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Friday, September 14, 2007

Venus has been rising ever higher and has been getting a little brighter

Spot the Morning Beacon

When September opened, this resplendent Morning Star was rising just after dawn's first glow at around 5 a.m. local daylight time. But with each passing morning, Venus has been rising ever higher and has been getting a little brighter.

It will attain its greatest brilliance on Sept. 23, appearing at an eye-popping magnitude of -4.6. This is 19 times as bright as the brightest star in the sky, Sirius (in Canis Major, the Big Dog), and 10 times as bright as the next-brightest planet, Jupiter. (On this astronomers' scale, smaller numbers represent brighter objects, with negative numbers reserved for the brightest of all.)

See it during the day

Try looking for Venus through the brilliance of the daytime sky. It can be done if you know exactly where to look. Those who live in rural areas far from any extraneous light have reported that Venus can cast a faint, yet distinct shadow.

Probably the best method is to simply keep it in view until after the sun comes up. At its current extreme brightness, it can often be perceived as a tiny white speck against the blue backdrop of daylight.

And by month's end, it's rising at around 3:30 a.m. and will precede the sun by some three and a half hours.

Venus was at inferior conjunction on Aug. 18, in line between the Earth and the sun. Now it is swinging away from that line, speeding ahead of the Earth in its faster orbit. So in a telescope during September, it displays a large, brilliant, beautiful crescent that waxes in phase all month while shrinking in size.
When September opened, Venus was only 8-percent illuminated, but by month's end, that figure will have increased to 33 percent. But because it will have receded 16 million miles from Earth, the planet will appear more than one-third smaller than it did at the start of the month.
Magical telescopes

Thoughts of viewing the crescent of Venus reminds me of an amusing story related by George Lovi (1939-1993), a well-known astronomy lecturer and author who was also a good friend of mine.
One night, while running a public night at the Brooklyn College Observatory in New York, the telescope was pointed right at Venus which was then displaying its delicate crescent shape. Yet one student gazing through the telescope eyepiece stubbornly insisted he was not looking at Venus, but at the moon instead. When George commented that the moon wasn't even in the sky, the student replied, "So what? Doesn't a telescope show you things you can't see without it?"
During the coming weeks, Venus will also be floating ever closer to the bright star, Regulus and the planet Saturn, its evening partners from July. By the end of this month, Venus and Regulus will be separated by about 7 degrees and Venus and Saturn by 10 degrees (your clenched fist held at arm's length measures roughly ten degrees in width).

Come early in October, this trio - and a lovely crescent moon - will make for some eye-catching configurations in our predawn sky.

Japan's Kaguya Probe Set for Lunar Mission

Japan's massive Kaguya lunar orbiter stands poised to launch spaceward this week on a mission that, researchers hope, will unlock the secrets of the moon. Equipped with a veritable arsenal of science instruments and two baby satellites, the three-ton moon probe is set to liftoff from Japan early Friday (Local Time) on a one-year mission to Earth's nearest neighbor.

"The Japanese people are very interested in this mission," said Shinichi Sobue, Kaguya's science coordinator and public outreach for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). "Kaguya, or SELENE, is our first mission for really observing the moon."

HAVING flooded the globe with cheap cars, flat-screen TVs and electronic gadgetry, Japan has apparently tired of exporting its technology to planet Earth.

Yesterday, at 10.31am, it became the first Asian nation to send its wares to the moon in a lunar probe, blasting a three-tonne orbiter called Kaguya into space, and opening the way for a new space race with China and India.

After four years of setbacks, the Japanese H-2A rocket carrying Kaguya finally lifted off into blue skies over the Pacific island of Tanegashima. The 21-day journey marks the start of a year-long mission that Japan hopes will strike a first blow against China's rapidly expanding space ambitions.

Japanese scientists say the 55 billion yen ($A568 million) project is the biggest and most technically challenging mission to the moon since the US Apollo program ended in 1972.

But Japan has "no military factors in mind" as it peers over its shoulder at its rival, says Shinichi Sobue, senior engineer at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). "We want to give children dreams."

China is expected to send its Chang'e-1 satellite to the moon by the end of the year and aims to land an unmanned vehicle by 2010. India, which will launch its Chandrayaan-1 satellite next year, hopes to put a man on the moon by 2020.

America's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS satellites are also scheduled to leave for the moon next year, while Russia plans to launch its Luna-Glob satellite in 2012.

Scientists from the agency hope that Kaguya, named after a moon-dwelling princess in an old Japanese folktale, can shed light on several mysteries of the moon that remain unexplored.

The lunar explorer separated from its 53-metre-tall rocket 45 minutes after blasting away from Earth, while flying through skies over Chile, and will orbit the Earth twice before making a 380,000-kilometre voyage to its only natural satellite.

As it orbits the moon from 100 kilometres, Kaguya's orbiter, two 50-kilogram satellites, and 14 observation instruments will survey the sphere's distribution of elements and minerals, map uncharted polar areas, measure gravity fields and study the surface for clues about its evolution.

