Binary Calculator

Choose Your Own Adventure - Part 2

Part 1

What if it wasn’t about anything related to the text? What if it was similar to the riddles that brought me to those pages? What if the mystery behind them was related to their page numbers, or hell the page numbers in general?
Once at home I went to work. I told myself once more that I needed to get the full picture. So I went to write down all the page numbers in the book, one after another.
When I was done, I took a step back and stared at the result. Yet, there was nothing that stood out to me right away. I haphazardly picked one of the secret pages. Page 427 was in front of page 811. Then I continued.
811, 812, 813, 814, 815, 816, 817, 818, 818, 820, 821, and right after was yet another secret page.
This one was page 528.
And after that, the regular page numbers continued.
822, 823, 824, 825, 826, 827, 828, 829, 830, 831, 832, 833, 834, 835, 836, 837, 838, 839, 840, 841, 842, 843, followed by another one, page 143.
This list of ongoing numbers made me suddenly wonder. My thoughts drifted right back to what had gotten me to do this, the secret pages.
What if they weren’t placed randomly?
Yet, as I checked their distribution, it felt almost too random. I checked the number of regular pages before and after, put them in sequence, but there was no correlation.
Then I got another idea. I added up all the pages before and after, but this also made no sense. Half the results were too big and exceeded the total number of pages in the book, by far.
Then, starting at number 111 to 137, which I’d just added together, I got yet another idea. What if I only added together their last digits?
The result I came up with was 648. Which was exactly the secret page that followed afterward!
My eyes grew wide. I’d had it, hadn’t I? The hint I’d been looking for! I was going livid.
Right away I went to the next one and calculated all the preceding numbers, only to come up with an entirely different result than the page number of the secret page following. Cursing I got up.
It had been another goddamn coincidence. I laughed, but this time in abject misery, mocking my stupidity. How’d it be so damned easy, you idiot? There was no way. None of this was easy. None of it!
But as I stared at the result I’d come up with just now, I noticed something. The result of my calculation was 702. The page number was 351. Wait. Wait. Wait. That’s half of 702! Maybe it really was nothing but a coincidence and I was just grasping at straws, but what else was I to do?
The next result I came up with was 176. If I multiplied it by three, it gave me the page number of the secret page that followed it, 528. The number 715, divided by 5, gave me the page number 143 that followed it.
I continued adding, dividing, and multiplying and it all checked out. All the page numbers of the secret pages resulted from calculations of the last two digits of their preceding pages.
What does it mean though? Does it even mean anything? The exhilaration I’d felt ebbed away, and I sat there, staring at all my calculations wondering if there was any meaning to it. Yet, there had to be, right? This couldn’t have been designed as yet another red herring. This was too damned complex. No, there had to be a reason for this.
What if there was an order? If I went through all the calculations I quickly noticed that the result was never divided by the same number. The highest number that a result was divided by was 26, the highest a result was multiplied by was 27. It was exactly 53 different calculations.
With that, I started ordering them, one by one, starting backward from the highest division, to the highest multiplication. Then I put the topic of each page behind the numbers in the resulting list.
I’d hoped for something. I’d hoped to find it starting with the page about the universe, followed by constellations and stars up to the evolution of apes, plants, and other animals. Yet, it was all mixed-up nonsense. There was no order to it at all! Even when I ordered them in other ways, trying to find any sort of correlation, it was always the same. Nothing, but nonsense.
My hands started shaking as anger flooded through me. I crumbled up the stupid, ordered lists and threw them across the room. Then I cursed in sheer and utter rage. This was freaking stupid. This was insane! This was nothing at all, just pure fucking nonsense. I picked up a random object on my table and hurled it against the wall where it shattered into pieces. Then I threw aside a chair I found standing in my way and kicked over the small couch table, creating general chaos in my living room.
I was stopped from going any further when my neighbors banged against the wall, screaming to knock it off and threatening to call the cops.
That made me stop. The anger went away. I stared in shock at my living room. What the hell was happening to me? Why’d I done that? Why’d I destroyed my things at 1 am in the freaking morning?
Then I slowly smoothed out the lists I’d created and put them on one of the few free spots remaining on my living room wall. Who knows, I might need it later.
I laughed as I looked from them to the rest of the wall which was now entirely covered. Even worse were the stacks of notes that had accumulated in front of them. I was proud all right, but I also knew that this thing was absolutely insane.
Once more, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing.
Shaking my head, I turned around and made my way to the bedroom. Yet, as my fingers rested on the light switch, I turned around one last time. I stared at the mad lines, the mad paths who were connecting here and there. There was nothing but lines upon lines. Here and there, if I looked hard and long enough, I could almost make out shapes.
I froze. What if it was a visual puzzle? What if there was a hint hidden in the shapes of the paths?
For days I sat down, drew points and lines and connections, warping them into surreal shapes. This was crazy, wasn’t it? How’d it be visual? There’s probably not a damn thing to be got from this. This was stupid. Yet, I couldn’t stop. Each day, I spent my entire afternoon, my evening, and even half the night, drawing. And eventually, it all came to nothing. There was nothing but mad lines and not a clear shape in sight.
I didn’t give up though, wasn’t discouraged. I was beyond that, far beyond that. What if there was something else? Maybe there was a hidden code between these pages?
When I was at work, I’d completely forgotten about my former vow not to talk about the book or do anything related to it. Instead, I read up on cryptography. Going through article after article. I read up on Caesar Code and Binary Code, on the Polybius Cipher and Hex Code. I went mad with it. Before long I spent more time reading up on things than doing any of my work. Eventually, I even brought pages filled with numbers with me, cross-checking them for hits of any and all codes.
I heard co-workers whispering behind my back, asking me what I was doing and I told them, I just hadn’t closed the weird articles after break time.
They knew it wasn’t the truth. They’d heard me mumble, saw the little notebook I was writing in, noticed the endless lists of numbers I brought with me each day.
My superior eventually came up to me. He asked me what I was doing with all those weird pages. I told him it was nothing but a little puzzle.
“Well, Todd,” he started in a condescending voice. “You’re not here to do any of those ‘little puzzles’, you’re here to do your damn job. Where are the calculations for this month? I’ve been waiting for them all day.”
“Oh, I guess, I’m almost done with them, I just need another hour or-“
My voice trailed off when he picked up one of the pages I’d been looking at mere minutes ago. Suddenly, when I saw him holding it, I felt nervous.
“What even is this? It’s just random numbers.”
He saw my face, saw the way my eyes grew wide when he’d picked it up. The hint of a smile washed over his face as he crumbled it up.
He opened his mouth for another remark, but before he could I jumped up from my chair and ripped the page from his hand. He cringed back a step in shock at my reaction.
“The hell’s wrong with you?” he screamed at me, but I didn’t listen. Instead, I carefully smoothed out the paper and made sure he hadn’t torn it apart.
By now half the office had gotten up to watch the weird exchange. Only now did I realize what I’d done and how everyone was staring at me.
Suddenly I felt very watched and almost sunk back into my chair.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to,” I mumbled but broke up under the pressure of all those eyes.
“Get back to work and finish those damned calculations! If I see you tinkering with any of this shit again, you can clean out your desk!”
With that, he stormed off. I heard people whispering all around me, some laughing, others speaking in a more reserved tone.
Yep, I thought, it’s official. I’m the office nutjob.
Right away, I forced myself to close all the Wikipedia articles I had still open and put away all my notes. And then, grudgingly, annoyed and half-mad at the distraction it represented, I went back to work. Somehow though, it felt meaningless, calculating all these stupid orders and filling out this customer database. What the hell was I even doing? What if it really was a code? What if it was actually a mixture, a double-code? My mind went wild with ideas. Five minutes later, I found myself holding one of my notes again. I couldn’t even remember taking it out.
Pushing it back, cursing, and not a little afraid, I forced myself to work calculations until the day was over. At the moment my shift ended, I jumped off my chair and rushed for the door. People stared at me, looked after me, their faces a mixture of amusement and worry.
I didn’t care. I had work to do. The important kind of work!
I’d just tried to find another connection between the page numbers of the secret pages when my doorbell rang. I ignored it, but it just kept ringing. When it finally stopped, I sighed in relief. Just leave me alone, I cursed, I’ve got work to do.
Then, mere moments later, my phone vibrated on the other end of the room. Dammit, I’d forgotten to mute it again. I waited for it to stop, but it started up right away. Cursing I went over to see who it was and noticed the name instantly.
It was my friend Andrew. Annoyed, I answered it.
“Yo, Todd, you home?” I heard his voice from the phone next to my ear and more distant, muffled from the front door.
My first reaction was one of annoyance. Then I pushed the thought away. What the hell was wrong with me? This was Andrew. He was my best friend, the only one of our old group who still lived in the same city. Right away, I thought about how long I’d last seen him. Surprised I realized that it must’ve been weeks. One glance at the mad mess in my living room told me why.
“Yeah, sure hold on,” I said over the phone and made my way to the front door.
Andrew smiled at me brightly and held up to six-packs.
“Haven’t seen you in forever, how about we have a few! I got quite the story for you, my man!”
I smiled at him. “Sure, come on in.”
We made our way inside and Andrew had barely set foot into my living room when he stopped. His eyes grew wide as he stared at the wall and the stacks of paper all over the place.
“Holy shit man. I was wondering why I haven’t heard from you. The hell’s all that? You working on some sort of project?”
“Kind of,” I mumbled a little embarrassed.
I quickly picked up the papers on the couch and put them aside to make room for him to sit.
“Sorry about the mess.”
“Nah man, it’s all right. So, the thing I was about to tell you, you remember Thomas, right?”
Thomas, I thought. Did I know a Thomas? Then I remembered him. Of course, I remembered him, he’d been part of our group. I rubbed my temples for a second before I nodded.
“He’s getting married and you won’t believe who the lucky girl is!”
With that, Andrew told me the entire story of how our friend Thomas had been dating Susan, Andrew’s cousin for the past three months, and the two of them had decided to get married. I listened, nodded here and there, even laughed a few times absentmindedly, but my eyes wandered to my notes again and again.
For a moment I spaced out entirely, thinking about an idea that had popped into my mind just before he’d arrived. What if there was something about number sequences? I must’ve sat there for an entire minute, simply holding my beer and staring off at nothing when Andrew waved his hand in front of my face.
“Yo, dude, you listening?”
“What? Oh, sorry, no, I think I spaced out for a moment.”
“All right, man, I got to ask, what’s all this? What sort of crazy thing are you working on? Haven’t seen you this into something in years.”
I smiled at him awkwardly and then sighed and pointed at the book.
“It’s one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books,” I started.
With that, the flood gates broke open, and I told him all about it.
He listened, at first curiously, but after a while, his face changed. There was visible concern, as I rambled on about secret pages, strange objects, and cryptography.
“Todd, hold on, hold on, what the hell are you even talking about?”
I stared at him.
“The book. You know those secret pages must’ve some sort of meaning. At first, I thought there was a simple order to them, but it was too chaotic. If you add up all their page numbers though, you get 20670, and if you divided this up by-“
“All right, man, stop,” he cut me off. “So you’re adding up all those numbers, I get that, but for what?”
I began explaining again, I tried, but he couldn’t follow me.
“Yeah, I don’t get it, man. Just, what the fuck?”
“All right, look,” I said and walked over to the wall covered in lines and numbers and started once more.
I told him about the different adventure paths, the references, the secret pages, and when and how they appeared.
His face was blank as I rambled on and on and on.
“Yo, dude, you might want to take a bit of a break, this sounds, well, a bit crazy.”
For a moment I was quiet, then a short, nervous laugh escaped me.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
He stepped up next to me, staring at the wall.
“Shit man, you did all this? Just for a damned book?”
Before I could answer, he reached out and was about to take one of the pages off the wall. My hand shot forward instinctively, batting his aside.
“Don’t touch it!” I called out before I realized what I’d done.
Andrew stumbled back a few steps, shocked. “Shit man, sorry, I didn’t mean to-“
And then it happened. I didn’t even listen to his words anymore as he bumped against some of the stacks of notes I’d placed neatly in front of the wall. They toppled over one another, the pages scattering all over the floor and intermixing.
My eyes grew wide. Oh god, no, freaking god no. Anger rose in me. It had taken me so goddamn long to sort them all out, to order them. There was a freaking method to it all and now he’d destroyed it. He’d destroyed the work of entire fucking days!
“What the fuck are you doing?” I screamed at him.
He cringed back, only now realizing what had happened.
“Hey, didn’t mean to,” he said and began picking up random pages.
I ripped them from his hand and pushed him back. “No, don’t fucking touch them. Those two don’t belong together you idiot! Are you freaking insane?!”
With an empty face, he watched as I gathered up some of the pages, stared at them, and began sorting them as best as I could.
“You know, Todd, that’s what I should ask you.”
“What the hell do you mean?” I snapped at him. “You destroyed the work of days! Days! This is-“
“This is what, man?” he cut me off once more. “It’s nonsense. It’s a freaking children’s book, nothing else.”
That did the trick. I got up and stepped up right in front of him.
“Nonsense? You’ve got no FUCKING idea, how far I’ve come! You’ve got no clue what’ve done already! And here you are telling me this is NONSENSE?”
His face had grown hard. For a second he was about to say something, but then he simply shook his head and laughed. Without another word, he picked up his things, the beer, and left.
If he said any words in parting, I didn’t hear them. I was already busy re-ordering my notes.
It was hours later, when I was done sorting them all out, that I realized what I’d done and how I’d acted.
For the first time, I grew truly scared.
That hadn’t been normal. That wasn’t me. Why’d I gone crazy like this?
I took first one step back from the wall, then another before I went to pick up my phone. When I tried to call Andrew, he didn’t pick up. Instead, the call went straight to voice mail. Then I saw how late it was, long past three in the morning.
I wrote him a quick message, apologized for my behavior, and told him he was right. I should take a break from this entire thing.
That’s what I did right away. I picked up my laptop, made my way to the bedroom, and this time I turned off the light without looking over my shoulder.
I lay down on my bed and started browsing YouTube and told myself to just enjoy it and take a break.
Yet, even as I watched video after video, the little voice in the back of my head spoke up again. It told me I should go on, told me to go back to the living room.
You almost had it, Todd, you almost had it. Just one more hint and you’re done with it. Then you can let it go and you can-
“Shut up, goddamnit!” I screamed at myself to quiet the subconscious voice in the back of my head.
“I freaking know,” I said quieter. “God, I freaking know.”
