Category Archives: Uncategorized
Mustard GasThe terror of the trenches in World War I, mustard gas gets its name from its yellow-brown color and its odor, which is apparently similar to horseradish. Because it’s heavier than air, mustard gas proved particularly effective in clearing trenches, and was almost single-handedly responsible for the 1928 Geneva Conventions. When inhaled, the gas causes the lungs to fill with fluid, essentially drowning the victim in their own fluids. If they were hit with a bomb filled with mustard gas or dosed from the air soldiers were told to pee into their handkerchiefs and breath through those until they could escape or the gas dissipated.
Nerve GasNerve gases of all kinds have been systematically outlawed by both the Hague and Geneva from 1899 all the way up to 1993. All nerve agents (like Sarin, VX, Tabun, and Soman) work in the same basic way: By blocking blocking the enzyme that normally destroys a very important neurotransmitter. Basically, nerve agents cause your entire nervous system to malfunction, like an electrical system full of short circuits. Death generally comes as a result of a shutdown of the respiratory system, but not before painful blisters, boils, and internal hemmorrhaging occur.
Phosgene GasWhile mustard gas might have gotten all the press, phosgene was actually responsible for about 85% of all chemical weapons deaths in World War I. Simple and cheap to produce in large quantities, phosgene damages the proteins in the lungs, causing them to break down, meaning the lungs stop exchanging oxygen. It’s a particularly insidious gas, since it’s colorless, almost odorless, and symptoms can take a long time to show up. Japan continued to use phosgene well into WWII on at least 375 separate occasions, generally against the Chinese.
Tear GasBelieve it or not, the tear gas that police routinely shoot into crowds in America is technically outlawed for use in war by the Hague Convention. Even though it’s generally non-lethal, tear gas is still an inhalant chemical weapon that obstructs breathing, that puts it in the same legal class as mustard gas. For more info on the lethality you should check into some of the Russian Special Ops tactics when dealing with terrorists… So: legal to shoot at protesters in Missouri, but not legal to drop on a machine gun nest in Afghanistan. Go figure.
Pepper SpraySame story as tear gas. Technically, pepper spray is an aerosol chemical weapon that disrupts breathing, which is outlawed by the Hague Convention.
Plastic LandminesAccording to Protocol I of the 1979 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, weapons that use non-metallic fragments not detectable by X-Ray are prohibited in war. The rationale is pretty obvious, since field surgeons can’t remove fragments they can’t locate within an injured body. This doesn’t prohibit the use of plastic and undetectable materials in weapon design, it just means that weapons can’t be designed to use undetectable fragments as a primary damage device.
Spike PitsThese old fashioned death traps are technically prohibited or regulated by Protocol II of the 1979 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Pits with sharpened bamboo spikes maimed thousands of soldiers in Vietnam and in the Pacific during WWII. Adding insult to injury, the Vietcong and Japanese would routinely roll those spikes in human or animal feces first, causing secondary infections after even the smallest scratch. That, in itself, is a direct violation of the 1907 Hague convention on biological weapons and might even violate the 1675 Strasbourg Agreement. Suffice it to say it violates a lot of conventions, agreements and accords. Still fun to upercut your opponent into in Mortal Kombat though…
Bio-WeaponsBelieve it or not, bio-weapons are some of the oldest terror weapons known to man. They date back to at least the days of the Mongols, who would catapult rotting, infected bodies over castle walls in order to spread disease and sickness. It’s also been suggested that the Black Plague, spread by fleas on the back of rats, and originating from Asia, was the lingering result of a primitive bio-terrorism attack from centuries before.
FlamethrowersAccording to Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, flamethrowers aren’t explicitly forbidden on the battlefield, provided the battlefield is nowhere near civilians. Mostly, this protocol refers to incendiary devices in and around civilian areas. It doesn’t necessarily prohibit the use of flamethrowers in, say, an open tank battle or clearing caves in Afghanistan. But most guerrilla fighters hide behind or within civilian areas. If they’re using human shields or might have captives flamethrowers are a no-go. They are also incredibly easy to improvise. Basically any controlled release of accelerant + fire is a flamethrower by definition.
