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friday :: may 28, 2004
cosmic dark age: from big bang to first star

At the moment of the Big Bang, the universe was bathed with light that quickly faded. But with the ending of the cosmic dark ages as the first stars began to shine, the universe moved out of the dark ages and into the age of illumination.

Astronomers who want to study the cosmic dark ages face a fundamental problem. How do you observe what existed before the first stars formed to light it up? Theorists Abraham Loeb and Matias Zaldarriaga (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) have found a solution. They calculated that astronomers can detect the first atoms in the early universe by looking for the shadows they cast.

To see the shadows, an observer must study the cosmic microwave background (CMB) - radiation left over from the birth of the universe. The Big Bang filled the universe with light and matter. As space expanded, it cooled, and the light from the Big Bang dimmed as it was stretched to longer and longer wavelengths leaving the universe in darkness.

When the universe was about 370,000 years old, it cooled enough for electrons and protons to unite, recombining into neutral hydrogen atoms and allowing the relic CMB radiation from the Big Bang to travel almost unimpeded across the cosmos for the past 13 billion years.

Over time, some of the CMB photons encountered clumps of hydrogen gas and were absorbed. By looking for regions with fewer photons - regions that are shadowed by hydrogen - astronomers can determine the distribution of matter in the very early universe.

"There is an enormous amount of information imprinted on the microwave sky that could teach us about the initial conditions of the universe with exquisite precision," said Loeb. *Illuminating The "Dark Ages" Of The Universe*. May 3, 2004

related context
nucleosynthesis in the universe, the process of creating elements.
> oldest light: milestone in cosmology. 'new cosmic portrait of the afterglow of the big bang, called the cosmic microwave background.' february 17, 2003
> life come from explosions of stars. 'when stars die in explosions that generate billions upon billions of watts of energy, elements necessary for life are strewn throughout the galaxy.' september 25, 2001
> clues about early universe. 'these observations will be important in understanding how galaxies form and evolve.' june 6, 2000
> first "map" of dark matter. 'while dark matter makes up at least 90% of the mass of the universe, both its composition and its distribution are unknown.' march 7, 2000

cosmic microwave background fluctuations and distortions,
but what is behind shadows?

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friday :: may 21, 2004
free isamu kaneko, the winNY developer

Isamu Kaneko, author of Winny, the Japanese P2P software with encrypted networking capability, similar to Freenet, has been officially arrested on copyright-related charges. The charge of violating copyright laws carries up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 3 million yen ($27,000).

Kaneko started the development of Winny in May 2002 and occasionally appeared on the web forum 2ch with his anonymous codename '47', but today turned out to be an associate professor at the most prestigious university in Japan, Tokyo University. Police said Kaneko was arrested because Winny allowed a 41-year-old man from Takasaki and 19-year-old from Matsuyama to illegally download pirated games and movies from the Internet.

The file-swapping software Winny has become a focus of concern for authorities in Japan this year after investigation records from a Kyoto Prefecture Police officer's computer and military files from Japan's Self-Defence Force were made available across the Winny P2P network. Winny has become a headache for movie and software makers here, and the industry has been lobbying police to rein in suspected copyright infringement for months.

The University of Tokyo denied responsibility for the software's development. In a statement, it said Winny was something Kaneko created personally, and that other professors did not work on it. The university set up a team of six professors to carry out an internal investigation, it said. >from various mainstream media *Creator of file-swapping Winny software arrested. Police hope to prove the developer helped others to violate the Copyright Law*. The Asahi Shimbun, May 11, 2004

related context
getting a handle on p2p
> grokster and morpheus survive: 21st-century technology ban fails. may 5, 2003
> the free network project: freedom of communication. november 5, 2002
> jon johansen indicted: decss case. january 17, 2002
> sklyarov's case: programmer allowed to return home to russia. december 18, 2001

respect for isamu kaneko

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friday :: may 14, 2004
pattern recognition: oscillatory associative memory networks

Computers, for all of their computational muscle, do not hold a candle to humans in the ability to recognize patterns or images. This basic quandary in computational theory - why can computers crunch numbers but cannot efficiently process images - has stumped scientists for many years.

Now, researchers at Arizona State University -- Ying-Cheng Lai and Frank Hoppenstaedt -- have come up with a model that could help unlock some of the secrets of how humans process patterns. The advance concerns oscillatory associative memory networks, basically the ability to see a pattern, store it and then retrieve that pattern when needed. A good example is how humans can recognize faces.

A key to pattern recognition is the use of oscillatory associative memory networks. Lai said the human brain and its use of neurons have a great advantage over computer memory in that they employ oscillatory memory systems, systems where the individual components can oscillate or freely change between states. In contrast, digital computer memories operate on a binary number system (1 or 0).

