Archive for August 2007

Catching Some Rays

An international team of researchers has detected low-energy solar neutrinos–subatomic particles produced in the core of the sun–and measured in real-time the rate the particles hit our planet.

The researchers also obtained fresh evidence that neutrinos oscillate (transform from one state to another) before arriving at Earth, adding weight to present theories about the nature of neutrinos and the inner workings of the sun and other stars.

The team of more than 100 researchers, including National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported investigators at Princeton University and Virginia Tech, have operated the so-called Borexino experiment in one of the deepest laboratories in the world, the Gran Sasso Laboratory of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics), near the town of L’Aquila, Italy.

—snip—

“The great depth of the laboratory and the incredible purity of the materials used in the detection were critical to the discovery and demonstrated the impact of eliminating background radiation from such experiments,” added Keister.

Produced in the Big Bang, and more recently in stars and nuclear reactors, neutrinos are everywhere. They constantly bombard the Earth, but because they interact very weakly, chances are slim a neutrino will hit anything. More than 100,000,000,000,000 pass through each of us every second without our noticing them.

The 18-meter (59-foot) diameter Borexino detector lies more than a kilometer (almost a mile) underground in one of the planet’s deepest laboratories. The depth blocks out cosmic rays and other radiation sources that could create additional background signals.

The detector is comprised mainly of concentric layers of radiation shielding. Within an external tank filled with 2,400 tons of water, an enormous stainless steel sphere lies anchored. Within the sphere are two nested nylon vessels, each containing successively purer detector fluids.

Neutrinos knock electrons out of atoms in the detector fluid, and in turn, the electrons generate photons as they travel further through the liquid environment.

Attached to the inside of the stainless steel sphere and facing inward is a suite of photomultipliers, 2,200 glass bulbs that look somewhat like floodlamps. Instead of creating light, each is capable of detecting the individual photons.

nsf.gov – News – Catching Some Rays – US National Science Foundation (NSF)

SGI and NASA ready most powerful Linux computer ever

Kinda old, but forgot to post it. Now this is a Linux machine I really drool over.

NASA has selected an SGI Altix supercomputer to help it meet future high-performance computing requirements. The new system will be the first supercomputer to operate 2,048 processor cores and 4TB of memory under control of one Linux kernel, creating the world’s largest single-kernel Linux system, NASA and SGI announced this week.

Driven by 1,024 Dual-Core Intel Itanium 2 processors, the new system will generate 13.1 TFLOPs (Teraflops, or trillions of calculations per second) of compute power. Based hundreds of computer “blades” that each sport a pair of dual-core processors, the system provides an extremely high density of compute power per square foot, enabling NASA to pack more computing power into its supercomputing center. NASA also acquired an ultra-dense 240TB SGI InfiniteStorage 10000 system to efficiently handle the massive data storage requirements.

SGI and NASA ready most powerful Linux computer ever

Community vs. Corporate Linux

The Coming Divide: this could get messy.

A clashe between the different versions of the GPL have already begun to show their roots , and luckily, thus far, has been pretty much transparent. What I want to know is how all of this is going to go down when it comes time for the enforcement of such things.

GPLv3 Enforcement: This Could Become a Bumpy Road. For Linux enthusiasts, the rules are simple and clear to interpret. But for Microsoft and its Linux partners, we will see plenty of them pointing to self-created loopholes, which will result in fierce debate, and perhaps even worse, blatant defiance.

As a collective community, we’d like to think that this whole issue will just blow over, but with the massive migration of so many Windows users and companies that wish to capitalize on this migration, defiance of the GPL will happen and more so than ever before.

The two companies that I have concerns about include both Novell and Linspire. Now, I would point out that I have no problem with either company. As a matter of fact, I have been fan of much of their efforts within the Linux world in the past. However, they will face challenges once they are caught in the middle of much of the Microsoft GPL feud and will likely pay a serious financial price.

:: Reviews : Community vs. Corporate Linux: The Coming Divide

Windows XP: The OS that won’t die?

And from the LOL dept.

Microsoft has had to create a new build of Windows XP Professional for computer makers because the six-year-old operating system’s continued popularity has nearly exhausted the supply of product activation keys.

The new build, dubbed SP2c, includes no fixes or feature changes, but was created simply to address the shrinking pool of product keys. XP Pro SP2c, which has been released to manufacturing, will be made available to OEMs and system builders next month, said Microsoft.

“Due to the longevity of Windows XP Professional, it has become necessary to produce more product keys for system builders in order to support the continued availability of Windows XP Professional through the scheduled system builder channel end-of-life (EOL) date, wrote the Microsoft system builder team on its blog Thursday.

Previously, Microsoft has set Windows XP’s EOL for retailers and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) as Jan. 31, 2008, and for small-scale systems builders a year after that.

New Zealand PC World Magazine > Windows XP: The OS that won’t die?

Hitachi’s Terabyte HD

Maybe not precisely a TB, but close enough.. I still want one!

IMAGINE ONE THOUSAND thousand thousand thousand bytes. A terabyte, if you will. But more than just that—a milestone in storage capacity that hard drive manufacturers have been chasing for years. After more than a decade of living in a world of gigabytes, the bar has finally been raised by Hitachi’s terabyte-capacity Deskstar 7K1000.

Being first to the terabyte mark gives Hitachi bragging rights, and more importantly, the ability to offer single-drive storage capacity 33% greater than that of its competitors. Hitachi isn’t banking on capacity alone, though. The 7K1000 is also outfitted with a whopping 32MB of cache—double what you get with other 3.5″ hard drives. Couple that extra cache with 200GB platters that have the highest areal density of any drive on the market, and the 7K1000’s performance could impress as much as its capacity.

Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000 hard drive – The Tech Report – Page 1

The Fermi Paradox

As our sciences mature, and as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence continues to fail, the Great Silence becomes louder than ever. The seemingly empty cosmos is screaming out to us that something is askew.

Our isolation in the Universe has in no small way shaped and defined the human condition. It is such an indelible part of our reality that it is often taken for granted or rationalized to extremes.

To deal with the cognitive dissonance created by the Great Silence, we have resorted to good old fashioned human arrogance, anthropocentrism, and worse, an inter-galactic inferiority complex. We make excuses and rationalizations like, ‘we are the first,’ ‘we are all alone,’ or, ‘why would any advanced civilization want to bother with us backward humans?’

Under closer scrutiny, however, these excuses don’t hold. Our sciences are steadily maturing and we are discovering more and more that our isolation in the cosmos and the dearth of observable artificial phenomenon is in direct violation of our expectations, and by consequence, our own anticipated future as a space-faring species.

Indeed, one of the greatest philosophical and scientific challenges that currently confronts humanity is the unsolved question of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligences (ETI’s).

We have yet to see any evidence for their existence. It does not appear that ETI’s have come through our solar system; we see no signs of their activities in space; we have yet to receive any kind of communication from them.

Adding to the Great Silence is the realization that they should have been here by now — the problem known as the Fermi Paradox.

The Fermi Paradox
The Fermi Paradox is the contradictory and counter-intuitive observation that we have yet to see any evidence for the existence of ETI’s. The size and age of the Universe suggests that many technologically advanced ETI’s ought to exist. However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it.

Check this blog out: Goes quite in depth with theories and insights over the Fermi Paradox, and more.

Sentient Developments