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Monday, July 30, 2007

Math and science

Students who had more math courses in high school did better in all types of science once they got to college, researchers say.

On the other hand, while high school courses in biology, chemistry or physics improved college performance in each of the individual sciences, taking a high school course in one science didn't result in better college performance in the others.

Philip M. Sadler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Robert H. Tai of the University of Virginia surveyed 8,474 students taking introductory science courses at 63 U.S. colleges and universities. Their findings are reported in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

Science educators debate the effect of the order in which students take science courses. Since the 1890s biology has tended to come first, followed by chemistry and then physics.

Some educators argue that physics should be taught earlier because it will help students understand the other two science areas; others say having chemistry first will help in learning biology.

But in this study neither was the case.

Using a scale of 0-to-100 points, Sadler and Tai found that every year of high school math a student took added 1.86 points to their grade in college chemistry. Taking chemistry in high school added 1.72 points to the college grade, but taking biology or physics in high school had no significant impact on the college chemistry grade.

Likewise, students taking college biology got a 1.84 point boost for each year of high school math. Taking high school biology got them an extra 1.35 points, but high school chemistry and physics had no significant effect.

And for physics, each year of high school math added 1.28 points, high school physics gave a 1.32 point boost, while high school biology and chemistry had no impact.

"I was surprised," Sadler said in a telephone interview. "I had a very open mind about whether this kind of early preparation would pay off."

"The most important thing for high school science teachers is to make sure there is lots of math in whatever science course they teach," Sadler said. "Math is so important in college science."

The paper does note that other variables not measured in their study may also have an impact, such as a student's interest in a particular subject and their parents' occupations.

Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, welcomed the paper as a source of new data for making decisions on science teaching.

"The correlation with math makes sense," he said.

But Wheeler, who was not part of the research group, cautioned that a correlation isn't necessarily the same as cause and effect.

The research was supported
From the National Science Foundation

Inside News:

Student Results Show Benefits of Math and Science Partnerships

Students' performance on annual math and science assessments improved in almost every age group when their schools were involved in a program that partners K-12 teachers with their colleagues in higher education.

While an earlier study tracked schools that began work in the first year of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Math and Science Partnership program (MSP), the most recent study followed more than 300 schools participating in partnerships that began to be funded during the program's second year.

Participating school districts found that a significantly higher proportion of students scored at the "proficient" level or higher on state math and science assessments in the 2004-2005 school year than they had in 2003-2004. The only exception was in science at the middle school level, where student performance stayed the same (see accompanying chart).

Progress among elementary math students was particularly noteworthy, with student proficiency rising by more than 15 percentage points from one school year to the next.

The MSP currently supports 52 such partnerships around the country that unite some 150 institutions of higher education with more than 550 school districts, including more than 3,300 schools in 30 states and Puerto Rico. More than 70 businesses, numerous state departments of education, science museums and community organizations are also partners.

"Teachers don't just have to learn more math and science," says Joyce Evans, a program manager in NSF's directorate for education and human resources. "They need to learn to become an expert resource for their colleagues."

Established in 2002 to integrate the work of higher education with K-12 and to strengthen and reform mathematics and science education, MSP was enhanced in 2004 with the addition of teacher institutes for the 21st century.

While NSF has funded development programs for teachers since the 1950s, the MSP teacher institutes not only have an intense focus on subject matter expertise but also an emphasis on leadership development. More than 3,000 teachers participated in 12 such institutes around the country in the 2006-2007 school year.

Typically teachers work intensively with higher education faculty in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines during the summer months to gain deep content knowledge, earn necessary certifications or degrees and receive mentoring from their higher education colleagues. The goal is for participating teachers to become school- and district-based intellectual leaders in mathematics or the sciences.

Student outcomes are beginning to parallel growth in teacher knowledge gained from participating in the Teacher Institutes. For example, in the 2005-2006 school year, a population of students with teachers who took part in the Rice University Mathematics Leadership Institute performed better on both the Texas state mathematics assessment and the Stanford 10 mathematics assessment (a national standardized test) than students of non-institute teachers in the same grades at similar schools.

Findings of the Houston Independent School District's research and accountability department indicated that students of institute participants outperformed comparison students on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, with the most significant gains noted by low-performing students of institute participants, who made dramatic strides toward reaching the proficiency standards. Students of institute participants also showed growth on the Stanford 10 mathematics assessment, indicating that their learning of mathematics progressed more than that of the general national population.

"The institutes are helping us build capacity, bringing teacher-leaders in the STEM disciplines to districts around the country," says Evans. "This will continue to benefit their math and science students."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

NASA takes swift action of astronaut drinking before flying missions

NASA said Friday it was going to take immediate action after a report raised safety questions about astronauts drinking before flying missions.
The space agency said astronauts flew drunk at on at least two occasions, despite warnings from doctors and colleagues that they posed a flight risk.

As a result, NASA deputy administrator Shana Dale said new procedures would be put in place immediately, including an internal review and a no-alcohol policy for 12-hours before all missions.

With the next space shuttle mission just two weeks away, Dale said NASA has "already had discussions with the crew commander of next shuttle mission and its flight surgeon." Officials have communicated "the allegations in the report and NASA's expectations of alcohol use and getting into a spacecraft."
The space agency said astronauts flew drunk at on at least two occasions, despite warnings from doctors and colleagues that they posed a flight risk.

As a result, NASA deputy administrator Shana Dale said new procedures would be put in place immediately, including an internal review and a no-alcohol policy for 12-hours before all missions.

With the next space shuttle mission just two weeks away, Dale said NASA has "already had discussions with the crew commander of next shuttle mission and its flight surgeon." Officials have communicated "the allegations in the report and NASA's expectations of alcohol use and getting into a spacecraft."
Dale said the goal was to insure that the flight surgeon and crew commander know that they are "expected and they are empowered to raise any flight safety issues that they have."

The report was prompted by the arrest of former astronaut Lisa Nowak, who was accused in February of the attempted kidnapping of a romantic rival.

According to the report, released earlier Friday, interviews with flight surgeons and astronauts "identified some episodes of heavy use of alcohol by astronauts in the immediate preflight period."

Dale said the agency would act immediately on reports of alcohol use, conduct an internal safety review and then "recommend corrective actions." NASA takes the report's recommendation for an astronaut code of conduct "very seriously," Dale said.

The committee report offered no specifics about the drinking episodes and said no attempt was made to confirm information given in interviews.

"Until we have more information, NASA cannot determine the veracity of these claims," the report said.

However, Air Force Col. Dr. Richard E. Bachmann, head of NASA's Astronaut Health Care System revealed a few more details of the claims Friday.

"There were two incidents described to us in more detail as more representative of a larger concern," said Bachmann. "One of those incidents involved both the shuttle and the T-38 [NASA jet aircraft] the second incident involved the Soyuz-ISS." Russian Soyuz spacecraft are used to ferry crew members to and from the international space station.

"There were still two incidents but they were structured such so that they involved all three operations," Bachman said, explaining that an astronaut was preparing to launch in a shuttle, but when the mission was delayed, the astronaut was to fly in the T-38.

