Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3901 on: May 5th, 2011, 6:36pm »
Wired Danger Room
Grounded! Stealth Fighter Fleet KO’d by Oxygen Woes By David Axe May 5, 2011 | 6:48 pm Categories: Air Force
Photo: Air Force
The U.S. Air Force’s fleet of radar-evading F-22 Raptor fighters has been grounded until “further notice.” It’s the latest blow to the reputation of the world’s most expensive, and allegedly most fearsome, dogfighter.
“The stand-down is a prudent measure following recent reports of oxygen system malfunction,” Gen. Will Fraser said. Without oxygen, Raptor pilots can’t fly at the high altitudes where the sleek, supersonic Lockheed jet performs best.
The Air Force began to put the boot on the Raptors after pilots reported “hypoxia and decompression sickness” — a good sign they weren’t getting enough air from their planes’ systems. Before the full stand-down, the flying branch tried limiting the F-22 to flying below 25,000 feet, but the problems apparently continued.
Sidelining Raptors at their bases in Virginia, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii — plus rotational locations in Japan and Guam — effectively cuts in half the Air Force’s dogfighting fleet, which also includes around 250 older, Boeing-made F-15Cs. Raptors can still fly on urgent “national security directed missions,” but routine patrols and training are forbidden.
The grounding is the latest in a long series of embarrassments for a jet the Air Force insists “cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft” — a claim increasingly challenged by Russian and Chinese stealth prototypes. Of course, it’s easy to defeat a plane that can’t fly.
When U.S. forces went to war over Libya, the F-22 sat idly by. Explanations varied for this no-show. Some observers speculated the Raptor was useless over Libya because it hasn’t received necessary upgrades for swapping data with other, non-stealth jets. The Air Force claimed the Raptors, which are concentrated in the Pacific, were simply too far from North Africa when fighting broke out.
There have been previous mechanical and software problems, too — the sort of things which, to be fair, are not unique to the F-22. Last year, rust problems briefly grounded most of the F-22 force. A whole squadron of Raptors had to turn back from a planned flight from Virginia to Japan in 2007 when their navigational systems went haywire as the planes crossed the International Date Line. In 2006, an F-22 pilot was stuck in his plane on the ground for five hours because the canopy wouldn’t open.
Two Raptors have crashed since the jet entered service in 2005.
The smaller F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, also made by Lockheed, is meant to complement the F-22 starting around 2016. The F-35 was meant from the outset to be more reliable than previous airplanes. But early experience on the JSF indicates it could be as finicky as its bigger cousin, the F-22. The future Air Force could have its hands full just keeping its high-tech planes in the air.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3902 on: May 5th, 2011, 6:56pm »
description with video:
Uploaded by ExtraterrestrialMind on May 4, 2011
This footage was taken from a tourist plane flying over the Nazca Lines in Peru January of 2011. No other video evidence that I know of has ever captured a UFO from a distance of only 20-30 ft. You can see it is not a hole in the clouds.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3903 on: May 5th, 2011, 7:03pm »
Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Join Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' (Exclusive)
6:39 PM 5/5/2011 by Borys Kit
Tommy Lee Jones, left, and Joseph Gordon Levitt
Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce McGill and Joseph Cross also are among those in negotiations to join the Abraham Lincoln biopic. Steven Spielberg is rounding out the large cast of his Abraham Lincoln biopic, DreamWorks' Lincoln.
Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, along with Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce McGill and Joseph Cross are in negotiations to join the pic.
David Costabile, Byron Jennings, Dakin Matthews, Boris McGiver, Gloria Reuben, Jeremy Strong and David Warshofsky are also in negotiations to board the movie.
Lincoln, which sees Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president of the United States and Sally Field as his wife, Mary Todd, is based on Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and adapted by Tony Kushner.
Jones will play Thaddeus Stevens, a Republican leader and congressman from Pennsylvania. Stevens was a staunch supporter of abolishing slavery and was critical to writing the legislation that funded the American Civil War.
