The First Pic of a Black Hole

Scientists from a global collaboration of telescopes announced Wednesday that they have captured the first-ever photo of a black hole.

The collaboration, called the Event Horizon Telescope, is a global network of eight telescopes that has been working for two years to capture the first image of a black hole, by combining data from the eight telescopes and “creating a virtual Earth-sized telescope.”

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” Shep Doeleman, the director of the EHT, said during a news conference Wednesday.

In 2017, the group embarked on a week long observation spanning telescopes in four continents, capturing data from two black holes: one in Sagittarius A*, located at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the other in the Messier 87 galaxy, in the constellation Virgo.

MIT’s Katie Bouman with the hard drives used to store the black hole image data. 

Social Justice App Wants the Name and Phone Number of Everyone You Have Sex With

When you use the trendy new consent app, Good2Go, created by intrepid Social Justice Warriors, you’re theoretically practicing “affirmative consent”: explicit, conscious agreement to sexual activity before it starts.

Incidentally, you’re also telling a new mobile development company with no Internet footprint or track record to speak of: (a) Who you’re sleeping with. (b) When you did it. (c) How drunk or sober you were at the time.

Didn’t realize you were consenting to that, did you?

According to the app’s small print, Good2Go logs personally identifiable information, including names and phone numbers, on all its users. When two people use the app to hook up, it records both users’ phone numbers, as well as the time and one partner’s sobriety. Because Good2Go requires you to register with a name and phone number, that number is also tied to your name. Per its privacy policy, Good2Go can share that information with law enforcement, “third-party service providers” e-mail marketers, or anyone else at Good2Go’s sole discretion.

The creators claim that it’s not their policy to share information but if Good2Go is a wholly altruistic (albeit for-profit) enterprise, it’s unclear why its privacy policy is so incredibly lax. It’s also unclear why anyone would use the app to begin with. After forcing both parties to register, with their full names, phone numbers and email addresses, Good2Go takes them through a series of questions that most consenting adults would, one hopes, be mature enough to discuss in actual words.

Once your potential partner has logged their alcohol consumption and willingness to get down, the app gives you blessing to do so (who says romance is dead?). Meanwhile, a record of this most intimate interaction flits away into the cloud, where it will live forever until Good2Go shuts down, assuming it hasn’t been sold, transferred, or is being used by a third party.

It’s little scary from a legal standpoint. Are we going to see people’s sexual records showing up in court? (Particularly when said records could be inaccurate or misleading?) Worse, is this personal, potentially embarrassing data the kind of thing we want to mindlessly hand over an unknown tech company?

Both questions could be irrelevant, as it’s hard to imagine a universe in which Good2Go catches on. But this is a potent reminder that little you do online or on your phone ever really fades away; by and large, we remain oblivious to how our data is tracked, and by who, and for what purpose.

So maybe just practice some of that “affirmative consent” without over-complicating the process letting third parties get needlessly involved.