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Found: A Gold Lemania Chronograph Formerly Owned By Winston Churchill Img 8963.jpg?ixlib=rails 1.1

Winston Churchill loved his watches. We know that because we’ve seen some of his favorite pieces up close, including his beloved Breguet pocket watch which he nicknamed the Turnip. We’ve also seen correspondence between Churchill and none other than Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, regarding wrist sizes and engravings. Mr. Winston Churchill would later receive Rolex’s 100,000th chronometer, a gold Datejust with his coat of arms on the back, as a gift from Wilsdorf himself.

This week, we found out about another watch formerly in his collection. It’s an 18k yellow gold Lemania chronograph, another gift – this time from the Canton de Vaud. And it pre-dates his Datejust, no less. The watch, which was recently acquired by a private individual, is Lot 160 in Sotheby’s next watch auction, being held April 25 in London, and it’s special for quite a few reasons.

Winston Churchill Yellog Gold Lemania Chronograph Sotheby's

Sir Winston Churchill received this gold Lemania from the Canton de Vaud during the Summer of 1946.

First off, the whole watch is made of gold. All of it, from the case to the hands to the hour markers, and even the dial is gilt. Therefore, it’s a very, very yellow Lemania, whereas most Lemania chronographs – when they were not ébauche movements supplied to other manufacturers – were cased in stainless steel. This is basically the opposite of that. Note that one of the pushers is a replacement, and not a very good one at that, which unfortunately throws the visual balance of the watch off a bit. See it here?

Winston Churchill Yellog Gold Lemania Chronograph Sotheby's Engraving Back

The engraving at the back of the case indicates this was a gift to Winston Churchill.

Second, it’s a chronograph of some repute. Inside the watch is a caliber CH27-C12, a manually-wound chronograph developed in the early 1940s in partnership with Omega, who called it the Caliber 321. CH27-C12 might not sound familiar to many of you, but Caliber 321 probably does. This movement was used to power, among other things, the Speedmaster that made its way to the Moon. 

Winston Churchill Yellog Gold Lemania Chronograph Sotheby's

The watch is unusual in many ways. An 18k yellow gold watch with a salmon dial was not typical of Lemania at the time.

And, finally, this watch was a personal gift from the Canton de Vaud, where the Lemania manufacture was based (the manufacture was purchased by Breguet in the 1990s, and, to this day, the Swatch Group company uses the building to make its own watches). Churchill received the watch while he was vacationing in Switzerland with his wife Clementine, shortly before delivering a speech at the University of Zurich, where he shared his vision of a united Europe.

Winston Churchill Yellog Gold Lemania Chronograph Sotheby's on the wrist

The watch measures 36mm in diameter.

Because of the timeline, Sotheby’s is suggesting the watch is a symbol of Churchill’s "vision of peace and unity in Europe." The claim should be taken with a grain of salt though, since there is no evidence that Churchill wrote his speech while visiting the Canton de Vaud, or that his experience of Switzerland inspired his speech, or that he even wore the watch during the speech. Either way, the value of the watch resides in the certainty of its singularity and provenance, not its metaphorical significance.

Winston Churchill giving his famous ‘V’ sign. (Photo from the collections of the Imperial War Museums)

Sotheby’s is estimating the value of the watch between £15,000 and £25,000 (approximately $19,000 to $32,000 at time of publishing). I suspect this lot will appeal more to collectors of Winston Churchill memorabilia than to watch collectors. The former will surely see past the condition of the watch – the case was severely knocked near the top pusher, and the dial is flaking between four and five o’clock – in order to secure an intimate piece of his watch collection.

For more information, visit Sotheby’s online.


Field Notes x Bellroy “Everyday Inspiration” Leather Cover and Memo Books

Field Notes x Bellroy “Everyday Inspiration” Leather Cover and Memo Books

Field Notes and Bellroy are two of our favorite brands here at T&T. They both craft world-class products with love and a certain attention to detail, which is the sort of thing we’re suckers for.

Still, we never imagined they would ever collaborate on something cool like what they announced to email subscribers yesterday: the “Everyday Inspiration” kit:

A beautifully crafted, super-compact leather cover, precisely fitted to our Memo Books, The Everyday Inspiration is a perfect companion. The leather is vegetable tanned and dyed through to a rich charcoal color that will age gracefully. There’s room for business cards, receipts or tickets and you can clip your favorite pen to the spine. The Everyday Inspiration snaps closed to hold everything together with a sweet, magnetic click, and it fits easily in your back pocket.

