BLOG 2008 Q2




2008 June 29

WALL-E "a stunning tour de force" — The Wall Street Journal

2008 June 28

Haynes experiment on free will: my report now in English

2008 June 26

Using Causality to Solve the Puzzle of Quantum Spacetime
Physicists have long tried to reconcile quantum theory and Einstein's general theory of relativity in a theory of quantum gravity. A new approach shows how 4D spacetime as we know it can emerge dynamically from more basic ingredients.

2008 June 23

Quantum Computing with Diamonds
ABC Science
Quantum computers made using diamonds are a practical way to achieve a massive boost in computing power without generating more heat. Present computers are power hungry and inefficient. Quantum computers provide a new paradigm for computing that utilises exponential processing power, in a reversible process that doesn't dissipate heat, whereas classical computing uses millions of transistors that generate heat. Diamonds can offer a platform for building quantum computers that operate at room temperature. Tiny manufactured diamonds with a nitrogen atom at their centre can store single qubits. The spin of the electrons in the diamond can be manipulated using microwaves or laser pulses. Full blown quantum computing is many years away.

2008 June 22

Rosenfield and Ziff on how the mind works
Charles Darwin presented evolution in 1858
IEEE Special Report on the Singularity

2008 June 21

Chris Hitchens on Pat Buchanan on Churchill

2008 June 20

Israel news part 6: Israeli exercise directed at Iran?

2008 June 18

Israel news part 5: Is Britain good for the Jews?

2008 June 17

Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete crude oil
The Times
The company LS9 claims that "Oil 2.0" will not only be renewable but also carbon negative. Its bugs are industrial yeast or E. coli with redesigned DNA. The bugs excrete a substance that is almost pump-ready. Any feedstock will do as long as it can be broken down into sugars, with the byproduct burnt to produce electricity to run the plant. A commercial-scale facility could open 2011.

New French Defense Policy
The New York Times
President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided that France is best served by participating fully with Washington and NATO. The new military and security strategy calls for a smaller, more mobile French Army, with savings spent on better intelligence and modern equipment. The doctrine seeks to prepare France and Europe for a post-Soviet world in which conventional military threats pale compared with risks from epidemics, terrorism, and cyberwarfare.

SAP Defender of Discipline
Financial Times
Léo Apotheker was born in Aachen in 1953. He studied in Jerusalem, moved to Brussels in 1980, and settled in Paris. This spring, he was made SAP co-CEO alongside Henning Kagermann, who will retire next May. Apotheker joined the SAP executive board as head of sales in 2002.

Israel news part 4: Truce "triumph"

2008 June 16

Delivered my annual guest lecture at the University of Trier:
Business Beyond Boundaries
PDF: 60 slides, 13.5 MB

2008 June 15

Adam Kirsch debunks Pat Buchanan on Churchill

2008 June 12

Symmetry and the Abel Prize 2008
Marcus de Sautoy
Symmetry is a central concept in both science and the arts. Symmetry has unlocked the secrets of the fundamental particles that make up the material world. John Thompson and Jacques Tits have their names attached to some of the sporadic groups of symmetries that have appeared since 1965. The culmination was the discovery of an object in a space of 196,883 dimensions and called the Monster. Thanks to the work of mathematicians like Thompson and Tits, we believe we now have a complete list of the building blocks of symmetry. This is one of the greatest achievement in the history of mathematics.

Israel news part 3: Hamas defiant

2008 June 11

NASA finds a way to build big telescopes on the moon

2008 June 9

Israel Rosenfield and Edward Ziff on how the mind works
Israel news part 2: Taking out Hamas

2008 June 6

Israel news part 1: F-22 Raptors

2008 June 4

Obama Urges Unity
Barack Obama says he can unify his party after a battle against Hillary Clinton that divided Democrats but helped teach America's children that the Oval Office was within anyone's reach. He said it was "an enormous honor" and "very humbling" to be the first African-American to lead a major party ticket for president.

