Learned about this sobering and well researched video from Club Orlov, an excellent site predicting global collapse based on energy and environmental degradation, notions one can readily agree with as long as forced change is not brought into the equation as trivialities, like survival, have a way of generating innovation in ways not able to be predicted prior to the advent of the forced change. (War anyone?) With this in mind, this excellent animation shows, in exquisite detail, just how difficult it will be to transition from the consumable model of today to a sustainable model in the future, something we must do sooner, rather then latter, if we intend to remain a viable species on a tiny and abused planet called Earth.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
In reading Jon Gertner's most enlightening and eloquent piece on Bell Labs titled True Innovation, a telling quote says it all regarding what true innovation really means and how it impacts society.
"In his recent letter to potential shareholders of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg noted that one of his firm’s mottoes was “move fast and break things.” Bell Labs’ might just as well have been “move deliberately and build things.” This sounds like the quaint pursuit of men who carried around slide rules and went to bed by 10 o’clock. But it was not."...
Why study Bell Labs? It offers a number of lessons about how our country’s technology companies — and our country’s longstanding innovative edge — actually came about. Yet Bell Labs also presents a more encompassing and ambitious approach to innovation than what prevails today. Its staff worked on the incremental improvements necessary for a complex national communications network while simultaneously thinking far ahead, toward the most revolutionary inventions imaginable.
Indeed, in the search for innovative models to address seemingly intractable problems like climate change, we would do well to consider Bell Labs’ example — an effort that rivals the Apollo program and the Manhattan Project in size, scope and expense. Its mission, and its great triumph, was to connect all of us, and all of our new machines, together."
Read Gertner"s piece, you will not be disappointed. In retrospect, it reminds me of The Mythical Man Month, Fred Brooks captivating and brilliant book articulating how innovation comes about, in this case, in software engineering, but is applicable to every endeavor known to man requiring planning, communication and an atmosphere of creativity in order for said endeavor to succeed.
"adding manpower to a late software project makes it later" - Fred Brooks
Friday, February 24, 2012
As seen in the diagram, Zenith is the direct opposite of Nadir, the definitions of which most certainly apply for two postings, one being inspired research, the other, political follies of the highest order.
The zenith part of this piece centers on eyes, wavelength of light and heath courtesy of the NY Times, Aging of Eyes Is Blamed for Range of Health Woes
For decades, scientists have looked for explanations as to why certain conditions occur with age, among them memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia and even depression. They have scrupulously investigated such suspects as high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and an inactive lifestyle.
The gradual yellowing of the lens and the narrowing of the pupil that occur with age disturb the body’s circadian rhythm, contributing to a range of health problems, these studies suggest. As the eyes age, less and less sunlight gets through the lens to reach key cells in the retina that regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, its internal clock.
Now the Nadir:
On Tuesday (Feb 14) , the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) by a 66-32 vote. The bill, like other "personhood" measures, would amend the definition of the word "person" under state law to include zygotes, thereby granting them legal rights. The summary reads:
Provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the Commonwealth.
One can only imagine the end result of such folly.
A better name for this bill, then, may be the "Lawyer Full Employment Act" since, if this becomes a law, it will take years, maybe decades of litigation, amendments, rulings, etc. to sort all of its nuances and implications...
Let's use our imagination to think about some of the ways this law could be used or abused, because there is no surer bet than that it will be. Maybe people and their lawyers will:
- Set up a Cayman Islands' bank account in their zygote's name to avoid taxes. (The Romney Special!)
- Sue against any sort of restriction on activity attributed to fertilized eggs based on age discrimination. (Could regulation of late term abortions be judged discrimination against less developed eggs?)
- Put an embryo in one's will rather than one's wife, to make sure she does not have an abortion, etc.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
- Albert Einstein
Monday, February 20, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Until now, single-atom transistors have been realised only by chance, where researchers either have had to search through many devices or tune multi-atom devices to isolate one that works.
"But this device is perfect", says Professor Michelle Simmons, group leader and director of the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication at UNSW. "This is the first time anyone has shown control of a single atom in a substrate with this level of precise accuracy."
2020 was the original predict date for a single atom transistor but, as per the double exponential acceleration of tech, this baby has arrived well ahead of schedule. The question to ask now is... are we ready for this?
Note: This qubit chip, circa November, 2010, is woefully out of date.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Being an asbie, I've often wondered if dyslexia is part of the package in terms of seeing reversed or upside down letters when reading or printing out a message in the chicken scrawl style yours truly exhibits when trying to communicate with the world outside of the world of computers and keyboards. AFAIK, the answer is no although I do get fatigued when reading content requiring intense concentration in order to understand what the author is trying to say.
