Monday, September 1, 2008

Education in Second Life

Somehow I missed the CS855 class on Tuesday that visited NMC Campus, so I ventured out by myself. I wasn't able to enter it at first (not yet a member) and ended up in a "place nearby". Everyone except you seems to know where they are going (although I did run into a few folks who were lost and texting in another language). It felt like New York or San Francisco, but finally, I was able to tranport myself to NMC.

Its a large area with very nice enhancements, the NMC people provided a wonderful tutorial (HUD object - get from robot figure) that transported your avatar to each new location along with a description of the building and events normally held at each. I found most of what I was looking for except the "Educational Center" mentioned on the field trip.
Gonick Amphitheater – 3 screens multimedia and streaming
Aho museum
Malcolm brown library
Jacob Hall
Sky boardroom - nice location for professional meetings
Spohrer center rooftop sculpture garden
Huntley ballroom
After the fun, I accidentally flew out of bounds (searching for the education center in the Ohio University SE corner) and decided my field trip was over. If you decide to give it a try, here is the location:
You can search in second life for these groups:
NMC Campus
NMC Members
Here are some helpful documents and tools:
NMC Campus Observer

Monday, August 25, 2008

Self-Replicating Robots – Prediction – Failure or Success?

After more in-depth study of this subject overall, I’m more inclined to say this is still a debate.

Scientists say this technology is definitely soon to be reality. Science fiction gurus say this technology is dangerous, will wipe out mankind and the self-replicating robots take over the planet.

The history of the subject is well grounded and has been thoroughly studied over the last several decades. Here is a short overview leading up to a study by NASA/ASEE in 1980:

The study was sponsored jointly by NASA, through the Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology (OAST) and the Office of University Affairs, and by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) as part of their continuing program of summer study faculty fellowships. Co-hosts for the study were the NASA-Ames Research Center and the University of Santa Clara, where the study was carried out. Project co-directors were James E. Long of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Timothy J. Healy of the University of Santa Clara.

Self – replication Definition
Kemeny (1955) said, "If [by "reproduction'] we mean the creation of an object like the original out of nothing, then no machine can reproduce - but neither can a human being....The characteristic feature of the reproduction of life is that the living organism can create a new organism like itself out of inert matter surrounding it."

The Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neumann (1966), set for himself the goal of showing what the logical organization of a self-reproducing machine might be. He envisioned a variety of self-replicating machine models including the (a) kinematic machine, (b) cellular machine, (c) neuron type machine, (d) continuous machine, and (e) probabilistic machine.

NASA/ASEE summer study of 1980 – Advanced Automation for Space Missions
A study was conducted to determine the feasibility of designing and constructing an autonomous lunar manufacturing facility with the ability to self-replicate.

The research teams examined two main concepts for self-replication covering both extremes ranging from very simple to very complex.

Simple Design:
Consider a long row of industrial robots side by side, The first working robot, its fuse already in place, seeks to "reproduce" itself from a "substrate" of dormant machines. It accomplishes this by reaching onto a nearby conveyor belt, picking up a passing fuse part, and plugging it into the neighboring robot. The adjacent machine now begins to function as an exact duplicate, so it can be said that in some sense the first machine has reproduced itself.

Before the reproductive act there was no second working robot; afterwards, one exists.

Complex Design:
A self-replicating system could possess a reproductive behavior so complex and complete that it might produce a copy of itself almost from complete chaos - say, a plasma containing equal concentrations of all isotopes. In this case the machine reproduction is essentially complete - given sufficient energy, the system can make copies of itself in any arbitrary environment even if that environment contains virtually no information relevant to replication.

The NASA/ASEE research team reached the following major conclusions regarding the feasibility of self-replicating machine systems in 1980:

  • The basic concept of physical machine systems capable of self-replication appears credible both from a theoretical and a practical engineering standpoint.
  • It is reasonable to begin designing replicating systems based on current knowledge and state-of-the-art technology, but final design definition will require significant further research.
  • Complete systems closure is achievable in principle, though partial closure may be more feasible from an economic and pragmatic engineering standpoint in the near term.
  • It is feasible to begin immediate work on the development of a simple demonstration SRS on a laboratory scale, with phased steps to more sophisticated levels as the technology is proven and matures.

Asimov, Isaac: I, Robot. Doubleday and Company, N.Y., 1950.

Kemeny, John G.: Man Viewed as a Machine. Scientific American, vol.192, 1955, pp.58-67.

Von Neumann, John: Probabilistic Logics and the Synthesis of Reliable Organisms from Unreliable Components. In Automata Studies, C. E. Shannon, J. McCarthy, eds., Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J., 1956, pp. 43-98. Also in Collected Works, vol. 5, pp. 329-378.

Von Neumann, John: Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata. Edited and completed by A. W. Burks. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois, 1966.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My thoughts on Web 2.0 tools

Podcasts – Short audio recordings of any subject imaginable. Uses: lecture, recipe, novel, music, poetry, directions, advice, legacy (life story), forecast, lessons learned, history, humor, requests, advertising, how to, checklists.

RSS Feeds – Your preference – the latest on any subject. Uses: lecture, invention, new product, news, weather, sports, events, project progress, collaboration tool, worldwide communication.

Blog list – friends, collaborative work, world-wide communications, any subject, any level of opinion, no filters.

Widgets – weather, news, sports, trivia, polls, date/time, tools, games, fun.

