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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Networking

+ - All-Optical Networks: The Last Piece of the Puzzle->

Submitted by
Esther Schindler
Esther Schindler writes "This could also be titled, The Sorcerer’s Stone: An MIT professor explains why “simple” ideas require hard science and how a gemstone might be the key to an optical network. As the story begins:

For years, the dream of an all-optical network has lain somewhere between Star Wars and a paper cup and a string. Recent successful work on the creation of an optical diode is a virtual case study in both the physics and materials sciences challenges of trying to develop all-optical networks. It is also a significant step towards their final realization.

One answer may be... garnet. Yes, the January birthstone.

The material that Ross and others in her field use is a synthetic, lab-grown garnet film. Similar to the natural mineral, often used as a gemstone, it is transparent in the infrared part of the spectrum. This makes synthetic garnet ideal for optical communications systems, which use the near infrared. Unlike natural garnet, it’s also magnetic. ... While it works, it’s too big and too labor intensive for use as a commercial integrated chip. For that, you need to grow garnet on silicon. The challenge that Ross’s group overcame is that garnet doesn’t grow on silicon. When you start to talk about garnets as minerals, and not just the January birthstone, you find they are actually very complicated. 'You could find half the Periodic Table in garnet,' says Bethanie Stadler of the University of Minnesota, whose lab has also done pioneering work on magneto-optical garnet based isolators. She’s only partially joking.

I expect slashdot denizens will slather over this stuff."
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Apple

+ - The Apple II turns 35 today->

Submitted by
harrymcc
harrymcc writes "35 years ago this week, at San Francisco's first West Coast Computer Faire, a tiny startup named Apple II demonstrated its new personal computer, the Apple II. It was the company's first blockbuster product — the most important PC of its time, and, just maybe, the most important PC ever released, period. Over at TIME.com, I've paid tribute to this landmark machine on its birthday."
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Space

+ - Solar Wind, Moon Dust and Martian Lights->

Submitted by
fishmike
fishmike writes "The Canadian Space Agency has funded a University of Alberta-led project to study the effects of solar winds on Earth's moon and on Mars. The results are anticipated to influence design of spacecraft for robotic and human exploration.

"We have limited data regarding the environments in which equipment and astronauts must function and how these environments respond to solar activity," says Clare Watt, a research associate with the project. "There is small room for error in these high-cost missions, especially when there are lives at stake.""

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