- Angela Belcher of MIT describes "growing" better batteries and solar cells with no toxic by-products using viruses. (TED Talk)
- University of Sydney creates graphene "paper" that is stronger than steel.
- Lasers may replace spark plugs for ignition devices.
- The Complete Guide To Not Giving A Fuck.
- The First Zombie Proof House.
- The Fire Hedgehog.
I think people here will find his special food , his special work chair, and his special way of enhancing creativity interesting. That and, the way he subsidizes his Viagra alternative, Love Jet, by $400 dollars a bottle, because he thinks the falling birth-rate is the biggest problem facing Japan.
Dr. Nakamats is also responsible for a water engine that was patented 17 ears ago, and has significantly more patents than Thomas Edison.
Long before there is a singularity, people will come to expect it... If you think there will be a machine-driven future then your top priority is to survive long enough to make it to the singularityAt the same place Marshall Brain gives us more reasons to push for a universal basic income.
Then there are pretty pictures of brains to look at, and data being stored in the nucleus of atoms, and flying plasmonic lenses. Hat-tip to ex-colleague Chris.
Question is, has anyone (other than perhaps John Brunner) done explicitly "pre-Singularity" fiction yet, focussed on what the approach to the singularity is like, being uninterested in the event itself, or whether it even happens? Seems an interesting time.
Actually I noticed recently that Brunner's Jagged Orbit is basically the plot from Terminator done many years earlier and in a low-key, essentially British, way. I wonder if he got a credit in the movie? Or of he would have even wanted one. Maybe he would have felt like Alan Moore about V.
Watched this TED lecture today by Theo Jansen. He's not much of a speaker, but he doesn't have to be, his art speaks for itself. More pictures and discussion at WebUrbanist, which was where I found it in the first place.
The walking mechanism alone is impressive, especially as it works in the heavy lift version, I was imagining a Battle-Mech as I watched that version move. But when you combine it with the "brain" built out of bits of plastic tubing and bottles.... well, I suppose you also need to know about the research showing that mechanical logic components are a faster and more efficient than electronic at nano-scales, but still..
Meanwhile some guy thinks we've reached an evolutionary plateau. He's probably right, but I think most people reading that might miss the point, that evolution has stopped in developed countries, so the humans of the future will most likely look like people who are not in developed countries now.
And deep in the bowels of an African gold mine, they find the "loneliest bug on earth". What they mean by that is that it exists in an ecosystem of just one species, itself, living with no light, relying on water, hydrogen and sulphate for its energy.
I'm still useless, but less drugs today makes me hope it's improving.
I ain't happy, I'm feeling glad
I got sunshine, in a bag
I'm useless, but not for long
The future is coming on
A technique known as electron stimulated luminescence (ESL). They work by accelerating electrons to stimulate a phosphor coating on the inside of a standard glass light bulb design. First prototypes are estimated at being able to produce 40 lumens per watt with a lifetime of about 6,000 hours.
The company Vu1, claims ESL bulbs are not toxic like CFL bulbs, and are simpler and do not require as much power to manufacture as LED bulbs. They're expected to enter production maybe as early as September this year.
Basic process : Electrical energy, from any source, in, hydrogen & oxygen out and stored in fuel cell. .Fuel cell burns and combines hydrogen and oxygen into water and produces energy. Other than actual production of the hardware in the first place, carbon production of process is nil.
Combine this with the potential of cheap thin film solar cell technology, and we might see the demise of traditional power production for all but high power industrial applications. If the fuel cells could also be used to power our Segways...
If true, that is extremely flimsy evidence for basing the current fervent belief that anthropogenic CO2 production is responsible for global warming on. As the article I read this in points out :
"It is of no little significance that the IPCC’s value for the coefficient in the CO2 forcing equation depends on only one paper in the literature; that its values for the feedbacks that it believes account for two-thirds of humankind’s effect on global temperatures are likewise taken from only one paper; and that its implicit value of the crucial parameter κ depends upon only two papers, one of which had been written by a lead author of the chapter in question, and neither of which provides any theoretical or empirical justification for a value as high as that which the IPCC adopted."
"Since we cannot measure any individual forcing directly in the atmosphere, the models draw upon results of laboratory experiments in passing sunlight through chambers in which atmospheric constituents are artificially varied," writes Monckton. "Such experiments are, however, of limited value when translated into the real atmosphere, where radiative transfers and non-radiative transports (convection and evaporation up, advection along, subsidence and precipitation down), as well as altitudinal and latitudinal asymmetries, greatly complicate the picture."