Video feeds –see it in action here, see for yourself, see it now, it’s not the media telling you the story, it IS the story captured in video form, it is contrived action, it is “you can’t believe what you see” because it has been altered, it’s a statement, its something someone felt was important enough to share with others, it’s what you did (that you did impulsively) and wish you hadn’t done, its where anyone with a cell phone has evidence it was you, its no longer being anonymous, its no longer being able to say you didn’t really do it. Yep, it’s You Tube.

Piccasa – my pics, your pics, easy to display, easy to view, easy to obtain, easy to alter, is that really you? Did you lose weight (physically, or in photoshop)? Are you really that character I see, or is that your avatar?

Slideshows – My vacation, my presentation, my big event, our big event, an organized display of still photos, here’s what my world looks like, here are my best photos.

Google Reader – Might as well be called Google library. We used to go to a building and browse through hundreds of catalog cards or sections to find hundreds of books on a particular subject. Now, you browse on line through an electronic version to download an electronic book or magazine (still saturated with advertising) it is convenient, you don’t need to show up at a particular time and wait for a librarian to process your request or worry about returning the books.

Live Web Radio – just like radio waves radio, the web version is ever present on your computer and can be ubiquitous if you like handheld devices.

News feeds – how do you like your news? local, distant, live streaming, focused on a region, focused on a subject, at least it is your choice this time – subscribe to what you want to see and hear (at least from an overall perspective - content is another subject)

So overall, what do I think about Web 2.0?
I like having the ability to customize my entertainment, learning, and collaboration
I like knowing where to find an item quickly and easily
I like being in control of my own schedule
I like the idea of chatting with other people about a subject to see what their thoughts are
I like being able to create an environment for relaxation (no distractions)
I really like being the one who gets to decide what I want to watch, wear, do, say, and be
I like things that are FREE

There are numerous reasons the internet will continue to be a valuable resource to the humans who choose to interact with it. One of most impressive is the never ending human spirit intent on making life better…providing tools to make navigating the ocean of information easier and user friendly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nano Technology

Nanosphere is a medical device company specializing in systems designed to conduct molecular diagnostic tests for cancer, cystic fibrosis gene mutation, herpes viral infection and cardiovascular disease -to name a few.

The focus of the company is to develop new genomic biomarkers and identify existing biomarkers easier and more economically. This technology provides the ability to perform diagnostic testing at the molecular level to help prevent disease advancement by earlier diagnosis.

Nanosphere is privately held and based in Northbrook, Ill. Additional information is available here:

Additional links:$57MillionFinancing51606_4550.aspx

Red Herring has a podcast concerning Nanotechnology:

To subscribe to the Red Herring podcast click on one of the following links:
iTunes: itpc:// (Get iTunes)
Juice: pcast:// (Get Juice)

RSS feed for Small Times Media
Small Times Magazine Coverage of Nanotechnology, MEMS and Microsystems -

Sunday, August 3, 2008

One example of a failed prediction concerning self-replicating nanorobots is described at

Early theories in The Engines Of Creation (1986), by "the father of nanotechnology," Eric Drexler, envisioned nanorobots as self-replicating. This idea is now obsolete but at the time the author offered a worst-case scenario as a cautionary note. Runaway microscopic nanobugs exponentially disassembling matter at the cellular level in order to make more copies of themselves - a situation that could rapidly wipe out all life on Earth by changing it into "gray goo." for more info go to
Written by R. Kayne copyright © 2003 - 2008 conjecture corporation

There are also success stories about nanotechnology including the nano-tubes used to kill cancerous tumors in rabbits at Rice University in Houston, Texas. It is hoped the new procedure can be used on humans in the next few years. (This is a good candidate for a future prediction).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Check out this Blogtalk Radio - there is even a blog radio network. They were discussing nanotechnology and it's long term effects.

Links of the Week
Breakthrough: Killing Kid's Tumors

Story: Beyond Biology
Computer Science CS855 class assignment - predict a futuristic reality 10 years out.

Prediction: Based on the current state of research efforts, I predict that radio waves will be successfully applied to humans to fire up nanotubes embedded in tumors and destroying liver cancer in humans in the next ten years. (See excerpt from real article below describing the current state of the research in this area)
Radio waves fire up nanotubes embedded in tumors, destroy liver cancer

Special to the Rice News

Cancer cells treated with carbon nanotubes can be destroyed by noninvasive radio waves that heat up the nanotubes while sparing untreated tissue, a research team from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University found in preclinical experiments.

In a paper now posted online and to be printed in the December issue of the journal Cancer, the scientists show that the technique completely destroyed liver cancer tumors in rabbits. No side effects were noted. However, some healthy liver tissue within 2-5 millimeters of the tumors sustained heat damage due to nanotube leakage from the tumor."These are promising, even exciting, preclinical results in this liver cancer model," says senior author Steven Curley, professor in M.D. Anderson's Department of Surgical Oncology.

"Our next step is to look at ways to more precisely target the nanotubes so they attach to, and are taken up by, cancer cells while avoiding normal tissue."Targeting the nanotubes solely to cancer cells is the major challenge to advancing the therapy, Curley says. Research is under way to bind the nanotubes to antibodies, peptides or other agents that in turn target molecules expressed on cancer cells. To complicate matters, most such molecules are also expressed in normal tissue.

Curley estimates that a human clinical trial is at least three to four years away....