New Broadband Speed Record

Researchers in Germany have achieved the fastest-ever data transmission on a single laser beam, and it just might carry your high-definition 3-D streaming movies of the future.

What's the Latest Development?


Researchers in a German lab have just increased broadband capabilities—by a lot. "The data rate is 26 terabits per second, 260 times faster than the 100-gigabit cabling used in broadband and equivalent to beaming 700 DVDs worth of data in a single second. While only the most data-intense scientific project today might find use for the new optical technology, Jürg Leuthold, a physicist at Karlsruher Institute for Technology, said it won’t be long before neighborhoods will have the need for such speed: "Commerce will find a way to fill the space," he said.

What's the Big Idea?

The development of faster data transfer speeds will run parallel to the emergence of cloud computing. As more and increasingly complex data is stored on remote servers, better transfer technology will be necessary to access it. The next developments must occur in hardware: "While there may be no practical limit to the data bandwidth glassy fiber-optic cabling can handle, the devices sending and receiving information on either end of the line do have limitations. 'Electronic computers can’t keep up. Above 100 gigabits, which is the industry standard now, processing gets difficult,' Leuthold said. 'To handle it, you would need fast processors that don't exist.'"

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

Videos
  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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