Jack the Ripper unmasked by amateur sleuth

It is the greatest murder mystery of all time, a puzzle that has perplexed criminologists for more than a century and spawned books, films and myriad theories ranging from the plausible to the utterly bizarre.

But now, thanks to modern forensic science, The Mail on Sunday can exclusively reveal the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer responsible for at least five grisly murders in Whitechapel in East London during the autumn of 1888.

DNA evidence has now shown beyond reasonable doubt which one of six key suspects commonly cited in connection with the Ripper’s reign of terror was the actual killer – and we reveal his identity.

A shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims, has been analysed and found to contain DNA from her blood as well as DNA from the killer.

Kosminski was not a member of the Royal Family, or an eminent  surgeon or politician. Serial killers rarely are. Instead, he was a pathetic creature, a lunatic who achieved sexual satisfaction from slashing women to death in the most brutal manner. He died in Leavesden  Asylum from gangrene at the age of 53, weighing just 7st.

via Mail Online.

Aaron Kosminski, the hairdresser.

In the library with the candlestick.

Will be fun to see if anyone can tear down the case against Mr. Kosminski.



“Nano-Tweezers Can Move Molecules With Light”

Scientists have created the tiniest “tweezers” known to date, which can move around objects the size of single molecules with a “bow tie” of light.

“To my knowledge these are the smallest tweezers ever built,” physicist Mathieu Juan, from Sydney’s Macquarie University, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “They will allow people to manipulate, scan and move around very small objects such as viruses.”

via Popular Science

I don’t know if the word ‘tweezer’ is right. I think maybe a new word is needed.

It’s the shape of this opening that allows the beam of light to be controlled with such “exquisite precision,” says Juan.

The device is based on a mechanism known as “self-induced back action”, he explains. In essence, this means that optical tweezers are designed to shape themselves to the presence of the object they are picking up.

“In other words the trapped specimen plays an active role in the trapping mechanism,” the authors write.

Where the two triangles of the bow-tie shape meet, a very gentle force is generated, which does not result in any temperature increase that might damage a biological molecule, Juan says.

The researchers report that they used the device to pick up and move around a plastic sphere just 50 nanometres across – a thousandth the width of a human hair.

Over the course of several minutes, they were able to move the trapped sphere over large distances.

via abc.net.au (Australia)

“Fire Made from Water May Solve Our Sewage Treatment Problems”

Trust NASA to figure this one out: how to start a fire with water. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station are now in the second round of experiments designed to shed light on this counter-intuitive but very real process, and the implications are significant.

The key in using water to start a fire is that the water isn’t regular drinking water. It’s supercritical water, a state that’s hard to achieve but has some really interesting properties. To become supercritical, water has to be compressed to 217 atmospheres and heated to above 703 °F. At that temperature and pressure, water ceases to be a liquid and becomes something between a liquid and a gas, a sort of superdense gas. Add organic material to that supercritical water and the immediate chemical reaction is oxidation, which is basically a fire without flames.


Supercritical water could be a fantastic tool in getting rid of unpleasant organic materials like sewage since human waste contains a fair amount of water. Hicks explains that when a stream of wet waste is pushed above the supercritical point, the supercritical water breaks its hydrocarbon bonds and reacts with oxygen. In short, the compressed and heated sewage ignites, burning cleanly and producing water and carbon dioxide as byproducts instead of the typical toxic products of an ordinary fire.

via Motherboard.

Tablets at restaurants: Applebee’s, Chili’s race to eliminate human interaction.

Score one for the machines. On Tuesday, Applebee’s announced plans to install a tablet at every table in its 1,860 restaurants across the United States. Customers will be able to use the devices to order food, pay the bill, and ignore their dining companions by playing video games.

Chili’s unveiled basically the same plan three months ago….

…The restaurants deny that the tablets represent an attempt to replace human employees with computers. Applebee’s is saying that it won’t change its staffing levels when the devices come online next year. And Chili’s is optimistic that the tablets will pay for themselves by bringing in extra revenue from impulse orders and at-the-table gaming. Not only will you not have to talk to a waiter when you want to order something, you won’t have to talk to your kids, either!

