Word of the Day: Schrodinger’s cat

“Schrodinger’s cat” is simply an illustration of the principle in quantum theory of superposition, proposed by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. To further simply the term, it’s a thought experiement, a ‘what if’ hypothetical question that essentially asks “When does a quantum system stop existing as a mixture of states and become one or the other?”

Schrodinger said:

“One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following diabolical device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small that perhaps in the course of one hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid.If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The Psi function for the entire system would express this by having in it the living and the dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.”

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.

Check-Mate for Indian Chess Player after Phone Ploy

An Indian chess player, Umakant Sharma, participated in the country’s qualification rounds to get into the national chess championships. And he was winning games…lots of games. Accruing points on such a furious pace over an 18 month period that India’s chess tournament officials were suspicious of Sharma and his rivals were bemused.

Sharma was finally caught cheating after all this time. How did he do it?

He had stitched a bluetooth device into a cloth cap that he always pulled over his ears. He was communicating through the device with accomplices on the outside who were using a computer and feeding his moves to him.

Sharma has been banned from the tournaments for 10 years.

You can read the full Reuters story on eWeek.

Word Of The Day: Cyber

Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) was an American theoretical and applied mathematician. He was a pioneer in the study of stochastic and noise processes, contributing work relevant to electronic engineering, electronic communication and control systems. Wiener is perhaps best known as the founder of cybernetics, a field that formalizes the notion of feedback and has implications for engineering, systems control, computer science, biology, philosophy, and the organization of society.

The word cyber, used in such terms as cybernetics and cyberspace, was coined in 1948 by Wiener when he wrote a book titled ‘Cybernetics’. He derived it from the Greek ‘kubernetes’, or steersman, which is also the root of the word ‘govern’. Here’s a quote from the book describing his new word:

We have decided to call the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal, by the name Cybernetics.

Wiener may have based his word on an 1830s French usage of cybernétique, which meant the art of governing.

Kimodo Dragons With Virgin Births

The BBC is reporting on some unusual happenings at the Chester Zoo in the UK.

Kimodo HatchlingScientists report two cases where female Komodo dragons have produced offspring without male contact.

Tests revealed their eggs had developed without being fertilised by sperm – a process called parthenogenesis, the team wrote in the journal Nature. One of the reptiles in the zoo is awaiting her clutch of eight eggs to hatch, with a due-date estimated around Christmas.

The following link is to the Wikipedia article on parthenogenesis if you’re interested in learning more.

Savvy Squirrels Outwit Trees

MSNBC science article:

To help ensure the survival of their species, spruce trees may try to starve off local squirrels by supplying them with very few seeds (eaten by squirrels as food for their own survival). When the squirrel populate is supposedly reduced to the point where the trees can be assured of some cones surviving to plantation for future trees, the trees will suddenly and unpredictably produce *thousands* of cones.

The cool thing described in this article is that the squirrels are counteracting this through behavior not quite understood by scientists yet. Read the article for details. Like good stock brokers, red squirrels  predict when the market will be flooded with seeds and then invest big by producing a second litter of young, a new study finds.

ASUS Releases New “Commando” Gaming Motherboard

Asus announced their latest offering for the gamer community. It’s the ‘Commando’;  the Commando provides extreme overclock ability for enhanced performance, and unique features to jazz up the gaming features and simplify the DIY process.

The Commando provides unmatched overclockability, taking FSB to 2.28GHz and memory up to 1,300GHz!!

Specification summary
CPU: LGA 775 Core2Duo, Quad-Core CPU
DDR2: 800/667/533
FSB: 1066/800
Chipsets: Intel P965 + ICH8R
6 SATA II 3Gb/s
Supports ATI Crossfire Graphics
SupremeFX Featuring ADI 1988b
Extreme Tweaker
LCD Poster
8 phase capless power design
Onboard switches 

 

    Asus Commando board

WarGames 2, Finally A Sequel In The Making

From Slashdot today we learn that the sequel to the 1983 classic “Wargames” has finally gotten underway and is filiming in Quebec. Matthew Broderick won’t be reprising his role, instead the hacker do-gooder will be played by Matt Lanter.

In this sequel, hacker Will Farmer (Lanter) cracks into a goverment super-computer named Ripley and engages it in an online terrorist-attack simulation game. Little does Farmer know that Ripley has been designed to appeal to potential terrorists, and certain glitches have turned made him paranoid.

Father of Yogi Bear Dies

From the AP:

Joe Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that produced such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, died Monday at the age of 95. Mr. Barbera died of natural causes at his home with his wife, Sheila, at his side.

With his longtime partner, Bill Hanna, Mr. Barbera first found success with the Tom and Jerry cartoons. The antics of the battling cat and mouse won seven Academy Awards. Mr. Hanna passed away in 2001.

The partners, who teamed up while working at MGM in the 1930s, went on to new success in the 1960s with a series of animated TV comedies, including “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” “Yogi Bear,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Huckleberry Hound and Friends.”

