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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Sensation of Space Travel

Space travel :

Off-planet travel is an experience like no other, say those that have already travelled into orbit. And that's just what ticketed, still-to-fly customers for future suborbital treks want to hear.

Space travelers - those that have flown, as well as patrons-in-waiting for commercial spaceline operations to begin - spoke at the 2007 International Symposium for Personal Spaceflight (ISPS), held here October 24-25.

Reda Anderson, the first customer to sign up for a suborbital sendoff courtesy of Rocketplane Global, Inc., listed the "three R's" of commercial personal spaceflight: Risk, Reward, and Responsibility.

Anderson doesn't see herself as a tourist.

"That's because they are not serving coffee on this flight. I see myself as a pioneer ... one of, say, the first 100 people that certainly are pioneers, maybe the first 500," she said.

"We are the ones who'll begin this movement," Anderson added. "Darn right I know I could die there."

Opening up the market

For Craig Willan, a future passenger on Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic suborbital spaceliner: "I'm not worthy to be called an astronaut or an astronaut candidate. I'm a space traveler ... that's basically it." His official job here on Earth is President of Omega Research and Engineering, Inc. of Justin, Texas.

Like Anderson, Willan also said that he readily accepts the risks associated with public space travel.

As for the current price tag to fly aboard the suborbital SpaceShipTwo, now being built for Virgin Galactic, Willan's seat into space is costing $200,000. He'll be one of the first 100 to ride that vessel and believes that, potentially, ticket prices are going to come down - way, way down in the future.

Earlier in the day, Alex Tai, Chief Operation Officer for Virgin Galactic, noted that the company now has $31 million in deposits from future suborbital space travelers. "When we start flying people from Spaceport America here, and we show people exactly how wonderful it is to go to space and the wonderful experience you can have ... the market is really going to open up," he said.

Like a dream

There are two things you'll remember about being in space, explained Michael Lopez-Alegria, a veteran NASA spaceflyer with 10 spacewalks to his credit, as well as a stint aboard the International Space Station.

"The first is that it's better than you ever imagined. And the second is that you can't go back in your mind ... it's like a dream, like a parallel existence that you just can't get your arms around," Lopez-Alegria said. He said that once you've lived in space, the experience you'd like to bottle up so you can take a sniff of it every once in a while.

"Space is very addicting ... so be ready for that," Lopez-Alegria suggested to the audience. Launch and the speed needed to reach Earth orbit are truly amazing events, he said.

The sensation of floating - whether you equate that to a fish or a bird - "it doesn't matter. The sensation is unbelievable ... and the amazing thing is that it just never stops," Lopez-Alegria said.

In viewing the Earth from space, Lopez-Alegria said that our planet takes on many faces. "It looks fragile. It looks sturdy. It looks inviting. It looks hostile," he suggested.

From a spacewalker's perspective, with the freedom of looking at the sky during a night part of an orbit around the Earth, Lopez-Alegria pointed out: "Instead of seeing a black sky with pinpoints of light, it's almost as if you see a white sky with pinpoints of black. That's how many stars there are," he said.

Exceeds all expectations

A little over a year ago, Anousheh Ansari, attracted worldwide notice as the first female private space explorer to board the International Space Station. The high-tech businesswoman and co-founder of Prodea Systems of Plano, Texas paid some $20 million for her orbital adventure in September 2006.

The actual experience "exceeds all expectations" and is something that's hard to put to words, Ansari advised. "A lot of people say that diving is the closest thing to being weightless. It comes close, but still, it's not the same."

Ansari's suggestion, for those taking suborbital flights of short duration, is that future travelers need to make the whole journey the experience - and not just focus on the moment of weightlessness or the moment you see Earth. The entire preparation and mental preparedness is part of the journey, she said.

"There are a lot of new sensations that you'll be introduced to, and you need to mentally be prepared for that," Ansari said.

In her mission into Earth orbit, being able to observe the Earth from space had an impact on her. "It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable. All these things that may seem big and impossible ... we can do this. Peace on Earth - no problem. It gives people that type of energy ... that type of power, and I have experienced that."

Stellar-traveling species

Retired NASA astronaut, Dan Barry, has a trio of spaceflights under his flight helmet. His take home message regarding the importance of taking risk in order to fly through space boiled down to one word: adaptation.

"Life is something that modifies its environment ... changes things around in order to succeed," Barry explained. The obvious adaptation of the human race to all of the issues that are confronting us on the planet is to leave - to develop a spacefaring society, he said.

Mars is Barry's object of choice in regards to human expansion outward, on the drive to eventually become a stellar-traveling species.

"It is more than just nice. It's an obligation for us to get off this planet - to make it no longer possible to wipe out the species with a single event, an asteroid, or a crazy virus or an ecological runaway," Barry said. "It becomes not a destiny, but an absolute necessity for us to establish a place on Mars that is permanent, independent ... and capable of sustaining the species without Earth."

