2021-kaspar.pdf: “The rise of intelligent matter”, (2021-06-16):
Artificial intelligence (AI) is accelerating the development of unconventional computing paradigms inspired by the abilities and energy efficiency of the brain. The human brain excels especially in computationally intensive cognitive tasks, such as pattern recognition and classification.
A long-term goal is de-centralized neuromorphic computing, relying on a network of distributed cores to mimic the massive parallelism of the brain, thus rigorously following a nature-inspired approach for information processing. Through the gradual transformation of interconnected computing blocks into continuous computing tissue, the development of advanced forms of matter exhibiting basic features of intelligence can be envisioned, able to learn and process information in a delocalized manner. Such intelligent matter would interact with the environment by receiving and responding to external stimuli, while internally adapting its structure to enable the distribution and storage (as memory) of information.
We review progress towards implementations of intelligent matter using molecular systems, soft materials or solid-state materials, with respect to applications in soft robotics, the development of adaptive artificial skins and distributed neuromorphic computing.
2021-kuna.pdf: “Seismic crustal imaging using fin whale songs”, (2021-02-12):
Fin whale calls are among the strongest animal vocalizations that are detectable over great distances in the oceans. We analyze fin whale songs recorded at ocean-bottom seismometers in the northeast Pacific Ocean and show that in addition to the waterborne signal, the song recordings also contain signals reflected and refracted from crustal interfaces beneath the stations. With these data, we constrain the thickness and seismic velocity of the oceanic sediment and basaltic basement and the P-wave velocity of the gabbroic lower crust beneath and around the ocean bottom seismic stations. The abundant and globally available fin whale calls may be used to complement seismic studies in situations where conventional air-gun surveys are not available.
2020-roscioli.pdf: “How hair deforms steel”, (2020-08-07):
A hair-splitting way to get dull: Razors eventually become dull after shaving even though the blade is about 50 times harder than the hair. Whereas edge rounding and brittle cracking of a blade’s hard coating were thought to be responsible, a detailed microstructural investigation by Roscioli et al. shows a different mechanism. A combination of out-of-plane bending, microstructural heterogeneity, and asperities—microscopic chips along the smooth edge—sometimes caused fracture to occur if the conditions lined up. This fracture originated at the hair-edge asperity interface and created chipping that dulled a blade faster than other processes.
Abstract: Steels for sharp edges or tools typically have martensitic microstructures, high carbide contents, and various coatings to exhibit high hardness and wear resistance. Yet they become practically unusable upon cutting much softer materials such as human hair, cheese, or potatoes. Despite this being an everyday observation, the underlying physical micromechanisms are poorly understood because of the structural complexity of the interacting materials and the complex boundary conditions of their co-deformation. To unravel this complexity, we carried out interrupted tests and in situ electron microscopy cutting experiments with two micromechanical testing setups. We investigated the findings analytically and numerically, revealing that the spatial variation of lath martensite structure plays the key role leading to a mixed-mode II-III cracking phenomenon before appreciable wear.
2020-beerling.pdf: “Potential for large-scale CO2 removal via enhanced rock weathering with croplands”, (2020-07-08; ):
Enhanced silicate rock weathering (ERW), deployable with croplands, has potential use for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) removal (CDR), which is now necessary to mitigate anthropogenic climate change1. ERW also has possible co-benefits for improved food and soil security, and reduced ocean acidification2,3,4. Here we use an integrated performance modelling approach to make an initial techno-economic assessment for 2050, quantifying how CDR potential and costs vary among nations in relation to business-as-usual energy policies and policies consistent with limiting future warming to 2° Celsius5. China, India, the USA and Brazil have great potential to help achieve average global CDR goals of 0.5 to 2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year with extraction costs of approximately US$80–$180 per tonne of CO2. These goals and costs are robust, regardless of future energy policies. Deployment within existing croplands offers opportunities to align agriculture and climate policy. However, success will depend upon overcoming political and social inertia to develop regulatory and incentive frameworks. We discuss the challenges and opportunities of ERW deployment, including the potential for excess industrial silicate materials (basalt mine overburden, concrete, and iron and steel slag) to obviate the need for new mining, as well as uncertainties in soil weathering rates and land-ocean transfer of weathered products.
2020-ramesh.pdf: “Listen to Your Key: Towards Acoustics-based Physical Key Inference”, (2020-03-03; ):
Physical locks are one of the most prevalent mechanisms for securing objects such as doors. While many of these locks are vulnerable to lock-picking, they are still widely used as lock-picking requires specific training with tailored instruments, and easily raises suspicion. In this paper, we propose SpiKey, a novel attack that substantially lowers the bar for an attacker as opposed to the lock-picking attack, by requiring only the use of a smartphone microphone to infer the shape of victim’s key, namely bittings (or cut depths) which form the secret of a key. When a victim inserts his/
her key into the lock, the emitted sound is captured by the attacker’s microphone. SpiKey leverages the time difference between audible clicks to ultimately infer the bitting information, i.e., shape of the physical key. As a proof-of-concept, we provide a simulation, based on real-world recordings, and demonstrate a substantial reduction in search space from a pool of more than 330,000 keys to 3 candidate keys for the most frequent case.
2019-kwong.pdf: “Hard Drive of Hearing: Disks that Eavesdrop with a Synthesized Microphone”, (2019-05-01; ):
Security conscious individuals may take considerable measures to disable sensors in order to protect their privacy. However, they often overlook the cyberphysical attack surface exposed by devices that were never designed to be sensors in the first place. Our research demonstrates that the mechanical components in magnetic hard disk drives behave as microphones with sufficient precision to extract and parse human speech. These unintentional microphones sense speech with high enough fidelity for the Shazam service to recognize a song recorded through the hard drive. This proof of concept attack sheds light on the possibility of invasion of privacy even in absence of traditional sensors. We also present defense mechanisms, such as the use of ultrasonic aliasing, that can mitigate acoustic eavesdropping by synthesized microphones in hard disk drives.
2019-kroger.pdf: “Privacy implications of accelerometer data: a review of possible inferences”, (2019; ):
Accelerometers are sensors for measuring acceleration forces. They can be found embedded in many types of mobile devices, including tablet PCs, smartphones, and smartwatches. Some common uses of built-in accelerometers are automatic image stabilization, device orientation detection, and shake detection. In contrast to sensors like microphones and cameras, accelerometers are widely regarded as not privacy-intrusive. This sentiment is reflected in protection policies of current mobile operating systems, where third-party apps can access accelerometer data without requiring security permission.
