Dec 14, 2011

Data transfer speed hits 186 Gbps, Scientists claim

Researchers are claiming a new world record for data transfers over long distances. Data was moved back and forth at a combined rate of 186 Gbps (gigabits per second), fast enough to transfer two million gigabytes of data or 100,000 full Blu-ray discs in one day.

It could pave the way for networks with standard speeds of 100 Gbps. That would speed up the sharing of scientific research, such as that at the Large Hadron Collider. 

The tests involved sending data between the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, and the Washington State Convention Centre in Seattle. The team achieved two-way data rates of 186 Gbps, breaking their previous record of 119 Gbps set in 2009.

The data's fastest speed in a single direction was 98 Gbps. By contrast current fibre optic networks have a top speed of about 1 Gbps. The distances spanned nearly 131 miles (212km) and relied on the latest optical equipment, highly tuned servers and ran over a 100Gbps circuit, set up by CANARIE, Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network.

In an even larger demonstration, researchers transferred massive amounts of data between a booth at the SuperComputing 2011 conference in Seattle and other locations within the US, Brazil and Korea.

The experiments brought together physicists, computer scientists and network engineers from a range of institutions, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of Victoria, the University of Michigan, the European Centre for Nuclear Research (Cern) and Florida International University.

"Our group and its partners are showing how massive amounts of data will be handled and transported in the future," said Harvey Newman, a professor of physics who headed up the physicist team. 

According to the researchers, the achievement will help establish new ways to transport the increasingly large amounts of data that currently travel via optical fibre networks across continents and under oceans. 

"Having these tools in our hands allows us to engage in realisable visions others do not have. We can see a clear path to a future other cannot yet imagine with any confidence," said Prof Newman.

Fast data transfers are particularly crucial for sharing the work of big scientific projects, such as work at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The LHC has made the headlines this week as scientists announced that they could have seen first glimpses of the elusive Higgs boson particle, believed to be responsible for giving everything in the universe its mass.

At Cern, the group of scientists behind the particle accelerator have so far processed, distributed and analysed more than 100 petabytes of data - over four million Blu-ray discs - in their search for a better understanding of the nature of matter, space and time.

Lasers Data volumes are expected to rise as the team cranks up their efforts and it is crucial to be able to share the data with researchers around the world. Enabling scientists anywhere in the world to work on the LHC data is a key objective of the project as it seeks to solve some of the biggest mysteries of the universe.

"One can think of these 100Gbps links as a huge highway for our data. But we obviously don't ship data just to take it on a cruise: we want to get it from A to B because B will do the number crunching. And that in turn means we now have a huge bandwidth of data to crunch on," said Axel Naumann, one of the LHC scientists.

"The 100Gbps demonstration is pushing the limits of network technology by showing that it is possible to transfer petascale particle physics data in a matter of hours to anywhere around the world," said Randall Sobie, a research scientist at the Institute of Particle Physics in Canada and a team member.

The push for higher data rates in light-based telecommunications technologies has seen a number of significant leaps in recent years. In May, researchers set a new record for the rate of data transfer using a single laser: 26 terabits per second. At those speeds, the contents of nearly 1,000 high-definition DVDs could be sent down an optical fibre in a second.

Paypal to enter discount coupon market

Online payment service Paypal plans to enter the discount coupon market. The eBay-owned business said it planned to launch the service in the US before April 2012. 

Paypal's president, Scott Thompson, told the Bloomberg news agency that his firm would use its knowledge of its 103 million members' past purchases to tailor offers. The move poses a challenge to the sector's two biggest player, Groupon and Livingsocial. 

Daily deal businesses offer their members the chance to buy goods or services - from spa treatments and sushi to cheap flights and theatre tickets - at a steep discount. 

Buyers are usually limited to using the coupons within a restricted time span. The daily dealer business then splits the revenue with the organisation providing the goods. Companies may make a loss on the specific offer, but profit if customers return for repeat business.

Discount deluge According to the daily deal data aggregator Yipit four of the biggest players sold close to $210m (£135m) worth of coupons in the US in October. The firms surveyed were Groupon, Livingsocial, Amazonlocal and Google Offers. 

Mr Thompson said Paypal's service would be "different" because the firm would only offer unique and relevant offers rather than "bombard" its members. 

A spokesman for the company hinted it might launch coupons in the UK soon after the US. "We don't have any specific plans to bring this to the UK at this stage," said spokesman Rob Skinner. "But Britain is Paypal's second biggest market after the United States, and the past shows that the big developments in the US tends to travel across the Atlantic to the UK very quickly." 

Although analysts forecast growth for the sector, they have repeatedly warned that the firms involved are likely to face increasing competition because the barrier to entry is relatively low. 

In the past two years KGB Deals, Time Out, Grabone, the Telegraph newspaper, Discountvouchers, STV and Mightydeals are among those to have started targeting the UK public with discounted coupon offers. 

Signs of attacks still visible!

Signs of the attacks are still visible today in collapsed buildings and bullet holes in walls in Fallujah, a Iraqi city exploded against US invasion  in Iraq firstly.

Two major offensives Fallujah, home to about a half a million people 60km west of Baghdad, was home to some of the first anti-US protests in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, in May of that year.

When the protests began, residents were content to throw only their shoes at US soldiers, an Arab gesture that signifies anger and disrespect. 

