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Biotech

UCSD Researchers Create Artificial Cell Membrane 54

cylonlover writes with an excerpt from a Gizmag article: "The cell membrane is one of the most important components of a cell because it separates the interior from the environment and controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell. In a move that brings mankind another step closer to being able to create artificial life forms from scratch, chemists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Harvard University have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes using a novel chemical reaction. The chemists hope their creation will help shed light on the origins of life." The full paper is available in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (behind a paywall).
Math

$50,000 To Solve the Most Complicated Puzzle Ever 180

An anonymous reader writes "A team from UC San Diego is using crowd-sourcing as a tool to solve the most complicated puzzle ever attempted, which involves piecing together roughly 10,000 pieces of different documents that have been shredded. (The challenge is designed to reveal new techniques for reconstructing destroyed documents, which are often confiscated by troops in war zones). The prize for solving this jigsaw puzzle is $50,000, which the UCSD team has decided to share among the people who participate. If they win, you would also receive cash for every person you recruit to the effort! The professor leading the team, Manuel Cebrian, won the challenge two years ago, so his odds of winning again are great"
Data Storage

Phase Change Memory Points To Future of Storage 70

An anonymous reader writes "A UC San Diego team is about to demonstrate a solid state storage device that it says provides performance thousands of times faster than a conventional hard drive and up to seven times faster than current state-of-the-art solid-state drives. The drive uses first-of-its-kind phase-change memory, which stores data in the crystal structure of a metal alloy called a chalcogenide. To store data, the PCM chips switch the alloy between a crystalline and amorphous state based on the application of heat through an electrical current. To read the data, the chips use a smaller current to determine which state the chalcogenide is in."
Android

The Fight Against Dark Silicon 137

An anonymous reader writes "What do you do when chips get too hot to take advantage of all of those transistors that Moore's Law provides? You turn them off, and end up with a lot of dark silicon — transistors that lie unused because of power limitations. As detailed in MIT Technology Review, Researchers at UC San Diego are fighting dark silicon with a new kind of processor for mobile phones that employs a hundred or so specialized cores. They achieve 11x improvement in energy efficiency by doing so."
Biotech

Bacterial Prisoner's Dilemma and Game Theory 95

dumuzi writes "Scientists studying how bacteria under stress collectively weigh and initiate different survival strategies say they have gained new insights into how humans make strategic decisions that affect their health, wealth and the fate of others in society. The authors of the new study are theoretical physicists and chemists at the University of California, San Diego's Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. In nature, bacteria live in large colonies whose numbers may reach up to 100 times the number of people on earth. Many bacteria respond to extreme stress — such as starvation, poisoning and irradiation — by creating spores. Alternately the bacteria may 'choose' to enter a state called competence where they are able to absorb the nutrients from their newly deceased comrades. 'Each bacterium in the colony communicates via chemical messages and performs a sophisticated decision making process using a specialized network of genes and proteins. Modeling this complex interplay of genes and proteins by the bacteria enabled the scientists to assess the pros and cons of different choices in game theory. It pays for the individual cell to take the risk and escape into competence only if it notices that the majority of the cells decide to sporulate,' explained Onuchic. 'But if this is the case, it should not take this chance because most of the other cells might reach the same conclusion and escape from sporulation.'"
Education

Each American Consumed 34 Gigabytes Per Day In '08 245

eldavojohn writes "Metrics can get really strange — especially on the scale of national consumption. Information consumption is one such area that has a lot of strange metrics to offer. A new report from the University of California, San Diego entitled 'How Much Information?' reveals that in 2008 your average American consumed 34 gigabytes per day. These values are entirely estimates of the flows of data delivered to consumers as bytes, words and hours of consumer information. From the executive summary: 'In 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. Consumption totaled 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes for an average person on an average day. A zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes. These estimates are from an analysis of more than 20 different sources of information, from very old (newspapers and books) to very new (portable computer games, satellite radio, and Internet video). Information at work is not included.' Has the flow and importance of information really become this prolific in our daily lives?"
Music

Going Head To Head With Genius On Playlists 174

brownerthanu writes "Engineers at the University of California, San Diego are developing a system to include an ignored sector of music, dubbed the 'long tail,' in music recommendations. It's well known that radio suffers from a popularity bias, where the most popular songs receive an inordinate amount of exposure. In Apple's music recommender system, iTunes' Genius, this bias is magnified. An underground artist will never be recommended in a playlist due to insufficient data. It's an artifact of the popular collaborative filtering recommender algorithm, which Genius is based on. In order to establish a more holistic model of the music world, Luke Barrington and researchers at the Computer Audition Laboratory have created a machine learning system which classifies songs in an automated, Pandora-like, fashion. Instead of using humans to explicitly categorize individual songs, they capture the wisdom of the crowds via a Facebook game, Herd It, and use the data to train statistical models. The machine can then 'listen to,' describe and recommend any song, popular or not. As more people play the game, the machines get smarter. Their experiments show that automatic recommendations work at least as well as Genius for recommending undiscovered music."
Networking