Each Everyday Inspiration comes with three custom Field Notes Memo Books. You can think of these as the opposite of our original style. Instead of black on kraft, we’ve flooded the covers with ink, leaving the logo reversed out in kraft. The insides are good ol’ reliable graph paper. While these books are made specifically for the Everyday Inspiration, all our standard sized memo books fit perfectly too.

As usual, they made a short film about it:

The color scheme of the vegetable-tanned leather cover — a charcoal exterior with orange interior — is beautiful, and the included inverted-color memo books are the icing on the cake. Just an awesome collaboration from these two companies.

Get the “Everyday Inspiration” kit for $86 at Field Notes.


Hands-On: The Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater Hero.jpg?ixlib=rails 1.1

The latest complication from Ralph Lauren is a minute repeater, which seems at first glance like a risky undertaking bordering on foolhardy. After all, there are to this day quite a lot of vocal objections to the idea of Ralph Lauren doing a watch collection at all, much less one that includes such an elevated complication. At the same time though, I’ve always felt that if you are going to accept the idea of Ralph Lauren as a maker of luxury watches at all, you have to give the idea its head, so to speak, which means the question is not, does Ralph Lauren have a right to make a minute repeater, so much as it is, has Ralph Lauren made an interesting minute repeater?

The Ralph Lauren minute repeater is a 42mm x 10.10mm watch – in other words, on the flat side as both watches and minute repeaters go. For comparison, the F. P. Journe Répétition Souveraine, which is considered a thin repeater, is 8.65mm thick; Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731 is 8.09mm thick; the world’s thinnest repeater, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is 40mm x 6.85mm, which is a record that seems unlikely to be broken any time soon. Bear in mind as well that these are all designed as extra-flat/ultra-thin watches; the new Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Minute Repeater is 43mm x 13.15mm, so point to Ralph Lauren for making a slim, elegant repeating watch. (This isn’t such a surprise, either; one of Lauren’s favorite watches from his own collections is the 867 square model in guilloché white gold, which is only 27.5 mm square and 5.75 mm thick – basically, the Cartier Tank that Cartier itself isn’t making).

Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater

The Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater is a special order repeating watch with an engine-turned case and dial.

Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater, slide

Activation of the strike is via a traditional slide in the case-band.

Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater Caliber RL888

The movement, caliber RL888, offers a 100 hour power reserve.

Design-wise, this might be one of the most classically oriented repeaters out there. Generally speaking, you don’t get this sort of guilloché work on the cases or dials of most modern repeaters, which – at least in the models from AP, Vacheron and Patek – tend to skew very austere. The Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater really puts Lauren’s affection for the elegance of the Deco era on display, which is a fascinating thing – on the one hand with Lauren you have an absolutely irresistible attraction to the general atmosphere of the great outdoors, and for American Western design in particular (after all, this is the guy who put Western-inspired clothes on the map, and injected them into the general design language of modern clothing design, back in the 1970s and ’80s). On the other hand, you have the Ralph Lauren who finds the Art Deco era an endless source of quotable quotes, so to speak – an American for whom elegance is not only European, but aspirationally European. The latter is very much where the 867 collection of watches comes from and it’s definitely where the RL Minute Repeater is coming from.

All the context aside, and leaving aside for the moment the extent to which the RL Minute Repeater is a refracting lens for the disparate inspirations and motivations Lauren has imbibed over the decades, it’s as traditional a repeater, and watch, as I’ve ever seen – so much so that it’s almost reactionary.

Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater Dial Closeup

The dial and hands are very finely made, with an especially elegant hand-set.

The case, dial and hands are done to an impressive standard and the minute hand in particular is very finely done, tapering to almost nothing before the triangle-tipped circle at the end. Two criticisms: I would have left out "minute repeater" (in a watch this oriented towards early 20th century aesthetics, and minimalist elegance, the words seem to detract from the effect and the sans-serif typeface seems too modern) and, I think I’d have tried to find someplace else for "Ralph Lauren." Printing directly onto a guilloché surface can be tricky; it works in the 27mm square 867 model, I think, because where the letters are placed, the guilloché is so fine the letters give a visual impression of flatness; here there is just enough depth in the engine-turning that the letters take on a subtle but distracting ripple effect. Perhaps a flattened area onto which the logo is printed would help (a la the solution to this issue used by Audemars Piguet in the Royal Oak). Other than those quibbles, this is an impressively elegant and rather subtle repeater.

