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posted by CoolHand on Tuesday July 07, @02:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the itz-for-realz dept.

IEEE's Spectrum has a piece on the opportunities and challenges of augmented reality.

You know your cellphone can distract you and that you shouldn’t be texting or surfing the Web while walking down a crowded street or driving a car. Augmented reality—in the form of Google Glass, Sony’s SmartEyeglass, or Microsoft HoloLens—may appear to solve that problem. These devices present contextual information transparently or in a way that obscures little, seemingly letting you navigate the world safely, in the same way head-up displays enable fighter pilots to maintain situational awareness. • But can augmented reality really deliver on that promise? We ask this question because, as researchers at Kaiser Permanente concerned with diseases that impair mobility (Sabelman) and with using technology to improve patient care (Lam), we see dangers looming. • With augmented-reality gear barely on the market, rigorous studies of its effects on vision and mobility have yet to be done. But in reviewing the existing research on the way people perceive and interact with the world around them, we found a number of reasons to be concerned. Augmented reality can cause you to misjudge the speed of oncoming cars, underestimate your reaction time, and unintentionally ignore the hazards of navigating in the real world. And the worst thing about it: Until something bad happens, you won’t know you’re at greater risk of harm.

I've always wanted a HUD with facial recognition and basic info about people whose names I should remember but don't.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday July 07, @12:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the They-still-sound-like-nails-on-a-chalkboard dept.

3D-printed flutes hit new notes | Researchers have found a way to 3D print instruments that produce notes unattainable through traditional instruments.

Hand-crafted instruments are all well and good, but the precision of 3D printing is starting to unlock new sounds.

Leading a team of researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia, Dr Terumi Narushima took the existing mathematical models used to determine how various notes are produced by wind instruments, and created a 3D model of a flute that – due to its customised diameter, length, and hole placement – produced unique microtonal notes smaller than a semitone.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday July 07, @11:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the twice-the-bacon dept.

Researchers from Seoul National University have created piglets with abnormal muscle growth by disrupting a gene that inhibits muscle cell growth:

Key to creating the double-muscled pigs is a mutation in the myostatin gene (MSTN). MSTN inhibits the growth of muscle cells, keeping muscle size in check. But in some cattle, dogs and humans, MSTN is disrupted and the muscle cells proliferate, creating an abnormal bulk of muscle fibres. To introduce this mutation in pigs, Kim used a gene-editing technology called a TALEN, which consists of a DNA-cutting enzyme attached to a DNA-binding protein. The protein guides the cutting enzyme to a specific gene inside cells, in this case in MSTN, which it then cuts. The cell's natural repair system stitches the DNA back together, but some base pairs are often deleted or added in the process, rendering the gene dysfunctional.

The team edited pig fetal cells. After selecting one edited cell in which TALEN had knocked out both copies of the MSTN gene, Kim's collaborator Xi-jun Yin, an animal-cloning researcher at Yanbian University in Yanji, China, transferred it to an egg cell, and created 32 cloned piglets. Kim and his team have not yet published their results. However, photographs of the pigs "show the typical phenotype" of double-muscled animals, says Heiner Niemann, a pioneer in the use of gene-editing tools in pigs who is at the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Neustadt, Germany. In particular, he notes, they have the pronounced rear muscles that are typical of such animals. Yin says that preliminary investigations, show that the pigs provide many of the double-muscled cow's benefits — such as leaner meat and a higher yield of meat per animal. However, they also share some of its problems. Birthing difficulties result from the piglets' large size, for instance. And only 13 of the 32 lived to 8 months old. Of these, two are still alive, says Yin, and only one is considered healthy. Rather than trying to create meat from such pigs, Kim and Yin plan to use them to supply sperm that would be sold to farmers for breeding with normal pigs. The resulting offspring, with one disrupted MSTN gene and one normal one, would be healthier, albeit less muscly, they say; the team is now doing the same experiment with another, newer gene-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9. Last September, researchers reported using a different method of gene editing to develop new breeds of double-muscled cows and double-muscled sheep (C. Proudfoot et al. Transg. Res. 24, 147–153; 2015).

A mutation in MSTN could occur naturally, and no gene transfer is involved. No genetically engineered animal has been approved for human consumption by any of the world's regulators, but the U.S. and Germany have passed on regulating gene-edited crops that do not incorporate new DNA in the genome.