I sat in bed, the video that was playing already forgotten. As video, after video played, I was on my phone, checking stars and numbers before I eventually drifted off to sleep.
The next morning I didn’t even get to make myself a coffee. I was mad, pissed off and I wanted to finally make progress. For a while, I tinkered about the various codes I’d read about. What if there was a code, but what but if it concerned the entire book and not just the secret pages? What if it was related to the adventure after all? Maybe you could scramble up page numbers and-
I stopped and rubbed my temples. Calm down, don’t go crazy. Calm down and take a step back. You don’t even know if there are any damned codes hidden in the book. You did well deciphering all the different adventure paths and the connections between them. You did well discovering all the secret pages. But what if there’s something you haven’t discovered yet?
That was the question that told me what I had to do. Something I hadn’t dared to do so far.
I had to go through the entire book.
I had to make my way through it not following the adventure, but going page by page and look out for anything new. There might be chapters I hadn’t discovered yet, hadn’t read yet.
With newfound energy and a new plan, I started right away.
My phone rang shortly after noon, but this time, I didn’t even bother with it. I just ignored it. After all, I had more important things to do.
This time I didn’t just write down chapters, choices, and connections. This time I wrote down every single thing that came up. I took note of every single object that was mentioned then added the page number, the corresponding path, and any reference I knew about it.
It was a momentous task. I spent the entire day doing it and barely made it through the first 130 pages.
The next day, Sunday, I didn’t even finish another hundred. The further I came, the more objects I noticed, the more combinations, and references. At times, I even had to go back, to cross-check things, and to change notes accordingly.
It was the most enduring task I’d ever attempted, concerning this damned book and probably my entire life.
It took me weeks. I finished stacks upon stacks of notes. I went to the office supply store multiple times a week buying stacks of papers I ended up filling by the day.
Work during this time was barely an afterthought. I was barely functioning at all. I was typing in numbers and names almost on autopilot. By now I didn’t even get stares anymore. I was entirely ignored, a shell of a man, a ghost that stumbled to his cubicle in the morning and rushed back home in the evening.
Days went by, then weeks, as I slaved away over the book’s many pages. Until one day, when I was finally done. I can’t even say how many weeks I’d been at it.
There were stacks of hundreds of papers, maybe even more. Notes, references, objects, names, words, anything basically.
I’d just created a table of how often each and every single object appeared and in which setting when I noticed a new hint. I stared at it with a giant grin on my face.
The Ruby Orb had been the very first object I’d added to the table.
It appeared in all paths:
  1. Fantasy - 31 times
  2. Space - 3 times
  3. Stone Age - 2 times
  4. Ocean and Pirates - 11 times
  5. Desert Ruins - 29 times
  6. Mountains - 17 times
  7. City-State - 7 times
  8. Ancient Rome - 5 times
  9. Jungle Tribes - 13 times
  10. Small Village - 19 times
  11. Underwater Civilization - 23 times
As I wrote those numbers down, there was something about them. Somehow I knew those numbers. I went over them, staring at them for a while before it hit me.
I cross-checked it online, and I was right. They were all prime numbers! Yes, I thought, I’d found something new!
I quickly rechecked another object, the Desert Orb, and realized it was the same here, too. This one’s appearances made up a simpler sequence. It only appeared once in the city-state, twice in fantasy, and finally 11 times in the desert ruins.
I couldn’t help but grin. I did it for another object, this one the Ebony Stick. It too appeared in all paths and its number was increased by two, starting at 4 and going up to 26.
That’s when I knew what I had to do. I had to go through all the objects, all the hundreds of objects in the damned book, and check how often they appeared. There was a correlation, another part of the puzzle. I was exhilarated, in a state of glee and unbound excitement.
These number sequences, maybe they were the key to figuring out what the secret pages meant, or maybe the page numbers in general. I started laughing. I could feel it, I was so damn close.
I slept when necessary, ate when necessary, right there on the living room floor. It was only once that I thought about work, only in passing, and the idea that I should go never even came to my mind.
My phone was at the other and of the room. I ignored it entirely during that time. It wasn’t important. This right here, that’s what was important.
I was done by the end of the week. It was long past midnight on Saturday when I’d finally deciphered the number sequences of all 311 objects in the book.
When I was done with my work, I looked at the tables of objects in a state of awe. I spread them out in front of me and marveled at the dozen or so pages. For a moment I was about to dive into them when I realized how tired I was.
For the first time since the beginning of the week, I picked up my phone. It was off, must’ve been for days. I connected it to the charger and turned it on. I was bombarded with a plethora of notifications. For almost a minute the damned thing started ringing and vibrating.
There were a few messages from Andrew, asking how I was doing and if I’d stopped with my damned obsession yet. I laughed and closed the chat.
I’d also received countless emails. Most of them were from work and only now did I remember that I hadn’t shown up for an entire week. They started normal enough, reminding me to call if I was sick, became reproachful after a day or two, and finally angry. The last one told me this was the last straw. I should come in on Monday for a talk and be prepared to clean out my desk.
It was strange how little I felt about it, how little it mattered in the grander scale of things. I almost laughed again as I threw the phone aside and laid down to catch some sleep.
When I woke up, I went right back to work. I tinkered with the number sequences, looked at each one of them, added them up, multiplied, and divided them.
It was the Crown of Ice that finally made me look up. When I added all its appearances together, I came to a total of 1000. This damned thing, I thought, it was by far the most common object in the damned book.
I started to read up on it in my notes. It was said in the Manuscript of the Seven Seas, that the Crown of Ice was found in the Crypt of the Dragon. The Crypt of the Dragon was located in the desert ruins.
I went back to it, page 1544, and read the part again. There were three choices. One sent me to leave without the crown and sent me back to a desert tribe. Destroying the crown ended in painful death while the third option was wearing it.
All right, wearing the crown opened a secret passage that sent me to the location of the Magic Water and from there back on my way through the desert.
Dammit, I thought I had something! I was about to go back to the list. Maybe the number thousand was another coincidence.
Then something made me look up. The crown appeared in the desert ruins a total of 53 times. I thought about it. The desert ruins one was by far the shortest path. How long was it in total again?
I stepped up to my living room wall and counted the chapters. When I followed them, there was only a single path that was longer than 50. It came to a total length of 78 chapters before it started from the beginning.
Chapter 53 described what you found if you opened a chest hidden in the Ancient Pyramid.
I read the entire chapter again. It was titled ‘The Treasure Chest.’ There was a total of 289 gold coins in the chest. When I went back to the list of objects, I noticed that the gold coin was mentioned a total of 289 times. The same was true for the sparkling diamonds. There were a total of 33 in the chest and the object itself came up 33 times in the book.
I almost laughed when I noticed that it was true for the third object in the chest as well.
I got an empty page and like a child, I wrote the words Chest, Pyramid, and Treasure in huge letters at the top of it before I went and added all the two dozen objects in the chest.
While I did it, I wondered if there was something like this for every other object in the book. What if every object’s number of appearances was mentioned somewhere in the book? Not just in this chest, but just somewhere.
And then, on a whim, I asked myself another question. What if certain objects didn’t? What if there were just a few or maybe just one whose number was mentioned nowhere? Maybe those were the important ones!
For the entirety of Sunday, I followed through with this idea. I calculated, I added objects to yet more lists, I followed through paths and loops, studied my notes, and slowly, the number of objects remaining got smaller and smaller.
Eventually, just as I’d hoped, there was a single object whose total number of appearances was mentioned nowhere. It was a small, red die. One that was mentioned here and there, only in passing when people played a game of dice in bars or the streets.
There had to be something to this damned thing, I knew it! After this entire week, no after all these entire months, I finally had something, I’d finally narrowed it all down to a single object.
A shiver went down my spine when I realized that this might be it. This might be the solution that I’d been searching for all this time!
I went back to my notes about the red die and all its appearances. Here a few kids were playing with it in the streets, there was someone holding it in their hand, and here it rolled onto the floor when a fight broke out.
Finally, I found what I’d been looking for. There was only a single instance in the entire book where you could interact with it. It was in a bar in space where you could join a futuristic game of dice.
When the game was done, you could pocket the red die.
The short chapter that followed it was mundane and almost unimportant. But when I read it, I noticed something else, not in the text, but the choices below. Weren’t they the same as in the chapter before?
I went back to the preceding page and reread it. Yes, the same two choices, sending you to the same two pages. Almost as if picking up the die didn’t matter at all. Making it appear as nothing but a red herring.
And I grinned. I grinned wider than I had ever before.
There had to be a hint here, no, there had to be a way of finishing this entire damn thing.
I wrote down the entire paragraph and went back to work, studying it. I checked everything that was mentioned in it: the page number, the chapter title, colors, words, anything I could think of. Until late in the morning hours, I pondered over this one, single paragraph.
I could barely keep my eyes open when I stumbled upon it. It was silly, but I exploded with joy and was suddenly wide awake again.
The number of words in each sentence was eight. The number of sentences was eight as well. There were eight sentences here, with eight words each. This was no coincidence. This was it, the total number of words was 64, the square number of eight. There was too much here for it to be a coincidence.
I rushed back to the buck, almost stumbled over my feet, and threw open page 64. Like a crazed, starved animal I poured over the words on the page, almost pressing my face against it. The chapters, there had to be something here, the solution had to be right in front of me.
Yet when I was done reading it, I was dumbfounded. The entire page comprised a single chapter, a chapter I knew damn well. And I realized that I knew the number 64 damn well, too.
I was at the beginning of the fantasy setting. I read once more that I was a young farmer, standing in front of a burned down far, the bodies of his dead parents next to him and that I was about to set out on a grand adventure.
For the next three hours, I analyzed every single word in the paragraph, every single one and I found as many hints as I could search for. I went back to the die paragraph and slowly I came to another conclusion and then another. The number of certain letters corresponded with the number of other objects in the space path. If you put certain letters from certain words together you ended up with yet another number. I followed every single one of them, but each one ended at another mundane position in the book. I slaved away over those as well, reached and analyzed them and I found more hints, more connections, more clues. And the longer and the more deeply I analyzed them, the more I could find, if only I wanted to. There was almost an endless number of nonsensical clues and hints if you wanted so. They were all leading me on, leading me around in a circle, on and on and on and on.
And I sat there, over the damned book, over hundreds, if not thousands of pages of notes. I sat in front of an entire wall covered in information and I laughed. For long, terrible minutes I couldn’t stop laughing.
This was all crazy. This was all entirely and utterly crazy.
And finally, it clicked. At this singular moment it finally and ultimately clicked.
There was no solution. The book had no solution. It finally made sense.
I’d slaved away for weeks, no for months, and all I’d done was to walk in circles, continue from one hint to another, only to be sent back to the beginning. The entire damned book was a loop, a loop of loops with secret loops that sent you to more secret loops.
And then, for the first time in months, I closed the book and put it away.
After that, I slowly went and took down all the mad pages from my wall, stacked up all the notes, and put them together in a box in an almost apathetic state.
I was done.
All of this had been utterly meaningless, a fundamental waste of time.
That night, I didn’t sleep. I lay in bed, contemplating a lot of things. My life, my work, the book, and why I’d been so taken by it. Yet, as with the book, there was no solution. There was nothing to it all.
The next day, with the book in my backpack, I made my way back to the store.
It felt as heavy as the world, an endless number of possibilities all resting on my back.
I knew I had to return it, I had to get rid of it before it might throw me into another crazy fit.
When I entered the store, the old man looked up.
“Can I help you with,” he started but broke up, a surprised look on his face.
“Well hello there, young man. Haven’t seen you in quite a while.”
I only nodded, took down my backpack, heaved out the book, and brought it to a rest in front of him.
“I’d like to return this.”
The old man probed me for a moment.
“We’ve got a no-money-back policy,” he said and pointed at a small, almost illegible sign behind himself.
“Yeah, that’s fine, I just want to get rid of it. I’m done with it.”
“So, you got your reward then?”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Guess so.”
“What was it?” the old man asked curiously.
“It’s meaningless, there’s no end to it. It just goes on forever.”
“Oh,” he mouthed with an expression of surprise.
“You ever tried it yourself, old man?”
“Did once, when I was younger, but I got nowhere. Was too damned hard for me.”
“There’s one thing I’m wondering about. Who the hell wrote a thing like this? I mean, it’s freaking insane. How’d’you ever write something like this?”
“Well, to tell you the truth, there’s something I didn’t tell you when you first came in. I originally bought the book from a street merchant, half a century ago. He told me a few things, and I learned a few more over the years from other people.”
“Like what?”
“There’s nothing but rumors of course. The merchant told me it was written by the Devil himself. Then someone told me it was supposedly written by Machiavelli back in the day, to confuse a man who’d wronged him and drive him mad. There was also a guy who was convinced it was the work of aliens. The most plausible thing I heard is that there’s no single author, but that it was written over the course of centuries, with each new writer adding to it and extending it, making it better and ever more complicated.”
“Heh, sounds about-“ I started, but the old man raised a hand and pushed his head forward, towards me.
“There’s one more. Someone else told me it was written by no other than God himself as a big, giant joke about our earthly existence itself.”
I laughed, but it was a weak laugh. Nothing but a giant joke, that fit it damn well, didn’t it?
And as I stepped out of the store and stared at the city surrounding me, watching the urban bustle, I began thinking.
People were hurrying past me, on their way to work, cars and buses rushed down the streets. As I watched it all, this ever-repeating bustle of civilization, I realized that it was all another never-ending loop. On and on and on we all went, doing the same thing over and over and over again.
And as I walked on I started laughing. Maybe that was all right and maybe it didn’t matter. Who knows, maybe the book was true.
Maybe all of this, all of life, all of existence, just like the damned book, was nothing but God’s big, giant joke.
submitted by RehnWriter to TheCrypticCompendium [link] [comments]

