With more international cyber-hoodlum targeting the Pentagon, the launch of the World Wide Web in Cuba, and a wireless emergency alert system recently launched by FIMA, it appears that This Week in Technology for May 28th, 2013 has its work cut out for it in keeping our readers informed. While normally our early summer editions are set aside for mobile tech launches and upcoming conventions, the news reports coming in this week have been far too bizarre to pass up on. Take our lead story, for example, which deals with the International Space Station suddenly ditching Windows…science fiction writers couldn’t come up with stuff this good.
Since we have so many important stories to report this week and only a short time to do it, let’s get right to business with This Week in Technology-
The International Space Station Chooses Linux
Our lead story of the day may take many of our readers a bit by surprise. It appears that NASA contractor Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance has decided to ditch the Windows Operating System that he’s currently conducting research on. Even though this wouldn’t be too big of a story under normal circumstances, Chuvala just happens to be stationed 230 miles above the Earth aboard the International Space Station. So what operating system did Chuval switch to? It wasn’t Snow Leopard.
“We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable,” explained Chuvala.
Since this story broke on the Linux Foundation website a few days ago, the blogosphere has been ablaze with chatter over how Microsoft will react to such a harsh critique. So far, no word from the tech giant as of yet…but you’d better believe that it’s coming.
In other tech news, wireless subscribers have a reason to cheer this week thanks for the Wi-Fi Alliance and their new Passpoint Initiative. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s only this awesome movement to convince wireless manufacturers and mobile carriers to collaborate their efforts to make Wi-Fi a recognized service that’s 100% compatible with your wireless network. In other words, they are pushing for a new process that would allow consumers to move seamlessly from a Wi-Fi connection to a network connection while on calls, surfing the net, or anywhere in between.
While this may not seem like a giant step at first, it is actually a pretty complex process that forms a partnership between cellular airtime vendors and Wi-Fi hotspot owners. Under the new agreement, all the typical login and verification procedures will disappear so that a smartphone will automatically switch between connections as needed to keep you from losing signal. Look for these changes in early 2014.
Scientists Transform Cement to Metal
In the time honored tradition of dedicating our last tech story of the day to one of those “what the heck?” topics, cNet reports that scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have created a technique for transforming ordinary cement into a type of liquid metal semiconductor. With the use of a carbon dioxide laser beam, an aerodynamic levitator and numerous other pieces of equipment, everyday concrete is superheated to above 3,600° F and allowing mayenite (a calcium aluminum material that’s found in alimuna cement) to transform into a glass-like, metallic state after an extended cooling period.
“This new material has lots of applications, including as thin-film resistors used in liquid-crystal displays, basically the flat panel computer monitor that you are probably reading this from at the moment,” Argonne physicist Chris Benmore said.
No word has yet to be released if this new material is a cost-effective replacement for similar types of liquid-crystals and there are still questions about its long-term durability as well. This will certainly be a topic we revisit as more information becomes available.
Well, that’s all we have for you this week folks. Be sure to check back with This Week in Technology next time for the most up-to-date tech trends and innovations that the net has to offer.