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Archive for March 16, 2011

Is Africa being Slowly Torn Apart by Tectonic Plate Rifts?

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

At one point in its past, all the Earth’s continents were merged into a giant supercontinent called Pangea. Since then, rifting activity has broken continents apart, leaving deep ocean ridges of spreading crust behind.

These remains, buried deep under the ocean and newly-formed oceanic crust, make it difficult to figure out how the process started.

Researchers have now gone to a site where the African continent is being torn apart in order to get a clearer picture of just how hard it is for continents to go their separate ways.

The area the research focuses on is in current-day Ethiopia. Here, three separate rifts meet.

One is under the Red Sea, where Africa and the Middle East are moving away from each other. South of the Arabian Peninsula, another rift lies beneath the Gulf of Aden; combined, these two are allowing the Peninsula to move northeast relative to Africa at the rate of 16mm a year.”

iRadar Coming to Android

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“iPhone-equipped speed freaks have been enjoying Cobra’s iRadar system since its launch last October, and now Android fanboys can finally get in on the action this April.

At the gdgt shindig at SXSW, Cobra took the wraps off iRadar for Android, its smartphone-integrated radar and laser detection app, along with its accompanying Bluetooth detector.

The app/detector combo provides the standard radar and laser alerts, but also informs drivers of photo enforcement zones and road hazards through the integrated GPS functionality.”

The Fastest Mobile Carrier

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“We’ve told you everything you need to know about 4G, but if you’re thinking about switching networks when you get that 4G phone or modem, you might be basing it on who’s faster. Here’s how the networks stack up against one another.

We mentioned the speeds each company is claiming in our 4G roundup, but the numbers weren’t always the most trustworthy.

PC World did some serious testing of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint’s networks for both 3G smartphones and 4G modems, and the results were a bit surprising. T-Mobile ended up being the fastest on the smartphone end with 2.28 Mbps down, while Verizon came in last at less than half that. ”

Storing A Rainbow Using Plasmonics

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“Scientists have been able to use metal to do tricks with light. Now they can differentiate that light into a spectrum, and store each color in separate little grooves on the metal.

With the power of plasmonics, you may one day have a rainbow on your keychain.

Plasmonics is a branch of physics that, with the push towards quantum and optical computing, is gaining more and more interest.

Practically speaking, plasmonics is another example of how things behave very, very strangely at small scales. For instance, if a hole too small for visible light to get through is blocked by a piece of gold foil, suddenly light shines out the far end of the gold foil. The larger the foil is, the more light shines through.

Plasmonics help shrink down the already-tiny world of light. Plasmons, little ripples of energy in the surface of a metal, interact electromagnetic waves and keep, or move them through, a hollow space otherwise too small for them to fit into.

Researchers used this property of plasmonics to temporarily trap a rainbow.”

Physicists Develop Quantum Public Key Encryption

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“The problem with public key encryption schemes is that although classical computers cannot factorise big numbers quickly, quantum computers can. So as soon as the first decent-sized quantum computer is switched on, these kinds of systems will become insecure.

Today, Akinori Kawachi at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan and a few buddies suggest that all is not lost for public key encryption. These guys have discovered a quantum problem that is hard to solve in one direction but easy to do in reverse. And they say this asymmetry could form the basis of a new kind of quantum public key encryption system.

Their system is based on the problem of distinguishing between two ensembles of quantum states. This is similar to the problem of determining whether two graphs are identical, ie whether they correspond vertex-for-vertex and edge-for-edge.”

Don’t Touch this Mouse to Point

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“Now there’s another alternative cursor relocation device set to hit the market called the evoMouse that turns just about any flat surface into a virtual trackpad with your finger as the pointer.

Described by its creators Celluon as the next evolution of the mouse, the evoMouse works in a similar way to the Invisible Computer Mouse we looked at last year – but is infinitely cuter.

Two infrared sensors that form the eyes of the small animal-shaped device track the user’s finger movements to provide the full gamut of mouse functionality such as click and select, double-click, right-click, drag and drop and even multi-touch functionality such as rotate and pinch to zoom.”