Then again, of course these businesses are saying they won’t use the tablets to replace employees. Announcing layoffs along with the tablet move would be begging for a backlash. The fact is, if the tablets work, they’ll make the ordering process more efficient and cut the amount of human labor that these restaurants require. At that point, do you suppose they’ll keep the extra waiters around out of charity?

via Slate

We like our ethics, our beliefs, our values, our philosophies – but then we want to control the outcome.

What Applebees is doing is economically rational. If people accept this as a way of doing business, it will have been the right decision. The solution to the problems presented here are solutions we as a society need to grapple with – starting with, what will we do when (not if, when) automation makes most human work obsolete?

And, no, simply passing laws to make businesses behave in an economically irrational factor is not a solution. As near as I can tell, there are only two solutions (though I’d love to learn about or figure out others): to directly subsidize – with taxpayer, not corporate, cash – the cost of hiring workers instead of machines, or to open up some new economic frontier – some new technological innovation that requires human workers, or some physical, literal new frontier, like colonizing the ocean or the moon.

Which isn’t as crazy as people like to think, given how concerned we are about overpopulation, global warming…and resources in general.

A few centuries ago, there were just a few widely used materials: wood, brick, iron, copper, gold, and silver. Today’s material diversity is astounding. A chip in your smartphone, for instance, contains 60 different elements. Our lives are so dependent on these materials that a scarcity of a handful of elements could send us back in time by decades.

If we do ever face such scarcity, what can be done? Not a lot, according to a paper published in PNAS. Thomas Graedel of Yale University and his colleagues decided to investigate the materials we rely on. They chose to restrict the analysis to metals and metalloids, which could face more critical constraints because many of them are relatively rare.

via Ars Technica.

I am just very bummed personally because I happen to like Applebees, and I have a funny feeling I won’t be enjoying their food so much now.

“What’s easier than self-driving cars? Self-flying cars”

Self-flying cars are easier to do than self-driving cars, Terrafugia co-founder and CEO Carl Dietrich said at a conference at MIT over the weekend. And, all going perfectly to plan, we can expect to be able to buy our very own self-flying vehicle with vertical take-off and landing capabilities within a decade, he said.

Speaking at the MIT-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum on Saturday, Dietrich said self-flying cars, such as Terrafugia’s in-development TF-X, represent a less complicated technology challenge than that faced by self-driving cars….

The difficult that the TF-X faces, however, is one of regulation. Regulators need to create international standards so that people without traditional piloting skills can be certified to operate flying vehicles. Regulatory bodies so far don’t know how to regulate flying cars, but the advent of drones might help the process.

If all regulation breaks in flying cars’ favor, the TF-X, a hybrid vehicle which could carry four people and fly non-stop for 500 miles after taking off vertically, could be on the road and in the skies within eight to 12 years, Dietrich said in an interview after his talk.

via PandoDaily (emphasis mine)

“Treating Mental Illness Seriously”

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, is set to tour a New York gun show, the first such visit since she was shot.

Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, a former combat pilot and astronaut, are scheduled to be with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair on Sunday to highlight a voluntary agreement and stricter state gun control law.

It will be latest event by Giffords and Kelly in their national campaign for expanded background checks for gun sales.

via CSMonitor.com.

Some people may blame guns for what happened to Giffords, but I blame the fact that, although Loughner was known to have serious mental health issues, the law prevented any of the many people who saw the problem from being able to solve that problem.

People tried to get this man help. The real scandal is that they could not do so.

Before Miriam Carey drove her car into a White House gate, led police on a car chase to the Capitol, and was shot dead to protect public safety, her boyfriend tried to prevent it from ever happening.

According to CNN, he “contacted police in December saying he feared for the safety of their child, who was 4 months old at the time. The boyfriend said the woman was acting delusional, claiming the president had placed Stamford under lockdown and that her house was under electronic surveillance.” He thought she had post-partum depression, but police found medications for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression in her home.

The most likely scenario is that Miriam was not taking the medications or they weren’t working. Either way, someone who was dangerous was on the streets.

