Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The 1st Question 67 - 29 Sep 09

This week's panel

Romane Levee, Wytchwhisper Sadofsky, Vento Shim, Varian Parx


It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.
Clarence Darrow

Word-UP of the week "Lindenaire's Disease": any number of conditions in Second Life which might be ascribed to anything Linden Lab's is currently doing to improve the grid.
Varian Parx

Special Word – Up phrase “Lindenairres with uranophobia must eat chittens or else they are effarious.”
Rocket Sellers

Audience Quote of the week – Is it appropriate to dress up as Santa for Halloween?
Troy McLuhan


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

1) Scottish invention time & my crush of the week- The digital television signal today can transmit pictures composed of up to 1,080 lines. That’s a long way from the first TV, demonstrated by this man in 1926. It used just 30 lines to create a coarse image. He is remembered today as an inventor (178 patents) way ahead of his time. Among his pioneering ideas were early versions of color tv, the video disc, televised sports, and pay TV by closed circuit.. His early television looked like a peep-show device, held together with scrap wood, darning needles, string, and sealing wax. Who was this tragic figure who often worked alone for lack of financial backing, lived to see his technical ideas superseded & was forgotten by the time he died at the age of 58?

2) He is considered by many to be the "father of chemistry." His ethnic background is not clear; although some sources state that he was an Arab,. He is held to be the first practical alchemist. His alchemical investigations ostensibly revolved around the ultimate goal of takwin — the artificial creation of life. The Book of Stones includes several recipes for creating creatures such as scorpions, snakes, and even humans in a laboratory environment, which are subject to the control of their creator. He is credited with classifying "Spirits" which vaporise on heating, "Metals", & Non-malleable substances, that can be converted into powders, such as stones. Who was this ancient Polymath?

3) This Staffordshire Hoard is perhaps the most important collection of Anglo-Saxon objects found in England. And it will make us think again about rising (and failing) kingdoms and the complicated transition from paganism to Christianity. Another surprising find happened in 1939 which contained an undisturbed 6th century ship burial including a wealth of outstanding artifacts And what might be references straight out of Beowulf a period of English history which is on the margin between myth, legend and historical documentation. It was found by someone Pretty, Edith May Pretty who owned the estate at the time of the discovery. What is the name of this famous find?

4) Re-using the millions of tons of plastic waste instead of burying, dumping or burning is a great idea. Ground-breaking oh yes, this gave its first public performance in Maryland recently and can be fed almost any petroleum-based waste plastic & convert it into synthetic light to medium oil for less than $10 per barrel. A reactor, converts waste plastic feedstock into oil and makes use of some of the by-products to power the unit. Vent gas is recycled to provide electricity and excess oil residue is transformed. Buy stock in….what company?

5) In the midst of overwhelming debate over climate change - an issue that seemingly paralyzes US politicians – this countries government has announced its intention to construct a 2-gigawatt solar power plant. First Solar is the Arizona-based company constructing the plant, & magnitude of the development is many times greater than any solar plant in operational or considered. If successful, it will cover a staggering 25-square miles, cost billions of dollars and power 3 million homes. In what country?

6) Meat essentially consists of animal muscle. The process of developing in vitro meat involves taking a muscle cell from an animal through a biopsy and joining the cell with a protein that helps the cell to grow akin to the production of yogurt cultures. The development of in vitro meat originally arose out of experiments conducted by NASA. And is cleaner and less prone to disease and contamination than meat garnered from livestock. Who was it that said in the 1930s, "Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium."

7) Biomimetics is the science of applying nature's principles to human engineering and design. The concept is actually quite old - the Chinese wanted to make artificial silk 3,000 years ago, and Leonardo da Vinci copied the wing principles of birds. The most commercial application of Biomimetics has been the development of Velcro. Now, with advances in technology and the need for sustainable technologies, it is fuelling a scientific revolution. A new smart-fabric derived from the properties of this has been developed in the UK. The fabric adapts to changing temperatures by opening up when warm and shutting tight when cold just like these do in nature, what does this smart clothing mimic?

8) A thought-controlled bipedal combat robot will be entered into the 16th Robo-One gladiatorial tournament. The robot will be controlled by its creator who controls the robot with, his own thoughts, gathered by a set of electrodes applied to his head that measure his neural activity. The robot is able to walk forward, rotate right and use its single arm for stabbing attacks. "As this is the first neural signal-controlled combat robot, I hope a lot of people will get to know about it," its inventor said. Training involves repeatedly giving the necessary mental commands to his robot.. In what country is Robo-One held?

