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This is your brain on... a layer of bits?

The first massively parallel evolutionary circuit has been built. Brain-like computing on an organic molecular layer. I, for one... overlords... you know.
posted by cross_impact on Apr 27, 2010 - 42 comments

Read-Write-Erase

A Turing Machine [SLYT]. [more inside]
posted by daniel_charms on Apr 24, 2010 - 41 comments

Lifestreams

David Gelernter, professor of computer science, painter, neoconservative columnist, and unabomber victim, on rethinking the internet. The structure called a cyberstream or lifestream is better suited to the Internet than a conventional website because it shows information-in-motion, a rushing flow of fresh information instead of a stagnant pool.
posted by DZack on Apr 11, 2010 - 20 comments

The Secret Origin of Windows

The Secret Origin of Windows, recollections of the development and release of Windows 1.0 and 2.0 by its project manager Tandy Trower (via)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Mar 10, 2010 - 75 comments

The Rapture of the Nerds

Science Fiction writers Alastair Reynolds, Vernor Vinge, Karl Schroeder and MeFi's own Charles Stross discuss the Singularity - which, Stross cheekily points out, has been around the corner for a good 20 years.
posted by Artw on Feb 17, 2010 - 27 comments

The R Project for Statistical Computing

R is quickly becoming the programming language for data analysis and statistics. R (an implementation of S) is free, open-source, and has hundreds of packages available. You can use it on the command-line, through a GUI, or in your favorite text editor. Use it with Python, Perl, or Java. Sweave R code into LaTeX documents for reproducible research. [more inside]
posted by parudox on Feb 15, 2010 - 114 comments

Basic Mechanics in Fire Control Computers

I've never really had a clear understanding of how mechanical computing worked, until today when I watched these US Navy training films from 1953. Part 1 focuses on shafts, gears, cams and differentials. Part 2 explains mechanical component solvers, integrators and multipliers. More information about ship gun fire-control systems here.
posted by drmanhattan on Feb 14, 2010 - 28 comments

Roger Penrose is looking more credible

Quantum processes involved in photosynthesis? "[A]lgae and bacteria may have been performing quantum calculations at life-friendly temperatures for billions of years. The evidence comes from a study of how energy travels across the light-harvesting molecules involved in photosynthesis. The work has culminated this week in the extraordinary announcement that these molecules in a marine alga may exploit quantum processes at room temperature to transfer energy without loss. Physicists had previously ruled out quantum processes, arguing that they could not persist for long enough at such temperatures to achieve anything useful." (via mr)
posted by kliuless on Feb 10, 2010 - 43 comments

Loosening up locked-down corporate IT

Over on Slate, Farhad Manjoo writes that corporate IT ought to allow users more freedom in web browser selection and installation rights on their work computers. John C. Welch responds.
posted by porn in the woods on Sep 1, 2009 - 172 comments

Chain reaction

A year before his passing at the age of 102, LSD discoverer Albert Hofmann pens a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs (who had remarked publicly about his own use of the hallucinogenic as a creative factor) asking for Jobs' support for further research into the use of LSD in psychotherapy. In the remainder of the article, Ryan Grim touches briefly on the use of LSD by scientists and computer programmers who have transformed the world through novel discoveries and inventions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jul 9, 2009 - 64 comments

Technomadics

Inspiration to do something with your holiday weekend: Steven K. Roberts is an interesting guy with a bit of a hobby problem. In 1983 his recumbent bike sported "only" a security system, lights, a CB radio and a state-of-the-art TRS80/100 laptop. Winnebikeo would eventually evolve into BEHEMOTH, the "Big Electronic Human-Energized Machine... Only Too Heavy". BEHEMOTH incorporated (amongst other things) HUD, cooling system, small Sun SPARCstation, HAM Radio, credit card verifier, bubblejet printer, hydraulic disk brakes... [more inside]
posted by Ogre Lawless on May 21, 2009 - 28 comments

Verlets fluttering in the wind

Cloth Physics Simulation
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 29, 2008 - 25 comments

shake shake shake

"The Quake-Catching Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world's largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers." The Economist's writeup notes that, since network communications are (sometimes) faster than the speed of sound in the earth's crust, a distributed network's observations of a temblor might reach a warning network before the quake itself reaches a traditional seismometer. [more inside]
posted by fantabulous timewaster on Sep 30, 2008 - 8 comments