It has been shown in experiments, however, that seemingly innocuous sensors can be used as a side channel to infer highly sensitive information about people in their vicinity. Drawing from existing literature, we found that accelerometer data alone may be sufficient to obtain information about a device holder’s location, activities, health condition, body features, gender, age, personality traits, and emotional state. Acceleration signals can even be used to uniquely identify a person based on biometric movement patterns and to reconstruct sequences of text entered into a device, including passwords.
In the light of these possible inferences, we suggest that accelerometers should urgently be re-evaluated in terms of their privacy implications, along with corresponding adjustments to sensor protection mechanisms.
[Keywords: accelerometer, sensor, privacy, side channel, inference attack]
2018-argyrou.pdf: “Energy storage for electricity generation and related processes: Technologies appraisal and grid scale applications”, (2018-10-01):
- Up-to-date representation of the current status of global energy storage capacity.
- Comprehensive and updated research of several energy storage technologies.
- Comparison tables of all storage technologies by several characteristics.
- Overview of grid-scale applications of different energy storage technologies.
- Analysis of different hybrid energy storage combinations and applications.
Renewable Energy Sources have been growing rapidly over the last few years. The spreading of renewables has become stronger due to the increased air pollution, which is largely believed to be irreversible for the environment. On the other hand, the penetration of renewable energy technologies causes major problems to the stability of the grid. Along with the fluctuations of the renewable energy technologies production, storage is important for power and voltage smoothing. Energy storage is also important for energy management, frequency regulation, peak shaving, load leveling, seasonal storage and standby generation during a fault. Thus, storage technologies have gained an increased attention and have become more than a necessity nowadays.
This paper presents an up to date comprehensive overview of energy storage technologies. It incorporates characteristics and functionalities of each storage technology, as well as their advantages and disadvantages compared with other storage technologies. Comparison tables with several characteristics of each storage method are included, while different applications of energy storage technologies are described as well. Finally, several hybrid energy storage applications are analyzed and different combinations of energy storage technologies are reviewed.
[Abbreviations: CAES (Compressed Air Energy Storage), CES (Cryogenic Energy Storage), CSP (Concentrated Solar Power), DoD (Depth-of-Discharge), EES (Electrical Energy Storage), FES (Flywheel Energy Storage), PCM (Phase Change Materials), PHS (Pumped Hydroelectric Storage), PSB (Polysulfide Bromide battery), RES (Renewable Energy Sources), SMES (Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage), TES (Thermal Energy Storage), UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply), VRB (Vanadium Redox flow Battery), ZBR (Zinc-Bromine battery)]
[Keywords: energy storage, renewable energy, comparison, grid, applications, hybrid storage]
2018-carleton.pdf: “Increasing intolerance of uncertainty over time: the potential influence of increasing connectivity”, (2018-06-08):
Anxiety levels have increased for several decades, despite objective indicators of historically unprecedented safety. A perceived inability to tolerate uncertainty or distress motivates individuals experiencing anxiety to engage in safety behaviors. Mobile phones provide unrestricted access to safety cues intended to reduce uncertainty and therein anxiety; however, recurrent engagement in reassurance seeking behaviors paradoxically increases anxiety.
The current research was designed to assess whether self-reported intolerance of uncertainty (IU) levels may have been increasing and, if so, whether the increases correlate positively with mobile phone penetration and Internet usage. A cross-temporal meta-analysis was conducted using data from 52 North American studies exploring IU as well as social indicator data from several public sources. A statistically-significant increase in IU levels occurred from 1999 to 2014, correlated with increases in mobile phone penetration and Internet usage. As hypothesized, IU levels appeared to be increasing over time and the increases correlate positively with mobile phone penetration and Internet usage. The results support the possibility that mobile phones increase reassurance seeking, acting as safety cues, and reducing spontaneous, everyday exposures to uncertainty, which may ultimately potentiate psychopathology by increasing IU and anxiety.
Subsequent experimental research to assess for causality appears warranted. Limitations and directions for future research are presented.
[Keywords: Intolerance of uncertainty, meta-analysis, exposure, mobile phones, longitudinal]
2018-nilsson.pdf: “15 Years of Research on Redirected Walking in Immersive Virtual Environments”, (2018-01-12; ):
Virtual reality users wearing head-mounted displays can experience the illusion of walking in any direction for infinite distance while, in reality, they are walking a curvilinear path in physical space. This is accomplished by introducing unnoticeable rotations to the virtual environment—a technique called redirected walking. This paper gives an overview of the research that has been performed since redirected walking was first practically demonstrated 15 years ago.
2017-post.pdf: “Stone Walls That Stay Built: A master waller shares how to dry-lay stone walls that hold their ground for centuries”, Brian Post ( )
2017-kretchun.pdf: “Compromising connectivity: information dynamics between the state and society in a digitizing North Korea”, (2017-02-01; ):
In 2012, “A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment” described the effects of the steady dissolution of North Korea’s information blockade. Precipitated by the collapse of the state economy during the famine of the 1990s, North Korea’s once strict external and internal controls on the flow of information atrophied as North Korean citizens traded with one another, and goods and people flowed across the border with China. Activities unthinkable in Kim Il Sung’s day became normalized, even if many remained technically illegal. A decade into the 21st century, North Korea was no longer perfectly sealed off from the outside world and its citizens were much more connected to each other. Continued research suggests that many of the trends toward greater information access and sharing detailed in “A Quiet Opening” persist today. Yet, over the last four years, since Kim Jong Un’s emergence as leader, the picture has become more complicated.
It is tempting to view the dynamics surrounding media access and information flow in North Korea as a simple tug-of-war: North Korean citizens gain greater access to a broader range of media and communication devices, and unsanctioned content. The North Korean government, realizing this, responds through crackdowns in an attempt to reconstitute its blockade on foreign information and limit the types of media and communication devices its citizens can access. However, the reality is not so neatly binary. As the North Korean economic situation rebounded after the famine and achieved relative stability, 2 authorities developed strategies to establish new, more modern forms of control within an environment that was fundamentally altered from its pre-famine state.