But help is on the way to enable dyslexics to read, something pretty cool I must say.
Most of the 15 to 20 percent of people in the United States who have a language-based disability suffer from dyslexia, a condition that makes reading and comprehension difficult. Those who suffer from dyslexia often transpose or rotate letters (a b becomes a q; an n becomes and u), and they have difficulty differentiating letters that look similar, such as i and j. Those who suffer from severe dyslexia might even see the letters moving, or in three dimensions, as they try to read them. All of these factors greatly impede the speed and clarity with which they can read.
A Dutch graphic designer and dyslexic, Christian Boer, developed a font specifically for dyslexic readers. It’s designed to make letters more distinct from each other and to keep them tied down, so to speak, so that the reader is less likely to flip them in their minds. The letters in the font are also spaced wide apart to make reading them easier.
To view or purchase the Dylexie font, click here. Click on the iPad image to see the upcoming Ling Apps App Writer, a program using Dylexie to help folks with reading and writing disabilities.
Last but not least, the Scientific American article titled Bold Stroke: New Font Helps Dyslexics Read is a must read to learn more about this very thoughtful and needed technology.
Addendum: Click here to see the theory behind Dylexie. You won't be disappointed.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Pray, my dear, quoth my mother, have you not forgot to wind up the clock?
Laurence Sterne: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Volume I (1760), Chapter I
Here we find our author/narrator, after six weeks of composition, fourteen chapters into the affair of a character who has however not yet been born. Tongue securely in cheek, Sterne, through the voice of Tristram, supplies his impatient reader a kind of apology -- or better to say, perhaps, an apology of a very curious yet, already by this stage of the proceedings, familiar and characteristic kind.
I quote Tonm Clark's excellent analysis of Tristram Sandy vis a vis the time equation as segue into the dark heart of Quantum Physics, the issue of entanglement and what it means to time, space and non-locality, issues physicists and mathematicians have wrestled with for more then 100 years and still have not come up with a definitive answer as to why two entangled particles, atoms or even molecules, can be separated millions (or billions) of light years apart yet their shared state remains inviolate. i.e. If entangled electron is "spinning" up, the partner's spin will be "spinning" down or in scientific terms...
When a measurement is made and it causes one member of such a pair to take on a definite value (e.g., clockwise spin), the other member of this entangled pair will at any subsequent time be found to have taken the appropriately correlated value (e.g., counterclockwise spin). Thus, there is a correlation between the results of measurements performed on entangled pairs, and this correlation is observed even though the entangled pair may have been separated by arbitrarily large distances.
So, what could cause this connect to be able to link two objects together instantaneously without regard to distance? As a total lay person not versed in math or physics in anyway, the take yours truly will take may be laughable but it's not totally crazed when one thinks about the quantum foam, a construct conceived by physicist John Wheeler to explain what space time would look like at the Planck length of 10-20 of a diameter of a proton. Seems the foam would not have space or time assigned to it as the foam is conjectured to consist of miniscule black holes winking in and out of existence at about 10-43 seconds, the time it takes for light to traverse the Planck distance of 10-20 of a diameter of a proton.
If this is the case, the question to ask is, does time exist in the quantum foam where only virtual particles issue forth and disappear according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, thus precluding any chance of time happening in the foam as "real" protons, neutrons and all the rest of the subatomic zoo appear, AFAIK, to be temporary arrangements of the quantum foam subject to varying rates of decay, thus creating the illusion of time as seen in this part of the multiverse. If this is true, then, could the act of entanglement create a link consisting of, in some weird way, a "thread" akin to a wormhole of the quantum foam, forever separate from the constraints of time or the speed of light in enabling two (or more) linked particles to instantly "talk" to one another no matter how far apart they may be.
Addendum: Physicist Discovers How To Make Quantum Foam In A Test Tube
Metamaterials should allow scientists recreate and study the properties of space time on the smallest scale
A metamaterial is stuff that has been engineered to manipulate and steer electromagnetic waves in ways that cannot be reproduced in naturally occurring materials.
These materials are periodic structures built out of tiny electronic components such as split-ring capacitors and wires. Individually, these components have a mild interaction with passing em waves. But assembled into a repeating structure, they have a powerful influence on light.
There is no shortage of exotic things metamaterials can do: everything from invisibility cloaks to power transmission lines. But one of their most exciting applications is in cosmology because, believe or not, they can mimic the structure of spacetime.
