|Complexity Digest 2002.25|
"I think the next century will be the century of complexity." Stephen Hawking, 2000.
Excerpt: In a process that started on the awful day itself, and will continue, September 11 poses a knot of challenges and lessons that the business community must strive to untangle. What does it mean to be prepared for uncertainty? How can we protect our information technology infrastructure? How can we decentralize our locations and intellectual capital? How can we adjust our risk exposure so we are protected, and yet remain competitive?
- Crisis, Recovery, Innovation: Learning from 9/11, John Kelly and David Stark - May 2002, COI Columbia University Working Papers
- Too Much Information, Not Enough Knowledge, John Schwartz, NYTimes, 02/06/09
- SFI Site News, 02/06/18
Excerpts: Just as the DNA of your parents combined, allowing certain of their qualities to survive in you, in a computer two sample tracts of software code can "mate" and produce an offspring that is fitter to perform a task than either of its parents. (...) "Evolution produces innovation," Mitchell says. "But we can't predict what it will do next very easily."
When General Electric used genetic algorithms to help design the Boeing 777 engine in the late 1980s, the technique was so novel that people still talk about it (...).
- High Tech Evolves, More Businesses Are Studying Biology To Solve Complex Management And Computing Problems, Eric Roston, Time, Vol. 159 No. 23, 02/06/10
Excerpts: The driving force in evolving cellular life on Earth has been horizontal gene transfer, in which the acquisition of alien cellular components, including genes and proteins, works to promote the evolution of recipient cellular entities. (...)
Life did not begin with one primordial cell, Woese's theory holds. Instead, there were initially at least three simple types of loosely constructed cellular organizations.
They swam in a pool of genes, evolving in a communal way that aided one another in bootstrapping into the three distinct types of cells by sharing their evolutionary inventions.
- Theory Challenges Darwin Doctrine Of Common Descent, Jim Barlow, UniSci, 02/06/18
* A researcher who believes that "brain fingerprinting" can help separate the guilty from the innocent. But critics say his invention is not nearly perfected.
- It's All In Your Head, CBS 48 Hours, 02/06/14
- Nanobots In The Brain, Featured On CBS '48 Hours', KurzweilAI.net, June 17, 2002
Summary: The activity and spiking patterns of neurons in the developing brain is very different from that of the adult central nervous system. Leinekugel et al. (p. 2049) made neuronal recordings from both awake and behaving, as well as anesthetized, neonatal rats. They observed spontaneously occurring periodic bursts of synchronized activity in the hippocampus. This activity was mediated by glutamatergic and by GABAergic inputs that are excitatory at this developmental stage. Similar discharge patterns, called giant depolarizing potentials, have been observed previously in in vitro preparations. These endogenous synchronous activities may play an important role in the maturation and maintenance of cortical circuits in the newborn.
- Correlated Bursts of Activity in the Neonatal Hippocampus in Vivo, Leinekugel, Xavier, Khazipov, Rustem, Cannon, Robert, Hirase, Hajime, Ben-Ari, Yehezkel, Buzsaki, Gyorgy, Science 2002 296: 2049-2052
Abstract: A broad range of neurodegenerative disorders is characterized by neuronal damage that may be caused by toxic, aggregation-prone proteins. As genes are identified for these disorders and cell culture and animal models are developed, it has become clear that a major effect of mutations in these genes is the abnormal processing and accumulation of misfolded protein in neuronal inclusions and plaques. Increased understanding of the cellular mechanisms for disposal of abnormal proteins and of the effects of toxic protein accumulation on neuronal survival may allow the development of rational, effective treatment for these disorders.
- Toxic Proteins in Neurodegenerative Disease, J. Paul Taylor, John Hardy, and Kenneth H. Fischbeck, Science Jun 14 2002: 1991-1995
Excerpts: An internet "brain" that could replace human interaction has been invented by two Cambridge University researchers.The system, dubbed Metafaq, can answer e-mailed questions and also guide surfers through websites.It may have artificial intelligence but it can answer questions as well as any human, claims inventor Doctor Davin Yap."It allows people to search intelligently and predicts the questions they will ask," he said. (...)Dr Yap says that up to three-quarters of information requested by customers on the net is already available on the website.