NapalmYou might love the smell of napalm in the morning, but the same Protocol III (passed after Vietnam) that restricts the use of flamethrowers also limits the use of napalm. It can’t be used anywhere near civilian targets, nor can it be used to burn down forests unless the trees are being used to conceal military combatants or vehicles. So, napalm isn’t banned, exactly, but more often than not, it can’t be used on today’s battlefields.
Blinding Laser BeamsThis might sound like one of those sci-fi things that would never happen, but the technology’s been around for 40 years. “Blinding” laser beams don’t refer to the laser “dazzlers” that police and special ops teams use; those are low-powered beams that aren’t designed to cause permanent blindness. This ban refers to lasers powerful enough to cause permanent blindness, which is amazingly easy to do, as most juvenile delinquents with laser pointers have been warned. The prohibition against deliberately blinding weapons goes way back to some of the first weapons bans passed in the 19th century.
Microwave Lasers (Limitation)Yes, laser cannons are a real thing, and they’ve been around for quite some time now. Today, the Air Force uses massively powerful laser cannons mounted to aircraft and battleships, which can use them to shoot down incoming missiles from up to 250 miles away. Hypothetically, they could be mounted to tanks and used to incinerate human targets on the ground – but such use of directed energy weapons is currently forbidden, in large part because too low a dose from too great a distance might not kill the target so much as cook their eyes, which would be a violation on the ban against blinding lasers.
Phasers (Set on Kill)There are all kinds of directed energy weapons on the table, from “death ray” lasers to sonic cannons to real life plasma rifles. However, as of right now, directed energy weapons with enough power to kill human targets are forbidden in war. This doesn’t apply to de-powered non-lethal microwave emitters like the Active Denial System currently in use. ADS puts out enough energy to cause an intense sensation of heat on a large crowd, but it’s not enough to cause actual burning. The sensation has been compared to standing a few feet away from a large oven with the door open. It is possible to set the ADS on “kill,” but that is illegal for the time being.
Non-Self-Destructing LandminesSince the Vietnam war, decades-old unexploded landmines have been a deadly menace in Southeast Asia. Cambodia has one of the highest rates of amputees in the world, as some 40,000 in its population have stepped on land mines planted during the Cambodian Civil War in 1970. In 2013 alone, some 111 people were killed by land mines buried more than 40 years before. For that reason, as of 1980, mines placed outside of fenced and cordoned areas must use some sort of self de-arming device or self-destruct mechanism set to go off after a certain period of time. Standard land mines may still be used, but can only be employed inside of fenced-in areas, away from civilian populations, and must be removed or destroyed when the conflict ends.
Poisoned BulletsThe world’s oldest known arms agreement, the Strasbourg Agreement of 1675, explicitly outlawed the use of poisoned bullets. The first guns used in warfare weren’t terribly accurate, so soldiers would often supplement the lack of accuracy by soaking their bullets in some kind of poisonous or infectious substance. It was not unheard of for legions of soldiers to stow their bullet caches inside rotting corpses, though the bottom of a latrine pit worked just as well. When France and the Holy Roman Empire went to war, they initially experienced a massive wave of casualties not from gunshot wounds, but from subsequent infection. More than 250 years would pass before Geneva once again addressed chemical and biological weapons.
Hollow-Point BulletsHollow-point bullets (aka “expanding ordinance”) were explicitly outlawed for use in international warfare by the Hague Convention of 1899, which was, in fact, only a continuation of the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868. This declaration forbade the use of exploding or expanding projectiles of less than 400 grams, which drew a clear line between “bullets” and “artillery shells.” The concept behind the ban was to avoid using bullets that “made death inevitable.” Which, some might say, is the whole point of shooting someone in the first place.
