What happened to the “beautiful dream”? While the Internet’s triumphant story has been well documented by its designers and the historians they have worked with, OSI has been forgotten by all but a handful of veterans of the Internet-OSI standards wars. To understand why, we need to dive into the early history of computer networking, a time when the vexing problems of digital convergence and global interconnection were very much on the minds of computer scientists, telecom engineers, policymakers, and industry executives. And to appreciate that history, you’ll have to set aside for a few minutes what you already know about the Internet. Try to imagine, if you can, that the Internet never existed.
"While DC continues to race through San Francisco power lines at nearly the speed of light, it does so anonymously. You’ll find no reference to DC power distribution in PG&E’s annual reports or on its websites. Even some utility engineers are unaware of its existence, which raises a curious question: Why is the inheritor of this legacy, the mighty and sophisticated PG&E, still bothering with DC distribution 133 years later?" [more inside]
Forget the dire predictions of a looming shortfall of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians
How a buccaneering young engineer built the little blue box that broke into the biggest network in the world
Soft robotics are inspired by animals which don't have hard internal skeletons, like squid, worms, and starfish. Developed at Harvard, with funding from DARPA, this particular soft robot, "not only walks, it knows several different gaits and can deflate to stuff itself through tiny little gaps." Another design here, and another (also), and another. In addition to movement, soft robotics can also be used for grip. More information about the Harvard lab is available here (with a student describing the research here).
As part of their special report
Fukushima and the Future of Nuclear Power, the IEEE has published
24 Hours at Fukushima, chronicling the events that turned a disaster into a catastrophe, and detailing what might have been done to prevent them.
Robots With Knives: A Study of Soft-Tissue Injury in Robotics or Dynamic Unconstrained Collision Impacts. Luckily, we may be approaching Asimov's 1st law... or not.
The current issue of IEEE Spectrum devotes itself to the sci-fi genre du jour, the Singularity. Neuroscientists such as Christof Koch and David Alder talk about our understanding of the brain and quantum computing, John Horgan argues that it's just too difficult to recreate consciousness in a computer any time soon. Robin Hanson writes on the Economics of the Singularity, and of course, Vernor Vinge - the person who originally postulated the Singularity - tells us how to spot its approach. [more inside]
The IEEE Virtual Museum. Virtual exhibits about microelectronics, sound recording, Edison, war and technology etc.
IEEE bans residents of Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan from publishing "The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) recently imposed a ban on the residents of Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan from publishing and contributing to any IEEE publication or standard." I think this is something that deserves much wider coverage then it has been getting.