Search This Blog

Thursday, September 4, 2008

IPod Nano 4G, iPod Touch 2G to Launch at Press Event September 9


An anodized aluminum top and polished stainless steel back. Six eye-catching colors. A larger, brighter display with the most pixels per inch of any Apple display, ever. iPod nano stirs up visual effects from the outside in.

And it’ll wow you for hours. Play up to 5 hours of video or up to 24 hours of audio on a single charge.1 All that staying power and a wafer-thin, 6.5-mm profile makes iPod nano one small big attraction.
4G iPod line expected to be announced at event

We haven't heard much from the Apple camp in respect to new products since it launched the iPhone 3G that is currently doing well in the marketplace. Apple is the number one brand in MP3 players with the iPod line sitting far above its competitors on the sales charts.

Rumors have been circulating for a while now that Apple would soon introduce new iPod models. Renderings have been surfacing showing the possible design of the new iPod nano and iPod touch players. Engadget has a rendering of the new iPod nano that is advertising some sort of screen protector for the device.

The 4G nano ditches the short, fat designthat was not popular with the 3G nano and returns back to a tall, slim design much closer to the design of previous generation nano players. The 4G nano has a flat screen, but the player itself is rounded on the edges.

Renderings of a new iPod touch have surfaced as well that show it to be in a case very similar to that of the new iPhone 3G. The design change is really no surprise considering the old touch used the same chassis as the original iPhone. According toiLounge, the new iPod nano will measure 38.75mm x 90.75mm x 6.08mm. Those dimensions -- if accurate -- would make the 4G nano slightly taller and thinner than previous nanos.

The rendering also gives the supposed dimensions of the touch as well. The touch is reported to measure 111mm x 61.8mm x 8.4mm -- making it roughly the same size as the original iPod touch.

MacRumors reports that a September 9 press event from Apple has been confirmed. It is assumed the 4G iPod nano and 2G iPod touch will be introduced at this event. Other possible upcoming announcements include updated MacBook and MacBook pro systems.

