Bell Labs breaks optical transmission record, 100 Petabit per second kilometer barrier

Alcatel-Lucent today announced that scientists in Bell Labs, the company’s research arm, have set a new optical transmission record of more than 100 Petabits per second.kilometer (equivalent to 100 million Gigabits per second.kilometer).

This transmission experiment involved sending the equivalent of 400 DVDs per second over 7,000 kilometers, roughly the distance between Paris and Chicago. This is the highest capacity ever achieved over a transoceanic distance and represents an increase that exceeds that of today’s most advanced commercial undersea cables by a factor of ten. To achieve these record-breaking results the Bell Labs researchers made innovative use of new detection techniques and harnessed a diverse array of technologies in modulation, transmission, and

High speed optical transmission is a key component of Alcatel-Lucent’s High Leverage Network architecture, key elements of which have already been selected by leading service providers.



Scientists Cure Color Blindness In Monkeys

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2009) — Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Florida used gene therapy to cure two squirrel monkeys of color blindness — the most common genetic disorder in people.

"We've added red sensitivity to cone cells in animals that are born with a condition that is exactly like human color blindness," said William W. Hauswirth, Ph.D., a professor of ophthalmic molecular genetics at the UF College of Medicine and a member of the UF Genetics Institute and the Powell Gene Therapy Center. "Although color blindness is only moderately life-altering, we've shown we can cure a cone disease in a primate, and that it can be done very safely. That's extremely encouraging for the development of therapies for human cone diseases that really are blinding."

About five weeks after the treatment, the monkeys began to acquire color vision, almost as if it occurred overnight.

"Nothing happened for the first 20 weeks," Neitz said. "But we knew right away when it began to work. It was if they woke up and saw these new colors. The treated animals unquestionably responded to colors that had been invisible to them."


On Demand Books Turns Google's eBook Archive Back Into Paperbacks

odb_espresso.pngWhen you think about Google Books, chances are that you are thinking about eBooks and searching books on your desktop. Starting today, however, On Demand Books, the makers of the Espresso Book Machine, will have access to Google's vast library of public domain books, and bookstores that buy an Espresso Book Machine will be able to provide on-demand printing services for any of these close to 2 million books in Google's repository.

The Espresso Book Machine can print out about 145 pages per minute at a cost of about 1 cent per page. The machine itself costs around $10,000 (ed: $100,000). On Demand Books argues that this device can revolutionize the distribution of books by decentralizing the marketplace for the distribution of books and can give libraries and bookstores a potentially unlimited inventory in their shops. In its press release about today's agreement with Google, On Demand Books likens its machine to "an ATM for books."

For now, these printers are only available in a about a dozen locations, including the University of Michigan Shapiro Library in Ann Arbor, MI, and the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt. The Harvard Book Store will also soon get one of these machines as well. By early 2010, On Demand Books hopes to have sold about 35 to 40 machines and this new deal with Google will surely help the company to reach this goal.



In One Study, a Heart Benefit for Chocolate

Published: September 14, 2009

In a study that will provide comfort to chocoholics everywhere, researchers in Sweden have found evidence that people who eat chocolate have increased survival rates after a heart attack — and it may be that the more they eat, the better.

The scientists followed 1,169 nondiabetic men and women who had been hospitalized for a first heart attack. Each filled out a standardized health questionnaire that included a question about chocolate consumption over the past 12 months. Chocolate contains flavonoid antioxidants that are widely believed to have beneficial cardiovascular effects.

The patients had a health examination three months after their discharge from the hospital, and researchers followed them for the next eight years using Swedish national registries of hospitalizations and deaths. After controlling for age, sex, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, education and other factors, they found that the more chocolate people consumed, the more likely they were to survive. The results are reported in the September issue of The Journal of Internal Medicine.

Compared with people who ate none, those who had chocolate less than once a month had a 27 percent reduction in their risk for cardiac death, those who ate it up to once a week had a 44 percent reduction and those who indulged twice or more a week had a 66 percent reduced risk of dying from a subsequent heart event. The beneficial effect remained after controlling for intake of other kinds of sweets.

But before concluding that a box of Godiva truffles is health food, chocolate lovers may want to consider some of the study’s weaknesses. It is an observational study, not a randomized trial, so cause and effect cannot be definitively established. The scientists did not ask what kind of chocolate the patients ate, and milk chocolate has less available flavonoid than dark chocolate. Finally, chocolate consumption did not reduce the risk for any nonfatal cardiac event.



Fighting to Allow College Education at $99/Month

Higher education is ready to be re-invented and this re-invention should not be delayed for two decades.

The next generation of online education could be great for students—and "catastrophic" for universities.

StraighterLine is offering online courses in subjects like accounting, statistics, and math. It offers as many courses as you want for a flat rate of $99 a month.

If the USA and other countries truly cared about effectively educating the people, increasing the productivity of economy, then legislative efforts would be made to breakdown the barriers to effective and affordable online education. Funding could be provided to help educational institutions to transition to a new world where they are less land/building intensive and where they have less of an undergraduate cash cow. Some inferior institutions would be shutdown.


Magnetic Monopoles Detected In A Real Magnet For The First Time

ScienceDaily (Sep. 4, 2009) — Researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie have, in cooperation with colleagues from Dresden, St. Andrews, La Plata and Oxford, for the first time observed magnetic monopoles and how they emerge in a real material.

