New Bing Maps Application: WorldWide Telescope

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ScienceDaily — The Internet is expected to be inundated in the future with billions of gigabytes (or exabytes) of data as high-definition video and other bandwidth-busting downloads become the norm. The cost of upgrading the Internet for this so-called “exaflood” could make Web connections too expensive for most consumers. Internet service providers may be able to keep prices down by opening up an express-lane for large data hauls.

It is estimated that 99 percent of the traffic volume of the Internet is devoted to large downloads — like movies, approved medical scans and financial data — that are only 1 percent of all data transfer sessions. These huge bundles are currently handled in the same way all data is handled by the Internet: the files are chopped up into little packets and then shuffled through traffic. Although this works fine for e-mail and Web pages, information pills says MIT researcher Vincent Chan, it is very inefficient for large streams of data. An alternative, called optical flow switching (OFS), essentially opens a direct line between users that they can use for a few seconds all to themselves.

To reserve a spot on this express lane, users would send a request over the normal Internet. The most that someone would have to wait is a few seconds before data will start flowing. That’s plenty fast for most people, but some users will be willing to pay extra to jump ahead in the queue.

Chan says that OFS can reduce the price per bit by 50 times compared to current electronic packet switching. The savings come from a simplified network architecture that has less overhead devoted to processing data address labels. An OFS test bed has been in operation for the last 10 years, connecting U.S. government sites on the east coast. Chan says there is now a “groundswell” of interest in OFS from Asia and Europe.

The research is being presented at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC) — the world’s largest international conference on optical communication and networking — from March 21-25 at the San Diego Convention Center.
Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope (WWT) – a project to map out the stars, seek planets, solar systems and anything not on the Earth, is now available on BING. The WorldWide Telescope application allows you to view most of the features available in the Silverlight client right in Bing Maps. Yes, the WWT provides real time information about how the space is moving over the Earth. This provides context for where celestial entities are in real time if you were to look up at the night sky. Upon launching the WWT Bing Maps App, you may get so excited and just want to see SOMETHING, so just jump right in with stars. You can click the “Start Here” button which enables a telescope mouse pointer which you drag somewhere onto the map. Once you drop it on the map the map will fade to the constellations and stars overhead. You can navigate the universe the same way you do Bing Maps by grabbing an area and dragging the map around (now a universe map). Cool! But, now what. Click the question mark icon near the bottom of the map. This enables a control that you can drag over specific entities on the universe map to identify what they are. You can discover known objects in space…the final frontier. To turn off the information view, just click the question mark icon again. (Inside Bing Maps, you first need to click on “Map Apps” and select WorldWide Telescope to enable it).

Martin Swinney

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