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Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

volvox_voxel Wynken, Blynken, and Nod .. (125 comments)

Crystal light? .. Reminds me of of the poem by Eugene Field.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night Sailed off in a wooden shoe — Sailed on a river of crystal light, Into a sea of dew. "Where are you going, and what do you wish?" The old moon asked the three. "We have come to fish for the herring fish That live in this beautiful sea; Nets of silver and gold have we!" Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song, As they rocked in the wooden shoe, And the wind that sped them all night long Ruffled the waves of dew. The little stars were the herring fish That lived in that beautiful sea — "Now cast your nets wherever you wish — Never afeard are we"; So cried the stars to the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw To the stars in the twinkling foam — Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe, Bringing the fishermen home; 'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed As if it could not be, And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed Of sailing that beautiful sea — But I shall name you the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, And Nod is a little head, And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies Is a wee one's trundle-bed. So shut your eyes while mother sings Of wonderful sights that be, And you shall see the beautiful things As you rock in the misty sea, Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Here is the Silly Symphony version:

3 days ago

Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

volvox_voxel Discworld (125 comments)

This sound like something out of one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels..

3 days ago

To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

volvox_voxel container ships and bulk transport -- (482 comments)

I understand that these are major polluters.. I've seen pictures in a Britannica "Science and the future" book of bulk transport ships using large servo driven metal sails. I wonder to what extent this technology has been explored. When doing a google search, I found this ..But it doesn't look like it was actually built.

I've heard anecdotal evidence that a transport ship is equivalent to 50,000 cars.. And this site claims that it's much higher. I'd be interested in in a reliable source for this. I understand that they use different fuel depending on how close they are to a human settlement, and the cheap stuff is a really big polluter. It's a solid a room temperature and has to be heated up to flow into the engine. At the very least, I'd like to see electrostatic percipitators on the smoke-stacks.

We once had world trade based on sail. Much/ most of that cargo does not need to get to it's destination quickly..

5 days ago

Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

volvox_voxel Re:*drool* -- FPGA development (181 comments)

I do a lot of FPGA programming and It takes me 15-20 minutes to synthesize a design on a modern fast computer. As more of the part is being used, synthesis takes more and more time, as the chip becomes harder to rout.. I'm a user that is primarily CPU bound. I hope that Intel will continue to push on the raw performance. For the past few years, as we've only seen marginal improvements in CPU performance.

There is also the issue that FPGAs keep getting cheaper/bigger, so no matter how fast your rig, it always takes a long time to synthesize. I'd be curious about what other FPGA developers use to boot performance.. Overclocking/water cooling does seem to help, as does using faster ram.

about two weeks ago

Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

volvox_voxel what are good alternatives? (212 comments)

I've had bad experiences myself, though it's a field I have little interest personally. There seems to be a market opportunity.

about three weeks ago

New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

volvox_voxel DNA replication has always been error prone, so? (185 comments)

Just because cancer has been around for a very long time, should not make us defeatists.. I spent 5 years working on DNA sequencers and cancer cell sorting robots, and still consider biology to be hundreds of years behind other branches of science because we have not, until very recently had the tools to study the differences between cancer and normal cells at the DNA level. The Illumina machine can images two flow cells at once -- one for cancer, and one for normal cells. We can now study what happened to make the DNA replication fail and mutate, etc. Apparently it's now possible to do this for $1000.. The human genome project originally cost about 2 billion dollars.. The reduction in infrastructure and cost has been extraordinary.

We can now better identify specific cancers to take out some of the guesswork. In the journal Nature a few years ago , doctors used a DNA sequencer to identify a misdiagnosed cancer (muscle cancer in his lung, producing large tumors) who had only weeks to live, and brought him back from the brink with the right treatment. We've spend the last 40 years developing specific cures, and it was only just guess work to decide what actual cancer a patient had.. This was circa 2007-8..

One thing that really encouraged me a few years ago was a documentary from PBS called Cancer Warrior, that outlined the work of Judah Folkman and is work on angiogenic inhibitors.. Apparently tumors can trigger a persons body to grow veins to connect it to a blood supply , and that you can pick up unique chemical signatures of individual tumors in a patients urine..Strangely enough, large tumors send out chemicals that inhibit the growth of other tumors, and is why we often see many more tumors after removing one large tumor. We now have drugs that form angiogenic inhibitors ... Perhaps in the future we will understand how to create custom tumor growth inhibitor agents that have been tailored for a specific patient by analyzing the signatures in their urine.... An interesting application of synthesis and analytical chemistry.. I wonder what is the current state of research..

about three weeks ago

Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

volvox_voxel Re:Gateway Personalities ; personal experience (511 comments)

Probably you mean NA -- for narcotics anonymous. I think AA generally means "Alcoholics Anonymous". It wouldn't make sense that AA is keeping them sober while alcohol is their go-to drug.

