It’s time to dip into the technology file and our first item which was published online in the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity by University of Texas at Austin researchers is all about random numbers.

Now that doesn’t sound too interesting, but these computer scientists have developed a new method for producing truly random numbers, a breakthrough that could be used to encrypt data, make electronic voting more secure, conduct statistically significant polls and more accurately simulate complex systems such as Earth's climate. The new method creates truly random numbers with less computational effort than other methods, which could facilitate significantly higher levels of security for everything from consumer credit card transactions to military communications.

The new method takes two weakly random sequences of numbers and turns them into one sequence of truly random numbers. Weakly random sequences, such as air temperatures and stock market prices, sampled over time, harbor predictable patterns. Truly random sequences have nothing predictable about them, like a coin toss.

Previous versions of randomness extractors were less practical because they either required that one of the two source sequences be truly random – which presents a chicken or the egg problem – or that both source sequences be close to truly random. This new method sidesteps both of those restrictions and allows the use of two sequences that are only weakly random.

This paper shows how to generate only one truly random number, but the mathematicians have already demonstrated how to expand the process to create sequences of many more random numbers.

Although increased online security is a big plus for us here, there are other tech possibilities being considered that might mean big and positive changes for us. And one of them is the rise of freight airships.

Airships aren’t popular with traditional aircraft companies, but they could represent a new high for Asian companies seeking to exploit new ways to reach world markets, according to research published in the International Journal of Aviation Management.

The reinvented technology of airships is a far cry from the trial and error methods and primitive materials used to build the giant Zeppelins of yesteryear. The benefits of airships over conventional freight vehicles like airplanes, ships, trains and trucks, is that they can fly over land and sea, access coastal ports, airports and reach remote inland regions too.

The researchers say that a transport airship has the potential to modify freight transport markets, change geographical advantage and alter world trade patterns. These advantages are coupled with lower costs and a smaller carbon footprint and they might just make airships the freight transport choice of the future sooner than the conventional carriers anticipate.

Airships are slower than airplanes, but they have much bigger capacity and loading doors and although they’re much slower than airplanes, they’re twice as fast as container ships.

Since virtually all our goods come in by either ship or airplane, commercial airships could make a huge difference for us. Here’s hoping they overcome the barriers to commercial airships soon!

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