>>> context
an emerging culture observatory
| home | site map | about context | lang >>> español - català |
       > information on arts, science, technology, and their intersections
> context weblog
january 2002

sampling new cultural context

thursday :: january 31, 2002
recombinant spider silk
:: proprietary transgenic technology

Mimicking the spider's way of spinning silk, a process that has been perfected through 400 million years of evolution, Nexia Biotechnologies Inc. and the U.S. Army Soldier Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) reported they have made the world's first spider silk fibers from man-made materials with properties similar to natural spider silk. Genetically engineered goats will be used to produce milk loaded with spider silk, five times as strong, by weight, as steel; tough enough to make a new generation of soft body armor or the finest surgical thread.

"It's incredible that a tiny animal found literally in your backyard can create such an amazing material by using only amino acids, the same building blocks that are used to make skin and hair," said Jeffrey Turner, President of Nexia. "Spider silk is a material science wonder - a self-assembling, biodegradable, high-performance, nanofiber structure one-tenth the width of a human hair that can stop a bee traveling at 20 miles per hour without breaking. Spider silk has dwarfed Man's achievements in material science to date."

Nexia has exclusive, worldwide rights to broad patents covering spider silks genes and proteins and is in the process of developing commercial quantities of spider silk using its proprietary transgenic goat technology. Nexia has exclusive license to the spider silk genes from the University of Wyoming, where they were identified. The recombinant spider silk is trade named BioSteel®, for applications in the medical, military and industrial performance fiber markets. >from *Nexia and U.S. Army spin the world's first man-made spider silk performance*, january 17, 2002

> spider silk in normal size
and stretched 5 and 20 times without breaking
wednesday :: january 30, 2002
                         > network of nanowires
molecular electronics patents
:: programming in fabrication of nanochips

Hewlett-Packard Company and UCLA received a U.S. patent for technology that could make it possible to build very complex logic chips -- simply and inexpensively -- at the molecular scale. The collaboration is pursuing molecular electronics as an entirely new technology that could augment silicon-based integrated circuits within the decade and eventually replace them. Most experts believe that silicon technology will reach its physical and economic limits by about 2012.

The patent, issued to Philip J. Kuekes and R. Stanley Williams of HP Labs and James R. Heath of UCLA, builds on previous patents and scientific work by the company and university, working under a grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with matching funds from HP.

Today's chip manufacturing process involves multiple, expensive precision steps to create the complex patterns of wires that define the computer circuit. The HP and UCLA invention proposes the use of a simple grid of wires -- each wire just a few atoms wide -- connected by electronic switches a single molecule thick. The HP and UCLA collaboration has also patented a memory chip based on molecular switches.

"All of this work demonstrates that, in the future, programming could replace today's complex, high-precision method of fabricating computer chips," said Kuekes, a senior scientist and computer architect at HP Labs. "Once a basic grid has been assembled, programming could be used to implement a very complex logic design by electronically setting the appropriate configuration switches in the molecular-scale structure." >from *HP, UCLA Collaboration Receives Key Molecular Electronics Patent*, january 23, 2002

related context
> biological nanocomputer.
trillion computers in a drop of water
. november 28, 2001
> molecular-scale organic transistors.
new nanofabrication approach
. october 25, 2001
> toward atomtronics.
discovers of new state of matter nobel prize
. october 11, 2001
> first controllable nanopatterns.
nanotemplates for nanostructures
. september 6, 2001
> first logic circuit within a single molecule,
carbon nanotubes to replace silicon in microchips
. august 27, 2001

tuesday :: january 29, 2002
human perception
:: controlled by single neurones

Perception is something that must be learned. As we recognize things in our environment we gather experience and this experience in turn colours our perception. Our perception of objects depends on our prior experience with them. Expertise sharpens our ability to notice details. The more we learn about objects and the more familiar they become, the more details we recognize. Thus, we continue to make generalizations, but these generalizations get better and more accurate all the time. A research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics has studied what happens in the brain when we familiarize ourselves with objects.

