2012年1月25日 星期三

Today's Wearable Computers/Devices to Keep Track of Calories,

Today's Wearable Computers Help You Sleep, Not Tweet


It might be another decade before social network updates flash to us through wearable screens and contact lenses. Yet wearable computing is already here to help people track some aspects of health, like sleep patterns, and view the results through a smartphone.

Devices to Keep Track of Calories, Lost or Gained


Monitors designed to gauge physical activity and subsequent calories burned might become a silver bullet for weight loss and for sticking to New Year's resolutions.


Solar energy

Flower power

In matters of clever design, nature has often got there first

A virtuous spiral

SOLAR-POWER stations take up a lot of room. They need either vast arrays of photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight directly into electricity, or of mirrors, which direct it towards a boiler, in order to raise steam and drive a generator. The space these arrays occupy could often be used for other purposes.

Two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have now devised a better and more compact way of laying out arrays of mirrors. Slightly to their chagrin, however, and somehow appropriately, they found when they had done the calculations that sunflowers had got there first.

Alexander Mitsos and Corey Noone started with the observation that existing concentrated solar-power plants, as those which drive boilers are known, usually have their mirrors arranged in a way that resembles the seating in a cinema. The mirrors are placed in concentric semicircles facing a tower, on top of which the boiler and the turbine sit. That arrangement, however, sometimes results in the mirrors shading each other as the sun’s position in the sky changes, even though the mirrors are usually attached to robotic arms that track the sun as it moves.

According to their report in Solar Energy, Dr Mitsos and Mr Noone found that they could do better. They divided each of the mirrors in a real power plant, PS10, in southern Spain into about 100 pieces. (Or, rather, they divided a computer representation of each mirror.) They then plugged each of those pieces into a computer model that calculated all of the energy losses by noting points where mirrors were not optimally oriented to the sun and places where they hindered one another by blocking incoming or reflected rays. It then rejigged them into a better arrangement.

Fermat’s conjecture

Previous efforts have been directed mainly at stopping the mirrors shading each other, which tends to mean spreading them out. Dr Mitsos and Mr Noone also wanted to save space. In trying to do so they stumbled on an unusual arrangement that had the desired effect. When they showed this layout to a third researcher, Manuel Torrilhon of Aachen University in Germany, he recognised the spiral patterns within it, and this prompted the trio to test a design specifically modelled on nature.

That design was a pattern known as a Fermat spiral, in which each element is set at a constant angle of 137° to the previous one. It is most familiar as the arrangement of the florets that make up a sunflower head. When the three researchers programmed their model to arrange PS10’s mirrors in front of the tower in a segment from such a spiral, they both improved the efficiency of the collection process and saved space. The improvement in efficiency was, admittedly, quite small (about half a percent), but the space saving was significant—almost 16%.

If solar power is to make up much of the world’s electricity output in future, as supporters of alternative energy hope it will, a lot of land will be needed for the power stations. Reducing that requirement by a sixth, as this discovery promises, would be a big gain. It would also show that if you look hard enough, there really is nothing new under the sun.

2012年1月24日 星期二

Massive Solar Flare Sends Radiation Storm to Earth

Massive Solar Flare Sends Radiation Storm to Earth

The effects, which include the southern creep of the Northern Lights, will last through Tuesday night.

In this handout from the NOAA/National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center, shows the coronal mass ejection (CME) erupting from the sun late January 23, 2012. The flare is reportedly the largest since 2005.

Photo by NOAA/National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center via Getty Images

We're right in the middle of the biggest solar radiation storm on earth since 2005, thanks to a massive solar flare that left the sun on Sunday.

Although solar flares can cause disruption of satellite computer systems and long-distance power lines, and cause aircraft to avoid polar flights due to disruption of radio activity and increased levels of radiation, the biggest noticeable effect from the storm for most of us is likely to be northern lights reaching much farther south than usual, possibly as far south as New York.