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Research report : Lust for sex is depand on Size of brain

source :
Lust for sex is a common factor

Australian scientists have found out what part of the brain is responsible for sexual attraction between people. They also found out that the bigger that part of the brain is, the faster and more intense man's excitement is.
The researchers, a group of neurophysiologists from the University of Melbourne, say that the degree of excitement depends upon the activity of the part of the brain called 'amygdala'. This part of the brain has the size of an almond. When you feel sexual irritants, the amygdala will respond faster than any other part of the brain.

Before the researchers discoverd this, it was already believed that the amygdala was responsible for attraction between animals.

After examining 45 epilictics of whom part of the brain is not working, amygdala included, it turned out that the amygdala plays a large role in the sexual experience. The bigger the amygdala, the bigger the sexual lust. People with large parts of the amygdala not functioning were almost indifferent to sex.

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Microsoft Debuts Mobile Server - Ballmer: Calling on mobile

The server software, introduced during Steve Ballmer's CTIA keynote Tuesday, will allow mobile devices to be managed and provisioned remotely much like PCs. Will Microsoft one day dominate the mobile software market as it has the PC market for the past two decades?
CEO Steve Ballmer clearly sees big opportunities for the software giant. As millions of consumers acquire cell phones, and as cell phones become more capable, it's a natural extension of Microsoft's core business selling PC operating systems and applications.

But then there's Apple and Google and Symbian and others with big plans for the mobile software market. Ballmer sees Microsoft's unique role as bridging the consumer and business markets to provide a more compelling "experience" for phone buyers.

At this week's CTIA conference here, Ballmer told CNET about some of Microsoft's plans, what he likes about the iPhone, and why he thinks Vista is already a success, no matter what you might have heard.

Taking direct aim at BlackBerry's commanding lead in the enterprise smartphone business, Microsoft will announce its first server-based tool for managing and securing Windows Mobile devices today. The debut will occur during CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote address this morning at the CTIA wireless conference in San Francisco.
Called System Center Mobile Device Manager, the new product is Microsoft's first dedicated mobile device server, bringing it into direct competition with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server from Research in Motion. Microsoft has long coveted a larger share of the enterprise market for mobile e-mail and other applications for business users, a market in which RIM has a 70% share, according to the Yankee Group research firm.

The new server software will allow mobile devices to be managed and provisioned remotely much like PCs. It will also allow mobile professionals to connect to corporate VPNs using their mobile devices.

"The IT folks, the same as it was in the PC environment, don't want to roll out 10,000 devices. They want to roll out one device 10,000 times," Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg told Reuters. "Microsoft is hoping to replicate the success and the model of the PC."

The new server will be available in the first half of 2008, the company said. The world's leading software provider is also said to be readying a new version of its operating system for mobile devices, Windows Mobile, for release early next year.

Windows Mobile runs on a variety of mobile phones from handset vendors including HTC, Samsung, Palm, and Motorola. Ballmer will also announce a new strategic partnership with a Boston-based startup called Enterprise Mobile, which will help customize and deploy Windows Mobile-based phones for specific enterprises. Enterprise Mobile was created by Corporate Software founder Mort Rosenthal.

While smartphones continue to be a niche market, making up only 10% of the total 1.2 billion handsets that will be shipped worldwide this year according to ABI Research, Microsoft, RIM, and Nokia all covet a larger share of the lucrative corporate market. Most analysts believe that, as more corporate employees work remotely and more applications become available via mobile devices, the market for enterprise smartphones will grow rapidly.

Nokia, the world's leading handset vendor, earlier this year moved up the North American launch of its well-received business-oriented E-series smartphones. Originally rolled out in February at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona, the three new E-series devices -- the E61i, the E65, and the E90 -- are available to U.S. companies through "complementary sales channels" (rather than the usual wireless carrier sales venues), including a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro.

"In gross numbers, the number of corporate inboxes is not growing very fast," says Scott Cooper, VP of mobility solutions in Nokia's enterprise division, "but the number of mobilized inboxes is growing very significantly."

While Nokia's Intellisync device management software allows IT departments to remotely manage devices based on a variety of operating systems including Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Palm, Microsoft's Mobile Device Manager will work only with Microsoft phones.

Microsoft says around 20 million Windows Mobile devices will be sold by handset vendors and carriers this year.

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New IT operational process automation tool

New IT operational process automation tool

New IT operational process automation tool launched NetIQ's Aegis promises vendor agnostic automation, measurement and improvisation of ITIL-based processes.

Systems and security management vendor NetIQ has announced the launch of Aegis, a new control and automation platform for IT processes.

NetIQ said it has developed the patent-pending technology used in Aegis in response to a proliferation of service desk automation and service oriented management tools developed by vendors, such as HP's Open View platform and BMC's Remedy or EMC's Smarts.

Chris Pick, NetIQ vice president of products and marketing told IT PRO that users of these tools originally invested in them during the 1990s to improve IT service delivery according to best practice frameworks. But, he said, they are now faced with a proliferation of these tools, meaning they are often under-utilised.

"Aegis acts as an enterprise service bus, to provide event automation and bi-direction integration to other toolsets," he said. "Many users have asked why they should buy the service desk vendor's management control tool, for example."

Aegis delivers run book automation (RBA) designed to automate, measure and create improvised ITIL-based processes that define, build, orchestrate, manage and report on workflows, which support system and network operational processes.

