— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) August 28, 2014
“It really surprised me as to how mechanically complex a sax was and it did make me wonder as to whether the mechanisms could be simplified.”
– Olaf Diegel
While attending Euromold 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany, last December with a band playing 3D-printed instruments, Olaf Diegel was set a challenge by the head of 3D Systems, Avi Reichental. The Professor of product development at Lund University, Sweden was given the task of creating a 3D-printed working saxophone. The first ODD prototype was revealed last week in a short demonstration video, which you can see here.
For the latest addition to the 3D-printed band, Diegel used a traditional alto sax as a design template to match the various key spacings and mechanisms. He worked in SolidWorks CAD software to produce the STL files needed for printing the nylon blower on a selective laser sintering (SLS) printer. The process took around 6 months due to a move from New Zealand to Sweden and other projects that demanded his attention, and the working prototype is made up of 41 components, not including springs and screws. Read the rest of this entry »
Greens engage in rituals to allay their anxieties
Ronald Bailey explores an interesting topic in a Reason article: Environmentalism and the fear of disorder. The quest for order is not exclusive to environmentalist food worriers, or obsessive recyclers. If we look for the mirror image of this, on the other end of the ideological spectrum, it would probably be found in the disorder-phobic elements of the prepper movement. A similar effort to achieve a feeling of personal control, to have “influence over their environments and the world in general that provides similar perceptions of an orderly world.”
I’ve had discussion about this with our Hong Kong Bureau Chief, a polymath with an interest in self-sustaining, grid-failure-proof home remodeling (not crazy if you live in a hurricane zone) and who predicted that there are fortunes to be made for those who can market effectively to this notion of personal control in a disorderly world.
Unlike the anti-vaxer, anti-science Left, prepper concerns aren’t necessarily irrational, or even paranoid. Our own Federal Government has web pages filled with advice encouraging citizens to take measures to be prepared for storms, earthquakes, power outages, and so forth. Things that aren’t imaginary. Things that kill, maim, and disrupt human populations worldwide every year. And that doesn’t even cover the valid concerns over a threat of an EMP attack.
On a personal note, I’ve met a hard-core, full-scale, exquisitely-armed, hyper-informed prepper. Instead of thinking he was nuts, I found him to be realistic, self-deprecating, and engaging. Light-hearted about his obsession, disciplined, trained in survivalism (from a previous career in the military) a hobbyist in gourmet food storage, an expert in lethal and non-lethal self-defense, a vintage wine collector, and an informed conversationalist. I came away thinking my own pampered, clueless urban sensibilities were irrational, and unrealistic, not the other way around.
Similarly, being mindful of food labels, or seeking organic and fresh over processed or unhealthy foods is not necessarily irrational or fear-driven behavior. But Baily’s on to something.
Other writers have noted an anxious purity obsession on fringes of the left–and even in the mainstream Left–that equals or exceeds the craziest paranoid right-wing John Birchers, anti-Semites, and fluoride-obsessed Dr. Strangelovean purity cultists of yesteryear. A key difference is, William F. Buckley purged the extremist elements nearly half a century ago.
Though new strains appear, in various forms (progressives seek them out and artificially elevate their perceived influence, in a political effort to make them appear emblematic). In mainstream conservatism, vigilant resistance and steady inoculation against the influence (or annoyance) of anti-democratic or apocalyptic extremist strains is an ongoing project that mostly succeeds.
A case can be made that the Left has yet to do this. Aside from some half-hearted, insincere efforts, the Left hasn’t even disavowed their radical Marxist, Maoist, neo-Stalinist elements. On the contrary, they’re free to openly celebrate them, in academia, entertainment, popular culture, and government. Modern Marxists easily get lucrative jobs in the Department of Labor, tenure at prestigious Ivy League colleges, positions of influence at HHS, HUD, and the DOJ. Our elite institutions shower them with fame, and awards. The Left hasen’t purged or effectively reigned in the anti-vaccination, anti-science, anti-Semitic, isolationist, enviro-alarmist elements in their ideological camp. On the contrary, environmentalism is now the largest and most dominant religious ideology in the western world.
Interesting article. See the full text here.
Ronald Bailey writes:
Why do people recycle and buy organic foods? According to Marijn Meijers and Bastiaan Rutjens, a couple of social scientists at the University of Amsterdam, they do it to realize a sense of personal control stemming from their fear that disorder is increasing in the world. Technological optimists, meanwhile, are more likely to eschew the comfort of such rituals.
