CERN - The Worlwide Grid could turn desktop computers into supercomputers and is now being adapted to allow mobile devices such as phones and tablets to connect.



How CERN's Grid may place the power of the world's computers in your hands....The Worlwide Grid could turn desktop computers into supercomputers - The combined power of the world's computers could soon be placed in the palm of your hand thanks to technology that is partly being developed at the home of the Large Hadron Collider.

 Scientists at CERN in Switzerland and in the US have been developing a new kind of computer system that is already being described as the successor to the World Wide Web.

Known as the Worldwide Grid, it would give users access to the computing power of all the machines connected to a network no matter where they are in the world.

The technology could turn desktop computers into supercomputers and is now being adapted to allow mobile devices such as phones and tablets to connect.

Physicists at CERN already have access to the world's biggest Grid computing network, combining more than 200,000 computers together.

It allows them to analyse more than 26 million gigabytes of data produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) each year.

Ian Bird, LHC Computing Grid project leader at CERN, said: "The Grid that we have implemented for physics is a mechanism to allow scientists to share data and collaborate.

"It brings together disparate resources from around the world so that they are working as if they are single system.

"It solves a problem where we do not have the money to build a big computer centre.

"With a single credential I can use computer resources in the UK, or the US or in Europe.

"You don't need to know where that computer is located though as you just go into your web browser and look for a service you want to buy.

"All the user sees is that there is a lot of computing available to them."

The Worldwide LHC Computing Grid has already helped identify the particle that is now believed to be the best candidate for the elusive Higgs Boson.

It is now undergoing an upgrade as the rest of the LHC is similarly upgraded to increase its power.

Based on the past three years of use, scientists are intending to improve the efficiency of the system while also decreasing its complexity.

physicists have also recently been able to access CERNs grid using mobile devices like iPhones and iPads to submit work, monitor results and control processes.

Mr Bird said the computing power of the mobile devices themselves does not contribute greatly to the resources available in the Grid, but this may change in the future.

The average iPhone now contains more computing power than early supercomputers.

Another computing Grid being developed by IBM and University of California, Berkley, is also already attempting to tap into the computing power of mobile devices

The World Community Grid now allows Google's Android devices to work on the Grid.

Last month researchers began using the combined power of volunteer's handsets to search for new drug candidates against HIV.

Around 20,000 smartphones are now on the network, along with 500,000 personal computers.

David Anderson, a researcher at the University of Berkeley's space sciences laboratory, said: "There are about a billion Android devices right now, and their total computing power exceeds that of the largest conventional supercomputers.

"Mobile devices are the wave of the future in many ways, including the raw computing power they can provide to solve computationally difficult problems."

There are currently several other Grid computing systems in operation around the world that are being used by groups of scientists to help them with research, including the search for extraterrestrial life and identifying potential new drugs.

Experts hope that as more computers join the systems and they link together, a Worldwide Grid will be created, giving access to resources around the world at the touch of a button.

It would mean weather forecasters could have access to far greater computing power than current supercomputers allow while schools could access resources capable of performing tasks that can currently only be performed at universities.

Businesses would also be able to perform detailed analysis on data that they currently cannot.

For home users, it would mean no longer having to upgrade their machines every couple of years to ensure they are powerful enough to run the current software.

They could also pay to use software and resources as they needed them rather than having to buy expensive licenses.

Mr Bird added: "The technology is evolving. If you look at what we have done is created a way to collaborate in computing and share resources between different organisations."

Sun's Magnetic Field is about to Flip in 3-4 months

August 5, 2013: Something big is about to happen on the sun accroding to NASA

A new ScienceCast video anticipates the reversal of the sun's global magnetic field. Play it

"It looks like we're no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal," says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. "This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system."

 The sun's magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun's inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The coming reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of 'Solar Max' will be behind us, with half yet to come.

Hoeksema is the director of Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory, one of the few observatories in the world that monitor the sun's polar magnetic fields. The poles are a herald of change. Just as Earth scientists watch our planet's polar regions for signs of climate change, solar physicists do the same thing for the sun. Magnetograms at Wilcox have been tracking the sun's polar magnetism since 1976, and they have recorded three grand reversals—with a fourth in the offing.

Astronomers at the Wilcox Solar Observatory (WSO) monitor the sun's global magnetic field on a daily basis. WSO home pageSolar physicist Phil Scherrer, also at Stanford, describes what happens: "The sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle."

A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event. The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the "heliosphere") extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.

When solar physicists talk about solar field reversals, their conversation often centers on the "current sheet." The current sheet is a sprawling surface jutting outward from the sun's equator where the sun's slowly-rotating magnetic field induces an electrical current. The current itself is small, only one ten-billionth of an amp per square meter (0.0000000001 amps/m2), but there's a lot of it: the amperage flows through a region 10,000 km thick and billions of kilometers wide. Electrically speaking, the entire heliosphere is organized around this enormous sheet.

