Thursday, April 03, 2008

Living Tissue to Power Your Computer?

A few years ago I read about an experiment that used living cortical neurons from a rat brain to perform calculations. More specifically, the neurons were connected to the controls of an F-22 fighter jet simulator. After some training, the brain was able to fly the jet in tough weather conditions. Today Geylen brought my attention to another similar experiment. An associate professor at the Uni. of Arizona has built a robot chassis controlled by the brain of a moth. He predicts we’ll be using such organic-machine hybrid computers soon.

A scientist who successfully connected a moth’s brain to a robot predicts that in 10 to 15 years we’ll be using ‘hybrid’ computers running a combination of technology and living organic tissue.
Charles Higgins, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, has built a robot that is guided by the brain and eyes of a moth. Higgins told Computerworld that he basically straps a hawk moth to the robot and then puts electrodes in neurons that deal with sight in the moth’s brain. Then the robot responds to what the moth is seeing — when something approaches the moth, the robot moves out of the way. [Usability News]

The benefit of using biological brains is flexibility and the ability to deal with things such as visual pattern recognition, which would otherwise require expensive “conventional” computers. (In quotes because technically biological systems are the conventional computers.)

Higgins goes on explaining his prediction; in the next few decades computers will utilize biological components for processing. The premise for his assumption is that it’ll become increasingly easier to grow biological components like hearts or brains in coming years. We won’t need to rip out the brains of grown animals or insects. (Or, like he does in this case, attach the whole moth to the exoskeleton and plug wires into its brain.) At the same time, our understanding of biology will advance and enable us to properly utilize complex, organic systems for various tasks.
Artificial lifeforms, bioprinters and related research

Personally I think its fascinating and a relatively plausible option. As a recent example of related technological advances I can point out the bioprinter — a modified Inkjet printer that prints 3D organic structures (read about it in this New Scientist article with the amusing title “Print me a heart and a set of arteries”).
However, I’m toying with the idea whether synthetic materials — sculpted from the ground up — will be a viable and possibly better option. Perhaps models of natural systems, yet made of new materials that aren’t as frail. I’ve written about Venter’s advances in creating the world’s first artificial lifeform. While it is organic material — our stride down the path of engineering complex systems will undoubtedly enable us to alter and improve them. But regardless of any superior solution, I’m sure we’ll see a myriad of living-machine hybrid experiments.
Would you buy a computer containing living tissue?
Like Higgins, I see no impending ethical issue and would be happy and intrigued to have my MacBook powered by living tissue, or possibly an entire lab-grown mouse brain for that matter if done properly. I decided to do a quick initial-reaction “consumer survey” on the matter. When I asked my girlfriend Dilj√° whether she’d want one she answered that she’d have to know more about it. My father said it was spooky. My teenage nephew totally wanted one, and his mother first covered her face over the bizarre question and then asked “How long would it last?”. Good question. But after giving it some thought, those who weren’t already became hesitant and uncertain.
I hope for fast advances in this area. I think that, aside from the fascinating science behind it, it’d be interesting to observe how gadgets containing living tissue are marketed.

Links & References
EarthSky has picture in their article on the robo-moth
The Higgins Lab
Science Daily article ‘Brain’ In A Dish Acts As Autopilot
Neuron image courtesy of BrainMaps

David Hoffman: Catch Sputnik mania!

Filmmaker David Hoffman shares footage from his feature-length documentary Sputnik Mania, which shows how the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to both the space race and the arms race -- and jump-started science and math education around the world.

The rocket that launched Sputnik-1, the R-7, was primarily developed as an ICBM. Surrounded by NATO bomber bases, the USSR decided in the early 1950s that it must have the capability of delivering a thermonuclear warhead to the American mainland. The R-7 had a range of 8000 km and carried the "Object-G" warhead weighing 5.4 tons with an explosive yield of 3.5 megatons. Due to problems with reentry systems, the first successful warhead delivery to their test range was not until March 1958, some months after Sputnik. So I am not sure I would characterize the reaction to the R-7 as just a propaganda shock . Missiles and atomic weapons were all too real.