Obama: Jerusalem must remain undivided capital of Israel
Jerusalem Post
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama assured the AIPAC Policy Conference Wednesday that he will be a staunch ally of Israel and will not negotiate with terrorist groups: "Now is the time to stand by Israel," he said, "now is the time to join together in the work of repairing this world. ... As president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security."

Chinooks Sitting in Shelters
The Times
The UK Ministry of Defence has spent more than £500 million on eight Chinook helicopters that have never been flown as a result of "one of the most incompetent procurements of all time", an audit has concluded. The helicopters have been sitting in a special air-conditioned shelter since 2001 because of a "cockup" that meant the machines' software could not be accessed.

2008 June 2

So what's new?
Monkey's Brain Signals Control Third Arm
NewScientist, October 13, 2003
Monkeys can control a robot arm as naturally as their own limbs using only brain signals, a pioneering experiment has shown. The macaque monkeys could reach and grasp with the same precision as their own hand.

Monkeys Think, Moving Artificial Arm as Own
New York Times, May 29, 2008
Two monkeys with tiny sensors in their brains have learned to control a mechanical arm with just their thoughts, using it to reach for and grab food and even to adjust for the size and stickiness of morsels when necessary, scientists reported on Wednesday. In the experiment, two macaques first used a joystick to gain a feel for the arm, which had shoulder joints, an elbow and a grasping claw with two mechanical fingers. Then, just beneath the monkeys’ skulls, the scientists implanted a grid about the size of a large freckle. It sat on the motor cortex, over a patch of cells known to signal arm and hand movements. The grid held 100 tiny electrodes, each connecting to a single neuron, its wires running out of the brain and to a computer.

2008 June 1

Kunst- und Tapetenwechselparty in Bad Schönborn Langenbrücken ab 13 Uhr bis ca. 18 Uhr. An einem leerstehenden, äusserst spannenden Haus hat eine Gruppe von kunstschaffenden Menschen an diesem einen Tag spontaner Kunst mit Spass und Geselligkeit zusammengebracht.

Crystal imperfections known as nitrogen–vacancy defects might be manipulated to store qubits
in a quantum computer.
P. Kok, B.W. Lovett,
Nature 444, 49

Young Winston Churchill
Young Winston Churchill

The first speech Churchill gave as Prime Minister on May 13, 1940, warned of sufferings to come and promised "to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime." Churchill's sense of history and his high conception of Christian civilization — in a cultural sense rather than as a believing Christian — gave him his intuition about that heart of darkness.

Convair B-58 Hustler supersonic nuclear bomber flew in U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command throughout the 1960s. The pod below the fuselage contained the bomb, extra fuel and so on, and was jettisoned in mid-flight. But the older and slower Boeing B-52 Stratofortress proved a better platform for stand-off weapons.

The British Army Warrior infantry fighting vehicle has the speed and performance to keep up with Challenger 2 main battle tanks and the firepower and armour to support infantry in the assault. Warrior infantry command and section vehicles carry a turret mounted 30 mm Rarden cannon that will defeat light armoured vehicles out to 1500 m.

2008 May 31

Ian McEwan on religious revelation in recent history
Lawrence Wright on two founding figures of al Qaeda

2008 May 27

Freeman Dyson speaks incomparable wisdom on global warming
Robert McCrum reflects on the ten years up to the iPod moment

2008 May 26

"Phoenix has landed."
Mission Control, Pasadena, CA

2008 May 22

"To believe that the biosphere came into being on its own, with no creator, and partially lawlessly, is a proposition so stunning, so worthy of awe and respect, that I am happy to accept this natural creativity in the universe as a reinvention of 'God'."
— Stuart Kauffman

Stuart Kauffman on his new book Reinventing the Sacred

2008 May 20

SAPPHIRE 2008, Orlando: SAP billionaire co-founder Hasso Plattner says TREX is the "hottest piece of software in SAP"

Austerity Britain 1945-1951 reviewed

2008 May 18

European Patent Office confirms that I am cited as co-inventor of an application filed March 19 for a European patent entitled:
Compression of tables based on occurrence of values
(resubmission of U.S. Patent #805178, filed May 21, 2007)

Nathan Myhrvold is the king of high-tech patents
Is it OK for a US soldier to use a Quran for target practice?

