At The Beat The Time Will Be… 11/11/11 11:11:11

11/11/11 11:11:11

This is providing that my Atomic Clock is correct.

Image Detail

Clocks that do not lose time

Scientists have developed laser clocks that can keep time without missing a beat in nearly two billion years. They are so precise that
they could lead eventually lead to automated cars.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) based in Boulder, Colorado have developed an advanced clock which measures the vibrations of electrons in mercury ions and go 1.7 billion years without missing a beat.
Atomic Clock NBS-2 (1960)
 The new clocks are known as optical clocks and use lasers to measure the frequency with which electrons in atoms vibrate. Currently the most accurate clocks are known as atomic clocks which can measure to an accuracy of one second over 80 million years. As a comparison a
normal wristwatch will lose around 15 seconds a month.
The international committee for weights and measures is planning to replace its atomic clocks with optical ones by 2020.
Scientists believe that installing optical clocks on satellites they will be able to track objects within less than a metre leading to automated motorway driving or landing an aircraft without human intervention.
Historical accuracy of atomic clocks from NIST.
The European Space Agency has said that they are considering fitting an optical clock to a satellite as part of its cosmic vision programme. This programme will run from 2015 to 2025 exploring ways of using space for scientific advancement.
Scientists in Britain, US, Germany, France and Japan are now competing to make a clock more powerful time so accurately that it will not have lost a second since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. They believe this clock will be built within a decade.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/266848#ixzz1clGW5a9m

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Video: New Atomic Clock Reaches A 100 Quadrillionth Of A Second Accuracy

by Serkan Toto  From TechCrunch.com

A team of researchers at the University of Tokyo has developed a new type of optical atomic clock that boasts a 100 quadrillionth of a second accuracy (one quadrillion has 15 zeros). The optical lattice clock is the brain child of Professor Katori who says his device observes a million atoms simultaneously whereas conventional atomic clocks measure time by using single atoms.

The Professor explains:

“(…) if one clock is placed one centimeter higher than another clock, the higher clock is affected by less gravity, so it goes faster. That difference could be read out in the 18th decimal place of the clocks in one second averaging time. Until now, clocks have been thought of as tools for sharing a common time. But with clocks like this, conversely, we can understand that time passes at different speeds, depending on the time and place a clock is at.”

The idea is to eventually use the new clock to improve GPS (which is based on atomic clocks delivering 14-or 15-digit accuracy) or to predict earthquakes, for example.

This video (shot by Diginfonews in Tokyo, in English) provides more insight:

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Twisted Design: Telling Time With Toys and Bluetooth

 From Gajitz

Who knew that watching a clock work could be so hypnotizing? The Tilted Twister clock from Hans Andersson is composed of two Lego Minstorm bricks connected by Bluetooth. The master brick is in charge of tracking the time and operating the minute digits. The slave brick is responsible for moving the seconds indicator and the hour digits.

Watching the time change ever so slowly from one minute to the next is a surprisingly entertaining venture. The digits all consist of five layers of black and white tiles. The tiles are twisted around by the top layer until they form the appropriate digit.

Staring at the video of this awesome clock is one thing, but it’s so loud that it would probably be a huge pain to live with. Still, it might be worth the irritation just to have such a unique and artful timepiece keeping you grounded in reality.

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Look Out! Here Comes The Sperm Bike

Sperm bike comes to Seattle

Anthony Bolante / Reuters

Biological analyst Alan Dowden of the Seattle Sperm Bank rides the Sperm Bike, a custom-designed, high-tech bicycle used to deliver donated sperm to fertility clinics, in Seattle Nov. 8, 2011.

Anthony Bolante / Reuters

Biological analyst Alan Dowden of the Seattle Sperm Bank places a transportation container aboard the Sperm Bike, a custom-designed, high-tech bicycle used to deliver donated sperm to fertility clinics, in Seattle, Nov. 8, 2011.

From MarketWire:

Seattle has become the second city to showcase a ‘sperm bike’ making sperm  deliveries from a sperm bank to fertility clinics. The European Sperm Bank, one  of the largest in Europe and located in Copenhagen, Denmark — perhaps the  world’s most bike-friendly city — made news reports globally after it began  deliveries in a custom-designed bike with a cooling system built inside the  ‘sperm head‘ for storing tanks with sperm specimens.