Large hadron Collider and its soul

Located on the outskirts of Geneva and in sight of the Alps, Meyrin is likely the only town in the world that decorates its traffic circles with inactive, high-powered superconducting magnets.
Such decorations are only logical when buried beneath this bucolic Swiss canton and extending well into France is the biggest traffic circle of them all: the 27-kilometer-long Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the most powerful particle accelerator ever built, set to come online Sept. 10. The launch of the multibillion-euro machine is expected to receive much fanfare, including live coverage on Eurovision.
Rather than avoiding collisions, the LHC exists for one reason: to smash subatomic particles together as fast as we can and as hard as we can, to see what happens next. With enough energy, the fundamental forces that shape the world could be laid bare, overthrowing — or reinforcing — scientists’ understanding of the universe.
“This is the biggest scientific instrument ever constructed,” says Jiří Niederle, a physicist at the Czech Academy of Sciences who coordinates the country’s scientific contributions to the LHC.
“We hope we’re reaching a new era, where many questions will be answered,” he said, and “that some essential progress can be reached.”
For the past few decades, physics has existed in a relative stasis, ever since the finishing touches were put to the Standard Model, which describes the building blocks of matter, so-called elemental particles, as well as the forces that control how these particles interact. Each new high-energy experiment has verified the model, without revealing anything yet unknown.
Physicists hope the LHC will change all that. The atom smasher is operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), a lab jointly run by 20 European countries, including the Czech Republic, which contributed just under 1 percent of CERN’s budget last year.
Far more important than the country’s financial commitments are the contributions of Czech scientists and researchers, some of whom have labored on projects associated with the LHC for more than a decade.
Long shut out from the lab — Warsaw Pact countries had their own facility, located in the Russian town of Dubna — the LHC and its experiments are the first large-scale CERN project that has seen Czech involvement on every level, from assembling tiny silicon detectors to track the aftermath of collisions, to designing the web of computers needed to break down the massive amounts of data spitting out of the LHC’s experiments.
With no major efforts under way to develop a similar particle accelerator anywhere else in the world, the LHC has become the defining physics experiment of at least a generation, and the hopes and fears of a multitude of Czech, European and international scientists rest in the spiraling paths of invisible particles that will shoot out from the atom smasher’s collisions.
Go ask Alice
Soft-spoken with a bushy beard and withdrawn eyes, Karel Šafařík stands in front of a 16-meter-high underground steel chamber, painted rust red, which is called Alice.
Alice, short for “A Large Ion Collider Experiment,” is one of several gigantic experiments arrayed along the length of the LHC’s track, each poised to study the billions of collisions occurring each second when the accelerator’s two beams, streaming in opposite directions at velocities near the speed of light, are crossed. The energy from these impacts will spit out minute bits of short-lived matter that will be captured on Alice’s array of sensors before winking, once again, out of existence.
More than 1,000 scientists have contributed to Alice, with Šafařík a leading light in the process: He oversees the experiment’s physics, and has worked on the project for some 15 years. Born in Czechoslovakia, Šafařík worked at Dubna until 1989, when he was then courted by several Western physics labs. He joined CERN in 1993.
Alice is contained in a massive iron “warm” magnet, so called because it operates at room temperature, not at the cryogenically cooled levels necessary for the superconducting magnets that move particles around the LHC. Alice weighs approximately 8,000 tons; its doors alone weigh 1,000 tons and take one day to close.
Šafařík points at a blue chamber inside Alice, which during a visit in the late spring was still open. This part of the experiment is called the “time-projection chamber,” he said, which is not as science-fiction-seeming as it sounds. “The detector has a fantastic ability to really trace particles in three dimensions,” he said. “This one is the largest in the world.”
Unlike several other large experiments located at the LHC — notably Atlas and CMS — Alice is designed to study what happens when heavier atoms are collided; in Alice’s case, electrically charged lead nuclei. For part of the year, these lead ions will be piped into the collider, accelerated along its loop by radio waves.
What Alice hopes to recreate are the conditions that existed a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang, when matter is theorized to have existed in a far different state, called quark-gluon plasma. Under this extreme temperature and pressure, the force that ties together quarks, the particles that compose protons and neutrons, would not yet have established itself. The universe instead would have been one primordial soup of quarks and other particles.
Beyond Alice, Czech scientists are also working on two of the LHC’s other experiments, Atlas and Totem, Niederle says. Atlas is the largest experiment at CERN, with almost 2,000 contributors from 35 countries, and it will be searching for the Higgs boson, supersymmetry and extra dimensions. (See story, below) Totem is a much smaller experiment, measuring the strength of the LHC’s beams using detectors called Roman pots, which were made in the Czech Republic.
These experiments will be engaged in a friendly competition, each with the potential to make the same discoveries — or verify each others’ results. What all have in common is a dependence on the LHC and its collisions.
Zoo of machines
Alice will have to wait for lead collisions, as the first particles to be pumped in the LHC will be single protons, which make up the nucleus of the simplest atom, hydrogen. The protons’ path starts with a small bottle of hydrogen, says Paul Collier, standing at a diagram of CERN adjacent to the facility’s brand-new control center, which he oversees.
The physics lab has developed into “quite a zoo of machines,” he said. From that bottle, the protons are fed into consecutive smaller, older particle accelerators, each of which brings the “bunches” of protons to a higher energy level until they reach the LHC. Within 20 seconds, the beam will have traveled some 6 million kilometers.
This year the LHC will not operate at its maximum energy level, or “design luminosity,” as it will shut down again over the winter during CERN’s traditional break, timed for when electricity comes into demand to heat homes in Switzerland and France. Once it is fully broken in, the LHC will collide protons at a combined energy of 14 trillion electron volts (TeV). The world’s previous record holder, the Tevatron, located in Batavia, Illinois, peaks at 2 TeV.
The beam is mainly controlled by two types of powerful magnets, quadropoles and dipoles, both of which are superconducting, meaning they must be brought close to absolute zero to operate, some minus 271 degrees centigrade — lower than the temperature of outer space. The LHC’s 1,232 dipole magnets are responsible for bending the beam, and represent the upper limits of magnetic strength that can be achieved today, allowing the LHC to reach such high energies.
Not only must the protons be put on a curved path, but the beams must be narrowed, by the quadropoles, to an incredibly thin route for collision, Niederle says.
“For instance,” he said, “if you take Prague tunnel in Letná, you’d have to have the same precision as putting two needles at either end and making sure they collide in the middle. … At CERN, everything is in smaller dimensions, but the precision is the same.”
With such concentrated energy, the beam is dangerous. After a normal operating cycle, which lasts 10 hours, the beam will have lost 40 percent of its protons, mostly due to collisions. At that point, the beam will be “kicked out” of the ring and eventually dumped “physically onto a huge block to absorb the energy,” Collier said. “The thermal shock involved in this is quite high.”
Beyond the beam, CERN is essentially an industrial site and many of its greatest dangers are electrical, or gases. “For example, the LHC has 130 tons of helium in it,” Collier said. “That’s a hell of a lot of helium.” The lab’s safety systems are rigorous and foolproof, he adds.
What about the risk of miniature black holes, which catapulted the LHC to some more dubious notoriety earlier this year when a lawsuit was filed, in Hawaii, of all places, to delay its start? While it is possible such black holes could be created, they represent no danger, largely due to their minute size, according to an independently reviewed report issued by CERN in June.
The world’s computer
With so many collisions projected to occur every second at the LHC, CERN realized that it would not be able to provide all the computing power needed to analyze the information streaming from the collider’s five experiments, with their combined 150 million sensors delivering data 40 million times per second. What was needed, instead, was a whole new way of processing.
Luckily for CERN — which is famous as the birthplace of the World Wide Web — the explosive growth of the Internet has provided the perfect solution. Rather than trying to process data solely at its farm of 4,000 computer processors, CERN will instead tap the resources of the many scientific institutions collaborating and funding the LHC, using a method called grid computing.
Leading CERN’s efforts in this is Zdeněk Sekera, who was born in Czechoslovakia and worked, like Šafařík, at Dubna. Sekera left for the United States in 1969, after the Prague Spring, and spent 25 years at U.S. high-tech firms before rejoining CERN six years ago.
Each year, the LHC will produce the equivalent of 20 million CDs of data — stacked on top of each other, these CDs would be 20 kilometers high, more than twice the height of Mount Everest, Sekera says. CERN’s IT building already draws 4.5 megawatts of power for its computers, and expanding much further would be infeasible. “Where do you get the power?” he asks.
Instead, the grid lashes together computers all across the world into one massive mainframe, dedicated to breaking down “events” from the LHC that have been flagged as possible signs of undiscovered particles. Like an electricity grid, computing power and storage space can flow in from anywhere into one common pool.
“The idea is that the whole grid … looks to anybody like one computer,” Sekera says. “The whole world is a computer for you,” he adds.
CERN did not invent the grid, but it is now the leading pioneer in developing the technology: More than 140 computing centers now contribute to its grid, including facilities in the United States and Japan, both of which are significant partners in the LHC. The Czech Republic is a smaller partner, with 300 CPUs in Prague hooked up to the grid.
Beyond analyzing LHC events, CERN’s grid has a wide potential for other scientific uses. Most famously, it has already been used in efforts to find a drug to counter the H5N1 bird flu, with researchers last year analyzing 500,000 druglike molecules, searching for which have the most potential in fighting the flu. Great potential exists for its use in weather simulations and bioinformatics, as well.
One experiment, one life
The scale and complexity of the LHC can only be rivaled by some of the greatest scientific efforts ever made, such as the race to the moon or the development of the atomic bomb. More so than those efforts, the LHC is truly international, which is made clear on a visit to its outdoor cafeteria, where, in the shadow of Mont Blanc, a multitude of languages can be heard.
The duration of the experiment — about two decades on, it is only about to begin, and it could likely operate for 20 years — means that some physicists will spend their whole careers devoted solely to the LHC. This concerns Michal Tomášek, a Czech physicist who works on Atlas.
“Back when I was a student,” he says, “there were 20 to 40 experiments that lasted five to six years, and you had an opportunity to go from one to another. … [Now] it’s really one experiment for one life.
“I’m slightly afraid that fewer and fewer people will want to devote their whole life to one experiment. This may be a problem.”
Nevertheless, the whole field of particle physics, which has largely labored in purely theoretical limbo for decades, could be reinvigorated by discovering something, anything beyond the Standard Model, be it evidence of string theory (a dominant but unproven field within physics), extra dimensions or, most tantalizing, particles that are completely unpredicted.
“Physics, even if it was first created in a theoretical mind, has always been checked by experiment to see if it’s correct or not,” Niederle said. “But we are now reaching such demands for energy levels that make it nearly impossible to check theories. … We hope [with the LHC] to reach an energy region where we can at least see the first symptoms hinting at confirmation of our theories.”
The preamble of 15 years of unrequited experimental pressure will not likely be released this year, but, once the LHC is operating at full strength in 2009, it likely won’t be long for discoveries to emerge — if they do.
“If you look at the history of human beings,” Niederle added, “there were several times that people thought they knew almost everything and nothing new can be observed.” Then X-rays were discovered, for example, and the scientific world was thrown into upheaval.
The billion-euro question for Nierderle, Šafařík and the thousands of other physicists who have devoted their lives to the LHC is this: Is now one of those times?
Paul Voosen can be reached at


Scientists hope to find ‘God particle’  : The theory behind the Large Hadron Collider

A divide has existed in physics for the past half-century between two pillars that, together, describe the universe. One, general relativity, proposed by Albert Einstein, shows how gravity, space and time interact on a cosmic scale, allowing scientists to calculate the movements of heavenly bodies with unerring accuracy.