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posted by janrinok on Tuesday July 07, @09:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the dilithium-crystals,-they-canna'-take-it dept.

Researchers have found a promising new approach to delivering the short, intense bursts of power needed by wearable electronic devices. The key is a new approach to making supercapacitors — devices that can store and release electrical power in such bursts.

"Long-distance Wi-Fi requires a fair amount of power," says Hunter, the George N. Hatsopoulos Professor in Thermodynamics in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, "but it may not be needed for very long." Small batteries are generally poorly suited for such power needs, he adds.

"We know it's a problem experienced by a number of companies in the health-monitoring or exercise-monitoring space. So an alternative is to go to a combination of a battery and a capacitor," Hunter says: the battery for long-term, low-power functions, and the capacitor for short bursts of high power. Such a combination should be able to either increase the range of the device, or — perhaps more important in the marketplace — to significantly reduce size requirements.

The new nanowire-based supercapacitor exceeds the performance of existing batteries, while occupying a very small volume. "If you've got an Apple Watch and I shave 30 percent off the mass, you may not even notice," Hunter says. "But if you reduce the volume by 30 percent, that would be a big deal," he says: Consumers are very sensitive to the size of wearable devices.

The innovation is especially significant for small devices, Hunter says, because other energy-storage technologies — such as fuel cells, batteries, and flywheels — tend to be less efficient, or simply too complex to be practical when reduced to very small sizes. "We are in a sweet spot," he says, with a technology that can deliver big bursts of power from a very small device.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday July 07, @07:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the software-doing-what-it-should dept.

Days before NASA's New Horizons probe to Pluto experienced a technical issue, the Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres "experienced an anomaly":

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is healthy and stable, after experiencing an anomaly in the system that controls its orientation. It is still in its second mapping orbit 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) above dwarf planet Ceres.

On June 30, shortly after turning on its ion engine to begin the gradual spiral down to the next mapping orbit, its protective software detected the anomaly. Dawn responded as designed by stopping all activities (including thrusting), reconfiguring its systems to safe mode and transmitting a radio signal to request further instructions. On July 1 and 2, engineers made configuration changes needed to return the spacecraft to its normal operating mode. The spacecraft is out of safe mode, using the main antenna to communicate with Earth.

The Dawn issue is less serious than problems with New Horizons since the third and fourth mapping orbits can be executed whenever NASA is ready, and the final orbit around Ceres will last indefinitely. By contrast, New Horizons will speed past Pluto and reach its closest approach on July 14th at 11:49:57 UTC at a relative velocity of 13.78 km/s. After collecting data from Pluto, NASA will try to steer New Horizons towards one or two Kuiper belt objects within a narrow cone extending from Pluto.

NASA engineers have released an explanation for the July 4th glitch:

To prepare for these final days of its mission, the probe was doing two things at once. First, it was taking the scientific data it has already harvested, compressing it, and writing it to a portion of its 128GB [8 GB?] hard drive. At the same time the instrument command sequence for the flyby was being uploaded. The combined workload slightly exceeded the processor's capabilities, and triggered a watchdog-like feature. This switched the main computer system over to the backup computer, while putting the main system into sleep mode as a safety measure. The processor is a Mongoose-V: a 12MHz MIPS R3000 CPU hardened against radiation. The R3000 is a 32-bit chip that's pretty similar to the one used in the original 1994-era Sony PlayStation among many other devices.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Tuesday July 07, @06:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the always-more-data-to-store dept.

Big things can come in small packages. According to Computerworld, Samsung has released the world's first 2 TB consumer SSDs:

Samsung today announced what it is calling the first multi-terabyte consumer solid-state drive (SSD), which will offer 2TB of capacity in a 2.5-in. form factor for laptops and desktops.

[...] The 850 Pro is designed for power users and client PCs that may need higher performance with up to 550MBps sequential read and 520MBps sequential write rates and up to 100,000 random I/Os per second (IOPS). The 850 EVO SSD has slightly lower performance with 540MBps and 520MBps sequential read/write rates and up to 90,000 random IOPS.

The 2TB model of the 850 Pro will retail for $999.99 and the 850 EVO will sell for $799.99.

The 1TB EVO SSD will retail for $399; the 500GB for $179; the 250GB for $99 and the 120GB for $69. The 1TB 850 Pro will retail for $499; the 512GB model for $259; the 256GB model for $144.99 and the 128GB model for $99.

[...] Samsung guarantees the 2TB 850 Pro for 10 years or 300 terabytes written (TBW), and the 2TB 850 EVO for five years or 150 TBW.

To put that in perspective, there are approximately 7 billion people on earth. One of these drives has sufficient space to keep about 285 bytes of information on every single person on the planet! Put another way, that is over 6 KB for every single person in the USA.

posted by n1 on Tuesday July 07, @04:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the banking-conduct-that-warrants-prosecution dept.

The New York Times and The Register report that former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov's conviction for "unlawful use of secret scientific material" has been overturned:

[...] celebration may not last long. State prosecutors in Manhattan have already indicated they may appeal the decision issued Monday, which threw out a jury's verdict. Once before, Mr. Aleynikov had believed he was in the clear, when a federal appeals court overturned his conviction under a federal corporate espionage law in 2012. The appellate court ruled that federal prosecutors in Manhattan had misapplied the law, and it ordered Mr. Aleynikov to be immediately released from a federal prison.

Less than a year later, however, Mr. Aleynikov was back in court defending himself, after state prosecutors in Manhattan charged him with violating state computer-theft-related laws. Now Justice Conviser — much like the federal appellate court before him — ruled that the decades-old state law that Mr. Aleynikov was convicted of violating did not apply to the accusations against him.

Justice Conviser said he did not find sufficient legal evidence to support the jury's conviction in May, which came after eight days of deliberation and two dozen requests for testimony to be read back or the statute's arcane terminology to be explained. He said the jury's confusion had been understandable, given that the "unlawful use of secret scientific material" criminal statute that Mr. Aleynikov was charged with violating was enacted in 1967 and predates much of the digital age. The judge said the state law was out of step with modern electronic communications and needed to be amended. He said that if prosecutors wanted to criminalize the kind of conduct Mr. Aleynikov engaged in when he downloaded portions of Goldman's source code onto his personal computer before leaving for a new job in June 2009, they should petition the Legislature to either amend the statute or pass a new law.

"We update our criminal laws in this country, however, through the legislative process," Justice Conviser said. "Defendants cannot be convicted of crimes because we believe as a matter of policy that their conduct warrants prosecution." A conviction on a charge of unlawful use of secret scientific material required prosecutors to prove that Mr. Aleynikov had made a "tangible" reproduction of the files he downloaded. But in his ruling on Monday, Justice Conviser said prosecutors had not submitted any evidence that the source code downloaded by Mr. Aleynikov "could be touched" or had "physical form," which is the essence of something being tangible. [...] The judge noted that the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York supported several legislative proposals to "modernize" the state's criminal laws with regard to computer crime.

Here is our previous story on Aleynikov's conviction.

posted by n1 on Tuesday July 07, @01:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the a-taurus-is-not-a-torus-but-it-can-make-donuts-in-a-car-park dept.

Topology isn't for everyone, but knowing the difference between your coffee cup and a doughnut is an essential workplace skill.

However, algebraic topology may be closer to us than you think. Drones, self-driving cars, and semi-autonomous AI are going to need it. And if you code, you're going to have to understand it. A little.

Unconventional mathematician Robert Ghrist rejects his field's "hippie aesthetic" in favor of suits and ties, loves medieval literature, reversed the usual way of teaching calculus in his popular MOOC, and is using one of mathematics' most abstract disciplines—algebraic topology—to solve real-world problems in robotics and sensor networks.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Tuesday July 07, @12:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the life,-uh,-finds-a-way dept.

The future of robotics may be defined by an unlikely source: the tails of seahorses.

A new study cites the fish appendages as possible inspiration for a breakthrough after finding that its movements facilitate bending and twisting while also providing strong resistance to crushing—key components for engineers developing new technologies.

Researchers from Clemson University in collaboration with U.C. San Diego, Ghent University, and Oregon State University began their work by seeking to ascertain why seahorses' tails are made up of square, as opposed to cylindrical (as found in most animals from rodents to monkeys), segments.

"Almost all animal tails have circular or oval cross-sections—but not the seahorse's. We wondered why," explained Michael Porter, assistant professor in mechanical engineering at Clemson University. "We found that the squared-shaped tails are better when both grasping and armor functions are needed."

Popular fiction has argued the case for environmental preservation for practical benefit. Is this sort of argument the only one that gets traction in a capitalist world?

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Monday July 06, @10:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the needs-more-metal-gear dept.

