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Comment: Re:Heavier than air flight is impossible (Score 1) 350

by blincoln (#48176435) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

Zeppelins are pretty neat, but I can see why they didn't go into widespread use. Read the history of the two that the US Navy built in the early 20th century - basically flying aircraft carriers straight out of Crimson Skies. All that's left is a single fighter plane and some mangled metal scrap (both of which can be viewed at the Smithsonian) because zeppelins don't do well in windstorms :\.

Comment: Quite the meteoric rise (Score 1) 45

I find it quite amazing that you've not only been incredibly successful in the film industry, but that you've gone on to deep-sea research and plans for asteroid mining. What got you interested in moving into those fields, and was there anything other than money that enabled you to do so?
For example, you have a reputation for being able to improvise and make the most of limited resources - I am still in awe over the bridge set in Galaxy of Terror, which looks like it cost ten times the entire budget of that film. Would you say that was one of the reasons you were able to make Deepsea Challenge and the actual expedition that led up to it?

Comment: Re:Requires a very high speed camera (Score 5, Informative) 142

by blincoln (#47600149) Attached to: Extracting Audio From Visual Information

For some reason, the person who posted the article or the Slashdot editors linked to a bad knock-off video that removed 3/4 of the details instead of the actual researchers' video. The real video makes it clear that they can also get results from a standard DSLR 60 FPS video by taking advantage of the rolling shutter effect. There's a fidelity loss, but it's a lot better than I would have expected.

Comment: M-Theory and gravity (Score 2) 147

by blincoln (#47495577) Attached to: Can the Multiverse Be Tested Scientifically?

Ever since I read The Elegant Universe years ago, I've had a number of questions related to this (as I imagine many people have). This is the first time I've seen the topic discussed by professional scientists, though, as opposed to people like myself with a hobby interest in the subject or in science fiction (Alastair Reynolds makes use of it in one of the Revelation Space novels, for example).

For the most part, it seems like String/M-Theory is very difficult (at best) to test using technology we have access to at present. But because it includes the idea of gravity being a force which can travel between branes, it's seemed to me and a few friends of mine that this would definitely produce some interesting effects in the real world.

As the article discusses, there should be some subtle evidence of the effects of gravity from external sources on the large-scale structures of our own universe. I would think maybe even enough to at least partly explain "dark matter" and "dark energy", since those are basically the known matter in our universe behaving as if there were a lot more mass that we can't actually see (one set to hold relatively closely-spaced matter together, and the other to accelerate the expansion of the large-scale structures away from each other, if I understand correctly).

A simple flatland-style analogy for "dark energy" might be that our universe is a sheet of paper which is intersected by a universe which is wrapped around into a tube shape or a torus. The gravity of the mass in that second universe pulls objects in our universe toward it, so for the part of our universe in the "eye" of the tube, they tend to accelerate away from each other. That's a vast oversimplification, but I'm not a physicist :).

For "dark matter", the idea that's always stuck with me since reading The Elegant Universe is that maybe some/all of the most massive objects in our own universe - especially the black holes at the centers of galaxies - are caused by the same kind of cross-brane effect. If you have a bunch of matter clumping together in one brane/universe, and it exerts gravity which can cross into other branes, then it seems like it would create corresponding accretions of mass in other nearby branes. Basically, that what we perceive to be a roughly spherical/point object would effectively be the hyperdimensional equivalent of that same shape that would "pin" itself together across branes.

Where I see this as becoming testable (and I could be wrong - again, I'm not a physicist) is that if this were the case, there should be examples of anomalous astrophysical objects and events, where the mass we observe does not line up with effects we also observe. For example, a stable neutron star suddenly flashing into a black hole when it passes too close (hyperdimensionally, of course) to a large mass in another brane. Another example might be a star or planet whose mass can't be reconciled with its observed size - e.g. maybe there is a planet the size of our moon, but which exerts gravity as if it were made entirely out of a material ten times as dense as uranium.

I know that in the context of our own universe/brane, there's no way to pull matter out of a black hole (other than Hawking radiation), but assuming the "hyperdimensional singularity"-type thing I described above is accurate, would it be possible for the cross-brane components to separate (since they wouldn't actually be touching, just exerting gravity on each other)? If so, there might be even stranger observable effects, like neutron stars that "flash" into black holes, but then return to their former state when the mass in the other brane(s) is pulled too far away. IE they would "blink".

