Sci/Tech en Tue May 19 18:05:01 IST 2020 desi-social-media-app-elyments-crosses-1-million-downloads-hits-OTP-issue <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A day after&nbsp;Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu launched the Made-in-India social media app, Elyments, the application received over one million downloads as enthusiastic Indians downloaded it in droves in a bid to promote 'Aatma Nirbhar Bharat'.<br> </p> <p>Possibly overwhelmed by the demand, however, the app gave many users issues: Several reported being unable to receive the OTP needed to log in. The app developers later tweeted to say that they were working on a fix.</p> <p>"We are re-calibrating our systems to adjust to the phenomenal response : 1M+ downloads in 24 hours. We will notify you as soon as we get our systems back up and running at full steam. P.S. Thank you India! <img alt="Smiling face with smiling eyes" src="" width="17" height="17">" Elyments tweeted from their social media account.</p> <p>At the time of writing, OTP verification was working. However, issues were faced in trying to set an account up, with the process not moving beyond the first screen.</p> <p>The app was marketed as a "comprehensive social networking app" that would be available in eight Indian languages.</p> <p>Its success comes in the wake of TikTok's demise in India, after a government ban on the app along with 58 other apps with Chinese links removed one of the largest social media networks from the Indian internet. Over 200 million Indians were on TikTok prior to the ban—this massive potential customer base is now expected to migrate, either to existing social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and SnapChat, or to new social media platforms that advertise their 'Made-in-India' credentials.&nbsp;</p> <p>The benefit of a desi app is that users' data can be expected to be stored within the country.</p> <p>At the launch event, Elyments' developers said, "People will be able to connect globally and shop locally".&nbsp;</p> <p>Data of users is stored in India and user's data will never be shared with a third party without the user's consent, they said. Among the privacy features advertised by the app was "hardware-based encryption".</p> <p>Other features include "utility bill payment", "WhatsApp liked chat features", "Audio calls", "Facebook like feed" and "Unbiased news".&nbsp;</p> Mon Jul 06 22:55:43 IST 2020 cbse-partners-with-facebook-for-curriculum-on-digital-safety-augmented-reality <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Facebook have partnered to launch curriculum on “digital safety and online well-being” and “Augmented Reality” for students and educators, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ announced. “I congratulate CBSE and Facebook on its partnership to introduce certified programmes in Augmented Reality for teachers and Digital Safety and online-wellbeing for students. I encourage the teachers and students to apply for the programmes commencing on July 6,” Nishank tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to CBSE officials, the comprehensive curriculum is aimed at ensuring online well-being of students and preparing them for the future of work. “The modules are for secondary school students. The curriculum is now available on the CBSE website. This partnership is led by Facebook for Education, a global initiative by Facebook, to build diverse learning communities and bring the world closer together," a senior board official said. "As more and more young users get online, it becomes important to educate young adults, and students on making well informed choices online and also help them develop skills they need to safely navigate the internet," the official explained.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The curriculum will cover aspects such as safety, privacy, mental health and Instagram’s guide for building healthy digital habits. The module has been designed to guide students become responsible digital users, identify and report threats and harassment as well as report misinformation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At least 10,000 students will be covered in the training which will be imparted by the Centre for Social Research (CSR), the officials said.</p> <p>“Also, as part of the collaboration, Facebook will support CBSE in its first-ever initiative to introduce Artificial Reality (AR) as a curriculum. In the first phase, 10,000 teachers will be trained while 30,000 students will undergo the same in the second phase. The three-week training, to be conducted in batches, will cover fundamentals of AR and ways to utilise Facebook’s software, Spark AR Studio in order to create augmented reality experiences," the official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The objective is to give the learners an opportunity and platform to conceptualise, create and brand their own AR experiences. The hands-on learning experience of AR will help in preparing the students for a career in the digital economy. The teachers who successfully complete the training in the first phase will train 30,000 students in the second phase,” the official added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Ankhi Das, Director, Public Policy, India, South and Central Asia, "the current global pandemic is the most severe health and humanitarian crisis that the country has seen, with far-reaching impact on our lives. We recognise the disruption it has caused to traditional pedagogical methods necessitating a shift to virtual modes of learning the most”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Through our Facebook for Education programme in India, we wish to support the educational agencies in the country in enabling lessons on fostering safe online experiences, addressing online well-being as well as sharing easy toolkit for parents, educators and students to promote resilience and learning in the current environment, "Das said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Besides, the AR curriculum offers an opportunity for young learners to explore emerging technology for the first time as part of their curriculum," Das added.</p> Mon Jul 06 15:46:15 IST 2020 IIT-prof-uses-Rajasthani-clay-as-catalyst-for-converting-bio-oil-into-fuel <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An IIT professor in Jodhpur has claimed to have developed a catalytic process using Rajasthani clay for converting bio-oil from organic waste into transport fuel at a considerably lower temperature, paving way for its mass production.