The Dark Tower

September 6, 2007


The Dark Tower is a series of seven books by American writer Stephen King. The series begins, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” It tells the story of the last living member of the Gunslingers, Roland Deschain, and his quest to catch The Man in Black, which will ultimately lead him to the Dark Tower. The Dark Tower is often described in the novels as a metaphor, and also as a real structure said to be located at the nexus of all universes. Roland exists in a place where “the world has moved on”, in a world that is recognizable as the Old West but exists in an alternate time frame or parallel universe to our own. The series incorporates themes from multiple genres, including fantasy fiction, science fantasy, horror, and western elements. King has described the series as his magnum opus; beside the seven novels that comprise the series proper, many of his other books are related to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into play as the series progresses.

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IBM measures single-atom memory, molecular switch

September 5, 2007

Even the highest density hard-disk drives use approximately 1 million magnetic atoms to store a single bit of information. IBM’s Almaden Research Center (San Jose, Calif.) has measured the ability to store a bit on a single atom, portending hard drives with ultra-high storage capacity. Simultaneously, IBM’s Zurich Research Lab has demonstrated a molecular switch that could replace current silicon-based chip technology with processors so small that a supercomputer could fit on a chip the size of a speck of dust. IBM’s claims its atomic-scale demonstration promises to pack up to 1,000 times as much information on a hard disk than current technologies. Such hard disks could store 30,000 full-length movies on a device the size of an iPod.

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Ending Aging

September 4, 2007

In Ending Aging, Dr. de Grey and his research assistant Michael Rae describe the details of this biotechnology. They explain that the aging of the human body, just like the aging of man-made machines, results from an accumulation of various types of damage. As with man-made machines, this damage can periodically be repaired, leading to indefinite extension of the machine’s fully functional lifetime, just as is routinely done with classic cars. We already know what types of damage accumulate in the human body, and we are moving rapidly toward the comprehensive development of technologies to remove that damage. By demystifying aging and its postponement for the nonspecialist reader, de Grey and Rae systematically dismantle the fatalist presumption that aging will forever defeat the efforts of medical science.

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