Closeup, caliber RL888, hammers

The two hammers in caliber RL888, visble at about 2:00. The hammers are black polished and nicely beveled.

Caliber RL888 Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater

The hammers are located at 5:00; the fly governor, which controls the speed of the strike, at 7:00; the balance is at 10:00; and the mainspring barrel is under the cock/bridge at 2:00.

The movement is rather interesting. Obviously Ralph Lauren is not a manufacture (nor has it ever claimed to be one) and the movements in Ralph Lauren watches are supplied, at the higher end, by the Richemont Group, including IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, and Piaget. Entry level price points are covered by Sellita calibers (totally appropriate to the price) but occasionally Ralph Lauren works with other suppliers as well. Most notably, in 2013, the movement for the Safari Tourbillon (a micro-rotor caliber) was supplied by La Fabrique du Temps, in Meyrin (just outside Geneva, and the location of a number of brand’s manufacturing centers). La Fabrique du Temps became La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in 2012, by the way, when Louis Vuitton acquired it.

Louis Vuitton Escale Minute Repeater with caliber LV235

The movement of the Louis Vuitton Escale Minute Repeater, from our 2015 coverage.

The RL888 caliber appears to be a version of a minute repeater movement made by La Fabrique du Temps – the general layout is identical to that of the repeater works in Louis Vuitton’s Escale Minute Repeater Worldtime (caliber LV235) although the bridgework and aesthetics are both rather different. 

Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater Caliber RL888, balance assembly

The escape wheel and balance; note the skeletonized escape wheel.

The aesthetics and finish of the caliber RL888 (which, like the LV235, has a 100 hour power reserve and beats at 21,600 vph) were obviously deliberate decisions to bring the appearance of the movement in line with the overall aesthetics of the watch. Again, the layout is bordering on anachrononistic. The use of finger bridges for the center, third, and fourth wheels is something characteristic of a lot of Swiss production from the mid-to late 19th century, giving you an old-fashioned view through the back that’s a good match for the old-fashioned look of the watch overall. 

The skeletonized escape wheel (which is also found in caliber LV235) is a touch of modern technology (it looks like a LIGA-fabricated metal part, not silicon) although intriguingly enough, RL888 uses a lateral lever configuration rather than the virtually ubiquitous inline lever escapement – lateral levers nowadays are found almost nowhere else than nowadays than in tourbillons, although you can find them fairly frequently in 19th century pocket watches.

Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater, dial side, showing guilloche bezel

The guilloché on the dial and bezel give a decidedly traditional, and very Deco-era, effect.

This isn’t a unique piece but it is going to be made only to order, so at least for now the watch you see here is the only one of its kind. It’s going to stay a pretty rare bird, as this is obviously not a large series product! Pricing is $206,000. Now for anyone who thinks a Ralph Lauren luxury watch of any kind is prima facie absurd, this watch is not likely to convince them otherwise. However as small series repeaters go, the price (to the extent that price comparisons are even a relevant consideration for people in the market for six figure repeaters) is on the less aggressive side of the repeater spectrum (the simplest Patek repeater, the reference 5078G, is an application-only piece, priced at $350,000). 

Of course the repeater is an auditory, as well as a visual, complication; here’s the Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater in action.

The volume is surprisingly good – white gold isn’t generally considered an optimum metal for repeaters although this is as much as anything else, a matter of taste. All other things being equal, you get a cooler sound than you would from rose gold (conventionally thought of as the most ideal material from a traditionalist standpoint) but that’s not necessarily bad; just different. And of course how the case and dial are actually made, as well as everything from how the gongs are tempered and tuned, to how they’re fixed to the movement plate, have a huge effect on the final sound as well; repeaters are complicated in more ways than one.

It’s worth noting also that this is a 30m water resistant watch, with the slide constructed in such a way as to help prevent water getting into the case. Traditionally, minute repeaters are in general about as water resistant as a sieve – gaskets have a tendency to deaden sound – so that’s a plus as well, and in terms of volume, certainly, the Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater doesn’t seem to have suffered from having some degree of water resistance.