Hey, maybe folks smarter then me will figure it out. Whoever does, a Nobel prize awaits,
Monday, February 13, 2012
Greece is the epicenter of a drama that threatens to unwind with all the intrigue and subterfuge of ancient Greek myths and tragedies. As with the legend of Icarus, big, and now bigger, transnational banks provoked the gods with their wax-and-feather financial fabrications to create the appearance of soaring wealth. Now that they have flown too close to the sun and their wings have melted, these banks are being brought to earth by the obligations and consequences imposed by their fabrications.
Rather than take responsibility, these banks seek to appease the gods by sacrificing taxpayers. In fact, if one looks closely, these banks aspire to be gods themselves. They clothe themselves in their indispensability and shield themselves from accountability with tales about how many innocent citizens will be hurt if they don’t get their next bailout. It is as if they say, “We are above the law… We are the law.” Mathematics, legal enforcement, restraint, humility all must fall under the sword of their hubris.
In the end, just as with a Greek tragedy or a Yeats poem, this center cannot hold and things fall apart. When one abuses the laws and principles of mathematics and capitalism, claiming to be a faithful servant, consequence and accountability eventually catch up. The breaking point inexorably nears. Citizens are beginning to think, voice, and act: “We can do without the false idols that call themselves banks. In fact, we need them to be dissolved for us to survive and thrive.”
Reality is the revenge of the gods.
The Great Unwinding, a theme BRT has written about on more then one occasion, is finally at hand regarding all things relating to finance.
The Ponzi scheme of transforming dollars into bits and shuffling them about in the vain attempt to paper over the financial folly the central banking system has perpetrated on the world for nearly 100 years, has finally run it's course, thus precipitating the upcoming wrenching change about to be foisted upon the TBTF banks and the minions who work at their beckon and call. No doubt, the anticipated carnage will impact everyone in possibly disastrous ways but, like the 5th Labor of Hercules, the equivalent of the fetid Augean financial stables must be cleared of central banking hegemony if we are to move into a viable economic and political environment able to handle the ever changing vagaries of a most uncertain future.
Every once in a while, man assumes to know how a particular aspect of reality works but, on subsequent review of same, finds outs nature's way is contrary to popular opinion as seen in an interesting article titled Hovering Not Hard if You’re Top-Heavy.
Surprisingly, their results showed that the top-heavy bugs hovered stably while those with a lower center of mass could not maintain their balance. The team showed that when the top-heavy bug tilts, the swirls of air ejected from the far side of the body automatically adjust to keep it upright.
“It works somewhat like balancing a broomstick in your hand,” explained Jun Zhang, a Professor at the Courant Institute and one of the study’s co-authors. “If it begins to fall to one side, you need to apply a force in this same direction to keep it upright.” For bugs, it is aerodynamical forces that provide this stability.
Contrary to popular opinion, bumblebees fly. :)
In an award-winning research paper, the Bath engineers set out how they found that a wing which is rigid at the front but more flexible and bendy at the rear is the most efficient way for a small wing to generate optimum vortices and to move in air.
In doing so, they were following a path set by nature 100-350 million years ago, when bees and other insects with similar flexible wings evolved. Some birds have similar wings too.
Nature finds a way, always.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
No, this is not about the 1% who want everything regarding finance and bailouts but rather the 1% difference between matter and antimatter and how it relates to reality, physics and the difference separating failure from success in all endeavors involving competition on planet Earth.
The seemingly inescapable fact that matter and antimatter particles destroy each other on contact has long puzzled physicists wondering how life, the universe or anything else can exist at all. But new results from a particle accelerator experiment suggest that matter does seem to win in the end.
The experiment has shown a small — but significant — 1 percent difference between the amount of matter and antimatter produced, which could hint at how our matter-dominated existence came about.
The current theory, known as the Standard Model of particle physics, has predicted some violation of matter-antimatter symmetry, but not enough to explain how our universe arose consisting mostly of matter with barely a trace of antimatter.
But this latest experiment came up with an unbalanced ratio of matter to antimatter that goes beyond the imbalance predicted by the Standard Model. Specifically, physicists discovered a 1 percent difference between pairs of muons and antimuons that arise from the decay of particles known as B mesons.
What's so interesting about this is how the matter/antimatter equation eerily parallels the razor thin difference between victory and defeat in all things relating to sports, business and nature.
