News

  • 2014 – November

    World’s largest solar farm is up and running in California

    The world’s largest solar plant is up and running in California, with the completion of Topaz, a 550 megawatt plant; the Topaz solar project completed its final 40-megawatt (AC) phase, reported Greentech Media, making history not only as the first 500-megawatt plus solar farm to come on-line in the U.S. but also as the largest solar plant on-line in the world. Reports are talking about a plant with 9 million solar panels installed across 9.5 square miles.
    This is a $2.5 billion project, said io9, with construction that began two years ago. The owner is MidAmerican Solar, a Pheonix, Arizona-based subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables. Topaz is described by MidAmerican Solar as a 550-megawatt photovoltaic power plant. The developer for the project is listed as First Solar, discussing on its website the project that will produce sufficient electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. Topaz is located in San Luis Obispo County, California, on the northwestern corner of the Carrisa Plains.

    http://phys.org/news/2014-11-world-largest-solar-farm-california.html

     

    Risk from extreme weather set to rise

    The Royal Society warns that the risk of heatwaves to an ageing population will rise about ten-fold by 2090 if greenhouse gases continue to rise.

    They estimate the risk to individuals from floods will rise more than four-fold and the drought risk will treble.

    The report’s lead author Prof Georgina Mace said: “This problem is not just about to come… it’s here already.”

    She told BBC News: “We have to get the mindset that with climate change and population increase we are living in an ever-changing world – and we need much better planning if we hope to cope.”

    The report says governments have not grasped the risk of booming populations in coastal cities as sea level rises and extreme events become more severe.

    “People are increasingly living in the wrong places, and it’s likely that extreme events will be more common,” Prof Mace says.

    “For most hazards, population increase contributes at least as much as climate change – sometimes more. We are making ourselves more vulnerable whilst making the climate more extreme.

    “It is impossible for us to avoid the worst and most unexpected events. But it is not impossible to be prepared for an ever-changing world. We must organise ourselves right away.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30215782

     

     

    Rooftop solar electricity on pace to beat coal, oil

    The cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will be on par with prices for common coal or oil-powered generation in just two years — and the technology to produce it will only get cheaper.

    The prediction, made by Deutsche Bank’s leading solar industry analyst, Vishal Shah, is part of a report on Vivint Solar, the nation’s second-biggest solar panel installer. Shah believes Vivint Solar is doing so well that it will double its sales each year for the next two years.

    The sharp decline in solar energy costs is the result of increased economies of scale leading to cheaper photovoltaic panels, new leasing models and declining installation costs.

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/2848875/rooftop-solar-electricity-on-pace-to-beat-coal-oil.html

    DARPA circuit achieves speeds of 1 trillion cycles per second, earns Guinness world record

    Officials from Guinness World Records today recognized DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program for creating the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured. The ten-stage common-source amplifier operates at a speed of one terahertz (1012 GHz), or one trillion cycles per second—150 billion cycles faster than the existing world record of 850 gigahertz set in 2012.
    “Terahertz circuits promise to open up new areas of research and unforeseen applications in the sub-millimeter-wave spectrum, in addition to bringing unprecedented performance to circuits operating at more conventional frequencies,” said Dev Palmer, DARPA program manager. “This breakthrough could lead to revolutionary technologies such as high-resolution security imaging systems, improved collision-avoidance radar, communications networks with many times the capacity of current systems and spectrometers that could detect potentially dangerous chemicals and explosives with much greater sensitivity.”

    http://phys.org/news/2014-10-darpa-circuit-trillion-guinness-world.html

     

    China completes first mission to moon and back

    China completed its first return mission to the moon early Saturday with the successful re-entry and landing of an unmanned probe, state media reported, in the latest step forward for Beijing’s ambitious space programme.
    The probe landed safely in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region, state news agency Xinhua said, citing the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
    Xinhua said the probe took “some incredible pictures” of the Earth and the moon.
    Prior to re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the unnamed probe was travelling at 11.2 kilometres per second (25,000 miles per hour), a speed that can generate temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,700 degrees Fahrenheit), the news agency reported.
    To slow it down, scientists let the craft “bounce” off Earth’s atmosphere before re-entering again and landing.
    The probe’s mission was to travel to the moon, fly around it and head back to Earth, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement at its launch eight days ago.

    http://phys.org/news/2014-10-china-mission-moon_1.html

     

    Microsoft Appeals to Developers, Developers, Developers

    Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer became infamous in 2006 after leading a Microsoft Windows meeting in a chant, “developers, developers, developers.” While the images of him clapping his hands and screaming became the target of the early social media and YouTube culture, he was right with his intention. Developers are the masters of the universe (at least in the world of software), and Microsoft gets it.

    Today the company is making a rather big announcement: It is open sourcing the server side .NET stack and expanding it to run on Linux and Mac OS platforms. All developers will now be able to build .NET cloud applications on Linux and Mac. These are huge moves for the company and follow its recent acknowledgement that at least 20 percent of Azure VMs are running Linux. This struck a chord in the Twittersphere but wasn’t all that surprising when you consider how pervasive Linux is in the cloud.

    http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/158-jim-zemlin/795282-microsoft-appeals-to-developers-developers-developers

     

    What Hard Drive Should I Buy?

    Because Backblaze has a history of openness, many readers expected more details in my previous posts. They asked what drive models work best and which last the longest. Given our experience with over 25,000 drives, they asked which ones are good enough that we would buy them again. In this post, I’ll answer those questions.

    Hitachi does really well. There is an initial die-off of Western Digital drives, and then they are nice and stable. The Seagate drives start strong, but die off at a consistently higher rate, with a burst of deaths near the 20-month mark.

    Having said that, you’ll notice that even after 3 years, by far most of the drives are still operating.

    https://www.backblaze.com/blog/what-hard-drive-should-i-buy/

     

    Microsoft patches two-decade crack in Windows software

    Microsoft issued an emergency patch for a dangerous flaw that has existed in Windows operating software for nearly two decades.
    The vulnerability, disclosed by IBM security researchers, has been in every Windows operating system since 1995 and could allow a hacker to take control of computers after luring Internet Explorer browser users to booby-trapped Internet pages.

    Robert Freeman of IBM X-Force said in a blog post: “This complex vulnerability is a rare, ‘unicorn-like’ bug found in code that IE relies on but doesn’t necessarily belong to.
    “The bug can be used by an attacker for drive-by attacks to reliably run code remotely and take over the user’s machine.”

    http://phys.org/news/2014-11-microsoft-patches-two-decade-windows-software.html#jCp