Interesting Reading #694 - Free Kindles, 3.5GHz Bulldozers, Shuttle from airplane, Censoring adultery and much more!

by | Feb 27, 2011 03:57 AM ET

Robot Wars - "In less than a decade robots have revolutionised the way wars are fought. Lethal Predator planes are flown on air raids over Afghanistan from office chairs in the United States. There are tens of thousands of unmanned vehicles in action...."

Darpa's Cheetah-Bot Designed to Chase Human Prey - "Perhaps you thought the four-legged BigDog robot wasn't eerily lifelike enough. That'll change soon. BigDog's makers are working on a new quadruped that moves faster than any human and is agile enough to “chase and evade.”..."

AMD's Bulldozer cores to push to 3.5 GHz and beyond - "ISSCC Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices lifted the veil a bit on the "Bulldozer" core module at the IEEE's International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, showing off the power savings and faster clock speeds that the new design will allow for its workstation and server processors...." See also: Godson: China shuns US silicon with faux x86 superchip

The Greatest Unsolved Problems - "I have compiled a list of what I consider to be the five most important unsolved problems. Ranking the importance of problems is of course subjective. Biologists would probably be biased towards biology problems and physicists towards physics problems. I have tried to avoid being too biased towards computer science problems. Here is the list, ranked from most important to least..."

NASA wants spacecraft designed for Mars return trip - "If we ever do get to Mars, getting home might prove to be as difficult. NASA today selected three companies -- Alliant Techsystems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman - to being the task of defining the spacecraft that will leave Mars, presumably at first loaded with red planet rock samples, then later possibly humans - for a safe trip back to Earth...."

Mobiles 'increase brain activity' - "“Mobile phones are a brain cell killer,” reported The Sun. The newspaper claimed that a study of hundreds of mobile users found that the signals emitted during calls can cause a 7% rise in chemical changes in the brain. It said that these may boost the chances of developing cancer. Other papers also reported the study in a more balanced way...."

Free Kindle This November - "In October 2009 John Walkenbach noticed that the price of the Kindle was falling at a consistent rate, lowering almost on a schedule. By June 2010, the rate was so unwavering that he could easily forecast the date at which the Kindle would be free: November 2011...."

Screenshot and Feature Tour of Mac OS 10.7 Lion - "Apple's newest iteration of their desktop operating system is coming this summer, but we got a chance to play around with the developer beta to see some of the new features coming to Mac OS X. Here's what you can expect...."

Cats Adore, Manipulate Women - "Cats attach to humans, and particularly women, as social partners, and it's not just for the sake of obtaining food...."

London Stock Exchange stoppage is more than a 'glitch', it's an embarrassment - "Share trading on the London Stock Exchange was suspended all morning because of an as yet undiagnosed problem with the exchange's prices data...."

Earliest human remains in US Arctic reported - "Some 11,500 years ago one of America's earliest families laid the remains of a 3-year-old child to rest in their home in what is now Alaska. The discovery of that burial is shedding new light on the life and times of the early settlers who crossed from Asia to the New World, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science...."

Letters to a heretic: An email conversation with climate change sceptic Professor Freeman Dyson - "World-renowned physicist Professor Freeman Dyson has been described as a 'force-of-nature intellect'. He's also one of the world's foremost climate change sceptics. In this email exchange, our science editor, Steve Connor, asks the Princeton scholar why he's one of the few true intellectuals to be so dismissive of the global-warming consensus..."

Press Release: #OpWisconsin - "It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch--the billionaire owners of Koch Industries--have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back...."

When the Internet Nearly Fractured, and How It Could Happen Again - "When the entire country of Egypt was forced offline by its government last month, it served as a global wake-up call that the Internet is a more fragile medium than we imagine it to be. What happened in Egypt was particularly striking, but other, subtler tests of the Internet's resilience abound...."

Sea turtles' migration mystery is 'solved' - "Until now, how species such as loggerhead sea turtles manage to migrate thousands of miles across oceans with no visual landmarks has been a mystery. Now researchers from the University of North Carolina believe they have found the answer...."

Google Changes Nearly 12 Percent of Search Results, Filters More Content Farms - "Last week, Google asked its (Chrome-wielding) users to filter out search spam themselves. Now the search giant is taking the same steps, knocking down "low-value" sites and, unofficially, taking aim at content farms...."

Fungus Knocks Out Malaria In Mosquitoes - "Scientists have come up with a new approach to controlling malaria. Instead of killing the mosquito that transmits the malaria parasite, the researchers have found a way to let the mosquito live, while killing the parasite inside it...."

Why the Automotive Industry is Shifting to New Media - "There is a shift happening in the automotive industry when it comes to marketing from the dealers up to the OEMs. New Media (which includes social media, mobile, local marketing, search, etc) has witnessed hesitant adoption over recent years in the industry, but the last 12 months has seen a tremendous spike. It's almost a complete turnaround and in some cases, traditional marketing has been completely abandoned...."

New kind of optical fiber developed - "A team of scientists led by John Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, has developed the very first optical fiber made with a core of zinc selenide -- a light-yellow compound that can be used as a semiconductor. The new class of optical fiber, which allows for a more effective and liberal manipulation of light, promises to open the door to more versatile laser-radar technology. Such technology could be applied to the development of improved surgical and medical lasers, better countermeasure lasers used by the military, and superior environment-sensing lasers such as those used to measure pollutants and to detect the dissemination of bioterrorist chemical agents. The team's research will be published in the journal Advanced Materials...."

