When working with something called a quantum cascade laser, eggheads from Princeton University managed to discover a new type of double-beam laser not yet explained by existing theories, and the findings appear to prove the second laser beam to be more powerful and efficient than the primary.
Quantum cascade lasers are small and efficient sources of mid-infrared laser beams, with the conventional portion of the laser operating like those found in CD players. When enough electricity passes through, electrons enter a 'quasi-equilibrium state' almost entirely devoid of quantum momentum. It's in this state that they start to emit laser light in the mid to far infrared range.
While researching quantum cascade lasers, scientists discovered a slightly smaller wavelength, even though no existing quantum cascade theory of laser operations indicated that a second beam should exist. Because the second laser has proven more powerful and efficient, researchers are studying the technology at a breakneck pace. The mid to far infrared class of laser is useful in detecting minute traces of water vapor, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, and other gases that absorb infrared light, and the Princeton team says future applications could include air monitoring, medical diagnostics, and even homeland security. Rock on.
Remember when your great-great-great grandparents used to trek barefoot through miles of freezing snow in the scorching hot desert just for the privilege of purchasing a music CD from the music store that sat on top of a mountain? Maybe that's slightly exaggerating the situation, and while many of you still prefer to own physical media, downloading tracks has become the norm when it comes to purchasing groovy tunes. According to statistics compiled by Will Page, chief economist of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, and Andrew bud, the head of mobile software company mBlox, there are roughly 13 million songs available for download. But only a small fraction make up the majority of downloads.
With so many songs to choose from, you might think the wealth is being spread around. But surprisingly, just 52,000 songs make up for 80 percent all music purchased online. The distribution becomes even more lopsided when looking at albums, with 85 percent of bands and singers who released an album in 2008 not having sold a single copy.
"There is an eerie similarity between a digital and high-street retailer in terms of what constitutes an efficient inventory and the shape of their respective demand curves," Andrew Bud told the Times. "I think there's something more going on there: a case of new schools meets old schools."
What are you listening to that might be off the beaten path? Post your favorite non-mainstream hits below and help your fellow readers expand their music collection.
Maximum PC intercepted the following memorandum from a high-level Comcast executive to the company’s Board of Directors. We suggest you read it once, and then immediately delete all traces of this text from your PC. This is seriously twisted stuff.
As I sit here, in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, surrounded by friends, family, and other loved ones, I just wanted to take a moment and thank you, our loyal readers, for buying our magazine, visiting the website, reading the newsletter, listening to the podcast, and just plain supporting Maximum PC over the years. The magazine is doing OK in a tough market, and the website has grown beyond our wildest expectations this year; and it’s all thanks to you. The rest of the team and I have a lots of fun putting Maximum PC together, but without you guys around to read it, we’d all have to go out and find significantly less awesome jobs. Speaking for all of us: Katherine, Tom, Gordon, Nathan E., Natalie, Boni, Norman, Alex, Paul, Mark, Pulkit, Andy, Justin, Nathan G., Dave, Michael, Benson, Flo, and myself; I want to wish you all the best during the holidays this year, whatever and wherever you celebrate.
We’re going to let our crack news team off for Christmas, so there won’t be any new news posts tomorrow. I’ll dig up some of my favorite posts from the last year and repost them on the front page (if you have story suggestions, post them in the comments). Assuming I don't drink too much egg nog, they should start showing up in the morning.
I also have a sneak peek at a contest I think you’ll be excited about. Around the Maximum PC offices, we get quite a few cool tchotchkes every day. From limited-run T-shirts and bobbleheads to hardware and accessories, it never really slows down. Until now, we’ve either returned or donated to charity anything over $50 in value, and the rest just piled up on our desks. Starting in 2009, we’re going to give it all away to you guys. From USB-powered mini-fridges to gaming mice to netbooks, I’ve been collecting a ton of gear, and I’m giving it all away to people signed up for my Twitter feed. In addition to sometimes terrifying glimpses into the personal life of a Maximum PC editor, I’ll run regular trivia contests and updates on what Maximum PC is up to. To win, all you need to do is sign up for Twitter and follow yours truly.
So, I hope you and your families have a safe and prosperous holiday, followed by a kick ass New Year! Now, I’ve got to get back to making cake and drinking egg nog…
With the release of Intel's Core i7 lineup, it appeared Intel and Nvidia might be on the path to patching up their relationship as the two finally came to terms with licensing Nvidia's SLI technology on Intel's X58 chipset. But don't call them BFFs just yet.
