I am back!

After days of reading distressing news about disasters in Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Greece, and China, I wanted to find something happier to return to posting with.

So I took a trip to the arxiv blog one of my favorite places on the internet for science news, read all the articles that looked interesting and decided that this one was most worthy of being highlighted.  It is about the simulation of a closed time like curve, the only well supported (in the laws of physics) vector to a different causality. I’ve never heard of an experiment like this before, but I think its a cool new approach, which gives me hope about our future.


France Declares Internet Access to be a Human Right!

Okay, so this actually happened a week ago, but I was really busy and didn’t have time to post about it. But in the light of what is happening in Iran today this is so much more important. Internet a human right? That’s quite some distance come for something was invented just a few decades ago. However, in today’s environment internet access might as well be freedom of speech. Of course internet access doesn’t guarantee that you can say whatever you want, but then again neither does free speech. In fact, in most countries there is more freedom of speech on the internet than there is in real life.

All eyes should be on Iran

The most important thing in the world this week is happening in Iran, and it seems that most of the world is going on oblivious. I brought it up with my coworkers at lunch today and none of them even seemed to realize that anything out of the ordinary was even happening. So let me say it straight.

The estimates from reporters on the ground in Tehran estimate the crowd on Monday to be between one and two million. That is an enormous number for a city of roughly 13 million people. These people are all protesting one thing. Their one chance to make a choice was taken away from them. The government of Iran is one where candidates come pre-approved with permission from the country’s ruling Clerics. In theory they are saying, these are the candidates we are happy with. You may choose between them. The old phrase, “never taunt a tiger” came to mind, as the meat of freedom was so transparently pulled away by the over confident establishment.

The cowardly US government is maybe too afraid of losing “diplomatic” ground to say it, but I will, the government of Iran is now blatantly illegitimate. It deserves neither respect nor recognition in any part of the world. A more correct foreign policy decision here, would be to play the same game with Iran as China does with Taiwan.

But I digress, I got my answer today, on an Iranian twitter there was a short request. “Help needed from world: A low-bandwidth way to access yahoo msging via browser. #iranElection” I may not myself have the knowledge to do it, but I hope one of my readers will. And, I will keep watching for more requests to spread.

It still remains to be seen whether this nascent revolution will die out or mature, but it is the first to take such advantage of the internet. Iran is a nation of bloggers(If you look at nothing else look at this). The Cyberwar waged in Iran is already breaking ground in its level of scripting and sophistication. The news and communications for this revolution are being carried over the internet, and it seems that the revolution really will not be televised. The BBC’s news and satellite channels have been jammed, and all foreign media has been ordered out of the country.

These protests are not founded on the misguided wish that Mousavi won they are founded on fact. Both the speed of the election count and the final result are preposterous.

The one gnawing worry in the back of my mind here is why was this done at all? The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei already had undisputed power, no matter which candidate won he would have remained in charge. The political differences between the two candidates are not so great that he would risk such destabilization simply to get his choice of the two. If he really wanted Ahmadinejad he surly could have select other candidates in such a way as to split the opposition vote. Or maybe he did… but it backfired. But to me it looks like Ahmadinejad may have himself just carried out a back door coup…more on that later I suppose.

One last thing I want to show are two very interesting points in this video. The first is at about the 2 minute mark, and the second at 2:32 I wont deprive you of the freedom to come to your on conclusions.

As I went to post this I noted a request for people to set their twitter accounts to Iran and time zone to +3:30, I am registering for twitter now, and I hope you will do the same.

Bing picks up 2 points on Google

Honestly, I had dismissed Bing out of hand when it was announced. But, I just read a news article that makes me want to at least try it out. Apparently Bing has already picked up 2 percent more of the search market for Microsoft.

After my disappointment with Wolfram|Alpha, which REALLY needs to work on how it handles things its “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input” I had figured it would be a few more years before we saw another serious attempt to displace google. Now I’ve only done a few searches but I definitely feel like I am getting better results from Bing.

Smaller, Faster-charging, non-overheating batteries!

MIT recently announced the invention of a new lithium-iron-phosphate battery. This particular discovery is remarkable for a number of reasons perhaps most significantly because it is so similar to existing technology that retooling manufacturing infrastructure from lithium-cobalt is possible and should only take about 5 years.

In the past researches have focused on lithium cobalt batteries because they have a marginally higher energy density. But, both technologies have suffered from slow charge rates. Scientists assumed these slow charge rates were the result of the low speed of electrons traveling through the material. However, scientists at MIT put this assumption to the test and found that the electrons traveled much faster through the material than had been previously thought. On further inspection they found that the problem was being caused by the slow travel times on the surface of the material to the holes on the surface through which they could enter the material. By engineering new routes on the lithium-iron-phosphate they were able to increase charge times by a factor of 6!

Of equal importance the Lithium-iron-phosphate batteries have two additional advantages over lithium-cobalt. First, they don’t lose their maximum charge over time the way that lithium-cobalt batteries do. Because current batteries are engineered to work for at least a year the new batteries will actually have a higher energy density for the end consumer over the life of the battery. Finally, the new batteries will not overheat, posing less of a danger both in catastrophic cases and in normal usage of mobile devices.

For end consumers this means two big pieces of news! First, starting in about 5 years new laptop batteries will be available that do not have to be replaced frequently because they don’t lose their charge capacity! These laptop batteries will be lighter because current batteries are designed with larger capacity with the understand that the top 10% or so will be lost quite rapidly. In addition these batteries will not overheat! This will also be the case for cellphones ipods and just about any other mobile device you can think of.

However, its largest impact will be on electric cars. This new technology solves many of the biggest problems for electric cars. One of the biggest problems that electric cars have been facing is battery life. When you have a 20,000 dollar battery that has to be replaced because its charge capacity falls dramatically over 3 years, the producer cannot even offer more than a 3 year warranty. “According to presenters at the Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar here, is that batteries will cost about $500 per electric mile delivered.” Another big problem that electric cars have been facing in getting from paper to a major consumer item is charge times. Current technology requires you plug your car in to a hard line for hours to fully charge. This new technology cuts charge time by a factor of 6! Making a gas-station-like set up far more feasible. A technology like this one was in, my opinion, a necessary innovation for making electric cars viable. In the long run this makes it far more likely that electric cars will be able to compete with the combustion engine.

-This is a post I wrote mostly on my last hiatus-

Don’t Tread On Me

The Gadsden FlagHere is an image I’ve always been curious about. So finally today I looked it up and found this very interesting history of the Gadsden flag, which slightly predates Old Glory. If you follow the link, you will find a very convincing argument made in favor of the rattlesnake for the national symbol, rather than the eagle. Also, there’s another version of the flag with “No one will provoke me with impunity” as an alternative slogan. I actually kind of prefer it because it has this delicious “beware when meddling in the affairs of dragons” attitude.

So now I’m totally a fan of the Gadsden flag, although I wish they had found a nicer color than yellow. Yellow? For a flag? Blegh.