Super-Kamiokande: Neutrino Detector

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Super-Kamiokande or Super-K for short, is a neutrino observatory in the city of Hida, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. The observatory was designed to search for proton decay, study solar and atmospheric neutrinos, and keep watch for supernovas in the Milky Way Galaxy.

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Here’s the image above with the scale set so you can see the person inside. This facility is massive. This is one workplace where you don’t want to be last to leave for the day.

If you need any proof that real life is stranger than fiction then this place is it. Super-K is run by The Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (ICRR) which sounds like a place from a Fantastic Four storyline.

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It’s good to see that no matter how hi-tech it gets things are still done with standard office chairs.

Even after reading the Wikipedia entry and browsing the official site we’re still not sure what it actually does. But that doesn’t stop us from admiring the work that has gone into building such an amazing place. There is a 20 minute video explaining what it does but it’s only available in Japanese.

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The Super-K is located 1,000 m (3,281 ft) underground in Kamioka Mining and Smelting Co.’s Mozumi Mine in Hida’s Kamioka area. It consists of a cylindrical stainless steel tank that is 41.4 m (135.8 ft) tall and 39.3 m (128.9 ft) in diameter holding 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water. Mounted on the superstructure are 11,146 photomultiplier tubes (PMT) 20 in (50.8 cm) in diameter. That’s a lot of ultrapure water which it’s self is a hassle to distill down to that grade.

The reason the detector needs to be so deep underground is to block any neutrino’s from the sun interfering with the experiments.

Super-K is set to detect neutrino events. These are then recorded via the 11,000 PMT’s and fed into a computer resulting in a huge amount of data for the scientists to sort through. When visualized through a computer they create quite stunning pieces of art. These would look great as an animated screensaver.

We’ve taken a few from this extensive gallery. You’ll need a PHD, be be friends with Stephen Hawking, to actually understand what any of the pretty colors mean.

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The only question we want to know is can you swim in it when it’s filled with water?

While we’ve featured the Super-K there are currently 6 other Neutrino detectors operating around the world including Canada and the USA with another 6 currently in construction. Building these Neutrino detectors is big business.

A smaller but just as interesting Neutrino detector is the Sadbury Sno located in Ontario, Canada. I’m guessing the designer was a huge Star Wars fan.

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Related Links
Super-Kamiokande Official Site
There is an extensive photo gallery of the facility and it’s construction available here.

ASIMO Gets a Brain – Yours!

Man and Machine expanded their relationship today when Honda announced the new thought controlled ASMIO. What doors of the mind does this open? Read the facts for yourself…

Honda Research Institute Japan Co., Ltd. (HRI-JP), a subsidiary of Honda R&D Co., Ltd., Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) and Shimadzu Corporation have collaboratively developed the world’s first*1 Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology that uses electroencephalography (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) along with newly developed information extraction technology to enable control of a robot by human thought alone. It does not require any physical movement such as pressing buttons. This technology will be further developed for the application to human-friendly products in the future by integrating it with intelligent technologies and/or robotic technologies.

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During the human thought process, slight electrical current and blood flow change occur in the brain. The most important factor in the development of the BMI technology is the accuracy of measuring and analyzing these changes. The newly developed BMI technology uses EEG, which measures changes in electrical potential on the scalp, and NIRS, which measures changes in cerebral blood flow, with a newly developed information extraction technology which enables statistical processing of the complex information from these two types of sensors. As a result, it became possible to distinguish brain activities with high precision without any physical motion, but just human thought alone.

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The BMI technology announced by HRI-JP and ATR in 2006 used a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner to measure brain activities. The large size and powerful magnetic field generated by the fMRI scanner limited the locations and conditions where it can be used. As the newly developed measuring device uses EEG and NIRS sensors, it can be transported to and used in various locations.

