Information Technology

Here you can find a summary of innovations in the fields of information and data processing and up-to-date developments on IT equipment and hardware.

This area covers topics such as IT services, IT architectures, IT management and telecommunications.

First PROBA pictures promise wealth of environmental data

ESA’s new micro-satellite PROBA has captured its first test images of the Earth’s surface using its small but powerful optical instrument, just two months after its launch from the Indian equator.

PROBA (Project for On Board Autonomy), the size of a small box and in orbit 600 km above the Earth’s surface, has provided scientists with its first detailed environmental images thanks to CHRIS – a Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer – the main payload on the 100 kg European spacecraft.

Algorithm makes tongue tree

New computer programme could settle literary debates.

To date, unlike us, computers have struggled to differentiate a page of Jane Austen from one by Jackie Collins. Now researchers in Italy have developed a program that can spot enough subtle differences between two authors’ works to attribute authorship 1 .

The program can tell a text by Machiavelli from one by Pirandello, Dante or a host of other great Italian writers. It constructed a language tree of the

Motion Sickness – could Virtual Reality help?

Playing virtual reality computer games could provide the answer to combating motion sickness.

Scientists are looking at how feelings of nausea can be induced in people who are put into a virtual reality environment. By putting them back into that environment on a frequent basis the researchers are hoping to find out if they become accustomed to the conditions and overcome the symptoms of motion sickness.

The research is being carried out by scientists at Loughborough Univers

Listening device that could save lives

A DEVICE that records and recognises what people are discussing at meetings – and alerts them if decisions are being re-made – is being developed with the help of information systems experts at Staffordshire University.

Staffordshire and Lancaster Universities have been jointly awarded £714,000 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to carry out the cutting-edge research project which will be partly based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology.


Solid stops light

A crystal that holds light could facilitate quantum computing.

Researchers in the United States and Korea have brought light to a complete standstill in a crystal. The pulse is effectively held within the solid, ready to be released at a later stage.

This trick could be used to store information in a quantum computer 1 .

Normal computers store information in simple binary form (1’s and 0’s) in electronic and magnetic devices. Stationary light pu

The web needs to get personal

In the 1990s, we dubbed the Internet the `information superhighway`. So why is it still so hard to find what we are looking for online? According to Prof. Wendy Hall of the University of Southampton, it is because the web is mostly linkless. What`s more, if we want the Web to be useful in our daily lives, web links will have to become much more personal.

Prof. Hall is head of Southampton`s Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia (IAM) Research Group. She says that hand-crafted websites generally c

Quantum computers spread the risk

A balanced portfolio of programs could mean a faster quantum computer.

Strategies from the world of finance could help get the best out of quantum computers, say US researchers 1 . The right portfolio of programs could solve a problem many times faster than a single strategem.

Quantum computers – purely hypothetical as yet – would be fast, but you could never be sure whether a program was going to work or not. You would have to keep running the program until

Massive hole makes theories leaky

Surprising black hole weigh-in has astronomers scratching their heads.

Forty thousand light years away, on the other side of the Milky Way, lies object GRS1915+105. It is a giant star and a black hole orbiting one another, blasting out X-rays and ejecting gas and dust at close to the speed of light.

Now measurements of this “extreme and puzzling” object are casting doubt on current theories of how such binary systems form and behave. Astronomers have weighed its black hole,

Water drop holds a trillion computers

Devices with DNA software may one day be fitted into cells.

“If you wear the right glasses, a lot of what you see inside the cell is computation,” says Ehud Shapiro of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel. Now Shapiro and his colleagues have turned the computational power of biological molecules to their own ends 1 .

The researchers have built a machine that solves mathematical problems using DNA as software and enzymes as hardware. A trillion such biomol

A little logic goes a long way

Ultra-minaturized electrical components could shrink supercomputers.

Researchers in the Netherlands and the United States have constructed simple computer circuits with electrical components many times smaller than those on commercial silicon chips 1 , 2 . These ultra-minaturized logic circuits hold out the prospect of hand-held computers as powerful as today’s state-of-the-art supercomputers.

Cees Dekker and co-workers at the Delft University

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