HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
March 19, 2007, Herald Journal

The latest in science and technology news

By MARK OLLIG

Where can you learn about gold nanorods that are 1,000 times smaller than a human hair?

What website tells you about the highly sensitive optical sensors, super lenses, and “invisible objects” for use in the military?

Do you want to be on the “cutting edge” and “in the know” when it comes to the latest scientific breakthroughs and discoveries?

One fascinating website on the Internet worth checking out is located at http://physorg.com.

This website is a “smorgasbord” if you will – of tantalizing science, futuristic technology articles and more. Those of you out there who love to know about the latest discoveries that scientists and engineers are working on – can “feast” all day with what you will learn here.

Physorg.com has in-depth articles about physics, space, earth science, nanotechnology, robotics, computing and much more.

You can also vote on the stories you like. These votes are tabulated and shown next to each article – along with the time the article was posted. New information is constantly being made available.

Physorg.com recently posted an article about treating robots with a little more respect.

An ethical code for the treatment of robots?

Yes, says the South Korean government.

Their government task force is drawing up a “code of ethics” to stop humans from misusing robots – or vice versa.

A five-member task force made up of experts, futurists and a science fiction writer began work on a “Robot Ethics Charter” this past November.

“The government plans to set ethical guidelines concerning the roles and functions of robots, as robots are expected to develop strong intelligence in the near future,” the South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

In 2013, the Korean Institute of Science and Technology wants to have developed robotic “caregivers” that could assist with household tasks and monitor the health of the elderly.

Does anyone remember “Rosie” the robot maid from the TV cartoon “The Jetson’s”?

I can see the new car bumper stickers proudly proclaiming: “I love my robot.”

Just one more: “My robot is smarter than your honor student.”

The famous science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov wrote in one of his short stories about the “Three Laws of Robotics.”

The first law says a robot may not injure or allow a human being to come to harm.

The second law says that a robot must obey orders given to it by human beings unless it harms them.

The third law states that a robot must “protect its own existence.”

Remember when “The Robot” from the “Lost in Space” TV show would find itself in danger? It would emit “high voltage lightning charges” towards the “threat” from those robotic claws flailing wildly in the air.

I suppose The Robot was just following Asimov’s third law.

If you are into the latest happenings in outer space, you might be interested in knowing what instruments on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have found. It has evidence for oceans or seas – most likely filled with liquid methane or ethane on Saturn’s moon Titan. One NASA photo shows that one “lake” on Titan is slightly larger when compared to a photo of Earth’s Lake Superior.

What’s a Bits & Bytes column without mentioning something new about computing?

I can report that the world’s first consumer one-terabyte (1TB) hard disk drive (HDD) is now available from Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.

We all know that 1TB is equal to 1 trillion bytes or 1000 gigabytes (1000GB).

The “1TB Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000” internal and external hard disk drive for consumers personal computers will cost around $400.00.

Computer disk drive manufacturer Seagate Technologies is also scheduled to release a consumer 1TB HDD storage device this year.

Standard Definition or SD formatted video based on two hours per movie, would mean that 1TB could store 500 SD movies. Using High Definition or HD format, 1TB could store 125 HD movies.

With a 1TB HDD, you can store “. . . 300,000 digital photographs at the highest quality, one million e-books, or 250,000 songs as an MP3 player.” This is according to Doug Pickford, director of product and market strategy for enterprise products with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. I heard his comments on the podtech.net website.

Pickford went on to say he believes “. . .using present day physics, we could see a 50 terabyte hard disk drive.”

I downloaded the specifications datasheet on the 1TB Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 from http://www.hitachigst.com.

According to this datasheet, the warranty on the Hitachi 1TB hard disk drive is good for only three years—so do your back-ups early and often.

In an interesting side-storys Dell Computer is introducing its “Video Time Capsule” that will allow contributors to share their digital videos for generations to come.

Dell set up a website for us to submit/upload our video messages at http://www.studiodell.com.

All of the video content submitted to studiodell.com for the remainder of 2007 will be copied onto the 1TB Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 hard disk drive – which will be stored for 50 years at the Dell campus in Round Rock, Texas.

What will happen 50 years from now when they attempt to play those archived videos?

One thing I do know – the 1TB Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 hard disk drive will be “out-of-warranty” by 47 years.