Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beme: How Do You Know If A Search Engine Is Good?

Cuil: a new search engine created by ex-google people for a fraction of the cost. It has the daunting task of challenging the billions of dollars and millions of complex algorithms behind the web crawlers that make google the world's most loved search engine.

Cuil claims, "Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page's coherency."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beme: With Cha Cha, Humans Answer Your Queries

The makers of Cha Cha aren't content to sit around and wait for Web 3.0.
They complain about the ability of today's search engines, saying, "You may get a series of links to sort through or you may just get an apology because the computer can’t answer your specific question. Wouldn’t it be better to just have the answer sent to you along with the phone number and address?"

Cha let's you text a query to a human Cha Cha worker, who searches the internet and texts you back a specific answer. The service has obvious advantages over the search engines of today, but as search engine quality continues to increase, I wouldn't bet on Cha Cha outperforming the search engines of tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beme: Making Sense Of Stem Cell Breakthroughs

Nova explains the recent stem cell breakthroughs in this video.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beme: The Scientific Iphone

The coolest new science applications for the G3 iphone.  Includes Jott, which converts speech into text, and MIMvista, the application that allows you to explore 3 Dimensional maps of different aspects of the human body.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beme: Synapse Update - Biological Brain Still Leads By 43 Trillion

Interesting chart showing the "rivalry" of the biological brain and the technological superbrain that is the internet.  If we accept the rough analogy of the hyperlink as a kind of synapse, we see that the internet is approaching the 100 trillion synapses of the typical human brain.  
But rivalry, of course, is the wrong word in this situation.   The technological brain and the biological brain are increasingly interdependent.  It's fruitless to ask, "Who will win the day?"  The rewards come from thinking about what we can accomplish from our connectedness.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beme: Friends As Filters

Friendfeed is apparently the new Twitter! I like the thinking behind it: the beme-osphere is simply overflowing with interesting media (blogs, youtube, podcasts, websites, etc.) - but how do you separate the gems from the junk? Friendfeed believes that your friends' media consumption is the best indicator of the media you want to consume. Just track your friends' 'friendstreams' and enjoy the media content.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Beme: Connectivity And Sousveillance Via Twitter

The fascinating thing about Twitter (Founded in 2006 and identified by NYtimes in 2007 as the net's fastest growing phenomenon) is not that socialite teens have found a great way to persistently give real-time updates to all their friends ( i.e. "Chillin").  It's not even that surprising that political figures (Barack Obama) have attempted to capitalize on this phenomenon by creating their own Twitter accounts and inundating their fans facebook accounts, cell phones, email with "tweets" ( i.e. "Discussing healthcare in Findley, Ohio").  For me the most interesting thing about Twitter is its potential for 'sousveillance' (the opposite of surveillance).  With Twitter, citizens have found another empowering tool with which they can quickly and broadly 'watch from below.'  Witness an act of injustice?  You can 'tweet' it into cellphones, emails, and social network websites and watch your Twitter subscribers spread the word like wildfire.  Just don't cry wolf.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Beme: The End Of Theory?

Google is conquering the online world without any use for theories about why people click where they click. Say goodbye to theories, say hello to massive amounts of data, applied mathematics, and the ability to tract behavior with unprecedented fidelity. As this Wired article contends, the trend of prediction-without-theory has the potential to permeate the sciences, replacing the time-honored scientific method.

So get ready for the United States of Google, right? Not so fast. As Philip Anderson explains in this Seed article, the nature of emergence ("which says that when a system becomes large and complex enough, its constituents self-organize into arrangements that one could never deduce a priori, even though the laws of physics are obeyed") prevents even the Google processors from cracking the most mysterious questions of science (like the emergence of consciousness). So what tools should we use when dealing with emergence? Theory and the time-honored tools of the scientific method.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Beme: Nanotubes Important For Faster Supercomputers

We can now grow nanotubes with greater order (left) than ever before (right)! The breakthrough excites computing researchers who see nanotubes as they key to replacing today's conductors and semiconductors to keep pace with Moore's Law.

Beme: Supercomputer Update

Supercomputers stand on the frontline of processing capacity. They are used to understand the most complex problems facing humanity today, such as, the consequences of global warming, the danger from nuclear stockpiles, and the nature of biophysical systems. The fastest supercomputer in the world is IBM’s Roadrunner.

BlueGene/L laid the foundation

Created by IBM and the United States Department of Energy, Blue Gene/L held the world's fastest computer title from November 2004 to June 2008, when it was surpassed by Roadrunner. BlueGene/L two main goals are: to advance understanding of the mechanism behind protein folding and to explore novel ideas in massively parallel machine architecture and software. BlueGene’s creators and collaborators are exploring a growing list of applications including financial modeling and quantum chemistry.

Roadrunner becomes world’s fastest computer

Created by IBM for the U.S. Department of Energy to calculate and monitor the risk of aging nuclear stockpiles, Roadrunner became the fastest computer in May by achieving a speed record of 1.026 petaflops (a petaflop is 1000 trillion instructions per second). Roadrunner’s architecture essentially consists of 13,000 advanced Sony Playstation III processors in addition to 7,000 AMD Opteron Processors. This hybrid processor system makes Roadrunner different from other supercomputers that tend to run on one processing system. The hybrid system allows Roadrunner to delegate computing tasks to either one of the two systems, resulting in more efficient overall processing.

Anton poised to leapfrog other supercomputers

Recent reports claim that the privately funded Anton supercomputer nears completion and has the potential to leapfrog the current supercomputer processing capacity by as much as a half decade. The Anton developers aim to investigate the folding of protein molecules to aid in the design of drugs that simulate the biological activity of different molecules. Anton will possess massive parallelism (512 specialized processors working together) and while BlueGene/L can only simulate molecular interactions about a femtosecond long (one billionth of one millionth of a second), Anton will have the capacity to look at much longer timescales with the hope of discovering new kinds of biological processes that would not otherwise be observable.