This particular watch is really a prototype and you obviously can’t extrapolate from its performance to the sound of a delivered watch, but you can see (well, hear) that, right now, the higher of the two chimes need refinement – the hammer’s rest position sounds like it’s a little too close to the gong, which tends to muffle the chime prematurely (a watchmaker would say the depthing of the hammer needs adjustment and indeed, this is one of the essential steps in fine-tuning a repeater). I’d want it tweaked if I were taking delivery of this watch, but as prototype repeaters go, the overall impression was pretty positive. 

Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater wrist shot

On the wrist, the Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater is as pleasantly old-school a watch as you could want.

As a Ralph Lauren high-end, haute de gamme luxury watch, this is no more or less challenging than any other high end Ralph Lauren watch; as I said before, if you found the idea absurd before, you’re not going to change your mind now (at least, I don’t think so). As a minute repeater, however, and taken on its own merits aesthetically, I think there’s a lot to like here – the Old World, and highly traditionalist execution of the movement and watch give an impression you don’t really get from any other repeater on the market. 

The Ralph Lauren Minute Repeater is made to order, and if you’re interested you can enquire through the Ralph Lauren flagship boutique at 867 Madison Avenue in New York.


On Breakthrough Discuss

Although I hadn’t thought I would get a post off today, I do want to get this Breakthrough Initiatives news release out about the upcoming Breakthrough Discuss meeting. Pay particular attention to the online options for participating.


Second annual “Breakthrough Discuss” conference held April 20-21 and broadcast on Facebook Live

San Francisco – April 18, 2017 – Breakthrough Initiatives today announced its second annual Breakthrough Discuss scientific conference, which will bring together leading astronomers, engineers, astrobiologists and astrophysicists to advance discussion surrounding recent discoveries of potentially habitable planets in nearby star systems. The conference will take place on Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21, at Stanford University.

The two days of discussions will focus on newly discovered Earth-like “exoplanets” in the Alpha Centauri and TRAPPIST-1 planetary systems, and new evidence that these planets could be habitable, as well as their potential as targets for novel methods of space exploration.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Queen Mary University of London, and Michaël Gillon, University of Liège, will serve as keynote speakers. Sessions will be chaired by Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona, Jill Tarter, former director of the Center for SETI Research, and Avi Loeb, Harvard University. A full overview of the sessions and panels are listed below.

“In the last 10 months, the world of astronomy has been rocked by discoveries of other planetary systems that look remarkably like our own,” said S. Pete Worden, Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “The Breakthrough Discuss conference brings together many of the leading minds to advance the conversation on the potential for life on other worlds and to interrogate the conflicting theories and hypotheses prompted by this new data.”

The two-day event will feature three sessions of 19 presentations and 15 panelists. The first will focus on recent observations of nearby planets, including Proxima b, and new techniques for observing them. The second session will examine the possibility of intelligent life in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood, and recent attempts to search for it with Breakthrough Listen. The third session will assess the significance of the newly-discovered exoplanets for the long-term Breakthrough Starshot endeavor, a program spearheaded by Yuri Milner to develop a practical interstellar space probe.

As the closest known exoplanet, Proxima b is the current primary target for Starshot, which aims to develop the technology to send gram-scale spacecraft travelling at 20 percent the speed of light to Alpha Centauri, some 4.367 light years away. Starshot mission leaders Avi Loeb, Philip Lubin and Zac Manchester will be among the distinguished participants at Breakthrough Discuss.

The conference will be broadcast on Facebook Live at Viewers are encouraged to join in the conversation and submit questions, which have the opportunity to be answered by the panelists in real-time.

Start times for all sessions will also be posted on the Breakthrough Facebook page. For more information on the program, including a detailed schedule, please visit:

Breakthrough Discuss is hosted by Stanford University’s Department of Physics and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and sponsored by the Breakthrough Initiatives.

Breakthrough Discuss is an annual academic conference focused on life in the Universe and novel ideas for space exploration.

Breakthrough Initiatives are a suite of scientific and technological programs exploring the big questions around life in the Universe, such as, Are we alone? What are the nearest habitable planets? And can we become an interstellar civilization?