The company’s CEO,  Peter Bower, says, “The first idea was how we could deliver to the fertility  clinics in a CO2-friendly way. Then we realized that the bike could promote both  cycling and the need for donors to help childless families around the world.”

The European Sperm Bank’s Seattle lab (www.europeanspermbankusa.com)  worked with Portland’s Splendid Cycles and Antimatter.com to construct the sperm  structure, built of Jesmonite on top of a Bullitt cargo bike. With the tail, the  bike is 9 1/2 feet long and weighs about 110 pounds fully loaded. The Seattle  version includes a small electrical motor to give riders a boost on Seattle’s  many hills (unlike flat Copenhagen, where the assist is not needed).

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Rebuilding The Computing Past For The Future

It Started Digital Wheels Turning

Left: Science Museum Archive/Science & Society Picture Library Punch cards for the never-completed Babbage Analytical Engine, and Charles Babbage, the “father of computing,” who kept refining his design.
By

Researchers in Britain are about to embark on a 10-year, multimillion-dollar project to build a computer — but their goal is neither dazzling analytical power nor lightning speed.

Indeed, if they succeed, their machine will have only a tiny fraction of the computing power of today’s microprocessors. It will rely not on software and silicon but on metal gears and a primitive version of the quaint old I.B.M. punch card.

What it may do, though, is answer a question that has tantalized historians for decades: Did an eccentric mathematician named Charles Babbage conceive of the first programmable computer in the 1830s, a hundred years before the idea was put forth in its modern form by Alan Turing?

The London Science Museum's working difference...

Image via Wikipedia

The machine on the drawing boards at the Science Museumin London is the Babbage Analytical Engine, a room-size mechanical behemoth that its inventor envisioned but never built.

The project follows the successful effort by a group at the museum to replicate a far less complicated Babbage invention: the Difference Engine No. 2, a calculating machine composed of roughly 8,000 mechanical components assembled with a watchmaker’s precision. That project was completed in 1991.

The new effort — led by John Graham-Cumming, a programmer, and Doron Swade, a former curator at the museum — has already digitized Babbage’s surviving blueprints for the Analytical Engine. But the challenges of building it are daunting.

In the case of the Difference Engine, a complete set of plans existed. The Analytical Engine, by contrast, was a work in progress, as Babbage continually refined his thinking in a series of blueprints. Thus, the hope is to “crowd-source” the analysis of what should be built; plans will be posted online next year, and the public will be invited to offer suggestions.

“There is no single set of plans that design a single machine.” said Tim Robinson, a docent at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. “It was constantly in a state of flux.”

The project is significant in part because there has been a heated debate over whether — given time and resources — Babbage would have been able to build the machine he foresaw.

The idea was proposed last year by Mr. Graham-Cumming, who suggested a three-step project in which a decision would first be made on which blueprint to focus on, then a three-dimensional computer simulation would be created, and finally the machine would be built.

Part of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine in...

“I hope that future generations of scientists will stand before the completed Analytical Engine, think of Babbage and be inspired to work on their own 100-year leaps,” he wrote.

Babbage, who lived from 1791 to 1871, is rightfully known as the “father of computing.” But it would be left to a fellow scientist, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, to fully appreciate that his inventions were more than just tools for automatically tabulating logarithms and trigonometric functions.

Lovelace — daughter of the poet Lord Byron — recognized that the Analytical Engine could be a more generalized media machine, capable of making music and manipulating symbols. And 113 years before John McCarthy coined the term “artificial intelligence,” she considered — and then rejected — the notion that computers might exhibit creativity or even thought.

While Babbage was driven by the desire to automate tabular data for military and related applications, Lovelace wrote a lengthy commentary on the design that would prove deeply influential when it was rediscovered in the middle of the 20th century.

Lovelace is known as the first programmer, because she designed a program for the unbuilt machine. The algorithm appears in a series of notes written by Lovelace after a friend of Babbage asked her to translate an Italian professor’s write-up of a lecture Babbage had given at the University of Turin.

