Friday, 27 February 2009

Quotes and Questions 41 - 24 Feb 09


Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
William James


For the answers go to The 2nd QuestioN! blog at SLCN

P: 1) He was a 19th-century Swedish lawyer, translator, and inventor, who is best known for his pioneering work in computer technology. He is most known for his inventions; the best known of these is a calculation engine, which he finalized in 1843. This machine was based on Charles Babbage's difference engine. An improved model, roughly the size of a piano, was created in 1853 and subsequently demonstrated at the World's Fair in Paris, 1855. The machine was then sold to the British government in 1859. The devices were used for creating logarithmic tables. Who was he?

H:2) 7) Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) will excel in long-term, tedious and hazardous tasks, like the search for nuclear facilities and border patrol. The bot will contain an autonomous control system and will be fueled by what?

P:3) It is one of the most widely used climate classification systems, and was developed by a Russian climatologist, around 1900 It is based on the concept that native vegetation is the best expression of climate; thus, climate zone boundaries have been selected with vegetation distribution in mind. It combines average annual and monthly temperatures and precipitation, and the seasonality of precipitation. What is it called?

H:4) Since the fourth century, the royal court of Korea began to eat milk. In ancient Korea, there was no milk cow, so milk was only available when a cow gave birth. Moreover, the freshness of milk was a vital factor, it could not be delivered from far places. It was considered a supplement food for special occasions, or recovery food when the king was ill. Called Tarakjuk royal physicians of the royal clinic took charge of squeezing milk from cows. What was it served in?

P:5) A town of over 4000 people in this country is gearing up to produce solar thermal power capable of supplying all of its electricity needs, 24-hours a day. The technology used will ensure the 10 megawatt solar thermal power station will continue to generate electricity when the sun is not shining and will deliver about 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. Up to 8000 heliostats or mirrors will reflect sunlight onto graphite blocks through which water will be pumped to generate steam that will operate a conventional steam turbine electricity generator. Because heat stays in the graphite, the system will work through the night and on overcast days. In what country is this happening?

H:6) Along with daughter Lucy, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is planning to send his digitized DNA into space as part of this. The pair hopes the exercise will help publicize the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics; a competition that will award $10 million to the first person or team that can sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less. It’s motivation to collect and archive the very best of what humanity has accomplished by sending a digital time capsule of the human race into space. This includes messages from people around the world and DNA samples from some of our brightest minds, musicians, athletes and video game players. The DNA will be transported into space by video game developer and longtime member of the X PRIZE Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Richard Garriott, who is traveling to the International Space Station in October. What is the NCsoft’ project called?

P7) The most celebrated of these is the Alfred Jewel. It is a pointer designed for the reading of manuscripts and most were commissioned by Alfred the Great, famous warrior king of England and one of history’s great champions of learning, justice and civilization. King Alfred commissioned and sent them to all the bishops of his kingdom to accompany a copy of a translation of Pope Gregory I's Regula Pastoralis. It was one of the first manmade tools whose purpose was to promote scholastics. When found it was thought to be part of an old milk bottle. It is going up for auction at Bonhams. What is this called?

H:8) Alcohol is an integral part of our way of life across most of the planet – drunk regularly by two billion humans, it is one of the world’s most traded commodities. Central to the liquor industry are the millions of bars which throughput billions of liters of alcohol, a glass at a time. One of the biggest problems of the liquor industry is shrinkage –. New bar management system Barilliant aims to monitor and minimize wastage by accounting for every milliliter using sensors, wireless technologies, and RFID staff identification, right down to how effectively every barman pours a beer. How much tap beer goes straight down the drain in most pubs.

P: 9) For all our many advancements and civil societies, modern humanity is a ticking time-bomb of violence and destruction if certain key criteria aren't met. - Britain's MI5 security agency operates on the famous maxim that any society is only this away from complete anarchy - if some catastrophe occurs widespread looting and rioting will quickly follow. What is this?

H: 10) Memories of extreme trauma seem to be formed in a different way to normal memories. As the brain reels with the stress of the initial incident, the rush of stress and fear hormones seem to cause a different type of memory encoding, which can resurface for years afterward as an intense emotional connection that floods the body whenever the memory is recalled. Each time a memory is recalled and thought about, the brain actually re-stores it. It's at this crucial "reconsolidation" phase that the memory can be separated from the fight-or-flight hormone rush that is so debilitating for victims. IN Amsterdam a team has been working to understand how a common beta-blocker seems to be able to interrupt the stress hormone encoding as a memory is being reconsolidated - leaving the memory apparently unaltered but removing the panic response. What is this wonder drug?

P:11) As difficult as some of our readers might find it to believe, researchers have found that specific elements of this can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells. The research suggests that the development of a legal drug that contains certain properties similar to those found in this might help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's. What is this wonder drug?

H: 12) The typical contract that music group Van Halen required for concerts included a clause granting them a bowl of M&Ms backstage. What color M & M was prohibited by contract to be included in the bowl?

Friday, 20 February 2009

Quotes and Questions 40 - 17 Feb 09


The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.
James Buchanan

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
Albert Camus


For the answers go to The 2nd QuestioN! blog at SLCN

1) It is a science fiction fanzine convention held each spring in North America (and once in Britain). It is named after a slang term for the "correction fluid" used in mimeograph printing, a common way to produce fanzines before the arrival of low-cost photocopying and online fanzines What is this convention called?

2) Ovid wrote this as a burlesque satire on didactic poetry. While claiming, 'I taught Cupid everything he knows' Ovid hardly offers lore of great potency to his eager disciples. He advises that, if one is accompanying a lady to the horse-racing in the Circus Maximus, one should gallantly brush the dust from her gown. And if there isn't any dust there, brush it nonetheless. A young man should promise the moon to the object of his affections in letters - even a beggar can be rich in promises. A small woman, meanwhile, would be better advised to receive her suitor lying down... but should make sure that her feet are hidden under her dress, so that her true size is not disclosed. What was this poem in three books called?

3) The empiricists believed that knowledge is acquired through experience alone, but the rationalists maintained that such knowledge is open to doubt and that reason alone provides us with knowledge. This man argued that using reason without applying it to experience will only lead to illusions, while experience can be purely subjective. He was responsible for one of the most important mathematical, scientific, and astronomical discoveries in the history of the world, namely the discovery of the retardation of the rotation of the Earth, for which he won the Berlin Academy Prize in 1754. From this he concluded that time is not a thing in itself determined from experience, objects, motion, and change, but rather an illusion of the human mind that preconditions possible experience. Who was this man?

:4) This robot's brain grows in size as its physical complexity increases; the multi-legged robot has neural net software that grows by assigning new neuron clusters on top of existing structures as new limbs are attached. An incremental evolutionary algorithm (IEA) gives it the ability to add new parts to its brain. This Artificial intelligence engineer and his colleagues at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, , have arranged for the robot to evolve in hours. It accomplishes in this short time what animals have done over hundreds of millions of years. Who is the lead engineer on this project?

5) In philosophy, this is the study of the nature of being, existence or reality in general, as well as of the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, it deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences. What is it?

6) Thirty eight travelers have already made reservations for the first flight which is scheduled for 2012. The journey of four days at a distance of 300 miles from the earth will cost each guest USD $4.46 million. Yes it is a planned luxury resort holiday in space where guests will experience all the wonders of inter-galactic travel including weightlessness, meditative conditions and amazing views of Planet Earth. The price may seem steep but it includes, an eighteen week intensive astronaut training program prior to the journey, and of course, the four days in space. What is this out of this world luxery hotel called?

7) And as the economy tightens for most, the rich get richer…Worlds most expensive penthouse, worlds largest LED screen, Atlantis Hotel with a $1.5 Billion development cost and home of 65,000 marine animals and Hydropolis, the worlds largest and deepest underwater luxury hotel- This could only happen in one place on earth? Where is it?

