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Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

Apple Plans $1 Billion iDataCenter 260

1sockchuck writes "Apple is planning a major East Coast data center to boost the capacity of its online operations, and may invest more than $1 billion in building and operating the huge server farm. That's nearly twice what Google and Microsoft typically invest in their massive cloud computing centers. The scope of the project raises interesting questions about Apple's plans, and has politicians in North Carolina jumping through hoops to pass incentives to win the project. The proposed NC incentives build on a package for Google that later proved controversial."
Data Storage

Nanotech Memory Could Hold Data For 1 Billion Years 239

Hugh Pickens writes "Digital storage devices have become ubiquitous in our lives but the move to digital storage has raised concerns about the lifetime of the storage media. Now Alex Zettl and his group at the University of California, Berkeley report that they have developed an experimental memory device consisting of a crystalline iron nanoparticle enclosed in a multiwalled carbon nanotube that could have a storage capacity as high as 1 terabyte per square inch and temperature-stability in excess of one billion years. The nanoparticle can be moved through the nanotube by applying a low voltage, writing the device to a binary state represented by the position of the nanoparticle. The state of the device can then be subsequently read by a simple resistance measurement while reversing the nanoparticle's motion allows a memory 'bit' to be rewritten. This creates a programmable memory system that, like a silicon chip, can record digital information and play it back using conventional computer hardware storing data at a high density with a very long lifetime. Details of the process are available at the American Chemical Society for $30."
The Internet

Canadian ISP Ordered to Prove Traffic-Shaping is Needed 177

Sepiraph writes "In a letter sent to the Canadian Association of Internet Providers and Bell Canada on May 15, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) have ordered Bell Canada to provide tangible evidence that its broadband networks are congested to justify the company's Internet traffic-shaping policies. This is a response after Bell planned to tackle the issue of traffic shaping, also called throttling, on the company's broadband networks. It would be interesting to see Bell's response, as well as to see some real-world actual numbers and compare them to a previous study."

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