The Lovelace notes are remarkable both for her algorithm for calculating the sequence known as Bernoulli numbers and for what would become known as the “Lovelace objection.” In passing, she commented that the Babbage computer would not originate anything, but rather could do only what it had been instructed. The implication was that machines would not be creative, and thus not intelligent.

Semen Korsakov's punch card he proposed in 1832

The consensus of computer historians is that while Babbage was clearly the first to conceive of the flexible machine that foreshadowed the modern computer, his work was forgotten and was then conceptually recreated by Turing a century later.

In 1936, Turing wrote “On Computable Numbers,” in which he reformulated and advanced ideas first put forward by Kurt Gödel in 1931, positing the existence of what would be called “Turing machines” — an abstract computing device that was intended as an aid to exploring the limitations of what could be computed — and demonstrating that such devices could in principle perform any mathematical computation that was represented as an algorithm.

“The pioneers of electronic computing reinvented the fundamental principles largely in ignorance of the details of Babbage’s work,” said Dr. Swade, the former museum curator. “They knew of him, there was a continuity of influence, but his drawings were not the DNA of modern computing.”

He argues that Turing was a “bridging” figure between Babbage and Lovelace and the modern world of electronic computers.

A Turing biographer, Andrew Hodges, doubts that his subject had seen the Lovelace notes when he wrote “On Computable Numbers.”

“It’s most unlikely that Babbage/Lovelace had any influence on Turing in 1936,” Dr. Hodges, an Oxford mathematician, wrote in an e-mail. “Motivation, means, language, results were all completely different.”

By 1950, however, Turing clearly had come in contact with Lovelace’s work: He responded to her objection to the notion of computers’ thinking in his paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” Indeed, a small element of mystery surrounds the question of when Turing did actually come in contact with Babbage’s plans.

Dr. Hodges acknowledges that no clear point in time is evident, but notes that by 1945 the Analytical Engine had come to prominence.

“Anecdotally, it has been said that Babbage’s name came up in discussions at Bletchley Park after the success of the Colossus in 1944,” Dr. Hodges wrote, in a reference to the machines developed in England during World War II to break German codes.

Moreover, although Lovelace is now renowned as the first programmer, her more significant contribution was in being the first to comprehend the significance of programmable computers. Her notes, which were signed only with her initials because at the time women were not thought to be authors, gave the reader a clear sense of the broader potential of modern computing.

It was not until the 1970s that the idea of computers as “dynamic” media machines took hold in the work of computer scientists like Alan Kay.

The leaders of the new project argue that the first conceptual leap was Lovelace’s. “The real intellectual triumph of Lovelace is overlooked by most people,” Mr. Graham-Cumming said.

As she put it, “It would be a mistake to suppose that because its results are given in the notation of a more restricted science, its processes are therefore restricted to those of that science.”

From New York Times

Watches To Be Watched

Telling Time on the Dot: Cool Futuristic Analog-Style Watch

The ultra-minimalist Dot Watch designed by Samuel Jerichow is like a futuristic bracelet hiding a fun little secret. The flexible wrist piece is covered with a PVC-based coating, letting a single dot permanently stick up in the middle of the display area.

When you press the dot, two other dots appear like magic. Their positions on the wrist band represent the time, just as they would on a watch with a face. Of course, it takes a little imagination to picture the numbers on that blank expanse on plastic.

After five seconds, the hour and minute dots disappear again, retreating into their hidden spaces within the machinery of the wristband. The Dot Watch is strictly conceptual at this point, suffering – as many cool-looking concepts do – from a lack of suitable existing technology.

Analog, Digital, Mechanical: The Watch That Has it All

This amazing watch has a few qualities you don’t see every day: digital time displayed in an analog, mechanical fashion; exposed gears and sprockets; and an understated industrial kind of vibe. Designed by French designer Francois Quentin, the 4N Watchis an extremely slick design, but it maintains a rough, almost industrial sensibility.

Operating on three different dials, the numbers that make up the time rotate and meet up in the middle inside a yellow highlighting box. The numbers look like a digital readout, but they are in fact printed on the discs which are constantly rotating.

