Member 2924
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(M, 44)
Grass Valley, US
Immortal since Jun 2, 2011
Uplinks: 0, Generation 5
Technowitch. Madman. Oracle. Lover. Gamer.
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    From Wildcat
    Occupy the Mind, the rest...
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    You are a Receiver
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    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.

    I think this is going global.

    I'm not going to post any opinions about it just yet, other than the fact that I think this is major global paradigm shift. 
    Mon, Oct 3, 2011  Permanent link

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    There were reports that scientists had detected neutrinos travelling faster than light.

    Tiny specks called neutrinos were clocked at 300,006 kilometres per second — slightly faster than the speed of light — along a 730-kilometre (453-mile) trajectory between the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland and a laboratory in Italy.
    If verified, the results would dismantle a key plank of Einstein's theory of relativity and deeply unsettle our understanding of the physical world.
    "That is a very, very big 'if'," said Alfons Weber, a professor of particle physics at Oxford University, and an expert on neutrinos.
    "Since this is the only indication we have that there is something wrong (with Einstein's theory), we need to see if there is some measurement artifact" which could have biased the results, he said by phone.
    "People are going to challenge this discovery — if discovery there is," said Jonathan Ellis, a theoretical physicist at CERN not directly involved in the experiment dubbed OPERA.
    Even researchers who conducted the tests seemed leery of their own findings.
    "An apparently unbelievable result," is how Sergio Bertolucci, Research Director CERN, described it. "We need to be sure that there are no other mundane explanations. That will require independent measurements."
    Scientists at CERN and the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy scrutinised their results for nearly six months before making the announcement.

    The case appears to be getting stronger:

    Faster-than-light neutrino claim bolstered

    Representatives from the OPERA collaboration spoke in a seminar at CERN today, supporting their astonishing claim that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light.

    The result is conceptually simple: neutrinos travelling from a particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland arrived 60 nanoseconds too early at a detector in the Gran Sasso cavern in Italy. And it relies on three conceptually simple measurements, explained Dario Autiero of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Lyon: the distance between the labs, the time the neutrinos left Switzerland, and the time they arrived in Italy.

    But actually measuring those times and distances to the accuracy needed to detect differences of billionths of a second (1 nanosecond = 1 billionth of a second) is no easy task.

    Details, details

    "These are experiments where the devil is in the details – the details of how each piece of equipment works, and how it all goes together," said Rob Plunkett of Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.

    The detector in the Gran Sasso cavern is located 1400 metres underground. At that depth Earth's crust shields OPERA (which stands for Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) from noise-inducing cosmic rays, but also obscures its exact latitude and longitude. To pinpoint its position precisely, the researchers stopped traffic in one lane of a 10-kilometre long highway tunnel for a week to place GPS receivers on either side.

    The GPS measurements, which were so accurate they could detect the crawling drift of the planet's tectonic plates, gave precise benchmarks for each side of the tunnel, allowing the researchers to triangulate the underground detector's position in the planet. Combining that with the known position of the neutrino source at CERN gave a distance of 730,534.61 metres, plus or minus 20 centimetres.

    To determine exactly when the neutrinos left CERN and arrived at Gran Sasso, the team hooked both detectors to caesium clocks, which can measure time to an accuracy of one second in about 30 million years. That linked the labs' timekeepers to within one nanosecond.

    "These kinds of techniques that we have been using are maybe unusual in high energy physics, but they are quite standard in metrology," Autiero said. Just to be sure, the collaboration had two independent metrology teams from Switzerland and Germany check their work. It all checked out.

    The researchers also accounted for an odd feature of general relativity in which clocks at different heights keep different times.

    A ‘beautiful experiment'

    Other physicists are impressed."This is certainly very precise timing, more than you need to record for normal accelerator operations," Plunkett told New Scientist. His project, the MINOS experiment at Fermilab, has already requested an upgrade to their timing system so they can replicate the results, perhaps as soon as 2014.

    "I want to congratulate you on this extremely beautiful experiment," said Nobel laureate Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge during the question and answer session that followed Autiero's talk. "The experiment is very carefully done, and the systematic error carefully checked."

