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Rapid Change and Uncertainty. Some Examples of What’s Happening Now (that weren’t dreamed of a short while ago).

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rapid change and uncertainty

Rapid Change and Uncertainty

Some Examples of What’s Happening Now

(that weren’t dreamed of a short while ago)


The Paris edition of the New York Herald summed up Europe's opinion of the Wright brothers in an editorial on February 10, 1906: "The Wright have flown or they have not flown. They possess a machine or they do not possess one. They are in fact either fliers or liars. It is difficult to fly. It's easy to say, 'We have flown.'"

On November 12, 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont flew 220 meters (726 feet), capturing the 1500 franc Aero-Club de France prize from the Aero-Club for the first 100-meter flight.


The launch, as seen from the International Space Station

100 Years

One Life Time


Mansell/Time & Life Pictures — Getty Images

Flight’s First Fatality

Orville Wright crashed his plane, killing his passenger, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge. Orville was badly hurt.

Orville Wright was showing off a new “aeroplane” at Fort Myer, Va., for about 2,000 people, including Army brass. He took up a 26-year-old lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps.

The pair apparently made three and a half successful circuits at an altitude of about 75 feet, before a propeller split and hit other parts of the plane, causing it to crash.

Still, the Army was impressed, so much so that the War Department eventually bought the Wrights’ invention.

Sept 17, 1908 – First Crash

100 Years

One Life Time

April 22, 2008 – Last Flight



Cracker-size satellites launch April 2011toward populating the Earth's orbit with tiny ‘space-chips’www.csmonitor.com/Science/2011/0429/Cracker-size-satellites-to-launch-with-Space-Shuttle-Endeavour

  • Three tiny satellites, each the size of only a cracker, will launch tomorrow (April 29, 2011). Such devices, which can be made even smaller, could transform future space exploration and the cost of launching satellites.
  • The next logical step? "We are working on a satellite on a chip — satellites the size of a fingernail,“ "Instead of a spaceship, think of a 'space-chip.'“ These penny-size orbiters could pack sensors, a microchip brain and an antenna to broadcast their findings. In terms of propulsion, they could use their entire surface to reflect light in the manner of a solar sail, and vaporize extraordinarily thin films of material to rotate.
  • Although each satellite-on-a-chip might not be able to do much on its own, Peck said that if each weighed about one-tenth of a gram, that would amount to 10,000 per kilogram, or 10 million per metric ton (2,200 pounds), enough to spread a swarm of penny-size satellites over the Earth, scanning the planet for roughly the equivalent price of one large satellite.
  • "I believe this satellite-on-chip idea is transformative — it forces a rethink of how one does space exploration," Peck told SPACE.com.
  • These prototypes, made from relatively heavy commercial off-the-shelf components, are 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches (3.8 cm by 3.8. cm) and about 0.08 inches (2 millimeters) thick, with a mass that weighs about 10 grams on Earth.
  • They each contain seven solar cells, a microprocessor, an antenna and amplifier, power storage in capacitors, and switching circuitry to turn on the microprocessor when the stored energy is enough to create a single radio-frequency emission.
  • Optimized versions of these devices would just be about 10 to 50 milligrams, 0.5 inches by 0.5 inches (1.4 cm by 1.4 cm) large and 20 microns thick — "at that thickness, they act as respectable solar sails," Peck said.
  • Miniature satellites in low-Earth orbit - One concern about these satellites is whether they would pose a danger to larger satellites. Objects in low-Earth orbit are typically moving at nearly 17,000 mph (27,000 kilometers per hour), and even tiny bits of space debris can wreak havoc.
  • Addressing these fears, Peck noted that the miniature satellites would be deployed in very low orbit, just 180 to 250 miles (300 to 400 kilometers) above the Earth. The planet's atmosphere at that altitude is tenuous, but still enough to start dragging the penny-size orbiters down virtually immediately, Peck said.
  • Intriguingly, since these satellites are so tiny, atmospheric drag would quickly decelerate them to speeds less than the speed of sound. This slow re-entry means they effectively would flutter all the way down, avoiding the friction that spectacularly turns larger meteoroids into shooting stars.
  • As such, a satellite-on-a-chip could observe a target or sample the uppermost atmosphere throughout its descent.
  • "It's not about reducing cost, although that may be a nice benefit," Peck said. "Instead, we are re-conceiving spacecraft architectures and exploration missions for this tiny scale. The way tiny spacecraft work is radically different from how larger ones work, and it's even qualitatively different from how CubeSats or smartphone-size satellites work."