A high-definition television camera will send back images of the Earth as it rises from the moon's horizon.

Australian scientists from the University of Tasmania will use a 26-metre Mount Pleasant radio telescope, south-east of Hobart, to aid one of Kaguya's experiments. Along with other radio telescopes, it will track the lunar probe's position and use the information to make accurate measurements of the lunar gravitational field.

Dr Simon Ellingsen, from the university's school of mathematics and physics, said new information about the gravitational field could be used to test theories about how the planets in our solar system formed.

The Kaguya voyage will be Japan's first trip to the moon since 1990, when it launched the failed Hagoromo orbiter. The following year it sent the Hiten spacecraft, but it was only able to measure dust particles in the atmosphere.

Although China and India are expected to overtake Japan in the battle for space supremacy, the Kayuga project is the most ambitious of the present round of missions.

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700MHz open-access conditions sued by Verizon

US FCC auction of a thousand wireless licences for the 700MHz frequency after Verizon Wireless has challenged the rules of the game.

The FCC has attached open-access requirements to a 22 megahertz block of spectrum for the auction in mid-January.

Most of the mobile phone industry hated the idea of attaching conditions to any of the 700 MHz spectrum, but AT&T liked it.

Winning bidders of the 22 MHz worth of licenses are allowed to use any devices and application on their networks, as long as they don't harm the rest of the spectrum. Fighting against the FCC is legally messy and will take ages. Verizon suing will mean that the auction could be delayed for years.

Verizon claims FCC action "violates the US Constitution, violates the Administrative Procedures Act … and is arbitrary, capricious, unsupported by the substantial evidence and otherwise contrary to law."

The move might create a backlash against Verizon. Lawyers approached by RCR News said that the rules were designed to allow consumers, for the first time, to use their handsets with any network they desire, and download and use the lawful software applications of their choice.

People might get miffed that Verizon is using the court system to try to prevent consumers from having any choice of innovative services

3-D fruit fly images help brain research

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 5 Scottish-led scientists have generated the first three-dimensional images of the inside of a fruit fly in an attempt to shed light on human disease.

Using an imaging technique called optical projection tomography, or OPT, developed at the Medical Research Council's Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland, researchers said the images might aid genetic research into Alzheimer's and other human diseases that affect brain cells.

Mary O'Connell, who led the research, said: "Neurodegeneration -- the gradual loss of function of brain cells that occurs in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neuron diseases -- isn't a strictly human phenomenon. Insects are affected by it too."

The scientists used the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) since it and humans share many genes with similar functions. "It's already known that defects in the equivalent fly genes involved in human brain diseases cause brain cells in fruit flies to lose function as they age," O'Connell said, noting OPT could help researchers study how the fly brain changes in response to alterations in the normal activity of a specific gene without the risk of damaging tissue through dissection.

The research appears in the online journal PLoS One.

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Specialized brain cells survive through special functionality

A U.S. study shows specialized neurons thought to die after directing the connections of other neurons can survive birth and remain functional.

Michael Friedlander and colleagues at the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham found about 10 percent of such specialized neurons remain active in the adult brain.

The scientists said their finding -- which challenges accepted ideas about the brain's embryonic development -- might lead to new methods of facilitating the restoration of brain functions lost due to accident or disease.

"Since those cells are critical elements that guided the wiring of the brain's cerebral cortex in the first place, maybe we could tap into that ability later on," said Friedlander, chairman of the school's department of neuroscience and the study's senior author.

The finding by Friedlander and Dr. Juan Torres-Reveron at Yale University is reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Microfluidic chambers used to grow neurons:

U.S. scientists say they have developed a method of culturing mammalian neurons in chambers not much larger than the neurons themselves.

The new technology created by University of Illinois researchers extends the lifespan of the neurons at very low densities -- an essential step toward developing a method for studying the growth and behavior of individual brain cells.

"This finding will be very positively greeted by the neuroscience community," said Professor Martha Gillette, the director of the university's cell and developmental biology department. "This is pushing the limits of what you can do with neurons in culture."

The research that also included graduate student Matthew Stewart and Professors Jonathan Sweedler and Ralph Nuzzo is described in the current issue of the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Embryonic stem cell lines aren't all equal

U.S. scientists have discovered significant variations between neurons from two embryonic stem cell lines, suggesting not all such cell lines are equal.

The study -- led by UCLA biologist Yi Sun and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Thomas Sudhof at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center -- compared neurons generated from two National Institutes of Health-approved embryonic stem cell lines. The differences found in the mature, functioning neurons generated from each line implies culture conditions during cell generation -- which have yet to be identified -- can influence the developmental properties of human embryonic stem cells, the researchers said.

Sun, Sudhof and colleagues also developed a new technique for producing functioning neurons from stem cells that they said will be important for creating models of human neurodegenerative diseases.