Among the most important trends to emerge in the North Korean information environment under Kim Jong Un is the shift toward greater media digitization and the expansion of networked communications. The state has ceded and now sanctioned a considerably greater level of interconnectedness between private North Korean citizens. This, at least in part, may be an acknowledgement the market economy in North Korea is here to stay, and thus the communications channels that enable the processes of a market economy must be co-opted and supported rather than rolled back.3 Although the government continues to make efforts to monitor communications and dictate what subjects are off-limits, it is allowing average citizens far greater access to communications technologies. Greater digitization and digital network access are already having profound effects on the basic dynamics and capabilities that define the information space in North Korea.
The expansion and catalyzation of person-to-person communication through mobile phones and other networked digital technologies is in many ways a promising development. However, as this report will document, from both a user and technical perspective, expanding network connectivity to a broad swath of the population is arming the North Korean government with a new array of censorship and surveillance tools that go beyond what is observed even in other authoritarian states or closed media environments. It is clear that the state’s information control strategy, while changing, is not ad hoc or ill-considered. Recent technological innovations and policy changes, on balance, may be giving the North Korean government more control than they are ceding.
…Data Sources: This study primarily draws from:
- The 2015 Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Survey of North Korea Refugees, Defectors and Travelers (n = 350)
- A qualitative study comprised of 34 interviews with specifically recruited recent defectors conducted in May and June of 2016 specifically for this report
- Technical analyses of available North Korean software and hardware
[The details on NK use of digital censorship is interesting: steady progress in locking down Bluetooth and WiFi by software and then hardware modifications; use of Android security system/DRM to install audit logs + regular screenshots to capture foreign media consumption; a whitelist/
signed-media system to block said foreign media from ever being viewed, with auto-deletion of offending files; watermarking (courtesy of an American university’s misguided outreach) of media created on desktops to trace them; network blocking and surveillance; and efforts towards automatic bulk surveillance of text messages for ‘South-Korean-style’ phrases/ words. Stallman’s warnings about DRM are quite prophetic in the NK context—the system is secured against the user…For these reasons & poverty, radio (including foreign radios like Voice of America) is—surprisingly to me—the top source of information for North Koreans.]
2016-09-19-neal-surveyofalternativedisplays.html: “Survey of Alternative Displays”, (2016-09-19; ):
The purpose of this article is to collect and consolidate a list of these alternative methods of working with displays, light and optics. This will by no means be an exhaustive list of the possibilities available—depending on how you categorize, there could be dozens or hundreds of ways. There are historical mainstays, oddball one-offs, expensive failures and techniques that are only beginning to come into their own.
[Survey of visual display technologies going beyond the familiar CRT or LED display. See also Masia et al 2013. Contents:
- Notes on Standard Displays
- Brief Note on Holograms
- Pepper’s Ghost
- Projection on Static Transparent Materials/
- Projection on Water or Fog
- Volumetric Projection
- Diffusion and Distortion Techniques
- Transparent LCD/OLED
- LCDs with modified polarization layers
- Volumetric Displays (Mechanical/
Persistence of Vision)
- Volumetric Displays (Layered screens)
- Electronic Paper
- Flexible Displays
- Laser Projectors
- Head Mounted Displays (VR/
AR/ Mixed Reality)
- Plasma Combustion
- Appendix and Other References]
2014-ahmed.pdf: “Reviving a ghost in the history of technology: The Social construction of the recumbent bicycle”, (2015-02-01):
Recumbent bicycles have never truly been associated with international cycling. Conventional safety (upright) bicycles have long been at the center of the cycling world, for both sport and transportation. This is despite the fact that recumbent bicycles are faster more comfortable, and more efficient than the upright bicycles. The aim of this article is to explain the historical and social perspectives that led to the rejection of the recumbent bicycle by utilizing the theory of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) and Bijker’s 2 power theory, providing a contrast with the adoption of the safety bicycle.
…Almost half a century later, another technological innovation grabbed cyclists’ attention. Francis Faure, known to be far from the fastest rider, broke the one-hour record on a Velocar, a type of recumbent bike invented by Charles Mochet.
“At the finish line, the crowd’s reaction was similar to that of the crowd that witnessed the initial display of superiority of the safety bicycle: dominated by shock and anger,” Ahmed, Qureshi, and Khan write.
Some racers latched on to the speedier bike, but many did not. Instead, they viewed it as an impostor. The question of who was right fell to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), formed in 1900 to set international rules for bike racing. This came to include defining the acceptable parameters of racing bikes. In 1914, for example, it banned fairings (coverings designed to make bikes more aerodynamic).
By the 1930s, the UCI had some reasons to be skittish about technological changes to the bicycle. The authors write that it was under pressure from bike manufacturers, which were ramping up production of safety bicycles to satisfy a growing Depression-era demand for cheap transportation.
“It is also likely that the UCI viewed potential identity or shape changes to the meaning of cycling dangerous to the cycling world as a whole,” they write. “We suspect that the UCI prioritized supporting the cycling world as a whole, as opposed to supporting promising new innovations in cycling technologies.”
The upshot was that even though Mochet had specifically designed the Velocar to fit existing UCI rules, the organization upheld a 1935 challenge to the use of the model with little explanation. It went on to publish a new definition of “bicycle” that set out standard dimensions, clarifying the Velocycle’s out-of-bounds position.
The authors identify this moment as a ‘rhetorical closure’, in which a dominant technology became viewed as the only option, with no need for better-designed competitors. UCI’s position as an arbiter of biking protocol ensured that neither racers nor other riders adopted recumbent bikes in large numbers. Ultimately, only 800 Velocars sold. Even today, recumbent bikes are a specialty product, with no cheap options that might encourage riders to try out a faster, more comfortable ride.
- We propose a RF fingerprint approach for device identification in wireless networks.
- Based on the extraction and analysis of the preamble RF fingerprint of a device.
- Techniques for feature reduction such as PCA and PLS are used.
- Experimentation with commercial WiFi devices is done and results are provided.
This document proposes a radiofrequency (RF) fingerprinting strategy for the proper identification of wireless devices in mobile and wireless networks.