Internally developed with a process-centric perspective, Pick said that with Aegis, intelligent automation can reduce the time spent by IT operations' staff on manual repetitive tasks. And its broad-scope IT automation platform can enable an incremental adoption path for IT information library (ITIL) framework-based best practices.

The Aegis enterprise service bus (ESB) allows for vendor-agnostic integration of existing enterprise, security and application management tools, while its process automation engine and visualisation capabilities allows IT operational managers to execute pre-defined workflows in response to process triggers to command existing permissioned tools to take action.

It also features process improvement reporting capabilities and workflow modelling to calculate process efficiency and demonstrate improvement and make use of pre-built templates. A correlation engine gathers events and data from multiple tool sources and correlates them to produce more intelligent process triggers.

Pick said Aegis would be a key product for both NetIQ's security and systems management products, with its support for common standards, including those that govern web services and security protocols.

"This is the last bastion of control and cost," he said. "By providing more intelligent automation and a platform to maximise under-utilised management tools, Aegis helps organisations better control the cost of IT operations."

Aegis will be generally available from late next month with pricing based on managed object, management server and connectors to third party products.

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Opera links mobile devices to Web bookmarks

Opera links mobile devices to Web bookmarks

The newest versions of Opera's Web browsers will allow both mobile devices and PCs to share a common set of bookmarks.

The Norwegian browser company is set to release beta versions of Opera 9.5 and Opera Mini 4 later Thursday at a rock show, of all things, in San Francisco on the last day of the CTIA conference. The company is most excited about a new feature called Opera Link, Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder and CEO of Opera, said in an interview just a block away from the Moscone Center and the CTIA crowds. Opera Link is a service that lets Web surfers access a common set of bookmarks from both a mobile phone running Opera Mini and a PC running Opera 9.5.

Opera is somewhat unique among its competitors in the browser world in that it has been focused on mobile devices for a very long time. Mozilla recently announced plans to develop a browser with smartphones in mind and Microsoft has Internet Explorer Mobile, but Opera is a popular browsing choice for smartphones running Symbian, the dominant operating system in this arena.

The idea behind Opera's mobile products is similar to how Apple CEO Steve Jobs has sold the iPhone: smartphone users will no longer endure a compromised Internet experience on their phones, von Tetzchner said. Opera has versions of its browser for PCs, smartphones, and regular mobile phones (as well as Nintendo's Wii) and it's very focused on the development of smartphones into full-fledge Internet-capable computers.

"Things are moving in our direction," von Tetzchner said. "The Web is changing, and it's moving in our direction as people are using it on more and more devices, and people are looking at alternatives on the desktop." Application development on both PCs and mobile devices is increasingly shifting toward Web-based applications that can run on any device through the browser, and although that's still a pretty fragmented notion in the smartphone world, it's an interesting time for a company like Opera.

Opera Link aims to help out mobile Web surfers who want to check out all the Web pages they usually access from their PC, but who don't want to type long URLs on small keyboards or store a ton of bookmarks on a small device. Unlike social bookmarking services like, you don't have to access a separate Web page to get to your bookmarks. You have to sign up for the Opera Link service, which stores bookmarks in a central place that can be directly accessed by your Opera browser either on your PC or mobile phone.

I haven't had a chance to test the service, so let us know if it works as seamlessly as the company claims. Opera is throwing a launch party for Opera Link as well as the new betas at San Francisco's Rickshaw Stop, described by BPM Magazine as "Your uncle's rec room where rock kids and electronic kids come together in fabulously dressed debauchery," on the club's Web site. Whatever that means.

Opera Resources on the World Wide Web

The following listing includes opera information servers on the Web that we recommend for your additional browsing pleasure. We do not pretend to maintain an exhaustive list of all opera-oriented sites. Additional sites may be suggested for inclusion, but the editors reserve the right to accept or reject such suggestions. The sites listed are strictly educational and informational, providing general information about the world of opera. We regret that we cannot provide links to commercial sites offering goods and services.

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Emotional Memories Can Be Suppressed With Practice

Emotional Memories Can Be Suppressed With Practice

A new University of Colorado at Boulder study shows people have the ability to suppress emotional memories with practice, which has implications for those suffering from conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression.

The study, which measured brain activity in test subjects who were trained to suppress memories of negative images, indicated two mechanisms in the prefrontal region of the brain were at work, said CU-Boulder doctoral candidate Brendan Depue, lead study author. The study may help clinicians develop new therapies for those unable to suppress emotionally distressing memories associated with disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive syndrome, he said.

The study was published in the July 13 issue of Science. Co-authors on the study included CU-Boulder Associate Professor Tim Curran and Professor Marie Banich of the psychology department. All three authors are affiliated with CU-Boulder's Center for Neuroscience and the Institute of Cognitive Sciences, and Banich also is affiliated with the CU-Denver and Health Sciences Center.

"We have shown in this study that individuals have the ability to suppress specific memories at a particular moment in time through repeated practice," Depue said. "We think we now have a grasp of the neural mechanisms at work, and hope the new findings and future research will lead to new therapeutic and pharmacological approaches to treating a variety of emotional disorders."

