10 WEIRDEST COMPUTERS
New Scientist notes today’s computers use pulses of
electricity and flipping magnets to manipulate and store
data, but information can be processed in many other—
1. Optical computing uses light signals to process data
and carry out computations.
2. Quantum computing uses quantum mechanical effects
to create qubits to run parallel computations.
3. DNA computing processes data and runs programs
stored in sequences of genomic base pairs.
4. Reversible computing aims to recover and reuse energy
typically discarded in computational operations.
5. Billiard Ball computing uses logic circuits that employ
cascades of atoms bouncing off each other.
6. Neuronal computing copies nature’s very own computer—the brain.
7. Magnetic computing uses strong magnetic fields to control and observe the way molecules interact.
8. Glooper computers favor gloopware rather than hardware to make waves of propagating ions in a chemical
goo behave like logic gates.
9. Moldy computers emulate how slime mold works out
the shortest route through a maze.
10. Water wave computing uses wave patterns to make a
type of logic gate.
HOOKING BIG PHISH
An email scam targeting top executives in the U.S. is raising new
alarms about the ease with which
people and companies can be
deceived by online criminals. The
New York Times reports thousands
of high-ranking executives received
email messages that appear to be
official subpoenas from the U.S.
District Court in San Diego, CA.
Each message included the executive’s name, company, and phone number, and
commanded the recipient to appear before a grand
jury in a civil case. A link embedded in the message
purported to offer a copy of the entire subpoena,
but any recipient opening the document would
unwittingly download and install software that
secretly recorded keystrokes and send the data to a
remote computer allowing the criminals to capture
passwords and other personal or corporate information. Another piece of software allowed the computer to be controlled remotely. According to
researchers who have downloaded the file, less than
40% of commercial antivirus programs were able to
recognize and intercept the attack. Security analysts
contend the tactic of aiming at the rich and powerful with an online scam, called whaling (a play on
phishing, as in big phish), is one they expect to see
grow with disturbing results. The real danger, they
say, is in the second level of deception, where digital
credentials may be gleaned without the recipient’s
knowledge. At press time, researchers examining the
scam message claimed it probably originated in
China. “If all the key players are in China,” said one
security expert, “there is not much the FBI can do.”
Robots could fill the jobs of 3. 5 million people in
graying Japan by 2025, helping avert worker short-
ages as the country’s population shrinks. Japan faces
a 16% reduction in the size of its work force by
2030, while the number of elderly increases greatly,
according to government estimates. This scenario
raises concerns about who will do the work in a
country unaccustomed to, and to date unwilling to,
consider large-scale immigration. The Machine
Industry Memorial Foundation, a Japanese think
tank, says robots ranging
from micro-size capsules
that detect lesions to high-
tech vacuum cleaners can
help fill the gaps. Rather
than expecting each robot
to replace one person, the
foundation says robots
could make time for people
to focus on more important
things. Japan could save
about 2. 1 trillion yen ($21
billion) of elderly insurance payments in 2025 by
using robots that monitor the health of older people
so they do not need to rely on human nursing care.
Robotic devices can also alleviate housework and
some childcare responsibilities. c
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