April 25th, 2005

Now, that's what I call BROADband

From a press release received today:
Today, in a significant milestone for scientific grid computing, eight major computing centres successfully completed a challenge to sustain a continuous data flow of 600 megabytes per second (MB/s) on average for 10 days from CERN(1) in Geneva, Switzerland to seven sites in Europe and the US. The total amount of data transmitted during this challenge—500 terabytes—would take about 250 years to download using a typical 512 kilobit per second household broadband connection.
Now if only I had that sort of connection here...

...but then I'd run out of disk space really quickly!
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This one go boom!

...where this one is a German toad...
Hundreds of toads have met a bizarre and sinister end in Germany in recent days, it was reported: they exploded.

According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre (three feet).

It is like "a science fiction film", according to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in the northern city of Hamburg, where the phenomenon of the exploding toad has been observed.
No one knows what is causing the explosions - but toads from "The Pond of Death" expand to 3 and half times normal size before, err, bursting...
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Reinventing the thumb-tack

Their may not ever be a better mousetrap, but these TAK pushpins look like they'll do the job for thumb-tacks.

You'll find they have two pins for added strength, along with a channel for wire or string, so they'll hold up calendars as well as whatever else you want to stick to a pin board.

I'll buy 250 for $25...

[link via Gizmodo]
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Bryan Talbot: Me from Heart of Empire

Neverwhere: The Comic

There's a sample of Glenn Fabry's art for the comic adaptation of Neverwhere in this month's Fables (and a PDF on the DC web site).

It's got the feel of a 20th century Slaine crossed with Bryan's Luther Arkwright. Looking good.
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Roots of the tale?

I finally got round to watching Bruce Wagner's follow-up to the excellent "Wild Palms"1 last night...

"White Dwarf" is a science fantasy, with dark swordsmen, alien prison-wardens, a shape-changing empathic disease, the punishment of eternity, and a wall that divides a world. Oh, and lots and lots of flying helmets and goggles.

A thousand years from now, on a horse and buggy colony world, a young doctor arrives to intern at a frontier medical station. He's after stories for his future private practice, but he's in for a surprise. In a twist straight out of early Jack Vance, the planet is split into light and dark sides, at civil war with each other. There are signs of peace, but factions on both sides want the wars to continue. There's a fly in their ointment: the planet itself is sentient (possibly as the result of a pre-human terraforming), and would rather everyone just got along. It's a resolution that needs an innocent abroad

It's clear that this was intended to be the pilot for a TV series - and to a certain extent it's a pity that it never happened. But may be it did happen, in a way, as there are elements in the background that map closely to Joss Whedon's excellent "Firefly" - the highly formal human civilisation (with its hidden decadence), the use of low technology where most appropriate, and the power of words and language.

This isn't action drama. But it's good drama - and it's good SF too.

Well worth watching.

</sup>And why no "Wild Palms" DVD outside of Australia yet? Is the idea of a world where Philip K. Dick invented scientology so uncommercial?
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