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June 6, 2008

Quantum stroboscope used to film an electron riding a light wave — first ever look at an electron in motion

Scientists at the University of Lund used an attosecond pulse laser to peer deep into the world of the unimaginably small and bring back a trophy.

Their work was published on February 21, 2008 in Physical Review Letters.

The abstract of the paper follows.

    Coherent Electron Scattering Captured by an Attosecond Quantum Stroboscope

    We demonstrate a quantum stroboscope based on a sequence of identical attosecond pulses that are used to release electrons into a strong infrared (IR) laser field exactly once per laser cycle. The resulting electron momentum distributions are recorded as a function of time delay between the IR laser and the attosecond pulse train using a velocity map imaging spectrometer. Because our train of attosecond pulses creates a train of identical electron wave packets, a single ionization event can be studied stroboscopically. This technique has enabled us to image the coherent electron scattering that takes place when the IR field is sufficiently strong to reverse the initial direction of the electron motion causing it to rescatter from its parent ion.


Here's a link to an article published the same day as the scientific paper which explains at greater length the nature of the work.

June 6, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Teflon-Coated Paint Tray


What took them so long?

"When you peel a sheet off Shur-Line's paint tray with Teflon surface protector, you get the same satisfaction as sloughing off a skin of dried glue."

And you know how good that feels.

Don't you?

Never mind.

"Teflon coating allows you to reuse your tray without the need to waste plastic liners."



June 6, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Talking CPR Flashlight


Now here's a mashup to conjure with.

As well as raise the dead, if you follow the instructions.

From the website:

Talking CPR Flashlight

Hear CPR instructions at the touch of a button.

Talking flashlight prompts you through the CPR process with a clear female voice.

Easy-to-use with adult, child and baby instructions and handy pause button.

Compliant with AHA 2005 guidelines, it’s an effective rescue aid and CPR skills refresher.

LED flashlight emits super bright beam.

Uses 2 AAA batteries (included).

4" long.



June 6, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dog Pool Float & Lounger


That's different.

And maybe about time.

I mean, how do you think Fido feels when you're out there splashing around in the pool and he's panting at the edge?

From the website:

    Dog Pool Float & Lounger

    Our Dog Pool Float & Lounger lets Fido float in style or stay cool as he lounges on the dock.

    This ultra-buoyant dog float won't stain, fade or mildew.

    • Crafted of puncture-resistant, woven vinyl mesh

    • Vinyl-coated fabric is completely weatherproof

    • Dampen to keep your pet cool and relaxed



$89–$129, depending on size.

June 6, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tim Roberts, winner of this year's TopCoder Open, gives a lesson


Not in coding, silly billy — that's way above my TechnoDolt™ pay grade.

Rather, it's how he approached his problem that makes him worth mentioning here, and offers instruction to those of us without code codons.

I've always wanted to use that phrase in context and I appear to have finally succeeded.

But I digress.

Ben Worthen, in a May 20, 2008 Wall Street Journal story about Roberts, wrote, "The winner's secret: avoiding bells and whistles, and asking questions until he knew exactly what the judges wanted his software to do."

Here's the WSJ article.

    Keeping It Simple Pays Off For Winning Programmer

    A tournament for computer programmers crowned a champion Thursday. The winner's secret: avoiding bells and whistles, and asking questions until he knew exactly what the judges wanted his software to do.

    We won't pretend that this story is sexy. But it's certainly instructive. The majority of tech projects miss the mark somehow: They're either delivered late or fail to meet expectations, or both. Two of the main reasons for this are poor communication between the information-technology department developing a system and the businesspeople who intend to use it, and an influx of new requirements that cause a project to get derailed.

    Tim Roberts, who bested nine other finalists to win the "component design" competition at the TopCoder Open in Las Vegas, made up his mind from the get-go to do everything in his power to avoid these pitfalls. (TopCoder is a software-development company that structures the work it's hired to perform as competitions that freelance computer programmers participate in.)

    On the prior Monday at noon, Mr. Roberts and his competitors received their instructions: Design a computer program that can calculate relationships between TopCoder programmers. They were given six hours to complete the task. Mr. Roberts says that he spent the first hour reading through the project's requirements and asking "at least 30 questions" of the person who wrote those requirements.

    Once he understood exactly what was required, he set about designing a system that met those requirements — and nothing else. Competitors get extra points for bells and whistles, but Mr. Roberts knew that any time spent designing extra features would come at the expense of more basic functions. Instead, he focused on making sure that his software worked and that he finished by the deadline, which he did — by three minutes.

    Mr. Roberts, who designs systems at Axiom Investment Advisors by day and usually participates in competitions after the rest of his family is asleep, found out that he won the $25,000 first prize Thursday afternoon. He says that he planned to celebrate by doing "about four hours of work."


Or, as Ray Kurzweil remarked in what has to be one of the best four-word advice nuggets ever: "Work smart, not hard."

June 6, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Digital Clock T-Shirt


You wear your heart on your sleeve so you might as well go all the way and sport the time on your chest.

Great icebreaker at parties, methinks.

Of course, that all depends on the type of parties you frequent.

From the website:

    Digital Clock T-Shirt

    It's "time" to steal the show in this amazing tee with a working LED clock!

    Electroluminescent panel displays a fully-functional 24-hour digital clock you set via a remote control which fits in a hidden pocket inside the shirt (or in your pants pocket).

    Great for parties, concerts, and casual work days (you can count down to quitting time!).

    Requires 4 AA batteries (not included).


"Casual work days?"

There's an oxymoron if ever there was one.


June 6, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The American – 'A monthly for Italy and the world'


Odd title if that's the case, what?

"The American takes its name from the Rome Daily American newspaper (1945-1984)."


Impressive list of contributors.

More about the magazine here.

It's free online, €2.50 at newstands throughout Italy.

PDF issues for the past two years here — free.

We like free.

June 6, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Industrial Chic Laptop Stand


"Classic meets industrial in a truly unique combination of rich cherry wood and black punched metal."

12.5"W x 3.5"H x 12"D.


[via clifyt]

June 6, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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