The Tü bingen group concludes that there are apparently single neurones that sharpen our perception when they are trained to respond to categories. By making generalizations our brain is able to encode and interpret what we see around us. >from *Perception is stored in Single Neurones*, january 17, 2002

> ramon y cajal neurons
+ training stimuli of face category
monday :: january 28, 2002
> old tv screens collage
screen addiction
:: based on biological orienting response

Scientists have been studying the effects of television for decades, generally focusing on whether watching violence on TV correlates with being violent in real life. Less attention has been paid to the basic allure of the small screen --the medium, as opposed to the message.

To track behavior and emotion in the normal course of life, as opposed to the artificial conditions of the lab, Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi used the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). Participants carried a beeper, and we signaled them six to eight times a day, at random, over the period of a week; whenever they heard the beep, they wrote down what they were doing and how they were feeling using a standardized scorecard. People who were watching TV when we beeped them reported feeling relaxed and passive. The EEG studies similarly show less mental stimulation, as measured by alpha brain-wave production, during viewing than during reading. What is more surprising is that the sense of relaxation ends when the set is turned off, but the feelings of passivity and lowered alertness continue.

What is it about TV that has such a hold on us? In part, the attraction seems to spring from our biological "orienting response." In 1986 Byron Reeves of Stanford University, Esther Thorson of the University of Missouri and their colleagues began to study whether the simple formal features of television --cuts, edits, zooms, pans, sudden noises-- activate the orienting response, thereby keeping attention on the screen. By watching how brain waves were affected by formal features, the researchers concluded that these stylistic tricks can indeed trigger involuntary responses and "derive their attentional value through the evolutionary significance of detecting movement.... It is the form, not the content, of television that is unique." In the years since Reeves and Thorson published their pioneering work, researchers have delved deeper. Annie Lang's research team at Indiana University has shown that heart rate decreases for four to six seconds after an orienting stimulus. In ads, action sequences and music videos, formal features frequently come at a rate of one per second, thus activating the orienting response continuously.

Although much less research has been done on video games and computer use, the same principles often apply. >from *Television Addiction By Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi*, Scientific American, february issue, 2002

friday :: january 25, 2002
bluespace, workspace environment
:: convergence of digital tech and physical environment

IBM was exploring ubiquitous computing challenges and new user interaction paradigms to create future workspace environments that address user requirements including a need for greater control and personalization of the work environment, increased productivity through the use of context-aware applications, pervasive access to workspace resources and the transparent integration of mobile devices.

Now IBM and Steelcase Inc., a company whose offerings enhance the quality of people's lives in work environments, announced creation of "BlueSpace" -- an interactive and personalized office of the future, a new office environment that integrates the physical workspace with advanced computer, sensor, display and wireless technologies.

BlueSpace include: *BlueScreen -- a touch screen which is adjacent to the computer monitor puts users in control of their physical and virtual environments. Interactive icons allow users to adjust -- with the touch of a finger -- temperature, airflow or lighting to suit their preference. *Monitor Rail -- consists of a work surface that travels the length of the work space and a dual monitor arm that almost rotates to a complete circle, allowing the users to be positioned anywhere in the area. *Everywhere Display -- a display projects information onto any surface, be it a wall, desktop or floor. It transforms everyday objects into interactive displays, untethering employees from their desktop computers. Wireless computer-processed sensing technologies enable touch sensitivity, allowing fingers to act as cursors, even on walls or desktops. A guest badge in the office vicinity automatically helps cloak confidential information by prompting the Everywhere Display to project a generic image. *Threshold -- designed in response to a need for increased privacy control, this moveable work surface, ceiling and wall act as a "technology totem" that provides on-demand visual and territorial privacy to the user. Color-coded lighting at the top of the threshold in blue, red and green alerts colleagues when an employee is away, busy or accepting visitors. An integrated front panel display on the threshold can visually communicate what each employee wants to share with colleagues, such as current projects and scheduling. >from *IBM and Steelcase create "office of the future"*, january 16, 2002

related context
international conference on pervasive computing. august 26-28, 2002
> first large-scale vr environment for biz apps. march 8, 1999

