New 5-Dimensional Storage Pushes Bounds of Digital Data Archiving

New 5-Dimensional Storage Pushes Bounds of Digital Data Archiving

Opening a new era of eternal data archiving, scientists at University of Southampton have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data using ultrafast laser writing in nanostructured glass.

The storage allows unprecedented properties including 360 TB (terabyte)/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1,000 degree Celsius and virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature (13.8 billion years at 190 degree Celsius ), the researchers said.

“It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations. This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilisation: all we have learnt will not be forgotten,” Peter Kazansky, professor at University of Southampton in Britain, said in an official statement.

As a very stable and safe form of portable memory, the technology could be highly useful for organisations with big archives, such as national archives, museums and libraries, to preserve their information and records.

The technology was first experimentally demonstrated in 2013 when a 300 kb (kilobyte) digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D.

Now, major documents from human history such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton’s Opticks, Magna Carta and Kings James Bible, have been saved as digital copies that could survive the human race.

The documents were recorded using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light. The file is written in three layers of nanostructured dots separated by five micrometres (one millionth of a metre).

The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarisation of light that can then be read by combination of optical microscope and a polariser, similar to that found in Polaroid sunglasses.

Coined as the ‘Superman memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, the researchers explained.

The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

The study will be presenting at the photonics industry’s renowned SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering Conference in San Francisco, US on Wednesday.

Office Space: Nissan’s Intelligent Chairs Can Park Themselves

Office Space: Nissan's Intelligent Chairs Can Park Themselves

Our phones have already gotten smarter. The car industry is slowly embracing the trend too. The Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as light bulbs are already capable of switching themselves on and off when it senses your presence in the room. So it was a high time our dumb, disconnected chairs got intelligent too. Automobile company Nissan has an idea.

Imagine walking into your meeting room with every single chair positioned in a disarrayed fashion. Showing up at work is a tedious task as it is, but the pain in seeing disorderly chaired, or worse, sorting them in the order only makes things worse. The solution is already here, provided you work at Nissan.

The company this week gave us a glimpse inside its office, where chairs are smart enough to assemble themselves back to their original, supposed order and position – much like some of its cars that can steer themselves to the desired parking spot on their own. Called “Intelligent Parking Chair,” the chairs are are able to rotate around 360-degree and find their own position on your command – in this case, the sound of your clap.

The company asserts that the technology behind its Intelligent Parking Chair is the same it employs on its cars. A chair starts to move, reverses its direction if it has to, make the required turns, and parks itself to the supposed position. The smart chair houses a setup of four cameras, and Wi-Fi adapter which you use to control them.

Several cars including many by Nissan’s rival Tesla today offer the ability to self-park themselves. Many can self-drive as well. Are we slowly driving to the utopian society?

New 2D Semiconducting Material Could Usher in Faster Computers, Mobiles

New 2D Semiconducting Material Could Usher in Faster Computers, Mobiles

A team led by an Indian-origin engineer from the University of Utah has discovered a new kind of 2D semiconducting material for electronics that opens the door for much speedier computers and smartphones that consume a lot less power.

The semiconductor, made of the elements tin and oxygen or tin monoxide (SnO) by the associate professor Ashutosh Tiwari-led team is a layer of 2D material only one atom thick, allowing electrical charges to move through it much faster than conventional 3D materials such as silicon.

This material could be used in transistors, the lifeblood of all electronic devices such as computer processors and graphics processors in desktop computers and mobile devices.

Transistors and other components used in electronic devices are currently made of 3D materials such as silicon and consist of multiple layers on a glass substrate.

But the downside to 3D materials is that electrons bounce around inside the layers in all directions.

“The benefit of 2D materials is that the material is made of one layer the thickness of just one or two atoms. Consequently, the electrons can only move in one layer so it’s much faster,” Tiwari said.

Transistors made with Tiwari’s semi-conducting material could lead to computers and smartphones that are over 100 times faster than regular devices.

“Because the electrons move through one layer instead of bouncing around in a 3D material, there will be less friction, meaning the processors will not get as hot as normal computer chips,” the authors noted.