Nvidia recently announced plans to release its Ion platform, a low power netbook solution which would pair the company's GeForce 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor. According to Nvidia, users would be able to play popular games on the Ion platform, like Call of Duty 4. The only problem is Intel doesn't appear to have any intention of sharing its Atom processor with Nvidia.
According to DigiTimes, an internal statement distributed to hardware makers reiterated Intel's stance that its Atom processors would only come bundled with the chip maker's 945GSE and 945GC chipsets. The news site also claims Intel indicated it has no plans to validate the Nvidia MCP79 chipset on Atom-based platforms, nor does it plan to partner with Nvidia to support nettops or netbooks.
Micron Technology knows as well as anyone just how bad the memory market has become. For the eight-straight time, the Boise, Idaho-based memory maker posted a loss as it struggles to cope with declining chip prices. But despite the company's best efforts, Micron posted a net loss of $706 million, or 91 cents per diluted share, for the quarter ended December 4, 2008.
While the loss itself doesn't come as a surprise, the total amount does. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting Micron to post a loss of 45 cents per share, but slumping prices continues to take its toll. Prices for DRAM and NAND flash memory have fallen 34 percent and 24 percent respectively, Cnet reports, and relief doesn't appear to be on the way anytime soon as memory companies look to cut production.
"The rate at which capacity comes back online will be determined by what the demand profile is through the first half of '09," Micron CEO Steve Appleton said during a conference call. "If you talk to the equipment guys, they will tell you that they may not have any business in '09 in certain categories."
Earlier this year, Micron announced plans to cut 15 percent of its global workforce as part of a two-year restructuring plan.
If you're a male gamer who has been looking for love in all the wrong places, it might be because you're spending too much time playing MMOs. Or, depending on your fantasy woman, maybe that's exactly what you should be doing. You see, not only is nearly half of the Everquest II gaming population female, but they're apparently much more likely to be bisexual than non-EQ II players, online surveys suggest.
According to no less than 2,400 completed web-based surveys, females account for 40 percent of the EQ II gaming community. The surveys also found that female EQ II players display "an unusually high level of bisexuality," more than five times that of the "general population."
"These are not people who are following strict gender stereotypes," said lead researcher Scott Caplan. "I think what you would find in this population are going to be people who are in other ways less traditional than the majority population."
The respondents received an in-game item in exchange for completing a web-based questionnaire about their gaming habits and lifestyles, which has led some to question to the validy of the results.
Samsung Electronics has been ordered to pay 50 million yuan ($7.3 million) to Holley Communications over an alleged patent infringement claim, ending an 18-month lawsuit. Filed in April of last year, Holly Communications sued Samsung claiming the handset maker had violated a patent technology allowing mobile phones to operate on both CDMA and GSM networks.
"Samsung has sold more than 700,000 cellphones that contain Holley's patented technologies. The patents are still on sale. The compensation is only part of the sales," Xinhua news agency quoted Ge Chen, Holley's executive director as saying.
According to Xinhua, Holley Communications will seek even more compensation than what has already been awarded. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Samsung said no official decision has yet been handed out, but should that happen, the company may appeal.
ZDNet's Hardware 2.0 maven, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, rose to the challenge and has put Windows 7 build 6956 up against Vista SP1, Vista RTM (the original and worst), and Windows XP SP3 in three benchmarks: boot time, Passmark Performance Test 6.1, and Cinebench R10.
Not surprisingly, Windows Vista SP1 blew the doors off its RTM ancestor, but was similarly run off the road by Windows 7, which also made Windows XP SP3 eat its dust in virtually every test. The only test in which Windows XP SP3 held off its two-generation newer rival was in the OpenGL version of the Cinebench R10 benchmark. If this performance level continues until Windows 7 sees the light of day sometime next year, Windows 7 users will be very happy, and Windows XP diehards who have resisted "Mojave" will finally upgrade.
Join us after the jump for your chance to chime in on how you rate Windows 7 versus its predecessors.
It looks like here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. we’ve got one more thing to add to the “we’re good at this” list, and that one thing is hosting malware on our websites.
A recent study by ars technica that tested what countries are hosting malware has the United States in first place, hosting a whopping 37% of the world’s malware infected sights, followed by China in second place with only 28% of the world’s malicious sites. Every other country fell under 10% individually.
Considering that we here in the U.S. have some of the most advanced technologies when it comes to combating malware, it seems a little sad that we’re in first place (with room to spare) on this list. And considering that just recently we came in first for spam email just a little over a year ago, it’s disappointing too.