We're taking a break from the increasingly ridiculous game of chicken playing out in Washington and invading our TVs and other forms of communication.
Instead, we'll offer something else: reports of scientific advances and discoveries underway.
If you haven't been paying attention to astronomy (and not enough people do), you probably missed this astronomical news: A telescope in Canada has picked up repetitive "fast radio bursts," the source of which scientists are trying to determine. They've picked up these types of signals before, but repetitive signals from the same source have been detected only one other time, according to Scientific American, citing an upcoming Nature journal report. However, scientists believe we will detect many, many more.
Meanwhile, NASA's New Horizons mission has unveiled an entirely new kind of world called Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever explored. More data, including images, are expected over the next month.
But get this: Last month, on Christmas Eve, the scientists sent a message from volunteers on Earth and "beamed" it toward New Horizons and Ultima Thule. (The message chosen was "Keep on Exploring!" according to the NASA report.)
So, what does all this mean for you? Nothing yet. But as those findings were being announced, another journal, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, published a report that said our galaxy, the Milky Way, would crash into a satellite galaxy billions of years before originally projected.
Obviously, that potential is something that should and will be studied. But there's one big caveat: NASA is among the agencies affected by the government shutdown. The workers are not being paid, and the potential scientific advances are left in limbo.
Perhaps those radio signals are from aliens rescuing us from this political mess. That's nonsense, of course, but then again, nonsense seems to be the go-to play of every day.
Selling Your Location
The Washington Post reports that some phone companies are selling location data to third parties, allowing anyone who can afford it to buy your data and do anything they want with it. The practice was first reported by the website Motherboard (which is operated by Vice Media), and lawmakers and an FCC commissioner are calling for an investigation amid concerns those third parties have little to no limitation on how the data is used.
In fact, Motherboard reported that among the third parties that received the repackaged data was a bounty hunter.
"The American people have an absolute right to the privacy of their data, which is why I'm extremely troubled by reports of this system of repackaging and reselling location data to unregulated third-party services for potentially nefarious purposes," Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said in a statement, according to the Post.
The potential for abuse with this data is disturbing and demands an investigation.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD