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a hundred years of a.m. turing

The man who has had one of the greatest affects on modern society was born 100 years ago today. He could have achieved even more he had not been treated so despicably for his private life preferences.

At abelard.org, as well as Alan Turing’s two most important papers, are two papers by abelard relating to Turing’s work.

The first, The Turing Test and intelligence [1998], clarifies the meaning of the Turing Test, suggesting that meeting the Turing Test is already in the process of being achieved.

The second, Metalogic B: Decision processes, is an analysis of the logic of decision-making, taking decisions in a clear and rational manner. This paper has glosses on Turing’s approach to the Entscheidungsproblem.

related material
Computing machinery and intelligence - A.M. Turing, 1950
Computable numbers, with an  application to the  Entscheidungsproblem - A.M. Turing, 1936

A1: Gödel and sound sets
A2: Gödel and sound numbers
A3: Gödel and the ‘paradoxes’
A4: The return of the Gödel
bletchley park opening computing museum


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quiz question: what is the tallest free standing structure in the uk?

The Shard, London - artist's impression. Image: Renzo Piano
The Shard, London - artist's impression. Image: Renzo Piano

“The Shard will be the tallest building in Western Europe, its crystalline façade transforming the London skyline with a mixed-use 310 m (1,016 ft) vertical city of high-quality offices, world-renowned restaurants, the 5-star Shangri-La hotel, exclusive residential apartments and the capital's highest viewing gallery offering 360° views.”

“His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saoud Al Thani, Governor of Qatar Central Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Shard Funding Limited, announced that the official inauguration of Shard Tower in London will be on July 5th 2012. The tower will be inaugurated by His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabor Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar and Prince Andrew Albert Edward, the Duke of York.”

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“The 72-storey building in the London Bridge Quarter will contain premium office space, a world-class hotel, luxury residences, a spa, restaurants & cafes, retail space and a 15-storey public viewing gallery. On the ground level, public piazza, restaurants and cafes will be open to the public with places to rest and changing art installations. Access to public transportation via bus line, train and underground will be directly on site. Previously at that location was the 1970’s Southwark Tower building on Bridge Street, which has already been demolished to begin construction on the new tower.

“Renzo envisioned The Shard as a ‘Vertical City‘ – a mixed-use and dense development open and accessible to the public and yet luxurious , exclusive, and central enough to be a highly desirable address for companies and residents. [...] Each floor is multifunctional and contains 2 winter garden, which are naturally ventilated break-out and meeting areas surround in glass for stunning views and natural lighting.” [Quoted from

interesting data

  • Construction started March 2009
  • Topping out: April 2012
  • Completion: July 2012
  • Cost: £450 million (approximately)
  • Architect: Renzo Piano
  • Height of antenna spire: 309.6m/1,016 ft
  • Height of roof: 304.1 m/998 ft
  • 95 floors
  • Floor area: 110,000 m²/1,200,000 ft²
  • Also known as the London Bridge Tower

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architectural wonders and joys at abelard.org


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weighing a proton

[SEM] image of nanomechanical sensor

Scanning electron microscope [SEM] image of nanomechanical sensor.

diameter of nanotube = 1.7 nm;
length of suspended nanotube section, approximately 150 nm

Image source: icn.cat

“A team led by Prof Adrian Bachtold, who heads ICN's Quantum NanoElectronics Group, has fabricated and tested the world's most sensitive nanomechanical sensor, capable of detecting changes in mass of 1.7 yoctograms (1.7 x 10-24 grams)—roughly the mass of one proton. Their work has been published today in Nature Nanotechnology.

“The sensor is akin to a guitar string that vibrates at a very high frequency (around 2 GHz): by comparing the resonating frequency of the nanotube before and after some additional mass has bound to the nanotube's surface, the researchers can quantify the added mass.

“Not only did these experiments require an exceptional level of control to obtain a sufficiently clean nanotube—achieved by annealing it with an electrical current—they also required extremely low temperatures (-269 °C), ultra-high vacuum (10-14 bar), and an environment completely free of mechanical disruption or electrical noise.”

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“Bachtold hopes the scales could be used to distinguish different elements in chemical samples, which might differ only by a few protons. They might also diagnose health conditions by identifying proton-scale differences in molecular mass that are markers of disease.” [Quoted from newscientist.com]


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for good or for bad: extra-tough concrete

“Iran happens to be good, very good, at developing what is known as “ultra-high performance concrete” (UHPC). Because of its geographical position, the county is under constant threat of earthquakes. [...] Iranian engineers have developed – out of necessity – some of the toughest and most rigid building materials in the world.

“... unlike conventional concrete, Iranian concrete is mixed with quartz powder and special fibers – transforming it into high performance concrete that can withstand higher pressure with increased rigidity. What this all translates to is excellent building material given the environment that has found peaceful applications like the construction of safer bridges, dams, tunnels, increasing the strength of sewage pipes, and even absorbing pollution.” [Quoted from digitaltrends.com]

A bunker-busting explosion. Source: digitaltrends.com
A bunker-busting explosion.

“Ali Nazari and his colleagues at Islamic Azad University in Saveh have published several papers on how to do that with different types of metal-oxide nanoparticles. They have worked with oxides of iron, aluminium, zirconium, titanium and copper. At the nanoscale materials can take on extraordinary properties. Although it has been demonstrated only in small samples, it might be possible, using such nanoparticles, to produce concrete that is four times stronger than Ductal [a French version of the product].”

“A study published by the University of Tehran in 2008 looked at the ability of UHPC to withstand the impact of steel projectiles. These are not normally a problem during earthquakes....”

“Western countries, too, have been looking at the military uses of UHPC. An Australian study carried out between 2004 and 2006 confirmed that UHPC resists blasts as well as direct hits.” [Quoted from economist.com]


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it’s after you - all it needs is a machine gun

Breaking the speed record for a legged robot, this headless ‘cheetah’, as it’s named, has managed 18mph/29kph on a laboratory treadmill. It is designed by DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] contactor Boston Dynamics, who previously made Big Dog.

0:58 mins

“ "With faster than human speed, this is a step in the development of a high speed killer that could negotiate a battlefield quickly to hunt and kill," he said.

“ "The biggest concern about this is that no artificial intelligence system can distinguish between civilians and enemy combatants, and so if this was operating on its own it would fall foul of the laws of war." ”


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nano formation flying

1:43 mins

“In this video, 20 nano quadrotors demonstrate movement in multiple formations. Each autonomous quadrotor manages to hold their position in the formation perfectly during movement. Formations can also transition between many 3D shapes.”


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