Gordon-Levitt will take on the role of Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest son of President Lincoln and the only one to live past his teenage years.
The other actors will make up the supporting roles in this telling of Lincoln's journey to abolish slavery and end the Civil War.
The project, which will shoot this fall in Virginia, is eyeing a late 2012 release via Disney's Touchstone label.
Jones will be seen in July release Captain America: First Avenger, while Gordon-Levitt will shoot The Dark Knight Rises this summer. Both are repped by CAA.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3904 on: May 5th, 2011, 7:53pm »
Boeing's Next-Gen Drone 'Phantom Ray' Takes Maiden Flight
Published May 05, 2011 | FoxNews.com
Boeing Corp. The newest unmanned aerial vehicle in the fleet, Boeing's Phantom Ray recently took its maiden flight.
Despite its name, Phantom Ray is no ghost.
The newest unmanned airborne system (UAS) from Boeing took to the skies April 27 at Edwards Air Force Base in California for its first flight, the company announced Thursday.
With a top speed of 614 mph, the Phantom Ray has a 50-foot wingspan and measures 36 feet long and resembles a giant boomerang -- and lacks an obvious cockpit for a pilot, of course. The 17-minute flight was deemed a success, said program manager Craig Brown.
“We were confident it would fly and perform well," Brown said in a statement released by the company. “It feels great to have this first one under our belt.”
The Phantom Ray took off at 9:05 a.m. PST and climbed to an altitude of 7,500 feet to demonstrate basic airworthiness. The unmanned aircraft, operating autonomously, gracefully banked and turned as it completed its racetrack flight path over the dry lake beds at Edwards.
“It was a beautiful sight,” said Teri Finchamp, Phantom Ray’s manufacturing lead. “I’ve been part of this program since the beginning, and while I’ve imagined this day a hundred times, nothing can compare to actually seeing the Phantom Ray in the air.”
Boeing announced the Phantom Ray almost exactly a year ago. It evolved from Boeing's original unmanned aircraft program, called the X-45 A and C. Boeing has said the Phantom Ray uses advanced "fly-by-mouse" technology. That means when it's in the air, the Phantom Ray will be monitored by someone safely on the ground miles away at a computer.
Brown, a former Air Force F-16 pilot, said the craft's first flight went as smoothly as the March taxi tests. “Watching it taxi and now fly, I think with the autonomy we’ve demonstrated we are definitely seeing the future of unmanned flight,” he said.
Phantom Ray will conduct additional flights in the coming weeks.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3905 on: May 5th, 2011, 8:48pm »
Marine Wounded in Iraq Gets New Wheelchair-Accessible Home -- for Free
By Patrick Manning Published May 05, 2011
Members of the United States Army 1st Brigade 2nd Armored Division of Fort Bliss and United States Marine Corps students – who claim to be military branch rivals -- joined forces to help build a new wheelchair-accessible home for disabled veteran Cpl. Daniel Gasca and his family.
The Homes for Our Troops program, which builds adapted homes for disabled veterans, organized and financed the build.
“It’s not every day that you can help out a brother, a fellow Marine, a devil dog, but it feels good to actually have that chance today, and knowing that I’m a part of it, I can take a lot from this experience,” said Pvt. Christian Marten, a student in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Omar Veliz, owner of Veliz Construction in El Paso, donated his services for the project. The building materials were donated by local vendors.
“Freedom doesn’t come free.” Veliz said, adding this is his way of serving the United States. “I appreciate the effort that these men and women in the uniform do for us; defending our freedom, defending our values out there.”
Inspired by Gasca’s story, Col. Lt. Diego Davila spent part of his Saturday to help with the build.
“He gave part of his body for his country and for me and for all of us. For me, providing a couple of hours of work, I just want to do my best and keep busy,” Davila said.
Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit funded primarily by private donors, is dependent on volunteer contractors and many helping hands. To qualify to receive a home, one must be severely injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan post-Sept. 11, 2001. Homes for Our Troops checks applicants' finances to assure the property taxes and utilities can be paid for.