This isn't climate change denial, but it does disagree with the "general consensus", and as such is being treated the same as denial, with the American Physical Society going as far as adding a disclaimer to the paper in their publication saying they didn't agree with it, even though it seems to someone like myself, not being "in the field", to be a significant potential issue that should be investigated further.
In other words, an unproven hypothesis is fed into a computer (so far so good), but it can only be verified against experiments that have no resemblance to the chaotic system of the Earth's climate. ...
The great British-born physicist Freeman Dyson offered an impertinent dose of reality which illustrates the dangers of relying on theory for both your hypothesis and the evidence you need to support it. Since 8 per cent of atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the planet's biomass every year, notes Dyson, the average lifespan of a carbon molecule in the atmosphere is about 12 years. His observation leaves the "climate scientists" models as immaculate as they were before, but suggests a very different course of policy action. It suggests our stewardship of land should be at the forefront of CO2 mitigation strategies.
If it's true that important parts of the model are only based on limited research, shouldn't people be duplicating the relevant experiments, or designing better more realistic experiments? After all, we're already seeing some evidence that the predictions are too conservative, shouldn't someone be trying to at least confirm that research? Or is Monkton just blowing hot air?
She was a dark-skinned French Tahitian, and to my pre-pubescent mind, absolutely stunning. We both liked dancing together, at a time when most of our peers were going "Ewww!! Boy/Girl cooties!" She liked me because I was humourously clever, not at all put off by dancing and other girl things, and had books. I liked her because she was hot and a girl. But mainly because she was as much of a literary geek as a girl of that age and background going to school in Porirua could be. I seem to have always fallen for women who like books. We shared many books together, largely because I was her "supplier". At the time I was a spotty, be-spectacled kid of the Joe 90 type, with thin straw blond hair in the sort of shaggy, early Beatles, bowl cut which was the only hair-style my mother could do, still going under the name of "Francis". If there's interest I may dig out a photo from that period so you can see just how uncool I looked.
In hind-sight, it was probably an unhealthy relationship anyway, but it was ended primarily by her parent's racism and religion. She was forbidden to see me, because I wasn't a member of their church and was white. We still saw each other, still even managed to dance with each other in class, but it was doomed when we both went to different colleges, and a couple of years later my family moved to Levin.
A random reminiscence perhaps, but my ability at humour has always been a major factor in getting along with people, and I'd be tempted to say that if you can't make a potential lover laugh, how do you expect to elicit a deeper response? So, the reason for that long preamble is this article in Science Daily all about Alistair Clarke's new universal theory of humour, how what we recognize as humour derives directly from our fundamental survival ability of pattern recognition.
“Humour cannot be explained in terms of content or subject matter. A group of individuals can respond completely differently to the same content, and so to understand humour we have to examine the structures underlying it and analyse the process by which each individual responds to them. Pattern Recognition Theory is an evolutionary and cognitive explanation of how and why an individual finds something funny. Effectively it explains that humour occurs when the brain recognizes a pattern that surprises it, and that this recognition is rewarded with the experience of the humorous response.” says Clarke.This directly backs up my own contention, since the mid seventies, that it is the need for visual pattern recognition that resulted in proto-humans developing enough compute power for us to become intelligent. Clarke's theory implies that humour is also a precursor to language, and, I would contend, to intelligence itself. The reward of humour for recognising a surprising pattern occurs in pre-linguistic children. It's also recognizable across species.
I suspect a "pre-Turing" test for human-like AI's will become "Can this creation experience a humour response?", or in different words, "Can this creation experience pleasure at a surprising pattern recognition result?"
Science Daily also reports on using brainwaves to chat and stroll though Second Life , and rotating sphere-based VR environments
Finally, do people remember L. Sprague Du Camp & Fletcher Pratt's humourous The Mathematics of Magic, in which mathematically capable psychologists at a private psychiatric hospital in 1940s Middle America discover how to adjust reality via symbolic logic? Well, cosmologist Max Tegmark seriously proposes that “there is only mathematics; that is all that exists.”. Hmm, and maybe Egan's Permutation City ain't that far from the truth?