For more information see

Breakthrough Discuss

Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21


Earth has discovered a neighbor.

In August 2016, the exoplanet Proxima b was discovered on our cosmic doorstep. It orbits Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our Sun, approximately 4.2 light-years (25 trillion miles) away. This was a thrilling discovery: the closest known exoplanet to the Solar System also happens to lie within the habitable zone of its star; and just four months after its launch, Breakthrough Starshot had its first target.

Then, in February 2017, seven exoplanets were identified orbiting a dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1, about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth. In cosmic terms, these planets too are just down the street. As evolving observation and propulsion technologies promise to extend our vision and physical presence to interstellar destinations, these potentially habitable or life-bearing worlds are transforming the space of our possibilities for life in our galactic neighborhood: both possibilities for extraterrestrial life, and for the future of humanity.

The discoveries of Proxima b and the seven worlds of the TRAPPIST-1 system will be the overarching theme for this year’s Breakthrough Discuss.

Session One: Observations of Proxima b and Habitable Planets Around Nearby Cool Stars

What can be learned about Proxima b and habitable planets around nearby cool stars by remote sensing from Earth and from near-term space missions? This session will focus on observations and systems, both Earth-based and space-based, for studying the newly discovered Proxima b planet and yet-to-be-identified habitable planets around nearby M-type stars. A particular focus will be on how life might be confirmed, and when this might be feasible.

Session Chair:

* Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona

Session Co-Chairs:

* David Charbonneau, Harvard University
* Lisa Kaltenegger, Cornell University

Session Two: SETI Observations of Proxima b and Nearby Stars

What SETI measurements are possible for Proxima b and nearby stars? This session will review a number of SETI observations already taken of the Proxima Centauri system, and consider new observation possibilities. These include discussion of what “leakage” from a technological civilization might be detected with current instrumentation; what additional observations can and should be made; and ideas for new and untried methods of observation and data-gathering.

Session Chair:

* Jill Tarter, SETI Institute
Session Co-Chairs:

* Tabetha Boyajian, Louisiana State University
* Andrew Siemion, University of California, Berkeley
* Jason Wright, Penn State University
* Shelley Wright, University of California, San Diego

Session Three: Scientific Goals and Instrumentation for a Flyby of the Nearest Stars

Breakthrough Starshot aims to send lightweight probes at a fraction of the speed of light to the nearest stars. What instruments and measurements should be available to this fleet of spacecraft? This session will focus on measurements that could be made by StarChips flying through the Alpha Centauri planetary system, with an emphasis on the search for life on Proxima b. The discussion will include an initial brainstorm on the desired spectral and imaging parameters (resolution and wavelengths), the type of instruments (including novel probes of particles and fields), as well as the optimal flyby distance and trajectory.

Session Chair:

* Avi Loeb, Harvard University

Session Co-Chairs:

* Phil Lubin, University of California, Santa Barbara
* Zac Manchester, Harvard University
* Mason Peck, Cornell


For Breakthrough Initiatives
Rubenstein / Kristen Bothwell
212-843-9227 /



Another ‘iPhone 8’ Design Schematic Shows Vertical Dual Camera and Touch ID on Back of Aluminum Casing Yet another "iPhone 8" design schematic has surfaced today, this one courtesy of noted leaker Sonny Dickson on Twitter.

The render shows an iPhone with a vertically-positioned dual-lens camera and Touch ID located on the back of the smartphone, as seen previously. It’s likely one of several designs that Apple is considering, as multiple reports have said the company has been testing multiple iPhone prototypes this year.

Bloomberg in particular said one of the iPhone prototypes that Apple is testing has a "simpler design" with an aluminum back, rather than a glass one, plus slightly larger dimensions, and that description is consistent with this render. But, as mentioned, this might not be the design that Apple selects.

Apple suppliers have so far struggled to reliably produce heavily curved glass in mass quantities, so the company is more likely to ship the version with more subdued curves, the person added. The company is also testing a simpler design that has an aluminum back, rather than a glass one, and slightly larger dimensions, one of the people said.

The prototype measures 149.5mm tall and 72.5mm wide, compared to the iPhone 7‘s 138.3mm length and 67.1mm width, so the "iPhone 8" would be slightly larger than a 4.7-inch iPhone as expected should Apple choose this design. The dimensions are consistent with a previous design schematic leaked last week.

