updated 2003-10-12. Contents:
Other web sites with the latest "unknowns" news
I hope these are "useful science fair projects". As far as I know, all these things really *would* advance human knowledge -- what's the point of yet another clay volcano ?
Is there some other net resource that already catalogs these things ? Another science fair FAQ ?
This is my attempt to catalog those things which are not yet known, but may become known in the future. It started as a personal quest to discover those areas where my personal knowledge is lacking, and now I've expanded it to attempt to cover those areas where the knowledge of the entire human race is lacking.
If you ever hear the phrase "No one knows X", please send it on to me to be added to the list. (I expect to be taking things *off* this list as things are discovered -- perhaps I'll start a new list called "recent discoveries", that gives the answer and/or points to official listings).
Especially if you've already figured out some method of answering it, but then calculated "Whoa ! That equipment will set me back $1000 ! This just isn't worth it." Perhaps someone else can take your idea and sqrounge (how do you spell that?) up cheaper components or find some clever cost-reducing trick #clever_tricks. Or maybe you can find 10 other people that *do* think it's worth $100 each to learn the answer. Then you would know the answer to that question that's been bugging you, and all it takes is a few moments to send me some email that inspires someone else to find that answer.
I'm more interested in those little questions that could be answered by a dedicated high-schooler for a science project than in Big Unanswerable Questions.
If anyone does know the answers to any of these questions, please send me a pointer to the answer so I can take it off this list.
Bill Beaty http://www.eskimo.com/~billb/freenrg/ideas.html seems to have independently come up with a very similar idea.
Edmund Scientific http://edsci.com/ is one source of science-fair equipment when it cannot be scrounged; do you know of any others ?
If you find any lingering factual errors, or if you can think of any way to improve this net resource, please tell me email@example.com.
"It is not enough to say that "X"s simply mean unknown, because we need to
define what we mean by "unknown"."
-- Clive "Max" Maxfield, Intergraph Electronics, in article "Xs in digital simulation: Beware, here be dragons!" in _EDN: The Design Magazine of the Electronics Industry_.
"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!" -- Vroomfondel
There has been an alarming increase in the number of things you know nothing about.
_U.S.News and World Report_ 1997-08-18 has several articles on things that would fit in this "unknowns" file. For example, "What is sleep for ?" article by Thom Geier.
Q: How do I win the
in physics ?
A: Easy, just read and follow the directions in the "Open Questions" section /* http://hermes.astro.washington.edu/faq/physics/open_questions.html offline ? */ of the sci.physics FAQ .
More information about the Nobel prize:
... When Alfred's older brother Ludwig died, one newspaper accidentally printed Alfred's obituary instead. The obituary described Alfred as a man who became rich by enabling people to kill each other in unprecedented numbers. Deeply shaken by this assessment, Alfred Nobel resolved, from then on, to use his fortune in awarding accomplishments that benefited humanity. ...
... King Oscar II of Sweden, in a personal audience with [Emanuel Nobel], said: "Your Uncle Alfred has been influenced by peace fanatics, and particularly by women." ...
Q: How do I win the Gordon Bell Prize (called "the Nobel Prize of computing") ? [FIXME:]
How do I get to Mars from here ? How much will a flight to Mars cost ?
"Is this it?" and, "What am I doing all of this for?"
-- tjallen (Timothy Allen)
"Will there be pink flamingos in the gardens at L5?"
-- Anders Sandberg http://www.nada.kth.se/~nv91-asa/main.html [Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996]
"I'm in Pittsburgh. Why am I here?" -- Harold Urey, Nobel Laureate
What should I do with my life ?-- Adam Rifkin http://www.cs.caltech.edu/~adam/local/faq-adam.html#pincushion
-- Dr. Philip Emeagwali http://emeagwali.com/interviews/job-postings/first-break-all-the-rules.html
I measure my success by the scientific knowledge that I create and the number of people my discoveries have inspired and helped.
You want to make the world a better place. While somewhat of a sappy sentiment, there probably should still be more of you out there. Try to have kids, okay?-- http://journal.planetx.com/users/pmoss/
There are some things we do know learning.html#brain about the human brain.
But many other things about the human brain are still a mystery.
One thing in particular stands out: What do humans want ?
also see What causes the ``Flynn effect'' ?
For as long as I can remember I have been hearing the average person uses only 10% of their brain. What does this mean? Can someone explain it to me?-- Nerd Liberation Movement http://www.perkel.com/nerd/nlm.htm
Intelligence might be defined broadly as facility at solving problems.-- http://www.personalityresearch.org/intelligence.html which has a good discussion of the ongoing controversy between the idea of a single
general intelligence (g)vs. the idea of independent
primary mental abilities.
" ANSWERS may be hazardous to your Uncertainty.
Danger! ANSWERS carry High Overdose Potential.
Remember: ANSWERS are the Thrill That Kills.
JUST SAY NO (thank you) to ANSWERS. "
Nagel says "If we acknowledge that a physical theory of mind must account
for the subjective character of experience, we must admit that no presently
available conception gives us a clue how this could be done." He said that
in 1979 and I've not heard that anyone has a clue yet.
--Richard Lubbock note on the Transhuman Mailing List, [Date: Sun, 10 Mar 1996]
(Group: comp.org.ieee) (Date: 9 Jun 92) Modesty impels me to share the attached quotation; "Parkinson's Law" impels me to withold my comments. Joe Feitler ============================================================================== Excerpt from the New York Times Book Review of Sunday, June 7, 1992 (pg 35) (quoted verbatim) WHY WE DON'T NEED MORE FACTS Instead of solving problems, our frenzied accumulation of data is actually inhibiting our ability to act, according to Neil Postman in "Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology" (Knopf). The fact is, there are very few political, social and especially personal problems that arise because of insufficient information. Nonetheless, as incomprehensible problems mount, as the concept of progress fades, as meaning itself becomes suspect, the Technopolist stands firm in believing that what the world needs is yet more information. .... To the question "What problem does the information solve?" the answer is usually "How to generate, store and distribute more information, more conveniently, at greater speeds than before." This is the elevation of information to metaphysical status: information as both the means and end of human creativity. In Technopoly, we are driven to fill our lives with the quest to "access" information. For what purpose and with what limitations, it is not for us to ask; and we are not accustomed to asking, since the problem is unprecedented. ==============================================================================
A: Some speculations: http://www.hedweb.com/nickb/transhum.htm#excessiv
A: A lot of progress in computer science comes from attempting to prove that the answer is ``no''. In the process of (attempting to) build a machine that can do X, we learn many things. Not only do we learn more about the limits of what (today's) machines can and cannot do, but perhaps more importantly, we learn more about X and often how vastly more complicated is than we originally thought. (Or, in some rare and beautiful cases, how X is so much simpler than we originally thought). People that build such machines tend to be optimists, assuming the answer is ``no'', and when a particular machine fails at X, they keep adding to and tweaking the machine, confident that eventually it will succeed at X.
The failure of computers, with all their power, to do much more than ELIZA is pathetic. ... computer voice quality ... the miserable lack of decent machine translation ... voice recognition and handwriting recognition. When you think about it, all these things relate back to parsing technology.
... Personally, I cannot foresee any of this improving. Computers will continue to do a lousy job, only faster. Tell me what you think.
While Turing's original version used a *human* judge who attempted to discriminate between humans and computers pretending to be human, apparently several people have made *programs* that are pretty successful at discriminating between humans and computers.
up: the human mind and artificial intelligence
" ... IQ tests measure ... certain abilities that are relevant to success in school ... On the other hand, many significant cognitive traits -- creativity, wisdom, practical sense, social sensitivity -- are obviously beyond their reach. Because there are no established measures of these subtler traits, no one knows if they are changing too. Standardized-test scores are all that we have, and they are certainly going up.
... As Flynn puts it, the data imply that dozens of nations should now be in the midst ofa cultural renaissance too great to be overlooked.Because that does not seem to be happening, Flynn concludes that the tests do not measure intelligence but only a minor sort ofabstract problem-solving abilitywith little practical significance. ...
... pictures ... are everywhere, and everybody takes their own photographs. Schoolchildren of all ages devote far more time to visualprojectstoday than they did a generation ago. (They devote correspondingly less time to the oldthree Rsof reading, writing and arithmetic, with the predictable consequence that skills in those domains have diminished.)