How to generate (relative) secure paper wallets and spend them (Newbies)

How to generate (relative) secure paper walletsEveryone is invited to suggest improvements, make it easier, more robust, provide alternativers, comment on what they like or not, and also critizice it.
Also, this is a disclaimer: I'm new to all of this. First, I didn't buy a hardware wallet because they are not produce in my country and I couldnt' trust they are not tampered. So the other way was to generate it myself. (Not your keys not your money) I've instructed myself several weeks reading various ways of generating wallets (including Glacier). As of now, I think this is THE BEST METHOD for a non-technical person which is high security and low cost and not that much lenghty.
FAQs:Why I didn't use Coleman's BIP 39 mnemonic method? Basically, I dont know how to audit the code. As a downside, we will have to really write down accurately our keys having in mind that a mistype is fatal. Also, we should keep in mind that destruction of the key is fatal as well. The user has to secure the key from losing the keys, theft and destruction.
Lets start
You'll need:
Notes: We will be following https://www.swansontec.com/bitcoin-dice.html guidelines. We will be creating our own random key instead of downloading BitAddress javascript for safety reasons. Following this guideline lets you audit the code that will create the public address and bitcoin address. Its simple, short and you can always test the code by inputting a known private keys to tell if the bitcoin address generated is legit or not. This process is done offline, so your private key never touches the internet.
Steps
1. Download the bitcoin-bash-tools and dice2key scripts from Github, latest Ubuntu distribution, and LiLi, A software to install Ubuntu on our flash drive (easier than what is proposed on Swansontec)

2. Install the live environment in a CD or USB, and paste the tools we are going to use inside of it (they are going to be located in file://cdrom)

  • Open up LiLi and insert your flash drive.

  • Make sure you’ve selected the correct drive (click refresh if drive isn’t showing).
  • Choose “ISO/IMG/ZIP” and select the Ubuntu ISO file you’ve downloaded in the previous step.
  • Make sure only “Format the key in FAT32” is selected.
  • Click the lightning bolt to start the format and installation process
  • [https://99bitcoins.com/bitcoin-wallet/pape\](https://99bitcoins.com/bitcoin-wallet/pape)

    3. Open the Ubuntu environment in a offline computer that will never touch the internet again (there is some malware that infect the BIOS so doing it in your regular computer is not safe to my understanding)

    Restart your computer. Clicking F12 or F1 during the boot-up process will allow you to choose to run your operating system from your flash drive or CD. After the Ubuntu operating system loads you will choose the “try Ubuntu” option.
    4. Roll the dice 100 times and convert into a 32-byte hexadecimal number by using dice2key

    To generate a Bitcoin private key using normal, run the following command to convert the dice rolls into a 32-byte hexadecimal number:source dice2key (100 six-sided dice rolls)

    5. Run newBitcoinKey 0x + your private key and it will give you your: public address, bitcoin address and WIF.Save the Private Key and Bitcoin Address. Check several times that you handwritten it correctly. You can check by re entering the code in the console from your paper. (I recommend writing down the Private Key which is in HEX and not the WIF since this one is key sensitive and you can lose it, or write it wrong. Also, out of the private key you can get the WIF which will let you transfer your funds). If you lose your key, you lose your funds. Be careful.
    If auditing the code for this is not enough for you, you can also test the code by inputting a known private keys to tell if the bitcoin address generated is legit or not.
    I recommend you generate several keys and addresses as this process is not super easy to do. Remember that you should never reuse your paper wallets (meaning that you should empty all of the funds from this one adress if you are making a payment). As such, a couple of addresses come handy.
    At this point, there should be no way for information to leak out of the live CD environment. The live CD doesn't store anything on the hard disk, and there is no network connection. Everything that happens from now on will be lost when the computer is rebooted.
    Now, start the "Terminal" program, and type the following command:
    source ~/bitcoin.shThis will load the address-calculation script. Now, use the script to find the Bitcoin address for your private key:
    newBitcoinKey 0x(your dice digits)Replace the part that says "(your dice digits)" with 64 digits found by rolling your pair of hexadecimal dice 32 times. Be sure there is no space between the "0x" and your digits. When all is said and done, your terminal window should look like this:
    [email protected]:~$ source ~/[email protected]:~$ newBitcoinKey 0x8010b1bb119ad37d4b65a1022a314897b1b3614b345974332cb1b9582cf03536---secret exponent: 0x8010B1BB119AD37D4B65A1022A314897B1B3614B345974332CB1B9582CF03536public key: X: 09BA8621AEFD3B6BA4CA6D11A4746E8DF8D35D9B51B383338F627BA7FC732731 Y: 8C3A6EC6ACD33C36328B8FB4349B31671BCD3A192316EA4F6236EE1AE4A7D8C9compressed: WIF: L1WepftUBemj6H4XQovkiW1ARVjxMqaw4oj2kmkYqdG1xTnBcHfC bitcoin address: 1HV3WWx56qD6U5yWYZoLc7WbJPV3zAL6Hiuncompressed: WIF: 5JngqQmHagNTknnCshzVUysLMWAjT23FWs1TgNU5wyFH5SB3hrP bitcoin address: [email protected]:~$The script produces two public addresses from the same private key. The "compressed" address format produces smaller transaction sizes (which means lower transaction fees), but it's newer and not as well-supported as the original "uncompressed" format. Choose which format you like, and write down the "WIF" and "bitcoin address" on a piece of paper. The "WIF" is just the private key, converted to a slightly shorter format that Bitcoin wallet apps prefer.
    Double-check your paper, and reboot your computer. Aside from the copy on the piece of paper, the reboot should destroy all traces of the private key. Since the paper now holds the only copy of the private key, do not lose it, or you will lose the ability to spend any funds sent to the address!
    Conclusion
    With this method you are creating an airgapped environment that will never touch the internet. Also, we are checking that the code we use its not tampered. If this is followed strictly I see virtually no chances of your keys being hacked.
    How to spend your funds from a securely generated paper wallet.
    Almost all tutorials seen online, will let you import or sweep you private keys into the desktop wallet or mobile wallet which are hot wallets. In the meantime, you are exposed and all of your work to secure the cold storage is being thrown away. This method will let you sign the transaction offline (you will not expose your private key in an online system).
    You'll need:
    The source of this method is taken from CryptoGuide from Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9kf9LMnJpI&t=86s . Basically you can follow his video as it is foolproof. Please check that Electrum distribution is signed.
    The summarized steps are:
    Download Electrum on both devices and check its signed for safey.Disconnect your phone from the internet (flight mode= All connections off) and input your private key in ElectrumGenerate the transaction in your desktop and export it via QR (never leave unspent BTC or you will lose them)In your phone, open Electrum > Send > QR (this will import the transaction) and scan the desktop exported transactionSign the transaction in your phone.Export the signed transaction in QRLoad the signed transaction in the desktop Electrum and broadcast it to the network.Wait until 3 confirmations to connect your phone to the internet again.
    Ideas for improvement:
    So thats it. I hope someone can find this helpful or help in creating a better method. If you like, you can donate at 1Che7FG93vDsbes6NPBhYuz29wQoW7qFUH
    submitted by Heron-Express to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

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    Summary of Tau-Chain Monthly Video Update - August 2020

