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Posts Tagged ‘computers’

More computing power than Hubble?

Posted by c. wagner on November 5, 2009

It surprises most people to learn that the typical computer in space is as much as a decade behind the technology you can buy in a local store. That’s because of the lengthy process involved in radiation-hardening equipment. Your home computer may be faster than the one on board the Hubble Space Telescope, but it would last perhaps 15 seconds in space before turning into a heap of useless metal. [page 161]

It certainly surprised me.

If Hubble can do amazing things with as much power as an internet-enabled toaster, I should be able to do something wicked cool with my little laptop. Nothing like a little perspective.

Quote from Phil Plait’s book Bad Astronomy.

Read more from the entertaining and informative Dr. Plait at his Bad Astronomy blog.


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Can you read MY mind?

Posted by c. wagner on November 5, 2009

More and more, life seems to be imitating science fiction. One of yesterday’s headlines was

Psychic computer shows your thoughts on screen

Despite the exciting language, the system can’t read your mind. It can reproduce, in a fuzzy way, images that a person in a functional MRI (fMRI) is seeing or thinking of. It uses the fMRI’s indications of what parts of the brain are stimulated by an image as input for a fancy bit of software that uses that information to generate images on a computer screen. The images are really low resolution and occasionally missing important elements. They can’t yet capture sounds or abstract thoughts. Just images.

But still, it’s a really cool technology.

Of course, the article threatens that this may someday be used to pry into Joe-on-the-street’s private thoughts. Somehow they’re forgetting that the program requires the target be in a huge piece of medical equipment for it to work at all. And it can’t “see” anything but images. There’s a long way to go until we can aim a camera at someone and read their thoughts.

Read the article at the Times Online.

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