…where Stephen takes the top ten recent subjects in his tweet stream and writes further. Enjoy.
Cool tech: The Livescribe Smartpen records audio, tagging notes to points within the audio stream. Allows “pencasts.”
According to the article it completely changes the art of note taking. You tend to hit key words rather than full outlines. Then, when reviewing later, you can touch the pen to your outline and replay that portion of the lecture.
“Pencasting” is where the instructor uses the pen and writes out notes or a math problem while he’s explaining it. The resulting Kahn-like movie clips can then be shared.
An easy way of turning adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells is a Holy Grail of biology – think of all the political battles that could be avoided.
singulr ’100 percent’ chance for life on newly found planet? – Gliese 581g may be the new Earth.
That headline is just a little misleading. They are 100% sure that there is a chance of life on this planet, not 100% sure there is life. Cute, huh?
Since this planet is tidally locked – meaning one side of the planet is always boiling in the sun, the other side is freezing – the habitable zone of the planet would be rather narrow. We are not even sure life could develop under such circumstances.
Other links to this story: sciam
most popular on the site now: “Planet Hunters Discover a World That Could Harbor Life”
“New York City is more populous than all but 11 states; but granted statehood, it would rank 51st in per-capita energy use.” – David Owen
No doubt about it. Urban living is more energy efficient, and is easier on the planet.
bluepinegrove tweets: Multiple ebook readers present problems for libraries. Will standards emerge?
Multiple ebook standards favor nondedicated devices like the iPad. Dedicated ebook readers will go the way of dedicated word processors. An example is this tweet from Sydell: The New Yorker has released its iPad App. It’s wonderful. Yes, it is bitter sweet. That stack near my bed is going to disappear.
I love this mental picture. Scientist “A” argues that altruism developed as a byproduct of language, Scientist “B” argues that it preceded language acquisition by millions of years. “A” picks up a rock, “B” picks up a thigh bone, and the rumble is on.
George Dvorsky: Scientists successfully use human stem cells to treat Parkinson’s in rodents.
Researchers have successfully used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to treat rodents afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The research, conducted at the Buck Institute for Age Research, validates a scalable protocol that the same group had previously developed. It may eventually be used to manufacture the type of neurons needed to treat the disease and paves the way for the use of iPSC’s in various biomedical applications.
When “Fellowship of the Ring” was released there was zero chance that I was going to wait to see it on DVD. That movie needed the big screen. And while I loved “Dodgeball,” it is just as funny at home as the theater. It loses little in the transition to the smaller screen.
Likewise, some books seem to cry out for paper. Imagine a dark and stormy night. You decide to read “The Raven.” Do you reach for a dusty tome… or your laptop? Easy choice. But does a tree really need to die so that I can read the latest Patterson thriller? Probably not.
And if your e-Reader doesn’t feel real enough, you can always give it a vintage book cover.
Lungs Grown on Scaffolds Breathe After Transplantation in Rats
Article asks “is consumerism robbing our creativity?” The author suggests that too much choice is a bad thing.
But bad for who? I don’t see paralyzed shoppers at the mall and supermarket. I see people making choices. Choice is good. Competition is good. Consumerism supports creativity.
There’s a much more interesting way of looking at this question. In his recent TED talk, Larry Lessig states that we have just gone through a period of read-only culture – consumers just listening to the radio, not singing and making their own music as they had throughout history. The means of music production and distribution were centralized.
But, Lessig argued, read-write culture is battling back. Every kid with a lap-top possesses a recording studio and a distribution system.
Matt Ridley – no huge fan of solar power in its current subsidized form – said in his book “The Rational Optimist,” that…
…once solar panels can be mass-produced at $200 per square metre and with an efficiency of 12 per cent, they could generate the equivalent of a barrel of oil for about $30. Then, instead of drilling for $40 oil, everybody will be rushing to cover their roofs, and large part of Algeria and Arizona with cheap solar panels… it would take about one-third of Arizona to supply Americans with all their energy.