“It’s probably one of the most heartwarming things I think anyone could ever do in their lives,” said Ryan Gugliotta, construction manager for Homes for Our Troops who is inspired by the immense support of volunteers.
In 2008, Gasca, an El Paso native, lost both of his legs in a roadside bomb while riding in a Humvee in Iraq.
During treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., he heard about the Homes for Our Troops program and applied.
Gasca got the phone call that would change his life – as well as the lives of his wife Angelina and their two young boys. “I was totally blown away. We were really happy – there was light away at the end of the tunnel,” said Gasca.
The El Paso natives were granted a new home, and they wouldn’t have to pay a dime.
Gasca gets by wearing prosthetic legs and often is in a wheelchair. For the past two years they have lived on the 19th floor of a small sky-rise apartment in Maryland. “It’s really hard when fire alarms go off and I’m in my wheelchair and I’m on the 19th floor. I’m kind of stuck up there," he said.
But Gasca won’t have to worry about those struggles anymore. The 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom two-bathroom home is one level.
“It's going to give me my freedom back. I don't have to wake up in the morning and worry about all of the million little things that I have to do just to get by through the day.”
The structure of the house was completed – but Homes for Our Troops reports they still need volunteers and funding for many of the finishing touches on the house.
This is the second home the program has built in the El Paso area. Since 2004, they have constructed over 100 houses nationwide.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3907 on: May 6th, 2011, 08:15am »
Suspected U.S. strike kills 8 near militant hub in Pakistan tribal area
By Karin Brulliard and Karen DeYoung Friday, May , 7:12 AM
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A suspected CIA drone strike targeted a hotel Thursday in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan’s borderlands, killing eight people, according to Pakistani news reports.
A series of missiles pounded the town of Datta Khel, near what U.S. officials believe is the headquarters of the Haqqani network, an Afghan insurgent force that has staged deadly bombings in Afghan cities and regularly attacks NATO troops in eastern Afghanistan.
CIA drone strikes in the past year frequently have struck North Waziristan, a stewpot of Islamist militant groups that the United States has long pressured Pakistan’s army to cleanse.
Friday’s strikes — the first since the U.S. helicopter raid on the compound of Osama bin Laden in northwest Pakistan on Monday — are likely to further stoke tensions between the two allies. On Thursday, Pakistan’s military, which has been assailed for failing to find bin Laden in a military town, criticized the bin Laden raid as a violation of the nation’s sovereignty. It warned that future such operations would prompt Pakistan to reconsider its alliance with the United States.
“There was no need to a shortcut or to bypass Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, speaking to reporters aboard his official plane as he returned from Paris on Friday, according to a Pakistani news service.
Pakistan also refers to CIA drone strikes, which are incredibly inflammatory among the public, as violations of its sovereignty, though the nation tacitly allows them. As relations with the U.S. soured this year, Pakistani military officials have demanded a decrease in the strikes, depicting them as a “unilateral” tactic that no longer depends on shared intelligence.
In March, Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani denounced a strike that he said killed civilians at a tribal meeting. Two weeks ago, an anti-drone demonstration near the northwestern border with Afghanistan halted NATO supply trucks for two days.
Friday’s strike came as religious parties held gatherings in various cities to protest bin Laden’s killing and to call on the government to cut ties with the United States. By mid-day, however, the rallies had attracted few people. Though Pakistan is the hub of many Islamist extremist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban, bin Laden’s death has spurred little public reaction here.
In Washington Thursday, Obama administration officials said they were uncertain whether the military’s combative statement — which also acknowledged “shortcomings” in Pakistani intelligence on bin Laden — reflected Pakistan’s actual stance or whether it amounted to posturing for a domestic audience.
In conversations with U.S. officials, one administration official said, Kayani had been “much more nuanced. ... We didn’t hear this bellicosity.”
In a speech at the Aspen Institute, a senior U.S. defense official said Pakistan would have to take “very concrete and visible steps” to persuade Congress to continue providing $3 billion in annual military and economic assistance.