  • High above the surface of the Earth, satellites are pretty much left to fend for themselves – if a piece of space junk is drifting towards one, for instance, no one is going to be there to push it out of the way.
  • To address this type of situation, engineers from the University of Southampton have developed what they say is the world’s first control system for programing satellites to think for themselves. It’s a cognitive software agent called sysbrain, and it allows satellites to read English-language technical documents, which in turn instruct the satellites on how to do things such as autonomously identifying and avoiding obstacles.
  • The collision-avoidance system has been tested using models in a Southampton lab. Miniature satellites were created that glided across a perfectly-level smooth glass table on integrated ball bearings, to simulate the frictionless environment of space. Overhead visual markers stood in for celestial bodies, which the satellites would use for navigation via onboard cameras.
  • Using sysbrain, inertia sensors and additional cameras, the models were able to navigate their way across the table while simultaneously detecting and avoiding one another.
  • The system is programed and updated via special English-language digital documents, which sysbrain “reads” using natural language programming (NLP). The type of English used to write them is known as sEnglish, which is short for “system English.” Devices equipped with sysbrain could read such documents directly off the internet, which would allow their control system to be updated remotely – although outer space internet is still a work in progress, sysbrain has also been suggested for use in a variety of terrestrial vehicles.

The model satellites used to test sysbrain

16Feb2011: New control system willallow satellites to 'think for themselves’



The Sombrero Galaxy - 28 million light years from Earth - was voted best picture taken by the Hubble telescope. The dimensions of the galaxy are as spectacular as its appearance. It has 800 billion suns and is 50,000 light years across.

Hubble telescope's top 10 greatest photos



Electricity w/o the Network

  • The portable nuclear reactor is the size of a hot tub. It’s shaped like a sake cup, filled with a uranium hydride core and surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere. Encase it in concrete, truck it to a site, bury it underground, hook it up to a steam turbine and, voila, one would generate enough electricity to power a 25,000-home community for at least five years.
  • The company Hyperion Power Generation was formed last month to develop the nuclear fission reactor at Los Alamos National Laboratory and take it into the private sector. If all goes according to plan, Hyperion could have a factory in New Mexico by late 2012, and begin producing 4,000 of these reactors.
  • Though it would produce 27 megawatts worth of thermal energy, Hyperion doesn’t like to think of its product as a “reactor.” It’s self-contained, involves no moving parts and, therefore, doesn’t require a human operator.
  • “We prefer to call it a ‘battery’ in that it’s so safe,” Hyperion spokeswoman Deborah Blackwell says. “Like you don’t open a double-A battery, you just plug it in and it does its chemical thing. You don’t ever open it or mess with it.”


New Mind-Control Headset for PCswireless sensors help users run some programs with their thoughts - http://emotiv.com/
  • What if you could simply think about an action, and the computer would respond? Emotiv is currently fine-tuning a mind-reading headset called the Epoc, which should ship late this year. The $299 device purports to eavesdrop on your thoughts and translate them into computer instructions.
  • If you think about lifting a heavy object, neurons in your brain fire in a particular pattern. Push a door, and it's a different pattern—and the headset can tell the difference. Emotiv bundles the headset with a fantasy game that includes practice exercises to tune the device to each user's unique thought processes. After that, you can raise a boulder by thinking "lift," or bend a tree by thinking "pull.“
  • In one of the training sequences, I had to imagine a cube and then will it to disappear. After a little practice, I was able to cause a cube on the computer screen to wink in and out of existence just by thinking of it.
  • The sensors in the headset also respond to certain facial expressions, such as anger or delight, which can be transferred to characters displayed on the screen. What's more, certain emotions produce characteristic electrical patterns. If you can summon up aggressive thoughts, the software will respond with certain actions in the game. I was able to chase away some flying wraithlike creatures just by thinking agitated, evil thoughts.
  • Emotiv and a rival Silicon Valley company, NeuroSky, initially are targeting the entertainment market. But both startups say they're in touch with companies in other industries, including manufacturers of TVs, medical devices, and automobiles.

Jul 30, 2008, Cliff Edwards, www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_32/b4095000909813.htm

clearly frankly unabashedly disabled
Clearly, Frankly, Unabashedly Disabled
  • PLAIN SIGHT Baring her prosthetic leg for the world to see, Sarah Reinertsen hits the floor at Holly’s in Los Angeles. Ms. Reinertsen was a contestant on “The Amazing Race.” - New York Times, 5/13/07

Stephanie Diani for The New York Times

leds in your contact lenses
LEDs in your contact lenses?


Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have developed a prototype contact lens that incorporates an imprinted electronic circuit and lights. The prototype is a step toward creating a form of bionic vision, the researchers say.