It is possible, then, that exposure to complex visual media has produced genuine increases in a significant form of intelligence. This hypothetical form of intelligence might be calledvisual analysis.... "
DAV: is there any way of testing these subtler traits: "creativity, wisdom, practical sense, social sensitivity", etc. ? Surely we would want to improve these traits in ourselves; how can we possibly do that without measuring ? [FIXME: link to #benchmarking, "ask for what you really want"]
Common knowledge says that test scores have consistently declined over the years. It turns out that's not entirely true, as the very few valid long-term test histories indicate that scores bottomed out in the late '60s and mid '70s, then began a gradual recovery that continues today.
None of which can possibly excuse four out of five students being incompetent in math and science. ...
... the annual Fire-fighting Home Robots Contest at Trinity College (http://www.trincoll.edu/events/robot/) in Hartford, Connecticut. ... There appears to be no correlation between complexity and success...
... There's a nearly perfect linear fit between test scores and hours of TV per day. Hint: The slope isn't positive. See http://www.nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/science/results/television-g12.asp for a chilling graph.
Heritability Estimates Versus Large Environmental Effects: The IQ Paradox Resolvedarticle by William T. Dickens 2001 and James R. Flynn 2001 http://www.apa.org/journals/rev/rev1082346.html DAV: If I'm reading this correctly, Flynn speculates that there is a positive feedback effect on IQ (and some other skills): a person with higher IQ scores changes his environment in ways that cause those around him to (in the future) have higher IQ scores. Flynn calculates exactly how large this effect is, from test data. But what exactly are those "changes in the environment" ?
UK Results: Over the last two decades book reading has increased for 10 year olds of both sexes, and for 12 year old girls. It has remained at the same level for 12 year old boys and for 14 year old girls. It has declined for 14 year old boys.-- Hay http://ispg.csu.edu.au/subjects/etl402/fanfiction/tsld007.htm
DAV: Imagine that we discover a technique that always improves a child's IQ test score. Should we try to make these changes to more children's environments ? Or does training children in ways that increases their scores on one kind of test inevitably make them worse at wisdom, tact, history, and other abilities that are not tested ?
[FIXME: better title ?]
Here are some things about humans -- not individual humans themselves, but their interactions with each other. (If you take *any* human and isolate that human from others, that human is technically no longer civilized).
A: no one knows. But you can help find out.
DAV: This looks like something anyone with an email address, even high school students, can participate in.
Small World research project http://smallworld.sociology.columbia.edu/
In 1967, the Harvard Social Psychologist Stanley Milgram sent roughly 300 letters to randomly selected people in Omaha, Nebraska with the instruction to get the letter to a single "target" person in Boston using only personal contacts.
Milgram gave each "sender" some information about the target including name, location, and occupation, so that if the sender did not know the target (and it was extremely unlikely that they would), they could send the letter to someone they did know who they thought would be "closer" to the target. Thus began a chain of senders, each member of the chain attempting to zero in on the target by sending the letter to someone else: a friend, family member, business associate, or casual acquaintance.
Milgram's surprising finding was that for the 60 chains that eventually reached the target, the average number of steps in a chain was around six, a result that has entered folklore as the phrase "Six degrees of separation."
But is it really true? While Milgram's first experiment suggests it is, other experiments have been less conclusive, and no experiment has been done to test the theory on a global scale.
what do men and women really want ?
see also "Ask for what you really want" creed.html#really_want
What is it you long for most in life, at this stage of your life?, the overwhelming answer of the Canadian youngster was,
Somebody I can believe.Somebody I can believe. Someone whom you can take at face value, whose words conform to the way reality actually is, and whose life conforms to that kind of truth. That is sobering.'' -- Ravi Zacharias http://www.gospelcom.net/rzim/publications/essay_arttext.php?id=13
June 19, 2001 WHAT WOMEN REALLY WANT
Good Housekeeping's "American Woman Survey" reveals the "innermost feelings, concerns and joys" of women today. Here are some of the questions and answers:
What do women want from men? (3 out of 4 respondents said, "companionship")
Would you rather win $1000 or lose ten pounds? (75 percent said take the money)
Would you rather be married to a rich guy who makes all the household decisions for you, or to a poor guy who considers you an equal partner? (9 out of 10 chose "poor, but equal")
What's the best age to have your first child? (25)
30 percent of the women believe that if they are good, God will give them what they ask for.
52 percent say they'd work even if they didn't need the money.
One out of 4 would rather go to the office than stay home, because "the kids drive me crazy."
`` ... tell me when next we meet What women love best ...
...they inquired of both men and women What it is women desire most.
Some said women love to be well dressed; Some said they love to be well courted; Some said they love a lusty man Who will clasp them in his arms and kiss them; Some said one thing, some said another, And so Gawain got many an answer.
... Having gotten so many answers That he had a book large indeed. ''
Has anyone ever done this (other than the ``trivial'' case of just *using* random data on an arbitrary CD as a diffraction grating ) ? I think it ought to be possible to use a CD writer to generate hologram images. Unfortunately,
Where is CD data physically? http://an.hitchcock.org/repairfaq/REPAIR/F_CD_data.html
doesn't give the details I want. -- DAV [FIXME:]
Even more profitably, Q: How do I design a fusion reactor to keep the net costs (inital construction, operating expenses, waste storage, security, etc.) below the net profit (sale of electricity, etc.) ?
Q: What takes more power: Moving the hands around an analog watch, or keeping the current time on a LCD digital watch ? On a digital LCD watch, how much power does the LCD consume, and (if the LCD is disconnected) how much power does everything else consume ? (I'm sure lots of people know this; but I don't)
partial A: ``The LED watch ... the electrical current consumption of these watches ranges from 10 mA, without display, to 10 mA in the dark and 100 mA in full light, the two batteries need to be replaced twice a year. This is the main reason the production stopped within a few years after first release. From that time the Liquid Crystal Display watch (LCD) with an energy consumption during display a few thousand times lower than that of a LED watch'' -- http://www.xs4all.nl/~rkeulen/watch/led.html
Q: Where does dust come from ?
Q: What affect, if any, does air humidity have on the melt rates of glaciers ?
Q: What are Red Sprites and Blue Jets http://elf.gi.alaska.edu/ ?
Newsgroups: sci.physics From: (Matt McIrvin) Subject: Re: Cosmic rays - a question Date: Sun, 12 Jan 1997 18:26:50 GMT ... (russell wallace) wrote: > My question is, how can any natural process that could possibly be > consistent with the laws of physics as we currently understand them > produce these? Even supernovas, about the most violent events known to > present day science, would normally emit particles carrying energy of no > more than the order of their own mass. Doesn't a naturally occuring > particle with energy equivalent to 1e9 times the mass of a proton > require postulating as yet unknown physical laws to explain it? It's possible to give particles energies much greater than their own masses, with particle accelerators. However, some of the cosmic-ray particles are so energetic that their production is far beyond the reach of any known physical process. Nobody knows where they come from, and the available theories are very speculative. It's a real mystery at this point. --
Mitch has given me a pointer to a partial answer to 2 of these questions (Thanks, Mitch !):
From: mitchP Date: Tue, 18 Feb 97 14:38:01 EST To: Subject: cosmic rays, and the scope of gravity You can find recent preprints pertaining to both those questions at http://xxx.lanl.gov, by searching under astro-ph for "cosmic ray" and under gr-qc and hep-th for "equivalence principle". -mitch
"It usually takes one or 2 weeks for the DNA and protein molecules to organize themselves into a rigid, 3-dimensional pattern. Often they don't grow correctly, and the crystals look spindly or cracked. More often, they simply don't grow at all. No one knows why crystals grow or not, why one takes hold while all the wells around it hold small cold puddles of failure." -- p. 222, _Mapping the Next Millennium_ book by Stephens Hall.
Q: "BTW: There is some work going on on replacing the definition of the kilogram by one which does not depend on a prototype. Does anyone know the status of this?" -- Markus Kuhn, Computer Science student -- University of Erlangen, Germany http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/ /* was http://wwwcip.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/user/mskuhn */
Q: Are electrons affected by gravity ?