Tegmark says in Discover magazine :
Well, Galileo and Wigner and lots of other scientists would argue that abstract mathematics “describes” reality. Plato would say that mathematics exists somewhere out there as an ideal reality. I am working in between. I have this sort of crazy-sounding idea that the reason why mathematics is so effective at describing reality is that it is reality. That is the mathematical universe hypothesis: Mathematical things actually exist, and they are actually physical reality.What I love though is how he talks of his kids :
The overlap with the kids is great because they ask the same questions I do. I did a presentation about space for my son Alexander’s preschool when he was 4. I showed them videos of the moon landing and brought in a rocket. Then one little kid put up his hand and said: “I have a question. Does space end or go on forever?” I was like, “Yeah, that is exactly what I am thinking about now.”This just makes "The Truth" even more plausible! :)
Apologies to any musical historians for any mistakes in the following, I'm making it up as I go along. The keyboard began as a lyre. The lyre evolved into the harp, until it had too many strings for one person to reach and pluck, so someone laid it on it's side and mechanized the plucking, creating a harpsichord. This then evolved into the piano. Various attempts at generating other types of music from the controlling mechanism of a keyboard followed, organs of various sorts. Then, just like clocks, keyboards suddenly translated into the electronic world. They still had keyboards, but internally they employed electronics to generate sound. Next they moved from electronic to digital.
I'm wondering, can other pieces of human technology be modelled like the clock? And more importantly, can we design such an evolutionary simulator in such a way that once it reaches the current phase, it can continue evolving, with the simulation giving as an idea of how we should evolve our tools? In other words, can such an evolutionary simulator actually be used to generate innovation?
As mentioned I finished Permutation City. It felt a bit light after reading Diaspora, a bit like three or four separate stories that happened to occur in related space-time, and I think I may have missed part of it. Or maybe it was edited badly. But it does have one benefit over Diaspora, it does actually have a plot (or three), and it has characters that make more sense. I think part of the problem I had with Diaspora was that the protagonists were, as described, too far from human for their acting human to make sense, it was a somewhat forced attempt to allow the reader to care for non-human entities by making them seem human. In Permutation City all the characters are humans or models of humans, with one or two beginning to become something more, so it works better for me.
Looking forward to beach houses and role-playing this weekend!
And finally, this post from Midori made me smile, and even, truth be told, get a bit misty-eyed, so I pass it on.
Ravel and Dr. Adams were in the early stages of a rare disease called FTD, or frontotemporal dementia, when they were working, Ravel on “Bolero” and Dr. Adams on her painting of “Bolero,” Dr. Miller said. The disease apparently altered circuits in their brains, changing the connections between the front and back parts and resulting in a torrent of creativityWell, I'm already apathetic, slovenly, and heavier. As to asking embarrassing question or acting like a three-year-old, I'll leave that judgement to you lot. But perhaps if my aphasia gets worse, I'll actually be able to write a novel? Except, it will have words missing which I'll have forgotten... At least I can now be happily apathetic, overweight, and slovenly, knowing it's not my fault. It's just my dementia. There's nothing wrong with me at all. Is that being creative?
In the most common variant, patients undergo gradual personality changes. They grow apathetic, become slovenly and typically gain 20 pounds. They behave like 3-year-olds in public, asking embarrassing questions in a loud voice. All along, they deny anything is wrong.
Two other variants of FTD involve loss of language. In one, patients have trouble finding words, Dr. Miller said. When someone says to the patients, “Pass the broccoli,” they might reply, “What is broccoli?”
Someone asked me about the pen I had saying "IT Rock Star", here's the explanation!
Ten Thousand Cents is an interesting artistic project and statement on the world. I like the rebels!
Finally, I love graphics that display interesting statistics well, and here is one such graphic, depicting your odds of dying of particular causes (assuming you're in the USA). It's interesting that you are more likely to be legally executed than die in an earthquake, flood, or a fireworks discharge.
Luckily I have been practising my alien hybrid extermination skills with the HalfLife combat simulator, and attending zombieology lectures, so will be ready when the time comes. :)
Also, this gives a new pseudo-science explanation I can use when I write the book I've been discussing with seraphs_folly, which one might call 28 Months Later, or The Good Dead, or simply Recovery.
tatjna posted a link to Ten Videos to Change How You View the World a couple of days ago, so I've now had a chance to watch some of them, and I have to agree that they are worth watching. They're from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) which is a yearly conference, the link above is the best ten according to lifehack
The first one pushes the idea that as far as violence is concerned, we've never had it so good, which is something I've felt for ages, but Steven Pinker actually shows it with numbers and examples. But it's the animated data from Hans Rosling and GapMinder.org on child mortality and wealth and how the world isn't like it used to be, and his impassioned plea for free access to public data that really got me.