9) The first school in the United States to base its entire curriculum around gaming has opened. Quest to Learn (Q2L) will use games such as LittleBigPlanet, Civilization and Spore to teach students—about 25 sixth graders at first—everything from the value of teamwork, how to think strategically and even about the price of war. It 's website sounds like the description for a real-life Jedi academy The school received $1 million in funding from the Gates Foundation, Intel and the MacArthur Foundation, and that will carry the school until 2015,. In what city is this school underway?

10) Red velvet, check. Mechanized base, check. Built-in massage, check. Covered LED canopy lights, check. 32-inch LCD television, check. Vanity mirror, check. Comfortable mattress, oh yeah -Frikkin' kickass champagne cooler? CHECK. What am I talking about here?

11) He rose from obscurity and successfully navigated the shady world of early Russian privatization to become one of the world's wealthiest self-made billionaires. His 40-man private army make him one of the best-protected businessmen in the world, and when his private gigayacht the Eclipse is handed over in time for Christmas, it will be the largest (at a staggering 560ft) and the most expensive (at $1.2 billion). Security will be tight, with missile defence and intruder detection systems - but the Eclipse's most notable feature is a privacy system that can detect the digital cameras of snooping paparazzi and blind them with laser bursts, ruining spy photos. Who is this man with the armor plated bulletproof master bedroom?

12) Heinz Kaminski from Bochum, Germany, who was the first one in the western world listening to Sputnik 1 in 1957. Earth-Moon-Earth, is a radio communications technique which relies on the propagation of radio waves from an earth-based transmitter directed via reflection from the surface of the moon back to an earth reciever. The moon must be visible in order for EME communications to be possible. In 1969, a radio technician was able to use home-built equipment to listen in on the Apollo 11 transmissions. What is the EME also known as?

13) Mexican artist Gilberto Esparza has created a series of robot sculptures. The robots are created entirely from recycled materials; one of his creations takes power from electrical wires and reacts to light sources as well as noises and cell phone signals. inspired by Mexico City street vendors who take power from nearby electric power poles to juice their roadside stalls. Another creation is the Solar Nomad Plant. This is a plant carried in a mobile cart toward available sunlight. The robotic cart apparently feeds off the energy created by decaying bacteria in the polluted water that in turn nourishes the plant. What are these robotic sculptures called?

14) He is included in a list of "The Ten Most Influential People of the Second Millennium”, and it is his contribution which stopped the medical practice of bloodletting as he who was the first in the Western world to describe correctly and in exact detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped around the body by the heart. He was Physician to James 1 & when the king died His research notes were destroyed in riots in London at start of the English Civil War. He was an English physician of great reknown, who was he?

P:15) The story describes a world in which almost all humans have lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth,. Each individual lives in isolation in a standard 'cell', with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine- Clearly, even in 1909 the author was deeply concerned we were in danger of becoming unable to live without the technology we created. The story predicted several technological and social innovations, such as the 'cinematophote' (television) and videoconferencing. The author also sought to establish the value of direct experience. This shows remarkable foresight, and the book describes many nuances of "online life" over 60 years before the Internet was even invented. The story is called “The Machine Stops” who wrote this cautionary sci-fi novel?

H:16) Scientists trying to model a range of processes could ‘borrow’ a chip from this to get all the power and capabilities they need, saving thousands of dollars on parallel processing hardware and/or countless man-hours. Dr Simon Scarle studying abnormal electrical activity in the heart needed to conduct simulations of how electrical excitations moved. For the cost of a few hundred pounds, he was able to conduct much the same scientific modeling as several thousand pounds of parallel network PCs by taking a chip off of a what?

P: 17)A glass casting method has been revived and developed into a technique to manufacture glass objects from fine glass powder using computer-aided design and a 3-D printer.. This new method bears a striking resemblance to a glass casting technique first developed by the ancient Egyptians and now known as "pate de verre" in which finely crushed glass was mixed with a binding material such as gum arabic and water, deposited on a negative mould to form a coating, and then fused.. What is this significantly cheaper process to precisely manufacture glass structures in various shapes called bringing this ancient method to the digital age?

