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SCI-TECH

FIRST EXAFLOP SUPERCOMPUTER PROJECT BEGINS


Work on the worlds first supercomputer with an exaflop of processing power has begun in the
United States, thanks to an executive order from President Barack Obama. The supercomputer
will outperform Chinas Tianhe 2, which is currently the worlds most powerful supercomputer.

Self-building 3D printed bricks


hint at future of construction
New technology uses only high-frequency vibrations to assemble individual parts, which
could revolutionise manufacturing and make a future without assembly lines possible
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new study has shown that highfrequency vibrations can cause bricks
to self-assemble into a larger 3D object,
a finding that may one day help do
away with the need for factory
assembly lines.
The findings, published in the journal,
Scientific Reports, signal a key advancement in
programmable self-assembly, which was previously thought of only being possible using one
dimensional or two dimensional objects.
The research team, led by Dr Ido Bachelet
from the Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Bar-Ilan University in Israel,
used an algorithm from the Computational Geometry Algorithm Library (CGAL) as part of a design that allowed 18 tetrahedral bricks to self-assemble into a larger 3D cylinder.
Assembly rules are encoded by topographic
cues imprinted on brick faces while attraction
between bricks is provided by embedded magnets, the researchers said in their paper. The
bricks can then be mixed in a container and agitated, leading to properly assembled objects at
high yields and zero errors.
They continued, Improved designs inspired by our system could lead to successful implementation of self-assembly at the macroscale, allowing rapid, on-demand fabrication of
objects without the need for assembly lines.
The ability for life to self-assemble is something that continues to puzzle scientists: proteins, viruses, living cells and multi-cellular
organisms are all examples of systems in which
parts are bonded to each other through attraction to form a structure or pattern.
Hamza Bendemra, a research engineer at the
Australian National University, who was not involved in the study, said the research of 3D printed assemblies is remarkable.
The algorithm was inspired by the molecular assembly of the DNA, he said. But he
added that more research was needed to
address challenges of time, space and safety for
the model to be more efficient at forming and remaining together.

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MOBILEAPP

RACE THE SUN


Previously released on PC and consoles, Race the Sun is a
game where youre racing against time. You control a solar
aircraft and your aim is to race towards the sun before it
sets. Thats easier said than done because the whole world
is conspiring against you, with perilous obstacles in your
way. The game is designed for short bursts and follows the
endless runner format, tasking
you with going as far as possible
before its lights out. Its a great
game, but a bit pricey at Rs 300.
This game is currently only
available for iOS devices. Scan
the QR code to go to the game's
iTunes store page

Facebook ready to
test internet drone
acebooks drone project, through which it hopes
to provide internet access to the remotest parts of
the world, is finally ready for real-world testing.
The companys aerospace team based in the UK
has completed work on the Aquila, a high-altitude,
long-endurance aircraft that resembles a stealth
bomber. Built using a carbon-fibre frame, the drone is
light in weight despite its 737 wingspan.
Smaller versions of the Aquila had been tested before, but this is the first time a full-scale model has
been made for testing.

F
An 18-brick assembly took over two hours to complete; so large-scale projects arent yet feasible
In the study, a two-brick assembly took less
than a minute to self-assemble. However, an 18piece assembly required over two hours to perform the same feat, he further stated.
The components are subject to high vibrations and collide over and over again until they
fit in the right combination. It would be a
challenge to implement such a method with
materials with low strength and poor impact tolerance without causing damage, Bendemra
added.
Bernard Meade, head of research compute
services at the University of Melbourne, said
while the initial research is limited to building
small objects, future demonstrations combining other techniques, such as embedded electronics, could make the rapid construction of
larger devices viable.
For example, ordering a smart phone with
specific components, automatically assembled
and shrink-wrapped with a protective coating,

might take only a few minutes and no longer require thousands of phones to be pre-made. Perhaps furniture scale production might be possible in future imagine flatpack IKEA but I think
it would be hard to get to something the size of a
house.
The next step in developing this study for
construction and manufacturing industries is to
use both magnetic forces and adhesives to ensure the assembly stays in place.
Bendemra agreed. The researchers did a
great job at adding topographic cues to ensure a
unique combination only would lead to the pieces locking in. Their footage clearly shows that
pieces that collide in a non-desired formation detach until they lock-in as planned, he said.
The number of pieces involved in the
assembly and the nature of the materials being
used (including the magnet) in more complex
assemblies could limit the use of such a
method, Bendemra explained.

Pune Mirror, Pune, August 1, 2015. Pp.19

NASA discovers closest exoplanet 21 light-years away


stronomers at NASA have confirmed the
discovery of the nearest rocky
planet outside our solar system, larger
than Earth and a potential gold mine of science
data.
Called HD 219134b, this exoplanet orbits
too close to its star to sustain life, but is a mere 21
light-years away. The planet itself can't be seen
directly even by telescopes, but the star it orbits
is visible to the naked eye in dark skies near the
North Star. HD 219134b is also the closest
exoplanet to Earth to be detected transiting, or
crossing in front of, its star, making it ideal for
research, NASA says.
Transiting exoplanets are worth their
weight in gold because they can be extensively

19
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 2015

A silhouette of HD 219134b in front of its star

characterised, said Michael Werner, the project scientist for the Spitzer mission at NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This exoplanet will
be one of the most studied for decades to come.
Only a small fraction of exoplanets can be
detected transiting their stars due to their relative orientation to Earth. When the orientation
is just right, the planet's orbit places it between
its star and Earth, dimming the detectable light
of its star. It's this dimming of the star that is actually captured by observatories and can reveal
not only the size of the planet but also clues
about its composition.
Rocky planets such as this one, with biggerthan-Earth proportions, belong to a growing
class of planets termed super-Earths.
PMB

Meanwhile, Facebooks laser communications


team in California achieved a breakthrough in its
laser beaming technology, through which it can
deliver data at a rate of tens of Gb per second. Thats
ten times faster than the state-of-the-art in the
industry, Facebook says.
The laser tech is also built for accuracy. Facebook
claims it can target the size of a coin from more than
10 miles away.
When combined, the laser technology can be
used to connect Aquila drones to the ground and to
other drones in the sky. This will allow Facebook to
create a stratospheric network that will allow it to
deliver high-speed internet access to parts of the
world where ground infrastructure is lacking.
Once in the air, an Aquila drone will be able to
circle a remote region for up to 90 days, beaming
internet connectivity down from an altitude of
60,000 to 90,000 feet.
According to Facebook, 10 per cent of the worlds
population lives in remote locations with no internet
infrastructure, adding that infrastructure technologies used in most parts of the world like fibre-optic
cables, microwave repeaters and cell towers may
pose a challenge to set up in a cost-effective way in
these regions.
Aside from the Aquila project, Facebook is also
exploring opportunities through satellites and
terrestrial solutions, which it hopes to develop to the
point where they become viable for service providers
and mobile operators to use economically.
PMB