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Comment: What about more complicated games (Score 1) 94 94

A bot to do this for a more complicated games like FPSs would be interesting. To play well would involve solving a number of AI/computer vision problems. The bot would have to pick out enemies from the image it was seeing, it would have to figure out where it was on the map from visual cues and determine where to go, and so on. It would be a simplification of the problem of creating a robot that can intelligently navigate its environment, with the actual physical robot abstracted away to "push the stick forward to run."

Comment: Slower manipulation, faster thinking (Score 2, Interesting) 224 224

Mostly this is just a demonstration of how a computer can, from the initial scrambled state, immediately see clear through to a solution in a relatively short path, whereas humans can't visualize a whole solve instantly, and so they take it in steps, at a significant cost to solution length. Comparing the two videos you can see that the human is much faster than the robot at making sequences of turns, but must make many more moves than the robot.

Dark Matter Particles May Have Been Detected 156 156

During two seminars at Stanford and Fermilab on Thursday, researchers described signals for two events detected deep in an old iron mine in Minnesota that might mark the first detection of dark matter — or not. The presenters said the chances that the signals they detected were caused by something other than "neutralino" dark matter particles was 23 percent. "One source indicates that we'd need less than 10 total detections within the CDMS' range in order to have a high degree of confidence in the results." The NY Times describes the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search methodology: "The cryogenic experiment is nearly half a mile underground in an old iron mine in Soudan, Minn., to shield it from cosmic rays. It consists of a stack of germanium and silicon detectors, cooled to one-hundredth of a degree Kelvin. When a particle hits one of the detectors, it produces an electrical charge and deposits a small bit of energy in the form of heat, each of which are independently measured. By comparing the amounts of charge and heat left behind, the collaboration’s physicists can tell so-called wimps from more mundane particles like neutrons, which are expected to flood the underground chamber from radioactivity in the rocks around it." Here are the research team's summary notes of the latest results (PDF).

Comment: BattleMaster rocks (Score 1) 460 460

I'd just like to put in that BattleMaster, the game cited in the summary, is awesome. I don't play it now, but I played it for four years or so and it's excellent. It's an amazing long-term game that mixes strategy, politics, and medieval roleplaying. You're always on a team (a realm of nobles), and you're usually at war. Wars are intricate affairs lasting months and punctuated by battles every few days. Realms can be created and destroyed, and the politics of a continent will slowly shift over the years as territory changes and hand and alliances are formed and broken. For those that are into it, there is real role-playing--that is, story-telling not directly related to game strategy, unlike pretty much all so-called massively multiplayer online "role-playing" games, where the world has a story but you wouldn't know it from the way players act and talk. In BattleMaster, people act like nobles, and one actually feels immersed in a real feudal society. As the summary suggests, it needn't consume much of your time (10 or 20 minutes a day will cover you), but if you get into it it can entertain you for much longer. I hope this mention on /. gets a few people into BM.

Comment: Interferometry generates lots of data (Score 4, Informative) 186 186

Some people might be interested in knowing where all this data comes from. There's a rule of thumb in astronomy that the angular resolution of your images is the wavelength of the radiation you're receive divided by the diameter of your telescope. Radio wavelengths are pretty long (up to tens of meters), so you need really big telescopes, which you get by scattering lots of little telescopes all over the place and then looking at the how the phase of the incoming radiation shifts based on location. So what you do is you sample the voltage of each antenna with 1 or 2 bits of resolution at the Nyquist frequency. So for 100Mhz radio waves you sample at 200MHz. That's 50MB/s for a single antenna. The SKA will likely have tens of thousands of little antennas scattered all over the place. So say 50MB/s times 20,000 antennas = 1TB/s = 100 petabytes/day, which is about what the summary says.

Now, it's not quite as bad as it looks. You don't have to pipe all this data to a central point to analyze it. You can take a small group of antennas and just look at the correlations between those, combine the data from that group and send the combined data to a second level of correlators, which takes data from a set of small groups, and so on, in a hierarchical fashion. You lose some information this way, but you get most of it, and the only wa to get all the information out of the data would be to bring it all to a central processing location so that data from all antennas could be compared to that of all other antennas, which is O(N^2) in the number of antennas and obviously infeasible for a telescope like the SKA. Even as it is, the system of hierarchical data collection is really pushing Moore's law, as the article shows.

New "JUSTICE" Act Could Roll Back Telecom Immunity 263 263

Asmodae writes to tell us about a bill proposed in Congress that could roll back telecom retroactive immunity along with adding other privacy safeguards. The "Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counter-Terrorism Efforts" (JUSTICE) Act advocates the "least intrusive means" of information collection and imposes many limitations on the process. "One of the most significant aspects of the JUSTICE Act is that it will remove the retroactive immunity grants that were given to the telecom companies that participated in the NSA warrantless surveillance program. The companies that cooperated with the surveillance program likely violated several laws, including section 222 of the Communications Act, which prohibits disclosure of network customer information. The immunity grants have prevented the telecommunications companies that voluntarily participated in this program from being held accountable in court."

SKA Telescope To Provide a Billion PCs Worth of Processing 186 186

Sharky2009 writes "IBM is researching an exaflop machine with the processing power of about one billion PCs. The machine will be used to help process the Exabyte of data per day expected to flow off the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project. The company is also researching solid state storage technology called 'racetrack memory' which is much faster and denser than flash and may hold the secret to storing the data from the SKA. The story also says that the SKA is unlikely to use grid computing or a cloud-based approach to processing the telescope data due to challenge in transferring so much data (about one thousand million 1Gb memory sticks each day)."

Garlic Farmer Wards Off High-Speed Internet 475 475

DocVM writes "A Nova Scotia farmer is opposing the construction of a microwave tower for fear it will eventually mutate his organic garlic crop. Lenny Levine, who has been planting and harvesting garlic by hand on his Annapolis Valley land since the 1970s, is afraid his organic crop could be irradiated if EastLink builds a microwave tower for wireless high-speed internet access a few hundred meters from his farm."

Torque is cheap.