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Thursday, July 30, 2009


Scientists create 'transparent aluminum,' call it a new state of matter

Categories: Energy & Environment, Engineering & Innovation, Science & Nature

Oxford scientists claim to have created a transparent form of aluminum by bombarding the metal with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. The substance is nearly transparent to extreme ultraviolet radiation and is the latest addition to a growing list of exotic states of matter.

Crossing over from science fiction to fact, ‘transparent aluminum’ was an idea featured in the movie Star Trek IV. The creation of the real material, however, has implications for areas as diverse as planetary science, astrophysics, and nuclear fusion.

Credit: Univerity of Oxford

Credit: University of Oxford

To create the exotic matter, an international team of researchers led by Oxford University scientists used a short pulse from the FLASH laser to ‘knock out’ a core electron from every aluminum atom in a sample without disrupting the metal’s crystalline structure. They report that this turned the aluminum nearly invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation. Pictured left is an experimental set-up at the FLASH laser facility used to discover the exotic material.

”What we have created is a completely new state of matter nobody has seen before,’ said Professor Justin Wark of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, one of the authors of a paper detailing the findings in this week’s Nature Physics.

‘Transparent aluminum is just the start. The physical properties of the matter we are creating are relevant to the conditions inside large planets, and we also hope that by studying it we can gain a greater understanding of what is going on during the creation of ‘miniature stars’ created by high-power laser implosion

HP's newest supercomputer geared for energy and environment

Categories: Computers & Internet, Energy & Environment

The newest supercomputer in town isn’t for simulating nuclear explosions or the human brain, but rather take on arguably more pressing problems in areas such as climate science, hydrogen storage and molecular chemistry.

Built by HP, the $21.4 million Chinook is a custom-made machine specifically designed for the demands of computational chemistry. It was commissioned for use by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Department of Energy, and is housed at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL).

The Chinook (named after the king salmon via a user contest) can perform more than 160 trillion calculations per second, ranking it among the top 40 fastest computers in the world. It’s almost 15 times faster than its predecessor, the EMSL MPP2, which could run 11.2 trillion calculations per second.

Chinook is a high performance computer that has been tailored to meet the current and future operational needs of Department of Energy (Photo: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Chinook is a high performance computer that has been tailored to meet the current and future operational needs of Department of Energy (Photo: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

World's first self-watering desert plant discovered

For years scientists have wondered how the desert rhubarb manages to grow leaves that reach a diameter of up to one meter while other desert plant species typically have small and spiky leaves.

Now, researchers from the University of Haifa-Oranim, have managed to decipher the unique self-watering mechanism of this plant in the Negev desert, which covers half of Israel. The desert rhubarb is the first example of a self-irrigating plant worldwide.

Music 2.0: The future of the music industry

Categories: Computers & Internet, Leisure

The controversial “freemium” business model is one of several flavors of free that could support the next iteration of the music business and other digitally distributed content. Media futurist Gerd Leonhard has a new book on the subject and he recently posted an 18 minute video slide show (in two parts) that covers his concepts. He calls for a fundamental shift from control to compensation and proposes new revenue generatives for digital content that are more collaborative and based on open access. In a nutshell, Leonhard says it’s high time that the reset button is pressed.

Printable batteries

Categories: Computers & Internet, Energy & Environment

Printable electronics have taken off in recent years, and there are now industrial-scale printing machines that can efficiently deposit a variety of flexible electronic components onto flexible substrates to create wearable sensors, displays, smart packaging labels, and other printable products. However, developing printable, flexible energy-storage devices, such as supercapacitors and batteries has lagged behind.

Now, researchers announced a paper-thin battery that can be produced cost-effectively on large scale. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS) in Chemnitz, Germany, together with colleagues from TU Chemnitz and Menippos GmbH say the batteries are printed using a silk-screen printing method similar to that used for t-shirts and signs.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's new in Windows 7: Faster & easier

Improved taskbar and full-screen previews

The taskbar at the bottom of your screen is what you use to switch between the applications you've got open. In Windows 7 you can set the order in which the icons appear and they'll stay put. They're easier to see, too. Click once on the new large icons or bigger preview thumbnails and you're ready to go. You can even see a full screen preview before switching to the window.

New Windows 7 taskbar

Get the picture: See what's open with previews and easily control your Windows experience with the new Taskbar.

Friday, April 3, 2009

technologies in computer!!!!!!!! Customise Windows XP and Vista

Despite the millions of hours and dollars that were spent developing Windows XP and its follow-up, Windows Vista, it would have been miraculous had either operating system arrived fitting every user like a glove and anticipating the way that each of us likes to use our computer.

Instead, both versions of Windows come with thousands of options, allowing each person to set them up the way they want to. This means that, with a few tweaks here and there, you can make your computer far easier to use. We’ll show how a few simple nips and tucks can help make your PC more suited to you.

Getting started
Let’s begin with the Start menu. If you use the standard Windows XP Start menu it’s possible to make significant changes to the way it looks and behaves. To do this, right-click on the Start button, choose Properties then click the Customize button. The dialogue box that appears allows you to reduce the size of icons on the Start menu.

This is ideal for those with smaller screens, as the menu will now take up less space. The same menu allows you to reduce the number of shortcuts to commonly used programs found on the menu, or you can try the Show on Start menu options to select a favourite web browser and email program so they always appear at the top.