Things overheard on the WiFi from my Android smartphone - "Today in my undergraduate security class, we set up a sniffer so we could run Wireshark and Mallory to listen in on my Android smartphone. This blog piece summarizes what we found...."

Welcome to the Quake-Catcher Network - "The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world's largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards...."

Can Google and Facebook Push Adultery Sites Off the Internet? - "Noel Biderman, the man behind the wildly successful, is helping to facilitate extra-marital affairs. Microsoft, Google, and Facebook want no part of it. Crying censorship, Biderman is fighting back...."

IBM's Watson Jeopardy Stunt Unleashes a Third Great Cycle in Computing - "The last time IBM pulled off a similar stunt was several computer generations ago – the globally-watched 1997 chess match between Big Blue and chess master Gary Kasparov. Cynics suspected a PR motive on IBM's part. A 2003 documentary film Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine implied Deep Blue was an IBM plot to boost its stock. Even if true, why not? The stock did rise, for years, in the aftermath of that last stunt. IBM has an obligation to tell investors what they think the future looks like for their technology. Big Blue did the job. The world, and IBM, did change in big ways. Watson too was a pretty good way to tell the story of the next cycle...."

Man gave $200K to fake online girlfriend - "Police in Illinois said a man "was in disbelief" when officers told him the online girlfriend to whom he had given $200,000 was not a real person...."

Google Tool to Move Microsoft Files to Web - "Google Inc., taking aim at Microsoft Corp.'s lucrative Office franchise, plans to release a free tool allowing users to transfer files from the widely used software suite to the Web so that multiple people can edit and collaborate on them...."

Planet birth witnessed for 1st time - "If confirmed, the discovery, using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, would provide scientists with the earliest view yet of how short-lived discs of material around young stars clump together in the early stages of planetary formation...."

Beyond ‘dangerous' climate change: emission scenarios for a new world - "The analysis suggests that despite high-level statements to the contrary, there is now little to no chance of maintaining the global mean surface temperature at or below 2°C. Moreover, the impacts associated with 2°C have been revised upwards, sufficiently so that 2°C now more appropriately represents the threshold between ‘dangerous' and ‘extremely dangerous' climate change...."

Money to the People - "Delivering foreign aid directly to the world's poor by electronic transfer would cut waste and reduce corruption...."

Dark matter theory challenged by gassy galaxies result - "A controversial theory that challenges the existence of dark matter has been buoyed by studies of gas-rich galaxies. Instead of invoking dark matter, the Modified Newtonian Dynamics theory says that the effects of gravity change in places where its pull is very low...."

People with low self-esteem show more signs of prejudice - "When people are feeling badly about themselves, they're more likely to show bias against people who are different. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, examines how that works. "This is one of the oldest accounts of why people stereotype and have prejudice: It makes us feel better about ourselves," says Jeffrey Sherman of the University of California, Davis, who wrote the study with Thomas Allen. "When we feel bad about ourselves, we can denigrate other people, and that makes us feel better about ourselves."..."

What is Synergy? - "Synergy is Free and Open Source Software that lets you easily share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers, where each computer has it's own display. No special hardware is required, all you need is a local area network. Synergy is supported on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. ..."

Beauty of the Brain - "Is the human brain, with all its problem-solving prowess and creative ability, powerful enough to understand itself? Nothing in the known universe (with the exception of the universe itself) is more complex; the brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, each of which can communicate with thousands of other brain cells...."

HBGary and the Future of the IT Security Industry - "This is a really good piece by Paul Roberts on Anonymous vs. HBGary: not the tactics or the politics, but what HBGary demonstrates about the IT security industry...."

Researcher: Roundup or Roundup-Ready Crops May Be Causing Animal Miscarriages and Infertility - "One of the nation's senior scientists alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism that may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortion in farm animals, raising significant concerns about human health. Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, believes the appearance and prevalence of the unnamed organism may be related to the nation's over reliance on the weed killer known as Roundup and/or to something about the genetically engineered Roundup-Ready crops. In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the professor called on the federal government to immediately stop deregulation of roundup ready crops, particularly roundup ready alfalfa...."

Data Storage Metrics Compared to Real Objects (INFOGRAPHIC) - "The amount of data stored on the Internet today has reached astronomical numbers. From Bytes to Petabytes to Exabytes – online data storage continues to rocket. What's really in a byte? It's hard to imagine what a terabyte of storage really equates to. If you took the average number of bytes per Flickr photo and converted it to a metric of area, how much space would all the photos on Flickr fill? We've done some simple math and added in some fun analogies to illustrate how much data we're really talking about...."

Why Passwords Aren't Enough - "We need better security for our online accounts. Could Gmail lead the way?"

Defining an Artificial Intelligence: The Turing Test - "IBM's Watson natural-language processing system trounced two Jeopardy champions in a televised apparent humiliation of the human race. Does this mean that the dawn of artificial intelligence has arrived? "

[[[Interesting Reading #693 – Intel's fast thunderbolt connector, Build your own Watson, Escape a speeding ticket and much more!]]]

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