Monday, August 31, 2009

Researchers Hope to Mass-Produce Tiny Robots

( -- Tiny robots the size of a flea could one day be mass-produced, churned out in swarms and programmed for a variety of applications, such as surveillance, micromanufacturing, medicine, cleaning, and more. In an effort to reach this goal, a recent study has demonstrated the initial tests for fabricating microrobots on a large scale.

The researchers, from institutes in Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, explain that their building approach marks a new paradigm of robot development in microrobotics. The technique involves integrating an entire robot - with communication, locomotion, , and electronics - in different modules on a single circuit board.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seeing The Tree From The Forest: Predicting The Future Of Plant Communities

ScienceDaily (Aug. 29, 2009) — The ability to envisage the future may be closer than you would think. A recent paper by Sean Hammond and Karl Niklas in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Botany presents an algorithm that may be used to predict the future dynamics of plant communities, an increasingly interesting area of study as significant environmental changes, such as global climate change and invasive species, are affecting current plant communities.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blood can be crucial evidence at crime scenes

August 22, 2009 5:33 PM

Blood left at a crime scene can be like a witness to the crime.

For the right investigator with a background in bloodstain pattern analysis, blood — where it’s left, what it looks like and how it’s splattered — tells a story.

“It’s just like a painting,” said SBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Peter “Duane” Deaver, who is considered an expert in bloodstain pattern analysis. “It’s been painted there for me to interpret.”

Bloodstain pattern analysis is a science based on physics, geometry and trigonometry. It requires research, practice and willingness for an investigator to admit, “I don’t know.”

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Supercomputer -- Cystorm -- Unleashes 28.16 Trillion Calculations Per Second

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2009) — Srinivas Aluru recently stepped between the two rows of six tall metal racks, opened up the silver doors and showed off the 3,200 computer processor cores that power Cystorm, Iowa State University's second supercomputer.

And there's a lot of raw power in those racks.

Cystorm, a Sun Microsystems machine, boasts a peak performance of 28.16 trillion calculations per second. That's five times the peak of CyBlue, an IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer that's been on campus since early 2006 and uses 2,048 processors to do 5.7 trillion calculations per second.

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Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

Emotional Bunny says: "Does anybunny else feel kind of....small?....and, um....out-numbered... by chance?"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using magic to learn about maths

Using magic to learn about maths

( -- An academic from Queen Mary, University of London has launched a series of videos featuring magic tricks that are conjured from a mathematical perspective.

< -------- See sidebar video (scroll down)

Professor Peter McOwan from Queen Mary’s School of Electronic Engineering and has produced a series of videos entitled ‘Maths in Magic’ and ‘Hustle’ in conjunction with More Maths Grads (MMG). MMG is a three year project to boost the number of students studying mathematics and encourage participation from groups of learners who have not traditionally been well represented in higher education.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

'Rich Interaction' May Make Computers A Partner, Not A Product

ScienceDaily (Aug. 21, 2009) — In the movie "2010," while trying to salvage the mission to Jupiter, the Hal 9000 computer noted, "I enjoy working with human beings, and have stimulating relationships with them."

Well, 2010 is just around the corner, and as usual Hollywood was a little ahead of its time – but in this case, not by much. Oregon State University researchers are pioneering the concept of "rich interaction" – computers that do, in fact, want to communicate with, learn from and get to know you better as a person.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

The Origin of Zero

Much ado about nothing: First a placeholder and then a full-fledged number, zero had many inventors

The number zero as we know it arrived in the West circa 1200, most famously delivered by Italian mathematician Fibonacci (aka Leonardo of Pisa), who brought it, along with the rest of the Arabic numerals, back from his travels to north Africa. But the history of zero, both as a concept and a number, stretches far deeper into history—so deep, in fact, that its provenance is difficult to nail down.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Computers Learn To Listen: Scientists Develop Model To Improve Computer Language Recognition

ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2009) — We see, hear and feel, and make sense of countless diverse, quickly changing stimuli in our environment seemingly without effort. However, doing what our brains do with ease is often an impossible task for computers.

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Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

..."A computer brain. Great. Brain transplant?

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Cloaking Method Could Shield Submarines From Sonar, Planes From Radar

ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2009) — University of Utah mathematicians developed a new cloaking method, and it's unlikely to lead to invisibility cloaks like those used by Harry Potter or Romulan spaceships in "Star Trek." Instead, the new method someday might shield submarines from sonar, planes from radar, buildings from earthquakes, and oil rigs and coastal structures from tsunamis.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Connecticut District Tosses Algebra Textbooks and Goes Online

Published: June 8, 2009

WESTPORT, Conn. — Math students in this high-performing school district used to rush through their Algebra I textbooks only to spend the first few months of Algebra II relearning everything they forgot or failed to grasp the first time.

So the district’s frustrated math teachers decided to rewrite the algebra curriculum, limiting it to about half of the 90 concepts typically covered in a high school course in hopes of developing a deeper understanding of key topics. Last year, they began replacing 1,000-plus-page math textbooks with their own custom-designed online curriculum.

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Students who get stuck look for computer malfunctions

June 5th, 2009

When students working with educational software get stymied, they often try to find fault with the computer or the software, rather than look to their own mistakes, according to a new dissertation at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Is this really a good thing? Especially when there's a possibility that the computer really is wrong? But on the other hand, textbooks can be wrong too....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Using Mathematical Models to Predict Global Migration

Mathematicians create a new approach to figure out who will move where in the 21st Century
In the coming decades, millions of people will leave their home countries and settle elsewhere.

The growing pace of globalization has increased the level of human migration as individuals and families move from one country or continent to another to escape hardships or seek a better future. The world's future stability will require the various countries that will lose and receive people to be prepared for this trend.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Math In The Movies
Mathematicians To Thank For Great Graphics

< --- See related video on sidebar (scroll down)

May 1, 2007 — 100 powerful supercomputers perform geometrical, algebraic and calculus-based calculations to animate Pixar's characters. The laws of physics that inform the dynamics of fabric movement are most used in the computations.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

U.S. Students Win Big at the International Linguistics Olympiad

Event in Poland highlights significance of emerging field of computational linguistics

August 5, 2009

High school students from across the U.S. won individual and team honors last week at the seventh annual International Olympiad in Linguistics held in Wroclaw, Poland. The results reflect U.S. competence in computational linguistics, an emerging field that has applications in computer science, language processing, code breaking and other advanced arenas.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Metamaterial Revolution:
The New Science of Making Anything Disappear

Engineers are working with metamaterials to create super-microscopes, optical computers, and yes, invisibility cloaks.

Xiang Zhang remembers the day he recognized that something extraordinary was happening around him. It was in 2000, at a workshop organized by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to explore a tantalizing idea: that radical new kinds of engineered materials might enable us to extend our control over matter in seemingly magical ways.

The goal at hand, changing how objects interact with light, seemed at first blush to be routine; people had been manipulating visible light with mirrors and lenses and prisms nearly forever.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

What is Dark Matter?

The galaxies in our Universe are not exclusively made up of the stuff we can see, but are held together by the gravitational pull of so-called dark matter. We shouldn't assume that everything is equally conspicuous and shouldn't therefore be surprised by this discovery.

The image of the Earth at night from space at first glance reveals no discernable pattern, but a closer look discloses many identifiable features — light from major metropolises, oil wells alight in the Middle East, and the warm glow from millions of wood-burning stoves in India. These beacons in turn outline the familiar pattern of the coastlines and continents. But most things on Earth do not shine, and were this the only available snapshot of the Earth, we would have a rather skewed and incomplete picture of the terrain. The majestic mountains of the Andes, Rockies, and Himalayas for instance would be hidden from view.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why Icicles Are Long And Thin
Mathematical Physics Explains How Icicles Grow

February 1, 2007 — When droplets of melted snow drip down an icicle, they release small amounts of heat as they freeze. Heated air travels upwards and helps slow down the growth of the icicle's top, while the tip is growing rapidly. Knowledge of the mathematical equations that govern icicle growth -- the same that apply to stalactites -- could help in the prevention of icicle formation on power lines.

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Mathematicians And Choreographers Use Dance To Teach Mathematics

May 1, 2008 — Combining math and dance concepts allows people to experience a physical sensation of the often abstract concepts of math. Mathematical problem-solving is incorporated when creating new dances, which can even inspire new mathematics. Concepts can be taught in the ballroom and applied in the classroom, bring together movement, rhythm, geometry, and more.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Secret of a Snake's Slither

< --- See sidebar video (scroll down)

Mathematicians uncover the hidden patterns and movements that snakes use to move without legs

June 9, 2009

Snake locomotion may seem simple compared to walking or galloping. But in reality, it's no easy task to move without legs. Previous research has assumed that snakes move by pushing off of rocks and debris around them. But a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that it's all in their design--specifically, their scales.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Medieval Mosque Shows Amazing Math Discovery

The never-repeating geometry of quasi crystals, revealed 500 years early
by John Bohannon

The mosques of the medieval Islamic world are artistic wonders and perhaps mathematical wonders as well. A study of patterns in 12th- to 17th-century mosaics suggests that Muslim scholars made a geometric breakthrough 500 years before mathematicians in the West.

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Calculus Was Developed in Medieval India

by Stephen Ornes

Two British researchers challenged the conventional history of mathematics in June when they reported having evidence that the infinite series, one of the core concepts of calculus, was first developed by Indian mathematicians in the 14th century. They also believe they can show how the advancement may have been passed along to Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who are credited with independently developing the concept some 250 years later.

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Amazonian Tribe Doesn't Have Words for Numbers

The Pirahã people overturned scientists' belief about human cognition.

by Jane Bosveld

A small group of hunter/gatherers living in the Amazon rain forest is overturning some fundamental assumptions about the mind. Although linguists have long believed that counting and having words for numbers are basic, if not innate, to human cognition, the Pirahã people in Brazil have no words to express numerical concepts such as “one,” “two,” or “many.” “They don’t count and they have no number words,” says MIT cognitive scientist Edward Gibson, who headed a study published in the journal Cognition [pdf].

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why Can't We Visualize More Than 3 Dimensions?

by Sean in Mathematics |

March 30th, 2009 10:29 AM

Physicists and mathematicians who think about higher-dimensional spaces are, if they allow their interest to somehow become public knowledge, inevitably asked: “How can you visualize more than three dimensions of space?” There are at least three correct answers: (1) You can’t. (2) You don’t have to; manipulating abstract symbols is enough to help you figure things out. (3) There are tricks to help you pseudo-visualize higher-dimensional objects by cleverly projecting them into three dimensions; see here and here.

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From a Pre-Teen Mind, a Robot That Solves Rubik's Cube

July 17, 2009

A self-taught programming prodigy joins the ranks of technology buffs applying digital systems to the ultimate analogue puzzle

By Larry Greenemeier

".....For 12-year-old Connor Abbott, building a Rubik's Cube-solving bot gave him a chance to practice his computer programming skills and learn from other accomplished bot makers. Abbott's bot also served as a competitor to challenge 10-year-old brother Ryan's speed-cubing prowess."