2008 May 16

Analyzing the Jihadis: a slew of new books reviewed

2008 May 12

Winston Churchill and World War II

Sir Winston Churchill

Love and marriage in Saudi Arabia and outrage in Iraq

2008 May 10

Green energy or oil independence? Steve Stein reflects

2008 May 5

A philosopher's study of Shakespeare should really do philosophy

2008 May 4

After 60 years of independence, Israel is in more danger than ever

2008 May 3

The RAND Corporation helped form the Cold War U.S. empire

Convair B-58 Hustler

2008 May 1

Panpsychology: a polyphonic master class by AtheEisegete

Nathan Myhrvold
Nathan Myhrvold

Churchill won the Nobel Prize for literature largely on the strength of his six-volume history, The Second World War, although much of it was ghostwritten. From an early stage, Churchill had acquired two reputations — as an ambitious, unprincipled careerist and as an impulsive, reckless adventurer. But the war in which Churchill led his country, awful as its means sometimes were, was a war of necessity.

RAND Corporation studies on nuclear war covered strategy, basing options, warhead design, survivable communications, targeting policies, second-strike capability and the like. RAND thinkers introduced such concepts as spasm war and megadeaths. Now RAND pursues a wider range of more peace-oriented studies.

Is it my just imagination, or has the British Army equipped itself for the wars of the 20th century? The Warrior depicted here served recently in southern Iraq but looks exactly like what Monty would have wanted back in 1942 in the Western Desert to push Rommel back to Tripoli. Traditionalists in the army must have liked it.


2008 April 29

Emily Singer gets her brain read while drunk

2008 April 27

Dawkins and his selfish meme 30 years on
Can the four horsemen live in God's house?
A new theory of personality is on its way
Tony Judt takes a stand against Zionism

2008 April 24

Stuart Kauffman wants to reinvent the sacred

2008 April 22

Li Yang wants to open the Crazy English Tongue Muscle Training House in Beijing

2008 April 21

American philosopher Stanley Fish on French philosophy

2008 April 20

Bloomberg: By analyzing MRI signals, John-Dylan Haynes shows the brain can settle decisions up to 10 seconds before the subject apparently makes a free decision.
Hirnforschung: John-Dylan Haynes, Peter Bieri

Stockhausen: 9-11 "greatest work of art of all time"

2008 April 19

John Derbyshire blogged Tucson 2008

2008 April 15

John Gray thinks the attempt to eradicate religion only leads to it reappearing in grotesque and degraded forms

2008 April 14

"Scientists compared the genetic sequences of ethnically and geographically diverse people from around the world and found that the genes which code for the nervous systems, had some sequence differences (known as polymorphisms) among individuals. By analyzing human and chimpanzee polymorphism patterns, genetic probabilities and various other genetic tools, and geographical distributions, they found evidence that some of these genes are experiencing ongoing positive selection in humans."
Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique
by Michael Gazzaniga

Richard Dawkins is to appear in the current run of the BBC TV series Doctor Who as himself. Russell Davies, the show's executive producer, said: "People were falling at his feet. We've had Kylie Minogue on that set, but it was Dawkins that people were worshipping."
The Guardian

2008 April 10

String theorist Jacques Distler scorned Garrett Lisi's E8 theory
My page on Garrett Lisi's theory of everything
His criticism added fireworks to an animated physics blog
Time magazine profiles physics theorist Peter Higgs
DARPA is developing 'intelligent mini-robots' called LANdroids
Salman Rushdie publishes novel evoking Padma Lakshmi

2008 April 6

The cloud and the grid: what's the difference?

2008 April 2

SAP announced the appointment of SAP Deputy CEO Léo Apotheker as the company's co-CEO alongside SAP CEO Henning Kagermann, effective immediately.