This Map Shows Us Why Tor Is so Important
This is what anonymous browsing looks like.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
If a person wanted to keep their movements online private, I would recommend they use Tor. It's an anonymity tool that has been used by many different kinds of people (for many different purposes). It's the browser of choice for whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and one of the easiest ways to protect your privacy online.
The project relies on a number of volunteer relays set up all across the world. At a glance, Tor looks very much like you're browsing in Firefox. However, underneath, its software is working to mask your identity and location (to a point) by bouncing your signal across the globe. By the time the signal comes out the other end, advertisers and websites won't see your computer browsing their site from the United States — they may see a computer browsing from the Netherlands.
Uncharted used publicly published data from the Tor project to create an interactive map, showing the beauty and complexity of Tor's expanding network of anonymous users.
So, how does information flow between relay servers? Like this:
TorFlow isn't a live analysis of Tor's traffic. But it allows anyone to run simulations based on the date. Depending on the day, these simulations will begin to tell a story about the rise of Tor and the important role it played in movements across the world.
“The whole point of the Tor network is to remain anonymous,” David Schroh, a software engineer at Uncharted, said to Wired. “But by visualizing it, can you see patterns you wouldn’t expect.”
The map shows how much the infrastructure of the Tor network has grown over the years from a U.S.-based project to a global initiative that has grown tremendously in Europe. But it shows how important it is to protect anonymity, and why Tor needs to exist. Just click on Egypt, where you'll see spikes in Tor's use during the Arab Spring protests in 2011 and again after the political coup in 2013.
Photo Credit: TorFlow
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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