Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for September 28th, 2009

A Small But Moving Matter

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I would be remiss if I didn’t relate the anniversary of September 28.

On this day, in 1989, IBM Fellow Don Eigler became the first person in history to move and control an individual atom.

It sounds like such a small thing…and it was.  Extremely small.

The moving of the atom, that is.

The event itself was monumental and groundbreaking.

Shortly after, on November 11 of that year, Eigler and his team used a custom-built microscope to spell out the letters “IBM” using 35 Xenon atoms.

This unprecented ability to manipulate individual atoms signaled a quantum leap forward in nanoscience experimentation and heralded the age of nanotechnology.

Eigler built his scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in order to visualize and experiment with individual molecules and atoms. As he experimented, he discovered that it was possible to slide individual atoms across a surface using the tip of his STM.

To demonstrate both the atomic precision and reproducibility he achieved, he wrote the letters “IBM” with 35 xenon atoms, each positioned with atomic-scale precision.

In so doing, Eiger and team helped science move down the road of better understanding the properties, movement and interaction of various materials at the nanoscale, which proved to be essential for building smaller, faster and more energy-efficient processors and memory devices.

Already, the ability to understand and manipulate atoms is leading to new kinds of fabrics, products and more.

Ever wonder what makes a raincoat water resistant, or how sunscreen stays put even after swimming? More often than not, it’s nanotechnology at work.

Because of Eigler’s seminal work, scientists continue making breakthroughs that continue driving the field of nanotechnology, the exploration of building structures and devices out of ultra-tiny components as small as a few atoms or molecules.

Such devices might be used as future computer chips, storage devices, biosensors, and things nobody has even imagined.

Check out the two minute video below which includes a demonstration of the World’s Smallest IBM logo, along with a very interesting interview with Don Eigler.

And congratulations to Don and his team…theirs was a huge and groundbreaking effort on a ridiculously small scale, which is just the way his colleagues like it.

Written by turbotodd

September 28, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Wide Weekend of Sport

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It’s another Merger Monday.

Last Monday, it was Dell’s acquisition of Perot Systems.

Today, it’s Xerox’s $5.75B acquisition of business services provider Affiliated Computer Services.

According to The Wall Street Journal Interactive edition, the combined Xerox-ACS company would have $22B of annual revenue, $17B of which would be recurring revenue.

ACS has over 74,000 employees and derives a quarter of its revenue from the health care sector, including from both commercial and government contracts.

Now that we’ve got Merger Monday’s tidings out of the way, if I could just do a quick recap of the weekend in sports:

The Texas Longhorns won (Yay!), the Houston Astros lost (Boo!), the New York Yankees clinched the AL East (Yay!), and Tiger Woods…surprise surprise…won the FedEx Cup…although his Sunday showing at East Lake wasn’t exactly inspired (and yet he still took second place to winner Phil Mickelson at the Tour Championship).

And lest I forget, the Houston Cougars knocked the Big 12’s Texas Tech Red Raiders out, in Houston, in a last-ditch drive at the end of the game, now putting the Cougars in the Top 20 (12th, to be exact). So much for Texas Tech coach Mike Leach’s hurry up spread offense…it don’t seem to work too well when the Red Raiders are on the road this year.

I actually had bittersweet occasion to visit Houston over the weekend.  It was great to see some of my extended family, even under the circumstances.

It was also great to visit Minute Maid ballpark, where I had occasion to see the Houston Astros get trounced by the Cincinnati Reds, and also to play 18 holes at Hermann Park near downtown Houston (where I shot a stately 81, thank you very much).

My round of golf was an attempt to stave off my coming golf depression.  The 2009 PGA Tour season wound down with Tiger’s FedEx Cup win, and other than the coming President’s Cup, there’s not much competitive golf to look forward to until January.

Reruns of “The Big Break” could s00n be the golf order of the day.

Finally, winding down in the world of sport, my Dallas Cowboys meet the Carolina Panthers tonight at Jerry’s House in Arlington.

Hopefully we can all just now calm down and quit talking about and hyping the massive, gargantuan, gazillion-dollar, ego-driven, tax-abated new stadium, and whether or not a punt might hit the scoreboard! (heaven forbid)…and instead turn our attention to the game of American football.

I hope that’s especially the case for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Written by turbotodd

September 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm

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