Some time ago the US Megabots team issued a challenge to the Japanese team behind the Kuratas mecha to have a mecha fight in one years time. The Japanese have now risen to the challenge and said tongue in cheek they want the battle to have brawling so they smash the US robot into pieces.

"My reaction? Come on, guys, make it cooler," Suidobashi founder and CEO Kogoro Kurata said in a YouTube video posted to the site on Sunday. "Just building something huge and sticking guns on it -- it's...Super American."

Kurata's playful comments came after MegaBots on July 2 issued a challenge to Suidobashi to engage in a real-life giant robot battle. The MegaBots pugilist is called Mark 2, weighs six tons, and is piloted by a team of two. The Mark 2 fires three-pound paint cannonballs up to 100 miles per hour. The Suidobashi Kuratas weighs 4.5 tons, making it a bit more agile. However, it comes with a pair of Gatling guns, coupled with an advanced targeting system and heads-up display.

In its own video, MegaBots called the fight a "duel," and said that it hoped to host the event in one year. The team called on Suidobashi to name the battleground.

posted by n1 on Monday July 06, @08:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the xdr-transcending-networks dept.

A patient with extensively drug-resistant TB flew from Mumbai to Chicago, and the deadly disease could become an infamous export due to problems in India's public health system

[...] Now, difficult-to-kill TB is no longer just India's nightmare. In June U.S. health authorities confirmed that an Indian patient carried this extreme form of the infection, called XDR-TB, across the ocean to Chicago. The patient drove from there to visit relatives as far away as Tennessee and Missouri. Health officials in several states are tracking down everyone with whom the patient—who is now quarantined and being treated at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland—had prolonged contact. The disease can be cured in only 30 percent of patients and sometimes requires surgery to remove infected parts of lungs. Although TB's slow rate of infection makes explosive epidemics unlikely, the Chicago episode shows how easy it might be for the illness to become a worldwide export.

Yet until recently Indian public health officials remained reluctant to admit there's a problem, says Nerges Mistry, director of the Mumbai-based Foundation for Medical Research. "They were always trying to deny it [existed]," she says. (Neither the head of India's Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) nor Mumbai's main tuberculosis control official—both of whom are new to their posts—responded to interview requests from Scientific American.)

[...] If there are indeed many people with resistant germs, it heightens the chances of those pathogens leaving the country for the rest of the world. Nearly a million Indians traveled to the U.S. in 2014, compared with less than three million from all of central Asia. More and more middle-class Indians are being diagnosed with TB, and although the patient who carried XDR-TB to the U.S. was immediately placed in isolation, India has no provisions for quarantines or travel restrictions.

Yes, their headline is sensationalist - but there really IS a problem here, as evidenced by the CDC, WHO, and other organizations. Perhaps the problem wasn't created by India's restructured medical school system, but it has almost certainly been increased by it.

As reported by The Times of India last year:

The SN Medical College's trauma centre which became 'functional' in 2011 is yet to conduct a surgery. This came to UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's attention when he conducted a surprise inspection of the centre on Friday.

[...] "Not a single serious patient has ever been treated at the centre. Whenever a minister or a dignitary plans to pay a visit to the centre, a few are admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) to 'show' them," said a doctor, who did not wish to be named. He added that a ward boy has been put on duty in the ICU just to keep an eye that no one steals anything from there.

posted by n1 on Monday July 06, @06:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the country-club-tax-break dept.

Japan has been focusing on finding spaces well-suited for solar power that might otherwise go unused. Recently, solar power company Kyocera announced that it was building huge floating solar power plants that covered inland bodies of water like reservoirs, projects that both provided clean energy and were beneficial to the reservoirs themselves.

Now, the company has turned their attention to the several abandoned golf courses in the country, with plans to build large solar farms on the land. These golf courses feature large amounts of unused open land, few shade trees and high sun exposure -- all of the things you need for a productive solar farm.

The company has just started construction on a 23-MW solar power plant on an abandoned course in Kyoto Prefecture. It will generate an estimated 26,312 MWh per year -- enough to power 8,100 local homes. The company calculated that number based on the average household electricity use of 3,254.4 kWh per year.

When finished, it will be the largest solar power installation in Kyoto Prefecture.

How much power could be generated by covering parking lots with solar panels?

Kyocera and Century Tokyo Leasing, along with two other companies, also announced recently that they are developing a 92MW solar power plant at a site in Kagoshima Prefecture. The site was originally designated as a golf course over 30 years ago and then was abandoned.