To speed up access to the Control Panel, click the Advanced tab and choose to display it as a ‘menu’ instead of the default ‘link’. Vista users who want to achieve the same effect need to dig slightly deeper. Right-click on the Start button and choose Properties.

Make sure the Start menu (as opposed to Classic Start menu) is selected and then click Customize; scroll down the list and remove the tick next to ‘Use large icons’ then click OK, then OK again to confirm the changes. Both XP and Vista allow any programs in the Program list to be ‘pinned’ to the top of the Start menu where they’re easy to find - just select the program and choose Pin to Start Menu.

Like several others, this option isn’t available if you right-click XP’s Start button, choose Properties and choose the old-fashioned Classic Start menu.

Hot desks
Since so much of our time is spent looking at the Desktop, it’s worth making sure that this is set up just the way you want. In Vista, right-click anywhere on the Desktop and choose Personalize from the pop-up menu. When the window opens, click the Desktop Background link and browse the list for alternatives to the standard lake at sunset photo.

Remember too that it’s possible to use most pictures stored on the PC as wallpaper by clicking the Browse button, navigating to where the photo is stored, right-clicking on it and choosing Set as Desktop Background

trends in computer !!!!!!!!! Who needs a mouse?

Although it may be hard to believe now, there was a time when PC users would pick up a mouse and ask, “what does this do?” In the early days of computing, when there was no graphical interface, keyboards ruled the roost ­ whether it was for entering information, changing settings, opening and closing documents or starting and quitting programs. But as Windows became more common, so did the mouse. It was just easier to use for people who weren’t experienced with computers.

Keyboard shortcuts are still built into most programs and operating systems, though. While you might be used to controlling some applications with the keyboard (such as the Ctrl and C command in most applications for copying text) it seems that fewer people know how to control Windows itself without a mouse. That’s a shame because using the keyboard is often easier than using the mouse; it introduces different movements, helping to prevent repetitive strain injury (RSI), makes it possible to use a PC even if the mouse breaks down and, best of all, it’s fast. In this feature we’ll show you how to do just that.

Let’s start with some basic navigation. We’re going to be using Windows XP Home Edition for this article but many of these keyboard tips and tricks will work just as well with Vista.

Have a close look at your keyboard. Touch-typists may not be as aware of the individual keys as those of the hunt-and-peck user but it’s a pretty standard typewriter-style layout with a set of extra function keys along the top, a separate keypad on the right (usually called the numeric keypad) and a bunch of editing and navigation buttons between the two main areas. Either side of the space bar along the bottom there’s also a selection of keys that can be combined with various others to get at some Windows features quickly and easily; we’ll get to those a bit later on.

To start, find the key with the Windows logo on it (at the bottom left-hand side of the keyboard) and press it once (some very old keyboards don’t have this key, so instead, hold down the key marked Ctrl and press the Esc key). This opens the Start menu. Let’s experiment a bit by using the arrow keys to move the cursor around the menu entries (it’s actually a highlight, but we’ll continue to call it the cursor for ease of reference).

In XP, pressing ‘up’ once takes the cursor to ‘Turn off the computer’, while pressing it again takes it sideways to ‘Log off’; press ‘up’ again and it will move to the ‘Run’ option. Thereafter pressing ‘up’ will move it up the right-hand menu and then, when it’s reached the top, down to the bottom of the left-hand menu. Keep pressing ‘up’ until the top left-hand menu item is highlighted and then press ‘up’ again; the cursor returns to the ‘Turn off the computer’ option.

In Vista, press the Windows key and then the right arrow to access shut-down and hibernation modes. Pressing up will take you into the list of recently used programs and Press the Esc key to close the Start menu.

Try launching a program like this ­ press the Windows key, find the All Programs menu item and then press the right arrow key to open the submenu. Now go down to Accessories and press the right arrow again, then go down to Calculator and press Return to open the program.

IBM gives laptop hard drives a soft landing

Simple ideas are often the best, and IBM's latest innovation for notebook PCs must rank as one of the simplest for many years.

Technologically it's not trivial, but the idea itself is wonderful - put an accelerometer inside a notebook PC and use it to monitor any sudden changes in motion - such as when the notebook's being dropped. Then use this information to instantly park the heads on the hard disk to prevent them bashing against the data areas on the platters.

As hard drive damage due to impact is a common cause of data loss in notebook PCS, this could be a godsend for companies with large numbers of mobile users. Until now, manufacturers have concentrated on physical protection such as shock-absorbing rubber pads or silicon gel padding to minimise shock damage.

Active Protection System is the name IBM's given to this technology, and it's being premiered in the new ThinkPad T41. The accelerometer used is similar to those used in car airbag sensors and is an example of nanotechnology, using tiny micromachined silicon levers and pivots.

Technically such chips are known as Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, or MEMs for short. Since their commercial introduction in the early 1990s, costs have come down until now some MEMs accelerometers are available for about $2-3 each.

Applications in IT hardware have so far been limited to motion-sensitive pointing devices such as 'free motion' game controllers.

The IBM ThinkPad T41 will go on sale in the UK priced from around £1,830 (ex. VAT) and includes Intel Centrino models.