Black holes may be more common than previously thought


Astronomers from the University of Utah have discovered a dwarf galaxy that is the smallest ever recorded with a supermassive black hole at its center. The galaxy, M60-UCD1, which is located around 54 million light years from our solar system near the M60 galaxy, has been found to contain a black hole with a mass equivalent to 21 million times that of our own sun and whose presence may suggest that such enormous black holes could be more common than previously thought.

“It is the smallest and lightest object that we know of that has a supermassive black hole,” said Anil Seth, lead author of the dwarf galaxy study. “It’s also one of the most black hole-dominated galaxies known.”

The researchers claim that their discovery, which was made using the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, indicates that a large number of other ultra-compact galaxies may also harbor supermassive black holes. Furthermore, they also believe these diminutive galaxies could be all that remains of larger galaxies that have been ripped asunder during collisions with other galaxies…

Dwarf galaxies are generally classified as being less than a few hundred light years across – around 1,700 trillion miles wide – compared with our Milky Way’s 100,000-light-year diameter. M60-UCD1 fits into that category, and whilst most dwarf galaxies exist at relatively large distances from other galaxies, this one is located only 22,000 light years from the center of galaxy M60; much closer to that galactic center than our sun is to the center of our own Milky Way…

Though the theory expounded by the researchers may also possibly indicate that M60-UCD1 is simply made up of a large amount of massive, dim stars, and not as a result of a supermassive black hole, the team believe that its observations confirmed that the mass was concentrated in the galaxy’s center, and this indicated a supermassive black hole. The astronomers also relied on previous research that showed M60-UCD1 was an X-ray source and that gas was being drawn into the center at a rate that indicated similarities to other supermassive black holes in much bigger galaxies.

Yes, I would love to have a close-up look.

Home Depot data theft affected 56 million credit/debit cards


The world’s largest DIY retailer has admitted that 56m credit and debit card numbers were compromised over a five-month period in one of the worst breaches of customer data ever recorded. Home Depot said on Thursday night that although the data theft began in April, the malware used by the hackers had only been completely removed from its systems this month.

The breach was revealed on 2 September by the security website Krebs on Security, which said that all 2,200 of Home Depot’s US stores could have been affected. The chain, which did not confirm the data breach until 8 September, said that security groups Symantec and FishNet Security were brought in to investigate the possible hacking as soon it became known.

The criminals used “unique, custom-built malware” that had not been seen in similar attacks, which helped them to avoid detection for so long, Home Depot said. It had completed a major payment security upgrade to ensure better encryption of customers’ card numbers.

US retailers have been slower to adopt the chip-and-Pin technology found in Britain and most European countries as many American credit cards still lacked the appropriate chips. The US payments industry has set a deadline of October 2015 to switch to chip and Pin.

Who deserves the core blame here? Probably the Big Banks. The fast buck is always sweetest – while ignoring long-range dangers. And that should read “American Big Banks”.

When chip and Pin came out over a decade ago, Euro banks, banks around the world realized the importance of increased security. Not worrying specifically about hackers, they still realized the cost of prevention was a helluva lot less than the cost of theft. American banks? They worried about next month’s bottom line. So they didn’t consider the investment in each new card of about $5 [at the time] to be worthwhile.

Now – it’s $10 per card and retailers like Home Depot are spending tens of million$ just to begin to recover from this data theft.

Malaysian doctor removes ball bearings patient implanted in his penis

A Malaysian man who implanted 10 metal ball bearings in the base of his penis to bolster his sexual abilities had to have the balls surgically removed when they started to rust.

The man, identified as Ramli, 44, told the Harian Metro newspaper he implanted the balls himself after a friend told him he had successfully used the method to increase his sexual stamina.

“My private part swelled up for three days but I endured the pain and didn’t see a doctor,” Ramli said of his self-surgery.

He said the wound healed and he found the method was effective in helping him satisfy his sexual partners, but a few months later he discovered he was unable to get an erection.

Ramli said a doctor recommended he have the metal balls removed or risk irreversible impotence. He said the balls were removed surgically and he discovered the trouble had come from them rusting inside his body.