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Sensor Webs Unwire Ecology

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the can-you-hear-me-roar-now? dept.

Technology 79

jonbrewer writes "Pioneered by CENS, Sensor Networks are rapidly becoming a mainstream environmental monitoring tool. The NY Times has an article today with a quick tech overview and info on RiverNet, EarthScope, NEON, and Neptune. The Times reports 'scientists want to deploy millions of these kinds of devices over large tracts for long periods, opening new windows on nature.'"

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Boycott Microsoft! Fight liberal media corruption (0, Troll)

ImSoRonery (821613) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496056)

There's a VERY easy way to stop MUCH of the Microsoft supported liberal garbage, simply notify Microsoft that because of their financial and name support of liberal corruption that you are going to openly publicize and promote freeware replacements to their software products. FREE OS - Linux (to replace Windows) [] MS Office replacement (to replace MS Office) [] WEB Server products (to Replace MS IIS Server) [] Linux Applications (many are free) (additional free applications) [] Web Mail replacement for MS Exchange [] PHP-Nuke Content Management System [] Combatting Microsoft Liberal Media Corruption through MSNBC, NBC, and MSN Let Microsoft know that because THEY have their name associated with NBC / MSNBC / MSN that you will stop buying their products in the future, but that many of the great opensource (i.e. FREE) products below that work as Microsoft replacements will be promoted to friends, family, and businesses everywhere. U.S.-based news media needing information on topics not specifically addressed in the list below should contact the Waggener Edstrom Rapid Response Team at or 503-443-7070. Additional PR contacts can be seen here (do NOT accept any excuses, THEY SUPPORT MSNBC AND NOTHING BUT STOPPING THE LIBERAL RANTS IS ACCEPTABLE. PERIOD!!) []

Re:Boycott Microsoft! Fight liberal media corrupti (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496232)

Lee-nucks Torovaldos supports gay marriage, I have proof - the proof can be found here [] !

Re:Boycott Microsoft! Fight liberal media corrupti (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496318)

| _ linuk bUz: ; ___)

LEEt slashd0tt3rs!

yeah, to study nature (2, Insightful)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496062)

yeah, that's the ticket. It's not to test equipment before the next Big Brother steps at all.

Re:yeah, to study nature (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496228)

LOL, it must suck to be so paranoid. Fucktard.

Re:yeah, to study nature (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496250)

"yeah, that's the ticket. It's not to test equipment before the next Big Brother steps at all."

Remind me to buy shares in Reynolds.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496475)

There's this guy who's crapflooding Slashdot with randomly generated text, therefore making it impossible to have a normal conversation. Click on the links to see what I mean.

If you have mod points, please help out by modding some of his posts down and getting his network banned.

#12496451 []
#12496417 []
#12496380 []
#12496342 []
#12496310 []

#12496273 []
#12496241 []

Your help is much appreciated, thanks.

Re:yeah, to study nature (2, Insightful)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496570)

Yes, unfortunately it is a technology that is possible to abuse, but what technology isn't? The Internet was developed in close collaboration with the US military, but nevertheless it became a world wide technology that benefits all of mankind. Linux might be used to guide missiles, does that make it evil?

With the large number of libertarian and conservative pundits and lobbyists who are claiming that environmentalism is rubbish (Lomborg for instance...), I welcome more hard data to refute them with.
...or the data could refute my beliefs of course, which will be a blow to my ego in the short term, but in the long term will make me sleep better at night. :-)

Re:yeah, to study nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12501090)

I share your concerns, however, it is uplifting to know that all the source code for this stuff is open ( [] ) And the hardware can be purchased off the shelf by anyone.

Re:yeah, to study nature (1)

elhaf (755704) | more than 9 years ago | (#12502850)

Furthermore, according to the many of my fellow grad students who are into Sensor Networks, there is no kind of security on these mobs yet. They can be easily hacked and defeated, which is why they are appropriate for scientific applications, but not military (yet).

Article text, in case of slashdotting (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496065)

A Web of Sensors, Taking Earth's Pulse
Published: May 10, 2005
Scientists are turning 30 acres of California forest into a futuristic vision of environmental study.
For free access to this article and more, you must be a registered member of

Isn't it ironic... (3, Funny)

The Jabberwock (882129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496085)

...that NEON, which endeavors to study, document, and integrate our lives more closely into the natural world is named after a substance that has no known biological role?

