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Researchers Used an MRI Machine to Teach You Anything You Want to Know!

You remember that part in the Matrix where Neo is hooked up to the “Matrix” and he instantly learns Kung Fu? That’s a bunch of science fiction, or, it was science fiction… until some researchers found a way to actually do that same thing using an MRI – if you’re thinking about going into the Teaching field, your job may became obsolete in the next couple of decades. Soon, we’ll all know everything Wikipedia has to offer in a matter of hours.

A while back I had a story talking about UC Berkeley researchers using an MRI to make videos out of your dreams and thoughts. Well, a couple of American and Japanese researchers joined forces to experiment with that same technology and they actually discovered that the technology works both ways. They found a way to use the functional MRI to generate patterns inside of your brain, these patterns are then used to teach you new things – like Kung Fu

So how exactly does this machine work? Well, you basically go out and find a person that is very good at doing something that requires high performance from your visual nerve endings (eyes)  – something like dodging a ball or catching a baseball. You place them inside an fMRI machine and then record their brain waves when they visualize catching the ball, or dodging the punch. Once the MRI pops out the graph and information about what’s going on inside their brains, the scientist create a program and store it into a computer.

Then you, the inexperience baseball catching or punch dodging person, comes into the picture. They place you inside of the MRI and rig the machine to induce the punch dodging or ball catching image that was recorded from the professional using something that’s called “Neurofeedback.” Your brain basically learns how to do the same actions by becoming familiar with the same pattern – and that’s the same pattern that happens when you are learning something new…. You basically speed up the process form a few years (the time it takes to becoming a pro) down to a few hours.

So, there you have it, next time you want to become a professional kung fu fighter, as long as you have the athletic body, you can learn the moves in a couple of hours! While this technology is more for learning physical movements, eventually the technology may advance to a stage where we could learn intellectual knowledge like Wikipedia or even another language.

Science and NSF, via io9

Discover DreamHack, The 12,000 Computer LAN Party

This past weekend in one of the largest LAN parties ever, over 12,000 video gaming guys and girls showed up to demonstrate their skills.  The Winter 2011 DreamHack turned out to be a blast for all included; and the fact that it is hosted in Jonkoping, Sweden only adds to the awesomeness.  Everyone showed up with a desktop packed into a backpack, under his or her arm, or the occasional suitcase.  Regardless of your past notions, this is one of the most unbelievable sights to behold, thousands and thousands of gamers all coming together for one amazing party.  In fact there are only three main halls for all of the LAN, one of which holds almost five thousand computers and players in itself.

Playing video games alongside foreign gamers is not the only reason this many people showed up… some of the most prestigious tournaments are held at this location and DreamHack was no exception.  Many of the final rounds of E-Sports tournaments are held during the four day duration of this event. Don’t let the seemingly long duration of the occasion fool you, most people put off sleeping, and other normal functions to make sure they can view each and every single event that is showcased.  Note, the last sentence was not meant to deride the event goers, on the contrary I was trying to demonstrate the sheer amount of content and mini-events that were taking place at random times throughout DreamHack.

Another one of the gamer favorites is the video game cosplaying that can be found throughout DreamHack.  People just love to dress up as their favorite League of Legends champion, or maybe a Battlefield 3 sniper, but the general consensus seems to be almost any female dressed in a costume is a favorite among the male gamers.  Interestingly enough one of the main problems that needed to be addressed was providing a sufficient amount of web bandwidth to all of the players.  The local ISP named Telia and Cisco reportedly produced over 120 gigabits of internet bandwidth for the gamers at DreamHack alone, a monumental figure.

“DreamHack Winter 2011 had the world’s fastest Internet connection from Cisco and Telia. The record crowd – 20,984 participants – were invited to push the network to the max and also managed to break records in capacity utilization – a total of 23.4 gigabits. It is just as much capacity is required to watch over 2000 high-definition TV channels simultaneously.”  Via: DreamHack Official PR

All in all, Dreamhack this year did not disappoint, and provides an extremely fun event for all gamers to attend, though the airfare and rooming in Sweden may prove to be expensive, we would definitely recommend checking out this great LAN party next year if you weren’t able to attend.

Malls are Tracking your Movements Using Your Cellphone

A while ago I had an article regarding bluetooth tracking and how people can track your movements using your cellphone signals. This technique is commonly referred to as “bluetooth surveillance.” At the time, I thought that malls and other companies could use this same technology to track people and place advertisement in their path. Well, just in time for the new holiday season, a couple of malls have revealed that they are using a system that tracks your movements while you’re inside the mall – using nothing more than your cellphone signal. 

