The Quantum Pontiff

links for 2009-02-09

  • Earlier this week, Bill Gates got a lot of attention for releasing some mosquitoes into a crowd while talking about malaria. The video is now available for viewing, and you can watch it below. The incident comes about 5 minutes into the speech, but the entire presentation is worth watching if you have time.
  • A good friend of mine and I have been discussing the predictive nature of the markets, or as I contend the lack of. Since he’s a follower of the pseudoscience of TA, he says he can predict the markets. He doesn’t trade, but is very interested in the markets and eats, sleeps, and breathes markets. He’s been trying to confuse me with all his mumbo jumbo and I finally said no mas. I proposed a small wager and he accepted. We’re both opening up two small accounts(I’m just segregating an account of mine) and he’s going to use TA to determine his trades. Instead of using my regular methods for finding trades, I’ve decided to use the device pictured below to give me trading guidance.
  • A meeting about new approaches to sequencing the human (or any other species) genome. Some of these sound pretty fantastic. One company claims to be able to sequence human genomes for $5000. In 8 days around Christmas, they assembled 254 billion bases of DNA data to create a draft sequence covering 92% of the genome. y June the cost will be $1000 and that they expect to sequence 20,000 by next year. Since little data, it is probably good to be a little skeptical.

    Another group presented data on a method they claim will be able to produce entire human genome sequences in 3 minutes. Lets see about 3 billion bases in 180 seconds is 17 million bases a second. Wow.

  • Nearly a decade age, a Houston computer scientist posed this heretical question. Today, it’s led to a movement dubbed “probabilistic computing,” which he believes will revolutionize the future of computing.

    This afternoon, Krishna Palem, speaking at a computer science meeting in San Francisco, will announce results of the first real-world test of his probabilistic computer chip: The chip, which thrives on random errors, ran seven times faster than today’s best technology while using just 1/30th the electricity


  1. #1 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 9, 2009

    Of course, I’m biased towards believing Krishna Palem about probabilistic computer chips. (If they are run backwards as reversible computing, are the Palemdromes?). That’s because Al Barr, a supporter of the concept and applications, is a computer scientist at the California Institute of Technology

    Caltech laid off 100 people last week, and we’re waiting to see what other shoes drop next. Everyone else there is arguing about whether graduating undergrads should be allowed to wear non-black robes, in their House Colors, as Fleming House (Red) has been allowed for obscure reasons; and the new building that opened late last month, the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    The opening not only marks the beginning of a new era for Caltech astronomy, but is the Institute’s kick-off for the International Year of Astronomy, a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO to mark the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. The aim of the year is to stimulate worldwide interest in astronomy and science. Astrobiologists are doubly lucky because they have the Darwin bicentenary at the same time.

    The Cahill Center — located at 1216 California Blvd. — boasts 100,000 square feet of offices, laboratories, and common areas. Designed by the Los Angeles-based firm Morphosis (led by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne) and built by general contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie, the building is both highly functional and visually impressive.

    Everything about this building has that thought-through feel–from its address (1216, in angstroms, is the wavelength of ultraviolet light emitted by hydrogen atoms) to the view from the lobby up an ever-narrowing staircase to the skylight on the third floor (which mimics the experience of peering up through a telescope) to the cut-through hallways on each floor (which connect Caltech’s north and south campuses and serve to orient the building’s occupants).

    But what is perhaps most important about the Cahill Center is that it will allow some 300 of Caltech’s top-ranked astronomy and astrophysics faculty and graduate students to work together in a building dedicated to their needs for the first time in more than 40 years.

    The Astrology faculty, on the other hand, is not allowed inside.

    Should I mention that your brain is some sort of low-power probabilistic computer, albeit with a different operating system and architecture?