1. Fabbing tools in orbit and with memory materials, and new structural configurations of DNA.

    24 December 2014

    A couple of weeks ago before Windbringer's untimely hardware failure I did an article about NASA installing a 3D printer on board the International Space Station and running some test prints on it to see how well additive manufacturing, or stacking successive layers of feedstock atop one another to build up a more complex structure would work in a microgravity environment. The answer is "quite well," incidentally. Well enough, in fact, to solve the problem of not having the right tools on hand. Let me explain.

    In low earth orbit if you don't have the right equipment - a hard drive …

    Read more...

  2. I don't think it was North Korea that pwned Sony.

    22 December 2014

    EDIT: 2014/12/23: Added reference to, a link to, and a local copy of the United Nations' Committee Against Torture report.

    I would have written about this earlier in the week when it was trendy, but not having a working laptop (and my day job keeping me too busy lately to write) prevented it. So, here it is:

    Unless you've been completely disconnected from the media for the past month (which is entirely possible, it's the holiday season), you've probably heard about the multinational media corporation Sony getting hacked so badly that you'd think it was the climax of …

    Read more...

  3. A friendly heads-up from work.

    12 December 2014

    Windbringer experienced an unexpected and catastrophic hardware failure last night after months of limping along in weird ways (the classic Dell Death Spiral). My backups are good and I have a restoration plan, but until new hardware arrives my ability to communicate is extremely limited. Please be patient until I get set up again.

    Read more...

  4. Photographs and video from the protest in Oakland, California on 4 December 2014.

    08 December 2014

    From the protest I attended in Oakland, California on 4 December 2014, here are the photographs I took during the march as well as two short segments of video footage (one (local copy); two(local copy)) shot while on the move.

    This work by The Doctor [412/724/301/703/415/510] is published under a Creative Commons By Attribution / Noncommercial / Share Alike v3.0 License.

    Read more...

  5. Boots on the ground at the protests in Oakland, CA.

    08 December 2014

    Disclaimer: I will attempt to be as unemotional and dispassionate as I can. I will undoubtedly fail for many reasons but I think I need to make the attempt anyway. I will make strive to comment only on what I witnessed personally, and keep what I (over-)heard to a minimum. I admit that I am an outsider and will do my best to not seem as if I am not. Nevertheless, compassion and conscience require me to speak out.

    Disclaimer the second: I've probably forgotten details even though I have several pages of notes and will have to edit …

    Read more...

  6. Repurposing memes for presentations.

    06 December 2014

    I'm all for people reading, listening to, and watching the classics of any form of media. They're the basic cultural memes that so many other cultural communications are built on top of, and occasionally get riffed on that we all seem to silently recognize, whether or not we know where they're from or the context they originally had. You may not know who the Grateful Dead are or recognize any of their music (I sure don't), but if you're a USian chances are that you've at least seen the new iterations of the hippie movement and recognize the general style …

    Read more...

  7. Robotic martial artists, security guards, and androids.

    04 December 2014

    Quite possibly the holy grail of robotics is the anthroform robot, a robot which is bipedal in configuration, just like a human or other great ape. As it turns out, it's very tricky to build such a robot without it being too heavy or having power requirements that are unreasonable in the extreme (which only exacerbates the former problem). The first real success in this field was Honda's ASIMO in the year 2000.ev, which most recently uses a lithium-ion power cell that permits one hour of continuous runtime for the robot. ASIMO is also, if you've ever seen a …

    Read more...

  8. The first successful 3D print job took place aboard the ISS!

    01 December 2014

    There's a funny thing about space exploration: If something goes wrong aboard ship the consequences could easily be terminal. Outer space is one of the most inhospitable environments imaginable, and meat bodies are remarkably resilient as long as you don't remove them from their native environment (which is to say dry land, about one atmosphere of pressure, and a remarkably fiddly chemical composition). Space travel inherently removes meat bodies from their usual environment and puts them into a complex, fragile replica made of alloys, plastics, and engineering; as we all know, the more complex something is, the more things can …

    Read more...

  9. Controlling genes by thought, DNA sequencing in 90 minutes, and cellular memory.

    24 November 2014

    A couple of years ago the field of optogenetics, or genetically engineering responsiveness to visible light to exert control over cells was born. In a nutshell, genes can be inserted into living cells that allow certain functions to be switched on or off (such as the production of a certain hormone or protein) in the presence or absence of a certain color of light. Mostly, this has only been done on an experimental basis to bacteria, to figure out what it might be good for. As it happens to turn out, optogenetics is potentially good for quite a lot of …

    Read more...

  10. Neuromorphic navigation systems, single droplet diagnosis, and a general purpose neuromorphic computing platform?

    18 November 2014

    The field of artificial intelligence has taken many twists and turns on the journey toward its as-yet unrealized goal of building a human-equivalent machine intelligence. We're not there yet, but we've found lots of interesting things along the way. One of the things that has been discovered is that, if you understand it well enough (and there are degrees of approximation, to be sure) it's possible to use what you know to build logic circuits that work the same way - neuromorphic processing. The company AeroVironment recently test-flew a miniature drone which had as its spatial navigation system a prototype neuromorphic …

    Read more...

53 / 206