Life and Science
Is Science important? The answer lies right in front of our eyes. Think about a world without technology. No computers, no cars. No vaccines or cures for diseases. Life would be joyless and extremely hard. It was not long ago that this was the case. How ever, now with science on our side it's a whole new story. 

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Scientists use PS3s to listen to black holes

Black_Hole_Milkyway.jpg  Lior Burko of the University of Alabama wanted to know what happens when you silence the sound of a black hole. However, they could not afford supercomputer time to run the simulation.

But Burko read on the internet that it was possible to wire up a group of PS3s so that they had the same number-crunching ability, and decided to give it a try.

The Alabama PS3 Gravity Grid was a network of 16 Playstation 3 consoles grouped together in a cluster capable of running simulations. It would have cost the scientists $5,000 each time they wanted to run a simulation on an ordinary supercomputer, but the PS3 grid cost them $6,000 and they could use it as often as they liked.

Burko's PS3 Gravity Grid resolved an ongoing dispute over the speed at which spinning black holes stop vibrating just after forming or being unbalanced by an outside object. There were two theories. The first is that black holes go silent at relatively fast speeds, while another said they went quiet at slower speeds. The simulations proved that the first theory was correct, depending on the mass of the black hole.

Burko explained it via an analogy with a bell, which rings, but eventually gets quiet. The energy that goes out with the sound waves is energy that the bell is losing. This is exactly what a black hole does, only with gravitational waves instead of sound waves.

Our Science Editor adds: Perhaps scientists in Alabama should concentrate more on science than marrying their cousins. If light cannot escape from a black hole at 186,000,000 miles per second, what chance does sound have at a pathetic 650 miles per hour? And they might also want to consider that sound cannot travel in a vacuum. Apart from that, good science all round. Idiots.


Micron announces mass layoffs

Micron Technology has confirmed it will eliminate as many as 2,000 positions by the end of the fiscal year due to 'deteriorating economic conditions' and 'decreased demand' for 200mm DRAM products.


The company also announced plans to 'phase out' 200mm wafer manufacturing operations at its facility in Boise, Idaho.

'We remained hopeful that the demand for these products would stabilise in the marketplace and start to improve as we moved into the spring,' said Micron CEO Steve Appleton. 'Unfortunately, a better environment has not materialised, and we are at a point where we wanted to let our employees and the community know in advance what will occur later this summer.'

However, Appleton explained that the corporation maintained sufficient manufacturing capacity and did not expect any disruption in product supply. Micron will apprently continue to operate its 300mm research and development fabrication facility at the Boise site, while proceeding with reticle manufacturing, product design, quality assurance and systems integration. 


First 'Garden Hose’ Jet Trail Nebula Discovered

Team leader Dr Klaas Wiersema of the University of Leicester will present the discovery on Wednesday 22nd April at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science conference at the University of Hertfordshire.

The RXTE satellite has been scanning the centre of our galaxy every few days for the last years, searching for variable X-ray sources. Through these scans it has found a multitude of varying X-ray sources, most of which are thought to be X-ray binaries. These systems consist of a compact star (a neutron star or black hole) that pulls material away from a "normal" companion star. This material forms hot disks, which emit X-rays. X-ray binaries are also known to spout jets of gas at velocities very close to the speed of light.


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