Olympic Torch Relay. Aamir Khans Blog

Dear all,Over the last few days I have received several requests not to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay. Requests through members of my family, personal friends, people who are associated with the Tibetan struggle, and my blog.
I have gone through and read each and every letter, message and post pertaining to this issue. I would like to state that I have the highest regard and respect for the struggle that the people of Tibet are going through. I completely empathize with them. Similarly, I have the highest respect and regard for the struggle that the people of Iraq, Kashmiri Pundits who have been displaced, Kashmiris in general, and the people of Palestine, are going through. I have named above just a few instances of human rights violations. Across the world, and indeed within our own country too, there are several instances and examples of atrocities and human rights violation, which are still continuing. I categorically state that I am absolutely against any form of violence, and certainly I am deeply upset whenever the basic rights of human beings are violated anywhere in the world.
However, I feel that the Olympic Games do not belong to China.
In fact if we were to try and find on this planet a place to hold the Olympic Games where the government of that place has not been responsible for human rights violations (in one way or the other), then I suspect that we would be left with very few options, if any at all. If I am not mistaken almost all societies have been responsible for human rights violation either directly or indirectly, sometimes in seen ways and sometimes in unseen ways, sometimes physically, sometimes economically.
The Olympic Games represent for me the coming together of different people across the world despite their differences and difficulties. It is an opportunity for sportsmen and women across the world to showcase their talent, to challenge themselves and others, and for others to watch and marvel at the achievements of the human body, mind and soul.
Are human rights violations continuing across the globe while all this is happening. I’m afraid so. And I hope and pray for the day that we can one day live in absolute peace and harmony, where human suffering is done away with.
I am no one to tell any group of people how they should conduct their struggle. I am not part of it and am not going through what they are going through. But my heart goes out to them.
I request those of you who have asked me to stay away from the Olympic Torch Relay to understand that when I do run with the torch on the 17th of April it is not in support of China. In fact it will be with a prayer in my heart for the people of Tibet, and indeed for all people across the world who are victims of human rights violations.

FW: Nice one

Nice one i got thro mail
A guy, sitting outside his home about to be evicted from his house, was contemplating how the future would be after he had divorced his wife,lost his children and lost his job...

He notices a crate of beer bottles and walks up to it.

He takes out an empty bottle, smashing it into the concrete wall swearing,

"You are the reason I don't have a wife",
second bottle, "You are the reason I don't have my children",
third bottle "You are the reason I lost my job".

He notices the fourth bottle is sealed and still full of beer.
He takes the bottle, puts it aside and says
"Stand aside my dear friend; I know you were not involved"

Search tomorrow’s web, today!

About gDay™ technology

The core technology that powers gDay™ is MATE™ (Machine Automated Temporal Extrapolation).

Using MATE’s™ machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques developed in Google’s Sydney offices, we can construct elements of the future.

Google spiders crawl publicly available web information and our index of historic, cached web content. Using a mashup of numerous factors such as recurrence plots, fuzzy measure analysis, online betting odds and the weather forecast from the iGoogle weather gadget, we can create a sophisticated model of what the internet will look like 24 hours from now.

We can use this technique to predict almost anything on the web – tomorrow’s share price movements, sports results or news events. Plus, using language regression analysis, Google can even predict the actual wording of blogs and newspaper columns, 24 hours before they’re written!

To rank these future pages in order of relevance, gDay™ uses a statistical extrapolation of a page’s future PageRank, called SageRank.

Get started now:
Try gDay™

Money making from home through designs all over the world - Tip of the Day...

Tell me, do you know what is Zazzle, Printfection, Artsnow, Spreadshirt, and Cafepress? ..Don't know?? Well, these are web companies where you can go RIGHT NOW and open an AMAZING free store, then you can start uploading all your images, graphics, designs, photos, or illustrations, for what? So they can PAY YOU from $1 dollar to $100 dollars (you choose how much you want to earn) in royalties for EVERY SINGLE TIME they sell a product (t-shirt, mouse pad, mug, sweater, poster, key chain, USB item, PSP cover, etc.) with your graphics printed on it! ..Incredible, isn't it? And, you know what is the best part of all this? Well, the best part of all this is that you DO NOT have to invest any money at all, NOT A SINGLE DOLLAR EVER, that's what make these companies so special, and that's why they have millions of members from all over the U.S. and around the world. Right Now this is the fastest and easiest way to make money Online, and right from home! The only investment you have to put up front is your artwork, that's it! ..Don't have designs to offer? ..No problem, keep reading!

