Science/Technology Breakthroughs

Huntn

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2014: The Year In Science

Lasers in Space- It looks like communication in space is changing from radio waves to lasers.

In January 2013, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter received a historic transmission: an image of the Mona Lisa. It was the first time scientists used a laser to send data to the moon, a feat that promises to exponentially increase the flow of information to and from space.

For the past 50 years, spacecraft have relied on radio waves to communicate with Earth. But radio has limitations. Airwaves are crowded. Signals degrade with distance, so transmissions require power-hungry generators and large antennas. Focused laser light operates in wavelengths 10,000 times shorter than radio, pumping out more waves—and more information—each second. Lasers maintain signal strength across large distances, so transmitters require less power. And spacecraft carrying smaller receivers would be cheaper to launch.
Mapping the Human Brain- There is a project started in 2013 to map the human brain, and create a simulated brain. I wonder if it will gain self awareness? Please keep in mind this is not PRSI. :)

On October 7, 2013, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, one of the most ambitious brain-research projects in history officially kicked off. The Human Brain Project—backed by 1.2 billion euros and more than 250 researchers—aims to create the first complete computer simulation of the human brain. Over the course of a decade, everything we know about the organ’s biology will be modeled. Eventually, virtual neurons will even be subjected to virtual drugs.
Practical Quantum Physics- IMO one of the most impressive breakthroughs which validates the notion of quantum physics for the masses is an encryption system based on the principle that observing something changes it...

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is an essentially unbreakable encryption protocol that exploits one of quantum physics’ more head-spinning principles—that simply observing information changes it. In a QKD-based system, a randomly generated key is encoded on light particles and shared through fiber-optic cables before being used to encrypt sensitive data. Any attempt to detect the key en route will alter its photons, indicating that the transmission has been intercepted and a new key is necessary.

So far, QKD has remained tethered to fiber-optic networks. It also requires large emitters and detectors, but now researchers are working to miniaturize them: Nokia and the University of Bristol in England are collaborating on a quantum source small enough to fit in a phone, while physicists at the Institute of Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Ontario, are developing microsatellites that could beam encoded photons across the globe.
 

localoid

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... Practical Quantum Physics- IMO one of the most impressive breakthroughs which validates the notion of quantum physics for the masses is an encryption system based on the principle that observing something changes it...
Keep in mind, it's not as mysterious as it might sound... ;)

It changes because interacting with an electron changes its states. The interaction can sometimes make it looks like a particle, other times it looks like a wave.

Recently however, for the first time, researchers have devised a new type of measurement apparatus that can detect both particle and wave-like behavior at the same time.

Quantum Mystery of Light Revealed by New Experiment
 

Kissaragi

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I always find it amazing that they haven't been using lasers for communication before. Seems like a bit of a no brainer? I guess its a lot more complex than it seems.
 

Huntn

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Keep in mind, it's not as mysterious as it might sound... ;)

It changes because interacting with an electron changes its states. The interaction can sometimes make it looks like a particle, other times it looks like a wave.

Recently however, for the first time, researchers have devised a new type of measurement apparatus that can detect both particle and wave-like behavior at the same time.

Quantum Mystery of Light Revealed by New Experiment
I've always thought of a stream of electrons, as a stream of info that could register at multiple locations (be seen) and the quality of the message/info being sent would remain unchanged. But if I understand this correctly, the actual electrons, if they are interacted with, change enough that the different state of those electrons can be detected without effecting the data being sent. Wondering if you can simply explain what change occurs in the electrons? Thanks. :)
 

localoid

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I've always thought of a stream of electrons, as a stream of info that could register at multiple locations (be seen) and the quality of the message/info being sent would remain unchanged. But if I understand this correctly, the actual electrons, if they are interacted with, change enough that the different state of those electrons can be detected without effecting the data being sent. Wondering if you can simply explain what change occurs in the electrons? Thanks. :)
I have to make a drug run (of the legal, prescription drug kind) so I'll have to add more info on this later when I get back in and get a chance to dig through my notes and links on this subject... Meanwhile, here's one brief explanation, which is from this page: http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/21st_century_science/lectures/lec13.html

"The quantum world can be not be perceived directly, but rather through the use of instruments. And, so, there is a problem with the fact that the act of measuring disturbs the energy and position of subatomic particles. This is called the measurement problem."
 

