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Hubble Views Merging Galaxies in Eridanus
Article Hits: 778
February 5th, 2016 11:22 am

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a peculiar galaxy known as NGC 1487, lying about 30 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Eridanus. Rather than viewing it as a celestial object, it is actually better to think of this as an event. Here, we are witnessing two or more galaxies in the act of merging together to form a single new galaxy. Each galaxy has lost almost all traces of its original appearance, as stars and gas have been thrown by gravity in an elaborate cosmic whirl. Unless one is very much bigger than the other, galaxies are always disrupted by the violence of the merging process. As a result, it is very difficult to determine precisely what the original galaxies looked like and, indeed, how many of them there were. In this case, it is possible that we are seeing the merger of several dwarf galaxies that were previously clumped together in a small group. Although older yellow and red stars can be seen in the outer regions of the new galaxy, its appearance is dominated by large areas of bright blue stars, illuminating the patches of gas that gave them life. This burst of star formation may well have been triggered by the merger. more

Brainprints hit 100% accuracy at identity verification
Article Hits: 861
February 5th, 2016 7:52 am

When you read those words, the part of your brain that assigns meaning to words sparkled, firing neurons in a pattern that’s both consistent and unique to each of us. It’s called, in fact, a brainprint: a biometric attribute that researchers have been studying for use in authentication for years. If researchers had strapped what’s basically a swimcap outfitted with electrodes – otherwise known as an electroencephalogram headset – on your head, they could have recorded your brainwaves, emitted in less than a second per word, as you read, and thus would have come away with a way to tell that you are really you.

You’ve likely heard of this form of biometric before: back in 2007, for example, scientists were looking at identifying people via unique patterns of brain activity. More recently, in May 2015, researchers at the Basque Center for Cognition and Binghamton University published a study detailing their attempts to identify individuals by their brains’ reaction to acronyms (e.g., FBI, DVD). At the time they published their original study in the academic journal Neurocomputing, the team had achieved a decent accuracy rate in identifying individuals by brainprint. The researchers were able to identify, with 97% accuracy, one person out of a group of 32 by that person’s responses to words or images that flashed on a monitor for half a second. more

Microsoft serves Azure from the sea bed
Article Hits: 1072
February 1st, 2016 12:50 pm
Microsoft Research has deployed a small data center in a watertight container at the bottom of the ocean - and even delivered its Azure cloud form the sea bed.  Underwater data centers can be cooled by the surrounding water, and could also be powered by wave or tidal energy, says the Project Natick group at Microsoft Research, which deployed an experimental underwater data center one kilometer off the Pacific coast of the US between August and November of 2015.  
Azure sea  
The project aims to show it is possible to quickly deploy “edge” data centers in the sea, close to people who live near the coast: ”Project Natick is focused on a cloud future that can help better serve customers in areas which are near large bodies of water,” says the site, pointing out that half the world’s population are near coastlines. “The vision of operating containerized datacenters offshore near major population centers anticipates a highly interactive future requiring data resources located close to users,” the project explains. “Deepwater deployment offers ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment.” The group put one server rack inside a cylindrical vessel, named Leona Philpot after a character in the Halo Xbox game. The eight-foot (2.4m) diameter cylinder was filled with unreactive nitrogen gas, and sat on the sea bed 30 ft (9m) down, connected to land by a fiber optic cable. According to a report in the New York Times, the vessel was loaded with sensors to prove that servers would continue working the vessel wouldn’t leak, and would not affect local marine life. These aims were achieved, and the group went ahead and deployed commercial Azure web loads on the system. The sea provided passive cooling, but further tests this year might place a vessel neare hydroelectric power sources off the coast of Florida or Europe. more

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