ResearchBlogging editor's selections: age of the Earth, hacking quantum cryptography, American camels and free kick physics

skyskull “Dr. SkySkull” selects several notable posts each week from a miscellany of ResearchBlogging.org categories. He blogs at Skulls in the Stars.

  • When a few million years don’t mean much… Recent investigations have revised scientific estimates of the age of the Earth by several million years! Greg Fish at weird things explains the nature of the revision and reassures us that, although important, it doesn’t indicate major problems in our understanding of Earth’s history.
  • Hacking commercial quantum cryptography systems by illumination. “Quantum cryptography” has been much touted as a “near perfect” system for secure communications, using the laws of quantum mechanics to make any attempt to eavesdrop immediately detectable. However, recent research has shown that existing systems can be hacked by the judicious application of a bright, classical light source! Olexandr Isayev at isayev.info explains the strategy, and how its discovery will actually help produce more secure cryptographic systems in the future.
  • Dirty browsers — determining a menu for North America’s fossil camels. Starting with the fascinating history of the U.S.’s attempt to use camels as military animals, Brian Switek of his eponymous blog segues into a look at the fossil remains of America’s own native camel species.
  • Free kick physics, Roberto Carlos style. The 1997 winning free kick of Roberto Carlos in soccer is legendary, but nobody knew how it was actually possible! Michael Gutbrod of A Scientific Nature explains how such amazing curved shots have been shown experimentally to be a consequence of the Magnus effect.

Check back next week for more “miscellaneous” suggestions!

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