    Transcript of the Tau-Chain & Agoras Monthly Video Update – August 2020
    Karim:
    Major event of this past month: Release of the Whitepaper. Encourages everyone to read the Whitepaper because it’s going to guide our development efforts for the foreseeable future. Development is proceeding well on two major fronts: 1. Agoras Live website: Features are being added to it, only two major features are missing 2. TML: We identified ten major tasks to be completed before the next release. Three of them are optimization features which are very important for the speed and performance features of TML. In terms of time requirements, we feel very good to stay on schedule for the end of this year. We also are bringing in two extra resources to help us get there as soon as possible.
    Umar:
    Been working on changes in the string relation, especially moving from binary string representation to unistring. The idea is that now rather than having two arguments in the term, you would have a single argument for the string. Thus, the hierarchy changes from two to one and that has an effect on speed and on the storage. So the first few numbers that we calculated showed that we are around 10% faster than with the binary string. There are some other changes that need to be made with regards to the string which he is working on.
    Tomas:
    Had to revise how we encode characters in order to be compatible with the internet. It also was the last missing piece in order to compute persistence. The reason is that the stored data has to be portable and if TML needs characters and strings internally in the same encoding as it stores its own data, we can map strings directly into files and gain lots of speed with it. The code is now pushed in the repository and can be tested. He’s also working on a TML tutorial and likely before next update, there should be something available online.
    Kilian:
    Transcribed past month’s video update. You can find it on Reddit. Also, he has done more outreach towards potential partner universities and research groups and this month the response rate was better than earlier, most likely because of the whitepaper release. Positive replies include: University of Mannheim, Trier (Computational Linguistics & Digital Humanities), research group AI KR from within the W3C (https://www.w3.org/community/aik) articulated strong interest in getting a discussion going, particularly because they had some misconceptions about blockchain. They would like to have a Q&A session with a couple of their group members but first it’s important for us to have them read the whitepaper to get a basic understanding and then be able to ask respective questions. Other interested parties include the Computational Linguistics research group of the University of Groningen, Netherlands and also the Center for Language Technology of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. We also got connected to the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Also has done some press outreach in combination with the whitepaper, trying to get respective media outlets to cover our project, but so far hasn’t gotten feedback back. Been discussing the social media strategy with Ohad and Fola, trying to be more active on our channels and have a weekly posting schedule on Twitter including non-technical and technical contests that engage with all parts of our community. Furthermore, has opened up a discussion on Discord (https://discord.gg/qZtJs78) in the “Tau-Discussion” channel around the topics that Ohad mentioned he would first like to see discussed on Tau (see https://youtu.be/O4SFxq_3ask?t=2225):
    1. Definitions of what good and bad means and what better and worse means.
    2. The governance model over Tau.
    3. The specification of Tau itself and how to make it grow and evolve even more to suit wider audiences. The whole point of Tau is people collaborating in order to define Tau itself and to improve it over time, so it will improve up to infinity. This is the main thing, especially initially, that the Tau developers (or rather users) advance the platform more and more.
    If you are interested in participating in the discussion, join our Discord (https://discord.gg/qZtJs78) and post your thoughts – we’d appreciate it! Also has finished designing the bounty claiming process, so people that worked on a bounty now can claim their reward by filling out the bounty claiming form (https://forms.gle/HvksdaavuJbu4PCV8). Been also working on revamping the original post in the Bitcointalk-Thread. It contains a lot of broken links and generally is outdated, so he’s using the whitepaper to give it a complete overhaul. With the whitepaper release, the community also got a lot more active which was great to see and thus, he dedicated more time towards supporting the community.
    Mo’az:
    Finished multiple milestones with regards to the Agoras Live website: 1. Question part where people post their requests and knowledge providers can help them with missing knowledge. 2. Have been through multiple iterations of how to approach the services in the website. How the service seeker can discover new people through the website. 3. Connected the limited, static categories on the website to add more diversity to it. By adding tags, it will be easier for service seekers to find what they are looking for. 4. Onboarding: Been working on adding an onboarding step for the user, so the user chooses categories of his interest and as a result, he will find the homepage to be more personalized towards him and his interests. 5. New section to the user profile added: The service that the knowledge provider can provide. Can be added as tags or free text. 6. Search: Can filter via free text and filter by country, language, etc. 7. Been working on how to display the knowledge providers on the platform.
    Andrei:
    Improved look of the Agoras Live front page: Looks more clean. Finetuned search options. Redesigned the header. It now has notification icons. If you query a knowledge provider for an appointment, he will receive a notification about the new appointment to be approved or rejected. You can also add a user to your favorites. Front page now randomly displays users. Also implemented email templates, e.g. a thank you email upon registration or an appointment reminder. What is left to do is the session list and then the basic engine will be ready. Also needs to implement the “questions” section.
    Juan:
    Has switched towards development of TML related features. Been working mainly on the first order logic support. Has integrated the formula parser with the TML core functionality. With this being connected, we added to TML quantified Boolean function solving capability in the same way as we get the first order logic support. It’s worth mentioning that this feature is being supported by means of the main optimized BDD primitives that we already have in the TML engine. Looking forward to make this scalable in terms of formula sizes. It’s a matter of refining the Boolean solution and doing proper tests to show this milestone to the community in a proper way.
    Fola:
    Have been discussing the feasibility of a token swap towards ERC20 from the Omni token with exchanges and internally with the team. Also has been discussing the social media strategy with Kilian. As we update with the new visual identity and the branding, it’s a good time to boost our social media channels and look ready for the next iteration of our look and feel. Continuing on the aspects of our visual identity and design, he’s been talking to quite a number of large agencies who have been involved in some of the larger projects in the software space. One being Phantom (https://phantom.land) who designed the DeepMind website (https://deepmind.com), the other one being Outcast (https://theoutcastagency.com) who have been working with Intel and SalesForce. We aren’t sure yet with which company we go but it’s been good to get insight into how they work and which steps they’d take into getting our project out to the wider audience. That whole process has been a lot of research into what kind of agencies we’d want to get involved with. Also, with the release of the whitepaper being such a big milestone in the history of the company, he’s been doing a lot of reading of that paper. We’re also looking to get more manpower involved with the TML website. Also going to hire a frontend developer for the website and the backend will be done according to Ohad’s requirements. Also, as a response of the community’s feedback towards the Omni deck not being user friendly, he did some outreach to the Omni team and introduced them to a partner exchange for Agoras Live. They have an “exchange-in-a-box” service which may help Omni to have a much more usable interface for the Omni Dex, so hopefully they will be working together to improve the usability of the Omni Dex.
    Ohad:
    Finished writing the community draft of the whitepaper. The final version will contain changes according to the community’s feedback and more elaboration on more topics that weren’t inserted in the current paper, including logics for law and about the full process of Tau. And, as usual, he’s been doing more research of second order logic, specifically, Boolean options and also analyzing the situation where the formulas in conjunctive normal form trying to extract some information from such a cnf. Also, what Juan mentioned about first order logic: People who are already familiar with TML will see that now with this change, the easiness of using TML got much more advanced. In first order formulas, expressing yourself has become much easier than before.
    Q&A:
    Q: What is the difference between Horn Second Order Logic and Krom Second Order Logic?
    A: Horn and Krom are special cases of cnf (conjunctive normal form). Conjunctive normal form means the formula has the form of n conjunction between clauses. This clause and this clause while each clause is a disjunction of atoms: It’s this or this or this or that. And now any formula can be written in conjunctive form. Any formula can be brought to this form. Krom is the case where each clause contains exactly two atoms and Horn is the case where at most one atom in every clause is positive – thre rest are negated, that’s the definition.
    Q: Now that the whitepaper has been released, how do you think it will affect the work of the developers?
    A: We see the whitepaper as being a roadmap of development for us, so it will essentially be the vision that we are working to implement. Of course, we have to turn it into much more specific tasks, but as you saw from the detailed progress from last month, that’s exactly what we do.
    Q: When can we expect the new website?
    A: We’ve just updated the website with the whitepaper and the new website should be launching after we get the branding done. There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of considerations taking place. We have to get the graphics ready and the front end done. The branding is the most important step we have to get done and once that is complete, we will launch the new website.
    Q: What needs to be resolved next before we get onto a solid US exchange?
    A: With the whitepaper released, that’s probably been the biggest hurdle we had to get over. At this point, we still have to confirm some elements of the plan with the US regulators and we do need to have some sort of product available. Be that the TML release or Agoras Live, there needs to be something out for people to use. So, in conjunction with the whitepaper and approval from the US regulators, we need to have a product available to get onto US exchanges.
    Q: Does the team still need to get bigger to reach cruising speed, if so, how much by and in which areas?
    A: Of course, any development team would like to have as many resources as possible but working with the resources we that have right now, we are making significant progress towards the two development goals that we have, both the Agoras Live website and the TML engine. But we are bringing in at least two more resources in the near future but there’s no lack of work to be done and also there’s no lack of progress.
    Q: Will Prof. Carmi continue to work in the team and if so, in what capacity?
    A: Sure, Prof. Carmi will continue coordinating with us. Right now, he’s working on the mathematics of certain features in the derivatives market that Agoras is planned to have, and also ongoing research in relevant logic.
    Q: Will you translate the whitepaper into other languages?
    A: Yes, we expect translations of the whitepaper to occur. The most important languages that comprise our community, e.g. Chinese. What languages exactly, we cannot tell right now, but mainly the most prominent languages that comprise our community.
    Q: Is the roadmap on the website still correct and, when will we move to the next step?
    A: We will be revamping the website soon including the roadmap that will be a summary of what’s been published in the whitepaper but the old version of the roadmap on the website is no longer up-to-date.
    Q: What are the requirements for Agoras to have its own chain?
    A: If the question means why Agoras doesn’t have its own chain right now, well there is no special reason. We need to reach there and we will reach there.
    Q: When Agoras switches to its own chain, will you need to create a new payments system from scratch?
    A: No, we won’t have to. We will have to integrate with the new payment channel but that’s something we are planning to do anyway. We will be integrating with several exchanges and several payment channels so it won’t be a huge task. Most of the heavy lifting is in the wallet and key management which will be done on the client side but we’re already planning on having more than one payment gateway anyway so having one more is no problem.
    Q: When can we see Tau work with a real practical example?
    A: For examples of applications of TML, we are currently working on a TML tutorial and a set of demos. Two of our developers are currently working on it and it’s going to be a big part of our next release.
    Q: How can we make speaking in formal languages easier, with an example?
    A: Coming up with a usable and convenient formal language is a big task which maybe it’s even safe to say no one achieved up until today. But we solve this problem indirectly yet completely by not coming up with any language but letting languages to be created and evolve over time through the internet of languages. We don’t have any solution of how to make formal languages very easy for everyone. It will be a collaborative effort over Tau together to reach there over time. You can see in the whitepaper in the section 4.2 about “The Critical Mass and the Tau Chain Reaction”.
    Q: What are the biggest limitations of Tau and, are they solvable?
    A: TML cannot do everything that requires more than polynomial space to be done and there are infinitely many things like this. For example, you can look up x time or x space complete problems. We would want to say elementary but there is no elementary complete problem but there are complete problems in each of the levels of elementary. All those, TML cannot do because this is above polynomial space. Another drawback of TML which comes from the usage of BDDs is arithmetic. In particular, multiplication. Multiplication is highly inefficient in TML because of the nature of BDDs and of course BDDs bring so many more good things that even this drawback of slow multiplication is small compared to all the possibilities that this gives us. Another limitation, which we will emphasize in the next version of the whitepaper, is the satisfiability problem. The satisfiability problem of a formula without a model to ask whether a model exists – not a model checking like right now but to ask whether a model exists – this is undecidable already on very restricted classes as follows from Trakhtenbrot’s theory. So in particular, the containment problem, the scalability problem, the validity problem, they all are undecidable in TML as is and for them to be decidable, we need to restrict even more the expressive power and look at narrower fragments of the language. But again, this will be more emphasized in the next version of the whitepaper.
    Q: It looks years for projects such as Maidsafe to build something mediocre, why should Agoras be able to do similar or better in less time?
    A: Early on in the life of the Tau project, we’ve identified the computational resources marketplace as one of the possible applications of Tau, so it is very much on our roadmap. However, as you mentioned, there are some other projects, e.g. Filecoin, which is specifically focusing on the problem of storage. So even though it’s on our roadmap, we’re not there yet but we are watching closely what our competitors in this field are doing. While they haven’t yet delivered on their promise of an open and distributed storage network, we feel that at some point we will have more value to bring to the project. So distributed storage is on our roadmap but it’s not a priority for us right now but eventually we’ll get there.
    Q: What are the requirements in scalability, e.g. permanent storage etc.?
    A: We haven’t answered that question yet.
    Q: Will Tau be able to run on a mobile phone?
    A: Definitely, Yes. We’re planning on being available on all computational platforms, be it a server, laptop, phone or an iPad type of device.
    Q: Given a vast trove of knowledge, how can Tau determine relevance? Can it also build defenses against spam attacks and garbage data?
    A: Tau doesn’t offer any predetermined solution to this. It is basically all up to the user. The user will have to define what’s criminal and what’s not. Of course, most users will not bother with defining this but they will be able to automatically agree to people who already defined it and by that import their definitions. So bottom line: It’s really up to the users.
    Q: What are your top priorities for the next three months?
    A: Our goal for this year (2020) is to release a first version of Agoras Live and of TML.
    Q: Ohad mentioned the following at the start of the year: Time for us to work on Agoras. We need to create the Agoras team and commence work. We made a major improvement in one of Agoras’ aspects in the form of theatrical breakthrough but we’re not ready yet to share the details publicly. Is there any further news or progress with the development of Agoras?
    A: If the question is whether there has been more progress in the development of Agoras, specifically with regards to new discoveries for the derivatives market, then the answer is of course yes. Professor Carmi is now working on those inventions related to the derivatives market. We still keep them secret and of course, with Agoras Live, knowledge sharing for money is coming.
    submitted by m4nki to tauchain [link] [comments]