Friday, 25 September 2009

The 1st Question 66 - 22 Sep 09

This week's panel

Chase Marellan, Chimera Cosmos, Dedric Mauriac, Pim Peccable.


Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind.
Frederich Nietzsche

Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand.
Edward Everett Hale

Word-UP of the week – “Lagoflage” - Noun. Lag-o-Flage. Feature, claim, or situation that provides the ability to hide within lag. Techniques are often used to provide an excuse to leave events or conversation early by feigning lag. While many people may claim to have lag, an extreme lagoflageist will attempt to decrease network bandwidth, increase CPU & GPU load, or run additional programs that occupy more memory to actually induce lag. "She says she had to leave because the lag was ruining her experience, but I think it was just a bunch of Lagoflage".
Dedric Mauriac

Audience Quote of the week – “I saw popcorn popped by cellphones on youtube.....”
Xanshin Paz


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

P:1) These are a glass curiosity created by dripping hot molten glass into cold water. The glass cools into a tadpole-shaped droplet with a long, thin, tail. The way the glass cools sets up very high residual stress within the drop & gives rise to unusual qualities, such as the ability to withstand a blow from a hammer on the bulbous end without breaking, while the drops will disintegrate explosively if the tail end is even slightly damaged. What is this?

2) Waterbanking is the fundamental factor in future urban infrastructure in the American Southwest. This Nevada project is a prototype that makes the storage, use, and collection of water essential. A network of canals is covered with undulating residential and commercial structures. Sounds familiar. Remember Dune? The “first planetary ecology novel” which forecasts a dystopian world without water. The few remaining inhabitants secluded themselves from their harsh environment. Essentially underground water storage banks, this Nevada project of an underground community is also called what?

3) This Bank is a real-world non-profit startup that is dedicated to building a new currency. According to their website, value is "obtained from your online reputation by tracking your interactions with social networks and the feedback from your contacts." The site just launched last week. When you enter your Facebook or Twitter name, you will see a graph describing your Salary. The algorithm currently considers these aspects:
Public Endorsements, Level of Influence, Existing Reputation & Analyzes Content of Messages. What is this reputation bank called?

4) A stock model developed by physicists has apparently made a successful prediction of a fall in the Shanghai Stock Exchange & is taken from concepts about the physics of complex atomic systems. The idea is that if a plot of the logarithm of the market's value over time deviates upwards from a straight line, it's a clear warning that people are investing simply because the market is rising rather than paying heed to the intrinsic worth of companies. By projecting the trend, you can predict when growth will become unsustainable and the market will crash. Which group on Star trek was known for investing a lot in the science of capitalism? (The Ferengi)

5) A massively-parallel computing device made from supersaturated solutions of sodium acetate? The basic idea is to use the wavefront of crystallization to perform calculations; using its the speed and the way it interacts to perform them. Most experimental prototypes of unconventional computers require a tailored hardware interface (liquid crystals) and specialized equipment (memristors). What is the more common name for sodium acetate trihydrate the ideal DIY unconventional computer material’?

6)In The Island of Dr. Moreau, by HG Welles, Dr. Moreau performs experiments on animals, always testing the limits of what is possible, to transform them into something more man-like. Dr. Moreau wants to find out the extreme limit of plasticity in a living shape. And says, "To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter. The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.” When the novel was written in the late 19th century, Britain's scientific community was engulfed by debates on this, even spawning the British Union for the Abolition of what?

7) This state’s Supreme Court recently ruled that the state Declaration of Rights allows police to break into a suspect’s car to secretly install GPS tracking devices, provided they have a warrant before they act. The court said using GPS devices as an investigative tool – which can require police to secretly break into a vehicle to install the device – does not violate the ban on unreasonable search and seizures found in the state’s Declaration of Rights. In what state of the union is this now allowed?

8) This University has given famed researcher Irving Weissman permission to create a mouse-human hybrid. The intent is to inject human brain cells into the brains of developing mice to see what happens. The National Academy of Sciences will unveil guidelines on chimera and stem cell research this spring. But rest assured They conclude if they see any signs of human brain structures . . . or if the mouse shows human-like behaviors, like improved memory,problem-solving, or obsessive behavior over what their girl friend is doing online, they will stop. At what university is this being done?