> straddle3.net office
thursday :: january 24, 2002
> nanorobots from nanomedicine art gallery
nanomedicine art gallery
:: artists exploring the nano-world

Here you will find a small but growing collection of visual artwork that describes many different views of how medical nanorobots and other nanomedical devices and systems might appear. The images in the Nanomedicine Art Gallery are organized into three nonexclusive conceptual groupings Nanorobot Species, Medical Challenges, and Individual Artists for easy browsing.

Artwork in this Gallery should be appreciated as expressions of each artist's unique creative impulses and insights. All styles are welcome here. And all images are presented with the understanding that they are "artist's conceptions" which may or may not entirely reflect the technical nanodevice designer's original intent ‹ or the ultimate engineering reality.

The Nanomedicine Art Gallery was conceived, written and assembled by Robert A. Freitas Jr. as an adjunct to the Nanomedicine Page; Robert continues as curator of the Gallery, which first opened in March 2000. >from *Nanomedicine Art Gallery site*.

wednesday :: january 23, 2002
new biomedical technologies
:: for biosensing and medicine delivery

NASA-funded scientists are crafting microscopic vessels -- called nanoparticles or nanocapsules -- that can venture into the human body and repair problems ­ one cell at a time.

November 2001, NASA selected seven researchers to receive grants totaling approximately $11 million over three years to develop new biomedical technologies to detect, diagnose and treat disease inside the human body. The selected proposals will develop and study nanoscale (one-billionth of a meter) biomedical sensors that can detect changes at the cellular and molecular level and communicate irregularities to a device outside the body (like a pair of glasses). NASA is interested in such non-invasive ways to monitor health because astronauts might need to act as their own doctors on extended missions.

Their project will focus on a problem related to cancer. If humans are going to live in space, we have to figure out how to protect them from radiation better. Because shielding alone probably won't solve the problem, scientists must find some way to make the astronauts themselves more resistant to radiation damage. Nanoparticles offer an elegant solution for locate damaged cells, drug-delivery, and monitoring. >from *Voyage of the Nano-Surgeons*, Science@NASA, january 15, 2002

related context
> Joint NASA/NCI research to develop sensors for health monitoring inside the human body. november 21, 2001
> new "camera-in-a-pill". may 26, 2000

> vessels for digestion and circulation from Libavius Alchymia
tuesday :: january 22, 2002
> energy from microbes
microbes to produce power
:: electricity from organic matter

Certain microorganisms can transform organic matter commonly found at the bottom of the ocean into electrical energy. Aside from raising the possibility that microbes someday could be used to produce power, the findings have implications for many industrial (to degrade contaminants) and military applications (to alert of the presence of toxins or biological warfare agents).

Derek R. Lovley, University of Massachusetts microbiologist, explains how their team used water and sediment from Boston Harbor, a collection of mason jars, ordinary electrical wiring, and sterile graphite electrodes to determine the science behind the mechanics of a simple, sediment battery. The researchers added a layer of common mud to water in the jars, put one graphite electrode in the mud, another in overlying water. The resulting electrical current was strong enough to activate a lightbulb, or a simple computer. "Even using a primitive electrode made from graphite," Lovley said, "it is possible to produce enough current to power basic electronic marine instruments."

