Saturday, April 9, 2011

Government Shutdown Averted

At least we avoided the economic problems that come with a government shutdown. Now, we have to see what was sacrificed to the ideologues to prevent utter stupidity from ruining our country.

Behind the scenes of the White House budget battle

(CNN) -- In a town where politicians like to keep score, the White House isn't boasting about victory.
Republicans and Democrats reached a budget deal late Friday night, averting the possibility of a partial government shutdown.
After the deal was reached, a top Obama advisor told reporters that it was a good night for the country. The American people won, a senior administration official said.
The White House was feeling optimistic that it was on the verge of a deal Thursday night.
When House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, left the Oval Office meeting, "there was an agreement on range and composition," said another official.
But by 3 or 4 a.m. Friday, the officials described a breakdown.
The discussion at the staff level on the Hill no longer reflected the framework of the Oval office discussions, they said.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Newer Better Hologram Technology

I don't know how the Japanese are already continuing doing such kick ass breakthroughs with their country in shambles, but apparently they are!

Plasmons Create Beautiful Full-Color Holograms

By Lisa Grossman Email Author
April 7, 2011 |
3:06 pm |
Categories: Physics

By harnessing the power of tiny waves dancing in an electron sea, Japanese physicists have developed a novel way to project holograms that don’t change color when you move your head.

“In a conventional hologram, if you change the angle, the color changes,” said optical physicist Satoshi Kawata of Osaka University in Japan. “Our hologram shows natural color at any angle you observe.”

The researchers’ machine takes advantage of how beams of light trigger waves of activity in free electrons, unattached to any atom, arrayed on a metal surface.

Called surface plasmons, these waves could be used to blast cancer cells and build ultra-fast computer processors. They also show up in medieval stained glass windows, where plasmons on flecks of gold suspended in the glass make the window change color as the sun sets.

Plasmons always emit colored light, Kawata says, but it’s usually only visible within a few nanometers of the metal’s surface. But if the light bounces off a ridged surface, it can project far enough from the metal to be seen by the naked eye. In a paper published April 8 in Science, Kawata and colleagues describe how they used surface plasmons to reconstruct a faithful, full-color holograph.

First, the researchers used red, green and blue-colored lasers to etch a record of the way light scattered off an object (an apple, for instance) onto a thin sheet of light-sensitive material called a photoresist, and attached it to a plate of glass.

Atop the photoresist they laid a corrugated layer of silver, with a layer of silicon dioxide on top of that. Silicon dioxide helps guide the holograph’s light waves in the right direction, the researchers say. The entire assemblage was 230 nanometers thick.

A halogen lamp shining on the back of the plate excites different plasmons depending on the angle of the incoming light, Kawata explained. Each plasmon emits a specific wavelength, or color, of light.

“So even if you’re given white light, only one color is chosen by the plasmon,” he said.

The plasmon-emitted light reconstructs the hologram as a virtual image hovering above the plate.

Kawata admits the device is far from ready for real-world applications; he’s mostly interested in the physics.

“No one has thought to use plasmons for display applications, so it was fun for me,” he said. “I just wanted to demonstrate that this could be done. But I hope people would be interested in thinking seriously to use this technology for larger scale 3-D virtual display,” like for TV or movies.

Other researchers are skeptical that the device will make it to the big screen. The image is static and very small, only about two centimeters across at present.

“These issues would lower the chances that the technology would have commercial future,” said physicist Nasser Peyghambarian of the University of Arizona, whose group built a 3-D holograph that can be updated in real time.

This is not the first device to produce 3-D, colored holographs under white light, notes Michael Bove of MIT’s Media Lab, whose research group also debuted an updatable 3-D holographic video earlier this year.

“That said, the physics behind this approach is very interesting,” he said. “The technique looks as if it could offer some advantages in light efficiency and view angle for mass-produced holograms, provided they can figure out how to mass-produce their holograms cheaply.”

For now, then, plasmonic holograms don’t look as if they’ll change the world — but they certainly are pretty.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Government Shutdown Imminent

So I have to ask you folks.

Are you happy with the newly elected Congress?

This is what happens when a bunch of idealogues with no concept of negotiation are elected. Purity or death, huh? These people don't give a shit about the country. They hardly care about solving the nations issues as a government shutdown will exacerbate almost all of them. It is simply complete refusal to hammer out a fair middle of the road budget.

Anyway, this is a nice article about the affects it will have on all of us.

