November 2005 Archives
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November 28, 2005

Free Will and Laws of Nature

This is just a self-note to me that I have to read these two articles written by Norman Swartz at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy , to understand about Free Will:

Foreknowledge and Free Will
Laws of Nature


William Vallicella, a Ph.D. in Philosophy, writes deep philosophical posts in his blog called Maverick Philosopher.

Recently, he wrote 3 interesting posts on what are the essential characteristics of religion, among 5 religions he compared.

Maverick Philosopher What is Religion, Part I
Maverick Philosopher What is Religion, Part II
Maverick Philosopher What is Religion, Part III

Nice thoughts, but, ofcourse, not all people think alike.

November 22, 2005

Safe/Dangerous City Rankings

Newly released rankings of safe and dangerous cities in the US by Morgan Quitno Press.

City Crime Rankings by Population Group

November 17, 2005

Riya - Google

Learnt about this new company, called Riya... it has cool new technology, which does face recognition using Artificial Intelligence on user-submitted photos.

This is a cool technology, and I think it will be useful for tracking, which photos in our collection are still pending to be forwarded to whom..;)

It is rumored that Google has already acquired Riya.

November 6, 2005

Fuel's paradise

A company Blacklight Power claims to generate "lots" of energy from hydrogen/water, this article says.

Fuel's paradise? Power source that turns physics on its head

Singularity - Microsoft's new Research OS

Found some links to Microsoft's new research OS Singularity.

They recently released a technical report (PDF), which has some details on the internals.

They are trying to focus on "dependability" as their main focus of the design of the OS. They designed their own language "Sing#" based on C#.

In the first some pages, that write that they beleive they have conceived a more modern version of an "OS process" which they call as "Software Isolated Process(SIP)".

They decribe it as follows - I quote -

SIPs are the OS processes on Singularity. All code outside the kernel executes in a SIP. SIPs
differ from conventional operating system processes in a number of ways:

  1. SIPs are closed object spaces, not address spaces. Two Singularity processes cannot
    simultaneously access an object. Communications between processes transfers exclusive
    ownership of data.
  2. SIPs are closed code spaces. A process cannot dynamically load or generate code.
  3. SIPs do not rely on memory management hardware for isolation. Multiple SIPs can reside
    in a physical or virtual address space.
  4. Communications between SIPs is through bidirectional, strongly typed, higher-order
    channels. A channel specifies its communications protocol as well as the values
    transferred, and both aspects are verified.
  5. SIPs are inexpensive to create and communication between SIPs incurs low overhead.
    Low cost makes it practical to use SIPs as a fine-grain isolation and extension
  6. SIPs are created and terminated by the operating system, so that on termination, a SIP’s
    resources can be efficiently reclaimed.
  7. SIPs executed independently, even to the extent of having different data layouts, run-time
    systems, and garbage collectors.

I am not an OS expert, but it appears to me after reading some of their paper, that there may be some ingenious insights in their effort.

Looks like Microsoft Research, with their luminous research members, might be striking a resonance of the likes of Bell Labs or Xerox PARC of the old days. Had not heard of so many good researchers coming together at a place, and working on a "complete OS" research.

November 2, 2005

arts/humanities vs science vs engineering

I sometimes feel that engineering is too off from the regular human life.

When I come home after browsing through lot of software code at my workplace as a software engineer, it becomes difficult for me to merge back into normal (family) life.

Software code is closer to mathematics, both of which are abstract and distant from normal/real life/world.

If I would have been in arts/humanities/social sciences, I would probably have been closer to human life, and wouldnt have felt it difficult to switch to family mode after reaching home. Even being a manager in an engineering firm, would have reduced the divide, since managing involves tasks like "managing people; managing projects; getting things done; getting issues solved; organizing for efficiency" which often does not involved delving into abstract technical details.

Mechanical engineering (like working in General Motors, designing a car engine), also would be closer to science, both of which are not as distant as math/software from real life, since they are concerned with actual physical things that move like gasoline, pinston, air, car, etc.

Ofcourse where this is too much "logic" involved, it often becomes like "mathematical logic", and thus goes towards mathematics. So if you go further from physics of materials in an engine, and start applying mathematical logic, you go towards more abstraction.

Hmm, but physics also involves lot of mathematics and equations, so it is difficult to consider science (physics/chemistry) as being less abstract than mathematics. Biology though is not part of that group.

There's one more thing: People in engineering tend to go away from arts/humanities, and vice versa. Reminds me of C. P. Snow's idea of Two Cultures

Another thing: Brain, i think does not naturally compute logic, it is more of an emotional and biological machine. Our logical thinking is a burden on the free, natural, mind. Like Stan Ulam, friend of Alan Turing, said "What makes you so sure that mathematical logic corresponds to the way we think?"

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