9) He was editor of the New York Sun, and was recognized as a major figure in the early development of science fiction. He wrote fiction about a man rendered invisible by scientifically & about a time-travel machine before Wells. He wrote about faster-than-light travel ("The Tachypomp"; now perhaps his best-known work) in 1874, a thinking computer and a cyborg in 1879 ("The Ablest Man in the World"), and much else. His 1879 story "The Senator's Daughter", set in the future year 1937, contains several technological predictions which were daring for the time: travel by pneumatic tube, electrical heating, newspapers printed in the home by electrical transmission, food-pellet concentrates, international broadcasts, and the suspended animation of a living human being through freezing (cryogenics) Who was he?

10) It’s formerly known as the One Hectare Telescope, a joint effort by the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Laboratory dedicated to astronomy & search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It pioneers the Large-Number Small-Diameter concept of building radio telescopes. Compared to a large dish antenna, large numbers of smaller dishes are cheaper for the same collecting area, however the signals from all telescopes must be combined. They have also offered to provide the downlink for any contestants in the Google Lunar X Prize. What is this project being built?

11) It is a mission being developed by the Planetary Society, consisting of sending selected microorganisms on a three-year round-trip in a small capsule aboard the Russian Phobos-Grunt spacecraft. The goal is to test whether organisms can survive for years in deep space and will determine one aspect of transpermia, the hypothesis that life could survive space travel, if protected inside rocks blasted by impact off one planet to land on another. What is it called?

12) First isolated by English and Russian researchers in 2004, graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms densely-packed in a honeycomb structure with unique mechanics. It has a breaking strength 200 times greater than steel, and has proven an excellent choice in manufacturing highly resistant carbon nanotubes, which have quickly become one of the central research areas in today's nanotechnology. The new material grapheme plus hydrogen, graphone, makes graphene magnetic and electric and can become an excellent substitute for what?

13) It is effectively a class of problems of taking an initial set of data that gives the positions, masses, and velocities of some set, for some particular point in time, and then using that set of data to determine the motions of them, and to find their positions at other times, in accordance with the laws of classical mechanics, i.e., Newton's laws of motion and Newton's law of gravity The problem of finding it’s solution was considered very important and challenging. Indeed in the late 1800s King Oscar II of Sweden, established a prize for anyone who could find it. What is this famous problem called?

14) In case the problem could not be solved, any other important contribution to classical mechanics would then be considered to be prize-worthy. But to whom was the prize first awarded?

15) Non-lethal weapons are intended to have reversible effects on personnel and material. They provide soldiers with another option when lethal force isn’t considered to be the best first response to a situation. One non-lethal weapon prototype that is being evaluated by U.S. military is the Thermal Laser System, which attaches to a rifle and uses a laser to create a heating sensation to repel adversaries. Unfortunately, current trials indicate that something nullifies the weapon's effectiveness. What is it?

16) Juvenile Artists Presenting an Electric Musical Toe-Dancing Novelty was his first act. In it he wore a top hat and tails in the first half and a lobster outfit in the second. His sister Adele married her first husband, a son of the Duke of Devonshire and so he went solo, sort of. Notes on his auditions were "Can't sing. Can't act. Balding. Can dance a little." He paired with a woman whose partnership elevated them both to stardom.. Famously insecure and workaholic, He would not even go to see his rushes. Who was this famous dancer?

17) This is a research database tool that helps you find research that you like, or would work well with the research you have already done. It's like the iTunes Genius feature, which looks at your music and organizes it, and then suggests new tunes that you would probably like. At the basic level, students can "drag and drop" research papers which automatically extracts data, keywords, cited references, etc, thereby creating a searchable database and saving countless hours of work. It enables users to collaborate with researchers around the world, whose existence they might not know about until this algorithms find them What is this real time social network in pursuit of scientific truth called?

H:18) The founder of the world Jedi religion has accused this UK-based retail giant of religious discrimination after the company ordered him to remove his hood or leave. Daniel Jones, the 23-year-old founder of the religion inspired by the Star Wars film saga, believes that he has every right to insist on wearing his hood. "It states in our Jedi doctrinarian that I can wear headwear. The retail empire struck back, however, by referencing the film canon, showing that the three best-known Jedi - Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker - all appear in public without their hoods. And company representatives added: Jedi’s are very welcome to shop in our stores. What chain doesn’t want the Jedi’s to miss special offers?

