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The Beale ciphers
The Beale ciphers (or Beale Papers) are a set of three ciphertexts, one of which allegedly states the location of a buried treasure of gold, silver and jewels estimated to be worth over US$43 million as of January 2018. Comprising three ciphertexts, the first (unsolved) text describes the location, the second (solved) ciphertext the content of the treasure, and the third (unsolved) lists the names of the treasure's owners and their next of kin.
The story of the three ciphertexts originates from an 1885 pamphlet detailing treasure being buried by a man named Thomas J. Beale in a secret location in Bedford County, Virginia, in the 1820s. Beale entrusted a box containing the encrypted messages to a local innkeeper named Robert Morriss and then disappeared, never to be seen again. According to the story, the innkeeper opened the box 23 years later, and then decades after that gave the three encrypted ciphertexts to a friend before he died. The friend then spent the next twenty years of his life trying to decode the messages, and was able to solve only one of them which gave details of the treasure buried and the general location of the treasure. The unnamed friend then published all three ciphertexts in a pamphlet which was advertised for sale in the 1880s.
Since the publication of the pamphlet, a number of attempts have been made to decode the two remaining ciphertexts and to locate the treasure, but all efforts have resulted in failure.
There are many arguments that the entire story is a hoax, including the 1980 article "A Dissenting Opinion" by cryptographer Jim Gillogly, and a 1982 scholarly analysis of the Beale Papers and their related story by Joe Nickell, using historical records that cast doubt on the existence of Thomas J. Beale. Nickell also presents linguistic evidence demonstrating that the documents could not have been written at the time alleged (words such as "stampeding", for instance, are of later vintage). His analysis of the writing style showed that Beale was almost certainly James B. Ward, whose 1885 pamphlet brought the Beale Papers to light. Nickell argues that the tale is thus a work of fiction; specifically, a "secret vault" allegory of the Freemasons; James B. Ward was a Mason himself.
- "The Beale ciphers" | 2014-09-28 | 33 Upvotes 9 Comments
In-Q-Tel: The CIA's for-profit venture capital firm
In-Q-Tel (IQT), formerly Peleus and In-Q-It, is an American not-for-profit venture capital firm based in Arlington, Virginia. It invests in high-tech companies for the sole purpose of keeping the Central Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies, equipped with the latest in information technology in support of United States intelligence capability. The name, "In-Q-Tel" is an intentional reference to Q, the fictional inventor who supplies technology to James Bond.
The firm is seen as a trend-setter in the information technology industry, with the average dollar invested by In-Q-Tel in 2012 attracting nine dollars of investment from other companies.
- "In-Q-Tel" | 2013-06-16 | 12 Upvotes 3 Comments
John Colter (c.1770–1775 – May 7, 1812 or November 22, 1813) was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806). Though party to one of the more famous expeditions in history, Colter is best remembered for explorations he made during the winter of 1807–1808, when he became the first known person of European descent to enter the region which later became Yellowstone National Park and to see the Teton Mountain Range. Colter spent months alone in the wilderness and is widely considered to be the first known mountain man.
- "John Colter" | 2018-07-14 | 30 Upvotes 6 Comments
Professor Ronald Coase has died aged 102
Ronald Harry Coase (; 29 December 1910 – 2 September 2013) was a British economist and author. He was the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School, where he arrived in 1964 and remained for the rest of his life. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1991.
Coase, who believed economists should study real markets and not theoretical ones, established the case for the corporation as a means to pay the costs of operating a marketplace. Coase is best known for two articles in particular: "The Nature of the Firm" (1937), which introduces the concept of transaction costs to explain the nature and limits of firms; and "The Problem of Social Cost" (1960), which suggests that well-defined property rights could overcome the problems of externalities (see Coase theorem). Additionally, Coase's transaction costs approach is currently influential in modern organizational economics, where it was reintroduced by Oliver E. Williamson.
- "Professor Ronald Coase has died aged 102" | 2013-09-08 | 27 Upvotes 9 Comments
United States National Radio Quiet Zone
The National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) is a large area of land in the United States designated as a radio quiet zone, in which radio transmissions are heavily restricted by law to facilitate scientific research and the gathering of military intelligence. Roughly half of the zone is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of west-central Virginia while the other half is the Allegheny Mountains of east-central West Virginia; a small part of the zone is in the southernmost tip of the Maryland panhandle.
- "United States National Radio Quiet Zone" | 2020-03-03 | 132 Upvotes 31 Comments
- "United States National Radio Quiet Zone" | 2018-06-27 | 11 Upvotes 1 Comments
Loving v. Virginia
Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark civil rights decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Beginning in 2013, it was cited as precedent in U.S. federal court decisions holding restrictions on same-sex marriage in the United States unconstitutional, including in the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges.
The case involved Mildred Loving, a woman of color, and her white husband Richard Loving, who in 1958 were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as "white" and people classified as "colored". The Lovings appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which upheld it. They then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear their case.
In June 1967, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the Lovings' favor and overturned their convictions. Its decision struck down Virginia's anti-miscegenation law and ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. Virginia had argued that its law was not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the punishment was the same regardless of the offender's race, and thus it "equally burdened" both whites and non-whites. The Court found that the law nonetheless violated the Equal Protection Clause because it was based solely on "distinctions drawn according to race" and outlawed conduct—namely, getting married—that was otherwise generally accepted and which citizens were free to do.
- "Loving v. Virginia" | 2022-06-25 | 18 Upvotes 5 Comments