Silicon Fish and Plastic Chips…

The science of making electronics out of plastic has recently taken a huge leap forward with the creation of the first working computer CPU chip – processor – made entirely from plastic. While it may sound like an un-natural combination electricity and plastic can work and the scientific types at the IMEC nanotechnology centre in Leuven, Belgium have produced a simple demonstration circuit. Plastics offer the interesting ability to be printed directly onto a glad wrap like plastic, allowing for cheap computing devices – in the cent per chip or less – that may one day appear in places where the cost and lack of flexibility has always stopped traditional computer chips.

Researchers used 4,000 plastic transistors to build the plastic processor. The device measures roughly two centimeters square and is built on top of flexible plastic foil. “Compared to using silicon, this has the advantage of lower price and that it can be flexible,” says Jan Genoe, lead designer.

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Amazons Magic Clouds…

Amazon’s attempts to transform itself into a digital media company are starting to light up the cloud. Amazons most recent release Amazon MP3 along with it’s CloudDrive Internet storage service are a two punch combination. Beating Google and Apple to the Web Based MP3 player must have given them some serious satisfaction. Amazons MP3 versions at the moment are limited to Mac, and PC on the computer and Android for tablets and phones. Think of it as a web based iTunes with-out the need to sync and no pictures of fruit.

With Amazon MP3 on your Android the music you uploaded from your PC becomes instantly available to your phone. Any PC you use – as long as it has an internet connection – can access your collection or files. Uploading your MP3 collection begins with Amazon’s software scanning you PC and cataloging your collection. Once Amazon has done it’s thing, you get to select what is uploaded, the transfer begins, it’s a relatively painless process. The files are actually uploaded to the Amazon Cloud service.

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Sprites. Space Lightning…

Just above the clouds, on the other side of the sky is a phenomenon that’s caught the eye science, Sprites.

Sprites are a relatively newly discovered – 1989 – high altitude atmospheric optical emission – flash – they are a large-scale electrical discharge that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky.

They are triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. Sprites only last for Milli-seconds and can be quite dim compared to the lightning flash below the clouds. They look like recoil from lightning.

Sprites are often inaccurately called upper-atmospheric lightning. However, sprites are cold plasma phenomena that lack the hot channel temperatures of tropospheric lightning, so they are more akin to a fluorescent tube discharges than to lightning discharges.

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 590, the Uber Video Card Battle…

Nvidia’s answer to a question that no one can afford has been released, the dual GPU Nvidia GTX 590 is here to challenge the king of Uber video cards the ATI 6990. ATI no longer has the Uber video card market to itself, their 6990 video card may still hold the speed crown – only just – but the GTX 590 is hot on it’s heals, the king has some competition.

With a card like the GTX 590 a massive budget is required, $700 USD RRP for the video card might scare the hell out of most people but if your still interested then you’ll need to make sure you can supply the right environment, the infrastructure to support it. The parts you put around this video card will help to get the most out of it. Your case needs 30cm of space for the card, a 700 watt power supply is required to keep this bad boy juiced up, the card will chew 365 watts of power during gaming. You’ll need two 8pin power plugs connected just to start the card.

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AMD’s 3.5Ghz Bulldozer.The CPU Rumble in The Jungle

The CPU performance battle is about to heat up once more, the Intel vs AMD game of one up-manship continues.

Can AMD finally answer Intel’s domination of the market or will Intel once again squash them like a bug on the windscreen of the Intel juggernaut. No matter which one of the two 600 pound guerrilla’s wins we consumers are the true winners, with Uber fast kit coming up and neither AMD nor Intel being able to rest on their laurels.

According to the news announced at the ISSCC – International Solid-State Circuits Conference – in San Francisco AMD’s new processor – Bulldozer – will run at 3.5Ghz at release. This is quite a surprise as normally a completely new chip from AMD will run at slightly lower clock speed than the fastest of the old generation. The current fastest clock speed for AMD’s quad core CPU is 3.5Ghz so releasing the new chip at that speed is a great sign for the new design.