Through more refined experiments, Lovley¹s group found that a family of energy-harvesting microorganisms, commonly referred to as Geobacters, were key to the production of the electrical current. Whereas most life forms get their energy by oxidizing organic compounds with oxygen, Geobacters can grow in environments lacking oxygen by using the iron naturally present in soil, in place of oxygen. This new research demonstrates that Geobacters can also substitute an unnatural substance, such as an electrode, for the iron. A large number of a Geobacter species known as Desulfuromonas acetoxidans were found on the anode end of the primitive batteries. When the researchers destroyed the D. acetoxidans in the sediment, the current stopped. "In the mud, a community of microorganisms cooperates to break down larger, more complex organic compounds to acetate. Geobacters then transfer the electrons from the acetate to the electrode generating the electrical energy," he said.
*UMass study uses microbes to turn mud into electricity*, january 17, 2002

monday :: january 21, 2002
terahertz imaging
:: image biological tissue

Xi-Cheng Zhang and a team of researchers are the first to image biological tissue using single pulses of terahertz (THz or T-ray) radiation. The unique properties of THz radiation allow it to "see" farther, and in more detail, than imaging methods such as X-rays, ultrasound, and radar. "Our idea is to fully automate analysis of these images," says Zhang. "One day it could lead to diagnostic tools based on the THz response."

Zhang and his colleagues combined T-rays -- those that are within the far-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum -- with a new technique that delivers single-picosecond-long "blasts" or "chirped pulses" of light. Using a single pulse of THz radiation that is only a few picoseconds long allows for better and faster imaging results in biological tissue. The technique offers highly detailed biological images (even if a patient moves during the procedure). The images can be layered and mapped in color to produce high-resolution images for biomedical applications.

Zhang has received more than $7 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, Army Research Office, and Department of Energy. >from *Rensselaer Researchers Seeing Farther and Faster with Terahertz (THz) Imaging*, january 14, 2002

related context
> sonic flashlight make human body translucent. december 11, 2001
> detection of viruses: new sonic method. september 7, 2001

> terahertz imaging + planar HBV diodes
friday :: january 18, 2002
> ochre from blombos cave
abstract engravings from stone age
:: cognitive modernity first evolved in africa

People were able to think abstractly, and accordingly behave as modern humans much earlier than previously thought. Christopher Henshilwood, and the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town and his team found abstract representations of two pieces of ochre, two and three inches long. The objects, dated to at least 70,000 years ago, were recovered at *Blombos Cave*, a South African cave. This can be world's oldest example of abstract art.

Ochre, a form of iron ore, is frequently found in stone age sites deposits less than 100,000 years old and may have been used symbolically as a ody or decorative paint and possibly also for skin protection and tanning animals' hides. "These finds demonstrate that ochre use in the Middle Stone Age was not exclusively utilitarian and, arguably, the transmission and sharing of the meaning of the engravings relied on fully syntactical language," Henshilwood said.

The two pieces of ochre were first scraped and ground to create flat surfaces. They were then marked with cross hatches and lines to create a consistent complex geometric motif. The discovery adds important new insights to understanding the development of humans, who are known to have been anatomically modern in Africa about 100,000 years ago. Scholars are not yet able to determine if behavior and physique developed in tandem. They also do not agree entirely on what behavior traits best define the difference between modern humans and their earlier ancestors. "There is agreement on one criteria-archaeological evidence of abstract or depictional images indicates modern behavior. The Blombos Cave engravings are intentional images," Henshilwood said. >from *Abstract Engravings Show Modern Behavior Emerged Earlier Than Previously Thought*, january 10, 2002.

related context
> technology and evolution. paleolithic technology and human evolution. march 13, 2001
> social skills earlier than thought. early evidence of social safety net. september

thursday :: january 17, 2002
jon johansen indicted
:: decss case

Acting years after pressure from the U.S. entertainment industry, the Norwegian government indicted teenager Jon Johansen for his role in creating software that permits DVD owners to view DVDs on players that are not approved by the entertainment industry. On January 9, 2002, the Norwegian Economic Crime Unit (ØKOKRIM) charged Jon Johansen for creating software called DeCSS in 1999 when he was 15 years old.

ØKOKRIM Chief Prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde indicted Johansen, who recently turned 18, for violating Norwegian Criminal Code section 145(2), which outlaws breaking into another person's locked property to gain access to data that one is not entitled to access. Johansen's prosecution marks the first time the Norwegian government has attempted to punish individuals for accessing their own property. Johansen could face two years in prison if convicted.

