Tag: test

Beardie Branson breaks the sound barrier

Beardie billionaire Richard Branson saw his commercial space venture move a step closer to reality yesterday when the company’s SpaceShipTwo crashed through the sound barrier and no one died.

Branson’s Virgin Galactic ignited its rocket motor in mid-flight for the first time and sped to Mach 1.2, faster than sound and reached about 56,000 feet in altitude.

The test took place over the Mojave Desert and was the biggest milestone in Virgin Galactic’s 8 1/2-year endeavor to be the world’s first commercial space liner.

Branson wants to take scores of paying customers into space for a brief journey. However, it is taking a jolly long time. Branson wanted to see the first space tourists in 2007 but had to push that date back to 2014.

Branson told the assorted throngs that he never thought it would take this long, but it was worth the wait. Now the plane has accomplished supersonic flight, the company says it is just about ready to take the next step and there are an awful lot of exciting things to come.

Virgin Galactic still needs to clear regulatory hurdles, particularly satisfying safety concerns with the Federal Aviation Administration. We guess they want pilots to take their shoes off before they board the plane.

During the test, SpaceShipTwo was taken to about 47,000 feet by a carrier aircraft, and approximately 45 minutes into the flight, it was dropped.

Pilot Mark Stucky and co-pilot Mike Alsbury engaged the hybrid rocket motor for 16 seconds, at which point SpaceShipTwo’s speed reached Mach 1.2.

The entire flight test lasted a little more than 10 minutes, ending in a smooth landing in the Mojave.

Virgin Galactic uses a WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft that will fly with the reusable SpaceShipTwo rocket plane under its wing to 50,000 feet, where the spaceship will separate and blast off.

When the rocket motor engages, it will power the spaceship to nearly 2,500 miles per hour and take the pilots and up to six passengers to the edge of space, more than 60 miles above the Earth’s surface.

For $200,000 each passengers will reach a suborbital altitude, passengers experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth. Then they will reenter the atmosphere and glide back to the runway.

So far Virgin Galactic has accepted more than $70 million in deposits from about 580 reservations made by people who are interested in the ride. 

US Navy deploys its first laser

The US Navy is going to deploy its first on ship laser next year and has been showing one in action on YouTube.

It is the first ever ship-mounted laser, a disruptive, cutting-edge weapon capable of obliterating small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles with a blast of infrared energy.

They are designed to tackle one of the biggest headaches for capital ships – massed fleets of small boats, like pirates or the Iranian navy. Suicide attacks on bigger boats by such smaller fleets can do a lot of damage because they are harder to hit with conventional weapons.

The shipboard laser which will be installed in early 2014, is a solid-state laser prototype. It will become part of the weaponry of the unfortunately named USS Ponce and packed off to the 5th fleet region in the Middle East.

A Navy press release video shows the laser locks onto an unmanned drone, which bursts aflame in mid-flight. The drone soon catches fire and crashes into the sea below.

These are exactly the sort of small surveillance drones that Iran uses. The Navy says the laser can also take out the small, armoured speed boats that Iran also favours.

Navy researchers say the laser destroys its targets all the time. It can also be used to send non-lethal pulses to boats too.

Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, chief of Naval Research said that each gun cost $32 million to produce. But it only costs a dollar every time you fire it.

The US Navy has done a little better than the Air Force which recently cancelled project to put nose-mounted lasers on its aircraft.

But there are some concerns that the laser cannot fire in poor weather conditions. It is not certain if it can hit faster moving objects, such as fighters. Its power is too low to hit cruise missiles.

Google testing secret entertainment device

The word on the street is that enormous search company Google has been testing a secret entertainment device in its employee’s homes.

Mashable said that Google has applied for a US Federal Communications Commission experimental licence to test an unnamed prototype which it says will connect to home electronics through wireless internet and Bluetooth.

The test is to see if the gear works properly and to “reveal real world engineering issues and reliability of networks,” the company said in its application.

The device is still in early stages of development and will be modified after reviewing test results from the 252 of the gizmos.

Little has been disclosed about what the device actually is, but the sound money is on something called Android@Home. This is Google’s technology to control light switches, alarm clocks and other home appliances through Android devices.

It could also be a Google TV, but is not likely to be a puppet show featuring a small dog which is trying to find its way home through a series of Jungian psychological transformations to bring out its inner Doberman. 

Google Canada wants Canucks to be Google Guinea Pigs

Google Canada wants Canadians to beta test new products instead of always being at the bottom of the list.

Chris O’Neill, director of Google Canada, said that Canadians are frequently asking to try out the products and features that only those in the US get access to, such as Google Voice and Google TV.

O’Neill took on the top job in Google Canada in September, but already he has big ambitions to make the Canadian branch of the internet giant a far bigger player. He said that he was a “vision” for Canada to become a hotbed for testing rather than being left last.

The US market is far bigger than that of Canada, however, so it’s likely that products would launch in Canada before the US, a fact that O’Neill himself admits, but a simultaneous launch throughout the whole of North America is a possible option.

One thing holding Canada back, however, is the Canadian business sector, which O’Neill said is “slower to adapt”. He said that businesses need to catch up with the consumer sector, which is growing and adapting at a strong rate.