The researchers say the flexible lens is biologically safe and was worn by rabbits for up to 20 minutes with no adverse effects. Along with a circuit, the prototype contains red LEDs for a display.

Despite the display being on the cornea of the eye, the image it shows would appear to be on an exterior object such as the windshield of a car, or might even seem to be in midair for people browsing the Internet or immersing themselves in a virtual world.

"Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside," Parviz said in a statement when the research was made public last week. The images wouldn't obstruct a wearer's view, researchers added. "There is a large area outside of the transparent part of the eye that we can use for placing instrumentation," Parviz said.


BrainGateneural interface system reaches 1,000-day performance milestoneMarch 24, 2011http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2011/03/braingate  

The system is currently in pilot clinical trials, and uses a silicon electrode array, about the size of a baby aspirin, to read neural signals directly within brain tissue.

models of eel cells suggest electrifying possibilities
Models of Eel Cells Suggest Electrifying Possibilities


  • 2008: A paper by researchers at Yale and the National Institute of Standards and Technology takes it to a cellular level.
  • Artificial cells could be built that not only replicate the electrical behavior of electric eel cells but in fact improve on them. Their calculations show that substantial improvements are possible.


2011: The BBC covers a team of scientists who are working on a new way to power medical implants: an internal biofuel cell. Called a biofuel cell, it uses glucose and oxygen at concentrations found in the body to generate electricity. They are the first group in the world to demonstrate their device working while implanted in a living animal. If all goes to plan, biofuel cells may be used to power a range of medical implants. In 2010, they tested their fuel cell in a rat for 40 days and reported that it worked flawlessly, producing a steady electrical current throughout, with no noticeable side effects on the rat's behavior or physiology.'

Electric eel anatomy: The first detail shows stacks of electrocytes, cells linked in series (to build up voltage) and parallel (to build up current). Second detail shows an individual cell with ion channels and pumps penetratimng the membrance, The Yale/NIST model represents the behavior of several such cells. Final detail shows an individual ion channel, one of the building blocks of the model. [Daniel Zukowski, Yale University]

oem robot bases
OEM Robot Bases


The 10-robot Collaboration Pack provides valuable cross-platform opportunities for both researchers and students. From the speedy Research PatrolBot platform, able to carry up to 40kgs, to the human interaction capabilities of PeopleBot, the all-terrain power of P3-AT and the versatility of P3-DX, the Collaboration Pack provides an outstanding collection of robots for a strong robotics program.

Platforms have good I/O extensibility. The basic platforms may be upgraded with many accessories and options and include the power of SONARNL sonar localization and navigation with ARIA C++ libraries, ARNetworking and Demo programs out of the box.

  • BigDog (March 2006) is the alpha male of the Boston Dynamics robots. It is a rough-terrain robot that walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by an engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog has four legs that are articulated like an animal’s, with compliant elements to absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule; about 3 feet long, 2.5 feet tall and weighs 240 lbs.
  • In separate tests BigDog runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, climbs a muddy hiking trail, walks in snow and water, and carries a 340 lb load. BigDog set a world's record for legged vehicles by traveling 12.8 miles without stopping or refueling.
  • AlphaDog (Sep 2011) is a lab prototype for the Legged Squad Support System. When fully developed the system will carry 400 lbs of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain. The first version of the complete robot will be completed in 2012. AlphaDog is designed to be over 10x quieter than BigDog. The field version of AlphaDog will have a head packed with terrain sensors.
  • For more information visit us at www.BostonDynamics.com.




Weight 3 grams.

10 cm tip-to-tip.

Speed 5 m/sec.

Flies 3 mins on

1 gram battery.


Micro Air Vehicle



July 2008


0.4 gram camera and transmitter of the DelFly micro


High-Speed Robot HandDemonstrates Dexterity and Skillful ManipulationAugust 3, 2009 by Travis Deyle, http://www.hizook.com/blog/2009/08/03/high-speed-robot-hand-demonstrates-dexterity-and-skillful-manipulation

A few blogs are passing around videos of the Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand performing impressive acts of dexterity and skillful manipulation.  However, the video being passed around is slight on details.  Meanwhile, their video presentation at ICRA 2009 (which took place in May in Kobe, Japan) has an informative narration and demonstrates additional capabilities.  I have included this video below, which shows the manipulator dribbling a ping-pong ball, spinning a pen, throwing a ball, tying knots, grasping a grain of rice with tweezers, and tossing / re-grasping a cellphone!

