About a year ago, on Wednesday April 14th, I was on the way to London from JFK, when the pilot announced a slight delay into Heathrow in order to avoid the ash cloud coming out of the Icelandic volcano eruption. This was the first time I paid any attention to the subject. But once in London that is the only subject anybody talked about for a week.… read more
March 28, 2011 by Sarah Black
The new short film Blinky, by Irish film writer/director Ruairi Robinson, takes place in the not-so-distant future, where robotic household helpers are everywhere.
In the broken home of a couple who are constantly fighting, their emotionally distraught young son takes his rage and frustration out on an AI robot companion toy named Blinky.
He urged his parents to buy him the factory-fresh bot after seeing the TV ad promising that Blinky can “bring families… read more
Ruairi Robinson official website
Radiation levels at Japan nuclear plant reach new highs: Leaked water sampled from one unit Sunday had 100,000 times the radioactivity of normal background levels…. airborne radioactivity in the unit 2 turbine building still remained so high — 1,000 millisieverts per hour — that a worker there would reach his yearly occupational exposure limit in 15 minutes. A dose of 4,000 to 5,000 millisieverts absorbed fairly rapidly will… read more
March 21, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica
The Likely Radiation Distribution in Japan (March 19)
Iodine from plant detected in Tokyo: .046 µSv/hr. (438 µSv per year — about 4 chest x-rays); Fukushima Pref.: 21.9 µSv/hr. (191,844 µSv per year or 1918 chest x-rays).
Dealing with radiation fears, potassium iodide requests: side effects include nausea, diarrhea, allergy, interference with the body’s normal production of… read more
I noticed in one of your recent essays on IBM’s Watson you say, “I, for one, would then regard it (an AI) as human.” I, for one, find that to be your most controversial statement in that article.
Apparently, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings did you one better the next day when he wrote on his screen, as part of his final written wager, before being defeated by… read more
March 21, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil
Congratulations! I saw you yesterday on PBS NewsHour. I had no idea that teaching a computer to win at Jeopardy was so much harder than teaching it to play chess. You explained it well. The computer has to appreciate jokes and irony, which is much harder than making logical deductions.
With deterioration of the nuclear reactor situation in Japan and radiation heading for Tokyo — in one extreme Pentagon scenario, catastrophic meltdowns and megadeaths in Japan, according to a source — many scientists are ramping up the search for alternates to earthquake-vulnerable nuclear power.
“The Japanese Government has dissembled regarding the gravity of the failure of their power plants and the potential for meltdown of their containment… read more
March 10, 2011
This is pretty clever. Brought to you courtesy of AlpineKat via YouTube who writes: “Images came from Particle Physics UK, Space.com, the Institute of Physics, NASA, Symmetry, Marvel, Einstein Online, and Physics World. Stock footage is CERN’s. They’ll have a lot of data to sort — 15 million GB per year, actually. Want to get involved and donate your computer’s downtime? Visit
Richard B. Hoover, Ph.D. NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center has discovered evidence of microfossils similar to terrestrial cyanobacteria in freshly fractured slices of the interior surfaces of two meteorites. He found that similar to trichomic cyanobacteria and other trichomic prokaryotes such as filamentous sulfur bacteria.
“The filaments have been observed to be embedded in freshly fractured internal surfaces of the stones,” said. “They exhibit features (eg, the size and size… read more
The just-released movie The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, is based on a 1954 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick, “The Adjustment Team.”
The plot is similar to Dark City, The Truman Show, The Matrix, Fringe, and other works suggesting the idea of a manufactured realitymanipulated future.
“In the film, Damon plays a man who glimpses the future planned… read more
On Saturday, March 5, for the first time, a Singularity-related event will be held in Europe — at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy.
Produced by Milan-based research institute iLabs (Wikipedia page here), the one-day, free iLabs Singularity Summit (not affiliated with the Singularity Institute’s Singularity Summit) will feature speeches by Ray Kurzweil (“Approaching the Singularity”), Aubrey de Grey… read more
An interview with Mark Stephen Meadows, author of We, Robot: Skywalker’s Hand, Blade Runners, Iron Man, Slutbots, and How Fiction Became Fact.
With We, Robot (Lyons Press, 2010), Mark Stephen Meadows explores the recent edges of robotic development in the context of some of our favorite fictional narratives.
It’s a smart, edgy read, written in a very hip, almost cyberpunk style (for one example, the author describes himself