    The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong (Author: Simon Shen 沈旭暉)

    The below essay by Simon Shen (沈旭暉), a Hong Kong-based political scientist and columnist.
    Link to original essay: Facebook
    YouTube channel (Cantonese)
    His videos and articles has been on this sub a few times (See https://redd.it/hmttfa https://redd.it/gn5j83), so I thought this one is also worth a read and discuss, whether we agree or not.

    The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong

    July 1st, 2020 shall be remembered as the day Hong Kong completed its second Handover to China. A strong sense of despair clouds over the city as Beijing nuked us with the National Security Law (NSL). The thought of losing the authenticity of Hong Kong forever is ingrained in many of us.
    The same day, the sun rises in the east as usual.The rule of thumb to survive this era of turmoil is to maintain control of your mental state. Remain unflappable by the ongoing absurdity. You live your life at your own pace with no restrictions. And that is how you win in society, at the workplace, on campus, and in marriage.
    As to how we could achieve that, I hope my two-cents would give you some ideas.
    The officials expected us to be overwhelmed, terrified, and occupied by NSL. Nevertheless, the clauses of the law have never been the main course of this extravagant meal. What truly awaits for us is the complete makeover of the Hong Kong ruling. Abolishing the standard procedure inherited from British Hong Kong, rationality and logical decision-making are soon replaced by the ambiguity of the authoritarian “rule of law” of China. Hong Kong has lost its place in the globe at the mercy of NSL; that is, to show a lucid message: Beijing could withdraw the “One Country, Two Systems” principle however it sees fit. Moreover, it is the re-education training CCP set up for Hongkongers to make them know their place and accept the “Mainland ideology,” which includes tolerating laws and regulations that are more “lenient” to serve the Chinese political agenda. Placing the national interests in heart, it is farewell to “Rule of Law,” and the common understanding of right and wrong and dos and don’ts.
    This is the textbook example of authoritarian ruling. Perhaps people would be seeing some form of democracy and freedom; however, those were merely decoys in which the supreme power vested afar.
    23 years after the Handover, pro-Beijing population remains small by default. The young generation rebukes Chinese identity even more than before. The enactment of NSL indicates the failure of CCP’s strategic approaches to entice Hongkongers. If the regular and United Front approaches failed through, they might as well execute eradication instead. It may appear as China is calling for enticement, but the underlying measures/gimmicks are showing something else. The grand Unity of Mainland and Hong Kong is nothing more than a hoax.
    In this new Hong Kong, measurements taken to appease public backlash or allow people to express their frustration toward politicians or policies are stored in the past. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government has adopted more extreme approaches—severing Hong Kong into the pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp; bringing back Cultural Revolution tactics to effectively counteract dissentance; and activating 24/7 monitorization of the population. The propaganda of the CCP regime is to increasingly disintegrate the mutual trust between people by ratting and spying. Building the new norm where the civil society crumbles and espionage is normalized. People with malicious intent may find this new world rather exciting. Without the checks and balances or supervision in the system, the escalating waves of purging the “impure” in the next 2 years are anticipated.
    The hostile public opinion of Hong Kong toward Beijing’s decisions have always been a throne in the flesh for the ruling party which led to it prioritizing the disunification of the Hong Kong civil society in the following 2 years—gathering the elites from all professions, alternating the policies of media regulations, reforming education to be more CCP-interests-oriented, and emphasizing the governmental compliance of all departments for effective executions of the new laws. The small population that is most affected by NSL would be those who are in the “Four Black Categories,” including the influencers and KOLs. The two major key points for Hong Kong government’s guidelines are “rule by law” and “always have the national interests at heart.” Regardless of NSL, Public Order Ordinance(POO) per se or any other laws could be used to incriminate the dissidents. Even a world-renowned Chinese artist such as Ai Weiwei was accused of Tax Evasion. Apolitical celebrities with millions of fans and could also be targeted; e.g. Fan Bingbing. Over time, people would adapt to self-censorship. As their minds slowly die of a thousand cuts to circumvent trespassing the political “bottom-line”, it includes avoiding dissenting the propaganda and minimizing exposure that may attract unwanted attention.
    Oddly enough, if you were to be a tourist, you probably would not be able to capture the post-NSL nuances of this hollow Hong Kong. You would see all business continue, stock market arises, and the real estate market thrives as usual. It is as if the script written for the second Handover would play out successfully, as long as the basic needs of Hongkongers are satisfied.
    Amidst of this turmoil, Hongkongers wouldn’t need me to elaborate more; however, we should ask ourselves if there is something else that we could do. Do you still remember how we were like before all of these occur? What are the options we have aside from obeying to the laws, immigrating out of our homeland, or starting riots? How should we live in the middle of this mess?
    From the anti-extradition law protest to the ongoing movement we have today—disregarding the variations in the slogans—we are a part of the global transformation which is beyond politics and may very well be a segment of the fourth industrial revolution. Moving forward from now, with AI replacing brain-power taxing positions, it would be unlikely for anyone to have a stable job and their retirement secured. With that being said, we are facing a tomorrow where people could no longer rely on a singular path for career planning. The younglings are determined and flexible about making chances. They are independent individuals who seek for autonomy in life without relying on governmental entities, pro-establishment units, and consortiums, for their survival which tie into a global trend. The “ultrastable system” of the good old times Hong Kong is in the past. The young generation is calling for “Laam Chau.” (self-destruction to counterbalance Hong Kong government) Acknowledging the fact that enduring injustice would not secure any job positions, the young generation tends to take on entrepreneurship and minimizing their political dependency.
    Many friends started talking about immigration. A decade ago, the media were hyping the topic regarding whether or not I would be immigrating to Singapore. I have been repeating myself—the concept of immigration is obsolete. Over the past year, would you say that the overseas Hongkongers contributed more to the movement or the apolitical Hongkongers? Even if we hold multiple citizenships, travel around the world, send our children to study abroad, or hold investments in another country, what would it matter? Any of those would not affect our Hongkonger identity. When online classes are given remotely on Zoom, would it matter if you are in Hong Kong or in Congo? The physical location of Hong Kong shouldn’t tie us down. We should sever ourselves from the idea of leaving or staying and make the world our home. By stitching the virtual world to the real world, we are undefeated by constant change. To me, that is what Hong Kong really is.
    All censorship from the authoritarian regime have one in common; that is, the oppressions could never be reasoned with the Common Law. If the pro-democracy anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong,” is prohibited to be sung on campuses, what about the 80’s Cantopop hit, “Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies” or “Blowing in the Wind” which both hint liberation in the lyrics? As the movement slogan, “Five Demands, Not One Less,” was banned, could the protesters express their dissent by raising their hands to point out 5 and 1 or having the number 5 and 1 written over their tops? Does everything related to the number 5 and 1 need to be a politically sensitive topic? Could we still talk about the Labor Day that falls on May 1st? The rebellious ideology is embedded in the mind of Hong Kong protesters, as people have witnessed the incompetence of our government on a daily basis. This movement has been embodying innovation in various ways. No extra commentaries are needed. This is the true essence of “be water.”
    Similarly, Poland and the Czech Republic in the 60s were under greater oppression than what we have been seeing in recent Hong Kong; however, “life always finds a way.” We now live in a globalized world where “colluding foreign forces” is unnecessary, with the help of our overseas brothers and sisters to amplify the pro-democracy messages to the international community. We shall acknowledge the fact that dwelling on the past does no one any good for sustaining this movement.
    You could be someone who lacks the courage to venture out of the comfort zone, refuses to adapt to having multiple careers, resists leaving the physical location of Hong Kong, fears to put on a yellow helmet (a pro-democracy symbol), and chooses to be enslaved by the ruling party. Even if you are a Blue Ribbon ( pro-established or pro-Beijing person), as long as you are not a part of the most extreme 20% of the deep Blue Ribbon community, I say you are still a very valuable asset to Hong Kong. In this NSL-enacted Hong Kong, you should give it some thoughts about what advantages you hold that the “new Hongkongers” cannot offer. If you cannot answer this question, then no matter how patriotic you are, you will be eliminated in the next wave of selection. “Survival the fittest.” Even in Chinese companies, they still need Hongkongers to do the due diligence for them. In bureaucratic institutions, the Chinese would still need someone with a creative spirit and an international perspective while putting on a nationalist front.
    Many have expressed their concerns toward the implementation of “Indoctrination” in Hong Kong, including some of the pro-Beijing parents. By sending their children to non-state-owned schools, their actions speak louder than their words. The new trend of education has confirmed that the traditional classroom model inherited from the 19th century Prussian teaching is outdated. Through big data, the teaching materials are personalized for individuals; moreover, students may build up their unique libraries of knowledge via their personal experience and curiosity. Regretfully, the new Hong Kong under authoritarian ruling embraces a rigid education system where syllabi and marking scheme is key to grooming the next generation of nationalists. The instructors would be under surveillance, school principals would bend to state-interests policies, and households would monitor each other for anti-government speeches or actions. Apparently, CCP would not succeed in brainwashing anyone with these educational reformations. Perhaps, Tik Tok may be more effective. Personalized education is an irreversible global trend. The authoritarian Hong Kong could butcher education but it could not prevent people from adapting to other alternatives. I would like to believe that the younger generations would harness the power of the internet and seize the opportunities given by an international community that has become more amiable to Hong Kong.
    NSL’s main target is those who are “in collusion with foreign forces. How ironic is it to see how the strong connections between Hong Kong and the global community came back to bite per se? I recall reading from a research report, stating that on average every 1 out of 3 to 4 Hongkongers have connections overseas—overseas relatives, holding foreign qualifications or degrees, overseas working experience, having international investments, or having work contacts with foreign employees. Hongkongers have been colluding with the foreign forces before NSL made it a crime. The 2020 Hong Kong is suffering from cultural discontinuity created by the conflicts between the Chinese authoritarian system and the Western democracy system. Soon enough, “mass surveillance enabled by Big Data” vs. “A.I. regulated by privacy concerns” could be a multiple choice question for all Hongkongers. As long as Hongkongers are connected to the global network, we shall not lose our resilience against oppression.
    To sum it up, Hongkongers have incorporated the world into “the revolution of our time.” March on and be water. The world we are facing is no longer black and white or binary of any sort. We may not reap what we sow. This is a long-term fight that requires us to be resourceful, as well as being mentally and physically prepared.
    You may ask if I have ever wanted to leave Hong Kong. Ironically, since my 18th birthday, I have never stayed in Hong Kong for so long. The past 6 months, aside from pandemic, I have been sentimental toward this land. My profession and residences require me to travel a lot of places. I hardly stayed in Hong Kong for long as I made that decision deliberately 10 years ago. Now you may understand where I am coming from. Thus, I would not change for this NSL-enacted Hong Kong. I would not stay to make a statement, nor would I leave this land to make a stance. To my dear friends out there, my piece of advice has been the same—live like a digital nomad and have your footstep stamped locally and globally. No need to start from scratch. You may join a community that is well-established.
    Should I self-censor for my safety? I’ve never been an editorial writer. My rationally words and videos are merely personal expressions of a Hongkonger. I honestly can’t get any more cautious. I am the same Simon Shen, now and always. We should not take any form of harassment or attacks personally.
    Before the extradition law and the NSL, CCP had been effectively silencing dissents by sending them on one-way trips to Mainland China (i.e. Causeway Bay Books disappearances). The regime needed no bills to aid its attempt of kidnapping those who dare to voice up. Hong Kong has fallen too fast that no one bothers to attack or criticize the kidnaps. There is no such thing as making something less absurd by talking about it more. The systematic oppression of Hong Kong’s civil freedom does not only come from the without but also the within; especially when nowadays all we could talk about is “safety” and “survival.” It is exactly what CCP wanted for us to believe—we are trapped and our lives depends on our compliance. Hongkongers are being tested for our resilience. If we couldn’t pass this challenge together, how could we stand up tall as proud Hongkongers?
    As to making ends meet, I’ve always believed that the global Hongkonger network is a large enough of encomany to support, expand, and give back to Hong Kong. We are all at its mercy, including me becoming a KOL. Within the Hongkonger community, I wish to be more practical and strategic; especially, in terms of elevating our quality of living. CCP is extremely calculative and different from us. It is my deepest belief that when the world sees how irreplaceable Hongkongers are that is the day when we can anticipate change. Before then, we will keep a low profile and prepare for this long battle.
    Do expect the next two years to be a long rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. Hongkongers will only thrive through the hardships. Buckle up, winter is coming.
    submitted by baylearn to HongKong [link] [comments]

