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Best podcasts of the week: what Princess Diana tells us about ourselves | Podcasts

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Picks of the week

When Diana Met …
“Yes, this is a show about Diana Spencer … but it really is about us – what our perceptions of her say about us.” Host Aminatou Sow is a self-confessed Princess Di obsessive – something she inherited from her mum, along with so many other thirtysomethings – who unpicks Diana’s most notable meetings in each episode. First up: author Candice Carty-Williams and biographer Andrew Morton revisit the dinner
with Camilla. Hollie Richardson

Dark Woods
Chicago Fire’s Monica Raymund and Corey Stoll (House of Cards) lead the cast for this thriller of a podcast from the creators of Law & Order. On the brink of divorce, the pair investigate the death of a young volunteer in a California forest, setting up a classic tangle of personal and professional lives, with added intrigue and pesticides.
Hannah Verdier

Bonaparte
These days, lawyer Annie Champion’s work includes defending Mary Trump. However, closer to home, the question of whether her friend Laura Van Wyhe’s death in Iowa in 1996 was a hit-and-run or a murder still looms large in her life. Jason Stavers’s unsensational and engrossing podcast investigates. Hannah J Davies

Murder, Mystery and Makeup
True crime reaches an innovative new niche with makeup artist and YouTuber Bailey Sarian’s podcast in which she pops on a full face while she chats about cases. Charles
Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer are among the criminals on her list and, although their stories are well-trodden, Sarian has a great way to spin a yarn with gossipy asides.
HV

Self Evident
A third series for the show shining a spotlight on a variety of Asian American experiences, from the distressing rise in pandemic-era racism to heartening pop culture representation and queer self-discovery. First up, powerful reporting on activists tackling white supremacy in an unexpected setting in Indiana. HJD

Things Fell Apart host Jon Ronson.
Things Fell Apart host Jon Ronson. Photograph: Tracey Paddison/REX/Shutterstock

Chosen by Madeleine Finlay

Jon Ronson is back with a new eight part series, digging into the origin stories of topics which have become the focus of fraught arguments or ‘culture wars’.

Even the concept of a culture war has become ground for controversy, divisiveness, and bad takes. But Ronson is safe pair of hands – he’s written with empathy and nuance on public shaming, fighting on social media, and internet pornography. His podcast on the latter – the Butterfly Effect – was genuinely brilliant.

Much like the Butterfly Effect, Things Fell Apart shows how small events can ripple outwards; in episode two, a Christian mother who opposes her children’s school curriculum ends up instigating a state-wide fight over textbooks. Ronson masterfully tiptoes his way through each story – there’s little judgment, endorsement, or forgiveness – just a sense of intellectual curiosity. Things Fell Apart is the antidote to an argument over Twitter: a deep, calm and fascinating look at issues that would usually get your hackles up.

Talking points

  • Podcasts hosted by famous faces are all around … but some are more niche than others. Freddie Prinze Jr joins the culty side of celeb audio this week with Wrestling with Freddie, a show in which he reminisces about his days writing storylines for WWE.

  • Why not try: Decoder Ring | I am Kobe | History Daily

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Chinese could hack data for future quantum decryption, report warns | Hacking

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Chinese hackers could target heavily encrypted datasets such as weapon designs or details of undercover intelligence officers with a view to unlocking them at a later date when quantum computing makes decryption possible, a report warns.

Analysts at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, say Chinese hackers could also steal pharmaceutical, chemical and material science research that can be processed by quantum computers – machines capable of crunching through numbers at unprecedented speed.

In a report titled “Chinese threats in the quantum era”, the consultancy says encrypted data could be stolen by “Chinese threat groups”. It says quantum-assisted decryption will arrive faster than quantum-assisted encryption, giving hackers an edge.

“Encrypted data with intelligence longevity, like biometric markers, covert intelligence officer and source identities, social security numbers, and weapons’ designs, may be increasingly stolen under the expectation that they can eventually be decrypted,” the report says. It says “state-aligned cyber threat actors” will start to steal or intercept previously unusable encrypted data.

However, it adds there is a “very small” likelihood that quantum computing could break the latest encryption methods before 2030. The analysts say quantum computing’s advantages over classical computing – the computing used in everything from laptops to mobile phones – are at least a decade away.

“Although quantum computers’ current abilities are more demonstrative than immediately useful, their trajectory suggests that in the coming decades quantum computers will likely revolutionize numerous industries – from pharmaceuticals to materials science – and eventually undermine all popular current public-key encryption methods,” the report says.

Quantum computing is viewed as an exciting development. For example, experts say it could predict accurately what a complex molecule might do and thus pave the way for new drugs and materials.