The research is reported in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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(Update) X Prize- $30 Million Prize - google says perfume presents personality Ads by perfume strore

Google to Finance Moon Challenge Contest
Google Inc. is bankrolling a $30 million contest that could significantly boost the commercial space industry and spur the first non-governmental flight to the moon.

Call it Moon 2.0. The bulk of the prize will go to the first private company that can land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a gigabyte of images and video to Earth, the Internet search leader said Thursday.

Google partnered with the X Prize Foundation for the moon challenge, which is open to companies around the world. The Santa Monica-based nonprofit prize institute is best known for hosting the Ansari X Prize contest, which led to the first manned private spaceflight in 2004.

Google, the web search giant, joined today the XPrize Foundation in announcing the Google Lunar X Prize, which will be awarded to the first private company that will be able to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon. The Google Lunar X Prize was announced at the Wired NextFest in


But just a landing will not be enough in order to claim the prize, because Google and XPrize Foundation said that the rover will need to complete several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth.

In fact, the $30 million prize purse is segmented into a $20 million Grand Prize, a $5 million Second Prize and $5 million in bonus prizes.

If a company will be able to make a rover that will land on the Moon until December 31st 2012, then it can claim the Grand Prize of $20 million. But if the mission will be completed until December 31st 2014, then the Grand Prize it will be worth only $15 million. On December 31st 2014 the competition will be terminated.

In order to win the $5 million Second Prize, the spacecraft will need to transmit images and data back to Earth. The rest of the money represent bonus prizes for successfully completing additional mission tasks such as roving longer distances (> 5,000 meters), imaging man made artifacts, discovering water ice, and/or surviving through a frigid lunar night (approximately 14.5 Earth days).

As Google announced the imagery and other data sent by the rover from the Moon would be shared with the world via the Google Lunar X Prize's Web site.

"The Google Lunar X PRIZE calls on entrepreneurs, engineers and visionaries from around the world to return us to the lunar surface and explore this environment for the benefit of all humanity," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. "We are confident that teams from around the world will help develop new robotic and virtual presence technology, which will dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration."

"Having Google fund the purse and title the competition punctuates our desire for breakthrough approaches and global participation," continued Diamandis. "By working with the Google team, we look forward to bringing this historic private space race into every home and classroom. We hope to ignite the imagination of children around the world."

With this prize announced one thing it's sure: Google loves space. Last month Google introduced a new feature in its Google Earth program, called Sky. Sky combines high resolution imagery and informative overlays in order to create a unique playground for visualizing and learning about space. The images used to recreate the sky are offered the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the Digital Sky Survey Consortium (DSSC), CalTech's Palomar Observatory, the United Kingdom Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), and the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO).

Thanks to its collaboration with NASA Google has already launched, Google Mars and Google Moon, two projects similar to Google Earth.

"Why does Google love space? Well, for one thing, we just think it's cool," Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering at Google, said in a blog post. "More seriously, space exploration has a remarkable history of producing technological breakthroughs, from ablative heat shields and asteroid mining to invisible braces and Tang; the X Prize, too, could lead to important developments in robotic space exploration, a whole host of new Space Age materials, precision landing control technology and who knows what else."

Also Google co-founders said they are honored to sponsor the XPrize Foundation's project ."It's a great honour to participate in the Google Lunar X Prize," said Sergey Brin. "We are embarking upon this great adventure of having a nongovernmental, commercial organization return to the moon and explore."

"I hope that a ... very ambitious team of people will allow us all to virtually go back to the moon very soon. I couldn't be more excited about that," Larry Page said at WIRED show in

.The X Prize Foundation is known for its prizes offered to encourage privately funded research groups. In 2005 the foundation announced $10 million Ansari X Prize for the first private company that will build and launch a a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. The prize was won by a space SpaceShipOne designed by Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Later SpaceShipOne flights inspired Richard Branson's Virgin Group to build a fleet of commercial suborbital spacecraft for Virgin Galactic.

In 2006 XPrize Foundation announced another prize, the $10m Archon X-Prize for Genomics, which will be given to the first private research group to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days.

According to AP famed roboticist William "Red" Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon University has already expressed his interest for XPrize. He said is putting together a team to build a lunar rover. Last year, Whittaker was in charge of two autonomous vehicles that competed in a robot race across the


Back in the 60's the race to the Moon was a fierce competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and the first era of lunar exploration reached a dramatic conclusion in December of 1972 as Apollo 17 Astronauts Captain Gene Cernan and Dr. Harrison Schmitt became the last men on the Moon.

Now the space agencies and governments from all around the world are competing again in order to send probes to the Moon.

Earlier this month Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, announced it that its plans for the future include a manned mission to the Moon. Anatoly Perminov, the head of Roskosmos, said that

plans to send a manned mission to the Moon by 2025. Also

has plans to build a permanent manned base on lunar soil, until 2032.