During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy. Scherrer likens the undulations to the seams on a baseball. As Earth orbits the sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. Transitions from one side to another can stir up stormy space weather around our planet.

Field Flip (current sheet, 200px)

An artist's concept of the heliospheric current sheet, which becomes more wavy when the sun's magnetic field flips. MoreCosmic rays are also affected. These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy. Cosmic rays are a danger to astronauts and space probes, and some researchers say they might affect the cloudiness and climate of Earth. The current sheet acts as a barrier to cosmic rays, deflecting them as they attempt to penetrate the inner solar system. A wavy, crinkly sheet acts as a better shield against these energetic particles from deep space.

As the field reversal approaches, data from Wilcox show that the sun's two hemispheres are out of synch.

"The sun's north pole has already changed sign, while the south pole is racing to catch up," says Scherrer. "Soon, however, both poles will be reversed, and the second half of Solar Max will be underway."

When that happens, Hoeksema and Scherrer will share the news with their colleagues and the public.

Stay tuned to Science@NASA for updates.

The oddest precipitation...raining Diamonds on Uranus and Neptune



The Oddest Precipitation !  The high-pressure, methane-rich atmospheres of the ice giants may produce diamond hailstones.

The ice giants Uranus and Neptune get their blue hue from the presence of methane, a hydrocarbon, in their dense atmospheres – and they may also get diamond hailstones from it too. The extreme pressure and heat of the planets' atmospheres may compress methane so much that diamonds are formed and then fall toward the planets' atmospheres may compress methane so much that diamonds are formed and then fall toward the planets' rocky cores.

the Record on Earth - On July 23, 2010, a hailstone that weighed almost a kilogram and measured more than 20 centimetres in diameter fell in South Dakota.

Diamonds are just carbon but are the hardest substance on Earth.

1 kilogram has an estimated street value of $100 million.

If a diamond is 'cooked' in an oven at 763 °C, it will simply vanish.

Diamonds are 100 times more valuable than gold.

Diamonds are commonly judged by the 'four Cs': carat, clarity, colour, and cut.

A diamond is 58 times harder than the next hardest mineral on Earth.

About half of all the worlds' diamonds come from Africa.

Belgium is the international diamond trading capital of the world.

The only way to cut diamonds is with other diamonds.




Washington Secrets - Massive solar flare narrowly misses Earth, EMP disaster barely avoided




The earth barely missed taking a massive solar punch in the teeth two weeks ago, an "electromagnetic pulse" so big that it could have knocked out power, cars and iPhones throughout the United States.

Two EMP experts told Secrets that the EMP flashed through earth's typical orbit around the sun about two weeks before the planet got there.

"The world escaped an EMP catastrophe," said Henry Cooper, who led strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union under President Reagan, and who now heads High Frontier, a group pushing for missile defense.

"There had been a near miss about two weeks ago, a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us," said Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission from 2001-2008. He was referring to the 1859 EMP named after astronomer Richard Carrington that melted telegraph lines in Europe and North America.

"Basically this is a Russian roulette thing," added Pry. "We narrowly escape from a Carrington-class disaster."

Pry, Cooper, and former CIA Director James Woolsey have been recently demanding that Washington prepare the nation's electric grid for an EMP, either from the sun or an enemy's nuclear bomb. They want the 2,000-3,000 transformers in the grid protected with a high-tech metal box and spares ready to rebuild the system. Woolsey said knocking out just 20 would shut down electricity to parts of the nation "for a long time."

But Washington is giving them the cold shoulder, especially the administration. Woolsey told Secrets that some in Congress are interested in the issue, but the administration is just in the "beginnings" of paying attention.

Woolsey said that Air Force One and aircraft used by the Strategic Air Command to control nuclear-tipped missiles are hardened against an EMP.

The EMP effect is not rare. One occurred in Canada in 1989, knocking out Quebec's electric transmission system. And North Korea is reportedly testing a device to attack the U.S. with an EMP attack.

The trio appeared at an event in Washington this week, but Pry said getting the nation's leaders interested in the issue is difficult and educating the public about EMP hard too. "The education curve isn't going up fast enough," he said.

At the event, Cooper suggested that North Korea might already have the capability to launch an EMP against the United States. He said in December, North Korea tested its so-called Space Launch Vehicle which could deliver a stealthy nuclear attack on the United States by orbiting a nuclear weapon over the South Pole where the U.S. has no radar or missile interceptors facing south. North Korea, he said, apparently orbited a satellite over the south polar region on a trajectory and altitude consistent with making a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the United States.

