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World’s fastest train link starts operation in China

January 2, 2010 Comments off

China on Saturday started operation on its fastest rail link in the world with a high speed train connecting the modern cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 350 kilometres an hour.

The super-high-speed train reduces the 1,069 KM journey linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, to a three hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven-and-a-half hours, a news agency said.

Test runs for the rail link began earlier in December during which it recorded a maximum speed of 394.2 km per hour and the operations officially began today, said Xu Fangliang, general engineer in charge of designing the link, according to the news agency.

By comparison, the average for high-speed trains in Japan was 243 kilometres per hour while in France it was 277 kilometres per hour, he said.

The network uses technology developed in co-operation with foreign firms such as Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom.

The work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand country’s high-speed network, the agency added.

China unveiled its first high-speed line at the time of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Country’s ambitious rail development programme aims at increasing the national network from the current 86,000 KM to 120,000 KM, making it the most extensive rail system outside the United States.

Categories: Science

NASA telescope offers ‘new window’ on universe

December 24, 2009 Comments off

A NASA spacecraft that blasted into space early Monday “will give us literally a new window on the universe,” says Paul Delaney, an astronomy expert and professor at York University in Toronto.

Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, will survey the sky for 10 months to search for hidden comets, asteroids and other astrophysical objects. The spacecraft lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Maria, Calif.

“Its main aim is to give us a better view of the cooler regions of the entire universe surrounding us,” Delaney said.

“There’s a whole range of objects that are at the cool end of the spectrum that we can’t see very easily from Earth.”

Citing asteroids as an example, Delaney describes cool objects as those that are “nearby, near-Earth — the ones that potentially could wipe out life on this planet.”

“We’re trying to get a better understanding of where they are, their distribution, how close they’re coming and so on,” he said.

Delaney added that WISE will be looking for failed stars, such as brown dwarfs, which scientists will be able to see for the first time.

The spacecraft will also be searching for proto-planetary disks, which Delaney describes as the regions around stars where new planets are forming.

“WISE is going to find some of those stars where we haven’t yet looked, but we’d like to, to give us a leg up…a handle on (the question), ‘Will those planets be there?'”

Thanks to Canadian contributions, the spacecraft has the ability to detect objects that give off infrared energy, or heat.

“A lot of the infrared detector technology has been pioneered in this country,” said Delaney.

“I don’t think we actually built any of this satellite per se, but the science behind the satellite, Canada and its astronomical community have been involved in now for decades.”

The $320-million project is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Categories: Science

Astronauts dock at International Space Station

December 24, 2009 Comments off

A Russian rocket carrying three astronauts from Japan, Russia and the United States docked at the International Space Station on Wednesday, the Russian flight control centre said.

The Soyuz rocket, which blasted off early Monday, docked at 1:48 am Moscow time, an official from the centre said in a report by the Interfax news agency.

It left from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in the barren Kazakh steppe carrying Soichi Noguchi of Japan, US astronaut Timothy Creamer and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov.

The crew will now spend six months in orbit, during which time they will celebrate Christmas and ring in the new year.

The expedition has several technical goals including completing a new viewing platform for the station which will provide a 360 degree view of the heavens and bring the station another step closer to completion.

The ISS, which orbits 350 kilometres above Earth, is a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments, helping test the effects of long-term space travel on humans, a must for any trip to distant Mars.

Categories: Science

Microsoft ordered to pay $290 mn in Word patent case

December 23, 2009 Comments off

A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a $290-million judgement against Microsoft for infringing on a patent in its flagship product Word relating to the use of XML or extensible markup language.

The US court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit also ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word programmes containing the infringing code from Jan 11, 2010.

The ruling came in an appeal by Microsoft against a Texas jury verdict last August which found that Microsoft had violated patents owned by Canadian software company i4i Inc.

“A small company was practicing its patent, only to suffer a loss of market share, brand recognition, and customer goodwill as the result of the defendant’s infringing acts,” the three-judge panel said in court documents.

“The district court found that Microsoft captured 80 percent of the custom XML market with its infringing Word products, forcing i4i to change its business strategy.”

Microsoft did not issue a reaction to Tuesday’s ruling, but experts said the company is likely to try to reach a settlement with i4i which would see it pay an ongoing licensing fee to i4i.

Categories: Science

The Weather Hindered to Watch the Meteor Shower

November 20, 2009 Comments off

Astrologers that spent the whole night to watch the meteor shower stayed unsatisfied because the Leonid meteor shower that is considered to be the best view that had ever happened in Asia was covered by clouds.

The cause of the shower was the fall of high-speed particles from the tail of Comet 55 P/Tempel-Tuttle that was near the Earth in1998.

Nasa forecasted that viewers could observe about 300 meteors raining down every hour.

Moreover, every night about 8 meteors fell per hour.

But because of the weather in many of the viewing hotspots most people were unable to see the shower. For example, in Philippines, Nepal and India, the sky was covered with clouds that blockaded a possibility to view the sky.

Nevertheless, there are people that were able to see the shower. About 1,000 people that stayed in a car park that is situated on the outskirts of Bangkok in Thailand noticed 52 meteors during a couple of hours.

Astronomers from India that were at the Siriska wildlife sanctuary, counted 78 meteors during a four-hour period.

“We could see flashes of light for almost 10 seconds as bright as star Sirius,” said one of the astronomers.

Even in North America it was possible to see the shower from the early hours of the morning until dawn on17 November.

Categories: Science

NASA and ISRO Signed the Agreement

November 20, 2009 Comments off

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US endorsed an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) according to which NASA will use datum from the Indian satellite Oceansat-II.

With the help of the agreement NASA will be able to use data from Oceansat-II for different purposes, i.e. research, education, weather forecasting and other that are made at the public good.

Michael Freilich, Director Earth Science Division, NASA and Ranganath Navalgund, Director, Space Application Centre signed the agreement at the Sixth Plenary Session of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

Oceansat-II was introduced in September and was created to supply with service connectedness for operational users of the Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) instrument.

The device consists of eight bands of the OCM with the help of which it is possible to conduct ocean biology studies. Ku band pencil beam, Scatterometer is responsible for measuring sea surface wind vectors and radio occultation sounder for atmosphere

Categories: Science

Cloud and Fog Impeded to See the Meteor Shower

November 19, 2009 Comments off

Many astrologers did not sleep during the whole night because they wanted to see an intense Leonid meteor shower over Asia. But many viewers failed to see the show partly because of cloud cover.

But still 30 amateur astronomers succeeded to see it at the Siriska wildlife sanctuary that is situated about 95 miles south of New Delhi. During a four-hour period, they enumerated 78 Leonids.

One could see a lot of viewers that wanted to see a flashing of the Leonids. Due to flashes of light in the sky, the scientist of NASA defined 300 raining down that would happen every hour.

According to Bill Cooke, scientist of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, burning up of the meteor in the atmosphere is considered to be reason of the flash of light.

About 300 students stayed at school in order to observe the show. The students were able to see shooting stars.

Because of a cloudy sky it was impossible to look after the Leonid meteor shower in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, a 36-year-old photographer could only see two shooting stars. “It was a momentary thing. It was so disappointing,” he said.

Cloud and fog covered the sky of Nepal so that it was impossible to see anything.

In order to see the meteor shower a group of people went to a mountain resort at Nagarkot and brought tents for the event.

Categories: Science