The proposed identification methods are based on the extraction of the preamble RF fingerprint of a device and its comparison with a set of already known device RF fingerprints. The identification method combines techniques for feature reduction such as Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Partial Least Squares regression (PLS), both based on subspace transformation, along with a similarity-based analysis. In this work, a complete procedure for RF fingerprint data extraction and analysis is provided. In addition, some experimentation with commercial Wi-Fi devices is carried out for the methods validation.
[Keywords: RF fingerprint, subspace transformation, wireless communications, network identification]
…Acknowledgement: This work has been carried out despite the economic difficulties of the authors’ country. The authors want to overall remark the clear contribution of the Spanish Government in destroying the R&D horizon of Spain and the future of an entire generation.
2013-masia.pdf: “A survey on computational displays: Pushing the boundaries of optics, computation, and perception”, (2013-12-01; ):
- We review the state of the art on computational displays.
- The survey is organized according to the dimensions of the plenoptic function.
- For each dimension, we discuss related perceptual considerations.
- Hardware architectures and software approaches for content generation are discussed.
Display technology has undergone great progress over the last few years. From higher contrast to better temporal resolution or more accurate color reproduction, modern displays are capable of showing images which are much closer to reality. In addition to this trend, we have recently seen the resurrection of stereo technology, which in turn fostered further interest on automultiscopic displays. These advances share the common objective of improving the viewing experience by means of a better reconstruction of the plenoptic function along any of its dimensions. In addition, one usual strategy is to leverage known aspects of the human visual system (HVS) to provide apparent enhancements, beyond the physical limits of the display. In this survey, we analyze these advances, categorize them along the dimensions of the plenoptic function, and present the relevant aspects of human perception on which they rely.
[Keywords: HDR display, wide color gamut, high definition, stereoscopic, autostereoscopic, automultiscopic]
2013-pfeiffer.pdf: “Supporting Interaction in Public Space with Electrical Muscle Stimulation”, (2013-09-01):
As displays in public space are augmented with sensors, such as the Kinect, they enable passersby to interact with the content on the screen. As of today, feedback on the user action in such environments is usually limited to the visual channel. However, we believe that more immediate and intense forms, in particular haptic feedback, do not only increase the user experience, but may also have a strong impact on user attention and memorization of the content encountered during the interaction. Haptic feedback can today be achieved through vibration on the mobile phone, which is strongly dependent on the location of the device. We envision that fabrics, such as underwear, can in the future be equipped with electrical muscle stimulation, thus providing a more natural and direct way of haptic feedback. In this demo we aim to showcase the potential of applying electrical muscle stimulation as direct haptic feedback during interaction in public spaces in the context of a Kinect-based game for public displays.
[Keywords: interactivity, tactile feedback, EMS, public spaces]
2013-holwerda.pdf: “Palm: I'm Ready to Wallow Now”, (2013-03-11):
After a few months of planning, several weeks of work, and possibly a few kilometres of aimless pacing through the living room, I’m happy to present “Palm: I’m ready to wallow now”. This massive article (22,000 words) covers countless aspects of Palm, its devices, its operating system, and the company’s importance to the mobile industry. I start with a detailed look at the history of handwriting recognition, after which I move on to the four hardware products I believe are crucial in understanding Palm as a company. Of course, I also dive into Palm OS, covering the kernel, its filesystem (or lack thereof), ‘multitasking’ capabilities, user experience, and much more. Important Palm OS licensees like Sony and Handspring make an appearance, and I cover the failed attempt at modernising the Palm OS: Palm OS 6 Cobalt. Finally, the conclusion ties it all together.
History of handwriting recognition
- First steps
- The holy GRAIL
- Going to market
- Driving the point home
- Palm Pilot
- Palm V
- Defining Palm
The Palm operating system
There is no file
Single-tasking (but not quite)
The user experience
Zen of Palm [more Apple than Apple then]
Palm OS’ legacy Miscellaneous
Licensing Palm OS
Where to go from here (if here is 2004): Palm OS 6 ‘Cobalt’
I’m ready to wallow now
2012-plotnick.pdf: “At the Interface: The Case of the Electric Push Button, 1880–1923”, (2012-10-01; ):
[JSTOR Today discussion:
The doorbell. The intercom. The elevator. Once upon a time, beginning in the late 19th century, pushing the button that activated such devices was a strange new experience. The electric push button, the now mundane-seeming interface between human and machine, was originally a spark for wonder, anxiety, and social transformation.
As media studies scholar Rachel Plotnick details, people worried that the electric push button would make human skills atrophy. They wondered if such devices would seal off the wonders of technology into a black box: “effortless, opaque, and therefore unquestioned by consumers.” Today, you’d probably have to schedule an electrician to fix what some children back then knew how to make: electric bells, buttons, and buzzers.
“Some believed that users should creatively interrogate these objects and learn how they worked as part of a broader electrical education,” Plotnick explains. “Others…suggested that pushing buttons could help users to avoid complicated and laborious technological experiences. These approaches reflected different groups’ attempts at managing fears of electricity.”
… Between 1880 and 1920, hundreds of patent applications were made for “electric buttons” or “push-buttons.”
At the end of the 19th century, many laypeople had a “working knowledge not only of electricity, but also of the buttons they pushed and the relationship between the 2,” according to Plotnick. Those who promoted electricity and sold electrical devices, however, wanted push-button interfaces to be “simplistic and worry-free.” They thought the world needed less thinking though and tinkering, and more automatic action. “You press the button, we do the rest”—the Eastman Company’s famous slogan for Kodak cameras—could be taken as the slogan for an entire way of life.
Ultimately, the idea that electricity was a kind of magic would triumph over a more hands-on, demystifying approach.
Plotnick quotes an educator and activist from 1916 lamenting that pushing a button “seems to relieve one of any necessity for responsibility about what goes on behind the button.” That resonates now, more than a century later, when technology is even more complicated and even more intimately entwined with our lives. The “black box” reigns supreme.]