During the training phase of the study, subjects were asked to learn 40 different pairs of pictures, each pair consisting of a "neutral" human face and a disturbing picture such as a car crash, a wounded soldier, a violent crime scene or an electric chair, Depue said.

After memorizing each associated pair, the subjects were fitted with special viewing goggles and placed in MRI scanners at CU's Health Sciences Center in Denver. Subjects were shown only the face images and asked to either think about, or not think about, the disturbing image previously associated with each face, he said.

The functional brain imaging scans taken during the study indicated the coordination for memory suppression occurred in the brain's prefrontal cortex, considered by neuroscientists to be the "seat of cognitive control," he said. The team found that two specific regions of the prefrontal cortex appear to work in tandem to suppress particular posterior brain regions like the visual cortex, the hippocampus and amygdala, which are involved in tasks like visual recall, memory encoding and retrieval, and emotional output, he said.

"These results indicate memory suppression does occur, and, at least in nonpsychiatric populations, is under the control of prefrontal regions," the researchers wrote in Science. The most anterior portion of the prefrontal cortex highlighted in the study is a relatively recent feature in brain evolution and is greatly enlarged in humans when compared to great apes, said Depue.

The study showed the subjects were able to "exert some control over their emotional memories," said Depue. "By essentially shutting down specific portions of the brain, they were able to stop the retrieval process of particular memories."

Depue speculated that memory suppression could be a positive evolutionary trait, using the example of a Stone Age hunter narrowly escaping from a lion while hunting antelope. "If the hunter became so beleaguered by memories of that incident that he stopped hunting, then he would have starved to death."

It is not clear to what extent an extremely traumatic emotional memory, like a violent battlefield incident or a crippling car accident, manifests itself in the human brain, said Depue. "In cases like this, a person could need thousands of repetitions of training to suppress such memories. We just don't know yet."

Originated by psychologist Sigmund Freud more than a century ago, the concept of repressed memories is extremely controversial, said Depue. There is considerable debate today over whether repressed memories and suppressed memories are interchangeable terms, and even as to whether repressed memories exist at all, he said.

"The debate over repressed memories probably won't be resolved in my lifetime," said Depue. "I think the important thing here is that we have identified neural mechanisms with potential for helping the clinical community develop new therapeutic and pharmaceutical approaches for people suffering from emotional disorders."

The study was funded with support from CU-Boulder's Graduate School, vice chancellor for research and the university's Institute for Cognitive Sciences.

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How The Brain Generates

How The Brain Generates The Human Tendency For Optimism

A neural network that may generate the human tendency to be optimistic has been identified by researchers at New York University. As humans, we expect to live longer and be more successful than average, and we underestimate our likelihood of getting a divorce or having cancer. The results, reported in Nature, link the optimism bias to the same brain regions that show irregularities in depressionThe study was conducted by a team of researchers from the laboratory of NYU Professor Elizabeth Phelps. The lead author is Tali Sharot, now a post-doctoral fellow at University College London.

The NYU researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain function while participants thought of possible future life events (such as "winning an award" or "the end of a romantic relationship").

"When participants imagined positive future events relative to negative ones, enhanced activation was detected in the rostral anterior cingulate and amygdala, which are the same brain areas that seem to malfunction in depression," said Sharot. "Activation of the rostral anterior cingulate was correlated with trait optimism, with more optimistic participants showing greater activity in this region when imagining future positive events."

The team found that participants were more likely to expect positive events to happen closer in the future than negative events, and to imagine them with greater vividness.

"Our behavioral results suggest that while the past is constrained, the future is open to interpretation, allowing people to distance themselves from possible negative events and move closer toward positive ones," said Phelps, a professor of psychology and neural science. "Understanding optimism is critical as optimism has been related to physical and mental health. On the other hand, a pessimistic view is correlated with severity of depression symptoms."

The brain imaging findings offer a possible mechanism mediating the behaviorally observed optimism bias. The rostral anterior cingulate has previously been shown to be involved in the regulation of emotional responses. The current results suggest that in healthy individuals this region may help integrate and regulate emotional and autobiographical information to generate a positive view of the future.

The research was supported by the National Institutes for Mental Health, the Seaver Foundation, and a Margaret and Herman Sokol Postdoctoral Fellowship.

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NASA announces lander prize lunar

The U.S. space agency announced it will offer $2 million in prizes to competing teams successfully demonstrating a prototype lunar lander.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Centennial Challenges Program will offer the prizes during the X Prize competition this weekend at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, N.M. Winning teams must meet the requirements of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.

The project is aimed at accelerating technological development leading to a commercial vehicle capable of ferrying cargo between lunar orbit and the moon's surface.

To win the prize, teams must demonstrate a rocket-propelled vehicle and payload that takes off vertically from the New Mexico competition site, climbs to a defined altitude, flies for a predetermined amount of time and lands vertically on a target that is a fixed distance from the launch pad.

After landing, the vehicle must take off again within a predetermined time, fly for a certain amount of time and then land on its original launch pad. There are two levels of difficulty, with awards for first and second place at each level.