While a vertical camera is a more likely possibility for what will be Apple’s highest-end iPhone, it’s less clear if Touch ID will be integrated under the display, on the rear, or elsewhere. Last week, Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri said Apple is facing yield issues with its under-display solution.

One possibility is that the circular cutout on the rear is actually for wireless charging, rather than Touch ID, in order to avoid interference from the aluminum casing. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said all three iPhone models rumored to launch this year will feature wireless charging.

The sides of the iPhone include the usual cutouts for the mute switch, SIM card tray, Lightning connector, speaker grille, and what is likely a second faux speaker grille. In line with the iPhone 7, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack, so don’t get your hopes up about a surprise return of the legacy connector.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tag: Sonny Dickson

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In The Shop: A 1975 Rolex Reference 1625 ‘Thunderbird’ in Yellow Gold, A 1960s Doxa SUB 300T Searambler, And A 1940s Longines Reference 5774 For The Marine Nationale

This week, we’ve assembled an assortment of vintage watches covering all categories. Whether it be a mono-pusher chronograph from the 1940s with an amazing set of lugs or a charmingly-patinated Longines made for the French navy, each piece possesses transformative details that set it apart. From sporty to elegant to historically important, any of these pieces would be a delight to own and wear. Read on for more details. 

1975 Rolex Reference 1625 ‘Thunderbird’ In Yellow Gold

Named for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squad officially activated in 1953, the Rolex ‘Thunderbird’ was born in the 1950s as a Datejust modified for the active sportsman. The best part though was that it was initially produced exclusively with either yellow or white gold. This example from 1975 looks absolutely exceptional with its golden dial, and it makes a truly luxurious statement on the wrist. See more here

1960s Doxa SUB 300T Searambler

Created for divers and perfected in the depths of Lake Neuchatel, this Doxa SUB 300T’s legible dial and U.S. Divers official depth rating on the outer rim of the bezel gives the (correct) impression that this watch was built for action. That doesn’t mean that it lacks in the aesthetics department though. The tonneau case, orange accents, and silver dial all work together to create a statement on and off the wrist. Read more here

1940s Longines Reference 5774 For The Marine Nationale

Issued in December 1948, this Longines military wristwatch is perfectly charming, perfectly patinated, and perfectly balanced. Complete with a certificate from Longines identifying this watch as issued to an officer of the Marine Nationale, it sports military engravings on the caseback and a coppery, almost iridescent, patina. A truly exceptional watch at 33mm, but with a thick case, domed bezel, and elongated lugs – don’t let the diameter stop you. All the details here

Wait, There’s More

In addition to the watches mentioned above, we have a 1940s Sabina Suisse mono-pusher chronograph, a 1966 Tudor Advisor reference 7926, and a 1960s Gübelin Ipsovox. 

All are available now on the HODINKEE Shop


Report on cyber security in UK businesses makes for depressing reading, but the real problem could be much worse

A cyber-security survey carried out by Ipsos Mori has revealed almost half of UK businesses were attacked by cyber criminals in the past 12 months.

The survey commissioned by the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport found that overall 46% of all UK businesses identified at least one cyber-security breach or attack in the last 12 months – the number of identified attacks rises to two-thirds among medium-sized firms (66%) and large firms (68%).

Although these figures are alarming, cyber-security experts say these figures only account for known breaches.

In reality the examples of cyber attacks might be even higher than figures show.

“This is probably an underestimate if anything. Two reasons for this, firstly, this assumes they even know they have been hit, secondly people are more likely to under-report,” said Anton Grashion, managing director of security practice at software firm Cylance.

“Evidence of our testing when we run a proof of concept with prospective customers is that we almost invariably discover active malware on their systems, so it’s the unconscious acceptance of risk that plagues both large and small businesses.”

Among the 46% of businesses that detected breaches in the last 12 months, Ipsos Mori’s survey found that the average business faced costs of £1,570 as a result.

However, this figure is much higher for the average large firm, at £19,600, though the average medium firm (£3,070) and micro and small firms (£1,380) also incured sizeable costs.

“Many businesses still remain unprepared for a cyber attack because it’s difficult to prepare for something you don’t understand, can’t visualise, and haven’t experienced,” said Paul Edon, director at security firm Tripwire.

