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Abrak Jamson
Works at Microsoft Exchange Server - High Availability
Attended NDSU
Lives in Redmond, WA
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Abrak Jamson
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Art + Design  - 
 
I always love these optimistic visions of the future that seem to come out regularly from Microsoft and Corning. Inventing a fake future in hopes that the real future somehow shows up and mates with it.
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agreed; these are pretty neat
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Abrak Jamson
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I've moved some categories around (without deleting anything):
* Art + Design: Imagining the future
* Developments: Inventing the future
* H+: The future of humanity
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I highly recommend this blog about scalability and distributed systems. I've been reading it for months. Any other recommendations?
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To predict the future, you need to keep your ear to the ground and your eyes on the horizon. In other words, you need to be pretty big-headed to think you can predict the future.
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Reminds me of email spam: if there is motivation for an individual to disrupt a system, that system shall be disrupted.
 
Here's a tale that reads like a thriller.  The team that won a 2007 DARPA contest hoped its crowdsourcing model would win the tougher 2011 challenge--but a lone hacker fatally disrupted them.  Here's how they painstakingly recreated what happened. And for the first time we hear from the hacker. Big lessons about crowdsourcing, espionage and human nature.

https://medium.com/backchannel/how-a-lone-hacker-shredded-the-myth-of-crowdsourcing-d9d0534f1731
High-tech analysis of a 2011 DARPA Challenge suggests that far from being wise, crowds can’t be trusted
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THE VALENTINE CORE WAR TOURNAMENT

The Valentine Core War Tournament will be held on 14th February using CWS'88 Redcode. Players may enter one or two warriors. The maximum total length of both warriors added together is 50 instructions. Entries compete in core size 8000 with max processes 8000 and extended cycles — a tie is declared after 1000000 cycles.

All entries take part in a round robin qualifier with the highest scoring entry from each player advancing to the final. The highest scoring warrior in the final will be awarded the $50 first prize. The $25 second prize will be awarded to the highest scoring warrior in the qualifier.

Full details can be found on the tournament website at http://corewar.co.uk/valentine2015.htm
Core War · Tournaments · Valentine 2015 Tournament; Announcement. The Valentine Core War Tournament will be held on 14th February using CWS'88 Redcode. Players may enter one or two warriors. The maximum total length of both warriors added together is 50 instructions. Entries compete in core size ...
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Abrak Jamson
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Welcome to the Future

With the dawn of 2015, there’s been a lot of references to the Back to the Future series. The original movie is now as far into the past as 1955 was for the original movie, and 2015 marked “the future” for the series. But despite the jokes, one could argue that in fact we are living in the future. At least as far as astronomy and astrophysics goes, we’ve come a long, long way in the past 30 years.

In 1985 the most distant planet visited by a space probe was Saturn. We didn’t have good views of Uranus and Neptune until 1986 and 1989 respectively. Now we’ve visited all the planets, as well as comets and asteroids, and we’ve got a flyby of Pluto scheduled this year. In 1995 we had the Galileo spacecraft orbit Jupiter, and dropped a probe into its atmosphere. In 2005, the Cassini mission orbited Saturn and released Huygens to land on Titan. In 1997, Mars Pathfinder was the first rover on Mars, and now the Curiosity rover continues to operate on the planet. In 1985 we didn’t have the international space station. Construction on it didn’t begin until 1998.

In 1985 we didn’t have an optical space telescope. The Hubble telescope, giving us detailed images such as the Hubble Deep Field, wasn’t launched until 1990. We also didn’t have detailed observations of the cosmic microwave background. The first space-based observer of the CMB (COBE) didn’t launch until 1989. Cosmic inflation and dark energy? We didn’t have evidence of that until 1993. In 1985 the age of the universe was estimated to be about 8 billion years, but could be as high as 20 billion. We now our best measurements put it at 13.798 billion years.

In 1985 there were no known exoplanets. Now there are 1,523 confirmed exoplanets, and another 3,300 candidates. We’ve now seen solar systems forming, learned of hot Jupiters and carbon worlds. We’re even able to resolve some exoplanets directly and measure aspects of their atmospheres. We now know there are perhaps 8 to 20 billion potentially habitable worlds in the Milky Way alone.

