Sunday, April 12, 2009
Little lost bot
Notwithstanding the military's reaction to the robot Gort in the recent remake of the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, plain old folks apparently like robots, and will even lend a helping hand to a lost little mechanism, especially one with a smiley face.
Kacie Kinzer constructed a simple but cute bot and launched it in New York City, a place not particularly renowned for its hospitality to strangers. Oddly enough, usually hostile New Yorker natives were more than helpful: to a humanoid, they assisted the little lost bot to its destination through the maze of the New York sidewalk jungle with nary a sneer or snarl.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
2009 International Year of Astronomy
Being that 2009 is the 400th anniversary of Galileo first pointing his telescope at the night sky, astronomers and amateur sky-watchers all over the world are inviting people like you, and your friends and family, to look up in wonder at the night sky, and to seek out answers to some of life's biggest questions.
(Tip o'the hat to the science wonks at Universe Today.)
Friday, September 12, 2008
Meeting the Other
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
And you think Macs are expensive...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Think about it
Saturday, May 05, 2007
So just how big is Betelgeuse?
Photo credits are unavailable
Monday, April 30, 2007
Problematic Factions: A Cyber Solution
By Hugh Gusterson | 10 April 2007
We've seen this story before: The Pentagon takes an interest in a rapidly changing area of scientific knowledge, and the world is forever changed. And not for the better.
During World War II, the scientific field was atomic physics. Afraid that the Nazis were working on an atomic bomb, the U.S. government mounted its own crash project to get there first. The Manhattan Project was so secret that Congress did not know what it was funding and Vice President Harry S. Truman did not learn about it until FDR's death made him president. In this situation of extreme secrecy, there was almost no ethical or political debate about the Bomb before it was dropped on two cities by a bureaucratic apparatus on autopilot.
Despite J. Robert Oppenheimer's objections, a few Manhattan Project scientists organized a discussion on the implications of the "Gadget" for civilization shortly before the bomb was tested. Another handful issued the Franck Report, advising against dropping the bomb on cities without a prior demonstration and warning of the dangers of an atomic arms race. Neither initiative had any discernible effect. We ended up in a world where the United States had two incinerated cities on its conscience, and its pursuit of nuclear dominance created a world of nuclear overkill and mutually assured destruction.
This time we have a chance to do better. The science in question now is not physics, but neuroscience, and the question is whether we can control its militarization.More @ The Bulletin Online [http://www.thebulletin.org
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Scary cyber stuff
First it's rat brains, now it's this ...
The line between living organisms and machines has just become a whole lot blurrier. European researchers have developed "neuro-chips" in which living brain cells and silicon circuits are coupled together.
The achievement could one day enable the creation of sophisticated neural prostheses to treat neurological disorders or the development of organic computers that crunch numbers using living neurons.
To create the neuro-chip, researchers squeezed more than 16,000 electronic transistors and hundreds of capacitors onto a silicon chip just 1 millimeter square in size.
Update: This just in from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:According to Jonathan Moreno's fascinating and frightening new book, Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense (Dana Press 2006), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been funding research in the following areas:
- Mind-machine interfaces ("neural prosthetics") that will enable pilots and soldiers to control high-tech weapons by thought alone.
- "Living robots" whose movements could be controlled via brain implants. This technology has already been tested successfully on "roborats" and could lead to animals remotely directed for mine clearance, or even to remotely controlled soldiers.
- "Cognitive feedback helmets" that allow remote monitoring of soldiers' mental state.
- MRI technologies ("brain fingerprinting") for use in interrogation or airport screening for terrorists. Quite apart from questions about their error rate, such technologies would raise the issue of whether involuntary brain scans violate the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
- Pulse weapons or other neurodisruptors that play havoc with enemy soldiers' thought processes.
- "Neuroweapons" that use biological agents to excite the release of neurotoxins. (The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention bans the stockpiling of such weapons for offensive purposes, but not "defensive" research into their mechanisms of action.)
- New drugs that would enable soldiers to go without sleep for days, to excise traumatic memories, to suppress fear, or to repress psychological inhibitions against killing.
Tom Swift & His Amazing Electric Rat Brain!
Neuron from rat brain on a linear array of transistors. The ionic current in the cell interacts with the electronic current in the silicon. Max Planck Institute
Think your Mac PowerBook is speedy? Well, think again
Intel processor can perform about a trillion calculations per second
The world's biggest chipmaker said Sunday it developed a programmable processor that can perform about a trillion calculations per second, or deliver a performance of 1.01 teraflops. It accomplishes this feat while consuming 62 watts of power when the chip is running at a frequency of 3.16 gigahertz.
A similarly powerful supercomputer in 1996 at Sandia National Laboratories took up more than 2,000 square feet, used nearly 10,000 Pentium Pro processors, and consumed more than 500 kilowatts of electricity.
Semiconductor companies used to focus overwhelmingly on generating faster and faster processing cycles, known as clock speed, and engineers didn't worry excessively about overheating chips. Now the balance between performance and efficiency is considered a quintessential part of Moore's Law, the 1965 prediction by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors on a chip should double about every two years.
Executives at Santa Clara-based Intel, who will provide details of the chip this week, acknowledge that it might never make it to market in its current incarnation. Building the chip would be a manufacturing marvel, and it's unclear whether there's an operating system intelligent enough to control it.
I was afraid it would come to this ...
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Having lived in Missouri (the dead center of Tornado Alley) for some years, I have seen some of these storms up-close and personal, but I never had a camera when I needed it.
But Mike Hollingshead was there. He had a camera and took some amazing photographs. Go to this link to read his story. It's pretty amazing.
Thanks to Stumble!