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Trying To Prove We Live In A Virtual Reality October 30, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Religion, Science & Technology.
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One of modern physics’ most cherished ideas is quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes the strong nuclear force, how it binds quarks and gluons into protons and neutrons, how these form nuclei that themselves interact. This is the universe at its most fundamental.

So an interesting pursuit is to simulate quantum chromodynamics on a computer to see what kind of complexity arises. The promise is that simulating physics on such a fundamental level is more or less equivalent to simulating the universe itself.

There are one or two challenges of course. The physics is mind-bogglingly complex and operates on a vanishingly small scale. So even using the world’s most powerful supercomputers, physicists have only managed to simulate tiny corners of the cosmos just a few femtometers across. (A femtometer is 10^-15 metres.)

That may not sound like much but the significant point is that the simulation is essentially indistinguishable from the real thing (at least as far as we understand it).

It’s not hard to imagine that Moore’s Law-type progress will allow physicists to simulate significantly larger regions of space. A region just a few micrometres across could encapsulate the entire workings of a human cell.

Again, the behaviour of this human cell would be indistinguishable from the real thing.

It’s this kind of thinking that forces physicists to consider the possibility that our entire cosmos could be running on a vastly powerful computer. If so, is there any way we could ever know?

Today, we get an answer of sorts from Silas Beane, at the University of Bonn in Germany, and a few pals. They say there is a way to see evidence that we are being simulated, at least in certain scenarios.

via The Measurement That Would Reveal The Universe As A Computer Simulation | MIT Technology Review. (more…)

“Michaelangelo” of Pumpkin Carving October 29, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Art, Cool photos.
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In 2007 Villafane was contacted by High Noon Entertainment and asked to participate in the Food Network’s Challenge Show for a segment called “Outrageous Pumpkins”. He competed against three other professional pumpkin sculptors and won all three rounds to receive the grand prize.[2] The Food Network contacted Villafane again in 2009 to come back to the show and defend his title. He was also the grand prize winner for the “Outrageous Pumpkin Challenge II”. In 2011, he carved the world’s biggest pumpkin to resemble zombies.[3] From Wkipedia

The Pumpkins « Villafane Studios – Pumpkin Carving, Sand Sculpting, Action Figure Creating.

Saudis Finally Allow Women To Drive October 22, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Humor, In The News.
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See Inside Google’s Brain October 20, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Science & Technology.
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Data centers – Google Data centers.

Photo of the brains behind Paw (dad for those that don’t speak Country). Does have a Sci-Fi  Matrix-like look to it. This link will take you to a wall of photos, of various Google Data centers, inside and out. Google has also posted a video.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else October 14, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish.

Several recent studies have shown that in America today it is harder to escape the social class of your birth than it is in Europe. Educational attainment, which created the American middle class, is no longer rising.

Economists point out that the woes of the middle class are in large part a consequence of globalization and technological change. Culture may also play a role. In his recent book on the white working class, the libertarian writer Charles Murray blames the hollowed-out middle for straying from the traditional family values and old-fashioned work ethic that he says prevail among the rich (whom he castigates, but only for allowing cultural relativism to prevail).

The crony capitalism of today’s oligarchs is far subtler than Venice’s. It works in two main ways.

The first is to channel the state’s scarce resources in their own direction. This is the absurdity of Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent” who are “dependent upon government.” The reality is that it is those at the top, particularly the tippy-top, of the economic pyramid who have been most effective at capturing government support — and at getting others to pay for it.

Exhibit A is the bipartisan, $700 billion rescue of Wall Street in 2008. Exhibit B is the crony recovery. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that 93 percent of the income gains from the 2009-10 recovery went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. The top 0.01 percent captured 37 percent of these additional earnings, gaining an average of $4.2 million per household.

via The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent – NYTimes.com.

Europe Most Generous, Asia Stingiest For Paid Days Off October 14, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Lifestyle, philosophy & politics.
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  • Workers in UK and Poland have most generous statutory employee holiday entitlements
  • Employees in the USA, Canada, Philippines, China and Thailand have the least generous
  • Colombia has greatest number of public holidays; Mexico the least
  • UK employees have access to a highest amount of potential holiday (36 days per year) but in reality fare worse than other European employees

According to Mercer Consulting, holiday entitlement is often more complex since actual holiday provisions often depends on company contracts and the number and treatment of public holidays. In the UK, for example, employees are entitled to 28 days holiday. With the UK also holding 8 public holidays each year, this suggests that employees in the UK could be on holiday for 36 days, or 10%, of each year. This would be one of the highest entitlements of all 62 countries. The reality is that companies are allowed to include the 8 public holidays as part of the 28 day entitlement so UK employees actually have fewer days’ holidays than their peers in the rest of Europe where, in general, the practice is for European employees to take public holidays in addition to their statutory entitlement. Employees in the Asia-Pac region have comparatively low levels of statutory entitlement but public holidays are taken in addition to this rather than as part of it. However, the levels of holiday entitlement in Asia-Pac are still below those of Western Europe.     Employee holiday entitlements around the world.

Taliban’s Worst Nightmare October 13, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, In The News, Religion.
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Most Powerful Storm Ever Recorded October 13, 2012

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On Oct. 12, 1979, Super Typhoon Tip’s central pressure dropped to 870 mb (25.69 inches Hg), the lowest sea-level pressure ever observed on Earth, according to NOAA. Peak wind gusts reached 190 mph (306 kph) while the storm churned over the western Pacific.

