Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Skynet - To Protect & to Serve

To Protect and to Serve...This clip, from the Wired Danger Room, shows one weapon that went ballistic. Click here to see South Africa's latest adventure with Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14

Any Questions?

Everything's Alive

Well, we did it. Three principles of this Blog put together a show discussing the impact of technology on education. It was a hit and people responded. Click on the above graphic to see what was done on Friday, Oct 26th. It was an absolute blast to do this. A site will be forthcoming because there's a need to have a resource like this to leverage change in enhancing education as we move further into the 21st century.

Stay tuned, the EA video will be out shortly.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Going Mobile

If Michale Kozicki is right, hard disks and dvds will soon be toast, something that techs like myself have been hoping for for a very long time. Kozicki has developed a new non-volatile nanoscaled memory technology that's faster, cheaper, more reliable and far more energy efficient than today's expensive and limited flash memory found on devices like the iPhone and digital cameras. Using entirely different physics, PMCs (Programmable Metallization Cell) "...stores information in a fundamentally different way from flash. Instead of storing bits as an electronic charge, the technology creates nanowires from copper atoms the size of a virus to record binary ones and zeros."

Axon Technologies, the business spinoff from Arizona State , has licensed the tech to Micron, Qimonda and Adesto. Click on the graphic below to see how PMCs work.

When this technology is factored in with flexible screen displays,

WiMax and the 700 MHZ spectrum, the impact tech will have on society will go beyond imagination.
Timeframe - 3 years

Any questions?


Every once in a while, the New York Times posts an outstanding article on some interesting subject. This time, it's sleep. It appears that one essential purpose of sleep is to defrag memories in similar fashion (not functionally obviously) to how one defrags a disk because when the brain stores information during the day, the data is temporarily "stored" in available space, something computers do all the time as "Computers do not necessarily save an entire file or folder in a single space on a disk; they're saved in the first available space."

As a disk starts to fill up with disjointed memory blocks, the system slows down and starts to generate errors as the computer cannot properly access information when the disk is badly fragmented. This also appears to happen with sleep derived people as well because the brain does not get the time needed to clean up and defrag bits of data that naturally accumulate when one is awake and conducting the normal activities of everyday living. To researchers, the ability to monitor brain functions with unprecedented accuracy while someone is asleep has resulted in some astounding findings:

"Since then the study findings have come almost too fast to digest, and they suggest that the sleeping brain works on learned information the way a change sorter does on coins. It seems first to distill the day’s memories before separating them — vocabulary, historical facts and dimes here; cello scales, jump shots and quarters over there. It then bundles them into readable chunks, at different times of the night. In effect, the stages of sleep seem to be specialized to handle specific types of information..."

"Rust never sleeps" - Neil Young

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Data Visualization

Data Visualization rocks. Some of the most outrageously cool imagery comes from a discipline coming into it's own in ways unimagined prior to the advent of the net.

Emags like Smashing are posting excellent articles covering this fascinating discipline as visualizing complex data is essential if one is to better understand how content is handled on the web. Another great resource for visualization is Visual Complexity, a site dedicated to showing how complex data sets are constructed to enable users to better manage online projects. Click on the graphic below and be prepared to be blown away.

Last but not least, check out the Human Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland to see examples of visualization projects done by students. The quality of output will amaze you.

'Nuff said.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Invisibility Cloak

Through the Rabbit Hole..."Imagine wrapping Harry Potter's invisibility cloak around a tube," says Greenleaf. "If the material is designed according to our specifications, you could pass an object into one end, watch it disappear as it traveled the length of the tunnel, and then see it reappear out the other end."

Researcher now think invisibility can occur at all frequencies, not just at one (microwave) as previously thought. With this in mind, possible applications include increasing the accuracy of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in surgical situations as..."the intense magnetic fields generated by the MRI scanner affect the surgeon's tools, and the tools can distort the MRI images. Greenleaf says, however, that passing the tools through an EM wormhole could effectively hide them from the fields, allowing only their tips to be "visible" at work. "

Recently, scientists have begun building Metamaterials, composites that generate a negative index of refraction whereby the refraction or bending of light "bounces" through the transparent material in similar fashion to how light bounces off a mirror. except that the angle of reflection does NOT equal the angle of incidence (as per a mirror) in the metamaterial construct. The diagram below shows how negative indexing works.

When looking at this from an invisibility perspective, interesting things happen..."a reverse mirror thus have what's called a negative index of refraction. A lens made from such a material wouldn't have to be curved. (It's the curvature of an ordinary lens that enables it to focus incoming light.) Metamaterials could also be used to route electromagnetic waves around an object, rendering it invisible."

The problem with using this material as an invisibility cloak was cost and difficulty of production, something that hindered research into this outrageous tech until now. "Rather than requiring intricate structures, such as the split rings used in the microwave cloaking device, the materials can be made simply by stacking up extremely thin layers of semiconductor material. What's more, that stacking can be done by the same tools now used to make semiconductor materials for lasers used in telecommunications."

