Saturday, 18 July 2009

The 1st Question 58 - 14 Jul 09

This Week’s Panel

Charlie Navarathna, Wynx Whiplash, Filthy Fluno & Marc Montague


If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.
John Kenneth Galbraith

I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.
Duane Michals

Never wear anything that panics the cat.
P. J. O'Rourke

Word – UP of the week
"mooncrookies" - the circles and bags under eyes resulting from the antics of a person up all night under the influence of a full moon.
Charlie Navarantha

E.g. upon rising, Cassandra went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and sighed when she saw the dark mooncrookies under her eyes.


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

P:1) David Merrill, of MIT is the inventor of these interactive electronic building blocks which he demonstrated at the 2009 TED conference. They are a platform for physical interaction with information and media. Each one has sensing, feedback, and wireless communication capabilities, making them a mashup of tangible interface and sensor network. The platform is collaboration with Jeevan Kalanithi (of taco lab.) What is this revolution in Cookie-Scale Computing called?

2) It is a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time. At present, most research is concerned with the use of live video imagery. Commonly known examples are the yellow "first down" line seen in broadcasts of American football games, and the colored trail showing location and direction of the puck in hockey games. What is this kind of imagery called that uses graphics in real time called?

3) He was a German civil engineer and computer pioneer. His greatest achievement was the world's first functional program-controlled computer, the Z3, in 1941 He started working in his parents' apartment in 1936, his first attempt, was called the Z1, In 1946 he founded one of the earliest computer companies: his capital was raised with an IBM option on his patents The Z4 was finished in 1950. At that time, it was the only working computer in continental Europe, and only the second computer in the world to be sold, only beaten by the BINAC.. he made it to the Z22, the first computer with a memory based on magnetic storage. Who was the man who also suggested digital physics, that the universe itself is running on a grid of computers?

4) The inventor of this data engine is a British physicist, software developer, mathematician, author and businessman, known for his work in theoretical particle physics, cosmology, and complexity theory. At 16, he published an article on particle physics and the following year entered Oxford . He is the author of the controversial book A New Kind of Science. His conclusion is that the universe is digital in its nature, and runs on fundamental laws which can be described as simple programs: cellular automata. In March of this year he announced, a computational data engine with a new approach to knowledge extraction and an easy-to-use interface. His engine is not a search engine in that it does not simply return a list of results based on a query, but instead attempts to compute an answer to its input & this could be as important as Google. What is this knowledge engine called, and /or who is its inventor?

5) One of his inspirations is from a 1937 lecture by Sherrington. In it the brain is described "as if the Milky Way entered upon some cosmic dance. Swiftly the brain becomes an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern though never an abiding one; a shifting harmony of subpatterns." And so he said, "I got interested in virtual reality because I wanted to be able to visualize brain-like circuits, as a model for artificial neural systems. I want to design, analyze, and simulate systems designed on the principles of biology." He developed eLoom, and using theory, simulation and virtual environments to understand how brains work. He created the University of New Mexico’s Visualization Lab in 1998 to advance the science of visualization and virtual environments so they can more effectively amplify human comprehension. Who is this man who coined the term Augmented Reality?

6) The term describes a market situation where sales of a product decline due to consumer anticipation of the product's successor. It originates from the supposed demise of this home computer, when in 1983, its inventor pre-announced several next-generation computer models (the "Executive" and "Vixen" models), which had not yet been built, highlighting the fact that they would outperform the existing model. Accordingly, sales of the first immediately plummeted as customers opted to wait for the more advanced systems, leading to a sales decline from which the company was unable to recover. What is the name of this effect?

7) It is a handheld gaming console which was released by Tiger Telematics in 2005.and was supposed to use The Smart Adds system as a way for consumers to subsidize part of the cost. displaying advertisements at random intervals. These advertisements would be downloaded via the device's GPRS data connection and would be targeted based on data inputted directing users to the nearest store carrying the advertised product. Launched with a line-up of fourteen titles with all were canceled before their release due to bankruptcy. What happened? A future better model was announced just a few weeks before the original US launch prompting some not to buy and instead wait for the improved model. Sales did not recover. What was this that gave us a classic case of the Osborne effect?

8) The magnetosphere of this planet is the largest and most powerful of any and the largest known continuous structure in the Solar System after the heliosphere. It’s existence was first inferred from observations of radio emissions at the end of 1950s and was directly observed by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft in 1973. The internal magnetic field is generated by electrical currents flowing in its outer core, which is composed of metallic hydrogen. Volcanic eruptions on it’s moon eject large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas into space, forming a large torus around the planet, which loads the magnetic field with plasma. Its aurorae have been observed in almost all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum including infrared, visible, ultraviolet and soft X-rays. What is the name of this planet?

