Mind reading computers—to prevent accidents
A fraction of a second delay in applying brakes can lead to the death of a pedestrian. Human reaction times to emergencies are often not fast enough to react appropriately to emergencies. Researchers at the Berlin Institute of Technology have now developed a computer system that reads your thoughts and responds at lightning pace to emergencies, thereby preventing serious road accidents. Two small electrodes attached to a cap that the driver wears recognise the electroencephalographic (EEG) signals from the brain providing faster responses.
Simultaneously other sensors were employed to detect the muscle tension in the lower leg. The result was astonishing. The braking distance of a car travelling at 100 km/hour was reduced by as much as 12 feet as compared to a car where the driver did not have such fittings (Stefan Haufe et al 2011 J. Neural Eng. 8 056001 doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/8/5/056001).
Fujitsu—a world leader in super “K Computers”!
At the 26th International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’11) held in Hamburg, Germany, recently Fujitsu scored first place in the list of TOP500 companies, after its super “K computers” achieved a stunning speed of 8.162 petaflops, leaving others lying in the dust. The system employed 68,544 CPUs to achieve an incredible 93 per cent computer efficiency. Recently Fujitsu also launched the world’s smallest Windows 7 PC/smart phone. This small PC offers a full version of Windows 7 in the palm of your hands while combining it with all the features of a smart phone. The phone comes with a license of Microsoft Office Personal 2010, and includes Word, Excel and Outlook. This smartphone, which is also a PC, has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
Fujitsu has been one of the world leaders in laptop computers, largely because of the high quality of its products. Fujitsu laptop computers are manufactured in Germany, in contrast to other companies such as Hewlett Packard, Dell, etc., that have opened up factories in China or made manufacturing arrangements with other Chinese companies because of cheaper labour costs.
Huge water source discovered in universe!
Two international teams of astronomers working at the California Institute of Technology have independently discovered a huge source of water in our universe. The amount of water is stunningly huge—about 100,000 times the mass of our sun and about 140 trillion times the size of all the oceans of the earth combined! There is one little problem—it is 12 billion light years away. As its image has taken 12 billion years to reach us, and since the estimated age of our universe is 13.7 billion years, what this really means is that water was also present in huge quantities in the early universe. The images obtained showed that the water was feeding a huge black hole, called a quasar. Quasars are highly luminous objects that feed on surrounding dust and gases and emit huge amounts of energy.
The visible universe as seen from the earth is a sphere with a diameter of about 92 billion light years. Galaxies are relatively much smaller, typically about 30,000 light years in diametre. They are still huge, considering that one light year is the distance that light, travelling at a speed of 300,000 kilometres per second, would travel in one year!
Exciting advances in wonder material manufacture: graphene
Think of an ultra-thin flat sheet having fused six-membered rings made of carbon. An exciting new material developed in recent years, “graphene”, comprises such a honeycomb structure of single carbon atoms. Graphene was discovered in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2010. The material is beginning to find wide applications in transistors, capacitors, batteries and computer chips. The layers of graphene are so thin that if three million sheets are stacked one on top of the other, they would have a thickness of only one millimetre! In order to make the best performing material, a challenge is to obtain uniform thickness. Now a team of scientists led by Ivan Vlassiouk at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Sergei Smirnov at New Mexico State University has developed a new approach involving the use of hydrogen gas in the vapor deposition process. The result was the formation of sheets of graphene of uniform thickness for production of high quality electronic components.
The discoverers of graphene at the University of Manchester, Madrid and Moscow reported in July 2011 that certain electron-electron interactions with graphene can considerably enhance the velocities of the electrons (Nature Physics, 2011; doi:10.1038/nphys2049). This opens up a whole new world of electronics and can lead to the development of ultra-fast transistors and super detectors.