“The dynamic nature of cyber attacks often makes it hard to pinpoint a root cause, so executives with a desire to prepare are faced with choices, rather than clear actions to fund.”

Image courtesy of Fabio Lanari

The survey found only a quarter (26%) of surveyed companies reported their most disruptive breaches externally to anyone other than a cyber security provider.

The findings suggest that some businesses lack awareness of who to report to, why to report breaches and what reporting achieves.

In addition to not knowing where to report attacks, companies also claim they are unsure of where to obtain advice on how to prevent cyber attacks.

While 58% of businesses have sought information, advice or guidance on the cyber security threats facing their organisations over the past year, only 4% had consulted government or other public sector sources such as the police or regulators.

“British business need to realise there is an entire global cyber criminal economy that out earns the illegal drug industry in terms of revenue.

“Cyber programs need to wake up and adapt into a detect and response approach that places equal investments in prevention as it does detection of hackers,” said Paul Calatayud, chief technology officer at security company FireMon.

The full Cyber Security Breaches Survey is available here.

The post Report on cyber security in UK businesses makes for depressing reading, but the real problem could be much worse appeared first on Factor.


Scared of wasps and flying insects? Scientists use CRISPR gene-slicing technology to create “red-eyed mutant wasps”

In order to demonstrate that CRISPR gene-slicing technology can be used on even the smallest organism, scientists have created a strain of “red-eyed mutant wasps”

To produce the mutant wasps scientists from the University of California’s Riverside’s Akbari lab took eggs that are about a quarter the size of a grain of rice, injected them with components to mutate the DNA and put them inside a blowfly pupae (a type of cocoon).

Eventually the team also developed a protocol where genes that control the colour of the wasp’s normally black eyes were sliced.

The technique is challenging, said Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology who led the research team, “but it is learnable. You need a really steady hand and it requires a lot of patience in micro manipulation that one can learn over time.

“You have to use a very-very fine needle and a microscope and individually inject hundreds to thousands of embryos, but in the end, we developed a protocol that can be used to cut the DNA in this organism and we showed that it works.”

Images courtesy of Akbari Lab

The purpose of developing a mutation in the wasps was to give scientists a new way of studying some of the wasp’s interesting biology.

Parasitic jewel wasps are capable of converting all their offspring into males by using selfish genetic elements.

By mutating certain chromosomes, the scientists will be able to identify genes that enable the wasps to kill female embryos, as well as allowing them to see how disrupting the wasps DNA affects the organism.

No one knows how that selfish genetic element in some male wasps “can somehow kill the female embryos and create only males,” said Akbari.

“To understand that, we need to pursue their PSR (paternal sex ratio) chromosomes, perhaps by mutating regions of the PSR chromosome to determine which genes are essential for its functionality.”

The scientists believe that their discoveries will, in time, provide a better understanding of the biology of wasps and other insects.

The research will also contribute to controlling insects that destroy crops or spread diseases like malaria.

As for the current batch of mutated scarlet-orbed wasps, they won’t be going away anytime soon.

The cuts in the DNA created mutant wasps with heritable traits, which means their red eyes will be passed down to all their offspring in the future.

The post Scared of wasps and flying insects? Scientists use CRISPR gene-slicing technology to create “red-eyed mutant wasps” appeared first on Factor.


Cadillac previews Super Cruise at New York Auto Show


Cadillac previewed the next step in semi-autonomous technology at the New York Auto Show this week, improving its adaptive cruise control safety features.

The new Super Cruise system, which will be available in the Cadillac CT6 this fall, is able to alert the driver when they stop paying attention to the road and ensure that an accident similar to Tesla’s first autonomous fatality doesn’t happen in a Cadillac.

See Also: A quarter of all U.S. travel could be electric and driverless by 2030

Instead of packing the steering wheel with sensors to recognize when the driver has let go, Cadillac has added head tracking sensors to make sure the driver pays attention.

The ‘Driver Attention System’ will alert the driver if they look away for too long, and the system has a series of alerts that escalate the longer attention is diverted. These alerts include voice, noise alerts and haptic chair rumbles.

Ignore me and I’ll shut down

If a driver ignores all alerts, the car will turn hazard lights on and shut down. It will also alert the emergency services. Unlike other cruise control systems, the driver needs to only look back at the road to turn off the alerts, they do not need to hold the wheel.

