By Paul Parkinson
Earlier today HMS Astute, the first boat in new submarine class for the UK Royal Navy was launched ('New UK nuclear submarine launched', BBC News). This is a significant event, as the Astute class submarine is an incredible technological achievement. For example: it can traverse the globe without surfacing because it can generate oxygen from sea water; and the Thales 2076 sonar (Aviation Week) has the world's largest number of hydrophones of any sonar system in service - it is claimed that under the right conditions an Astute in the English Channel could detect the QE2 cruise ship leaving New York harbour on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean (BAE SYSTEMS press release). You can read more about these amazing facts on the UK Royal Navy website; there's also a rare video clip of the inside of the Astute on the BBC News website, and there are some nice photos on the Gizmodo blog.