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The novel catalytic process with the use of Rajasthani clay has been developed by Rakesh Kumar Sharma of IIT, Jodhpur's Chemistry Department, along with postdoctoral researcher Krishna Priya of the department.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A catalyst is a substance which fastens a chemical reaction without taking part in it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The process of converting organic waste into fuel was not economically viable earlier due to high temperature and energy requirements in the process. But with the help of refined Rajasthan clay, we have developed a system which has brought down the temperature and energy requirement in the process, said Sharma.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The reaction in this process was extremely fast and took place at just around 250 degree centigrade temperature, far below the temperature in the conventional process, to give the petroleum-grade fuel, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sharma has developed many Rajasthani clay-based effective catalytic systems for difficult chemical processes under milder temperature conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These catalytic systems include solid lubricants for industrial applications, catalytic converters for four-wheelers to reduce pollution and water purification technology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>IIT spokesperson Amardeep Sharma said the Institute has applied for patenting the process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department of Biotechnology of the Union government has supported this study under its National Bio-Energy Mission, he said.&nbsp;</p> Mon Jul 06 11:09:47 IST 2020 IIT-Roorkee-develops-tech-for-smooth-driving-in-foggy-weather <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee has developed a system to facilitate smooth driving and minimise accidents in foggy weather conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A team of researchers at the premier institute has developed an efficient architecture and algorithm to enable better driving experience in low visibility conditions, an IIT-Roorkee press release said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hundreds of road accidents are caused due to yo fog.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The research has been published in the journal IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The objective of this research was to design a system for real-time defogging that produces a clear image stream from the input foggy frames,&quot; one of the researchers Brajesh Kumar Kaushik said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The collision of vehicles due to poor visibility caused by fog leads to numerous fatalities annually. This advanced defogging system will aid drivers by providing real-time information and minimize the risks of road and train mishaps due to fog,&quot; IIT, Roorkee Director Ajit Kumar Chaturvedi said.</p> Sat Jul 04 16:28:07 IST 2020 botswana-conservationists-are-investigating-mysterious-deaths-of-around-360-elephants <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> According to local conservationists, more than 360 elephants have died under mysterious conditions over the last three months. Authorities at the Okavango Panhandle region have been trying to discover the cause of the deaths of these elephants, some of them, who have simply fallen on their faces.<br> <br> <br> Poaching has been ruled out as the cause of death, as the carcasses were found intact. “Three laboratories in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada have been identified to process the samples taken from the dead elephants,” the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.<br> <br> <br> In a report prepared for the government and viewed by Elephants Without Borders, a conservation organisation, elephants of all ages appeared to be dying. Carcasses were first noticed in May. 169 dead elephants were counted on May 25 and 187 more on June 14.<br> <br> <br> “Several live elephants that we observed appeared to be weak, lethargic and emaciated. Some elephants appeared disorientated, had difficulty walking, showed signs of partial paralysis or a limp,” the report said.”One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members.”<br> <br> <br> The possible cause of deaths among the elephants was probably disease or poisoning. Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to 130,000 from 80,000 in the late 1990s. Farmers in the region see the elephants as a nuisance as their crops have been destroyed.<br> <br> <br> Niall McCann, director of conservation at United Kingdom charity National Park Rescue feels that tusks lying around on so many elephant carcasses is an invitation for thieves. A ban on elephant hunting was imposed in 2014. Fri Jul 03 12:10:31 IST 2020 roadside-hedges-combat-traffic-emissions-at-the-cost-of-plant-health <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Roadside hedges can combat near-road pollution exposure for humans but take a hit to their health, says a new study from the University of Surrey.</p> <p>According to the European Environmental Agency, air pollution causes 400,000 premature deaths annually. In 2017, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pinpointed pollution generated by traffic as a major contributor of particulate matter.</p> <p>Earlier studies have shown that green infrastructure in the busy streets can reduce exposure to air pollution to a great extent. A vegetation barrier can as much as halve the levels of pollutants just behind the barrier.</p> <p>In a new study published by Environmental Pollution, experts from Surrey's Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) set out to quantify the deposition of particles on leaf surfaces of a roadside hedge at child (0.6m) and adult (1.5m) breathing heights.</p> <p>The study, titled 'Quantifying particulate matter reduction and their deposition on the leaves of green infrastructure', examined a beech (Fagus sylvatica) hedge along a busy two-lane road in Guildford, Surrey. They also monitored a nearby location on the same road with no hedge.</p> <p>Following previous work by GCARE researchers to quantify the filtering capacity of different types of green infrastructure, including roadside hedges, this new study involved quantifying and comparing particle deposition on leaves from the front (traffic-facing) and back side of a hedge.</p> <p>The researchers discovered a dominance of fine particles on leaves on the traffic-facing side when compared with the back of the hedge. They also found that the closer the hedge is to the road, it likely led to the underdevelopment and poor health of leaves on the traffic-facing side of the hedge.