"Johansen shouldn't be prosecuted for breaking into his own property," said Robin Gross, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "Jon simply wanted to view his own DVDs on his Linux machine." EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn added "the movie studios have used intellectual property rights to silence scientists, and censor journalists. Now, they are declaring war on their customers."

Johansen originally published DeCSS as part of the open source development project LiVid (Linux Video) in building a DVD player for the Linux operating system. DeCSS also enables people to exercise their fair use rights with DVD movies, like fast-forwarding through commercials or copying for educational purposes. In January 2000, Johansen won the prestigious "Karoline Prize" for his DeCSS software innovation. This national prize is awarded yearly to a Norwegian high school student with excellent grades who makes a significant contribution to society outside of school. >from *Norway Indicts Teen Who Published Code Liberating DVDs*, Electronic Frontier Foundation, january 10, 2002

related context
> code on trial: dvd hacker case. november 8, 2001
> sklyarov's case: programmer allowed to return home to russia. december 18, 2001
> free jon johansen mailing list

> no trespassing
tuesday :: january 15, 2002
> seeds + crI + crVII
context series 2002, january issue:

information arts book
by stephen wilson

*context weblog announces first issue of context series.

The world emerge as a new territory constantly reconfiguring itself. A discovery journey is needed. At *context weblog we do this journey by processing the flow of information; sampling, mapping and experiencing the new territory, the emerging digital culture. Almost daily we take and publish "samples" in a blog (or weblog) and monthly we take a look to new cartographies, to the digital mapmaking of reality.

The map isn't the territory, as the model isn't reality. The map is a referential structure; inside a coordinate system all can be referenced laying the gridwork for reality. We choose the coordinate system of internet references for our "mapping" activities. The context series section of *context weblog have this mapping function. By spring 2003, we will pack the 2002 context series as a physical exhibition with their book-catalogue offering a wide mapping on emerging culture.

The first series is devoted to Information Arts book by Stephen Wilson. Is a significant selection. We define the activity of *context weblog, an emerging culture observatory, as "information on art, science, technology and their intersections." The subtitle of Wilson's book is "intersections of art, science and technology."

Information Arts focusing on the revolutionary work of artists and theorists who challenge the separations of art and science initiated in the Renaissance. Can art and science/technology remain segregated in the twenty-first century? This book ask how art, science, and high-tech research can influence each other, and present an astonishing panorama of comtemporary aesthetic practices based on mutual influences. >>>full document

monday :: january 14, 2002
the color of the universe
:: sample of the green period

Astronomers at The Johns Hopkins University have produced a unique new insight into the nature of existence: They¹ve determined the color of the universe. "The color is quite close to the standard shade of pale turqoise, although it¹s a few percent greener," says Karl Glazebrook. For computer buffs, the RGB values are 0.269, 0.388, 0.342. Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry are the authors of a presentation at this week¹s meeting of the American Astronomical Society that includes the new discovery.

Their determination of the color is really a byproduct of a serious attempt to use the light from thousands of galaxies to assess scientists' theories of the history of star formation and stellar population dynamics. The scientists worked with data from the Australian *2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey*, a survey of over 200,000 galaxies at a distance of 2 billion to 3 billion light years from Earth. The Anglo-Australian Observatory is conducting the survey. Using the visible portion of the spectrum, Glazebrook and Baldry combined the data on the 2dF galaxies to produce a chart they call the *cosmic spectrum*, which represents all the energy in the local universe emitted at different optical wavelengths of light.

