Antimatter --> fission --> fusion.
Gerald Smith has been working toward space propulsion systems that exploit
antimatter for a number of years. The Penn State University professor envisions
an engine that could transport a
mission to Mars and back in four months, allowing for a month on the Red
Planet. The trick is to use femtograms of antimatter to catalyze fission in
U-238, in turn triggering fusion in a deuterium/helium-3 mixture. Unlike the
engine of the Starship Enterprise, which burns pure antimatter, Smith's design
-- which he calls AIMStar,
for Antimatter Initiated Microfusion Starship -- would sip antiprotons at less than
a microgram a year.
Still, a microgram is a lot of antimatter. Together CERN and Fermilab would
take a century to produce that much. The stuff costs 65 trillion dollars a gram
and, like the hypothetical universal solvent, is devilishly difficult to store
Smith and other researchers now believe all these engineering details might
yield over the next several decades. In a recent paper in the Journal of
Propulsion and Power, Smith and co-authors envision the price of antimatter
production dropping by orders of magnitude. Smith's lab has developed a
prototype of a supercooled magnetic trap for storing antiprotons. The paper is
not online; here is the
of contents for the JPP's Sept.-Oct. edition. See also this
from the Boston Globe.
For more background, start at the PSU
Antimatter site and its list
of published papers.
Lower-level domain names as speech.
Recently the possibility has
been in the air that trademark owners may begin to go after
"infringing" uses of their marks in third-level and lower domain
names. Traditionally, and by the design of the domain name system,
such names have been used to identify services, particular machines
in a network, etc. Examples are maps.yahoo.com, lcs.mit.edu,
home-on-the-dome.mit.edu, anu.edu.au, etc.
Attemting to extend intellectual property "rights" into the very
periphery of the network is a staggeringly bad idea. But I have every
expectation that trademark holders will make the attempt, and soon.
I predict that shenanigans such as the following, though clearly intended
for humorous or satirical purposes, will force the hand of the IP lobby.
Go to a Net-connected Unix machine and utter "whois -h rs.internic.net
Whois Server Version 1.3
Domain names in the .com, .net, and .org domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.
To single out one record, look it up with "xxx", where xxx is one of the
of the records displayed above. If the records are the same, look them up
with "=xxx" to receive a full display for each record.
>>> Last update of whois database: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 06:47:54 EDT <<<
The Registry database contains ONLY .COM, .NET, .ORG, .EDU domains and
Note that you can try this trick with the names of other much-beloved
corporate entities, such as for example Verizon, Apple, or AOL.
Thanks to Bob Clements (who saw the topic on the newsgroup
news.admin.net-abuse.email) and John Kristoff (who notes that the
NANOG list has been talking about it for a few days). Their emails
arrived 8 minutes apart.
Note added 2000-10-27, 1:21:53 pm:
Michael Best pointed out this
(by someone whose handle is 'b1t r0t") explaining how you go about seeding the
whois database with such bogus names.
How did they do it? Simple. Whenever you register a nameserver IP address, you
have to include a domain name for the nameserver. I think the only thing checked
is that the IP address pings and the domain name is part of a real domain.
Ray Ozzie's Groove.
The wraps come off of Groove Networks today and a well-briefed press
is all over the story
Generations ago in Net time, Ray Ozzie invented what became Lotus
Notes. Ozzie's three years in deepest stealth mode didn't attract
the level of stealth buzz that Linus
Torvalds' company Transmeta had --
Ozzie was a programming god for an earlier generation, and many of
today's open-source adherents may never have heard of him. Groove
shows that Ozzie still has the moves.
Groove has built a platform for peer-to-peer applications. If you
believe the likes of
(and I do), the conception and implementation are technically deep
and well-crafted. Out of the box after a free download, you get a
shared whiteboard, instant text and voice messaging, application
sharing, file sharing, threaded discussion, free-form drawing, and
outlining -- all peer-to-peer and all fully encrypted. A
comprehensive API lets you build other p2p apps with ease. It runs
on Windows now, and a Linux version is coming. The download page
Using DNS to fax (almost) anywhere.
Last week the roving_reporter wrote about a proposal for
mapping telephone numbers into
DNS by reversing the digits, separating them with dots, and
appending the whole thing to a new TLD. Dennis Moul writes with a
lesson in Internet history:
I thought you might be interested to know that it's already been
done, and in fact is rather ancient from an Internet history
Back in 1993 Carl Malamud and Marshall Rose created
tpc.int as an early
email-to-fax gateway that was both elegantly simple and global
in scope, using the reversed phone number mapped into DNS for
[Note: tpc stands for "the phone company." -- ed.]
The project seemed to fade away into early Internet obscurity,
but I recently checked the web page and it looks like the
project has been restarted with some degree of success.
[Note: The current
coverage list was last updated in the spring. -- ed.]
The addressing scheme looked like
for a destination fax number of (415) 968-2510. Reversing these
numbers is suprisingly hard to do in your head, so they created
an additional subdomain to do the reordering transparently
behind the scenes, one can use instead:
Note added 2000-10-23, 10:56:53 pm:
D.V. Henkel-Wallace writes:
I found the opposite more interesting. In the early '90s Henry
Minsky wrote webfax, a way of browsing the web by fax machine.
Basically you could call a number at his office, type in a URL with
the phone keypad and your fax number, and his machine would fax you
a copy of the page. The cool thing was it hashed every URL it ever
saw, and printed a small number next to each link (the hash code of
the link URL). So you could call back and follow a link.
A real pain, but it meant you could download that chicken recipe
whilst in a hotel in Ulan Bator.
How quickly the Web forgets. (Or how poorly it records ancient history.)
search returns only two hits. One is
this archived copy of a
press release about the service, and the other is the current
site of Universal Access, the
company co-founded by Henry Minsky in 1994. Minsky seems no longer
to be associated with UA, and in fact his name does not appear on
the UA page; Google explains that the search terms show up solely in
links to that page.