Thursday, October 29, 2009

RealClimate vs. SuperFreaks

Is geo-engineering a viable solution to global warming? Probably not

RealClimate: Why Levitt and Dubner like geo-engineering and why they are wrong

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Einstein's Legacy: Inside the Quest for Gravity Waves

As Einstein predicted in 1912, gravity waves are emitted by massive bodies in space that don't necessarily leave visual evidence of their existence, such as black holes. Directly observing gravity waves, in a sense, would make these invisible phenomena visible.

LINK

Friday, October 02, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Book of Life: The Akashic Records



It's catchy tune anyway...

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Space Elevator



Probably an even bigger obstacle than the cable is the Solar power requirement. Given the extremes the elevator will have to travel through, it seems unlikely that it could function just on solar power. Get real already.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

Find a place to stay

http://www.airbnb.com/

This is a very cool start up that allows everyday people to post private guest accommodations for travelers. Brilliant!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Newsweek article on the Singularity

There's an interesting article on Newsweek about Ray Kurzweil titled "I, Robot"

Kurzweil believes computer intelligence is advancing so rapidly that in a couple of decades, machines will be as intelligent as humans. Soon after that they will surpass humans and start creating even smarter technology. By the middle of this century, the only way for us to keep up will be to merge with the machines so that their superior intelligence can boost our weak little brains and beef up our pitiful, illness-prone bodies. Some of Kurzweil's fellow futurists believe these superhuman computers will want nothing to do with us—that we will become either their pets or, worse yet, their food. Always an optimist, Kurzweil takes a more upbeat view. He swears these superhuman computers will love us, and honor us, since we'll be their ancestors. He also thinks we'll be able to embed our consciousness into silicon, which means we can live on, inside machines, forever and ever, amen.


For one it’s an insult to call our brains weak, considering they run an estimated 20 Peta flops and are smartest machines we know of. The current best supercomputer only runs at about 1 Peta flop and we still don't have the kind of software needed to fully realize it’s potential.

The emergence of artificial intelligence that is indistinguishable from human intelligence does seem plausible. Considering the extreme difficulty of interfacing a living organism with silicon, I doubt that we'll become a cybernetic race anytime soon. Kurzweil's dream of embedding his consciousness into silicon seems highly unlikely to me.

Edit: I think its important to keep an open-mind regarding any future technology. People once laughed at the idea of flying or landing on the Moon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wolfram Alpha



I don't know exactly how it works but it can do some really cool things. For one it can tell you what the weather was like (In Los Angelas) on Jessica Alba's 18th birthday.

Understanding the root cause of the current strife between spiritualists and academics.

The allocation of self to mind, body and spirit determines how we view the world and how the rest of the world views us. The mind is made up of collective knowledge and procedures. It can be thought of as a series of algorithms acting on inputs, based on knowledge and experience. Academics tend to allocate more to mind than to body and rarely allocate more than a pittance to spirit. The body is the physical aspect and requires considerable allocation of self to keep it perfectly tuned. Athletes are required to focus most of their attention to body. The remainder goes to mind and spirit. What “spirit” actually is is open to debate and is subject to interpretation. Many people believe it to be our soul, made up entirely of ethereal energy; others see it only as an abstract construct of the mind. It doesn't really matter which because to the spiritualist it feels real. The spiritualists tend to focus on gaining greater awareness. They spend a lot of time on mediation and/or prayer and allocate less to the body and rarely focus on academic study. This tends to place the academics at the opposite end of the spectrum from the spiritualist; and so they often end up in conflict. The academics see the spiritualist as ignorant fools, to be despised and ridiculed. The spiritualists view the academics as spiritual infants, with infantile views, and respond in kind. Thus you end up with this silly back and forth between the two groups. The athletes couldn’t care less either way.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

It's the 39th anniversary of Earth Day.

I found this poem to commemorate the event.

In Tune With Mother Nature

If you listen for the songbirds
As they greet the summer sun,
And love the way the wind can make
The trees sings just for fun;

If you like to hear the ocean
As it drums upon the shore,
And imagine all the whales out there,
And hope they'll sing some more;

If you think of all the animals
As players in a band,
Each with a lovely tune to play,
All needed on the land;

And know that as a boy or girl
A woman or a man
You have a vital role to play
In Mother Nature's plan;

If you honor every living thing
As a part of nature's treasure
You're in tune with Mother Nature
So let's all sing her song together.


It's interesting to reflect on how far we've come since the first Earth Day. People used to scoff at things like Solar Panels and Wind Farms. Now we embrace them. More people are realizing what a precious gift our little blue planet is. There's lots more to do. Here's to you planet Earth.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Art of Software Engineering

Eric Wise, of codebetter.com, wrote this article entitled "Rejecting Software Engineering" Here's a quote:

When I actually get some free time and surf around the blogosphere I often see people referring to software as "engineering". I've always had a problem with this term because it implies things about software development that simply are not. Let's take a look at Dictionary.com for a moment. re: engineering

the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences, as physics or chemistry, as in the construction of engines, bridges, buildings, mines, ships, and chemical plants.

So here's where the whole software engineering thing falls down for me. Building software is not like building a bridge. It's just not. In physical, "real world" engineering you have the laws of physics, near perfect information on durability, composition, balance, etc. A programmer, as Fred Brooks puts it (The Mythical Man Month) is like a "poet who works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff". There is a plethora of languages and methods for achieving the same results in software development and none of them are exactly the same. For something to be labeled as an engineering science in my opinion, it needs to have known values and be infinitely repeatable. Software development meets neither of these.


For me, developing software is part art and part engineering. Developing a good software solution is a act of creativity, "Art" but also applied science "Engineering." Just as methods for building bridges have evolved over time, so have software design patterns. Finding creative ways to apply them is the artistic side. Just as an talented painter needs to be "inspired" to be truly creative, so do some software developers. There's a big difference in the quality between code that was inspired and code that's just barely good enough to pass. Why do you think there are books with titles like "The Art of Java." Software development is an art but it also requires engineering skill.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My sorting method

I devised this quirky sorting method while in college.

It works by first partially sorting the array then passing the result to the standard built-in method. In this case the std::sort is quick sort.

template< typename Iterator>
void hybridSort(Iterator first, Iterator last)
{
Iterator j,k;
// do a single sort iteration
j = first;
for (k=last-1; k!=first; --k)
{
if (*j > *k)
{
std::iter_swap(j,k);

}

}
// pass the result to the standard sorting method
std::sort(first, last);

}


It's really not a significant improvement over just using quick sort. In cases where the built-in sort is inefficient, it does work better.

Here's sample output of test program I wrote. It uses randomly generated arrays for the tests.

Testing quickSort size = 256 n_times = 1000
CPU cycles 171
Testing bubbleSort size = 256 n_times = 1000
CPU cycles 1032
Testing hybridSort size = 256 n_times = 1000
CPU cycles 156

Testing hybridSort

27455 8899 13631 3296 27180 12651 23352 18534
small array unsorted

3296 8899 12651 13631 18534 23352 27180 27455
small array sorted

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Wisdom of Buddha

This video seems timely considering all the turmoil of late.

"When words are both true and kind, they can change our world." -Buddha

Monday, March 23, 2009

Family Guy Censored for Bad Taste

I found this YouTube video of a censored "Family Guy" joke. It was intended as joke targeted at the Simpsons. There is a back and forth going on, supposedly all in good fun. In the video, Marge gets raped and in the end the whole Simpson family is murdered. Some people might find this type of thing funny. Personally, I think it's extremely distasteful and insensitive to victims of rape and murder. It is just going a little too far.

Hey, I'm not rich!

I don't know how all these organizations got my phone number, but I usually get anywhere from 3-5 calls per week asking me to donate. With all the calls I get, you'd think that I have amassed some huge fortune like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. Well, I haven't. By most standards, I'm somewhere between poor and middle-class. Mainly because of student loans (around $40,000), I have a negative net worth. So please, stop asking for money!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's Killing the Video-Game Business?

I found this interesting article on Slate By N. Evan Van Zelfden.

Like pretty much every industry these days, video-game publishing is in some financial trouble. Electronic Arts, the world's largest game publisher, best known for Madden and the Sims, lost $641 million in 2008's fourth quarter. Activision-Blizzard, owners of the cash cows World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, reported losses of $72 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. (They lost $194 million the quarter before that.) THQ, the third-largest publisher in the United States, and known for lucrative licenses ranging from the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Pixar, had $192 million in losses over the holidays and is laying off 24 percent of its work force.

In my opinion, they need to revise their business model. Their biggest problem is that their costs exceeds their revenue. They should employ smaller teams on products that sell and cut-out the middleman. There's no need for draconian DRM schemes that hurt sales.

LINK

Monday, February 02, 2009

DEUTERIUM MICROBOMB ROCKET PROPULSION

Abstract

Large scale manned space flight within the solar system is still confronted with the solution of two problems: 1. A propulsion system to transport large payloads with short transit times between different planetary orbits. 2. A cost effective lifting of large payloads into earth orbit. For the solution of the first problem a deuterium fusion bomb propulsion system is proposed where a thermonuclear detonation wave is ignited in a small cylindrical assembly of deuterium with a gigavolt-multimegampere proton beam, drawn from the magnetically insulated spacecraft acting in the ultrahigh vacuum of space as a gigavolt capacitor. For the solution of the second problem, the ignition is done by argon ion lasers driven by high explosives, with the lasers destroyed in the fusion explosion and becoming part of the exhaust.


Link

Interesting...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says

Climate change is essentially irreversible, according to a sobering new scientific study.

As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, the world will experience more and more long-term environmental disruption. The damage will persist even when, and if, emissions are brought under control, says study author Susan Solomon, who is among the world's top climate scientists.


Read or Listen to the rest at NPR.org
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99888903

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Life As We Know It Nearly Created in Lab

Life As We Know It Nearly Created in Lab is an interesting article about some scientist that created molecules that self-replicate and even evolve and compete to win or lose. This only proves is that life can be designed.

The big mystery of life is how it began. It's pretty evident that life has evolved from the simple to the complex through natural selection, but how did it start?

If life occurs randomly then complex life is likely to be extremely rare. I'd like to think that early life was designed with the ability to evolve as a built in mechanism to increase its chances for survival.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Neutron Star



This is a pretty cool rendering a neutron star that was left over from a supernova explosion.