Balloon BombsYes, you’re reading that correctly – according to the 1898 Hague Convention, it is against international law to drop bombs from balloons. Originally proposed in 1898, the prohibition against the “the discharge of any kind of projectile or explosive from balloons or by similar means” went into effect at the 1907 Peace Conference as a probationary measure to be resolved during the third conference.
However, the third Hague peace conference never met, because of a slight case of world war. Japan famously sent scores of balloon bombs to the American Pacific Coast during WWII, with the purpose of causing forest fires. While most landed harmlessly, one did cause casualties – a balloon that landed in a forest near Bly, Oregon, that exploded and killed a Sunday school teacher and five children. The practice of shooting a rifle or dropping a bomb from a balloon is still technically forbidden to this day.
Dirty BombsBombs laced with radioactive material are forbidden under international law, though most countries wouldn’t bother with them anyway. The point of a dirty bomb is to irradiate an area and make it uninhabitable — which means that the “winner” of the war can’t go there either. That aside, the amount of radioactive material necessary to make a dirty bomb effective could just as easily be used to build a full-on nuclear bomb.
Salted BombsSalted bombs are very similar in concept to dirty bombs, but are true nuclear weapons created specifically for the purpose of shorter-term area denial. A “salted” nuke contains an isotope of another substance like cobalt, gold, zinc, or sodium. During a nuclear blast, these elements become a huge cloud of fallout. These types of weapons are the same type used in the Soviet “Doomsday Device” from Dr. Strangelove. Small, one kiloton salted nukes could be used tactically and made so that the radioactive fallout decayed in a year or two, thus denying large swaths of land to enemy forces for a time. But radiation is invisible, and these weapons are generally prohibited because of their potential lethality to civilians.
Locusts, Fleas and RatsDon’t laugh too hard – it’s been done, and to sometimes devastating effect. The Black Plague is theorized by some to be the result of a lingering bio-terror attack from Asia. Today, using hordes or plagues of animals carrying disease in war would be completely illegal.
Bat BombsIn the second world war, Americans experimented with a secret weapon designed to decimate Japanese cities. At the time, most of Japan’s cities were made of wood and paper. The idea was to release a bomb filled with sleeping bats (captured from caves in New Mexico), wearing collars containing a napalm-like incendiary. Upon release at dawn, the bats would disperse and roost under the eaves of Japanese homes up to 40 miles away. The project, code-named “X-Ray,” was tested in 1944, but the war effectively ended with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It might sound funny today, but testing showed these unusual weapons to be tremendously effective…some say even more so than the A-Bomb. Today, bat bombs would certainly be prohibited under Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
Unexploded BombsProtocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of “explosive remnants of war,” such as unexploded bombs and artillery shells. This protocol came about in the 1990s, when the newest crop of Middle Eastern jihadis began assembling roadside bombs from unexploded Soviet ordinance from the Afghanistan conflict. IEDs are remain a source of terror in that part of the world.
Smallpox BlanketsWhile America in general has avoided the use of biological and chemical weapons, many historians agree that we did make at least one attempt at genocide through bio-weaponry. America’s “manifest destiny” meant getting rid of the original inhabitants of the continent. Many were killed by bullets and blades, but far more were wiped out as a result of diseases introduced by Europeans. Coming from a center of worldwide trade, Europeans developed at least partial immunity to many diseases, while themselves remaining carriers. Where Europeans went, plague almost always followed, helping to exterminate native populations and assisting in conquest.
While such bio-terrorism was often unintentional, history has recorded a few instances where it was deliberately used as a weapon of war. Especially after we started to understand the nature of germs and disease. This quote from Commander Jeffrey Amherst (1717 to 1797) pretty much sums it up: “You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians, by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”
Multiple tombs lay hidden in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, where royalty were buried more than 3,000 years ago, awaiting discovery, say researchers working on the most extensive exploration of the area in nearly a century.
The hidden treasure may include several small tombs, with the possibility of a big-time tomb holding a royal individual, the archaeologists say.
