Jul 072015

TechWorm – July 6th, 2015



ip addressesEarlier this year, experts warned that there were only 3.4 million addresses left in North America, and that they would run out in summer. Well, that day did arrive on Wednesday when the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) that is in charge of allocating IP addresses in North America ran out of numbers, as it did not have enough. The IP address are the numbers that recognize every smartphone, device and computer connected to the Internet. There are five huge nonprofit regional organizations that hand out those addresses around the world.

IP addresses are nothing but the four-number strings like that one sometimes see in the browser’s address bar or in the smartphone’s system settings, or that one may have to type into the cable modem or WiFi router. For example,, is the address that should take you to Google.

ip addressesARIN has now activated its “IPv4 Unmet Requests Policy.” Basically, it said that it was sorry, but if you want all of those requested addresses, you can take a smaller block or wait on ARIN’s waiting list until they somehow become free or buy them on the open market. Till recently, organizations in the ARIN region were able to get IPv4 addresses as needed.

John Curran, president and chief executive of the Registry said “The problem is there are only those four numbers in addresses, which is why the system is called IPv4. It’s been in place for more than 30 years and even the architects of the Internet could not have predicted the amazing success and universal adoption of the Internet and World Wide Web.”

Further, on Thursday, the nonprofit Asia Pacific Network Information Center reported that “Even optimistically, the total amount of unused or under-used IPv4 address space that could be made available only represents a ‘stop gap’ measure in the life of the IPv4 Internet. The demand for Internet addresses will only continue to grow.”

In the early 1990s, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) had anticipated an eventual depletion of IP addresses. Hence, to resolve the problem, they came up with a new version of the Internet Protocol. The old IP has version number 4; the new version is 6. IPv6 increases the length of IP addresses to no fewer than 128 bits, which is like increasing phone numbers from 10 to 40 digits. As a result, the number of available IPv6 addresses is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

For years, there is work going on what’s called IPv6 — longer addresses that also include letters. By using a more complex address, IPv6 increases the minimum amount. It has space for 340 undecillion addresses, or 340 followed by 36 zeroes – enough for each atom on Earth to be given one.

Businesses must now move towards the new and spacious specification IPv6, if they have not switched yet. The companies will have to move towards hardware that’s compatible with IPv6, as moving could be expensive and time consuming. However, if they refuse to move over they might end up having to buy the limited and likely expensive IPv4 addresses that are left.

The rest of the world moved over to IPv6 long ago. In 2011, Asia Pacific ran out of IPv4, while Europe, the Middle East and parts of central Asia in 2012, and Latin America last year. But North America that hosts many of the world’s biggest websites has finally run out of space.

Since both IPv4 and IPv6 are meant to work side by side, one would ideally not see much impact from the switchover. But Internet service providers and large public organizations has been slow with the adoption. Google, which monitors whether you get to it through IPv4 or IPv6, says only 21 percent of its U.S. traffic comes through IPv6 and that’s the highest rate of any country in the world.

“It is time for Internet service providers to move to IPv6 to enable the Internet’s continued growth,” Curran said. “Businesses should be aware that this transition is already well underway for many service providers in the region and make sure that their public-facing websites are reachable via IPv6.”

Or else, the Internet will remain rigid where it is today.

Jan 052014

Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure originally described by Freeman Dyson. Such a “sphere” would be a system of orbiting solar-power satellites meant to completely encompass a star and capture most or all of its energy output. Dyson speculated that such structures would be the logical consequence of the long-term survival and escalating energy needs of a technological civilization, and proposed that searching for evidence of the existence of such structures might lead to the detection of advanced intelligent extraterrestrial life. Different types of Dyson spheres correlate with information on the Kardashev scale.

Since then, other variant designs involving building an artificial structure or series of structures to encompass a star have been proposed in exploratory engineering or described in science fiction under the name “Dyson sphere”. These later proposals have not been limited to solar-power stations. Many involve habitation or industrial elements. Most fictional depictions describe a solid shell of matter enclosing a star, which is considered the least plausible variant of the idea (see below). In May 2013, at the Starship Century Symposium in San Diego, Freeman Dyson repeated his comments that he wished the concept had not been named after him.