8) You might have thought Professor Erno Rubik, the creator of the Rubik’s cube, might have rested on his laurels (and the piles of money the puzzle surely earned him), but no. Erno has been busy churning out a variety of puzzles over the years, but none has captured the imagination of the world quite like his ubiquitous cube. He is hoping to change that with his latest creation what is it called?

9) 9) When Twain was 11, his father died of pneumonia. The next year, he became a printer's apprentice. In 1851, he began working as a typesetter and contributor of articles and humorous sketches for a local journal, a newspaper owned by his brother, Orion. Twain had foreseen the death of his younger brother's death in a detailed dream a month earlier which inspired his interest in parapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research. The father of American Literature was born in what state?

10) It is something of a competitor to SecondLife and was recently mentioned at the MICA workshop over the Past weekend. A web based place for a complete virtual environment for program and project management where you can share powerpoint, Microsoft docs and excel., talk gesture sketch are its buzzwords -What is this poor mans Second life called?

11) He was burned at the stake for his beliefs in science during the inquisition. At the end of his seven year trial, he said Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it. He affirmed that the universe was homogeneous, made up everywhere of the four elements (water, earth, fire, and air), He also asserted that the stars in the sky were really other suns like our own, around which orbited other planets. Space and time were both conceived as infinite. There was no room in his stable and permanent universe for the Christian notions of divine creation and Last Judgement. He was an Italian philosopher best-known as a proponent of heliocentrism and the infinity of the universe. In addition to his cosmological writings, he also wrote extensive works on the art of memory, a loosely-organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles. Who was this 16th century Martyr for science?

12) They have just completed the first draft of the Neanderthal genome, and no it will not be cloned. The researchers recovered ancient DNA of Neanderthals by extracting the DNA from the femur bone of a 38,000-year-old male Neanderthal specimen from a Cave in Croatia. the Neanderthal genome is about the size of the modern human genome; and according to preliminary sequences, modern human and Neanderthal DNA appear to be 99.5% identical, Although New results suggested that adult Neanderthals were lactose intolerant. What institute just announced this?

13) The idea that the Amazon is not an untouched wilderness but the product of extensive management by large human populations sharply contrasts with views that the region was sparsely populated by tribal groups who peacefully coexisted with the apparently hostile environment that surrounded them. In 2006, reports emerged of something found in the Amazon Basin, in Brazil. It is comprised of 127 blocks of granite, each (10 feet) high, standing upright in even circles in an open field, and crown a grassy hilltop. Based on ceramic fragments found nearby, archaeologists believe this build is between 500 and 2000 years old. It’s alignment with the December solstice leads archaeologists to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory and that they may also be looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture. What is it called?

14) The word ansible was coined by her in 1966 novel, Rocannon's World. And she states that she derived the name from "answerable," as the device would allow its users to receive answers to their messages in a reasonable amount of time, even over interstellar distances. An ansible is a hypothetical machine capable of superluminal communication Superluminal communication is the term used to describe the hypothetical process by which one might send information at faster-than-light (FTL) speeds. The term has been borrowed by many science fiction writers. Who coined the phrase?

Friday, 6 February 2009

Quotes and Questions 38 - 3 Feb 09


If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, time stays, we go.
Henry Austin Dobson


1) This is a mathematical formalization of a trajectory that consists of taking successive random steps. The results of this analysis have been applied to computer science, physics, ecology, economics and a number of other fields as a fundamental model for processes in time. For example, the path traced by a molecule as it travels in a liquid or a gas, the search path of a foraging animal, the price of a fluctuating stock and the financial status of a gambler can all be modeled as this. What is it known as?

2) Stephenson's Rocket isn’t really a rocket- what is it?

3) This year the world celebrates the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), marking the 400th anniversary of the first drawings of celestial objects through a telescope. Where was the first telescope invented?