The other pillar, quantum theory, describes the particles and forces that form the subatomic world: quarks, which combine to make protons and neutrons; electrons; other particles, like muons and neutrinos; electromagnetism; and the strong and weak forces that bind atoms together. Mostly finished by the 1970s, these descriptions, which have been almost entirely experimentally verified, are called the Standard Model.
The one unproven element of the Standard Model involves the origin of mass and reasons particles have different weights. A theoretical explanation, named after the Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, says particles acquire weight by interacting with a “Higgs field.” If this is true, scientists using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) should discover a particle called the Higgs boson, which is also nicknamed the “God particle” — a handle that has launched 1,000 newspaper headlines.
While the Higgs boson is the LHC’s most likely discovery, what scientists are hoping for is a way to rectify their two pillars, gravity and quantum mechanics. Physicists love an orderly world, and, from Einstein on, it has been a matter of agitation that these two standards go haywire when jointly applied to parts of the universe that are incredibly tiny and dense, such as black holes, or the Big Bang.
Many physicists feel they now have a theory that resolves this conflict: superstring theory, or string theory for short. Since the 1970s, in several waves, physicists have proposed that quarks are not tiny points but rather strings of material, the vibrations of which determine what type of particle or force arises from them.
It is a theory that by its sheer elegance alone has won over a large percentage of physicists. Unfortunately, it exists without any experimental verification, and the energies needed to find strings — and the technology to see them — are far beyond the limits of human ability, even at the LHC.
Rather than seeing strings, then, scientists hope the LHC will give evidence of elements essential to string theory, such as the existence of extra dimensions and supersymmetry.
Supersymmetry is now an integral part of string theory that says each particle in the Standard Model has a “superpartner,” a symmetrical particle that helps counter some of the “frenzy” (as the physicist Brian Greene puts it) at the quantum level.
None of these superpartners has yet been detected, but scientists believe the energy levels reached at the LHC could give rise to these particles. Such a discovery, which would likely reap a Nobel Prize or other honors, would be “a compelling, if circumstantial, piece of evidence for string theory,” according to Greene.
Also important to string theory is the existence of six (or seven) extra spatial dimensions, beyond the three to which we are accustomed. How could we possibly have missed these extra dimensions? Well, they just may be too small to see, according to Jiří Niederle of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
“It’s like if you take a garden hose and look at it from a great distance,” Niederle says. “You will not see it as a tube, but rather like a [two-dimensional] curve. These [dimensions] are so small that you can’t distinguish that they have special structure.”
Only certain particles may be able to move through these dimensions, like gravitons, which are supposed to transmit gravitational force but have not yet been verified. (They are another element of string theory.) If one of these particles is created during a collision at the LHC and moves to another dimension, Niederle says, evidence should exist of its missing energy.
Beyond these subatomic concerns, astrophysics has opened several large questions during the past decade by showing that visible matter accounts for merely 4 percent of the universe. It’s theorized that the rest of the universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter, with the former making up 73 percent, and the latter 23 percent.
Dark matter’s existence has been proved by much indirect evidence, such as the rotational speed of galaxies. It does not interact with electromagnetism, and therefore light, making it unobservable — and therefore unmeasurable by direct means, at least so far.
Dark energy is even more mysterious. It is associated with outer space and is the most popular explanation as to why the universe’s expansion is accelerating, rather than slowing, as would be expected if only gravity were considered.
Should the LHC shed light on any of these theories beyond the Higgs boson, it would be considered a rousing success; if only the Higgs is found, physicists may be at a loss where to look for experimental proof next.
And there remains one other tantalizing possibility: If nothing is discovered, then a completely new explanation of the physical world may be demanded.

Black hole , CERN and Large hadron collider

Two Protons Walk Into a Black Hole,
And Other Jokes Physicists Tell

MEYRIN, Switzerland -- One recent Saturday morning, physicists here shot the first beam of subatomic matter into the most powerful particle accelerator ever built. The machine -- a 17-mile circular tunnel that sits 330 feet underground along the Franco-Swiss border -- is designed to smash protons together at nearly the speed of light. It will allow physicists to search for undiscovered particles, extra dimensions of space, dark matter and perhaps even microscopic black holes.

In a nearby auditorium, another groundbreaking experiment was under way: improvisational-comedy boot camp. Twenty-five researchers stood in a circle and awkwardly eyed one another. One of them told a physics joke -- which was funnier if you're familiar with bosons and hadrons, types of subatomic particles. On cue, they tossed an imaginary red ball around the room. That led to chaos as they contorted their bodies to form letters of the alphabet and collapsed onto the floor giggling.

Physicists at Switzerland's CERN institute, site of the world's largest particle accelerator, are in pursuit of another dimension of space: comedy. (Sept. 4)
Physics concerns itself with the universe's big questions. Why is there more matter than antimatter? And what's causing the universe to expand? Now there is this: Can physicists be funny?

For scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, the question is no joke. This month, CERN will launch the most ambitious particle-physics experiment in history. Its physicists will switch on the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, a project that's been 14 years and $9 billion in the making. Physicists hope the LHC -- so-named because it smashes hadrons, which are protons and other particles composed of quarks -- will help them find new particles and undiscovered physical forces. It's a project that may offer new insight into what happened milliseconds after the Big Bang, when the cosmos was a fiery soup of elementary particles.

It has also incited controversy. Critics -- who grew increasingly alarmed when a pair of physicists casually noted that the collider could act as "a black-hole factory" -- have lobbied against the experiment, arguing that it could spawn a black hole that devours the Earth. Other scientists worry that if the project fails, it will doom future funding for large-scale physics experiments.

Quick Response

Now, the physicists are seeking new ways to tackle obstacles and to explain the project to the public. To hone their communications and trouble-shooting skills, some took the unusual step of hiring an improvisational-comedy coach.

Maybe, they say, learning to improvise will help them think creatively about some of the toughest questions of physics, such as why gravity is so much weaker than the other fundamental forces, and why 95% of the universe seems to be missing.

Bob Stanek
"Improv has got to be more difficult than doing physics. You have to think in milliseconds," said Bob Stanek, a particle physicist who is leading CERN's improv-comedy experiment. A short, wiry 59-year-old Chicago native with a white beard and round, gold-rimmed glasses, Mr. Stanek said he figured improv would help the physicists react quickly if something goes wrong. "When you're discussing things that go on here on a daily basis -- why your detector doesn't work, why your machine isn't collecting data -- you have to know how to respond in a quick manner," he said.

Mr. Stanek brought in Charna Halpern, an improv-comedy guru from Chicago whose roster of star students includes comedians Tina Fey, Mike Myers and Stephen Colbert. Since launching her Chicago theater in 1981, Ms. Halpern has trained executives and managers at companies such as BP and Abbott Laboratories. Ms. Halpern, 56, plans to return to CERN in October, when the physicists are scheduled to put on their first public performance. "The smarter you are, the better you are at this. That's why physicists will be funny," said Ms. Halpern, director of the iO theaters in Chicago and Los Angeles.

On their first day of improv class, the physicists sat in a cavernous auditorium where CERN's scientists normally gather for theory seminars. Equations from the previous day's lecture covered the 36-foot-wide blackboard.

As a warm-up exercise, Ms. Halpern and two actors from her theater had the physicists invent an imaginary product. In short order, they came up with something called "Wi and Dry" -- satin adult diapers equipped with a wireless Internet signal -- and composed a jingle that, unfortunately, is unprintable.

Later, Ms. Halpern said the real objective was to "brainwash students into agreeing with one another." Improvising requires seizing on other actors' ideas, even bad ones, she said.

Some physicists balked at this rule. "It's so much the antithesis of what goes on at CERN," said Steven Goldfarb, 45, a particle physicist from Michigan who has been at CERN for 20 years.

"You don't just go to the Higgs physics meeting and ask a stupid question. We're trained to be critical," he added, referring to theory sessions devoted to the Higgs boson, an elusive particle that CERN's physicists hope to discover.

Looking ridiculous soon became unavoidable. During a memory and listening drill on the second day of comedy school, the physicists formed a circle and tossed around an imaginary ball. A few got carried away. "Panda bear!" one participant yelled, flinging his arms out. Seth Weitberg, one of the improv coaches, gently reminded him that he was supposed to say "red ball." He asked what the group had learned from the exercise. "Listening," one physicist said. "Eye contact," someone else added. "Saying yes," said another.

"It's great that you just jumped into it without thinking," Ms. Halpern said.

Particle Detector Rivalry

Within a few hours, the physicists were improvising monologues and scenes. Common themes included complaints about the CERN cafeteria, awkwardness in social situations, difficulty meeting women and rivalry between the LHC's two large particle detectors, Atlas and the Compact Muon Solenoid, or CMS. One newly minted comedian riffed on physicists' habit of sitting around drinking coffee all day.

"I'm thinking about building the LCC -- the large coffee collider," he said.

Another made a joke about subatomic particles that made her stage partner blush. "Do my bosons give you a hadron?"

When class ended, 17 CERN researchers signed up for the new improv-comedy troupe, which is scheduled to perform before several thousand people at a launch party for Atlas next month.

Tom Whyntie, 24, who works on one of the LHC detector's silicon-tracking devices, said improvising could teach physicists how to build on one another's ideas. "This idea that every idea is respected does not happen enough," said Mr. Whyntie, of Portsmouth, England. "People are afraid of being shut down."

A lot is at stake as the physicists prepare to switch on the collider. CERN's scientists face pressure to find the mysterious Higgs boson, an undiscovered particle that the collider should detect, if it in fact exists. Failure to find the hypothetical Higgs could unravel more than three decades of progress in physics.

Then there's the little matter of black holes and other cataclysmic events -- freak outcomes that CERN officials have dismissed as virtually impossible, but which one prominent physicist noted have a one in 50 million chance of occurring. "Perhaps it was not so smart to call it a black hole," said Peter Jenni, a spokesman for the Atlas experiment.

It remains to be seen whether comedy classes will help CERN scientists explain their work to the public. CERN's in-house science writer has already made a rap video about the LHC and posted it on YouTube, where it has been viewed some 900,000 times.

Other stabs at humor are less likely to go viral. Particle-physics jokes can be rather opaque. A classic example: "A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much the drinks cost. The bartender replies, 'For you, no charge.' "

And consider the following one-liner, delivered in the CERN cafeteria by Mr. Goldfarb: "Two protons walk into a black hole." That's the joke.

Is it One Step Closer To The Robot Revolution !!!

The working efficiency of robot is very calculative than human.(24hoursnews)
Rodney Brooks, co-founder and CTO of iRobot, is leaving his iRobot post to found his own robotics company, Heartland Robotics.
Among iRobot's accomplishments is the creation of the series of Roomba vacuum cleaners and other cleaning robots for consumers. iRobot also just yesterday landed a $200 million contract with the U.S. Army to create a series of military robots, according to a statement on the iRobot Web site.

Brooks will still remain a member of iRobot's board, however. Brooks will also take a leave of absence from his position as Panasonic Professor of Robotics in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department at MIT.

"Just as computers we interact with personally (e.g., desktops, laptops, PDAs, cellphones) transformed our lives over the last 25 years, so, too, will robots transform our lives over the coming 25," said Brooks in a recent issue of MIT news.

Heartland Robotics, based in Cambridge, Mass., will focus on the manufacture of industrial worker robots.

"I want to effect a powerful evolution in the world's labor markets, and my current focus is to develop low-cost robots that will empower American workers," Brooks said in a statement released on his personal Web site.

Meanwhile, the Heartland Robotics Web site currently consists of only one Web page.

"Heartland Robotics is combining the power of computation -- embodied in robots -- and the extraordinary intelligence of the American workforce, to rehumanize and revitalize manufacturing," says a statement on the company's Web page. Aside from a front page with this statement, interested consumers can sign up for the company mailing list or inquire about a list of available jobs.

Robot helicopter teaches itself how to fly

A new artificial intelligence system allows a robotic helicopter to teach itself how to fly and even do challenging stunts, just by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers.

The result is an autonomous helicopter than can perform a complete airshow of complex tricks on its own, its inventors say.

The stunts are ""by far the most difficult aerobatic maneuvers flown by any computer-controlled helicopter,"" said Andrew Ng, a Stanford University professor directing the research of graduate students Pieter Abbeel, Adam Coates, Timothy Hunter and Morgan Quigley.

A new video demonstrates the robot's capabilities.

Rather than using software to control flight, the robot learns by observing an expert in what the Stanford team calls ""apprenticeship learning."" Radio-control pilot Garett Oku operates the 4-foot model helicopter that serves as the expert.