Closing in on the Solar Singularity: Arthur Nozik, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and professor at the University of Colorado told PhysOrg.com. “There is a theoretical possibility based on thermodynamic calculations of increasing the efficiency of present day solar cells by a very significant amount of 50-100%. In addition, quantum dots could lower the capital cost of solar cell production in terms of cost per unit area.”
Increasig the efficiency of solar cells while bringing down their costs will make the cost effective in more and more places and in new applications.
Ben Goertzel’s new H+ Magazine article on AGI, long-lived flies, antagonistic pleiotropy and immortality.
Canadian librarian leads worldwide digital revolt for free knowledge (64 flags)
It began when an academic database proposed increasing the fee it charges the University of Prince Edward Island by 120 per cent.
Mark Leggott snapped.
“The world’s knowledge is increasingly being held to ransom and available only to those who can pay the fees,” Leggott told the Star on Tuesday.
He announced in a campus-wide letter that as chief librarian he had cancelled UPEI’s subscription to Web of Science and was launching “an effort to create a free and open index to the world’s scholarly literature called ‘Knowledge For All’.”
Then he contacted librarians in Canada and around the world.
Google’s MapReduce algorithm turns smart phones into a self-contained cloud computing environment.
The point of this exercise is to create a system that allows the MapReduce magic of distributed processing of large amounts of data to happen closer to the data itself. By eliminating the need to first transmit the data over a relatively slow wireless network, it can, in some situations, be processed even faster than if it were first uploaded, in total, to a remote server. This, despite the fact that the remote server would be much faster than the processor on any one phone.
Our current state of wireless communication is, already, high friction telepathy.
It seems a safe bet that we will work to reduce this friction in every way possible.
Book “Power to Save the World” – how the author morphed from nuke-fearing into proponent who believes we need nuclear power.
Via Brian Wang’s “Next Big Future:” Scientists from the University of Cambridge are talking about a “Nuclear Renaissance.”
develop new ‘fast reactors’ could be developed that could use uranium approximately 15 times more efficiently
develop reactors with replaceable parts so that they can last in excess of 70 years instead of 40-50 years
Flexible nuclear technologies could be an option for countries that do not have an established nuclear industry, suggest the scientists. One idea involves ship-borne civil power plants that could be moored offshore, generating electricity for nearby towns and cities. This could reduce the need for countries to build large electricity grid infrastructures, making it more cost effective for governments to introduce a nuclear industry from scratch.
build small, modular reactors that never require refuelling. These could be delivered to countries as sealed units, generating power for approximately 40 years. At the end of its life, the reactor would be returned to the manufacturer for decommissioning and disposal.
Thorium is mentioned as having potential to become an important nuclear fuel.
Accelerator-Driven Sub-critical Reactors are mentioned as an option
Nuclear fusion is mentioned. Fusion-fission hybrids and fusion-driven fission fuel breeders are a route to early commercialization of fusion energy.
Artificial intelligence is a possibility that should not be ignored in any serious thinking about the future, and it raises many profound issues for ethics and public policy that philosophers ought to start thinking about. This article outlines the case for thinking that human-level machine intelligence might well appear within the next half century. It then explains four immediate consequences of such a development, and argues that machine intelligence would have a revolutionary impact on a wide range of the social, political, economic, commercial, technological, scientific and environmental issues that humanity will face over the coming decades.
New Scientist: Swallowing its pride, NASA says it wants to learn from commercial missions to the Moon.
There’s a growing consensus that the Cold War Space Age was a false dawn – a brute force project necessitated by our conflict with the Soviet Union, and made possible by unsustainable spending.
Now, we may finally be entering a true, sustainable, Space Age. This time we go to space to earn a living. NASA’s relationship to these entrepreneurs should be analogous to that of the FAA to Delta Airlines.
As this transition happens, NASA can take a role encouraging others to make the necessary advances:
New Push Prize: Got a plan to get us back to the Moon? NASA’s got $30 million worth of motivation!
“Kill” may be a strong word. But Phil and I have a little wager going. We both think that by February 25, 2019, most reading will be done on electronic devices. The difference: I think the market for paper books will be diminished as a result of this competition. Phil thinks that the print market will be bigger than ever.
