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Astronomers Find the Calmest Place On Earth 231

The Narrative Fallacy writes "Live Science reports that astronomers in search of the perfect site to take pictures of the heavens have combined data from satellites, ground stations and climate models in a study to assess the many factors that affect image quality — cloud cover, temperature, sky-brightness, water vapor, wind speeds and atmospheric turbulence. They have pinpointed the coldest, driest, calmest place on earth, known simply as Ridge A, 13,297 feet high on the Antarctic Plateau. 'It's so calm that there's almost no wind or weather there at all,' says study leader Will Saunders, of the Anglo-Australian Observatory. 'The astronomical images taken at Ridge A should be at least three times sharper than at the best sites currently used by astronomers.' Located within the Australian Antarctic Territory, the site is 89 miles from the PLATO (PLATeau Observatory) international robotic observatory. The new site would be superior to the best existing observatories on high mountain tops in Hawaii and Chile, Saunders says. 'Because the sky there is so much darker and drier, it means that a modestly-sized telescope would be as powerful as the largest telescopes anywhere else on earth.'"

Submission + - GMail experiences serious outage (

JacobSteelsmith writes: "As I type this, GMail is experiencing a major outage. The application status page says there is a problem with GMail affecting a majority of it's users. It states a resolution is expected within the next 1.2 hours (no, not a typo on my part). However, email can still be accessed via POP or IMAP, but not, it appears, through an Android device such as the G1."

Submission + - Gmail Outage Affecting Even Google Employees ( 5

David Lechnyr writes: "We run a hosted Google Apps system and have been receiving 502 Server Error responses for the past hour. The unusual thing about this is that our Google phone support rep (which paid accounts get) indicated that this outage is also affecting Google employees as well, making it difficult to coordinate. Minor in the grand scheme of things, perhaps, but unsettling if it affects not only the clients but the service provider as well..."

Submission + - Monkey DNA Swap Paves Way to Engineered Babies ( 2

Singularity Hub writes: "Scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) were able to produce primates with three biological parents. Four macaque monkeys were born through an in vitro fertilization process in which the DNA of two females and one male were combined. Of the two mothers, one provided all the chromosomal DNA while the other only provided mitochondrial DNA. This technique may eventually be developed into a treatment in humans so that women with defects in their mitochondria can have healthy offspring."
Sun Microsystems

Submission + - Sun Enters the Commodity Silicon Business (

Samrobb writes: According to Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, Sun has decided to release its UltraSPARC T2 processor under the GPL. According to Schwartz, "We're announcing the fastest microprocessor we've ever shipped this week — delivering 89.6 Ghz of parallel computing power on a single chip — running standard Java applications and open source OS's. Simultaneously, we've said we're entering the commodity marketplace, and opening the chip up to our competition... To add fuel to the fire, the blueprints for our UltraSPARC T2... the core design files and test suites, will be available to the open source community, via its most popular license: the GPL."

Submission + - IBM, Sun launch *intranet* metaverses

wjamesau writes: "Virtual worlds on the Net? That's so last month. Sun and IBM have launched intranet metaverses designed for business and architected to work behind their corporate firewalls, so their worldwide employees can use them to collaborate together. Most interesting to game developers, IBM (which also runs a private, no public access Second Life island as a development lab) created their intranet world from the 3D Torque engine from Garage Games. Will the metaverse actually be thousands of gated community metaverses?"

Submission + - Simple chemical trick to boost battery efficiency

space_mongoose writes: Hitachi reckons that a simple chemical additive could significantly improve battery life. Alkaline batteries have a positive electrode of manganese oxide and a negative electrode of finely powdered zinc, but zinc oxide forms around these grains of zinc. Hitachi's solution is to replace the zinc with a fine powder of zinc-aluminium alloy, displaces the zinc within the zinc oxide layer making it a much better conductor.

Submission + - NASA Claims to have found New Ring of Dark Matter

perturbed1 writes: The story on says "Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a ghostly ring of dark matter that formed long ago during a titanic collision between two galaxy clusters." Previously, NASA had announced a press conference today, generating a discussion here last week. The team's paper has been accepted for publication in the June 1 issue of Astrophysical Journal. Until the details are revealed in the publication, the NASA press release will have to suffice.

Submission + - Nintendo Power to shut down?

BTWR writes: "IGN is reporting the rumor that Nintendo Power, the offical Nintendo Magazine is going to shut down. IGN reports: Nintendo of America was planning to move a significant chunk of its marketing and sales departments from Seattle to either San Francisco or New York, IGN has learned that the company may be planning to close or restructure its official Nintendo Power magazine. This would be a shame, as they became better since their restructuring last year. And, I owe Nintendo Power for giving me that free copy of Dragon Warrior all those years ago (not to mention the Zelda Collection too)."

Submission + - $25,000 question: Is this Turing machine universal

An anonymous reader writes: Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and author of A New Kind of Science, is offering a 25k prize to anyone who can prove or disprove his conjecture that a particular 2-state, 3-color Turing machine is universal. If true, it would be the simplest universal TM, and possibly simplest universal computational system — even simpler than rule 110. The announcement comes on the 5-year anniversary of the publication of NKS, where among other things Wolfram introduced the current reigning TM champion.

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer. = 1 Lite-year