Posts Tagged ‘laser’

Look Out Above! Russia May Target U.S. Sats With Laser Jet

June 14, 2011 Comments off


Back in the early 80s, Soviet engineers began outfitting an Ilyushin-76 jet with a laser cannon. Two models of the “Falcon-Echelon” planes were flown — presumably as counterweights to U.S. efforts to construct a fleet of missile-zapping jets. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, the Falcon-Echelon program perished, as well.

Or so it seemed at the time. Now, there’s mounting evidence that Read more…

New Internet tech transmits data at 26 terabytes per second

May 24, 2011 Comments off


In a dramatic breakthrough, scientists have learned how to use optical fiber to transmit data over a single laser at speeds that dwarf even today’s fastest Internet connections.

Using techniques called “fast Fourier transform” and “orthogonal frequency division multiplexing,” scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany were able to stitch 300 individual data streams into colors beamed by a single laser, which were then picked apart at the other end.

The result of their experiment was a blazing fast transfer rate of 26 terabytes per second.

A terabyte is the equivalent of 1,000 gigabytes — the measurement used to grade most consumer level computer hard drives.

A more complex version of the experiment was previously used to demonstrate the transmission of data at over 100 terabytes per second, but it required hundreds of lasers.

This latest research shows that similar speeds are possible with far less energy output.

Such bandwidth would enable an Internet user to download the entire library of congress in about 10 seconds, according to the BBC.

The experiment was outlined in the latest edition of the scientific journal Nature Photonics.

The What? And Why? Of Rare Earth Metals

February 10, 2011 1 comment

Over the past few months, there’s been a buzz surrounding rare earth metals. These are metals such as europium, lanthanum, neodymium and 14 others found in small concentrations attached to other metals and resource deposits. They’re actually not that rare, just expensive and difficult to pull out of the ground.

These naturally occurring elements are essential in everything from wind turbines to lasers to iPads.

Rare earths are a conundrum for the environmentally conscious—they hold the key to green energies but create toxic waste when being separated away from other elements. “Just one wind turbine generating 3 megawatts of electricity requires 600 kilograms of rare earths for its magnets,” a source told the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper.

Electric and hybrid cars can contain more than twice as much rare earth metals as a standard car. This image from the NY Times breaks down how these metals make up critical elements of a Prius.

Currently, China controls 97 percent of the world’s production of rare earth metals. In October 2010, the country cut exports of the metals by 70 percent, disrupting manufacturing in Japan, Europe and the U.S., and sending the prices of these metals up 40 percent.

China currently controls production but the country only has 37 percent of Read more…