Re:Isn't it ironic... (1)

apraetor (248989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496124)

That's the point, creating things nature has no use for. Like plastics.

Re:Isn't it ironic... (1)

The Jabberwock (882129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496136)

Or Twinkies?

Re:Isn't it ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496179)

Plastics useless to nature? From what I've seen, it helps prevent a lot of gene-pool pollution (i.e. condoms) which, from what I've seen, we can use all the help we can get.

things nature has no use for. Like plastics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12497208)

"whoops, there goes another rubber tree plant"

Re:Isn't it ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496236)

guys, i think he's trying to get at the big brother aspect of this.

Re:Isn't it ironic... (1)

katana (122232) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496327)

Well, if you put a bunch of stickers and a chrome muffler tip on it, it substitutes for a biological penis.

Re:Isn't it ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496454)

We should be thankful that it is not NERV or SEELE doing this.

Re:Isn't it ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12497831)

Isn't it ironic that it is an acronym? Didn't think so. NEON stands for National Ecological Observatory Network. So it is not named after an inert gas.

Re:Isn't it ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12497913)

Thanks for that meaningfull contribution. Without your input, we never would have been turned on to such wisdom.

They... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496086)

Is this about them Arr Eff Eye Dee things my nephew is always goin on about?

This is how the environment dies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496137)

With thunderous applause.

Impact? (4, Interesting)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496158)

Wouldn't having tons of sensors all over the place somehow contaminate the very environment they are trying to test? I mean.. animals aren't all oblivious to foreign objects in their world and are prone to changing behavior in response to them. I've seen documentaries about herds that move differently thanks to things like the Alaskan pipeline, roads across wild places in Africa, and the like. Lots of little sensors in the rivers, forests, plains, etc. would likely have some kind of impact. Plus, if there's millions of them, they are going to go clean them up someday, right.... right?

Re:Impact? (1, Flamebait)

manojar (875389) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496197)

Actually, this is a great idea. While you guys are at it, why don't you go ahead with the US Navy Sonar thing too? Who needs those wildlife, whales, dolphins, etc, anyway? God has given man this world just to rape it, right?

Re:Impact? (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496230)

Right. But changing behavior isn't necessarily 'bad'. Isn't necessarily good, either.

But how are we to study these environments (and hopefully learn how not to screw them up anymore than we already have) without some human interaction? We are on this planet. Interaction is going to happen. Maybe these little sensors are less intrusive than other ways of monitoring.

Re:Impact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12503134)

I proclaim that I love human interaction almost as much as I love human on animal action. Do the sensors cause pain when inserted?

Re:Impact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496419)

Indeed. I was at a presentation at the 1st European Workshop on Sensor Networks about a year and half ago. The presenter from UC Berkeley was talking about deploying sensor nodes on Great Duck Island(?) to monitor habits of some bird species. One of the audience members asked if they had disturbed the birds in the process; the presenter said yes in some cases, and then laughed it off. I guess they are more interested in the technology than the 'nature' aspect and use experiments as an excuse to get funding from NSF and industry sponsors - and nothing more.

Re:Impact? (1)

Furry*Hatchet (863340) | more than 9 years ago | (#12510575)

Well, there's your answer. We'll know how animals act when there are millions of sensors in their environment, so the next step is to just toss them around the entire planet and we'll be good to go... no sense worrying about biasing our observations if there isn't an unbiased corner of the world left. Maybe they can be biodegradable or something, or we can just make them out of all the old CRT monitors that are going to end up in landfills anyways.

The US military has been interested since Vietnam. (5, Interesting)

Captain Sensible (141639) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496160)

Sensor Webs and Smart Dust and related tecnologies will prove valuable in ecological studies and environmental monitoring, but that's not the drive behind them.

In Vietnam the US military attempted to install networks of sensors - seismographs, detectors for urine and sweat, detectors for nitrogen compunds (explosives), movement detectors, proximity detectors - along known NLF supply lines and for perimeter defence. They were put in place by Special Forces teams and transmitted their data to overflying aircraft for targetting. Often they were woeful failures or could be spoofed by the NLF.