- Net 'Brain' Has All The Answers, BBCi, 02/06/20
Excerpt: Scientists running a pioneering experiment with "living robots" which think for themselves said they were amazed to find one escaping from the centre where it "lives".
The small unit, called Gaak, was one of 12 taking part in a "survival of the fittest" test at the Magna science centre in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which has been running since March.
Gaak made its bid for freedom yesterday after it had been taken out of the arena where hundreds of visitors watch the machines learning as they do daily battle for minor repairs.
- Robot On The Run, Dave Higgens, The Age, 02/06/20
Excerpts: The real trick is in comparing the two images and locating the identical pixels reliably as the images whiz by as fast as 132 stereo frames a second. To accomplish this, the Tyzx researchers embed highly evolved software algorithms, or mathematical formulas, in their chip. (...)
This level of performance requires the chips to complete the equivalent of 50 billion operations a second, and data must flow from cameras to processor at 220 million bits a second (...).
- Technology Gives Sight to Machines, Inexpensively, John Markoff, NYTimes, 02/06/17
Abstract: The first quantitative neural network model of feelings and emotions is proposed on the base of available data on their neuroscience and evolutionary biology nature, and on a neural network human memory model which admits distinct description of conscious and unconscious mental processes in a time dependent manner. As an example, proposed model is applied to quantitative description of the feeling of knowing.
- Computer modeling of feelings and emotions: a quantitative neural network model of the feeling-of-knowing , Petro M. Gopych, arXiv Paper ID: cs.AI/0206008. 3-Jun-2002.
- Contributed by Carlos Gershenson
But it's when these devices are connected to the Internet that things will become truly interesting. For instance, nearly all cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators collect data about the heart that can be gathered wirelessly by passing a wandlike device over the patient's chest. (...) got FDA approval to let some defibrillator patients collect the data themselves at home and send it to their doctors by connecting the wand to a modem.
- The Cyborgs Next Door, Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0, 02/06/21
Chips based on these mathematical models have yet to be implanted in rats, much less in humans, (...)
"The brain is so complex that one wouldn't at the outset think that replacing any of its parts is doable,"
- A Chip That Mimics Neurons, Firing Up The Memory, Anne Eisenberg, NYTimes, 02/06/20
- Chips' Future Cast: Tomorrow's Microprocessors Could Be Laser Printed, T. Clarke, Nature Science Update, 20 June 2002
- Contributed by Atin Das
These 'microfluidic fibres' combine the cheapness and robustness of conventional fibre optics with the functionality of more complex and expensive devices. Different signals, encoded in light beams of different colours, are unravelled at the receiving end using special filters or light sensors. Microfluidic fibres could act as both transmission channel and filter (...).
- Optical Fibre Can Process Light As Well As Transmit It, P. Ball, Nature Science Update, 11 June 2002
- Contributed by Atin Das
The device proposed (...) within the reach of current technical capabilities. They suggest that qubits could be encoded in an isotope of silicon called silicon-29, or 29Si. The readout could be performed using magnetic resonance force microscopy, which detects the oscillations of a thin bridge in which the rows of silicon atoms are embedded.
Excerpt: The researchers couldn't directly measure the key characteristics of the laser beam they wanted to replicate, so they turned to a process called entanglement. In entanglement, characteristics of tiny particles - like the photons that make up laser beams - can be mirrored in a second set of particles.
So researchers can make their measurements on a second laser beam that was entangled with the first. The measurements are then sent by radio waves to the receiving station, which exactly replicates the first beam that was destroyed in the process of entanglement.
- Scientists Report 'Teleported' Data, Peter O'connor, Associated Press, 02/06/17
Abstract: The complex branched structure of lightning induce scientists to think that dielectric breakdown is a very complicated phenomena, we will show that this is not true and that simulating the structure of lightning is an easy task, but depends strongly on boundary conditions. In this work we will introduce a new way of understanding the origin of this tortuous path that relies on minimizing the total energy stored in the system.
Abstract: The small-world phenomenon in complex networks has been identified as being due to the presence of long-range links, i.e., links connecting nodes that would otherwise be separated by a long node-to-node distance. We find, surprisingly, that many scale-free networks are more sensitive to attacks on short-range than on long-range links. This result, besides its importance concerning network efficiency and/or security, has the striking implication that the small-world property of scale-free networks is mainly due to short-range links.
- Range-Based Attack On Links In Scale-Free Networks: Are Long-Range Links Responsible For Small-World Phenomenon?, Adilson E. Motter, Takashi Nishikawa, Ying-Cheng Lai, arXiv Paper ID: cond-mat/0206030. 4-Jun-2002.
- Contributed by Carlos Gershenson
Summary: The orientation and sedimentary structure of sand dunes depend on the strength and direction of the prevailing winds, so ancient dunes should contain important clues to paleoatmospheric circulation patterns--if their ages can actually be determined. Preusser et al. (p. 2018) used difficult luminescence techniques to construct a 160,000-year record of dune formation in Oman. Their results indicate that models of past atmospheric circulation over southern Arabia during times of high-latitude glaciation, which assume that the intensity of the prevailing westerly winds strengthens during these periods, need to be revised. The dominant wind direction was from South to North, and general atmospheric circulation was not very different from present conditions.
- A 160,000-Year Record of Dune Development and Atmospheric Circulation in Southern Arabia, Preusser, Frank, Radies, Dirk, Matter, Albert, Science 2002 296: 2018-2020
Excerpt: (...) The very-low-frequency courtship songs of fin whales and blue whales are the most powerful and ubiquitous biological sounds in the oceans. (...)
."We hypothesize that whale songs evolved to take advantage of the ocean's sound channel, especially for some of their most important kinds of communication, including finding a mate," (...) "Only male fin whales sing loud songs." (...) Additional, more-extensive studies in noisier parts of the oceans will be needed before scientists can say for sure that human-made sound is hampering whale reproduction and population recovery, Clark says. "These are animals that roam the world's oceans, and they breed only every two to three years. In their lifetimes, the oceans have become incredibly noisy. "
- Humanity's Din In The Oceans Could Be Blocking Whales' Courtship, Songs And Population Recovery, Cornell Press Release
- For more info on this story, see: Cornell Bioacoustics Research Program
- Contributed by Mason A. Porter
Excerpts: The dynamic nature of groundwater is not readily apparent, except where discharge is focused at springs or where recharge enters sinkholes. Yet groundwater flow and storage are continually changing in response to human and climatic stresses. Wise development of groundwater resources requires a more complete understanding of these changes in flow and storage (...).
More than 1.5 billion people worldwide (1) and more than 50% of the population of the United States (2) rely on groundwater for their primary source of drinking water.
- Flow and Storage in Groundwater Systems, William M. Alley, Richard W. Healy, James W. LaBaugh, Thomas E. Reilly, Science Jun 14 2002: 1985-1990.
(...) among other things, 100 abandoned Strontium-powered thermal generators scattered along arctic waterways and flight paths. These contained up to 40,000 Curies each, and originally powered lighthouses and radio navigation beacons.
- US And Russia Launch Hunt For Lost Radioactive Material, Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist, 02/06/20
Editor's Note: Although these highly radioactive ingredients of dirty nukes apparently lay around in the woods of the former USSR ( locals are said to have used the heat from radioactive devices to stay warm in the cold), transportation to terrorist targets in the US would be difficult. Terrorists might decide that they can get more "bang-for-the-buck" by low-tech operations like starting strategically placed forest fires in weather conditions that maximize damage. All it takes are matches, even more low-tech than the notorious 9/11 box-cutters.
New: President of the Santa Fe Institute: We are seeking a distinguished scientist with a demonstrated record of leadership in the scientific community, including recognizing and recruiting scientific colleagues of genuine distinction, and focusing attention on new interdisciplinary frontiers. An appreciation of, interest in, and understanding of transdisciplinary research is essential. The candidate must be an articulate spokesperson for the Santa Fe Institute, and be able to convey to potential donors and the broad general public the excitement of working at the frontiers of science.
- Robert J. Denison, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Staff Memberposition available, Modeling, Algorithms, and Informatics Group (CCS-3), Los Alamos National Laboratory, (...) Current areas of focus relevant to this job include cybersecurity, intelligence analysis for homeland defense, object/target recognition, document classification, bionetwork identification and bio-ontology systems, knowledge network analysis, and collaboration and recommendation technology for digital libraries.
- Luis Mateus Rocha, Complex Systems Research, MS B256, Los Alamos, NM, (505) 665-1676