File 3

Based on the video, the hand uses high-speed actuators with harmonic drive gears.  The hand can close in 1/10th of a second!  Personally, I find the tweezers grasping the grain of rice the most entertaining -- very anthropomorphic.


From AeroVironment, the company behind the largest, highest and longest flying unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the Global Observer, now comes the “Nano Hummingbird”. Controlled precision hovering and fast-forward flight of a two-wing, flapping wing aircraft that carries its own energy source and relies only on its flapping wings for propulsion and control. Part of a DARPA Phase II contract.

The hand-made final concept demonstrator has a wingspan of 16 cm (6.5 in) and weighs just 19 g (2/3 oz), less than the weight of a AA battery. This has all the systems required for flight, including batteries, motors, communications systems and even a video camera.



www.gizmag.com/aerovironment-nano-hummingbird/17918/ with video at www.suasnews.com/2011/02/3815/aerovironment-develops-world%E2%80%99s-first-fully-operational-life-size-hummingbird-like-unmanned-aircraft-for-darpa/

Better video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Rfx_FRKdS8&feature=related



Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic04Mar2011, http://www.ispyce.com/2011/03/smarter-than-you-think-google-cars.html
  • Google’s Sebastian Thrun, at TED 2011, showed a video montage of the auto-driving cars on regular roads that was pretty amazing. You could see the cars avoiding things like a deer that dashed in front of one or another making it carefully around a small hillside road, as a large truck came toward it. During a half-hour drive beginning on Google’s campus 35 miles south of San Francisco last Wednesday, a Prius equipped with a variety of sensors and following a route programmed into the GPS navigation system nimbly accelerated in the entrance lane and merged into fast-moving traffic on Highway 101, the freeway through Silicon Valley.

Robot Controlled By Rat Brain Continues Progresshttp://singularityhub.com/2010/10/06/videos-of-robot-controlled-by-rat-brain-amazing-technology-still-moving-forward/

  • Some technologies are so coo. Case in point: robots being controlled by rat brains. Kevin Warwick at the University of Reading, has been working on creating neural networks that can control machines.
  • He and his team have taken the brain cells from rats, cultured them, and used them as the guidance control circuit for simple wheeled robots. Electrical impulses from the bot enter the batch of neurons, and responses from the cells are turned into commands for the device. The cells can form new connections, making the system a true learning machine. He and his competitors continue to move this technology forward – animal cyborgs are real.
  • The skills of these rat-robot hybrids are very basic at this point. Mainly the neuron control helps the robot to avoid walls. Yet that obstacle avoidance often shows clear improvement over time, demonstrating how networks of neurons can grant simple learning to the machines.
  • As Warwick points out again and again, these cyborgs are going to become more advanced, probably sooner rather than later. Current cultures of neurons have about 100,000 cells, but only a small fraction are actually involved in controlling the robot circuits at any given time.

File1, File1.5, File 4



China Erects 15 Story Hotel in Less Than 6 Days!January 25th, 2011 by Aaron Saenz, http://singularityhub.com/2011/01/25/china-erects-15-story-hotel-in-less-than-6-days-video/

  • A team of 200 workers erected the 15 story internal structure in just 46.5 hours!
  • External construction took another 90 hours, for a total of less than 6 days.
  • According to Broad, the hotel is built to withstand a 9.0 earthquake while using one sixth the material and costing 20% less.
  • They plan on constructing 15 similar structures in China and 30 more abroad. If successful, this could create a new wave of innovation in industrial construction.

http://www.lyricsemiconductor.com/ and http://www.lyricsemiconductor.com/news.htm