“We are still talking with the Pakistanis and trying to understand what they did know, what they didn’t know” about bin Laden’s apparently years-long residence in a garrison city north of the Pakistani capital, Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy said.
Regardless of the statement’s intended audience, it reflected the intense anger felt at the highest levels of Pakistan’s powerful military toward the United States and suggested the two countries remain far apart in how they view bin Laden’s killing.
The discovery of the terrorist leader’s refuge deepened belief in Washington that elements of Pakistan’s army had provided him sanctuary. But Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment has chafed at U.S. expressions of victory and shown acute resentment about what it deems a lack of gratitude for Pakistan’s partnership.
The administration has asked Pakistan for details about the compound where bin Laden lived in Abbottabad and who had access to it. But officials have largely refrained from criticizing Pakistan in recent days — part of their effort to keep a crucial, if unsteady, counterterrorism partnership from completely unraveling.
“It is not always an easy relationship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday in Rome, on the sidelines of an international conference on Libya. “But, on the other hand, it is a productive one for both of our countries, and we are going to continue to cooperate.”
At White House meetings Wednesday, President Obama’s national security advisers discussed how long to wait before delivering a sterner message to Pakistan, what it should be and who should deliver it, an administration official said. One option under consideration is for Vice President Biden, who visited with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in January, to make a phone call. Another is to wait until Clinton visits Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, later this month.
“We realize that at this point we have a great degree of leverage, and we want to make sure we use it wisely and effectively, because it won’t last long,” said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the situation on the record.
Doubts on both sides
In the army statement, Kayani and Pakistan’s other top generals said they had decided to reduce U.S. military personnel in the country to the “minimum essential.” But U.S. military officials said they had received no formal request to draw down the 120 Special Operations trainers presently working in Pakistan.
Kayani’s statement described Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency as second to none in combating terrorism and its CIA counterparts as untrustworthy.
“In the case of Osama bin Laden, while the CIA developed intelligence based on initial information provided by ISI, it did not share further development of intelligence on the case with ISI, contrary to the existing practice between the two services,” the statement said, adding that Pakistani spies had captured or killed about 100 al-Qaeda operatives and leaders.
U.S. officials have long alleged that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence establishment provide support to Islamist militants as assets for influence against archenemy India. U.S. officials have said this week that they have no evidence of state support in Pakistan for bin Laden, but they have also expressed deep doubts that he could have lived in a military town without assistance from some security officials.
Those doubts were voiced Thursday at a hearing on Pakistan held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At the hearing, virtually all members questioned what Pakistan knew and did about bin Laden. “Some critics say it is time for us to wash our hands of the whole country,” said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the committee. He said his view was that “distancing ourselves from Pakistan would be unwise and extremely dangerous.”
Lugar, John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the committee chairman, and Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) co-sponsored a $7.5 billion, five-year package of economic assistance to Pakistan in 2009. On Thursday, Berman sent Clinton a letter questioning whether Pakistan was qualified to receive the aid, as she had certified in March.
Earlier Thursday, in the Pakistani government’s first detailed briefing on the bin Laden killing, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir appeared to question the legality of the U.S. operation. Pakistani media have speculated that the United States, riding high, would soon try to capture Afghan Taliban leader Mohammad Omar or the chief of the Haqqani network, another Afghan militant group.
Issue of sovereignty
At least on the surface, the Pakistani responses indicate that Washington might not be able to easily leverage the embarrassing revelation that bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in Pakistan to force the nation’s army to hit harder against militant sanctuaries, turn over other high-value terrorists living in Pakistan or help speed reconciliation in Afghanistan.
But in a week in which Pakistan’s army and intelligence services have faced a rare onslaught of criticism, the Pakistani statements also appeared to reflect a concerted effort to redirect the public discourse toward anger at the United States. Violations of sovereignty, particularly by U.S. troops, are a sensitive issue in Pakistan, and the national conversation has begun to focus on that, rather than on the presence of militants in Pakistani cities.
