30/01/2012

The AugCog Era is now

> Henry Markram on a TED talk video

10717193-interconnected-neurons-transferring-information-with-electrical-pulses.jpgOur young brain, that of the homo-sapiens (“wise man” in Latin) is just about 100,000 years old. This newly evolved organ endows us with unique creative capabilities that no other living creature has. We invented spoken language and later writing (5000 years ago), art (30,000 years ago) and science (3500 years ago). We constantly develop new tools that overcome our physical limitations – telescopes (“far-seeing”), microscopes (“small-seeing”), airplanes, computers, cell phones, the Internet, to name but a few of the most obvious. In the last 100 years or so, the scientific discipline provided a dramatic new understanding of life itself (deciphering the human genome) and of the fundamental laws governing the universe (theory of relativity). Despite an explosive population growth, science has found new ways to increase our lifespan, which is expected to cross an average of 100 years during the 21st century.

Lire la suite

20/01/2012

Mille milliards de pattes (et au moins autant de plumes)

> L’interview de Daniel Cherix

> Sur les ondes de la RSR

9289832-ants-managed-with-chief-constructing-bridge-over-water.jpgAvant-propos du livre de Daniel Cherix, Mille milliards de pattes (et au moins autant de plumes) - L’heure est grave, la radio vient de l’annoncer, la coccinelle asiatique a envahi  toutes les vignes de Sierre à Genève, impossible de s’en débarrasser, des millions  de  coccinelles  se  noient  dans  le  moût,  les  vendanges  battant  leur  plein.  De  nombreux  viticulteurs  ont  dû  vider  leurs  cuves  dans  les  égouts,  à  cause  du goût exécrable donné par ces insectes! Les prix du vin montent en flèche.  Sur les bords du Léman, la crevette tueuse a fait deux nouvelles victimes dans  la  faune  locale.  Au  niveau  international,  le  dernier  pâté  aux  ortolans  vient  d’être misé chez Christie’s à plus de 500 000 euros. Les bruants ortolan ayant  disparu depuis plusieurs années d’Europe.

Lire la suite

16/01/2012

Le monde des couleurs

> Le Traité des couleurs

5288129-a-line-up-of-planet-earth-spheres-lined-up-like-marbles.jpgLe voyageur qui parcourt, sous un soleil éclatant, une route de l’Atlas, pourra bien rencontrer sous un arbuste, au bord de la piste, deux jeunes garçons proposant des minerais cueillis dans les montagnes. L’un d’eux s’avance à l’approche du véhicule et fait miroiter au soleil, de loin déjà, une assemblée de gros cristaux enchâssés dans une pierre grise, dont les reflets vieil or rappellent l’éclat de la pyrite de fer. Fasciné, on s’arrête, on marchande gaiement le trésor. Plus tard, une considération plus attentive de l’objet sous une lumière moins violente, révélera aisément la supercherie. Il ne s’agit que d’un vil morceau de géode, dont les rhomboèdres de quartz, invendables comme tels parce que très tachés, ont été teints avec de l’encre violette. Pourquoi, ainsi déposée sur une surface lisse, l’encre violette offre-t-elle ce reflet d’or, alors que la craie, imbibée de cette même encre, apparaît par réflexion banalement violette comme on s’y attend?

Lire la suite

09/12/2011

Lumières du futur

> Interview de Libero Zuppiroli

3718907-power-button-on-a-dark-blue-background.jpgL’ouvrage de Libero Zuppiroli et Daniel Schlaepfer est destiné aux lecteurs curieux qui souhaitent se forger leurs propres opinions sur des questions qui les concernent de près comme l’illumination de leur demeure. Il est bien probable qu’ils aiment la lumière, même artificielle, et qu’ils se refusent à la réduire à de la simple énergie, c’est-à-dire à une marchandise. Ces femmes et ces hommes curieux ont sans doute déjà expérimenté, en contemplant les nuits étoilées, ce lien mystérieux que la lumière crée entre l’Homme et le Cosmos. Ils ont ressenti des instants de profonde jubilation intérieure en ouvrant les volets de leur chambre sur des matins promettant des journées d’une belle clarté. Ils ne restent pas insensibles devant le spectacle d’un coucher de soleil sur la mer (ou sur le lac Léman), et ont soupçonné, à cette occasion, les liens intimes que la lumière a tissés avec les zones les plus profondes de leur inconscient.

