Today, the six crew members of the Mars 500 mission have "returned." The six, comprised of three Russians (a surgeon, engineer, and physiologist), an Italian Colombian engineer, a Chinese astronaut instructor, and a French engineer, have lived in a sealed chamber in a Moscow parking lot.
At Paddy Power - Ireland's largest bookmaker - teams of quants and risk analysts set the odds on 12,000 to 15,000 events a week - everything from horse races and other sporting events to speculation on the name of Beyoncé's unborn child. Within these events, there are 60,000-70,000 individual bets, or "markets," to be made. And every market needs a set of odds - some kind of calculation of the probability that a specific outcome might occur, based on available data. But how does a bookmaker know what data is good and what data is bad? How can it build safeguards into predictive systems so it doesn't get burned?
Plasma is a really interesting substance. By understanding it, we can learn all kinds of things about how stars work, what's actually going on when they explode, and hopefully one day work out how to harness nuclear fusion to provideenormousamounts of clean energy. Thankfully, the Hopper supercomputer is working on that.
I should perhaps begin by saying that I am as big a fan of the Net and the Web and the whole expanding "information universe" as anyone you are likely to meet. I find myself online all the time, mining for data, merrily skipping from one site to the next, passing the time of day after day (and night after night) in scattershot dalliances (sampling this and sampling that in a virtual delirium of free association), deploying my trove of finds in ever more elaborate collages of discovery (or is it recovery?) of my own. And yet... and yet...
When Roy Buol stepped into the mayor's office of the city of Dubuque in 2005, he did so with a handful of imperatives. There were the needs of his citizens, who throughout his campaign had voiced concerns on issues like public transit, green space, water quality, and recycling. There was the need to live up to his campaign message, which centered on engaging citizens as partners in the administration of the city. And then there were his private concerns about the larger world.
In 2006, US movie streaming and DVD-by-post company Netflix made its vast database of user-generated movie ratings available to the public, offering US$1 million to the first team that could improve the accuracy of the company's recommendations by 10 percent. That's a lot of money-but Netflix could have spent much more on in-house development, with no guarantees. By 2009, the top team had its prize, and Netflix had its algorithm. Other groups took notice and are now holding their own contests, asking statisticians, computer scientists and basement hobbyists alike to mine complex data sets for solutions to some difficult problems.
If you've ever tried to use the Nuance dictation features that came out in the last iOS update, you'll probably have found it to be a little hit and miss. Certainly not a feature you can actually use with certainty. We thought for a moment there we Aussies might just be forgotten, but thankfully there's a whole bullet point dedicated to us in the next 5.0.1 update.
We have a lot of love for microdrones here at PopSci--everything from bird-like flapping wing drones to cyborg insects controlled by microcomputers--so we're thrilled to see an air force is showing them some love as well. The US Air Force Research Lab has build a "Micro-Aviary" at Wright Patterson AFB in the state of Ohio where tiny flying robots will be the central focus. And aside from being drone-centric, it is one sweet sensor-filled laboratory.
We detect the faint spice of irony in the tale of a supercomputer whose day-job consists of both searching for new reservoirs of fossil fuels while also running modelling simulations on the impacts of climate change. And yet, that's the life of Franklin, the American supercomputer housed at theNational Energy Research Scientific Computing Centre in California.
A sheriff's office in the US state of Texas is taking a big and potentially controversial step forward with a new piece of law enforcement technology. The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Conroe, Texas, is prepping its deputies to fly a US$300,000 unmanned ShadowHawk helicopter --paid for with a Department of Homeland Security grant--that someday might carry a weapons payload.
The journey toward a Chinese space station has taken a huge step forward. Yesterday China's Shenzou 8 spacecraft, which launched earlier this week, successfully docked with the country's Tiangong-1 space module, which was placed in orbit by an earlier launch. The successful docking maneuver demonstrated a leap forward for China's manned space program, and the first in a series of missions designed to test technologies that China hopes to cultivate into a manned space station by decade's end.
At some point about halfway through the hurly-burly of pulling together our special issue on what I'd taken to calling The Data Age, senior associate editor Ryan Bradley noticed that Stephen Wolfram had created a timeline of significant milestones in the historical march of data. We thought it would be an excellent piece of contextual glue to apply to our analysis of the burgeoning power of data, well wielded, to both illuminate and influence our world. Fortunately, Wolfram agreed, and the timeline ran as connective tissue along the bottom of our magazine pages.
Let's face it, motorbikes are stylish. Big choppers even more so, in their loud, punk-rock kind of way. It's going to take some doing to get riders to even think about trading in their gas guzzlers for a leaner, greener version. But perhaps the Detonator might give people some food for thought.