Besides having unsurpassed intensity, Super Typhoon Tip is also remembered for its massive size. Tip’s diameter of circulation spanned approximately 1,380 miles (2,220 km), setting a record for the largest storm on Earth. The storm’s huge diameter was exactly the same as the distance from New York City to Dallas.

Accuweather’s Mark Mancuso has the details: Super Typhoon

Earth’s Strongest, Most Massive Storm Ever.

Ouracing Enemy Missles in the World’s Fastest Plane October 12, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Geopolitics, Technology.
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Excerpts from Sled Driver, the amazing book by one of the SR-71 pilots, Major Brian Shul:

Plane Porn – Click to Enlarge

In April 1986, following an attack on American soldiers in a Berlin disco, President Reagan ordered the bombing of Muammar Qaddafi’s terrorist camps in Libya. My duty was to fly over Libya and take photos recording the damage our F-111’s had inflicted. Qaddafi had established a ‘line of death,’ a territorial marking across the Gulf of Sidra , swearing to shoot down any intruder that crossed the boundary. On the morning of April 15, I rocketed past the line at 2,125 mph.

I was piloting the SR-71 spy plane, the world’s fastest jet, accompanied by Maj Walter Watson, the aircraft’s reconnaissance systems officer (RSO). We had crossed into Libya and were approaching our final turn over the bleak desert landscape when Walter informed me that he was receiving missile launch signals. I quickly increased our speed, calculating the time it would take for the weapons-most likely SA-2 and SA-4 surface-to-air missiles capable of Mach 5 – to reach our altitude. I estimated that we could beat the rocket-powered missiles to the turn and stayed our course, betting our lives on the plane’s performance

via Holy Crap—Look at All These SR-71 Blackbirds Together!.

The Dirty Solar Panel Fight Over Clean Energy October 10, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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Chinese technocrats set out to create an industry that would dominate the world, and they succeeded. They aided solar cell manufacturers with easy credit from state banks—perhaps as much as $18 billion of cheap loans—and, some say, subsidies. As a result of central and local government support, Chinese manufacturers began to expand rapidly. Chinese competitors now own 70% of the world’s wafer-producing capacity.

Make that overcapacity. “Massive subsidies and state intervention have stimulated overcapacity more than 20 times total Chinese consumption and close to double total global demand,” said Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun, in a statement released late last month. The company alleges that 90% of Chinese production had to be exported and that Beijing used subsidies to keep its manufacturers in business.

The powerful Chinese National Development and Reform Commission wants to see two-thirds of panel makers go out of business.  Only the largest producers, which are presently nonviable, will survive.

In short, central government technocrats, to salvage their industrial policy, will now have to destroy what they worked so hard to create.

via Sun Sets on China’s Solar Industry – Forbes.

Oldest Evidence of Regular Meat Consumption by Human Ancestors Found October 7, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Lifestyle.
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Meat-eating was an important factor affecting early hominin brain expansion, social organization and geographic movement. Stone tool butchery marks on ungulate fossils in several African archaeological assemblages demonstrate a significant level of carnivory by Pleistocene hominins, but the discovery at Olduvai Gorge of a child’s pathological cranial fragments indicates that some hominins probably experienced scarcity of animal foods during various stages of their life histories. The child’s parietal fragments, excavated from 1.5-million-year-old sediments, show porotic hyperostosis, a pathology associated with anemia. Nutritional deficiencies, including anemia, are most common at weaning, when children lose passive immunity received through their mothers’ milk. Our results suggest, alternatively, that (1) the developmentally disruptive potential of weaning reached far beyond sedentary Holocene food-producing societies and into the early Pleistocene, or that (2) a hominin mother’s meat-deficient diet negatively altered the nutritional content of her breast milk to the extent that her nursing child ultimately died from malnourishment. Either way, this discovery highlights that by at least 1.5 million years ago early human physiology was already adapted to a diet that included the regular consumption of meat.

via PLOS ONE: Earliest Porotic Hyperostosis on a 1.5-Million-Year-Old Hominin, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.

Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds October 3, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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The analysis links periods of slow and rapid growth to the timing of the three industrial revolutions (IR’s), that is, IR #1 (steam, railroads) from 1750 to 1830; IR #2 (electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum) from 1870 to 1900; and IR #3 (computers, the web, mobile phones) from 1960 to present. It provides evidence that IR #2 was more important than the others and was largely responsible for 80 years of relatively rapid productivity growth between 1890 and 1972. Once the spin-off inventions from IR #2 (airplanes, air conditioning, interstate highways) had run their course, productivity growth during 1972-96 was much slower than before. In contrast, IR #3 created only a short-lived growth revival between 1996 and 2004. Many of the original and spin-off inventions of IR #2 could happen only once – urbanization, transportation speed, the freedom of females from the drudgery of carrying tons of water per year, and the role of central heating and air conditioning in achieving a year-round constant temperature.

Even if innovation were to continue into the future at the rate of the two decades before 2007, the U.S. faces six headwinds that are in the process of dragging long-term growth to half or less of the 1.9 percent annual rate experienced between 1860 and 2007. These include demography, education, inequality, globalization, energy/environment, and the overhang of consumer and government debt. A provocative “exercise in subtraction” suggests that future growth in consumption per capita for the bottom 99 percent of the income distribution could fall below 0.5 percent per year for an extended period of decades.

via Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds.

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