NASA is planning to launch an unmanned mission to the Moon in the fall of 2008. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is a robotic mission designed to create a new type of comprehensive, digital map of the Moon's features and resources, necessary to cost-effectively, but mostly will focus on selecting safe landing sites for future human missions. Also NASA hopes to return the Moon by 2020.

The other countries are also considering unmanned missions. Earlier this year British space scientists have said they plan to undertake the country's first mission to the moon by the end of the decade.

also plans an unmanned flight to the moon by 2013. Beside






have similar plans.

As XPrize Foundation explained in its press statement there are numerous reasons tot explore the Moon.

For example the Moon can be useful in launching other missions. Space exploration is expensive because every ounce of propellant and spacecraft must be launched out of the Earth's strong gravity field. A natural storehouse of materials, lunar soil is more than 40% oxygen by weight and oxygen makes up most of the mass of rocket propellant. Because of its shallower gravity well, the Moon is the stepping stone to the universe.

The Moon can be also a platform for astronomical observation unhindered by atmosphere. The far side of the Moon is the one "quiet" place in the Solar System that is shielded from the Earth's cacophony of radio, television and data broadcasts. The body of the Moon itself provides this shielding, and a radio telescope on the lunar far side can detect energy from the beginning of the universe.

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Stars caught in bizarre death-dance


The low-mass companion in SWIFT J1756.9-2508 may have a mass just a few times greater than Jupiter, but up close, it would probably look nothing like a planet. The object is probably dominated by helium gas. Even though it is much larger than the pulsar, the pulsar is at least 100 times more massive. Image / Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State University

In this artist depiction of the SWIFT J1756.9-2508 system, the foreground object is the planet-mass object. The pulsar, located at the upper right, is tidally distorting the companion into a teardrop-shaped object, and ripping gas from it. This material flows in a stream toward the pulsar and forms a disk around it. Eventually, enough gas builds up in the disk to produce an outburst bright enough to make the system visible from Earth. Image / Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State University

NASA astronomers have found a bizarre Planet-Mass orbiting a neutron star.

The object's minimum mass is only about seven times that of Jupiter, but instead of orbiting a normal star, this low-mass body orbits a rapidly spinning pulsar.

It orbits the pulsar every 54.7 minutes at an average distance of only about 230,000 miles (slightly less than the Earth-Moon distance).

MIT astronomers played a key role in discovering what NASA calls one of the most bizarre objects in space: a star "skeleton" of very low mass that is orbiting and being slowly consumed by a pulsar, or remains of a second massive star, that is itself spinning faster than a kitchen blender.

A NASA team led by Hans Krimm and Craig Markwardt at Goddard Space Flight Center and an MIT team led by Deepto Chakrabarty, an associate professor of physics in MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, described the overall system (known by its abbreviation SWIFT J1756.9) in an article accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"While we already know of several cases of pulsars that have consumed or vaporized most of the mass in their companion star, SWIFT J1756.9 is possibly the most extreme example," said Chakrabarty.

Systems like SWIFT J1756.9 provide a rare opportunity for astronomers to examine how millisecond pulsars are spun up to such incredibly rapid speeds, and to determine their eventual fate, he added.

SWIFT J1756.9 was discovered earlier this year using NASA's Swift and Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellites. The RXTE observations indicate that the pulsar, a type of neutron star, is spinning 182.07 times per second, even though it is believed to contain at least 1.4 times the mass of the sun but is only about 10 miles across. "This means that the surface of the star is moving at about 7000 miles per second, or roughly 4 percent the speed of light," Chakrabarty said.

The companion object was found to orbit the pulsar every 54.7 minutes at an average distance of only about 230,000 miles (slightly less than the Earth-Moon distance). It has what astronomers consider a very low mass: about seven times that of Jupiter. For comparison, the sun is over 1000 times more massive than Jupiter.

"This object is merely the skeleton of a star," says Markwardt. "The pulsar has eaten away the star's outer envelope, and all that remains is its helium-rich core."

The system is only the eighth millisecond pulsar observed to be pulling mass from a companion, and only one other such system has a companion with such a low mass. The companion in that system also has a minimum mass of about seven Jupiters.

The system probably formed several billion years ago, when it consisted of a very massive star and a smaller star. The more massive star evolved quickly and exploded as a supernova, leaving behind a pulsar. The smaller star eventually started to puff up as it aged, and the two objects became embedded in the extended stellar envelope. This drained orbital energy, causing the two stars to draw ever nearer.

Today, the two objects are so close to each other that the pulsar's powerful gravity produces a tidal bulge on its companion, siphoning off gas that flows into a disk that surrounds the pulsar. The flow eventually becomes unstable and dumps large quantities of gas onto the pulsar, causing an outburst like the one observed in June.

With an estimated distance of roughly 25,000 light-years, the system is normally too faint to be detected, and is only visible during an outburst. SWIFT J1756.9 has never been seen to erupt until this June, so as Markwardt points out, "We don't know how long it will slumber before it wakes up again."

In addition to Chakrabarty, the MIT team includes Jacob Hartman, a graduate student in physics who defended his Ph.D. thesis on August 2.


Bizarre planet-mass object orbiting neutron star detected

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Binocular vision gene :Research could lead to treatments for some visual disorders

In work that could lead to new treatments for sensory disorders in which people experience the strange phenomena of seeing better with one eye covered, MIT researchers report that they have identified the gene responsible for binocular vision.

Unlike horses and eagles, whose eyes on the sides of their heads provide two different scenes, humans see a single, in-depth view. Now researchers from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have identified the gene responsible for melding images from two eyes into one useful picture in the brain.

The work, which appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology and in the journal Cerebral Cortex, shows that a novel gene is necessary for binocular vision.

"There are other instances in the brain where two different inputs have to be properly aligned and matched--such as auditory and visual projections to the midbrain that enable us to orient to sound," said lead author Mriganka Sur, Sherman Fairchild Professor of Neuroscience at the Picower Institute and head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. "This is the first study to pinpoint a gene with this kind of job."

Two points of view

Binocular vision allows us to perceive depth and carry out detailed visual processing. The images projected by each eye are aligned and matched up in brain regions called the visual thalamus and cortex.

The MIT researchers discovered that the genes Ten_m3 and Bcl6 have a key role in the early development of brain pathways for vision and touch. Ten_m3 appears to be critical for the brain to make sense of the two disparate images from each eye.

In mice that had the Ten_m3 gene knocked out, projections from their two eyes were mismatched in their brains. Because each eye's projection suppresses the other, the mice were blind, even though their eyes worked normally.

Remarkably, the researchers found that when the output of one eye was blocked at a molecular level, the knockout mice could see again. With one eye's conflicting input shut down, the other eye was able to function, though only with monocular vision.

"This is an amazing instance of 'gain of function' that proves immediately that the gene is directly responsible for creating matched projections from the two eyes," Sur said.

Human disorders in which the Ten_m family of genes is affected are often accompanied by visual deficits. "There are reports of human visual conditions in which simply closing one eye allows a person to see much better," Sur said. "We believe that genes such as Ten_m3 are at the heart of these disorders."

Co-authors include Catherine A. Learney, former MIT postdoctoral associate now at the University of Sydney; Atomu Sawatari, Kelly A. Glendining, Sam Merlin, Paul Lattouf and Natasha Demel of the University of Sydney; MIT affiliates Gabriel Kreiman, Kuan H. Wang and Ning-Dong Kang; Reinhard Fassler and Xiaohong Zhou of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Germany; and Susumu Tonegawa, Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Simons Foundation and Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council.

Basic of Binocular vision

Binocular vision is vision in which both eyes are used together. The word binocular comes from two Latin roots, bin for two, and oculus for eye. Having two eyes confers at least four advantages over having one. First, it gives a creature a spare eye in case one is damaged. Second, it gives a wider field of view. For example, a human has a horizontal field of view with one eye of about 150 degrees and with two eyes of about 180 degrees. Third, it gives binocular summation in which the ability to detect faint objects is enhanced. Fourth it can give stereopsis in which parallax provided by the two eyes' different positions on the head give precise depth perception. Such binocular vision is usually accompanied by singleness of vision or binocular fusion, in which a single image is seen despite each eye's having its own image of any object.

Other phenomena of binocular vision include utrocular discrimination, eye dominance, allelotropia, and binocular rivalry.

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Silicon Storage Technology’s gets a boost,

24hoursnewsThursday, September 13th, 2007 at 3:38 pm in Silicon Storage Technology.

You have to forgive Silicon Storage Technology (ticker:SSTI) if it's feeling a bit down in the dumps lately. The Sunnyvale maker of flash storage products for consumer devices could use a friend right about now. It's struggling to sort out its potential backdated options problems, it's fighting delisting by Nasdaq because it hasn't filed financial statements in about a year, and its stock price has been hovering around $3 per share for the past few months.

On Thursday, SST got a big hug, but not necessarily the kind it wanted.

Los Angeles-based Riley Investment Partners filed a schedule 13-D indicating it now held about 6.1 percent of the company's stock after going on a stock buying binge starting in late July. At the end, the fund attached a love letter of sorts explaining its interests:

"RIM believes the shares of the Issuer to be significantly undervalued…In fact, when one backs out cash and investments, the market is valuing SST's NOR flash business, product pipeline and licensing revenue stream at only $60 million-which RIM believes to be an extremely low valuation by any measure."

We all would like to hear we're worth more than everyone thinks, right? But this love is not unconditional:

"RIM has communicated this view to the Issuer's management… RIM's desire, at this point in time, is to work assiduously and aggressively with the current management team on behalf of all shareholders."