The watch seems to be pretty high end, with the dials being made of either aluminum or titanium and the housing being produced in either 18K white gold or platinum. The band will be offered in a variety of materials, but only a total of 16 pieces will be produced in each model type. Expensive, exclusive and extremely stylish? We definitely want one.

Antique Watch + LEDs = Stunning Steampunk Pocket Watch

paul pounds led pocket watch

We’ve seen plenty of new gadgets masquerading as old ones, but none of them have achieved the feat quite as gracefully as this one. Paul Pounds took a broken antique pocket watch, gutted it, and replaced the display with a custom face and LEDs in place of the second, minute and hour hands.

retrofuturistic watch

The result is a gorgeous timepiece that is functional and delightfully retrofuturistic. A cell phone motor vibrates each second to produce an audible “ticking” sound as the LED representing seconds moves around the face of the watch. The design juxtaposes the comforting, familiar sound of the ticking with the futuristic electronic look of LEDs.

The watch’s new features include an optical sensor that will dim the lights when the watch is opened in low light to avoid blinding the user. While this version is absolutely beautiful, Pounds is already making plans to remodel another old pocket watch into a 21st century version.

From Gajitz.com

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The Straight Scoop On SEALs Bin Laden Operation

Correcting the ‘fairy tale’:
A SEAL’s account of how Osama bin Laden really died

The Daily Caller

Forget whatever you think you know about the night Osama bin Laden was killed. According to a former Navy SEAL who claims to have the
inside track, the mangled tales told of that historic night have only now been corrected.

A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden video

“It became obvious in the weeks evolving after the mission that the story that was getting put out there was not only untrue, but it was a really ugly farce of what did happen,” said Chuck Pfarrer, author of Seal Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden.

In an extensive interview with The Daily Caller, Pfarrer gave a detailed account of why he believes the record needed to be corrected, and why he set out to share the personal stories of the warriors who penetrated
bin Laden’s long-secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In August the New Yorker delivered a riveting blow-by-blow of the SEALs’ May 1, 2011 raid on bin Laden’s hideaway. In that account, later reported to lack contributions from the SEALs involved, readers are taken through a mission that began with a top-secret helicopter crashing and led to a bottom-up assault of the Abbottabad compound.

In this file photo, Soldiers from 2nd Battalio...

Freelancer Nicholas Schmidle wrote that the SEALs had shot and blasted their way up floor-by-floor, finally cornering the bewildered Al-Qaida leader:

“The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on
his head, froze; he was unarmed. ‘There was never any question of detaining or
capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,’ the
special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin
Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven
months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull
from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin
Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his
head, just above his left eye.”

Chuck Pfarrer rejects almost all of that story.

“The version of the 45-minute firefight, and the ground-up assault, and the cold-blooded murder on the third floor — that wasn’t the mission,” Pfarrer told TheDC.

“I had to try and figure out, well, look: Why is this story not what I’m
hearing? Why is it so off and how is it so off?” he recounted. “One of the
things I sort of determined was, OK, somebody was told ‘one of the insertion helicopters crashed.’ OK, well that got muddled to ‘a helicopter crashed on insertion.’”

Hamid Mir interviewing Osama bin Laden for Dai...

The helicopters, called “Stealth Hawks,” are inconspicuous machines
concealing cutting-edge technology. They entered the compound as planned, with “Razor 1″ disembarking its team of SEALs on the roof of the compound — not on the ground level. There was no crash landing. That wouldn’t occur until after bin Laden was dead.

Meanwhile, “Razor 2″ took up a hovering position so that its on-board snipers, some of whom had also participated in the sea rescue of
Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips, had a clear view of anyone fleeing the compound.

The SEALs then dropped down from the roof, immediately penetrated the third floor, and hastily encountered bin Laden in his room. He was not standing still.

“He dived across the king-size bed to get at the AKSU rifle he kept by the
headboard,” wrote Pfarrer in his book. It was at that moment, a mere 90 seconds after the SEALs first set foot on the roof, that two American bullets shattered bin Laden’s chest and head, killing a man who sought violence to the very end.

A policeman walks in front of the compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad

Photo By REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/REUTERS

President Obama stepped up to a podium in the East Room of the White House that night to announce bin Laden’s death. That rapid announcement, explained Pfarrer, posed a major threat to U.S. national security.