Richard MacManus asks: “What are your favorite eBook features? I like highlighting a word for its definition. Your faves & the eReader you use?”
I bought a Kindle that I rarely use now. I read my Kindle books on the device I always have with me – my iPhone. An ebook feature I want: public note sharing. I want to be able to read what other readers think. And add my own thoughts.
Wil Wheaton: “DRM-Free Game Suffers 90% Piracy, Offers $5 Amnesty sale. Come on, Gamers, do the right thing.”
Developers will probably see this as a failure of the DRM-free experiment. Perhaps there’s an alternative way to look at this – why not drop the price? The iPhone app market has shown that huge amounts of money can be made charging small prices to many people. Price it at $5 or less and it starts to become an impulse buy – something that’s purchased for just the chance that it may be useful or fun.
Having a $5 amnesty sale is a smart response. With the price that low the incentive to pirate falls too.
Quite an exit: Flight attendant curses out passengers on the PA, grabs two beers, deploys emergency chute, and slides away…
Funny from a distance. It was probably less funny for some of the passengers.
DIY bio-tech! This is the Lava Amp – a cheap and portable thermal cycler for performing rapid polymerase chain reaction in 30 minutes or less. Its powered by USB or AC. Coming soon to a garage near you
But remember Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “Moore’s Law for Mad Scientists” – every 18 months, the IQ required to destroy the world drops one point.
Scientific American: Seniors face lower risk of getting dangerous prescriptions with computerized hospital Rx system
Prescription foul-ups occur alarmingly often in busy hospitals. Taking the possibility of human error out of the system is a step in the right direction.
Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web.
There’s a parallel to solar power. It makes sense for Arizona to adopt solar faster than Maine. The solar environments are different. The speed at which your community embraces online education will probably depend on your school district. The weaker the neighborhood school (or the more overpriced colleges become), the faster parents and students will embrace alternatives.
Related: human embryonic stem cells and reprogrammed cells virtually identical – EurekAlert
Engadget: Cut-rate, webcam-based 3D scanner coming soon to a MakerBot store near you.
3D printers will follow the same adoption path as home computers. The first 3D printers have been built for large industrial applications. Then high-priced units with limited functionality will be offered to hobbyists. The practical uses for these machines will grow as the price drops. Eventually we’ll all have one… or more.
Actually, that headline is an overstatement. Hawking thinks we should disperse: some staying on Earth, but others moving on elsewhere. The more we move into space, the less chance that all of humanity would be wiped out in a common disaster.
The late Pleistocene room, found in the Esquilleu Cave, included a hearth and grass beds that seems to have once been covered with animal fur.
According to the report published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Neanderthals used the room between 53,000 to 39,000 years ago.
Scientists say the residents changed the bedding material very often and used the old ones in the hearth.
Alix Stuart, age 19, was homeschooled. She’s about to attend college as a music major, but also likes to build robots like this spherical critter designed to run away from a “chaser bot” built by her friend.
In order to allow us to continue to get enough animal protein, some argue that Humanity needs to start farming bugs for food:
In a new policy paper being considered by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis [recommends] that the western world eat more insects.
And here’s Marcel Dicke at TEDxAmsterdam advocating the same thing:
Add a garlic butter sauce and I’ll give it a try.
Michael Shermer: Free excerpt from Richard Milner’s “Darwin’s Universe (A-Z encyclopedia).” (pdf link)
The entry we get at that link is about Barnum Brown – an Indiana-Jones-like dinosaur bone collector. Great story.
Thomas Frey’s blog post, “When the Smart Grid Meets the Smart Home”
Electric power is the same stagnant business it was a hundred years ago. We’re still connected by copper wires to the same lackluster grid our grandparents knew.
With homeowner’s growing dissatisfaction, and an eye on the possibilities stemming from a vibrant online computer industry, a similar scenario awaits the power industry. Despite its leader’s disinclination to change the “status quo,” innovation will be driven from the bottom up, where the digital world meets the physical world. And, innovation will be driven by the creation of a better interface.