As far as I know, every measurement of the force of gravity has been on neutral or nearly-neutral macroscopic clusters of molecules. No one has ever confirmed the common assumption that *all* of their components (ions, protons, electrons, and neutrons) are affected equally (proportional to their respective inertia) by gravity.
-- David Cary
"Another riddle is whether or not the anti-particles ... have a positive or a negative gravitational mass. It seems at first sight that this question might easily be answered by direct experiment. Just produce a beam of anti-protons ... horizontally ... and see whether under the action of terrestrial gravity it will bend down as a horizontally thrown stone or bend up... repelled by the mass of the Earth. The trouble is, however, that the anti-particles produced in our laboratories move with velocities almost equal to that of light ... Thus, if the tube is, let us say, 3 Km long, the anti-particles will pass it in the time interval of 10^-5 sec. According to the law of free fall, the will be displaced downward (or upward, in the case of negative gravitational mass) by the amount of (1/2)gt^2 ... the vertical displacement will be of the order of ... 10^-8 m, which is comparable with atomic diameter ! It is clear that no experimental arrangement can detect such a small defelection of the beam. ... one could try to slow down the anti-particle ....But how does one do it ? In the atomic piles one slows down neutrons by passing them through various "moderators" (carbon, or heavy water) where the neutrons gradually lose their energy in collisions with other atoms. But we cannot do this in the case of anti-particles, since on passing through any moderator formed by ordinary matter they will be annihilated in the very first collision. Thus the question remains unanswered. ... we do not know, and we also do not know whether or not we will ever know." -- George Gamow, in his book _Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory_ (1966)
Einstein's General Theory of relativity appears to predict that all particles with mass (including electrons, protons, neutrons, and their respective anti-particles) are all effected equally by gravity. However, as far as I know (AFAIK), this prediction has never been confirmed. And besides, it also predicts that a beam of (massless) photons passing near a star will be bent exactly 3 times (is this right ?) the angle that a beam of particles that travels along the same path at nearly the same velocity.
Q: "If we suspend our credulity regarding UFOs, can we postulate explanations
for reported violations of the conservation laws?"
-- "Jerry D. Wilson" [Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 ]
Q: At what speed does "gravity" travel ?
(No experimental setup has ever detected gravity waves, but even so, most physicists expect them to travel at the speed of light). (This may change soon. "Gravity wave detector all set" article by Jonathan Amos 2003-02-18 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2774163.stm )
Q: Assuming one has several wormholes, can you ship one wormhole *through* another wormhole ? can you ship just one end of one wormhole *through* another wormhole ? [This is necessary to implement the brilliant idea that Anders Sandberg thought up and posted to the transhuman mailing list on Date: Fri, 10 May 1996]
Q: How can a 'wormhole' be built ?
Q: I "Wonder, what a _large_ relativistic antiparticle beam weapon hit _feels_ like." -- From: Eugene Leitl [Date: Fri, 10 May 1996]
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."-- Albert Einstein
"Is is conceivable that a field theory permits one to understand the quantum and atomistic structure of reality ? Almost everyone will answer this question with "no." But I believe that at the present time nobody knows anything reliable about it. This is so because we cannot judge in what manner and how strongly the exclusion of singularities reduces the manifold of solutions. We do not posses any method at all to derive systematically solutions that are free of singularities. ...
From the quantum phenomena it appears to follow with certainty that a finite system of finite energy can be completely described by a finite set of numbers (quantum numbers). This does not seem to be in accordance with a continuum theory, and must lead to an attempt to find a purely algebraic theory for the description of reality. But nobody knows how to obtain the basis of such a theory."
-- _The Meaning of Relativity, 5th ed._ (1956), by Albert Einstein
Q: "Is there a more fundamental law of nature than the conservation laws
(energy, Momentum, etc). Might it be some form of symmetry law?"
-- "Jerry D. Wilson" [Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 ]
OK, so this one doesn't really deal with an unknown, but it might still make a cool science fair exhibit:
From: (Roland Larsson) Newsgroups: sci.physics Subject: Re: Help with a physics puzzle? Date: 18 Oct 1995 15:50:52 GMT Organization: Bartol Research Institute Lines: 47 In-Reply-To: paassche's message of Tue, 17 Oct 1995 08:27:11 GMT > ... (Markus Wandel) writes: > > >I saw the following puzzle: > > "In a stationary bus, empty except for the driver, a helium balloon is tied > > to the back of a seat in the middle of the bus. If the driver accelerates > > the bus to 60mph, which way will the balloon swing?" > >I answered "toward the back of the bus" and was declared WRONG! > > >The correct answer as stated was > > "It would swing forward. AS the bus accelerated, air would move toward the > > back of the bus, increasing the density. Since Helium is lighter than air, > > it would move forward." > > > >I'm being a sore loser here. I am not convinced that the answer is true for > >all cases of balloon mass and shape, bus shape, acceleration, ambient air > >pressure, balloon gas pressure etc. > > >I know how to set up a solution, but I don't know how to solve it. > [... onset to real calculation omited ...] > >I can't do this. Can anyone else? Is this a "classic problem" > >with a published solution? It is a straightforward problem to solve. (But I'm not doing it - sorry.) A similar situation, and one that is easier to demonstrate, is the following: Take a plastic or glass tube that is bent in a semi-circle, i.e. shaped like a U. Fill it with water and put either a couple of wooden balls or steel balls inside. Steel balls will obviously settle at the bottom of the semi-circle, and wooden balls float, so they will go up to the ends of the semi-circle. Now, start rotating the semi-circle around a vertical axis (U -> | -> U). The steel balls will travel UP the from the bottom. The wooden balls, on the other hand, will start to SINK from their original position at the top of the semi-circle. It is a simple demonstration, but a really cool one. Roland -------------------------------------------------------------- Roland Larsson | Bartol Research Institute | "My brain hurts." University of Delaware | Newark, DE 19716, USA | - Mr. Gumby |
Q: Why do liquid crystal molecules align themselves with grooves in their container ? http://dvorak.mse.vt.edu/faculty/hendricks/mse4206/projects97/group06/lc.htm /* offline ? */
Q: What causes long delayed echos (LDEs), radio echos which return to the sender several seconds after a radio transmission has occurred? (In other words, long after the usual 1/7 second echo from the transmission going completely around the earth) Wikipedia: long delayed echo
see also DNA information nanotech.html#dna
"The frequency of the yeast cells the researchers tested has always been in the same high range, "about a C-sharp to D above middle C in terms of music," says Pelling. Sprinkling alcohol on a yeast cell to kill it raises the pitch, while dead cells give off a low, rumbling sound that Gimzewski says is probably the result of random atomic motions. The pair also found that yeast cells with genetic mutations make a slightly different sound than normal yeast cells; ... mammalian cells ... have a lower pitch than yeast cells. The researchers don't know why.
Gimzewski calls his new science "sonocytology," though he freely admits he's not sure whether the cells are really making the noise; they could be absorbing vibrations from elsewhere, including the microscope itself. But if it's true that cells make distinct sounds, this could be a weird -- and neat -- new diagnostic tool."
What causes these vibrations ? Do different cells in the human body vibrate differently ? http://smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues04/mar04/phenomena.html discussion: http://collisiondetection.net/mt/archives/000830.html
mtQ1: How different are mitochondrial DNA sequences from different humans ? How different are the humans that most differ from each other ? How different are the humans that least differ from each other ? Given a set of people, and assuming that they have some common ancestor (commonly known as their "mitochondrial Eve", mtEve), what is a good way to construct the tree be drawn showing which people are most closely related (same mother, same grandmother, etc.) and which are most distantly related (no ancestor in common except for mtEve) ? Once a "maximum likelihood" tree is found, what is a good way of indicating that some branch orderings are "almost certain", while others are much less certain ? Is there a way to recursively reconstruct the DNA sequences of intermediate Eves to discover the original DNA sequence of the most ancient mtEve ? What other nifty statistics can be applied to mitochondrial DNA information ?
mtQ2: What is the current mitochondrial DNA mutation rate in humans ? Is it more accurately estimated by a fixed number of mutations per generation, or a fixed number of mutations per year ? Why ? Is there a way to tell if this DNA mutation rate really is approximately constant ? Is there a way to estimate what the DNA mutation rates were between the time of mtEve and today ?
mtQ3: Given answers to the above 2 questions, what is a good estimate of the number of generations (or years) that seperate them from their common ancestor ? (this may involve some religious controversy, which can be avoided by focusing a science fair project only mtQ1 or mtQ2, treating the other as a distracting issue)
ideas for answers:
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 13:47:03 -0600 From: Dar Scott <dsc at swcp.com> ...
