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31 Jan 08. The Pentagon plans to fund a new electro-optical intelligence system for the U.S. Air Force beginning in fiscal 2009, according to Defense Department sources. Dubbed “wide area surveillance,” the project stems from a prototype now operating in Iraq. The prototype system, built by the Air Force Research Laboratory and called Angel Fire, comprises multiple commercial cameras capable of collecting 1-2 frames per second. They are perched on a twin-engine, manned aircraft, which is being operated by contract personnel, the sources say. Images collected from the cameras can be “stitched” together using computers to present a near-360-degree vantage of a wide area. They may also be displayed in rapid succession to form a product similar to video. One reconnaissance official says this capability is useful for forensics, especially in urban areas, and it can cover nearly 4 square miles. By contrast, the Predator presents a high-resolution video capability of a smaller swath of land. (Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report)

04 Feb 08. Chips pass two billion milestone The first chip to pack more than two billion transistors has been launched by silicon giant Intel. The quad-core chip, known as Tukwila, is designed for high-end servers rather than personal computers. It operates at speeds of up to 2GHz, the equivalent of a standard PC chip. It marks the latest milestone in chip technology; Intel released the first processor to contain more than one billion transistors in 2006. “It’s not revolutionary, it’s another evolutionary step,” said Malcolm Penn, an analyst at Future Horizons, of Tukwila. The chip industry is driven by Moore’s Law, originally articulated by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965. The industry axiom states that the number of transistors it is possible to squeeze in to a chip for a fixed cost doubles every two years. (Source: BBC)

31 Jan 08. Automotive development experts MIRA have launched a new service that enables highly accurate measurements of how microscopic cracks propagate through materials, leading to better designs that last longer. The accurate measurement of crack growth equips design engineers with the vital materials data necessary to model new parts in specialised FEA codes incorporating the latest crack growth predictive capabilities …data that until now has been widely unavailable. It also enables engineers to make powerful prognoses on the lifespan of existing equipment. MIRA’s latest fatigue testing system goes beyond traditional stress/strain fatigue studies to include the kind of crack growth analysis currently the reserve of a handful of blue chip aerospace companies. Housed inside a specialised climatic chamber, testing is sustained at temperatures between -150 and +350 Deg C. The new equipment represents an investment in excess of £100,000.

31 Jan 08. U.S. Navy Breaks Record with Railgun Test-Shot. The Navy set a new world record for the most powerful electromagnetic railgun when it fired a test shot here Thursday morning. The gun fired an aluminum projectile at 10.68 megajoules. A joule is the work needed to produce one watt of energy for one second. A megajoule is 1 million joules. Guests including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Rear Adm. William Landay, head of the Office of Naval Research, witnessed the shot via a live video feed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren. The gun was launched from a control center after approximately four minutes of charging the electromagnetic rails. After the charge, the gun fired and witnesses saw a quick burst of flame as the projectile, traveling at 2,500 meters per second, or Mach 7, hit its target.
Roughead called the gun a “revolutionary approach to naval warfare.” He acknowledged the Navy is “a ways from seeing this in the fleet,” but said it is important that the service “never loses sight of the next big thing.” The p

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