Morocco’s Solar Power Mega-Project


Morocco, located along the northwestern African coast, is in prime position to take advantage of solar technology, and they’ve committed to one of the biggest such projects in the world. The city of Ouarzazate will host “a complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, alongside hydro and wind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020.” It will be the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. “The mirror technology it uses is less widespread and more expensive than the photovoltaic panels that are now familiar on roofs the world over, but it will have the advantage of being able to continue producing power even after the sun goes down.” The first phase of the project, called Noor 1, comprises 500,000 solar mirrors that track the sun throughout the day, with a maximum capacity of 160MW. When the full project finishes, it will be able to generate up to 580MW. “Each parabolic mirror is 12 meters high and focused on a steel pipeline carrying a ‘heat transfer solution’ (HTF) that is warmed to 393C as it snakes along the trough before coiling into a heat engine. There, it is mixed with water to create steam that turns energy-generating turbines.”

Military Blimp Breaks Free and Drifts Over the Mid-Atlantic Trailing Tether


The Baltimore Sun reports that a military surveillance blimp has broken free of its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and was last seen drifting at 16,000 ft over Pennsylvania. The 243-foot-long, helium-filled JLENS (Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System) aerostat detached from its mooring at about 11:54 a.m. Wednesday. It was trailing approximately 6,700 feet of cable. “Anyone who sees the aerostat is advised to contact 911 immediately,” spokeswoman Heather Roelker said. “People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger.”1

almart Applies To Test Drone Use For Delivery and Inventory Checking


Retailing giant Walmart has submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration requesting permission to run drone trials. The tests are to include not only home delivery — with the permission of residents within the ‘flight path’ — but also inventory-checking procedures at Walmart parking lots. It only costs $5 to make an application of this nature to the FAA, and until some hint of concrete legislation comes to light from the newly-formed UAS task force on November 20th, that’s probably about as much as any company would want to spend on speculative drone-delivery research.

MySQL Servers Hijacked With Malware To Perform DDoS Attacks


An anonymous reader writes with news of a malware campaign using hijacked MySQL servers to launch DDoS attacks. Symantec reports: “Attackers are compromising MySQL servers with the Chikdos malware to force them to conduct DDoS attacks against other targets. According to Symantec telemetry, the majority of the compromised servers are in India, followed by China, Brazil and the Netherlands, and are being used to launch attacks against an US hosting provider and a Chinese IP address.”

15-Year-Old Boy Arrested In Connection With TalkTalk Hack


Scotland Yard says police have arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with the recent hack on UK phone and internet provider TalkTalk. Authorities are in the process of questioning him and conducting a search of the house he lives in. TalkTalk now says the breach was smaller than it thought, and full credit card details are not at risk. “Dido Harding said any credit card details taken would have been partial and the information may not have been enough to withdraw money ‘on its own.’ Card details accessed were incomplete — with many numbers appearing as an x — and ‘not usable’ for financial transactions, it added.” In other news, businesses leaders are calling on the government to take “urgent action” against cyber-criminals, because somehow the security of their online systems is the government’s responsibility, not theirs.

Australia Working On High-Tech Shark-Detection Systems


Even if you’re a frequent ocean swimmer, you’re much more likely to die in a car accident than from a shark attack — and yet sharks strike fear into people’s hearts in ways that directly affect the economies of surf paradises like Australia. That’s why the Australian government is working on a host of techologies to detect shark incursions on popular beaches, including drones and smart buoys (PDF) that can identify potential predators (PDF).

Volkswagen Seeks To Repair Its Image By Focusing On Electric


The emissions scandal that’s plagued Volkswagen over the past month will be tough to recover from. But they’re trying. The company announced a number changes they’re making to their line of vehicles. First, they’ll be revamping their flagship Phaeton vehicles to be all-electric. (If you live in the U.S. and haven’t heard of these, don’t be surprised — they aren’t marketed there.) Second, they’ve announced their intention to install top-of-the-line environmental protection systems in their new diesel cars. (In other words, they’ll actually do what they’re required by law to do, but vehicle prices will jump significantly.) Their press release is difficult to decipher, given the density of buzzwords and vague promises, but they indicate a greater general focus on hybrids and electric vehicles in the future.

pple Loses Patent Suit To University of Wisconsin, Faces Huge Damages


Apple has frequently been in the news for various patent battles, but it’s usually against one of their competitors. This time, Apple is on the losing end, and they’re losing to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A jury found that the university’s patent on improving processor efficiency (5,781,752) was valid, and Apple’s A7, A8, and A8X chips infringed upon it. Those chips are found within recent iPhone and iPad models, which generated huge amounts of money. Because of the ruling, Apple could be liable for up to $826.4 million in damages, to be determined by later phases of the trial.

The Life-Saving Gifts of the World’s Most Venomous Animal


It was a terrible sting off the coast of Hawaii that inspired Angel Yanagihara, a biology researcher, to spend her life studying the bizarre culprit. Comprising some 50 species, box jellyfish are not like other jellyfish: they have 24 eyes, can move with intention and at surprising speed, and have something resembling a brain. They are also considered to be among the most venomous animals on Earth, killing more people every year than sharks do. Once inside the body, its venom acts “like buckshot” on blood cells. One species, the four-pound, nine-foot-long sea wasp, is said to have enough venom at any one time to kill ninety to one hundred and twenty humans.

As ocean currents and biomes change, various species of dangerous box jellyfish have shown up in places where they have not recently been abundant, including Japan, India, Israel, Florida, and the Jersey Shore. But compared to other venoms, research on jellyfish has remained in the dark ages. New methods for collecting venom—including one that relies on beer—along with a better understanding of box-jelly biochemistry may point to better non-antibiotic protections from them, and to novel defenses for humans against other fatal infections from anthrax and the antibiotic-resistant “superbug” MRSA, says Yanagihara. (Venoms are already the basis of a handful of FDA-approved drugs that have generated billions for the pharma industry.) Now the U.S. military is helping to fund Yanagihara’s research, and applying a cream she developed to thwart box jellyfish, which have already left serious stings on a dozen Army divers at a training facility in Florida, and forced one diver out of the program.

Clinton Home Servers Had Ports Open


Hillary Clinton’s home servers had more than just the e-mail ports open directly to the Internet. The Associated Press discovered, by using scanning results from 2012 “widely available online”, that the server also had the RDP port open; another machine on her network had the VNC port open, and another one had a web server open even though it didn’t appear to be configured for a real site. Clinton previously said that her server featured “numerous safeguards,” but hasn’t explained what that means. Apparently, requiring a VPN wasn’t one of them.