We know how to stop this. What we need is mandatory and monitored community treatment for those known to have serious mental illness and a history of dangerousness, incarceration, or needless repeated hospitalizations.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a court order to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community. To be eligible, individuals must have serious mental illness and a past history of dangerousness, incarceration, or needless hospitalizations caused by going off effective treatments. The decision is made by a judge, and only after consulting with the patient, their lawyer and observing full due process. Other protections ensure it is rarely used, is time limited, and is not abused.

According to media reports, Miriam Carey had a prior psychiatric hospitalization and acted dangerously toward her four-month-old child. While not enough is known yet, she may have been eligible for AOT. But Connecticut, where she lived, does not have an AOT law.

New York State has the largest and most studied program, called Kendra’s Law. Studies found those enrolled in Kendra’s Law are four times less likely to engage in future violence than those in a control group. Other New York studies found it reduced homelessness by 74 percent; suicide attempts, 55 percent; substance abuse, 48 percent; physical harm to others, 47 percent; property destruction, 43 percent; hospitalization, 77 percent; arrests, 83 percent; and incarceration, 87 percent. These results are consistent with those in other localities that use it.

By reducing the use of jails and locked psych wards as treatment settings, AOT saves a lot of money even accounting for the increased costs for court proceedings, case management, and prescriptions…

via National Review Online.

Don’t Let Teacher Evaluation Models Stifle Education Innovation – Economic Intelligence (usnews.com)

…[A]ll across the country numerous organizations are rethinking how to deliver instruction and redefining what it means to be a “school” and a “teacher.”

Carpe Diem Public Charter Schools pair in-person and online instruction in an environment that looks unlike any school you’ve ever seen. Students at Carpe Diem spend a large part of their day in a kind of cubicle farm, progressing through customized educational programs on computers. Teachers circulate through the room, tracking student progress and periodically corralling small groups into classrooms that ring the large “learning center” to reinforce topics for students that are struggling or to personalize discussions of subjects like Literature.

The results are staggering. In 2012, the flagship campus in Yuma, Arizona saw 83 percent of its sixth graders, 91 percent of its seventh graders, 80 percent of its eighth graders and 91 percent of its 10th graders rated as proficient on the Arizona state accountability exams in reading, besting state averages of 80 percent, 84 percent, 72 percent and 80 percent respectively. It saw a 91 percent graduation rate for its class of 2012, besting the state average of 78 percent. What is more impressive is that the school did this at a cost of $6,500 per student, less than the Arizona average of $7,600.

As research organization Public Impact points out, even with several years of the most strident of today’s teacher policies – aggressively hiring and retaining the best teachers and firing the worst – only 40 percent of classrooms across America would have a high-quality teacher in the front of the room (according to their estimates, only 25 percent or so have one now). Scaling up successful schools is a huge problem. But, through leveraging technology and innovative staffing, schools like Carpe Diem point to a workaround.

The problem? In recent years, lawmakers across the country have been establishing teacher evaluation programs that might constrain the growth of these innovative models. In 2011, Arizona established the Arizona Framework for Measuring Educator Effectiveness that requires between 33 and 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to be driven by quantitative data on student academic progress and 50 to 67 percent by evaluation of teaching performance on established rubrics based on national standards and approved by the state board of education. This mirrors the teacher evaluation programs that states all across the country have enacted in order to receive No Child Left Behind waivers from the U.S. Department of Education.

If observation tools for teacher performance or quantitative measures of academic growth are not sensitive to schools that “unbundle” the act of instruction and split it amongst teachers and technology, schools could struggle to comply with the law. These laws are written with a traditional school model – 25-30 students in an age-graded classroom progressing through a state-sanctioned scope and sequence of material in a nine month school year – in mind.

Is there an established rubric to measure teacher performance in a hybrid environment? If there is, I haven’t seen one. How does a student’s value-added test score get split between what the computer taught the student and what the teacher did? Should it? If an overeager state bureaucrat believes that these schools are out of compliance, it could lead to serious problems.

via Economic Intelligence (usnews.com).