</p> <p>The team discovered that more harmful particles were captured by leaves at child breathing height than at adult breathing height, supporting GCARE's previous studies on how air pollution is harming babies who travel in low-riding prams more than it is affecting the parents pushing them.</p> <p>The researchers also found that leaf fall in autumn lowered the canopy density, resulting in particulate matter reductions behind the hedge to drop from 25 per cent in summer to 9 per cent in autumn.</p> <p>Professor Prashant Kumar, Director of GCARE at the University of Surrey, said: "The poor health of leaves on the traffic-facing side highlights that green infrastructure takes a continuous assault from traffic emissions to protect roadside users from harmful sub-micron particles."</p> <p>"The high particle capture during peak traffic hours at around the breathing height of children compared with adult breathing height reinforces our advocacy for the implementation of hedges as a barrier against traffic emissions, particularly around school boundaries, children's play areas, and other vulnerable populations. This study's findings also underline the importance of appropriate selection of vegetation species considering traits such as air pollution tolerance."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 02 15:21:24 IST 2020 south-pole-warmed-three-times-faster-than-global-average-study <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The South Pole has been warming rapidly at more than three times the rate of the global average over the past 30 years, according to a recent study published in <i>Nature Climate Change</i>.</p> <p>Located in the remote and high-altitude continental interior, the South Pole cooled until the 1980s and has since warmed substantially. These trends are affected by natural and anthropogenic climate changes, but the individual contribution of each factor is not well understood.</p> <p>According to an international team of climate scientists led by Ohio University professor Ryan Fogt and Ohio alumnus Kyle Clem, this warming period was mainly driven by natural tropical climate variability and was likely intensified by increases in greenhouse gases.</p> <p>Clem and his team analysed weather station data at the South Pole, as well as climate models to examine the warming in the Antarctic interior. The team found that between 1989 and 2018, the South Pole had warmed by about 1.8 degrees Celsius over the past 30 years at a rate of +0.6 degrees Celsius per decade—three times the global average.</p> <p>The study also found that the strong warming over the Antarctic interior in the last 30 years was mainly driven by the tropics, especially warm ocean temperatures in the western tropical Pacific Ocean that changed the winds in the South Atlantic near Antarctica and increased the delivery of warm air to the South Pole. The researchers suggest these atmospheric changes along Antarctica's coast are an important mechanism driving climate anomalies in its interior.</p> <p>The Antarctic climate exhibits some of the largest ranges in temperature during the course of the year, and some of the largest temperature trends on the planet, with strong regional contrasts. Most of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula experienced warming and ice-sheet thinning during the late 20th century.</p> <p>Clem and Fogt say that these warming trends were unlikely the result of natural climate change alone, emphasising the effects of added anthropogenic warming that have worked in tandem to make this one of the strongest warming trends worldwide.</p> <p>Clem, a current postdoctoral research fellow in climate science at Victoria University at Wellington in New Zealand, is the lead author of the study and studied under Fogt for both his bachelor's and master's degrees at Ohio University.</p> <p>"Working with Ryan, I learned all about Antarctic and Southern Hemisphere climate, specifically how West Antarctica was warming and its ice sheet was thinning and contributing to global sea level rise. I also learned that Antarctica experiences some of the most extreme weather and variability on the planet, and due to its remote location, we actually know very little about the continent, so there are constant surprises and new things to learn about Antarctica every year," said Clem.</p> Wed Jul 01 16:06:34 IST 2020 be-cautious-while-installing-google-chrome-extensions-cyber-security-agency <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Internet users should exercise caution while installing Google Chrome extensions as the company has removed over 100 malicious links after they were found collecting "sensitive" user data, country's cyber security agency said on Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In), the national technology arm to combat cyber attacks and guard the Indian cyber space, said&nbsp;it has also been found that these extensions contained code to bypass Google Chrome's web store security scans.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The malicious extensions had the ability to take screenshots, read the clipboard, harvest authentication cookies or grab user keystrokes to read passwords and other confidential information, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It has been reported that Google has removed 106 extensions of the Google Chrome browser from the chrome web store which were found collecting sensitive user data," the agency said in the advisory.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"These extensions, reportedly posed as tools to improve web searches, convert files between different formats as security scanners and more," it added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The federal cyber security agency suggested users to uninstall Google Chrome extensions with IDs given in the IOCs (organisational chart) section.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Users can visit the chrome extensions page and subsequently enable developer mode to see if they have installed any of the malicious extensions and then remove them from their browsers, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agency advised Internet users to only install extensions which are absolutely needed and refer user reviews before doing so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They should uninstall extensions which are not in use, it said, adding that users should not install extensions from unverified sources.&nbsp;</p> Wed Jul 01 13:05:45 IST 2020