19) Sometimes referred to as the South Atlantic Flash this was an unidentified double flash of light in 1979. Specialists who examined the data speculated that the double flash, characteristic of a nuclear explosion, may have been the result of a nuclear weapons test: "The conclusions of the presidential panel were reassuring, as they suggested that the most likely explanation was a meteoroid hitting the satellite —. Others who examined the data, including DIA, the national laboratories, and contractors reached a very different conclusion —they detected a nuclear detonation." What was this incident known as?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The 1st Question 65 - 15 Sep 09

This week's panel
Miltone Marquette, EvaMoon Ember, Nexus Burbclave, Reed Steamroller.

Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch.
Tim Berners-Lee

Facts are the air of scientists. Without them you can never fly.
Linus Pauling

Word-UP of the week – Was A Tie!! ”Baff” - A bath taken for purely recreational purposes. Verb: to Bave.
EvaMoon Ember

“ Cruddacular” - When things don't go your way, they're cruddacular.
Reed Steamroller

Audience Quote of the week - “y =mx+b is an answer a husband gave as to why he was out all night”
Lauren Weyland


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

1) Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have taken the term ‘green power’ literally by running an electric circuit from the power generated by trees. Its not much but could be used to detect environmental conditions. By hooking nails to trees and connecting a voltmeter- big leaf maples generate a steady voltage of up to a few hundred millivolts. The team’s research follows on a study from what school that found plants generate a voltage when one electrode is placed in a plant and the other in the surrounding soil?

2) Most of his life was lived on Utopia Parkway in Queens along with his mother and brother. He was something of a recluse and became a self-taught artist. He was an American artist and sculptor, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage. Influenced by the Surrealists, he was also an avant-garde experimental filmmaker. His most characteristic art works were boxes created from found objects. Many of his boxes, such as the famous Medici Slot Machine, are interactive and are meant to be handled. Who was he?

3) Designed by the famous team Adler and Sullivan with a staff that included the young Frank Lloyd Wright. This Chicago building was originally designed as a luxurious hotel and theatre. Sullivan is considered to be one of the creators of Art Nouveau. Adler did the theaters acoustics; so perfect that every word on stage could be easily heard six stories up and a half block away. Caruso sang there; Prokofiev conducted there. It was the first new building in the world to be electrically lit and the first to be air conditioned via forced air directed over water and blocks of ice. What building was deemed so well made it would cost more to tear down than to rebuild over?

4) They have already created a robot guided by rat brains, now the same team is creating a robot guided by human ones. It always starts as an attempt to understand disease, but who knows where this will take us. Different rat brains, do behave differently and of course so will human ones. What part of the human brain is used to control the robot?

5)Christmas remained a normal working day in Scotland until 1958, this festival is Scottish and steeped in many customs and traditions. Redding or cleaning the house,
Mistletoe, not for kissing under like at Christmas, but to prevent illness to the householders. Pieces of holly are placed to keep out mischievous fairies and pieces of hazel and yew which were thought to have magical powers. Juniper would be burnt, black buns eaten, loud noise made, and “Lang may yer lum reek!” will be and has been said for centuries at this time. What festival is this, peculiar to Scotland?

6) If you’re looking for a universal remote to complement any Harry Potter marathons, this one allows control of the "magical picture box" with a flick of the wrist - 'Abracadabra' optional. The wand features a built-in accelerometer enabling it to recognize “magical gestures” instead of relying on pushing buttons. To turn up the volume, for example, just give the wand a clockwise motion or gesture counter-clockwise to lower it. Want to change the channel? It’s as easy as a flick of the wrist. It can recognize 13 different gestures in all, and is designed to work with just about any contraption that can be remote controlled and will be available from October 1st- what is it?

7) It is any of various kinds of passive two-terminal circuit elements that maintain a functional relationship between the time integrals of current and voltage. Its theory was formulated and named by Leon Chua in1971 writing of symmetry between the resistor, inductor, and capacitor. In 2008 a team at HP Labs announced the development of a switching one. These devices are being developed for application in nanoelectronic memories, computer logic, and neuromorphic computer architectures-called the "missing link of electronics" The similarities between these circuits and the behavior of some simple organisms suggests the hybrid devices could also open the way for computers learning for themselves, like animals. What are they?

