The Arthur Kill ship graveyard was never meant to become such a decrepit spectacle. In the years following World War II, the adjacent scrapyard began to purchase scores of outdated vessels, with the intention of harvesting them for anything of value. But the shipbreakers couldn’t keep pace with the influx of boats, especially once people started to use the graveyard as a dumping ground for their old dinghies. Plenty of ships fell into such disrepair that they were no longer worth the effort to strip, especially since many teem with toxic substances. And so they’ve been left to rot in the murky tidal strait that divides Staten Island from New Jersey, where they’ve turned scarlet with rust and now host entire ecosystems of hardy aquatic creatures.
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In case you haven’t heard, Thor is now a girl.
In an announcement on The View this morning, it was revealed that a woman will soon be wielding the Mjölnir in the Marvel comics. Naturally, people went nuts over the news. It was, to borrow a phrase from Vice President Joe Biden, a big f*cking deal. But as much as the importance of a new female superhero can’t be understated, the way the news traveled and how it spread might be the more game-changing event.
When 17-year-old George Hotz became the world’s first hacker to crack AT&T’s lock on the iPhone in 2007, the companies officially ignored him while scrambling to fix the bugs his work exposed. When he later reverse engineered the Playstation 3, Sony sued him and settled only after he agreed to never hack another Sony product.
When Hotz dismantled the defenses of Google’s Chrome operating system earlier this year, by contrast, the company paid him a $150,000 reward for helping fix the flaws he’d uncovered. Two months later Chris Evans, a Google security engineer, followed up by email with an offer: How would Hotz like to join an elite team of full-time hackers paid to hunt security vulnerabilities in every popular piece of software that touches the internet?
Today Google plans to publicly reveal that team, known as Project Zero, a group of top Google security researchers with the sole mission of tracking down and neutering the most insidious security flaws in the world’s software. Those secret hackable bugs, known in the security industry as “zero-day” vulnerabilities, are exploited by criminals, state-sponsored hackers and intelligence agencies in their spying operations. By tasking its researchers to drag them into the light, Google hopes to get those spy-friendly flaws fixed. And Project Zero’s hackers won’t be exposing bugs only in Google’s products. They’ll be given free rein to attack any software whose zero-days can be dug up and demonstrated with the aim of pressuring other companies to better protect Google’s users.
MORE: Meet ‘Project Zero,’ Google’s Secret Team of Bug-Hunting Hackers
The programming provocation they released a few hours ago is called Dark Wallet, a piece of software designed to allow untraceable, anonymous online payments using the cryptocurrency bitcoin. Taaki and Wilson see in bitcoin’s stateless transactions the potential for a new economy that fulfills the crypto-anarchist dream of truly uncontrollable money. They envision a digital payment network that circumvents every authority’s attempts to tax it, seize it, censor it, track it, or imprison those who would use it to trade in contraband like weapons, drugs, and even abhorrent services like murder-for-hire and child pornography.
MORE: Waiting for Dark
I can hear the alien breathing.
I’ve played lots of videogames, lots of run-and-gun shooters in which I happily charge down a corridor into certain death. Not this time. I’ve got my back pressed against the wall of an abandoned spaceship, and I’m inching down a hallway, my head darting left and right, looking for danger everywhere.