Cockroaches outsmart robots
A Dutch science writer wrote an intriguing book about one of the founding fathers of artificial intelligence: Alan Turing.

One-hundred years after Turing’s birth, Mols investigated what became of his dream of approaching human intelligence by robots. Mols concludes that computers are good at precisely those tasks at which humans fail (computation, precision, memory) and vice-versa (orientation, motoric scales and social agility). The best way forward for AI is the combination of human and computer skills, Mols argues. See the full article elsewhere in Delta.

Back to thorium
There might be a way to get rid of long-living nuclear waste, and producing energy while doing it. The answer is the thorium reactor: a reactor type that was demonstrated in the early days of nuclear energy, but that was set aside for the uranium reactor, since the latter produced more plutonium for warheads. The time seems ripe for a return of the thorium reactor, RID researcher Dr
Jan-Leen Kloosterman argues. See the full article elsewhere in Delta.

New phone service
Is making telephone calls more or less expensive now that IPact provider must switch to XS4ALL? Not an easy question to answer, says Vincent van
Croonenburg, of the ICT department. “It depends on the calling plan.” National phone calls are 1 cent per minute more expensive, but international calls are cheaper. Calling mobile phones cost around 18 cents per minute. As with IPact, calling shared numbers is free and callers are later charged by the second. The XS4ALL modem allows for (free) internet calls with a normal Dect-telephone, but it is only possible if the receiver of the call also calls in the same manner. Starting in July, the approximately 2500 TU Delft staff member that use the free ADSL and telephones from TU Delft must switch to XS4ALL.

Waste not
Boxes full of food and drink where thrown in the trash at the end of the Owee 2011. New regulations are in place to prevent this from happening again. The new first-year students will find less food and drink in the lunch packets they receive daily from the Owee organization. The food parcels are provided by C1000 supermarket. The number of group dinners will also be reduced this year. The Owee commission expects about 2500 students to participate this year, divided in 250 mentor groups.

Water emergency
During his Van Leeuwenhoek lecture, Professor Han Vrijling will state than many dikes in the Netherlands are in a poor state and need maintenance. “Maintenance cost 2 billion euros per year, but the government only allocates 1 billion euros. And now test results have shown that the dikes are getting worse, but the government does not say ‘we will put more money in’, but rather ‘we will conduct tests less often’. The idea that it’s not so bad if once in a while a flood occurs has now spread up to the highest intellectual circles. We, as experts, have pleaded before Parliament for more maintenance, but the politicians have opted for ‘multi-layered security’. That means you then invest partially in dikes, partially in spatial planning and partially in the rescue and evacuation operations during a flood.”

TEDxBinnenhof
On Monday June 25th, Professor Yao-Hua Tan will present a talk at
TEDxBinnenhof in The Hague. On this ‘catwalk for innovation’, 10 inspiring speakers will present their innovative idea. On many locations in the
Netherlands and the rest of the world, viewing parties are organized, where through a simulcast connection TEDxBinnenhof can be viewed together. In Delft, the Energy Club will host one of these parties.

New academic year
The theme of this year’s opening of the academic year will be, ‘Imagine the future – the new way to learn and study’: the future of education is
unimaginable without ICT. The keynote speaker is Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission. Also, the three finalists of the ‘Future learning’ contest will present their outlook on future university life. The student
finalists are, Hildo Bijl (MSc Control & Simulation – AE), Veronika Heidegger and Alexandros Christodoulou (MSc Building Engineering – Arch.) and Wouter
Verbeek (MSc Systems and Control – 3mE).