2012-kretchun.pdf: “A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment”, Nat Kretchun, Jane Kim ( )
2012-christin.pdf: “It’s All about the Benjamins: An Empirical Study on Incentivizing Users to Ignore Security Advice”, (2012-01-01; ):
We examine the cost for an attacker to pay users to execute arbitrary code—potentially malware. We asked users at home to download and run an executable we wrote without being told what it did and without any way of knowing it was harmless. Each week, we increased the payment amount. Our goal was to examine whether users would ignore common security advice—not to run untrusted executables—if there was a direct incentive, and how much this incentive would need to be. We observed that for payments as low as $0.01$0.012012, 22% of the people who viewed the task ultimately ran our executable. Once increased to $1.27$1.002012, this proportion increased to 43%. We show that as the price increased, more and more users who understood the risks ultimately ran the code. We conclude that users are generally unopposed to running programs of unknown provenance, so long as their incentives exceed their inconvenience.
2011-bresnahan.pdf: “'An Unused Esperanto': Internationalism and Pictographic Design, 1930–1970”, (2011):
The decades surrounding the Second World War saw an intense wave of interest in pictographic communication, with social scientists and graphic designers promoting the potential of universal pictographic “language” to bring about international understanding and co-operation. This article explores the historical relationship between pictographic design and internationalist politics in this era through the work of Rudolf Modley, a pioneering designer of information graphics whose career spanned from the socialist experiments of 1920s Vienna to humanist advocacy projects in late-1960s America. Tracing the complex relationship between visual communication, commerce and politics in mid-twentieth-century design, this article further reflects on the decline of the pictographic project after the 1970s, when pictographs at once gained a broad global currency and lost their political thrust just as the dream of an international visual language was ironically realized in the triumph of a global traffic in mass-consumable images.
[Keywords: pictographic design, internationalism, information design, Rudolf Modley, Otto Neurath, Margaret Mead]
2010-arceneaux.pdf: “Wanamaker's Department Store and the Origins of Electronic Media, 1910-1922”, Noah Arceneaux
De Leval reviewed all the arterial switch procedures done in the United Kingdom over a two-year period with a psychologist watching the operation. Once again, the journey from the operating room to the ICU was demonstrated to be a high risk factor. Staff came to accept that there was an element of danger associated with what they were doing, so they were receptive to change.
Quality Solutions: In Formula One motor racing, the pit stop team completes the complex task of changing tires and fueling the car in about seven seconds. The doctors saw this as analogous to the team effort of surgeons, anesthetist, and ICU staff to transfer the patient, equipment, and information safely and quickly from operating room to ICU.
GOSH doctors visited and observed the pit crew handoff in Italy, noting the value of process mapping, process description, and trying to work out what people’s tasks should be. Following their trip, the GOSH team videotaped the handover in the surgery unit and sent it to be reviewed by the Formula One team. From the analysis came a new handover protocol with more sophisticated procedures and better choreographed teamwork.
The GOSH researchers also noted the importance of the role of the lollipop man, the one who waves the car in and coordinates the pit stop. Under the new handover process, the anesthetist was given overall responsibility for coordinating the team until it was transferred to the intensivist at the termination of the handover. These same two individuals were charged with the responsibility of periodically stepping back to look at the big picture and to make safety checks of the handover.
Results: The real gain for patients was safety. Results showed that the new handover procedure had broken a link between technical and informational errors. Before the new handover protocol, approximately 30% of patient errors occurred in both equipment and information. Afterward, only 10% occurred in both areas.
2007-markandya.pdf: “Electricity generation and health”, (2007-09-01; ):
The provision of electricity has been a great benefit to society, particularly in health terms, but it also carries health costs. Comparison of different forms of commercial power generation by use of the fuel cycle methods developed in European studies shows the health burdens to be greatest for power stations that most pollute outdoor air (those based on lignite, coal, and oil). The health burdens are appreciably smaller for generation from natural gas, and lower still for nuclear power. This same ranking also applies in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions and thus, potentially, to long-term health, social, and economic effects arising from climate change. Nuclear power remains controversial, however, because of public concern about storage of nuclear waste, the potential for catastrophic accident or terrorist attack, and the diversion of fissionable material for weapons production. Health risks are smaller for nuclear fusion, but commercial exploitation will not be achieved in time to help the crucial near-term reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions. The negative effects on health of electricity generation from renewable sources have not been assessed as fully as those from conventional sources, but for solar, wind, and wave power, such effects seem to be small; those of biofuels depend on the type of fuel and the mode of combustion. Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage is increasingly being considered for reduction of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel plants, but the health effects associated with this technology are largely unquantified and probably mixed: efficiency losses mean greater consumption of the primary fuel and accompanying increases in some waste products. This paper reviews the state of knowledge regarding the health effects of different methods of generating electricity.
2007-avidan.pdf: “Seam carving for content-aware image resizing”, (2007-07-01; ):
Effective resizing of images should not only use geometric constraints, but consider the image content as well. We present a simple image operator called seam carving that supports content-aware image resizing for both reduction and expansion. A seam is an optimal 8-connected path of pixels on a single image from top to bottom, or left to right, where optimality is defined by an image energy function. By repeatedly carving out or inserting seams in one direction we can change the aspect ratio of an image. By applying these operators in both directions we can retarget the image to a new size. The selection and order of seams protect the content of the image, as defined by the energy function. Seam carving can also be used for image content enhancement and object removal. We support various visual saliency measures for defining the energy of an image, and can also include user input to guide the process. By storing the order of seams in an image we create multi-size images, that are able to continuously change in real time to fit a given size.
2007-livingston-foundersatwork-introduction.pdf: “Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days: Introduction”, Jessica Livingstone ( )
2005-vanderkloot.pdf: “Lawrence Bragg's role in the development of sound-ranging in World War I”, (2005-09-06; ):
In 1915, when Lawrence Bragg was a 25-year-old Second Lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery, seconded to ‘Maps GHQ’, he learned that he and his father had shared the Nobel Prize in physics. Lawrence’s equation was crucial for winning the prize and he had been wounded by his father’s early dissemination of their work with casual attribution to ‘my son’. Lawrence was responsible for developing methods for pinpointing the position of enemy artillery pieces by recording the boom of their firing with an array of microphones. It was a simple idea but difficult to implement. Step by step, Bragg and the group he assembled solved the problems and developed a system that worked. Sound-ranging was valuable in the British victory at Cambrai in 1917 and vital for that at Amiens in 1918: the ‘black day of the German Army’. He received the MC and the OBE. His Army service manifested both his scientific leadership and administrative skills, which culminated in the demonstrations of the validity of the dream he enunciated in his Nobel lecture: that X-rays could be used to resolve the structure of the most complicated molecules.
2005-shirky-agroupisitsownworstenemy.pdf: “A Group is Its Own Worst Enemy”, (2005-01-01; ):
…We had new applications like the Web, email, instant messaging, and bulletin boards, all of which were about humans communicating with one another through software. Now, suddenly, when you create software, it isn’t sufficient to think about making it possible to communicate; you have to think about making communication socially successful. In the age of usability, technical design decisions had to be taken to make software easier for a mass audience to use; in the age of social software, design decisions must be taken to make social groups survive and thrive and meet the goals of the group even when they contradict the goals of the individual. A discussion group designed by a usability expert might be optimized to make it easy to post spam about Viagra. But in social software design it’s pretty obvious that the goal is to make certain things harder, not easier, and if you can make it downright impossible to post spam, you’ve done your job. Features need to be designed to make the group successful, not the individual.
Today, hardly anybody really studies how to design software for human-to-human interaction. The field of social software design is in its infancy. In fact, we’re not even at the point yet where the software developers developing social software realize that they need to think about the sociology and the anthropology of the group that will be using their software, so many of them just throw things together and allow themselves to be surprised by the social interactions that develop around their software. Clay Shirky has been a pioneer in this field, and his talk “A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy” will be remembered as a watershed in the widespread realization that in this new era, sociology and anthropology are just as crucial to software design as usability was in the last. —Joel Spolsky
People who work on social software are closer in spirit to economists and political scientists than they are to people making compilers. They both look like programming, but when you’re dealing with groups of people as one of your run-time phenomena, that is an incredibly different practice. In the political realm, we would call these kinds of crises a constitutional crisis. It’s what happens when the tension between the individual and the group, and the rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups, gets so serious that something has to be done. And the worst crisis is the first crisis, because it’s not just “We need to have some rules.” It’s also “We need to have some rules for making some rules.” And this is what we see over and over again in large and long-lived social software systems. Constitutions are a necessary component of large, long-lived, heterogeneous groups. “The likelihood that any unmoderated group will eventually get into a flame-war about whether or not to have a moderator approaches one as time increases.” As a group commits to its existence as a group, and begins to think that the group is good or important, the chance that they will begin to call for additional structure, in order to defend themselves from themselves, gets very, very high.
- You cannot completely separate technical and social issues
- Members [power users] are different than users.
- The core group has rights that trump individual rights in some situations.
…if you don’t accept them upfront, they’ll happen to you anyway. And then you’ll end up writing one of those documents that says “Oh, we launched this and we tried it, and then the users came along and did all these weird things. And now we’re documenting it so future ages won’t make this mistake.”
- …If you were going to build a piece of social software to support large and long-lived groups, what would you design for? The first thing you would design for is handles the user can invest in.
- you have to design a way for there to be members in good standing. Have to design some way in which good works get recognized. The minimal way is, posts appear with identity. You can do more sophisticated things like having formal karma or “member since.”
- Three, you need barriers to participation. This is one of the things that killed Usenet. You have to have some cost to either join or participate, if not at the lowest level, then at higher levels. There needs to be some kind of segmentation of capabilities.
- And, finally, you have to find a way to spare the group from scale. Scale alone kills conversations, because conversations require dense two-way conversations.
2004-fry.pdf: “A Century of Ramjet Propulsion Technology Evolution”, (2004):
A general review is presented of the worldwide evolution of ramjet propulsion since the Wright brothers first turned man’s imagination to fly into a practical reality.
A perspective of the technological developments from subsonic to hypersonic flight speeds is provided to allow an appreciation for the advances made internationally from the early 1900s to current times. Ramjet, scramjet, and mixed-cycle engine types, and their operation and rationale for use are considered. The development history and principal contributing development programs are reviewed. Major airbreathing technologies that had substantial impact on the maturation of ramjet propulsion and enabled engine designs to mature to their current state are identified. The general state of flight-demonstrated technology is summarized and compared with the technology base of 1980. The current status of ramjet/
scramjet technology is identified.
Ramjet and scramjet propulsion technology has matured dramatically over the years in support of both military and space access applications, yet many opportunities remain to challenge future generations of explorers.
2003-friedman.pdf: “Alarmingly Useless: The Case for Banning Car Alarms in New York City”, (2003-03-21; ):
T.A. undertook this study to determine the costs and benefits of audible car alarms in the nation’s densest urban environment and to map out a strategy for banning audible car alarms in the five boroughs of New York City. Summary of Findings:
CAR ALARMS COST NEW YORK $605$4002003 TO $756$5002003 MILLION PER YEAR: The average New York City resident pays a car alarm “Noise Tax” of approximately $151$1002003 to $181$1202003 per year. Added up, car alarms cost New Yorkers between $605$4002003 and $756$5002003 million per year in public health costs, lost productivity, decreased property value, and diminished quality of life.
- Car alarms are a substantial and costly public health problem. The type of noise produced by car alarms boosts stress hormones and has been linked to cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal illnesses, psychological problems and unhealthy fetal development in a number of studies over the last 30 years.
- Car alarms hurt New York City’s kids. Children who are exposed to the type of noise produced by car alarms have been found to have more problems with reading, motivation, and scholastic aptitude.
- Car alarms destroy civility and quality of life. US Census data from 2001 show that traffic noise and car alarms are a primary reason why families leave American cities.
AUDIBLE CAR ALARMS DO NOT WORK: Manufacturers, installers, insurers, criminologists, police, and thieves all say that car alarms are ineffective at stopping car theft. They simply do not work.
- A 1997 analysis of insurance-claims data from 73 million vehicles concludes that cars with alarms “show no overall reduction in theft losses” compared to cars without alarms. GM, Ford, and other auto-makers have begun to phase out factory installations of car alarms, calling the devices mere “noisemakers.”
- People don’t respond to car alarms because the vast majority are false. Authorities estimate that 95% to 99% of all car alarms are false. The Progressive Insurance Company found that fewer than 1% of respondents say they would call the police upon hearing a car alarm.
- The professionalization of car theft has made alarms obsolete. In the past 20 years, car theft has evolved from a juvenile pastime into a $12.40$8.22003 billion a year business. 80% of cars are stolen by organized crime. Alarms do not deter the pros.
