Google Adds Quantum Physics To Minecraft (PopSci.com)

This is the climax of nerdgasms everywhere: Minecraft + Google + Quantum Physics.


It’s as trippy as you suspect.

Minecraft,” the Lego-style, build-your-own-game game, has been the canvas for some awesome projects. (For just one example: this gigantic scientific graphing calculator.) Now Google’s Quantum A.I. Lab is taking it in an even weirder direction: quantum physics.

The team created a modified version of the game, called qCraft, that lets players explore the fundamentals of the field by playing in a world based on quantum principles. From a post on Google+ announcing the game:

We talked to our friends at MinecraftEdu and Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter and came up with a fun idea: a Minecraft modpack called qCraft. It lets players experiment with quantum behaviors inside Minecraft’s world, with new blocks that exhibit quantum entanglement, superposition, and observer dependency.

Is it a true simulacrum of a blocky quantum universe? Ha, no. But considering just how strange the field is, that probably wouldn’t make for a fun game. Instead, it’s just a way of teaching the basics, and Google admits as much:

Of course, qCraft isn’t a perfect scientific simulation, but it’s a fun way for players to experience a few parts of quantum mechanics outside of thought experiments or dense textbook examples.

You can download the game here.

Terrafugia Launches Flying Car

By “2015”, they expect to have both of their flying car models available. Of course, given you’d probably need a pilot’s license before you could start up the plane-car, it’ll be a while before regular folk can get their hands on this vehicle. However, their prototype works and that’s all that matters at this point. (The TF-X model is the picture below. The Transition is featured in the flight video.)


The Transition® First Public Demonstrations: Driving and Flying at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013

Terrafugia made a dream come true at this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh!  The Transition® performed its first public demonstrations for the aviation community during the show. Flown and driven by Phil Meteer, our Chief Test Pilot and Flight Test Coordinator, the Transition® showed the crowd what it’s capable of on Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening.  The 20 minute demonstrations included flight maneuvers over show center, converting from airplane to car, and driving along the flight line.  Whether you missed it and want to see the flight for yourself for the first time, or you were there and want to relive the moment (we have been!), we hope you’ll enjoy the video!

– See more at: http://www.terrafugia.com/news/first-public-transition%C2%AE-demonstrations#sthash.5PiOZOeL.dpuf

Hungry? Try A 3-D Printed Extra Cheese Pizza For Dinner (BitRebels.com)

I can’t imagine this tastes that great, but it’s probably better than some of the bargain basement brands in the grocery store. This would also open the door to essentially most baked and pastry-type items since they’ve managed the basic “dough with toppings” delivery system.


3d-printed-cheese-pizza

Researchers have been talking about 3D printing food for a long time, but when NASA decided it was time to find new ways to provide food to astronauts on long trips (like to Mars), 3D printed food became more relevant than ever. As earth’s population continues to grow fast, some people believe 3D printed food is the future of food. I have to admit, it sounds tastier than eating bugs for protein. This 3D printed cheese pizza actually looks pretty good.

It’s clear that in the future, we will no longer have huge grocery stores stocked with everything we could ever want to buy. We’ll have to get more creative about food as it relates to our survival. With over 7 billion people on the planet, and with more people born every day, there really is no other option. 3D printed food sounds good to me, especially when it’s a cheese pizza. According to news station KXAN:

“Powdered ingredients that can keep for years are mixed into individual vessels. A heated plate then receives a square of dough, a layer of sauce, and some cheese topping. Twelve minutes later – voila – an appetizing little pizza.”

The top layer of the printer is what melts the cheese. If NASA is able to send 3D printers into space, they’ll save a ton of room in the spaceship since they won’t have to pack all those boxes of food for the trip. Also, the astronauts would have a much more appealing diet than just eating space food for every meal.

This reminds me of the movie Matrix, and how they talked about the goop they had to eat each day. I’m sure they would have liked to have a 3D printer to make a cheese pizza instead of that juicy oatmeal stuff they ate. If you want to see a 3D printer create even more food, click over here to 3D Printing Industry and watch a printer make some pretty creative looking pancakes. Someday we might all have a food printer in our kitchen. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

3D Printed Cheese Pizza Looks Delish

World’s First Quantum Metamaterial Unveiled (TechnologyReview.com)

Quantum isn’t just for abstract theories anymore. It’s now comes in a working “metamaterial” variety.


German researchers have designed, built, and tested the first metamaterial made out of superconducting quantum resonators.

