Drug-resistent yeast, synthetic synapses on the nano scale, and memristor research.

For the last decade or so, bacteria that are immune to the effects of antibiotics have been a persistent and growing threat in medicine. Ultimately, the problem goes back to the antibiotic not being administered long enough to kill off the entire colony. The few survivors that managed to make it through the increasing toxicity of their environment because they either had a gene which rendered them immune (and the toxins released when the other bacteria died weren't enough to poison them) or assembled one and survived long enough to breed and pass the gene along to other bacteria. This …

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Inflatable space station modules, successful gene therapy for aging, and neuromorphic computing.

Now that I've got some spare time (read: Leandra's grinding up a few score gigabytes of data), I'd like to write up some stuff that's been floating around in my #blogfodder queue for a couple of weeks.

First up, private-sector aerospace engineering and orbital insertion contractor SpaceX announced not too long ago announced that one of their unmanned Dragon spacecraft delivered an inflatable habitat module to the International Space Station. Following liftoff from Cape Canaveral the craft executed a rendezvous with the ISS in low earth orbit, where the ISS' manipulator arm grappled the craft. In addition to supplies and …

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

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 …

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Another possible solution to an NP-complete problem?

A couple of days ago a research team comprised of faculty at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the University of Southampton in the UK, and IQFR-CSIC in Madrid, Spain published a paper containing a creative solution to a problem known to be NP-complete, namely a version of the traveling salesman problem. The TSP, in summary, postulates a scenario in which you have an arbitrary number of towns spread over a large area and an arbitrary number of paths connecting them. What is the shortest possible path one can take in which the traveler visits each town only once and returns …

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The line between organic and electronic continues to blur.

Long time readers are no doubt familiar with my facination with the subject of biological computing, using organic structures to process and represent information rather than silicon-hybrid substrates. When you get right down to it, DNA is an information storage and representation system, just like the tape upon which a notional Turing machine reads and writes symbols. Using this metaphor (which isn't nearly as tortured as it sounds), the ribosomes of eukaryotic cells would be the Turing machines that read the tape and carry out the operations (protein synthesis) encoded in the nucleotides.

Not too long ago the field advanced …

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Memristors now a viable component of electronic circuitry.

In the early 1970's an electrical component was hypothesized by Leon Chua, who was working at the University of California at Berkeley as an electrical engineer. Chua was said to be working on a mathematically rigorous foundation for the science of electronics, and during the course of his work he concluded that a fundamental component was missing. A memristor is essentially a component which remembers how much current has passed through it for a duration of time (technically, there is a relationship between the integrals over time t between current and voltage). While that doesn't seem all that interesting it …

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Prime Minister of England formally apologizes to the memory of Alan Matheson Turing.

For many years, Alan Turing was one of the lesser-known heroes of World War II. Born in 1912, he rose to prominence at Cambridge in the early 1930’s where he was eventually elected a fellow of the King’s College. Much of his work on computability, or whether or not a problem can be solved and the most effective methods of going about it if it can, is now considered 101-level stuff in comp.sci programs around the world. At the time, however, this work was revolutionary. Turing is best known for the hypothetical Turing Machine, a computing device …

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Random knowledge X.

How to set up a crossover ethernet connection between two Sun Solaris machines:


  • Connect both machines using a crossover ethernet cable.

  • root@solaris-machine-1# ifconfig plumb

  • root@solaris-machine-1# ifconfig netmask

  • root@solaris-machine-1# ifconfig up

  • On each machine, ping the other. If both are reported as being alive, you're golden.


It would look something like this on a live setup:

root@igg# ifconfig ce1 plumb

root@ook# ifconfig ce1 plumb

root@igg# ifconfig ce1 10.0.0.1 netmask 255.255.255.0

root@ook# ifconfig ce1 10.0.0.2 netmask 255.255.255.0

root@igg# ifconfig ce1 up

root …

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