O’Neill said that there is a huge opportunity in Canada, much bigger than he expected, but that retailers need to think of new ways to bring technology to the forefront of the shopping experience. He suggested that all shops should offer free Wi-Fi, which will attract consumers while also offering them the ability to shop around online while in store.

For now, however, Canada must continue to sit on the sidelines, envious of Google customers across the border.

EU simulates cyber warfare

The European Union has launched a pan-European cyber warfare simulation designed to test the region’s defences.

The tests, dubbed Cyber Europe 2010, will see experts from EU Member States try to cope with a series of simulated attacks on key internet services, which could, if not defended against, cripple Europe’s online connectivity and bring about a total network crash.

The exercises require the different countries to work closely together to ward off wave after wave of attacks from hackers to prevent a blackout of all of Europe’s internet services.

All 27 EU Member States are participating in the tests, either actively or as observers. Some non-EU states, such as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, are also participating. 

Various agencies from each country, including Communications Ministries, crisis management organisations, security authorities and intelligence organisations, are actively involved, making this one of the largest pan-European events in the Union’s history.

Today’s tests are orchestrated by the European Network Security Agency (ENISA), the Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the participating EU Member States. It is one element of the Digital Agenda for Europe, designed to prepare Europe for the growing threat of cyber warfare.

“This exercise to test Europe’s preparedness against cyber threats is an important first step towards working together to combat potential online threats to essential infrastructure and ensuring citizens and businesses feel safe and secure online,” said Neelie Kores, Vice President of the Europe Commission for the Digital Agenda. She is currently visiting the UK’s cyber attack centre for the simulation.

A further set of simulations of a global attack are to follow the European ones in time to come, with Europe leading the charge in preparing the world for cyber threats.

Intel's third generation 25nm SSDs spotted

Intel’s third generation SSDs, which use 25 nanometer memory, have arrived, many months before their rumoured launch date in 2011.

A Chinese auction site called Taobao, which is similar to eBay, sold a number of Intel X25-M SSD G3’s according to Dutch-language Tweakers.net. The X25-M SSD G3 utilises 25 nanometer MLC flash memory, which Intel developed with Micron earlier this year.

Three different capacities were available on Taobao, the 160GB, 300GB, and 600GB models. There is also an 80GB model planned, but that was not for sale.

Intel has already released the specifications for the SSDs, but initial tests on those acquired through Taobao show that they are not quite as advertised. 

On the 300GB model a seqential read speed of 250MB/s is supplied by Intel, but on benchmarking tests with HD Tune it came in slightly under par at 218MB/s. 

It had an advertised write speed of 170MB/s, but tests showed this also slightly less at 167.4MB/s. The difference in this instance, however, is minimal and would hardly be noticed.

The 160GB version has a retail price of around €260 ($360), with the larger 600GB one going for a wallet-eating €865 ($1,200), continuing the trend of significantly overpriced solid state drives.

There is no word yet on when these SSDs will be available for the rest of the world, but rumours suggest a February 2011 launch.

UK Scientists discover way to test untestable string theory

Scientists at the Imperial College London have managed to conduct the first string theory test, destroying previous beliefs that it was untestable.

Previous views on string theory saw it as a method to describe the fundamental particles and forces that make up the universe, but the new research released today reveals a surprising discovery: that string theory can predict the behaviour of entangled quantum particles. The latter can be laboratory tested, which means the former can now be tested too.

“If experiments prove that our predictions about quantum entanglement are correct, this will demonstrate that string theory works to predict the behaviour of entangled quantum systems,” said Professor Mike Duff FRS, primary author of the study from the Department of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London.

The research was conducted by Imperial College London with the help of Standford University, with partial funding by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council. The discovery will please physicists, most of whom consider string theory the best available for explaining the universe.

Duff said that the discovery does not prove that string theory is the correct theory, but it does allow theoreticians to test whether or not string theory actually works, “even if its application is in an unexpected and unrelated area of physics.” The ability to test the theory is essential to proving its validity, which could open new avenues of exploration for modern science.

The paper detailing the discovery will be published in full tomorrow in the science journal Physical Review Letters.

Fujitsu offers free server access to developers

Fujitsu today announced that it will be letting developers use its servers for free, a plan which will keep a lot of people in the software industry happy.

The unusual proposal is that software developers can use Fujitsu’s servers for free as part of a performance testing scheme, which will save the technology from the hassle of hiring third-party performance checkers and give struggling developers some much needed hardware to work on.

Fujitsu said that this new scheme will enable developers to better promote their products, since they will have been tested on Fujitsu’s systems.

It has set up a test centre and has already begun work with two software developers, with plans for at least 10 developers signing up by the end of the year.

Fujitsu also announced an upgrade of its server line at key businesses throughout Japan, including insurance firm Taiyo Life, which bought and installed servers for 146 of its branches. These servers are more eco-friendly than previous ones, which, in the case of Taiyo Life, has cut CO2 emissioms by around 150 tons. It also cut costs by 500 million yen (£3.7 million), Fujitsu claims.

Fujitsu is hoping the free access for developers increases the adoption of it servers in other businesses, including some of the software firms who decide to test them out. Fujitsu plans to double its server profits to 10 billion yen (£75 million) by April of next year, so we can probably expect more server announcements from the company within the next several months.