Radiohead's House of Cards video

Radiohead's promo for their single House of Cards was "shot" using light and laser-based scanning systems rather than cameras, with data being generated in real-time. Includes video and making of, and you can even play around with a 3D visualization of Thom Yorke's head.
posted by hnnrs on Jul 14, 2008 - 109 comments

You got your E.coli in my pancakes and it's AWESOME

Cool: Scientists have genetically tweaked bacteria to create simple computers. Scary (probably unnecessarily): They're E.coli bacteria. Funny: The bacteria are able to solve the “Burnt Pancake Problem”. Money quote: “It’s kind of like that computer in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. It’s been working on a problem so long that by the time it comes up with an answer, everybody forgot the question.”
posted by wendell on Jun 2, 2008 - 41 comments

Writer, musician, polymath

Stan Kelly-Bootle began his career as a member of the earliest wave of computer programmers, who wrote prolifically about a wide range of computing issues. Back in his home town though, he's probably best known for his contributions to a lexicon of local slang, Lern Yerself Scouse, and for his canonical and not-so-canonical contributions to the British folk repertoire. [more inside]
posted by PeterMcDermott on May 12, 2008 - 9 comments

“An Efficient Representation for Sparse Sets”

An Efficient Representation for Sparse Sets. Or, Using Uninitialized Memory for Fun and Profit [more inside]
posted by orthogonality on Mar 15, 2008 - 82 comments

The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science

The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science - an allegory told with iPods as Universal Machines.
posted by loquacious on Jan 19, 2008 - 42 comments

Core Memory

Photographer Mark Richard's very cool pictures of computing equipment: A visual survey of vintage computers. [via]
posted by ClanvidHorse on Jan 13, 2008 - 17 comments

of mice and men and women

Nine Ways to Make Your Mouse Roar l elegantly hand painted mouse l visual mouse software l Mouser: Operate your mouse with your keyboard [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Dec 29, 2007 - 12 comments

A Map of the Cat

Richard P. Feynman { Information Junkie PhD Atomic Bomber Professor/Lecturer on Physics + Mathematical Artist [DIY] + Nanotech Knowledgist 33.3% Nobel laureate + QEDynamic Speaker + Tiny Machinist + Challenger of Conclusions + Best-Selling WriterXBusted [outside Tuva] Star Trek TNG Shuttlecraft Pepsi Black/Blue U.S. Postage Stamp }
posted by Poolio on Sep 16, 2007 - 51 comments

The future is not clean and antiseptic

Slime molds may control our future computers and robots, and fungi may protect us in outer space.
posted by bad grammar on Jun 16, 2007 - 25 comments

Playing with my Wang (heh heh)

The Wang Freestyle (warning: Google Video; part one of video). A curious footnote in the history of computing that took the desktop metaphor to new levels back in 1988. Featured sampled sound, high-res graphics, and the ability to stack documents on top of each other, the last of which is due in a certain big cat operating system later this year. Watch for how slow the system is, and the subsequent magician-like distraction techniques used by the presenter to avoid people noticing.
posted by humblepigeon on Jun 14, 2007 - 26 comments

Donald Knuth, Computing's Philosopher King

“I wanted to try to capture the intelligence of the design, not just the outcome of the design.” “In 1977, [Donald] Knuth halted research on his books for what he expected to be a one-year hiatus. Instead, it took 10. Accompanied by [his wife] Jill, Knuth took design classes from Stanford art professor Matthew Kahn. Knuth, trying to train his programmer’s brain to think like an artist’s, wanted to create a program [TeX] that would understand why each stroke in a typeface would be pleasing to the eye.”—from a profile of Knuth in the Stanford Magazine (May '06). Salon calls him “computing’s philosopher king(Sep '99). NPR’s Morning Edition interviews Knuth as “the founding artist of computer science(Mar '05). Perhaps a MeFite somewhere has one of these? (Previously)
posted by Ethereal Bligh on Apr 23, 2007 - 40 comments

Quantum ain't just for leaping

So.. who's ready for Quantum Computing?

British Colombia-based D-Wave says they've got one and they're going to demo that sucker in Mountain View, CA on Feb 13th and then at the Telus World of Science in Vancouver, Canada on February 15th.

Quoting from TechWorld :
"Multiple quantum states exist at the same time, so every quantum bit or "qubit" in such a machine is simultaneously 0 and 1. D-Wave's prototype has only 16 qubits, but systems with hundreds of qubits would be able to process more inputs than there are atoms in the universe."
Naturally, the tech-savvy blogosphere is skeptical. But what do you think? (previously, previously)
posted by revmitcz on Feb 9, 2007 - 54 comments

Google Research Picks for Videos of the Year

Google Research Picks for Videos of the Year
Some examples: Ron Avitzur tells The Graphing Calculator Story [mefi thread], Dr. James Watson on DNA and the Brain, Steve Wozniak talks about founding Apple and Silicon Valley's boom period, Doug Lenat (of Cyc) on Computers versus Common Sense and a talk on The Archimedes Palimpsest [a little info]
posted by MetaMonkey on Jan 4, 2007 - 7 comments

Science

Free Science and Video Lectures Online A nice blog collecting science videos. The most recent post on Cognitive Computing, Consciousness, Science Philosophy and Mind Video Lectures has some hum-dingers.
posted by MetaMonkey on Dec 30, 2006 - 10 comments

Good times, good times!

Autodidactic goodies on a budget: Free computer books and online lectures, seminars and instructional materials from a variety of renowned institutions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 21, 2006 - 19 comments

Twenty years of Macintosh

Twenty years of Macintosh - a well done retrospect about the Apple Macintosh presented in a series of posters, annotated with excellent topical links for further reading.
posted by loquacious on Nov 6, 2006 - 32 comments

I'm in iMood for a melody, I'm in iMood for a melody, I'm in iMoooooood

Using a physiological sensor called the SenseWear by BodyMedia, researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have created the XPod. The XPod "learns" a user's preferences, activities and even emotions, and then selects the most appropriate music to accompany any given situation. The mood ring for the new millennium.
posted by terrapin on Oct 24, 2006 - 14 comments

Subverting the dominant paradigm

Louis Savain is the most coherent, articulate and ambitious Internet crank I've found. He's going to fix software, he's out to clean up physics, he's cracked the Da Vinci code, and he's got a discussion forum. Enjoy!
posted by flabdablet on Sep 7, 2006 - 21 comments

Not only do you have to water cool this thing to over clock it, you have to use WD-40 and KY in a 1:2 ratio

If you've always wanted to build your own computer why not do it with some tinker toys? This ought to give future archaeologists many years of discussion.
posted by bigmusic on Jul 25, 2006 - 9 comments

Net neutrality: Meet the winner

Net neutrality: Meet the winner As Verizon Communications' executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications, Tauke has spent the last few months embroiled in a fiery debate over Net neutrality, the concept that broadband providers must be legally required to treat all content equally.
posted by Postroad on Jun 12, 2006 - 42 comments

The Difference Engine

Charles Babbage's Difference Engines. One built in 1853. A subsequent design completed in 1991. And again in Lego. Both designs recreated in Meccano parts. [more inside]
posted by slimepuppy on Apr 26, 2006 - 11 comments

"Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

Sufficiently advanced quantum computer is indistinguishable from magic
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome on Feb 22, 2006 - 88 comments

Tales of Two Computing Departments

The exhaustive and extensively annotated Columbia University Computing History, from Brunsviga calculators to NORC to the IBM 7090 and beyond. Also, take the virtual tour of the Computer History Exhibits at Stanford's Gates Computer Science building, including stops at the Apollo Guidance Computer (DIY) and the mechanical calculators exhibit.
posted by milquetoast on Jan 25, 2006 - 5 comments

Dumb terminals are cool again

Ndiyo systems consist of a central PC running Linux, serving a bunch of ultra-cheap, ultra-thin VNC-ish clients over 100Mbit Ethernet connections. The developers hope that mass production will soon make the clients cost as little as a typical video cable.
posted by flabdablet on Jan 16, 2006 - 32 comments

Atari vs. Commodore: The Battle Continues

Back in April, Carmel Andrews and Charles F. Gray claimed that Commodore reverse-engineered Atari's 8-bit hardware. Bob Yannes (creator of the SID chip and co-founder of Ensoniq) responds. What results is a brief, informative history on the concept of "sprites" and the idea of reverse-engineering. More drama, reviews, and retro computing at The Atari Times. (See also this collection of links at atari.org. Happy holidays.)
posted by milquetoast on Dec 14, 2005 - 14 comments

teh uesful

for the bookmarks - free browser-embedded antivirus [IE only, I assume Windows only]
posted by Pretty_Generic on Oct 4, 2005 - 30 comments

Checkmate, Deep Blue

Arimaa is the first game designed specifically to be hard for computers to play, while easy for people. With its billions of combinations and push-me-pull-you gameplay conditional value strategy, it's too much for brute force computing. And yet, it's simple enough for a child to play (or at least to explain). Play it now against people from all over the world (and lackwit computors).
posted by klangklangston on Aug 22, 2005 - 103 comments

crave it

LCD computer keyboard
posted by Pretty_Generic on Jul 14, 2005 - 57 comments

EDSAC/USER FIRST (DIAL 0/1)

EDSAC - home of the first videogame, OXO.
posted by Pretty_Generic on Jun 19, 2005 - 5 comments

All your content are belong to us

Think you're in full control of your computer? Think again. Intel has just quietly added one of the necessary components of Microsoft's (and the TCG/TCPA's) DRM technology, Palladium, to the PC platform. Some say this is a move against rampant Chinese software piracy, others think it's a power grab by the content producers. Left unchecked, content and software producers will have the final say in how you use your computer, fair use be damned.
posted by id on May 28, 2005 - 55 comments

What the Dormouse Said

California Dreaming: A True Story of Computers, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll (Reg. req'd) Engineers can be so cute. In the early 1960's, Myron Stolaroff, an employee of the tape recorder manufacturer Ampex, decided to prove the value of consuming LSD. So he set up the International Foundation for Advanced Study and went about his project in classic methodical fashion.

But John Markoff, a senior writer for The New York Times who covers technology, makes a convincing case that for the swarming ubergeeks assembling in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960's, approaching drugs as they might any other potentially helpful tool or device - from a soldering iron to a computer chip - was only natural. The goals were broad in the 60's: the world would be remade, the natural order of things reconfigured, human potential amplified to infinity. Anything that could help was to be cherished, studied and improved.

Judging by the record presented in What the Dormouse Said, it is indisputable that many of the engineers and programmers who contributed to the birth of personal computing were fans of LSD, draft resisters, commune sympathizers and, to put it bluntly, long-haired hippie freaks.
posted by gleenyc on May 7, 2005 - 32 comments

Synthetic Bacterial Computers

Multilingual bacteria are being used in synthetic biology techniques to display computer functionality.
posted by peacay on Apr 29, 2005 - 9 comments

It doesn't do Tibetan

Sick of ▯? Try Code2000.
posted by Pretty_Generic on Apr 27, 2005 - 9 comments

The Kitchen Computer

Using the kitchen computer can seriously affect your work.
posted by ZippityBuddha on Mar 5, 2005 - 19 comments

The TV Typewriter

Typing...on a screen! Text (and cover image) of a 1973 issue of Radio-Electronics mag, showing a new fangled way of typing with a TV screen. I like how the mag is billed as "for MEN with ideas in electronics." Heh...
posted by braun_richard on Feb 28, 2005 - 8 comments

All about the hypercard...

When Multimedia Was Black and White is a wonderful trip down memory lane, back when posters, music, games, and print layouts were done in crude black and white. Be sure to click on the little disk icons to see all the screenshots from old 80s apps.
posted by mathowie on Feb 24, 2005 - 14 comments

The first ever piece of videogame journalism?

Rolling Stone review Spacewar. Ready or not, computers are coming to the people. That's good news, maybe the best since psychedelics. via Ludology
posted by ZippityBuddha on Oct 29, 2004 - 13 comments

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