World's fastest network launched to connect Teragrid sites

Fiber optic links between Los Angeles and Chicago have been “lit up” to form the cross-country network backbone for the National Science Foundation’s $88 million TeraGrid project. Technicians are sending the first test data packets racing across the network, which boasts an unprecedented bandwidth–roughly 1 million times the speed of a typical dial-up Internet connection and four times faster than existing research networks. At 40 gigabits per second (Gb/s), the new “backplane,” developed in partnership with Qwest Communications, will connect the resources of the TeraGrid, a multiyear effort to build and deploy the world’s largest, fastest, distributed computing infrastructure for open scientific research.

Researchers Find Unnecessary Traffic Saturating Key Internet Root Server

Scientists at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UCSD analyzing traffic to one of the 13 Domain Name System (DNS) “root” servers at the heart of the Internet found that the server spends the majority of its time dealing with unnecessary queries. DNS root servers provide a critical link between users and the Internet’s routing infrastructure by mapping text host names to numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Researchers at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) at SDSC conducted a detailed analysis of 152 million messages received on Oct. 4, 2002, by a root server in California, and discovered that 98 percent of the queries it received during 24 hours were unnecessary. The researchers believe that the other 12 DNS root servers likely receive similarly large amounts of bad requests.

Blasting antibodies with lasers measures their flexibility

A group of scientists have used a powerful laser in combination with innovative quantum mechanical computations to measure the flexibility of mouse antibodies. The new technique, described in an upcoming issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is significant because protein flexibility is believed to play an important role in antibody — antigen recognition, one of the fundamental events in the human immune system. “This is the first time anybody has ever gone into a protein and experimentally measured the frequency of vibrations in response to an applied force,” said Floyd Romesberg, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute, who led the study.

‘Heartbeats’ may keep galaxies churning

Until now, astronomers haven’t been able to offer a full explanation for why the Milky Way and other galaxies produce new stars at a relative snail’s pace. While they have known for decades that high turbulence keeps huge clouds of hydrogen gas from condensing into stars, they haven’t identified all the causes of the galactic perturbations. In a coming report researchers in San Diego say they have discovered that a well-known, but overlooked source of heating?regular outbursts of ultraviolet radiation from clusters of very large, bright stars?may play a significant role in keeping the Milky Way’s gas continually stirred up.