|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Saturday, January 22, 2005
New Nanomaterial for Future Magnetic Fridges
: "Magnetic refrigerators offer significant advantages when compared with current vapor-compression ones, such as gains in energy efficiency, lower cost of operation or elimination of environmentally damaging coolants. Unfortunately, all the materials which have been tested in the last fifty years suffer from hysteresis losses, lowering the energy available for cooling. But now, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers have found a solution, reported in "Nanomaterial Yields Cool Results
." By adding a small amount of iron to a gadolinium-germanium-silicon alloy, they enhanced the cooling capacity by 30 percent. This very significant step may help move the promising technology of magnetically generated refrigeration closer to market." 10:35:05 PM
CMU project envisions computers even the poorest Third World farmer could use: Further coverage of Raj Reddy's project. "Sometime next year, Reddy plans to begin field tests in India, China and Africa of a device he calls the PCtvt ---- a combination personal computer, television, video recorder and telephone that wirelessly connects with the Internet. It all comes at a projected cost of $250 apiece. ..
These computers, in turn, would link up with an ultra-low-cost broadband technology being developed at the University of California, Berkeley. The goal, said A. Richard Newton, dean of Berkeley's College of Engineering, is an antenna, power supply and other equipment necessary to provide wireless Internet access for a village for about $500. ..
At Berkeley, the initiative is called Information and Communication Technology for Billions, or ICT4B. The National Science Foundation has provided Berkeley with $3 million to help develop low-cost broadband networks." 10:30:50 PM
A Cell Phone to Detect Radiation
: Interesting packaging of a radiation detector with a GPS unit in a cell phone, all for under $1000. The plan is to give them to DHS and police staff -- and to postal workers, and other delivery people who cover distances and routes, to sniff out radioactive materials if (as) they move around. 10:25:08 PM
Nanotechnologists' new plastic can see in the dark: "Imagine a home with "smart" walls responsive to the environment in the room, a digital camera sensitive enough to work in the dark, or clothing with the capacity to turn the sun's power into electrical energy. Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented an infrared-sensitive material that could shortly turn these possibilities into realities. ..
The discovery may also help in the quest for renewable energy sources. Flexible, roller-processed solar cells have the potential to harness the sun's power, but efficiency, flexibility and cost are going to determine how that potential becomes practice, says Josh Wolfe, managing partner and nanotechnology venture capital investor at Lux Capital in Manhattan. Wolfe, who was not part of the research team, says the findings in the paper are significant: "These flexible photovoltaics could harness half of the sun's spectrum not previously accessed."
Professor Peter Peumans of Stanford University, who has reviewed the U of T team's research, also acknowledges the groundbreaking nature of the work. "Our calculations show that, with further improvements in efficiency, combining infrared and visible photovoltaics could allow up to 30 per cent of the sun's radiant energy to be harnessed, compared to six per cent in today's best plastic solar cells." (Thanks to Roland Piquepaille) 10:17:19 PM
Jon Udell: VM-enabled polycore computing
: Pulls together comments on the massively parallel computing that's coming from multi-core processor chips. Jon points out the different models for these parallel systems, most of which involve one type of virtual machine or another (Java, .NET, LAMP, Erlang). These can function well with thousands or tens of thousands of parallel virtual machines. More prosaically, I also imagine the multi-core and hyper-threaded x86 machines that have arrived with more on the way, that today's simple monitors like vmware could exploit. 10:13:25 PM