China is already a strong player in the field, and Booz Allen Hamilton says it expected the country to surpass Europe and the US – where IBM recently made the most powerful quantum processor – in quantum-related research and development.

“Chinese threat groups will likely soon collect encrypted data with long-term utility, expecting to eventually decrypt it with quantum computers,” the report says. “By the end of the 2020s, Chinese threat groups will likely collect data that enables quantum simulators to discover new economically valuable materials, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.”

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UK Space Agency asks kids to make a logo for first launches • The Register

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Good news for those in the UK with primary school-aged kids and wondering what to do when the next bout of home-schooling hits: design a logo for the first UK satellite launches.

2022 could be a big year for launching satellites from Blighty’s shores as the first launchers gear up for a historic blast-off. Assuming the facilities have been built and all the necessary consents given and boxes ticked.

There are currently seven possible spaceport sites across the UK, from Cornwall in England through Llanbedr in Wales and up to the Western Isles in Scotland. Cash has been lobbed Cornwall’s way to support a horizontal launch by Virgin Orbit from Spaceport Cornwall and more toward Scotland for Orbex’s ambitions to launch vertically from Sutherland.

Should all the approvals happen and construction be completed, there is every chance the UK might host its first launch at some point in 2022.

Hence the need for a logo and thus a competition aimed at inspiring kids to consider a career in the space industry. And, of course, it is all worthy stuff: “Logo designs,” intoned the UK Space Agency, “should reflect how data from small satellites can help inform solutions to climate change as well as generate a source of pride in the UK’s space ambitions.”

What, we wondered, could possibly go wrong?

We put this question to Rob Manuel, one of those behind web stalwart b3ta.com. B3ta has a long history of (among other things) image challenges, the results of which tend to pop up, often unattributed, in timelines around the world. Now heading into its third decade, the site continues to push out a weekly Friday newsletter to email subscribers.

In terms of how to engage participants, Manuel said: “If anyone asks me, and they rarely do, I encourage competitions to be as open as possible – publish the results as they’re coming in. Try and create a buzz that something is happening rather than everything going in the bin.”

“As for things going wrong,” he went on, “well, there’s always an element who’ll want to subvert it.”

The competition is open to children aged 4-11 and will run until 11 March 2022. There are two age categories (4-7 and 7-11) over 12 regions in the UK. Designs can be drawn, painted, or created on a computer and either submitted on the logoliftoff.org.uk site or via post. Some basic questions also need to be answered, and children can work on their own or in a team of up to four.

We asked the UK Space Agency if it would take Manuel’s advice and post entries ahead of the competition close. We will update should it respond. ®

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Video analytics platform RugbySmarts named ‘most investable’ at SportX

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The Galway tech start-up was one of two winners at the sport-focused pre-accelerator programme.

A start-up developing real-time video analytics for sports has been named ‘most investable’ at SportX, a new pre-accelerator in Ireland for founders with sports and wellness business ideas.

RugbySmarts took the title at the inaugural SportX showcase last week, securing a cash prize.

The Galway-based start-up aims to automate and simplify sports analytics using AI,  machine learning and computer vision, helping coaches to improve player and team performance with a platform that could also be transferred to other sports.

RugbySmarts was founded last year by CTO William Johnstone, who has previously worked with Connacht Rugby, and CEO Yvonne Comer, who is a former Ireland international rugby player.

Meanwhile, the award of ‘best impact on sport’ was given to TrojanTrack. This start-up, founded in 2021 by Dublin-based Stephen O’Dwyer, is looking to combine quantitative biomechanical analysis with deep neural network tech in the equine industry.

The aim is to gain feedback on a horse’s injury or gait imbalance without using invasive technology, such as motion-tracking software that requires markers to be attached to the animal’s skin.

‘Next-gen sports-tech entrepreneurs’

SportX was launched earlier this year by advisory firm Resolve Partners, Sport Ireland and ArcLabs – the research and innovation centre at Waterford Institute of Technology.

The aim of the pre-accelerator programme was to build on tech and business ideas for the sport and wellness industries, giving founders access to academic, clinical and commercial resources.

The six-week programme involved workshops and engagement with advisers, entrepreneurs, subject experts and investors. Participants also had the opportunity to pitch to the US-based Techstars Sports Accelerator.

At the SportX showcase last week, nine teams had five minutes each to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges.

The two winners were selected by the panel, which featured Gary Leyden of the ArcLabs Fund 1 GP, Sport Ireland’s Benny Cullen and Niall McEvoy of Enterprise Ireland.

At the launch of SportX earlier this year, Leyden said the goal of the programme was to find “the next generation of sports-tech entrepreneurs who can leverage the amazing enterprise and sports-related supports within the south-east of Ireland”.

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