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VI-2005: 02 09 17 22 25

New translation, the Magna Carta


K 'Y

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fastest computers in the world

Hit parade top 500

From the press release:

“For the first time in history a single vendor, IBM, has more than 51% of the total number of systems on the list. IBM is the leading provider of both installed supercomputing systems with 259 systems as well as total aggregate supercomputing power, with a record total 976 Teraflops. IBM has 6 of the systems in the Top 10, including MareNostrum, Europe's most powerful supercomputer which is powered by IBM's POWER Microprocessor and eServer BladeCenter JS20 -- the only supercomputer based on blade server technology to ever be ranked in the global top 5. According to numbers compiled by the TOP500 List of Supercomputers, IBM is the overwhelming leader in global supercomputing with 57.9 percent of the total processing power, compared to its closest rival, HP, with a mere 13.3%. Just IBM's Blue Gene TOP500 install base is equivalent to the total number of Cray systems and about 60% of all SGI systems on the list.”

“ IBM leads the list with 259 of the 500 entries. HP is second with 131, followed by SGI( 24 ), Dell ( 21 ) and Cray ( 16 ) [...] ”

“I tell you, America is in a state of terminal collapse - they're finished” [quoted from lefty]

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update: solar-sail launcher fails

“[...] the Volna booster rocket failed 83 seconds after its launch from a Russian nuclear submarine in the northern Barents Sea just before midnight Tuesday in Moscow, the Russian space agency said.

“Its spokesman, Vyacheslav Davidenko, said that "the booster's failure means that the solar sail vehicle was lost." ”

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solar sailing - testing sci-fi theories for real

Solar sail postcard from the Planetary Society
image credit: Planetary Society

On 21st June next, a modified Russian ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] will be launched from a Russian submarine in the Barent’s Sea, carrying a payload of the first solar-sail-powered spacecraft, Cosmos 1. This launch has been prepared by the Planetary Society, funded mostly by a $4 million donation from Cosmos Studios, owned by Carl Sagan’s widow.

Once separated from the launch vehicle at 500 miles, Cosmos 1 is planned to deploy its eight 50 foot-high triangular mylar sails and eventually boost itself into a higher earth orbit using merely the pressure of photons from the sun bouncing off its sails. This will be the only power source.

Although the pressure from photons is very small, the speed of Cosmos 1 will increase steadily, by about 100 mph a day. This experiment is only expected to last a few weeks, when the sails will have disintergrated. It is intended that there will be further missions using more durable sails. However, it is probable that NASA, with its larger resources, will make even larger solar saling vessels that will travel to other planets, or even beyond our solar system.

There have been many delays before reaching this launch point: an accident with a previous launch in 2001, difficulties finding parts, technical problems, further ground testing required.

A Russian missile is being used to reduce costs - the Russians are finding original commercial uses for their military hardware, rather than just destroying it.

The Planetary Society has also agreed to barter technological data for tracking and operations support from NASA and NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration].

At the Planetary Society site, there are many images and animations, including of the submarine-launch, the sails opening and changing position.

And here’s the exciting bit for us still stuck to Earth:

Solar Sail Watch, a program designed for the general public, will invite people around the world to lend their help in tracking Cosmos 1 and photographing its progress across the night sky. Once its sails unfurl, Cosmos 1 will be bright enough to be easily visible to the naked eye. The Planetary Society urges everyone to witness this historic mission first hand.” [Quoted from the Planetary Society]

the web address for the article above is

shades of early movie technology moves into three dimensions

“The Perspecta system is made up of a circular white polymer screen 25 centimetres in diameter, mounted on a 1-metre-high black box so that people can walk around it. Like a giant spinning lollipop, the screen, encased in a transparent polycarbonate shell, turns at 15 revolutions per second, sweeping out a solid white sphere.

“To display the image, software inside the Perspecta chops a 3D model generated by the computer into 198 separate pieces, like slices of cake, which are then projected onto the screen in quick succession by a graphics accelerator that feeds image slices to an optical system mounted below the screen. The result looks to the viewer like a 3D image composed of 100 million "volume pixels" or "voxels".

“The moving 3D aircraft and molecule in the demo system really do seem suspended in this strange white ball. But Chris Chinnock, from technology consultancy Insight Media in Norwalk, Connecticut, says the Perspecta needs more work to reduce image flicker. Favalora plans to tackle this by making the screen spin faster.”

Some photos of the system in (static) action. There is more info on the page links.

prespecta system machine Perspecta 3D image of DNA
Perspecta system projection dome Crorepressor protein interacting with DNA
Image credit: Actuality Systems, Inc.

And it’s only $40,000.

the web address for the article above is

electron microscope on a cd-rom [shockwave file] Three oldenYak (tm) award

This link does not provide much in the way of useful background, but gives a demo of an interesting cd-rom usage.

[Note: if you do not have a Shockwave player installed, you will need to download this software from Macromedia (2458kb) and install; instructions are on the download page. The Shockwave Player may not run in Firefox; in this case, you will have to move to using MS Internet Explorer.]

the web address for the article above is

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