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Meet the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Science

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Medicine

Bruce A. Beutler
Jules A. Hoffmann
Ralph M. Steinman

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2011 was divided, one half jointly to Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann “for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity” and the other half to Ralph M. Steinman “for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity”.


Physics

Saul Perlmutter
Brian P Schmidt
Adam G Riess

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 was divided, one half awarded to Saul Perlmutter, the other half jointly to Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae”.


Chemistry

Dan Shechtman

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 was awarded to Dan Shechtman “for the discovery of quasicrystals”.

Old Kilo Loses Weight With Age!

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo: Christopher Griffith; kilogram models by Jim Zivic

“The official US kilogram — the physical prototype against which all weights in the United States are calibrated — cannot be touched by human hands except in rare circumstances. Sealed beneath a bell jar and locked behind three heavy doors in a laboratory 60 feet under the headquarters of the National Institute of Standards and Technology 20 miles outside Washington, DC, the shiny metal cylinder is, in many ways, better protected than the president…

The American prototype is one of some four dozen such national standards around the world, and each of those, in turn, is accountable to an even higher authority: a regal artifact called the international prototype kilogram. Familiarly known as Le Grand K and held in a vault just outside of Paris under three bell jars, it dates back to the 1880s, when it was forged by the British metallurgist George Matthey from an alloy of nine-tenths platinum and one-tenth iridium.

Aside from a yearly ceremonial peek inside its vault, which can be unlocked only with three keys held by three different officials, the prototype goes unmolested for decades. Yet every 40 years or so, protocol requires that it be washed with alcohol, dried with a chamois cloth, given a steam bath, allowed to air dry, and then weighed against the freshly scrubbed national standards, all transported to France.

It is also compared to six témoins (witnesses), nominally identical cylinders that are stored in the vault alongside the prototype. The instruments used to make these comparisons are phenomenally precise, capable of measuring differences of 0.0000001 percent, or one part in 1 billion.

But comparisons since the 1940s have revealed a troublesome drift. Relative to the témoins and to the national standards, Le Grand K has been losing weight — or, by the definition of mass under the metric system, the rest of the universe has been getting fatter. The most recent comparison, in 1988, found a discrepancy as large as five-hundredths of a milligram, a bit less than the weight of a dust speck, between Le Grand K and its official underlings.”

Oracle has Ambitious Plans for Client-Side Java with JavaFX 2.0

October 9, 2011 Leave a comment

“Java has long been a hit with enterprise developers, with Java EE powering the back ends of enterprise applications in data centers around the world, while Java application servers and servlet containers enable countless Web applications.

For client-side development, however, Java hasn’t fared nearly as well…

So it’s been tempting to assume that Oracle, with its strong enterprise focus, would ignore the client in favor of data center technologies such as Java EE.

This week, we learned that’s not the case. In fact, the real news from this year’s JavaOne conference in San Francisco may not be Oracle’s plans for Java 8 and 9, but the revelation that Oracle is gearing up for a new, sustained push behind Java for the desktop, the Web, and mobile devices. If it can succeed in its ambitious plans, the age of client-side Java could be just beginning.”

Ancient Greek City being “Raised” from the Bottom of Aegean Sea

October 8, 2011 Leave a comment

“A submerged ancient Greek city, from the heroic era portrayed in Homer’s Iliad, is being ‘raised’ from the bottom of the Aegean.

Using cutting edge underwater survey equipment and site reconstruction software, archaeologists and computer scientists have joined forces to map and digitally recreate a Bronze Age port which was swallowed by the waves up to 3000 years ago.

It’s the first time that a submerged city has ever been fully mapped in photo-realistic 3D.

The entire city – covering 20 acres – has been surveyed in ultra-high definition, with error margins of less than three centimetres.

The survey – carried out by an archaeological team from the University of Nottingham – is the subject of a special BBC Two documentary, tomorrow Sunday evening.”

