Thursday, December 6, 2007

IBM chip "breakthrough" places Supercomputer on a chip

Today IBM made a breakthrough that could essentially one day place a whole supercomputer onto one chip.

The breakthrough has been made in converting electrical signals into light pulses. In research published in the Optics Express Journal, IBM said it had produced electro-optic modulators 100 to 1,000 times smaller than the comparable silicon photonic modulators. These are small enough to fit onto one chip.

Processors use wires to connect cores on their chips. One of the major issues with this is high energy consumption and heat. With this major breakthrough cores can be connected with light instead of wires. This can make any computer a supercomputer with a single processor.

IBM can now connect hundreds of thousands of processing cores on a single chip. Compared to the nine cores on the Playstation 3's highly complex processor.

This light technology is 100 times faster and uses 10 times less power than wires.

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Balancing Robot Can Take A Shove

The Sarcos company has developed a robot that can take a hit, bump, or tap, and not fall down. With the help of Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute The Sarcos company designed a robot that can stay on its feet despite being bumped into or even shoved.

The robot is built with joints that aren't rigid. This allows the robot to adjust accordingly and keep itself on its feet when the sensors detect a tap, or an external stimuli trying to offset it.

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New Stem Cells Reverse Sickle Cell Anemia

Two weeks ago scientists announced that they were able to use human skin cells in place of stem cells. This could eventually lead to replacing stem cell research, which is quite a sticky topic in our society.

From that advancement, a group of scientists have successfully succeeded in reversing sickle anemia in mice. The process worked by taking skin cells from the tails of mice with this condition, then they turn these cells into embryonic types (with the new anti-stem-cell process), and then they were reintroduced into these mice.

Once back in the mice these altered cells begin producing healthy blood cells, reversing the Sickle Cell Anemia.

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Space Shuttle Launch Postponed

Today NASA has postponed the Space Shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch was called off due to detecting problems with the fuel gauges in the Atlantis external tank.

2 out of the 4 sensors in the hydrogen fuel tank indicated the tank was empty despite there being fuel inside. A NASA spokesman said 3 out of the 4 sensors must be working properly in order to launch.

Atlantis will carry a crew of 7 and will bring the "Columbus" lab to the station.

NASA will try to launch again on Friday..