Egyptian archaeologists excavated the valley, where royalty were buried during the New Kingdom (1550 – 1070 B.C.), between 2007 and 2010 and worked with the Glen Dash Foundation for Archaeological Research to conduct ground- penetrating radar studies. [See Photos of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings]
The team has already made a number of discoveries in the valley, including a flood control system that the ancient Egyptians created but, mysteriously, failed to maintain. The system was falling apart by the time of King Tutankhamun, which damaged many tombs but appears to have helped protect the famous boy-king’s treasures from robbers by sealing his tomb.
The team collected a huge amount of data that will take a long time to analyze properly, wrote Afifi Ghonim, who was the field director of the project, in an email to LiveScience. “The corpus was so extensive it will take years, maybe decades, to fully study and report on,” wrote Ghonim, an archaeologist with the Ministry of State for Antiquities in Egypt who is now chief inspector of Giza.
The project is part of “the most extensive exploration in the Valley of the Kings since Howard Carter’s time,” he said, referring to the Egyptologist whose team discovered King Tut’s tomb in 1922.
The search for undiscovered tombs
“The consensus is that there are probably several smaller tombs like the recently found KV 63 and 64 yet to be found. But there is still the possibility of finding a royal tomb,” wrote Ghonim in the email. “The queens of the late Eighteenth Dynasty are missing, as are some pharaohs of the New Kingdom, such as Ramesses VIII.”
That sentiment was echoed by the famous, and at times controversial, Egyptologist Zahi Hawass at a lecture in Toronto this past summer. Hawass was the leader of the Valley of the Kings team.
“The tomb of Thutmose II, not found yet, the tomb of Ramesses VIII is not found yet, all the queens of dynasty 18 [1550 – 1292 B.C.] were buried in the valley and their tombs not found yet,” said Hawass, former minister for antiquities, during the lecture. “This could be another era for archaeology,” he added in an interview.
Ghonim said that it is hard to say how many tombs remain undiscovered but it is “more than just a couple.”
Locating tombs in the Valley of the Kings is difficult to do even with ground-penetrating radar, a non-destructive technique in which scientists bounce high-frequency radio waves off the ground and measure the reflected signals to find buried structures. [10 Modern Tools for Indiana Jones]
Radar instruments and related computing power have vastly improved in the last couple of decades, scientists say. Even so, it “is difficult to avoid false positives in a place like the Valley of the Kings. There (are) many faults and natural features that can look like walls and tombs. Our work did help refine the technology for use here and it does have a place.”
In one instance, radar work carried out by a previous team suggested that tombs dating from the Amarna period (the period within the New Kingdom in which Tutankhamun lived) could be found in a certain area of the main valley. The team excavated the spot but didn’t find any tombs.
When the undiscovered tombs those that do exist are unearthed, they may not hold their original occupants. For instance, KV 64, a small tomb discovered in 2011by a University of Basel team, was found to hold a female singer named Nehmes Bastet who lived around 2,800 years ago. She apparently re-used a tomb that was created for an earlier, unknown, occupant.
Still, Ghonim said they could indeed find a tomb whose original occupants are buried within. “It is not impossible however for one or more to be intact,” he said. And if they do find such pharaohs, they may also find their brains, as work by Hawass and Dr. Sahar Saleem of Cairo Universitysuggests the Egyptians didn’t remove the brains of their dead pharaohs in the mummification process.
An ancient flood control system
While the prospect of new tombs is tantalizing, they are but one of many things the researchers looked for in the valley. Last spring, the researchers gave a taste of what was to come at the Current Research in Egyptology conference at the University of Cambridge.
We “made a number of finds, which we believe will change our understanding of how the ancient Egyptians managed and utilized the site,” Ghonim wrote in the email.
The researchers discovered, for instance, the ancient Egyptians created a flood control system in the valley that, for a time, prevented the tombs from being damaged by water and debris.