X PRIZE Foundation and NASA announce $2.5 million Lunar Lander Challenge

NASA and the X-PRIZE Foundation have announced a teaming agreement to offer the Lunar Lander Analog Centennial Challenge. Under a Space Act Agreement, NASA will supply the prize purse, the largest to date for a Centennial Challenge, and the X-PRIZE Foundation will administer and execute the competitions.

The first Lunar Lander Analog competition will take place at the X PRIZE Cup Expo in Las Cruces, New Mexico, October 20-22. The competition is split into two difficulty levels, with differing prize pools for each. Level 1 requires a vehicle to take off from a designated launch area, rocket up to 150 feet (50 meters) altitude, then hover for 90 seconds while landing precisely on a landing pad 100 meters away. First prize for this level is $350,000. A $150,000 prize goes to the runner-up.

The more difficult level 2 challenge requires a vehicle to take off from a designated launch area, rocket up to 150 feet (50 meters) altitude, then hover for 180 seconds before landing precisely on a simulated, rocky, lunar surface 100 meters away. $1.25 million dollars goes to the first place getter, with $500,000 and $250,000 available for second and third place.

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Cracking open the iPod Nano

Cracking open the iPod Nano

The iPod Nano is a great little music player from Apple. Besides playing music, it can also display movies, television and other video content on its two-inch screen. TechRepublic's Mark Kaelin cracked open the 4GB (third-generation) iPod Nano to see what makes this device so special.

(CNET sister site TechRepublic runs a regular series called "Cracking Open" in which they take a look inside a variety of gadgets. is publishing this excerpt.)

Apple iPod Nano (third generation, 4GB, silver)

iPod Nano

The good:
The third-generation iPod Nano offers crisp, bright video playback, an exceptionally thin all-metal body, above-average battery life, built-in games, and an advanced user interface.

The bad:
We're not crazy about the wider body, the smaller scroll wheel, the lack of video output, and the average-sounding audio quality.

The bottom line:
The shape may have changed, but Apple's relentless attention to detail remains. The third generation of the iPod Nano provides loads of entertainment for a down-to-earth price.

Device type: Portable media center; Dimensions (WxDxH): 2 in x 0.3 in x 2.8 in; Display type: LCD 2.0 in See full specs >>

See all products in the App

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Astronauts use robot arm for shuttle safety scan

Astronauts used a robot arm to scan the space shuttle Discovery's heat shield for damage on Wednesday as it headed for a Thursday rendezvous with the International Space Station.

"The mission is right on track ... We look forward to docking tomorrow," mission management chairman John Shannon told a press briefing at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The shuttle is due to dock with the ISS at 1233 GMT on Thursday to kick off a 10-day construction mission at the outpost that will feature five spacewalks.

Astronauts spent the morning remotely maneuvering the arm to slowly inspect the shuttle wings and nose in a now mandatory post-launch routine begun after space shuttle Columbia broke apart on its return to Earth in 2003.

The scan with lasers and digital cameras looked for any damage to the heat shield that might have occurred when Discovery hurtled into space from Florida on Tuesday.

Data collected is beamed back to Earth for study by NASA engineers who will scrutinize it over the next few days. Preliminary analysis revealed nothing amiss.

Three suspect panels were given an especially close examination. Engineers using a new X-ray analysis technique warned managers ahead of the launch that three of the wing's 44 carbon-composite panels had tiny cracks in their silicon-carbide coatings.

After a lengthy debate, managers opted to proceed with the launch and assigned teams to monitor the situation.Columbia was doomed by a hole in its wing heat shield from a blow by fuel tank insulation foam that broke loose during takeoff. The damage was not detected and the shuttle was destroyed by the high heat of re-entry into the atmosphere, killing the seven astronauts on board.

Loose tank foam has been a recurring problem on shuttle flights. NASA says the danger cannot be eliminated, but it has taken many steps to reduce it.

Video of Tuesday's liftoff showed several pieces of insulation flying off the tank late in the ascent when debris strikes pose less danger because they occur with less force.

The shuttle is carrying the 24-foot-long Harmony, an Italian-built unit that will be installed on the station and to which Europe's Columbus and Japan's Kibo modules will be attached on space missions starting in December.

The seven-member shuttle crew is led by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Pam Melroy. They will link up with a space station crew led by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

Leopard: Time Machine

Inside Leopard: Time Machine

This first installment of Macworld's Leopard coverage takes a look inside Leopard's signature addition, which helps radically simplify backups.

Apple usually makes no secret of what it considers to be the marquee feature of its major Mac OS X releases. The clue is usually right there on the box in which the update arrives.

Take Tiger. The box for the OS X 10.4 update featured Apple's X logo bathed in a spotlight-a clear sign that Apple thought the newly-introduced Spotlight search technology deserved top billing among Tiger's enhancements.

The same holds true for Leopard. This time around, the box features the X logo on top of a swirling cluster of stars. As if to further drive the point home, that galaxy-eye's view also happens to be the default Desktop background when you launch Leopard for the first time.

