Monday Sep 07, 2009

Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) = a bad day somewhere...

The worldwide economic downturn that accelerated in the year 2008 and 2009 certainly has caused problems for everyone.  The situation was caused by people and the remedy lies with people .  While the majority of people on Earth focus on the numerous everyday issues of our only known habitable planet, there are other people who think about problems beyond Earth.  Think beyond social, personal, government, economic, humanitarian, business and climate issues and try to solve the unknowns of the universe.

Astrophysicists think about problems that extend into the known universe.  I specifically say known universe because we do not fully know or understand what we don't know. Some questions may seem like nonsense, especially as applied to Earth. 

Imagine harnessing the energy of 1 single star over its lifetime.  How many stars are in the known universe? It's billions upon billions.  How many stars are within a single galaxy?  It's billions.  How many galaxys are in the known universe.  It's billions.  That's a huge amount of energy!  In fact the energy of 1 star is huge.  To comprehend what we know today about the universe can make the common persons head hurt.  To try to understand what we do not know or understand about the known universe makes all astrophysicists heads hurt every day.

Speaking of energy there is a distant binary star (WR104 - see video clip above) 8000 light years away that will eventually go supernova when the star cores collapse.  If events align right a gamma ray burst can result which is the known mother of all luminous electromagnetic events in the universe.  In addition it appears that one end of the gamma ray burst beam, which will exit from the polar ends of the rotating star could be pointing directly at Earth. 

Perfect alignment of two large objects 8000 light years away with a narrow beam of 12 degrees in an expanding universe is possible, but I feel that issues such as global warming are better near term problems to address.

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Thursday Sep 18, 2008

The Physical .vs Virtual World

We all live in both the physical and virtual worlds today even if we do not understand.  The realities of the financial market and the brutal corrections of sub-prime paper is here.  It's as if we can hear the sound of (you need new car brakes) bare metal screeching on metal trying to halt the stock market pullback.  We also have many flavors of operating systems running physically on bare metal (a given microporocessor).  When it comes to native code running on hardware it's like a common mundane book... we all can do it.  Speaking of books if you enjoy a non fiction or bare metal read, "The Dark Side" By Jane Mayer may suit you.  The book has made the New York Times bestseller list.  Reading it made me think about integrity and courage.

The virtual world is upon us.  In the technology space the industry has fully functional tools that allow us to compress, manage and migrate virtual machines (instances of computers) into a single physcial computer.   This week at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada virtualization products and services are front and center.  Do you realize that the virtual machine has become THE application?  Forget about all those applications running on the virtual machine.  Applications have merely been abstracted to mere subroutines of the virtual machine.  Abstracted to insignificance in the virtual world.  Do you like a good read on virtualization- that is mind provoking, but hardly mentions high technology at all?  If you do the "The Black Hole War" By Leonard Susskind will work.  Timely appropriate given the Large Hadron Collider @ CERN switched on last week! It took 20 years to build.  While we constantly live our busy daily lives here in the physical world, there are a lot of theoretical physicists that are constantly trying to discover the mysteries of our universe.  A universe so vast, complex and unknown that we as humans may never fully understand all of its secrets.  Trying to unify Quantum Mechanics with the General Theory of Relativity is the big mystery.  Why do atoms (little ones) have differnt rules than planets (big ones)?

String theory and black holes are all discussed in the book without much math but in layman terms using thought experiments.  Definitely puts virtualization products into perspective.  Let the theoretical physicists solve the hard stuff!  I'll focus on hypervisors and emulation rather than space time and quarks.


The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.


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