This video is ridiculously amazing. The scientists at the Department of Energy used the TITAN Supercomputer, one of the most powerful computers in the world, to simulate ground motion during the earthquake the last time the southern stretch of the San Andreas ruptured in 1857. There’s a real neat effect where they show the seismogram generated at some of the major cities throughout California as the simulation goes.
The eye is more than the window into the soul, it’s also the best identity card you can carry. A good photo of the colored part around the pupil called the iris contains so many unique features that researchers say it can tell who you are with an accuracy of about one in a billion people. Even the irises of identical twins are different because the finer points of its structure aren’t based on genetics alone.
These facts have made this single feature of the eye the subject of intense study in the world of biometric identification, which uses physical features like the face or palm and behavioral characteristics like how someone walks to figure out who a person is. And the technology is starting to be used around the world because iris scans can be done with a camera, require no contact with the subject and don’t carry the same stigma as being fingerprinted. For example, India’s Unique Identification Authority, a national government agency, is working to issue a national ID card that includes an iris scan to India’s 1.24 billion citizens in the next several years.
But projects like India’s and others happening around the world to identify individuals through their irises have at least one major limitation—subjects have to let their irises be photographed. Current technology needs to be close to the face and the lens has to be pointed almost straight at the eye.
That might be a slightly better situation for privacy advocates, but it’s just not good enough for biometrics researchers, companies and military and security officials. Several groupsare working on what’s called long-range standoff iris recognition systems, which have to be neither close nor directly in front of the subject.
The High Flux Isotope Reactor, located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, operates at 85 megawatts and is one of the United States’ highest flux reactor-based sources of neutrons for condensed matter research, and provides the highest steady-state neutron fluxes of any research reactor in the world.
Neutron scattering research facilities at the High Flux Isotope Reactor contain a world-class collection of instruments used for fundamental and applied research on the structure and dynamics of matter. The reactor is also used for a number of different reasons: medical/industrial/research isotope production, research on severe neutron damage to materials, and neutron activation.
The US took back the title of “World’s Fastest Supercomputer” at the end of 2012. The fastest computer was the Titan Supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) managed by the US Department of Energy
Just one more day of work till I give my research powerpoint presentation…and then I’m free!
Ah, but what a long day it’s going to be.
Basically, I’m going to spend all of tomorrow putting together my presentation and trying to make my research sound impressive (which is a lot harder than it sounds).
I spent most of today with some of the staff trying to set up an overnight experiment on the confocal microscope-incubator. We finally got it working, but it wasn’t exactly under the optimal conditions I would have liked.
Hopefully though, everything will go fine and I’ll have some interesting/cool images tomorrow morning.
Lord knows my presentation could use a few of those. XD
Magnets Mean Your New Refrigerator Will Make History
by Michael Keller
Coming soon to a kitchen near you—magnets in your refrigerator. And we’re not talking about slapping your kid’s artwork inside the fridge next to the milk and butter.
It’s the next generation of residential food and drink cooling, and it’s powered by magnets. Gone will be the almost century-old unit in your kitchen that uses a heat-transfer process based on liquid refrigerants called vapor compression refrigeration. Condensers and refrigerants will be replaced with magnets and special alloys that get hot and cold based on their proximity to magnetic fields. The technology could also be used for air-conditioning.
Magnetic refrigeration, proponents say, is a rapidly approaching technology that will amount to a revolution in domestic energy use.
“It’s the equivalent to a gas-powered car moving to electric—that’s the kind of leap we’re making in refrigeration,” said Ed Vineyard, a senior researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Vineyard’s Building Technologies Program has teamed up with GE to bring magnetic refrigeration to the public in around five years.
Jaswinder Sharma and his colleagues made the structures, which can measure less than a micron across, by placing an emulsion droplet on the surface of silica particle seeds. When another chemical was added, different numbers of spikes grew on the seeds depending on the volume of solution added. Controlling the temperature allowed the researchers to create screw-like characteristics on the growing spikes.
They say that these complex shapes could make bonding layers for coatings that last longer than what is currently available. Applications could include coatings for eyeglasses, displays, transportation and self-cleaning windows and roofs. See a photo of the growing oxide microstructures below.