""Garett can pick up any helicopter, even ones he's never seen, and go fly amazing aerobatics. So the question for us is always, why can't computers do things like this?"" Coates said.

Well, they can.

The artificial-intelligence helicopter, an off-the-shelf model other than its new brains, can do traveling flips, rolls, loops, stall-turns with pirouettes and more. It can even do the ""tic toc,"" in which the helicopter, while pointed straight up, hovers with a side-to-side motion as if it were the pendulum of an upside down clock.

""I think the range of maneuvers they can do is by far the largest"" in the autonomous helicopter field, said Eric Feron, a Georgia Tech aeronautics and astronautics professor who worked on autonomous helicopters while at MIT. ""But what's more impressive is the technology that underlies this work. In a way, the machine teaches itself how to do this by watching an expert pilot fly. This is amazing.""

Helicopters are not easy to control. Constant input is required to keep one stable.

""The helicopter doesn't want to fly,"" said Oku. ""It always wants to just tip over and crash.""

The robotic student is loaded with aftermarket instrumentation, from accelerometers and gyroscopes to magnetometers, which use the Earth's magnetic field to figure out which way the helicopter is pointed.

In the future, such a craft might prove helpful to search for land mines in a war region or to map out wildfire hotspots.

Despite the death of their HD DVD format, Toshiba offers consumers a new, more affordable alternative to Blu-ra

Talking to the folks at Toshiba about high-definition video players is like talking to a guy whose girlfriend cheated on him, stole his money and then left him for his best friend. And took the dog, too.

It's a touchy topic. Toshiba was the major backer of HD DVD, the high-definition DVD technology that faced off in a bitter struggle against the competing Blu-ray disc format. And lost. Lost to the tune of about a billion dollars, according one Japanese business newspaper.

But even though Blu-ray won the high-definition disc war, Toshiba isn't out of the game yet. They're back with a new disc player technology -- and they're calling it ... DVD.

Well, technically it's XDE, which stands for eXtended Detail Enhancement. Untwist your knickers, because it's not a new disc format, but rather a new kind of DVD player that Toshiba says produces sharper images than your run-of-the-mill DVD device.

So-called upconverting DVD players have been around for years, and now cost so little that you can get one for about the same price as a week's worth caramel macchiatos. They work in concert with an HDTV display, taking your ordinary DVD movie image and giving it a boost so that it looks nicer on your high-end, high-def TV.

Toshiba says its new XD-E500, due in stores next month for about $159, takes upconverting DVD players to a new level with three separate viewing modes that boost sharpness, colour and contrast, pumping out a 1080p signal that matches the highest resolution most HDTVs can handle.

While Toshiba admits the XDE image quality can't rival a Blu-ray player or a high-definition TV broadcast, it is supposed to improve upon basic upconverting DVD players, selling for less than $100.

And does it? Toshiba of Canada sat me down this week with a side-by-side demonstration of the XD-E500 versus their $79 SD-6100 upconverting DVD player, both playing a scene from Casino Royale -- Daniel Craig, best Bond EVER -- on identical Toshiba Regza HDTV sets. I wasn't told which was which.

I thought the player on the right, which turned out to be the XD-E500, had a richer image, albeit slightly grainier. Perhaps the XD-E500 was doing a better job of showing detail in the image, flaws and all, although I felt neither was dramatically better or worse than the other. Flipping to the contrast mode, the XD-E500 did do a slightly better job of showing detail in dark scenes than the other DVD player.

A second demo consisted of three identical HDTVs side-by-side, all showing the same scene from Spider-Man 3, but with one connected to a Blu-ray disc player while the other two were hooked up to the XD-E500 and a standard upconverting DVD player. I wasn't told which was which.

I immediately picked out the Blu-ray player, because there's just no mistaking the sharpness of a true high-definition image. But I also thought the TV in the middle had a noticeably better image than one on the right, showing finer detail in the lines in Thomas Haden Church's hangdog face. Themiddle TV turned out to be the one hooked up to the XD-E500, so make of that what you will.

Continued After Advertisement Below

This whole thing is an interesting -- and perhaps necessary -- approach for Toshiba in the wake of their HD DVD defeat. Toshiba of Canada product manager Kate McCarthy says the company still has no plans to start making Blu-ray players, and that the vast majority of consumers are still very happy with DVD and unwilling to move up to the pricier, next-generation Blu-ray format right now.

Which does make sense. But since the XD-E500 is has to be used with an HDTV display to take advantage of the DVD player's hi-tech capabilities, it begs the question: If you just dropped $1,500 or more -- sometimes much, much more -- on a fancy new HDTV, why wouldn't you go the extra mile and get a $400 Blu-ray disc player, which can also play all your DVDs, instead of spending $159 on a DVD player? A nice and full-featured DVD player, sure, but still just a DVD player.

Beats me. Maybe Bond has the answers. He seems to be something of a gadget guy.

Black hole updates :Does the Black Hole Look Back?

Researchers Look Into a Black Hole (But Does the Black Hole Look Back?)

Researchers have gotten the closest look yet at the supermassive black hole that is believed to lurk in the center of the Milky Way, using radio telescopes to peer through the cosmic dust. Lead astronomer Sheperd Doeleman says: “One of the problems with looking at this particular source is that we have to look through our galaxy. It’s a blessing that it’s this close, but it’s a curse because it’s obscured by gas and dust” [].
Black holes can’t be directly observed, because their gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, not even visible light, can escape. To study our local gravitational monster, researchers homed in on Sagittarius A*, the bright radio-emitting body thought to mark the position of the black hole. Because Sagittarius A* is likely fueled by the black hole’s activity, a better look at the radio-emitting body can provide more details about the black hole [Science News].
Researchers have known that Sagittarius A* emits radio waves for some time, but hadn’t known much else about the enigmatic radiation source. Based on the new findings, published in the journal Nature [subscription required], they’ve now concluded that the source of the radiation likely originates in either a disk of matter swirling in toward the black hole, or a high-speed jet of matter being ejected by the black hole. Future investigations will help answer the question of what, precisely, they are seeing: a glowing corona around the black hole, an orbiting “hot spot,” or a jet of material [Telegraph].
To get an accurate image of this distant object, researchers combined observations from radio telescopes in Arizona, California, and Hawaii to create a “virtual telescope” with a virtual dish about 2,800 miles in diameter. The resulting level of accuracy at such a distance is over 1000 times more precise than we can get from the Hubble, and is the equivalent of being able to pick out a baseball sitting on the lunar surface from Earth [Ars Technica].
See More

World's First Robotic Transvascular Aneurysm Repair

HNSN 13.13, +0.27, +2.1%) , the global leader in flexible robotics and the developer of robotic technology for accurate 3D control of catheter movement, announced today that a team of physicians led by Professor Nick Cheshire at St. Mary's Hospital, part of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, in London, England, utilized Hansen Medical's Sensei(TM) Robotic Catheter System and Artisan(TM) Control Catheter to aid deployment of stent grafts used to treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm in a 78-year old patient. This procedure is believed to be the world's first in which any robotic medical technology has been used to repair an aortic aneurysm through a patient's vascular system.
"We have always believed vascular surgery would provide a very natural application for our Sensei and Artisan robotic technology, and the recent advancement at St. Mary's Hospital demonstrates what is already within reach for our technology in this field," said Fred Moll, M.D., co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hansen Medical. "Just as important, the recent experience of clinicians at St. Mary's Hospital clearly demonstrates what physicians can accomplish when they use Hansen Medical's advanced technology to provide more precise movement and control during different types of surgery."
"The time taken to correctly position a stent graft during the treatment of an aneurysm is highly variable and depends on the complexity of the vascular anatomy," explained Professor Nick Cheshire. "By providing increased catheter stability and accurate navigation, the Sensei system has the potential to greatly simplify the procedure and make it more predictable. In this case, it only took a few minutes to drive the Artisan catheter to the location where the stent was to be deployed."
The aorta is the largest artery in the human body. An abdominal aortic aneurysm results from weakening and swelling of the artery's walls, often as people age, and is frequently fatal if it ruptures. When positioned across the weakened section, stent grafts act as scaffolding that can help prevent the aneurysm from bursting. This surgery was performed through accessing the patient's vascular system at the groin and using Hansen Medical's Sensei system to accurately navigate the Artisan catheter up into the weakened section of the aorta, where the stent grafts were placed.

About Hansen Medical, Inc.

Hansen Medical, Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., develops products and technology using robotics for the accurate positioning, manipulation and control of catheters and catheter-based technologies. Its first product, the Sensei Robotic Catheter system, is a robotic navigation system that enables clinicians to place mapping catheters in hard-to-reach anatomical locations within the heart easily, accurately and with stability during complex cardiac arrhythmia procedures. The Sensei system is compatible with fluoroscopy, ultrasound, 3D surface map and patient electrocardiogram data and was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2007 for manipulation and control of certain mapping catheters in Electrophysiology (EP) procedures. The safety and effectiveness of the Sensei system for use with cardiac ablation catheters in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, and for use in the treatment of any type of vascular disease, have not been established in the United States. In the European Union, the Sensei system and Artisan catheter are intended to facilitate medical procedures within the atria of the heart using percutaneous catheters introduced through the vascular system. Additional information can be found at
Hansen Medical technology was recognized in March 2008 by Frost & Sullivan, and presented with the consulting company's 2008 Product Innovation Award in the field of U.S. Image-Guided and Robotic-Assisted Surgery Devices.
About Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust comprises Charing Cross, Hammersmith Hospital, Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea, St. Mary's and Western Eye hospitals in London, England. It is the largest Trust in the UK, and in partnership with Imperial College London, is the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC). The AHSC was created to take the research discoveries it makes and translate them into new and improved treatments and techniques to directly benefit patients throughout the Trust, the NHS and the rest of the world.
The Vascular Unit at St. Mary's Hospital in London is a leading European center for endovascular treatment with the largest number of endovascular thoracoabdominal aneurysm repairs worldwide. The Imperial College Endovascular Group has undertaken prize winning research into vascular robotics and won the 1st prize (scientific session) from the British Society of Endovascular Therapy in July 2008 (Riga CV, Bicknell CD, Hamady M, Cheshire NJW). For more details please visit
Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding, among other things, statements relating to expectations, goals, plans, objectives and future events. We intend such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 21E of the Exchange Act and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Examples of such statements include statements about possible future applications of the company's technology in vascular surgery and the potential benefits of the company's technology in new applications. These statements are based on the current estimates and assumptions of our management as of the date of this press release and are subject to risks, uncertainties, changes in circumstances, assumptions and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements include, among others, the risks and uncertainties inherent in our business, including potential safety and regulatory issues that could slow or suspend our development of new products and applications; our ability to manage growth and focus on selected new applications; the scope and validity of intellectual property rights applicable to our products; competition from other companies; and our ability to obtain additional financing to support our operations. These and other risks are described in greater detail under the heading "Risk Factors" contained in our periodic SEC filings, including our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC on August 5, 2008. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to revise or update information herein to reflect events or circumstances in the future, even if new information becomes available.
Hansen Medical, Sensei, and Artisan, as well as the company's heart design logo in use by itself or in combination with Hansen Medical, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Hansen Medical, Inc.

MIT tool aims to cut airline delays

A screen shot of weather and flight information for Newark, NJ, as compiled by the computer tool developed at MIT that could cut weather-related airline delays. Image / MIT Lincoln Laboratory
MIT researchers are working toward a computer tool that could reduce airline flight delays due to weather. Already, they have found that a prototype deployed in the New York City region cut delays last year by 2,300 hours, saving the equivalent of some $7.5 million in operating costs.

The team, led by Richard DeLaura of MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Weather Sensing Group, estimates that fully implementing the Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT) in the New York region alone could save 8,800 hours per year, or $28 million.

"It certainly provides us with exceptional benefits in most scenarios with severe weather," says Leo Prusak, the Federal Aviation Administration district manager for the New York area. "I think it's a fabulous product."

Deploying RAPT at other key spots all over the country could reduce delays at both large and small airports, DeLaura says. Lincoln Laboratory studies suggest that getting even two or three additional flights per hour out of airports during thunderstorms in highly congested areas can significantly reduce the weather-related delays that ripple across the nation's air travel system.

RAPT gives air traffic managers assistance in deciding whether to allow planes to take off during inclement weather, increasing the odds of sneaking a few jets out between thunderheads. The computerized tool takes weather information from satellites and radar systems, makes predictions about whether a pilot would choose to fly through such conditions, and displays the information graphically to enable an air traffic controller to make a quick decision.

The RAPT display shows a map of the airport with lines radiating outward to indicate the various departure routes. A grid below the map lists departure times in rows, divided into columns of five minutes running from the present to half an hour in the future. The color of each rectangle on the grid indicates whether departure at that time along that route seems feasible. Red means the route is blocked. Yellow means there's some heavy weather that might pose problems. Dark green says there's weather, but that it shouldn't be an issue. Light green represents clear sailing.