“There was a choice that night,” Pfarrer told TheDC. “There was a choice to keep the mission secret.” America, Pfarrer explained, could have left things alone for “weeks or months … even though there was evidence left on the ground there … and use the intelligence and finish off al-Qaida.”

But Obama’s announcement, he said, “rendered moot all of the intelligence that was gathered from the nexus of al-Qaida. The computer drives, the hard drives, the videocasettes, the CDs, the thumb drives, everything. Before that could even be looked through, the political decision was made to take credit for the operation.”

FILE - In this May 2, 2011 file photo taken by a local resident, the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a fi

Photo By Mohammad Zubair, File

And in the days that followed, as politicians sought to thrust their
identities into the details of the bin Laden kill, the tale began to grow out of control, said Pfarrer.

“The president made a statement, and as far as that goes, that was fine, that was the mission statement,” he explained. “But, soon after … politicians began leaking information from every orifice. And it was like a game of Chinese telephone. These guys didn’t know what they were talking about. Very few of them had even seen the video feed.”

Pfarrer suggests that much of the misinformation was likely born out of
operational ignorance, even among those sitting in the White House.

“One of the things that happened was that there were only a handful of people who know about this mission,” he said. “On the civilian side, there were only a handful of people in the situation room who were watching the drone feed. They were looking at the roof of a building taken from a rotating aircraft at 35,000 feet.”

Aerial view of Osama bin Laden's compound in the pakistani city of Abbottabad made by the CIA.

“None of those guys, not a single one of them, had a background in special operations, with the exception of General Webb who was sitting there running a laptop,” Pfarrer went on. “No one knew or could even imagine what was going on inside the building. They didn’t know.”

“There was an alternative feed going to CIA headquarters where Leon Panetta sat there with the communications brevity codes [a guide sheet for the mission’s radio lingo] in his lap and a SEAL off-screen by his side to be able to tell him what was going on,” he said. “But these guys, none of them, really knew what they were looking at.”

As the media raised more questions, officials gave more answers.

Whether or not bin Laden resisted ultimately developed into a barrage of
murky official and unofficial explanations in the days following. And statements from as high as then-CIA Director Leon Panetta offered confirmation that the endeavor was a “kill mission.”

Pfarrer dismisses that assertion.

“An order to go in and murder someone in their house is not a lawful order,” explained Pfarrer, who maintains that bin Laden would have been captured had he surrendered. “Unlike the Germans in World War II, if you’re a petty officer, a chief petty officer, a naval officer, and you’re giving an order to murder somebody, that’s an unlawful order.”

Pfarrer also suggests some of the emerging claims were simply
self-aggrandizing “fairy tales.”

“The story they tried to tell — it’s preposterous. And the CIA tried to jump
in. About mid-June the CIA tried to jump into the car and drive the victory lap. There’s this whole stuff about the CIA guy joining the operation, the gallant interpreter — he couldn’t even fast rope!” exclaimed Pfarrer, referring to a technique for descending from an airborne helicopter.

“There’s this fairy tale about him walking out of the compound during the
operation to tell crowds of Pakistanis to go home and everything’s OK.”

Pfarrer tried to put this in perspective: “Do you mean that during the middle of this military operation at night, with hovering helicopters over this odd house in this neighborhood, that people came out of their houses to ask what’s going on, instead of [remaining] huddled in their basement?”

“And I think that there were so many of these leaks that were incorrect, the administration couldn’t walk them all back,” Pfarrer explained. “And so, in the middle of May, they froze everything.”

It was that freeze-out that left Chuck Pfarrer with nowhere to turn for the
real story but the SEALs themselves.

Seal Target Geronimo delivers an account of the night Osama bin Laden died with a level of detail unlike anything previously reported. Pfarrer bills the story as “absolutely factual.”

“That’s the other thing. I’m prepared for the White House to say, you know, ‘this is full of inaccuracies,’ et cetera,” offered Pfarrer. He told TheDC that in order to protect American interests, his book is “full of names that are made up, and it is full of bases that are not quite where they really should be.”