[Bailey's book "Global Warming and Other Eco Myths: How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death" is available at Amazon.com]
To be fair, that’s not exactly how the two researchers interpret their study, which was published in the August European Journal of Social Psychology. But as we shall see, it is not unreasonable to construe their results that way.
A popular new psychological model, compensatory control theory, argues that people are highly motivated to perceive the world as meaningful, orderly, and structured. When people perceive the world as being less orderly, Meijers and Rutjens explain, they strive to compensate for the anxiety and stress this produces. Read the rest of this entry »
MCGREGOR, Texas (AP) — An unmanned SpaceX rocket exploded shortly after launch on a test flight at the company’s Central Texas development site.
A SpaceX statement said nobody was injured in the Friday afternoon explosion at its test site in McGregor, Texas, 23 miles southeast of Waco.
In a statement, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor says the test flight involved a three-engine version of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket. He said an “anomaly” was detected in the rocket and it automatically self-destructed…(read more)
— NASA (@NASA) August 22, 2014
Alex Knapp reports: On Tuesday of this week, a Long March-4B carrier rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, carrying with it China’s Gaofen-2, as well as a Polish satellite as part of the BRITE constellation.
The Gaofen-2 is China’s most powerful imaging satellite in orbit to date. A full color satellite, it’s able to view images to a resolution of one meter, and according to the Chinese government, will be used for geographic surveys, environmental modeling, agriculture, and other applications.
“The goal of the BRITE constellation is to observe some of the brightest stars in the sky in the hopes of learning more about them from their light properties.”
As you might guess by the name, this satellite is the second in China’s Gaofen satellite series. The first, Gaofen-1, was launched in April of 2013. The Chinese government plans to place a total of seven Gaofen satellites into orbit. The first Gaofen satellite has been used for city development and agricultural planning, according to the Chinese government. The satellite was also used to assist the search for the missing Malaysian Airline flight earlier this year. Read the rest of this entry »
“Oil production gains from the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale formations are a major reason why U.S. imports of crude oil have dropped to levels not seen since the mid-1990s.”
– Benteck Director of Energy Analysis Jack Weixel
HOUSTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) — Oil production from shale basins in North Dakota and Texas are the primary reason for a decline in U.S. oil imports, data published Thursday show.
“Total U.S. crude oil production reached 8.5 million barrels per day in July, the highest monthly level since April 1987.”
Bentek Energy, the analytical division of Platts, said July oil production from the Bakken area in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas increased 3.4 percent year-on-year, or more than 86,000 barrels per day.
The chart below shows the combined daily oil output in America’s three most productive oil fields — the Bakken in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford Shale in south-central Texas and the Permian Basin in west Texas — from January 2007 to June 2014, based on estimates released by the EIA. From combined output of 1 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2007, total crude oil production in those three oil fields will top 4 million barrels in June, based on drilling rigs data and EIA estimates of changes in production from existing wells…(read more)
“Oil production gains from the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale formations are a major reason why U.S. imports of crude oil have dropped to levels not seen since the mid-1990s,” Benteck Director of Energy Analysis Jack Weixel said in a statement Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
We have learned more about the thinking brain in the last 10-15 years than in all of previous human history.
“There may come a day when the Internet might be replaced by a Brain-net, in which emotions, sensations, memories and thoughts are sent over the Internet.”
Michio Kaku writes: More than a billion people were amazed this summer when a 29-year-old paraplegic man from Brazil raised his right leg and kicked a soccer ball to ceremonially begin the World Cup. The sight of a paralyzed person whose brain directly controlled a robotic exoskeleton (designed at Duke University) was thrilling.
[Check out Michio Kaku's book "The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind" at Amazon.com]
We are now entering the golden age of neuroscience. We have learned more about the thinking brain in the last 10-15 years than in all of previous human history.
A blizzard of the new technologies using advanced physics—resulting in scans and tests we know as fMRI, EEG, PET, DBS, CAT, TCM and TES—have allowed scientists to observe thoughts as they ricochet like a pong ball inside the living brain, and then begin the process of deciphering these thoughts using powerful computers. Read the rest of this entry »
For SingleHop, Stephanie Crets writes: Net Neutrality has been the topic of intense conversation recently, as the FCC solicits and considers public comments about how to regulate Internet traffic. We’ve put together the overview below to help you understand the issues and players that influence the way we use the Internet daily for business, research, entertainment, and social activities.