And here's the catch:

"RIM's sincere hope is that management and the Board of Directors share its sense of urgency…If they do not, it will force RIM to take a more proactive approach, one which will include, among other things, the nomination of new directors…communicating with other stockholders, making proposals to the Issuer concerning the capitalization and operations of the Issuer."

more from Silicon Storage Technology,>>

SST (Silicon Storage Technology, Inc., NASDAQ: SSTI), a leader in flash memory technology, today announced a new addition to the company's popular SuperFlash-based FlashFlex family of 8-bit, 8051-compatible microcontrollers, the SST89V54RD-33-C-QIF. Leveraging the company's innovative packaging technology, the new SST89V54RD is available in a 6mm x 6mm WQFN package, making it the smallest 8051-based microcontroller currently on the market. The device's miniature size and low power consumption are ideal for small form factor mobile applications, such as notebook PCs, MP3 players and GPS systems, as well as home entertainment devices including HDMI products. Additionally, the SST89V54RD supports in-system programming (ISP) and in-application programming (IAP), which provide a variety of benefits to device manufacturers and consumers alike.

"As the sophistication of mobile devices increases, size reduction and low power consumption become even larger issues for product design teams," said Paul Lui, senior vice president of the Standard and Special Product Group at SST and president of SST China. "The new thin and powerful SST89V54RD was designed to help our customers meet the size, power and performance requirements of next-generation portable consumer electronic devices."

In addition to a tiny 6mm x 6mm footprint, the WQFN package offers an extremely low-profile nominal package height of only 0.7mm (maximum total thickness of 0.8mm), making the new SST89V54RD well suited for height-constrained mobile applications.

In-Field Re-Programmability Through IAP and ISP
Like all of SST's FlashFlex microcontrollers, the SST89V54RD supports both IAP and ISP, enabling the user to update the flash device in the field or in an application. Both IAP and ISP lower cost and improve time-to-market for manufacturers, while bringing enhanced user experiences and convenience to consumers. These re-programming features also have a significant role in enabling increased functionality, such as remote diagnostics and product monitoring, in network- or Internet-enabled devices.

Pricing and Availability
Samples of the SST89V54RD-33-C-QIF FlashFlex microcontroller are available now. Pricing starts at $1.20 in 10K unit quantities. For more information about this or other SST products, please contact an SST sales representative, or visit the company's Web site at

About Silicon Storage Technology, Inc.
Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, SST designs, manufactures and markets a diversified range of memory and non-memory products for high volume applications in the digital consumer, networking, wireless communications and Internet computing markets. Leveraging its proprietary, patented SuperFlash technology, SST is a leading provider of nonvolatile memory solutions with product families that include various densities of high functionality flash memory components and flash mass storage products. The Company also offers its SuperFlash technology for embedded applications through its broad network of world-class manufacturing partners and technology licensees, including TSMC, which offers it under its trademark Emb-FLASH. SST's non-memory products include NAND controller-based products, smart card ICs, flash microcontroller and radio frequency ICs and modules. Further information on SST can be found on the company's Web site at

Forward-Looking Statements
Except for the historical information contained herein, this news release contains forward-looking statements regarding flash memory and non-memory market conditions, SST's future financial performance, the performance of new products and SST's ability to bring new products to market that involve risks and uncertainties. These risks may include timely development, acceptance and pricing of new products, the terms and conditions associated with licensees' royalty payments, the impact of competitive products and pricing, and general economic conditions as they affect SST's customers, as well as other risks detailed from time to time in the SST's SEC reports, including the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2005 and on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31, June 30 and September 30, 2006.

For more information about SST and the company's comprehensive list of product offerings, please call 1-888/SST-CHIP. Information can also be requested via email to or through SST's Web site at SST's head office is located at 1171 Sonora Court, Sunnyvale, Calif.; telephone: 408/735-9110; fax: 408/735-9036.

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Astronomy and Islam

Astronomy has been called the "queen of sciences". It incorporates many disciplines such as physics, particularly optics, mathematics and celestial mechanics. Since ancient times, Muslim scientists have studied astronomy, contributing greatly to human knowledge. Yaqub ibn Tariq, al-Kwarizmi, al-Battani, al-Farghani, al-Sufi, al-Biruni, al-Tusi and Omar Khayyam are just a few of the scholars who have left a lasting mark in the annals of astronomy.

On this page there is a collection of useful links, usenet groups, software and other resources related to astronomy, many with an Islamic flavour.

Glasgow Science Centre :Two prominent scientists are set to visit Glasgow next week (20th September 2007) to give an insight into the importance of astronomy in Islam. Dr Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society and Dr Usama Hasan are coming to the city to chart the story of Islamic astronomy in a talk timed to commemorate Ramadhan. The public talk will take place under the stars of Glasgow Science Centre's planetarium.

Dr Massey will use the technology of the planetarium (the facility is one of the best in the world) to demonstrate how different calendar systems from around the globe connect to the Sun, Moon and stars. The thought -provoking talk includes a star show under the star dome- showing just how the Sun changes its position over the course of the year and how the Moon changes its phases every month.