Lire la suite

02/12/2011

La cybersécurité est l’affaire de tous

> Voir le reportage d’Arte

6676709-security-concept-with-businessman-and-hacker-hands-on-laptop-keyboard.jpg

Publié dans La liberté, le vendredi 18 novembre 2011 - Interview de Solange Ghernaouti-Hélie, propos recueillis par Pascal Fleury

Consciente de ses faiblesses, la Suisse prépare une stratégie nationale de cyberdéfense. C’est que la menace est bien réelle. Les explications de l’experte Solange Ghernaouti-Hélie. Ce n’est pas un secret d’État: en cas de cyberattaques massives, la Suisse serait bien démunie.

Pour parer à tout risque de paralysie du pays, le Conseil fédéral a donné la mission au Département de la défense d’élaborer, d’ici à la fin du premier trimestre 2012, une stratégie nationale de cyberdéfense. Un groupe d’experts civils et militaires planche depuis le début de l’année sur un système de milice qui permettrait d’anticiper les dangers et de limiter les dégâts.

Lire la suite

28/11/2011

Information security stakes in a competitive world

9379396-smart-it-programmer-drawing-information-technology-diagram.jpgThe technological explosion is nowadays forcing organizations to change their structures and ways of operating. The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), their role and importance are increasing daily. Technology is becoming the main factor for productivity growth and the competitiveness of organizations, and it often also allows effective cost reductions. An organization’s communication center and information systems have thus become increasingly important as they are increasingly depended upon. A malfunction of the ICT infrastructure can paralyse the whole organization and might have disastrous consequences for the company at many levels (financial, reputational, etc.).

Lire la suite

24/11/2011

Calculer le comportement des fluides newtoniens

10233295-high-quality-rendering-of-fast-splashing-color-in-pink.jpgLes fluides visqueux incompressibles font partie de notre vie quotidienne sans que nous en prenions nécessairement conscience. L’exemple le plus évident est celui de l’eau, qui accompagne nos gestes les plus ordinaires : le café ou le thé que nous buvons, les bains, la pluie qui nous mouille, etc. L’eau est omniprésente : aussi bien dans la nature (océans, rivières, lacs) que dans les applications techniques comme les turbines hydrauliques, les conduites forcées, la conception des bateaux. Aux yeux du mécanicien des fluides, elle est l’exemple typique du fluide visqueux newtonien incompressible. Ce caractère newtonien est explicité dans la suite.

Lire la suite

18/11/2011

L’artiste, entre le bricoleur et l’ingénieur

> L’interview de Françoise Odin

7908958-flying-machine-based-on-the-leonardo-da-vinci-antique-light-hang-glider.jpgQuand Claude Lévi-Strauss souhaita styliser deux types de connaissance scientifique, inégaux quant à leurs procédures et résultats – la pensée mythique, la pensée domestiquée –, il mobilisa deux figures: celle du bricoleur, celle de l’ingénieur. Tel est le point de départ de l’ouvrage de Françoise Odin, Christian Thuderoz : la différence, introduite par l’ethnologue dans les pages liminaires de La Pensée sauvage, entre deux modes de connaissance du réel, deux manières de se situer sur l’axe d’opposition entre nature et culture.

Lire la suite

07/11/2011

An EPFL spin-off raises 10 million Swiss francs

2853019-a-male-human-head-face-front-and-back-of-head-with-machine-gears-thinking-inside.jpg

One of the biggest financing rounds for furthering the work of a doctoral student has just been completed at EPFL. The microscopic electrodes developed by André Mercanzini – which are currently in clinical trials – could revolutionize Deep Brain Stimulation.

The microelectrodes developed by André Mercanzini should generate a lot of interest from investors: they have the potential to reduce side-effects, the risk of complications, and cost.