So why is this significant? Because the galaxy motif also appears throughout Time Machine, the name Apple has given to the new backup system it has built into Mac OS X Leopard. Designed to work with internal or external hard drives, Time Machine automatically creates time-based "snapshots" of your machine, allowing you to instantly retrieve files, folders, and applications that you may have deleted-or even just older versions of documents that you've since updated.

The major features
Macworld covered Time Machine extensively when Apple first unveiled the feature in August 2006 and again following this summer's Worldwide Developers Conference. Time Machine remains fundamentally unchanged since those previews, but a quick overview of its features is surely in order now that OS X 10.5 has arrived.

Using a unique 3-D interface atop a cosmic outer-space background, Time Machine attempts to turn the complex and sometimes confusing world of backup and restore into a simple, visual operation. Backing up is simple: attach a drive of sufficient capacity. In fact, when you first attach an external hard drive to your Mac-whether USB or FireWire-Time Machine offers to use that as your back-up drive. Enable the drive to use with Time Machine, then wait for the initial backup to complete. Once that's done, Time Machine will automatically work in the background, creating backups of files as you modify your system.

When the day comes when you need something back, you launch the Time Machine application-Apple has added a Time Machine icon to Leopard's Dock-and simply move backward through time to find the files or folders you wish to restore. A timeline on the right side of the screen lets you jump to any given day; back and forward arrows in the lower right corner of the screen let you move among the changes made to a file or folder. A Restore button copies the selected files from the backup drive.

The 3-D Time Machine interface is quite polarizing-some love it, some hate it. It does, however, make the relationship between your files and folders and time quite obvious, which helps quite a bit when you're trying to restore files from your backup.

Time Machine incorporates other Leopard enhancements. Using Quick Look, you can scroll through retrieved files to make sure you've found the right version. And you can use Spotlight to find folders and files on your backup drive with a specific search string.

Some other Time Machine features that may interest you:

If Time Machine happens to be in the middle of a backup when you put your Mac to sleep, don't worry-the feature automatically stops and then resumes once you reconnect to your backup drive.

You're able to browse any Time Machine backup volume, even one of a different Mac, when you plug the drive into your computer-a useful feature for multi-Mac households.

Holding down the Control key and clicking the Time Machine icon in the Dock creates a new incremental backup, if you just can't wait for the automatic backup to take place.

Time Machine preserves access privileges associated with files on multi-user Macs.
What you may not know

Time Machine only seems to work with external hard drives attached directly to your Mac, and perhaps file servers running Leopard Server. But you can't use any old remote server, and you can't attach Time Machine to your AirPort Extreme's shared volume, either. And be sure to schedule some time for Time Machine-that initial backup of all of your files is a doozy.

One of our favorite Time Machine features is actually apparent in the Leopard installation process: one of the offers in the Migration Assistant interface is to re-install the contents of a Time Machine backup. In other words, it's easy to put your drive back together from a Time Machine backup, so you can get back up and running in the event of a catastrophic crash.

And while most demos of Time Machine are focused on the Finder, it's important to note that applications can be made Time Machine-savvy as well. iPhoto, for example, works with Time Machine: when you click on the Time Machine icon while in iPhoto, you'll be presented with a 3-D interface into the history of your iPhoto library. You can fly back in time, scroll through the library until you found a mistakenly deleted photo, and then restore it to your present-day iPhoto library.

What we think
In my initial testing, Time Machine seemed to work quite well. After I finished my initial backup, I didn't notice any slowdowns in the typical usage of my machine due to Time Machine's background backup operations.

As a user, you don't have a ton of control over exactly how Time Machine operates. You can disable it, and specify certain locations that you do not wish to back up, but that's about all. One thing you will want to be sure of, though, is that you have a nice, large external (or internal) hard drive available for Time Machine-the more drive space you have available, the more versions of things you can keep. With a sufficiently large hard drive, you should be able to keep an extensive historical backup of your machine, enabling you to retrieve just about any form of any document you've modified.

Time Machine is perfect for nearly everyone-the only caveat being you will need a good amount of drive space to get the best out of it. Time Machine is not just for those who have accidentally deleted a file or lost work due to a hard drive crash. With its ability to store past versions of documents, it's also a great fit for anyone who needs to keep an audit trail, showing the iterations of a document from rough draft to final form.

One thing to keep in mind about Time Machine, however, is that the process isn't necessarily instantaneous. So if you create a file and then delete it a few seconds later, Time Machine won't have created a backup copy of that file. (While Leopard takes hourly snapshots of your drive, at the end of the day it collapses them into a single view for the entire day, so at that point your Time Machine backup is only good for tracking day-by-day changes.)

Still, version control is not really what Time Machine is for; instead, think of it as a really good insurance policy for all those priceless digital images, music, and documents that you store on your machine.

Great or wait? If you've got the drive space available-and seriously, go out and buy a big hard drive at the same time that you buy Leopard-Time Machine is a great idea that's been implemented quite well in Leopard. Yes, the cosmic 3-D interface may be a little cheesy-but the basic technology works quite well. Great.