Panelists looked into NASA's medical and psychological screening process and addressed other behavioral issues. "Preparation for exploration class space flight requires NASA to focus much more attention on human behavior," said the report.

"Alcohol is freely used in crew quarters," the report said. "Two specific instances were described where astronauts had been so intoxicated prior to flight that flight surgeons and/or fellow astronauts raised concerns to local on-scene leadership regarding flight safety. However, the individuals were still permitted to fly."

The panel said certification of astronauts for flight duty has no method to detect drinking episodes.

It also recommended NASA develop a code of conduct for astronauts.

"In general, astronauts are highly motivated to fly," the report stated. "Opportunities to fly in space are scarce and decreasing. The criteria for flight selection and how they are applied are unknown to the astronauts. Medical and behavioral health issues are perceived as having high potential for use to eliminate astronauts from mission assignment."

The drinking allegations shocked former astronauts and came as NASA deals with the apparent sabotage of a computer bound for the orbiting international space station.

Earlier two former shuttle astronauts told CNN that the drinking allegations, if true, would be "mind-boggling."

One of the astronauts said he was not aware of anyone "unduly using alcohol prior to launch." The other said "not a chance," and added that he would have "thrown the person off the crew."

The astronauts asked that they not be named because of the sensitive nature of the allegations.

Former NASA flight surgeon Jonathan Clark told CNN he'd never heard such reports in the past, although he said he had seen crew allowed to fly while "extremely tired" from "pre-mission fatigue." "Many of them took sleeping pills to try get some normal sleep state, and there were times when crew were groggy."

He said there are traditional pre-flight celebrations and toasting with crew members and their families, "but the times I've been involved ... there was beer and wine but there wasn't any heavy drinking."

Clark said he attended many such events as a flight surgeon or as an astronaut spouse. Clark's wife Laurel Clark was killed along with six other astronauts in the 2003 Columbia disaster.

NASA's next scheduled space shuttle mission is August 7, for the crew of the orbiter Endeavour. A NASA spokesman said an internal investigation has been launched into the sabotage of the computer and said it would be repaired and ready for next month's liftoff.

The computer problem surfaced, NASA said, when a subcontractor who supplied the computer notified NASA. Workers checked the computer and found it was intentionally damaged.

The computer is to be installed aboard the station's U.S. laboratory to monitor sensors on the facility's truss, NASA said. It was not designed to be part of any command and control or navigation functions, he said

More About NASA to Investigate Claims That Astronauts Flew After Drinking
NASA has launched an investigation into claims that astronauts have flown despite appearing intoxicated based on a report by an independent health panel, the space agency said Friday.

"At this point, we're dealing with allegations and we need to find out what the ground truth is," NASA associate administrator Shana Dale said in a press briefing.

The investigation, as well as a new interim policy pertaining to alcohol use by spaceflyers prior to launch, stem from the findings of an independent review of NASA's astronaut health care system. The 12-page report, along with an internal NASA review on the agency's behavioral and medical practices, was released Friday.

U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Bachmann, Jr., a veteran flight surgeon who chaired the independent panel, said his committee found at least two instances in which a crewmember had reportedly drank heavily before flight. One involved astronauts flying aboard a NASA shuttle and T-38 aircraft, while the other relating to Russian Soyuz flight to the International Space Station, he said.

In one of the accounts, Bachmann said, an astronaut reported concerns over a fellow spaceflyer's condition after a shuttle launch was delayed, when the orbiter crew was leaving NASA's Florida spacewalk aboard on of the agency's T-38 training jets. But in both reports, he stressed, the astronauts or flight surgeons with concerns felt their input was disregarded, as the spaceflyers in question were ultimately allowed to fly.

"We cannot say with any certainty whether they, in fact, were at all under the influence or affected at the time they flew," Bachmann said of the astronauts in question, who were not named in the report, nor were the times, dates or specific missions of each account. "The issue of concern was that the medical advisors or the peers, who should be empowered to raise questions, felt like they were not."

Only about four paragraphs of the 12-page report were devoted to alcohol use of astronauts before flight.

Based on the recommendations from the two reports, Dale said NASA plans to devise an official astronaut code of conduct, as well as include a behavioral assessment to the annual flight physicals of its spaceflyers. The agency will also enhance the use of psychological evaluations for future astronaut selections and strive to ensure that safety concerns can be raised freely, she added.

NASA launched both astronaut health reviews in the days following the Feb. 5 arrest of former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak. Florida police officers arrested Nowak in a parking lot at the Orlando International Airport after she allegedly attacked a woman that authorities said she perceived as a romantic rival for the affections of then-space shuttle astronaut Williams Oefelein.

Nowak has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault. NASA dismissed both Nowak and Oefelein from their astronaut duties earlier this year.

New policy in place

Dale and Ellen Ochoa, NASA's director of flight crew operations, said an interim spaceflight policy that prohibits astronauts from drinking alcohol in the 12 hours before a launch is now in place. That policy, taken from the agency's standing regulations governing flights of its T-38 training aircraft, was previously unofficially applied to human spaceflight, Ochoa said.

Meanwhile, NASA safety and mission assurance chief Bryan O'Conner has discussed the new policy with the commander and lead flight surgeon of the agency's next shuttle mission currently set for an Aug. 7 launch , Dale said.

In the week before launch, a shuttle astronaut crew enters quarantine to avoid developing sickness in flight. During that time, astronauts work through prelaunch activities, but their actions are not regulated during their off-duty time. Alcoholic beverages are freely available at NASA's astronaut crew quarters, NASA said.

"They are really responsible adults," Dale said of NASA's astronauts. "After they've finished their regular day of work, if they want to go back to crew quarters and have a beer I think that's okay."

In Kazakhstan, where U.S. astronauts and Russian cosmonauts enter quarantine for up to three weeks before launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, there is a preflight ceremony with champagne though NASA officials said they couldn't recall Americans actually drinking it.

"For them it's a great tradition in their society," Ochoa said of NASA's Russian counterparts, adding that it dates back to the first flight of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin nearly 50 years ago. NASA will talk with its spaceflyers to ensure the traditions of its Russian partners are properly respected, Ochoa added.

Former astronauts lamented that the report's anonymous anecdotes of astronaut drinking might tarnish the 26-year reputation of NASA and its shuttle flying astronaut corps.

"It doesn't fit with anything, anything that I've ever seen or heard," said former astronaut Tom Jones, who flew on four shuttle missions between 1994 and 2001. "I flew with about 20 people on four missions and I never saw anybody with any kind of problem in the hours before launch."

Jones said that, based on his experience with NASA flight surgeons and fellow astronauts, he finds it hard to believe that a spaceflyer would be cleared for flight with a known performance deficit, especially in an era that has seen two shuttle disasters - Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003 - that ended in astronaut fatalities.

"There's no upside to letting this guy get a pass," Jones said. "This is where it all comes down to doing the job and doing it 100 percent effectively."

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

WIn VISTA Market

At Microsoft's annual meeting with analysts, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner announced that the software giant had sold 60 million copies of Windows Vista since the product's launch in late January.

During the first five weeks alone, Turner said, sales numbers of Windows Vista exceeded the number of computers that Apple currently has as its total installed base.

But not everyone was impressed. "There were probably nearly 120 million PCs shipped in the first two quarters of 2007, so I'm not sure 60 million is that great," observed Gartner Client Computing research vice president Michael Silver.

Microsoft is "trying to dampen Apple's latest quarterly results, which saw a significant increase in shipments," he said.

Lacking the Killer App?

Turner said he thinks Vista's prospects going forward are "huge" -- especially in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Nevertheless, the software giant has just reduced its Vista sales growth forecast to roughly 10 percent over the next 12 months.

The continuing popularity of Windows XP is one reason Vista sales haven't been as strong as some analysts had expected initially. In addition, Vista's lack of a "killer app" means that potential buyers have no compelling reason to migrate from XP aside from Vista's "coolness" factor, wrote analysts at Forrester Research on the eve of Vista's launch.

In addition, the research firm's analysts wrote, Vista needs to be seen and experienced to be fully understood by consumers. "Until must-have applications are available on the Vista platform, the purchase experience will play an important role in Vista adoption," they noted.

"We certainly expect businesses to continue installing Windows XP for some time, even on PCs they buy with Vista licenses," Silver said. "Especially in the enterprise, it takes a good 12 to 18 months until they can support a new OS in their environment," he explained.

Greater Reliability, Reduced Support

Microsoft is trying to encourage PC users to upgrade to its new OS by stressing Vista's improved performance over XP in both security and customer support. During the past six months, only 12 "high-severity vulnerabilities" have been uncovered for Vista versus 25 for Windows XP, Turner told analysts. "I think you should also note that Windows Vista had far fewer than Apple, as well as any major desktop Linux distributor," he added.

Turner also played up the fact that the number of support calls for Vista was 21 percent lower than the number received for Windows XP during the past six months. "That's a big improvement for us as it relates to improving reliability," he said.

Microsoft currently is feeling "very good" about the sales performance of Vista's higher-priced Premium Edition, which has been selected by 68 percent of the software giant's customers to date. "That's a 16-point year-over-year increase as it relates to our premium mix," Turner noted.

However, the relative success of Vista's Premium Edition is not all that surprising. When Forrester Research interviewed more than 4,000 online adults several months back, Vista awareness proved to be greatest among wealthy, style-conscious individuals -- the consumers most likely to buy an upscale notebook or desktop PC that can take advantage of the advanced features that the Premium Edition offers.


Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.

The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor will help you to determine if your Windows XP-based PC can run Windows Vista. You can also use the Upgrade Advisor to determine if your Windows Vista-based PC is ready for an upgrade to a more powerful edition of Windows Vista.

This small software tool will scan your computer and create an easy-to-understand report of all known system, device, and program compatibility issues, and recommend ways to resolve them. Upgrade Advisor can also help you to choose the edition of Windows Vista that best fits the way you want to use your computer.

Just download, install, and run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.

Please Note:

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Ubisoft to Make Heroes Game

Ubisoft has signed a licensing agreement with Universal Pictures to develop a game based on the hit NBC television show Heroes.

The game now exists in theory, but details are thin. An Ubisoft spokeswoman on Thursday said the company has no information about what platforms the yet-to-be-developed game might run on or what type of gameplay might be involved.

"With a gripping storyline and rich characters, Heroes lends itself naturally to a videogame format," said Christian Salomon, vice president of worldwide licensing at Ubisoft.

Heroes is a drama series about an interconnected group of people scattered around the world who discover they have mysterious superpowers like telepathy, time travel and flight.

Not content to leave the poor folks alone with their newfound skills, series creator Tim Kring sent some baddies to kill them and put the fate of the world in the heroes' hands.

"We are very excited to be making the 'Heroes' video game with Ubisoft," Kring said in a news release. "Time and again, Ubisoft has proven they can turn licensed properties into fantastic games."

More news:

Type S.A.
Founded 1986
Headquarters Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, France
Key people Yves Guillemot, CEO
Yannis Mallat, CEO of Montreal Studio
Michel Ancel, Game Designer,

Industry Interactive entertainment
Products Rainbow Six
Ghost Recon
Splinter Cell
Prince of Persia
Brothers in Arms
Far Cry

Revenue €538 million sales FY2004-05
Operating income €41.4 million
Net income €27.2 million FY 2004-05 (before goodwill amortization)
Employees over 3500, 1760 in production tasks at the 1/20/2005
Ubisoft Entertainment (formerly Ubi Soft) is a computer and video game publisher and developer with headquarters in Montreuil, France. The company has facilities in over 20 countries, including development studios in Montreal and Quebec City, Canada; Barcelona, Spain; Shanghai, China; North Carolina, USA; Düsseldorf, Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Bucharest, Romania; Casablanca, Morocco and Milan, Italy, amongst other locations. As of 2004, it is the third-largest independent video game publisher in Europe, and the seventh largest in the US. The "Ubi" in Ubisoft is sometimes pronounced [juːbi] or more often [u'bi], in French it is pronounced .

The five brothers of the Guillemot family founded Ubisoft as a computer game publisher in 1986 in France. Yves Guillemot soon made deals with Electronic Arts, Sierra On-Line, and Microprose to distribute their games in France. By the end of the decade, Ubisoft began expanding to other markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

In the early 1990s, Ubisoft initiated its in-house game development program which led to the 1994 opening of a studio in Montreuil, France, which later became their headquarters. That same year, Michel Ancel created the Rayman character, a character which still stars in new video games as of 2006. Ubisoft became a publicly traded company in 1996 and continued to expand to offices around the globe, opening locations in Shanghai and Montreal. Ubisoft's revenue for 2002-2003 was €453 million; for fiscal year 2003-2004, this grew to €508 million. As of 2004, Ubisoft employs more than 2,350 people, of which over 1700 are classed as working in production. Yves Guillemot, a founding brother, is the chairman and CEO.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ubisoft committed itself to online games by getting behind Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, The Matrix Online, and the European and Chinese operation of EverQuest. The publisher established as its online division. But in February 2004, Ubisoft cancelled the online portion of Uru and backed out of the publishing deal on The Matrix Online. Regardless, only a week later the company announced its acquisition of Wolfpack Studios, developers of fantasy MMORPG Shadowbane, and in July 2004, its Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow was released for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 with what some considered a revolutionary online multiplayer feature.[citation needed]

On December 20, 2004 Electronic Arts (EA) purchased a 19.9% stake in the firm. At the time, Ubisoft released a statement saying they considered the purchase "hostile" until they had further information on EA's intent.[1]

On March 2005 Ubisoft acquired MC2-Microïds (Microïds Canada) and integrated it into Ubisoft's Montréal studios.[2]

Ubisoft also bought the Driver franchise from Atari in July 2006, for a sum of €19 million (USD$24 million) in cash for the franchise, technology rights, and most assets. Additionally, though Ubisoft is not acquiring the studio outright, the 80 members of Driver developer Reflections Interactive will become employees of Ubisoft.