Oracle Public Cloud Unveiled by Larry Ellison

October 8, 2011 Leave a comment

“Oracle said this week that it’s building a cloud service to host many of its key software products, including Java, database, middleware and CRM.

As if anticipating concerns that the aptly named Oracle Public Cloud might be another vehicle for locking customers into Oracle software, though, CEO Larry Ellison tore into rival Salesforce.com, claiming Oracle will differentiate itself with industry standards and support for “full interoperability with other clouds and your data center on premise.”

The Oracle Public Cloud is a broad mix of platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service, and a potential competitor to Salesforce, Microsoft, and others.

The Oracle Fusion CRM Cloud Service and Oracle’s workforce management tools are already available, while the database and Java services, as well as a new business-focused social network, will be released “under controlled availability in the near future,” Oracle says.

Oracle boasts the Public Cloud will provide “all the productivity of Java, without the IT,” and “the Oracle database you love, now in the cloud.””

Microsoft Azure Fastest in Cloud Speed – Beats Amazon, Google

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

“Microsoft’s Windows Azure has beaten all competitors in a year’s worth of cloud speed tests, coming out ahead of Amazon EC2, Google App Engine, Rackspace and a dozen others.

The independent tests were conducted by application performance management vendor Compuware using its own testing tool CloudSleuth which debuted last year. Anyone can get results from the past 30 days for free by going to the CloudSleuth website, but this is the first time Compuware has released results for an entire 12-month period.

Compuware uses 30 testing nodes spread around the globe to gauge performance of the cloud services once every 15 minutes. The company performed 515,000 tests overall for a year’s worth of data covering August 2010 to July 2011, which Compuware released today.

Each test requires the loading of a simulated retail shopping site consisting of two pages, one page containing 40 item descriptions and small JPEG images, and the second page containing a single, larger image of 1.75MB.

The Windows Azure data center in Chicago completed the test in an average time of 6,072 milliseconds (a little over six seconds), compared to 6.45 seconds for second-place Google App Engine. Both improved steadily throughout the year, with Azure dipping to 5.52 seconds in July and Google to 5.97 seconds.

Also scoring below 7 seconds for the whole year were the Virginia locations of OpSource and GoGrid along with BlueLock in Indiana. Rackspace in Texas posted an average time of 7.19 seconds, while Amazon EC2 in Virginia posted a nearly identical 7.20. Amazon’s California location scored 8.11 seconds on average.”

Oracle Announces Plans for Java at JavaOne

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The following announcements were made by Oracleabout current and future versions of Java at the annual JavaOne conference this week:

  • Availability of an early access version of JDK 7 for the Mac OS.
  • Plans to “bridge the gap” between Java ME and Java SE.
  • An approach to modularizing Java SE 8 that will rely on the Jigsaw platform.
  • A new project that aims to use HTML5 to bring Java to Apple’s iOS platform.
  • Availability of JavaFX 2.0, a pending proposal to open source that technology.
  • Gearing up Java EE for the cloud.
  • A delay in the release of Java 8.
  • Java Micro Edition (ME) will continue to target mobile devices and will “evolve” through the submission of new Java Specification Requests (JSRs) to the Java Community Process (JCP).
  • Java Standard Edition (SE) will continue to target embedded systems.
  • Plans to submit a proposal to update Java ME version’s library specifications to enable better alignment with Java Development Kit (JDK) 7. It would primarily be an upgrading of CLDC to use the language features of SE 7, but it would continue to be a subset of Java SE.
  • The Connected Device Configuration (CDC) component of Java ME, which is a HotSpot implementation that is optimized for resource-constrained devices, such as Blu-ray players and tablet PCs, will become a subset of SE enabled by project Jigsaw.
  • Availability of JavaFX 2.0, the first update of the Java user interface (UI) platform. All of the JavaFX script APIs have been converted to 100 percent Java.
  • Plans to submit a proposal to open source the JavaFX platform as a new project within the OpenJDK Community.Oracle plans to start by contributing the JavaFX UI controls and related libraries and will contribute other JavaFX components in multiple phases.”