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Sat, 03 Dec 2016
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Science & Technology

Light Saber

World's largest laser built in California

© Unknown
The U.S. Department of Energy says the National Nuclear Security Administration has certified the completion of the world's largest laser. Located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility in California, the laser is expected to allow scientists to achieve fusion ignition in the laboratory, obtaining more energy from the target than is provided by the laser.

"Completion of the National Ignition Facility is a true milestone that will make America safer and more energy independent by opening new avenues of scientific advancement and discovery," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "NIF will be a cornerstone of a critical national security mission, ensuring the continuing reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile without underground nuclear testing, while also providing a path to explore the frontiers of basic science and potential technologies for energy independence."


ESA space debris conference begins

© Unknown
The European Space Agency is the host for the Fifth European Conference on Space Debris through Thursday at its Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany. The ESA said the conference, which began Monday, is the largest dedicated event on space debris issues. It is co-sponsored by the British, French, German and Italian space agencies, the Committee on Space Research and the International Academy of Astronautics.

"Space debris has recently been attracting increasing attention not only due to the growing recognition of the long-term need to protect the commercially valuable low-Earth and geosynchronous orbital zones but also due to the direct threat that existing debris poses to current and future missions," the ESA said. "While commercial and scientific uses of space have expanded across a wide range of activities, including telecommunications, weather, navigation, Earth observation and science, space debris has continued to accumulate, significantly threatening current and future missions."


What would it look like to fall into a black hole?

Falling into a black hole might not be good for your health, but at least the view would be fine. A new simulation shows what you might see on your way towards the black hole's crushing central singularity. The research could help physicists understand the apparently paradoxical fate of matter and energy in a black hole.

Andrew Hamilton and Gavin Polhemus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, built a computer code based on the equations of Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes gravity as a distortion of space and time.


Conficker virus could be deadly threat - or April Fool's joke

© Unknown
It could be the biggest April Fool's joke ever played on the internet, or it could be one of the worst days ever for computers connected to the network. Security experts can't work out whether the Conficker virus - which has infected more than 10m Windows PCs worldwide - will wreak havoc on Wednesday , or just let the day pass quietly.

Experts have worked out that from midnight on 1 April, the Conficker program will start scanning thousands of websites for a new set of instructions telling it what to do next. The infected machines thus comprise one of the biggest "botnets" - a network of "robot" computers - in internet history. And if they were all given a target, such as simultaneously sending search queries to Google or trying to connect to a gambling site, they could knock it offline through the sheer volume of connections - a "denial of service". Victims usually discover that they have been locked out of their computers or have very slow-running internet connections.

Evil Rays

Economic collapse encouraging dangerous shift to wireless technology

© Unknown
Las Vegas - Wireless industry executives at the CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show here say that despite the economic meltdown, the cell phone industry remains strong. And they're confident that it will be a driving force in pulling the nation out of the current financial crisis.

Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg and Robert Dotson, CEO of T-Mobile USA, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom, took the stage on Wednesday, the opening day of the trade show, with a similar message.

These executives said that despite the economic troubles facing the nation and the world, the wireless market is thriving and innovation is flourishing. They also agreed that as the nation moves through the current crisis that the wireless industry could play a significant role in the economic recovery of the country. But they also warned that reluctant investors and overzealous regulators could stunt its potential and harm the recovery.

Comment: It's unsurprising that the market for wireless technology is still viable when we remember that the US Govt is considering introducing "free wireless technology for all".

This cash cow certainly has dangers for us all: New Instruments of Surveillance and Social Control: Wireless Technologies which Target the Neuronal Functioning of the Brain


Google admits data center podification

Google has admitted that its data centers are pieced together using intermodal shipping containers pre-packed with servers and cooling equipment.

As reported by our friends at Data Center Knowledge, the search giant dropped its long-standing data-center wall of secrecy this morning during a company event in Mountain View. Confirming an October report from The Register, Google said it has used containers in its live data centers since 2005.

Famously, Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive publicly pitched the container idea in the fall of 2003, and that December, Google filed for a patent describing a modular data center of its own. According to Kahle and a well-known 2005 expose from Robert X. Cringely, Google co-founder Larry Page was in the audience for one Internet Archive pitch a little more than a month before the patent filing.


Signals could be from dark matter


Dark matter remains elusive despite strong evidence for its role
Scientists have detected particles that may come from invisible "dark matter".

This is thought to make up 23% of the Universe, but can only be detected through its effects on "normal" matter.

Writing in the journal Nature, scientists relate how a satellite-borne instrument found an unexplained source of positrons in space.

But the researchers say their mysterious signal must be further investigated before they will know if they have "discovered dark matter".


Spin control for technology

© Keith Bruns
This illustration of a long-lived spin helix shows green electrons with arrows indicating spin direction.
Guiding electrons opens doors for 'new physics,' enables new devices.

The wild spins of electrons in a semiconductor can be tamed by guiding their collective motions into a synchronized helix, new research shows. The study, published April 2 in Nature, uncovers new principles of physics and holds promise for the development of new information-carrying gadgets.

"The experiment is a fundamental discovery - a discovery with a device potential," comments Jaroslav Fabian, of the University of Regensburg in Germany.


Inscription from the time of Alexander the Great - found in Baktria, land of origin of ancient Bulgarians

© Focus
Baktra. Unique marble slab with the image of Alexander the Great and a passage of an inscription was discovered in archaeological excavations in the ancient Baktriya, Baktriya Press Agency informed.

The slab represents an ancient king on a horse heading Macedonian cavalry and Macedonian phalanx at the background.


The secret to chimp strength could be as much about brain as muscle, biologist says

February's brutal chimpanzee attack, during which a pet chimp inflicted devastating injuries on a Connecticut woman, was a stark reminder that chimps are much stronger than humans - as much as four-times stronger, some researchers believe. But what is it that makes our closest primate cousins so much stronger than we are? One possible explanation is that great apes simply have more powerful muscles. Indeed, biologists have uncovered differences in muscle architecture between chimpanzees and humans. But evolutionary biologist Alan Walker, a professor at Penn State University, thinks muscles may only be part of the story.

In an article to be published in the April issue of Current Anthropology, Walker argues that humans may lack the strength of chimps because our nervous systems exert more control over our muscles. Our fine motor control prevents great feats of strength, but allows us to perform delicate and uniquely human tasks.