Related Links
http://www.hondanews.com/categories/1097/releases/4975

Tokyo 2.0

The web is going through another round of self-marketing and explosion due to social networking sites and the ease of publishing data to the world. Now we don’t have to have a website, blog, or even a facebook page to get our messages out. There are an increasing amount of web services that will just take your two-bits of info from your cell phone and publish them to the world for you.

But has our digital world gotten too complicated? There seems to be a different service or social network for everything we want to do. We have mySpace for when we want to promote our creative talents or just let people know what we like, we have facebook for friends and to tell people who we are, we have LinkedIn for business networking, we have twitter for friends and the followers, we have blogs to write about what we want to when we want, and some of us even still have websites to host our portfolios and businesses.

Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow we could organize all of these so that we could make updates to all of them from just one location? Why do we have to have twenty different logins and go to twenty different sites to post to all of our self-marketing endeavors? Is there a way to manage these seemingly disparate services?

Well, there may just be. And is this Web 3.0? Or is it’s going to be another service? Of course, its a service and maybe it’s a inkling on what what web 3.0 will be. For now it’s going to be a service that helps you do what you want where you want and organize it all so you don’t have to login in to 30 different services and spend all your time on the machine. It’s going to be a seemingly easy to use answer to managing our work-flow. It’s going to be a service that integrates all these other services and makes managing our online identities a breeze. It’s the new answer to the typical pattern of how our lives work. We build or start using something to make our lives easier then we make ten other things that we think make it’s even easier or cooler, then we try to organize all these into one package and hope we are done, but by the time that happens its no longer cool. So, when that package is built we say “Hey wait! What’s this! That’s new, bright and shinny, and coooooool…” And we start all over again amassing something that makes our lives complicated and cool once more. Had enough? No, never!

The Tokyo Web 2.0 event included presentations on social networking, life-streaming, and data mining that had some great insights into target marketing through the use of currently available open source API’s and other online services. There were some interesting projects presented that might be able to do some serious number crunching and definite organizing, if their services get picked up by the main stream. But, what both of these presentations had in common was that they were using all of the freely available information that they could from every known website, blog, SNS, or life-streaming service and trying to organize it into something that could be a central managing location for our online lives.

Opensocial is Google’s answer to making sense of all this. It’s a technology specification for SNS gadget platforms. So it’s a set of rules that will allow us to extend the use of social data from all the services, be it facebook, mySpace, or twitter, with the ultimate goal of making new gadgets that can display information from all of them and allowing us to use it freely and however we want to make new and cool tools and services.

The presentation given by Toshimasa Ishibashi, a web engineer at Media Technology Lab @Recruit, was a brief introduction to Opensocial application programming. OpenSocial is on it’s way for a broad release here in Japan with Mixi hosting it as an open beta platform, this coming spring. Toshimasa introduced some basic concepts of the specification, and shared some sample code and tips for non-hassle development. He even introduced a jQuery plugin to make developing with the necessary API’s even easier. The video of the presentation can be found here along with slides. The jQuery plugin here.

The other presenter was Dominiek ter Heide. He presented his own mash-up service that organizes your life-streaming information and presents it as an online blog for everyone to see. It’s like a dashboard that includes all the widgets of your life and presents your information to the world. Currently his project, Kakuteru, is an Open Business and he is asking for help from collaborators for exchange in ownership.

Ibuki Satellite on a Mission to Monitor Greenhouse Gases

Japan on Friday launched an H2A rocket carrying its Ibuki satellite on a mission to monitor greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. The Ibuki satellite is to observe for five years the concentration of carbon dioxide and methane, which cause global warming, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which makes the H2A rocket.

The development cost for the greenhouse-gas monitoring satellite was $206 million, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. The satellite is to measure levels of greenhouse gases at 56,000 locations around the globe.

The launch took place at the Tanegashima Space Centre in the southern province of Kagoshima and included seven smaller satellites that were developed by universities, private businesses, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The other satellites will be used to study communications functions.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries hopes to boost its space business if this mission succeeds, the Jiji Press reported.