Monday, March 10, 2008

Nerd News: Atomic Clocks and Islamic Terrorists

In nerd news, otherwise known as Electronic Engineering Times, there was a neat article about how newer atomic clocks are much more accurate than the older ones, such as are presently being used as standard time keepers for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Atomic Clocks Plumb Cosmological Mysteries

R. Colin Johnson
(03/06/2008 2:32 PM EST)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Quantum clocks were recently harnessed to outperform current atomic clocks by 10 times at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). By coupling the quantum states of trapped ions (electrically charged atoms), their natural vibration frequencies were synchronized to 17 digits of accuracy-the most ever measured. Based on aluminum and mercury ions, the new clocks stay accurate to within 1 second every billion years, compared with 80 million years for the current atomic-clock standard at NIST.

According to NIST, such ultra-accurate clocks are useful for synchronizing telecommunications networks, space navigation, satellite positioning and deep-space communications, and could enable new types of gravity sensors for exploring underground natural resources here on Earth.

Physicists also hope to use the new clocks to plumb cosmological mysteries...

And in another EE Times article, there's a whole brouhaha about a study that shows the most common education among Islamic terrorists is in engineering.

'Jihad' Study Roils Engineering

Sheila Riley
(03/07/2008 9:34 AM EST)

Islamic terrorists are more likely to be engineers than members of any other profession--and not because engineers possess superior technological skills. That's the conclusion of a controversial Oxford University study that has the engineering community buzzing.

The study's disturbing finding blames what it calls a universal engineering mindset, which it describes as one drawn to structure and rules plus clear, single solutions to complex problems. When coupled with the harsh realities of life in many Islamic countries, terrorism can be the result, the study says.

All I know that is that there were quite a lot of Arabic men in electrical engineering when I was as Louisiana Tech in the early to mid 1990s.

I'm not saying any were terrorists, in fact, they seemed like a nice bunch, but when asked where they were from, they'd always say "Palestine."

Since Palestine doesn't, and didn't then, exist as a country the way they said it, you were left with no doubts about their sympathies for the Palestinian people in Israel and other places in the mideast.


Hammer said...

I remember my old company hiring a bunch of muslim techs and engineers for a while there.

Never knew there was a trend.

Olga said...

I have a friend who's from Iran and guess what? He's an engineer!too funny.