I have a good friend of mine that I'd like to see continue his NA meetings. He's one of the sharpest programmers I've ever worked with, but somehow got into drugs that were somehow in his scene that had nothing to do with work (partying in SF). He's now unemployed as it's hard to keep down a job with the erratic behavior that drugs give you. I wish I could do more for him, and understand that an addict has to want to change, and that there is not much his friends can do for him. I'd be interested in advice for how coax an addict out of their addiction.

about a month and a half ago

Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

volvox_voxel Re:Threatened due to Ukraine peace talks (225 comments)

This is not Propaganda. The relative in question is my wife and the message I posted is from her, and her family and friends whom we are in direct contact with via skype. One thing I encourage you to do is to read the news, translated directly from Ukrainian, and directly from Russian to tell the difference between the two sources of information. It is great that Google, and other search engines directly give you the opportunity to translate the website text.

If you listen to the news in Russian that is transmitted in the region, the local Russian news gives no mention that the new president has been elected by the majority of the people and insist that the country has been taken over by a "fascist junta", and keep on going on about the Ukrainians being fascists and followers of Bandera (a Nazi collaborator in WWII). This political group that is suspected of being nazi sympathizers got 1% of the vote, but Russian news reported that they got 26% .

The local eastern Ukrainian television station was taken over by force, where a constant feed of Russian propaganda fills the air, and much of the local population is influenced by this It's hard for people to know what to believe. Russian news reports talk about invading people's homes and killing people, but there is no evidence for this. There are however plenty of you-tube videos that document the situation on the ground. Cameras allow individual voices..There are plenty of pictures of Russians toting expensive heavy equipment, like heat-seeking misses-- that could easily cost millions of Hryvnia.

There is quite a bit of disillusionment and confusion from the local population. Russian propaganda is a well oiled machine. There also seems to be a fair degree of coordination with the Russian media, and major incidents. Ukrainian new sources have been commenting on how fast Russian news seems to report a story. They seem to be right there at the time of the incident. The population is definitely divided, but we know people that were always very pro Russian from the Luganks region who never spoke Ukrainian switch to Ukrainian because of the situation on the ground.

about 2 months ago

Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

volvox_voxel Re:Threatened due to Ukraine peace talks (225 comments)

It's unfair to cast the US in such a light. I have family in Ukraine. Russia is making a concerted effort to take over a portion of eastern Ukraine. During the ceasefire, 40 tanks were sent over the boarder. France and Germany are reticent to impose sanctions they've been talking about for months, because they want to see business as usual with Russia. Negotiating a ceasefires is the same thing as trying to coerce Ukraine into giving up territory. France is still selling several billion dollar warships even though there is so much interference into Ukraine. I know many Georgians and Ukrainians that are pretty frightened by their new sea power.

-- A message from a relative from a predominantly Russian speaking region of Ukraine :

In August 2008 I didn’t pay any attention to Russia’s invasion of Georgia. I was too busy with my work and personal life. It was too hard to figure out what happened and who was right and who was wrong. I was really far away from politics. Georgia, a country of 4.5 million, fought fiercely against Russia's overwhelming military might and came out of the battle missing 20% of its territory; the price they paid for an attempt to move toward a more democratic society and to make a step closer to the European Union. Russia put military bases on the invaded territories and never faced any sanctions.

After the conflict in Georgia, many experts and politicians said that Ukraine was going to be Russia's next victim. We, Ukrainians, laughed it off. Culturally wise, we were the closest nation to Russians. It simply could not happen! And here we go – six years after Russia's invasion of Georgia we are at the brink of a major war in our history. Russia mercilessly financed, trained and armed fighters in the East of Ukraine. It sent lots of fighters, tanks and heavy artillery across the border. Just today 30 more Russian tanks crossed the border and entered Ukraine. By estimates of our intelligence, Russia is currently training another 10,000 fighters to prepare them for the conflict in the East of Ukraine. Russia has already annexed Crimea.

I decided to review the situation in Georgia in more detail and looked through several documentaries about that war, and talked with our Georgian friend who paid a lot of attention to that situation (please see the links below; unfortunately I couldn't find the same documentaries with English subtitles). I realized that all the nightmares that we've been living through over the last couple of months, all the things that came to us as a shocking surprise - never ending lies of the Russian media and massive hostile propaganda, constant provocations, one-sided ceasefire constantly broken by pro-Russian and Russian fighters, cynical myths about fascists in Ukraine, a large percentage of Chechen mercenaries among "peaceful protesters", refugees, tortures of prisoners of war, kidnapping people, looting, etc. - all this was so unexpected to us, so unbelievable on our peaceful land, but Georgians lived through all of this SIX YEARS AGO during Russia's occupation! We just needed to pay attention. The pattern repeats itself but on a much larger scale.

