A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

Could ‘solid’ light compute previously unsolvable problems? - An “artificial atom” makes photons behave like exotic matter  - Researchers at Princeton University have “crystallized” light. They are not shining light through crystal — they are actually transforming light into crystal, as part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors. The researchers locked together photons so that they became fixed in place. “It’s something that we have never seen before,” said Andrew Houck, an associate professor of electrical engineering and one of the researchers. “This is a new behavior for light.” The results raise intriguing possibilities for a variety of future materials, and also address questions in condensed matter physics — the fundamental study of matter. “We are interested in exploring — and ultimately controlling and directing — the flow of energy at the atomic level,” said Hakan Türeci, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and a member of the research team. “The goal is to better understand current materials and processes and to evaluate materials that we cannot yet create.” The team’s findings, reported online Sept. 8 in the journal Physical Review X (open access), are part of an effort to answer fundamental questions about atomic behavior by creating a device that can simulate the behavior of subatomic particles. Special-purpose quantum computers Such a tool could be an invaluable method for answering questions about atoms and molecules that are not answerable even with today’s most advanced computers. In part, that’s because current computers operate under the rules of classical mechanics, while the world of atoms and photons obeys the rules of quantum mechanics, which include a number of strange and very counterintuitive features. One of these odd properties is called “entanglement,” in which multiple particles become linked and can affect each other over long distances. A computer based on the rules of quantum mechanics could help crack problems that are currently unsolvable. But building a general-purpose quantum computer has proven to be incredibly difficult. Another approach, which the Princeton team is taking, is to build a system that directly simulates the desired quantum behavior. Although each machine is limited to a single task, it would allow researchers to answer important questions without having to solve some of the more difficult problems involved in creating a general-purpose quantum computer. The device could also allow physicists to explore fundamental questions about the behavior of matter by mimicking materials that only exist in physicists’ imaginations. (via Could ‘solid’ light compute previously unsolvable problems? | KurzweilAI)

Could ‘solid’ light compute previously unsolvable problems?
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An “artificial atom” makes photons behave like exotic matter
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Researchers at Princeton University have “crystallized” light. They are not shining light through crystal — they are actually transforming light into crystal, as part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors. The researchers locked together photons so that they became fixed in place. “It’s something that we have never seen before,” said Andrew Houck, an associate professor of electrical engineering and one of the researchers. “This is a new behavior for light.” The results raise intriguing possibilities for a variety of future materials, and also address questions in condensed matter physics — the fundamental study of matter. “We are interested in exploring — and ultimately controlling and directing — the flow of energy at the atomic level,” said Hakan Türeci, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and a member of the research team. “The goal is to better understand current materials and processes and to evaluate materials that we cannot yet create.” The team’s findings, reported online Sept. 8 in the journal Physical Review X (open access), are part of an effort to answer fundamental questions about atomic behavior by creating a device that can simulate the behavior of subatomic particles. Special-purpose quantum computers Such a tool could be an invaluable method for answering questions about atoms and molecules that are not answerable even with today’s most advanced computers. In part, that’s because current computers operate under the rules of classical mechanics, while the world of atoms and photons obeys the rules of quantum mechanics, which include a number of strange and very counterintuitive features. One of these odd properties is called “entanglement,” in which multiple particles become linked and can affect each other over long distances. A computer based on the rules of quantum mechanics could help crack problems that are currently unsolvable. But building a general-purpose quantum computer has proven to be incredibly difficult. Another approach, which the Princeton team is taking, is to build a system that directly simulates the desired quantum behavior. Although each machine is limited to a single task, it would allow researchers to answer important questions without having to solve some of the more difficult problems involved in creating a general-purpose quantum computer. The device could also allow physicists to explore fundamental questions about the behavior of matter by mimicking materials that only exist in physicists’ imaginations. (via Could ‘solid’ light compute previously unsolvable problems? | KurzweilAI)

The essential truth behind subsymbolism is that language and behavior exist in relation to an environment, not in a vacuum, and they gain meaning from their usage in that environment. To use language is to use it for some purpose. To behave is to behave for some end. In this view, any attempt to generate a universal set of rules will always be riddled with exceptions, because contexts are constantly shifting. Without the drive toward concrete environmental goals, representation of knowledge in a computer is meaningless, and fruitless. It remains locked in the realm of data.