The actual technology is amazing, and implementing this technology in businesses and other public locations was only a matter of time. The stores believe that by tracking your movements inside a mall, they’ll be able to see which stores a particular shopper visits, how long they spend inside the store, how many stores they visit before they leave the mall, and a plethora of other interesting statistics. This data will help stores market their products more effectively by providing them with useful marketing information. The cellphone sygnals are tracked down and plotted onto their system to show what direction people flow and travel in. This “flow” will help the mall find a way to direct traffic to stores that have little to no foot traffic and help them increase their sales.

According to Path Intelligence, the developers of the software, their system is not going to collect actual identifying information or personal data about the cellphone user. They stated that the software is just going to be a tool to “help” stores “help” us find what we need better. Path Intelligence, did have a good point about physical tracking, they said that physical tracking is not as intrusive as online tracking. Online tracking companies track people down in far much greater detail. Online stores collect address information, credit card information, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and other personal identifiers. Path Intelligence only tracks the “path” of a cellphone across a building.

Currently, two malls in the U.S. are the only ones using this system, Promenade Temecula in California is the first, and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Virginia, is the second one. Other malls are looking into the program and are already planning on ways to install this system on their grounds. If you’re not a fan of being tracked inside a mall, don’t sweat it, simply turn your cellphone off and you’ll be untraceable! Via CNN

The Basics on Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage Systems

For years, computer users have been plagued with the same restricting problem of insufficiency in storage space to handle their huge amounts of data. In the past, computer users were even forced to delete large memory folders containing years of data to give way to new bits of information. Although this isn’t a big deal if the data you delete are only for entertainment purposes and can be downloaded again from the web, it is still hassling to have to be limited with the data you are allowed to save on your computer or laptop, considering the advancements in the industry of technology that we have access to these days.

Although the use of hardware devices is a viable means of gaining extra storage space, it may still restrict access to the information whenever devices and an internet connection is not accessible. Fortunately, computer users of today’s world can gain access to a unique software-based solution that may be the answer to this age old problem that has served as a downfall of computers. Cloud computing services are now the hottest trends on the industry of computers and media. SO what is it? And how can you avail this service? Cloud storage systems involve the delivery of computing as a service and not a good or product. Moreover, this computing service provides computers and other devices with easier and faster access to shared media resources, software and other data formats thinkable. For the average user, this may range from music files, movies and applications while for a small business, this may range from spreadsheets, presentations and other business documents that are important and worth storing.

Cloud computing systems are composed of several key attributes that can greatly benefit a business or individual. One major benefit is its empowerment of computing resources to the end user by means of putting the supplying of those resources in the company’s own management as compared to the management of a controlled IT database service. Another characteristic it has is agility. Agility enhances with the user’s ability to resupply advanced infrastructure resources. Cost is another key component of the service as it drastically reduces and the public cloud delivery system capital expenditures are modified into operational expenditures. In terms of maintenance, cloud storage system applications are more simple and easier since they do not require installation on each computer or device. Performance of the service is also strictly monitored, and reliable and loosely matched architectures are designed with the use of web services as the main interface.

Planned Obsolescence – The Reason Our Technology Breaks

The documentary from the video above goes into all the different stages that a company goes through when they are developing a new product. You have three stages that are required for a successful Consumerism – Advertisement, Planned Obsolescence, and Credit. The three stages make a modern business thrive, without one of the stages; the business fails and loses all types of power in a worldwide market.

We all know about the importance of having a good advertisement campaign, this campaign makes people believe they need a specific product. But most importantly, it makes people believe your product or brand is better than the competition.

We also know how important it is to have credit available to purchase the product’s that are being advertised, companies offer people the ability to pay in credit so you can purchase that one product you’ve been dying to have, but can’t really afford it.

Unlike Advertisement or Credit, not everyone knows about the effect “planned obsolescence” plays, and really it’s because not everyone talks about such a stage. In order to understand what planned obsolescence means, you have to understand where it all started. Obsolescence is the state of being which an object, service, or practice is no longer wanted, even though it may still be in good working order. Planned Obsolescence is the “time” that a company believes is the perfect timing for a product to go out. For example, we can make light bulbs that can be on for years at a time, but companies planned them to extinguish at the 1000 hour mark.

The reason planned obsolescence is important in our economy is because if a company developed a light bulb that never extinguishes, then they would effectively run themselves out of business, this same belief goes out with every other kind of product. iPods, are a perfect example, once the battery is dead (18 months or so) you were forced to buy a new iPod. By now you get the gist of this “conspiracy” but watching the video I listed above you can actually see that unlike other conspiracies, this one actually makes sense.