8) This is like hook-and-loop “Velcro”but made out of steel and much scarier. One side of the material bristles with sharp spikes and the other side has jagged steel brushes. Looking something like the mouth of a prehistoric shark, a square meter of it can support up to 35 metric tons and withstand heat of up to 800 degrees Celsius. Developed at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, researchers borrowed from the traditional hook-and-loop concept to design a fastener for extreme loads and environments such as automotive, building, or military applications. What is this steel Velcro called?

9) She was an early pioneer of science fiction, before the term was invented. She is actually better known for her work in creating the first popular gardening manuals. Unlike many early works in this genre she did not portray the future as her own day with only political changes: she filled it with foreseeable changes in technology, society, and even fashion. Her court ladies wear trousers and hair ornaments of controlled flame. Surgeons and lawyers are steam-powered automatons. There is even a kind of Internet predicted in it. Her ground breaking book “The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century,” was published anonymously in 1827 She embodied ideas of scientific progress and discovery, that now read like prophecies. Her social attitudes rank this book among feminist novels. Her other very well known book was “Gardening for Ladies.” Who was this remarkable woman?

10) Quarks are the only elementary particles to experience all four fundamental forces, as well as the only known particles whose electric charges are not integer multiples. In physics, a process by which elementary particles interact with each other. An interaction is often described as a physical field; the four known fundamental interactions are electromagnetism, strong interaction, weak interaction and what?

11) Beneath the shimmering surface of this lake a deadly time bomb awaits. A "gold rush" to extract valuable methane from it depths might trigger an outburst of gas that could wash a deadly, suffocating blanket over the 2 million people who live around its shores. Now a group of biochemists warns that if unregulated extraction continues unabated, it could trigger a catastrophic outgassing of carbon dioxide - another dissolved gas abundant in the lake's depths. Such a disaster occurred at Cameroon in 1986, killing 1700 people. This lake contains 300 times more CO2. What lake are we well warned to stop mining?

12) Full HD video conferencing has been available for some time - provided you can afford to spend over $20,000 on a product like Cisco's TelePresence 500. Until now that is. FaceVsion's FXexpress Pro is an ExpressCard-based hardware accelerator with an HDMI input, capable of encoding and decoding video at 30 frames per second in real-time for 1080p video conferencing - and it's available for under what price to the nearest hundred?

13) MANY people have argued that humans are naturally cooperative. Darwin, Lincoln, Roosevelt, the Dalai Lama, Kropotkin, neurobiologist Rilling among them. Our animal nature is characterized as much by kindness and collaboration as it is by competition and carnage. Empathy is the social glue that holds communities together, and if humans are empathetic animals it is because we have "the backing of a long evolutionary history". "Bonding... is what makes us happiest," and evidence from the behavioural and neural sciences supports the claim. Monkeys, cetaceans and rodents all exhibit empathy and what we might call moral intelligence. Which prolific primatologist is rewriting macho origin myths with his belief in the survival of the kindest?

14) The father of the green revolution passed over the weekend at 95. He was a giant of the scientific and technological revolution of the 20th century. He probably saved more lives by ending famine than the more famous names behind polio vaccines or DNA: He said "I personally cannot live comfortably in the midst of abject hunger and poverty and human misery". His answer was to apply science to increase crop yields. He devised an ingenious system to accelerate the breeding of disease-resistant wheat – His plants went on to vastly boost food production elsewhere, notably India as famine-wracked then as Africa is now. Who was this man who won the Nobel peace prize in 1970?

15) Is it possible for an autonomous machine to make moral judgments? This question has given rise to the issue of machine ethics and morality. Can we program this? A recent paper “Modelling Morality with Prospective Logic,” has just been written, declaring that morality is no longer exclusivly human. In 1942, Three fundamental Rules of Robotics were first written by a science fiction genius - One, a robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow one to come to harm. Two, a robot must obey human orders except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. And three, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. Who authored the 3 rules?

16) These could help spacecraft fly across the solar system like ships on ocean currents. Scientists in the United States are trying to map these twisting 'tubes' so they can be used to cut the cost of space travel. Each one acts like a gravitational Gulf Stream, created from the complex interplay of attractive forces between planets and moons. Basically the idea is there are low energy pathways would slash the amount of fuel needed to explore the solar system. Just one U.S. mission so far has made use of the concept. The Genesis spacecraft launched in 2004. Similar to ocean currents, what are these pathways called?

