University of Texas at Austin

Archive for February, 2011


Monday, February 28, 2011

Physics in the News

Mark Raizen

Mark Raizen

Physics Professor Mark Raizen has written about his research in cooling atoms for Scientific America. The article, headlined, “Demons, Entropy, and the Quest for Absolute Zero,” appears in the March 2011 issue.

Raizen writes about the series of experiments that he and his lab group have conducted that has resulted in the ability to control most atoms.

The article is at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=demons-entropy-and-the-quest. It should be available to readers with a UT EID to read online. Others can check a copy
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wrapping up Watson

Ken Jennings, the Watson avatar and Brad Rutter on the Jeopardy! set.

Ken Jennings, the Watson avatar and Brad Rutter on the Jeopardy! set.

It’s been a few days since the IBM Corp.’s Watson computer won big at Jeopardy! and still no computer overlords.

What we do have is a new sense of what computers and artificial intelligence (AI) can do and how they can be used.

Researchers, including some at The University of Texas at Austin, have worked for decades to get computers to understand natural language, the way people talk. Computers have a
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

FASTRAC satellites on track

fastracimageTwo satellites designed and built by students at the Cockrell School of Engineering have passed two major milestones since their launch Nov. 19 from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska.

The 60-plus pound satellites, named Emma and Sara Lily, survived orbit during the most extreme hot conditions they will face in space — orbiting for hours in front of the sun — and in the coldest conditions, being directly behind the Earth’s shadow.

“We wanted to make sure the satellites could live through
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Texas alumnus gives insight into Watson

James Fan, who received his Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin, is a member of the IBM team that built Watson, the Jeopardy! playing computer.

James Fan, who received his Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin, is a member of the IBM team that built Watson, the Jeopardy! playing computer.

University of Texas at Austin alumnus James Fan was one of 25 IBM Corp. employees who worked for four years to build a computer that could play the quiz show Jeopardy! with the best of them.

He returned to campus Monday to watch the first round of the Jeopardy! match between Watson, the IBM computer (named
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Computers not ready to take over, even if one wins Jeopardy!

If IBM Corp.’s Watson computer passes the Trebek Test, it doesn’t mean it will pass the Turing Test the next day. Or achieve world dominance.

Ray Mooney

Ray Mooney

The Trebek Test will take place Feb. 14, 15 and 16 in the Jeopardy! Challenge. The computer plays the Jeopardy! quiz show against two of the best players in Jeopardy! history. Alex Trebek is the host of Jeopardy!

The computer must make sense of the tricky clues, search the tons of information it has digested, find
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The first Longhorn in space

Sam, the rhesus monkey, was launched on Dec. 4, 1959. He and Miss Sam, launched a month later, were trained at The University of Texas at Austin. Photo by NASA.

Sam, a Rhesus monkey, was launched on Dec. 4, 1959. He and Miss Sam, launched a month later, were trained at The University of Texas at Austin. Photo by NASA.

The 50th anniversary of the first primate shot into space by Americans was this week.

On Jan. 31, 1961, Ham, a chimpanzee, was launched 160 miles above the Earth. The chimp became something of a celebrity after a photo spread in Life magazine immortalized his flight.

The University of Texas at Austin didn’t have
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