Another addition to Cadillac’s Super Cruise is a geo-locator that ensures cruise control only works on divided, limited-access highways. It comes after the first fatal accident involving a Tesla’s Model S owner that had AutoPilot active last year. The Model S did not recognize the white van that had pulled out of an intersection and the driver was not paying attention to the road.

General Motors is one of the few major automakers that are committed to semi-autonomous tech inside of cars. Ford, its main U.S. rival, has said it will skip Level 3 autonomy, which is considered a slightly more advanced form of cruise control, to push straight for Level 5, the highest level of autonomous driving.

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How will maintenance change with the autonomous vehicle?

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All machines eventually break down. Self-driving vehicles are no exception.

Autonomous vehicles pose two problems for the future of vehicles. The removal of the driver means there is no person providing feedback on how the vehicle performs over time. You are removing the point-person who says “something feels wrong, this needs to be checked out.” An autonomous truck could easily arrive at its destination with one fewer wheels than it left with at its origin without recognizing there is a problem.

An autonomous truck could easily arrive at its destination with one fewer wheels than it left with at its origin without recognizing there is a problem.

See also: Automotive 2.0 – the new road ahead for autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles also create a second maintenance problem – the sensor systems they use can fail. An autonomous vehicle operating with a faulty sensor is an on-the-road hazard. Imagine the wheel-speed sensor that reports the vehicle has stopped when it is actually traveling at highway speeds. A human would know to disregard that faulty input because it “feels” wrong. An autonomous vehicle could respond by continuously accelerating.

With the advent of autonomous vehicles, now, more than ever, systems need to be created for advanced diagnostics. AI should not just be used to make vehicles drive autonomously, but also to allow vehicles self-diagnose future and upcoming issues.

The new AI for maintenance

The concept of predicting breakdowns is nothing new. People have been using statistics for decades to calculate mean-time-to-failure – it is how the automotive industry came up with replacing parts based on number of miles driven. However, the ‘mean-time’ means that some parts repaired will have significant useful life yet and others will break before you get around to fixing them. AI allows something to be done that was unfeasible in the past – actively monitor every vehicle while it is in use.

Established companies have been working in this place for a while now. They operate on the notion that if you have been collecting data then they can put enough experts on the problem to create a solution. SAP, IBM, and Pivotal Labs are all making plays into the space. The problem is that they require that a company has been collecting data, knew what data to take, and knew to keep it.

As the industry matures and companies collect more data and gain large historical datasets, their solutions will be powerful. But nimble startups can use speed to their advantage in this situation by rapidly deploying a solution that will give them a permanent head start on collecting the sensor data needed to train the AI systems.

One such company is Uptake. They have had phenomenal growth, breaking a $1 billion dollar valuation within a year of incorporation and being named Forbes’ 2015 Hottest Startup. They did this by collecting a dataset from scratch, first with locomotives and then with other vehicles, through this they ended up with a partnership with Caterpillar. Their future looks to be diverging away from vehicles and towards bringing predictive maintenance to other industries.

Preteckt follows Uptakes footsteps in collecting its own dataset, but it targets the vehicles that are more commonly seen on the roads. Preteckt started with 18-wheelers and has already diversified into buses, and the hardware and software architecture that has been developed is portable to smaller vehicles. Preteckt’s technology has already been deployed in an autonomous truck and could be migrated to autonomous cars in the future.

The future is not “Star Trek”

Science fiction has people asking machines to run diagnostics to see if something is wrong, or what is wrong. The concept is flawed. The machines will know before you ask and will tell you what will go wrong with them next. They will tell you how to best take care of them to ensure that they do not fail on you. This is what you can look forward to with the autonomous vehicles of the future – a peace of mind in that your vehicle will not have any on-the-road surprises for you.

But why stop at eliminating surprises. Once vehicles can know their upcoming maintenance needs and drive themselves – why won’t they just take themselves to the mechanic when your schedule says you don’t need it. Maintenance will become an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” concept making the ownership of a vehicle that much more enjoyable.

VB Profiles Connected Cars Landscape

VB Profiles Connected Cars Landscape

This article is part of our connected cars series. You can download a high-resolution version of the landscape featuring 250 companies here.

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