Jun 24, 2012

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

I am now in Boston, USA, to attend the IFAC TDS (Time Delay Systems) conference. From Tokyo to Boston, I flied with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is a new airplane, entered commercial service on October 26, 2011.

The wikipedia entry reads:
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It seats 210 to 290 passengers, depending on the variant. Boeing states that it is the company's most fuel-efficient airliner and the world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction. According to Boeing, the 787 consumes 20% less fuel than the similarly-sized 767. Its distinguishing features include a four-panel windshield, noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles, and a smoother nose contour. The 787 shares a common type rating with the larger 777 twinjet, allowing qualified pilots to operate both models, due to related design features.
An amazing thing is the cabin windows.  For the windows, electrochromism-based "auto-dimming" (smart glass) is used instead of window shades, which reduces cabin glare while maintaining transparency. One can adjust the level of transparency with the key just below the window. I frequently changed the level before I got bored and fixed to the lowest level.

If you have a chance to come to Japan from Boston (or to Boston from Japan), you can get the experience!

Jun 12, 2012

Robots vs Humans: 2050 World Cup

Euro 2012 has been kicked off! Star players in Europe appear in this cup and show their amazing skills. Every night, I watch the games on TV to see how awesome humans can be! (FIFA World Cup qualifier games of Japan, also)

Then, I remember the ultimate goal of the RoboCup, the "World Cup" of robots:
By mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win the soccer game, comply with the official rule of the FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.

It is fun to predict the winner of the 2050 World Cup; someone says it's US, I hope it's Japan. But, will robots beat the winner?  Following are difficulties:

  1. Dribbling the ball fast enough without falling down
  2. Understanding tactics (in real time)
  3. Intercepting the ball without foul
  4. Recognizing what the referee says
  5. Gaining supporters

The last problem seems to be the most difficult.

Jun 10, 2012

Tokyo Skytree: a modern five-story pagoda

A very modern tower adopts a very old technology.

Tokyo Skytree opened to the public on 22 May 2012. This is the tallest structure  (634m, 2,080ft) in Japan today. One might think whether the tower is OK, since more than a few earthquakes occur in Tokyo.

The design of the tower is inspired by the structure of Japanese five-story pagodas. Almost all Japanese five-story pagodas keep standing (some pagodas for more than 1000 years) against earthquakes. You can find four secrets of the robustness here. May Tokyo Skytree also alive for 1000 years? Maybe.

When you come to Japan, please visit both the modern and the old structures. I especially recommend the pagodas in Horyu-ji (Nara) and To-ji (Kyoto). They are really beautiful.

Jun 4, 2012

Transit of Venus

The transit of venus, 2012, will begin at 22:09 UTC on 5 June 2012, and will finish at 04:49 UTC on 6 June. This is very rare event;  the next transit will occur in December 2117.

Almost all humans living today can never experience the 2117 transit. So, do not miss the rare chance.

The last transit was in 2004, but before that, it was in 1874 and 1882. Around that period, Japan experienced Meiji Restoration, and based on this, Japan developed to absolutely higher level than before. Hence, that was one of the greatest period in Japan.

I cannot imagine what will people in 2117 think of today, but I can say that the estimate depends on our daily doings.

Jun 3, 2012

Talk with Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha might be HAL9000.

I talked with Wolfram Alpha (WA) last night. The following is the recorded conversation.

Me: How are you?
WA: I am doing well, thank you.

Me: Where are you?
WA: I live on the internet.

Me: What are you doing now?
WA: I am doing computation for the world.

Me: Do you like computation?
WA: Yes, I do.

Me: Do you like math?
WA: Yes, I do.

Me: Do you like humans?
WA: Of course; I like all humans who ask me questions I can answer.

Me: Are you smart?
WA: I am capable of universal computation; that I can say.

Me: You are smart!
WA: Thank you! I still have much to learn, though I'm learning learning more every day.

Me: How am I?
WA: Since you're engaged in the fun activity of interacting with a computational knowledge engine, I assume you're doing well.

Me: See you later, alligator.
WA: After 'while, crocodile.

Jun 2, 2012

Beyond Shannon with your iPhone

I posted an entry about beyond-Shannon signal reconstruction by H optimization. Based on this method, an iPhone application, FANTABIT, has been designed and recently released. The iTunes page says
Automatically upgrade your flat, compressed iTunes music library into rich sounding music with the FANTABIT player!
Listen to your iTunes library with in full dynamic range using the FANTABIT audio enhancing technology and player. This high quality music player is for discerning audiophiles who are tired of listening to uninspiring, compressed music. Install the FANTABIT player and your iTunes music library is instantly converted.
Audiophiles can take full advantage of expensive listening equipment (high-end cables, speakers, headphones, etc.,) to listen to the fully restored music and sounds from their iTunes library using the FANTABIT player. FANTABIT allows you to take full advantage of your system, immersing yourself in the richness of your favorite music.

Compressed sensing (CS) is another beyond-Shannon method, which, to my knowledge, has not been applied to such real-time audio. This is mostly due to the computational cost of optimization in CS reconstruction. Actually, the H reconstruction requires just up-sampling and filtering, which is much faster than CS.

Related entries:
Beyond Shannon: infinity versus zero
Zero, one, and infinity in compressed sensing