    But only time will tell whether the result holds up to additional scrutiny, and whether it can be reproduced . There is still room for uncertainty in the neutrinos' departure time, Plunkett says, because there is no neutrino detector on CERN's end of the line. The only way to know when the neutrinos left is to extrapolate from data on the blob of protons used to produce them.

    "Of course we need to approach it sceptically," he says. "I believe everyone will be pulling together to figure this out."

    This could turn out to be one of the biggest paradigm changes in physics since quantum mechanics was discovered.
    Fri, Sep 23, 2011  Permanent link

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    The police officers arrived at the parking garage in downtown Santa Cruz and spotted two women behaving suspiciously. No crime had been committed, but peering through the windows of the parked cars was sketchy enough. The officers questioned the women: one had outstanding warrants; the other was in possession of illegal drugs.

    What’s strange about this scenario is that no one had called the cops. In fact, the cops didn’t even know that the women would be there, just that the probability of a crime being committed at that location, at that time of day, was especially high. In one of the first cases of ‘predictive policing,’ law enforcement were able to calculate where the criminals would be and arrest them before the crime could be committed.

    Oh yeah, totally “Minority Report,” absolutely “Numb3rs.”

    Except it’s not Hollywood, it’s real. In July the Santa Cruz Police Department began experimenting with an interesting bit of software developed by scientists at Santa Clara University. The researchers behind the software are like an intellectual “Oceans Eleven” team of specialists: two mathematicians, an anthropologist and a criminologist. They’ve combined their cerebral forces to come up with a mathematical model that takes crime data from the past to forecast crimes in the future. The basic math is similar to that used by seismologists to predict aftershocks following an earthquake (also a handy bit of software in southern California).

    Large earthquakes are unpredictable, but the aftershocks that follow are not and their occurrence can be predicted with mathematical models. It occurred to Dr. George Mohler, one of the Santa Clara mathematicians, that criminal activity might not be random and that, similar to aftershocks, some crimes might be predicted by other crimes that precede them. The reasoning is based on the assumption that crimes are clustered – it’s what police call ‘hotspots.’ Burglaries will occur in the same area and at the same houses because the vulnerabilities of that area will be known to the burglars. Gang violence is also clustered. A gang shooting will often trigger retaliatory shootings.

    Using the aftershocks-inspired algorithms Dr. Mohler and his team came up with a model, then sought to test it. In collaboration with the LAPD they plugged in data on 2,803 residential burglaries occurring within a block of the San Fernando valley 11 miles by 11 miles throughout 2004. For a given day the software calculated the top 5 percent of city blocks most likely to be burglarized. The results convinced the LAPD that, had they been using the program, they could have prevented a quarter of burglaries across the entire test region for that day.

    The current, real world test of the software involves generating a map of the city areas most likely to be burglarized, the time of day they are most likely to get hit, and deploying personnel accordingly. The software is recalibrated every day when burglaries from the previous day are added to the dataset. They don’t actually expect to catch people in the act, but to deter more crimes with more effective patrolling. The test that is underway will be evaluated at six months, but already the data is encouraging. Zach Friend, crime analyst for Santa Cruz police, confirmed to the New York Times that the program led to five arrests in July. Even more impressive, compared to July 2010 burglaries, the number of July 2011 burglaries are down 27 percent. Whether or not that trend holds remains to be seen, but so far it appears that being in the wrong place at the right time works.

    Mathematical models are only as good as their predictive power, and the ability to predict requires algorithms which are based on accurate data. Given the fact that the data supplied by the Santa Cruz Police Department wasn’t collected with mathematical algorithms in mind, I asked Dr. Mohler if there were another kind of data that he wished he was getting that simply isn’t available. His answer suggests there is, but it doesn’t come from the police. “Part of this falls on the public. Crimes…need to be reported if predictive policing is going to be as effective as possible. Once reported, it would be good to have high spatial accuracy and realistic estimates of time windows in which crime happened.”

    The Santa Clara software isn’t the first of its kind. Other police departments have been experimenting with their own predictive software. But according to Dr. Mohler, comparisons show that their software outpredicts the others. And they plan to develop software that predicts crimes other than burglaries. Because gang violence begets more gang violence it is amenable to the same type of chain reaction-dependent analysis. Dr. Mohler and his colleagues have already begun working on a gang violence model using the activities of three gang rivalries in Los Angeles. Evidently retaliations commonly occur within days of and at nearly the same location as the initial attack. Dr. Mohler hopes software might be developed for still other types of crimes in the future.