What a government shutdown means to you

The ongoing standoff in Washington over the federal budget is now less than three days away from its deadline, with Republicans and Democrats still locked in disagreement in the House of Representatives. If the parties can't pass a spending plan by the end of Friday, money will stop flowing from federal coffers, and the government will start to shut down on Saturday. But what does that mean, exactly?
For the general Public: Unless you are one of 4.4 million people who work for the federal government, you probably won't notice the shutdown at first, especially since many federal offices are closed on the weekend anyway. Employees considered essential — including soldiers, security personnel and intelligence workers — will remain on the job, but operations like the Smithsonian will close. As the New York Times points out, "the National Zoo will close but the lions will get fed." Federal courts will stay open for at least a couple of weeks, operating from funds they have on hand. "After that, who knows?" courts spokeswoman Karen E. Redmond told the Times. The Post Office will stay open, as it is owned, but not operated by the federal government, but the IRS will close. That means many people waiting on refund checks will have to keep waiting. However, Social Security checks will go out.
For federal employees: Some or all of the 1.9 civilian government employees could be furloughed if they are deemed non-essential. According to the Washington Post, "any workers scheduled to take paid leave would not be able to, and some would be eligible for unemployment benefits if a shutdown continued for more than a few days." Furloughed congressional staffers have been paid in the past, the Times reports, "but the political climate now is different, and lawmakers might be less willing to do so." If the shutdown lasts more than a week or so, members of the military — deemed essential personnel — may have to go to work without pay. Reports the Post: "If the current funding expires on Friday, in the middle of the military’s two-week pay period, the Defense Department would distribute paychecks for the first week."
For Congress: A group of 21 Senate Democrats is trying to pass a bill to halt pay for Congress and the President, but that seems unlikely, the Post reports.
“Our bill is simple: If we cannot do our work and keep the government functioning, we should not receive a paycheck,” the Senate Democrats wrote to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “If we cannot compromise and meet each other halfway, then we should not be paid.”
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, responded that House Republicans’ “goal is to cut spending, not shut down the government – and we’ve passed a bill to just that,” a reference to the $61 billion in proposed cuts passed by the House in February but later rejected by the Senate.
For state governments: States that are far more cash-strapped than they were during the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996 will have a very hard time. Not only will state programs funded by federal grants — such as higher education, research, and law enforcement training — likely be delayed or stopped, but the trickle-down effect of unpaid government contracts, closed national parks and shuttered federal offices would mean local industry and tourism would suffer.
Both parties claim they want to avoid a shutdown at all costs, and as Reuters points out, the public will blame both equally if one occurs. The Associated Press talked to some economists who said a shutdown could drag the economy back into a recession "very quickly." We've got a little less than 72 hours to get the bill passed, so lawmakers, roll up those sleeves and get to compromising.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Slow Day

Sorry for the lack of activity folks. Got a major Dynamics test first thing tomorrow and I have been cramming studying into every minute of the day.

So today, enjoy some random pictures.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Singularity is Near

If any of you are science nerds, then the Singularity should be as familiar to you as the hiding place for your Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit. But I realized how few people actually know of and understand this idea.

If you have any sort of historical perspective, or perhaps have been alive for more than 20 years or so, you might have noticed the increasingly rapid advances in technology. The idea that advances in technology spur new technology isn't new. It isn't even really that surprising. However, what is surprising is the speed of advancement in our own lifetimes (even if you haven't hit 25).

The Singularity is a point in the future human history in which technological advancement becomes so rapid that prediction on the state of human civilization becomes impossible. This isn't some crazy off the wall theory, either. Many scientists have commented on this and many believe it to be inevitable. The theorized events of singularity include ideas such as the thought that humans will become increasingly in control of our biology to the point where we will be able to merge with machines.

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

On Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I've Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists — they included a comedian and a former Miss America — had to guess what it was.
On the show (see the clip on YouTube), the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil got $200. 

Kurzweil then demonstrated the computer, which he built himself — a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. The panelists were pretty blasé about it; they were more impressed by Kurzweil's age than by anything he'd actually done. They were ready to move on to Mrs. Chester Loney of Rough and Ready, Calif., whose secret was that she'd been President Lyndon Johnson's first-grade teacher.
But Kurzweil would spend much of the rest of his career working out what his demonstration meant. Creating a work of art is one of those activities we reserve for humans and humans only. It's an act of self-expression; you're not supposed to be able to do it if you don't have a self. To see creativity, the exclusive domain of humans, usurped by a computer built by a 17-year-old is to watch a line blur that cannot be unblurred, the line between organic intelligence and artificial intelligence.
That was Kurzweil's real secret, and back in 1965 nobody guessed it. Maybe not even him, not yet. But now, 46 years later, Kurzweil believes that we're approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity — our bodies, our minds, our civilization — will be completely and irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away. 

Excellent Pranks for You and Your Friends!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Contradictions in the Bible (The Second Attempt)

Try this link, click download full size, and then view in it's entirety.

I realized that blogger has a size limit on images, and that this image is huge. I guess it is because of the massive number of contradictions in the Bible. I guess if you are a Christian, you can attribute this to the flaws of the humans that wrote it in interpreting the Divine Inspiration put upon them.

If you are anyone else, you can just take it as another reason to not dedicate your life to living in fear of not following the arcane rules of a god you aren't quite sure is real.

The picture is accredited to The Reason Project.

Also, try the original picture at

Since Today is Sunday...

...Here is a pretty interesting infographic about contradictions in the Bible.


Edit: ugh not again. I can read the text here but apparently good reduces the size for some reason. I will repost tonight.