Now, researchers from the group of Harald Giessen at the University of Stuttgart have succeeded in manufacturing a stacked split-ring metamaterial for the optical wavelength range.

"Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore" - Wizard of Oz
Invisibility: Predator Tech (BRT - TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007)

Addendum:The Invisibility Cloak is even a bigger deal than I thought. Click here to see why.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Roboswift, (BRT - WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, 2007) a bird-sized bot able to fly with acrobatic daring do like its namesake, can spy on us 24/7 but at least it can be see with relative ease if one looks hard enough. With Microbot, not a chance in hell as seen by the photo below.

Check out the video. After seeing this, you will definitely know privacy has left planet earth forever.
Once Microbot goes public, the hit movie Enemy of the State (BRT - THURSDAY, AUGUST 09, 2007) might be viewed as just an "innocent" precursor of things to come.

Update: Click on the article titled Washington Abuzz with Talk of Dragonfly Spies to see why the "innocent" precursor statement may come to pass. Not a good thing to be sure.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mashups 101 - Earthquakes

Under the rubric of Mashups. this is an awesome example of how Tech and Education can rock. By clicking on the graphic above, one goes to a site that visualizes the occurrence of earthquakes in real time. Said mashup involved combining Simile Timeline, (Simile was covered in previous posts on BRT) MIT's open source software, with the Google Maps API. Jörn Clausen, the man who did the deed, did the web, society and education a big service by building this very cool and informative app.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Real Value of Gold

Now that gold sells for around $720/troy ounce - projections point toward $800 - one should ask if this is the true value of this material as it provides little in the way of actual worth to society when it comes in the form of coins or bullion but when gold is judged on what it can do, it's real value emerges in ways that go far beyond the dollar value placed by gold bugs on this most treasured of metals.

Enter the age of the Gold Nanoparticle, a potential noninvasive "silver bullet" that could detect and treat cancer and other diseases with unparalleled efficiency without the side effects associated with chemo and radiation therapy.

Some projected uses of gold nanoparticles include the following:

Cancer Treatment: "Gold Nanoparticles Show Potential for Noninvasive Cancer Treatment"

Cancer Detection: "In the study, researchers found that the gold nanoparticles have 600 percent greater affinity for cancer cells than for noncancerous cells."

Cancer Treatment II: "By attaching strands of "antisense" DNA to nanometer-scale particles made of gold, scientists at Northwestern University have significantly enhanced the strands' ability to suppress the production of dangerous proteins--such as those that cause cancer."

Cancer Treatment & Other Diseases: "The future of Cancer detection and treatment may be in gold nanoparticles - tiny pieces of gold so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye. The potential of gold nanoparticles has been hindered by the difficulty of making them in a stable, nontoxic form that can be injected into a patient.

New research at the University of Missouri-Columbia has found that a plant extract can be used to overcome this problem, creating a new type of gold nanoparticle that is stable and nontoxic and can be administered orally or injected. "

Time frame: Two to three years, "In the future, this exciting new class of antisense material (with gold nanoparticles) could be used for the treatment of cancer and other diseases that have a genetic basis,” said Mirkin, who is George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry, professor of medicine and professor of materials science and engineering."

Maybe Ray Kurzweil is right. If we can survive the "aughts", we just might have a shot at immortality.

Free the Avatars

Good article about Open Source and Avatars, the digital actors people create to play in Virtual Worlds like Second Life.

According to the NY Times, "The companies speak of “a truly interoperable 3D Internet.” Think of it as passports for avatars. So that pink-headed cutie you made for Second Life can also take up residence in There.com, The Lounge, Virtual Laguna Beach and Entropia, for example. “Now, for every world I touch I have to build an avatar..." This constraint will not work as we move further toward the 3D web.

This issue may seem to be trivial now as virtual worlds tech is still evolving but when net connects increase to multi gigabyte speeds, (Japan is already there) 3D immersive tech will truly take off and unfettered access to virtual worlds of all stripes will become essential if the 3D environment of the net is to thrive.

This is akin to when users finally got control over their cell phone numbers and not the telcos, thus freeing users from the grip of the telephone companies when wanting to switch carriers as needs warrant. Wait until users want unlocked phones free from telco control. That will be most interesting. (WiMax, 700 MHZ & the Google Phone will be major players on this issue.)

Click on the Second Life logo to check out this open source V World and do the same for SL Grids to see the development side of the equation. Very interesting to say the least.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Walking down an aisle in the supermarket, I suddenly realized something - levels of consciousness and the ways people express it. While shopping, people exercise thought at superficial levels. Make out a list and buy groceries. Get in the car and go home. Unpack groceries and talk with the wife and so it goes - KV... but what happens when one tries to understand things that, on the surface appear incredibly transparent but are, in fact, anything but.