In the bigger picture, are we looking at a solar uptake of abandoned golf courses? Are we to see more large-scale solar projects go up on golf-course land otherwise going unused? The press release said, "In the United States, several cities in states such as Florida, Utah, Kansas and Minnesota are having public discussion and considering proposals on how best to repurpose closed golf courses."

Advantages for groups with solar interests are evident in courses characterized by expansive land mass, high sun exposure and a low concentration of shade trees.

In Japan, embracing solar energy is easier said than done, however. PV-Tech, which focuses on news about the solar PV supply chain, put this in perspective. The site noted Japan's shortage of land for large-scale solar initiatives, with the government "now offering incentives to developers building PV plants on landfill sites" while at the same time showing reluctance to approve plant development on agricultural land.

Courses left idle are now under analysis for repurposing or redevelopment, said Kyocera. The glut is a reflection of golf-property overdevelopment, in the real estate boom of the 1990s and 2000s.

Andy Colthorpe in PV-Tech said earlier this month, "A legacy of Japan's early 90s boom years, the country's obsession with golf led to the development of many golf courses that have since proven economically unsustainable."

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posted by n1 on Monday July 06, @05:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the human-obsolescence dept.

MIT computer scientists have devised a new system that repairs dangerous software bugs by automatically importing functionality from other, more secure applications.

Remarkably, the system, dubbed CodePhage, doesn’t require access to the source code of the applications whose functionality it’s borrowing. Instead, it analyzes the applications’ execution and characterizes the types of security checks they perform. As a consequence, it can import checks from applications written in programming languages other than the one in which the program it’s repairing was written.

Once it’s imported code into a vulnerable application, CodePhage can provide a further layer of analysis that guarantees that the bug has been repaired.

[...] Sidiroglou-Douskos and his coauthors — MIT professor of computer science and engineering Martin Rinard, graduate student Fan Long, and Eric Lahtinen, a researcher in Rinard’s group — refer to the program CodePhage is repairing as the “recipient” and the program whose functionality it’s borrowing as the “donor.” To begin its analysis, CodePhage requires two sample inputs: one that causes the recipient to crash and one that doesn’t. A bug-locating program that the same group reported in March, dubbed DIODE, generates crash-inducing inputs automatically. But a user may simply have found that trying to open a particular file caused a crash.

[...] “The longer-term vision is that you never have to write a piece of code that somebody else has written before,” Rinard says. “The system finds that piece of code and automatically puts it together with whatever pieces of code you need to make your program work.”

“The technique of borrowing code from another program that has similar functionality, and being able to take a program that essentially is broken and fix it in that manner, is a pretty cool result,” says Emery Berger, a professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “To be honest, I was surprised that it worked at all.”

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Monday July 06, @04:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the next-stop-is-the-east-side-motel dept.

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said Friday.

The proposed regulation also calls for such companies to pay into a fund for transportation infrastructure. The city would create an app for licensed taxis and help pay for their GPS technology.

[...] The Organized Taxi Drivers of Mexico City have pushed the city to regulate or ban Uber, saying it's unfair that its drivers avoid costly licensing and inspections that taxis must undergo to operate. On Friday, spokesman Daniel Medina emphasized that the proposal is still under construction and the organization continues to meet with city officials, including on Friday.

Uber, meanwhile, said it is not against regulation. "Regulation that allows us to continue to provide service that is quality, safe and efficient," said Luis de Uriarte, Uber spokesman for Mexico and Central America. "We don't want them putting up any obstacles."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday July 06, @02:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the is-it-made-of-kyber? dept.

From New Scientist

Ordinary crystals are three-dimensional objects whose atoms are arranged in regular, repeating patterns – just like table salt. They adopt this structure because it uses the lowest amount of energy possible to maintain.

Earlier this year, Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speculated that a similar structure might repeat regularly in the fourth dimension – time.

Wilczek has also theorised that a working time crystal could be made into a computer, with different rotational states standing in for the 0s and 1s of a conventional computer.

The article includes a description (by Tongcang Li from the University of California, and others) of how such a time crystal could be built. Though it will be tricky because building the crystal will need temperatures close to absolute zero.

While Wilczek points out that the heat-death of the universe is, in principle, "very user friendly" for this kind of experiment because it would be cold and dark, there are other issues to consider.

Original Submission

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