Geekend Update: Solar Storms, Artificial Bug Eyes, and Smallest Movie Ever

Ashley Esqueda

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Solar Storms, Artificial Bug Eyes, and Smallest Movie Ever

Your weekly look at the most interesting science stories in the ever-expanding universe.

For more on the stories this week, you can read about Smallest Movie Ever [http://www.space.com/20973-amazing-solar-eruption-sun-photo.html].

To submit your favorite science stories or intro suggestions, send us an email here: [email protected]

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Evil Smurf

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Nov 11, 2011
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Ashley, I think I love you. Can you arrange for blacklight lamb to play at my birthday bash?
 

Alfador_VII

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flarty said:
LOL, Do me a solid sounds like a request from the doctor.
Yeah I really hate that expression. somehow "solid" is a synonym for "favour" now, why I don't know?

Anyway I love that tiny cartoon. Now to make a full feature length one, about robotic dragonflies, and the Northern Lights!
 

Antari

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Nov 4, 2009
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I wouldn't mind seeing some numbers on just how much the Smallest Movie Ever cost to make.
 

Imp_Emissary

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0_o That last bit about the information storage....


Wow. >-> I wonder what games could do with that kind of technology.

Good show!
 

Amaror

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While that last bit sounds quite impressive, it will take a looooong time until such an space efficient data storage device will be used /made, since it would be INCREDIBLY expensive.
Then there's always the question of: Will we ever see it. There are tons of stuff that we could allready do to make computers much more effective which we will most likely never see. Example: Current computers work with a binary system. one and zero, you know. It's would allready possible to make computers which not two, but three or four states, which would make the SOOOO much more efficient. We will most likely never see them though, because it would change computers on the basic level and every development in computer science would have to be made again.
 

dmase

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Imp Emissary said:
Wow. >-> I wonder what games could do with that kind of technology.

Good show!
I imagine it would take a whole major developer's company years till fill up even a fraction of that storage. Goes to show us humans will be the limiting factor for this kind of technology for the foreseeable future, you know until we invent an AI with creativity on par with lord british.
 

Imp_Emissary

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dmase said:
Imp Emissary said:
Wow. >-> I wonder what games could do with that kind of technology.

Good show!
I imagine it would take a whole major developer's company years till fill up even a fraction of that storage. Goes to show us humans will be the limiting factor for this kind of technology for the foreseeable future, you know until we invent an AI with creativity on par with lord british.
Ah, Lord British. The only one to make it out of the Dice Lord's Church. Well, him and "the Michaels", but you know what I mean.

I am curious about what the first thing a self-aware robot will make. Probably not a game. More likely a painting.
 

Ashley Esqueda

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dmase said:
Imp Emissary said:
Wow. >-> I wonder what games could do with that kind of technology.

Good show!
I imagine it would take a whole major developer's company years till fill up even a fraction of that storage. Goes to show us humans will be the limiting factor for this kind of technology for the foreseeable future, you know until we invent an AI with creativity on par with lord british.
I'm not so sure. With that kind of storage available I'm not so sure humans WOULD be a "limiting factor". It would just change the way the development process worked.

Consider this... An entire world could be randomly generated and stored as a game setting. Programmers would simply apply some guidelines to the process and computers would do the rest. It could render an entire planet right down to individual plants, and place resources like herbs, minerals, and other crafting materials. Fauna and even civilizations could likewise be rendered. Once this process was complete all the devs would need to do is tweak it by adding/changing things to suit the game at hand.

We could have an open sandbox elder scrolls that literally spanned the planet. We could have Battletech wars on a 3d galactic map with individual worlds rendered in significant detail. MMO crowding would be a thing of the past. We have already got enough data gathered in centralized locations that a reasonably accurate "Earth" could simply be imported from sources like the Army Corp of Engineers, NASA, NOAA, and Google Maps.

No... you give these guys any amount of storage you can imagine and they'll fill it and ask for more.
 