Dyson Sphere Cyborg

Dyson Sphere


The concept of the Dyson sphere was the result of a thought experiment by physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, when he theorized that all technological civilizations constantly increased their demand for energy. He reasoned that if our civilization expanded energy demands long enough, there would come a time when it demanded the total energy output of the Sun. He proposed a system of orbiting structures (which he referred to initially as a shell) designed to intercept and collect all energy produced by the Sun. Dyson’s proposal did not detail how such a system would be constructed, but focused only on issues of energy collection. Dyson is credited with being the first to formalize the concept of the Dyson sphere in his 1960 paper “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infra-Red Radiation”, published in the journal Science. However, Dyson was not the first to advance this idea. He was inspired by the mention of the concept in the 1937 science fiction novel Star Maker,[3] by Olaf Stapledon, and possibly by the works of J. D. Bernal, Raymond Z. Gallun, and Edgar Rice Burroughs who seem to have explored similar concepts in their work.


Some ideas to build a fixed-in-place ‘Dyson sphere’ are currently beyond humanity’s engineering capacity. However, parts of the technology, like orbiting satellites and solar sails, have already been developed. Deployment of spacecraft and satellites using photovoltaics might be seen as the first small steps towards building a Dyson swarm (see below for differences between these sub-types). However, the number of craft required to obtain, transmit, and maintain a complete Dyson sphere far exceeds our present-day industrial capabilities.


In fictional accounts, the Dyson-sphere concept is often interpreted as an artificial hollow sphere of matter around a star. This perception is based on a literal interpretation of Dyson’s original short paper introducing the concept. In response to letters prompted by this paper, Dyson replied, “A solid shell or ring surrounding a star is mechanically impossible. The form of ‘biosphere’ which I envisaged consists of a loose collection or swarm of objects traveling on independent orbits around the star.”

Dyson swarm


dyson sphere rings

dyson sphere rings

The variant closest to Dyson’s original conception is the “Dyson swarm”. It consists of a large number of independent constructs (usually solar power satellites and space habitats) orbiting in a dense formation around the star. This construction approach has advantages: components could be sized appropriately, and it can be constructed incrementally. Various forms of wireless energy transfer could be used to transfer energy between components and Earth.  Disadvantages: the nature of orbital mechanics would make the arrangement of the orbits of the swarm extremely complex. The simplest such arrangement is the Dyson ring in which all such structures share the same orbit. More complex patterns with more rings would intercept more of the star’s output, but would result in some constructs eclipsing others periodically when their orbits overlap. Another potential problem is the increasing loss of orbital stability when adding more elements increases the probability of orbital perturbations.

A second type of Dyson sphere is the “Dyson bubble”. It would be similar to a Dyson swarm, composed of many independent constructs (usually solar power satellites and space habitats) and likewise could be constructed incrementally.  Unlike the Dyson swarm, the constructs making it up are not in orbit around the star, but would be statites—satellites suspended by use of enormous light sails using radiation pressure to counteract the star’s pull of gravity. Such constructs would not be in danger of collision or of eclipsing one another; they would be totally stationary with regard to the star, and independent of one another. As the ratio of radiation pressure and the force of gravity from a star is constant regardless of the distance (provided the statite has an unobstructed line-of-sight to the surface of its star), such statites could also vary their distance from their central star.

The practicality of this approach is questionable with modern material science, but cannot yet be ruled out. A statite deployed around our own sun would have to have an overall density of 0.78 grams per square meter of sail. To illustrate the low mass of the required materials, consider that the total mass of a bubble of such material 1 AU in radius would be about 2.17×1020 kg, which is about the same mass as the asteroid Pallas.  Such a material is currently beyond humanity’s ability to produce. The lightest carbon-fiber light sail material currently produced has a density – without payload – of 3 g/m², or about four times as heavy as would be needed to construct a solar statite. A single sheet of graphene, the two-dimensional form of carbon, has a density of only 0.77 mg per square meter,[12] but has not been fabricated in large sheets and has transparency of 97.7%, making such a single sheet of graphene not very effective as a solar sail.

However, this could change thanks to the recent creation of ultra light carbon nanotubes meshed through molecular manufacturing techniques whose densities range from 1.3g/m² to 1.4g/m². By the time a civilization is ready to use this technology, the carbon nanotube‘s manufacturing might be optimised enough for them to have a density lower than the 0.7g/m² mark, and the average sail density with rigging might be kept to 0.3 g/m² (a “spin stabilized” light sail requires minimal additional mass in rigging). If such a sail could be constructed at this areal density, a space habitat the size of the L5 Society‘s proposed O’Neill cylinder – 500 km², with room for over 1 million inhabitants, massing 3×106 tons – could be supported by a circular light sail 3,000 km in diameter, with a combined sail/habitat mass of 5.4×109 kg. For comparison, this is just slightly smaller than the diameter of Jupiter‘s moon Europa (although the sail is a flat disc, not a sphere), or the distance between San Francisco and Kansas City. Such a structure would, however, have a mass quite a lot less than many asteroids. While the construction of such a massive inhabitable statite would be a gigantic undertaking, and the required material science behind it is as yet uncertain, its technical challenges are negligible compared to other engineering feats and required materials proposed in other Dyson sphere variants.

In theory, if enough statites were created and deployed around their star, they would compose a non-rigid version of the Dyson shell mentioned below. Such a shell would not suffer from the drawbacks of massive compressive pressure, nor are the mass requirements of such a shell as high as the rigid form. Such a shell would, however, have the same optical and thermal properties as the rigid form, and would be detected by searchers in a similar fashion (see below).

Dyson shell

The variant of the Dyson sphere most often depicted in fiction is the “Dyson shell”: a uniform solid shell of matter around the star. Such a structure would completely alter the emissions of the central star, and would intercept 100% of the star’s energy output. Such a structure would also provide an immense surface which many envision would be used for habitation, if the surface could be made habitable.  A spherical shell Dyson sphere in the Solar System with a radius of one astronomical unit, so that the interior surface would receive the same amount of sunlight as Earth does per unit solid angle, would have a surface area of approximately 28.1 Eha (Exa Hectare), or about 550 million times the surface area of Earth. This would intercept the full 384.6 yottawatts (3.846 × 1026 watts)[15] of the Sun’s output; other variant designs would intercept less, but the shell variant represents the maximum possible energy captured for the Solar System at this point of the Sun’s evolution. This is approximately 33 trillion times the power consumption of humanity in 1998, which was 12 terawatts.

There are several serious theoretical difficulties with the solid shell variant of the Dyson sphere:

Such a shell would have no net gravitational interaction with its englobed star (see shell theorem), and could drift in relation to the central star. If such movements went uncorrected, they could eventually result in a collision between the sphere and the star—most likely with disastrous results. Such structures would need either some form of propulsion to counteract any drift, or some way to repel the surface of the sphere away from the star.

For the same reason, such a shell would have no net gravitational interaction with anything else inside it. The contents of any biosphere placed on the inner surface of a Dyson shell would not be attracted to the sphere’s surface and would simply fall into the star. It has been proposed that a biosphere could be contained between two concentric spheres, placed on the interior of a rotating sphere (in which case, the force of artificial “gravity” is perpendicular to the axis of rotation, causing all matter placed on the interior of the sphere to pool around the equator, effectively rendering the sphere a Niven ring for purposes of habitation, but still fully effective as a radiant-energy collector) or placed on the outside of the sphere where it would be held in place by the star’s gravity. In such cases, some form of illumination would have to be devised, or the sphere made at least partly transparent, as the star’s light would otherwise be completely hidden.