Generally, air traffic managers get weather information and have to come up with a picture in their heads such as the one RAPT displays, then make decisions based on that mental image. If the weather is changing rapidly and there are many flights in the air, the process of conjuring such a picture can become so time-consuming that controllers decide not to let any flights out. Instead, they concentrate on landing the ones in the air.

But if too many departures are stuck at their gates, the arriving aircraft have no place to go once they land. The result is a major traffic jam.

DeLaura hopes that RAPT will take away some of the managers' burden, making more departures possible and thus minimizing delays.

RAPT bases its guidance on a computer model that combines the departure route geometry, forecasts for precipitation intensity and the height of radar echo tops (a measure of storm height), and a model for pilot behavior in thunderstorms. It estimates the probability that pilots will deviate significantly to avoid the weather along their routes and assigns the departure route status color based on that probability.

A prototype of the system has been used in the New York City region -- including LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports -- for about four years, with modest funding from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

This past year, the FAA began funding RAPT. The researchers are currently adjusting the model to take more account of the impact of incoming planes. They are also picking a site for the deployment of a second prototype system.

super-massive black hole

New virtual telescope zooms in on Milky Way's super-massive black hole.
An international team, led by astronomers at the MIT Haystack Observatory, has obtained the closest views ever of what is believed to be a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Graphic shows four radio observatories in Hawaii, Arizona and California linked to create a 2,800-mile-wide virtual telescope. Image courtesy / Sheperd Doeleman, MIT

The astronomers linked together radio dishes in Hawaii, Arizona and California to create a virtual telescope more than 2,800 miles across that is capable of seeing details more than 1,000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope. The cosmic target of the observations was the source known as Sagittarius A* ("A-star"), long thought to mark the position of a black hole whose mass is 4 million times that of the sun. Though Sagittarius A* was discovered three decades ago, the new observations for the first time have an angular resolution, or ability to observe small details, that is matched to the size of the black hole "event horizon" -- the region inside of which nothing, including light, can ever escape.

The concept of black holes, objects so dense that their gravitational pull prevents anything including light itself from ever escaping their grasp, has long been hypothesized, but their existence has not yet been proved conclusively. Astronomers study black holes by detecting the light emitted by matter that heats up as it is pulled closer to the event horizon. By measuring the size of this glowing region at the Milky Way center, the new observations have revealed the highest density yet for the concentration of matter at the center of our galaxy, which "is important new evidence supporting the existence of black holes," said Sheperd Doeleman of MIT, lead author of the study that will be published in the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Nature.

"This technique gives us an unmatched view of the region near the Milky Way's central black hole," Doeleman said. "The new observations have a resolution equivalent to being able to see, from Earth, a baseball on the surface of the moon."

The key to making these observations is a technique called very long baseline interferometry, or VLBI, which links simultaneous observations from several radio telescopes that can be thousands of miles apart. The signals from these radio dishes are combined to create a "virtual" telescope with the same resolving power as a single telescope as large as the distance between the participating dishes. As a result, VLBI can reveal exquisitely sharp details. To create the continent-sized telescope, the team developed and installed special equipment at four observatories: the Arizona Radio Observatory's Submillimeter Telescope (ARO-SMT) of the University of Arizona, the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) in California, and both the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) and the Submillimeter Array (SMA) in Hawaii.

The new observations were done using very short radio waves of 1.3 millimeters wavelength, which can penetrate the fog of interstellar gas that blurs observations at longer wavelengths. Like a distant light seen through a dense mist, longer-wavelength views of the Galactic Center are dimmed and distorted. "The short wavelength observations combined with the large distances between the radio observatories is what makes this virtual telescope uniquely suited to study the black hole," said Lucy Ziurys, Director of the Arizona Radio Observatory and a co-author of the study.

Though it takes light more than 25,000 years to reach us from the center of the Milky Way, the team measured the size of Sagittarius A* to be only one-third the Earth-sun distance -- a trip that light would make in only three minutes. The astronomers concluded that the source of the radiation likely originates in either a disk of matter swirling in toward the black hole, or a high-speed jet of matter being ejected by the black hole. "Future observations that create even larger virtual telescopes will be able to pinpoint exactly what makes Sagittarius A* light up," Doeleman said. "Most galaxies are now thought to have black holes at their centers, but because Sagittarius A* is in our own galaxy, it is our best chance to observe what's happening at an event horizon."

"This pioneering paper demonstrates that such observations are feasible," commented theorist Avi Loeb of Harvard University, who was not a member of the discovery team. "It opens up a new window for probing the structure of space and time near a black hole and testing Einstein's theory of gravity."

This research involved 28 co-authors from several institutions, including the MIT Haystack Observatory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, CARMA, the Arizona Radio Observatory of the University of Arizona, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, University of California at Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology, and the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy, among others. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Spectroscopy, with amplitude:MIT probe could aid quantum computing

The colorful patterns formed by the response of superconducting 'artificial atoms' to a new probe called amplitude spectroscopy serve as an identifying fingerprint for a given atom. Image / MIT Lincoln Laboratory
MIT researchers may have found a way to overcome a key barrier to the advent of super-fast quantum computers, which could be powerful tools for applications such as code breaking.

Ever since Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman first proposed the theory of quantum computing more than two decades ago, researchers have been working to build such a device.

One approach involves superconducting devices that, when cooled to temperatures of nearly absolute zero (-459 degrees F, -273 degrees C), can be made to behave like artificial atoms -- nanometer-scale "boxes" in which the electrons are forced to exist at specific, discrete energy levels (picture an elevator that can stop at the floors of a building but not in between). But traditional scientific techniques for characterizing -- and therefore better understanding -- atoms and molecules do not necessarily translate easily to artificial atoms, said William Oliver of MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Analog Device Technology Group and MIT's Research Laboratory for Electronics (RLE).

In the Sept. 4 issue of Nature, Oliver and colleagues have reported a technique that could fill that gap. Oliver's co-authors are lead author David Berns, a graduate student in physics and RLE; Mark Rudner, also a graduate student in physics; Sergio Valenzuela, a research affiliate at MIT's Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory; Karl Berggren, the Emanuel E. Landsman Career Development Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS); Professor Leonid Levitov of physics; and EECS Professor Terry Orlando. The work is a hallmark of the increased collaboration between researchers on the MIT campus and at Lincoln Laboratory.

Characterizing energy levels is fundamental to the understanding and engineering of any atomic-scale device. Ever since Isaac Newton showed that sunlight could be dispersed into a continuous color spectrum, each color representing a different energy, this has been done through analysis of how an atom responds to different frequencies of light and other electromagnetic radiation -- a technique known generally as spectroscopy.

But artificial atoms have energy levels that correspond to a very wide swath of frequencies, ranging from tens to hundreds of gigahertz. That makes standard spectroscopy costly and difficult to apply. "The application of frequency spectroscopy over a broad band is not universally straightforward," Oliver said.

