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BBC NEWS | Magazine | Unlocking the mysteries of speech
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:40 pm EST, Nov 10, 2009

Animals may use sounds to communicate but talking is uniquely human. Yet despite decades of research scientists still haven't unlocked the secrets of speech. So why do we talk?
"In the beginning the alien words are completely random, with no common factors between them," says Prof Kirby.

"We start the experiment with this garbage language. In fact calling it a language is in some sense misleading, it's not even a language."

Early participants do very badly in the test because the language is completely random and unstructured. But there is a twist.

When they are tested, the experiment introduces some brand new fruits, so volunteers cannot possibly recall their names. Most people do not notice and invent words for the unfamiliar fruits.

Then for the next phase in the experiment, all the words produced by the first candidate are used to create the language for the next person.

"Each of these learners thinks they're giving us back the same thing that we trained them on as best they can, but in fact each of them unconsciously is changing that language, changing it piece by piece over time," says Prof Kirby.

As the alien language is passed through generations of users, it slowly turns from a random, chaotic one, to one of structure with combinations that can be easily remembered.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Unlocking the mysteries of speech

A New Spacecraft to Explore on Waves of Light -
Topic: Space 4:48 pm EST, Nov  9, 2009

About a year from now, if all goes well, a box about the size of a loaf of bread will pop out of a rocket some 500 miles above the Earth. There in the vacuum it will unfurl four triangular sails as shiny as moonlight and only barely more substantial. Then it will slowly rise on a sunbeam and move across the stars.

A New Spacecraft to Explore on Waves of Light -

BBC NEWS | World | 'Twin Towers' warship to enter NY
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:28 am EST, Nov  2, 2009

A warship built with steel salvaged from the World Trade Center is set to arrive in New York.

someone was having a truly inspired day when they came up with that

BBC NEWS | World | 'Twin Towers' warship to enter NY

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Medvedev blasts Stalin defenders
Topic: Current Events 2:31 pm EDT, Oct 30, 2009

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made an outspoken attack on those seeking to rehabilitate former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
Under Mr Putin, the order was given for school history books to be re-written, highlighting Stalin's achievements.
It would appear there is a split within the Russian leadership on this highly sensitive issue.

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Medvedev blasts Stalin defenders

The post TI censored has been reposted.
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:01 am EDT, Oct 27, 2009

As many of you know, about two months ago TI sent me an email referencing the DMCA and demanding that I take down one of my blog posts. I complied at the time, but I also sent TI a response, requesting that they reconsider their position. They did not respond.

Two weeks ago Jennifer Granick at the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent TI an email on behalf of myself, and several other bloggers who received similar notices from TI. In that email Jennifer told TI that we would repost our censored blog posts today if TI did not respond and clarify their position. TI has not responded.

Therefore, the original blog post has been restored, and if you didn't read it before, you can read it now. Its hardly the best post I've ever written. It was jotted down at 9:30 in the morning while I was getting ready for work. I tend to shoot first on this blog and ask questions later, and that certainly leads to posts which are poorly articulated and easily misinterpreted. In a later post I did a much better job explaining the technical concept which drew my interest to this calculator key cracking effort in the first place.

I'd like to thank the EFF and particularly Jennifer Granick for working with me as well as the other bloggers in this case. My blog post is not important, but it is important that people have a right to blog without worrying about receiving legal threats when they haven't done anything wrong. Its important that people stand up for that right, and we're fortunate that there are people out there who are willing to do it. Thank you EFF.

The post TI censored has been reposted.

Why hack a calculator? Why climb Mount Everest? | Deep Tech - CNET News
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:33 am EDT, Oct 20, 2009

Among their achievements: adding new features, creating new operating systems, connecting the calculator to keyboards and other hardware, playing a video excerpt from "The Matrix," and even running Nintendo Game Boy video games. Not bad for calculators such as the $100 TI-83 Plus, introduced in 1999 with a Z80 processor running at 6MHz, 24KB of memory, 160KB of flash memory, and a 96x64 pixel display.

Why all this work for projects that realistically are not going to reshape the future of computing? Much of the motivation parallels mountaineer George Mallory's rationale for climbing Mount Everest: "Because it's there."

Why hack a calculator? Why climb Mount Everest? | Deep Tech - CNET News

Science Room
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:16 am EDT, Oct 20, 2009

I *heart* the new makezine science room!

Science Room

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Scientists announce planet bounty
Topic: Space 12:47 pm EDT, Oct 19, 2009

Astronomers have announced a haul of planets found beyond our Solar System.

The 32 "exoplanets" ranged in size from five times the mass of Earth to 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter, the researchers said.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Scientists announce planet bounty

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Glimpses of Solar System's edge
Topic: Space 8:36 am EDT, Oct 16, 2009

The first results from Nasa's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (Ibex) spacecraft have shown unexpected features at our Solar System's edge.

Ibex was launched nearly one year ago to map the heliosphere, the region of space defined by the extent of our Sun's solar wind.

Ibex's first glimpses show that the heliosphere is not shaped as many astronomers have believed.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Glimpses of Solar System's edge

BBC NEWS | England | Somerset | Soldier mocked over loss of legs
Topic: Society 9:10 pm EDT, Oct 15, 2009

A soldier from Somerset who lost both legs and his right arm while serving in Afghanistan has been subjected to cruel taunts over his injuries.

Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, from Taunton, stepped on a bomb while on patrol in Helmand Province on 29 June.

While he was being treated at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham his mother took him out shopping where they encountered a group of "boisterous" youths.

Rena Weston, 40, said: "They shouted he's lost something... like his legs.

Speaking from the family home Mrs Weston said: "They were laughing at what they thought was a very funny statement to make.

"We continued around the corner and I put my arms around Matthew and said, 'are you okay love?'

"He just went silent. Then he said, 'I suppose I had better get used to it for the rest of my life.'

BBC NEWS | England | Somerset | Soldier mocked over loss of legs

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