If assuming a radius of one AU, then the compressive strength of the material forming the sphere would have to be immense to prevent implosion due to the star’s gravity. Any arbitrarily selected point on the surface of the sphere can be viewed as being under the pressure of the base of a dome 1 AU in height under the Sun’s gravity at that distance. Indeed it can be viewed as being at the base of an infinite number of arbitrarily selected domes, but as much of the force from any one arbitrary dome is counteracted by those of another, the net force on that point is immense, but finite. No known or theorized material is strong enough to withstand this pressure, and form a rigid, static sphere around a star. It has been proposed by Paul Birch (in relation to smaller “Supra-Jupiter” constructions around a large planet rather than a star) that it may be possible to support a Dyson shell by dynamic means similar to those used in a space fountain. Masses travelling in circular tracks on the inside of the sphere, at velocities significantly greater than orbital velocity, would press outwards on magnetic bearings due to centrifugal force. For a Dyson shell of 1-AU radius around a star with the same mass as the Sun, a mass travelling ten times the orbital velocity (297.9 km/s) would support 99 (a=v2/r) times its own mass in additional shell structure.

Also if assuming a radius of one AU, then there may not be sufficient building material in the Solar System to construct a Dyson shell. Anders Sandberg estimates that there is 1.82×1026 kg of easily usable building material in the Solar System, enough for a 1-AU shell with a mass of 600 kg/m²—about 8–20 cm thick on average, depending on the density of the material. This includes the hard-to-access cores of the gas giants; the inner planets alone provide only 11.79×1024 kg, enough for a 1-AU shell with a mass of just 42 kg/m².  The shell would be vulnerable to impacts from interstellar bodies, such as comets, meteoroids, and material in interstellar space that is currently being deflected by the Sun’s bow shock. The heliosphere, and any protection it theoretically provides, would cease to exist.


Other types

Another possibility is the “Dyson net”, a web of cables strung about the star which could have power or heat collection units strung between the cables. The Dyson net reduces to a special case of Dyson shell or bubble, however, depending on how the cables are supported against the sun’s gravity.

A bubbleworld is an artificial construct that consists of a shell of living space around a sphere of hydrogen gas. The shell contains air, people, houses, furniture, etc. It was invented to answer the question, “What is the largest space colony that can be built?” However, most of the volume is not habitable and there is no power source.

Theoretically, any gas giant could be enclosed in a solid shell; at a certain radius the surface gravity would be terrestrial, and energy could be provided by tapping the thermal energy of the planet. This concept is explored peripherally in the novel Accelerando (and the short story Curator which is incorporated into the novel as a chapter) by Charles Stross, in which Saturn is converted into a human-habitable world.

Stellar engines are a class of hypothetical megastructures, whose purpose is to extract useful energy from a star, sometimes for specific purposes. For example, Matrioshka brains extract energy for purposes of computation; Shkadov thrusters extract energy for purposes of propulsion. Some of the proposed stellar engine designs are based on the Dyson sphere.

A black hole could be the power source instead of a star in order to increase energy-to-matter conversion efficiency. A black hole would also be smaller than a star. This would decrease communication distances which would be important for computer-based societies as those described above.


Exopolitics Us

Search for extra-terrestrial intelligence

In Dyson’s original paper, he speculated that sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial civilizations would likely follow a similar power consumption pattern as humans, and would eventually build their own sphere of collectors. Constructing such a system would make such a civilization a Type II Kardashev civilization.

The existence of such a system of collectors would alter the light emitted from the star system. Collectors would absorb and reradiate energy from the star. The wavelength(s) of radiation emitted by the collectors would be determined by the emission spectra of the substances making them up, and the temperature of the collectors. Since it seems most likely that these collectors would be made up of heavy elements not normally found in the emission spectra of their central star–or at least not radiating light at such relatively “low” energies as compared to that which they would be emitting as energetic free nuclei in the stellar atmosphere–there would be atypical wavelengths of light for the star’s spectral type in the light spectrum emitted by the star system. If the percentage of the star’s output thus filtered or transformed by this absorption and reradiation was significant, it could be detected at interstellar distances.

