Archive for December, 2006

What Can You Find at Google Patent Search?

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Google’s powerful patent search engine allows immediate access to the documents that have driven innovation for more than a century.Pictured is Wilbur and Orville Wright’s airplane, but other famous inventors are well-represented: Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison intrigue.


Intimate strangers

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Interesting article Cecilia pointed out today: There are people you see every day but never meet. Urban living is full of these close encounters where we never make contact.

From Competition to Cooperation

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Understanding the evolution of cooperation–whether between genes or cells or within animal and human societies–remains one of the fundamental challenges of biology (see the Perspective by Boyd). Nowak (p. 1560) reviews the five main mechanisms of cooperation: kin selection, direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, network reciprocity, and group selection. Bowles (p. 1569) contends that the ecological challenges facing humans during the late Pleistocene resulted in intense competition for resources, frequent group extinctions, and intergroup violence. Genetic, climatic, archaeological, ethnographic, and experimental data were used to look at human cooperation in an economics-based, cost-benefit model. Members of a group bearing genes for altruistic behavior pay a tax by limiting their reproductive opportunities in order to benefit from sharing food and information, thereby increasing the average fitness of the group, as well as their interrelatedness. Bands of altruistic humans would then act in concert to gain resources from other groups at a time when humans faced daily challenges to survival.

Really tiny wireless sensor node

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

This paper published in Biology Letters is linked to a video that shows a WSN attached to the belly of a dragonlfy. It weights 300mg (battery included) and apparently dragonflies do not have a problem carrying it around.

This is made by a guy called Jim Cochran who runs Sparrow Systems with his dad — they both sound like very nice people and from the look of it they can build stuff that works (rather than the usual WSN vaporware).

Dynamic Congestion Charge & Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Comments on Sensor Web Design Studies for Realtime Dynamic Congestion Pricing (here)

Situation: Traffic congestion is a fundamental problem. To avoid it on some streets, one may charge drivers accessing those streets. For simplicity, one usually charges a fixed rate (e.g., London congestion charge).  However, dynamic pricing is preferable – one charges depending on information about local road events, public event calendars, road segments, and congestion patterns.
Problem: The pricing model needs to gather such information.
Proposal: This paper proposes to do so by collecting readings from sensors and from aircrafts/UAVs with video cameras.
Future: To extend this proposal, one may be inspired by existing work on ad-hoc vehicular nets (e.g.,  by Ilias‘ recent work). What about  ‘Realtime Dynamic Congestion Charge with Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks’?

Mini massive storage

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Though micro HDDs have been a reality for a while, seeing this tiny drive(GeekZone), and the fact it is 100GB, really impressed me. Maybe we don’t have to worry too much about large amounts of state information in algorithms anymore. ;)
(I’m not sure if I should be impressed by a “15 meter second” seek time though.)

Nike+iPod and Privacy

Monday, December 4th, 2006

Nike+iPod allows runners to track their distance, speed, and amount of calories burned after a jog. But it can also be used as a tracking device, without the knowledge of the person being tracked (UWNews).