Net Neutrality Overview
Net Neutrality refers to the idea that all data on the Internet should be treated equally by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). For most of the Internet’s history, ISPs generally did not distinguish between the various types of content that flow through their networks, whether web pages, email, or other forms of information. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the few ISPs that tried to block certain types of data faced strong opposition from consumers, tech companies, and regulators.
With the rise of bandwidth-heavy services such as Netflix, ISPs have increasingly sought to sell more bandwidth, or “fast lanes,” to companies willing to pay for it. Other traffic would move through their networks at a slower pace.
An FCC History of Net Neutrality
The term “Network Neutrality” (later shortened to Net Neutrality) was coined by legal scholar Tim Wu in a 2003 study of potential ways to regulate the Internet. Over the last decade, the FCC has tried multiple times to enforce “guiding principles” in support of Net Neutrality. Read the rest of this entry »
Our co-found and Editor-At-Large. Though this snapshot looks vintage, it was actually taken fairly recently, around 2007, back when he had a bit less gray hair, and long before he had a 3-D printer. But his hobbies are essentially the same. He’s currently heading up our Hong Kong Bureau, where his time and space doesn’t allow for recreational rocket building, so I’m sure he’ll enjoy this archival snapshot as a winsome reminder of a cherished pastime.
…We’re told the phone was smuggled out of a Foxconn factory in China … where the majority of iPhone models are manufactured. The owner of the phone says the smuggler is his friend — an ex-employee — who worked in Foxconn’s hardware department designing the outer casing for the new model…(read more)
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) August 15, 2014
“Manufacturing synthetic sapphire is costly, so the material has been used sparingly, to protect against extreme conditions in airplane windows or as a scratch-resistant cover for expensive watches.”
WSJ‘s Daisisuke Wakabayashi reports: Synthetic sapphire is designed to replicate one of the hardest minerals on earth but is costly to produce, Pictured, a 15″ diameter sapphire boule before it is cut into its final shape. GT Advanced Technologies
[Also see: Why Apple's iPhone 6 won't need a case]
Apple Inc. created the blueprint for a smartphone when it covered the touch screen of its first iPhone in glass, instead of plastic. Now, it is betting $700 million that sapphire, a harder and more expensive material, can replace glass and better protect future devices.
The first sapphire display screens for the forthcoming larger iPhone and smartwatch are expected to roll off production lines this month at a Mesa, Ariz., facility that Apple opened with materials manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies Inc. At full capacity, the plant will produce twice as much sapphire as the current output from the nearly 100 manufacturers world-wide, says Eric Virey, a senior analyst at French research firm Yole Développement. Read the rest of this entry »
A team of engineers at Harvard and MIT have designed and built a flat-packed robot that assembles itself and walks away. Learn more at http://hvrd.me/A2mM9
“What I discovered…Siri seems to be one of those things that polarizes views: people either loving it and using it every day, or dismissing it as a useless gimmick. Not too many people seem to fall between the two.”
Yesterday our Hong Kong Bureau Chief posted a tantalizing peek into the future of AI – “Real AI in Your Pocket” — and in the comments section, I posted an anecdotal description of a recent experience using the still-developing Siri, and it led me to wonder who’s writing what about Siri these days, and I landed on this. Though it confirms that most of what can be done with Siri is conventional, to the point of being disappointingly trivial, sometimes the smallest things can yeild daily benefits, and are easy to overlook. The question is valid: Is Siri just a party trick?
For 9to5Mac, Ben Lovejoy writes: When Siri lost its beta tag almost a year ago, I suggested it might be a good time for those who’d been frustrated with its early performance to give it another chance. What I discovered through your comments was that Siri seems to be one of those things that polarizes views: people either loving it and using it every day, or dismissing it as a useless gimmick. Not too many people seem to fall between the two.
But Apple has continued to work hard on improving the service, adding new capabilities as well as refining its ability to handle existing ones. It might not yet be as sophisticated as its creators envisage for the future, but a year on seemed a good point to revisit the topic and find just how many of its capabilities people are using …
“Most people know Siri can read your mail, but again you can be much more specific than this…”
Everyone knows you can ask Siri to call someone, and that if you’ve identified contacts by relationship you can say things like “Call my girlfriend,” but you can also get more specific. “Call my father on his work phone,” for example, or “Make a FaceTime audio call to Phil.”
Similarly, with text messages, you can be casual in your phrasing: “Let Sarah know I’m running ten minutes late.” Calendar queries, too, can also be more specific than general enquiries about your appointments, such as “When am I meeting Barbara?”
Using Siri to tweet? You can ask for your location to be added, along with any hashtags: “Tweet, with my location, having a great night out, hashtag drinking.” And if you want to know what’s trending on Twitter, you can simply ask “What’s going on?”