    One impetus for adopting predictive policing is the downturn in the US economy. As police departments are pressured to downsize it becomes that much more important to patrol intelligently and efficiently. With only 26 officers for every 10,000 residents Los Angeles is particularly short-handed (Chicago has 46). “We’re facing a situation where we have 30 percent more calls for service but 20 percent less staff than in the year 2000, and that is going to continue to be our reality,” Mr. Friend told the New York Times. “So we have to deploy our resources in a more effective way, and we thought this model would help.”

    Given that the crime-fighting software is the real world version “Numb3rs,” the television show in which a genius helps police solve crimes through math, one might expect Dr. Mohler was an avid viewer. Turns out he’s only seen the show twice, but what he saw was pretty accurate.

    “The pilot episode concern[ed] geographic profiling and matche[d] reasonably well with what is done in practice. I’m sure this doesn’t hold throughout the course of the series, but getting people excited about math isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.” If the six month evaluation of the software shows it to be effective in decreasing crime its use will undoubtedly spread to other cities in the US and the rest of the world. If life imitates art and our streets are made safer, I imagine math might get more exciting for a lot of people.
    Mon, Aug 29, 2011  Permanent link

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    Closer now to machine integration.

    Engineers have developed a device platform that combines electronic components for sensing, medical diagnostics, communications and human-machine interfaces, all on an ultrathin skin-like patch that mounts directly onto the skin with the ease, flexibility and comfort of a temporary tattoo.

    "We think this could be an important conceptual advance in wearable electronics, to achieve something that is almost unnoticeable to the wearer," said U. of I. electrical and computer engineering professor Todd Coleman, who co-led the multi-disciplinary team. "The technology can connect you to the physical world and the cyberworld in a very natural way that feels very comfortable."
    Thu, Aug 11, 2011  Permanent link

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    There's not much info yet, just this article from MSNBC, but it's a good time to get feedback from people on the future.

    After Google+ rejection, Anonymous creates its own social network

    Anonymous' social networking site will not have anything like the familiar Facebook blue or cheery bird logo of Twitter. Its site is black, with more black, and some gray, and for now shares this message:

    Well didnt we grow up fast :) this lil info dump of a site is here simply to dispence (sic) info, soon the actual site will go up and you can begin to interact with it. This project is not overnight and will take many of those out there who simply want a better internet. We will not be stopped by those looking to troll or those willing to stop the spreading of the truth. ... this project is for ALL people not just anonymous, this idea is a presstorm idea and only takes the name anon because of the Anonymity of the social network.
    Mon, Jul 18, 2011  Permanent link

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    Non-invasive optical BCI is closer now. The more non-invasive it becomes, the more likely the public is to adopt it.

    Optogenetics researcher develops wireless brain stimulator

    (Medical Xpress) — In a major step forward in optogenetics, MIT researcher Christian Wentz has developed a sort of wireless hat that can be used to transmit light to photo sensitized cells in the brain, thus stimulating them to fire when struck by light, or to cease firing, whichever has been programmed for. Previously such optical therapies were done by connecting a light source to a cable or tether to deliver the power for the light sources (lasers or LEDs); now as described in a paper he and his colleagues have published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, a transmitter can be used to create a magnetic field, which in turn is converted to electricity in a tiny hat placed atop a mouse’s head, that is then used to power the implanted light sources.

    Over the past several years, the field of optogenetics has arisen, mostly due to the efforts of Ed Boyd, a former physicist and electrical engineer. Optogenetics is where brain cells (neurons) are coaxed into growing their own photo receptors by inserting the genes of other cells, such as green algae, that naturally respond to light, into the neurons being studied. When light is applied, the newly grown photo receptors open and allow the flow of positively charged ions to interact with the normal firing mechanism of the neurons, which means they can be controlled with an external source, in this case light.

    The whole purpose of such research is to find out if such devices might help people who suffer from brain disorders such as epilepsy, which is in essence, a disorder of the brain where neurons begin firing all willy nilly causing an electrical storm of sorts, resulting in convulsions. If certain neurons that exist within the brain that are normally supposed to control such outbursts could be stimulated via light, then the storm could perhaps be headed off before it ever really gets going, thus eliminating the convulsions altogether.