Pakistanis “feel deeply angered, aggrieved, and humiliated at the failure of our civil and military leadership in the face of the flagrant violation of our sovereignty by the government of the United States,” said a statement Thursday from the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association, an organization of about 2,000 former officers.
The army promised an investigation into how bin Laden could have lived undetected in Pakistan. But past Pakistani government and military inquiries, including into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, rarely have been revealing.
Staff writer Walter Pincus in Washington contributed to this report.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3909 on: May 6th, 2011, 11:54am »
Speed skater caught doing 40mph in 30mph zone
A skater caught on a speed camera doing 40mph on roller blades in a 30mph zone escaped prosecution because he was not in a motor vehicle.
7:00AM BST 06 May 2011
Sam Tuffnell, 28, was pictured in his home town of Hastings, East Sussex. The stunt was filmed by a friend, who posted the footage to video sharing website YouTube, where it has been viewed almost 5,000 times.
But, despite setting off a speed camera, Mr Tuffnell will not be prosecuted, as roller–skaters cannot be punished for speeding.
He said: "We had always talked about whether it was possible to be caught speeding on blades, but we have only just got around to doing it.
"We chose the camera we did because it was at the bottom of a hill so I could build some speed up.
"Everyone loves the video. Some people think it is brilliant but some people think I am mad.
"I found out I had broken my coccyx a few days before and the rollerblades also had no brakes - but I was trying to go even faster than 50.
"Like everyone, we do have a bit of a grudge against speed cameras, but this was not some kind of protest, it was just a stunt."
A spokesman for Sussex Safer Roads Partnership confirmed Sam would not face any punishment.
He said: "The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 states that speed limits are designed for motor vehicles.
"As such, roller-bladers are not designated as motor vehicles. Therefore they cannot commit the offence of speeding.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3910 on: May 6th, 2011, 11:59am »
The Best of the Situation Room LOL Pics By Angela Watercutter May 6, 2011 | 7:00 am Categories: Current Affairs, internet
Thanks to the magic of photo-editing software may we present: the best of the Situation Room LOL pics.
We asked Wired.com readers to send us their own remixes of the famous photo that was taken inside the White House situation room during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Some bubbled up from the dark corners of the internet, where the meme is going strong, and others were created fresh.
Some were funny, some were surprising. Some — like the one above that plops Jersey Shore's The Situation and his bod into the scene — were incredibly clever.
"The internet's social news experience is wonderful precisely because we get to see the range of reactions that people have to a major news event," said Wired.com alum Alexis Madrigal, who put The Situation in the situation room, in an e-mail. "You get people responding really emotionally to the situation-room photo, and then needing some release from that emotion."
The result is a lot of doctored photos featuring other internet memes, Star Wars references (naturally), photos from the recent royal wedding and reality TV stars.
"It was just a visual joke that I couldn't pass up once I saw the internet cranking out a bunch of them," said Madrigal, who is now a senior editor at The Atlantic.
Check out the other top submissions to Wired.com's situation-room LOL pic photo project in the gallery above.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3911 on: May 6th, 2011, 12:01pm »
Thousands protest across Syria in a 'day of defiance'
Despite a security crackdown, demonstrations against the regime of President Bashar Assad break out in about a dozen cities after Friday prayers. Witnesses, online videos and tweets report gunfire by government forces.
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Roula Hajjar Los Angeles Times 9:07 AM PDT, May 6, 2011
Reporting from Cairo and Beirut
Demonstrations broke out in about a dozen Syrian cities following Friday prayers, with thousands braving a security crackdown in what protesters dubbed a "day of defiance" against the regime of President Bashar Assad, according to witnesses and videos posted online.
At least five people were killed in Homs, the country's third-largest city, during clashes with security forces Friday, according to a resident who asked not to be identified.
Syrian tanks could be seen on the streets of the western city on the Al Jazeera satellite network, and protesters tweeted that heavy machine-gun fire could be heard in the Asherah, Alseten and Alzahraa areas of the city. Syrian troops had stormed Homs University, according to the Al Arabiya network.