Apple Maps may not have gotten off to the best of starts, but there’s a lot of location-based functionality built into Siri to make your life easier. Some are basic, like “Give me walking direction to Alison Smith’s work.” Others are more sophisticated like “Make a reservation for two at a romantic French restaurant around here tonight at 7pm.”
Or fancy a movie instead? “Where is Guardians of the Galaxy playing?” will show you nearby locations and times, together with the Rotten Tomatoes review. If you’re in the U.S., you can also ask Siri to buy tickets. Not sure whether the movie is the right choice? “Play the movie trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Still got work to do in the meantime? “Show me the nearest WiFi hotspots.”
Location-based reminders are something without which I’d forget half the things I’m supposed to do. “Remind me to call Sam when I get home,” “Remind me to post the letters when I leave here” and “Remind me to buy milk when I’m at Tesco” are just a few examples. Read the rest of this entry »
When Apple announced the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011, the headlines were not about its speedy A5 chip or improved camera. Instead they focused on an unusual new feature: an intelligent assistant, dubbed Siri. At first Siri, endowed with a female voice, seemed almost human in the way she understood what you said to her and responded, an advance in artificial intelligence that seemed to place us on a fast track to the Singularity. She was brilliant at fulfilling certain requests, like “Can you set the alarm for 6:30?” or “Call Diane’s mobile phone.” And she had a personality: If you asked her if there was a God, she would demur with deft wisdom. “My policy is the separation of spirit and silicon,” she’d say.
He envisions someone unsteadily holding a phone to his mouth outside a dive bar at 2 am and saying, “I’m drunk.” Without any elaboration, Viv would contact the user’s preferred car service, dispatch it to the address where he’s half passed out, and direct the driver to take him home. No further consciousness required.
Over the next few months, however, Siri’s limitations became apparent. Ask her to book a plane trip and she would point to travel websites—but she wouldn’t give flight options, let alone secure you a seat. Ask her to buy a copy of Lee Child’s new book and she would draw a blank, despite the fact that Apple sells it. Though Apple has since extended Siri’s powers—to make an OpenTable restaurant reservation, for example—she still can’t do something as simple as booking a table on the next available night in your schedule. She knows how to check your calendar and she knows how to use OpenTable. But putting those things together is, at the moment, beyond her.
Now a small team of engineers at a stealth startup called Viv Labs claims to be on the verge of realizing an advanced form of AI that removes those limitations. Whereas Siri can only perform tasks that Apple engineers explicitly implement, this new program, they say, will be able to teach itself, giving it almost limitless capabilities. In time, they assert, their creation will be able to use your personal preferences and a near-infinite web of connections to answer almost any query and perform almost any function.
“Siri is chapter one of a much longer, bigger story,” says Dag Kittlaus, one of Viv’s cofounders. He should know. Before working on Viv, he helped create Siri. So did his fellow cofounders, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham.
“Intelligence becomes a utility,” Kittlaus says. “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if you could talk to everything, and it knew you, and it knew everything about you, and it could do everything?”
For the past two years, the team has been working on Viv Labs’ product—also named Viv, after the Latin root meaning live. Their project has been draped in secrecy, but the few outsiders who have gotten a look speak about it in rapturous terms. “The vision is very significant,” says Oren Etzioni, a renowned AI expert who heads the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “If this team is successful, we are looking at the future of intelligent agents and a multibillion-dollar industry.”
Read the rest at WIRED.
1962 … “It-is-good-to-be-a-Communist!”
Source: x-ray delta one
First Commercial Orbital Launch Site in U.S.
For Gizmag, David Szondy, reporting on news from The Brownsville Herald: The office of Texas Governor Rick Perry has revealed that SpaceX has selected Brownsville, Texas as the site of a new launch facility for sending commercial satellites into orbit. The plans were revealed as part of an announcement by the Governor’s office that the Texas state government is providing US$2.3 million to provide infrastructure for the project, which is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $85 million in capital investments.
Until now, most launches in the continental United States have been confined to NASA and US Air Force facilities in Florida, California, and Virginia. Under discussion between the State of Texas and SpaceX for three years, this new facility still requires FAA and local approval, but if this is granted, it will open the way for the launching of commercial satellites using SpaceX’s Falcon launchers from a spaceport located far enough south to take advantage of the Earth’s spin to reduce fuel costs, and an over-water downrange over the Gulf of Mexico. Read the rest of this entry »