Ashley Esqueda

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I'd just like to drop in and say I think you guys are brilliant, and I love the conversations that happen here after each show posts.

Also, Evil Smurf? I'll have to call their tour manager. They don't come sheep! Costs a lot of hay to hire Blacklight Lamb!


Yep, that was terrible (and living proof I write this show, as the puns on air are just as groan-worthy).
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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Regarding storage devices:

I'll point out that the reason why so much "distance" or so many atoms are needed in today's storage devices is that we use ferromagnetic storage and this requires actual distinct magnetic domains. We've done a lot of work to cram as much data into every square inch of disk space we can and the trick is to cram more in there without losing data. If the information is stored too close to one another then there would be cross-talk (when magnetic domains repel eachother) which means corruption and loss of data. There are devices that are magnetoresistive but suffer in the area of storage space.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_storage

Note that the first form of magnetic storage was patented in 1878 and was audio recording made on a wire (wire recording). The guy then proceeded to not do anything with it for another decade.

The trick to overcoming this requires nonferromagnetic storage techniques. Storing data on atoms would be the holy grail of data storage from where we stand today and the ability to read it quickly would be even greater. Judging from the 12 Atoms per Bit conversation, I imagine that this is the group that this article I read last year was about:

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/01/ibm-scientists/
http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/smarter_computing/article/atomic_scale_memory.html

It's 12 atoms because that many atoms are required to get a stable magnetic state. They used an antiferromagnetic structure. Ferromagnetic devices required around 800,000 atoms per bit in the 2012 article compared to this 12 atom per bit model.

A more basic road block is the temperature required to store at 12 bits. -458 Fehrenheit gets you 12 bits. Room temperature gets you somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 atoms which is NOTHING to sneeze at (5333.33 times smaller than ferromagnetic storage).

But the most damning roadblock is that the technology to pump out commercially available devices that can write with atomic precision and to read at least as rapidly as today's hard drives is, to say the least, a few years down the road. As of now, I don't see rapidly moving scanning tunneling microsopes being themselves scaled down to fit in a drive and being cost effective either and I don't know of any devices that could read such data rapidly. Maybe for my kids or maybe with a jump in technology. Even then, don't expect to see a scanning tunneling microscope getting packed into a thumbdrive.

The spoiler is what I think about the currently developing technologies that appear to be close to replacing our standard models. Spoilered to help mitigate ye ol' wall of text effect.
In the meantime, I'm just looking towards devices that hold a significant amount of data in an extremely stable manner that also allows for rapid read/write speeds. In the short term, IBM's Millipede memory may be viable once current HDDs reach their perpendicular recording limits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millipede_memory (it has been delayed significantly due to HDD's rapid space increase but millipede memory offers a significant advance in read/write speed as is from what I've seen as well as stability). The advanced read/write speeds here may compensate for limits to storage space depending on how you use it. At some point, the amount of storage space you have is enough and all you then care about would be reliability and read/write speed. Even high capacity solid state drives may not be the answer to that. Other technologies should be able to make Read/Write speeds even faster and if a solid state drive goes bad you lose all the data despite them being more reliable/durable overall (whereas most anything can be retrived from a faulty HDD if you have the resources and depending on how it's faulty).

Patterned Media looks like it'll be about 10 times the storage of current forms of recording tech but I don't know if the read/write speeds would be improved, worsened, or remain the same.

Heat-Assisted magnetic recording is the current champion and I anticipate great things from combining it with Patterned Media technology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat-assisted_magnetic_recording

Seagate has already used this in 2012 to become the first hard drive maker to create 1TB/in2

http://www.seagate.com/about/newsroom/press-releases/terabit-milestone-storage-seagate-master-pr/

1TB/in2 is the physical limit of current perpendicular magnetic recording devices. So them starting there is prety darn good. Seagate things the theoretical limit of 3.5-inch drives with this tech will be 30TB or 60B total with a 5-10TB/in2

HAMR drives should be arriving in 2014 if Seagate is to be believed and we'll see what sort of actual specs they have. I'm expecting a re-write penalty of some kind.

At some point, we have to look at some number of space as being 'enough' for an individual's daily use and just focus on reliability and read/write speed. Sure, the goal will eventually be a thumbdrive with hundreds of petabytes of storage, excellent reliability/durability, and insanely fast read/write speeds. Heck, maybe even security like bit locker provides. But until that day we have a constant struggle in those three areas and improving one generally takes a hit to at least one of the other.
 

Camaranth

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Seeing the Northern Lights is on my bucket list so trip north this year may be in order.

And I disagree, adding the bug eye camera to the robotic dragonfly would be so cool! But I agree, utterly terrifying.
 

dmase

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UrKnightErrant said:
dmase said:
Imp Emissary said:
Wow. >-> I wonder what games could do with that kind of technology.

Good show!
I imagine it would take a whole major developer's company years till fill up even a fraction of that storage. Goes to show us humans will be the limiting factor for this kind of technology for the foreseeable future, you know until we invent an AI with creativity on par with lord british.
I'm not so sure. With that kind of storage available I'm not so sure humans WOULD be a "limiting factor". It would just change the way the development process worked.

Consider this... An entire world could be randomly generated and stored as a game setting. Programmers would simply apply some guidelines to the process and computers would do the rest. It could render an entire planet right down to individual plants, and place resources like herbs, minerals, and other crafting materials. Fauna and even civilizations could likewise be rendered. Once this process was complete all the devs would need to do is tweak it by adding/changing things to suit the game at hand.

We could have an open sandbox elder scrolls that literally spanned the planet. We could have Battletech wars on a 3d galactic map with individual worlds rendered in significant detail. MMO crowding would be a thing of the past. We have already got enough data gathered in centralized locations that a reasonably accurate "Earth" could simply be imported from sources like the Army Corp of Engineers, NASA, NOAA, and Google Maps.

No... you give these guys any amount of storage you can imagine and they'll fill it and ask for more.
Anything done randomly has the problem of being random especially when your thinking about the detail. I mean look at elder scrolls the caves are basically "random" but devs still do tweaks throughout it to cover every eventuality in the random part, so now you have a much larger scale to randomize. I also wanted to emphasize the creative part, unless your interested in a bunch of slightly different fetch quests scattered around devs still need to make a story and make it span that world.
 

Ashley Esqueda

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dmase said:
Anything done randomly has the problem of being random especially when your thinking about the detail. I mean look at elder scrolls the caves are basically "random" but devs still do tweaks throughout it to cover every eventuality in the random part, so now you have a much larger scale to randomize. I also wanted to emphasize the creative part, unless your interested in a bunch of slightly different fetch quests scattered around devs still need to make a story and make it span that world.
You're not following me. I'm not advocating taking devs out of the loop. The game can be as heavily or lightly modified as the devs find it necessarily to tell the story they are trying to tell. Randomizing the "skeleton" of the game does nothing to prevent devs from modifying the terrain or adding dynamic events and interesting characters. If anything it frees up devs from a lot of grunt work and allows them to spend their zots adding narrative, flavor, and flair to the game.

It also means there is no more off-board. Instead of the game saying "You can't go there" and using an OnExit script to turn players around and force them back across some kind of invisible barrier(or whatever) players (and NPCs for that matter) will be able to come and go freely from the active board. I guess it would more likely be "active boards", though. With a set up like this devs could spread the action out between various designed areas connected by designed arteries, but offering players an opportunity to stray from the beaten path if they so choose.

These areas need not be boring or safe. PnP games like Traveller and Twilight 2000 (and to a lesser degree perhaps AD&D) have shown that a good game designer can make randomly generated areas and even quests much more than just fun and exciting. They can also be used to build settings and contexts that can actually support and inform the game's narrative.