Four short links: 2 August 2011

UAV Sniffing, Wicked Problems, Online Classes, and Whisky Science

  1. DIY UAVs for Cyber-Warface — aerial drone that poses as celltower, sniffs wifi, cracks passwords, and looks badass. The photo should be captioned “IM IN UR SKIES, SNIFFIN UR GMAIL SESSION COOKIEZ.” (via Bryan O’Sullivan)
  2. Wicked Problems (Karl Schroeder) — a category of problem which, once you read the definition, you recognize everywhere. 5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every attempt counts significantly. I like Karl’s take: our biggest challenges are no longer technological. They are issues of communication, coordination, and cooperation. These are, for the most part, well-studied problems that are not wicked. The methodologies that solve them need to be scaled up from the small-group settings where they currently work well, and injected into the DNA of our society–or, at least, built into our default modes of using the internet. They then can be used to tackle the wicked problems.
  3. Stanford AI Class — Peter Norvig teaching an AI class at Stanford with online open participation. Joins Archaeology of Ancient Egypt in league of university classes where anyone can join in. The former will let you register with Stanford (presumably for $$$) to join the class. The latter lets you audit for free, as the class will be run in open and transparent fashion. The former will be supported by the for-sale textbook, the latter by freely-downloadable readings.
  4. Sensory and Chemical Analysis of “Shackleton’s” Mackinlay Scotch Whisky (PDF) — Three cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Highland Malt whisky were excavated from the ice under Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 expedition base camp hut at Cape Royds in Antarctica in January 2010. The majority of the bottles were in a pristine state of preservation and three were returned to Scotland in January 2011 for the first sensory and organoleptic analysis of a Scotch malt whisky distilled in the late 1890s. I love science where figures have captions like: Principal component analysis (PCA) of peat derived congeners in peated whisky and new-make spirit. I hope the finders got to drink at least some of it, but sentences like this make it seem improbable: The three whisky bottles, minus the whisky sampled via the syringe for this work, will be returned to New Zealand and the Antarctic Heritage Trust will subsequently return the artefacts to Antarctica and place them back under the floor of Shackleton’s hut for posterity. (via Chris Heathcote)
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  • http://whiskeydrinking.com/ "Whiskey" Willy

    Confirming our senses?

    I think it is great to have the modern sensory and chemical analytical techniques in place and have the opportunity to confirm, the historical talents of our distilling forefathers. Although they were not historical at the time.

    I always felt and still do, that the nosing and tasting of whiskey is a personal thing. However after reading this report I would love for some of the finest whiskies at this time to be subject of these modern techniques, just for the objectivity of it.

    Cheers, “Whiskey” Willy