Network Adapter Keeps Talking While a PC Is Asleep 188

Al writes "Researchers at Microsoft and the University of California, San Diego have developed a network adapter that lets a computer enter sleep mode without disrupting the network connection. The adapter, dubbed Somniloquy (meaning to talk in one's sleep), consists of a gumstix running embedded Linux, 64MB of RAM and a 2G SD memory card, connected via USB. The adapter keeps the network connection going and the researchers have also developed a simplified IM client and bittorrent client that carry out more complicated tasks autonomously, only waking the computer if, for example, an actualy IM is received or a download is completed."
Earth

1/3 of Amphibians Dying Out 467

Death Metal sends in a Scientific American article reporting that 2,000 of 6,000 amphibian species are endangered worldwide. A combination of environmental assaults, including global warming, seems to be responsible. "... national parks and other areas protected from pollution and development are providing no refuge. The frogs and salamanders of Yellowstone National Park have been declining since the 1980s, according to a Stanford University study, as global warming dries out seasonal ponds, leaving dried salamander corpses in their wake. Since the 1970s, nearly 75 percent of the frogs and other amphibians of La Selva Biological Station in Braulio Carrillo National Park in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica have died, perhaps due to global warming. But the really bad news is that amphibians may be just the first sign of other species in trouble. Biologists at the University of California, San Diego, have shown that amphibians are the first to respond to environmental changes, thanks to their sensitivity to both air and water. What goes for amphibians may soon be true of other classes of animal, including mammals."
Security

Duplicating Your Housekeys, From a Distance 287

Roland Piquepaille writes "Some clever computer scientists at UC San Diego (UCSD) have developed a software that can perform key duplication with just a picture of the key — taken from up to 200 feet. One of the researchers said 'we built our key duplication software system to show people that their keys are not inherently secret.' He added that on sites like Flickr, you can find many photos of people's keys that can be used to easily make duplicates. Apparently, some people are blurring 'numbers on their credit cards and driver's licenses before putting those photos on-line,' but not their keys. This software project is quite interesting, but don't be too afraid. I don't think that many of you put a photo of their keys online — with their addresses." I wonder when I'll be able to order more ordinary duplicate keys by emailing in a couple of photos.
Technology

Light-Emitting Particles Yield Faster Computing 65

schliz writes to tell us that researchers at the University of California San Diego are developing new transistors based on particles called 'excitons' in an attempt to speed up the interaction between computing and communications signals. "Excitons are formed by linking a negatively-charged electron with a positively-charged 'hole'. An exciton decays when the electron and hole combine, emitting a flash of light in the process. By joining exciton-based transistors to form several types of switches, the UCSD physicists were able to achieve switching times on the order of 200 picoseconds."
Robotics

Robot Becomes One of the Kids 186

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have found that toddlers treat a small robot as a peer rather than a toy. A team from the University of California, San Diego, placed Sony's QRIO in a classroom of kids aged 18 months to 2 years and watched them interact. Over time the children grew to treat the robot as one of them — playing games with the robot, hugging it, and covering it up with a blanket when its batteries ran down."
Displays

U of CA Constructs 220 Million Pixel Display 145

eldavojohn writes "Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have built a 220 million pixel display across 55 high-resolution tiled screens. Linked via optical fiber to Calit2's building at UC Irvine, the display can deliver real-time rendered graphics simultaneously across 420 million pixels to audiences in Irvine and San Diego."
Science

Fruit Flies Show Spark of Free Will 375

Lucas123 writes "A study performed at the Free University Berlin on human free will has produced some unexpected results showing that fruit flies may have a spark of free will in their tiny brains." From the article: "Their behavior seemed to match up with a mathematical algorithm called Levy's distribution ... Future research delving further into free will could lead to more advanced robots, scientists added. The result, joked neurobiologist Björn Brembs from the Free University Berlin, could be "world robot domination."
Software

New Algorithms Improve Image Search 111

bc90021 writes "Electrical engineers from UC San Diego are making progress on an image search engine that analyzes the images themselves. At the core of this Supervised Multiclass Labeling system is a set of simple yet powerful algorithms developed at UCSD. Once you train the system (the 'supervised' part), you can set it loose on a database of unlabeled images. The system calculates the probability that various objects it has been trained to recognize are present, and labels the images accordingly. After labeling, images can be retrieved via keyword searches. Accuracy of the UCSD system has outpaced that of other content-based image labeling and retrieval systems in the literature. One of the co-authors works at Google, where the researchers have access to image collections at the largest of scales."

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