An important advance was made in this area in the 1980s by John Hopfield who developed the 'Hopfield network' [the associative neural network] to help understand how biological memory works. But the main drawback of the Hopfield network is that while it represents how biological memory works, it employs discrete state memory units while most biological units are oscillatory.

"Our work is the first demonstration of the possibility for oscillatory networks to have the same memory capacity as for the discrete-state Hopfield network," Lai said. "When the Hopfield network was invented, it was considered a revolutionary step in understanding how biological memory works. A difficulty with the Hopfield network is that it consists of units (or artificial neurons) with two discrete states," he added. "It is therefore desirable to study oscillatory networks but this has been a struggle, as all previous work shows that the capacities of these networks are very low compared with that of the Hopfield network. In a sense, our work helps solve this difficulty."

The real payoff in Lai's research could be what it may provide in terms of basic research into the human brain itself. Developing a good model of the human brain, one that could more closely replicate the actual function of the brain as it reasons, might help understand more of its operational basis and how it developed into the organ it is today.

"Biological systems, such as cells and neurons, are oscillators," Lai explained. "Demonstrating that oscillatory networks can have memories with high capacity is one more step toward understanding biological memory. Although the classical Hopfield network provides a plausible mechanism for memory, it has the drawback that it is too idealized as compared with real, oscillatory biological networks," he added. "We hope our work will stimulate further studies of the origin of memory based systems on a more realistic oscillatory network." >from *ASU advances could provide insight into human's ability to recognize patterns. May 11, 2004

related context
synchrony: order is inevitable. 'any system of 'coupled oscillators' -- that is, entities capable of responding to each other's signals -- will spontaneously self-organize.' april 9, 2004
> brain is a dynamic network: new paradigm for how the brain functions. 'brain is not a huge fixed network but a dynamic, changing network that adapts continuously.' october 15, 2003
> low latent inhibition: one of the biological bases of creativity. 'the relationship between genius, madness and the doors of perception.' october 13, 2003
> synaptic plasticity: how experiences rewire the brain. 'rewiring of the brain involves the formation and elimination of synapses, the connections between neurons.' january 23, 2003
> first look at the world: making sense of the unknown. 'babies use relationships between objects to build an understanding of the world.' december 3, 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.' january 29, 2002

brain as an oscillatory network

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friday :: may 7, 2004
open source city

Open Source City is a 10 days event bringing artists, cartographers, architects, programmers, activists, occultists, psychogeographers, autonomous astronauts, researchers, doctors, sociologists and urbanists together to draw an 'open source' map of the european city of Strasbourg. The festival will focus on historical maps, psychogeography, politics and religion; Europe institutions and local specificities; tactical media and cyberguerillas techniques, locative tools and wifi maps; urbanism and city politics. The festival 'Open Source City' is organised by the Syndicat Potentiel, with Université Tangente and Ellipse.

The 'Trans-Cultural Mapping' program stops in Strasbourg for the 'Open source city: collaborative mapping' workshop. The Strasbourg TCM workshop will follow the 5th RAM workshop entitled 'Open Source Media Architecture'. Open Source ideas -- that has its origins in the scientific and computer programming communities, where research is shared within a network for the common advancement of the field -- will be used and extended in both events. An exhibition will be set up and modified until the final version that will stay in Syndicat Potentiel space one month after the festival. The Strasbourg results will be presented in Riga for the Art+Communication Festival organised by the RIXC in october 2004 as a cloture of the TCM program.

Open Source City includes psychohistorical walks in city center, psychogeographical studies and drifts through the city using wearable computing devices, wardriving, open source mapping jams, city scale Go game, unitary urbanism re-considerations, and lectures with Brian Holmes, Karen O'Rourke, Thierry Ramadier, Thierry Hatt, and panel discussions with participants.

The 'Trans-Cultural Mapping' program is a European Union Culture 2000 program for 2004 in the special event section for the celebration of the European enlargment. The lead organisation is the Center For New Media Culture, RIXC from Riga (Latvia) and co-organised with K@2 (Latvia), Projekt Atol (Slovenia), Piknik Frequency (Finland), TEKS (Norway), LORNA (Iceland), Ellipse (France). >from *OpenSourceCity *. via joan.

related context
[ram5]: open source media architecture. the open source concept, applied in contemporary practice of architecture, locative art and streaming media. riga, may 4-9, 2004.
> life-coditioning: jatorri irekiko arkitektura. initiatives that want 'to return' the architecture to the user. donostia, april 21 and 28, 2004
> civic tv: alternative visions of the urban experience. november 21, 2003
> psy-geo-conflux: the meaning of living in a city. may 14, 2003

open source stras_bourg: mapping the new city

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