In videos posted online Friday, demonstrators in the nearby town of Talkalekh could be seen demanding the "toppling of the regime."
"Security forces and the army have prevented protesters from entering main squares and are limiting demonstrations in various neighborhoods," said Wissam Tarif, executive director of the Syrian human rights group Insan.
Tarif said security forces had shot at protesters in Douma, Daqba and suburban Damascus, and that government snipers appeared Friday in Zabadani and Saqba. "They have been made clearly visible to instill fear," he said.
He said the Syrian army had also set up checkpoints at the entrances to several cities.
At least one protester was hospitalized in Damascus after being shot by security forces, he said He added that many others had been hospitalized in the capital, although that information could not be verified.
Syria's Interior Ministry had warned citizens to stay home Friday as troops were deployed around the country.
Demonstrators reported troops had fired at them Friday in the capital, the suburb of Al Tal, as well as Lattakia and Hama. Those claims could not be independently verified, and it was unclear whether anyone had been killed or injured.
In the capital, women and children marched holding olive branches and protesters chanted, "Down with the regime" and "To heaven we are going, hundreds and hundreds of martyrs!"
In the coastal city of Baniyas, Al Jazeera showed protesters chanting in solidarity with the embattled southern city of Dara, where the uprising began more than six weeks ago.
"The government is saying we have weapons. I swear we don't have weapons; our weapons are only our phones and cameras," said a protester in Baniyas who asked not to be identified for fear of being arrested.
Three tanks had entered the city of Barzeh on Friday, Al Jazeera reported.
Since March 15, at least 542 people have been killed by Syrian security forces attempting to squash a popular uprising against the five-decade-old Baath Party regime, according to Amnesty International.
Diplomats on Friday said the European Union could reach a preliminary agreement on imposing sanctions on Syria's leaders, but they were divided about whether Assad should be included.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman said a U.N. human rights team will visit Syria soon to evaluate the humanitarian situation.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3912 on: May 6th, 2011, 12:07pm »
Scientists Afflict Computers With 'Schizophrenia' to Better Understand the Human Brain
ScienceDaily (May 6, 2011)
— Computer networks that can't forget fast enough can show symptoms of a kind of virtual schizophrenia, giving researchers further clues to the inner workings of schizophrenic brains, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Yale University have found.
The researchers used a virtual computer model, or "neural network," to simulate the excessive release of dopamine in the brain. They found that the network recalled memories in a distinctly schizophrenic-like fashion.
Their results were published in April in Biological Psychiatry.
"The hypothesis is that dopamine encodes the importance-the salience-of experience," says Uli Grasemann, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin. "When there's too much dopamine, it leads to exaggerated salience, and the brain ends up learning from things that it shouldn't be learning from."
The results bolster a hypothesis known in schizophrenia circles as the hyperlearning hypothesis, which posits that people suffering from schizophrenia have brains that lose the ability to forget or ignore as much as they normally would. Without forgetting, they lose the ability to extract what's meaningful out of the immensity of stimuli the brain encounters. They start making connections that aren't real, or drowning in a sea of so many connections they lose the ability to stitch together any kind of coherent story.
The neural network used by Grasemann and his adviser, Professor Risto Miikkulainen, is called DISCERN. Designed by Miikkulainen, DISCERN is able to learn natural language. In this study it was used to simulate what happens to language as the result of eight different types of neurological dysfunction. The results of the simulations were compared by Ralph Hoffman, professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, to what he saw when studying human schizophrenics.
In order to model the process, Grasemann and Miikkulainen began by teaching a series of simple stories to DISCERN. The stories were assimilated into DISCERN's memory in much the way the human brain stores information-not as distinct units, but as statistical relationships of words, sentences, scripts and stories.