Daniel Gilbert's talk about the impact bias of the hedonic experience simulator in our pre-frontal lobe and finding synthetic happiness is both the most useful and entertaining talk I've seen for a while. And Richard Dawkins passing on the idea that the core that we think of us is not "real", of that which you think of as yourself, being a personal wave form that travels through matter... freaky. It did make me want to yell "Hey Richard, you've just found the soul!", though given the subtlety of some of his references during the talk, I suspect he knew that when he sad it.
That's as far as I've got so far. I should get some sleep. The overwhelming thing I found is that many of the ideas which I came up with by myself as a teenager, and which I was effectively told were stupid by those I spoke to them about then... are now being espoused by clever people in a global forum.
Hmm..... it sorts of makes me think I should believe in myself even more. :)
The otherwise seemingly exhaustive coverage at Life After The Oil Crash mentions fusion only in a single paragraph and links to an article that has nothing to do with fusion power, only a nice example of cold fusion as a neutron source.
Fusion power is a reality. It's not a commercial reality, but that's primarily because of lack of funding. The US pulled out of the ITER project because of the political nature of funding international research. Funding for fusion is stupidly low, even though it's the most likely solution to the energy crisis. In fact, the US is spending more per day in Iraq than the year's budget for ITER project. I suppose they don't really want to solve the energy crisis, because that would prevent them from following their doomsday plans. Too many greenies feel the same way it seems. They'd rather go back to the stone age than admit technology can save the day.
There are issues to be resolved, and it costs to solve them, but when the alternative is TEOTWAWKI, why are billions of dollars a day being thrown at controlling oil reserves which we know will run out much more quickly, and not properly funding the most likely potential solution?
Like any energy source , fusion is not infinitely sustainable (including solar, wind, you name it, none of it is infinitely sustainable), but estimates are that with current designs there would be enough deuterium to last us for 150,000 years and enough lithium to last for sixty million years. One presumes that amount of time would give us the opportunity to come up with something else. The safety issues are less than those of a coal or an oil-fired power plant. And that's even without the possibility of aneutronic fusion
I also think that Life After The Oil Crash's dismissal of SPS does not take into account the situation they are themselves describing. They say there are "technical and regulatory hurdles". The technical hurdles are again funding-based, they know how to solve them but they don't have the money to do it. And again, surely a "regulatory issue", which is largely due to people being afraid that SPS systems could be used as orbital weapon platforms (whereas in fact the worse you're likely to get is bad sunburn if someone tries to use one as a weapon) and treaties controlling commercial exploitation of space, would surely be a non-issue in a TEOTWAWKI situation?
I feel the main problem is that science is no longer cool. People would prefer that we were reduced to the stone age and went back to being god-fearing peasants than have those nerdy scientists save them, and I think it's probably the most dangerous appearance of the "tall poppy syndrome" we've experienced.
- An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything
From November's New Scientist :
GARRETT LISI is an unlikely individual to be staking a claim for a theory of everything. He has no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii. In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, California, to teach snowboarding. Until recently, physics was not much more than a hobby.But reportedly his recent paper An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything(PDF) is getting a lot of attention form some leading physicists. I suspect that it's because of the elegance of the structure. Admittedly, my phyiscs isn't up to understanding the details, but like everyone else I can look at the pretty pictures!
- Cancer Smac-down
A synthetic molecule causes some cancer's to commit suicide (from Science Daily) :
A protein called Smac, which is a shortened version of "second mitochondria-derived activator of apoptosis," is a part of the cell's programmed cell death machinery. When that machinery is switched on, Smac is released from the mitochondria and triggers the pathway that kills damaged or abnormal cells.
Cancer cells, however, can survive Smac's death signal by switching off the apoptotic machinery. To see if they could get around this problem, Wang and other researchers have developed small-molecule mimetics of Smac that can enter the cell and trigger apoptosis. These mimetic molecules do their damage without the need for the Smac signal from the mitochondria.
- My Cockroach Army will Rule the World! Robot Chicken!