-- Dar Scott http://www.swcp.com/DarScott/
Many years ago I met a princess from Palau. There are many of them. To qualify one has to be a daughter of a princess or be the original princess of long ago. Each child that qualifies has to recite her lineage regularly starting at age 5 or so. I don't remember the number of names in the chain but it was very high, on the order of Biblical begat's. It seems to me (at first glance) that matching the mt of a hundred princesses to the claimed lineage would give an estimate of the mutation rate. One might also include some women who say they are not princesses. ...
This can make a great science fair project for kids. There seems to be lots of machine readable and human readable raw data available on the internet. This probably took a lot of work, so I think it is important that displays and reports give credit well.
The mitchrondria chromosome is very small. It is in a ring, but most raw data seems to have this normalized.
Mid high (jr high) school kids (and maybe some younger) can get a printout and a marker and count the differences between two, assume the each difference is one mutation, and then estimate how far back in terms of mutations is the common mtEve. I found an African and a Finnish sample on the web, both complete.
Mid high or high school kids might write a computer program to compare three samples and report and distances (perhaps using more than one method) and maybe reconstruct the common Eve's chromosome.
A high school kid might write a computer program to analyze a large number of samples based on ideas in the literature and new ideas.
Q: Is there a message (or a picture) encoded in the DNA of all living things on Earth ?
Music from DNA: music.html#DNA
Q: Are emotions hard-wired (genetic), or learned ? Does every human have exactly the same set of basic emotions ? Or do some humans have unique emotions unavailable to other humans ? What about the emotions of non-human entities ? -- 1997-03-15 paraphrase of Anders Sandberg http://www.nada.kth.se/~nv91-asa/main.html
"Good news: Oxford University scientists predict mad cow disease will die out in British cattle by 2001. Bad news: People have eaten meat products from 700 000 diseased cattle. Because the human equivalent of the disease has a 30-year incubation period, no one knows what to expect, Food Processing magazine reports." -- "Maddening news about cows for humans" article distributed by Knight-Ridder News Service, 1996 Nov 19
"Banana suppliers and health officials are trying to find out why some shoppers are getting bananas that suddenly go smelly. ... "It's like a chemical mildew, very musty, very unpleasant", Donna McLean, of suburban Colwood, said. ... The Canadian Health Department says they're edible... "Apparently it's something do to with the glue they use in the cardboard boxes," said Alex Campbell, president of Thrifty Foods chain of Victoria. Other theories suggest the bananas may pick up the smell ... from the wooden pallets used in storage." -- "Stinking bananas plague B.C.", article from the Associated Press, Victoria, British Columbia, 1996 July 2.
How do you cure (x,y,z form of) cancer ?
How do you cure the common cold ?
"In Zaire in 1979, a CDC/WHO team captured and tested several hundred animals, from mosquitos to cows, for signs of current or past infection to discover where Ebola hides between human outbreaks (to this day, no one knows)." -- _Newsweek_ May 22, 1995 p. 50.
"Time-Frequency Analysis of Heart Sounds" article by J.R.Bulgrin and B.J.Rubal, in _Scientific Computing and Automation_ 1994 Aug p. 15:
"cardiac auscultation, the art of listening to heart sounds, is still a fundamental part of the physical examination. ... heart sounds are inherently difficult to analyze ... Sounds originate from multiple sites within the four chambers of the heart, its valves and the great vessels. Perhaps surprisingly, the exact mechanism of sound production remains unknown, despite echocardiographic corroboration; e.g., the coincidence of valve closure and high frequency components in the first heart sound (1). At any rate, these acoustic signals (called phonocardiograms or PCGs) are further distorted by transmission through the chest wall, where externally attached transducers ... record the faint vibrations of the chest. Many factors, including sensor placement and body characteristics, make comparison of repeated PCGs from the same patient difficult; comparing inter-patient PCGs is even more problematic.
Despite such obstacles, physicians since the time of Laennec have learned to reliably detect a wide variety of normal and pathological heart conditions."
Q: Why are there so many different kinds of plants and animals? -- http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/evolution98/evol1.html . Why hasn't the one creature superior to, or equal to, all others pushed all the others to extinction, the way 3" floppies pushed 5" floppies to extinction, or 5" floppies pushed 8" floppies to extinction ?
"Workers have used DNA from bone and soft tissue to establish reliable sequences for seven extinct mammals. The oldest was the woolly mammoth -- a frozen carcass found in the permafrost of ..." -- unknown; 1995 ?
[bignums ? cloning ?] "It is thought that as many as ten million mammoths are buried in the Siberian permafrost. ... The remains of about 40 mammoths have been found in Northern Siberia and Alaska." -- unknown, 2002
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 1998 11:03:20 -0800 (PST) From: John K Clark <johnkc at well.com> Subject: >H Another Clock Found Reply-To: <transhuman at logrus.org< ...
I don't know if it has anything to do with aging but in today's (Jan 16) issue of Science, the same one that has the stuff about telomerase and immortal human cells, there is another interesting article. Scott Campbell and Patricia Murphy found another biological clock, it works at a much higher level than the cell and is a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This clock is responsible for our sleep patterns among other things, when it gets out of whack we get jet lag and winter depression. Campbell and Murphy found a way to reset this clock with light, but the astonishing thing is that the light need not be applied to the eyes, anywhere on the skin will do, the back of the knee for example. There must be a signal but how the brain knows that light is being applied to the back of the knee is a mystery. The authors say the procedure is harmless and easy to do and should soon be in common use on airliners. Any potential for more profound applications remains to be seen.
John K Clark <johnkc at well.com>
Q: When a fly lands on the ceiling, does it do a half roll or a half loop? Or does it just crash into the cieling and then try to grab hold any way it can ?
"one thing they cannot do is fly upside-down to land on a ceiling. ...
The fly approaches the ceiling rightside up, at a steep angle. Just
before impact, it reaches up with its front limbs, in the manner
of Superman exiting a telephone booth for takeoff. As
these forelegs get a grip with claws and with the sticky,
glandular hairs of the footpads, the fly swings its other legs
up into position. Then it shuts down its flight motor"
-- from the article "Why God Created Flies" article by Richard Conniff, _Reader's Digest_ 1992 Jun. who in turn apparently got this information from _To Know a Fly_ book by Vincent Dethier
"A movie fools the gullible human eye into seeing continous motion by showing it a sequence of 24 still pictures a second. To fool a fly would take more than 200 frames a second." "The fly's wings beat 165 to 200 times a second." "Flies have taste buds in their feet"
More details and pictures at /* http://lpmorh04.univ-fcomte.fr/jmfriedt/flies.html offline ? */
Q: " One project I would sort of like to develop is a soliton water cannon. http://www.tinaja.com/glib/resbn63.pdf Or more correctly called a monitor or deck gun by us fire service folks. Effective firefighting streams tend to max out at 250 feet. There's lots of times when you'd want to reach a lot further. Sure enough, when you turn your garden hose on and off suddenly, an initial "packet" of water spurts much further than the steady state stream. Can you "soliton" these packets into a controllable and effective long range stream? Big bucks here. " -- Don Lancaster
Q: How many photons/second from a "typical" star are collected by a "typical" (say, 12" = 300mm) amateur telescope ? What are "good" ways of collecting these photons while avoiding other noise sources ?
Ty asks: Q: What is the ``absolute maximum UART speed with error checking and no error checking'' on the HP48 ? http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/1360/hpintrnl.html
partial A: Ty mentions that ``The HP48's ROM ... ROM routines ... ... can only transfer data through the serial port at up to 9600bps. But, using a software solution, it can transfer up to 19200bps (?) ... the IR port on the 48. Using the ROM routines, it can transfer at 2400bps, but using a software solution enables it to transfer at up to 7600bps ... RS-232 device.''
Q: What is the solution to any of the "Top 10 Hard Problems and Research Issues in Nanoelectronics" ? http://www.mitre.org/tech/nanotech/ten_challenges.html /* was http://www.mitre.org/research/nanotech/ten_challenges.html */
The X Prize (http://www.xprize.org/) $10 million cash prize that will be awarded to the first privately funded team that safely launches and lands a "reusable" vehicle to 100 kilometers altitude. Detailed rules.