In recent years, physicists have been excitedly exploring the potential of an entirely new class of materials known as metamaterials. This stuff is built from repeating patterns of sub-wavelength-sized structures that interact with photons, steering them in ways that are impossible with naturally occuring materials.

The first metamaterials were made from split-ring resonators (C-shaped pieces of metal) the size of dimes that were designed to interact with microwaves with a wavelength of a few centimetres. These metamaterials had exotic properties such as a negative refractive index that could bend light “the wrong way”.

But they were far from perfect, not least because the split-ring resonators introduced losses because of their internal resistance.

It doesn’t take much imagination to think of a solution to this problem: use superconducting resonators that have zero internal resistance.

And that’s a good idea in theory. In practice, however, it is hugely challenging. Apart from the obvious difficulty of operating at superconducting temperatures just above absolute zero, the main problem is that superconducting resonators are quantum devices with strange  quantum properties that are fragile and difficult to handle.

In particular, these properties are exponentially sensitive to the physical shape of the resonator. So tiny differences between one resonator and another can lead to huge differences in their resonant frequency.

And since metamaterials are periodic arrays of structures with identical properties,  that’s a problem. Indeed, nobody has ever made a quantum metamaterial for precisely this reason.

Today that changes thanks to the work of Pascal Macha at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and a few pals. These guys have built and tested the first quantum metamaterial, which they constructed as an array of 20 superconducting quantum circuits embedded in a microwave resonator.

This experiment is a significant challenge. These guys fabricated their quantum circuits out of aluminium in a niobium resonator, which they operated below 20 milliKelvin.

Their success comes from two factors. The first was in minimising the differences between each quantum circuit  so there was less than a 5 per cent difference in the current passing through each.

The second was in clever design. A quantum circuit influences an incoming photon by interacting with it. To do this as a group, the quantum circuits must also interact with each other.

The problem in the past is that physicists had arranged the circuits in series so that the combined state must be a superposition of the states of all the circuits. So if a single circuit was out of kilter, the entire experiment failed.

Macha and co got around this by embedding the quantum circuits inside a microwave resonator – a chamber about a wavelength long in which the microwaves become trapped.

To interact with a photon, each quantum circuit need only couple with the resonator itself and its nearest neighbours. That’s much easier to do with a large ensemble of quantum circuits.

And the results  show that it worked, at least in part.

The interaction with the quantum circuits changes the phase of the outgoing photons in subtle but measurable ways. So by studying this change, Macha and co were able to work out exactly what kind of interaction was occurring.

What they saw was that eight of the circuits formed a coherent group that influenced the photons. But over time, this dissociated into two separate groups of four quantum circuits.

That raises the tantalising question of why the large ensemble dissociated into two smaller ones, something that Macha and co will surely be investigating in future work.

It also raises the prospect of a new generation of devices. “Quantum circuits…based on this proof-of-principle experiment offer a wide range of prospects, from detecting single microwave photons to phase switching, quantum birefringence and superradiant phase transitions,” say Macha and co.

All in all, a significant first step for quantum metamaterials.

John McAfee’s Building $100 Gadget To Block NSA (Mashable.com)

I guess it was only a matter of time before a top tier name tossed their hat into the recently energized privacy arena. At least with a big name behind it (and the fact that it’s just now being created), confidence will probably be high that the device will be as secure as they say.


Johnmcafee

John McAfee — the controversial founder of the anti-virus software company McAfee and has been under investigation for the shooting death of his neighbor in South America — wants to create a gadget called “D-Central” that would theoretically block the National Security Agency (NSA) from accessing your information.

During a speech at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center this weekend — and as reported by The Verge — McAfee detailed how he aims to build a $100 device that works with smartphones and other devices, so personal data can’t be accessed by the government. It would work on a small private network that others wouldn’t be able to infiltrate. “There will be no way [for the government] to tell who you are or where you are,” McAfee said.

The device would be localized and the network only covers a distance about three blocks long. Although there isn’t a prototype just yet, McAfee said it should be done in about six months and as of right now, it’s round in shape with no screens, the report said.

“We have the design in place, we’re looking for partners for development of the hardware,” he added.

The “D-Central” concept isn’t entirely new. Occupy.here, which was developed as a part of the Occupy movement, offers a distributed network of Wi-Fi locations for people to communicate — and in its case, especially activists and supporters.

Meanwhile, FredomBox has built a secure system for connected devices and offers free and private chatting. The device, funded via Kickstarter, is priced at $50 and plugs into the wall.

Spaceship Sizes From Across The Galaxy (Massively.com)

This chart is a massive undertaking. I’m not even sure how he found “specs” for the majority of these, but major kudos to Dirk (and Dan Carlson) on this effort! Super nerdy in the best way possible.