Here is the new generation, just ready for "assymetric warfare".

Re:The US military has been interested since Vietn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496301)

False! This is just propaganda being spread by GNAA.

Mods, this deserves a -1, Troll

Re:The US military has been interested since Vietn (1)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12499351)


Assy metric? Does a metric ass have 10 cheeks?

Re:The US military has been interested since Vietn (1)

lommer (566164) | more than 9 years ago | (#12501130)

This is actually true. Several months after they'd installed the systems, the NVA figured out that they had systems that sniffed for urine, sweat, explosives, etc. Suddenly the U.S. began detecting massive troop movements through pretty random areas of the jungle. When they sent teams to investigate, they found buckets of stale piss nailed to trees...

This system was held up as a classic example of government waste: multibillion dollar system defeated by buckets of piss.

Challenges facing researchers (5, Interesting)

Guanine (883175) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496196)

Having participtated in small scale ecology studies, I would guess that these senors will raise many more questions (which would be a good definition of the "new windows") than answers. Population ecology and the evolutionary biology that ties into it is a field with many more 'big' questions than most people realize.

In most of the primary literature I cover, for every possible cause of a behavior (such as migratory routes) that is eliminated, another 2 consistently appear (seriously). I think we will see some very interesting questions, rather than any definite answers (at least in the short term). I would definitely like to see this used with the arctic tern [] .

Re:Challenges facing researchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496313)

Quoth the original poster:
"In most of the primary literature I cover, for every possible cause of a behavior (such as migratory routes) that is eliminated, another 2 consistently appear (seriously)"

End Quoth

Can you elaborate? Or suggest some examples/keywords for examples which we can look up? I'm interested

Re:Challenges facing researchers (2, Informative)

Guanine (883175) | more than 9 years ago | (#12506079)

Ideal free distribution studies (the sort which could be conducted over larger distances using this new technology) are complicated because the individuals involved require (by definition) both (1) perfect knowledge of the foraging sites and (2) unlimited freedom to travel to those sites, with negligible cost to do so.

the difficult thing is when real world applications have a siginificant effect on results ... ideal free has been studied with foraging seals to guppies and many things in between, it's part of the important theory of optimal foraging.

but to answer your question - sometimes the study finds that there is no ideal free distribution - this can be due to individual competition disrupting the distribution or something such as difficulty in assessing patch quality. in this way, one study leads to 2 questions (and 2+ studies).

Peeping Sam. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496222)

"The Times reports 'scientists want to deploy millions of these kinds of devices over large tracts for long periods, opening new windows on nature.'""

Well there goes any forays into the woods with your girlfriend.

Re:Peeping Sam. (2, Funny)

tanek (876501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496447)

Well there goes any forays into the woods with your girlfriend.

No no, by all means, keep doing it...

Re:Peeping Sam. (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12497705)

Come on, it's not like any of us are foraying into the woods with their girlfriend.

Re:Peeping Sam. (1)

jammindice (786569) | more than 9 years ago | (#12502866)

Well there goes any forays into the woods with your girlfriend.

and the poision ivy the first time wasn't enough of a deturrent?

A lot of data gathering was done manually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496225)

Ie.. when monitoring pollution, they'd go out and put out test equipment, take a reading, move to the next spot, take a reading....

With a distributed system, you can get data from a network of sensors by relaying data across the field.

A sensor net is a good idea

frist post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496261)

What did the llama say to the goat? Can I have some goat milk? HAHAH

What did Linux Torvalds say to Richard Stallmon?





Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496294)

*very* informative comments


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496553)

+5 informative

I worked on this project at university (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496270)

Eric Bin Raymond: The September 11th Conspiracy Revealed

When you have a crime to investigate, and you have no suspects, where do you start? Obviously you begin by looking at the person or persons who have the most to gain by perpetrating the crime.

This is why we must consider: who had something to gain from the disasterous crimes of September 11th? Obviously not Osama Bin Laden [] , who would net no financial windfall from the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Although he has loudly applauded the "terrorist" acts of September 11th and even tacitly taken credit for them, there is no reason to believe that he is anything more than a bandwagon jumper. Being blamed for the destruction of the World Trade Center has done more for his image than any amount of militant Islamic rhetoric.

But if not Bin Laden, then who?