The MIT team developed a complementary approach called amplitude spectroscopy that provides a way to characterize quantum entities over extraordinarily broad frequency ranges. This procedure is "particularly relevant for studying the properties of artificial atoms," Oliver said.

Better knowledge of these superconducting structures could hasten the development of a quantum computer. Each artificial atom could function as a "qubit," or quantum bit, which can be in multiple energy states at once. That means it would not be simply a one or a zero (like the electronic switches in a conventional computer) but rather in a sort of hazy combination of both states (it's akin to the famous paradox of Schroedinger's quantum cat, which is considered to be both alive and dead at the same time until an observation is made, simultaneously creating and revealing its true condition). This odd behavior, inherent to the quantum nature of materials at the atomic level, is what gives quantum computing such promise as a paradigm-busting advance.

Amplitude spectroscopy gleans information about a superconducting artificial atom by probing its response to a single, fixed frequency that is strategically chosen to be, as Oliver puts it, "benign." This probe pushes the atom through its energy-state transitions. In fact, the atoms can be made to jump between energy bands at practically unlimited rates by adjusting the amplitude of the fixed-frequency source.

The radiation emitted by the artificial atom in response to this probe exhibits interference patterns. These patterns, which Oliver calls "spectroscopy diamonds" because of their striking geometric regularity, serve as fingerprints of the artificial atom's energy spectrum.

This work was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, the Department of Defense, and the US government.

Robotics Startup Launches by iRobot Founder Rodney Brooks

The robotics pioneer is leaving his posts at MIT and iRobot to start Heartland Robotics, with the goal of using robots to improve worker productivity.,
Believing that the nascent robotics industry is about to take off, robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks is leaving his post at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at iRobot (NSDQ: IRBT), the company he co-founded, to start a new company that will use robots to make U.S. workers more productive.

With iRobot firmly launched in military and commercial markets and MIT at the forefront of robotics, Brooks is founding a new company called Heartland Robotics. He's not cutting his past ties completely, however, as he will remain on iRobot's board and is taking a leave of absence from MIT.

He believes the time is now ripe for robotics to take off and he believes the Boston area has been thoroughly seeded with robotics startups.

"From virtually no mobile robots deployed anywhere in the world six years ago we now have thousands on active duty in the U.S. military and millions cleaning the floors of American homes," Brooks saidrecently. "This is the lead-up to a classic hockey-stick growth curve."

"Just as computers we interact with personally transformed our lives over the last 25 years, so, too, will robots transform our lives over the coming 25. And it just so happens that Massachusetts is the epicenter of this nascent industry," he continued.

The Boston Globe reported that Brooks said his new Heartland Robotics startup will seek to help "American workers be more productive through the use of robots." Beyond that, details on the startup are scarce, because the company removed its Web site from the Internet.

Just this week, iRobot reported that it received a contract valued at up to $200 million for gear and service for its PackBot robots. The company has sold millions of its Roomba vacuum cleaning robots. Other iRobot devices range from swimming pool cleaners to small robots designed for use by public safety officials that can climb stairs and detect chemicals.

More about  iRobot.

iRobot delivers innovative robots that are making a difference in people’s lives. From cleaning floors to disarming explosives, we constantly strive to find better ways to tackle dull, dirty and dangerous missions—with better results.

Founded in 1990 by roboticists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, iRobot designs behavior-based, artificially intelligent robots. Powered by iRobot’s proprietary AWARETM Robot Intelligence Systems, our robots are designed to navigate through complex and dynamic real-world situations, from maneuvering around furniture to searching abandoned buildings. Our robots are highly sophisticated, yet practical and easy to use.

To date, more than 3 million Home Robots have been sold worldwide and over 1,500 iRobot PackBot® Tactical Mobile Robots have been deployed worldwide, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. These robots have performed tens of thousands of missions and are credited with saving scores of soldiers’ lives. iRobot has won numerous awards for innovation and design.

Chrome gain 1% within 24 hours : 24hoursnews


Google Inc.'s new Chrome browser grabbed 1% of the browser market in its first day out in public, Web metrics providers said today.

Both Net Applications Inc., a U.S.-based tracking company, and Irish vendor StatCounter put Chrome's total market share at around 1% less than 24 hours after its launch, passing rivals such as the current Opera and the ancient Netscape in the process.

"This is a phenomenal performance," said CEO Aodhan Cullen in a post to Statcounter's blog on Wednesday. StatCounter, which provides free visitor statistics tools to Web developers, monitors traffic on the sites run by its 1.5 million members.

Net Applications also tracked Chrome's debut, and echoed StatCounter's numbers. "We saw them peak at 1.48% last night, and they're hovering around 1% currently," said Vince Vizzaccaro, the company's executive vice president of marketing at Net Applications, in an e-mail Wednesday morning.

According to Net Applications, which is tracking Chrome's hourly numbers, Google's browser jumped from zero to 0.4% during the hour it was released yesterday. Nine hours later, at midnight EDT, Chrome accounted for 1% of the browsers used to visit the 40,000-some sites that the company monitors for clients.

As Vizzaccaro noted, Chrome peaked at 1.48% early Wednesday -- 4 a.m. EDT, 1 a.m. PDT -- and as of 11 a.m. EDT, held a 0.98% share.

"I'm certain usage will increase at night and on weekends, as companies won't want people testing Chrome at work," Vizzaccaro said.

Net Applications typically sees the same cyclic behavior from Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox, which jumps in share on weekends and during off-work hours.

Vizzaccaro wouldn't speculate on what browsers Google Chrome's users may be leaving. "We won't know that for a couple of weeks, as most people will test it along side of their normal browser for a while," he said.

With 1% of the market, Chrome immediately overtakes Opera Software ASA's Opera, which Net Applications pegged with 0.74% at the end of August, as well as the moribund Netscape, which the company said accounted for 0.72% of all browsers used last month.

AOL LLC, Netscape's owner, killed it last February when it issued the venerable browser's last update and urged users to switch to Firefox or Flock.

Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer held 72.2% of the browser share last month, said Net Applications earlier this week, while Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox and Apple's Safari owned 19.2% and 6.4%, respectively.

Google launched Chrome Tuesday around 3 p.m. EDT. Currently, a version for Windows XP and Vista is the only one available for download. Chrome, which is built on the WebKit rendering engine -- the same open-source code used by Apple Inc.'s Safari -- features a privacy mode, a combination address-and-search bar, and runs each tab as a separate process to prevent a single site from crashing the entire browser

Find here

Home II Large Hadron Cillider News