17) In the elevator, the researcher casually asked the volunteer to hold the drink she was carrying while she noted down their name. The subjects did not know it, but the experiment began the moment they took the cup. Once in the lab, the 40 or so volunteers read a description of a fictitious person and then answered questions about the character. Those who had held an iced coffee, rather than a hot one, rated the imaginary figure as less warm and friendly. Linking physical and psychological warmth lies deep in the insular cortex- name one of the two universities involved in this study

18)He collected manuscripts, including an important 13th century Roll of arms,. And this earliest surviving manuscript of a play by William Shakespeare. Both the manuscript and the roll bear his name. He is the 10x great grandfather of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, concocting an ancient Saxon pedigree for himself, inserting details into various authentic documents and installing fake monuments in the church. His antiques were real though. The British Library bought his 13th century roll of arms. Who was he?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The 1st Question 64 - 8 Sep 09

This week's panel

Lyr Lobo, Nazz Lane, Nuala Maracas, Praxis Carling.


Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock.
Sigmund Freud

There is a fountain of youth: it is your creativity, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and to the lives of the people you love
Sophia Loren

Word-UP of the week – “Spankenfurter” - a tank in World of Warcraft who moonlights in the see what's on the slab.
Lyr Lobo

Audience Quote of the week – Did Merv Griffin start out this way?
CodeWarrior Carling


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

1) Fresh evidence has been revealed to support the theory that life on Earth began in space. a specially-designed-comet ‘chaser’, collected particles shed in 2004, and NASA scientists have just confirmed that Glycine an amino acid has been found in a comet.. This discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts. What probe returned this Glycine of extraterrestrial carbon isotope signature?

2) This new approach uses DNA molecules as scaffolding or miniature circuit boards for the precise assembly of carbon nanostructures such as squares, triangles and stars a thickness of the width of the DNA double helix. Researchers say such a technique may provide a way to reach surfaces compatible with today’s semiconductor’s. What company is working on this breakthrough technology with Cal Tech?

3) Earlier in 2009 IKEA launched a new line of furniture, IKEA PS, whose objective was to stretch the idea of design and empower people. With such unusual designs, IKEA felt they had to do something special to help customers imagine how this furniture would fit into their houses, so they turned to a mobile solution The Portable Interior Planner, using what new application?

4) The rise of blogs and social networks has fueled a bull market in personal opinion: reviews, ratings, recommendations and other forms of online expression. For computer scientists, this fast-growing mountain of data is opening a tantalizing window onto the collective consciousness of Internet users. For many businesses, online opinion has turned into a kind of virtual currency that can make or break a product in the marketplace. They know where you live, they know what you’re doing and they know how you feel- what is this emerging field which translates the vagaries of human emotion into hard data?

5) Charles Darwin considered this sudden appearance of many animal groups with few or no antecedents to be the greatest single objection to his theory of evolution. It was the seemingly rapid appearance of most major groups of complex animals around 530 million years ago. Before, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. The long-running puzzlement about the appearance of this era’s fauna, seemingly abruptly and from nowhere. What is this very early baffling period called?

6)A virtual pandemic sparked scientists interests as it showed the progressive of a virus in real life. The "dying virus" effected thousands of players until the game's dev team put a fix in place to stop the flow of the pandemic, despite the repeated asks to replicate it for further research. What game did the entire ordeal take place in?

7) It is one of my favorite films, It is America in the 1950’s and the protagonist is a small town egomaniac who lands a radio show. His on air colloquial charm rapidly has him rise to the New York market, and his gentle ribbing of his sponsors was reminiscent of Arthur Godfrey. He becomes a huge star sponsored by Vitajax (possibly a forerunner to Viagra) and grooms politicians who need to appeal to a mass audience- in fact the mass marketing of politicians was predicted in this prescient film. It introduced Lee Remick. Starred Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal. Based on a Budd Schulberg short story called “Your Arkansas Traveler- what is the name of the movie that should be redone today?.

8) Now we can go one step further by making a complete "robot" out of a slime mould, Yes, a commonly occurring one even, that moves towards food sources such as bacteria and fungi, and shies away from light -it will be "programmed" using light and electromagnetic stimuli which was previously used to build liquid logic gates for a synthetic brain. It should be possible to program it to move in certain ways, to "pick up" objects by engulfing them and even assemble them. What is it this ooze affectionately dubbed?