    Looking for practice? Want to expand your AHK knowledge? I got you covered.

    I made a reply a while ago to Swaggurttt (could you give us an update of how things have been going?)
    He wanted to learn more about AHK. So I provided him a list of new things to learn past just "press button > send keys".
    Hopefully, some people reading will take this opportunity to branch out and learn some new things that AHK is capable of. From stepping into the aesthetically pleasing world of GUIs to using RegEx to become a string manipulating master. From braving the cryptic DllCall() command that lets you embrace code from other files thus making your scripts much more robust and useful, to having a whole slew of problems and puzzles that will test your ability to utilize AHK's capabilities.

    Practice, Problems, and Challenges - It's like fun homework

    Let's start with 4 websites that will give you tons of practice. From easy to insanely difficult. Between these 4 sites, you should have more things to do than you could ever finish.
    Code Abbey
    The site I've spent the most time on. From the easiest "add two variables" all the way to "write an AI". It's a good place to learn core programming skills and develop logic. Parsing through data, calculating variables, using arrays, etc...
    Funny thing is this website is the reason I'm making this post. It has been a while since I used this site and I couldn't remember the address. So I looked up this post and...here we are!
    Rosetta Code
    Another good site, though I like Code Abbey's layout, sorting, and input/output method more. Rosetta has its own pros, like showing you solutions in TONS of different languages. Very helpful if you're familiar with other programming languages.
    Code Chef
    This was suggested to me a while ago and I've only done a couple of problems. Not because it's a bad site, but because I just haven't had the time to try and nuke the list. I figured it was worth including.
    Those 3 should keep you busy for quite some time. Plus...
    The AHK Subreddit
    This subreddit is a treasure trove of problems! I used to spend a ton of time just trying other people's problems, coming up with my own solutions, and comparing what I come up with to others. You can learn a TON doing it this way. And comparing answers afterward only teaches you newer and better ways of doing things. Consider the unbelievable amount of backlogged posts you can go through. Years and years worth.

    How about some suggestions for parts of AHK to learn?

    RegEx (Regular Expressions) - Master of Strings

    This is a mini-language for manipulating strings. Learn it! If there's a discernible pattern to what you're looking for, you definitely can write a RegEx to find it. See: RegExMatch and RegExReplace. Bonus: It should be noted that RegEx is its own little mini-language with its own rules and syntax. BUT, once you learn it, you now know it for almost every other programming language (minus some discrepancies between flavors).
    RegEx Resources:

    COMs - Letting you interface with other shit one command at a time!

    COMs are pretty amazing. They let you interact with lots of different things on windows. Microsoft lets you access things like Internet Explorer, Excel, Word, Access, (literally the entire office suite), shell, WIN HTTP, VBScript, etc... It lets you use those programs directly from AHK. This increases reliability near infinitesimally compared to blind clicking and typing. You can web scrape like a boss using the IE COM. You can manipulate Excel spreadsheets, get data from them, update them, and whatever else you want. COMs are handy.
    Resources:
    There are also quite a few videos on YouTube that you can also check out.

    GUIs - I feel pretty. Oh so pretty....

    Learn to make and manipulate Graphical User Interfaces or GUIs. When you want user-friendly interaction with the users of your code, GUIs can be the perfect answer. A non-programmer isn't going to want to run scripts with switches or open up .ahk file or edit code to change settings. Enter the GUI!
    The "Read This Before Posting!" stickied tutorial post has some good WYSIWYG suggestions. And it stands for What You See Is What You Get...that's really what they're called. Personally, I'm a fan of GUI Creator by Maestrith.
    You'll spend a LOT of time trying to learn all the different things GUIs can do.
    The AHK docs are the go-to for this stuff. Here are the pages you'll be visiting quite often:
    I'd like to add a neat method I've started doing for tracking elements because it used to be a struggle for me. When I create a GUI, I like to keep everything inside of functions and I really don't want to create global variables for everything. I find myself making a single global Object in the AES. Then, whenever I create a GUI element, I always add the hwnd option to it and then immediately save that HWND to the array. Plus, you can logically name it so it's much easier to recall.
    Example:
    Global guiHwnd := {} NewGUI() MsgBox, % "Cancel Btn: " guiHwnd.CancelBtn "`nOK Btn: " guiHwnd.OKBtn ExitApp NewGUI(){ Gui, New Gui, Add, Button, hwndBtn gOKBtn, OK guiHwnd.okBtn := btn Gui, Add, Button, hwndBtn gCancelBtn, Cancel guiHwnd.cancelBtn := btn Gui, Show Return } 
    GUIs are an excellent segue into DllCalls. Why? Because DllCall can let you fine-tune a GUI.

    DllCall - Rule #1 of coding: Don't reinvent the wheel!

    One thing we learn real quick in programming is you don't rewrite code that's already been created and thoroughly tested. It's a waste of time! That's why people will bundle up their code into these neat packages called DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries) and then publish them for others to use. These let you call commands and functions outside of the native AHK language. Meaning you can interact with Window's internal functions directly from your script! This opens up a TON of possibilities for any script and unlocks some of the restrictions that come with AHK. Like changing things about GUIs that AHK doesn't have an option for. Or getting info directly from the operating system because we don't have an AHK command or function created to do so.
    It's not just limited to Windows functions. It can access any DLL. As long as you know how to interface with it.
    This MSDN link has a top-level link to all of the core things you need to learn about DLLCalling to windows.

    GDI+ - Giving you the ability to create and manipulate graphics on the Windows level

    GDI is Window's Graphics Device Interface. A user named Tic (Tariq Porter) wrote GDI+ for AHK. It handles ALL the DllCalls you need to make to the GDI to manipulate graphics, draw shapes and objects, import pictures, etc. You know all the stuff you can do in Paint? You can do ALL that anywhere at any time on the screen using AHK & GDIP. Without having to ever load Paint. Please note the GDI+ repo also includes tutorials on how to use the library. It doesn't cover everything quite as in-depth as I'd like it to, but the examples will give you plenty to go off of.
    Why are you still reading this? You should have gotten distracted way up top and started trying stuff on Code Abbey!
    OK, one challenge I always like to give people.
    Recreate the Window's calculator. And make it work exactly the same. Initially, it sounds easy! But, duplicating the functionality AND the aesthetics can be pretty tricky. This is actually a tough challenge with lots of parts. You'll have to make a GUI that looks as close as possible to calc.exe. Make the display function the same, make every button work correctly, calculations should work, memory buttons should function, etc. Don't forget to make an icon for it and also to disable the AHK system tray icon, just like the real thing. Oh! And recreate the menu, too. This will give you practice on TONS of different aspects. It's complex enough to be challenging but not so complex no one would ever want to do it.
    If you can get this done and want to extend things further, try making the scientific version of the calculator!! There's a real challenge. The extra advanced math buttons each have to work correctly.
    Go, try, learn. If you get stuck, come back to the sub and ask for help. Or hit up the Discord crew. While you're waiting for an answer, you can always go through some of the current questions on the sub.
    I hope you guys enjoy this post.
    submitted by GroggyOtter to AutoHotkey [link] [comments]

    MAME 0.219

    MAME 0.219

    MAME 0.219 arrives today, just in time for the end of February! This month we’ve got another piece of Nintendo Game & Watch history – Pinball – as well as a quite a few TV games, including Dream Life Superstar, Designer’s World, Jenna Jameson’s Strip Poker, and Champiyon Pinball. The previously-added Care Bears and Piglet’s Special Day TV games are now working, as well as the big-endian version of the MIPS Magnum R4000. As always, the TV games vary enormously in quality, from enjoyable titles, to low-effort games based on licensed intellectual properties, to horrible bootlegs using blatantly copied assets. If music/rhythm misery is your thing, there’s even a particularly bad dance mat game in there.
    On the arcade side, there are fixes for a minor but long-standing graphical issue in Capcom’s genre-defining 1942, and also a fairly significant graphical regression in Seibu Kaihatsu’s Raiden Fighters. Speaking of Seibu Kaihatsu, our very own Angelo Salese significantly improved the experience in Good E-Jan, and speaking of graphics fixes, cam900 fixed some corner cases in Data East’s innovative, but little-known, shoot-’em-up Boogie Wings. Software list additions include the Commodore 64 INPUT 64 collection (courtesy of FakeShemp) and the Spanish ZX Spectrum Load’N’Run collection (added by ICEknight). New preliminary CPU cores and disassemblers include IBM ROMP, the NEC 78K family, Samsung KS0164 and SSD Corp’s Xavix 2.
    As always, you can get the source and 64-bit Windows binary packages from the download page.

    MAME Testers Bugs Fixed

    New working machines

    New working clones

    Machines promoted to working

    Clones promoted to working

    New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

    New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

    New working software list additions

    Software list items promoted to working

    New NOT_WORKING software list additions

    Source Changes

    submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

    [Table] Asteroid Day AMA – We’re engineers and scientists working on a mission that could, one day, help save humankind from asteroid extinction. Ask us anything!