These companies call this system, set it and forget it, why? Because, "literally" you don't have to do anything, they handle all the process for you. From making sure that all your designs get exposed globally through Google, to taking orders and shipping the products world wide, all they ask you is to submit a nice design so YOU and THEM can make money from it, understand?

The process is really simple, you open a free store, you submit your designs, then you choose how much money you want to earn in royalties for the use of your graphics on their products, and that's basically it (from your part), they do the rest! Now, as soon as they make a sale with your design printed on it they will immediately send you an Email letting you know of this transaction, so then you can go to your account and withdraw the payment, that's how it works! ..Simple isn't it? Most of these companies pay once a month, some pay via check (by regular mail) while others pay Online through PayPal.

Now, let me be honest with you, if you set up a store with just 1 or 2 designs probably you won't make any money at all, UNLESS you have super incredible designs, a never seen before designs, understand? But now, if you set up a store with 15-20 designs, then you are talking business, you are about to make good money! Believe it or not but your potential visitors will consider you as a full time designer (seller), understand? Now, if you set up a store with 50 or more designs then let me tell you that your success on ANY of these companies is 100% ALREADY GUARANTEED!!! Now, if you don't own 15, 20, or 50 designs then I suggest you to visit the address (link) below. This veteran Cafepress member has multiple stores with hundreds of designs, he has like 17 different stores and today is selling one of them and for only $125, well in reality what he's selling are all the designs that are in his store, 89 in total. Now tell me, do you know how many products you can put out for sale using these 89 designs? ..Any idea? ..Believe it or not but with 89 designs you could have RIGHT NOW over 9,700 products, that's a SUPER ULTRA MEGA MALL, and that's only through Cafepress, understand? The good thing about his designs is that all of them are in 300dpi of resolution which is the highest resolution that it can be produced for these print on demand web companies. Also, these images are already with Alpha 32bit Transparency which means that they can be used on ANY background color tshirt or material. I personally believe that $125 is a total steal, that's not even $2 dollars for each design, and considering that most graphic designers charge $55 dollars per hour then you can image, this is a great bargain. Another good thing about these designs is that all of them are related to one theme which is very crucial, VERY IMPORTANT to look professional in what you are offering to the public.

So, if you consider to get in this business, then I definitely recommend you to get this collection, even if you are not ready yet, why? Because he will be offering it only to a limited number of people, I believe it's no more than 10. Also, another good reason why you should get these designs is "because" every single year Americans spend billions of dollars in products related the Red, White and Blue flag, and these designs are related to it but in a very CLEAN, CLASSIC, and UNIQUE WAY that everybody loves, if you like Jeans then you will love his work! ..Ooh! Did I mention that 78% of the people who buy from these web companies are located in the US?

Well my friends, that was my tip of the day, I hope you like it and make good money with these companies! If you have a great info-tip please send it to me so I can publish it :-) Thanks for reading.


Fiscal steps will moderate inflation - Montek

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Fiscal steps taken by the government will help moderate inflation, but there is a need to recognise that high inflation is a global phenomenon, a top policymaker said on Wednesday.
"We will be able to contol it. The steps taken are bold. They are not bits and pieces. Inflation will be handled," the deputy chairman of the planning commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, told reporters.

The Adventure of Many Lifetimes: Open Source Planet

An Open Source Planet

Project Virgle comprises three equal partners: Google, Virgin and a diffuse network of talented individuals who want to participate in our mission. Tapping into this global network means organizing our venture around the model that will most efficiently liberate and reward individual knowledge, effort and creativity while creating strong incentives for investing companies.
In other words, from end to end, Project Virgle will be open source.

A post-post-industrial economyWhat does “open source” mean in the context of a distant, planet-wide, century-long enterprise? Today's industrialized (and post-industrialized) (and, one imagines, post-post- industrialized) economies are sustained not so much by physical wealth as by advanced systems of shared knowledge whose marginal productivity grows as more is accumulated. "Shared," however, doesn’t mean valueless; we see Virgle as a decidedly for-profit venture that will develop most efficiently via decentralized models of effort, authority and reward. If the first economic revolution was agricultural, the second industrial and the third digital, the fourth will be Open Source -- the birthing of a planetary civilization whose development is driven by the unbound human imagination.