It so happens that on December 11th, "coincidentally" 2 months after the tragedy, Credit Suisse First Boston quietly agreed to pay out US$100 million in order to settle an 18 month old investigation into its handling of certain high-profile technology IPOs (Initial Public Offerings). One of the most controversial amongst these being the IPO of VA Linux Systems, Inc. (LNUX) [] .

VA Linux Systems, Inc. [] , now known as VA Software [] , is widely derided as a poster child of the dot-com bust, though inexplicably still in business. At the time of the IPO, VA Linux (Software) [] shares opened trading at nearly 10 times their $30 offer price, closing the first day of trading at $239.25. This meteoric rise made many early investors rich, strangely on account of a company which purports to sell a hobbyist operating system which can be obtained for free on the Internet [] . "The VA Linux [] initial public offering is a prime example of market manipulation in an IPO by investment banks, their customers and the issuing firm," said Steven Schulman [] , a partner in the law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, which specializes in filing shareholder suits.

"Because certain favored customers of the investment banks agreed to buy shares in a new issue at inflated prices in the aftermarket (in return for getting an allocation of the shares at the initial offering price) the share prices to which the IPO eventually soared were actually driven by artificial market forces," continues Schulman.

But what does the VA Software (Linux) [] IPO have to do with the attacks on September 11th, and what has that to do with the Credit Suisse settlement? Well, considering that VA Linux (Software) [] got CSFB into trouble in the first place, it stands to reason that the VA Linux (Software) [] Board of Directors were complicit in the stock fraud from beginning to end. As the investigation progressed against CSFB, the unscrupulous VA Software/Linux executives, their pockets bulging with filthy lucre plundered from trusting, hard-working investors, must have realized that their days in the country club were numbered if the SEC discovered their wrongdoings.

The SEC, or Securities Exchange Commission [] , is a federal regulatory agency, and cannot be bribed. Therefore, with a possible stint in federal prison looming large [] , Larry Augustin and the rest of the crooks, including outspoken gun violence advocate Eric S. Raymond [] , decided to undertake more active means to halt the investigation.

The Plan

It so happened that all the evidence in the CSFB/VA Linux [] investigation was held at the SEC Northeast Regional Office in Manhattan. More specifically, 7 World Trade Center, Suite 1300. The board decided that a simple burglary or arson attempt would not be satisfactory to destroy the evidence; anything so simple had a significant chance of being botched, and regardless of success would leave too many witnesses or living accomplices.

It was then that Eric S. Raymond [] suggested something he had read in a book by Tom Clancy. Crashing two planes into the World Trade Center Plaza would guarantee the destruction of the SEC offices, killing the operatives and possibly a number of SEC investigators at the same time. The plan seemed flawless, and would cost little more than the price of a few plane tickets. In a secret session, the board voted unanimously in favour of Eric's suggestion, and began to put it into action.

VA Software/Linux [] , at the time of planning the attacks, had no shortage of H1-B visa workers, who they employed for the purpose of writing and improving hacking, encryption, and other terrorist tools for the Linux operating system. It had been decided that a hand-picked few of these foreign H1-B workers would be used as the "patsies" in the operation. A contest was held, and the most zealotous Linux advocates were chosen for this secret assignment, direct from the board of directors. They accepted their mission after being told that, if successful, it would guarantee the adoption of Linux in the desktop market.

Alan Cox [] was brought into the fold to provide some planning and logistics for the mission. It was he who determined that since there was no adequate flight simulator software for Linux, the patsies would need to train at a flight school in order to pull off the plan successfully. It was also his idea to hijack a third and fourth plane for the purpose of crashing them into Washington D.C., to express his extreme rage over the DMCA [] , or Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The board of directors agreed with this addition to the plan in the hopes that it would help divert attention from the purpose of the WTC attack.

The H1-B workers were given false identities by using Linux hacking tools [] . Once they had attended the necessary flight training, they stayed at the Massachusetts home of Richard M. Stallman [] for a brief "faith building" retreat. During this time spent at the house of Stallman, between the nauseating stench of patchouli, Stallman's incessant, pitiful recorder playing, [] and Stallman's droning seminars on the grammatical and syntactical accuracy of various statements by Microsoft representatives, the H1-B workers were effectively hypnotized to the point that they were ready to lay down their lives for Free Software. It was then that they departed for Boston's Logan International Airport to board the planes.

