Sunday, August 31, 2008

GPS tracking devices

One day GPS tracking devices will be able to be used to track every single personal item. This way, theft of property will be hindered greatly.

At the moment there only appears to be two barriers - affordability and practicality. They are far too expensive and too large in size to be installed on most items.

So the hope is that in a few years the size of the circuits will shrink and they will also become a lot more affordable.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

RE: It's all brain chemicals

Why trust others when it is illogical to do so? You can never know what another person's motivations are.

One answer to the above question is the neurotransmitter oxytocin. This was demonstrated by an experiment done by the University of Zurich. Here is the abstract of the scientific paper. And a news article done on that experiment.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nanocomputers in human cells?

This concept lies well within futurism and science fiction at the moment, yet it is not impossible.

The premise is that you replace the nucleus of the human cell with a computer. This would perform all the functions like:

*Simulate the actions of RNA
*Maintain genetic code and implement the gene expression algorithms
*Construct amino acid sequences for genes

If we could program cells like computers, we would be able to eliminate DNA errors, stop viruses, bacteria and cancer cells as well as add new genetic information.

This won't be practical until nanotechnology gets more advanced and the computing technology used would have to be one that can perform calculations at a size of only a few nanometres.

Ref: Kurzweil, R (2005). The Singularity is Near. USA: Penguin Group. 232-236.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's all brain chemicals

There are all kinds of factors that can influence levels of certain chemicals in the brain. The one I am going to focus on is the neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Levels of serotonin have been found to correlate with social heirarchies in vervet monkeys, as this study found. The higher the blood serotonin levels, the more dominant the monkey was over the other monkeys.

But what influences serotonin levels? Stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, etc and possibly a number of other genetic and environmental interactions. If unmodulated, reduced serotonin can lead to mental problems like depression.

These are all fairly predictable from the viewpoint of evolutionary biology.

Monday, August 18, 2008

48 core processors in 2009/2010?

Intel says 48 core graphics is just over the horizon

By James Sherwood [More by this author]

4th August 2008 15:23 GMT

Intel is releasing the Larrabee graphics chip for high-end PC gaming in late 2009 or 2010, but the company is already talking up the chip’s capabilities in a new paper.

Depending on the model, Larrabee will feature between eight and 48 cores, each of which will have super-fast inter-communication and increase the chip's ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.

For example, Intel argues that by having greater numbers of smaller cores, instead of single or dual cores, Larrabee will be able to support better experiences for gamers – a key target audience.

It's purely coincidental that the update comes just days before AMD updates journalists on its graphics strategy and unveils some new silicon at its CTO summit in Iceland.

Larry Seiler, a senior principal engineer at Intel, told journalists at the unveiling of the paper - dubbed Larrabee: A Many-Core x86 Architecture for Visual Computing - that the chip overcomes the limitations of current graphics processors. He added that it provides “the full programming abilities of a CPU” alongside “the parallelism that is inherent in graphics processors”.

Larrabee supports Microsoft's DirectX and OpenGL APIs, which will help software developers to create visual and graphics intensive applications that take full advantage of the chip.
Larrabee will support IEEE standards for single and double precision floating-point arithmetic, which is already featured in AMD and Nivida GPU models.

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) told Bloomberg that success in the high-end graphics market could add up to $4bn to Intel's sales in 2010 - provided it performs as well as rival chips from Nvidia and AMD.

JPR’s latest figures show that 94.4m GPU units were shipped during the first quarter of this year, representing a drop of 0.5 per cent from the previous quarter. However, shipments grew 16 per cent from the same period in 2007.

Intel took pole position in Q1, with 47.3 per cent of the market, whilst Nvidia – which today denied it’s leaving the chipset market – and AMD took 31.4 per cent and 18.1 per cent market shares respectively.


Some interesting quotes from Starship Troopers (1997)

On the nature of fascism:

Jean Rasczak: All right, let's sum up. This year in history, we talked about the failure of democracy. How the social scientists of the 21st Century brought our world to the brink of chaos. We talked about the veterans, how they took control and imposed the stability that has lasted for generations since. We talked about the rights and privileges between those who served in the armed forces and those who haven't, therefore called citizens and civilians.

[to a student]

Jean Rasczak: You. Why are only citizens allowed to vote?

Student: It's a reward. Something the federation gives you for doing federal service.

Jean Rasczak: No. Something given has no basis in value. When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.

Dizzy: My mother always told me that violence doesn't solve anything.

Jean Rasczak: Really? I wonder what the city founders of Hiroshima would have to say about that.

[to Carmen]

Jean Rasczak: You.

Carmen: They wouldn't say anything. Hiroshima was destroyed.

Jean Rasczak: Correct. Violence has resolved more conflicts than anything else. The contrary opinion that violence doesn't solve anything is merely wishful thinking at its worst.