Tag Archives | Technology

Researchers use real data rather than theory to measure the cosmos

Incase (CC BY 2.0)

Incase (CC BY 2.0)

via Phys.org:

For the first time researchers have measured large distances in the Universe using data, rather than calculations related to general relativity.

A research team from Imperial College London and the University of Barcelona has used data from astronomical surveys to measure a standard distance that is central to our understanding of the expansion of the .

Previously the size of this ‘standard ruler’ has only been predicted from theoretical models that rely on general relativity to explain gravity at large scales. The new study is the first to measure it using observed data. A standard ruler is an object which consistently has the same physical size so that a comparison of its actual size to its size in the sky will provide a measurement of its distance to earth.

“Our research suggests that current methods for measuring distance in the Universe are more complicated than they need to be,” said Professor Alan Heavens from the Department of Physics, Imperial College London who led the study.

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Death Should be Optional

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

via H+ Magazine:

Now more than ever, the topic of death is marked by no shortage of diverging opinions.

On the one hand, there are serious thinkers — Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others — who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.

As a non-scientist I am not qualified to evaluate scientific claims about what science can and cannot do. What I can say is that plausible scenarios for overcoming death have now appeared. This leads to the following questions: If individuals could choose immortality, should they? Should societies fund and promote research to defeat death?

The question regarding individuals has a straightforward answer: We should respect the right of autonomous individuals to choose for themselves.

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Why Elon Musk is probably not freaking out over plunging oil prices

Elon Musk's Twitter Photo.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Photo.

via Quartz:

One of the indirect casualties of tumbling oil prices in recent weeks has been Tesla. Shares in Elon Musk’s electric automaker have sunk by about 25% over the past three months.

Lower gas prices, in theory, eliminate one of the key advantages of owning an electric car: They cost much less to run than normal cars, at least when gas prices are high. So the decline in oil prices is not great news for the company.

On the other hand, there are reasons to not be too alarmed about it. If you can afford to buy a Tesla, the cost of gassing it up is probably not your chief concern. (Its current flagship Model S costs about $70,000, though a “cheaper” new car, the model 3, is expected to cost at least half that when it is released in 2017.)

And don’t forget, Musk himself expressed alarm about the rapid rise in Telsa’s share price earlier this year.

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Worms’ mental GPS helps them find food

Oregon State University (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Oregon State University (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Phys.org:

You’ve misplaced your cell phone. You start by scanning where you remember leaving it: on your bureau. You check and double-check the bureau before expanding your search around and below the bureau. Eventually, you switch from this local area to a more global one, widening your search to the rest of your room and beyond.

When it comes to animals and , a similar strategy is used to search for food (“foraging”). Now, Salk scientists have developed a —based on roundworm foraging—that predicts how animals decide to switch from localized to very broad searching. This new theory could begin to explain animal behavior in a more unified way, laying the groundwork for general rules of behavior that could help us understand complex or erratic attention-related behaviors, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and even let us predict how extraterrestrials might behave.

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Anyone Can Now Use IBM’s Watson To Crunch Data For Free

Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 4.54.15 PM

Watson’s Avatar

via ZDNet:

IBM has launched the public beta of Watson Analytics, its set of cloud-based predictive and analytics tools.

The move to public beta for Watson Analytics on Thursday follows its private beta launch this September. IBM said at the time of the beta release the service will be made available under a freemium model through iOS, Android mobile devices and the web.

Watson Analytics is a cognitive service that’s meant to bear some of the load executives face when preparing data, while making it easier to run predictive analyses and use “visual storytelling”, such as using graphs, maps and infographics to illustrate a point.

Watson Analytics is one piece of IBM’s $1bn gamble that it can commercialise Watson. The company claims it has 22,000 registrations for Watson Analytics since launching in September.

Read More: http://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-watson-analytics-enters-public-beta/

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No Dogs No Masters

Jim Swill‘s latest documentary meditates on society’s use of technology with a particular focus on Southern Televangelists and the Selfie Culture. As always, he shoots his films on Smart phones, this latest one was shot on a shattered iPhone4. Swill made No Dogs No Masters while traveling around the United States and filmed, scored, wrote, and narrated the entire piece.

Swill explains:

“I make these films on Smart phones, this time a shattered iPhone4 while traveling the United States. This one in particular focuses on Southern Televangelists and Selfie Culture, while I was migrating out to live in Los Angeles California. There are a lot of themes relating to the municipal constructs that surround a more basic way of living, cleaning up after the messy thoughts, and the lack of interest in our own impending decays of sorts; like how technology advances around us at this rapid rate while morally we remain very much the same and things socially are still simplistic and grittier yet we’re holding this preview into a technologically saturated future.”

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Ralph H. Baer, a father of video gaming, dies at 92

Baer is credited with developing the pattern-matching game Simon.

Baer is credited with developing the pattern-matching game Simon.

via Washington Post:

At the dawn of the television age in 1951, a young engineer named Ralph Baer approached executives at an electronics firm and suggested the radical idea of offering games on the bulky TV boxes.

“And of course,” he said, “I got the regular reaction: ‘Who needs this?’ And nothing happened.”

It took another 15 years before Mr. Baer, who died Dec. 6 at 92, developed a prototype that would make him the widely acknowledged father of video games. His design helped lay the groundwork for an industry that transformed the role of the television set and generated tens of billions of dollars last year.

Mr. Baer “saw that there was this interesting device sitting in millions of American homes — but it was a one-way instrument,” said Arthur P. Molella, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

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The Secrets in Plain Sight All Around Us |Number Sage, Scott Onstott Joins Midwest Real!

Via Midwest Real

Number sage, Scott Onstott joins the podcast to blast light upon the secrets in plain sight that unite art, history, religion, conspiracy, geometry and number.  

ITUNES  STITCHER DOWNLOAD

IMG_6268We’ve all witnessed the odd similarities between manmade systems and natural ones. From a slight shift in perspective, white blood cells torpedoing through vessels look a whole lot like bumper-to-bumper traffic and the internet looks remarkably similar to the interconnected brain neurons beneath our skulls.

On one hand, it seems preposterous to compare us as human beings to all these disparate, albeit similar looking structures. After all, we’ve got freewill, complicated minds, feelings relationships and ever-evolving behavior patterns. But, could it be that beyond our individual autonomy there’s a greater, cosmic work at hand that we’re completely ignorant to flowing through us? If we could stand outside of time and watch an overview of human civilization throughout the ages, would we see some sort of 4th dimensional cosmic geometry connected to a purpose far beyond, yet totally interdependent upon our mundane monkey toil?… Read the rest

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Why Elon Musk’s Batteries Scare the Hell Out of the Electric Company

Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)

Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)

via Bloomberg:

Climate: Now or Never

Here’s why something as basic as a battery both thrills and terrifies the U.S. utility industry.

At a sagebrush-strewn industrial park outside of Reno, Nevada, bulldozers are clearing dirt for Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA)’s battery factory, projected to be the world’s largest.

Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, sees the $5 billion facility as a key step toward making electric cars more affordable, while ending reliance on oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At first blush, the push toward more electric cars looks to be positive for utilities struggling with stagnant sales from energy conservation and slow economic growth.

Yet Musk’s so-called gigafactory may soon become an existential threat to the 100-year-old utility business model. The facility will also churn out stationary battery packs that can be paired with rooftop solar panels to store power. Already, a second company led by Musk, SolarCity Corp.

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