Reported by Fabio Bergamin, in ETH Life, 10 October 2013.
Whether a person turns criminal and commits a robbery depends greatly on the socio-economic circumstances in which he lives (staged photograph). (Photo: iStockphoto.com)
More punishment does not necessarily lead to less crime, say researchers at ETH Zurich who have been studying the origins of crime with a computer model. In order to fight crime, more attention should be paid to the social and economic backgrounds that encourage crime.
People have been stealing, betraying others and committing murder for ages. In fact, humans have never succeeded in eradicating crime, although – according to the rational choice theory in economics – this should be possible in principle. The theory states that humans turn criminal if it is worthwhile. Stealing or evading taxes, for instance, pays off if the prospects of unlawful gains outweigh the expected punishment. Therefore, if a state sets the penalties high enough and ensures that lawbreakers are brought to justice, it should be possible to eliminate crime completely. Continue reading »
Certain types of video games can help to train the brain to become more agile and improve strategic thinking, according to scientists from Queen Mary University of London and University College London (UCL).
The researchers recruited 72 volunteers and measured their ‘cognitive flexibility’ described as a person’s ability to adapt and switch between tasks, and think about multiple ideas at a given time to solve problems.
Two groups of volunteers were trained to play different versions of a real-time strategy game called StarCraft, a fast-paced game where players have to construct and organise armies to battle an enemy. A third of the group played a life simulation video game called The Sims, which does not require much memory or many tactics. Continue reading »
Data from the CMS experiment, one of the main Higgs-searching experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. Image: CERN
More than a year ago, scientists found the Higgs boson. This morning, two physicists who 50 years ago theorized the existence of this particle, which is responsible for conferring mass to all other known particles in the universe, got the Nobel, the highest prize in science.
For all the excitement the award has already generated, finding the Higgs — arguably the most important discovery in more than a generation — has left physicists without a clear roadmap of where to go next. While popular articles often describe how the Higgs might help theorists investigating the weird worlds of string theory, multiple universes, or supersymmetry, the truth is that evidence for these ideas is scant to nonexistent. Continue reading »
Reported by Larry Hardesty, in MIT news, 4 OCtober 2013.
Small cubes with no exterior moving parts can propel themselves forward, jump on top of each other, and snap together to form arbitrary shapes.
In 2011, when an MIT senior named John Romanishin proposed a new design for modular robots to his robotics professor, Daniela Rus, she said, “That can’t be done.”
Two years later, Rus showed her colleague Hod Lipson, a robotics researcher at Cornell University, a video of prototype robots, based on Romanishin’s design, in action. “That can’t be done,” Lipson said. Continue reading »
Researchers have developed a new technique that allows microprocessors to use light, instead of electrical wires, to communicate with transistors on a single chip, a system that could lead to extremely energy-efficient computing and a continued skyrocketing of computing speed into the future. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Colorado at Boulder)
A pair of breakthroughs in the field of silicon photonics by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Micron Technology Inc. could allow for the trajectory of exponential improvement in microprocessors that began nearly half a century ago—known as Moore’s Law—to continue well into the future, allowing for increasingly faster electronics, from supercomputers to laptops to smartphones.
The research team, led by CU-Boulder researcher Milos Popovic, an assistant professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering, developed a new technique that allows microprocessors to use light, instead of electrical wires, to communicate with transistors on a single chip, a system that could lead to extremely energy-efficient computing and a continued skyrocketing of computing speed into the future. Continue reading »
A quantum computer can solve tasks not tractable with conventional supercomputers. The question of how one can, nevertheless, verify the reliability of a quantum computer was recently answered in an experiment at the University of Vienna. The conclusions are published in the reputed scientific journal Nature Physics.
The image is an illustration of the fundamental question: can quantum computations be verified by entities that are inherently unable to compute the results themselves? (Copyright: EQUINOX GRAPHICS)
The harnessing of quantum phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, holds great promise for constructing future supercomputers. One huge advantage of such quantum computers is that they are capable of performing a variety of tasks much quicker than their conventional counterparts. The use of quantum computers for these purposes raises a significant challenge: how can one verify the results provided by such a computer?
It is only recently that theoretical developments have provided methods to test a quantum computer without having an additional quantum computer at hand. The international research team around Philip Walther at the University of Vienna have now demonstrated a new protocol, where the quantum computational results can be verified without using additional quantum computer resources. Continue reading »
Mongol horsemen. Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to a new mathematical model whose findings accurately match those of the historical record in the ancient world.
The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world.
Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research from a trans-disciplinary team at the University of Connecticut, the University of Exeter in England, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). The study appears this week as an open-access article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study’s cultural evolutionary model predicts where and when the largest-scale complex societies arose in human history. Continue reading »