Magnetic monopoles are hypothetical particles proposed by physicists that carry a single magnetic pole, either a magnetic north pole or south pole. In the material world this is quite exceptional because magnetic particles are usually observed as dipoles, north and south combined. However there are several theories that predict the existence of monopoles. Among others, in 1931 the physicist Paul Dirac was led by his calculations to the conclusion that magnetic monopoles can exist at the end of tubes – called Dirac strings – that carry magnetic field. Until now they have remained undetected.

In this work the researchers, for the first time, attest that monopoles exist as emergent states of matter, i.e. they emerge from special arrangements of dipoles and are completely different from the constituents of the material. However, alongside this fundamental knowledge, Jonathan Morris explains the further meaning of the results: "We are writing about new, fundamental properties of matter. These properties are generally valid for materials with the same topology, that is for magnetic moments on the pyrochlore lattice. For the development of new technologies this can have big implications. Above all it signifies the first time fractionalisation in three dimensions is observed."



Children With Autism Use Alternative Keyboard

The OrbiTouch keyboard. (Credit: Blue Orb)

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2009) — Autism can build a wall of poor communication between those struggling with the condition and their families. While a personal computer can help bridge the divide, the distraction and complexity of a keyboard can be an insurmountable obstacle.

Using a unique keyboard with only two "keys" and a novel curriculum, teachers with Project Blue Skies are giving children with autism the ability to both communicate and to explore the online world.

The Project Blue Skies curriculum is based on the functions of the OrbiTouch, which allows a user to input letters, symbols and any other command by independently manipulating two computer-mouse shaped grips forward, back, diagonally and to the sides.

Teachers guide the students and monitor their progress, ultimately helping the kids better communicate with their families. While the primary goal of Project Blue Skies is to help people with autism develop stronger social skills, McAlindon is working with partners to start integrating standard coursework into the program.


Quantum amnesia gives time its arrow

No going back (Image: Mike Kemp/Getty)No going back (Image: Mike Kemp/Getty)

NOTHING in the fundamental laws of physics says that time should only move forwards. Yet we never see any reversal of time - in the form of a shattered egg that suddenly reassembles, say, or an ice cube that forms from a pool of tepid water. Now a new study suggests that the arrow of time is the result of quantum-mechanical amnesia that erases any trace that time has moved backwards.

Our sense of time is captured by the second law of thermodynamics, which says that any closed system - from particles in an isolated box to the entire universe - can only become more disordered. The measure of this disorder, known as entropy, can only increase.

In the world of large-scale objects, increasing entropy is associated with the flow of heat, which always goes from a hot object to a colder one. Change in entropy can also be described as a flow of information: the higher the entropy of a system, the less information it contains.

In the quantum world, a box full of particles gains entropy – and loses information – when it becomes more entangled with the outside world.

An outsider who observes the box may become more entangled with it. This entanglement – which involves the loss of information in the particles – increases the information available to the observer.

n this context, the unceasing growth of entropy, and hence the second law of thermodynamics, may be just an illusion, an artefact of quantum mechanics, says Lorenzo Maccone of MIT.

The laws of quantum mechanics are time-symmetric, which means that time can flow both forwards and backwards. "But if you analyse [the laws] carefully, you'll see that all the processes where things run backwards can happen, but they don't leave any trace of having happened," he says.

The work also doesn't yet explain a bigger mystery – why the universe was born as such a uniform soup of matter and energy, which has a very low entropy, says Sean Carroll of Caltech. Because entropy is in some measure the probability of a particular configuration, the universe's low entropy initial state is considered extraordinarily unlikely.


Researchers Hope to Mass-Produce Tiny Robots

Researchers Hope to Mass-Produce Robots on a ChipAn illustration of the I-SWARM robot: (1) solar cell, (2) IR-communication module, (3) an ASIC, (4) capacitors, (5) locomotion module. Image credit: Edqvist, et al.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Tiny robots the size of a flea could one day be mass-produced, churned out in swarms and programmed for a variety of applications, such as surveillance, micromanufacturing, medicine, cleaning, and more. In an effort to reach this goal, a recent study has demonstrated the initial tests for fabricating microrobots on a large scale.

The researchers, from institutes in Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, explain that their building approach marks a new paradigm of robot development in microrobotics. The technique involves integrating an entire robot - with communication, locomotion, , and electronics - in different modules on a single circuit board. In the past, the single-chip robot concept has presented significant limitations in design and manufacturing. However, instead of using solder to mount electrical components on a printed circuit board as in the conventional method, the researchers use conductive adhesive to attach the components to a double-sided flexible printed circuit board using surface mount technology. The circuit board is then folded to create a three-dimensional robot.

The resulting robots are very small, with their length, width, and height each measuring less than 4 mm. The robots are powered by a solar cell on top, and move by three vibrating legs. A fourth vibrating leg is used as a touch sensor. As the researchers explain, a single microrobot by itself is a physically simple individual. But many robots communicating with each other using infrared sensors and interacting with their environment can form a group that is capable of establishing swarm intelligence to generate more complex behavior. The framework for this project, called I-SWARM (intelligent small-world autonomous robots for micro-manipulation) is inspired by the behavior of biological insects.

Researchers Hope to Mass-Produce Robots on a ChipImages of the robots showing their size proportional to various objects. Image credit: Edqvist, et al.