Comment: Re:Another materials article (Score 1) 33

by blincoln (#47384401) Attached to: Researchers Create Walking, Muscle-Powered Biobots

Seems like one could use this type of engineered muscle to power an electrical generator which would either recharge a battery or power an electronic device directly. Then you'd have an implanted electronic device which never needed to have its battery changed or recharged using external means.

If it burned enough calories, maybe it could even be sold for cosmetic reasons - eat all you want, and transfer the surplus charge from your implanted battery to an outside system via induction.

There isn't exactly a surplus of empty space inside the human body, but I imagine this type of system could also be used to pre-condition engineered muscle tissue or replacement hearts before they're implanted into their intended recipient's body.

Comment: Re:Meh (Score 1) 129

by blincoln (#46823615) Attached to: Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

So your solution to the problem is that everyone should become a Sports Illustrated-grade professional photographer and shoot hundreds or thousands of photos at every event they go to so they can pick out the 3-5 that were actually in focus and properly composed?

I think I'm going to go with the light-field camera being the more realistic option.

Comment: Re:Not sending history to Valve (Score 1) 511

by blincoln (#46276065) Attached to: Gabe Newell Responds: Yes, We're Looking For Cheaters Via DNS

Most cheating involves modifying processes in memory, not the files on disk.

I do agree that it's really heavy-handed of Valve to ban players over DNS entries, though. What's to stop me from posting a page on some heavily-trafficked site with embedded image tags pointing to those systems (they may not load, since who knows if the cheat servers are even running web server components, but visiting machines will still cache the DNS entries), trying to get anyone who visits it banned on Steam?

Comment: Re:Humanoid robots are kind of dumb to me (Score 4, Insightful) 51

by blincoln (#45761291) Attached to: Japanese SCHAFT Takes the Gold at DARPA Robot Challenge

I believe the idea with humanoid robots is that if you have to deploy a robot into an unforeseen and dangerous situation, having a robot with a humanoid form means it's more likely to be able to do all of the things that a human could do, and get into all of the same places.

E.g. if you have a nuclear reactor emergency - especially in an older facility - most of the controls are going to be designed for a human to operate, like the valve wheels depicted in some of the challenges in this contest, and at least some of the building is only going to be accessible through doorways, stairways, ladders, and crawlspaces designed for humans.

It's the same with operating an arbitrary vehicle (another one of the challenges). Just about any vehicle that's going to be available in an ad-hoc situation is going to be built for use by someone with at least two arms and two legs, with hands that have opposing thumbs, and which is somewhere within 20-30% of 2 meters tall (or their eyes won't be able to see anything).

Sure, you could try to build all of your critical infrastructure in ways that would allow non-humanoid robots to operate it easily as well, but that doesn't take care of all of the legacy stuff that's out there, and will be out there indefinitely.

You could also build a variety of robots that are specialized to do one or more of those things without being humanoid, but that robot probably won't do very well in the other types of situations this contest is intended to simulate.

Once they work a *lot* better, and are intuitively controllable via telepresence, I can really see some commercial applications of this too. One or two telepresence androids available for remote use sitting in a datacenter would be better in some ways than having iLO cards in every physical server. Just about anything that involves a remote, un-staffed facility becomes a lot easier if your workers can "teleport" there by android instantly when something goes wrong.

Comment: Re:Chip and Pin (Score 4, Informative) 191

by blincoln (#45733537) Attached to: Target Has Major Credit Card Breach

Chip-and-PIN isn't perfect, but it's about a thousand times better than the archaic mag-stripe cards that are still in use in the US.

Mag-stripe cards are a relic of 30-40 years or more ago - similar to social security numbers - where your identification is the same as your authentication. It's a "secret name"-type system where as soon as you tell someone what your account number is, they can do whatever they want with it.

Mag-stripe cards can be cloned easily with a ~$100 reader/encoder that you can order from China on eBay (I have one - it's pretty neat). All you need to do is swipe the card through it once (or through a cheap reader, which you save the data from and then write to a card using the bulkier encoder later). AFAIK with Chip-and-PIN, you would need a lot more time with the card, some expensive hardware, and some reverse-engineering skills instead of just click-the-copy-button skills.

Also, AFAIK, with Chip-and-PIN, you can't clone the card solely by intercepting network or device-to-device traffic. You have to compromise the reader itself. If you can intercept unencrypted network traffic from a mag-stripe transaction, then at a minimum you've got everything you need to use that card fraudulently online, and depending on how bad the system is that's involved, you probably have everything you need to create a full clone of the card.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"