The Celestial Body (‘CB’) — the Sun, a Moon, a planet, and stars — have provided us a reference for measuring the passage of time throughout our existence. Ancient civilizations relied upon the apparent motion of these bodies through the sky to determine seasons, months, and years.
We know little about the details of timekeeping in prehistoric eras, but wherever we turn up records and artifacts, we usually discover that in every culture, some people were preoccupied with measuring and recording the passage of time. Ice-age hunters in Europe over 20,000 years ago scratched lines and gouged holes in sticks and bones, possibly counting the days between phases of the moon. Five thousand years ago, Sumerians in the Tigris-Euphrates valley in today’s Iraq had a calendar that divided the year into 30 day months, divided the day into 12 periods (each corresponding to 2 of our hours), and divided these periods into 30 parts (each like 4 of our minutes). We have no written records of Stonehenge, built over 4000 years ago in England, but its alignments show its purposes apparently included the determination of seasonal or celestial events, such as lunar eclipses, solstices and so on.
The earliest Egyptian calendar was based on the moon’s cycles, but later the Egyptians realized that the “Dog Star” in Canis Major, which we call Sirius, rose next to the sun every 365 days, about when the annual inundation of the Nile began. Based on this knowledge, they devised a 365 day calendar that seems to have begun around 3100 BCE (Before the Common Era), which thus seems to be one of the earliest years recorded in history.
WASHINGTON—The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) promotes the U.S. economy and public welfare by providing technical leadership for the Nation’s measurement and standards infrastructure. ITL develops tests, test methods, reference data, proof of concept implementations, and technical analyses to advance the development and productive
use of information technology. ITL’s responsibilities include the development of management, administrative, technical, and physical standards and guidelines for the cost-effective security and privacy of other than national security-related information in federal information systems.
NIST is in the process of selecting one or more public-key cryptographic algorithms through a public competition-like process. The new public-key cryptography standards will specify one or more additional digital signature, public-key encryption, and key-establishment algorithms to augment FIPS 186-4, Digital Signature Standard (DSS), as well as special publications SP 800-56A Revision 2, Recommendation for Pair-Wise Key Establishment Schemes Using Discrete Logarithm Cryptography, and SP 800-56B, Recommendation for Pair-Wise Key-Establishment Schemes Using Integer Factorization. It is intended that these algorithms will be capable of protecting sensitive information well into the foreseeable future, including after the advent of quantum computers.
San Antonio, TX—Back in the day shortly after the turn of the century, Ed Feng was a Ph.D. student at Stanford studying chemical engineering. At the time, he never thought that his research on the dynamics of liquids using statistical physics would one day lead to an algorithm that ranks sports teams, today.
Almost two decades later, Dr. Feng manages a site, The Power Rank, devoted to sports analytics based on statistical physics which works much in the same manner as Google’s PageRank algorithms work for ranking websites.
For college hoop enthusiasts who are filling out their brackets for this month’s madness, The Power Rank’s data may provide helpful statistics and new predictions.
Although The Power Rank is one of many sports analytics websites, Dr. Feng thinks that it has certain advantages over others that improve the accuracy of its predictions. One of its biggest advantages is that it adjusts for a team’s strength of schedule throughout the year—a feat that involves greater modeling and calculations of more sets of new numbers.
WASHINGTON—In a blazing display of physical efficiency and analytical speed that’s likely to infuriate anyone who’s ever struggled to solve a Rubik’s Cube puzzle, two guys in Kansas City, Mo., have built a robot that can solve the cube in an amazing 1.2 seconds.
Actually, some of the robot’s times are under 1.2 seconds. A video on YouTube posted by software engineer Jay Flatland shows the robot — a collection of motors, webcams and 3D-printed parts — whizzing to a solution in 1.196 seconds.
One time recorded in the video was even quicker: 1.04 seconds. That came after Flatland covered the robot’s cameras with a piece of paper and scrambled the cube by hand before replacing it in the frame.
The robot uses a specially prepared cube with small holes drilled into each side, allowing it to grip the cube securely. Describing the robot in the video, Flatland says information from four USB webcams is fed into a computer that uses a cube-solving algorithm called Kociemba, which then “determines a set of moves to solve the cube very rapidly.”
The robot’s time is several seconds faster than the fastest human time of 4.904 seconds, which was set in November by 14-year-old Lucas Etter of Lexington, Ky. It’s also two seconds quicker than the time of 3.253 seconds that has been the robot record for solving a Rubik’s Cube since March of 2014.
The Kansas City team of Flatland and fellow engineer Paul Rose hopes to have the record certified by the folks at Guinness World Records next week, Flatland tells NPR editor Avie Schneider.
The robot’s times are impressive, but it has a ways to go if it wants to match the reaction to Etter’s feat—watch this…