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 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: 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 😉