Given the amount of energy available per square meter at a distance of 1 AU from the Sun, it is possible to calculate that most known substances would be reradiating energy in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Thus, a Dyson Sphere, constructed by life forms not dissimilar to humans, who dwelled in proximity to a Sun-like star, made with materials similar to those available to humans, would most likely cause an increase in the amount of infrared radiation in the star system’s emitted spectrum. Hence, Dyson selected the title “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation” for his published paper.

SETI has adopted these assumptions in their search, looking for such “infrared heavy” spectra from solar analogs. As of 2005 Fermilab has an ongoing survey for such spectra by analyzing data from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). Identifying one of the many infra-red sources as a Dyson Sphere would require improved techniques for discriminating between a Dyson Sphere and natural sources. Fermilab discovered 17 potential “ambiguous” candidates of which four have been named “amusing but still questionable”. Other searches also resulted in several candidates, which are however unconfirmed.

Dec 112013

Rachel Metz on December 10, 2013

Internet-connected devices won’t be very useful if they can’t connect to each other. Before you know it, you may be able to connect your “smart” coffeemaker to your “smart” toaster to ensure a properly timed java and bagel.

A group of over 20 tech companies including LG, Panasonic, Qualcomm, HTC, and Sharp has joined forces with the Linux Foundation in hopes of spurring the development of Internet-connected devices that work together regardless of their manufacturer. The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the spread of the open-source Linux operating system, announced the creation of the nonprofit AllSeen Alliance on Tuesday.  Over the last several years, interest in connecting normally offline devices like toasters, door locks, and cars to the Internet in order to augment their functionality—a trend known as the Internet of Things—has grown sharply. Data from ABI Research estimates that there are already more than 10 billion wirelessly connected devices in use, and by 2020 there will be more than 30 billion.

IP CybOrg

Internet Protocol Cybernetic Organism


Yet this ever-growing field of devices operates on many different protocols, or rules used for transmitting data. It is difficult for, say, a connected light switch made by one manufacturer to interact with a connected door lock made by another unless they’re using the same protocol. Microsoft’s Lab of Things connected-device controller software (see “Microsoft Has an Operating System for Your House”) and OpenRemote’s open-source Internet of Things platform (see “Free Software Ties the Internet of Things Together”) are among several attempts to fix this. But none of these efforts has yet gained significant ground.

The AllSeen Alliance hopes to change that by working with well-known names in the consumer electronics industry. The Linux Foundation said these members will contribute software and engineering resources that will go toward building open-source software that lets gadget makers, service providers, and software developers build Internet of Things products and services that can easily work together.  “The challenge and the opportunities presented by the Internet of ‘Everything’ by definition requires collaboration and open-source software among everyone,” said Mike Woster, chief operating officer of the Linux Foundation.  The industry group is basing its software on AllJoyn, the open-source Internet of Things software created by smartphone chip maker Qualcomm. AllJoyn runs on top of numerous computing platforms, including Linux, Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS, and Microsoft’s Windows.

At least one member already has big plans for the software. In a statement, Guodong Xue, the director of the standard and patent department for appliance maker Haier, said his company plans to use software based on AllJoyn across its appliance line. This follows an announcement last week by LG that it intends to add AllJoyn to smart TVs it releases next year.

Nov 222013



A cheap device called the Safeplug makes it easy to use the Tor anonymity network at home.