Woolsey and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are the honorary co-chairs of a new EMP Coalition pushing for protections to the electric grid, national security, and civilian infrastructures.


Robotic insect: World's smallest flying robot takes off -weigh less than a tenth as much as a paper clip

Scientists in the US have created a robot the size of a fly that is able to perform the agile manoeuvres of the ubiquitous insects.

see video here :

This "robo-fly", built from carbon fibre, weighs a fraction of a gram and has super-fast electronic "muscles" to power its wings.

Its Harvard University developers say tiny robots like theirs may eventually be used in rescue operations.

It could, for example, navigate through tiny spaces in collapsed buildings.

Robotic fly Tethered flight: It will take "a few more years" before the robo-flies will be able to carry a power source

Lead researcher Kevin Ma from Harvard University says his team has made the world's smallest flying robot.

It also has the fly-like agility that allows the insects to evade even the swiftest of human efforts to swat them.

This comes largely from very precise wing movements.

By constantly adjusting the effect of lift and thrust acting on its body at an incredibly high speed, the insect and the robot's flapping wings enable it to hover almost motionless in the air or perform sudden evasive manoeuvres.

And just like a real fly, the robot's thin, flexible wings beat approximately 120 times every second.

The researchers achieved this wing speed with special piezoelectric material, which contracts every time a voltage is applied to it.

By very rapidly switching the voltage on and off, the scientists were able to make this material behave like just like the tiny muscles that makes a fly's wings beat so fast.

 "We get it to contract and relax, like biological muscle," said Dr Ma.

The main goal of this research was to understand how insect flight works, rather than to build a useful robot.

"[But] a robotic insect stands as a tangible end goal to drive this research forward," Dr Ma told BBC News.

He added though that there could be many uses for such a diminutive flying vehicle.

"We could envision these robots being used for search-and-rescue operations to search for human survivors under collapsed buildings or [in] other hazardous environments," he said.

"They [could] be used for environmental monitoring, to be dispersed into a habitat to sense trace chemicals or other factors.

Dr Ma even suggested that the robots could behave like many real insects and assist with the pollination of crops, "to function as the now-struggling honeybee populations do in supporting agriculture around the world".

The current model of robo-fly is tethered to a small, off-board power source but Dr Ma says the next step will be to miniaturise the other bits of technology that will be needed to create a "fully wireless flying robot".

"It will be a few more years before full integration is possible," he said.

"Until then, this research project continues to be very captivating work because of its similarity to natural insects. It is a demonstration of how far human engineering ingenuity has reached, to be mimicking natural systems"







Lost to the world Cern re-creating first web page ! Yes they invented the web...see first web page !!


A screen shot from the first browser: Those who saw it say it was "amazing and sophisticated". The first browser, for example, allowed users to edit and write directly into the content

 Soon to be refurbished: The NeXT computer that was home to the world's first website

A team at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) has launched a project to re-create the first web page.

The aim is to preserve the original hardware and software associated with the birth of the web. The world wide web was developed by Prof Sir Tim Berners-Lee while working at Cern.

The initiative coincides with the 20th anniversary of the research centre giving the web to the world.

" I want my children to be able to understand the significance of this point in time: the web is already so ubiquitous - so, well, normal - that one risks failing to see how fundamentally it has changed"

Dan Noyes Cern web manager According to Dan Noyes, the web manager for Cern's communication group, re-creation of the world's first website will enable future generations to explore, examine and think about how the web is changing modern life. "We are in a unique moment where we can still switch on the first web server and experience it. We want to document and preserve that".

The hope is that the restoration of the first web page and web site will serve as a reminder and inspiration of the web's fundamental values.

At the heart of the original web is technology to decentralise control and make access to information freely available to all. It is this architecture that seems to imbue those that work with the web with a culture of free expression, a belief in universal access and a tendency toward decentralising information.


It is the early technology's innate ability to subvert that makes re-creation of the first website especially interesting. While I was at Cern it was clear in speaking to those involved with the project that it means much more than refurbishing old computers and installing them with early software: it is about enshrining a powerful idea that they believe is gradually changing the world.

Twenty years ago Prof Sir Tim Berners-Lee asked Cern to give the web to the world free. I went to Sir Tim's old office where he worked at Cern's IT department trying to find new ways to handle the vast amount of data the particle accelerators were producing. I was not allowed in because apparently the present incumbent is fed up with people wanting to go into the office.

But waiting outside was someone who worked at Cern as a young researcher at the same time as Sir Tim. James Gillies has since risen to be Cern's head of communications.He is occasionally referred to as the organisation's half-spin doctor, a reference to one of the properties of some sub-atomic particles.

Amazing dream

Mr Gillies is among those involved in the project. I asked him why he wanted to restore the first website.

"One of my dreams is to enable people to see what that early web experience was like," was the reply.