(The preceding inside information has been obtained from a credible source close to the VA Linux/Software Board of Directors. He/she is in hiding for obvious reasons in light of this damning evidence, but has presented hard, physical evidence of VA Software/Linux's complicity in the events of 9/11 to federal investigators.)

It all makes perfect sense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496650)

God Bless America!

I wonder how much the "cool" factor influences... (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496334)

I wonder how much things like the movie The Day After Tomorrow and such influenced people to get these things out and deployed, both for the reason that they're good for genuine science and also because someone agreed to pay for them after seeing that movie.

Re:I wonder how much the "cool" factor influences. (1)

lakiolen (785856) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496361)

Sensor Networks have been around years before that movie and there have been more deployments than just this one.

Re:I wonder how much the "cool" factor influences. (3, Insightful)

detritus` (32392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496530)

Sorry to tell you this but real scientists in the real world usually dont base a whole lot of their research on hollywood movies, especially ones with obvious agendas such as this one. To be honest this is the type of movie anyone with any understanding of the scientific method finds extremely annoying as suddenly everyone walking around is an "expert" on global warming because they saw this movie. Just because you saw it on TV doesnt make it true.

I wonder how much the alcohol factor influences. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496610)

"Just because you saw it on TV doesnt make it true."

"Wine is good for you."

Re:I wonder how much the "cool" factor influences. (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12497558)

How often do the people writing the checks have a full understanding of anything? I'm not talking about the scientists wanting to use sensor nets, I'm talking about the money.

Re:I wonder how much the "cool" factor influences. (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12520672)

Sorry to tell you this but real scientists in the real world usually dont base a whole lot of their research on hollywood movies...

Supposedly not, but:

Report: Paleontologist "fudged" discovery to promote movie []
Museum of the Rockies paleontologist Jack Horner "fudged" information about a dinosaur discovery four years ago to promote the third "Jurassic Park" film, National Public Radio reported Wednesday.

Horner disputes altering dinosaur discovery for movie opening []
BOZEMAN -- Paleontologist Jack Horner, who served as a science consultant for the "Jurassic Park" films, acknowledged that the announcement of a dinosaur find in eastern Montana was delayed to help promote the third installment of the dinosaur-flick franchise four years ago.

And the NPR report (audio) that broke the story:
Movie Marketers Turn to Subtle, Sophisticated Tactics []
Advertisers are finding new and creative ways to sell their films. [...] One studio has even manipulated a scientific discovery to coincide with the opening of a film. A look at some of the tactics studios use to seduce moviegoers to their films.

So much for the universal integrity of scientists in the real world...

creators' big flash easy to sense/detect (0, Offtopic)

already_gone (848753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496365)

without the aid of any dime store tuning fork gadgets.

you call this weather?

no need to fret (unless you're associated/joined at the hype with, unprecedented evile), it's all just a part of the creators' wwwildly popular, newclear powered, planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

or is it ground hog day, again? many of US are obviously not interested in how we appear (which is whoreabull) from the other side of the 'lens', or even from across the oceans.

vote with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

we still haven't read (here) about the 2/3'rds of you kids who are investigating/pursuing a spiritual/conscience/concious re-awakening, in amongst the 'stuff that matters'? another big surprise?

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

for each of the creators' innocents harmed, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

If we watch everything... (2, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496407)

does Heisenburg matter anymore?

Re:If we watch everything... (1)

JonXP (850946) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496555)

I'm uncertain...

Re:If we watch everything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496588)

No worries. Heisenberg principle states at any time you can only watch half the reality, while the other half remains unseen.

Re:If we watch everything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496625)

Go read the novel length version of Blood Music!

Re:If we watch everything... (1)

shpoffo (114124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12503639)

How do you connect Blood Music with the relevance of quantum mechanics to watching everything?


Re:If we watch everything... (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496859)

Heissenberg's uncertainty principle only really matters at particle sizes and energies.

If you're studying something electron sized in a 5nm transistor, yeah, at any given time you can either know that it's on this side of the gate but maybe it has enough energy to go through anyway, or that it doesn't have enough energy, but it may already be on the other side.