Q: How do you build the 1st (nanotechnology) assembler ? (the 2nd is easy -- just feed the plans to the 1st and let it build one.).
partial A: MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) seems to be headed that direction.
partial A: "A number of ways have been proposed to create a generation zero assembler(GZA). My two favourites are by bio-engineering and MEMS. Bio-engineering would create a GZA by using proteins to manipulate atomic structure, much in the way bacteria do. You should be able to write a program in DNA to create many proteins and properly orchestrate them. MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) are another method of creating a GZA by using what are essentially micro robots. MEMS are built by building up layers of silicon with lithography. The excess is then removed chemically to create three dimensional structures. MEMS are still a thousand times larger than assemblers but should function to build the first generation assembler." -- Toby Ben /* was http://website.lineone.net/~toby.ben */
Q: "How will we directly connect our nervous systems to the global computer ?" -- Stewart Brand, in his book _The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT_ (1987) p. 264
Q: Does tweaking logic thresholds up and down help with metastability in digital logic?
Some people will pay cash for the solution of certain unsolved problems in mathematics. Eric Weisstein and Claymath list many of these unsolved problems in mathematics:
Millennium Prize Problems.http://www.claymath.org/Millennium_Prize_Problems/ If you solve even 1 of these mathematical problems and get the solution published in a refereed mathematics journal, you will win $1 million dollars. If you publish a counter-example (prove that there is no solution), then you will win some sort of award (the full $1 million for P vs NP, but a smaller amount for the other problems).
| Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture | Hodge Conjecture | Navier-Stokes Equations | P vs NP | Poincare Conjecture | Riemann Hypothesis | Yang-Mills Theory |
A few more unsolved mathematical problems:
-- Karl and Wendy Dahlke (possibly quoting someone else) http://www.eklhad.net/funmath.html
"Color the entire plane, using 7 different colors, so that points one inch apart always have different colors. For instance, if the origin is red, the circle around the origin, of radius 1, is limited to orange yellow green blue indigo violet. If one of the points on the circle is orange, the two points one inch away on the circle, moving clockwise and counterclockwise, are limited to yellow green blue indigo violet. Continue coloring points, or regions, under these restrictions, until the entire plane is colored. Seven colors are sufficient; nobody knows if it can be done with 6.
an arrangement of squares ... requires 9 colors. ...
If you know of other problems/puzzles that young students would enjoy, please send them along. "
-- David Watts, http://www.math.toronto.edu/mathnet/questionCorner/genhanoi.html
``I am currently studying the towers of Hanoi problem. I know that if you increase the number disks you increase the minimum number of moves (using 2^n - 1 to find out how many), but what would happen if you:
1: Increased the number of pegs? (e.g., 4 pegs, so you have to move all the discs from Peg 1 to Peg 4)
The general case is unsolved. It is not known what the minimum number of moves is as a function of the number of disks and number of pegs.
Some parts of the problem are known; for example, if the number of pegs is greater than or equal to the number of disks, it is easy to see that the minimum number of moves is 2n - 1.
For other configurations there are various unproven conjectures. For example, in the case of 4 pegs, it is conjectured (but not known for sure) that the optimum strategy for moving n disks is to first move some of the topmost disks (say the top k disks) to one of the spare pegs; this takes f(k) moves. Then there are 3 pegs available; use the 3-peg strategy to move the remaining n-k pegs to their destination (which takes 2^(n-k) - 1 moves). Finally, move the top k disks into their final destination, which takes f(k) moves.''
Here are some more math pages you might find interesting:
SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence http://www.seti-inst.edu/ , is attempting to answer that question. In 1967, one "false alarm" ... discovered a pulsar... one of the most valuable astronomical discoveries ... "The detectability of a pulse depends only on its total energy"
Background: The colors of most objects we see are mediated by electrons. Without the electrons, what do these "naked" neutrons look like ? (I've lumped this physics question under "Astronomy" rather than "Physics", since neutronium has never been produced on earth, but there are many (?) neutron stars).
why are we here? What are humans here for? ... what would be a measure of a successful human culture?-- Kevin Kelly
To exist. ... That it's able to exist in harmony with the rest of nature.
-- Kirkpatrick Sale
We dominate nature at first so that we can survive, but
beyond survival I believe the focus of technology, culture and civilization is on human creativity,
to allow humans to be creative,
to allow every human born to have a chance to create,
to write a book, to make a film, to make music,
to love, to understand the universe.
I think that's what technology is for.
I think that's why we're here.
-- Kevin Kelly
partial A: I've been told that the Vikings, with their Norse religion including Valhalla, are usually considered *less* virtuous or decent than other groups of mankind under other particular religions. The attempted extermination of the Jews by the Germans during WWII is usually considered "less moral" than most national actions. However, interesting things happen when one tries to discover which religion actually the "most moral", since the actions a human considers to be especially "moral or virtuous" are heavily influenced by the religious beliefs he already has. -- David Cary
This is one of those Big Unanswerable Questions that I promised not to bring up in this file. Sorry. I'm just trying to point out that there's controversy, not only ``which answer is correct ?'', but also ``Is it even answerable ?''.
-- Richard Packham http://home.teleport.com/~packham/atheist.htm
``We have since learned the natural explanations for many things that used to be attributed to the whimsy of a deity. ...
We still, even with our best science and our best thinking, have many unanswered -- or insufficiently answered -- questions about our universe, about life, about strange phenomena we cannot yet explain. Of one thing I think I can be quite certain, based on humanity's long history of intellectual achievement: the answer to those questions is NOT "God." Even God, as espoused by most Christians, fails as an answer, because ultimately the Christian must admit that "we cannot really know God," "God is ineffable," "God is beyond our understanding," "perhaps in Heaven we will learn the answer," "God's ways are not our ways," and other such non-answers.''
DAV: While I have seen several Christians say exactly those words, other Christians strongly believe that we can learn and know more and more about God.
also see "Truth shall spring out of the earth..." (Ps. 85:11)Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 08:11:38 -0700 To: Christlib [at] Reveile.org From: David Cary <d.cary [at] ieee.org> Subject: Re: Christlib: Adding to the bible
I really appreciate the way Pat Goltz backs up his assertions of what the Bible says with actual scriptural references.
I mostly agree with what he actually says. Forgive me for this knee-jerk reaction to some words he said that are vaguely reminiscent of something I strongly disagree with.
It irks me when people accept the seriously flawed logic that
- No mortal can fully understand God ( http://bible.gospelcom.net/cgi-bin/bible?passage=ISA+55:8-10 )
- I am mortal.
- I'm not even going to try to understand God. (flawed conclusion.)
That conclusion is just so wrong. As an engineer in the 3rd millennium, I see many things that I'm pretty sure no human can fully understand. Women, for example :-). But I still think it's a Good Thing for humans to learn *something* about them, to try to understand them.
I think the Bible itself points to other sources of information about God:
- 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. -- http://bible.gospelcom.net/cgi-bin/bible?passage=PS+19:1-2
- Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Psalm 85:11
-- David Cary
[FIXME: make a section elswhere "understanding God", "learning about God" ?]
Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God's omniscience.
Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.
_The Pursuit of God_ by A.W.Tozer
Letting someone else [think] for us is not an option. We are each called to be theologians in this sense -- thinkers about God.-- Tom Jonard 2002 http://www.tjonard.ws/Theologian.html
You may use a calculator, the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and the Book of Mormon. The speed of light is c. Show all work. For all problems, assume a perfectly spherical Jesus of constant density D. No praying during the exam.
1. (20 pts.) Bob and Joe are standing on a street corner. God loves each an equal amount L_0. Bob then accelerates to .9c. In Joe's rest frame, how much does God now love Bob?
3. (20 pts.) Let the eternal, all abiding love of the Holy Spirit be the xy plane. Let Sue's soul be at (0,0,5) at t = 0 sec., traveling at 5 m/s in the direction of the positive z axis. Everything is in Cartesian coordinates bespeaking subscription to a perfectly rational Enlightenment attitude towards the Universe. At what time t will Sue be saved? (Hint: Assume a point soul.)
