Juggling Packets: Floating Data Storage

Polish researchers hope one day to provide virtual storage by juggling bits of information across the Internet. Through a technique dubbed distributed parasitic data storage, the researchers intend to exploit the delay between sending a piece of information and receiving a reply.

It works much like juggling oranges. Just as a juggler keeps at least one orange in the air at all times, distributed parasitic data storage would keep a certain amount of data continually in transit between Internet nodes.

Researchers Wojciech Purczynski and Michal Zalewski presented the idea in a paper that discusses several storage techniques. The full text can be found at Web site.

By establishing a mechanism for cyclic transmission and reception of data packets to and from a number of remote Internet hosts, it is possible to maintain an arbitrary amount of data constantly 'on the wire,' thus establishing a high-capacity volatile medium, the researchers say. That medium could be used as regular storage for memory-expensive operations, or for handling sensitive data that are expected not to leave a physical trail on a hard disk or other nonvolatile media.

Although researchers have used parasitic computing to perform simple operations, the results so far have been impractical. But distributed parasitic data storage may prove more useful.

Unlike traditional methods of parasitic data storage -- such as P2P abuse, open FTP servers, binary Usenet postings -- this method does not noticeably tax any single system, according to the researchers, and therefore, the chance of being detected and considered an abuse is lower.

Move over Segway

Commuters may soon drive to work in a one-wheeled, eco-friendly machine. The EMBRIO Advanced Concept recreational and commuting vehicle uses a complex series of sensors and gyroscopes to balance one or more human passengers on a single wheel. The 360-pound vehicle is partly made of recycled aluminum and polyethylene, and uses a hydrogen fuel cell as the main power source.

In standby configuration, the vehicle's front wheels deploy to the ground like jet plane landing gear to increase longitudinal stability. With a riding position similar to a motorcycle, the bike is approximately 4 feet by 2 feet by 4 feet.

A digitally encoded key starts the engine, and to move forward, the rider activates a trigger on the left handlebar. The landing gear retracts when the speed reaches 20 km per hour. To turn, the rider leans in the desired direction, and a trigger on the right handlebar activates the brake. When the speed drops to 20 km per hour again, the landing gear redeploys automatically. Even without the landing gear, a gyroscope will keep the vehicle stable when motionless, according to Bombardier, EMBRIO's manufacturer.

Other features include a high-performance braking system, active suspension, night vision and robotic assistance.

Bombardier, which manufactures a range of recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and ATVs, asked its engineers and designers to come up with a concept of a recreational vehicle to meet the needs of people in the year 2025. EMBRIO was one of several concepts proposed by the company's design teams. -- Bombardier

Researching Reversible Computing

A group of University of Florida (UF) researchers is working to make computers more energy efficient, smaller and faster.

The goal is to re-engineer the integrated circuits that perform all computing operations to reuse most of the large amount of wasted energy currently thrown off in the form of heat.

"Reversible computing" would not only reduce computer chips' power consumption, it could boost their speed because chips now work so fast their generated heat causes chips to overheat and malfunction.

Computers are estimated to consume as

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor