Previous month:
February 2004
Next month:
April 2004

Eliminating 'friendly fire'

Sandia

Smart solution. Since I've had friends killed in combat by "blue on blue" I'm all in favour of this sort of kit.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A device to help eliminate friendly fire during military combat has been created by engineers at the National Nuclear Security Administration's Sandia National Laboratories.

Building on more than 10 years of research and development, Sandia engineers have created a radar tag sensor that is mounted on military vehicles and is recognizable to an attack aircraft as a "friendly." The device, tracked via aircraft radar, can be used to identify both U.S. and coalition forces during combat to avoid fratricide. During war, fratricide is the act of killing one's own soldiers.

The sensor is not a radio transmitter that broadcasts a signal for the aircraft to receive. Instead, the sensor creates synthetic radar echoes, so that the radar picks up the sensor signal in the same way it picks up radar echoes from tanks, trucks, or other objects.

In general, the radar transmits a pulse of energy then looks for the reflections of that energy from objects on the ground. The tag sees the radar's transmitted pulse and sends it back to the radar, except it adds a little bit of data to the reflection (or echo).

As the radar picks up (or receives) reflections from the ground, it recognizes the tag's unique data signal and places an icon on the pilot's screen to alert him. The project has good system integration between tag and radar, Wells said, which is key to making it usable.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Doping test...

PhysicsWeb

Not content with Tennis, we now have C-60...

Physicists in the US have moved a step closer to controlling the electronic properties of individual molecules in a condensed matter environment. Michael Crommie and colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a new way to "dope" single carbon-60 molecules with potassium atoms. The team says its method is the molecular equivalent of the n-type doping that is widely used in the semiconductor industry (R Yamachika et al. 2004 Sciencexpress 1095069).

The doping of materials with atoms that accept or donate electrons, and therefore modify the electronic behaviour of the material, plays a crucial role in semiconductor electronics. Crommie and colleagues have now applied this idea to the fullerenes -- molecules that consist of 60 carbon atoms arranged in a spherical shell.

The Berkeley team used a scanning tunnelling microscope to drag a carbon-60 molecule over a silver surface containing potassium atoms. They found that they could attach an arbitrary number of potassium atoms to a single molecule. Each potassium atom donates a well-defined number of electrons to the molecule and so allows the electronic structure of the resulting potassium-fullerene complex to be controlled. The process can be reversed by simply moving the structures back over the surface, where impurities - such as oxygen - can remove the potassium atoms one by one.

"Previously only extended monolayers and bulk crystals of carbon-60 have been modified through alkali metal adsorption," Crommie told PhysicsWeb. "Our work opens a completely new regime by showing that it is possible to controllably dope a single, isolated molecule. This puts us in the unique position of knowing and controlling precisely how many dopant atoms are attached to a specific molecule."

The team now hopes to extend its technique to more complex molecules and other dopant atoms. "We expect that our paper will inspire a whole new class of experiments on new and exciting nanostructured systems," added Crommie.

Author
Belle Dum is Science Writer at PhysicsWeb

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Shareware Music

Magnatune

We're a record label. But we're not evil.

We call it "try before you buy." It's the shareware model applied to music.

Listen to hundreds of MP3'd albums from our artists. Or try our genre-based radio stations.

If you like what you hear, buy our music online for as little as $5 an album or license our music for commercial use.

Artists get a full 50% of the purchase price. And unlike most record labels, our artists keep the rights to their music.

Founded by musicians, for musicians.

No major label connections. We are not evil.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

RSS Shifts the web

Phil Windley

Why is RSS important? Because it says "here's what's changed on the Web."

When I started building Web sites in 1993, it was very clear then that people visit sites that get updated frequently. That's still true.

Now, however, we have a new tool, RSS, that tells us what's changed. I no longer have to limit my reading to sites I know get updated frequently. Instead, I get pinged whenever sites I'm interested in change.

That's a fundamental shift in what the Web is.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

'God particle' may have been seen

BBC Science

A scientist says one of the most sought after particles in physics - the Higgs boson - may have been found, but the evidence is still relatively weak.

Peter Renton, of the University of Oxford, says the particle may have been detected by researchers at an atom-smashing facility in Switzerland.

The Higgs boson explains why all other particles have mass and is fundamental to a complete understanding of matter.

Continue reading "'God particle' may have been seen" »

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Wow...

This from M-Systems...

M-Systems released today a new 90GB solid-state flash disk in a 2.5" disk...

It is capable of operating at high altitudes, through extreme shocks and vibrations and at high temperatures common in industrial applications. It is designed to provide top data integrity for such applications as military, aerospace, telecommunication and video servers...

And this from Hitachi...

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies plans to announce this week a massive hard drive designed to store corporate data or record about 400 hours of video for consumers.

The new drive has a capacity of 400GB, spins at 7,200 revolutions per minute and uses ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) interface technology. The drive is being tested by manufacturers and could be in digital video recorder (DVR) products available to consumers later this year.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Quantum codes debut in real world

BBC Technology

Quantum cryptography has emerged from the laboratory and into the real world.

Using properties of quantum physics, the technique encrypts data with keys that reveal if they have been intercepted or tampered with.

US company Magiq and Swiss firm ID Quantique have already sold hardware to several customers keen to protect data with quantum cryptography.

Governments and armed forces are thought to be among the first users of the technology.

Encryption usually involves scrambling data with long numeric keys that stop other people reading it. Once you can guarantee the key is secret, you can use that for encrypting the data or for any other cryptographic tasks you want to do

The information inside the message is effectively kept secure because of the time it would take an eavesdropper to sort through all possible keys used to scramble the data.

But quantum cryptography scrambles data in a different way by using the strange properties of the quantum world to guarantee that keys have been swapped securely.

Information about the key is encoded onto a single photon.

Quantum physics guarantees that the properties of the photon will change if anyone intercepts it and tries to read the information off it.

Once two parties have swapped a key that they know to be safe they can be sure that the messages they are sending each other are secure.

The current record for long-distance quantum key distribution is 120km.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston