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 -
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 -
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 -
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
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 -
"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 -
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 -
“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)
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
posted by Ethereal Bligh
on Apr 23, 2007 -
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
posted by revmitcz
on Feb 9, 2007 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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
. 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 -
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 -
Think you're in full control of your computer?
Intel has just quietly added one of the necessary components of Microsoft's (and the TCG/TCPA's)
, 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
posted by id
on May 28, 2005 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
Alas, the new iMac cannot bow before the cross.
"At best, it can only give a downward nod or an upward look, and that would just communicate half-hearted politeness rather than an attitude of worship." So says the editor of the Christian Macintosh Users Group
. Love Jesus, but not Jobs? No problem - this list
of Christian computer users groups has you covered. And hey - Neo/Luddites? Even if you've left the web behind, the web hasn't left you
MeFites, when you're not bowing before the blue, what's your favorite site that melds the sacred with the techno-profane?
posted by stonerose
on Sep 13, 2004 -
Apple: Innovator & Oppressor of Independent Software:
As they once did with Karelia's Watson
software and, to a certain extent, Panic's Audion
, Apple has "borrowed" a concept from an independent, third-party developer without credit or compensation. It would seem that Steve Jobs is not as far removed from Bill Gates as he would like the Mac faithful to believe . . .
posted by aladfar
on Oct 27, 2003 -