…it all comes down to the fact that we’ve yet to figure out how to effectively store electricity. Plants can do it. Bears can do it. Human civilization, however, is still developing and refining the technology. But until we can effectively store energy on a large scale, we’ll have to use (or waste) electricity the moment we generate it.
Stanford University scientists are developing a process to make solar power production greater than 2 times as efficient – up to 60% efficient. The process actually works better as heat rises.
Graphene gets weirder and more remarkable the more its studied. Scientists were able to create magnetic fields greater than 300 tesla by simply straining graphene. Fields greater than 85 were once thought impossible.
Michael Anissimov: “Futurist Ray Kurzweil and magician-skeptic James Randi will be speaking in San Francisco this August 14-15!!!”
Michael Anissimov comments on his FastForward Radio interview.
In response to a question about ethics, I replied that many of the speakers will touch on ethics, some talks can be interpreted as primarily about ethics/philosophy (like Eliezer’s talk), and that to say something coherent on ethics, people need to know about the technology first.
In answer to author Tobias Buckell: yes, movies can sometimes be better than the book. The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, Jaws, and High Fidelity are all good examples.
Competing dystopias – Orwell thought Big Brother will destroy our lives by taking away our freedom, Huxley thought that freedom will destroy our lives.
Perhaps we can dodge both bullets. Increased technology can decentralize power to avoid Orwell’s vision. And, if we concentrate on using technology to build greater connections with other people, perhaps we can avoid disappearing into the hedonistic traps Huxley warned against.
Examples of science fiction preceeding science fact.
Even if a technology proves to be forever out of reach – like, perhaps, faster-than-light travel – it wouldn’t mean that Star Trek was a big waste of time. Beyond its entertainment value, many times these stories have inspired us to look a little into the “impossible,” and turn dreams into reality.
DIY to DIWO [Do It w/ Others]: biohackers, synthetic biologists, & FBI to dialogue at Open Science Summit
This new solar carbon capture process simultaneously uses the visible and thermal solar components to power a cabon-capture facility. The carbon that is captured from the atmosphere could then be converted to carbon monoxide for fuel.
Hugo Weaving is playing the villianous Red Skull in next summer’s Captain America movie.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense is soliciting small business proposals for two new projects to transform the regeneration of damaged tissue and cartilage, which afflict 85 percent of injured troops in Iraq and Afghanistan…
The solicitation anticipates some combination of “biomaterials, tissue engineering, [and] cell therapy.
TEDtalks: Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Stone says the future of joint replacement is “biologic, not bionic.”
World’s cheapest “laptop” has touch-screen computing, Internet browsing, and video conferencing for $35.
Drudge Report: India unveils $35 computer, wants to see price drop to $10.
A few years ago one of my kids received a toy cash register in a happy meal. Almost as an afterthought, the cash register had a working calculator built into it. A device that had cost $2,200 in 1963 was being given away to kids that would probably never use it for calculation.
Prediction: one day we will see computers as capable as OLPC given away in Happy Meals.
JPBarlow: Global Internet traffic is roughly tracking Moore’s Law, doubling every 18 months. Expect 21 petabytes per day by 2012.
Cisco released a report earlier this week suggesting that global Internet traffic is growing exponentially.
…prediction that the Web will nearly quadruple in size over the next four years. Cisco claims that, by 2013, what amounts to 10 billion DVDs will cross the Internet each month… The findings point to “consumer hyperactivity”
…With the Cisco-created “PC Pulse,” you can clearly determine how much bandwidth you use and for what types of traffic. Not a bad way to become aware of the way we surf.
“Consumer hyperactivity?” “Footprint tracking?” Internet traffic is a good thing. All those little kids with the OLPC computers – and the rest of us – are changing the world for the better.
“Once the rise in the position of the lower classes gathers speed, catering to the rich ceases to be the main source of great gain and gives place to efforts directed towards the needs of the masses. Those forces which at first make inequality self-accentuating thus later tend to diminish it.”
I’ve enjoyed 21st Century camping lately. Getting outside without having to leave part of my brain behind is a great way to “rough it.”