The world of 2015 has become a future of scientific understanding we could only have dreamed of in 1985. Sure we can complain about our lack of hoverboards while exchanging memes on a global, hyperconnected, information web. But while we do, astronomers are preparing Gaia to measure the position and motion of more than a billion stars in our galaxy, working to solve the mystery of dark matter, and analyzing data with powerful supercomputer networks. We now live in a world were pocket supercomputers can be used to detect cosmic rays, anyone can contribute to modern astronomy research, and what we learn is shared across the web.

Even without hoverboards, the future is pretty cool.
With the dawn of 2015, there's been a lot of references to the Back to the Future series. The original movie is now as far into the past as 1955 was for the original movie, and 2015 marked "the future" for the series. But despite the jokes, one could argue that in fact we are living in the future. At least as far as astronomy and astrophysics goes, we've come a long, long way in the past 30 years.
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Abrak Jamson

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Such an incredible photo, I hesitate to call it an infographic.
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The iPhone alone is making more money than Microsoft...

and Google...

combined.
Apple sold over 74 million iPhones in Q1, but its tablet remains a sore spot.
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I don't understand those numbers:  That would be almost $700 in revenue per phone sold.  
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Abrak Jamson
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Art + Design  - 
 
Here's to hoping the Exoplanet Travel Bureau releases more posters!
 
As we continue to search for planets beyond our Solar System, we are starting to find worlds that we might actually be able to stand upon. And in honor of this, the folks at JPL have produced some travel posters for these brave new worlds, available as free high-res downloads from their site.

http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/media_categories?category=6

Kepler-186f, the one pictured below, is my favorite because it captures some interesting physics. It orbits a red dwarf about 500 light-years from Earth, and it was the first planet discovered which is potentially suitable (in terms of things like temperature) for life as we know it. But life would be different in some interesting ways.

One of the reasons is that photosynthesis would be a bit different. Plants on Earth are green because their leaves contain chlorophyll, a chemical which absorbs sunlight and turns that energy into excited electrons. Those energetic electrons are then fed into the entire photosynthesis system, and ultimately that energy is stored in the form of sugars and used to sustain the plant's life. The reason chlorophyll is green, though, comes down to three diagrams.

The first is the solar spectrum, that is, the color of light the Sun shines.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_Spectrum.png

The X-axis of this graph shows the wavelength of light, from ultra-violet on the left to infra-red on the right; the Y-axis shows how bright the Sun is in each of those colors. As you can see, the Sun shines fairly evenly in the entire band between about 500 and 700nm, which is exactly the set of colors that the human eye can see. (No coincidence! Our eyes have evolved to see sunlight, not x-rays, because there aren't that many x-rays around to see by) 

There are two graphs here: the yellow curve shows the color of sunlight itself, and the red curve shows the color of the light we see at sea level. The difference is that the atmosphere absorbs some colors of light but not others. For example, the fact that the red curve is way below the yellow curve at the far left is because ozone in the upper atmosphere is very good at absorbing UV light -- the reason why it protects us from skin cancer.

The second diagram is the absorption spectrum of chlorophyll:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chlorophyll_ab_spectra.png

This graph uses the same X-axis, but the Y-axis shows how effective chlorophyll is at absorbing light of each color. There are two curves because there are actually two different kinds of chlorophyll: the green kind (chlorophyll-A) which is most prevalent, and the red kind (chlorophyll-B) which often stays behind after the green one has left, giving autumn trees their color. The bumps on the left actually aren't very interesting, since the Sun doesn't produce much light in those colors -- they're there because it's hard to design a chemical which doesn't absorb those colors. (For various technical quantum mechanics reasons) The sharp spikes on the right are what makes chlorophyll so important to photosynthesis, and for chlorophyll-A, that spike happens at a wavelength of 680nm, smack in the middle of where sunlight is the brightest. For comparison, sunlight is the brightest at 665nm.

As it turns out, the chlorophyll molecule is fairly flexible and complex, and small modifications to it would likely lead to "pseudo-chlorophyll" molecules with their peaks in different places, which we'll come back to in a moment.

So chlorophyll has evolved (or rather, creatures have evolved to produce this one particular molecule) to very efficiently absorb light of exactly the color that the Sun produces the most of. Why does this make chlorophyll green?

