CHARLES DARWIN’s theory of evolution has been the source of much controversy since its publication in 1859, most recently involving the intelligent design (ID) lobby in the US. Now the theory is fuelling another debate, although for once the battle lines have nothing to do with religion. Instead of pitting God against science, the emerging spat centres on evolutionary algorithms (EAs), which mimic the processes of natural selection and random mutation by “breeding”, selecting and re-breeding possible designs to produce the fittest ones.
The World Wide Web will soon be absorbed into the World Wide Sim: an environment combining elements of Second Life and Google Earth. MIT’s Technology Review has published an interesting article called “Second Earth” by Wade Roush. This is a lengthy article, but is a worthy read if you are interested in the developing trends on virtual globes – like Google Earth, World Wind, and Virtual Earth – and social virtual worlds like Second Life, There, and World of Warcraft. Not surprisingly, most people in the industry believe the Internet is evolving towards increasing 3D interfaces and that real virtual globes like Google Earth with soon be linked up with fantasy virtual worlds like Second Life.
Site – http://www.treehugger.com
A special roundtable discussion–“Transhumanism: Evolution’s Next Big Move?”–on the international Coast To Coast AM radio show will feature presenters from the upcoming TransVision 2007 conference in Chicago, including James Gardner, Ray Kurzweil, Charlie Kam, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Philippe Van Nedervelde, and James Hughes.
Scientists need help sorting through an unusual digital photo album: pictures of about 1 million galaxies. They are asking volunteers on the Internet to help classify the galaxies as either elliptical or spiral and note, where possible, in which direction they rotate. It would be the largest galactic census ever compiled, something scientists say would provide new insight into the structure of the universe. “We’re in the golden era of astronomy,” said Bob Nichol, an astronomer at the University of Portsmouth in southern England. “We have more data than we can assimilate, and we need help.”
Site – http://www.cnn.com
In April, the government of Japan released more than 60 pages of recommendations to “secure the safe performance of next-generation robots,” which called for a centralized database to log all robot-inflicted human injuries. That same month, the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) updated its “Roboethics Roadmap,” a document broadly listing the ethical implications of projected developments like robotic surgeons, soldiers, and sex workers. And in March, South Korea provided a sneak peek at its “Robot Ethics Charter” slated for release later in 2007. The charter envisioned a near future wherein humans may run the risk of becoming emotionally dependent on or addicted to their robots.
Site – http://www.seedmagazine.com
A huge new observatory, called the Great Canary Telescope, is set to open its eye to the sky on Friday. With a main mirror 10.4 metres across, it will effectively be the largest telescope for visible and infrared light in the world. The next largest are the twin Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, US, which have main mirrors 10 metres across. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope near Fort Davis, Texas, US, and South African Large Telescope (SALT) near Sutherland, South Africa both have main mirrors 11.1 by 9.8 metres across, but because of the way they are constructed, only a patch 9.2 metres across can be used at any given time for observations.
The mysterious cosmic presence called dark energy, which is accelerating the expansion of the universe, might be lurking in hidden dimensions of space. The idea would explain how these dimensions remain stable – a big problem for the unified scheme of physics called string theory.