They will also require much less power to run, a boon for mobile electronics that have to run on battery power.

According to Tiwari, this could be especially important for medical devices such as electronic implants that will run longer on a single battery charge.

Now that Tiwari and his team have discovered this new 2D material, it can lead to the manufacturing of transistors that are even smaller and faster than those in use today.

A computer processor is comprised of billions of transistors, and the more transistors packed into a single chip, the more powerful the processor can become.

“The field is very hot right now and people are very interested in it,” Tiwari said, adding that in two or three years, we should see at least some prototype device.

The paper describing the material was published in the journal Advanced Electronic Materials.

Nasa’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory Spots Oldest Light in the Universe

Nasa's Chandra X-Ray Observatory Spots Oldest Light in the Universe

Using the data from Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have discovered a jet from a very distant supermassive black hole being illuminated by the oldest light in the universe.

The discovery shows that black holes with powerful jets may be more common than previously thought in the first few billion years after the Big Bang.

The light detected from this jet was emitted when the universe was only 2.7 billion years old, a fifth of its present age.

At this point, the intensity of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) left over from the Big Bang was much greater than it is today.

“We essentially stumbled onto this remarkable jet because it happened to be in Chandra’s field of view while we were observing something else,” explained co-author Lukasz Stawarz of Jagiellonian University in Poland.

The length of the jet, found in the system known as B3 0727+409, is at least 300,000 light years.

Many long jets emitted by supermassive black holes have been detected in the nearby universe, but exactly how these jets give off X-rays has remained a matter of debate.

In B3 0727+409, it appears that the CMB is being boosted to X-ray wavelengths.

“Because we are seeing this jet when the universe was less than three billion years old, the jet is about 150 times brighter in X-rays than it would be in the nearby Universe,” said Aurora Simionescu at Jaxa’sInstitute of Space and Astronautical Studies (ISAS) who led the study.

Electrons in black hole jets usually emit strongly at radio wavelengths, so typically these systems are found using radio observations.

The discovery of the jet in B3 0727+409 is special because so far almost no radio signal has been detected from this object, while it is easily seen in the X-ray image.

“Supermassive black hole activity, including the launching of jets, may be different in the early Universe than what we see later on,” noted study co-author Teddy Cheung of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

By studying more of these distant jets, scientist can start to grasp how the properties of supermassive black holes might change over billions of years.

The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Europe Launches Satellite to Help Track Global Warming

Europe Launches Satellite to Help Track Global Warming

Europe launched a satellite on Tuesday that will help predict weather phenomena such as El Nino and track the progress of global warming as part of the multibillion-euro Copernicus Earth observation project.

The Sentinel-3A satellite, part of a system of satellites that is to monitor Earth, blasted off on board a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia’s north-western Arkhangelsk region at 12:57 p.m. EDT (1757 GMT) on Tuesday.

It headed for orbit 815 km (506 miles) above Earth, from where it will collect data on sea surface temperature and height that will contribute to more precise weather forecasts and help forecast the impact of rising temperatures.

“When we speak about global warming we often focus on rising air temperatures, but 90 percent of the energy put out on our planet ends up in the ocean,” Volker Liebig, director of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation programme, told Reuters ahead of the launch.

Data from Sentinel-3A, which is to work in tandem with another satellite to be sent up in mid-2017, could also help shipping companies chart more efficient routes and may be used to monitor forest fires and oil spills and to forecast crops.

The Copernicus project, for which the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA) have committed funding of more than EUR 8 billion (roughly Rs. 61,662 crores) until 2020, is described by the ESA as the most ambitious Earth observation program to date.

The launch of the Copernicus project became especially urgent after Europe lost contact with its Earth observation satellite Envisat in 2012 after 10 years.

Images taken by Sentinel-3A are lower-resolution than those from the first two satellites that the ESA sent up for Copernicus Sentinel-1A and 2A but the 3A will cover a wider swathe of Earth.

It can deliver images of the whole planet within about two days, which will be cut to less than a day once its twin 3B joins it next year. That compares with around six days for the two Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites, the ESA’s Liebig said.