Virgle is an undertaking of almost unfathomable complexity whose success will derive to a distressingly large degree from the amount of effort that is, or isn’t, put into it. So we hope we don’t come off as too sweatily desperate in embracing a philosophy that we believe will invest, literally and figuratively, an exponentially larger network of individuals in our success than would a traditional corporate structure. We want to engage, one might say, the Long Tail of human creativity. Instead of 5,000 people working 12 hours a day six days a week in exchange for a full salary and benefits, imagine 5 million people working a few hours a week in exchange for contribution-based equity in the form of shares in Virgle Inc and ownership of the land of which the colony will ultimately take some form of possession.

$36 trillion worth of dirtYou weren’t thinking real estate? Start. Virgle's costs will be considerable -- we're planning on up-front investments of $10-15 billion in the first two decades –- but so too will the colony's long-term earnings. Whatever one's interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty, for instance, it seems clear that the initial explorers and developers will be able to claim ownership of some significant portion of 143 million square kilometers of Martian real estate, which, sold (or traded as open-source sweat equity) at an average value of $10 per acre, would be worth a cool $358 billion. Multiply that by 100x for its post-terraforming value and you get a figure of $36 trillion. Clearly, whatever model of real estate distribution our emerging society adopts, its worth will exceed the investments likely to be required to unlock that value.
Our civilization's most valuable export, meanwhile, will be intellectual property. The problems our Pioneers solve in the course of their world-building enterprise will represent an engine of invention in dozens of lucrative areas, from biotechnology to geology, physics to agriculture. We see the community’s system of intellectual property development evolving from a community open source model to commercial open source (or perhaps we mean that the other way around?). We can imagine that commons-based peer production model -- in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated into large, meaningful projects, mostly without traditional hierarchical organization or direct financial compensation -- extending to almost every imaginable aspect of Martian life.

Open InnovationIn a world of distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions from other companies. The flow of intellectual property between Earth and Mars will not be unidirectional; we should profit from others' use of our innovations, and we should buy or lease others' intellectual property whenever it advances our own goals. Not all smart people work on Earth anymore; just as "globalization" led American companies to start working with talented people all over the world, "Solar Systemization" will lead Earthside companies to start working with talented individuals who chose to move to Mars because of its open source nature, low gravity, cheap real estate, fabulous sunsets and other attractions.

This dynamic offers a practical opening for a vibrant open source network. For example, pharmaceutical scientists need to develop and test many new compounds, but the restrictive competition that occurs in the Earthside drug industry due to patent law throws a wrench in the capitalist model; it currently costs north of $1 billion to bring a new drug to market. Virgle, Inc., by contrast, could initially maintain the enterprise license for the intellectual property, then grant a manufacturing license to pharmaceutical companies on Earth. The largest part of the proceeds would go to the Mars settlement, and a smaller part would be redistributed among the particular s participants based on peer-based contribution assessments.

Making excuses, soliciting helpThat's just one initial example of the way we're trying to envision the New New World. On Mars, the gardens we plant, the habs we build, the networks we lay, the societal structures we improvise -– all will be radically decentralized, non-hierarchical and, you know, perfect and cool and groundbreaking and innovative in every way...and uh, yeah, of course we recognize that this essay is pretty breathy and sketchy; we think we might be able to get away with claiming that we intended it that way all along, that everything you've read here in this Virgle presentation is just us laying down a quick framework, some cognitive scaffolding whose beams and drywall and primer and paint will have to come from, well, not to put too fine a point on it, you. A quick sampling of intriguing open-source-related questions to which we hope our burgeoning community of interested users might offers answers could include:
How should an open source planetary development project interact with existing companies and markets?

What's the right time for Virgle Inc. hold its initial public offering? When the first spaceship lands? When the first Pioneers stake their claim to Martian property? When the settlement is self-sustained from Mars alone? Tomorrow?

At what point should Martian property move from being distributed solely among Pioneers and open source investors to being traded to outside investors?

How should a civilian Martian government be developed independent of our private company?
How would peer to peer project reviews work and what would be the principles behind triggering escalations and balancing communication and development while staying away from hierarchical viscosity?

Got questions of your own? Answers to propose? Data to disseminate? Insults to hurl? We hope you'll visit Mission Control and join the ongoing discussion of our venture. See you there.

That day of the year, again

Chennai, April 1 How will you feel if you can get tomorrow’s news today? Of course, with some technical help.

