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Watching extreme lasers at work

Frame-by-frame observations of the ionization of argon atoms under extremely bright and energetic illumination could prove a boon to research
Under extremely intense illumination materials may exhibit so-called nonlinear optical properties such as ceasing to absorb light beyond a certain brightness, or becoming highly ionized.
Yasumasa Hikosaka, Mitsuru Nagasono and colleagues at RIKEN and several other Japanese research institutes have now described the details of this ionization process by using very short bursts of bright laser light1. Their finding is relevant to a broad range of pure and applied research, including x-ray imaging of biological molecules, ultrafast optical switches, fusion and astrophysics.
The researchers focused on the behavior of argon atoms, which is easy to handle and well-characterized, …

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Data mining made faster

New method eases analysis of ‘multidimensional’ information
To many big companies, you aren’t just a customer, but are described by multiple “dimensions” of information within a computer database. Now, a University of Utah computer scientist has devised a new method for simpler, faster “data mining,” or extracting and analyzing massive amounts of such data.
“Whether you like it or not, Google, Facebook, Walmart and the government are building profiles of you, and these consist of hundreds of attributes describing you” – your online searches, purchases, shared videos and recommendations to your Facebook friends, says Suresh Venkatasubramanian, an assistant professor of computer science.
“If you line them up for each person, you have a line of hundreds of numbers …

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Group led by UCLA Engineering devises new method for securing location-sensitive data

Location-based security is ensured by using quantum mechanics
A research group led by computer scientists at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has proved that cryptography — the practice and study of hiding information — that is based solely on physical location is possible by using quantum mechanics.
Such a method, the researchers say, allows one to encrypt and decrypt data at a secure location without pre-sharing any cryptographic keys that can be used to lock or unlock sensitive information.
The idea behind location-based cryptography is that only a recipient at a precise geographic location can receive an encrypted message — the location itself acts as the credential required for generating an encryption key.
This …

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Johns Hopkins Joins Study of Oil Spill Impact on Florida Ecosystem

Johns Hopkins researchers are part of a multi-institution team formed to determine how the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill affects a sensitive aquatic environment off the coast of Florida.
Team members have begun collecting samples of water, sediment, marine animals and plant life in the Sarasota Bay region, which has not yet been impacted by the massive oil spill. As the oil spreads, however, it may enter the Sarasota Bay ecosystem. The baseline data being collected is expected to give the researchers a way to measure any changes to the aquatic environment if oil does move into the region.
The research effort is being led by the National Aquarium, in collaboration with the Sarasota-based Mote …

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Stormwater Model To Inform Regulators On Future Development Projects

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a computer model that will accurately predict stormwater pollution impacts from proposed real-estate developments – allowing regulators to make informed decisions about which development projects can be approved without endangering water quality.
The model could serve as a blueprint for similar efforts across the country.
“The model is designed to evaluate the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus found in stormwater runoff from residential and commercial developments – particularly runoff from a completed project, not a site that is under construction,” says Dr. Bill Hunt, an associate professor and extension specialist of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State who helped develop the model. “To comply with regional water-quality regulations, cities …

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University Lab Demonstrates 3-D Printing in Glass

A team of engineers and artists working at the University of Washington’s Solheim Rapid Manufacturing Laboratory has developed a way to create glass objects using a conventional 3-D printer. The technique allows a new type of material to be used in such devices.
The team’s method, which it named the Vitraglyphic process, is a follow-up to the Solheim Lab’s success last spring printing with ceramics.
“It became clear that if we could get a material into powder form at about 20 microns we could print just about anything,” said Mark Ganter, a UW professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the Solheim Lab. (Twenty microns is less than one thousandth of an inch.)
Three-dimensional printers are used as …

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