More laser advances

There isn’t much in the universe cooler than lasers. Pirates with lasers. Ninjas with lasers. Frikkin sharks with frikkin laser beams on their frikkin heads. Undead killer zombies with lasers. And, of course, undead killer pirate ninja zombie sharks with frikkin lasers on their frikkin heads.

Given the lack of all of the above (with the slight exception of attempts by the military to create some joined sets of the above)in the normal lives of normal (ish) people, we have to settle for cool laser news as it bubbles up to the surface of the intArw3b.

Artemis, the European Space Agency Advanced Relay and Technology Mission Satellite, successfully relayed optical laser links from an aircraft in early December. These airborne laser links, established over a distance of 40 000 km during two flights at altitudes of 6000 and 10 000 metres, represent a world first.

The relay was set up through six two-way optical links between a Mystère 20 equipped with the airborne laser optical link LOLA (Liaison Optique Laser Aéroportée) and the SILEX laser link payload on board ARTEMIS in its geostationary orbital position at 36 000 kilometres altitude: a feat equivalent to targeting a golf ball over the distance between Paris and Brussels.

These tests were made by Astrium SAS (France), the prime constructor for both LOLA and SILEX, as part of the airborne laser optical link programme conducted by the DGA (French MoD procurement agency) from its Flight Test Centre at Istres, in the south of France. The ESA ground station of Redu, Belgium, also contributed to this success by managing the Artemis SILEX payload operations.

Wow. That is so cool. Laser links between 2 moving airborne craft, bounced between six linking stations. Do the math, and you’ll find that connection runs about 130 ms one-way best case. That means if this system were available all the time, you could Quake in the air at around dial-up ping rates. Not bitchin’ fast, but certainly respectable given the magic necessary to make a link at all. I don’t think that’s what the company is trying to achieve, but pr0n and gaming drive almost all technology advances any more, so that’s probably where the first good use of this technology will show up.

[tags]Airborne craft 40000 km laser connectivity, The light – she moves so fast[/tags]

Courtroom funnies

A few supposedly true humorous courtroom interrogations for your amusement.

  • Q: How old is your son, the one living with you?
    A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
    Q: How long has he lived with you?
    A: Forty-five years.
  • Q: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
    A: Yes.
    Q: And what were you doing at that time?
  • Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
    A: No.
    Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
    A: No.
    Q: Did you check for breathing?
    A: No.
    Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
    A: No.
    Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
    A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk, in a jar.
    Q: But could the patient have still been alive, never the less?
    A: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law somewhere.

[tags]Courtroom funnies, Interrogation humor[/tags]

Smartify yourself

The virtual vault of knowledge that is Wikipedia has as today’s featured article the subject of Redshift. wikipedia-200px-Redshift.png

In physics and astronomy, redshift occurs when the visible light from an object is shifted towards the red end of the spectrum. More generally, redshift is defined as an increase in the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation received by a detector compared with the wavelength emitted by the source.

Continue reading Smartify yourself

Top 10 movie trailers

As of right now, here are the top 10 movie trailers over at the Internet Movie Database. Just in case you want to know what’s coming out in the relatively near future or what others are looking forward to seeing.

Top 10 Trailers Pages

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  2. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  3. Simpsons Movie, The (2007)
  4. Transformers (2007)
  5. Rocky Balboa (2006)
  6. 300 (2007)
  7. Eragon (2006)
  8. Apocalypto (2006)
  9. Pursuit of Happyness, The (2006)
  10. Night at the Museum (2006)

On the movie front, I’m looking forward to numbers 1, 2, and 6. I may also eventually see 3, 4, 5 (yes, label me a loser if you haven’t already), and 7.

[tags]Top 10 movie trailers[/tags]

2006 – The year in political gaffes

Covering a number of the bigger foul-ups by politicians, ABC news’ coverage of this years political blunders highlights thing such as the unravelling of a Presidential candidate to a former candidate’s poorly made joke to hunting with the VP. Here are just a few highlights.

  • Rebuilding a Metaphor

    New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin, during a City Hall tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. last January, committed one of the year’s earliest flubs when he called on the African-American community to rebuild a “chocolate New Orleans” in the post-Katrina landscape.

    I can tell you that I was surprised when I heard this comment. New Orleans is far too hot and humid to make for a good chocolate manufacturing city. Not that I ever recall the city being involved in the production of chocolate before Katrina hit. And what else could he possibly mean by this?

Continue reading 2006 – The year in political gaffes

Light exceeds speed of light

This is old news, but it was new news to me, which makes it news. That whole “If you didn’t know it, it’s news to you” bit applies, I suppose. Anyway – last year, some smarty-pants scientists showed some control over the speed of light in optical fiber. Slowing down light to 1/3 its natural speed was a noteworthy feat. But when the scientists were able to speed to light up to faster than the natural speed of light, well, that was phenomenal.

On the screen, a small pulse shifts back and forth – just a little bit. But this seemingly unremarkable phenomenon could have profound technological consequences. It represents the success of Luc ThÊvenaz and his fellow researchers in the Nanophotonics and Metrology laboratory at EPFL in controlling the speed of light in a simple optical fiber. They were able not only to slow light down by a factor of three from its well – established speed c of 300 million meters per second in a vacuum, but they’ve also accomplished the considerable feat of speeding it up – making light go faster than the speed of light.

This is not the first time that scientists have tweaked the speed of a light signal. Even light passing through a window or water is slowed down a fraction as it travels through the medium. In fact, in the right conditions, scientists have been able to slow light down to the speed of a bicycle, or even stop it altogether. In 2003, a group from the University of Rochester made an important advance by slowing down a light signal in a room-temperature solid. But all these methods depend on special media such as cold gases or crystalline solids, and they only work at certain well-defined wavelengths. With the publication of their new method, the EPFL team, made up of Luc ThÊvenaz, Miguel GonzalÊz Herraez and Kwang-Yong Song, has raised the bar higher still. Their all-optical technique to slow light works in off-the-shelf optical fibers, without requiring costly experimental set-ups or special media. They can easily tune the speed of the light signal, thus achieving a wide range of delays.

The article goes on to explain how this can have an important impact on light-processing systems for network switches and computers. In fact, it is important enough that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investing heavily into continuing this research. Cool.

[tags]Light goes faster than the speed of light, Controlling the speed of light in optical fiber[/tags]

I never knew it could mean so much

This almost falls into my “Useless Knowledge” category, but there is enough good information for me to spare it that designation. While looking up the proper spelling and meaning of “gaffe” I found this entry on Wikipedia on the meaning of “error” instead. Learn the difference between an error in biology, baseball, computer science, statistics and so on. A quick and easy read with some interesting trivial knowledge attached.

[tags]Error, The many meanings of error[/tags]