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 treet.tv

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?

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