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Spintronics, The Secret of the Spin…

Spintronics, sounds like a new dance move for the doof doof crowd but no, Spintronics is a new field of Quantum Physics that is working towards making the inner workings of computer chips smaller and faster.

Spintronics refers to the science of using the direction of electrons spinning around an atom to store information. If you could zoom into an atom you would see electrons spinning around a central core – nucleus -, between the circling electrons and the core is a whole lot of space, even atoms aren’t solid. The direction the electrons circle the nucleus – left or right- is its spin. This spin is the main characteristic that scientists are trying to work with in order to make a whole new kind of gadget. By being able to alter the direction of the spin and then read it back at any time scientists will be able store information by using lots of atoms.

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Amiga. The computer that changed the Galaxy…

The story of the Commodore Amiga is the story of highs and lows. Like a Hollywood star burning out in front of our eyes. The Amiga built on Commodore’s momentum, the C64′s success and managed to go from the lofty heights of the being the number one selling computer in 1990 to being a part of a bankrupt company by 1994. The life of the Amiga had many twists and turns.

If you walked through the Myers department store – electronics department – in Australia during the late 80′s you would have seen a Commodore Amiga, chances are it was running one of the Boing Ball graphics demonstrations. These simple animations of a chequered ball rotating and bouncing around a window or three boing balls being juggled on the desktop was one of the great wow moments of computers in the 80′s. It was also one of the greatest pieces of marketing ever, these demo’s alone sold millions of Amiga’s.

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HOT NEW AMD 6990, Über Video Card…

AMD does foot long sub.

Do you always have to have the fastest, always want the best. Do you have a spare $700 floating around to spend on a video card? Well AMD has just released the AMD 6990 and it ticks ALL the boxes, it is the new king of video cards.

With 4 Gig of Ram shared between 2 video chips – graphics processing units – this is a serious beast of a video card. Hell I know of many desktop machines that don’t have that much memory in total. There are 5 video ports to drive 5 displays. More importantly this card will drive your ultra hi-def monitor – 2560 x 1600 resolution, actually this card could drive two of these ultra hi-res monitors.

If you have a desktop case or even a normalish sized case you can forget about this card. At just over 30cm long – 12inches – this card needs lots of space in your case. Even with an Antec 183 – an extremely large case – a drive cage needs to be removed to accommodate the video card. Power also needs to be considered before buying a card like this. In overclock mode this card will use 450W, so an 800W power supply is going to be a necessity.

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A Photographers Dream and a Nurses Nightmare…

March 19 will be a good day for photographers and astronomers. The moon will be the biggest, fullest it has been for 18 years. This point of the moons orbit – where it is closest to Earth – is known as the Lunar Perigee.

While this is common, this closeness happens every 9 years, it doesn’t often coincide with a full moon. As long as there is a clear sky in your neighborhood get ready for a big moon. Even with binoculars or a good zoom lens on your camera you will be able to see incredible detail.

A combination of effects have aligned to put this show on for us all. The elliptical orbit of the moon – it’s sometimes called our Eccentric Companion – along with Earths elliptical orbit and the gravitational effects of the sun mean the moon will be 30,000km closer to earth than usual – normally it’s 354,000km from earth.

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Frozen Smoke to Supercharge Batteries…

Aerogel. Our favourite almost there material

AeroGel – Frozen Smoke, so called as it has a transparent smokey look – has added another use to its growing list of can do’s. Scientists at the University of Southern Florida are working to develop batteries using the material. There is something impossible about this strange material, something very cool.

So what makes AeroGel so great? Firstly it’s 99.98% air but still manages to be a solid, there is literally nothing too it. It has the texture of polystyrene when you hold it but it looks fairy floss. It is a great insulator of both heat and electricity. Currently it holds 15 Guinness World Records for various properties, worlds lightest solid, worlds lowest density solid, worlds highest insulation value. It is an extreme material, it doesn’t do that many things but what it does do is always a world record.

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