More than 100 Earth-like planets found in just past few weeks.
Irradiating the brain’s stem cell cache improves survivability in brain cancer patients.
Prosperity in spite of climate change? GreenTV presents four scenarios for 2030. (video)
Before inventing the safety razor, Gillette was a futurist. In 1894, he planned a hexagonal city with transparent sidewalks. It was to be built atop Niagra falls for hydroelectric power.
TED: headset that reads your brainwaves.
Computer deciphers a forgotten written language within hours.
Language and abstract symbols is a massive intellectual prosthesis. Human thought is a combination of our evolved neural architecture AND the language prosthesis. Computer networking is just the latest gloss on a prosthesis that’s already given us greater than human intelligence.
Kindles, iPads, and Other eBook Readers Available for Loan from Public & Academic Libraries
We’ll see a lot more of this as the price of these devices continues to drop.
Popular Mechanics: This is the inside story of the Chevy Volt.
Virginia Postrel: Four authors explain why they feel $1.99 is ideal eBook price.
EBooks eliminate the cost of printing, transporting, storage, and middlemen, so why not? And Apple has found that this is the right price point for Aps. Its cheap enough that people will more readily purchase on the mere chance that they may get something out of it.
Roger Ebert: movies “everyone” loves? “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “A Christmas Story,” “Bride of Frankenstein,” “Fargo,” “Notorious,” “Princess Bride,” “Duck Soup,” “Pinocchio,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Jaws.”
I’d add “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
A convincing argument for adding random strangers to your twitter feed.
The idea is to challenge yourself with different thinking. Better than going random would be purposefully following people with different beliefs or backgrounds.
If a full sized robot can power itself in a way similar to a human body, could medical devices one day be powered by the same energy system that the biological body uses?
Favorite quote: “Diarrhoea-bot would be more appropriate,” Melhuish admits. “It’s not exactly knocking out rabbit pellets.”
TEDx: “Can Nanotechnology Help Feed the World?”
Here is the simplest way nanotech might help:
But the speaker was more excited about the possibility of developing “smart fertilizers.”
Makerbot joining RepRap in the ranks of devices that can (partially) self-copy. Coming soon: a self-replicating 3D printer revolution!
There are still major hurdles to be cleared on the path to self-replication, however. Few printers can create more than plastic parts. While we have seen stainless steel printing, most metals are still far from accessible, and the semi-conductors needed for printing electronics seem many years off (though some progress is being made there too). Also, none of these printers come equipped with robotic arms, and until they are you can expect that every ‘self-replicating’ machine is still going to require a lot of human labor to assemble.
Makerbot and the RepRap have an important similarity: both are open-source projects. Both allow the sort of incremental improvement necessary to move toward self-replication.
Open source versus crowdsource. What’s the difference? Is one better than the other?
John Scalzi: “Hi, folks! Have a new short story from me. It’s free! BUT ONE DAY I MAY ASK A FAVOR.”
A very fun short story.
Wil Wheaton: “Trying to read a book about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, but whenever I look for it, it moves.”
Hey Wil: I’m holding it in my hands, but now I can’t tell what the book is about.
PopMech: Debunking 10 Energy Myths. #9: Solar will never pay for itself.
[At the current state of the art...] after a solar array’s initial payback period, you start to reap some serious financial benefits [for a residential installation]. Assuming solar cells have an average life expectancy of 30 years, more than 50 percent of the power solar cells generate ends up being free. “There are maintenance issues,” Zimmerman says, but over time, “solar cells are definitely making you money.”
Like “Inception?” Here’s more sleeper cinema: 10 Freaky, Funny, and Fantastical Dream Sequences – from Hitchcock to Bergman.
Amazon celebrated last Christmas that they sold more eBooks on that day than hard covers. Now, for the last three months, EBook sales are outpacing the sale of hard covers at Amazon.
Maybe this is not the most fair comparison. You can buy hardcovers anywhere. Kindle books can only be bought from Amazon. Still, this is just another milestone on the road to my winning the Kindle bet.