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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dec. 30 - Earth project aims to 'simulate everything'

Dear Friends,

You know were this is going...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12012082

Be Well.

David


Earth project aims to 'simulate everything'

The Earth The Living Earth Simulator will collect data from billions of sources

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It could be one of the most ambitious computer projects ever conceived.

An international group of scientists are aiming to create a simulator that can replicate everything happening on Earth - from global weather patterns and the spread of diseases to international financial transactions or congestion on Milton Keynes' roads.

Nicknamed the Living Earth Simulator (LES), the project aims to advance the scientific understanding of what is taking place on the planet, encapsulating the human actions that shape societies and the environmental forces that define the physical world.

"Many problems we have today - including social and economic instabilities, wars, disease spreading - are related to human behaviour, but there is apparently a serious lack of understanding regarding how society and the economy work," says Dr Helbing, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, who chairs the FuturICT project which aims to create the simulator.

Knowledge collider

Thanks to projects such as the Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator built by Cern, scientists know more about the early universe than they do about our own planet, claims Dr Helbing.

What is needed is a knowledge accelerator, to collide different branches of knowledge, he says.

"Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century."

The result would be the LES. It would be able to predict the spread of infectious diseases, such as Swine Flu, identify methods for tackling climate change or even spot the inklings of an impending financial crisis, he says.

Large Hadron Collider Is it possible to build a social science equivalent to the Large Hadron Collider?

But how would such colossal system work?

For a start it would need to be populated by data - lots of it - covering the entire gamut of activity on the planet, says Dr Helbing.

It would also be powered by an assembly of yet-to-be-built supercomputers capable of carrying out number-crunching on a mammoth scale.

Although the hardware has not yet been built, much of the data is already being generated, he says.

For example, the Planetary Skin project, led by US space agency Nasa, will see the creation of a vast sensor network collecting climate data from air, land, sea and space.

In addition, Dr Helbing and his team have already identified more than 70 online data sources they believe can be used including Wikipedia, Google Maps and the UK government's data repository Data.gov.uk.

Drowning in data

Integrating such real-time data feeds with millions of other sources of data - from financial markets and medical records to social media - would ultimately power the simulator, says Dr Helbing.

The next step is create a framework to turn that morass of data in to models that accurately replicate what is taken place on Earth today.

Start Quote

We don't take any action on the information we have”

End Quote Pete Warden OpenHeatMaps

That will only be possible by bringing together social scientists and computer scientists and engineers to establish the rules that will define how the LES operates.

Such work cannot be left to traditional social science researchers, where typically years of work produces limited volumes of data, argues Dr Helbing.

Nor is it something that could have been achieved before - the technology needed to run the LES will only become available in the coming decade, he adds.

Human behaviour

For example, while the LES will need to be able to assimilate vast oceans of data it will simultaneously have to understand what that data means.

That becomes possible as so-called semantic web technologies mature, says Dr Helbing.

Today, a database chock-full of air pollution data would look much the same to a computer as a database of global banking transactions - essentially just a lot of numbers.

But semantic web technology will encode a description of data alongside the data itself, enabling computers to understand the data in context.

What's more, our approach to aggregating data stresses the need to strip out any of that information that relates directly to an individual, says Dr Helbing.

Crowd wearing face masks The Living Earth Simulator aims to predict how diseases spread

That will enable the LES to incorporate vast amounts of data relating to human activity, without compromising people's privacy, he argues.

Once an approach to carrying out large-scale social and economic data is agreed upon, it will be necessary to build supercomputer centres needed to crunch that data and produce the simulation of the Earth, says Dr Helbing.

Generating the computational power to deal with the amount of data needed to populate the LES represents a significant challenge, but it's far from being a showstopper.

If you look at the data-processing capacity of Google, it's clear that the LES won't be held back by processing capacity, says Pete Warden, founder of the OpenHeatMap project and a specialist on data analysis.

While Google is somewhat secretive about the amount of data it can process, in May 2010 it was believed to use in the region of 39,000 servers to process an exabyte of data per month - that's enough data to fill 2 billion CDs every month.

Reality mining

If you accept that only a fraction of the "several hundred exabytes of data being produced worldwide every year… would be useful for a world simulation, the bottleneck won't be the processing capacity," says Mr Warden.

"Getting access to the data will be much more of a challenge, as will figuring out something useful to do with it," he adds.

Simply having lots of data isn't enough to build a credible simulation of the planet, argues Warden. "Economics and sociology have consistently failed to produce theories with strong predictive powers over the last century, despite lots of data gathering. I'm sceptical that larger data sets will mark a big change," he says.

"It's not that we don't know enough about a lot of the problems the world faces, from climate change to extreme poverty, it's that we don't take any action on the information we do have," he argues.

Regardless of the challenges the project faces, the greater danger is not attempting to use the computer tools we have now - and will have in future - to improve our understanding of global socio-economic trends, says Dr Helbing.

"Over the past years, it has for example become obvious that we need better indicators than the gross national product to judge societal development and well-being," he argues.

At it's heart, the LES is about working towards better methods to measure the state of society, he says, which would account for health, education and environmental issues. "And last but not least, happiness."

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esoteric



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MUFON

How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

MUFON.COM

ESOTERIC



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