Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
"Humanity Close to Passing the Hofstadter-Turing Test?"
First, the test itself:
First, the test itself:
...An entity passes the Hofstadter-Turing Test if it first creates a virtual reality, then creates a computer program within that reality which must finally recognise itself as an entity within this virtual environment by passing the Hofstadter-Turing Test.Second, our current status:
Spot the tricky circularity to this test? Players can only pass if they create a virtual intelligence which must then pass the test itself. And since that hasn't been achieved by any human in history, nobody has yet passed.
...Neumann [Florentin Neumann at the University of Paderborn in Germany] and co claim that humanity is moving closer to achieving a pass. First of all, we're half way there because we've already built various virtual worlds. And now Neumann and co claim to have implemented a version of the Hofstadter-Turing Test in the Second Life virtual world.
"Microbe-powered 'fart' machine stores energy". No, seriously:
...[G]iving small jolts of electricity to single-celled microorganisms known as archea prompts them to remove C02 from the air and turn it into methane, released as tiny "farts." The methane, in turn, can be used to power fuel cells or to store the electrical energy chemically until its needed.(Via Rand Simberg.)
"We found that we can directly convert electrical current into methane using a very specific microorganism," said Bruce Logan, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, who details his discovery in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
We envision this as a way to store electrical energy, to convert electricity into a biofuel," he said.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Swarm dyanamics: "How bees, ants and other animals avoid dumb collective decisions"
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Off topic: Quote of the day on the subject of torture:
...The United States was torturing prisoners, the professor suggested, because the al-Qaeda detainees were subjected to female interrogators, barking dogs, and loud music. As fundamentalist Muslims, the detainees were not "comfortable" with women "speaking down" to them, the professor contended. Nor were they fans of the heavy metal music played in their cell. Additionally, as Middle Easterners, they were accustomed to a society where dogs are undomesticated, dangerous animals -- think: the way Westerners perceive wolves -- or so the professor’s argument went.(Before anyone sends me a finger-waggling e-mail, I do recognize that there is a legitimate issue as to what constitutes torture vs. appropriate interrogation techniques in a wartime context.)
It was at that moment that I realized how similar these "torturous" acts were to my own everyday lifestyle. "Wait a second," I interjected. "Being in the same room with a dog, listening to Metallica, and getting reprimanded by a female for something she thinks I did wrong? That's not torture. That's my Friday night!"
Monday, April 20, 2009
"Blind to be cured with stem cells":
British scientists have developed the world's first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years' time.(Via RL.)
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The sequel to the latest Star Trek movie is already in the works:
Paramount Pictures are so confident about the box office potential of the upcoming Star Trek reboot directed by J. J. Abrams that they're already working on a sequel. Paramount has hired Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof to write a screenplay for the second movie. The writers are aiming to complete a script by Christmas. If they do, we’re looking at a possible 2011 release for the next Star Trek movie with the same cast.(Via BBspot.)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Ryan Sager has a new blog, Neuroworld:
Neuroworld will cover advances in neuroscience and humanity's ever-expanding understanding of its own irrationality. Topics include: neuroeconomics, neuromarketing, neurolaw, productivity, religion, politics, and more.It looks promising!
Monday, April 13, 2009
"Woman has developed an imaginary, but useful, third arm":
Here's the abstract to the scientific paper and a media release.
After having a stroke, a 64-year-old woman reports that she now has a "pale, milky-white and translucent third arm" that she can use to scratch itchy parts of her body. She also says the limb can't penetrate solid objects.More details here.
...The woman underwent an MRI and when doctors askee her to move her imaginary third limb, her brain responded as if she really had the arm.
Here's the abstract to the scientific paper and a media release.
"Swedish Tax Office Targets Webcam Strippers":
Sweden's tax authorities are cracking down on unreported webcam stripper income. They estimate that hundreds of Swedish women are dodging the law, resulting in a tax loss of about 40m Swedish kronor (£3.3m) annually.Anything to prevent tax cheats!...
The search involves tax officials examining stripper websites, hours upon hours, for completely legitimate purposes. A slightly disheveled project leader said 200 Swedish strippers had been investigated so far, adding the total could be as much as 500. "They are young girls, we can see from the photos. We think that perhaps they are not well informed about the rules," he said.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
"Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies":
Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.Almost like a bad episode of 24...
The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
"10 Gory Surgical Triumphs on YouTube". Examples include:
1. Below-Knee Amputation
2. Surgery on Beating Heart
3. Removing a Fishhook from an Eye
4. Sex-Change Operation - NSFW
5. Open-Heart Surgery on a Baby Orangutan
6. Autopsy - NSFW
7. A Trip through the Digestive Tract
8. The Brain Surgery You Stay Awake For
9. Robotic-Assisted Prostate Surgery
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
"Implantable Telescope for the Eye":
The device is implanted in only one eye--patients use this eye for detailed vision and the untreated eye for peripheral vision. That takes some getting used to, says [vision scientist Eli] Peli. "Instead of using two parts of the same eye, they must switch between two eyes; if they see someone coming but can't tell who it is, they need to switch to other eye."Here's the company website.
Monday, April 06, 2009
"A laboratory robot called Adam has been hailed as the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators":
Adam formed a hypothesis on the genetics of bakers’ yeast and carried out experiments to test its predictions, without intervention from its makers at Aberystwyth University.(Via Drudge.)
The result was a series of "simple but useful" discoveries, confirmed by human scientists, about the gene coding for yeast enzymes. The research is published in the journal Science.
...The team has just completed a successor robot called Eve, which is about to work with Adam on a series of experiments designed to find new drugs to treat tropical diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis.
...In the new experiments, Adam and Eve will work together to devise and carry out tests on thousands of chemical compounds to discover antimalarial drugs.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
His finger is a USB drive. No, really:
Jerry Jalava... lost part of his left ring finger in May in a motorcycle accident.Here's his Flickr page. (Via KevinMD.)
Now, he says, he wears a prosthetic finger made of silicone, which looks fairly natural -- except that he can peel back the tip to uncover a USB drive tucked inside.
Friday, April 03, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
"Building a Brain on a Silicon Chip":
An international team of scientists in Europe has created a silicon chip designed to function like a human brain. With 200,000 neurons linked up by 50 million synaptic connections, the chip is able to mimic the brain's ability to learn more closely than any other machine.
The Hunt For Gollum is a 45 minute independent film inspired by The Lord of the Rings which is to be released to the internet for free on May 3 2009:
The Hunt For Gollum is an unofficial not for profit short film by a group of enthusiast filmmakers. As a Lord of the Rings Fan Film, we are not affiliated with the Tolkien Estate or New Line Cinema and are producing this project as an entirely non commercial film. As with other fan films we are making this purely for the enjoyment of the material and the experience of making a high quality low budget film.For a home movie, it looks pretty good! You can view the trailer here. (Via BBspot.)
The script is adapted from elements of the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. The story follows the Heir of Isildur -- the "greatest huntsman and traveller in Middle Earth" -- as he sets out to find the creature Gollum. The creature must be found to discover the truth about the Ring, and to protect the future Ringbearer.
Don't forget folks, this production is just an unofficial home movie, made by a bunch of Tolkien enthusiasts for love of the material. The budget has been scraped together by ourselves, nobody was paid and no money will be made from it. So yep it's purely our way to express our tribute to this magical world.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
"Physicists have calculated what the universe would look like from inside a black hole".