Researchers studying swarm behaviour have taken over cockroach swarms using robots and plan to create a robot chicken (shakes head) ....
When 16 cockroaches were placed in the arena, they naturally gravitated toward the darker disc, following what the researchers believe is an internal calculation of the amount of light and the number of other roaches, finding comfort in company.
Dr. Halloy then replaced four of the cockroaches with four robots equipped with sensors to measure light and the proximity of other robots...
When the four robotic roaches were reprogrammed to prefer the lighter disc, however, the real roaches followed them about 60 percent of the time, in essence deferring their own judgment as the preference grew more popular....
The scientists plan to extend their research to higher animals. The next creation: a robotic chicken, which will look a little like a ball on tank treads with loudspeakers.
Short ones :
- Algae to power hydrogen fuel cells
- Westworld Lives!
- 1.6 Terabyte flash drives with 4Gbps transfer rates
- Direct Neural Interface Breakthrough
Thanks to my colleague C and \. for this round up!
- The Truth Machine - mind-reading by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI):
He cannot tell what the undergrad is looking at just by peering at the dance of neuronal firings inside his head. So Tong extracts the data from the scanner, takes it back to his lab and runs it through his processing software. After several hours he has a prediction: The test subject was looking at a penguin. As it turns out,Tong was right. His accuracy for this kind of mind reading is 70 to 80 percent. “Our ability to guess what a person is thinking about binary decisions is not super dramatic,” he says. “But we’re doing it with really crude image resolution of samples from the brain. If we could access every neuron, and spent long enough analyzing the data, we could figure out in great detail what a person is seeing or thinking.”
- Robots Vs Pirates - armed USVs to patrol the waves
- Australian Defence Forces to wear powered clothing
The CSIRO’s Flexible Integrated Energy Device (FIED) ... which will be designed to resemble ordinary garments, will be used to store and provide energy over a continuous period of time. It can be charged by either vibration energy harvesting or through plugging into an electrical power point.
- Can a 12" inch tube halve your power bills?
- A Czech speedway driver knocked unconscious in a crash stunned ambulance drivers when he woke up speaking perfect English.
Is this what happened to wyldcard's character Marrow in jarratt_gray's Mage game ?
- To gain a better understanding of ice-sheet disintegration, Kansas researchers are building an unmanned plane with cutting-edge radar
Specially for ucav, it's almost a tenth of the price of a Predator
- Cambridge researcher Robert Watson discloses a new technique for cracking security on machines with multi-core CPU's
- The Northwest Passage, a normally ice-locked shortcut between Europe and Asia, is now passable for the first time in recorded history reports the European Space Agency
"When it comes to understanding human behaviour, no mammal comes even close to the dog," says Kaminski. Her Leipzig research team has demonstrated that dogs are far better than the supposedly clever apes at interpreting human gestures.Wolves, however, do not demonstrate these traits, nor are they capable of learning them! Basically, the millennia of association between dogs and humans has been long enough for "natural" selection to create a smarter dog, that is genetically better at understanding and communicating with humans than it's wild counterparts.
Associating with humans and their children has also rubbed off on their learning techniques :
Range has already shown that dogs use a learning strategy -- selective imitation -- that, until recently, was believed to be unique to human children once they turned a year old.So that smart dog of yours, is actually smart. Much smarter than you might have thought.
It also talks about how publicly-funded research institutions are trying to prevent public access to findings paid for by the public by putting them behind pay-walls designed for institutional access. This is beginning to become a significant issue, and came to ahead recently when a Cambridge University chemist found that Oxford University Press' website demanded $48 from him for his own scientific paper, without his permission, and against the terms of the Creative Commons he released it under.
The Bad Science article also links to the Bem Sex Role Inventory, described as "a self-rated test explicitly designed to measure how much you adhere to socially desirable, stereotypically masculine and feminine personality characteristics" which seems so much like a meme, I thought I'd do it as one :
You scored 74.167 out of masculine points, 51.667 out of feminine points, and 63.158 out of androgynous(neutral) points)
Have fun inventorying your sex role yourself! "Bem" does not mean bug-eyed monster, btw, but Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem who developed it in 1971.
On the other hand it seems we may soon be able to grow our own replacement heart valves from adult bone marrow stem cells .
And passed on from the TNC list,we have DealExtreme, lots of cheap tech toys with free postage and Payment via PayPal. This one is just so appropriate for the office, doncha think?