  • MIT Spin-out Lyric Semiconductor Launches a New Kind of Computing with Probability Processing Circuits
  • Breakthrough Error Correction for Flash Memories Now Available; Future Technology to Enable 1,000X Performance Over Today’s Digital Processors
  • Lyric Semiconductor, Inc. a DARPA- and venture-funded MIT spin-out, today emerged from stealth mode to launch a new technology called probability processing, which is poised to deliver a fundamental change in processing performance and power consumption. With over a decade of development at MIT and at Lyric Semiconductor, Lyric’s probability processing technology calculates in a completely new way, enabling orders-of-magnitude improvement in processor efficiency. Lyric Error Correction (LEC™) for flash memory, the first commercial application of probability processing, offers a 30X reduction in die size and a 12X improvement in power consumption all at higher throughput compared to today’s digital solutions. Lyric Semiconductor has developed an alternative to digital computing. The company is redesigning processing circuits from the ground up to natively process probabilities – from the gate circuits to the processor architecture to the programming language. As a result, many applications that today require a thousand conventional processors will soon run in just one Lyric processor, providing 1,000X efficiencies in cost, power, and size.
  • For over 60 years, computers have been based on digital computing principles. Data is represented as bits (1s and 0s). Boolean logic gates perform operations on these bits. Lyric has invented a new kind of logic gate circuit that uses transistors as dimmer switches instead of as on/off switches. These circuits can accept inputs and calculate outputs that are between 0 and 1, directly representing probabilities - levels of certainty.
  • A digital processor steps through these operations serially in order to perform a function. In order to improve efficiency even further, Lyric’s processors are designed to perform many probability computations in parallel.
  • Lyric’s approach can accelerate search, fraud detection, spam filtering, financial modeling, genome sequence analysis, and many other important present and future applications that involve simultaneously considering many possible alternatives and deciding on the best fit – the best guess for the answer. In theory, digital processors can perform these calculations, but in practice, they do so very inefficiently. As a result, a huge amount of processing overhead is required, costing an enormous amount of space, power and money.
  • The GP5™ - Beyond today’s LEC technology, Lyric is developing the GP5™ – a general-purpose programmable probability processing platform. The GP5 will be ideally suited to calculate probabilities for all types of applications – from web searches to genome sequencing – and could enable performance gains of 1,000X over today’s digital x86-based systems such as the processors from Intel and AMD. The GP5 will run code written in Lyric’s own probability programming language called PSBL™ (Probability Synthesis to Bayesian Logic), an expressive computer programming language for working with probability based computations. Lyric will leverage its probability processor and programming technologies to deliver disruptive total systems to its customers.
  • Availability - Lyric’s LEC technology is currently available for license, accompanied by support services enabling product integration within 12 months. Beyond LEC, the first GP5 will begin sampling in 2013.

"The US has not had to truly think about its air defense since the Cold War. But as America embraces the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, Newsweek says

  • it's time to consider how our greatest new weapon may come back to bite us. Smaller UAVs' cool, battery-powered engines make them difficult to hit with conventional heat-seeking missiles. And while Patriot missiles can take out UAVs, at $3 million apiece such protection carries a steep
  • price tag, especially if we have to deal with $500 DIY drones.”slashdot, 27Feb2010, http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/02/27/1317242/Defending-Against-Drones
  • ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • The aim of this project is to both make the world's cheapest full-featured UAV and the first one designed to be within the reach of high school and below kids.
  • Features: In GPS mode, unlimited pre-programmed waypoints, with programmable options such as circle and hold. Ability to integrate other sensors, such as ultrasonic, compass, gyros, accelerometers, or barometric pressure (altitude). With optional bluetoothcellphone integration, control via text message, including dynamical-changed GPS waypoints, "come home" and "circle" commands, etc.


remote control bomb www onetrendblog com remote control bomb 365
Remote Control Bombwww.onetrendblog.com/remote-control-bomb/365/
  • If flying remote control planes doesn’t sound like fun to you… imagine dropping remote controlled bombs while flying a remote control plane.  Sounds a whole lot more exciting, doesn’t it?
  • That’s what the makers of the $17 Quanum RC Bomb System were thinking, and I have to agree with them.  It looks fairly realistic, and is simple to install for any RC plane enthusiast.  It sticks to the underside of and .25 size or larger RC aircraft, and is triggered by an extra servo channel in your receiver.  That means you can drop it at just the right moment to assault your target.The bomb is made of a durable nylon material, and can be filled with anything your evil mind can come up with.    It also comes with a custom release plate, so you can use it to drop items other than the bomb, such as flowers… but somehow I don’t think I’d ever use that function!

Photo: Christoph Morlinghaus

Drug Runners’Jungle-Built,



12Mar2011, Wired

A cargo hold in the sub's bow can hold up to 9 tons of cocaine, worth about $250 million




  • Anonymous is a diverse bunch: though they tend to be younger rather than older, their age group spans decades. Some may still be in school, but many others are gainfully employed office-workers, software developers, or IT support technicians, among other things. With that diversity in age and experience comes a diversity of expertise and ability.
predator style helmets allow pilots to see through planes
Predator-Style Helmets Allow Pilots to See Through Planes!

See video – Grumman F-35 Electro Optical Distributed Aperture System EO-DAS: www.youtube.com/user/F35JSFVideos#p/u/7/CwvnhFgzIKI


  • It superimposes infra-red imagery on the visor to let the pilot look through the floor, day or night, and see the world below
  • They can see through their jet's fuselage to spy targets on the ground.
  • No need for a dashboard - cockpit info is projected on to the pilot's visor to give directions on navigation and engaging the enemy.