-- apparently by Grant Goodman
I found this and some similar questions at http://www.tapeweb.com/tapeweb/p12.html and http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/IOU/theol_exam.html
"simple" projects -- science fair type stuff.
SCIENCE FAIR IDEA EXCHANGE http://www.halcyon.com/sciclub/cgi-pvt/scifair/guestbook.html "Got an old and unused (but cool) idea for a science fair project? Why not ADD it here? Let someone else go wild with it! [FIXME: add this one to a "pages like this one" category: other pages with ideas for science fair projects]
Renner, Al G.Experimental fun with the yo-yo and other science projects / written and illustrated by Al G. Renner. New York : Dodd, Mead, c1979. 128 p. : ill.
How to build a better mousetrap car--and other experimental science fun / written and illustrated by Al G. Renner. New York : Dodd, Mead, c1977.128 p. : ill.
Renner, Al G."How to make and use electric motors / Al G. Renner. New York : Putnam, 1974
From: <agraps at netcom.com> (Amara Graps) Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 18:51:12 GMT ... ... my Web site ("Stranger then Fiction"). ... See: http://www.amara.com/stranger/stranger.html ... Amara Graps email: Computational Physics vita: finger Multiplex Answers URL: http://www.amara.com/
http://www.amara.com/stranger/str_fiction.html /* was http://www.amara.com/stranger/stranger.html */
i like the "waterworlds" idea. i think it would be a really good idea to test how fish respond in space. i can understand that NASA may have better use of mass than transporting a (few) ton(s) of water for full-scale tests on salmon, but it should be no big deal to send up a plastic bag of guppies and see how they react... to the low pressure and microgravity. or have they already done that? one would think that before NASA sent up dogs and monkeys and gerbils and even people, they would have tried a few guppies. anyone have references on fish in low-pressure environments (say, high-altitude lakes?) (actually, i'd be more interested in testing the, um, pardon my ignorance of the official name, but the little scum-sucking fish that live off algae growing on the aquarium walls. it ought to be realistic model of how well catfish adapt). i suspect that fish adapt very well to space... i also suspect that an ant colony would fail miserably. -david cary
"Big Unanswerable Questions"
Here's a sampling of the many clever tricks people have used to reduce the cost of an experiment by orders of magnitude. [FIXME: add more to list]
Michael Burkart and James La Clair ... Compared to the US$100,000 price tag for a fluorescent protein chip reader, he points out, a CD player costs as little as US$25. ...
"why questions go unanswered" http://www.plover.com/~mjd/perl/Questions.html A very nice taxonomy of different kinds of questions, with very concrete examples of the sorts of questions that are most likely to be answered by Usenet News readers (Sometimes one can re-phrase ones question to make it more likely that someone will answer it.).
"Attaching meaning to meaningless numbers is worse than not having the numbers at all. When you lack information, it is best to know that you lack the information." -- Jeff Goldberg http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/docs/stats/
"Things Of The Non" http://world.std.com/~slur/
(1) What are the upper limits of legibility? and (2) Are there qualitative limits for excellence? -- Nicholas Fabian http://graphicdesign.miningco.com/library/weekly/aa052397.htm
Toby Ben http://website.lineone.net/~toby.ben/ has some partial answers to many questions.
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 10:54:27 +0100 From: Toby Ben MIME-Version: 1.0 To: d.cary Subject: Unknowns FAQ Hi David, I think these answers should help you. If anything needs clarification, please let me know. Toby Ben. >>Q: Are electrons affected by gravity? >As far as I know, every measurement of the force of gravity has been on >neutral or nearly-neutral macroscopic clusters of molecules. No one has >ever confirmed the common assumption that *all* of their components (ions, >protons, electrons, and neutrons) are affected equally (proportional to >their respective inertia) by gravity. In classical theory even a charged particle should be effected by gravitation though even the charge of 1eV (electron volt) is likely to be vastly more significant than that of gravity. However, classical physics CANNOT predict effects on such particles due to quantum effects. To fully answer, you will need to refer to the (unsolved) theory of quantum gravitation. >Q:"Another riddle is whether or not the anti-particles ... have a positive >or a negative gravitational mass. Positive. I believe this has been proven. There is, however, the possibility of discovering negative energy matter (anti-mass) in the more exotic families of particle physics. >Q: Does GPS need to take SR effects into account (clock offsets due to speed >of satellites) ? Does GPS need to take GR effects into account (gravitational >potential of satellites)? While SR (special relativity) or AD (autodynamics) will effect the 'local' time of the GPS satellites, the time difference will be very small. (On the order of Pico-seconds). I would imagine that the satellites are periodically updated to correct for this. >>Q: At what speed does "gravity" travel? >(No experimental setup has ever detected gravity waves, but even so, most >physicists expect them to travel at the speed of light). This depends on a number of unproven conjectures. In GR (general relativity), gravity is viewed as a geometry of space-time with mass viewed as the indentations in the space-time plane. In this theory, gravity will act instantaneously over any distance. The 'graviton', a wave like particle, has been conjectured to account for the loss of momentum of rotating particles(?) in a gravitational 'field'. The graviton has never been discovered and this is causing increasing concern. Fortunately, the theory of Autodynamics (AD) is growing in strength as a replacement of Special Relativity (SR) and eliminates the 'mathematical fudge that creates the graviton'. However, if the graviton does exist, it should travel faster than light. If it did not, no graviton would be able to escape from a black hole and you would not feel it's gravitational effect. (Except virtual gravitons?) (Unless the graviton has a way of escaping space-time?) >Q:How do you build the 1st (nanotechnology) assembler ? >(the 2nd is easy -- just feed the plans to the 1st and let it build one.). A number of ways have been proposed to create a generation zero assembler(GZA). My two favourites are by bio-engineering and MEMS. Bio-engineering would create a GZA by using proteins to manipulate atomic structure, much in the way bacteria do. You should be able to write a program in DNA to create many proteins and properly orchestrate them. MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) are another method of creating a GZA by using what are essentially micro robots. MEMS are built by building up layers of silicon with lithography. The excess is then removed chemically to create three dimensional structures. MEMS are still a thousand times larger than assemblers but should function to build the first generation assembler. -- Toby Ben "Innovation is hard to schedule." http://website.lineone.net/~toby.ben (PGP Key available)
Planetary Mysteries http://www.dnai.com/~planmyst/ ??
Q: When you hold your thumb over a flashlight in a dark room, it glows red. Why ? Obviously the light isn't shooting directly through, or you would see the shadow of your bone. -- Paul Cary
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 01:25:00 -0800 (PST) From: Robert Freitas To: d.cary Subject: Your Website and Recent Posting MIME-Version: 1.0
I saw your recent posting on "Microscopic 3-D imaging in materials":
> A team of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Caltech scientists have developed a new technique that marries two existing technologies to probe materials at a microscopic level. > The device combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) ... The researchers have called the new approach "magnetic resonance force microscopy". ... their ultimate goal is to be able to create three-dimensional images of materials in slices as small as one atom wide.
I checked your web page and was unable to find any more information on this. Could you possibly email me the "longer version" of this news item (including its URL source?), which hopefully contains more technical details, so I could check it out?
Magnetic force and most importantly magnetic energy density don't scale well, e.g. down to the nanoscale, so I assume that to reach "one atom wide" resolution using MRI (to penetrate below the topmost layer that the AFM can image directly), some relatively large >micron-scale or >millimeter-scale system will be required. Or are these people proposing that a complete sensor system on the order of 10-1000 nm in characteristic size can in theory be employed to achieve the "one atom wide" MRI resolution? If so, I will be very interested and will want to know more! Thanks for your help!
On another matter, I checked out your website and found it to be quite stimulating. Thanks for putting together such a nice collection of interesting stuff.
BTW, I might recommend that you add to your "Robotics links" the following reference:
This will give your list some coverage in the area of self-replicating machines, which happens to be my favorite area of interest in robotics. You might also want to add some of the links from my NASA work (that appear on moshes' page) explicitly to your own site, such as Merkle's URL describing the 1980 NASA Study which I edited. I think you might this material interesting. :>)
I tried your link to the Flying Robots URL (given below) and it appears to be dead (though it's possible my system was just acting up for no good reason, as it does sometimes):
I also checked out your "Unknowns" page. Under Physics, regarding the thumb over the flashlight that glows red, I'm quite mystified as to what is supposed to be unknown here.