As the Christian Science Monitor explains, Sunday's solar flare sent what's called a coronal-mass ejection (CME) flying towards earth at 4 million miles an hour, which is fast even for this sort of event. The CMEs are giant clouds of energized particles - protons, electrons, and heavy atomic nuclei formed by the nuclear fusion reactions that keep the sun shining.*

The storm hit Tuesday morning, and the effects are expected to last through the night. According to spaceweather.com, this storm is strong enough to interfere with radio communications along the poles, and to possibly cause some satellite computers to reboot. The storms caused by solar flares are measured on a scale of one to five. This storm is a three.

Curious about just how big this flare is? NASA has an animated map. Those dots represent planets.

As the Los Angeles Times explains, this flare is something of an opening act for more anticipated solar activity in the very near future: The sun is approaching a period of peak activity in 2013.



太空氣候預測中心官員翁薩格(Terry Onsager)表示,到達地球的高能粒子可能會干擾到部分高頻無綫通訊系統,北美、歐洲和亞洲之間的部分航班可能需要更改飛行路綫,發電廠也可能受影響。




2012年1月19日 星期四

IBM cuts bit size to 12 atoms

IBM smashes Moore's Law, cuts bit size to 12 atoms

2 ((米略式))(特定の)見解, 解釈
put a political spin on ...

The technology could also someday be applied to tape media.

While the science behind what IBM researchers accomplished is complex, the results are quite simple: They put a spin on the old adage that "opposites attract."

Instead today's method for magnetic storage where iron atoms are lined up with the same magnetic polarization, requiring greater distance between them, IBM created atoms with opposite magnetization, pulling them more tightly together.

"Moore's Law is basically the drive of the industry to shrink components down little by little and then solve the engineering challenges that go along with that but keeping the basic concepts the same. The basic concepts of magnetic data storage or even transistors haven't really changed over the past 20 years," Heinrich said. "The ultimate end of Moore's Law is a single atom. That's where we come in."

The researchers started with one iron atom and used the tip of scanning tunneling microscope to switch magnetic information in successive atoms. They worked their way up until eventually they succeeded in storing one bit of magnetic information reliably in 12 atoms. The tip of the scanning tunneling microscope was then used to switch the magnetic information in the bits from a zero to a one and back again, allowing researchers to store information.

12 atoms
Scanning tunneling microscope image of twelve iron atoms that were assembled into an atomically precise antiferromagnet (source: IBM Research)

IBM used iron atoms on copper nitrate to perform its experiments, but other materials could theoretically require even fewer atoms to store a bit of data.

The experiment was performed at low temperature: about 1 degree Kelvin, which corresponds to about -272 °C (-458 °F). The byte starts switching randomly about once a minute due to thermal energy (heat) at about 5 degrees Kelvin.

"We use low temperatures because it enables us to start from one atom and assemble bigger and bigger structures while keeping an eye on their magnetic properties. The more atoms we use to make each bit, the more stable the bits become. We anticipate that in order to make bits of this type that are stable at room temperature would require about 150 atoms per bit (rather than 12 atoms at low temperatures)," an IBM spokesman said.

The researchers then combined 96 atoms to make one byte of data, such as a letter or number. IBM then put many of the bytes together to create information. The first word they spelled using the new technique: THINK, which required five bytes of information or 480 magnetized atoms.

"The atomic scale magnetic data storage is orders of magnitude smaller than a single conventional bit," Heinrich said.

Heinrich is quick to point out that the breakthrough is more theoretical than practical at this point; storage manufacturers aren't going to build a storage devices that use a scanning tunneling microscope to switch bits back and forth to store data.

But the research proves storage mediums can be vastly denser than they are today.

"If you look at magnetic data storage element in a solid state device, like a spintronics device [also known as magnetoelectronics] or in a hard disk drive, you have about one million atoms in each bit," Heinrich said. "So you have a lot of leeway from where we currently are."

The letter S
Miniaturized information storage in atomic-scale antiferromagnets. The binary representation of the letter 'S' (01010011) was stored in the Neel states of eight iron atom arrays (source: IBM Research)

Heinrich predicted that devices using IBM's new method of data storage would take five to 10 years to develop, but the research is critical in that it proves previous theoretical limits to data storage do not exist.

"Using iron atoms on a copper nitrite surface is probably far from being a real technology. You don't want to build this with the tool we're using, which is a research tool," he said. "You want to build this cheaply for a mass environment, and that's a huge engineering challenge."