Sci-fi ship chart compares size of ships from EVE, Star Wars, and more

Have you ever been curious about the size comparisons between an Amarr Avatar-Class Titan from EVE Online and a Universe-Class Mass Conveyor from Warhammer 40K? You have?! Well, you’re in luck because DeviantArt user ~DirkLoechel has been assembling one of the largest and most comprehensive size-comparison charts for sci-fi ships.

The chart, which is still an ongoing project, spotlights the ship sizes from many of the most popular sci-fi universes out there, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and more than a dozen more. Heck, it even has the Red Dwarf on there.

Head over the ~DirkLoechel’s page to see more from this monstrous chart.

[Massively Editor’s note: Dirk Loechel has expanded on the original done by Dan Carlson.]

Robots, Humans, and Animations Dance (Gizmodo.com)

This is phenomenal.
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Combine robots, 3D graphics, and actors and what do you get? Box, an amazing performance by San Francisco-based engineering firm Bot & Dolly. It’s a short film that explores how the digital world interacts with the real world.

Originally performed live, Box is equal parts art and technical demonstration. Bot & Dolly explain:

It is the culmination of multiple technologies, including large scale robotics, projection mapping, and software engineering. We believe this methodology has tremendous potential to radically transform theatrical presentations, and define new genres of expression.

A little more on those technologies: The piece uses one SCOUT and two IRIS robotic motion control systems that are based on Kuka robots, as well as two high-res projectors. The software that makes Box happen integrates with an Autodesk program called Maya, and was designed in-house at Bot & Dolly. This could easily be a scene from The Matrix, right? [Bot & Dolly via Creators Project via Engadget]

Fully Functioning Iron Man Laser Glove Created (BitRebels.com)

Even though this is well beyond my skills of reinvention, this Iron Man glove is pretty awesome. It even blows stuff up!

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It’s amazing how new technology can mesmerize people. When Star Wars was first released, people started toying with the thought of inventing the science fiction gadgets they saw on the screen. Today people are mesmerized by the fantasy gadgets and user interfaces that some of the heroes we see on the silver screen use. Tony Stark and his Iron Man gear are great examples. What would it feel like to have one of those Iron Man laser glove devices stuck on your arm?

Iron Man Laser Glove

For Patrick Priebe, a quite impressive Iron Man fan, it was a dream too great not to be realized. He managed to somewhat recreate the Iron Man laser glove in a way that would make most Iron Man fans drool. Sure, it might not have the impressive jet boosters, the incredible weaponry or even the insane mechanics of the Iron Man laser glove itself, but it does have the laser, and it’s pretty darn powerful as well. Well, maybe not compared to the real deal perhaps, but compared to what we are all used to seeing.

Patrick’s full metal gauntlet, or Iron Man laser glove, runs on 1x 18650 plus 2x 14500 Li Ion cells. It also has 2 blue lasers on board, 1.2W each, plus 2 4mW for aiming. The power might not be equivalent to that of Iron Man’s laser glove, but it is impressive enough, and with a second of aim, it will blast balloons from a respectable range.

If Patrick kept modifying his glove and added more cool technology to it, and maybe if he builds the whole suit, this Iron Man laser glove could become quite a kick starter (and of course I don’t mean the crowdfunding website Kickstarter). Innovative approaches to recreate and realize on-screen technologies (like the Iron Man laser glove) are not only on the edge of geek, but they also push technology forward because people see that it can, if only slightly, be done. When a lot of people start to innovate individually on the same draft technology, it’s a huge leap forward for the overall field of technology.

Patrick Priebe’s Working Iron Man Laser Glove

A Preliminary Look at WTFast (TenTonHammer.com)

For gamers, low pings can make or break an entire raid not to mention help improve accuracy in first-person and other shooters. Xerin over at TTH took WTFast through its paces, but only for WoW. (There’s a promise to test FFXIV, Phantasy Star Online II, etc.) I look forward to seeing if it turns out this could really drop pings in a meaningful way.

If you’re interested in trying the service for yourself, first go to the full list of supported games to make sure what you need is offered.

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wtfast

WTFast is a service that connects your computer to the game servers using an Internet expressway of sorts. Normally traffic is routed throughout different routers and exchanges, the traffic bouncing everywhere to get to your destination. Each hop adds in a tiny bit of lag. With WTFast, your connection goes directly to their server which routes it directly to a server near the location of the game servers, cutting out a lot of the latency.

