February 12, 2014

Edison and Darwin Day(s) Items of Interest

February 11 is Edison Day and February 12 is Darwin Day. In honor of both (tech innovator and naturalist), I will cross-post some materials from Tumbld Thoughts, in addition to some interesting Darwin-Day related items courtesy of the Center for Scientific Inquiry (CFI).

February 11: Happy Edison Day!

Taken in part from a Chicago Ideas Week poster.

In honor of Edison Day (his posthumous 167th birthday), here are a few readings from IEEE Spectrum on the D-Wave quantum computer. Or pseudo-Quantum computer, depending on how you interpret the evidence.

The D-wave uses a 512-qubit architecture [1] to perform quantum annealing (a form of combinatorial optimization). This should allow for quantum computing-like capabilities upon scale-up (e.g. faster computation, exceeding Moore's Law) [2].

However, its current form is actually slower than conventional (e.g. classical digital) computers, and may not provide the theoretically-predicted advances in computational power [3, 4]. In fact, it may not be a quantum computer at all, a seemingly straightforward fact nobody can seem to verify [5].


[1] Hsu, J.   Scientists confirm D-wave's computer chips compute quantum mechanics. IEEE Spectrum, July 3 (2013).

According to this article, the company has kept the details of how the D-Wave functions shrouded in mystery. They have taken a "show but don't tell" (e.g. celebrate the black box) approach, which was a tactic employed by Edison in one infamous instance.

[2] Hsu, J.   D-wave's Year of Computing Dangerously. IEEE Spectrum, November 26 (2013).

[3] Hsu, J.   D-wave's quantum computing claim disputed again. IEEE Spectrum, February 10 (2014).

[4] Guizzo, E.   Loser: D-wave Does Not Quantum Compute. IEEE Spectrum, December 31 (2009).

[5] Mirani, L. and Lichfield, G.   Why nobody can tell whether the world's biggest quantum computer is a quantum computer. Quartz, April 15 (2014).

The Next Day: Darwin's Legagy, one year older, one year better!

In honor of this year's Darwin Day, I bring you the "Art of Darwin" [*] along with a diversity of evolutionary-oriented readings (on 10 distinct topics) from my reading queue. These should highlight the manner in which Evolutionary Science has grown since Darwin's lifetime.

1) Human Genetics: Loh, P-R., Lipson, M., Patterson, N., Moorjani, P., Pickrell, J.K., Reich, D., and Berger, B.   Inferring Admixture Histories of Human Populations Using Linkage Disequilibrium. Genetics, 193, 1233-1254 (2013).

2) Evolution of Sociality: Waters, J.S., Holbrook, C.T., Fewell, J.H., and Harrison, J.F.   Allometric Scaling of Metabolism, Growth, and Activity in Whole Colonies of the Seed-Harvester Ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. American Naturalist, 176(4), 501-510 (2010).

3) Evo-Devo (animals): Keller, R.A., Peeters, C., and Beldade, P. Evolution of thorax architecture in ant castes highlights trade-off between flight and ground behaviors. eLife, 3, e01539 (2014).

4) Experience-dependent Plasticity (plants): Gagliano, M., Renton, M., Depczynski, M., and Mancuso, S.   Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters. Oecologia, doi:10.1007/s00442-013-2873-7.

5) Evolution of Phenotypes: Tobias, J.A., Cornwallis, C.K., Derryberry, E.P., Claramunt, S., Brumfield, R.T., and Seddon, N.   Species coexistence and the dynamics of phenotypic evolution in adaptive radiation. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature 12874 (2013).

6) Evolution of Genomes: Wu, X. and Sharp, P.A.   Divergent Transcription: A Driving Force for New Gene Origination? Cell, 155, 990-996 (2013).

7) Genetic Regulation: Stergachis, A.B. et.al   Exonic Transcription factor binding directs codon choice and affects protein evolution. Science, 342, 1367 (2013).

8) Artificial Life (Robustness and Evolvability): Payne, J.L., Moore, J.H., and Wagner, A.   Robustness, Evolvability, and the Logic of Genetic Regulation. Artificial Life, 20(1), 111-126 (2014).

9) Evolutionary Biomechanics: Witton, M.P. and Habib, M.B.   On the Size and Flight Diversity of Giant Pterosaurs, the Use of Birds as Pterosaur Analogues and Comments on Pterosaur Flightlessness. PLoS One, 5(11), e13982 (2010).

10) A dissenter (sort of): Ruse, M.B.   Why I'm not celebrating Darwin Day. Chronicle of Higher Education Brainstorm blog, February 9 (2014).

[*] representations of Darwin and his legacy from around the web. Sources in order (from top to bottom): A, B, C, D, E, F.

Extra Goodies, courtesy of CFI

Here are some extra Darwin Day goodies, courtesy of the CFI. The first is a poster. While similar to their Carl Sagan poster series, they only have one style (although they also have a customized Facebook page cover shown below). The second is a link to the audiobook version of "Origin of the Species" (courtesy Librivox).

No comments:

Post a Comment