“But the timeline of my events,” he cautions, “and the manner in which it happened is 100 percent accurate. And they’ll know that.”

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Read more stories from The Daily Caller

Correcting the ‘fairy tale’: A SEAL’s account of how Osama bin Laden really died

$19 A Month Wireless- Say Whaaat?

Disruptive $19/Month Carrier Republic Wireless To Sell Handsets For $99 Until November 27

Last week we broke the news that Bandwidth.com was launching a disruptive mobile carrier called Republic Wireless. The service will use special handsets that take advantage of Wifi networks whenever possible, and will fallback to a ‘normal’ cellular connection whenever Wifi isn’t available. A report from GigaOM pegs the price at a mere $19 per month — with unlimited text, data, and voice.
Wifi network

Image via Wikipedia

That’s massive savings compared to the standard contracts offered by Verizon, AT&T, et al. But there’s a catch: to use Republic Wireless, you need to buy a new handset (the devices are Android-based, but they use a special combination of hardware and software that can’t be ported to other devices, at least not yet). Thankfully those handsets are going to be relatively inexpensive.

Numerous tipsters have written in to say they’ve just received the following email from Republic Wireless — and we’ve just confirmed with the company — that the handsets will be $99 for anyone who uses the code ‘welcome19′ by November 27. And that’s with no contract. After that early-signup period ends, the price will jump to $199, which is still significantly less expensive than most off-contract phones. Update: The code is welcome19, with a lowercase w — it won’t work if you use a capital letter.

Initially, Republic Wireless will be using Sprint as its fallback when Wifi isn’t available, but it sounds like it’s working to offer service from other carriers as well. Here’s the email that is starting to land in some early users’ inboxes — the service’s homepage is advertising a full launch tomorrow:

Welcome to republic wireless.

So what’s it like here?

A reward for being first:
Join now, and pay $99. That’s $100 less than the normal $199 cost. You read that right. For $99 you get a new smartphone, and a whole new kind of mobile phone network.

Freedom isn’t free. It’s $19.
Almost immediately you notice what’s missing. The hefty monthly bills, the endless nickel-and-diming, the big red contracts…yes, we can hear you now. Do you hear us? With republic wireless, you pay a flat $19 a month for everything. Period.

How is that possible?
republic is a Wi-Fi network. Anything cellular can do, Wi-Fi can do better (and for less). That’s 21st Century technology. That’s also basic economics. So let’s all use Wi-Fi as much as possible.

Change the way wireless works
Decide whether to become a member now, or maybe later. Either way, like minds for evolving the industry are wanted here, today. You have thoughts to share, ideas to spread. Bring them to our forums. Keep up with us via our blog. Tell the republic what’s up.

Next stop: republicwireless.com
There’s so much more we have to show you. So visit, look around. Oh, that $99 offer we told you about? To get it, use the code welcome19 to join before November 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm ET.

Looking forward to being your new wireless network!

Yours,
republic wireless

 

 
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DIY Multi-Sectional Curved Couch

Cool Curved Couch: Design Your Own Custom Sectional Sofa

Like a life-sized LEGO or tinker-toy set, this do-it-yourself modern sectional lets you wrap and twist one, two, three or more modules together in all kinds of clever and unique formations to suit any living or dining room space (and double as a sleeper as well).

Unlike many of its contemporary equivalents every part of these pieces comes into play, from the fronts and backs to the back rests and legs – arm supports morph into leaning surfaces and transform back again. Bright-colored accent pieces (ottomans and other accessories) can be set up to contrast with the stark whites and blacks or mellow grays and browns of the main sofa elements.

One could even imagine cool modular configurations in which the whole snake-like couch form stretches from one room into the next, connecting people across various rooms during parties or even for everyday use depending upon the particular plan and layout of a home and its existing furnishings. Forget one-piece, two-piece or three-piece variants – really, one of these could go on forever.

From Dornob

Norman Ramsey Dies- Worked On Atomic Clock

Norman Ramsey Dies at 96; Work Led to the Atomic Clock

By JASCHA HOFFMAN

Norman F. Ramsey, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who developed a precise method to probe the structure of atoms and molecules and used it to devise a remarkably exact way to keep time, died on Friday in Wayland, Mass. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Ellie.

