Blogcritics » Jan Belezina http://blogcritics.org The critical lens on today's culture & entertainment Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:31:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 arkanoid http://blogcritics.org/arkanoid/ http://blogcritics.org/arkanoid/#comments Tue, 22 Mar 2011 02:26:19 +0000 Arkanoid is a classic arcade game developed in 1986 by a Japanese video game software and arcade hardware company – Taito Corporation (acquired by Square Enix in 2005).

The aim of the game is to destroy the bricks at the top of the game arena with a ball that bounces off a player-controlled pad at the bottom of the arena. This simple yet addictive game gained vast popularity on every possible platform. From the 8-bit computers of the 80′ to the latest Nintendo Wii, XBox 360 or iPad versions, Arkanoid in its numerous variations continues to entertain new generations of gamers.

Arkanoid also continues to be very popular among aspiring game developers who practice through developing Arkanoid clones.

Check out the official Taito website for more info on the latest official Arkanoid game. Also, visit one of the many Arkanoid fanpages and try a selection of online Arkanoid games.

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algorithm http://blogcritics.org/algorithm/ http://blogcritics.org/algorithm/#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2011 01:41:51 +0000 In computer science and mathematics, an algorithm is a set of specific instructions that, when executed, lead to producing an output. The computation proceeds through a finite number of successive states until it terminates in an ending state (output).

A cooking recipe is one real life example of an algorithm. Ingredients (input) are successively added and processed (computation) in a pre-defined time frame, which results in a particular dish (output). Several different recipes may result in a similar dish.

Algorithms are commonly used for data processing purposes, calculation, and automated reasoning. The constantly updated Google search algorithm is just one example Check out this Gizmodo blog post to understand more about ‘the algorithm that rules the Web’.

You can also check out the Algorithm problems for dummies blog for some more easy-to-digest examples. And here is another blog about algorithms. Interested in creating algorithms yourself? Check out this top coder tutorial site for some valuable resources on the subject.

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Large Hadron Collider http://blogcritics.org/large-hadron-collider/ http://blogcritics.org/large-hadron-collider/#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2011 01:34:47 +0000 The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest particle accelerator built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to investigate the most fundamental questions of physics. Over 10,000 scientists and engineers from all over the world contributed to the project.

Opposing particle beams are accelerated along a 27 kilometer tunnel, 574 ft (175 meters below the ground level near Geneva, Switzerland. The resulting collisions are then analyzed by scientist in order to test various high-energy physics theories, including that related to the hypothesized Higgs boson (also known as the ‘God particle’).

The LHC constantly manages to attract media attention, due to the sheer scale of the undertaking. Among the recent LHC developments that gained media attention there are the LHC-triggered end-of-the-world fear, as well as a viable time travel theory.

Check out this LHC News Bulletin for the latest news on the LHC and visit this LHC engadget tag for a less scientific approach.

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LHC http://blogcritics.org/lhc/ http://blogcritics.org/lhc/#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2011 00:41:38 +0000 The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest particle accelerator built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to investigate the most fundamental questions of physics. Over 10 thousand scientists and engineers from all over the world contributed to the project.

Opposing particle beams are accelerated along a 27 kilometer tunnel, 574 ft (175 meters below the ground level near Geneva, Switzerland. The resulting collisions are then analyzed by scientist in order to test various high-energy physics theories, including that related to the hypothesized Higgs boson (also known as the ‘God particle’).

The LHC constantly manages to attract media attention, not only due to the sheer scale of the undertaking. Among the recent LHC developments that gained media attention there are the LHC-triggered end-of-the-world fear, as well as a viable time travel theory.

Check out this LHC News Bulletin for the latest news on the LHC and visit this LHC engadget tag for a less scientific approach.

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tetris http://blogcritics.org/tetris/ http://blogcritics.org/tetris/#comments Sun, 20 Mar 2011 23:12:52 +0000 Tetris is one of the most popular video games of all time. It has numerous variations and is available on virtually any platform, including visual calculators and electronic greeting cards. The game makes excellent use of tetrominos – shapes made up of different variations of four square clusters – with the player struggling against time and the limits of his or her mental rotation abilities in order to align the shapes in a particular manner.

The game was designed and programmed by Alexay Pajitnov. However, the copyrights were immediately transferred to Alexay Pajitnov’s then employer – the Dorodnicyn Computing Centre of the Academy of Science of the USSR – and the game was effectively distributed freely across the Soviet block countries. Mr. Pajitnov did not profit from the game until he set up The Tetris Company with Henk Rogers in 1996.

Although the game is now nearly 30 years old, it keeps on inspiring new generations of gamers, modders and developers. Check out the line-up of official Tetris games and visit this engadget Tetris tag for an endless procession of mind-blowing Tetris mods.

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neural networks http://blogcritics.org/neural-networks/ http://blogcritics.org/neural-networks/#comments Sun, 20 Mar 2011 23:07:29 +0000 The term ‘Neural Network’ may refer either to a biological neural network or to an artificial neural network. The former is a network of biological neurons (electrically excitable cells that process and transmit electrical and chemical signals) interconnected within the nervous system. The latter is a mathematical, computational concept based on the results of observation of biological neural networks.