    The newly developed hat developed by Wentz, controlled by a computer via USB port, will allow researchers to study the way neurons in the brain work in much more natural situations. Without a tether, subjects (mice) under study should be able to move around the way they normally would in their normal environment, which of course allows the brain to function as it would were it not in a lab; the optimal situation, of course, for studying how the brain works.


    Optogenetics, the ability to use light to activate and silence specific neuron types within neural networks in vivo and in vitro, is revolutionizing neuroscientists' capacity to understand how defined neural circuit elements contribute to normal and pathological brain functions. Typically, awake behaving experiments are conducted by inserting an optical fiber into the brain, tethered to a remote laser, or by utilizing an implanted light-emitting diode (LED), tethered to a remote power source. A fully wireless system would enable chronic or longitudinal experiments where long duration tethering is impractical, and would also support high-throughput experimentation. However, the high power requirements of light sources (LEDs, lasers), especially in the context of the extended illumination periods often desired in experiments, precludes battery-powered approaches from being widely applicable. We have developed a headborne device weighing 2 g capable of wirelessly receiving power using a resonant RF power link and storing the energy in an adaptive supercapacitor circuit, which can algorithmically control one or more headborne LEDs via a microcontroller. The device can deliver approximately 2 W of power to the LEDs in steady state, and 4.3 W in bursts. We also present an optional radio transceiver module (1 g) which, when added to the base headborne device, enables real-time updating of light delivery protocols; dozens of devices can be controlled simultaneously from one computer. We demonstrate use of the technology to wirelessly drive cortical control of movement in mice. These devices may serve as prototypes for clinical ultra-precise neural prosthetics that use light as the modality of biological control.
    Wed, Jun 29, 2011  Permanent link
    Categories: Cybernetics
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    This I love.

    Every month this year, I have found something new to restore my faith in humanity.

    The Fun Way to Raise Money

    If Facebook defines you by who your friends are, and Twitter by what you’re doing right now, Crowdrise defines you by what you care about. That’s how Edward Norton, speaking at the inaugural Nextwork technology conference, thinks about his new crowdsourced fundraising website. It takes a “fun” approach to raising money – with a tagline like “If you don’t give back, no one will like you,” it’s hard to expect anything less.

    In a conversation with Wired’s Jason Tanz (who was very careful not to anger the award-winning actor lest he turn into an enormous green hulk) Norton described how individuals could use the site to “create multiples.” By leveraging their network of friends and connections, anybody can raise more money than ever possible on their own. Such is the capacity of creative forms of fundraising.

    “It’s a chance for an individual, in a self-starting way, to have a robust platform for backing a cause that they care about,” Norton said. “To say, this is my life as defined by how I’m trying to change the world.”

    Since its launch in May 2010, Crowdrise has been the platform for some pretty unusual endeavors. Will Ferrell will send you a bottle of suntan lotion featuring himself naked on the label to raise money for cancer survivors. Another women has promised to water-ski around Manhattan to raise funds for better medical care for Iraq veterans.

    “We didn’t want this to be a use-and-drop utility,” Norton said. “We want it to be a platform that you use to anchor your activist life.”

    But a real activist life involves real relationships. What does Norton think of of those Gladwellian naysayers who grumble over the loss of deep, sustained relationships in exchange for superficial connections and “friends”? Actually, not much.

    “Each time the cognoscenti try to pin down the limits of technology’s potential, they’re proved wrong in five minutes,” Norton said. “It’s presumptuous to make that assessment.”

    Take Julia, a 12-year-old girl who raised $8,000 for a floating hospital on Lake Tanganyika in Africa because she was too young to volunteer at her own. The hospital – rather surprised by this enterprising pre-teen – has since reached back out to Julia.

    “If that’s not a substantive relationship being formed,” Norton said, “I don’t know what is.”

    While there have always been grassroots efforts to raise money, online platforms have the potential to eliminate the inefficiencies of other forms of fundraising, which sometimes spend 20-40% on development costs. With Crowdrise, there’s no need to host a celebrity dinner for half a million dollars – most of that money goes directly to the cause.

    “The argument can be made that this is zero-cost-based fundraising,” Norton said.

    And throughout it all, it needs to be fun.

    “It’s important that a new generation of people start to connect with this sort of activity,” he said. “Not cool, but fun – life-expanding, something that pulls on their skills and creativity.”

    To start that creative process, you could check out Wired’s own Crowdrise campaign, which will donate money to Khan Academy, an online educational library of free video tutorials. A donation of $34 will even enter you to win an iChat with Norton himself.
    Wed, Jun 22, 2011  Permanent link

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    When arguing for the benefits of anarchism, I've often been stumped by the counter argument that their is no historical example of a stable anarchy (or egalitarianism for that matter - unless we go back to pre-agricultural era, and little is actually known about that time).

    A friend of mine sent me this link in just such a discussion. There is an example, a short lived one, but a clear one.

    My question is, if the Chinese could nearly achieve an egalitarian society, without the aid of modern technology and infrastructure, then shouldn't it be easier for the modern world to do it?

    The collective wealth of the globe is millions (billions? trillions?) of times larger than it was then, and production per capita is exponentially higher.

    It's more shocking to consider how we haven't made this progress.

    Here's the link and an excerpt:

    When the throne was in the hands of the founder’s grandson, Literate, he was a sincere Taoist believer, and put it into practice. Taoism became the guiding philosophy of this ancient Chinese empire. Historians like to compare Chinese Han dynasty with the Roman Empire, since they were contemporaries but the cultures were totally different.

    Lao Tzu’s three treasures, frugality, kindness, and no competition were adapted as ethic principles during these golden years. In ancient time the tax rate was about ten per cent. During these years, the tax rate was reduced to three per cent, and tax collection was stopped altogether for many years. To follow the Taoist natural way, there was nothing to be busy about in the country for several decades. People became rich and the government had a big surplus. In the central government, the money was left over for years so that all the strings along which the coins were chained rotted. There was no way to count how much money was there. Grains were piled up year after year as they all rotted away. It was no surprise that the government stopped tax collection.

    For example, Literate was on the throne for twenty three years but did not add any new garden, palace or new service. Every year he led his court officials farming on a piece of land and producing grains for ritual usage in the palace. His wife led palace maids raising silk worms and so on. The emperor set up strict dress rule for the royal family members and court officials. The emperor wore a black cotton robe, and no embroidery was allowed in his wife’s bedroom.

    He apparently endured inconvenience in the benefit of his people. Royal officials once planned to build a dew plateau. The cost was 100 pieces of gold. Emperor Literate stopped it saying,

    “100 pieces of gold equal the annual income of ten farmer families. I inherited the palace from my father, and I often feel I am unworthy of it. How can I expand it?”

    One official took a bribe. Emperor Literate heard about it and sent some of his own money to this official. In his last will, Literate wrote shortly before his death:

    I have learnt that myriad things on earth which have births will die, and there is no exception. Death is the nature of heaven and earth, a natural happening. Why do we grieve much? Now people like life and hate death, and have elaborate funerals to burden the living ones. I dislike such a trend. Furthermore I had no virtue to help my people, and now that I am dying, and it would make me feel even guiltier to have my people to grieve over my death. … I am not a clever person, and often feared of error or misconduct that would embarrass my father’s legacy. Thus in those years I was often afraid that death might not come soon. Today I am lucky enough to have my end. Praise it, there is no need for grief and sorrow. Here is my order, that after three days of the funeral, all people will take off their funeral clothes. There will be no ban on weddings, drinking of wine, or eating of meat. Let the people enjoy their lives without interruption…

    If the emperor was like this, the officials followed his example, and the people followed the officials’ example. Everybody was self-contained and content. In such a huge country there must be someone who was a trouble maker. Several local lords once united in a rebellion. The general who came to put the rebellion down used the Taoist principle to win the war without much fighting. He avoided any direct battle with the enemy but cut off the enemy’s supplies, and waited for the enemy’s starvation. When the enemy ran away, he put a heavy reward on the head of the rebellion leader. In three months the rebellion was over.
    Sun, Jun 19, 2011  Permanent link
    Categories: Politics
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