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LHC( Large Hadron Collider) :ATLAS 
big wheel triumph

LHC ( Large Hadron Collider)
ATLAS celebrates installing the last of the eight big wheels. These wheels form the end-cap muon spectrometer of the detector.
The ATLAS end-cap muon detectors, the ‘big wheels’, have been compared to many things: flowers, orange halves, clock faces and works of art. But, more importantly, each is an incredible feat of engineering. On Friday last week the team celebrated the completion of the last wheel, and moved into the final stages of installation.

"I must admit that at the end of last year I would not have believed that we would manage to install these eight big wheels essentially on schedule," admitted Peter Jenni, ATLAS spokesperson. The first of the wheels took a long time to install, but the last one took just a couple of weeks. "This is really a great achievement."

The big wheels harbour ATLAS’s middle layer of muon chambers in the forward region and are one of the last large pieces to be installed. Each is 25m across, weighs between 40 and 50 tonnes and contains around 80 precision chambers or 200 trigger chambers. The support structure itself is just one third of the weight of the total wheel.

Because of their sheer size, each wheel had to be made in 12 pieces for the trigger planes and 16 pieces for the precision-measurement planes, or "petals", of aluminium, the last of which was installed on Friday. Each was assembled at CERN using components from all over the world before being fitted together, piece by piece like a jigsaw.

Because of the need for space for the chambers, designing a suitable structure presented a unique challenge, one that project engineers, Raphaël Vuillermet, Dimitar Mladenov and Giancarlo Spigo were happy to take on.

"The detectors themselves have been on drawings for 15 years; everyone knew where they would go but no one knew about the structure," explains Dimitar. "There were chambers everywhere so our design had to build around them and in the small spaces in between them."

The result after 3 years of calculation, design and sleepless nights was a uniquely thin and light structure that is precise to less than a millimetre.

The 100-member collaboration from Israel, Japan, the US, China, Russia, Europe and Pakistan began assembly of components in 2005 and installation in 2006. "Because the pieces are so delicate we had to be careful throughout the whole process," explains Raphaël. "I was very afraid about something happening to the chambers and also to the people, because you are working 30 metres up. But we didn’t have any problems."

The completion of the big wheels is symbolic for ATLAS because, as technical coordinator Marzio Nessi explains, "the big wheels were always seen as something we would do at the end. And now we have done them."

For Dimitar the biggest challenge was the timing. "I feel proud, but not for myself, for everyone. It was the result of hard work. The only thing that we were lucky about was the weather; if there had been a single day of heavy rain we might have been delayed. But Marzio said not to worry and to leave the weather to him, and the weather was great. I don’t know how he did it!"

Now just two smaller scale wheels and the end-wall chambers remain to be installed, and the big wheels have already begun to give read-outs as part of test runs using cosmic ray data that ATLAS performs every six weeks.

With their striking symmetry and aesthetic appeal the big wheels are likely to become icons of the experiment. But to Marzio, all pieces of ATLAS are beautiful. "This piece just happens to be 25m high."

Updates :Google adds IMAP support to Gmail

Google is updating continuously their services , No doubt they are playing the keyroll of global technology development.

Google announced today at Interop New York that Gmail will now support IMAP along with POP3 for synchronizing email across multiple mobile devices and computers. This new addition to the popular free email service allows users to download and organize emails on any one interface including online, through their mobile device or on their computer and instantly see the changes on the other interfaces.

IMAP is not a new technology but is new and a welcomed upgrade to Gmail. The IMAP support was presented by Matthew Glotzbach, product management director for Google Enterprise who announced users could begin using IMAP immediately, however according to the Gmail site Google will be rolling this out to everyone over the next few days, so if you don't see it right away it's probably coming to your account soon. Google has a video that describes how to configure your Gmail account to turn enable IMAP and how to configure your iPhone with the service which is available after the jump.

The feature will work with many email clients including Outlook Express, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, Apple Mail, Windows Mail, and Thunderbird 2.0. It will also work with BlackBerry's but is not yet compatible with VersaMail for Palm. A list of supported IMAP clients along with directions can be found on the Gmail Help Center.

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Behind Asia's moon race?

China launched its first lunar probe Wednesday. Japan sent an orbiter up last month. India is close behind. It's an economic competition with military undertones.

As the rocket carrying China's first lunar probe blasted off Wednesday evening, it left in its wake a vapor trail of questions about the nature of Asia's new space race.

The continent's giants are jockeying for position beyond the earth's atmosphere. Japan launched its own moon orbiter last month. India plans to send a similar satellite up next year. The dawn of the Asian space age, however, has been darkened by suspicion, instead of cooperation.

"This means more competition because of the lingering security concerns all three countries have about one another," says Bates Gill, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. "Because of the military relevance of space missions and technology, real cooperation will be difficult."

The moon shots, all designed to learn more about the lunar atmosphere and surface, have no military purpose, officials in the three new space powers are quick to point out. But in a field where civilian technological advances can easily be put to military use, nations closely scrutinize each of their neighbors' steps forward.

India is nervous about China's intentions, especialy in the wake of Beijing's test of an antisatellite missile last January. China worries that Japan's missile defense cooperation with the US might threaten its interests, and resents Washington's determination to remain the world's dominant space power. Japan is rattled by North Korea's ballistic-missile capability.