Dr Hasan will explore the Islamic lunar-based calendar (also known as a Hegiran calendar). The Islamic calendar is a *pure lunar calendar - one which has a year which does not follow the seasons. There are 12 lunar months in a year of about 354 days - about 11 days shorter than the solar year, Muslim holy days, although celebrated on set dates in their own calendar, usually occur 11 days earlier each solar year. Dr Hasan will examine just why this is such a crucial issue for contemporary Islam.


About the ScottishPower Planetarium
The ScottishPower Planetarium offers the chance to see a night sky as it should be seen, with thousands of points of light above us. Most city-dwellers have never seen a clear night sky, as light pollution is now a serious problem throughout the Western world. The controlled environment of the ScottishPower Planetarium with its amazing Zeiss Starmaster projector enables us to look afresh at the canopied heavens.

Tickets are £4.95 and available by calling 0871 540 1000

Please note that this event starts with a star show at 7pm, there is then a short break for complimentary refreshments as some members of the audience may be observing Ramadhan.


Contact: Claire Gemson
Phone: 01414205034

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"Google Lunar X Prize"

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24hoursnews:The foundation whose $10 million prize spurred privately funded rocketeers to send a small piloted craft to the cusp of space in 2004 has issued a new challenge: an unmanned moon shot.

With the audacious new contest comes a much bigger prize, as much as $25 million, paid for by Google, the ubiquitous Internet company.

The "Google Lunar X Prize" was announced Thursday in Los Angeles at Wired Magazine's NextFest. The contest calls for entrants to land a rover on the moon that will be able to travel at least 500 meters, or 1,640 feet, and send high-resolution video, still images and other data back home.

The X Prize Foundation saw the new contest as one of "the grand challenges of our time that we can use to move people forward," said Peter Diamandis, foundation chairman and chief executive.

The prize for reaching the moon and completing the tasks of roving and sending video and data will bring the winner $20 million, according to the contest rules; an additional $5 million would be awarded for additional tasks that include roving more than 5,000 meters or sending back images of artifacts like lunar landers from the Apollo program.

The $20 million grand prize will be available until Dec. 31, 2012, and then will shrink to $15 million for two years. The contest would be likely to end after that time, although Google and the foundation might be able to extend it.

The new contest follows the path of the original Ansari X Prize, worth $10 million, which was won by SpaceShipOne, a manned spacecraft designed by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites and funded by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft.

That prize was paid for through an insurance policy secured by Anousheh Ansari, a telecommunications entrepreneur in Texas and a board member of the X Prize Foundation who has since flown aboard the International Space Station. Burt Rutan is designing a craft called SpaceShipTwo that will be used by Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic.

The Ansari X Prize was based on earlier contests that spurred exploration and development of previous generations of aircraft, like the $25,000 Orteig Prize that led to the first solo trans-Atlantic flight by Charles Lindbergh in the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927.

Competitions, the logic goes, build excitement for new technologies and bring varied talent and creativity to bear on difficult problems from many approaches.

The new X Prize, Diamandis said, grew out of research performed last year for NASA as a contest that the U.S. space agency would sponsor. The research suggested that six or seven credible contenders could be expected to try for the prize, but NASA ultimately backed away from financing the project, Diamandis said.

"We were left with a very strong concept, but without a funder," he said.

In March, Diamandis pitched the idea to the Google co-founder Larry Page, who is on the X Prize Foundation board.

Page's reply provided a stark distinction between the ways of government and of billionaire entrepreneurs.

"Sounds like a lot of fun," he said, according to Diamandis. The multimillion-dollar project, Page said, would be "doable," but his Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, would have to sign on as well. And he did.

In a video statement to coincide with the announcement, Brin said that "we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit to accomplish the most ambitious tasks."

NASA has announced plans to return astronauts to the moon as early as 2020. But without the need to keep humans alive or to make a return trip, the X Prize trips would be comparatively simpler. In fact, getting to the moon could be the easier part, since launch vehicles that could reach the moon are already available from the Russian and U.S. governments, and potentially could be produced by other countries and private companies.

A number of successful entrepreneurs from the world of computing and the Internet, like Allen, have pursued childhood fascinations with space through efforts to create real spacecraft. Elon Musk, a founder of PayPal, has developed rockets through his company, Space Exploration Technologies, and Jeffrey Bezos, the founder of, is developing rockets at a facility he owns in West Texas.

Robert Bigelow, who has made his fortune in hotels, is developing a space transportation system and a space station that could be used as an orbiting hotel or research base.

Musk, who has a development contract with NASA that could lead to a craft to carry astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, serves on the X Prize Foundation board and has offered contest participants reduced prices on its Falcon vehicles to make the 248,000-mile, or 396,400-kilometer, trip.

In his video address, Brin said that within Google, there had been early talk along the lines of, "why don't we just man a new lunar mission our selves?"