If you're, however, studying something the size of an ant, then it becomes utterly irrelevant. If the expected uncertainty is something like 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% (and in practice it'll be a helluva lot lower than even that), you can very safely ignore it.

And if you're studying something the size of a deer, doubly so.

Re:If we watch everything... (1)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12499387)

"does Heisenburg matter anymore?"

Just let the man find his cat already.

imod down (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496533)

Smart Dust (4, Informative)

Roland Piguepaille (883190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496591)

This reminds me of an article in the new "Innovators Section" as seen in Time magazine.

Essentially, it discusses Kris Pister who developed Smart Dust - a wireless network of sensors, called motes. Each mote has a chip about the size of a grain of rice that detects and records things like termperature and motion at its location. The motes have minisule radio transmitters that talk to otehr motes. With a single network of 10,000 motes, the upper limit, you could cover some 9 sq. miles - and get information about each point along the way!

Anyway, here's a brief description: []

Here is the Dust, Inc. homepage: []

Frightening technology in many respects, but I can't help but smile at the thought of the brilliance behind it all.

Smart Dust-Dumb Enemy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496626)

"The motes have minisule radio transmitters that talk to otehr motes. With a single network of 10,000 motes, the upper limit, you could cover some 9 sq. miles - and get information about each point along the"

Insurgents beware! Our motes will smote you!

Re:Smart Dust-Dumb Enemy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12496671)

smite, not smote.

The New Shamans of Sensor Networks (1)

Ted Holmes (827243) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496941)

From watching nature, experts across the centuries have found uncommon wisdom. What will a shaman do with 100,000 sensor feeds? Perhaps she'll be checking terabytes of data between ecosystems for what is normal and what is not. The shamans almanac. And sensor networks will saturate our own environments just as naturally. Tons of new, never before available data waiting to be mined for more knowledge. Should be very interesting. Ted

Re:Smart Dust (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 9 years ago | (#12498163)

AFAIK the Smart Dust group simply *projected* that they could build a mote the size of a grain of rice. The motes currently in production are the size of a matchbox, and have a couple of chips, connectors, LEDs, etc.

Sensor Network work (4, Informative)

cureless (35682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496627)

Sensor Network research has been going on for quite some time. CENS isn't the only place doing the research. Some of the original work actually came from SCADDS [] from USC/ISI, with some of the same people now at CENS. All the UCs are very involved in Sensor Networks, Berkeley for example was the orginator of the current most popular hardware, the motes, now manufactured by Crossbow [] . Intel also makes their own version of the motes, though they are not sold comertially yet.

Most of the hardware runs in a specific OS called TinyOS [] , which is open source. Other hardware, like the Stargates (also from Crossbow) run an arm version of debian.

You can find lots of neat info about Sensor Networks from the specialized conferences like Sensys, IPSN, etc.

Most of the projects done with Sensor Networks have been geared towards the biological monitoring fields. However, the funding comes in from NSF as well as DARPA so sometimes it is security/military based.

It's an interesting world out there...


Re:Sensor Network work (3, Interesting)

zenslug (542549) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496732)

I've been working with motes for a short time now, and the way I look at them has changed since I first started. At first I was really focused on the futuristic properties of the devices and at how small they could get, what they could monitor, etc. Then having become fairly well aquainted with them and how they operate I now look at them a lot more like routers. Routers aren't as sexy, but wireless routers that can also read sensor data is still pretty cool.

Essentially, the motes are simply what is necessary to make full-time sensor reading wireless. They are enablers. You need something extremely low power, able to read sensors, and able to *efficiently* route that sensor data out of the network.

With motes, nearly any data that you can currently read using a sensor (large or small) can now be constantly gathered. Things that used to be WAY too expensive to monitor are now within reach (think HVAC: vent openings with actuators communicating over a mote network with thermometers == energy savings due to greater efficiency). Over half of the cost of any large-scale monitoring system comes from the cost to purchase, install, and maintain the wires/cables. Motes greatly minimize that cost.

Re:Sensor Network work (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12497729)

When you say "mote" I start to think about toner in "Diamond Age" or locator in "Deepness in the Sky", and I don't think we have that level of technology yet. Can you say how small your motes are, or what their range is? Do they spontaneously mesh? Size obviously says something about whether they're anchored or floating, now you're getting close to toner, and I think we're a ways from that.

