Friday, 23 April 2010

The First Question - 6 April 2010

This week's panel

Devon Alderton, TyrehlByk, Karen Shemesh , Damian Firecaster

Quotes of The Week

“A page of my journal is like a cake of portable soup. A little may be diffused into a considerable portion.”
-James Boswell

"Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men."
-Mortimer Adler

Word-UP of the week –
“SLY-PAD-IT IS” - A newly discovered mental disorder that reveals itself when new iPad owners realize that SL won’t run on their IPAD…
-Karen Shemesh


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

1) He founded his company using technological know-how and his first successful product was an electronic calculator kit. Trying to get out of debt he developed the Altair 8800 PC. This was featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics- Prior to it, most computers were still giant machines in university labs, but he believed there were enough tech nerds like him that a personal computer would be a success. Bill Gates and Paul Allen were two and Altair BASIC was Microsoft's first product. He sold his company in 1977 and retired by becoming a country doctor. The father of the personal computer" passed away this week, who was he?

2) This personal home robot brought to you by NEC now has a new function. It can blog about you. NEC included voice recognition to allow the robot to take elements of your daily life and blog about them. When a user converses with it over the course of the day, it records and analyzes your comments. So talk nicely to it. It searches for related multi-media content, including music and images, and uploads it's view of your day. What robot do you want to have a good conversation with?

3) Professional networking sites like LinkedIn have helped people manage their reputations by allowing them to post tightly controlled profiles– while useful, you aren’t going to say anything negative about yourself are you? Well now other people can! This new site is built on reviews that aim to present a raw picture. Named “2010’s worst startup” byEconsultancy, it’s available by invitation-only and was released in beta a few days ago. . If someone posts a nasty, the site does not allow you the option of removing the post or deleting your profile - opening the forum to personal vendettas and anonymous drive-by attacks that can’t be erased or edited and that live in search forever What site are you checking right now to see if you have been mentioned?

4) Freeman Dyson's thought experiment suggested that in our search for advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, we should look for spheres, instead of radio signals. This is a nearly perfectly spherical planetary vapor found in the Crescent Nebula. It was discovered independently by an amateur astronomer and a professional in 2008. Its near perfect symmetry has led it to be considered a possible candidate for a Dyson sphere constructed around a star by an advanced civilization. What is it called?

5) You are alone, you are at your computer and sometimes that smiley or frowny face well it just isn’t enough - at the Augmented Human International Conference held recently in France, Japanese scientists unveiled a robot, to boost feeling & add a human-like sense of touch to cyberspace. We are steeped in computer communication but many people don’t connect emotionally, so by outfitting a person with sensors, speakers, vibrators, and motors, strapped around their torso — their emotions can be read by the robot and picked up by the other person. And feel the incoming emotions too. The robot is 90 percent accurate in judging emotions like joy, fear, and guilt. The scientists also tested their system in Second Life, Five years in the making. The quickened thump of an angry heartbeat, a spine-tingling chill of fear, or that warm-all-over sensation sparked by true love -- all can be felt even as your eyes stay glued to a computer screen. What is the proof of concept robot called?

6) This company has now introduced a 100% compostable bag for their snacks in the US and Canada. Made with plant-based polylactic acid, the new bags will completely biodegrade within about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin. Once finished, the bags were submitted to the independent Wood’s End laboratory, which certified their compostability. So don’t throw it in the trash! What is the name of the company or the snack that will increase national composting awareness with the US Composting Council, recycling educators Earth 911, and Al Gore’s Current TV?

7) “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door so said Emerson - The mousetrap is far and away the most invented machine in all of American history. Since it first opened in 1838, Roughly forty new mousetrap patents have been granted each year, every year, in thirty-nine official subclasses that include “Impaling,” “Smiting,” “Choking or Squeezing,” “Constricting Noose,” &“Electrocuting and Explosive,” (robwag commented that shooting with a gun seemed to be left out.) Of the more than forty-four hundred mousetraps patented fewer than two dozen have ever earned a cent. I have a new mousetrap to report tonight – the "Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap". The mice sashay to their doom through one of two entry points, up the lab-tested staircase and into the kill zone looking for the bait, bacon and peanut butter are recommended. The company says there are no escapes, ever. After electrocution, the Shock N’ Drop Chamber automatically rotates and deposits the dead mouse in the collection drawer holding up to ten mice. What company has just built a possibly better mousetrap?

