Monday, July 15, 2013

Introducing The New Era of Cognitive Computing

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The New Era of Cognitive Computing is upon us. This is not an incremental change and increase in technology. This is a fundamental and exponential rise in non-biological or artificial intelligence.

New Era of Cognitive Computing

We are fast-approaching an era of cognitive systems. This new era is not an incremental change. It signifies a fundamental shift in how machines interact with us and the environment -- where machines will, for example, see images the way we do.

Cognitive systems: A New Era of Computing

(IBM Research) Over the past few decades, Moore's Law, processor speed and hardware scalability have been the driving factors enabling IT innovation and improved systems performance. But the von Neumann architecture — which established the basic structure for the way components of a computing system interact — has remained largely unchanged since the 1940s. Furthermore, to derive value, people still have to engage with computing systems in the manner that the machines work, rather than computers adapting to interact with people the way they work. With the continuous rise of big data, that's no longer good enough.

We now are entering the Cognitive Systems Era, in which a new generation of computing systems is emerging with embedded data analytics, automated management and data-centric architectures in which the storage, memory, switching and processing are moving ever closer to the data.

Whereas in today's programmable era, computers essentially process a series of "if then what" equations, cognitive systems learn, adapt, and ultimately hypothesize and suggest answers. Delivering these capabilities will require a fundamental shift in the way computing progress has been achieved for decades.

Dharmendra Modha - Manager, Cognitive Computing, IBM Research

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Random or Designed Universe: Are Humans Real?

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Hubble eXtreme Deep Field: a new, improved portrait of mankind's deepest-ever view of the Universe

Cosmologist Martin Rees explores and discusses the Universe and asks questions such do we live in a random or designed Universe, where did we come from, where are we going, and what is the nature of reality?

Humans are the most complex organism we know of in the Universe. Remarkably, atoms have been able to assemble into entities, i.e. humans, "which somehow have been able to ponder their origins".

The human understanding of reality, of the Universe, began with religion and a Creator. As science progressed a random, not a designed, Universe seemed probable. Now a simulated reality, a virtual Universe, may be the true reality which implies a Creator once again.

What We Still Don't Know: "Are We Real?"

Chapter 1: In which the cosmologists learn that we were no accident waiting to happen (3:27)
Chapter 2: In which the cosmologists find that just one suit fits (16:38)
Chapter 3: In which the cosmologists find that they are not the most intelligent things in our Universe, or in others (27:57)
Chapter 4: In which the cosmologists learn that their suits are knock-offs (40:55)

Series from Channel 4 featuring Sir Martin Rees. There is a fundamental chasm in our understanding of ourselves, the universe, and everything. To solve this, Sir Martin takes us on a mind-boggling journey through multiple universes to post-biological life. On the way we learn of the disturbing possibility that we could be the product of someone else's experiment.


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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Michio Kaku: Physics, Science, The Universe

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Michio Kaku
Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku provides a fast 42-minute review of physics, science, and the Universe. Though a quick history and primer, Kaku is entertaining and adds his learned perspective.

Michio Kaku: The Universe in a Nutshell

The Universe in a Nutshell: The Physics of Everything Michio Kaku, Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at CUNY

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field: a new, improved portrait of mankind's deepest-ever view of the Universe

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Roboy the Humanoid Robot to Be Born in March 2013

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Roboy the Humanoid Robot
Roboy the Humanoid Robot

Roboy is a soft robot, i.e. with soft skin and natural movements, to enable living and interacting with humans. User-friendly assistance to humans is the primary purpose of Roboy, which would include elderly care. The smooth movements of Roboy are the result of a tendon-driven locomotion system.

The University of Zurich Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is developing Roboy, a service robot which will be introduced at the Robots on Tour in Switzerland in March 2013.

Roboy - A New Generation of Humanoid Robot

Roboy is hailed as the next generation in humanoid robotics. Built at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland, Roboy incorporates the latest design principles as developed by Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeifer.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

UFOs Filmed Over Denver

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Denver UFO

This film does appear to observe UFOs - they are unidentified, they are flying, and they appear to be objects. Any ideas as to what they are?

Mile High Mystery: UFO Sightings in Sky Over Denver

DENVER (11-8-12) – It’s a mile high mystery in the skies over Denver. Strange objects caught on camera flying over the city and nobody can explain it.

We first learned about these sightings when a metro area man, who does not want to be identified brought us his home video. He captured the images on his digital camera from a hilltop in Federal Heights looking south toward downtown Denver.

