Tag Archives: laser

Mars rover Curiosity test fires the laser – pulverizes a rock just for fun (and science)

Johnny Five, aka the Mars rover Curiosity, continues its scientific journey. The nuclear-powered laboratory in-a-box pulled out it’s laser to blast a rock that got in its way. From NASA:

The mission’s ChemCam instrument hit a fist-sized rock named “Coronation” with 30 pulses of its laser during a 10-second period. Each pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.

The energy from the laser creates a puff of ionized, glowing plasma. ChemCam catches the light with a telescope and analyzes it with three spectrometers for information about what elements are in the rock.

 

NASA said the main function of this was target practice to calibrate the ChemCam.

You gotta love the sense of play NASA is bringing to this mission. Not only are they releasing these stories about test-firing lasers, but they are all over social medial, including fan art on Facebook, a first-person Twitter account, sharing stories on Google Plus, and posting articles on their much more user-friendly website.

A great idea for the much beleaguered space agency, that I assume is a bid to get them back into America’s good graces…and taxpayer dollars.

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Scientists build first working quantum network – mind-bogglingly powerful

Scientists at the Quantum Dynamics division of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany announced Wednesday that they have built the very first, elementary quantum network comprised of a pair of entangled atoms that transmit information to each other via single photons.

That and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee, plus anything from a perfectly secure data exchange system to the massive scaling via distributed processing of the already mind-bogglingly powerful, if theoretical, potential of a standalone quantum computer.

These are indeed heady days for the pioneers of quantum computing, with each news cycle seemingly bringing forth a major breakthrough in a subatomic frontier that appears poised to revolutionize how our calculating machines deliver us everything from satellite mapping to LOLcats.

 

Building it was the hardest part:

…had to figure out a means of exercising “perfect control” over all the components in their quantum network, which first meant getting the two atoms that make up the network’s receptor nodes to somehow stay stationary, because a couple of free-floating atoms wouldn’t be able to communicate with the photons relaying information between the two very efficiently.

The team was able to fix their atoms in optical cavities, basically a couple of highly reflective mirrors a short distance from each other, by means of fine-tuned laser beams.

keep readingPC Mag

MIT scientists prove that individual neurons store memories

MIT researchers have shown, for the first time ever, that memories are stored in specific brain cells. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. By removing these neurons, the subject would lose that memory.

As you can imagine, the trick here is activating individual neurons, which are incredibly small and not really the kind of thing you can attach electrodes to. To do this, the researchers used optogenetics, a bleeding edge sphere of science that involves the genetic manipulation of cells so that they’re sensitive to light. These modified cells are then triggered using lasers; you drill a hole through the subject’s skull and point the laser at a small cluster of neurons.

…we should note that MIT’s subjects in this case are mice

The main significance here is that we finally have proof that memories are physical rather than conceptual.

Keep reading – Extreme Tech

Epic new posters for Star Wars Identities – Yoda, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett

Star War Identities was revealed a few months ago, and it was described as being a new interactive museum exhibit that is scheduled to debut at the Montreal Science Centre on April 19th. It will focus on the pivotal developments of Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Combining material from the Lucasfilm archives with a scientific approach to the concept of identity to present an interactive experience for fans.

via Geek Tyrant

 

Rather than offer an explanation of each, we are leaving it to our readers to decipher the meaning inherent in the portraits. Given the exhibit’s theme of identity, or “the forces that shape us,” the illustrations draw inspiration from each character’s individuality — what it is that makes them unique or the things and events that shaped them along the way.

via Star Wars Blog

 

 

All 12 photos can be found at Geek Tyrant, and highly detailed photos at the Star Wars Blog.

Also, view the trailer for the exhibit.

And the Oscar goes to…Researchers, computer scientists, and photographers

Just a few days ago the Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical Achievements were announced. The 8 awards go to a wide range of professionals in areas such as computer software, high-speed cameras, aerial cameras, and laser film preservation.

In many ways these descriptions are beyond our understanding, but they do, at the very least, bring into your mind the constant innovation in the film business.

These awards will be handed out on February 11, 2012, with the main awards show going on two weeks later.
 

Mantra Software

Invention and integration of micro-voxels in the Mantra software. This work allowed, for the first time, unified and efficient rendering of volumetric effects such as smoke and clouds, together with other computer graphics objects, in a micro-polygon imaging pipeline.

By Andrew Clinton, Mark Elendt
 

Phantom High-Speed Cameras

Design and engineering of the Phantom family of high-speed cameras for motion picture production. The Phantom family of high-speed digital cameras, including the Phantom Flex and HD Gold, provide imagery at speeds and efficacy surpassing photochemical technology, while seamlessly intercutting with conventional film production.

By Radu Corlan, Andy Jantzen, Petru Pop and Richard Toftness
 
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