On April 11, 2007, Ubisoft announced that it had acquired Sunflowers

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Hidden' Quantum Order Improves Prospects For Quantum Super Computers

Image of quantum order made using neutrons

An international team, including scientists from the London Center for Nanotechnology, has detected a hidden magnetic "quantum order" that extends over chains of 100 atoms in a ceramic without classical magnetism. The findings, which are published July 26 in the journal Science, have implications for the design of devices and materials for quantum information processing.

In quantum information processing, data is recorded and manipulated as quantum bits or 'qubits', generalizations of the classical '0' and '1' bits which are traditionally represented by the 'on' and 'off' states of conventional switches. It is widely believed that if large-scale quantum computers can be built, they will be able to solve certain problems, such as code breaking, exponentially faster than classical computers.

Theoretically, the spin of an individual electron is an excellent qubit, but in a real material it interacts with other electrons and its useable quantum properties are rapidly lost. The new research is important because it explicitly demonstrates, using a practical material, that a large number of electron spins can be coupled together to yield a quantum mechanical state with no classical analog. In addition, the team has also established the factors that affect the distance over which the hidden 'quantum order' can be maintained.

"We had two objectives," explains Professor Gabriel Aeppli, Director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the paper's senior author. "The first was to show that we could actually image the quantum order, which is sometimes referred to as phase coherence. The second aim was to manipulate the distance over which it can be maintained." This distance - and how sensitive it is to changes in temperature or chemical impurities in the material - can be essential in determining whether a material will have real-life applications, where it would be crucial to control and maintain quantum order over predetermined extents in space and time.

The team studied a ceramic material consisting of chains of nickel-centered oxygen octahedra laid end-to-end. The chains are not ordinary magnets such as those used to fix reminders onto refrigerator doors, but an exotic quantum spin liquid in which the electr

on spins (analogous to tiny bar magnets) point in random directions with no particular order, even at very low temperatures.

To measure the quantum order throughout this classically disordered liquid, the scientists used neutrons to image the magnetic excitations - "flips" or fluctuations of the spins - and the distances over which they could propagate. The experiments were performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Neutron Research in the US and at the ISIS particle accelerator of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK.

The scientists found that despite the apparent classical disorder, magnetic excitations could propagate over long chains of atoms at low temperature - in the otherwise magnetically disordered material.

Other examples of large-scale quantum phase coherence include superconductors and superfluids where quantum physics leads to fascinating properties.

The team also discovered that they could limit the coherence or make it disappear altogether by introducing defects into the material either by adding chemical impurities (doping) or heating. These defects break the chains into independent sub-chains, each with its own, hidden order. This part of the reported research is the first step towards engineered spin-based quantum states in ceramics.

Aeppli and other members of the team note that their work was initially not intended to have direct applications, but that they later realized that what they are learning could be applied in a range of fields from nanotechnology to quantum computing.

Collaborators on this research include: Guangyong Xu, of John Hopkins University and Brookhaven National Laboratory; Collin L. Broholm, Ying Chen, and Michel Kenzelmann of Johns Hopkins University and the NIST Center for Neutron Research; Yeong-Ah Soh of Dartmouth College; Gabriel Aeppli of the London Centre for Nanotechnology and University College London; John. F. DiTusa of Louisiana State University; Christopher D. Frost from the ISIS Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, U.K.; Toshimitsu Ito and Kunihiko Oka of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan; and Hidenori Takagi from AIST and University of Tokyo.

Funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, a Wolfson-Royal Society Research Merit Award (UK), and by the Basic Technologies programme of the UK Research Councils.

About Centre for Nanotechnology

Centre for Nanotechnology
17-19 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AH

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Price offer boom......Xbox 360 HD-DVD player from $199 to $179

Xbox 360 HD-DVD Player

At the Comic Con International convention today, Microsoft announced that they would lower the price of the Xbox 360 HD-DVD player from $199 to $179, starting next month. The Xbox HD-DVD player was already the cheapest player on the market. Most of the consumers who got the new technology did so because of the 360's offering. In addition to the price drop Microsoft also announced that from August 1st until September 30th anyone who purchases a new Xbox 360 HD-DVD unit will get five free HD-DVD's to kick off their collection.

HD-DVD was developed by Toshiba and backed by companies like Microsoft and Warner Brothers. In fact, Toshiba is the first to offer the "five free" promotions, and Microsoft is continuing the effort in order to push consumer demand for the format. The top rival for HD-DVD is Blu-ray another HD format that was developed by Sony and built into the PlayStation 3 system.

The war between the two formats is only getting better as technology becomes affordable, and the systems continue to lower in price. Exactly like the opinions that are expressed on the best game system, there are strong feelings on which format is best for home entertainment. Now, two people will agree on the best format. The only factor for most is the price of the systems, and in the case of HD-DVD, the $179 price for the Xbox player might be the deciding factor.

In an effort to push HD-DVD and to promote the HD DVD versions of "300" and "Heroes: Season 1," Microsoft unveiled exclusive content for Xbox LIVE Marketplace. Xbox LIVE will offer "300" on demand in HD starting Aug. 14th, and is working with Warner Brothers at Comic-Con on a "Bringing It Home" campaign featuring "300" and other Warner Brothers movies.

In advance of the street date for the "Heroes: Season 1" HD DVD boxed set, Xbox LIVE members will be able to download for free the show's pilot episode in high definition for a limited time. Members will also be able to download trailers, teaser scenes and other promotional materials highlighting the "Heroes: Season 1" boxed set on HD DVD.

More News

SAN DIEGO, July 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The HD DVD Promotional Group today announced at Comic-Con International 2007 that companies supporting HD DVD showcased some of the most anticipated movie and TV titles for fantasy and sci-fi fans, including Heroes: Season 1 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 300 from Warner Home Video, and STAR TREK: The Original Series from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment. Microsoft Corp. announced that it would reduce the price of its popular Xbox 360 HD DVD Player in the United States to $179, as well as adding five free HD DVD movies with the purchase of every player.

"HD DVD is the format of choice for great sci-fi content, from movies and hit TV shows to the classics," said Ken Graffeo, co-president of the HD DVD Promotional Group. "Heroes: Season 1 and the original Star Trek series are only available on HD DVD, and blockbuster titles such as 300 have interactive features you can only find here. HD DVD is the format that caters to the fan base."

Heroes: Season 1, available August 28th, 2007 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, will offer exclusive features only on HD DVD, including a web-enabled Download Center, a Heroes Abilities Test, The Helix Revealed, Character Connections and Picture-in-Picture Commentary. The seven-disc HD DVD set provides a personal experience for viewers of television's hottest must-see series and immerses them in the program. The exclusive interactive features showcase HD DVD web-connectivity which is a first for Universal and only the second title to include this new feature. HD DVD is the only high definition format that offers web connectivity today. The boxed set will retail for $99.98.

To drive more attention to the Heroes: Season 1 HD DVD boxed set, Xbox LIVE will offer the show's pilot episode to its members for free for a limited time, courtesy of Xbox and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Members will also be able to download trailers, teaser scenes and other promotional materials highlighting the Heroes: Season 1 boxed set on HD DVD. Xbox LIVE will also offer 300 on demand in HD starting August 14th, 2007 and is working with Warner Bros. on a "Bringing it Home" cross-promotional campaign.

To further sweeten the deal for Xbox 360 owners, Microsoft announced a price reduction on the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player in the United States to $179 effective August 1, keeping the player as the most affordable high definition drive on the market. In addition to the price drop, Microsoft is extending the highly successful "Perfect Offer" of five free HD DVD discs to Xbox 360 consumers. Previously exclusive to Toshiba HD DVD Players, with the purchase of an Xbox 360 HD DVD Player at the new low price of $179, consumers can choose five HD DVD titles for free from a selection of 15 popular titles via a mail-in offer.

For fans of the original Star Trek series, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment announced the upcoming release of STAR TREK: The Original Series in a 10-disc HD DVD/DVD combo disc set. The completely remastered edition goes where no fan has gone before with pristine HD audio and video, and exclusive HD DVD interactive features including picture-in-picture video commentaries and an in-depth tour of the starship Enterprise. The combo disc format offers a high definition version on one side for playback on any HD DVD player, and a standard DVD version on the other side for playback on any DVD player. This historic boxed set goes on sale in time for the holidays on November 20, 2007 for the suggested retail price of $199.00.

About HD DVD

HD DVD is the next generation, post-DVD standard for high capacity, high definition optical discs, approved by the DVD Forum, which develops and defines DVD formats. Its more than 220 strong membership brings together leaders in movies and entertainment, computing, consumer electronics and software. HD DVD is fast becoming the primary visual medium for the age of high-definition TV. The North American HD DVD Promotional Group, Inc. is an organization established to promote the HD DVD format and educate consumers in North America. For more information and a complete listing of HD DVD launch titles please visit

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. HD DVD Promotional Group

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Clarkson University recently competed at the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Forum 2007

AroClarkson University recently competed at the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Forum 2007 in Galveston, Texas. RASC-AL is an annual conference that provides an opportunity for students to present the results of their studies to peers and representatives from NASA and industry.

The forum included student oral and poster presentations, as well as technical presentations from NASA, industry, and university professionals. The Clarkson team, which was among the top-ten selected to participate, presented their project, "Manned Missions to Near Earth Objects Using Exploration Systems Architecture Study Hardware."

In addition to the support received from Clarkson's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program, the Clarkson team was awarded $5, 000 from the Universities Space Research Association to participate in the forum.

RASC-AL is an enterprise of NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, which links universities with the NASA Langley Research Center. With this synergy, NASA can communicate with the innovative minds of tomorrow and obtain concepts and technology that will lead to opportunities for future NASA research and programs.

The Clarkson RASC-AL team members are seniors: Andrew T. Bingham of Enosburg Falls, Vt.; Myles M. Farrell of Sebage, Maine, and Sean D. Moore of Colder, N.Y.; juniors: Wade E. Bartlett of Walton, N.Y.; Stephen D. Caron of Woonsocket, R.I.; Robert T. Fievisohn of Churubusco, N.Y.; Kate M. Wickswat of Rexsford, N.Y., and Robert A. Zilnicki of Williston, Vt.; and freshman Daniel N. Valyou of Gouverneur, N.Y. Their advisors were Piergiovanni Marzocca, assistant professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering and Daniel Valentine, associate professor and executive officer of mechanical and aeronautical engineering.

The SPEED program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives exemplifying Clarkson's "defy convention" approach to education. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 250 undergraduates annually. Projects involve engineering design and analysis, and fabrication. In addition, students learn real-world business skills such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communications skills. SPEED receives its primary financial support from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation with contributions from ExxonMobil and Turner Construction Company. The program was recognized with the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award and the 2002 Corporate and Foundation Alliance Award for its exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3, 000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty members achieve international recognition for their research and scholarship and connect students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.

Photo caption: Members of the Clarkson RASC-AL team in front of a Space Shuttle mock-up while on a tour of NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. From left to right: tour guide, Kate Wickswat, Sean Moore, Robert Fievisohn, Myles Farrell, Steve Caron, Andrew Bingham, Rob Zilnicki and Dan Valyou.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or]


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Glencairn Suspends Mining Operations at Its Bellavista

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- 07/25/07 -- Glencairn Gold Corporation (TSX: GGG)(TSX: GGG.WT)(AMEX: GLE) announces that mining operations at the Bellavista Mine in Costa Rica will be suspended immediately due to concerns over recent ground movements. Glencairn is taking this precautionary measure until a full technical analysis has been completed and required remedial action has been implemented.
After initial review by a number of Costa Rican and international consultants, the Company believes that this movement is in part caused by water saturation due to abnormally high rain fall during the past several years. In some areas of the leach pad and waste pile, local ground movements have been identified in the range of one centimeter per day. Extensive ground monitoring has been undertaken and a number of remedial measures are underway to reduce ground movement including de-watering wells, surface water control, and redistribution of the weight load. Based on earth movement patterns in Costa Rica, the geological structure at the site, and the opinions of its experts, the Company does not believe that there is a risk of sudden earth movement at this time. However, continued small movements could compromise the sub-liner, liner and drain system. As a further precautionary measure, all cyanide application has been immediately suspended.

The Company expects advanced stage studies and analysis to be completed within the next few weeks. An update on the results of these studies and remedial measures being taken, along with the expected impact on the operation for the remainder of 2007, will be provided as soon as it is available.

"Glencairn has assembled a first class team of national and international experts including the original design engineering firm at Bellavista, and has installed extensive monitoring and modeling stations" said Peter Tagliamonte, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are committed to resolve the ground movement issue in a proper, safe and effective manner and have a permanent solution in place as soon as possible".

Conference Call

A conference call and webcast will be held Thursday, July 26 at 10 a.m. To participate in the conference call, dial 416-340-8010 or, toll free in North America, 1-866-540-8136. You may also listen to the webcast at An archive of the conference call and webcast will be available on the Company's website.

About Glencairn Gold Corporation

Glencairn is a gold producer with mining and exploration activities focused in Central America. The Company operates the Bellavista Mine in Costa Rica and the Limon Mine in Nicaragua and plans to convert a third mine, the Libertad Mine in Nicaragua, to conventional milling and expand annual gold output. It holds a 60% interest in the Cerro Quema advanced gold project in Panama and a 100% interest in the Mestiza gold property 70 kilometres from the Limon Mine. The Company focuses on efficient and productive mining practices to establish a firm base of quality operations. Glencairn is committed to growth by optimizing current operations and expanding mineral reserves at existing mines.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains "forward-looking statements", within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the future financial or operating performance of the Company, its subsidiaries and its projects, the future price of gold, expectation that a solution to the ground movement at Bellavista will be found, estimated recoveries under the milling plan, the estimation of mineral reserves and resources, the realization of mineral reserve estimates, the timing and amount of estimated future production, costs of production, capital for the mill project, operating and exploration expenditures, costs and timing of the development of new deposits, costs and timing of future exploration, requirements for additional capital, government regulation of mining operations, environmental risks, reclamation expenses, title disputes or claims, limitations of insurance coverage and the timing and possible outcome of pending litigation and regulatory matters. Generally, these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved".

Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to: general business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties; the actual results of current exploration activities; actual results of reclamation activities; conclusions of economic evaluations; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; future prices of gold; possible variations of ore grade or recovery rates; failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated; accidents, labour disputes and other risks of the mining industry; political instability, insurrection or war; delays in obtaining governmental approvals or required financing or in the completion of development or construction activities, as well as those factors discussed in the section entitled "General Development of the Business - Risks of the Business" in the Company's annual information form for the year ended December 31, 2006 on file with the securities regulatory authorities in Canada and the Company's Form 40-F on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that are incorporated by reference herein, except in accordance with applicable securities.

Glencairn Gold Corporation is a growing gold producer with mining and exploration activities focused in Central America. The Company operates the Bellavista Mine in Costa Rica and the Limon Mine in Nicaragua and plans to convert a third mine, La Libertad Mine in Nicaragua, to conventional milling and expand annual gold output. It holds a 60% interest in the Cerro Quema Project in Panama and a 100% interest in the Mestiza Project 70 kilometres from the Limon Mine. The Company focuses on efficient and productive mining practices to establish a firm base of quality operations. Glencairn is committed to growth by optimizing current operations and expanding mineral reserves at existing mines.

Glencairn Gold Corporation
Peter Tagliamonte
(416) 860-0919

Glencairn Gold Corporation
Kerry Knoll
(416) 860-0919

Glencairn Gold Corporation
Lorna MacGillivray
Corporate Secretary and General Counsel
(416) 860-0919
(416) 367-0182 (FAX)

Renmark Financial Communications Inc.
Tina Cameron
(514) 939-3989

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Alcohol Said to Pose Risk for Astronauts


At least twice, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a flight-safety risk, an aviation weekly reported Thursday, citing a special panel studying astronaut health.

The independent panel found "heavy use of alcohol" before launch, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology, which reported the finding on its Web site.

The alcohol use by astronauts was within the standard 12-hour "bottle-to-throttle" rule applied to NASA flight crew members, Aviation Week said. The panel was created following the arrest in February of former space shuttle flier Lisa Nowak, who was implicated in a love triangle.

NASA's space operations chief, Bill Gerstenmaier, said Thursday it would be inappropriate for him to discuss the matter before the report is released Friday when a news conference is planned.

Asked if he had ever personally had to deal with a safety issue involving an inebriated astronaut in space, Gerstenmaier replied: "The obvious answer is no. I've never had any instances of that.

"There's not been a disciplinary action or anything I've been involved with regarding this type of activity," he said.

NASA plans to release the findings of a pair of reviews - one by the outside committee and the other by an internal panel - into astronauts' health Friday.

The independent panel's NASA consultant and its eight members, which include Air Force experts in aerospace medicine and clinical psychiatry, did not immediately return phone messages or e-mails from the Associated Press Thursday afternoon.

Aviation Week said the report citing drunkenness - ordered by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin - does not deal directly with Nowak or mention any other astronaut by name.

Nowak is accused of attacking the girlfriend of a fellow astronaut - her romantic rival - with pepper spray in a parking lot at Orlando International Airport. Fired by NASA in March, she has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary with assault.

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Thousands of Atoms Swap ‘Spins’ with Partners in Quantum Square Dance

July 25, 2007

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Thousands of pairs of rubidium atoms participate in a "quantum square dance" that may be useful in quantum computers.

View an animation that shows a "quantum square dance". (Requires Quicktime, a free download).

Credit: Trey Porto/NIST

View hi-resolution version

GAITHERSBURG, MD-Physicists at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have induced thousands of atoms trapped by laser beams to swap "spins" with partners simultaneously. The repeated exchanges, like a quantum version of swinging your partner in a square dance but lasting a total of just 10 milliseconds, might someday carry out logic operations in quantum computers, which theoretically could quickly solve certain problems that today's best supercomputers could not solve in years.

The atomic dance, described in the July 26 issue of Nature,* advances prospects for the use of neutral atoms as quantum bits (qubits) for storing and processing data in quantum computers. Thanks to the peculiarities of quantum mechanics, nature's rule book for the smallest particles of matter and light, quantum computers might provide extraordinary power for applications such as breaking today's most widely used encryption codes. Neutral atoms are among about a dozen systems being evaluated around the world as qubits; their weak interactions with the environment may help to reduce computing errors.

Led by Nobel Laureate William Phillips, the NIST group demonstrated the essential part of a so-called swap operation, in which atom partners exchange their internal spin states. (Spin can be visualized as a rotating top pointing up or down.) In the binary language of computers, the atoms swap values from 1 ("spin up") to 0 ("spin down"), or vice versa. Unlike classical bits, which would either swap or not, quantum bits can be simultaneously in an unusual state of having swapped and not swapped at the same time. Under these conditions, spin swapping has the effect of "entangling" the pairs, a quantum phenomenon that links the atoms' properties even when they are physically separated. Entanglement is one of the features that make quantum computers potentially so powerful.

"This is the first time these spin-entangling interactions have been demonstrated between pairs of atoms in an optical lattice," says Trey Porto, one of the authors. "Other research groups have entangled atoms in lattices as extended clusters. By isolating pairs, we can focus on the simplest units for quantum logic."

The swapping process is a way of creating logical connections among data, crucial in any computer. A logic operation is the equivalent of an "if/then" statement, such as: If two qubits have opposite states, then they should exchange values. The logical connections in quantum computers are created using entanglement, which in effect allows for multiple simultaneous, correlated possibilities.

The NIST experiment was performed with about 60,000 rubidium atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), a special state of matter in which all atoms are in the same quantum state. They were trapped within a three-dimensional grid of light formed by three pairs of infrared laser beams. The lasers were arranged to create two horizontal lattices overlapping like two mesh screens, one twice as fine as the other in one dimension. This created many pairs of energy "wells" for trapping atoms.

The scientists attempted to place a single atom in each well, with one atom spin up (or 1) and the other down (or 0). Then, they merged all double wells to force each pair of atoms into the same well, where they could interact with each other. When two such identical atoms are forced into the same physical location, quantum mechanics imposes a specific type of symmetry (only two of four seemingly possible combinations of quantum states are allowed). Due to this restriction, the merged atoms oscillate between the condition in which one atom is 1 and the other is 0, to the opposite condition. This behavior is unique to identical particles.

As they swap spins, the atoms pass in and out of entanglement. At the "half-swap" points the spin of each atom is uncertain and, if measured, might turn out to be either up or down. But whatever the result, a measurement on the other atom, equally uncertain before the measurement, would be sure to be the opposite. This entanglement is the key feature that enables quantum computation. According to Porto, the work reported in Nature is the first time that quantum mechanical symmetry ("exchange symmetry") has been used to perform such an entangling operation with atoms.

The current set-up is not directly scalable to an arbitrary computer architecture, Porto says, since it performs the same spin-swap in parallel for all pairs of atoms. Researchers are developing ways to address and manipulate any pair of atoms in the lattice, which should allow for scalable architectures. Furthermore, not all atoms participated in the swap process, primarily because of imperfect initial loading of the atoms in the lattice. (Some double-wells contained only one atom and had no partner to exchange with.) The scientists estimate that the swap worked for at least 65 percent of the double wells.

The NIST group is continuing to work on improving the reliability of each step and on completing the logic operation by separating atoms after they interact. The research was funded in part by the Disruptive Technology Office, the Office of Naval Research and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The authors are affiliated with the Joint Quantum Institute, a collaboration of NIST and the University of Maryland.

Background on quantum computing is available at

A computer going to space station was sabotaged that is supposed to be taken to the International Space Station on the shuttle Endeavour

space program worker deliberately damaged a computer that is supposed to be taken to the International Space Station on the shuttle Endeavour in less than two weeks, a NASA official alleged Thursday.

The suspected act of sabotage was caught before the equipment was loaded onto the spaceship, NASA said.

The computer is designed for use aboard the space station, not the shuttle, and the damage would have posed no danger to either shuttle or station astronauts, said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's space operations chief.

The unidentified employee, who works for a NASA subcontractor, allegedly cut wires inside the computer that is supposed to be delivered to the international space station by Endeavour, said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's space operations chief.

The worker also allegedly damaged a similar computer that was not meant to go into space.

Gerstenmaier did not identify the subcontractor or where the damage took place. NASA's inspector general office is investigating.

NASA hopes to fix the computer and bring it as planned aboard Endeavour on Aug. 7.


Sabotaged wires inside a computer box bound for the International Space Station (ISS) won't delay the planned Aug. 7 launch of NASA's shuttle Endeavour, the agency said Thursday.

NASA's Inspector General Office has launched an investigation into intentionally cut wires in a data relay box slated to launch aboard Endeavour next month and be installed inside the space station's U.S.-built Destiny laboratory, NASA's associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters Thursday.

"It will be repaired and it will fly on this flight," Gerstenmaier said of the damaged ISS hardware, which if flown as-is would have prevented the collection of structural performance data on the space station's backbone-like main truss. If left in place, the damage would have posed no risk to astronauts aboard the space station, he added.

The subcontractor responsible for building the damaged computer box reported the apparent wire sabotage about a week ago, said Gerstenmaier, though he would not disclose the name of the subcontractor while an investigation is underway. The damage found on the ISS box was apparently caused during its preparations at the subcontractor's premises, which are not located in Florida, he added.

Gerstenmaier spoke at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida after shuttle program managers, engineers and contractors concluded a two-day Flight Readiness Review to set an official Aug. 7 launch target for Endeavour and its astronaut crew.

The officials did not discuss the details of an independent health panel which found, according to a report by the weekly trade journal Aviation Week & Space Technology, "heavy use of alcohol" by NASA astronauts before launch.

The report, posted to the journal's Web site, cites findings from one of two astronaut health panel committees which found that, on at least two occasions, astronauts were allowed to launch even after fellow spaceflyers and flight surgeons deemed them unfit from intoxication and possible flight safety risks.

"There has not been a disciplinary action or anything I've been involved with regarding this kind of issue," said Gerstenmaier, adding that it was inappropriate to delve deeper into the details of the report, as well as those of a separate astronaut health panel, which NASA will release Friday.

NASA plans to hold a press conference at 1:00 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) Friday to discuss to two reports. Both studies were instigated earlier this year by the arrest of former astronaut Lisa Nowak, who is accused of attacking a woman she perceived to be a romantic rival for the affections of a fellow spaceflyer. Nowak has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted kidnapping and battery.

Distractions aside, NASA remains committed to launching Endeavour on Aug. 7 at about 7:02 p.m. EDT (2302 GMT). The planned 11-day mission may be extended three additional days to deliver fresh cargo, spare parts and a new starboard side piece of the space station.

The only major obstacle currently standing between Endeavour and orbit is an unmanned rocket slated to launch NASA's Phoenix mission to Mars on Aug. 3 from a launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station near NASA's Florida spaceport. That mission currently has about two liftoff attempts before Endeavour steps up to the launch plate, but the shuttle flight could be delayed a day or so to allow Phoenix more flight opportunities, Gerstenmaier said.

"Phoenix has essentially a month to get launched," Gerstenmaier said, adding that after that the red planet lander would have to wait two years until Mars and the Earth were in the correct orbital position for another attempt. "So clearly, in the overall sense, to get to Mars is pretty important and they have a pretty constrained launch window."

Commanded by veteran astronaut Scott Kelly, Endeavour's STS-118 mission will mark NASA's second shuttle flight of the year and follows last month's successful STS-17 spaceflight to the ISS aboard Atlantis. Included among Endeavour's seven-astronaut crew is former Idaho schoolteacher Barbara Morgan, NASA's first official educator astronaut to fly.

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Google has thrown its hat into the WiMAX ring by announcing a collaboration with Sprint Nextel today. The search giant will offer a portal to customers who make use of Sprint's high-speed WiMAX network, which includes the use of its suite of popular web applications. As part of the agreement,

Google has thrown its hat into the WiMAX ring by announcing a collaboration with Sprint Nextel today. The search giant will offer a portal to customers who make use of Sprint's high-speed WiMAX network, which includes the use of its suite of popular web applications. As part of the agreement, Sprint's WiMAX users will be able to search the Internet with Google and use cobranded versions of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Talk services. The companies will also work together with Sprint's location-detection technology to provide "location-assisted services," according to Sprint.

This collaboration brings what will be the best mobile Internet network together with the leading Internet search company," Sprint's president of 4G Mobile Broadband Barry West said in a statement. "It allows us to capitalize on the powerful mobility and Internet trends, and create wireless services and applications that take advantage of each company's history of product development innovation"

The move marks the first time a wireless operator in the US has made a Google-branded product officially available. Google has, of course, made many previous forays into the world of wireless, which include a multitude of mobile applications, but the company's interests don't end there. Google recently indicated its interest in bidding on the 700MHz wireless spectrum, if the FCC is willing to agree to Google's proposed auction rules. If Google were to win the auction, it would put the search giant in the position to directly compete with Sprint, as well as other wireless broadband providers.

But for now, Google's current collaboration with Sprint will provide a boost as Sprint and its WiMAX partner, Clearwire, try to raise the profile of WiMAX. The wireless broadband technology has had a hard time getting off the ground in the US, but Sprint plans to roll the high-speed wireless tech out in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. by the end of the year, and 17 more US cities by April of 2008. The company says that it hopes to reach 100 million people by the end of 2008


More News about Sprint Nextel today and google

In an effort to leverage its growing WiMax mobile Internet initiative, Sprint (NYSE: S) has called on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) to collaborate on a new mobile portal. The two companies will work together to bring Sprint WiMax mobile Internet customers search, interactive communications and social networking tools that will include the Google Apps communications suite.

Customers will be able to access Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk services, in addition to high-speed Internet browsing, local and location-centric services, music, video, TV and other as-yet unnamed on-demand services.

"Google and Sprint will optimize the Internet experience for the digital lifestyle," said Barry West, president of Sprint's 4G Mobile Broadband business unit.

"This collaboration brings what will be the best mobile Internet network together with the leading Internet search company. It allows us to capitalize on the powerful mobility and Internet trends, and create wireless services and applications that take advantage of each company's history of product development innovation," he added.

