Gamers solve science problem, Turkey rises

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.


Gravity, the EPA, Israel, and Turkey

While it is not, as this article might lead you to believe, the only construction of Gravity as an emergent phenomena, one of the best fleshed out reconstructions of gravity as an emergent force has been repudiated by a recent paper. This gives a boost to the current, but periodically challenged, view that gravity is in fact a force.

Barack Obama has replied to Boehner’s request for an enumeration of pending regulations that the administration is working on. This list ranges anywhere from 30 billion to 200 billion dollars in new regulatory costs depending on who is counting. It is likely to be a new flash point for partisan debate as republicans argue that these regulations are what is killing the economy, and democrats argue that some regulations save money and that if one fairly values environmental improvement and saved lives they pay for themselves.

Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system has proven moderately effective at thwarting the latest bombardment scoring an impressive 85% interception rate. Recent deals have failed because Israelis don’t feel they’ve gotten any peace for the land traded to date, and Palestinians don’t feel that they are being returned land quickly enough. Once Israeli’s feel they can secure their own defense regardless of Palestinian motives they may again be willing to return to the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, Turkey is facing similar problems from their Kurdish independence movement. Turkey’s need for Israeli military equipment may bring the countries back together, following a significant row over the Gaza blockade.