In 1949, Dr. Ramsey invented an experimental technique to measure the frequencies of electromagnetic radiation most readily absorbed by atoms and molecules. The technique allowed scientists to investigate their structure with greater accuracy and enabled the development of a new kind of timekeeping device known as the atomic clock. Dr. Ramsey received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989 for both achievements.

“If you made a list of the most outstanding physicists of the 20th century, he’d be among the leaders,” said Leon M. Lederman, emeritus director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., which Dr. Ramsey helped found.

Associated Press   Norman F. Ramsey in 1989.
 Early in the 20th century, physicists began to decipher the structure of atoms from measurements of the wavelengths of light they released and absorbed, a method called atomic spectroscopy. In 1937, the physicist Isidor Isaac Rabiof Columbia University developed a means of studying atoms and molecules by sending a stream of them through rapidly alternating magnetic fields. As Dr. Rabi’s student at Columbia in the late 1930s, Dr. Ramsey worked to refine it.

In 1949, when he was at Harvard, Dr. Ramsey discovered a way to improve the technique’s accuracy: exposing the atoms and molecules to the magnetic fields only briefly as they entered and left the apparatus. His new approach — which Dr. Ramsey called the separated oscillatory fields method, but which is often simply referred to as the Ramsey method — is widely used today.

Dr. Ramsey’s research helped lay the groundwork for nuclear magnetic resonance, whose applications include the M.R.I. technique now widely used for medical diagnosis.

But the most immediate application of the Ramsey method has been in the development of highly accurate atomic clocks. Since 1967 it has been used to define the exact span of a second, not as a fraction of the time it takes Earth to revolve around the Sun, but as 9,192,631,770 radiation cycles of a cesium atom.

In 1960, working with his student Daniel Kleppner, now an emeritus professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Ramsey invented a different type of atomic clock, known as the hydrogen maser, whose remarkable stability has since been used to confirm the minute effects of gravity on time as predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Atomic clocks like the hydrogen maser are also used in the ground-based timing systems that track global positioning satellites.

National Archives and Records Administration

Dr. Ramsey signing the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.

Dr. Ramsey did not anticipate that his laboratory technique would have such applications. “I didn’t even know there was a problem about clocks initially,” he said in a 1995 oral history interview. “My wristwatch was pretty good.”

Norman Foster Ramsey Jr. was born on Aug. 27, 1915, in Washington, the son of Minna Bauer Ramsey, a mathematics teacher, and Norman Foster Ramsey, an Army officer. After receiving his Ph.D. under Dr. Rabi at Columbia, he worked at the M.I.T. Radiation Laboratory and served as a radar consultant to the secretary of war. In 1943 he went to Los Alamos, N.M., to work on the Manhattan Project, leading a team that helped assemble the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

After the war, he taught for nearly four decades at Harvard, mentoring scores of graduate students, many of whom went on to start their own research groups. Although he officially retired in 1986, he continued his work through his early 90s. In recent years, he collaborated with a team of British physicists to study the symmetry of the neutron, searching for evidence that it was not perfectly spherical.

Chip-scale atomic clock unveiled by NIST

Dr. Ramsey presided over the founding of Fermilab and another major particle accelerator laboratory, the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where he was the first head of the physics department in the 1940s.

As the first science adviser to NATO, he initiated summer school programs to train European scientists. He led a National Research Council committee that concluded in 1982 that contrary to the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, acoustical evidence did not support the existence of a second gunman in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Dr. Ramsey had an athletic flair. He learned to ski in Norway in the 1930s. Later, he took up long-board surfing and ice sailing, and he traveled with his second wife, Ellie Welch Ramsey, from the Himalayas to Antarctica. After having a knee replaced in the 1980s, he continued to ski.

Dr. Ramsey’s first wife, Elinor, died in 1983. In addition to his wife, he is survived by four daughters, Margaret Kasschau, Patricia Ramsey, Winifred Swarr and Janet Farrell; two stepchildren, Marguerite and Gerard Welch; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Colleagues said Dr. Ramsey was a tall man with bright white hair who gestured energetically and walked briskly. “He had a messianic quality when talking about his work,” said Gerald Gabrielse, a physics professor at Harvard.