Re:Sensor Network work (1)

zenslug (542549) | more than 9 years ago | (#12501761)

Currently I'm working with Crossbow motes [] . Some are the size of about 4 AA batteries stacked 2x2. Others are the footprint of a quarter and half an inch tall. Crossbow seems to have the best prices on development kits and individual motes. Ember, Smart Dust, etc. are much more expensive.

Re:Sensor Network work (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12502258)

These things sound like they're named more aggressively than they really are. I'm not saying 4 AA batteries or a quarter x 1/2" tall aren't small. They're great examples of technology I can believe as extensions of what I already know. But names like "motes" and "smart dust" make me think of Diamond Age, and that's well beyond my degree+26+ years of experience in the semiconductor industry. AFAIK, carbyne pushrods and the other stuff that sounds like DigiComp implemented in molecules are still dreams, and we've only begun to start building some parts, maybe stuck a few together, but are nowhere near complete systems, let alone manufacturing.

That's not to say that the stuff you point to, as well as making it self-meshing isn't a neat accomplishment. It is. It just isn't Diamond Age.

Re:Sensor Network work (1)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496891)

Other hardware, like the Stargates (also from Crossbow) run an arm version of debian.

I knew it wasn't science fiction!

Re:Sensor Network work (2, Informative)

Vengie (533896) | more than 9 years ago | (#12497449)

There is a hotbed of Sensornet research going on at Yale right now, sparked mostly by two professors from EE and CS -- Saavides and Yang. There's been a flurry of student activity as well.... [My senior/masters thesis was in MobiHoc 04, and they've had papers in InfoCom and elsewhere.]

You should take a look ;)

Sensor nets (4, Informative)

AndOne (815855) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496639)

I just finished a course on this particular subject actually. A few fun comments.

In one biological study in Maine (Great Duck Island) it seems that the birds on the island they were monitoring had been attacking the sensor motes. In another case these devices offered the first look ever at night time migration patterns of zebras.(aka ZebraNet)

As far as military applications go the one that I am most aware of is DARPA's sniper net. It's a system of audio sensors designed to locate and pinpoint snipers based on gunshot triangulation.

There are some earthquake structural monitoring systems being built in California as well.

However things to be cautioned about. The smaller motes do not have very much in the way of processing power(ie can't even do floating point) so there's no need to get really paranoid about secret cameras. Most of the motes with cameras are big enough you'd probably notice them if you were looking. Primarily the motes are equipped with various sensor banks for things such as Light, Temp, Vibration, Audio, etc etc. Also if you're interested in working with the software for these things the primary OS people use is TinyOS [] . However a word of caution, if you want to muck around inside the inner workings of TinyOS you're pretty much on your own and some of the things are already legacy. The coolest part of sensor nets, in my opinion,is the ability to do in network data processing as the data is funneled through the network. Oh and there's already a Database system designed for use in these systems. It's name is TinyDB [] (surprising naming scheme I know)


Re:Sensor nets (2, Interesting)

Vengie (533896) | more than 9 years ago | (#12497461)

If you combine sensor nets with any localization algorithm and GHTs, you have a combined storage/detection network. If you add power-aware routing, you basically create a long-lasting (self-detecting) event-storage monitor. The DHT/GHT stuff is fun -- but more importantly -- the projects are producing side research like optimizing DMAC protocols (and even a few at omnidirectional) and breaking TCP/IP assumptions.

closing (3, Insightful)

MarsDude (74832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496648)

opening new windows on nature.

Which ofcourse will be closed with a simple click on the right top corner by politicians who think that the short term economy is much more important.

Not thinking about how much it will cost (in terms of money and health) in the long run to undo (if still possible) the stupid decisions made now.

Sensor networks are great (2, Funny)

Advocadus Diaboli (323784) | more than 9 years ago | (#12496673)

So I can install wmweather on my desktop and get information about how the weather is outside since I don't see it from my cubicle. Even if it looks a bit weird that I get weather data for a city in Germany from a site in the United States. :-)

Niven (2, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | more than 9 years ago | (#12497385)

Didn't Larry Niven invent sensor webs in the Ringworld series?
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