 

Lire la suite

03/11/2011

Une approche nouvelle de la pédagogie sportive

5476010-group-of-female-track-athletes-on-starting-blocks.jpgElles s’appellent Mireya, Jane, Yasmina, Eva ou Andrea. Ils se prénomment Karch, Julien, Piero, Muhammad ou Larry. Ces enfants du monde jouent. Au Pakistan, à Islamabad, à la recherche d’une petite balle insaisissable, là où le hockey sur gazon les fait vibrer. Aux États-Unis, sur les plages de Hawaï, dans un jeu d’équilibre où les surfeurs dansent avec le roulis des vagues de l’océan. En Roumanie, à Bucarest, où les jeunes gymnastes dessinent dans l’espace les arabesques les plus folles. En Suisse, à Davos, où les skieurs glissent sur les difficultés du moment. Au Japon, à Nagoya, où les minivolleyeurs s’amusent de ce ballon qui vole d’un côté à l’autre du filet. Ils jouent avec leurs règles, leurs limites, leur soif de liberté.

Lire la suite

06/07/2011

New stakes, new challenges for logistics

9914889-america-international-business-time-logistics-management-concept-background.jpgHistorically, logistics was defined as the process of moving and positioning inventory to meet customer requirements at the lowest possible total landed cost. Over the decades, logistics moved from a very narrow preoccupation focused on transportation or inventory management to a larger vision embracing not only cost but also quality management and service provision. Large parts of the competitive advantage of an organization are due to the quality of service and especially to the ability of continuously improving and adapting the quality of service to specific needs of customers.

Lire la suite

04/07/2011

Effet de serre et changement climatique

1535743-view-from-space-of-a-giant-hurricane-over-the-ocean-with-moon-in-background--photo-montage-with-phot.jpg> Ecouter le podcast

Durant le 20e siècle, les mesures de température ont montré une augmentation moyenne pour l’ensemble de la surface du globe de +0,7°C. Cependant, le globe ne se réchauffe pas de manière homogène ou continue, ni dans l’espace, ni dans le temps. La hausse des températures s’est renforcée durant la dernière partie du siècle. La décennie 1990 s’est montrée de loin la plus chaude et les températures les plus élevées ont été relevées en 1998. La seconde année la plus chaude depuis le début des mesures, en 1861, a été 2005, puis 2002, 2003 et 2004. Les dix années les plus chaudes sont toutes survenues depuis 1991, dont neuf après 1995. Et cinq des six années les plus chaudes ont été mesurées depuis 2001.

Lire la suite

01/07/2011

Rolex Learning Center

Rolex-Learning-Centre-001.jpgAt a time when information technologies are transforming the intellectual landscape by eliminating physical boundaries between men and between disciplines, our duty, as a cutting-edge academic institution, is to offer students an appropriate learning platform that adapts to this unprecedented technological evolution. We had to imagine a place where students benefit from the best access to current systems of knowledge as well as its possible forms in the future, but also a place that stimulates the most vigorous and passionate whirlwinds of ideas, without which neither science nor art would exist in this world. We were thus not afraid to imagine a paradoxical space where the ever fascinating serenity of a library and the colorful noise of a central square cohabite – a tension lending itself to the propagation of knowledge. In dreaming about content, we also dreamt about identity. The rolex Learning center would only take on its full meaning if it were to become both the new heart of EPFL – a veritable center that has always been missing – and a unifying element for the city and the nearby university. How can any of us, whether researchers, students, or citizens, live without the cross-fertilization of influences, ideas, information, and cultures that allow for, since the beginning of time, the most fertile debates and the most beautiful discoveries?

Lire la suite

29/06/2011

The art of structures

chernetskiy090700066.jpgThe concept of structure has always been a fundamental aspect of building. Until the Renaissance the statics of constructions was based solely on experience, intuition, experimentation with models and empirical rules, but the scientific revolution transformed this discipline into a true science. Since the mid-1700s it has been possible to calculate structures, analyzing their mechanical behavior. Their most efficient form can be determined by mathematical means, and the measures required to ensure their strength and stability can be set by comparing the internal forces with the strength of the materials. Through the technological developments and new materials that have emerged during the industrial revolution, the science of construction has made a range of new structural solutions possible. This phase required greater specialization, and the builder was replaced by two professional roles: the architect and the engineer.

Lire la suite

15:53 Publié dans Science | Lien permanent | Commentaires (1)

22/06/2011

Microfabricated cortical neuroprostheses

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS2L1rzZagSnEst4VE6EX1KD-uyg3G-n7ezwYNZk82lzy3KxnOf9QThe field of neuroprosthetics has important applications in medicine and science. In clinical settings, neural stimulation and recording implants promise to introduce new capabilities in restoring functions of the central nervous system (CNS) lost to trauma or disease. In basic research settings, neuroprosthetic devices remain one of the most important tools for those neuroscientists who work to elucidate the brain’s functions. Clinical therapies using neural stimulation include cochlear stimulation for the deaf; epidural spinal stimulation for the treatment of pain [3]; cortical or vagus nerve stimulation for epilepsy; and several other emerging indications including retinal stimulation for the blind.

Lire la suite

15/06/2011

Analytical and physical electrochemistry

diego_cervo090400018.jpgFor historical reasons, physical electrochemistry and analytical electrochemistry are often taught separately. The purpose of this course book is to bring these two subjects together in a single volume, so as to bridge the fundamental physical aspects to the analytical applications of electrochemistry. The philosophy of this book has been to publish in extenso all the mathematical derivations in a rigorous and detailed manner, in such a way that the readers can understand rather then accept the physical origins of the main electroanalytical principles.

Lire la suite

15:23 Publié dans Science | Lien permanent | Commentaires (2)

13/06/2011

Advanced fiber optics

gunnar3000100600580.jpgFew techniques have had an impact on society that can compare to that of fiber optics. These tiny hair-sized glass wires have deeply transformed, at the dawn of this third millennium, access to information, modes of communicate, and even the behavior of consumers. This tremendous impact was rightfully honored by the presentation of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics to charles K. Kao, who predicted in 1966, by careful calculations, that optical fibers could transmit a broadband signal over distances outperforming any existing transmission line. Since then, optical fibers have gradually occupied a more and more predominant place in the world of telecommunications, while deeply revolutionizing the field of optics by confining light in these small silica waveguides, transforming classical free-beam optics into a novel concept of wired optical circuits.

Lire la suite

15:52 Publié dans Science | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

10/06/2011

Robot programming by demonstration

sarah5090600012.jpgIf you are reading this article, it is very likely that you are interested in robots, artificial intelligence or technology-related applications. And even if this is not the case, there are chances that you use a computer more than once a week to facilitate your work (and your life in general). There is even greater chance that you do this through dedicated softwares. You may write a report, send an e-mail, check your budget on a spreadsheet, or process images from your digital camera, and doing so, you rely on existing user-friendly applications. Even if you are a programmer or know the technical details of how a computer works, you will start most of the tasks you want to achieve with the computer by opening the proper application instead of reprogramming the machine from scratch. This type of computer use seems obvious today, but at the beginning of the computer age, it was considered as obligatory and evident to be familiar with a programming language in order to make use of such a machine. From the apparition of the first personal computers, much time went by before end-users could finally do without programming skills to interact efficiently with their computers through simple (or at least quite simple) interfaces.

Lire la suite

06/06/2011

Bio-inspired flying robots

jesselee090600059.jpgIndoor flying robots represent a largely unexplored area of robotics. There are several unmanned aerial vehicles, but these are machines that require precise information on their absolute position and can fly only in open skies far away from any object. Flying within, or among buildings requires completely different types of sensors and control strategies because geo-position information is no longer available in closed and cluttered environments. At the same time, the small space between obstacles calls for extreme miniaturization and imposes stringent constraints on energetic requirements and mechatronic design.

Lire la suite

15:49 Publié dans Science | Lien permanent | Commentaires (1)

03/06/2011

Corrosion and surface chemistry of metals

nejron080800152.jpgThroughout history, metals have had a decisive effect on human civilization, and they largely condition the way we live today. Electric power, combustion engines, ships, cars, railways, airplanes, production of fertilizers and pharmaceuticals, precision tools, machines, high rise buildings, sanitary systems, home appliances and even computers would not exist without metals. Corrosion and wear limit the useful lifetime of this equipment, reduce their efficiency and often affect their safety. Corrosion control and surface technology are therefore of crucial importance for our technology-based society.

Lire la suite

15:48 Publié dans Science | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)