Huntn

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Radio waves are cheaper to work with and has been working fine.
Are you resistant to change? :p I read through the list of advantages and it makes sense to me.

----------

I have to make a drug run (of the legal, prescription drug kind) so I'll have to add more info on this later when I get back in and get a chance to dig through my notes and links on this subject... Meanwhile, here's one brief explanation, which is from this page: http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/21st_century_science/lectures/lec13.html

"The quantum world can be not be perceived directly, but rather through the use of instruments. And, so, there is a problem with the fact that the act of measuring disturbs the energy and position of subatomic particles. This is called the measurement problem."
Yes, I am familiar with this occurrence, but I find it interesting if a quantitative value could be assigned to how many times quantum material has been measured and if it could not revert to a previous "unmeasured" state on it's own.
 

Huntn

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Finger Print Security Is Not The Future- Popular Science.

The iPhone is mentioned. Wow! :eek:

We’re used to trading personal information for convenience. We do it on social media and websites every day. Credit cards require us to give away our data for the convenience of using credit over cash. So far, those trades have worked in our favor, but that’s because the systems have always included an escape clause. The digitally violated can update social-media pages, change passwords, or cancel cards. That’s not the case with biometrics. A fingerprint’s greatest strength—its uniqueness—is also its greatest weakness. And once it’s compromised, you’ll never get it back.
 

turtle777

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Apr 30, 2004
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I always find it amazing that they haven't been using lasers for communication before. Seems like a bit of a no brainer? I guess its a lot more complex than it seems.
It's because the application is seriously limited.
You need a straight line of sight.

There's not many ways to use this in our every days lives.

-t
 

Astroboy907

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I do not communicate with outer space yet, so I pretty much don't care.
Why not start now? :)
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
Amateur radio operators all over the world are able to speak directly to astronauts/cosmonauts via their handheld, mobile, or home radio stations. Low power radios and small antennas can be used to establish communications. It is also possible to send digital data to the space station via laptop computers hooked up to the same radio and antenna, similar to an email communication, except that it uses radio frequencies instead of telephone or cable connections.
 

vulcanvillalta

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May 19, 2014
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Ha!

I'm really interested in freezing ones body and reviving it at a particular date...

Would be great for cancer patients?

Well, maybe, but whenever it is that we've discovered the cure, wouldn't the cancer patient have outlived his/her friends/family? I think it would be sad, being revived, healthy and well, to live in a future world with no one who knows you. What if it isnt for another 30 years? Can you imagine all the changes that will have happened by then, considering the advances we've made since 1984?
 

TechGod

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Well, maybe, but whenever it is that we've discovered the cure, wouldn't the cancer patient have outlived his/her friends/family? I think it would be sad, being revived, healthy and well, to live in a future world with no one who knows you. What if it isnt for another 30 years? Can you imagine all the changes that will have happened by then, considering the advances we've made since 1984?
There will be a massive social shock. I agree.
 

Huntn

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Thorium Reactors- The Possible Way Forward for Nuclear Power



I'll reference this 2011 Popular Science Article about Thorium Reactors, the wonder material- no melt downs and not easily converted to weapons grade material. In fact China, India and Norway are taking the lead on this design. Why aren't we running with it? A trial in Norway started in 2013. :(

Thorium nuclear reactor trial begins, could provide cleaner, safer, almost-waste-free energy
At a test site in Norway, Thor Energy has successfully created a thorium nuclear reactor — but not in the sense that most people think of when they hear the word thorium. The Norwegians haven’t solved the energy crisis and global warming in one fell swoop — they haven’t created a cold fusion thorium reactor. What they have done, though, which is still very cool, is use thorium instead of uranium in a conventional nuclear reactor. In one fell swoop, thorium fuel, which is safer, less messy to clean up, and not prone to nuclear weapons proliferation, could quench the complaints of nuclear
 

jlsm511

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localoid

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...I'll reference this 2011 Popular Science Article about Thorium Reactors, the wonder material- no melt downs and not easily converted to weapons grade material. In fact China, India and Norway are taking the lead on this design. Why aren't we running with it? A trial in Norway started in 2013. :(


Well, Bill Gates seems willing to "run with it"... See: Bill Gates Is Beginning to Dream the Thorium Dream (except below).

