A federal hearing today on NSA surveillance programs leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden produced some interesting numbers about the scope of the data collections and other issues. We’ve produced a roundup below of some of the interesting stats and intelligence gleaned from the discussion.
The hearing, before Congress’s Select Committee on Intelligence, included NSA Director, General Keith Alexander; Deputy Attorney General James Cole; Deputy Director of the FBI Sean Joyce; and General Counsel Robert Litt, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence General Counsel.
LIFE dug into their archives and collected photos of famous fathers hanging out with their daughters. Click through to the link for some delightful vintage photos of Orson Welles with his baby daughter Rebecca, Pablo Picasso walking his daughter through a cobblestone street, and Steve McQueen kissing his daughter good night.
To all the awesome dads out there: Happy Fathers Day, y’all. <3
Two weeks ago, Jack Dongarra flew to Changsha, China for a meeting with researchers at the National University of Defense Technology, home to the country’s top supercomputing program. He expected an update on their plans for a new mega-machine, but they had a little surprise for him: The system was already up and running.
It’s called Tianhe-2, and with more than 3 million processor cores, it’s the world’s most powerful supercomputer.
Y’all are the best!
The Man of Steel movie hits theaters today, the latest cinematic reimagining of the iconic character of Superman. And while the “S” logo is recognizable the world over, some people say that the man of steel isn’t the easiest character to identify with, either because he’s too much of a “Boy Scout” with an antiquated moral code, or because his omnipotence and alien origin make him less relatable compared to other superheroes who are more grounded in reality.
But after taking a deeper look into Superman’s psyche, we beg to differ. Sure, he’s from another planet and can fly, shoot laser beams from his eyes, and see through unleaded objects. But, if you look beneath the “S” on his chest from a psychological perspective, you’ll see that Superman is more human than superhuman, with the same sort of conflicts, crises and identity issues as the rest of us.
Not much happens in Geraldine, a small farming community in the interior of the South Island of New Zealand, about 85 miles from Christchurch. So when Hayden MacKenzie, a fourth-generation farmer there, picked up the phone last Tuesday and got a request to participate in a secret project—one that he wouldn’t even learn about until he signed a vow of silence—he and his wife Anna figured that they’d take a shot. That evening, two men showed up at his cozy farmhouse. They bore a peculiar red device, a sphere slightly bigger than a volleyball perched on a short collar, and attached it to his roof. Then they left.
Only when the men returned the next day did they reveal what they were up to. Inside the red ball was an antenna that would give the MacKenzies Internet access. It was custom-designed to communicate with a similar antenna that would be floating by in the stratosphere, over 60,000 feet above sea level. On a solar-powered balloon.
Oh, and the men work for Google.
Justin sent me an email this morning with the subject line “CRITICAL INFORMATION” that just contained a link to this story of a pipe-cleaning ferret named Felicia from Fermilab.
Back in the ’70s, the scientists at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory were looking for a way to clear the tubes of their newly built particle accelerator of the bits of dust that could derail a high-energy beam of particles whipping around at the speed of light.
Some ingenious scientist remembered that ferrets were used on English estates to go down rabbit burrows and scare the critters out (hence the phrase “ferret out”) and so, Felicia the ferret was employed by Fermilab to clean out the atom smasher. They tied a piece of string with a cotton swab to her tail, set her in the tubes, and then banked on her natural curiosity to lead her around the four-mile particle collider.
Felicia is now officially my favorite animal in science history.
Here’s something for your adorable break in the day.
A Crowdfunded Investigation of Internships
Late last month, ProPublica launched a Kickstarter to cover the costs of hiring an intern to help with our internships investigation. Our intern will create a microsite on the intern economy, traveling around the country to collect interns’ stories that will supplement and enhance our more traditional watchdog reports. But to do this, we need to raise $22,000 by June 27.
Our editor-in-chief Steve Engelberg sat down with ProPublica’s community editor Blair Hickman and news application fellow Jeremy Merrill to talk about our unique approach to investigating the intern economy.
“Beyond the Kickstarter, from a reporting perspective and project perspective, what’s particularly noteworthy about this is we’re starting with community and we are starting with data and news applications,” said Hickman about the project. “We’ve said from the get-go, we are investigating internships and we’re doing this in a very open way — which is a little bit different than our normal investigations. And because of that, we’ve gotten a ton of tips flooding in and we’re starting to do news reports off of that. But it’s starting with the crowd.”
Thank you for Tumbling!!
More than brilliant.