William Phillips, a physicist at the University of Maryland, said Dr. Ramsey’s forceful presence and as his contributions “set the tone for a generation of physicists.”

The Sky Is Falling- Not Really It’s Just A Test

Feds try to prevent War of the Worlds-style panic over national emergency alert

By    Story from ARSTECHNICA.COM
This Wednesday, November 9, at 2 pm eastern standard time, every TV broadcaster, cable channel, radio station, and satellite radio program from Puerto Rico to Missouri to American Samoa will be interrupted for 30 seconds by the federal government. Don’t panic—there’s no nuclear strike. But if there were a nuclear strike, this is how the feds would spread the word.
<img class="aligncenter" src="http://static.arstechnica.net/assets/2011/11/fcc-warning-4eb759f-intro-thumb-640xauto-27388.jpg&quot; alt="Feds try to prevent War of the Worlds-style panic over national emergency alert” width=”576″ height=”309″ />

Image courtesy of FCC   “Don’t panic, people.”

It’s the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which hopes to provide key information immediately to all Americans in the event of a truly national emergency. This national system will look and sound much like the current (and local) emergency warnings often seen on TV or heard on radio, but the scope is larger and it can be put under the direct control of the President. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NWS) will all coordinate the test, but it’s FEMA that actually transmits the alert code.

Emergency Alert System logo as published in th...

Concerned that such a test might alarm people, the agencies are going to extraordinary lengths to provide a heads-up. I first heard about the test in an e-mail newsletter from my city government, which told residents last week, “Do not be alarmed when an emergency message will take over the airways… this is only a test.” The test will display a warning message on TV screens, though as my city helpfully noted, “Due to some technical limitations, a visual message indicating that ‘this is a test’ may not pop up on every TV channel, especially where people use cable to receive their television stations.”

     The warning should look a lot like this message last year in Alaska

But not to worry! Though such warning messages might look terrifyingly real, they will eventually feature an audio message explaining that this is just a test. The government is still concerned that hearing-impaired users, in particular, might mistake the test for a real alert. The FCC has produced a series of brief ads to notify people about the test, and cable operators have taken to warning people about it on their monthly cable bills (which everyone reads, right?).

So what’s so special about November 9th at 2pm? FEMA has the answer. “November 9 is near the end of hurricane season and before the severe winter weather season begins in earnest,” says the agency, “The 2:00 PM EST broadcast time will minimize disruption during rush hours, while ensuring that the test occurs during working hours across the United States.”

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This future kitchen concept from 1943- Really?

Cooking Up Technology: Sweet Retrofuturistic 1943 Kitchen

When past generations thought about the future, their predictions often centered on making home life easier. And where was there more room for improvement than in the kitchen? Before dishwashers, microwave ovens and garbage disposals, moms of the past (and, rarely, dads) spent a large amount of time in the kitchen preparing meals and cleaning up. So naturally, the perception of the future kitchen was one of convenience and automation.

This future kitchen concept from 1943 predicted that we’d do away with pots, pans and serving dishes in favor of recessed vessels that would do it all. These chambers, made of a futuristic material called Therm-X, were set into the cooking surface and made the kitchen into a buffet. Rather than carrying serving dishes to the table, mom could simply dish up portions from right there in the kitchen.

The unit’s refrigerator was an amazing chamber set into the surface of the cooking area, with a glass door to let mom know what was inside and two openings so that items could be retrieved from the kitchen or from the adjoining dining alcove. The cooker likewise featured a glass door and state-of-the-art temperature regulation. It featured a motor-driven spit so that mom could keep an eye on the rotating roast from every angle. Even the toaster was set into the countertop surface, giving even more functionality to the all-in-one space.

When the integrated sliding cover was pulled over the cooking/food prep surface, the entire setup would become a desk or bar surface. The original article, which was run in the Uniontown, PA Morning Herald, claimed that washing dishes would be a thing of the past, and that the majority of the cook’s work could be done sitting down. That’s one improvement that actually has come to pass, though today the cook is often sitting in the other room watching TV while our amazing appliances take care of nearly everything.