Next year it will be 25 years after "1984" - is there anything planned to celebrate it? The Science Fiction world managed 2007-07-07 to celebrate Heinlein's 100th.
Check out the the StarShipSofa site, where they have some really terrific podcasts of classic science fiction stories. They made an earnest effort to recite “The Crystal Spheres” -- though it’s a very hard story to do in audio, filled with combined-words that most readers need to eye scan a few times in order to grasp or put in context. Something most can do unconsciously, but cannot do in audio. That understood, this narrator does a fine job with this Hugo-winning story (also available on Kindle and Nook).
Wow! A robot in Kyoto, Japan, mimics a monkey walking on a treadmill (background) in North Carolina last week. Neuroscientist Miguel A. L. Nicolelis at Duke University says it is the first time that brain signals have been used to make a robot walk. Name him Waldo!
Chemical Robots (ChemBots): soft, flexible, mobile objects that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than their static structural dimensions; reconstitute size, shape, and functionality after traversal; carry meaningful payloads; and perform tasks.
For those of you who have seen Cloverfield (also called the “Blair Godzilla Project”) try this appraisal of how smart and well prepared (CERT-trained?) people might have handled the same situation. (Thanks Stefan.)
Design guru Don Norman offers the following interesting tidbit: “Two thousand years ago, Socrates argued that the book would destroy people’s ability to reason. He believed in dialogue, in conversation and debate. But with a book, there is no debate: the written word cannot talk back. Today, the book is such a symbol of learning and knowledge that we laugh at his argument. But take it seriously for a moment. Despite Socrates’ claims, writing does instruct because we do not need to debate it with the author. Instead, we debate and discuss with one another, in the classroom, with discussion groups, and – if it is an important enough work – through all the media at our disposal: printed newspapers and magazines, radio and television, Internet websites and discussion boards. Nonetheless, his point is valid: a technology that gives no opportunity for discussion, explanation, or debate is a poor technology.”
A GREAT BIG SLUG OF LINKS FROM RAY KURZWEIL
Lacking time/energy to sift these in with my regular link-missives -- and certainly lacking time to hot-link -- I'll just paste in these cool items and let Ray tell you about em. More from the singularity front. That is, if we can maintain a forward-looking civilization.
The Times' 70 best ideas of 2007 include Wireless Energy, Wave Energy, Crowdware, Wikiscanning, and The Best Way to Deflect an Asteroid....
CyberLover's automated chats is good enough that victims have a tough time distinguishing the "bot" from a real potential love interests.
University of Vienna researchers have trained dogs to distinguish photographs that depicted dogs from those that did not.
From the firing of a type of neuron, researchers can tell what a person is actually seeing.
Researchers at Cornell are attempting to use the same energy that drives sperm to power nanoscale robots.
UCLA researchers report that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) reveals clear differences in the areas of the brain involved in belief, disbelief and uncertainty. Their results suggest that the differences among these cognitive states may one day be distinguished reliably.
The US Air Force Research Lab is developing an electric motor-powered micro air vehicle that can "harvest" energy when needed by attaching itself to a power line, even temporarily changing its shape to look more like innocuous piece of trash hanging from the cable. Much of the "morphing" technology to perform this has already been developed.
Nanosolar has begun selling its solar panels made with a new manufacturing process that "prints" photovoltaic material on aluminum backing, which the company says will
reduce the manufacturing cost of the basic photovoltaic module by more
than 80 percent to less than $1 per watt.
Organisms invented in 2007 include insulin-producing lettuce, yeast with poison-sensing rat genes, cancer-fighting Clostridium bacteria, artful fluorescent tadpoles and butanol-producing E. coli....
A new Microsoft patent describes a system that monitors certain behaviors tied to frustration (such as elevated heart rate or taking an abnormally long time to complete a task), then triggers a routine that asks other users for help. (Um... right...)
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico have found a way of using sunlight to recycle carbon dioxide and produce fuels like methanol or gasoline. (Randy Montoya/Sandia) The Sunlight to Petrol, or S2P, project essentially reverses the combustion process, recovering the building blocks of hydrocarbons.
The partnership between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child educational computing group has dissolved in a conflict between Intel's $350 Classmate PC and One Laptop's $200 XO.
Well well. Pixel Qi, a company spun off from the One Laptop Per Child project, aims to create a $75 laptop. Technology advances planned by Pixel Qi include a sunlight-readable display system optimized for low-power operation.
A UCLA study shows that the central nervous system can reorganize itself after spinal cord damage and follow new pathways to restore the cellular communication required for walking.
Brighter LED Lights Could Replace Household Light Bulbs Within Three Years.
Metaplace wants to enable its users to build virtual worlds that could exist anywhere on the Web. With Metaplace, designers can build worlds using a markup language, style sheets, modules, and a scripting language. Every world acts like a Web server, and every object in a world has a URL. Raph Koster, president of Metaplace, based in San Diego, and former creative lead for the influential game Ultima Online, believes that the Metaverse should look decidedly different.
Merck researchers report that the cannabinoid receptor blocking drug taranabant helped obese patients lose weight during a 12-week trial, even at low doses ranging from 0.5 to six milligrams. Taranabant is the second appetite suppressant and weight-loss drug that works by blocking cannabinoid receptors.... (aw, where's the fun in that?)
General Motors has partnered with Coskata, a company that claims it can make ethanol from wood chips, grass, and trash--including old tires--for a dollar a gallon, using a hybrid approach that involves thermochemical and biological processes.
A controversial new study from Imperial College London scientists says traces of vast cosmic strings have been found in the cosmic microwave background radiation. If confirmed to exist, cosmic strings could offer an unprecedented window into the extreme physics of the infant universe....
...more, when possible...