Counting 0s and 1s

For the past several weeks, my (old) tower has been churning away, counting the number of 0s and 1s in a clone of my laptop drive – the sum total of all my files at present.  The result:

0:    385,459,478,877
1:    297,575,823,747

Analyst’s Desktop Binder

The Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center recently released the “2011 Analyst’s Desktop Binder“, a document that, in part, outlines 367 keywords and phrases to be monitored for on social media networks and (presumably) other online traffic.  From the document itself:

This is a current list of terms that will be used by the NOC when monitoring social media sites to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture to see which sourse has the best social media posting tool and which one doesn’t. As normal or manmade disasters occur, new search terms may be added. The new search terms will not use PIT in searching for relevant mission-related information.

Download as a pdf here, or see the full list after the break.

Continue reading “Analyst’s Desktop Binder”

Monthly Weather Review

An image from the Monthly Weather Review, essentially a recap of the weather in the previous month.  While this makes a lot of sense in the pre-internet age, somehow the journal is still published today. From the January edition in 1873:

The monthly rainfall returns for January from the Signal Service stations show that there has been in general a deficiency on the Pacific coas; but east of the Rocky Mountains an excess of rain and snow… The mean temperatures for January, as given by the Signal Service reports, show that over the country east of the Rocky Mountains the weather has been generally coler than usual.

Above from a particularly stormy November, 1950.

Information capacity of a bacterium

… and from the same page as the last post, biologist Henry Linschitz suggested that a three-dimensional representation of a bacterium would require 10^13 (10,000,000,000,000) bits.

Based on my (possibly problematic) math, that’s 1.13686837721616 terabytes.  If it was a cube made of 2×2 Lego bricks, one for each bit, it would measure approximately 551 x 551 x 678′ (168,046 x 168,046 x 206,826 mm) – about 7 stories high.

Original paper titled “Number of Bits Represented by A Single Bacterium” from Essays on the Use of Information Theory in Biology, pg 252.

Image via: Brickset

Amino Acids and Proteins as Texts

Molecular diagram of a variety of amino acids

James Gleick strikes here again, this time a short mention of radiologist Henry Quastler (University of Illinois) suggesting that “an amino acid has the information content of a written word and a protein molecule the information content of a paragraph” (page 289).

Visualization of the structure of a protein (specifically Putative Acetyltransferase)

This of course suggests the reading of texts into amino acids/proteins and vice versa.

Gleick’s notes cite this as from a paper by Quastler called “Some of the Physicists Now Turning to Biology” in Essays on the Use of Information Theory in Biology, 1953 – an intial search of Google and JSTOR didn’t find the paper.

Amino acid diagram via: New England BioLab
Protein visualization via:

Cost of Data

Rhett Allain at Wired has a great (and detailed) article about the real cost of data transfer per GB.  He has created two ficticious users, Joe and Zelda; the former a “typical” user and the latter a “power” user.  The above image is one of many graphs showing the costs per GB of various data plans.

By far my favorite, however, is looking at FedEx as a possible means of data transfer.  Allain spells it out better than my summary could:

What if I wanted to transfer 2 TB of data (2048 GB) by shipping a 2 TB hard drive. What kind of data rate would this cost (per month)? Just to be crazy. First, I would have to buy a drive. Amazon has a 2 TB for $80 (shipping weight of 2 pounds). So, I would get this drive and I would transfer my data. How long would this take? If I can get a data transfer rate of 500 MBps, that would be around 1 hour. I think that is crazy (but what do I know?). Let me say it takes 5 hours to get my data on the drive.

Next, I need to ship it. Suppose I want to send it from New York to L.A. FedEX lists a 2 pound package delivered overnight as $103.69. It says delivery by 8:00 AM (I guess that is Pacific Time). Also, not sure about when I can drop it off. Let me just say that the total transit (from door to door) is about 12 hours.

What is the price per GB? Simple, 2048 GB divided by the cost of $183.69 gives $11 per GB $0.09 per GB (thanks @perry!). What kind of data speed would this be? Looks like about 48 MBps.