9) The Book of the Moon is the definitive Moon book (even surpassing goodnight Moon) - it covers ancient fascination and study, mythology as well as scientific advancement and even medicinal ones. The author is a British Film Director who recently interviewed Buzz Aldrin onstage in London. Buzz told him ‘And there’s one person on earth who really understands the moon’s magnificent desolation.’ Who is this man ?

10) In March 2009 Honda created an interface that allows the control of an Asimo robot using thought alone via EEG. Now this car company and RIKEN have teamed up to create a revolutionary wheelchair steered by mind control. This remarkable development is one of the first practical uses of EEG signals. Designed for people with severe disabilities, the wheelchair is fitted with an EEG detector in the form of a electrode array skull cap, a cheek puff detector brake and a display that assists with control. Each signal is a composite of the electrical activity of billions of brain cells working in unison. Which car company name is behind this?

11) She was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities and one of the oldest. Often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of forests and hills, child birth, virginity, fertility, the hunt, and often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. What is the Greek name deity the Romans worshipped as Diana

12) Giving robots a taste for flesh might not seem like a great idea given that they’re probably going to rise up and enslave us in the next few decades. But that’s just what a couple of UK-based designers have done with their prototype flesh-eating robotic clock. The fuel cell is able to produce a current by mimicking chemical interactions found in nature. This current is then used to drive the rollers and power the LCD clock display. The designers believe that robots will need to pull their weight and blend with the furniture if they are going to be accepted into people’s homes. To that end they’ve also designed a coffee table that is designed to catch and digest mice, and a lampshade inspired by carnivorous pitcher plants. What is the flesh eating robotic clock currently eating?

13) A 1908 French satirical novel by Nobel Prize winning author Anatole France, called penguin island, narrates the fictional history of a population of these birds which are mistakenly baptized by a nearsighted missionary. The last population however lived on Geirfuglasker off Iceland. When the colony was initially discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins for preservation and display, quickly began collecting them from the colony. They were extinct in 1844. They are known to have been preyed upon by Neanderthals over 100,000 years ago as well-cleaned bones have been found by their campfires. Native Americans also valued it as a food source, because it tasted like chicken. Found in great numbers on islands off eastern Canada, Northern Europe and Great Britain, What is this now extinct species of bird believed to have mated for life?

14) The lofty ambitions of the Solar Impulse project are approaching reality with a fully assembled prototype unveiled to the public for the first time late last month. Entirely powered by the sun, the aircraft has a giant wingspan of 61 meters and is covered in almost 12,000 solar cells. .The plane’s four motors each achieve no more than what the Wright Brothers had available to them in 1903. As a result, the Solar Impulse can only average speeds of around 43.5mph And the only way a plane that slow will stay in the air is to have an enormous wingspan, comparable to that of an Airbus A340. What percentage of the plane’s flight is powered by the sun?

15) The Trans-Saharan gas pipeline (also known as NIGAL pipeline and Trans-African gas pipeline) is a planned natural gas pipeline. The annual capacity of which would be up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas, and is expected to be operational by 2015. Investment for the pipeline will be around US$10 billion and for gas gathering centers around $3 billion. It is seen as an opportunity to diversify the European Union's gas supplies. Name one of the 3 countries directly involved with this

16) His doctoral thesis established the quantum theory of solids, using waves to describe the electrons. He studied with Pauli in Zürich, Bohr in Copenhagen and Fermi in Rome before he went back to Leipzig. In 1933, immediately after Hitler came to power, he left Germany, emigrating to work at Stanford University in 1934, where he became the first professor for theoretical physics. During WW II he worked on atomic energy at Los Alamos. After the war he concentrated on investigations into nuclear induction and nuclear magnetic resonance, which are the underlying principles of MRI. Who was the man who with Edward Mills Purcell was awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize for "their development of new ways and methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements."

17) It is a new, very promising (although still in its infancy) technology in which the intrinsic spin of electrons, rather than the value of a voltage like in today's electronics, is used to store and transport information to be interpreted as either a "1" or a "0". Advantages of semiconductor-based applications of this sort are lower power use and a smaller footprint than electrical devices used for information processing Topological insulators have the property of opposing no resistance at all to an electrical flow next to their surface, making them much more fit to practical applications. What is this infant field, also known as magnetoelectronics?

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