe to say that not everyone heeded that warning. But those who did presumably advanced through the final stages before reaching the very end of the puzzle.

Puzzle 2

After nearly a month of silence, an image appeared on the subreddit announcing the conclusion of the puzzle and, just like that, the hunt was over. Cicada had supposedly found the “highly intelligent individuals” they were looking for and whatever happened to them is a bit of a mystery but more on that in a moment. The lack of an explanation was perceived by many as confirmation that the puzzle had been nothing but a wild-goose chase intent on wasting everyone’s time. After all, questions raised by the original image remained unanswered. What was the puzzle for? Who was behind it? What happens when you reach the end?

However, as it later turned out, this was only the beginning. Whoever was behind this intricate game had the foresight to include an authentication code known as a PGP signature along with every clue. This allowed users to verify that an image or message was actually from Cicada as opposed to some impostor seeking to derail or hijack the puzzle. Cicada had repeatedly warned of such “false paths” and insisted that any message lacking a valid PGP signature should promptly be disregarded. That’s why this image, posted exactly a year and a day after the first, provoked such a frenzy. After a year of lackluster imitations, this image finally matched the official PGP signature. Cicada was back and it was time for round two.

The second puzzle was not too dissimilar from the first. The image enclosed a message, the message lead to a book, the book produced a link, and gradually the puzzle unfolded. At one point, a recording titled The Instar Emergence was uncovered.

Another clue leads to a cryptic Twitter account which then leads to an image. The image proved vital to the progression of the puzzle but the inclusion of this runic alphabet would remain a mystery for quite some time. Much like the first puzzle the second swelled into the physical world when a list coordinates compelled participants to, once again, take to the streets in search of enigmatic posters. This time it was 8 locations in 4 different countries. But eventually, the trail went cold once again.

Another select group of first arrivals had been accepted into a final private stage of the puzzle. Unlike the first puzzle, the second did not conclude with an official message from Cicada. The trail merely went cold and Cicada vanished once more leaving us no closer to an explanation. However, this was still not the end.

Puzzle 3

At the beginning of 2014, it was time for round three. Once again the image enclosed a message, the message leads to a book, the book produced a link, and suffice it to say, it was more of the same. Except, this time, the puzzle seemed to revolve around a strange book. The book was titled Liber Primus, meaning First Book in Latin, and was evidently written by Cicada. The runic alphabet uncovered in 2013 finally made sense as the book was primarily written in runes. Even so, the meaning of the translated pages was cryptic at best. The book consisted of various philosophical and ideological ideas and appeared to be their manifesto.

Many have since compared the strange writings to that of a cult. Nevertheless, the book also comprised a myriad of clues and codes. For example, a page advised participants to seek out a website on the deep web but the site remains undiscovered. Another page leads to a website containing yet another recording titled Interconnectedness. However, a significant portion of the book has yet to be translated. The runic text on some of the pages appears to be obfuscated by layers of encryption that has yet to be decrypted.

Of the 74 pages featuring runes, only 19 have been successfully translated.

As 2015 came and went without the launch of a new puzzle, many came to suspect the Liber Primus had to be completed if Cicada was to return. This was more or less confirmed at the beginning of 2016 when Cicada encouraged a re-examination of the book.

More than four years have now gone by with minimal progress and near complete silence from Cicada. Questions raised by the original image have gone ignored. What is the purpose of these puzzles? Who’s behind them? What happens when you reach the end? When the initial image appeared on 4chan back in 2012 many assumed Cicada 3301 to be an alternate reality game designed by a corporation to promote a new service or product. For example, Microsoft developed an elaborate ARG back in 2001 to promote the film Artificial Intelligence and a similar viral marketing campaign was used to promote the release of Halo 2.

But the release of subsequent puzzles and the complete lack of commercialization has more or less eliminated that possibility. If we choose to believe some of the leaked information from the private end-stage of each puzzle than we do gain some insight into who this group might be. For example, at the end of the first puzzle, finalists supposedly received this email. In it, Cicada describes themselves as an international group who believe that privacy is an inalienable right. The aim of each puzzle is to recruit like-minded individuals in an effort to develop privacy-conscious solutions. The email then concludes with three questions.