Artificial neural networks consist of groups of interconnected artificial neurons that receive one ore more inputs and perform simple operations on the data. The results are then selectively passed on to other neutrons, thus emulating the way biological neurons interact with each other.

There are many different models of neural networks. What they seem to have in common, however, is the learning factor. Through mimicking the biological model, the Artificial Networks are able to learn through processing the provided sample input.

Check out stackoverflow query for an extremely simple example of a neural network based on a tic-tac-toe game. Also, visit Neurosolutions for more valuable resources on the subject.

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wikileaks http://blogcritics.org/wikileaks/ http://blogcritics.org/wikileaks/#comments Sun, 20 Mar 2011 21:46:56 +0000 WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization that publishes classified information provided by anonymous sources in order to ‘bring important news and information to the public.’ Data leaked to the WikiLeaks electronic drop box are then published on WikiLeaks website alongside news stories. The organization is supported by a network of volunteers from around the globe, and is financed through donations and revenue from the WikiLeaks shop.

WikiLeaks editor in chief, Julian Assange, lists ‘defense of freedom of speech and media publishing,’ as well as ‘work towards creating open governments’ among the organization’s main principles.

Due to the classified nature of information published by WikiLeaks, the organization’s activities are highly controversial and provoke reactions ranging from condemnation by the US Government to a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

You will find more information about WikiLeaks on the organization’s official facebook and twitter accounts, as well as on numerous mirror pages. Also check out the latest WikiLeaks coverage by guardian and The Telegraph.

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Biomimicry in Robotics: Why You Should Get Yourself a Robot http://blogcritics.org/biomimicry-in-robotics-why-you-should1/ http://blogcritics.org/biomimicry-in-robotics-why-you-should1/#comments Thu, 10 Mar 2011 21:33:14 +0000 Make no mistake. We, the feeble humans, will soon bend our knees to our new robotic overlords. But what will our new masters look like? That, paradoxically, is entirely up to us.

And you know what’s even more scary? It seems like we are making lives difficult for our future selves for no apparent reason at all. We’re constantly trying to make our robots faster, smarter, more agile and more… animal-like. Yes, animal-like. The average human doesn’t hold a candle to the average cheetah in terms of speed, strength, and agility. Why should it be any different with Joe the humanoid and a super-fast robotic cheetah?

So here it is. Since we know the doomsday is coming, and at the same time we know that any attempts at stopping crazy scientists from improving their robotic offspring are downright futile, we might just as well sit back, relax, and have a look at what biomimicry has in store for us (and for future generations).

Divergent paths of evolution? Not any more

Specialization, specialization, specialization, as the old evolutionary saying goes. Mother nature taught us that if you want to be good at something, you need to specialize. And specializing comes at a cost. That’s why lions aren’t very good at writing essays, and that’s why humans no longer boast penis spines.

However, this principle doesn’t apply to robots. After all, why should it? A robot can swim like a jellyfish, slither like a snake, fly like a hummingbird and jump like a grasshopper. And it’s just a matter of time until any robot will be able to do all those things.

‘I Robot’ or ‘We Robot’?

Selflessness. One quality we humans are so proud of and at the same time a quality so many of us so painfully lack. No matter how hard we try, even the most unselfish representatives of our kind are bound to perceive the world as individuals. We can express our ideas, experiences, and emotions, but can we impart them on someone else instantly? Can we download somebody else’s mindset to make sure we do everything in unison? No. At least not yet. Can robots do it? Sure they can.

People have been trying to harness the power of the collective for centuries and sadly, they keep failing miserably. Try making people work for the good of the community and you’ll end up with another USSR-style abomination. Try telling people they should switch to their bicycles so that their grandchildren can breathe fresh air, and see what happens. Robots do not have that problem. Give swarm robotics a couple of years and one day you may wake up in the middle of something like this.

Undetectable communication channels

Collective behavior is not enough. First, to take over the world, our robotic brethren have to come up with a way of communicating without us ever knowing (I bet we won’t even notice anything is amiss until some kind of skynet shuts everything down). And hey, what do you know. Turns out Andy Russel, an engineer at Monash University in Clayton, Victoria, Australia, is already working on that! Thanks to his brilliant idea of mimicking the way African cave-dwelling crickets communicate, robots are now able to decode messages out of thin air!

A ‘sender’ robot is equipped with a speaker cone that projects rings of pressurized air. These in turn are picked up at the other end by air pressure sensors attached to the ‘receiver’ robot. Easy enough, eh? Forget the wireless. Using binary code and some air, the little robot buggers are able to transmit some pretty complicated messages. Like “Guys, let’s start a robot apocalypse”, for example.

The end is nigh

The message is simple. If you don’t like the idea of being changed into a battery, you’d better keep your eyes open. Don’t panic, adapt. Buy yourself a robot and be very kind to it (some look better than others, so be sure to make the right choice). Some day, once the dust after the robot rebellion finally settles, this acquaintance may save your life.

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