Listening bugs, it’s not the end yet

luglio 5, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Those who follow Italian political life will certainly be aware of the controversy that the bill on telephone eavesdropping is arising not only between the ruling coalition and its opposition, but also within the Italian governmental majority.

Not only the centre-left opposition, but a large chunk of the centre-right coalition that rules the country does not like some parts of this bill, which seem to aim at gagging the press in its ability to report about investigations, and ends up making life much harder for police forces when investigating and when wiretapping phones or planting listening devices.

The fact that between the lines of the bill presented for approval were hiding some norms that would have dramatically limited the possibility of planting bugs to eavesdrop conversations, making it possible to use them only when serious clues of guilt are involved, and that the eavesdropped intelligence could only be used against the specific crime in question and not any additional offences that might be revealed while listening, raised more than one eyebrow.

What seems to be happening now is a showdown within the coalition, between a right-wing that supports Berlusconi no matter what, and those who, taking into consideration the “law and order” attitude of most of their electorate (an attitude also shared by the centre-left) might be in trouble having to explain why such a bill, that ends up making life easier for criminals, is being passed by using the electors’ mandate.

Those who work in this field are sitting on the riverside, hoping that the interests of a few do not prevail over everyone else’s call for security.

Jetman is now flying in acrobatic formation

luglio 5, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Last time we heard from him, it was last year, and he was in Morocco, where his attempt at becoming the first man o complete an intercontinental flight with a Jetpack strapped on his back, was thwarted by air currents and bad weather.

This year, our dear Jetman, that is, the Swiss-born jean Yves Rossy, is trying to astonish us by showing up in Buochs, in the middle of the Alps from his home country, for the Breitling Flying Days air show.

During the air show, Rossy has showcased is latest creation, made up of a fast-extracting parachute and a new and more powerful jet wing, nicknamed Delta Wing. Thanks to it, once you strap it behind your back, you will be able to take off directly from the ground instead of jumping off a flying plane, and to complete acrobatic maneuvers in the air.

In order to show this capability, Rossy has tested his Delta Wing by flying together with the famous Breitling Wingwalkers, a group of crazy-but-funny aviators who make a great show with old biplanes, while carrying passengers… on the wings!

Along with the Wingwalkers, Rossy has been flying for just over six minutes at around 1000 meters of altitude, keeping a distance of a few meters from the planes, with a difficulty factor enhanced by the fact that Rossy does not use a yoke or anything else to move up or down, right or left, but steers his wing by using his body.

Furthermore, he is studying a new parachute with rocket-powered opening, which improves security in the air and can be opened only 200 meters from the ground, even at high speed, while the one mounted on Delta Wing can only be opened at 800m altitude. What more will Jetman do to leave us stunned?

A spy airship as big as a football field

luglio 5, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Technology keeps thrusting forward, especially in the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) field, where new pilotless aircraft, always smaller and more powerful, are being created every second day.
Sometimes though, time seems to leap backwards, and in this specific field it seems to give an unexpected nod to good old airships, which seemed to have retired long ago, and be used only to carry advertising messages.

Instead, along with being used as a cargo ship for heavy equipment, it is also useful for monitoring and surveillance from above. The spy airship, designed by Northrop Grumman, in cooperation with other firms in the avionics and aerospace field, on behalf of the US Army, is neither small nor invisible, as its length can be compared with that of a football pitch.

In spite of its enormous size, the so-called LEMV (Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle) can efficiently carry out the task of a spy plane, floating in the air at an altitude of approximately 6000 meters, and thanks to its video, photo and GPS equipment on board, it can gather photo and video intelligence from above. All this, of course, takes place without a pilot on board, operating on a predefined route which is set from the ground.

In the US Army’s intentions, LEMV should be used to monitor the air space, national and international, both for military and civilian use. If used in the military field, the spy blimp would be teamed up with C4ISR software systems, which manage the information coming from different sources such as, along with the airship, spy satellites and several UAV type aircraft, to keep track of any movement of men and equipment taking place within a certain area of operations.


luglio: 2010
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