But in March 2004, four US employees of a US private security firm, Blackwater, since renamed Xe and later Academi, were killed in the city, leading to two major offensives by US troops against Fallujah.

Widespread fighting in Fallujah against the occupation begun in 2003, after a controversial event known as the "pupil's" uprising. 

The US military had turned a primary school into their city headquarters in April 2003. When 200 demonstrators gathered outside asking for the school to be reopened, US forces opened fire, killing at least 13 civilians and injuring dozens. 

The US military said they had shot at armed men after being fired upon from nearby rooftops, but marchers insisted their demonstration had been unarmed and peaceful.

In November, a second campaign was launched against the Sunni rebellion, just months before legislative elections in January 2005. Around 2,000 civilians and 140 Americans died, and the battle is considered one of the fiercest for the US since the Vietnam war.

Iraq happy on departure of US army

Peoples of Iraq are happy with the upcoming departure of US and NATO army from their beloved country.     Hundreds of people in the Iraqi city of Fallujah have taken to the streets to celebrate the impending withdrawal of US troops from the country. 

Demonstrators rallied across the city on Wednesday, shouting slogans in support of the "resistance", a reference to the campaign by Iraqi fighters in the city that was a bastion of opposition against the US-led invasion.

Some protesters burned US and Israeli flags while others held up banners and placards inscribed with phrases such as "Now we are free" and "Fallujah is the flame of the resistance".

In the centre of the city surrounded by the Iraqi army, protesters carried posters bearing photos of apparent fighters, faces covered and carrying weapons.

They also held up pictures of US soldiers killed and military vehicles destroyed in the two major offensives against the city in 2004.

The demonstration was dubbed the first annual "festival to celebrate the role of the resistance". The US is due to withdraw the last of its troops from Iraq by the end of the year, more than eight years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the former President who was executed after a controversial trial in Baghdad.


Dec 13, 2011

US, NATO to leave Iraq by December

US President Barack Obama has declared that American troops will leave Iraq this month "with honour and with their heads held high", while at the same time warning the country's neighbours not to interfere in its progress.

In a press conference with Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, at the White House on Monday, Obama said: "This is a historic moment. A war is ending." The president also said that the US would leave behind a sovereign and self-reliant Iraq, and that the removal of troops after nearly nine years would begin a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries - warning neighbouring nations not to interfere.

"Our strong presence in the Middle East endures," Obama said. "And the United States will never waver in the defence of our allies, our partners and our interests." 

"That is the concern, that at the end of the day the Iraqi officials have much closer ties to the Iranians." Obama said warning Iran to "stay out". 

Obama acknowledged differences between Washington and Baghdad on how to deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, but said Maliki was acting in Iraq's best interests.

For his part, Maliki thanked the US for its continued assistance in helping rebuild Iraq and said that his country's relationship with the US would not end with the departure of the last US soldier.

Maliki insisted that Iraq would need foreign expertise to help it exploit its natural resources and progress in politics, commerce and education. 

In regards to Syria, Maliki raised concerns about the risk of sectarian violence in that country spilling into Iraq and said that he wanted the Syrian situation resolved peacefully.

As of late last week, the number of US troops in Iraq had dwindled to about 8,000, down from 170,000 at the war's peak in 2007. 

Later on Monday, Obama and Maliki laid wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, where many of the nearly 4,500 Americans killed in the Iraq war have been buried. 

The war also claimed the lives of at nearly 115,000 Iraqis, according to an estimate by the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, although some estimate the number of civilians killed has been much higher. 

NATO on Monday also announced plans to end its mission in Iraq. "The North Atlantic Council has decided to undertake the permanent withdrawal of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq personnel from Iraq by 31 December 2011," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the military alliance's secretary-general.

NATO has about 130 advisers from 13 member nations and from Ukraine in Iraq.

Canada to depart from Kyoto Protocol


Canada will formally withdraw its stand from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the country's minister of the environment Peter Kent has said, making it the first nation to pull out of the global treaty. 

The protocol "does not represent a way forward for Canada" and would have forced it to take "radical and irresponsible choices", Mr. Kent said in Toronto on Monday.

He added that it was a mistake for Canada to have signed up for Kyoto: "As we have said, Kyoto for Canada is in the past ... We are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto."

"The Kyoto protocol does not cover the world's two largest emitters, China and the US, and therefore cannot work," he said.

China, which argues that it should be exempt from emissions reduction targets because it is a developing nation, said Canada's decision was "regrettable" and went against international efforts to tackle climate change.

"We hope Canada will face up to its responsibilities and obligations, honour its commitments and actively participate in relevant international co-operation against climate change," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said. 

Megan Leslie, environment spokesperson for Canada's opposition New Democratic Party said the government was abdicating its international responsibilities.

"We all knew the rumours. We all heard the reports that Canada planned to withdraw from Kyoto, and so today we actually saw it laid out before us," she said.

Canada's former Liberal government signed up to Kyoto, which obliged the country to cut emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. By 2009, emissions were 17 per cent above the 1990 levels. 

Canada's delegation said little during recent climate talks in South Africa where countries agreed to extend the Kyoto protocol and hammer out a new deal to force big polluters to cut greenhouse emissions.

Canada has said it backs a new global deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but insists it has to cover all nations, including China and India, which are not bound by Kyoto's current targets.