THERE ARE MANY GOOD ALTERNATIVES TO CAR ALARMS: There are numerous inexpensive and effective automobile security products on the market today. If audible alarms were made illegal, car owners would switch to more effective devices.
- Brake locks are inexpensive (about $76$502003) and difficult to defeat.
- Personal car alarm pagers buzz a vehicle’s owner when a car is disturbed rather than annoying an entire neighborhood.
- Lojack uses global positioning satellites to keep track of vehicles and often leads police to the thieves’ chop shops.
- Passive immobilizers have reduced theft rates of some car models by as much as 77%.
THE CITY CAN LEGALLY BAN CAR ALARMS: New York City law currently limits audible alarms to three minutes of noise and bans the use of motion sensors, the technology responsible for most false alarms. These laws are ineffective and mostly unenforced.
- T.A. legal analysis concludes that the City of New York has the authority to ban the sale, use, or installation of audible motor vehicle alarms.
- City Council members introduced a bill in 2000 to ban the sale and installation of car alarms in New York City. The bill is currently buried in the City Council Committee on Environmental Protection and has never received a public hearing.
- Insiders say that a ban on car alarms is being prevented by City Council members who are afraid to take away the 5% discount on comprehensive coverage (less than $30$202003 per year on average) that some car owners receive for having alarms in their vehicles.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Ban audible car alarms in New York City.
2000-cook.pdf: “How Complex Systems Fail: Being a Short Treatise on the Nature of Failure; How Failure is Evaluated; How Failure is Attributed to Proximate Cause; and the Resulting New Understanding of Patient Safety”, (2000; ):
- Complex systems are intrinsically hazardous systems.
- Complex systems are heavily and successfully defended against failure.
- Catastrophe requires multiple failures—single point failures are not enough.
- Complex systems contain changing mixtures of failures latent within them
- Complex systems run in degraded mode.
- Catastrophe is always just around the corner.
- Post-accident attribution accident to a ‘root cause’ is fundamentally wrong.
- Hindsight biases post-accident assessments of human performance.
- Human operators have dual roles: as producers & as defenders against failure.
- All practitioner actions are gambles.
- Actions at the sharp end resolve all ambiguity.
- Human practitioners are the adaptable element of complex systems.
- Human expertise in complex systems is constantly changing.
- Change introduces new forms of failure.
- Views of ‘cause’ limit the effectiveness of defenses against future events.
- Safety is a characteristic of systems and not of their components.
- People continuously create safety.
- Failure free operations require experience with failure.
1996-mcphee.pdf: “The Gravel Page: the most frightening crimes have no witnesses except the ground on which they were committed. And from that alone forensic geologists illuminate cases in a way that would impress Sherlock Holmes, the science's first practitioner [Balloons of War] [Death of an Agent]”, John McPhee
1993-trauth.pdf: “Expert judgment on markers to deter inadvertent human intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant”, (1993-11; ):
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) convened an expert panel to develop design characteristics for permanent markers and to judge the efficacy of the markers in deterring inadvertent human intrusion in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The WIPP, located in southeastern New Mexico, is designed to demonstrate the safe disposal of transuranic (TRU) radioactive wastes generated by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) defense programs. The DOE must evaluate WIPP compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation “Environmental Standards for the Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level and Transuranic Radioactive Wastes (40 CFR Part 191, Subpart E)”; this EPA regulation requires: “Disposal sites shall be designated by the most permanent markers, records, and other passive institutional controls practicable to indicate the dangers of the wastes and their location” (Federal Register 50; 38086). The period of regulatory concern is 10,000 years.
The expert panel identified basic principles to guide current and future marker development efforts: (1) the site must be marked, (2) message(s) must be truthful and informative, (3) multiple components within a marker system, (4) multiple means of communication (e.g., language, pictographs, scientific diagrams), (5) multiple levels of complexity within individual messages on individual marker system elements, (6) use of materials with little recycle value, and (7) international effort to maintain knowledge of the locations and contents of nuclear waste repositories. The efficacy of the markers in deterring inadvertent human intrusion was estimated to decrease with time, with the probability function varying with the mode of intrusion (who is intruding and for what purpose) and the level of technological development of the society. The development of a permanent, passive marker system capable of surviving and remaining interpretable for 10,000 years will require further study prior to implementation.
[Keywords: management of radioactive and non-radioactive wastes from nuclear facilities, nuclear fuel cycle and fuel materials, WIPP, human intrusion, alpha-bearing wastes, underground disposal, radiation hazards, communications, safety, recommendations, design, waste disposal and storage, health and safety]
1990-seifritz.pdf: “CO2 disposal by means of silicates”, W. Seifritz
1985-seok.pdf: “Zero-gravity distillation utilizing the heat pipe principle (micro-distillation)”, (1985-12-01):
Separation of ethanol-water and methanol-water mixtures has been accomplished experimentally using a horizontal zero-gravity distillation column. A countercurrent flow between liquid and vapor phases was established utilizing the principle of the heat pipe. The concentration profile along the column has been investigated with various product rates. A high degree of separation was achieved in a relatively short column lined with capillary wicks. The flexible column orientation can also be a tremendous advantage as compared to the necessarily vertical operation of the conventional distillation columns.
Scope: Substantial improvements have been made recently to increase the efficiency of continuous contact distillation. A wetted-wall column has generally been considered to improve its efficiency. However, poor wetting characteristics are still a problem of such a system. Swathed glass tubes, ground glass tubes, and stainless steel mesh tubes have been used as wetted-wall columns with improved wetting properties so that more effective distillation might be achieved (in the range of low reflux rate)
In order to obtain a uniform wetting surface and an enhanced vapor-liquid contacting surface, materials with capillary action, such as wicks and screen meshes, can be used for the distillation. All conventional distillation columns use gravitational force or centrifugal force (e.g., the British ICI column) to return the condensed liquid to the evaporator. By employing materials with capillary action, however, the condensed liquid can be transported back to the evaporator in the absence of or even against gravity. Thus the capillary action provides flexibility in column orientation.
The scope of the present study is to investigate the feasibility of microdistillation (using short columns) in the absence of gravity (or in a horizontal position). Both total reflux conditions and steady state with product removal conditions are studied for separation of binary mixtures. As a possible application in outer space, zero-gravity distillation could be used to separate liquid mixtures for recycle of the materials used.