Borrowing a term from the arts, the universe probably started with a "blue period" early in its history dominated by young blue stars, has moved into a middle "green period," and will eventually enter a final "red period" where decreased star formation allows older, redder stars to dominate the universe. >from *Astronomers determine color of the universe*, january 10, 2002

related context
color of the universe corrected. march 2, 2002
the color of the universe is beige... not turquoise

> average universe color + cosmic spectrum
friday :: january 11, 2002
> asut needle exchange
attacks on science
:: ethics and public health

Objective scientific research, often used as the basis for policy decisions, is increasingly under attack by vested interests attempting to control the outcome or impact of research, reports the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The peer-reviewed article, "Attacks on Science: The Risks to Evidence-Based Research," illustrates the real threats to objective scientific pursuits and the impact on society through a variety of case studies. The paper, by Dr. Linda Rosenstock, Dean of UCLA School of Public Health, describes how special-interest groups have influenced policies related to needle exchange programs for the prevention of HIV (not to fund needle exchange programs), ergonomics (to withdraw the ergonomics standard) and mammograms for breast cancer screening (recommendation that women in their 40s be screened every one to two years, when is inadequate in women aged 40­49 years).

There are many types of vested interests ‹ financial, emotional, ideological or political ‹ in addition to corporate interests. But corporations and the significant economic resources they can use to influence policy outcomes have been the most thoroughly documented (note that between 1965 and 1995 the proportion of federal funding of health research and development dropped by almost half). The authors suggest that to ensure the appropriate use of scientific evidence and the protection of the scientists who provide it, institutions and individuals must give deferential response to honest scientific challenges versus those from evident vested interests, build and diversify partnerships, assure the transparency of funding sources, agree on the rules for publications, and distinguish the point where science ends and policy begins. >from *Special interests undermine objectivity of scientific research*, january 8, 2002

related context
> keep publically-funded research public. support open source software. december 14, 2001
> public library of science journals. a new model for scientific publishing. september 10, 2001

thursday :: january 10, 2002
insects' sense of smell
:: key step uncovered

A key step in insects' sense of smell has been uncovered by researchers in Switzerland, the United States and Japan. Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), the researchers showed how a protein in an insect's antenna picks up chemical signals called pheromones, then changes its shape to eject them precisely onto sensitive nerve endings. Many insects depend on pheromones to communicate with each other, whether searching for food or finding a mate, said University of California, Davis, entomologist Walter Leal, who collaborated in the project.

Insects "smell" with their antennae. Pheromone-binding proteins (PBP) pick up pheromones at pores in the outside of the antenna and carry them through a watery layer to the nerve endings, where they are released. The new NMR results showed that the PBP changes its shape to eject the pheromone molecule. The shape change is triggered by a drop in pH when the PBP-pheromone complex reaches the nerve endings. >view animation of pheromone transport.
>from *Exposing insects' sense of smell*,
january 3, 2002

> insect + humans: pheromone attraction
wednesday :: january 9, 2002
> mona hantoum works mix
present tense
:: by mona hatoum

The floor installation "Present Tense" addresses the subject of the areas inhabited by Palestinians today by means of a huge map composed of hundreds of olive-oil soap blocks. The core of Mona Hatoum work grapples with Palestinian and artistic identity, the role of women in the Arab world, as well as questions of power and violence. The exhibition series in Germany (June 2001-May 2002), "Focus Middle East," presents current positions of Palestinian art. They have been created in difficult conditions, resulting from the highly explosive political situation. And yet there is a lively and dedicated group of Palestinian artists who are represented at this exhibition with four artistic positions: Mona Hatoum, Khalil Rabah, Noel Jabbour and Raeda Saadeh. >from *Focus Middle East site*

"Present Tense" is a Mona Hatoum's work from 1996. It was shown at the Anadiel Gallery, Jerusalem: a map of the Oslo Agreement (1993), assembled from 2,200 small olive-oil soaps from Nablus and tiny red glass beads. Red beads pressed into the rectangle of soap cubes delineate the small parcels of land, which according to the Oslo peace accord were supposed to be handed back to the Palestinian Authority.

related context
> Exhibition of Mona Hatoum's Recent Work Explores Her Vision of the Domestic Sphere, MASS MoCA, february 14, 2001
> Mona Hatoum on view at Tate Britain, march 2000

tuesday :: january 8, 2002
electromagnetic space launches
:: maglev technologies in trouble