Imagine an interview with a politician where the reporter asks the usual questions about the vote coming up on a controversial piece of legislation. Immediately the great invisible rears its ugly head where only the bare bones description of the event can be given and little else. There is no way to "really" describe the process of politics. It’s impossible. It’s identical to a painting where the thought and work that goes into making the piece remains forever hidden from view. Only the finished art work remains, all knowing and frustratingly secretive like that of a cat.

You can see the cat but never understand her reality. Just think when we encounter alien civilizations. Think of the great invisible then.

“But Joe, I know they’re strange with their three legs and two huge eyes but I think I can understand them somehow. They do have translators and they can make themselves understandable.”

“Understandable to us in one way but when you hear them talk to each other, it’s whistles and hums. Not only that, the name for their species is utterly unpronounceable to us so how can you say you think you understand them? The only thing I know is that they seem to be able to breath our atmosphere and that’s it. As far as anything else, it’s a crap shoot.”

“I agree with all that you say but I still say I feel I know them at some unconscious level.”

“The only thing I see that’s common between us is digital - 0’s & 1’s. Remember, that’s how they made contact with us. Beyond that one thing, there’s precious little else. The only thing I pray for is that they are good “people” because if they’re not, given our state of technology, we haven’t a chance.”

“I know. All I hope is that they never give us a book to translate. You know, like the one that says "To Serve Man".

“You would have to say that didn’t you.”

“I just did.”

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Privacy or the Lack Thereof

"Cryptome has been described as the google of national security and regularly publishes, arguably classified information on national security issues. Leaks included. As can be imagined, this has prompted quite a bit of outrage in the intelligence communities. Yet if the 69 year old John Young can get this information it stands to reason anyone can."

This is why privacy is gone...forever.

Here are some other links to so called "secret information" the government doesn't want you to know. Note: This is a very short list to be sure.

Since privacy is gone (Enemy of the State BRT - 08/09/07)... "We demand the right to be left alone."- David Brin

However... There is one way to protect your data privacy.

Click on Principality of Sealand, (or on Sealand's Coat of Arms) to learn about the world's first Data Haven. Click on the Havenco logo to get info on the company that makes it happen.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The XO has landed

The XO is a VERY cool system. Not quite $100 as previously written about in BRT (SATURDAY, MARCH 03, 2007) but, if there's enough interest, Nicholas Negroponte's dream just might come true.

"In November, you’ll be able to buy a new laptop that’s spillproof, rainproof, dustproof and drop-proof. It’s fanless, it’s silent and it weighs 3.2 pounds. One battery charge will power six hours of heavy activity, or 24 hours of reading. The laptop has a built-in video camera, microphone, memory-card slot, graphics tablet, game-pad controllers and a screen that rotates into a tablet configuration."

If that's not enough, the networking capabilities of this machine is astonishing with it's ability to "mesh" whereby other XO's link up instantaneously with no user action required. Ditto for web connects. Sure, the machine is no speed demon but the size is perfect for kids and the tech is truly elegant, something not considered to be part of the equation when buying a laptop from today's manufacturer. There is no doubt in my mind that savvy hardware companies will cap on this machine to make it suitable for people like me.

As stated before in the March article, if it has a little more speed/memory, comes in black and is a little bit bigger to enable easy typing, it becomes my tote-along in a heart beat given the fact it's tough and light, uses little power and has a battery that can be recharged 2000 times vs. the usual 500 for the ones that power the road rocket used by people all over the world. Pogue is right on about this system. Let's hope two billion kids can get this thing ASAP because it rocks.

When it grows up a bit, I'll buy one too.

One Laptop per Child - $200 will buy and deliver this empowering technology to a child in a developing country. It sounds like a pretty awesome giveback if you ask me.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

OLEDs are here

Sony just introduced the first viable OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display. Expensive, $1750 US, fragile & only 11" in size, the XEL-1 is a geek's dream of chic tech. "Sony is claiming a lifetime of 30 000 hours for the XEL-1, or a viewing time of 8 hours a day for 10 years. Other specs include an impressive contrast ratio of greater than 1 000 000: 1, 8-bit RGB color and a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels or QHD (quarter high definition)."

Dec 1, 2007 is the projected time frame for product release. No doubt Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi and others are close behind for something that will replace LCD's within the next three to four years. (A 27" model lurks behind curtain No. 1.)

As for me, I never do bleeding edge but...

According to this article...

the bleeding edge regarding this tech won't last long.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Just linked to a very talented Danish design agency called Shiftcontrol Studios (via Apple) that does really elegant work ranging from web graphics to exhibition builds. Intense stuff to be sure but the one item that caught my eye was a project called Mobiglobe, an exhibit done for Autostadt, a "visitor attraction in the area around the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany." that shows the impact (positive/negative) the car is having on the planet. The graphics are very powerful and informative. Click on the image below to check out a cool interactive flash player on the Shiftcntrol site. You won't be disappointed.