He said, “The flying objects appear around noon or 1:00 p.m. at least a couple of times a week.” The strangest part is they are flying too fast to see with the naked eye, but when we slowed down the video, several UFOs appear.

We altered the color contrast to make it easier to see. You can take a look for yourself by watching the video clip. We wanted to verify the video we saw was legitimate and not doctored in anyway. So our photojournalist set up his camera in the same spot, and shot video from just before noon until just after 1:00 p.m. He also captured something unexplained on video.

Aviation expert Steve Cowell is a former commercial pilot, instructor and FAA accident prevention counselor. He thought he would have a logical explanation, until he watched the video. “That is not an airplane, that is not a helicopter, those are not birds, I can’t identify it,” he said. He also told us the objects are not insects.

He said he knows of no aircraft that flies as fast. He did tell us there is one other possibility. “Perhaps there’s some sort of debris that is being raised up by some of the atmospheric winds.” But in his professional opinion, “As it fits the definition, it’s an unidentified flying object.”

The FAA tracks all air traffic in Colorado and across the country. The FAA sent us a statement that says, “We`ve checked with air traffic control and no one has had any reports of the activity you described…nor have any of our employees observed anything of this nature either visually or on their radar displays.”

The North American Aerospace Defense Command is located in Colorado Springs. It keeps an eye on the skies in case of an air attack against the United States. NORAD sent us this statement, “Our Command Center reviewed their records and they did not have any noted air activity in the Denver area during the times you indicated.”

The man who brought the video to our attention believes the UFOs are launching and landing near 56th Ave. and Clay Street in Denver. A Map shows only homes in the area. So are they UFOs? A secret military test? Floating debris?


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Most Distant Galaxy Observed by Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes

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The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is very young and only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way.

NASA's Great Observatories Find Candidate for Most Distant Galaxy

WASHINGTON -- By combining the power of NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and one of nature's own natural "zoom lenses" in space, astronomers have set a new record for finding the most distant galaxy seen in the universe.

The farthest galaxy appears as a diminutive blob that is only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way galaxy. But it offers a peek back into a time when the universe was 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years. The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, was observed 420 million years after the Big Bang, the theorized beginning of the universe. Its light has traveled 13.3 billion years to reach Earth.

This find is the latest discovery from a program that uses natural zoom lenses to reveal distant galaxies in the early universe. The Cluster Lensing And Supernova Survey with Hubble (CLASH), an international group led by Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., is using massive galaxy clusters as cosmic telescopes to magnify distant galaxies behind them. This effect is called gravitational lensing.

Along the way, 8 billion years into its journey, light from MACS0647-JD took a detour along multiple paths around the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0647+7015. Without the cluster's magnification powers, astronomers would not have seen this remote galaxy. Because of gravitational lensing, the CLASH research team was able to observe three magnified images of MACS0647-JD with the Hubble telescope. The cluster's gravity boosted the light from the faraway galaxy, making the images appear about eight, seven, and two times brighter than they otherwise would that enabled astronomers to detect the galaxy more efficiently and with greater confidence.

"This cluster does what no manmade telescope can do," said Postman. "Without the magnification, it would require a Herculean effort to observe this galaxy."

MACS0647-JD is so small it may be in the first steps of forming a larger galaxy. An analysis shows the galaxy is less than 600 light-years wide. Based on observations of somewhat closer galaxies, astronomers estimate that a typical galaxy of a similar age should be about 2,000 light-years wide. For comparison, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy companion to the Milky Way, is 14,000 light-years wide. Our Milky Way is 150,000 light-years across.

"This object may be one of many building blocks of a galaxy," said the study's lead author, Dan Coe of the Space Telescope Science Institute. "Over the next 13 billion years, it may have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of merging events with other galaxies and galaxy fragments."

Read More: NASA - NASA's Great Observatories Find Candidate for Most Distant Galaxy


Friday, February 8, 2013

Development of a Galaxy: NASA Simulation Spans 13.5 Billion Years

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NGC 3344 is a glorious spiral galaxy around half the size of the Milky Way, which lies 25 million light-years distant. We are fortunate enough to see NGC 3344 face-on, allowing us to study its structure in detail.

NASA - Computer Model Shows a Disk Galaxy's Life History

This cosmological simulation follows the development of a single disk galaxy over about 13.5 billion years, from shortly after the Big Bang to the present time. Colors indicate old stars (red), young stars (white and bright blue) and the distribution of gas density (pale blue); the view is 300,000 light-years across.