A magnetic levitation (maglev for short) system to launch spacecraft into orbit would use magnetic fields to levitate and accelerate a vehicle along a track at very high rates of speed. Magnetic levitation works because of electromagnetism. Electromagnets are made of coiled copper wire. Electricity flows through the coils, and that turns them into magnets. The electromagnets lift a vehicle a few inches above a track and move it forward with high speed. Magnets operate through the principle of polarity and Faraday's Law (the magnetic fields in the sled and in the rails repel each other). Magnetically levitated spacecraft would be accelerated at speeds up to 600 mph, and then shift to rocket engines for launch to orbit.

"We actually call this catapult technology," said Bill Jacobs, lead engineer for the MagLev project at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. "It's easy to visualize building up speed and being shot off the end of the track. The United States Navy is very interested in this project for a similar reason. They'd like to use this technology to launch jets from aircraft carriers." Now CNN correspondant reports "NASA researchers have set lofty goals for this project, but they face a major obstacle: the scarcity of funding."

Experiments to validate the concept were conducted successfully on electromagnetic track at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. In September 1999, a new high-technology 15 meter track was build at NASA¹s MSFC, "to learn more about aerodynamics, magnetic fields and energy storage devices associated with maglev." In january 2000, a 13.5-meter-long experimental magnetic levitation track was installed by Foster-Miller Inc in the same center. In addition to industry partner PRT Advanced Maglev Systems, NASA works with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of San Francisco to develop maglev technologies. Maglev is one of many technologies being developed by the Marshall Center's Advanced Space Transportation Program to reduce the cost of getting to space. >from *NASA explores electromagnetic space launches*, by Fred Katayama CNN Financial Correspondent, january 3, 2002

related context
> New NASA Track Races Toward Cheaper Trips to Space. October 4, 1999.

> levitating friends + Melloni's electroscope
monday :: january 7, 2002
> retina + cones + rods
bionic eye project
:: ceramic-based photodetectors

Using space technology, scientists have developed ceramic photocells that could repair malfunctioning human eyes. Ceramic optical detectors based on the photo-ferroelectric effect are being developed for direct implantation into the eyes of patients with retinal dystrophies. A thin film ferroelectric detector under optical illumination can generate a local photocurrent and photovoltage that excites the retinal neural circuit, resulting in a signal at the optic nerve that may be translated by the cortex of the brain as "seeing light."

Earlier efforts involved silicon-based photodetectors. But silicon is toxic to the human body and reacts unfavorably with fluids in the eye -- problems that ceramic detectors do not share. The natural layout of the detectors solves another problem that plagued earlier silicon research: blockage of nutrient flow to the eye.

This artificial retinas consist of 100,000 tiny ceramic detectors. First human trials of such detectors will begin in 2002. Scientists aren't yet certain how the brain will interpret unfamiliar voltages from the artificial rods and cones. They believe the brain will eventually adapt, although a slow learning process might be necessary. >from *Bionic Eyes*, Science@NASA, january 3, 2002

related context
> artificial retinas implanted. june 28, 2000.

friday :: january 4, 2002
context processing
:: mental operating system

In a new psychological model, context processing is a kind of mental "operating system" that sits between the brain's prefrontal cortex and cognition. Psychologists believe that given adequate levels of the chemical messenger dopamine, the prefrontal cortex reliably enables us to process context for a thought, memory or behavior. Thus, context processing can have broad impact, spanning cognitive operations once thought to be independent -- from attention and inhibition to episodic and working memory. In everyday life, context processing -- and the ability to override a default behavior to do something in a contextually appropriate way -- helps us decide everything.