Google has introduced a new feature, enabling you to search content on the Internet before it is created ( .

It is called gDay and apparently is powered by MATE (Machine Automated Temporal Extrapolation) technology.

Says Google, “Using MATE’s machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques developed in Google’s Sydney offices, we can construct elements of the future..

“Google spiders crawl publicly available web information and our index of historic, cached web content. Using a mashup of numerous factors such as recurrence plots, fuzzy measure analysis, online betting odds and the weather forecast from the iGoogle weather gadget, we can create a sophisticated model of what the internet will look like 24 hours from now.”

Which means you “can use this technique to predict almost anything on the Web – tomorrow’s share price movements, sports results or news events. Plus, using language regression analysis, Google can even predict the actual wording of blogs and newspaper columns, 24 hours before they’re written!”

Another of Google’s plans is “Virgle”, a tie-up between Google and Richard Branson’s Virgin group. (

This is Google’s Plan B for us, because we are going to run out of space in our ancient Earth. So, Google says, starting in 2014, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin “will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars.” The “plan” is called ‘VirGle’ : a combination of ’Vir’gin and Goo’gle’.

There are links to help you learn how to become a VirGle pioneer and to test your “pioneering potential”.

And if you use Google’s excellent calendar application, it has more for you. It is called “Google Wake Up Kit”. Google has launched this because “this problem became so serious at times that it sometimes resulted in lacklustre attendance at team meetings.” (

“In combination with the kit, you can receive a new type of notification from Google Calendar, called the “wake up” notification. This notification is relentless in ensuring your timely awakening from restful slumber.

“The ‘wake up’ notification uses several progressively more annoying alerts to wake you up.”
And for the ever-popular Gmail, it has a ‘Gmail Custom Time’ feature, where you can send email “to the past”. (

Interesting features, no doubt. But the only point here is that despite “coming from Google”, none of them will work. Because they are just April Fool pranks from the Internet giant.
The gDay page looks authentic with links to jobs in Google, press releases and a FAQ.

The FAQ “answers” all your “queries”. The only time you realise you have been conned is when you click the “Try gDay” link.

In Virgle, Google’s questionnaire has questions like what would you do if “I was unexpectedly confronted with the emergence of a bewilderingly alien and frighteningly advanced Martian life form which appeared bent on killing me if I failed to quickly and effectively communicate my peaceful intentions and potential value to its civilization”.

Clicking some of the links will lead you to a page where Google admits it’s an April Fool prank. But with the custom time ‘feature’, it gives no such indication. You will have to go to Gmail and search frantically till you realise it’s just one more April Fool prank from Google.

Is India heading towards a food crisis?

Rising prices are not pure indicator of crisis

Shortage of food is not only faced by India but it is a globally experienced problem. Drought in Australia has lead to international shortage of wheat and an export ban on rice from Thailand and Vietnam has pressured the international rice supply.

This situation of crisis can be debated in the context of inflated prices of food products and mainly that of staple food. Prices are likely to rise if the supply is not able to meet the demand.

In India, the rate at which the consumer preferences are changing is much less than the rate of slowdown in the production of cereals along with diversification of land towards high value agriculture. This effect is likely to create pressure on supply, but as of now, the rising fuel prices have primarily led to the spurt in food prices.

The concern is that with global shortage of foodgrains, even imports are unviable, but the FCI has assured that there are enough stocks of rice and wheat, if there is actually a situation of food crisis.

Since last two decades, Indian agriculture output is constrained by low yields, falling water table, poor infrastructure, lack of irrigation and no new technological breakthrough. Grain output has been stagnant and agriculture had been growing at a low rate of 2-2.5 per cent. The need for investment in agriculture has been repeatedly highlighted so as to avoid any shortages in future.

On the other side, increase in demand of cereals from the livestock sector for feed, the use of cereals for bio-fuel has further diversified the use of grains. Thus in the present time, high fuel costs, increasing demand for feed, use of cereals for bio-fuel along with unattended supply constraints have created pressure on supply.

In addition, worsening global supplies and rising prices have created a situation that looks like a food crisis. But in a short- term scenario, rising food prices are not the pure indicator of a food crisis. But still, the major concern is that of rising global temperature which would further impact the yields, and this trend of rising prices may not be a short-lived phenomena.