It is fairly well-known that the mean free path of a photon in soft human tissue is 10-100 microns, "depending...". Thus in typical soft tissue, after ~150 microns some 99% of all photons have suffered at least one scattering event. By contrast, the cha racteristic range for absorption in typical human soft tissue is on the order of a few millimeters. So what you're seeing coming through your thumb is photons that have been scattered many many times, but have not yet been absorbed by the tissue. That's why you get a generalized diffuse glow rather than a sharp image showing internal structures like an x-ray. (Blue is preferentially absorbed, which is why the glow appears red.)
It may interest you to know that transillumination is being actively investigated as a way to look for subdermal tumor masses noninvasively. They use extremely fast flashes and various shutter-timing tricks to filter out the scattered photons, so that their sensors can preferentially accumulate those exceedingly few "ballistic photons" that have not yet been scattered, and which therefore still contain useful information about absorbers (e.g. bones, dense tumor masses, etc.) lying in the beam path.
There's tons of literature references on all this stuff -- it's really quite "old hat"!
Also in your "Unknown" file, regarding whether antiparticles fall in a gravity field, I'm really sorry that I can't recall where I read this, but it seems to me that I saw that this had been experimentally verified, sometime in the last few years. You might try a literature search down at the library -- you might come up with the reference that I've unfortunately forgotten.
Your Unknown entry "How do you cure the common cold" is somewhat uninspiring, given that Agouron Pharmaceutical has an enzyme inhibitor drug that prevents cold viruses from reproducing, thus "curing the comon cold," that is going into clinical trials this year and should be on the market by 1999. Gilead Sciences also has an experimental drug for flu, which has eliminated all flu symptoms in experiments on ferrets but is still a few years away from hitting the market. Still, we should enter the new century (e.g. ~2001) with both cold and flu essentially "cured".
As for "how do you cure cancer", some cancers already can be, and antitelomerase (and many other biotech) therapies undoubtedly can cure many more, but our surest bet it to use nanomedical devices, which will probably start becoming available in ~20 years . I'm currently writing a book on this very subject! :>)
Robert A. Freitas Jr.
"The ugly fact is that we haven't a shred of evidence that morality in humans did or did not evolve by natural selection. We do not even know what such evidence would look like. We can, if we like, construct plausible adaptive scenarios ("What would happen to a gene that said be nice to strangers if . . ."). But, in the end, a thought experiment is not an experiment. We have no data." -- H. Allen Orr http://www-polisci.mit.edu/bostonreview/br21.3/Orr.html
"Why don't they make ..." http://www.altavista.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=q&text=yes&kl=XX&q=%22Why+don%27t+they+make%22&act=search search on AltaVista.
Q: Ok, explain this Fnord thing http://www.odyssee.net/~fnord/mfnord.html A: unexplainable. Possibly humor.
"information prizes For more on information prizes in general, check out Robin Hanson's "Work in Progress," and "Publications" pages." [FIXME: what is the URI ?]
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." -- Charles Darwin
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.-- Charles Darwin (1809-1882) http://rismedia.com/index.php/article/articleprint/3197/-1/1/ [FIXME: move to science_quotes ?]
http://www.lastrega.com/Hasslberger/awa.htm Buckminster Fuller ???
Society of Amateur Scientists http://www.sas.org/
Santa Barbara Science http://www.west.net/~science/ "an educational consulting and mail order organization providing technical information and resources to the homeschooling, hobbyist and art communities." seems like it has some nice Science Fair resources. Check out the "GIANT AIR CANNON" used to produce "Giant Smoke Rings". OK, so maybe it's only about a one foot cube.
Shneiderman, B. (1997) Relate-Create-Donate: An Educational Philosophy for the Cyber-Generation Computers & Education 31, 1 (1998), 25-39. HCIL-97-17 http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/pubs/tech-reports.shtml#1997 ftp://ftp.cs.umd.edu/pub/hcil/Reports-Abstracts-Bibliography/97-17html/97-17.html
>From: Meisner >Date: Tue, 09 Jun 98 09:00:48 CST >To: <transhuman at logrus.org> >Subject: >H Omniscience > >Transhuman Mailing List > > >>The Clasical definition of godhood is a being that is at the same time all >>powerfull and all knowing. This is quite clear. > > If the Greek and Roman gods were omnipotent and omniscient, they > certainly didn't act like it. > >> [...] What blocks us from reaching this objecktive? [...] > > Several fundamental discoveries of this century in physics and logic. > Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Church's Theorem, Godel's Theorem, > and Chaitin's Theorem describe ultimate limits on knowability and > computability. Rudy Rucker's book _Mind Tools_ has a good > introduction to these last three limitative theorems. Chaos theory and > NP-complete problems are also thorns in the side of omniscience-seekers. > > -Rick Meisner
I'm not sure if this was because of some substance that may have been on the ice tray (possibly dish soap?) or what physical processes may go into this. Does anyone else? Chris Goodwin Raleigh, NC USA - Wednesday, May 12, 1999 at 06:00:28 (PDT)
The Big Question
There's a big question lurking in the background -- a tantalizing, juicy question that no one seems close to answering.
In a system where the sensing parts are all different from each other, where every one of them gets replaced frequently, and where every replacement part behaves differently from its predecessor, how do smells get remembered and recognized?
To put this another way: now that we know what information the sensory cells are picking up, and we know that the pickup system is composed of varying, ever-changing parts, how is the information processed and used so reliably? Smell memory is the most permanent and strongest kind of memory, yet it depends on the greatest variation. The solution to this puzzle could open many interesting doors.
Why do I find cosmology exciting?
- There are some very basic questions that still haven't been answered. For instance,
- Is the Universe full of weird dark matter?
- Will the Universe expand forever or end in a cataclysmic crunch?
- How did it all begin?
- Are there infinitely many other stars, or does space curve back on itself?
- Thanks to an avalanche of great new data, driven by advances in satellite, detector and computer technology, we may be only years away from answering some of these questions.
http://www.hep.upenn.edu/~max/ [FIXME: also has some stuff on applying data compression and image processing to astronomical data] [FIXME: quantum]
... what the public wants to know. We wonder whether, for example, there is any hope for eternal life -- for an individual, a species, or even the universe itself. ...
No one yet knows how to engineer systems that provide humans with the life-supporting services that natural ecosystems produce for free.
-- Ch. 26 p. 198 _A fire upon the deep: a novel from the zones of thought_ book science fiction by Vernor Vinge 1992 ISBN 0-312-85182-0
Most races had interests that were obscure to the likes of Blueshell and Greenstalk. No doubt there were billions of creatures in Harmonious Repose who were totally inscrutable to Riders or Humans or Dirokimes. Yet simple dialog often gave insight on the two most important questions:
- What do you have that might be useful to me, and
- how can I persuade you to part with it ?
DHEA is the most abundant steroid in the body, yet nobody knows much about what it does. It is clear that DHEA levels peak in a person's early 20s and decline as he or she ages. Interestingly, feeding DHEA to mice, which produce very small quantities of this hormone naturally, increases their life spans by 40 percent.