A.I. Has Grown Up and Left Home - Issue 8: Home - Nautilus
Scientists create transistor-like biological device
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Stanford researchers demonstrate ‘transcriptors’ inside E coli bacteria, in advance in synthetic biology
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Scientists have used biological tissue to recreate one of the main components of a modern computer inside living cells.
The biological device behaves like a transistor, one of the tiny switches that are etched on to microchips in the billions to perform computer calculations.
The researchers demonstrated the device inside E coli bacteria, one of the most common bugs used in genetic engineering. The work marks one of the latest advances in the growing field of synthetic biology, which recasts biology as a toolset for engineers.
Writing in the journal Science, researchers at Stanford University explain how their biological transistors could be connected together inside living cells to perform computing jobs such as controlling how genes are expressed in an organism.
Led by Drew Endy, a pioneer in the field, the team showed that different arrangements of biological transistors worked like logic gates, which take input signals and process them into different outputs. In keeping with their heritage, Endy calls these arrangements Boolean Integrase Logic (BIL) gates.
Normal transistors control the flow of electrons along metal wires. In the biological device, dubbed a “transcriptor”, the wire is a strand of DNA and the electrons are replaced by an enzyme. A modern computer chip holds several billion transistors that are wired together to carry out calculations. The same can be achieved with transcriptors, each of which is built from about 150 letters of the genetic code. (via Scientists create transistor-like biological device | Science | The Guardian)

Scientists create transistor-like biological device

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Stanford researchers demonstrate ‘transcriptors’ inside E coli bacteria, in advance in synthetic biology

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Scientists have used biological tissue to recreate one of the main components of a modern computer inside living cells.

The biological device behaves like a transistor, one of the tiny switches that are etched on to microchips in the billions to perform computer calculations.

The researchers demonstrated the device inside E coli bacteria, one of the most common bugs used in genetic engineering. The work marks one of the latest advances in the growing field of synthetic biology, which recasts biology as a toolset for engineers.

Writing in the journal Science, researchers at Stanford University explain how their biological transistors could be connected together inside living cells to perform computing jobs such as controlling how genes are expressed in an organism.

Led by Drew Endy, a pioneer in the field, the team showed that different arrangements of biological transistors worked like logic gates, which take input signals and process them into different outputs. In keeping with their heritage, Endy calls these arrangements Boolean Integrase Logic (BIL) gates.

Normal transistors control the flow of electrons along metal wires. In the biological device, dubbed a “transcriptor”, the wire is a strand of DNA and the electrons are replaced by an enzyme. A modern computer chip holds several billion transistors that are wired together to carry out calculations. The same can be achieved with transcriptors, each of which is built from about 150 letters of the genetic code. (via Scientists create transistor-like biological device | Science | The Guardian)

Artificial muscle computer performs as a universal Turing machine
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In 1936, Alan Turing showed that all computers are simply manifestations of an underlying logical architecture, no matter what materials they’re made of. Although most of the computer’s we’re familiar with are made of silicon semiconductors, other computers have been made of DNA, light, legos, paper, and many other unconventional materials.
Now in a new study, scientists have built a computer made of artificial muscles that are themselves made of electroactive polymers. The artificial muscle computer is an example of the simplest known universal Turing machine, and as such it is capable of solving any computable problem given sufficient time and memory. By showing that artificial muscles can “think,” the study paves the way for the development of smart, lifelike prostheses and soft robots that can conform to changing environments.
The authors, Benjamin Marc O’Brien and Iain Alexander Anderson at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, have published their study on the artificial muscle computer in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a computer has been built out of artificial muscles," O’Brien told Phys.org. “What makes it exciting is that the technology can be directly and intimately embedded into artificial muscle devices, giving them lifelike reflexes. Even though our computer has hard bits, the technology is fundamentally soft and stretchy, something that traditional methods of computation struggle with.” (via Artificial muscle computer performs as a universal Turing machine)

Artificial muscle computer performs as a universal Turing machine

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In 1936, Alan Turing showed that all computers are simply manifestations of an underlying logical architecture, no matter what materials they’re made of. Although most of the computer’s we’re familiar with are made of silicon semiconductors, other computers have been made of DNA, light, legos, paper, and many other unconventional materials.

Now in a new study, scientists have built a computer made of artificial muscles that are themselves made of electroactive polymers. The artificial muscle computer is an example of the simplest known universal Turing machine, and as such it is capable of solving any computable problem given sufficient time and memory. By showing that artificial muscles can “think,” the study paves the way for the development of smart, lifelike prostheses and soft robots that can conform to changing environments.

The authors, Benjamin Marc O’Brien and Iain Alexander Anderson at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, have published their study on the artificial muscle computer in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a computer has been built out of artificial muscles," O’Brien told Phys.org. “What makes it exciting is that the technology can be directly and intimately embedded into artificial muscle devices, giving them lifelike reflexes. Even though our computer has hard bits, the technology is fundamentally soft and stretchy, something that traditional methods of computation struggle with.” (via Artificial muscle computer performs as a universal Turing machine)

The question is, what happens to your ideas about computational architecture when you think of individual neurons not as dutiful slaves or as simple machines but as agents that have to be kept in line and that have to be properly rewarded and that can form coalitions and cabals and organizations and alliances? This vision of the brain as a sort of social arena of politically warring forces seems like sort of an amusing fantasy at first, but is now becoming something that I take more and more seriously, and it’s fed by a lot of different currents.