The simulation ran on the Pleiades supercomputer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and required about 1 million CPU hours. It assumes a universe dominated by dark energy and dark matter. Credit: F. Governato and T. Quinn (Univ. of Washington), A. Brooks (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison), and J. Wadsley (McMaster Univ.).


Sunday, January 27, 2013

AtlasProto Robot Walking the Gauntlet & Improving Abilities

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The latest update from Boston Dynamics increases the creepiness, which seems inexorable, with Atlas the anthropomorphic robot. Regardless of assurances otherwise, this will not ultimately end well for humans.

AtlasProto: Walking the Gauntlet

Atlas is an anthropomorphic robot developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA. AtlasProto, shown here, is a testbed for developing control systems and software for rough terrain.

Several Atlas robots will participate in the DARPA Robotics Challenge next year. The video shows AtlasProto using its legs and arms to climb onto a platform, jump down, cross the 'snake pit', and climb steep stairs. For more information visit

Inevitability on some time frame...


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Valles Marineris: Grandest Canyon in the Solar System

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Planet Mars: Valles Marineris

(European Space Agency; 22 October 2012) Earth’s Grand Canyon inspires awe for anyone who casts eyes upon the vast river-cut valley, but it would seem nothing more than a scratch next to the cavernous scar of Valles Marineris that marks the face of Mars.

Stretching over 4000 km long and 200 km wide, and with a dizzying depth of 10 km, it is some ten times longer and five times deeper than Earth’s Grand Canyon, a size that earns it the status of the largest canyon in the Solar System.

Seen here in new light and online for the first time, this bird’s-eye view of Valles Marineris was created from data captured during 20 individual orbits of ESA’s Mars Express. It is presented in near-true colour and with four times vertical exaggeration.

A wide variety of geological features can be seen, reflecting the complex geological history of the region. The canyon’s formation is likely intimately linked with the formation of the neighbouring Tharsis bulge, which is out of shot and to the left of this image and home to the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons.

The volcanic activity is revealed by the nature of the rocks in the walls of the canyon and the surrounding plains, which were built by successive lava flows. As the Tharsis bulge swelled with magma during the planet’s first billion years, the surrounding crust was stretched, ripping apart and eventually collapsing into the gigantic troughs of Valles Marineris.

Intricate fault patterns have also developed due to the imposing extensional forces; the most recent are particularly evident in the middle portion of the image and along the lower boundary of the frame.

Landslides have also played a role in shaping the scene, especially in the northern-most troughs, where material has recently slumped down the steep walls. Mass wasting has also created delicate erosion of the highest part of the walls. Strong water flows may have reshaped Valles Marineris after it was formed, deepening the canyon. Mineralogical information collected by orbiting spacecraft, including Mars Express, shows that the terrain here was altered by water hundreds of millions of years ago.

Grandest Canyon

"Flight Into Mariner Valley" takes you on a virtual tour of Mars' Valles Marineris, narrated by Arizona State University planetary geologist Phil Christensen.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Ultimate Map: How Big Is The Universe?

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Universe Time Line

Our Universe consists of galaxies and galaxy clusters expanding at an accelerating rate in all directions connected by a cosmic web of gravity. Is there a boundary to the Universe and therefore to an ultimate map of the Universe? Is the Universe infinite in all directions?

Would a map of the Universe be the ultimate map created by humanity? Time will tell, but Anthony Aguirre has an even bigger idea. What if there are other Universes, even an infinity of Universes? Could these Universes ultimately be mapped in relation to our Universe and others? That would truly be the ultimate, and never-ending, map!

How Big Is The Universe? (BBC)

It is one of the most baffling questions that scientists can ask: how big is the Universe that we live in?

Horizon follows the cosmologists who are creating the most ambitious map in history - a map of everything in existence....

See more about the video here.

Temperature Map of the Measurable Universe: WMAP Full Sky 7 Years


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Future of Humanity: Singularity or Decline?

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Is Humanity on a Countdown to the Singularity?

What is the future of humanity - the technological singularity or a decline? Either way, the futurists and pundits give us 20+ years for one or the other to occur. Will the singularity occur and Homo sapiens either evolves or becomes obsolete? Will technological progress save Homo sapiens before depletion of the Earth's natural resources? Evolution, obsolescence, and/or collapse?

Could a third scenario, neither a singularity or decline, occur? Technology mitigates, delays, or even eliminates ecosystem collapse and humanity continues onwards.