    Source
    There are several people answering: Paolo Martino is PM, Marco Micheli is MM, Heli Greus is HG, Detlef Koschny is DVK, and Aidan Cowley is AC.
    Questions Answers
    Can we really detect any asteroids in space with accuracy and do we have any real means of destroying it? Yes, we can detect new asteroids when they are still in space. Every night dozens of new asteroids are found, including a few that can come close to the Earth.
    Regarding the second part of the question, the goal would be to deflect them more than destroy them, and it is technologically possible. The Hera/DART mission currently being developed by ESA and NASA will demonstrate exactly this capability.
    MM
    I always wanted to ask: what is worse for life on Earth - to be hit by a single coalesced asteroid chunk, or to be hit by a multiple smaller pieces of exploded asteroid, aka disrupted rubble pile scenario? DVK: This is difficult to answer. If the rubble is small (centimetres to meters) it is better to have lots of small ones – they’d create nice bright meteors. If the rubble pieces are tens of meters it doesn’t help.
    Let’s say that hypothetically, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island is coming at us, it will be a direct hit - you’ve had the resources and funding you need, your plan is fully in place, everything you’ve wanted you got. The asteroid will hit in 10 years, what do you do? DVK: I had to look up how big Rhode Island is – a bit larger than the German Bundesland ‘Saarland’. Ok – this would correspond to an object about 60 km in diameter, right? That’s quite big – we would need a lot of rocket launches, this would be extremely difficult. I would pray. The good news is that we are quite convinced that we know all objects larger than just a few kilometers which come close to our planet. None of them is on a collision course, so we are safe.
    the below is a reply to the above
    Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies? DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
    There are additional studies to estimate the ‘completeness’ – and we think that we know everything above roughly a few km in size.
    To find new objects, we use survey telescopes that scan the night sky every night. The two major ones are Catalina and Pan-STARRS, funded by NASA. ESA is developing the so-called Flyeye telescope to add to this effort https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/02/Flyeye_telescope.
    the below is a reply to the above
    Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.
    the below is a reply to the original answer
    What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua? DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.
    Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever? DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page http://neo.ssa.esa.int. The ‘risky’ objects are in the ‘risk page’. We also put info on really close approaches there. It would also be very difficult to keep things ‘under cover’ – there are many high-quality amateur astronomers out there that would notice.
    In 2029 asteroid Apophis will fly really close to Earth, even closer than geostationary satellites. Can we use some of those satellites to observe the asteroid? Is it possible to launch very cheap cube sats to flyby Apophis in 2029? DVK: Yes an Apophis mission during the flyby in 2029 would be really nice. We even had a special session on that topic at the last Planetary Defense Conference in 2019, and indeed CubeSats were mentioned. This would be a nice university project – get me a close-up of the asteroid with the Earth in the background!
    the below is a reply to the above
    So you’re saying it was discussed and shelved? In the conference we just presented ideas. To make them happen needs funding - in the case of ESA the support of our member countries. But having something presented at a conference is the first step. One of the results of the conference was a statement to space agencies to consider embarking on such a mission. See here: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/336356/336472/PDC_2019_Summary_Report_FINAL_FINAL.pdf/341b9451-0ce8-f338-5d68-714a0aada29b?t=1569333739470
    Go to the section 'resolutions'. This is now a statement that scientists can use to present to their funding agencies, demonstrating that it's not just their own idea.
    Thanks for doing this AMA! Did we know the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 (the one which had some great videos on social media) was coming? Ig not, how comes? Also, as a little side one, have there been any fatalities from impact events in the past 20 years? Unfortunately, the Chelyabinsk object was not seen in advance, because it came from the direction of the Sun where ground-based telescopes cannot look.
    No known fatalities from impacts have happened in the past 20 years, although the Chelyabinsk event did cause many injuries, fortunately mostly minor.
    MM
    the below is a reply to the above
    How often do impacts from that direction happen, compared to impacts from visible trajectories? In terms of fraction of the sky, the area that cannot be easily scanned from the ground is roughly a circle with a radius of 40°-50° around the current position of the Sun, corresponding to ~15% of the total sky. However, there is a slight enhancement of objects coming from that direction, therefore the fraction of objects that may be missed when heading towards us is a bit higher.
    However, this applies only when detecting an asteroid in its "final plunge" towards the Earth. Larger asteroids can be spotted many orbits earlier, when they are farther away and visible in the night side of the sky. Their orbits can then be determined and their possible impacts predicted even years or decades in advance.
    MM
    There must be a trade-off when targeting asteroids as they get closer to Earth, is there a rule of thumb at what the best time is to reach them, in terms of launch time versus time to reach the asteroid and then distance from Earth? DVK: Take e.g. a ‘kinetic impactor’ mission, like what DART and Hera are testing. Since we only change the velocity of the asteroid slightly, we need to hit the object early enough so that the object has time to move away from it’s collision course. Finding out when it is possible to launch requires simulations done by our mission analysis team. They take the strength of the launcher into account, also the available fuel for course corrections, and other things. Normally each asteroid has its own best scenario.
    Do you also look at protecting the moon from asteroids? Would an impact of a large enough scale potentially have major impacts on the earth? DVK: There are programmes that monitor the Moon and look for flashes from impacting small asteroids (or meteoroids) - https://neliota.astro.noa.g or the Spanish MIDAS project. We use the data to improve our knowledge about these objects. These programmes just look at what is happening now.
    For now we would not do anything if we predicted a lunar impact. I guess this will change once we have a lunar base in place.
    Why aren't there an international organisation comprised of countries focused on the asteroid defence? Imagine like the organisation with multi-billion $ budget and program of action on funding new telescopes, asteroid exploration mission, plans for detection of potentially dangerous NEA, protocols on action after the detection - all international, with heads of states discussing these problems? DVK: There are international entities in place, mandated by the UN: The International Asteroid Warning Network (http://www.iawn.net) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (http://www.smpag.net). These groups advise the United Nations. That is exactly where we come up with plans and protocols on action. But: They don’t have budget – that needs to come from elsewhere. I am expecting that if we have a real threat, we would get the budget. Right now, we don’t have a multi-billion budget.
    the below is a reply to someone else's answer
    There is no actual risk of any sizable asteroids hitting earth in the foreseeable future. Any preparation for it would just be a waste of money. DVK: Indeed, as mentioned earlier, we do not expect a large object to hit is in the near future. We are mainly worried about those in the size range of 20 m to 40 m, which happen on average every few tens of years to hundreds of years. And where we only know a percent of them or even less.
    President Obama wanted to send a crewed spacecraft to an asteroid - in your opinion is this something that should still be done in the future, would there be any usefulness in having a human being walk/float on an asteroid's surface? DVK: It would definitely be cool. I would maybe even volunteer to go. Our current missions to asteroids are all robotic, the main reason is that it is much cheaper (but still expensive) to get the same science. But humans will expand further into space, I am sure. If we want to test human exploration activities, doing this at an asteroid would be easier than landing on a planet.
    this is another reply Yes, but I am slightly biased by the fact that I work at the European astronaut centre ;) There exist many similarities to what we currently do for EVA (extra vehicular activities) operations on the International Space Station versus how we would 'float' around an asteroid. Slightly biased again, but using such a mission to test exploration technologies would definitely still have value. Thanks Obama! - AC
    I've heard that some asteroids contains large amounts of iron. Is there a possibility that we might have "space mines" in the far away future, if our own supply if iron runs out? Yes, this is a topic in the field known as space mining, part of what we call Space Resources. In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization. Its a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines :) - AC
    By how much is DART expected to deflect Didymos? Do we have any indication of the largest size of an asteroid we could potentially deflect? PM: Didymos is a binary asteroid, consisting of a main asteroid Didymos A (~700m) and a smaller asteroid Didymos B (~150m) orbiting around A with a ~12 hours period. DART is expected to impact Didymos B and change its orbital period w.r.t. Didymos A of ~1%. (8 mins)
    The size of Didymos B is the most representative of a potential threat to Earth (the highest combination of probability and consequence of impacts), meaning smaller asteroids hit the Earth more often but have less severe consequences, larger asteroids can have catastrophic consequences but their probability of hitting the earth is very very low.
    the below is a reply to the above
    Why is there less probability of larger asteroids hitting earth? DVK: There are less large objects out there. The smaller they are, the more there are.
    the below is a reply to the original answer
    Is there any chance that your experiment will backfire and send the asteroid towards earth? PM: Not at all, or we would not do that :) Actually Dimorphos (the Didymos "moon") will not even leave its orbit around Didymos. It will just slightly change its speed.
    I'm sure you've been asked this many times but how realistic is the plot of Armageddon? How likely is it that our fate as a species will rely on (either) Bruce Willis / deep sea oil drillers? Taking into consideration that Bruce Willis is now 65 and by the time HERA is launched he will be 69, I do not think that we can rely on him this time (although I liked the movie).
    HERA will investigate what method we could use to deflect asteroid and maybe the results will show that we indeed need to call the deep sea oil drillers.
    HG
    the below is a reply to the above
    So then would it be easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts, or to train astronauts to be oil drillers? I do not know which one would be easier since I have no training/experience of deep see oil drilling nor becoming an astronaut, but as long as the ones that would go to asteroid have the sufficient skills and training (even Bruce Willis), I would be happy.
    HG
    If budget was no object, which asteroid would you most like to send a mission to? Nice question! For me, I'd be looking at an asteroid we know something about, since I would be interested in using it for testing how we could extract resources from it. So for me, I would choose Itokawa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25143_Itokawa), which was visited by Hayabusa spacecraft. So we already have some solid prospecting carried out for this 'roid! - AC
    this is another reply Not sure if it counts as an asteroid, but Detlef and myself would probably choose ʻOumuamua, the first discovered interstellar object.
    MM
    the below is a reply to the above
    Do we even have the capability to catch up to something like that screaming through our solar system? That thing has to have a heck of a velocity to just barrel almost straight through like that. DVK: Correct, that would be a real challenge. We are preparing for a mission called 'Comet Interceptor' that is meant to fly to an interstellar object or at least a fresh comet - but it will not catch up with it, it will only perform a short flyby.
    https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/ESA_s_new_mission_to_intercept_a_comet
    After proving to be able to land on one, could an asteroid serve as a viable means to transport goods and or humans throughout the solar system when the orbit of said asteroid proves beneficial. While it is probably quite problematic to land the payload, it could save fuel or am I mistaken? Neat idea! Wonder if anyone has done the maths on the amount of fuel you would need/save vs certain targets. - AC
    PM: To further complement, the saving is quite marginal indeed because in order to land (softly) on the asteroid you actually need to get into the very same orbit of that asteroid . At that point your orbit remains the same whether you are on the asteroid or not..
    can the current anti-ballistic missiles systems intercept a terminal phase earth strike asteroid? or it is better to know beforehand and launch an impacting vehicle into space? DVK: While I do see presentations on nuclear explosions to deflect asteroids at our professional meetings, I have not seen anybody yet studying how we could use existing missile systems. So it's hard to judge whether existing missiles would do the job. But in general, it is better to know as early as possible about a possible impact and deflect it as early as possible. This will minimize the needed effort.
    How much are we prepared against asteroid impacts at this moment? DVK: 42… :-) Seriously – I am not sure how to quantify ‘preparedness’. We have international working groups in place, mentioned earlier (search for IAWN, SMPAG). We have a Planetary Defence Office at ESA, a Planetary Defense Office at NASA (who spots the difference?), search the sky for asteroids, build space missions… Still we could be doing more. More telescopes to find the object, a space-based telescope to discover those that come from the direction of the Sun. Different test missions would be useful, … So there is always more we could do.
    Have you got any data on the NEO coverage? Is there estimations on the percentage of NEOs we have detected and are tracking? How can we improve the coverage? How many times have asteroids been able to enter earths atmosphere without being detected beforehand? Here’s our recently updated infographics with the fraction of undiscovered NEOs for each size range: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
    As expected, we are now nearly complete for the large ones, while many of the smaller ones are still unknown.
    In order to improve coverage, we need both to continue the current approach, centered on ground-based telescopes, and probably also launch dedicated telescopes to space, to look at the fraction of the sky that cannot be easily observed from the ground (e.g., towards the Sun).
    Regarding the last part of your question, small asteroids enter the Earth atmosphere very often (the infographics above gives you some numbers), while larger ones are much rarer.
    In the recent past, the largest one to enter our atmosphere was about 20 meters in diameter, and it caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013. It could not be detected in advance because it came from the direction of the Sun.
