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Monday, May 23, 2011

World News!

  • Researchers in Germany have demonstrated a computer data transfer rate of 26 terabytes per second (or, if you're not sure what a terabyte is, 26,624 gigabytes) by using a single laser and a "fast Fourier transform" to unpack the different wavelengths.  (This is slower than the record 100 terabytes per second, but that required something on the order of 370 different lasers.)[1]
Great Britain
  • A report published by HSBC Bank states that "we're confident that there are around 50 years of oil left"[2].  Substitutes like biofuels and synthetic oil could fill the gap, but only if average oil prices exceed $150 per barrel.  They also warn that Europe will suffer the most, as energy scarcity may significantly impact economic growth by midcentury.
  • In an interview with the BBC, President Obama stated that he would order a similar operation to the one that killed Osama Bin Laden if another militant leader was found in Pakistan.
  • Almost a year after Eyjafjallajokull shut down international flights across the Atlantic, the Grimsvotn volcano is gearing up for a repeat performance.  Icelandic air traffic control has created a no-fly zone around the volcano[3], closed the nation's main airport, and cancelled domestic flights.  As of right now the ash cloud poses no risk to European air traffic, but that could change by the end of the week.
  • In "so you've arrested more hikers?" news, Tehran announced that it has broken up a CIA spy network that operated out of US diplomatic missions in Malaysia, Turkey and the UAE and that was spying on Iran's research institutes, universities, and nuclear programs.  "Elite agents of the intelligence ministry in their confrontation with the CIA elements were able to arrest 30 America-linked spies through numerous intelligence and counter-intelligence operations," was the official announcement from the Iranian intelligence ministry.
  • The European Union has opened an office in the rebel-held Libyan city of Benghazi.  "We are here for the long term," said Baroness Catherine Ashton.  "What we can offer is support to Libyan institutions and the economy.  We will be here to support you all the way.".  As she made the announcement, air strikes were made against Colonel Gadaffi's Bab al-Azizya compound in Tripoli in what we are still assured are not assassination attempts.
United States
[1]  How much data is that?  Well, a byte is essentially one character.  A typical typed 8 1/2" by 11" page with no images holds 2 kilobytes of data.  So 26 terabytes is 26 x 230 pages of text.  If that doesn't help, then try this:  the US Library of Congress held about 235 terabytes of data in its collection as of April 2011.  You could use this method to download that collection in 9.0384615 seconds.
[2]  The quote is actually from Karen Ward, a senior global economist for HSBC.
[3]  There is no word yet as to whether Iceland will stretch the mandate of the no-fly zone and launch missile strikes on the residence of the volcano's leadership in what they will insist are not assassination attempts.

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