Antiferromagnets is not the only data storage project that IBM is working on. Last year, the company produced its first Racetrack Memory circuit, which could also lead to silicon chips with the capacity of today's hard drives, but the durability and performance of flash drives. Henrich, however, said Racetrack technology falls somewhere between today's storage mediums and IBM's most recent antiferromagnets discovery.

T-H-I-N-K ... This figure shows the a magnetic byte imaged 5 times in different magnetic states. A white signal on the right edge corresponds to logic 0 (and is labeled as such) and a blue signal to logic 1. Between two successive images the magnetic states of the bits were switched to encode the binary representation of the ASCII characters "THINK" (source: IBM Research)

"In the technology world, hopefully this will gather some momentum to allow them to use antiferromagnetic structures as active elements and then solve the all the technological problems around that," Heinrich added.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at Twitter@lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed Mearian RSS. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

2012年1月18日 星期三

微中子確實比光速快?/ Chips the Size of Blood Cells

撰文╱卡司塔維奇(Davide Castelvecchi)翻譯/宋宜真

如果你漏掉這則新聞,那我來告訴你。2011年9月,有個物理團隊發表了一份報告,表示微中子這種次原子粒子有可能違反愛因斯坦狹義相對論所設定的光速極限。參與「微中子振盪感光追蹤儀」(Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus, OPERA)實驗的研究人員表示,他們從瑞士日內瓦附近的歐洲核子研究組織(CERN)朝義大利拉奎拉地底的格蘭沙索國家實驗室發射微中子束,根據他們的計算,微中子抵達目的地的時間,比光速還快了60奈秒。

其他專家對此發出強烈警告,要求確認實驗數據是否精確,尤其先前實驗所獲得的結果是微中子的確遵守光速極限。9月29日,美國波士頓大學的科恩(Andrew Cohen)與格拉肖(Sheldon Glashow)在網路上發表了一篇簡要的論文,計算出微中子只要超過光速,便會放射出速度較慢的粒子,接著便喪失能量,並在後頭留下一道較慢粒子的軌跡,這些粒子則會由地殼吸收。這道軌跡就像是超音速噴射機呼嘯而過之後,在身後留下的音爆。





美國亞利桑那州立大學的理論物理學家克勞斯(Lawrence M. Krauss)說:「這篇論文解答了一切,是一篇非常出色的論文。」所以,最後還是愛因斯坦對囉?既然愛因斯坦的相對論可以取代牛頓物理學,而物理學家自然也會竭盡所能想找愛因斯坦理論的碴。的確,科恩也說:「我們從未停止檢驗自己想法,即便是那些已經根基穩固的理論。」

ICARUS Team Rebuts CERN's Faster-Than-Light Findings

New round of experiments renew fight over major Einstein theory.


《中英對照讀新聞》ARM CTO Predicts Chips the Size of Blood Cells 安謀技術長預測晶片大小將有如血球細胞


In less than a decade, that smartphone you’re holding could have 32 times the memory, 20 times the bandwidth and a microprocessor core no bigger than a red blood cell, the CTO of chip design company ARM said on Thursday.


ARM has already helped develop a prototype, implantable device for monitoring eye-pressure in glaucoma patients that measures just 1 cubic millimeter, CTO Mike Muller said at ARM’s TechCon conference in Silicon Valley Thursday. The device includes a microprocessor sandwiched between sensors at the top and a battery at the bottom.


Strip away those extra components, rearrange the transistors into a cube and apply the type of advanced manufacturing process expected in 2020, and you’d end up with a device that occupies about the same volume as a blood cell, Muller said.


ARM designs the processor cores used in most of today’s smartphones and tablets, and smaller cores are generally more energy efficient, he said. That helps to extend battery life.


That’s a good thing, because battery technology is advancing much more slowly, and Muller expects only a two-fold improvement in battery performance by the end of the decade.