The PGP signature, which would have confirmed the authenticity of the email, was conveniently removed by the leaker. If a version with a valid signature does exist online I was unable to find it. But regardless of its legitimacy, I find this question a bit odd. It reads: “Do you believe that information should be free?” Assuming the expected answer is yes then the very first sentence…


Also Read: Story of Alibaba

“DO NOT SHARE THIS INFORMATION!” …seems a bit hypocritical. While the idea of a secret society recruiting individuals by means of elaborate cryptographic puzzles may seem a bit absurd or even conspiratorial, it’s not entirely unfounded. Corporations and governments alike have employed similar recruitment techniques since at least the second World War. In 2013, the British intelligence agency GCHQ launched a recruitment program known as “Can You Find It?”.

Participants had to decrypt a number of cryptograms hidden across the internet and those who managed to solve the entire puzzle were offered a prize or a position at the agency. Google did something similar with enigmatic billboards back in 2004 and the US Navy launched a near-identical project in 2014. Okay, but then, what about the recruits? Why have we not heard from these chosen few? Well, we have. It’s just that separating a legitimate finalist from an impostor is virtually impossible.

In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, two alleged winners of the first puzzle chronicled the events beyond the final stage. After receiving an email from Cicada they were taken to a forum on the dark web. Here, they could communicate with some twenty some odd recruits as well as a handful of established members of Cicada. They were told that Cicada 3301 had been founded by a group of friends who shared common ideas about security, privacy, and censorship.

The goal was to work as a collective to develop software applications in line with that ideology. As friends recruited friends, this secret society quickly expanded into a decentralized international organization. The recruits were then tasked with developing software that fit the ideology of the group and members of Cicada would oversee their progress. But without the allure of a puzzle to be solved, the recruits quickly lost interest. By the end of 2012 all but one had left and a few months later the site was gone. They never heard from Cicada again. One of the two winners, named Marcus Wanner, later elaborated further in a video by YouTuber Nox Populi.

Furthermore, Nox Populi himself claims to be a winner of the second puzzle so I reached out to him and this is some of what he had to say. After completing the final stages of the second puzzle Nox Populi received an invitation to join Cicada 3301. However, he was not invited to a website but was instead merely told to be patient. Then, around May of 2013, all communication with Cicada abruptly ceased.


Also Read: Do you Dream? Why? – Explained 

This was around the same time as when the website dedicated to the winners of the first puzzle was suddenly taken down. Nox Populi later contacted other winners of the second puzzle to compare notes and their experiences were identical. In his own words: “All the stories were the same, we were invited to join 3301, then something happened and silence followed a request for patience.” Nox Populi supposes that roughly five others completed the second puzzle in contrast to the twenty-odd winners of the first. In regards to who or what Cicada is, Nox Populi believes they could be a remnant of the cypherpunk movement of the late 80s and 90s.

Essentially a small group of activists advocating widespread use of strong cryptography and privacy-enhancing technologies but he admits that there is no way to know for certain. If you want a far more comprehensive walkthrough of these puzzles as opposed to my brief overview, Nox Populi has produced a number of videos on his YouTube channel which I highly recommend. While these accounts cannot be verified they do make for a very compelling argument as to what Cicada is. A group of anonymous developers seeking to develop privacy-conscious applications by recruiting talented individuals via cryptographic puzzles. Sure, it is not nearly as exciting as a shadow government seeking world domination or any of the more fantastical theories but it is certainly more plausible.

You have to keep in mind that no part of these puzzles would have required more than one person. The posters are often pointed to as evidence that this must be the work of some international organization but I beg to differ. I mean, right now, I could use any number of services to hire random persons around the globe to install posters for me.

Although, given that no poster was located more than an hour away from an airport leads me to believe that one or multiple persons actually traveled to these locations. I mean, some of the posters were found within walking distance of an international airport. The fact is that anyone with a disposable income and enough time on their hands would be able to create the illusion of a vast secret network spanning the globe. Not saying that is the case with Cicada 3301 but it is nonetheless a possibility that cannot be discounted. With all of that being said, I personally think a loose-knit group of privacy-minded hobby-cryptographers to be the most plausible explanation.

Cicada made their last public statement in April of 2017, merely warning against disinformation, but the current status of the third puzzle and the possibility of a fourth remains clouded in mystery.

 

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