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Monday, September 24, 2001
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Supercomputer’s launch on August 7

BRITAIN will unveil a state-of-the-art supercomputer this week on Tuesday that scientists hope will unlock the secrets of the origins of the universe. The machine, the biggest supercomputer in British academia, cost 1.4 million pounds ($2 million) and is one of the most powerful in Europe. It will tackle what is arguably the biggest question on earth: How was the universe created? The University of Durham in northeast England says its Cosmology Machine could store the contents of the British Library — and still have spare memory. "The new machine will allow us to recreate the entire evolution of the universe, from its hot Big Bang beginning to the present," Professor Carlos Frenk of the university's physics department said. "It will confront one of the grandest challenges of science: the understanding of how our universe was created." Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt will unveil the computer later on Tuesday.


World Bank, Australia Net aid plan

The World Bank and Australia have launched a $-750 million programme to provide education and training via the Internet in the world's poorest countries. The five-year Internet aid programme — a technological extension of the 50-year-old "Colombo Plan" that offered training scholarships to poor countries — aims to bridge the digital divide, which the bank says exacerbates world poverty. "I do not expect a computer in every poor household that does not have enough food to eat," World Bank President James Wolfensohn said at the programme's launch in Sydney. "It is not a panacea to everything. It will be another component in the fight against poverty," he said. The World Bank is talking to 20 other donor nations about joining the ‘Virtual Colombo Plan.’ Wolfensohn said the Internet access and the sharing of knowledge would empower the world's poor through education and training. Australia will offer 200 Internet scholarships for trainee teachers and build eight IT teacher training centres in neighbouring Papua New Guinea. The Internet aid programme will initially focus on 12 countries across Asia, the Pacific and Africa.

Mystery computer donors for Cyprus schools

The Cyprus cabinet said it would not consider a mystery offer to supply the island's school children with computers unless the donors identified themselves. The donors, represented by a local law firm, have made it clear the offer of 1,60,000 free computers worth 400 million pounds ($600 million) is conditional on their anonymity. But Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said after the last week’s cabinet meeting that the government had decided the identity of the donors must be made known. He said the government had to be absolutely sure that the donors had the "capability" to come through on the offer to provide computers for all students and teachers at nursery, primary and secondary schools and at university.

Hitachi mulls entry into China

Hitachi Ltd, Japan's biggest electronics maker, said it is considering entering the potentially lucrative Chinese mobile handset market by setting up a joint venture later this year. A spokesman for Hitachi said his company was in talks with Hisense Group of China over setting up a joint venture to produce mobile handsets in a country where mobile phone penetration is low and growth potential high. The move followed news earlier this month that Japanese mobile handset makers, hit by a slowdown in the global handset market, are doubling production in China. ‘We are mulling such a joint venture but have not reached any basic agreement yet,’ he said. "We are hoping to establish the one in China by the end of this year." Hitachi announced last September it had agreed to provide mobile phone manufacturing technology to the Hisense Group and that the two firms would study the possibility of setting up a joint venture to produce handsets.

— Reuters

Home This feature was published on August 6,2001