Why Gamers cheat

Forbes has an article on why gamers cheat, breaking down the reasons into 4 buckets:

There are four major reasons why players cheat in a game: they’re stuck, they want to play God, they are bored with the game, or they want to be a jerk.

It goes into detail on each of these and also explains why cheating is actually good for you.

The author is Mia Consalvo an associate professor in the School of Telecommunications at Ohio University. Her current research examines women’s game play, the economics of the videogame industry and pedagogical uses of games. She has just written the book Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames , to be released by MIT Press in 2007.

 

Do You PikiPimp?

Pikipimp allows you to pimp your pik. Upload a picture of a person, maybe yourself or your friend. Next, pimp it out with a beard, glasses, funny hat, scars, bruises, tattoos, body jewelry and much more.

Then you can preview it, download or save it to the gallery along with all the other buffoons.

Here’s mine. Link to yours in the comments.

Addictive World Map Game

I know you’re probably tired of the zillions of Flash based games on the net, for the most part I am too.

But here’s one I recently heard about that I find fun. Well I find it fun ’cause only a geek would really find something like identifying countries on a map of the world fun: World Map.

I knew I was pretty weak with the African continent, but looks like I need to bone up on my geography in Eastern Europe due to the many new states that arose from the USSR.
World Map Game

Get Your Own “Boom Box”

 Self Destruct USB Hub

Inject some urgency into your debonair character with the Self-Destruct button USB hub that is bound to elicit more than a telling glance from your co-workers. There is an aura around somebody who looks and acts dangerous, and what better way than placing this device on your desk? It looks like it was taken directly from a movie set with all the necessary trappings, with the added bonus of an additional four USB 2.0 ports. Pressing the big, red, round button will elicit a “Kill! Kill! Kill!” audio response.

Now is that not just the most awesome geeky device you could ever receive?

Take a peek at the real thing at GeekStuff4U.

Ring! Ring! It’s the Bananaphone!

Bananaphones

San Francisco prankster Laird Rickard has figured out a way to make obnoxious cell phone use funny: he makes it look like you’re talking into a banana. Laird’s company Nanaco produces Cellfoams, squishy foam covers in wacky shapes that protect your phone, and more importantly, make you look silly when you’re talking on your phone instead of rude. Nanaco’s premier product is the banana shaped cell phone cover, playing off that classic gag of pretending a banana is a phone. It was hilarious when Groucho Marx did it and the joke is still, ahem, appealing today. Attractively priced at about $12 bucks at a variety of local retailers, this is a great way to make light of a technology whose convenience barely compensates for its invasiveness. If you were looking for a way to say “I’m just bananas about talking on my cell phone!”, this is it.

Spike TV Hosts the Video Game Awards

The awards show for Video Games is being hosted by Spike TV this year, the show will be broadcast tape delayed on Dec 13. If you’d like a sneek peek at a few of the results, here you go:

“The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,” a fantasy role-playing game, was the top winner at the Spike TV Video Game Awards in Los Angeles on Friday, taking home five prizes, including “Game of the Year” and “Most Addictive.”
 
“Gears of War,” an alien shooting title, captured four honors, including “Studio of the Year” for developer Epic Games.
 
Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s new Wii video game console, which has wooed gamers with its intuitive one-handed motion sensing controller, took home the prize for “Breakthrough Technology.” 
 
Best Performance by a Human – Male: Patrick Stewart in “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”
 
Best Performance by a Human – Female: Vida Guerra in “Scarface: The World is Yours” (Vivendi /Radical Entertainment) 
 
Critics’ Choice: “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” (Nintendo)
 
Cyber Vixen of the Year: “Alyx Vance” in “Half-Life 2: Episode 1” (Valve)
 
Best Original Score: “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”
 
Best Graphics: “Gears of War” (Microsoft Corp./Epic Games)

Breakthrough Technology: Nintendo Wii

Marvel Delivers “New Avengers” For The Military

Just in time for the holiday season, Marvel Comics’ “The New Avengers” and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service have teamed up to bring troops stationed around the world another free, military-exclusive comic book.

Marvel Comics is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation’s servicemembers.

“The New Avengers: Letters Home” is scheduled to arrive in U.S. exchanges around Dec. 20 and overseas, including the 53 BX/PX facilities throughout operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, shortly thereafter. It’s the fourth installment of the military-only comic book series.

Avenger Military Comic“Due to their limited availability, collectors have historically shown great interest in these special AAFES/Marvel Comics editions,” Army Col. Max Baker, AAFES chief of staff, said. “If the past is any indicator, ‘The New Avenger: Letters Home’ issue should go quickly.”

Available exclusively at AAFES stores, the newest issue once again features Marvel’s superhero Captain America, who, because his regular supporting cast is away for the holidays, is joined by Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider and special guest, The Punisher. When Hydra takes over a military communications satellite, the superheroes spring into action to ensure troops’ e-mail messages to loved ones make their way home.

Because of the highly collectible nature and the anticipated demand for the 36-page comic, AAFES officials advise that “The New Avengers: Letters Home” is available on a first-come, first-served basis.