THE NORMAL WELL-TEMPERED MIND | Edge.org
You’ve heard the hype a hundred times: Physicists hope to someday build a whiz-bang quantum computer that can solve problems that would overwhelm an ordinary computer. Now, four separate teams have taken a step toward achieving such “quantum speed-up” by demonstrating a simpler, more limited form of quantum computing that, if it can be improved, might soon give classical computers a run for their money. But don’t get your hopes up for a full-fledged quantum computer. The gizmos may not be good for much beyond one particular calculation. Even with the caveats, the challenge of quantum computing has proven so difficult that the new papers are gaining notice. “The question is, does this give you a first step to doing a hard calculation quantum mechanically, and it looks like it might,” says Scott Aaronson, a theoretical computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and an author on one of the papers. (via New Form of Quantum Computation Promises Showdown With Ordinary Computers - ScienceNOW)

You’ve heard the hype a hundred times: Physicists hope to someday build a whiz-bang quantum computer that can solve problems that would overwhelm an ordinary computer. Now, four separate teams have taken a step toward achieving such “quantum speed-up” by demonstrating a simpler, more limited form of quantum computing that, if it can be improved, might soon give classical computers a run for their money. But don’t get your hopes up for a full-fledged quantum computer. The gizmos may not be good for much beyond one particular calculation. Even with the caveats, the challenge of quantum computing has proven so difficult that the new papers are gaining notice. “The question is, does this give you a first step to doing a hard calculation quantum mechanically, and it looks like it might,” says Scott Aaronson, a theoretical computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and an author on one of the papers. (via New Form of Quantum Computation Promises Showdown With Ordinary Computers - ScienceNOW)

This volume, with a foreword by Sir Roger Penrose, discusses the foundations of computation in relation to nature. It focuses on two main questions: What is computation? How does nature compute? The contributors are world-renowned experts who have helped shape a cutting-edge computational understanding of the universe. They discuss computation in the world from a variety of perspectives, ranging from foundational concepts to pragmatic models to ontological conceptions and philosophical implications. The volume provides a state-of-the-art collection of technical papers and non-technical essays, representing a field that assumes information and computation to be key in understanding and explaining the basic structure underpinning physical reality. It also includes a new edition of Konrad Zuse’s “Calculating Space” (the MIT translation), and a panel discussion transcription on the topic, featuring worldwide experts in quantum mechanics, physics, cognition, computation and algorithmic complexity. The volume is dedicated to the memory of Alan M Turing — the inventor of universal computation, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, and is part of the Turing Centenary celebrations. (via A Computable Universe: Understanding and Exploring Nature as Computation | KurzweilAI)

This volume, with a foreword by Sir Roger Penrose, discusses the foundations of computation in relation to nature. It focuses on two main questions: What is computation? How does nature compute? The contributors are world-renowned experts who have helped shape a cutting-edge computational understanding of the universe. They discuss computation in the world from a variety of perspectives, ranging from foundational concepts to pragmatic models to ontological conceptions and philosophical implications. The volume provides a state-of-the-art collection of technical papers and non-technical essays, representing a field that assumes information and computation to be key in understanding and explaining the basic structure underpinning physical reality. It also includes a new edition of Konrad Zuse’s “Calculating Space” (the MIT translation), and a panel discussion transcription on the topic, featuring worldwide experts in quantum mechanics, physics, cognition, computation and algorithmic complexity. The volume is dedicated to the memory of Alan M Turing — the inventor of universal computation, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, and is part of the Turing Centenary celebrations. (via A Computable Universe: Understanding and Exploring Nature as Computation | KurzweilAI)

Before packed audiences in a petite London theatre, computational scientist Stephen Emmott has been giving a new kind of talk. The brainchild of Emmott and director Katie Mitchell at the Royal Court Theatre, 10 Billion is a daring one man show in which Emmott desperately strives to pull together into one grand and devastating portrait the many ways we are impacting the planet. Standing on a set that he admits eerily resembles his office in Cambridge, UK, where he is the head of Computational Science at Microsoft Research, Emmott takes theatregoers on a brisk and bracing tour through our own history and use of Earth’s resources, before offering a glimpse of what the future might look like if the population reaches 10 billion. It isn’t good. (via CultureLab: Can the planet survive 10 billion people?)

Before packed audiences in a petite London theatre, computational scientist Stephen Emmott has been giving a new kind of talk. The brainchild of Emmott and director Katie Mitchell at the Royal Court Theatre, 10 Billion is a daring one man show in which Emmott desperately strives to pull together into one grand and devastating portrait the many ways we are impacting the planet. Standing on a set that he admits eerily resembles his office in Cambridge, UK, where he is the head of Computational Science at Microsoft Research, Emmott takes theatregoers on a brisk and bracing tour through our own history and use of Earth’s resources, before offering a glimpse of what the future might look like if the population reaches 10 billion. It isn’t good. (via CultureLab: Can the planet survive 10 billion people?)