Techno-Social News Tidbits

Here’s some interesting news stories from the past few days.

It’s not 42, like Douglas Adams thought it would be. It’s 26. BBC reports that research has proved that a Rubik’s cube can be returned to its original state in no more than 26 moves. A supercomputer took 63 hours to crank out the proof which goes one better than the previous best solution.

The study brings scientists one step closer to finding the so-called “God’s Number” which is the minimum number of moves needed to solve any disordered Rubik’s cube.

It is so named because God would only need the smallest number of moves to solve a cube. Theoretical work suggests that God’s Number is in the “low 20s”.

Did you know that the world record for solving the Rubik cube was 11.13 seconds? And if you’re interested in this kind of stuff, do you know that the game of checkers is solved? I mean really, solved?

An Ohio man charged with statutory rape says he thought a 13-year-old girl was actually 18. He tried to bring in evidence of her MySpace.com page, which falsely said she was. The appeals court rejected the evidence, and convicted him.

On a lighter note, there were many centuries during which mankind used to keep time using the Sun. Now, Sun was itself 5 days late.

Just like every major candidate for the White House has a health care plan, every major technology company has one, reports the New York Times:

The Google and Microsoft initiatives would give much more control to individuals, a trend many health experts see as inevitable. “Patients will ultimately be the stewards of their own information,” said John D. Halamka, a doctor and the chief information officer of the Harvard Medical School.

More importantly, every major Search Engine is capitulating on the healthcare scenario: Ask.com is offering ‘smart answers’, Google is coming up with Google Health! For screen shots of Google Health, see First Google Health Screen Shots.

On another note, I just love Wikipedia, in the sense that it is so transparent! In this context, it is indeed interesting to observe how folks at Fox News and the New York Times have engaged in tweaking and manipulating the content on Wikipedia about themselves and their competitors. This is not just corporate espionage, this is corporate mudslinging!

This shows the empowerment of the public. These corporations or media houses cannot influence the content or description about them in, say, the Encyclopedia Britannica. But when they think they can manipulate Wikipedia, their antics are exposed! Three cheers to open source Wikipedia!

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  • The only thing I can do in your blog is act as a cheerleader: “You Rock, bay-bay!”
    🙂
    Yeah, your health will be available online. You just need to have a card that you carry (or just key in a number) and your doc will know the details in an instant. I love Wikipedia too. I think you should write in it. You are the type!
    🙂

  • I always wonder who writes in Wikipedia. I wrote once about something, but I am always scared of writing the wrong things correctly or right things incorrectly.
    I downloaded Sun’s star office pack from google few days back for my poor friend on Windows, and this funny story was a hit on slashdot too.
    Oh hey, when I was a kid, I used to pray hoping that the sun would rise late. (I loved my bed).

  • Rambodoc: In my current job, we’re proposing a solution to a township in Pune to make it a “digital township”. The hospital in the township is going to be set up and run by some doctors coming back from the UK. One of the things we’re proposing is that every township citizen has a universal smart card, which is used for several things like secure access control, cashless transactions, etc. The other thing we’re proposing is that the smart card can carry vital patient medical stats, like blood group, allergies, major surgeries, etc. So, we equip ambulances with the readers and first aid workers in the ambulance can quickly get vital data about the patient and provide the right kind of first aid to the patient in an emergency. What do you think?

    Regarding Wikipedia, I think I am essentially a reader, not a writer! I feel honored by your suggestion, but I wouldn’t elevate myself to the level of actually considering myself worthy of contributing to Wikipedia!

    Priyank: Isn’t it great that Wikipedia is so transparent? Probably Krish Ashok can shed more light on this as he has actually gone through the process of editing articles and they getting re-edited, and so on!

    With Yoga and all, I thought you were an early riser! I’ve always been late to bed, late to rise! They called me a “nishachar” (nocturnal) through and through! 🙂

  • Mahendra,
    The Google and MS movement is consumer-fueled (so, likely to be a hit). It takes the info of the patient’s health, and gives him or her the power to use it in his place of choice. In the Indian context, records are often lost or damaged by the patient, who has no qualms about rolling up his CT scan plates and letting them get soaked in the rains, or forgetting to take it from the backseat of the auto or cab. This will make records more secure, but a lot of the success depends on the dumbasses who are going to access it in the hospital emergency. You can trust them to screw up. You better make it an idiot-proof software!

  • Are Indians so casual about their medical records?! This is alarming news to me!

  • I’m an early riser now:) That was way back during primary school days. But then I don’t sleep much like you know 😉