If the world ignores this invasion and Russia doesn't face any meaningful, serious sanctions, the cycle will continue. Baltic countries will be next; or Central Asian countries; or Georgia and Moldova; or Poland; or Finland.

Please stand together with Ukraine against Russia's invasion! Please support sanctions against Russia!

about 2 months ago

Happy Software Developers Solve Problems Better

volvox_voxel To all you coders out there -- (121 comments)

Looking away from my code for a moment, I'm reminded of a quote from the movie "Bridge on the River Kwai" "Colonel Saito: Let me remind you of General Yamashita's motto: be happy in your work."

about 2 months ago

$500k "Energy-Harvesting" Kickstarter Scam Unfolding Right Now

volvox_voxel Re:Thanks for the tip! (448 comments)

I was really impressed several of the kickstarter projects I backed, like the Nuand software defined radio, and the Red Pitaya open instrument. They delivered and worked as advertised, and had the open-source software posted on git. They did all the right things. They had pictures of working prototypes, trace plots and videos from real test equipment,etc. By the time they posted their products to kickstarter, the products essentially worked. They were the equivalent of a demo you'd expect from a series-A fund-raiser at a normal tech start-up. There is nothing quite like a live demo. As an engineer, nothing speaks to management better.. Some products look and smell very much like the real-deal.

I like kickstarter.. It allows engineer/hobbyists to play with hardware that otherwise be cost prohibitive. Radios that have the software-defined coverage of Nuand cost about 6x.. There is at least one other board that is even cheaper., albeit with 8 bits instead of 12..

about 3 months ago

Intel To Offer Custom Xeons With Embedded FPGAs For the Data Center

volvox_voxel SoC, FPGA Development (80 comments)

I have a friend in that in graduate school used a motherboard that could take an Altera FPGA in one of the Xeon sockets. This seems like the next logical step; hopefully it's not too expensive so that the hardware is accessible to hobbiest/engineers. I am happy that both Xilinx and Altera offer cheap development boards so that we can play with the new offerings. It's easier to convince a boss to use it if we're familiar with it. (hint hint, wry grin)

I use the zynq processor at my job, and am very happy with the amount of flexibility you can get out of an embedded system having access to the FPGA and processor fabric; you can directly access gigasample ADC's, etc. When I first got into embedded systems on an FPGA, the processor was a soft-IP and not terribly fast. Both Xilinx and Altera now offer ARM processors that run up to 1GHZ. The amount of system flexibility is great. You can make major architectural choices without changing the hardware. You might have a data-path, or computation that is simply too intensive for a processor to handle.. You have the flexibility to port this portion to the logic side. If you're in a rapid prototyping mode and are constrained by board size and mechanical packaging constraints, FPGAs are great.

Debugging SoC still has it's challenges though. It's easy to program FPGAs, and easy to program the microprocessor. The tools are still a little clunky from Xilinx or Altera to handle their hybrid SoC parts. There is still work to be done to make them work more seamlessly.

about 3 months ago

Code Spaces Hosting Shutting Down After Attacker Deletes All Data

volvox_voxel Re:The cloud ; how would a good admin handle this? (387 comments)

Out of curiosity, lets say you find yourself in the same position where you have a hacker/hackers with multiple accounts, and you want to change passwords, etc. How would you lock the system down so they could not do damage in this case? Is there a way to quickly purge all unknown users ? Could they have spoofed known good users? ..Is it possible to blow everyone else away except for the administrator, and reference an older archive of users? I'm very curious about how you could safely contain such of contagion.

Also, lets say you do have an off-line back-up, but you have a situation where a hacker has access to the usernames and passwords because they somehow got root access. How do you protect all their data once you decide to turn back on-line? Do you send out notice to all your users over their email accounts?

I'm curious about how admins deal with this in the real world.

about 3 months ago

Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

volvox_voxel Re:Tonka Tough (431 comments)

Not all CMs are equal, even within a given country. I've experienced this myself as an engineer. I wish there was a yelp for something like this. I've experienced quite a bit of variation searching for local CM. Some shops are superb, while others are not... Is there any advice people can give me about how to search for statistics on the quality, price, consistency and timeliness of CM goods? I work at a small start-up company making electro-optical stuff.

about 3 months ago

AT&T To Use Phone Geolocation To Prevent Credit Card Fraud

volvox_voxel This has already happend to me (228 comments)

BOA did this to me a few years ago.. I'd make some purchases before traveling abroad only to have my card shut off when I was in Ukraine.. You have to warn them of your travel plans, as there is a very real chance you will be cut off from your funds. This happened to my wife, and it happened to me. It pays to call customer service. BOA has been pretty draconian to us in the past.. It once even shut off my card because I bought too much food at my local supermarket.. Card service providers mentioned that it was above my normal trend for supermarket purchases ( I have excellent credit, and am not sure why they were so skittish; I have no history of fraudulent transactions) ... We had a screaming infant with us at the time, and had to call customer service with a large basket of food we couldn't walk out with, who would have otherwise been fine if we didn't have to wait so long on the phone..