He said that he realized, however, that the kind of competition that led to SpaceShipOne would harness the creativity of more entrepreneurs and be "more likely to actually achieve the goal."

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Recall your email

24hoursnews :IBM has released the latest versions of its enterprise collaboration software, Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Domino 8. Lotus Notes 8 brings together e-mail, calendar, instant messaging, office productivity tools and custom applications.

It includes productivity tools enabling users to create open standards-based versions of spreadsheets, word processing documents and presentations, in addition to supporting many file formats from traditional stand-alone applications. It also supports multiple platforms, including Linux and Windows for clients and Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, AIX and IBM System i for servers

How often you've wished you could recall an email which you regret having sent, or which could embarrass you.

Fret not, help is here. IBM's latest offerings in the collaboration platform, Lotus Notes 8 and Domino 8 come with a recall feature that allows you to call back an email that has been sent. Developed over the last 2 years, version 8 is based on the feedback of 25,000 businesses around the world.

According to the company, this release is one of the best in terms of collaboration features. It also has significant inputs from IBM's India labs. More importantly, this version can be accessed on the Blackberry platform too. The software will offer features like email, collaboration, calendar, instant messaging and other office productivity tools and custom applications.

It is for the first time that a software is based on the open-source eclipse platform, a departure from the fact that otherwise IBM has in the past used its proprietary technology.

Sandesh Bhat, director (design and technology innovation), IBM, said: "The whole idea behind this was to offer users the best in the Web2.0 capabilities. This is also our endeavour to develop the desktop of the future.

Lotus Notes 8 is much more than an email service, unlike competitive offerings. Lotus Notes 8 integrates work by building in instant messaging and presence awareness, office tools to create and edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets and infusing a business' custom applications, including help desk, CRM, sales force, discussion forums, blogs and more.

This is all possible as Lotus Notes 8 is built on the programming model of Lotus Expeditor 6.1.1, which is based on open standards. Lotus Expeditor 6.1.1 enables the construction and deployment of enterprise mash-ups, also known as composite applications. Lotus Notes 8 and Domino 8 support a variety of platforms, including Linux and Windows for clients and Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, AIX and IBM System for servers.

The office collaboration market is estimated to be in millions. Frost and Sullivan in one of its reports mentioned that IBM with a 44.5 per cent market share is a market leader in India.

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Tata Tele launches Web browser Moblie

Tata Teleservices has launched a Web browser mobile phone 'Samsung Explore' that is customised to access the Internet.

At Rs 5,499, the phone has other features such as 0.3-mega pixel digital camera, FM radio, MP3 player, mobile tracker, SOS alert and provision to insert external memory cards.

Starter kits and SIM cards would be additionally charged. Tariff plans for Internet access include Rs 10 a day, Rs 30 for 7 days and Rs 99 for a month - all offering unlimited access at speeds of about 156 kbps, Mr Srinivas Rao Sarapalli, Chief Operating Officer, Tamil Nadu Circle, Tata Teleservices, said at a press conference.

Both pre-paid and post-paid consumers can use this phone. The company currently has over 1.9 crore subscribers, about 60 per cent of who access the Internet via mobile phones.

The company expects to sell about 4,000 'Samsung Explore' handsets this month, Mr Sarapalli said.

Subscriber base

Tata Teleservices has about 9 lakh subscribers in Chennai and Tamil Nadu telecom circles and is investing about Rs 400 crore this year to expand network in the State.

It expects to add about 60 lakh subscribers pan India and is investing about Rs 4,000 crore in network expansion and other activities.


Tata Teleservices, in association with Samsung Telecommunications, unveiled a web browser fully optimised for mobile Internet here on Thursday.

The web browser is being introduced on the Samsung 'Explore' handset.

"This innovation opens up the Internet to those without access to a personal computer," said Pankaj Sethi, President (Value Added Services), Tata Teleservices. The access speed will be between 40 to 80 kbps, enabling viewers to open any web page in 20-30 seconds, he added. The browser, which is expected to be three to four times faster than GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), will enable the user to browse all websites, search and email. It will, however, not be possible to show videos in the current devices. The browser is based on the QSC6020 product from the Qualcomm single chip family. The Samsung 'Explore' handset, which also has a camera, FM radio and MP3 player, is priced at Rs. 5,499. Mobile Internet will come at prices ranging from Rs. 10 a day to Rs. 99 a month with unlimited access.

Chennai Correspondent writes:

According to Srinivas Rao Sarapilli, Chief Operating Officer, (Tamil Nadu Circle), Tata Teleservices, the web browser, powered by Novarra Inc., can be downloaded on a handset enabled with Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW).

Mr. Sarapilli said Tata Indicom aimed at expanding its subscriber base in Tamil Nadu from nine lakh to a million users by the year-end. Its country-wide user base is estimated to be around 19 million, which the company wants to expand to 25 million in the next few months.

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