Tor, a privacy tool used by activists, criminals, and U.S. intelligence to obscure traces of their online activities, is being repackaged for the mass market. A $49 device launched today and targeted at consumers makes it relatively easy to route a home Internet connection through the Tor network. The Safeplug, as the device is called, can also block most online ads.  “It’s meant to be a mass-market product,” says Jed Putterman, chief product officer of PogoPlug, the company that developed the Safeplug and whose main business is providing cloud storage and backup for home use. “We wanted to make a family-friendly way to get the protection Tor offers.”  The most straightforward way of using Tor today involves downloading a bundle of software, including a new Web browser, onto each device a person wants to use anonymously. The Safeplug, in contrast, is a small box that is simply plugged into a home Internet router to allow any Internet-connected device to make use of Tor. The Safeplug acts as a proxy server, meaning that computers on the same network use it as a go-between to access the Internet. The device also has a built-in advertising blocker, which is disabled by default.


safeplug / phone

safeplug / phone


Putterman hopes the device will appeal to families who wish to prevent their ISPs or online companies such as ad networks from being able to connect their IP address or identity with their online activity. IP addresses can be used to reveal a person’s location (see “Tracking Trick Shows the Web Where You Are”), and to link diverse threads of online activity into behavioral profiles for advertising purposes. Safeplug may also appeal to those disturbed by recent revelations about NSA surveillance (see “Circumventing Encryption Frees NSA’s Hands Online”).

However, Mehmet Güneş, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, who studies anonymity tools, says that users of the Safeplug will only remain truly obscure if they adjust their online behavior in other ways. “Tor provides unlinkability from source to destination, and people confuse that with anonymity,” he says. While using Tor people can easily leak identifying information via the Flash plug-in, other media add-ons, or through information they type or send, says Güneş.

The Tor Project’s download page cautions that “You need to change some of your habits,” for just those reasons, and recommends disabling all browser plug-ins.  Another challenge for the Safeplug is that Tor’s design causes it to slow down Web traffic. Putterman suggests that people set their device to apply Tor only to Wi-Fi connections to protect phones, tablets, and laptops, while leaving devices using wired connections for bandwidth-intensive tasks such as streaming TV or gaming to function as normal.  The Tor network keeps Internet traffic private by making it take an indirect route around the Internet. The process hides a person’s IP address from the services he’s accessing, and prevents his ISP or other entities that may be monitoring the connection from knowing what those services are. Data from a person using Tor hops via three “relays,” which are run by volunteers, on its way to its destination, a process mediated by encryption technology that prevents any relay from knowing the ultimate origin or destination of the data (see “Dissent Made Safer”).

Owners of a Safeplug can also set it to act as a relay to help out other people using Tor. Today there are over 4,000 Tor relays around the world, but Putterman believes his device will lead to the appearance of many more. “We hope to add tens of thousands of Tor relays,” he says. “Relays don’t use a lot of bandwidth and really help the community.”  Güneş says the addition of more relays would fortify the Tor network: “A larger crowd helps you anonymize better.” The addition of more Tor relays could also improve the performance of the network, reducing the bandwidth hit for people using it.


The Onion Router

The Onion Router


Data on how Tor is used today is hard to come by. A study by Güneş two years ago found that the vast majority of Tor traffic is ordinary Web browsing, so Safeplug may appeal to people already using the network this way.  There are currently over three million Tor connections in use today, although the number is declining after a spike this summer. The jump is believed to have been caused by a malicious software package using the network to communicate with its operators.   The original development of Tor was supported by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. The nonprofit Tor Project, which now maintains the tool, gets most of its support from the U.S. government, mostly the Department of Defense and the State Department.

Despite its high profile, Tor’s design so far appears secure against all but the most sophisticated and well-resourced attacks (see “Anonymity Network Tor Needs a Tune-up to Protect Users from Surveillance”).

Aug 011972

Internet Protocol Cybernetic Organism

IP CybOrg

IP CybOrg


An Open-Source IP-based information exchange network built on LAMP technology and WordPress. More than 75 independent, but interrelated, websites offering news and information in subjects such as Energy, Cybernetics, IT, Computing, Cybersecurity, Astronomy, Physics and more.


Crazy 8s Drums

Crazy 8s Drums

Crazy 8s Drums


Owner Since 1995
Custom design and manufacture of uniquely outstanding acoustic musical drums. Multiple technology patents.





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