"With neural networks, you basically train them by showing them examples, over and over and over again," says Grasemann. "Every time you show it an example, you say, if this is the input, then this should be your output, and if this is the input, then that should be your output. You do it again and again thousands of times, and every time it adjusts a little bit more towards doing what you want. In the end, if you do it enough, the network has learned."
In order to model hyperlearning, Grasemann and Miikkulainen ran the system through its paces again, but with one key parameter altered. They simulated an excessive release of dopamine by increasing the system's learning rate-essentially telling it to stop forgetting so much.
"It's an important mechanism to be able to ignore things," says Grasemann. "What we found is that if you crank up the learning rate in DISCERN high enough, it produces language abnormalities that suggest schizophrenia."
After being re-trained with the elevated learning rate, DISCERN began putting itself at the center of fantastical, delusional stories that incorporated elements from other stories it had been told to recall. In one answer, for instance, DISCERN claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing.
In another instance, DISCERN began showing evidence of "derailment"-replying to requests for a specific memory with a jumble of dissociated sentences, abrupt digressions and constant leaps from the first- to the third-person and back again.
"Information processing in neural networks tends to be like information processing in the human brain in many ways," says Grasemann. "So the hope was that it would also break down in similar ways. And it did."
The parallel between their modified neural network and human schizophrenia isn't absolute proof the hyperlearning hypothesis is correct, says Grasemann. It is, however, support for the hypothesis, and also evidence of how useful neural networks can be in understanding the human brain.
"We have so much more control over neural networks than we could ever have over human subjects," he says. "The hope is that this kind of modeling will help clinical research."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #3914 on: May 6th, 2011, 12:56pm »
Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery
Iranian power struggle between president and supreme leader sees arrests and claims of undue influence of chief of staff
by Saeed Kamali Dehghan guardian.co.uk Thursday 5 May 2011 19.23 BST
Close allies of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been accused of using supernatural powers to further his policies amid an increasingly bitter power struggle between him and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).
Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds".
The arrests come amid a growing rift between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei which has prompted several MPs to call for the president to be impeached.
On Sunday, Ahmadinejad returned to his office after an 11-day walkout in an apparent protest over Khamenei's reinstatement of the intelligence minister, who the president had initiallyasked to resign.
Ahmadinejad's unprecedented disobedience prompted harsh criticism from conservatives who warned that he might face the fate of Abdulhassan Banisadr, Iran's first post-revolution president who was impeached and exiled for allegedly attempting to undermine clerical power.
Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a hardline cleric close to Khamenei, warned that disobeying the supreme leader – who has the ultimate power in Iran – is equivalent to "apostasy from God".
Ahmadinejad has so far declined to officially back Khamenei's ruling over Heydar Moslehi, the minister at the centre of the row. In the first cabinet meeting since the president returned, Moslehi was absent.
Khamenei's supporters believe that the top-level confrontation stems from the increasing influence of Mashaei, an opponent of greater involvement of clerics in politics, who is being groomed by Ahmadinejad as a possible successor.
But the feud has taken a metaphysical turn following the release of an Iranian documentary alleging the imminent return of the Hidden Imam Mahdi – the revered saviour of Shia Islam, whose reappearance is anticipated by believers in a manner comparable to that with which Christian fundamentalists anticipate the second coming of Jesus.
Conservative clerics, who say that the Mahdi's return cannot be predicted, have accused a "deviant current" within the president's inner circle, including Mashaei, of being responsible for the film.
Ahmadinejad's obsession with the hidden imam is well known. He often refers to him in his speeches and in 2009 said that he had documentary evidence that the US was trying to prevent Mahdi's return.
Since Ahmadinejad's return this week, at least 25 people, who are believed to be close to Mashaei, have been arrested. Among them is Abbas Amirifar, head of the government's cultural committee and some journalists of Mashaei's recently launched newspaper, Haft-e-Sobh.
On Saturday, Mojtaba Zolnour, Khamenei's deputy representative in the powerful Revolutionary Guard, said: "Today Mashaei is the actual president. Mr Ahmadinejad has held on to a decaying rope by relying on Mashaei."