    We have however detected a few small ones before impact. The first happened in 2008, when a ~4-meter asteroid was found to be on a collision course less than a day before impact, it was predicted to fall in Northern Sudan, and then actually observed falling precisely where (and when) expected.
    MM
    this is another reply >After
    DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out http://neo.ssa.esa.int. There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/. To see the sky which is currently covered by the survey telescopes, you need to service of the Minor Planet Center which we all work together with: http://www.minorplanetcenter.org, ‘observers’, ‘sky coverage’. That is a tool we use to plan where we look with our telescopes, so it is a more technical page.
    Are there any automatic systems for checking large numbers of asteroids orbits, to see if the asteroid's orbit is coming dangerously close to Earth, or is it done by people individually for every asteroid? I ask it because LSST Rubin is coming online soon and you know it will discover a lot of new asteroids. Yes, such systems exist, and monitor all known and newly discovered asteroids in order to predict possible future impacts.
    The end result of the process is what we call "risk list": http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
    It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.
    MM
    What are your favourite sci-fi series? DVK: My favorites are ‘The Expanse’, I also liked watching ‘Salvation’. For the first one I even got my family to give me a new subscription to a known internet streaming service so that I can see the latest episodes. I also loved ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’ as a kid. Not sure the last one counts as sci-fi though. My long-time favorite was ‘Dark Star’.
    this is another reply Big fan of The Expanse at the moment. Nice, hard sci-fi that has a good impression of being grounded in reality - AC
    this is another reply When I was a kid I liked The Jetsons, when growing up Star Trek, Star wars and I also used to watch with my sister the 'V'.
    HG
    When determining the potential threat of a NEA, is the mass of an object a bigger factor or size? I'm asking because I'm curious if a small but massive object (say, with the density of Psyche) could survive atmospheric entry better than a comparatively larger but less massive object. The mass is indeed what really matters, since it’s directly related with the impact energy.
    And as you said composition also matters, a metal object would survive atmospheric entry better, not just because it’s heavier, but also because of its internal strength.
    MM
    What are your thoughts on asteroid mining as portrayed in sci-fi movies? Is it feasible? If so would governments or private space programs be the first to do so?What type of minerals can be found on asteroids that would merit the costs of extraction? Certainly there is valuable stuff you can find on asteroids. For example, the likely easiest material you can harvest from an asteroid would be volatiles such as H2O. Then you have industrial metals, things like Iron, Nickel, and Platinum group metals. Going further, you can break apart many of the oxide minerals you would find to get oxygen (getting you closer to producing rocket fuel in-situ!). Its feasible, but still needs alot of testing both here on Earth and eventually needs to be tested on a target. It may be that governments, via agencies like ESA or NASA, may do it first, to prove the principles somewhat, but I know many commercial entities are also aggresively working towards space mining. To show you that its definitely possible, I'd like to plug the work of colleagues who have processed lunar regolith (which is similar to what you may find on asteroids) to extract both oxygen and metals. Check it out here: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/10/Oxygen_and_metal_from_lunar_regolith
    AC
    Will 2020's climax be a really big rock? DVK: Let's hope not...
    Considering NASA, ESA, IAU etc. is working hard to track Earth-grazing asteroids, how come the Chelyabinsk object that airburst over Russia in 2013 came as a total surprise? The Chelyabinsk object came from the direction of the Sun, where unfortunately ground-based telescopes cannot look at. Therefore, it would not have been possible to discover it in advance with current telescopes. Dedicated space telescopes are needed to detect objects coming from this direction in advance.
    MM
    the below is a reply to the above
    Is this to say that it was within specific solid angles for the entire time that we could have observed it given its size and speed? Yes, precisely that. We got unlucky in this case.
    MM
    Have any of you read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven? In your opinion, how realistic is his depiction of an asteroid strike on Earth? DVK: I have – but really long ago, so I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that I really liked the book, and I remember I always wanted to have a Hot Fudge Sundae when reading it.
    I was thinking about the asteroid threat as a teen and came up with this ideas (Hint: they are not equally serious, the level of craziness goes up real quick). Could you please comment on their feasibility? 1. Attaching a rocket engine to an asteroid to make it gradually change trajectory, do that long in advance and it will miss Earth by thousands of km 2. Transporting acid onto asteroid (which are mainly metal), attaching a dome-shaped reaction chamber to it, using heat and pressure to then carry out the chemical reaction to disintegrate asteroids 3. This one is even more terrible than a previous one and totally Dan Brown inspired — transporting antimatter on asteroid, impacting and causing annihilation. Thank you for this AMA and your time! DVK: Well the first one is not so crazy, I have seen it presented... the difficulty is that all asteroids are rotating in one way or another. So if you continuously fire the engine it would not really help. You'd need to switch the engine on and off. Very complex. And landing on an asteroid is challenging too. Just using the 'kinetic impactor' which we will test with DART/Hera (described elsewhere in this chat) is simpler. Another seriously proposed concept is to put a spacecraft next to an asteroid and use an ion engine (like we have on our Mercury mission BepiColombo) to 'push' the asteroid away.
    As for 2 and 3 I think I will not live to see that happening ;-)
    What is the process to determine the orbit of a newly discovered asteroid? The process is mathematically quite complex, but here's a short summary.
    Everything starts with observations, in particular with measurements of the position of an asteroid in the sky, what we call "astrometry". Discovery telescopes extract this information from their discovery images, and make it available to everybody.
    These datapoints are then used to calculate possible trajectories ("orbits") that pass through them. At first, with very few points, many orbits will be possible.
    Using these orbits we can extrapolate where the asteroid will be located during the following nights, use a telescope to observe that part of the sky, and locate the object again.
    From these new observations we can extract new "astrometry", add it to the orbit determination, and see that now only some of the possible orbits will be compatible with the new data. As a result, we now know the trajectory better than before, because a few of the possible orbits are not confirmed by the new data.
    The cycle can then continue, with new predictions, new observations, and a more accurate determination of the object's orbit, until it can be determined with an extremely high level of accuracy.
    MM
    What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"? We have exactly that list on our web portal: http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
    It's called "risk list", and it includes all known asteroids for which we cannot exclude a possible impact over the next century. It is updated every day to include newly discovered asteroids, and remove those that have been excluded as possible impactors thanks to new observations.
    MM
    the below is a reply to the above
    That's quite a list!! Do you guys ever feel stressed or afraid when you have to add another dangerous candidate (and by dangerous I mean those above 200m) is added to this Risk List? Yes, when new dangerous ones are added it's important that we immediately do our best to gather more data on them, observing them with telescopes in order to get the information we need to improve our knowledge of their orbit.
    And then the satisfaction of getting the data needed to remove one from the list is even greater!
    MM
    What inspired you to go into this field of study? I was fascinated by astronomy in general since I was a kid, but the actual "trigger" that sparked my interest in NEOs was a wonderful summer course on asteroids organized by a local amateur astronomers association. I immediately decided that I would do my best to turn this passion into my job, and I'm so happy to have been able to make that dream come true.
    MM
    this is another reply DVK: I started observing meteors when I was 14, just by going outside and looking at the night sky. Since then, small bodies in the solar system were always my passion.
    As a layperson, I still think using nuclear weapons against asteroids is the coolest method despite better methods generally being available. Do you still consider the nuclear option the cool option, or has your expertise in the field combined with the real-life impracticalities made it into a laughable/silly/cliche option? DVK: We indeed still study the nuclear option. There are legal aspects though, the ‘outer space treaty’ forbids nuclear explosions in space. But for a large object or one we discover very late it could be useful. That’s why we have to focus on discovering all the objects out there as early as possible – then we have time enough to use more conventional deflection methods, like the kinetic impactor (the DART/Hera scenario).
    It seems like doing this well would require international cooperation, particularly with Russia. Have you ever reached out to Russia in your work? Do you have a counterpart organization there that has a similar mission? DVK: Indeed international cooperation is important - asteroids don't know about our borders! We work with a Russian team to perform follow-up observations of recently discovered NEOs. Russia is also involved in the UN-endorsed working groups that we have, IAWN and SMPAG (explained in another answer).
    how much can experts tell from a video of a fireball or meteor? Can you work out what it's made of and where it came from? https://www.reddit.com/space/comments/hdf3xe/footage_of_a_meteor_at_barrow_island_australia/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x If multiple videos or pictures, taken from different locations, are available, then it's possible to reconstruct the trajectory, and extrapolate where the object came from.
    Regarding the composition, it's a bit more difficult if nothing survives to the ground, but some information can be obtained indirectly from the fireball's color, or its fragmentation behavior. If a spectral analysis of the light can be made, it's then possible to infer the chemical composition in much greater detail.
    MM
    I've always wanted to know what the best meteorite buying site is and what their average price is?? DVK: Serious dealers will be registered with the 'International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA)' - https://www.imca.cc/. They should provide a 'certificate of authenticity' where it says that they are member there. If you are in doubt, you can contact the association and check. Normally there are rough prices for different meteorite types per gram. Rare meteorites will of course be much more expensive than more common ones. Check the IMCA web page to find a dealer close to you.
    Just read through Aidans link to the basaltic rock being used as a printing material for lunar habitation. There is a company called Roxul that does stone woven insulation that may be able to shed some light on the research they have done to minimize their similarity to asbestos as potentially carcinogenic materials deemed safe for use in commercial and residential applications. As the interior surfaces will essentially be 3D printed lunar regolith what are the current plans to coat or dampen the affinity for the structure to essentially be death traps for respiratory illness? At least initially, many of these 3d printed regolith structures would not be facing into pressurised sections, but would rather be elements placed outside and around our pressure vessels. Such structures would be things like radiation shields, landing pads or roadways, etc. In the future, if we move towards forming hermetically sealed structures, then your point is a good one. Looking into terrestrial solutions to this problem would be a great start! - AC
    What kind of career path does it take to work in the asteroid hunting field? It's probably different for each of us, but here's a short summary of my own path.
    I became interested in asteroids, and near-Earth objects in particular, thanks to a wonderful summer course organized by a local amateur astronomers association. Amateur astronomers play a great role in introducing people, and young kids in particular, to these topics.
    Then I took physics as my undergrad degree (in Italy), followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy in the US (Hawaii in particular, a great place for astronomers thanks to the exceptional telescopes hosted there).
    After finishing the Ph.D. I started my current job at ESA's NEO Coordination Centre, which allowed me to realize my dream of working in this field.
    MM
    this is another reply DVK: Almost all of us have a Master's degree either in aerospace engineering, mathematics, physics/astronomy/planetary science, or computer science. Some of us - as MM - have a Ph.D. too. But that's not really a requirement. This is true for our team at ESA, but also for other teams in other countries.
    What is the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth In the next 200 years? It depends on the size, large ones are rare, while small ones are much more common. You can check this infographics to get the numbers for each size class: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
    MM
    Have you played the Earth Defence Force games and if you have, which one is your favourite? No I have not played the Earth Defence Force games, but I just looked it up and I think I would liked it. Which one would you recommend?
    HG
    How close is too close to earth? Space is a SUPER vast void so is 1,000,000 miles close, 10,000,000? And if an asteroid is big enough can it throw earth off its orbit? DVK: Too close for my taste is when we compute an impact probability > 0 for the object. That means the flyby distance is zero :-) Those are the objects on our risk page http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page.
    If an object can alter the orbit of another one, we would call it planet. So unless we have a rogue planet coming from another solar system (verrry unlikely) we are safe from that.
    How can I join you when I'm older? DVK: Somebody was asking about our career paths... Study aerospace engineering or math or physics or computer science, get a Masters. Possibly a Ph.D. Then apply for my position when I retire. Check here for how to apply at ESA: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Frequently_asked_questions2#HR1
    How much is too much? DVK: 42 again
    Are you aware of any asteroids that are theoretically within our reach, or will be within our reach at some point, that are carrying a large quantity of shungite? If you're not aware, shungite is like a 2 billion year old like, rock stone that protects against frequencies and unwanted frequencies that may be traveling in the air. I bought a whole bunch of the stuff. Put them around the la casa. Little pyramids, stuff like that. DVK: If I remember my geology properly, Shungite forms in water sedimental deposits. This requires liquid water, i.e. a larger planet. So I don't think there is a high chance to see that on asteroids.
    submitted by 500scnds to tabled [link] [comments]

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