Conclusions and Substance: A new unit operation has been developed for a horizontal distillation column. Experiments were carried out for binary liquid systems using a glass tube and fiberglass as wick material. The temperature of the evaporator was kept just below the boiling temperature of the liquid mixture and an atmospheric pressure was maintained in the vapor phase. Mixture samples were analyzed to determine the concentration profiles along a total reflux column and a steady state column with product removal.
It has been demonstrated that both the most and the least volatile components of a binary mixture of any composition can be separated as highly concentrated products without using gravity forces. In contrast to the tall tower and the vertical operation of conventional distillation, this device permits a short column to achieve the same degree of separation in a horizontal position.
A numerical simulation was developed to obtain the concentration profile along the column. A good agreement is shown between the theoretical and experimental profiles. The performance was characterized by the number of transfer units and height of a transfer unit.
1985-kraus.pdf: “Effectiveness of measures to prevent unintentional deaths of infants and children from suffocation and strangulation”, (1985-03; ):
Unintentional deaths from suffocation and strangulation account for about 20% of all nontransport-related infant and child fatalities in the United States. In the late 1950s, some preventive countermeasures were introduced to reduce the number of deaths resulting from refrigerator or freezer entrapment. A few years later, countermeasures were introduced to prevent deaths resulting from suffocation by plastic bags, inhumation, and mechanical strangulation from wedging in infant cribs. For three of these major causes of suffocation and strangulation deaths among infants and children (refrigerator or freezer entrapment, suffocation by plastic bag, and inhumation at construction sites), there appears to have been a statistically-significant decline in incidence; however, there is no evidence of a statistically-significant reduction in deaths from mechanical strangulation in cribs. The impact of current countermeasures is discussed, and some suggestions for new or modified approaches are made.
Figure 3 shows death rates per million children from suffocation in refrigerators and freezers in California from 1960 through 1981. The rates were high in the early 1960s, then declined, then increased in 1966–1968. Since then, the death rate has declined statistically-significantly (p = 0.05).
The ratio of suffocation events per million refrigerators and freezers sold in California is also displayed in figure 3. Since 37% of entrapments in refrigerators or freezers involved more than 1 child (table 3), it was appropriate to determine the ratio of events of entrapment in refrigerators or freezers (regardless of the number of children involved) to the number of units sold. As seen in figure 3, the pattern is about the same as for death rates; that is, there is a peak ratio in the mid-to-late 1960s followed by a steady decline (p = 0.025) through 1981. It should be noted that the approximate lifespan of a refrigerator built in the 1950s was 15 years, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. This may account for the lag before the decline in the incidence rate begins.
1972-swift.pdf: “Image rotation devices—a comparative survey”, (1972-08-01):
Optical systems which, when rotated, produce a rotation of an image about the optical axis have been known and used for a long time. Information on such systems is sparse, however, and widely scattered. This paper discusses image rotation devices in general terms, and then attempts to collect together the more commonly used devices and to present comparative information on them, in order to provide a convenient reference source for optical designers. In addition a number of lesser known and novel arrangements are described.
1968-robb.pdf: “Thin Silicone Membranes—Their Permeation Properties And Some Applications”, W. L. Robb
1958-bain.pdf: “Behavior Of Young Children Under Conditions Simulating Entrapment In Refrigerators”, (1958-10; ):
Behavior of young children in a situation simulating entrapment in refrigerators was studied in order to develop standards for inside releasing devices, in accordance with Public Law 930 of the 84th Congress [H. R. 11969: To require certain safety devices on household refrigerators shipped in interstate commerce. Approved Aug. 2, 1956. Public Law No. 930.].
Using a specially designed enclosure, 201 children 2 to 5 years of age took part in tests in which six devices were used, including two developed in the course of this experiment as the result of observation of behavior.
Success in escaping was dependent on the device, a child’s age and size and his behavior. It was also influenced by the educational level of the parents, a higher rate of success being associated with fewer years of education attained by mother and father combined. Three major types of behavior were observed: (1) inaction, with no effort or only slight effort to get out (24%); (2) purposeful effort to escape (39%); (3) violent action both directed toward escape and undirected (37%).
Some of the children made no outcry (6% of the 2-year-olds and 50% of the 5-year-olds). Not all children pushed. When tested with devices where pushing was appropriate, 61% used this technique. Some children had curious twisting and twining movements of the fingers or clenching of the hands. When presented with a gadget that could be grasped, some (18%) pulled, a few (9%) pushed, but 40% tried to turn it like a doorknob.
Time of confinement in the enclosure was short for most children. Three-fourths released themselves or were released in less than 3 minutes; one-fourth in less than 10 seconds. Of those who let themselves out, one-half did so in less than 10 seconds. One-third of the children emerged unruffled, about half were upset but could be comforted easily, and a small group (11%) required some help to become calm.
Forces exerted in any horizontal direction by the children for whom such records were obtained ranged up to 29 pounds. The average was about 10 pounds for 3-year-olds and about 21 pounds for 5-year-olds. For reasons not known, the 2-year-old group exerted a slightly greater average force than did the 3-year-old group.
More than one-fourth of the children exerted in excess of 18 pounds and almost two-thirds in excess of 12 pounds.
Data from these experiments proved valuable in developing standards for release devices (as required by Public Law 930), which are expected to be effective for self-release by a large percentage of, but not all, entrapped children. An important result of the behavior study was the finding that, when entrapped, children most often try to escape either by pushing on the door through which they entered the enclosure, or by manipulating a knob release as they would a doorknob. Relatively few children pushed against the back, sides or ceiling of the enclosure.
A follow-up study of 96 test subjects, 8 months after the tests, by interviews with the mothers showed very little obvious residual effect. Reversion to infantile behavior was not found. A number of children still talked about the tests, some with pleasure, a few with resentment. Mothers were not aware of more than ephemeral emotional upset in any of the children.
Reasons for the low level of anxiety engendered by the tests may lie in the precautions taken and in factors inherent in the situation; the parents were not involved in the incident, which enabled them to be calm and casual with the children.
1946-walker.pdf: “Secrets By The Thousands”, C. Lester Walker ( )