Against that background, Dr. Gill adds, "an Asian NASA sounds a bit far-fetched."

That, argues Joan Johnson-Freese, a space expert at the US Naval War College in Newport, R.I., is because the Asian nations' space programs are largely driven by "technonationalism; they generate pride domestically and they demonstrate prowess internationally."

The chief scientist for China's moon program, Ouyang Ziyuan, said in an interview earlier this year with the official People's Daily: "Lunar exploration is a reflection of a country's comprehensive national power and is significant for raising our international prestige and increasing our people's cohesion."

Space programs also boost high-tech skills. "China needs its lunar and manned flight projects to nurture the aerospace industry and bring along a cadre of young engineers who will develop its space industry, GPS, Earth observation, and communications, along with military applications," says Gregory Kulacki, a China analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington.

"The main meaning [of the Chinese moon program] on the industrial side is that we have to set up many new abilities in satellitemaking, long-range telemetry, and so on," says Zhang Wei, a senior official with the Chinese National Space Administration.

Such challenges are important, too, in India, where the scientific community is seeking new frontiers now that New Delhi's nuclear program is mature. "The only other avenue for growth and development of scientific technology is space technology," says Swapna Kona, an analyst at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi.

In Japan, space exploration holds out the promise of autonomy. "Japan needs to secure its own means of launching a satellite," says Akinori Hashimoto, a spokesman for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. "Now, we cannot launch one whenever we want to and we are concerned about information leakage."

China, Japan, and India are all focusing on the moon, says Dr. Kulacki, because it is "close, doable" and a logical first step in interplanetary exploration. Some officials see practical rewards beyond the scientific knowledge to be gleaned by mapping and analyzing the lunar surface. The moon is thought to be rich in Helium-3, for example, which could one day be used for nuclear fusion to create energy.

India's Chandrayaan probe will search for Helium-3, the head of India's space research organization said last year. China's Chang'e I orbiter will also sniff for it. "Mineral resources and energy ... will be a very important field that humans will compete for," Mr. Ouyang told the People's Daily.

The 1979 UN Moon Agreement bans ownership of lunar resources, but none of the nations launching lunar satellites, including the US, have ratified it, although India has signed it.

India has also been one of the most vociferous opponents of allowing weapons in space. Officials reacted with disquiet to China's destruction of an old weather satellite last January, proving that Beijing could threaten US and other satellites in space warfare. "We are treading a thin line between current defense-related uses of space and its actual weaponization," warned Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee soon after the Chinese missile test. He called on all states to "redouble efforts" toward a treaty guaranteeing the peaceful use of space.

China, too, has long called for such a treaty, which Washington rejects, but some analysts now doubt Beijing's sincerity. "Having recognized the futility of trying to get the US on board, and recognizing how weapons in space could be of benefit to China, that has dulled their enthusiasm," suggests Gill.

Japan, meanwhile, is shifting its approach to space-based defenses in the face of threats from North Korea. A ballistic-missile test in 1998 over its territory jolted Japan's space program into new life. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is seeking to redefine the current "peaceful" use of space to mean "non-aggressive" rather than "nonmilitary," as is currently the case.

The "Basic Space" bill enshrining this change is expected to pass by next March, freeing the Japanese Defense Ministry to launch spy satellites.

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MIT seeks ways to meet India's urban challenges


MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ) has teamed up with an Indian institution to organise an international competition for the best research paper on innovative responses to India's new urban challenges.

Part of the MIT's India Programme, the competition organised jointly with the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai, is designed to highlight usually overlooked cases of innovation and success in response to rapid urbanisation.

While the transformations in the Indian economy and polity are well documented and studied, very little work has been done in the study of institutional responses at city and state levels to challenges brought about by rapid urbanisation, MIT said.

These responses include some cities developing unconventional modes of resource generation. Some cities are succeeding in linking asset formation to asset maintenance. Others are making progress in renewing land uses in response to economic growth pressures without hurting the urban poor.

Some cities have been successful in incorporating citizen participation in decision-making without unduly delaying the implementation of projects and policies.

The competition anticipates that the crafting and implementation of new approaches will require planners who are not constrained by orthodox theories and ideological biases.

The cultivation of such a new heterodox mindset requires new teaching material for professional education, which is the ultimate purpose of this competition, MIT said.

Three best entries to the competition will get awards of Rs.100,000 (approx $2,500), Rs.75,000, and Rs.50,000.

The papers will also be published in an edited volume, which will include specially commissioned chapters written by prominent academics and practitioners.

Publication of the book will be followed by a conference, jointly organised by the Special Programme in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) at MIT and the Centre for Development Finance at IFMR, to disseminate the research findings.

The winners of the competition will be invited to present their work to the conference participants. Since the ultimate objective of the competition is to create new teaching material for professional education, winners of the competition will be offered the opportunity to develop their research papers into case studies appropriate for teaching purposes.

The first prize winner will be invited as a visiting fellow to MIT to present the case study in a manner suitable for inclusion on MIT's OpenCourseWare.

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