8) Unlike the Multi-Kill Electronic mousetrap, Recidivism rates among prisoners is insanely high. In California, seven out of ten prisoners return to prison within three years. Something needs to change The basic prison design from the late 1800s of the Panopticon has been the norm, now two Malaysian architecture students use height as a wall in their award winning design concept. . Their project examines the possibility of creating a prison-city in the sky, where the inmates would live in a “free” and productive community with agricultural fields to grow food for the city below, factories and recycling plants that would be operated by the offenders as a way to give back to the community and support the host city below them. What is this innovative prison in the sky called?

9) This man had a vision of building "the world's free virtual school”, and his teaching academy has a 2009 Tech Award with 12+ million views and 1200+ 10-minute "videos on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations & physics, and challenges in growing a non-profit from zero to global impact. MIT had 12 point something million cumulative views as of today, so did this man who is he?

10) The Martian Chronicles is a 1950 science fiction short story collection by Ray Bradbury about the colonization of Mars by humans fleeing from a troubled and eventually atomically devastated Earth, and the conflict between aboriginal Martians and the new colonists. It follows a "future history" structure. The stories complete in themselves, come together as episodes in a larger sequential narrative framework. The first third (set in the period from January 1999—April 2000) details the attempts of the Earthmen to reach Mars, and the various ways in which the Martians keep them from returning.. As we know, we didn’t reach Mars 10 years ago – A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates in the original by how many years?

11)A tiny spacecraft has been designed at Cornell University to save us all. The intent of engineers is to deploy a swarm of them between the Earth and the sun. If a solar flare strikes, the additional warning will give us time to prepare. The tiny craft are little more than solar panels with radio antennas, the spacecraft is just one centimeter square, and weighing just 7.5 milligrams A SWARM of this spacecraft, positioned at a Lagrange point between the Earth and the sun, could alert us to the approach of dangerous space storms well before a conventional craft can. The first prototypes are due for launch into low-Earth orbit this year, perhaps as early as May. What are they called?

12) Following 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, Cary Fowler, thought Sooner or later a disaster is going to strike a major seed bank. A former university professor and an agricultural diversity expert, he sent a letter to Norway asking the government if they would be willing to look into the feasibility of establishing a fail-safe one. He didn’t want to put it in New York or Moscow, but in a remote location away from most of the dangers in the world. It needed to be naturally cold, so as not to be completely dependent on mechanical refrigeration. The project launched in 2008 to “to serve as the ultimate safety net for one of the world’s most important natural resources and is called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. What has it been nicknamed?

13) The director of the Pentagon’s research arm said last month that the United States could soon face a severe lack of science and engineering graduates, putting the nation’s security at risk. Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, showed poor emphasis on science and engineering education in America may leave the nation unable to call forth an elite army of futuristic technogeeks whose resulting innovations also contribute significantly to the Nation’s economic vitality. DARPA’s representative said dwindling funds means it can’t recruit the best brains, themselves a shrinking resource: colleges and universities in the U.S. saw what percent fewer science and computing graduates?

14) China is on track to bring its first offshore wind farm online, a 102-megawatt array. The project is the latest in a series of moves by the Chinese government to pad its lead as the world’s largest market for wind power. This year China is expected to invest $100 billion to install up to 30,000 megawatts of power. There is some analogy to the US - For example, last week, Cape Wind, which has proposed a wind farm off Nantucket, announced it had ordered 130 turbines. The difference is that China’s first offshore wind farm, installed by top Chinese turbine producer Sinovel, is about to start generating electricity, whereas Cape Wind has been waiting for its federal permit since it gained state and local ones in what year?

15) The background of Mars portrayed in stories like the Martian chronicles, is a desert planet crisscrossed by giant canals built by an ancient civilization to bring water from the polar ice caps. It is a common scenario in science fiction of the early 20th century, stemming from early telescope observations of Mars by 19th century astronomers who, beginning with this Italian in 1877, believed they saw straight lines on the planet. This astronomer called them canali ("grooves" or "channels”), which were popularly mistranslated into English as "canals". Based on this and other evidence, the idea that Mars was inhabited by intelligent life was put forward by a number of prominent scientists around the turn of the century, notably American astronomer Percival Lowell.But who was the Italian astronomer who started it all in 1877?

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