DAV: I've also heard that ``Osage oranges'' and the ``Hedge apple'' are, in fact, the same thing. http://www.osageorange.com/ http://weather.nmsu.edu/abqplantlist/large/OsageOrange.htm Maclura pomifera: Osage-Orange, Hedge, Hedge Apple, Bodark
From: "Alex Rosamond" To: d.cary Subject: Outstanding liberty research tool Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 14:18:09 +0000 ... http://www.livejournal.com/users/limboboy
Howard T. Evans, Jr., an x-ray crystallographer who is now scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey, adds a few details: Snowflakes are mysterious things. Their fundamental form derives from the arrangement of the water molecules in the ice crystal. When a liquid freezes, the molecules tend to settle in the lowest-energy state, and that almost always involves some form of symmetry. The higher the symmetry, the more stable the crystal is. Water molecules floating freely in a vapor begin to arrange themselves into a crystalline solid when the temperature drops below freezing. The two hydrogen atoms of the molecules tend to attract neighboring water molecules. When the temperature (thermal motion) is low enough, the molecules link together to form a solid, open framework that has a strict hexagonal symmetry. But why are snowflake shapes so elaborate? Nobody has a good answer for that. The general explanation is that snowflakes form in the atmosphere where conditions are very complex and variable. A crystal might begin to grow in one manner and then minutes or even seconds later something changes (temperature or humidity), so it starts to grow in another manner. The hexagonal symmetry is maintained, but the ice crystal may branch off in new directions. The changes in environmental conditions take place over a large area compared with the size of a single snowflake, so all regions of the flake are similarly affected. In the end, there are all kinds of forms that can arise: everything from prisms and needles to the familiar lacy snowflakes. Water is an amazing substance! Answer originally posted October 21, 1999. Answer posted on October 21, 2002
Aren't there always going to be problems like this? What can I do when I grow up to change things? What causes all these problems? http://www.axel-and-alice.com/ddcl/ddcq/ddcq0221.html | http://www.axel-and-alice.com/ddcl/ddca/ddca0221.html
A: Yes. machine_vision.html#gps [FIXME:]
A small collection of questions that seem to be answerable but have not yet been satisfactorily answered except for a few that my brother Jim spoiled by answering them. Collected by Joe Horn
Re:Such moderations can be easily stopped. (Score:2) by kmellis (442405) (kmellis at io.com) on Saturday January 25, @02:37PM (#5157890) (http://www.io.com/~kmellis)
Seriously, out of the enormously huge set of Everything that Can Be Known ("we are all really impressed down here, I can tell you"), we puny humans walk around with itty-bitty subsets of it of Things We Know. But the Things We Know is the easy part.
The hard part is learning to recognize our own ignorance, especially at the boundary between knowledge and ignorance. I think a good measure of general intelligence is the quality of one's bullshit detector. And, really, we all have our own version of that fuzzy area near the boundary where the mixture of knowledge and ignorance means that we are dangerously ignorant. You know, he who is without sin, blah blah blah.
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
"The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld Recent works by the secretary of defense" article by Hart Seely 2003-04-02 http://slate.msn.com/id/2081042
http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=61923&threshold=1&commentsort=0&tid=134&mode=thread&pid=5805851#5805900 ... http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=61923&threshold=1&commentsort=0&tid=134&mode=thread&pid=5805807#5805932
Re:Psychohistory was terrible science (Score:2, Insightful) by khallow (566160) on Friday April 25, @02:00AM (#5806434) ...
I'm not defending the science here, but please remember that the absense of proof doesn't always mean it is impossible. For example, the "state of the art" is laughably imprecise right now. Often predictions are often made just a few months into the future.
For a bolder approach, check out the Foresight Exchange [ideosphere.com]. It's a reputation-based betting market that trades on a couple hundred eclectic claims ranging all over the place. I've been trading on it since mid 1996.
IMHO, the real problem with predicting the future or solving just about any problem of significance, is that the most vocal people aren't interested in facts or rational arguments. Instead, they feed off of uncertainty. Then it devolves into a choice between which Pascal's wager has the better payoff or which scenario of doom to avoid. What is deliberately suppressed is information that could be used to make rational decisions. If the controllers of society weren't so keen on suppressing information, then we might find out whether society is really as unpredictable as you say. Ie, is society unpredictable because it is dynamic or because we really don't know what's going on?
which points to "Every Unhappy Family Has Its Own Bilinear Influence Function: Researchers propose a mathematical model of marriage" article by David Glenn about John M. Gottman and his book _The Mathematics of Marriage: Dynamic Nonlinear Models_ (MIT Press) http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i33/33a01401.htm
DAV: in other words: "Is society inherently unpredictable because it is dynamic, or is society potentially predictable given enough information ?".
DAV further wonders: "Is a human inherently unpredictable because that one is dynamic / has free will, or is a human potentially predictable given enough information ?"
[FIXME: should I put the "free will" controversy here, or is that too much of a Big Unanswerable Question ?]
ArmorFiend (151674) http://science.slashdot.org/science/03/04/25/0042223.shtml?tid=134 claims that "I do apply a semi-algorithmic approach to dealing with my girlfriend. I find it works very well."
The purr of a cat is an interesting thing. I am told that scientists and other cat experts, (see vets), do not know how exactly cats purr, or even why they purr. We know when they purr. They purr either when they are very afraid or more often when they are comfortable and relaxed. But the smart people in the world who are suppose to know this sort of thing do not understand why they purr. What purpose does it serve?
-- "Christmas (in Hindsight) Reminds Me of My Cat." article by Reverend Ed Hird, January 2003 http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/cr0301.htm
"While some people are frustrated at the lack of certainty on such a big issue, I find it comforting. I think that there should always be big questions to solve. I have every confidence as well that when we solve this one, another one will come along." -- Phil Plait http://www.badastronomy.com/bitesize/solar_system/moon.html
The rainfall in cities around the world has a strong statistically significant corrolation with the number of letters in the name of the city.-- http://www.wikiworld.com/wiki/index.php/StatisticalThinking Is there a reason, or is this just coincidence ?
"Dreams can be a real drag for the spouse" article by Anne Humphrey at <ahumphrey at s-t.com> http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/06-03/06-20-03/b01li088.htm is pretty funny.
... just about every man, woman and child in the world
is convinced they could write a book better than most they read.
And a good many of the probably could,
if only there was an easy way to work on it whenever they wanted to.
So there's this question "What is required to make a large, long-lived online group successful?" and I think I can now answer with some confidence: "It depends." I'm hoping to flesh that answer out a little bit in the next ten years.
8.5) Good Stereo System-- "microcontroller-faq" by Bill Giovino / Russ Hersch 1997 http://www.microcontroller.com/embedded/references/faqs/microcontroller-faq.htm
This is the most important tool for the microcontroller developer, or for any computer system developer for that matter. Don't expect to get anywhere unless you have the proper music playing in the background(?) at the proper volume. I find that I do my best work with the Rolling Stones (especially Goats Head Soup) or Clapton (especially early stuff like Cream - Disraeli Gears is a killer album!). The volume must be set to cause excrutiating pain to be most effective. Trust me on this ;-).
Tom Mornini of Parallax reports: "Johnny Cash also has a certain effectiveness, as well as the Beatles, Aerosmith, and Rush! 60's rock and British invasion bands in particular seem to have a particularly productive effect."
This would be an interesting topic for an in-depth study. Particularly intriguing, is if certain types of music work better with specific [families of] processors. Another question in need of study would be if it's really true that the smaller the chip (in bits), the louder the music needs to be.
the really difficult questions - Why are we here? What is truth? Where's my next meal coming from?-- Tim Retout http://www.retout.co.uk/interests/index.htm
"Nonlinear Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation" by Lou Pagnucco 9 May 1995 http://discuss.foresight.org/critmail/sci_nano/0616.html says "Quantum mechanics (QM) is probably perfectly linear." "Schroedinger Equation (SE)"
Some books claim that the separated charges in thunderstorms come about because the clouds rub against each other, or because the falling rain rubs against the air. This is not correct. In fact, the true explanation for storm electrification is unknown. There are several possible explanations, but none of them has yet been accepted by scientists, and all the theories have problems. Here's one current theory:
In a mixture of rain and half-melted hail, the ice and water become oppositely electrified through contact. The large hail then falls faster than the small raindrops and spray. Two large regions appear in the cloud, a lower one that's made of hail, and an upper one that's made of rain. These regions contain opposite imbalances of electric charge.
So, what caused the clouds to become electrified? Contact between dissimilar materials, followed by wide separation of those materials.
... Some physical facts about the pillar are reasonably well-established: it is 7.3 metres tall, with one metre below the ground; the diameter is 48 centimetres at the foot, tapering to 29 cm at the top, ... it weighs approximately 6.5 tonnes, and was manufactured by forged welding. But, this said, nearly everything else about the pillar is surrounded by acute controversy: For whom was it made? Exactly when? Where did it originally stand before it was moved to Delhi? What is the true import of the long inscription in Brahmi characters engraved upon it? Who placed the later inscriptions on it, and when? Who had the pillar moved to its present location, and why? What exact processes were followed in forging it into shape at that early a point of time, the 4th/5th century AD? Above all, from the scientists' point of view, what is the secret, the great mystery, behind the fact of its being virtually non-rusting? There seems to be no end to the questions. ... a general inquiry into other large iron objects in ancient India ...
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