Perhaps both a singularity and a decline is a more likely scenario. A human remnant or elite, even a breakaway civilization, continues with advanced technology towards and arriving at the singularity while the masses die off. That would indeed be a Brave New World...

Singularity or Decline? Is a new, more prosperous age beyond a technological Singularity on the horizon? Or does human civilization now face an inevitable decline? This video by futurist Christopher Barnatt discusses the great debate at the heart of future studies.

Is Humanity on a Countdown to Decline?


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field Team: Observing the Evolving Universe

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Hubble eXtreme Deep Field: a new, improved portrait of mankind's deepest-ever view of the Universe

Original Announcement => Farthest View Ever of the Universe: Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

Hubble Space Telescope: Deepest View Ever of the Universe

This is an extraordinary accomplishment and webinar. The public was invited to participate in a "Meet the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field Observing Team" webinar, where three key astronomers of the XDF observing team described how they assembled the landmark image and explained what it tells us about the evolving universe. The webinar begins at 4:00 in video below.

Ray Villard (STScI) introduced and moderated the panel. The team present were Garth Illingworth, Dan McGee, and Pascal Oesch, all from University of California Santa Cruz. Each presented background and procedures on the eXtreme Deep Field image. Some notable concepts, facts, and quotes are below the video.

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field: Some Notable Concepts, Facts, Quotes

Ultimately the search is for the first galaxies. XDF is key to understanding the origins of galaxies, the search for the first galaxies, when and how did galaxies form and grow, how the Milky Way and Andromeda formed.

Hubble is a time machine: XDF sees galaxies forming 13.2 billion years ago, 450 million years after the Big Bang, and sees back in time through 96% of the life of the Universe.

Galaxies earlier than 800 million years after the Big Bang can only be seen in infrared light. XDF reveals these galaxies unseen in deepest visible-light Hubble Utra Deep Field images.

Hubble is at its limit of detection, for finding any earlier galaxies (400 million years after the Big Bang). The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will discover the first galaxies and probably the first stars. The gain in efficiency and resolution will be a factor of 100 with the JWST and will be "astonishingly powerful". The project is working towards a 2018 launch date.

The Universe is basically the same in any direction, is symmetric. No asymmetries have been detected.

XDF is full of galaxies and there might be even more fainter galaxies beyond the image that cannot be currently seen. There are more galaxies, and fainter galaxies, in the image than expected beforehand. The Universe is full of tiny, little galaxies in the early times that are building up.

The numbers of galaxies, in redshift 12 to 15, is estimated to decrease. The number of galaxies probably increased around redshift 10. Beyond the redshift is the cosmic glow, the cosmic microwave background, from the Big Bang.

Very small gravitational lensing effect in XDF. Galaxy clusters and very large galaxies were avoided which cause this effect. There is tiny "weak lensing" effect in image.

The age of the galaxy images, particularly using powerful microwave telescopes, has been determined independently. Beyond the scope of the XDF to determine.

XDF is not designed to search for or detect dark energy or dark matter. Supernova searches originally detected dark energy. Galaxy cluster and weak lensing large-scale observations originally detected dark matter.

Deep in the XDF image, the early galaxies are smaller with more intense light and much closer together. The Universe was a tenth (1/10) if its size now. Presumably these galaxies would build up to larger current galaxies such as the Milky Way and Andromeda. The early galaxies are the seeds from which current galaxies evolved. These early galaxies grew, collided, merged in a very dynamic and dramatic process.

The cosmic microwave background was about 400,000 years after the Big Bang, very soon afterwards. The limit of the XDF is 400 million years after the Big Bang. Perhaps first galaxies formed about 150 to 200 million years after the Big Bang. Perhaps the first stars came together about 100 - 150 million years after the Big Bang. Before that were the Dark Ages. The first stars and galaxies ended the Dark Ages.

The earliest galaxies observed are moving away from each other as the Universe expands, increasingly separating from each other. A small fraction of these galaxies were pulled towards each other by gravity, if close enough. The example of the expanding balloon with dots on it...

XDF and Hubble cannot detect individual stars within the early galaxies. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) probably will not be able to either and therefore will not be able to detect the individual "first stars". The JWST will probably be able to detect early supernova, however.

XDF is really about galaxies and not about the formation of the Universe itself. A major change in the Universe occurred from about a few hundred million years to 900 million years after the Big Bang. The change from neutral hydrogen to ionized hydrogen in the Universe and within the XDF time frame was most likely caused by the galaxies. XDF will not add significantly to cosmology, however.


Seeking Alpha