They detected a deep channel that would have run through the valley about 32 feet (10 meters) below the modern-day surface. As part of their anti-flood measures the Egyptians would have emptied this channel of debris and built side channels that diverted water into it, allowing water and debris to pass through the valley without causing damage. [Images: Beautiful Sarcophagus of an Egypt Pharaoh]
Strangely enough, the ancient Egyptians “for some reason after building it, they let it fall into disrepair rather quickly. By (the) time Tutankhamun was buried, flooding events had become a problem again,” Ghonim said.
“That was bad for most tombs, but good for Tutankhamun since, at least according to one theory, flooding events effectively sealed the tomb and made it inaccessible to later tomb robbers.”
Today flood control is still a problem in the Valley of the Kings, and scientists are looking at ways to protect the tombs.
“There have been many studies recommending what to do, but the need to keep the valley open and the costs involved remain a problem. There’s also the need to develop a consensus on such an important thing,” Ghonim said.
More discoveries and challenges
Many more finds will be detailed in scientific publications in the future, including the excavation of huts used by the workers who built the tombs and the documentation of graffiti left throughout the valley’s history.
One important challenge that Egyptian antiquities in general face is the need to bring tourists back to Egypt. In June, at a lecture at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, Hawass explained such tourist money not only helps Egypt’s economy but also provides much needed funds for excavation and conservation.
The flow of tourists has been disrupted at times since the 2011 revolution as the political turmoil has kept many foreign visitors away. The lecture by Hawass was given a few weeks before the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
Home with the cold that is going around, might as well have some laughs to share with others…
Enjoy cute dogs to warm your heart!
GET READY TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU TYPE WITH THIS AMAZING WEARABLE KEYBOARD
By Andy Boxall — May 12, 2016
In the near future, you may not need to touch your phone, tablet, or keyboard when you want to type. That’s the concept behind the Tap Strap, an amazing wearable Bluetooth keyboard that converts finger movements into key presses, so you can tap out messages using any surface as a virtual keyboard.
Don’t expect a visual prompt, or some laser-projected keyboard to guide you. It’s all done using gestures. You start by putting on the Tap Strap. It slides over your fingers like a glove, and is made from a soft smart-fabric that has sensors inside to analyze finger movements. It can go on either hand, or you can wear two for faster two-handed typing.
Tapping with each finger will see a character or number appear on the screen, and it’s possible to punctuate and insert special characters using different gestures. While Tap Systems, the company behind the Tap Strap, hasn’t said exactly how it works, a Bloomberg report says a single tap from each of your five fingers translates into a vowel, and combinations add consonants.
There are apparently 31 possible finger taps, and although an accuracy of 99 percent is promised, we expect a strong predictive text element to play a part of the Tap Strap’s typing skills. Most people struggle to remember more than handful of gestures, let alone 31. Tap Systems sees the Tap Strap as an alternative to voice control, emphasizing the privacy aspect of using gestures to type messages as one of its major benefits.
The Tap Strap connects using Bluetooth, and therefore should operate with almost any mobile device, but the real advantage here could be for use with VR headsets. Anyone who has tried typing on the Gear VR — where you must look at each individual character on the screen — will know how laborious the process can be. Wear the Tap Strap, and you could tap out commands on your leg. It also negates the problem of how to type on a smartwatch’s small screen, and is already compatible with smart TVs, Windows and Mac OS X, plus Android and iOS devices.
Its use goes beyond virtual keyboard control, and Tap Systems founder Ran Poliakine envisages it being used for playing music on digital devices, and being incorporated into mixed reality hardware such as Microsoft’s HoloLens headset. To promote the Tap Strap’s multiple uses, a development kit and a reference design will be available to developers and hardware manufacturers.
If you’ve heard Poliakine’s name before, it’s because he also founded Powermat Technologies, one of the companies still battling for wireless charging supremacy. We’ve also seen various virtual alternative keyboards over the past years, but the Tap Strap seems to be the closest to becoming reality. It’s on its way out to selected beta testers right now, and the intention is for it to be on sale before the end of the year.
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/tap-strap-wearable-keyboard-news/#ixzz4CTccl6my
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