"You might have thought that the first browser would be very primitive but it was not. It had graphical capabilities. You could edit into it straightaway. It was an amazing thing. It was a very sophisticated thing."

"One of my dreams is to enable people to see what that early web experience was like... It was an amazing thing"

Those not heavily into web technology may be sceptical of the idea that using a 20-year-old machine and software to view text on a web page might be a thrilling experience.

But Mr Gillies and Mr Noyes believe that the first web page and web site is worth resurrecting because embedded within the original systems developed by Sir Tim are the principles of universality and universal access that many enthusiasts at the time hoped would eventually make the world a fairer and more equal place.


Ideals eroded


And early on in the world wide web's development, Nicola Pellow, who worked with Sir Tim at Cern on the www project, produced a simple browser to view content that did not require an expensive powerful computer and so made the technology available to anyone with a simple computer.

According to Mr Noyes, many of the values that went into that original vision have now been eroded. His aim, he says, is to "go back in time and somehow preserve that experience".

 "This universal access of information and flexibility of delivery is something that we are struggling to re-create and deal with now.

"Present-day browsers offer gorgeous experiences but when we go back and look at the early browsers I think we have lost some of the features that Tim Berners-Lee had in mind."

Mr Noyes is reaching out to ask those who were involved in the NeXT computers used by Sir Tim for advice on how to restore the original machines.


The machines were the most advanced of their time. Sir Tim used two of them to construct the web. One of them is on show in an out-of-the-way cabinet outside Mr Noyes's office.

I told him that as I approached the sleek black machine I felt drawn towards it and compelled to pause, reflect and admire in awe.

"So just imagine the reaction of passers-by if it was possible to bring the machine back to life," he responded, with a twinkle in his eye.

The initiative coincides with the 20th anniversary of Cern giving the web away to the world free.

"Keeping the web free and freely available is almost a human right"

There was a serious discussion by Cern's management in 1993 about whether the organisation should remain the home of the web or whether it should focus on its core mission of basic research in physics.

Sir Tim and his colleagues on the project argued that Cern should not claim ownership of the web.

Great giveaway

Management agreed and signed a legal document that made the web publicly available in such a way that no one could claim ownership of it and that would ensure it was a free and open standard for everyone to use. Mr Gillies believes that the document is "the single most valuable document in the history of the world wide web".

He says: "Without it you would have had web-like things but they would have belonged to Microsoft or Apple or Vodafone or whoever else. You would not have a single open standard for everyone."

The web has not brought about the degree of social change some had envisaged 20 years ago. Most web sites, including this one, still tend towards one-way communication. The web space is still dominated by a handful of powerful online companies.

 But those who study the world wide web, such as Prof Nigel Shadbolt, of Southampton University, believe the principles on which it was built are worth preserving and there is no better monument to them than the first website.

"We have to defend the principle of universality and universal access," he told BBC News.

"That it does not fall into a special set of standards that certain organisations and corporations control. So keeping the web free and freely available is almost a human right."



5 Lightning Myths


True: Using a landline phone in a lightning storm is dangerous.

When lightning strikes a house, it moves through its network of interconnected cables. Usually, the energy is absorbed, but in the past 25 years, 25 people in the United States were killed by lightning while using a landline.


False: Lightning always moves from the sky to the ground.

As soon as lightning makes contact with the ground, it generates a return stroke that moves upward. In rare cases, lightning can even start at the top of tall buildings or TV antennas and move up from there.


False: Lightning never strikes in the same place twice.

Lightning often strikes in the same place multiple times, particularly if the site is a tall, pointed structure such as the Empire State Building, which is struck by lightning around 100 times a year.


False: Lightning only strikes when it's rainy or cloudy.

Lightning may strike some distance from the storm that generates it. The phenomenon, known as "lightning out of the blue", occurs when lightning that begins at the top of the cloud moves horizontally more than 10km before striking the ground.


False: The rubber tires on a car protect it from lightning.

A car will protect you from lightning, but not because of its rubber tires – the lightning will be conducted through the car's metal roof and body into the ground leaving the occupants untouched.

HAPPY PI DAY March 14 - Supercomputers have succeeded in calculating more than 2700 billion digits and they're still crunching


March 14th (3.14) is day and all around the world mathematicians are celebrating this compelling and mysterious constant of Nature. Pi appears in equations describing the orbits of planets, the colors of auroras, the structure of DNA. It's everywhere.

Humans have struggled to calculate for thousands of years. Divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter; the ratio is . Sounds simple, but the devil is in the digits. While the value of is finite (a smidgen more than 3), the decimal number is infinitely long:


Supercomputers have succeeded in calculating more than 2700 billion digits and they're still crunching. The weirdest way to compute : throw needles at a table or frozen hot dogs on the floor. Party time