Imagine that you shine sunlight on some chlorophyll. The chlorophyll absorbs the 680nm light; in fact, if you want to be precise about it, you can flip the chlorophyll graph upside-down (that is, replace it with 1-absorption, to instead show how much light it lets through) and multiply it by the sunlight curve, to see what color of sunlight bounces off of it. Light bouncing on chlorophyll would look just like the incident sunlight, but with another gap in it, corresponding to the colors that chlorophyll absorbs away for its own purposes. 

Because chlorophyll's absorption peak is so sharp, you can basically imagine this as light with the 680nm part of it removed. What color is 680nm? It's a bright red. And that brings us to the third diagram, namely how the human eye sees color:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision#mediaviewer/File:Cone-fundamentals-with-srgb-spectrum.svg

Color vision works by having three kinds of "cone" receptor in the eye: one which sees red, one green, and one blue. (These are called L, M, and S in the diagram for obscure reasons) This diagram has the same X-axis again, and now the Y-axis shows how sensitive each cone type is to each color. So for example, if you shine pure 680nm light onto an eye, that stimulates the red cone some, and the blue and green cones not at all, which the eye reads as "red." If you shone 580nm (yellow) light instead, that would stimulate both the red and green cones a lot, but the blue cone not at all, which our brain interprets as "oh, that must be yellow."

(Incidentally, that's also why color-combination tricks work. If you shine both red and green light on a point, it looks yellow to your eye. If you look at the monitor you're reading right now with a magnifying glass, you'll see that each pixel is actually three little pixels -- one red, one green, and one blue -- and that a yellow pixel has red and green lit but not blue, taking advantage of the same illusion to show you all the colors)

So back to plants. Sunlight on its own tends to stimulate your red and green cones a lot, but not much blue. (Take a look at the steep drop-off on the left of the sunlight diagram, and how that overlaps with what the blue cone sees) That's why the Sun normally looks yellow. But sunlight bouncing off chlorophyll -- i.e., what you see when you stare at a plant -- is missing a bunch of its red light, so it only stimulates green. And that's why plants look green.

(Incidentally, when you look at the eye-sensitivity chart, you might notice that the red and green cones are right next to each other, but the blue cone is off by its lonesome. This isn't a coincidence: many species only have red and blue. The green cone only shows up in some species, and because it's just like red but a little off, small differences in color in the range that they both hit therefore look very different to us. That gives us tremendously high frequency sensitivity in the greens: 490nm and 500nm light look really different, while 650 and 660nm are nearly indistinguishable. That's really useful when you need to recognize different kinds of plant!)

So back to Kepler 186f: its star is a red dwarf, which is smaller, dimmer, and redder than our own sun. We could repeat the entire calculation above using its color of starlight, and what you discover in this case is that efficient Keplerian chlorophyll would be absorbing light off in the infra-red. Doing the same subtraction of reflected light, we find that Keplerian chlorophyll under Keplerian skies would look deep red to our eyes.

And since our eyes have evolved to see green at high resolution, not red, Keplerian fields would look very strange to us -- almost uniform in color, with motion hard to see, because our eyes aren't adapted to seeing fine shades of red.

You can actually do this calculation for any kind of star, and you'll find that the color of "local chlorophyll" will range from red (for red dwarfs), through green (for stars like our own), out to yellow (for slightly blue stars). It never gets beyond that, because stars beyond "slightly blue" have a very short lifespan, and would never be around for long enough to develop their own native flora anyway.

So when you're going out traveling among the stars, expect a fairly wild color show.

If you want to play with what different wavelengths of light look like, this site has a simple slider:
http://academo.org/demos/wavelength-to-colour-relationship/

To read more about color vision, start at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision

And for photosynthesis, start at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis

Incidentally, the planet's name simply means that it's the sixth (f) planet out from the 186th star studied by the Kepler planetary survey.
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Education
  • NDSU
    Computer Science and Management Information Systems
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Inventing a fake future in hopes that the real future shows up to mate with it.
Introduction
In addition to futurism, I like to think about datacenters and global scale. The first is a hobby, and the second is a career that enables much of that future :)
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Backing up the world's email
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  • Microsoft Exchange Server - High Availability
    Program Manager, present
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Redmond, WA
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