Who needs such a service? Well, that’s a tough question. It’s sort of a niche service in the sense that those who don’t need to worry about latency wouldn’t benefit much. If you press your buttons in the game and they work and nothing feels off then I’ll be honest – a product like this isn’t going to improve your game much. Maybe it’ll make the game feel a little better, but if you’re focused on casual playing and there is nothing that bothers you, then you’re fine.

On the other hand, if you have network problems (something I’ve experienced a lot of that are only solved by services like these, say a router somewhere between you and the gameserver is messing up) and are constantly getting dropped from the game then this is something that will help a ton. If you’re doing any sort of high level PvP or PvE and need your connection to not be dodgy or slow, then this is the sort of product that helps.

Another big use of a product like this is for game servers that are cross continent. The reason being is that if you start getting a large degradation in service when you start going international. Anyone playing a game with servers in South Korea from North America knows exactly how the latency feels. Having a straight connection from your house to overseas can make the world of a difference.

So there is viability to something like WTFast and there are those out there who can benefit from a service like that, but one of my big questions is does WTFast actually work? Does it decrease or increase latency? Is it easy to use?

As far as the software goes and the website, they are easy enough to use. You download the software, register on the website, and then choose the game that you want to play and the server that you play on (to make sure that the end connection is as close as possible to the game server that you’re going to play on).

WTFast Latency

The connection before using WTFast.

WTFast Latency

The connection after using WTFast.

Our first test is with World of Warcraft. Loading up the game with no background processes running we receive a hilariously high ping that later settles down to 52ms, which is the average. After loading up WTFast, my ping drops to 40ms. A rather huge difference, even on marginal levels, because that is 12ms less it takes data to travel from my computer to Blizzard and back again.

So I would say there was a benefit in using the service directly and I’d like to note that my ping does get much worse at times, this is testing it late at night. During the day I can see spikes up to 60 to 80ms, so the results are definitely in line with an improvement.

As far as WoW goes, I can give it a big thumbs up as an improvement. Stability as I played was fine and there was a somewhat noticeable difference in responsiveness. My character casted spells and used skills slightly more fluidly. So no huge change, but in mission critical areas like the arenas or raids, those few milliseconds can mean the difference between life and death.

That’s about all the time I’ve had with the product now. We’ll be doing a more comprehensive review of the service and testing out some really exciting games like Phantasy Star Online II as a custom game, FFXIV on Japanese servers, and maybe even Mabinogi. So be sure to stay tuned. In the meantime, to look for more information about the service, visit their website at https://www.wtfast.com/.

Hand Gesture Holographic Interface Demo (BitRebels.com)

Our favorite sci-fi billionaire is at it again. This time it’s a holographic gesture system. Y’know…a year after implementation, nerds around the world will have the upper body strength of Mr. Universe!

I could see this working well for specific applications (design, CAD, art, medicine, etc.), but games? Hmmm.

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The Iron Man movies have become synonymous with next generation technology. Many innovators are trying to recreate the magical interfaces that we are now used to seeing on the silver screen. One of those people is billionaire and space age fanatic Elon Musk, who’s been known to take ideas and realize them with the help of his earned fortune. Tony Stark’s Jarvis holographic interface is just one of the technologies that Elon Musk has been trying to recreate.

A couple weeks ago, Elon Musk tweeted that he and his SpaceX team had just built and 3d printed parts for a rocket using a hand gesture system which he was eager to showcase. The video was uploaded recently, and since then, Mr. Musk has made several intriguing updates about what goes on over at his innovative company.

Elon Musk Jarvis System Tweet

Even though the expectations were almost too high, people were still impressed by the innovative way this system utilizes hand gestures to interact with the objects on the screen. The ability to model and alter objects by just using hand gestures is a a huge optimization. If the team manages to incorporate a holographic interface using Displair, or something similar, this technology could rapidly become something that is really close to what we are used to seeing in the Iron Man movies.

In this video, we are taken through the process of building the virtual reality holographic interface system Elon Musk and his team have been working on. Even though it’s not a legit holographic interface, it still is in a way. By using virtual reality glasses, the system allows the user to seamlessly operate in unlimited space. The question is whether or not virtual reality can be called a holographic interface, or if it is still just a virtual reality system. Either way, with people like Elon Musk working on holographic interface systems and spending millions on developing software and hardware to bring them to reality, I am quite sure that we’ll be seeing some pretty cool stuff very soon.

Elon Musk & SpaceX’s Hand Gesture Holographic Interface

Elon Musk Holographic Interface

Elon Musk Holographic Interface

Elon Musk Holographic Interface

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