"TerraPower, the Gates-chaired nuclear power company, has garnered attention for pursuing traveling wave reactor tech, which runs entirely on spent uranium and would rarely need to be refueled. But the concern just quietly announced that it's going to start seriously exploring thorium power, too."​

Back in 2010, TerraPower was organized, and began investigating a class of nuclear fast reactors called the traveling wave reactor (TWR).
 

Huntn

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Last weekend, a chatbot called "Eugene Goostman" managed to pass the Turing Test, making it the first program to convince humans that it's human!

However, some contend that Eugene did not actually pass the Turing Test for several reasons.

YouTube: video
I'm not in a place to watch this video at the moment. I wonder how much of the A.I. Is free form versus relying on catchy preprogrammed phrases?

Great read. Alas, seems the US isn't at the forefront of Science and exploration any more. Pity.
Seems like we've peaked. :(

Well, Bill Gates seems willing to "run with it"... See: Bill Gates Is Beginning to Dream the Thorium Dream (except below).

"TerraPower, the Gates-chaired nuclear power company, has garnered attention for pursuing traveling wave reactor tech, which runs entirely on spent uranium and would rarely need to be refueled. But the concern just quietly announced that it's going to start seriously exploring thorium power, too."​

Back in 2010, TerraPower was organized, and began investigating a class of nuclear fast reactors called the traveling wave reactor (TWR).
Thanks for the link! Looking at the history of the U.S. In many cases it's government independent intrepeneurs, possibly with government funding who make technology breakthroughs. Look at SpaceX for a recent example.
 

localoid

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I'm not in a place to watch this video at the moment. I wonder how much of the A.I. Is free form versus relying on catchy preprogrammed phrases?
Unfortunately, the video doesn't give examples of the conversation. The Eugene Goostman bot used to be online, and you could chat with it via a URL. But I can't find links to it now, so I'm guessing it's been taken offline(?)

From what I remember about "chatting" with the Eugene G. bot, it appears to have been working mainly with phrases for input/output. It can't really understand the full context of some sentences, since it's not analyzing the content on a word for word level. Every chatbot I've encountered online (or as a standalone program) seems to form its response by picking from a pool (preprogrammed) phrases that it assembles a random subject/verb/object format.

But, I think we'll have computer programs that actually understand on the word for word level before too long! Actually, we already have at least one AI that's beginning to do so. In the video below Ray Kurzweil talks about IBM AI called Watson, which has the ability to actually read Wikipedia articles. Watson doesn't just look for a few preprogrammed "phrases", Watson understands natural language and can generate hypotheses, etc.


The Eugene G. bot seems to have been able to past the test largely because users because of the way the judges were "set up" -- they were told he was a 13 yr. old boy that was a non-native English speaker. Ray Kurzweil posted a response online regarding the "passing of the Turing Test". It's a pretty good read, and it cites some example of how (badly) Eugene G. responds to some types of input.

Back in the early 1990s, I took the code for the chatbot Eliza and rewrote it for use online with a Bulletin Board System (BBS) I was running. I told my users this was a live chat to another BBS system that was run by teenagers. I inserted of a lot of smartass responses into the code, so if the user asked a complex question the program couldn't figure out, the chatbot would avoid the question and respond with a teen angst outburst. This chatbot was good enough to fool almost all people for at least 5-10 minutes, some for 30 minutes. I even had a few users send me messages saying something akin to "This new online chat is great but the only person in the chat room was some bratty kid who was a total @$$%#!^" ;)
 
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Huntn

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This is pretty cool and much more efficient than The Salmon Truck. ;) Washington State has bought into it.

The Salmon Cannon!

Ever since rivers have been dammed, destroying the migration routes of salmon, humans have worked to create ways to help the fish return to their spawning grounds. We've built ladders and elevators; we've carried them by hand and transported them in trucks. Even helicopters have been used to fly fish upstream.

But all of those methods are expensive and none of them are efficient.

Enter the salmon cannon.
 
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