Across the Nation
While Sprint mobile phones will be able to access the WiMax services, Sprint's cellular network is separate from its WiMax system . The WiMax service will be based on Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum holdings.

Just last week, Sprint announced a partnership with WiMax provider Clearwire to jointly construct the first nationwide mobile broadband network using WiMax technology. Clearwire currently provides services in 13 states in the U.S.

"This is actually a really interesting development because until now a lot of people have been on the sidelines talking about some technology or another, but this is finally a step towards getting broadband-speed access over a wide range and covering a wide variety of devices," Vidya Lakshmipathy, a Forrester analyst, told TechNewsWorld.

What's Coming?
Sprint's announcement generates a number of questions, not the least of which is, "Will this new 'portal' have a name or a unifying theme?

"There will be a consistent look and feel for the customer for the services and applications we offer ... and there will be a name -- we haven't announced it yet," Peter Cannistra, Sprint's director for mobile broadband services, told TechNewsWorld. Cannistra was responsible for putting the Google deal together.

As Sprint builds the network, it will start with the devices at the top of the Internet access food chain, so to speak.

"The laptop computer, whether it's embedded with a WiMax chipset or a connection card with a external antenna, will be the main focus of our user experience at the beginning," Cannistra explained. "And then the WiMax technology will get into a lot of different devices, including personal media players, portable DVD players, cell phones, cameras, vertical business devices -- so we'll have a lot of different devices that can work with WiMax."

Obviously, not all of those devices will be conducive to a portal-like experience, so Sprint's efforts -- and Google's -- will be a work in progress as consumers indicate their interest levels in various new services and form factors.

Where Are You Now?
One of the more interesting aspects, other than a nationwide broadband WiMax service in the first place, is Sprint and Google actively working on location-based services that can track exactly where the device is.

"Assuming that a customer opts-in in a transparent way, we can do location in a couple of different ways. The first is, traditional advertisers would be very interested to know where people are. If they are close to restaurants or bars or other places of interest, we think advertising could become very meaningful to customers," Cannistra said.

"A second way, on an opt-in basis, would be to locate where people on your contact list are. Wherever you are, say on a Friday night, you could see ... on a map on your device, where your friends are," he explained.

Moving in the Right Direction
When it comes to mobile device Internet-based services, the user experience has consistently been limited and difficult to use. The iPhone's Safari browser experience is the perhaps one of the best implementations to date, but it's still not a rich experience in terms of Internet applications. There's lots of room for improvement, and the landscape is ripe for new services and features.

"I would say the key thing that partnering with Google gives Sprint in this case is that it puts them in the right frame of mind when thinking about what content to offer consumers -- any content they want." Lakshmipathy said.

Many cellular phone carriers, for example, have limited user access to "walled gardens" that attempt to restrict and control the content, Lakshmipathy noted.

"Often, there are a lot of smaller companies or individual developers who have great ideas for content but can't afford to get the placement of a bigger site on a content portal. By partnering with Google, whose motto is to make the world's information accessible to everyone, Sprint is moving in the right direction, opening up content on their networks," Lakshmipathy explained.

"While Google Apps might come on many of these WiMax-enabled devices, they are also opening up APIs (application programming interfaces) to the larger partner and developer community, making the possibilities for content somewhat endless ... and putting more control in the hands of the users and developers, allowing them to develop the content and services that they want," she added.

The Coming Generation of Embedded WiMax
Because the cost of the chipset for WiMax is relatively low, Sprint believes that notebook PCs and consumer electronic devices will soon come already embedded with WiMax technology.

"Just like WiFi today, you would just have it and you could activate it on an ad-hoc or daily basis, or you could subscribe on a monthly basis," Cannistra explained. "But we'll also have external connection cards that we'll sell as well."

Sprint plans to test the WiMax service in the Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas by the end of this year, and plans to roll out commercial services in multiple markets in April of 2008. The company hopes to cover 100 million people with its WiMax signals by the end of 2008.

The Fine Print
As part of the deal announced Thursday, Google and Sprint will share in revenue on advertising on both general Web and local search results.

"We have a lot more opportunity to partner with Google in other areas, but so far, it's just search results," Cannistra noted.

Even though Google will work with Sprint to deliver new forms of content and collaboration via Google Apps, this deal doesn't preclude Google from working with other partners on similar services.

"Google continues to focus on working with industry leaders to develop innovative services that provide people worldwide with direct access to Google services," Erin Fors, a Google spokesperson, told TechNewsWorld.

"It's all part of our mission to make information universally accessible and useful -- we're generally excited about opportunities like this when we're able to provide more people with access to information

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Solar Cell Efficiency Approaching 50%

Solar Cell Efficiency Approaching 50

University of Delaware (UD) researchers have managed to crank up the efficiency of silicon solar cells to a record-breaking 42.8 percent under standard terrestrial sunlight conditions. The new record is an important milestone on the path to the 50 percent efficiency goal set by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under its Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) program to develop affordable, portable solar cell battery chargers.

The new results put the pieces in place for a solar cell module with a net efficiency 30 percent greater than any previous module efficiency and twice the efficiency of state-of-the-art silicon solar cell modules. DARPA is initiating the next phase of the development program by funding the newly formed DuPont-University of Delaware VHESC Consortium to transition the lab-scale work to an engineering and manufacturing prototype model.

Given that around 20 percent of the weight of a modern soldier's pack is batteries, it's easy to see why the military is interested in the VHESC solar cell. The DARPA program aims to dramatically reduce the battery logistics pipeline and provide the soldier with more power at reduced weight, thus improving mobility, survivability and the availability of power-hungry electronic technologies on the battlefield.

UD's Allen Barnett explained that the VHESC solar cell uses a novel lateral optical concentrating system that splits incoming light into three different "energy bins" of high, medium and low, and directs them onto cells of different light sensitive materials that together cover the solar spectrum. Importantly, the concentrator is stationary with a wide acceptance angle optical system that captures large amounts of light and eliminates the need for complicated tracking devices.

Previous high-efficiency cells used a concentration device that required sophisticated tracking optics, a concentrating lens the size of a table and were more than a foot thick. By contrast, the UD consortium's devices are far thinner at less than 1 centimeter. The low profile and lack of moving parts translates into portability, which means these devices easily could go on a laptop computer or a rooftop.

"This technology has the potential to change the way electricity is generated throughout the world. This is a solar cell that works," Barnett boasted, adding that the 50 percent efficiency mark was just the beginning.

Related articles:
Race Is On For Efficient Organic Solar Cells
Study Slams Economics Of Ethanol And Biodiesel

Source: University of Delaware


NEW technology is making us forgetful, a survey has found.

The under-30s, who rely on phones, BlackBerrys and ipods to store information are the worst.

Only one in three could name four telephone numbers of friends before they had to look it up.

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And a worrying five per cent of under 30s could not even remember their home address. But the over 50s did the best - recalling six numbers.

Prof Ian Robertson, expert in neuropsychology, said: "People are relying on technology for their memory. But the less you use your memory the poorer it becomes."

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