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Submission + - NASA creates an alien's eye view of solar system (

Flash Modin writes: Using the Discover supercomputer — which is capable of 67 trillion calculations per second — astronomers at NASA Goddard have created a series of images of what our solar system would look like to an alien astronomer at various points in time. Their simulations track the interactions of 75,000 dust grains in the Kuiper Belt, and show that while the planets would be too dim to detect directly, aliens could deduce the presence of Neptune from its effects on the icy region. Strikingly, the images resemble one taken by Hubble of the star Fomalhaut. NASA has put out a cute video to go with the announcement as well.

Submission + - Lasers Approach their Ultimate Intensity Limit (

Flash Modin writes: Death Star style superlasers? Don't bet on it. High power lasers currently in development appear to be nearing the theoretical laser intensity limit, according to new research set to be published in the journal Physical Review Letters. Ultra-high-energy laser fields can actually convert their light into matter as shown in the late '90s at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC). This process creates an "avalanche-like electromagnetic cascade" (also known as sparking the vacuum) capable of destroying a laser field. Physicists thought it might be a problem for lasers eventually, but this work indicates the technology is much closer to its limit than researchers believed. A preprint is available on the arXiv.

Submission + - Fresh Impact Scar on the Moon's Surface (

astroengine writes: "As if we needed any more proof that we live in some kind of Cosmic shooting gallery, scientists from NASA's Lunar Science Institute have analyzed images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and spotted something on the surface that wasn't there in images taken 40 years ago: a 'fresh' impact crater. According to Nicole Gugliucci at Discovery News: "The crater itself is ten meters across, suggesting to me that the impactor was roughly a meter in size. Chunks of rock that size might hit the Earth several times a year, causing a stir in the local media or falling harmlessly and unnoticed. On the Moon however, it makes a bright crater, spewing forth lighter colored rock over the dark basalt surface.""

Submission + - Seagate Hints To 100 TB Hard Drives (

An anonymous reader writes: Are we running out of storage space? You may not have noticed it, but the current hard drive recording technology is in the second half of its life and a new technology will be introduced within 3 to 5 years. Seagate says that this technology will be heat assisted recording (HAMR) and it will enable 50x greater storage densities than the current perpendicular recording technology, which would be 300-500x the density of the previous linear recording. With PMR hard drives topping out at about 5-6TB in 3.5” drives, HAMR will take HDD manufacturers well beyond 100 TB.

Submission + - Bats May be Facing Extinction ( 1

gpronger writes: the Scientist reports that brown bats, at least on a regional basis are threatened by extinction due to the "".White Nose Symdrome. This disease attacks the animal during hibernation where large numbers of bats congregate to over winter. The disease is believed to be caused by a fungus called Geomyces destructans. Researchers have looked at the population declines in areas effected and were surprised to find in some regions the brown bat faces extinction in as as soon as 16 years. The journal Science carried the main article, the abstract is available without charge.

Submission + - Physics Buzz: Observatory discovers cosmic particl (

Flash Modin writes: Physicists from the Pierre Auger Observatory have found that the source of elusive ultra-high-energy cosmic rays is cosmic particle accelerators from stars exploding in the Milky Way. These types of explosions have been seen in other galaxies before, but not our own. This story explains how the discovery was made because the observatory detected far more nuclei than it expected. Nuclei from stellar explosions usually disintegrate very fast, but these nuclei were trapped in a galactic magnetic field where they traveled for millions of years before striking the earth's upper atmosphere.

Submission + - New Writer Extension for Braille (

ChristopheS writes: The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) has released an extension for Writer that enables users to save documents as Braille or to send them directly to a Braille embosser. "odt2braille" ( is a freeware extension for Writer.
odt2braille is available for Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista and Windows 7), and will later also become available for Mac OS X and Linux/Unix. The current version of odt2braille supports eight Braille embossers, and additional embossers will be added later. One of the supported embossers is the Elekul, which was developed at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven by Prof. Dr. Guido Francois, and which was the first system that could emboss Braille on both sides of the same sheet of paper.
odt2braille is being developed in the context of the AEGIS project, a research & development project supported by the European Commission. The AEGIS project develops software for persons with disabilities, covering the desktop platform, the Web (Rich Internet Applications) and mobile devices. In November 2009, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven released another extension in the context of the AEGIS project: odt2daisy (, an Writer extension that converts text documents to audio books in the DAISY format.

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