The creators of this model of cognition, Todd S. Braver and Deanna M. Barch, both of Washington University, and their colleagues, believe that in normal aging, erratic or declining dopamine levels would start shutting the gate to contextual information, thereby weakening all of the cognitive functions that depend on it -- an effect supported by their study. Taken together, the results support the notion of a single, fundamental deficit in the ability to "properly represent, maintain and update task-relevant context" as the underpinning for a range of age-related cognitive declines. >from *Context Processing in Older Adults: Evidence for a Theory Relating Cognitive Control to Neurobiology in Healthy Aging*, december 23, 2001

> web of dopamine receptors
thursday :: january 3, 2002
7-qubit quantum computer
:: first demonstration of shor's factoring algorithm

Scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Center have performed the world's most complicated quantum-computer calculation to date. They caused a billion-billion custom-designed molecules in a test tube to become a seven-qubit quantum computer that solved a simple version of the mathematical problem at the heart of many of today's data-security cryptographic systems.

This was the first demonstration of "Shor's Algorithm," developed in 1994 by AT&T scientist Peter Shor for using the quantum computer to find a number's factors, numbers that are multiplied together to give the original number. The simplest meaningful instance of Shor's Algorithm is finding the factors of the number 15, which requires a seven-qubit quantum computer. IBM chemists designed and made a new molecule that has seven nuclear spins -- the nuclei of five fluorine and two carbon atoms -- which can interact with each other as qubits, be programmed by radio frequency pulses and be detected by nuclear magnetic resonance instruments. The IBM scientists controlled a vial of a billion-billion (1018) of these molecules so they executed Shor's algorithm and correctly identified 3 and 5 as the factors of 15. "Although the answer may appear to be trivial, the unprecedented control required over the seven spins during the calculation made this the most complex quantum computation performed to date," said Nabil Amer, manager and strategist of IBM Research's physics of information group. IBM Research is noted for its many theoretical contributions to the emerging field of quantum information. IBM scientists pioneered quantum cryptography, quantum communications (including the concept of quantum teleportation) and efficient methods of error correction. >from *IBM's Test-Tube Quantum Computer Makes History*

related context
> 5-qubit quantum computer, august 15, 2000
> quantum computing
> peter shor

wednesday :: january 2, 2002
eon project
:: material poetry by shawn brixey

Eon is a commissioned digital arts project for the 2002 exhibition season of the Beall Center for Art and Technology at UC Irvine. The project uses the mysterious phenomenon of sonoluminescence -- the process by which sound in water can be converted directly into light -- and the Internet to extend Shawn Brixey current artistic research in the fields of telepresence and telepistemology: the way we know, construct, and trust experiences mediated by technology.

Brixey defined their new art forms in a *statement*. "I am specifically interested in the recording and transformation of artistic impulses and poetic experience through radically new materials, tools and spaces... I have begun to project a new kind of poetic interaction into the actual mechanics of the microscopic and macroscopic realms. I describe these present artworks as "material poetry", art made from the expressive interaction of discreet forms of matter and energy." >from *Shawn Brixey site* [ temporaly out ]

related context
> beall center for art and technology
> sonoluminescence
> animation and modeling by steven toh

tuesday :: january 1, 2002
> context filtering
context weblog released
:: public anouncement

The dissemination, use and social appropriation of new technologies are creating a new knowledge without premeditation. This emerging technological culture acts as a synthesizer of art, science and traditional knowledge, that in turn fuels the evolutionary change of our species. The networked digital information and apps are the contemporary cultural artifacts, the shared ground for a transdisciplinar culture. One that overcome science culture and art culture clash. *context is a weblog to track this techno culture, provide profitable information about his innovative resources and help stay up to speed on developments related to it. >from *context weblog: public announcement*, january 1, 2002

> context weblog archive

cuntdown 02

december 01
november 01
october 01
september 01
august 01

more news 00-01
>>> archive

send your comments to context@straddle3.net


write your mail and will send you the updates


:: subscribe


context archives all www
      "active, informed citizen participation is the key to shaping the network society. a new "public sphere" is required." seattle statement
| home | site map | about context | lang >>> español - català |