CTO:為Chief Technology Officer 的縮寫,技術長,又常稱為首席技術官、科技長。

be sandwiched between something and something:被夾在兩個東西中間。例句:The tiny kingdom was sandwiched between Austria and Czechoslovakia.(這個小王國夾處在奧地利與捷克斯洛伐克之間。)

end up:片語,結束、告終。例句:Wasteful people usually end up in debt.(浪費的人最後往往負債。)

二度實驗 微中子確實比光速快


推翻愛因斯坦? 專家視為誤差





2012年1月16日 星期一

Impossible to pre-screen content: Google, Facebook

Impossible to pre-screen content: Google, Facebook

Published: Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012, 9:15 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Expressing their inability in filtering the content posted on their websites, Google and Facebook told the Delhi high court that there was no way in which they can stop an individual from posting anything on their profile online. They asserted that the social networking sites do respect a person’s freedom of speech and expression.

Putting forth the argument on behalf of Google, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul said, “It’s easy for people to say you can use filters. If we were to block the word sex, for instance, all data on ration cards, passports etc will get blocked in one go, as the word sex figures in all this data, so what wrong we are doing if this word is being used by any individual? It is difficult to analyse as to in what sense the word is being used.”

Both companies are among 21 whose executives have been summoned to appear in person in a trial court on March 13 for allegedly hosting obscene and objectionable content.

Google said it is working as a search engine, its filtration will lead to surfers to sites they’re looking for.

“The offending material belongs to the website, controlled by the owner of the website. Google has nothing to do with it,” Kaul said.

“There are serious issues regarding freedom of speech. We have this freedom in our country unlike a totalitarian regime like China. We are proud we have this freedom,” added Kaul.

The legal trouble for companies including Orkut, Yahoo and YouTube is based on a petition filed by Vinay Rai who has objected to obscene depictions that he found online of Hindu deities, the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ.

A Delhi court has on Friday suggested the executives of these 21 companies be tried for criminal conspiracy, even when the government has sanctioned their prosecution. The companies appealed against this in the high court, which warned last week that like China, India can choose to ban these websites.

Google also said the Indian subsidiary cannot be held responsible for an act by its parent company.

However, Justice Suresh Kait was not impressed with this argument. “Are you not a beneficiary of Google Inc’s business? If some illegal activity is being carried out by a tenant and the landlord is a beneficiary, then how can the landlord not know what’s happening?”

On this, counsel for the petitioner Hariharan told the court that websites such as Google and Facebook are liable for the content, posted on their platform by users, as they benefit from the content.
“Every click on a Google- owned website gets it revenue on the content. Google India is wrong in stating that it is just an ad-collection subsidiary of Google Inc. The memorandum of association of Google India shows it is in the business of production of software, Internet products, computer-aided design, analysis, selling Internet search, engineering platforms and solutions. Thus it is not only in the business of advertising, as it states,” Hariharan added.

The arguments remain inconclusive and the court posted the matter for further hearing on January 19.

2012年1月8日 星期日

霍金70歲 英特爾幫他另覓溝通工具

霍金70歲 英特爾幫他另覓溝通工具


〔編 譯張沛元/綜合報導〕英國知名物理學家霍金(見圖,美聯社)八日歡度七十歲大壽,但因罹患漸凍人症而癱瘓多年、利用電腦溝通的霍金近來健康情況惡化,使得 他越來越難利用電腦溝通,甚至有「失聲」之虞。電腦晶片大廠英特爾(Intel)的一支團隊目前正與大師合作,共同研究另覓包括腦波掃描等其他溝通方式。

霍 金取得博士學位的母校與任教地點英國劍橋大學,八日在理論宇宙學中心為他舉行慶生會,與會者包括不少來自世界各地的著名科學家和學者。霍金二十一歲時被診 斷出患有肌肉萎縮性側索硬化症(俗稱漸凍人症),醫生告訴他最多活不過三年,但他卻創造奇蹟,與病魔抗爭近五十年。霍金被譽為是繼愛因斯坦之後,最偉大的 科學家。



為 了幫霍金尋找新的溝通方式,英特爾的一支團隊正與他密切合作、尋求解決之道,構想之一是利用腦波掃描,透過頭罩或其他裝置偵測腦中的電子活動;另一種方法 則是眼球追蹤;第三種對策是臉部辨識,例如霍金只要扮鬼臉,就能將滑鼠游標移往特定方向。這支由英特爾科技長雷特納領軍的團隊,將在霍金過完生日相關慶祝 活動後開始工作。