I thought it was a bit silly as part of the premise for Stargate: Universe, but now it has actually happened. Using a computer game, Foldit scientists were able to take advantage of gamers’ desires to get higher scores to solve a real science problem. This is a huge step forward in combining human and machine intelligence… intelligently. While a computer can easily evaluate an existing state of a molecule they have trouble with the spacial reasoning necessary to improve one. By integrating the problem into a game scientists were able to use human’s mastery of spacial reasoning to find the best solution to a problem that had eluded super computers! Oh, and this might help us cure HIV.
As Libya’s revolution appears to stall both militarily and politically, Turkey is emerging as the new dominant middle power in the Middle East. Turkey has long had the largest economy in the region, but what appears to really be driving its growth is its unique status as a successful moderate Muslim democracy. Both Iran and Turkey have claimed to represent the people of recent “Arab Spring”, but the Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans have all expressed a desire to model their countries on Turkey. At the same time Iran, though talking big, appears isolated and struggling while its puppet Syria burns.
Tunisia has just announced its time table for drafting a new constitution and new elections. We should have a good idea whether the region is trending towards fundamentalist theocracy or liberal democracy in a year.