These days I'm careful to carry around more than one credit card in case I run into a similar issue..

about 3 months ago

Geophysicists Discover How Rocks Produce Magnetic Pulses

volvox_voxel Re:I saw a live demo of this at NASA, was interest (72 comments)

..Perhaps I remembered that part wrong, at the very least he would likely have used circumspect languge.. If I see him again, I'll ask.. He did mention that before an earthquake, in places, given enough energy release you can apparently see a flash of light, as all the air above the fault ionizes.. Corona discharge has been known to create ozone..

Animals freaking out beforehand everywhere is unlikely , however standing right above a fault-line where a sudden discharge of energy may be a different story.

about 3 months ago

Geophysicists Discover How Rocks Produce Magnetic Pulses

volvox_voxel I saw a live demo of this at NASA, was interesting (72 comments)

Friedemann Freund is a man with a lot of ideas.. At Yuri's night at the NASA Ames campus, he demonstrated this magnetic pulse-from-rock by using a dense column of rock and a hydrolic press. He had a saucer sized capactive sensor that was tied to a small microcontroller for remote-sensing/field usage that could detect the change in the electric feild near the rock column as it was compressed. He mentioned that he'd instrumented a fault line. He mentioned that the current released was strong enough to ionize the air around the faultline if a lot of rock was compressed at once. Compression can happen before an earthquarke, which is why it may serve as an early warning detector. He also thinks that some animals go nuts before an earthquake because they can smell traces of the the ionized air.

Here is his profile:

He also has some interesting ideas about the origins of life on earth, specifically the chemistry of mud on the ocean floor, about how long polymer chains can form; the working material for the first cells, and alternative theories of oxygen formation in our atmosphere..

about 3 months ago

Ph.Ds From MIT, Berkeley, and a Few Others Dominate Top School's CS Faculties

volvox_voxel Re:dream on -- silicon valley perspective (155 comments)

In Silicon Valley, what you've accomplished matters more than where you went to school. Open source recognition will get you far if you want to be a programmer. At my company, we hired a guy from Tunisia who's an expert in computer vision.. They did not even give him a programming test, as it was clear from his open-source project what kind of code he was capable of writing.

One thing that managers often really dislike are people that are overly arrogant. I've seen good people turned away because of this.

Silicon valley is a metetocracy. Pretty much my entire team are from Ivy league schools, where I am not. Not everyone that goes to an Ivy leaguge school is rich..All the people I worked with who graduated from Ivy leauge schools are from middle-class families, the sons of teachers and farmers, etc. With few exceptions, they just seemed like normal people. The one's I work with seem driven and foucsed, and wise beyond their years.. I think it's easy to have a good team dynamic despite their degrees.

about 4 months ago

Male Scent Molecules May Be Compromising Biomedical Research

volvox_voxel Quantifying pain in mice (274 comments)

"The Rat Grimace Scale: A partially automated method for quantifying pain in the laboratory rat via facial expressions"

Here is another paper where the researches used a patch clamp to interface the spinal cord. (A patch clamp is a very low noise/high gain amplifier that can measure single cell ion channels, etc --

I wonder what methods are typically used? Do researchers videorecord grimacing rats? That seems rather tedious and subjective.

about 5 months ago

Mathematicians Push Back Against the NSA

volvox_voxel Information is often more important than weapons (233 comments)

If you look at US navy documentaries about the battle of midway, The US was totally out gunned in terms of naval ships. We cracked the Japanese code. We knew where they were and where they were going. We were able to defeat a numerically superior force accordingly. The same also held with the skys over Brittan. Radar provided the information needed to intercept a much larger air-force. The work of the code breakers that told the British where the submarines were, etc, helped win the war. It can be argued , that without the work of Claude Shannon and Alan Turing, Britain would have been defeated.

The NSA is an important component in understanding the world around us.

about 5 months ago



Harvard Student Charged For Anonymously Emailing Bomb Threat To Avoid Final

volvox_voxel volvox_voxel writes  |  about 9 months ago

volvox_voxel (2752469) writes "A 20-year-old Harvard student who was allegedly trying to dodge a final exam has been charged in Monday's bomb hoax that led to four buildings being evacuated and several final exams being canceled, CBS in Boston reports. .. Kim tried to conceal his identity using one service that assigns people anonymous IP addresses and another that creates an anonymous and temporary email account, according to the federal complaint."
Link to Original Source


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