New World Record For Lightest Material Can Rest on Top of Dandelion

How cool would it be if I could give you absolute, undeniable evidence that aliens exist and even live among us?  Well, I can’t, but what I can tell you is that there is a new record for the world’s lightest material.  Supposedly it is called a micro-latice structure, based on its chemical composition.  The guys from The California Institute of Technology and HRL Laboratories developed this cool concept and turned it into a reality.

One really cool part of this structure is that it is unusually strong, able to recover from a force that puts about 50% strain onto the material, something that would usually just crush such a light material.  Also it is almost 100 times lighter than Stryofoam, try to imagine that!  It is able to be this light and yet strong because of its super low density, 0.9 mg/cc, basically it is super airy.  They create this material using tons of mini-tubes in a system, so they can create it in different cube or rectangular prism shapes, and then mold it however they want.  To me it almost looks like a perfect game of Jenga.

Interestingly enough, the previous owner of the title “lightest material in the world” was referred to as liquid smoke, or the boring scientific name multi-walled carbon nanotube aerogel, and had a density of 4 mg/cc.  That means the new material is less than 1/4th the density of the previous one.  Get this, the currently un-named material is 99.99 percent open volume, those tube-like items in the picture are actually hollow and the wall of them consists of just 100 nanometers of material.  That’s around 1,000 times as thin as a human hair, which is why this substance is being classified around the world as a scientific anomaly, even the rocket scientists in our world can’t figure out how this thing works!  In the end, this material is going to be used by DARPA, one of our government’s technological task forces, and possibly in other consumer items.  Possibly being used in battery electrodes, or even in acoustics as a preventative measure towards vibration, this material is going to see a lot of use, as it is so handy.

It seems they actually got the idea from fairly old, and modern, architecture:

Dr. Bill Carter, manager of the Architected Materials Group at HRL, lays out the vision for these micro-lattice materials by drawing parallels to large structures: “Modern buildings, exemplified by the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge, are incredibly light and weight-efficient by virtue of their architectures.  We are revolutionizing lightweight materials by bringing this concept to the materials level and designing their architectures at the nano and micro scales.”

Via: HRL Laboratories

A Soon to be Released Documentary on Anonymous

A documentary film about the hacker activist collective “Anonymous” is set for release on 2012, according to a new trailer released recently by production firm Luminant Media .

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists ” is a documentary that aims to probe the beginnings of “Anonymous” from the early days of the hacker scene and the first hacker collectives, all the way through the years and to the current age of “Anonymous” as a global protest movement.

“Anonymous was kind of like the big, strong, buff kid who had low self esteem, and it all the sudden punched somebody in the face and was like, ‘Holy $hit, I’m really strong!’ From the video, Anonymous calls itself the final boss of the Internet, and sometimes it proves to be the truth. “If you are going to violate the freedoms of the Internet, you certainly better watch the F**K out.”

Sony To Explore Cable TV Over the Internet

Some very exciting news have recently been released, it seems that a whole new form of Internet Television is on its way. For the longest time I labored over trying to find the perfect place to watch television online. Don’t get me wrong, I like my big flat-screen in my living room but some times I don’t want to go sit on my couch, or maybe I am out of the house and have some free-time to kill. How awesome would it be if you could just press a few buttons and have your same exact television service pop up online. I understand, and happen to love, the services like Hulu and I have heard Youtube might try to venture into the online television market seeing as they are already selling movie rentals online now. The companies haven’t really come to a perfect solution yet, unfortunately even the paid version of Hulu still comes with advertisements and all it offers over the free version is a larger variety of shows. Even when it comes to a tried and true streaming service like Netflix they just don’t seem to have the television service set up correctly. There are a few reasons why most of these companies cannot provide the service that would make them outrageous amounts of money, and most of these reasons are roadblocks put in place by the larger Television super-powers that do not want cable leaving the living room any time soon.

In the past there have been quite a few movements towards moving television away from it’s unitary system, but as you can see throughout the many patent and trademark litigation fights that are raging on between even electronic manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, these companies are greedy (or possibly just have the strongest business sense) to the point where the consumers suffer. What I am trying to get across is the problem that people would essentially throw their money towards a new system where we could just stream TV shows over wifi, but they would have to be the latest episodes and not disappear after a couple weeks. The problem here is that the entire streaming service cuts an entire source of income away from the media conglomerates; streaming means no full season DVD sets as gifts for the Holidays. Essentially this is a battle that is fighting over unprecedented terms, the online media market could be a vast source of income for the media producers but they haven’t figured out the fine-print yet and need to start setting ground rules for the future. That is exactly why all new speculation that Sony may be integrating a whole new online TV service into their, semi-failed, “Unlimited Video” service. This is entirely speculation, but coming from some solid sources like the WSJ, apparently these ideas are fairly realistic.