How Carl Zeiss Lens Changed the World

February 28, 2012

There are few places in the world where you can see the spectacles of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, a camera similar to the one Neil Armstrong took to the moon, three Academy Awards for Science and Engineering – and a model of an X-Ray telescope so powerful it has reached across the galaxies and recorded events in outer space that occurred long before we were born.

There may be only one place, in fact, where you can see all of those things, and it is tucked away in a nondescript modern industrial complex at the bottom of a snowy valley in southern Germany.

This quiet corner of the world is the headquarters of the Carl Zeiss Group, and there is a treasure-trove of artifacts stashed away that stretch back to the birth of optics, and reflects the company’s unique history.

“Without Zeiss we wouldn’t even know what the world looks like”.
Most of us now use a Carl Zeiss lens every ti… [more]

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Africa needs mobiles as much as aid, says Microsoft’s South African MD

February 16, 2012

Africa needs enterprise and mobile technology as much as it needs aid, said South Africa’s Microsoft chief, Mteto Nyati.

Nyati, who has been Managing Director of the software giant for three years, spoke exclusively to Conversations in the run-up to the launch of the Nokia Lumia 800 in South Africa.

He is convinced the future of the continent depends upon technology that engages young people, and encourages enterprise and business, not charity.

That technology includes the new Nokia Lumia:
“The opportunities for young people to come up with solutions that address our challenges, using a platform like this phone, are huge. That’s what we need to be doing in Africa, instead of looking for aid.”

And he should know. Nyati was born in 1964 and grew up under apartheid, supporting his mother as she struggled to run a small business selling groceries beside… [more]

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China calling: Inside Nokia’s Research Centre in Beijing

February 16, 2012

One of Nokia’s top researchers in Beijing explains how innovations in China are influencing the next generation of mobile technology around the world.

China has to be the largest, fastest growing, mobile market in the world – and perhaps the most challenging.

“It’s quite different,” says Ying Liu, who leads a research team of seven looking at developing local UI and user experiences at the Nokia Research Centre (NRC) in Beijing. In China local users want to get local services. It’s really difficult to sell any kind of mobile phone without local applications.”

Ying joined Nokia 11 years ago, and completed a PhD on interactive technologies in Finland. Now she’s based at NRC Beijing in one of the city’s south eastern suburbs.

“To begin we look at user experiences, getting an understanding of user problems and design in the local areas – and then we propose technical… [more]

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The scientists getting truly smart with your phone

February 10, 2012

Could you build a bridge by setting some sliders on your smartphone and waiting two seconds for a highly complex calculation? This team working for an NGO in El Salvador did.

The Ranger supercomputer is the 17th fastest in the world. It’s a Texas computational mega-beast with 62,976 processor cores reaching a peak performance of 580 teraflops, memory of 123 terabytes and disk storage of 1.73 petabytes.

Computer speed is normally measured by researchers in the number of floating-point operations per second (flops). Ranger has a peak performance of equal to 5.8 × 10^14 flops.

By comparison, smartphones do about 100 megaflops = 10^8 flops. So, you could say that Ranger is 5.8 million times faster.

With power like that it’s hard to believe you could perform the same calculations on a smartphone – but researchers in the US have done just that.

A team from the Massachus… [more]

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