9) Soft inheritance is of use when examining the evolution of cultures and ideas, this is an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer started by Richard Dawkins, it has since turned into a new area of study, one that looks at self-replicating units of culture. Sayings or knowledge touchstones are passed down from one generation to another in a way analogous to genetics. A unit of human cultural transmission is like a gene it can replicate and influence its surroundings, though in a different sense. -what is this field of study ?

10) This website, created at Carnegie Mellon provides a means of calculating your risk of dying in the next year. Suppose that you had a giant urn filled with one million balls Some of these balls are purple for life and some are green for death– each year you draw one out –how many purple lifeballs are in your urn? Depending on your lifestyle, your risk could be dramatically higher (if you are an obese, drunken skydiver) or lower (if you are a vegetarian aerobics instructor) but the results provide a good starting point to think about the risks that you face. What is the name of this site?

11) This robot that can lift patients in and out of beds and wheelchairs on command, while at the same time saving nurses’ backs and improving patient care and safety. It is called the RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) said to be the first robot that can lift up or set down a real human from bed to wheelchair. However, it looks like a cross between a snowman and a badly-designed what?

12) We're already stretching many of our natural resources to their limits, the world's population will jump from 6.5 billion to around 9 billion over the next 50 years. Get ready for a painful correction - there are four interconnected resources that are headed for a catastrophic squeeze within our lifetime.1- Oil, 2-. Food since 2005, the price of wheat has more than tripled. So has the price of corn. Rice has gone up more than 500%. Price increases reflect scarcity 3- Water - According to the World Economic Forum, within 20 years water will become a bigger theme for investors than oil. What is the 4th resource – it is diminishing due to a combination of commercial greed, weak policy, consumer disinterest, massive waste and blatant disregard for what flimsy rules are in place?

13) WAHHA GO GO is activated by spinning the torso-mounted metal disk (an optional crank arm can be used for greater speed). While The disk’s rotational energy is transferred via a gear assembly in the lower back. As the arms rotate, the accordion-like lungs expand upward, drawing in air that is then exhaled through the machine’s artificial vocal cords. The WAHHA GO GO is a clockwork mechanism created to produce an accurate imitation of what?

14) The Kalashnikov has been the common man’s rifle for sixty years and has been responsible for more misery and wasted humanity than any other invention of history. Now an ingenious Afghan inventor, has built one into a burglar alarm - a highly effective, seat-of-the-pants mash up that includes a cell and speaker phone, sensors, and armed response. Trigger the alarm by waving a hand outside the window of the inventor’s one-room home and the alarm sounds. It also calls his cell phone so he can have a conversation with the would-be burglar via a speakerphone in the alarm, and if he doesn’t like the answers he gets, he can fire the Kalashnikov remotely. What is the next punitive anti- theft system he is working on?

15) They were placed inside Mount St. Helens and can not only communicate with each other - they can form a robust "self-healing network" that can survive the loss of individuals to volcanic activity. Each has infrared detection & a GPS to sense the ground bulging and pinpoint the exact location of seismic activity. Once in place, they form what is known as a mesh network. "It's similar to the internet," "You just lay them out, and they figure out the best way to route the data." What are they?

16) This developed in sympathy with the English Arts and Crafts movement & influenced by the Idealistic Romantics (better homes would create better people) It sought to develop an indigenous North American style of architecture. Mid-western architects offended by the Greek and Roman classicism of nearly every building erected for the Chicago World's Fair, sought to create new work in and around Chicago that would display a uniquely modern and authentically American style. The most famous proponent of the style, Frank Lloyd Wright, promoted an idea of "organic architecture", that a structure should look as if it naturally grew from the site. What is the name of this ‘school” which took a horizontal outlook on design?

17) The world’s fisheries may be seriously depleted, but a comprehensive new study shows that all is not lost–and suggests that when humans really put the effort into turning the tide, fish stocks can be returned to good health. A combination of measures - such as catch quotas, no-take zones, and selective fishing gear - had helped fish stocks recover in 5 rebounding ecosystems: 2 are in the US, name one of the other 3 ?

18) Once upon a time before the Darwin it was thought an organism could pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring. This is also known as heritability of acquired characteristics And named for this man who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories Darwin & Mendel straightened that out -. What system was abandoned?
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