For instance, the difference between Nadal and Djokovic in tennis is minuscule as is the difference between the Giants and Patriots in the Superbowl. In both instances, the degree of separation in terms of success or failure for all parties lies, in most part, not in physicality but rather in headspace and luck. He who is mentally stronger or more astute and has more luck will determine the victor in any contest between two evenly matched and healthy competitors.
The same applies to predator/prey relationships whereby a bumper crop of grass will support a larger population of rabbits, which, in turn, will benefit foxes, but at a later date, thus giving rise to constant fluctuation of the populations of the two.
This constant shifting of fortune on such a grand scale based on such small differences in skill and luck regarding success or failure on any given contest brings up, in indirect fashion, an interesting question.
What is the survivability rate of any civilization in the multiverse when the civilization in question overwhelms the environment in which it lives, something to consider as we mover further into the future, don't you think?
The content contained in Armageddon Online comprises just one part of this short post as the news about the US and the world's economic condition requires a multifaceted view on a situation that's bleak at best.
The world economy is slowing sharply, and the euro region is headed for recession this year, the International Monetary Fund predicted Tuesday in a bleak update of global conditions.
Overall, the world economy is expected to expand 3.25 percent in 2012 — down from the 4 percent projected by the IMF in the fall. That figure includes 8.2 percent growth in China, still the world’s most quickly expanding economy, and 7 percent in India. U.S. growth is forecast at 1.8 percent, the same as the fund projected in the fall.
Reasons as to why range from, in the US case, malfeasance perpetrated by government, the Fed and the WS banks to, in Joseph Stiglitz's nuanced take, a structural meltdown caused by tech, financial malfeasance and government's lack of vision in terms of how to intelligently deal with it.
The private sector by itself won’t, and can’t, undertake structural transformation of the magnitude needed—even if the Fed were to keep interest rates at zero for years to come. The only way it will happen is through a government stimulus designed not to preserve the old economy but to focus instead on creating a new one. We have to transition out of manufacturing and into services that people want—into productive activities that increase living standards, not those that increase risk and inequality. To that end, there are many high-return investments we can make. Education is a crucial one—a highly educated population is a fundamental driver of economic growth. Support is needed for basic research. Government investment in earlier decades—for instance, to develop the Internet and biotechnology—helped fuel economic growth. Without investment in basic research, what will fuel the next spurt of innovation? Meanwhile, the states could certainly use federal help in closing budget shortfalls. Long-term economic growth at our current rates of resource consumption is impossible, so funding research, skilled technicians, and initiatives for cleaner and more efficient energy production will not only help us out of the recession but also build a robust economy for decades. Finally, our decaying infrastructure, from roads and railroads to levees and power plants, is a prime target for profitable investment.
The second conclusion is this: If we expect to maintain any semblance of “normality,” we must fix the financial system.
When factoring in climate change and peak oil into the equation, the news for mankind in 2012 is dire but forced change has a way of generating innovation and problem solving, particularly when survival becomes an issue we all have to deal with. As often stated in BRT, the disconnect of tech and science from government and finance is growing ever larger, where, on the one side, we have incompetence and corruption, while on the other, we have breathtaking advancement able to transform how we do business on this planet. Sooner or later, the divide must be eliminated through wrenching change to the former if we are to remain a viable species in these uncertain times.
Monday, February 06, 2012
As proof positive, 3D Stereolith printing, a disruptive tech BRT has talked about in numerous posts, promises to revolutionize medicine as well as other industries as seen by this video showing how LayerWise fabbed a woman's lower jaw using a high powered laser to fuse thousands of layers of metal powder into a single piece of material the woman uses today in returning to a normal way of life considered to be impossible before the emergence of this radically cool technology.
Belgian company LayerWise today said that it produced an entire jaw using additive manufacturing, a technique that allows fabricators to make an item directly from a CAD drawing. The transplant demonstrates that precision 3D printing can be effective for both bones and organ implants, the company said.
The method selectively heats metal powder particles with a laser to construct an object layer by layer. Using this method allows LayerWise to create complex shapes that a custom made for patients and don't require glue or multiple parts.
Saturday, February 04, 2012
Researchers have determined how long it takes for organisms to decrease or increase in size using fossil records as reference. The transformations seen in how evolution changes life forms over time never ceases to amaze.
"Transformations can happen much faster in animals that live in the water. An increase from rabbit-sized to elephant-sized would take at least five million generations, but the equivalent change in whales takes half as many generations. Becoming smaller is also easier: dwarfing in elephants occurred 10 times faster than the equivalent increase to evolve large elephants. Image: Alistair Evans and David Jones"
"Kinda" makes a strong case for evolution if you ask me.