4) And of course it is the Italian Galileo who is commonly accredited with having made the first telescope-enabled discoveries in 1609. However astronomers and historians in the UK are keen to promote a lesser-known figure who made the first drawing of the Moon through a telescope several months earlier than Galileo. Among other things, this man was a companion to the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh and credited with the introduction of the potato to Great Britain and Ireland. He did publish a study of various stacking patterns in 1591, and went on to develop an early version of atomic theory. July 26, a few months before Galileo, He turned his telescope towards the Moon and become the first person to draw an astronomical object through a telescope. He never published his drawings, but it seems he was the first- who was he?

5) In its earliest incarnation, Groundhog Day was part of Imbolc, a pagan celebration associated with fertility and weather divination. The ties between purification rituals and the month of February also hark back to the pagan era. The Lupercalia, a pagan Roman purification ritual, took place in February. The Romans had celebrated a rough equivalent to our Groundhog Day, in early February -- only this animal was in charge of weather divination- what was it?

6) Kepler's conjecture Is a mathematical conjecture about packing what in three-dimensional Euclidean space.

7) For electrons in a single atom, it states that no two electrons can have the same four quantum numbers. It has to do with spin, and half-integer ones at that. Electrons or protons can be fermions. Only one fermion can occupy a quantum state at a given time; Thus, if more than one occupies the same place in space, the properties of each fermion (e.g. its spin) must be different from the rest. What is this principle?
8) In 1930, Wolfgang Pauli postulated this to preserve conservation of energy, conservation of momentum, and conservation of angular momentum in beta decay. Pauli theorized that an undetected particle was carrying away the observed difference between the energy, momentum, and angular momentum of the initial and final particles. What did he discover?

9) Asimov presented it as a device storing the psycho historical equations showing the future development of humanity. This projects the equations onto walls in some unexplained manner, but it does not cast shadows, thus allowing workers easy interaction. Control operates through the power of the mind, allowing the user to zoom in to details of the equations, and to change them. One can make annotations, but by convention all amendments remain anonymous. What was it called?

10) It is a type of animal territory in which males of a certain species gather to demonstrate their prowess before or during mating season, a river in the west of the Netherlands, means "cure" or "medicine" in most Slavic languages and is a form of Cardassian currency in the Star Trek fictional universe. What is it?

11) It is a tabletop soccer game where the ball is controlled by the brainwaves of the players. Both players wear biosensor headbands which use embedded electrodes to monitor the electrical activity in the brain of each player and the game rewards the player producing the most Alpha and Theta brainwaves, the winners are portrayed by the game’s inventors as “being the most relaxed”.

12) He created in 1884 the world’s first working solar cell by coating the semiconductor material selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold. The resulting cells had a conversion efficiency of only about 1% which in combination with the material's high cost prevented the use of such cells for energy supply. Selenium cells found other applications however, for example as light sensors for exposure timing in photo cameras, where they were common well into the 1960s. Who was this American inventor?

13) Time marches on….Scientists from this EU funded project have recently developed solar cells which are able to convert almost 40% of the energy of sunlight into electricity. Known as photovoltaic multi-junction solar cells, the design consist of different materials including gallium, phosphorus, indium and germanium and are stacked in vertical layers to make optimum use of the solar spectrum. What is this project called?

14) The idea for this derives from a 1990 science fiction novel by Thomas A. Easton: "There's the brain, the spinal chord, the motor centers. A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain." It explained how the controller, a computer, translated movements of the tiller or control yoke and the throttle and brake pedals into electrical signals and routed them as appropriate to the jets or motor centers, triggering the nervous system into commanding its muscles to serve the driver. This was demonstrated by UC Berkeley researchers at the MEMS 2009 conference What was used to demonstrate this?

15) The first identified was the electron, discovered by J.J. Thomson and his team of British physicists in 1897. They are a family of elementary particles, alongside quarks and gauge bosons (also known as force carriers). Like quarks, they are fermions with a half integer spin and are subject to the electromagnetic force, the gravitational force, and weak interaction. But unlike quarks, they do not participate in strong interaction. There are six flavours of, forming three generations. What are they?

16) How did the monkey wrench get its name?
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