Sci/Tech en Thu Dec 03 15:54:17 IST 2020 Researchers-discover-life-in-inhospitable-deep-ocean-sediments <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Scientists have discovered single-celled microorganisms in an &quot;inhospitable&quot; deep ocean environment where temperatures touched 120 degrees Celsius, findings that shed light on the limits of life on the planet.<br> <br> The research based on a two-month-long expedition in 2016, published in the journal Science on Friday, discovered 40,000 different types of microorganisms from core samples from 40 sites around the globe.<br> <br> According to the international team of scientists, including those from the University of Rhode Island in the US, the diversity of microbes below the seafloor is as rich as on Earth's surface.<br> <br> &quot;Water boils on the (Earth's) surface at 100 degrees Celsius, and we found organisms living in sediments at 120 degrees Celsius,&quot; said Arthur Spivack, a co-author of the study from the University of Rhode Island.<br> <br> In the current study, the scientists assessed samples from the Nankai Trough off the coast of Japan, where the deep-sea scientific vessel, Chinkyu, drilled a hole 1,180 metres deep to reach sediments at 120 degrees Celsius.<br> <br> &quot;We found chemical evidence of the organisms' use of organic material in the sediment that allows them to survive,&quot; Spivack said.<br> <br> &quot;This research tells us that deep sediment is habitable in places that we did think possible,&quot; he added.<br> <br> The scientists believe the findings could point to the possibility of life in harsh environments on other planets.<br> <br> They said sediments that lie deep below the ocean floor are harsh habitats with temperature and pressure steadily increasing with depth, and the energy supply for life forms becoming increasingly scarce.<br> <br> According to the study, it has only been known for about 30 years that, in spite of these conditions, microorganisms do inhabit the seabed at depths of several kilometers.<br> <br> Since this deep biosphere is still not well understood, the researchers sought to understand the limits of life, and what factors determine them.<br> <br> They studied how high temperatures affect life in the low-energy deep biosphere over the long-term using extensive deep-sea drilling.<br> <br> &quot;Only a few scientific drilling sites have yet reached depths where temperatures in the sediments are greater than 30 degrees Celsius,&quot; explained study co-author Kai-Uwe Hinrichs from the University of Bremen in Germany.<br> <br> &quot;The goal of the T-Limit Expedition, therefore, was to drill a thousand-metre deep hole into sediments with a temperature of up to 120 degrees Celsius -- and we succeeded,&quot; Hinrichs said.<br> <br> Like the search for life in outer space, determining the limits of life on the Earth is fraught with great technological challenges, the scientists noted.<br> <br> &quot;Surprisingly, the microbial population density collapsed at a temperature of only about 45 degrees,&quot; said Fumio Inagaki, another co-author of the study from Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).<br> <br> &quot;It is fascinating -- in the high-temperature ocean floor, there are broad depth intervals that are almost lifeless. But then we were able to detect cells and microbial activity again in deeper, even hotter zones -- up to a temperature of 120 degrees,&quot; Inagaki added.<br> Fri Dec 04 13:30:48 IST 2020 Indian-scientists-find-more-efficient-way-to-measure-evaporation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has developed a new device that it said could measure the rate of evaporation of a local area within a couple of minutes.<br> <br> &quot;The device is a more efficient and inexpensive way to measure evaporation when compared with existing methods,&quot; Bengaluru-based IISc said in a statement on Friday.<br> <br> &quot;Our method allows you to get a much more realistic measure of transpiration from plants and evaporation from soils,&quot; says Jaywant H Arakeri, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, IISc, and senior author of the study recently published in the Journal of Hydrology.<br> <br> Evaporation is the process by which water turns from liquid to a gaseous state.<br> <br> Apart from being an integral process in the water cycle, evaporation also plays a major role in regulating water loss in plants through a process called transpiration.<br> <br> Being able to measure the evaporation rate is useful for farmers to gauge water requirements for their fields and in weather stations to characterise the local atmospheric condition.<br> <br> It is also widely used by botanists to study the dynamics underlying transpiration by plants.<br> <br> Currently, pan evaporimeters are the most commonly used devices to measure evaporation rates.<br> <br> They resemble large pans that are filled with water.<br> <br> The change in water level over a day gives the evaporation rate from that area for that day.<br> <br> The disadvantages (of existing methods) are that the evaporation rates are for one whole day, and over a large area (one square metre).<br> <br> And one needs an open ground to place the device.<br> <br> But we have a simple method of directly measuring evaporation from a small surface at the order of a couple of centimetres, and over a short period of time, Arakeri explains.<br> <br> The proposed device consists of a filter paper connected to a capillary tube that takes water from a reservoir to the filter paper, thereby wetting it and thus mimicking an evaporating water surface.<br> <br> By measuring the distance travelled by the lower meniscus in the capillary tube over a couple of minutes, the evaporation rate is estimated.<br> <br> The innovation lies in being able to measure the very small amount (about one microlitre) of water that is lost in evaporation from the surface in a minute, according to IISc.<br> <br> Since the evaporation rate is affected by a number of factors such as temperature, wind velocity, and humidity, this device could show the evaporation rate within a niche environment.<br> <br> &quot;It gives you an idea of evaporation rate even from a small leaf. For example, if this device is kept near a paddy plant, we could get a better measure of the evaporation rate that a particular leaf of that plant might be experiencing,&quot; explains Arakeri.<br> <br> The device would be useful to scientists studying the physiological process of transpiration in plants because of its ability to measure the evaporation rate over small areas over short periods of time, IISc said.<br> <br> Stomatal responses can also now be addressed, in a better and more controlled way, using this device, the statement said. Fri Dec 04 12:53:57 IST 2020 this-raptor-inspired-drone-flies-almost-like-a-bird <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Engineers have developed a drone with a feathered wing and tail that give it unprecedented flight agility.</p> <p>The next-generation drone, developed by researchers at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems of EPFL led by Dario Floreano, was inspired by northern goshawk, a fast, powerful raptor that flies effortlessly through forests.</p> <p>The team carefully studied the shape of the bird's wings and tail and its flight behaviour and used that information to develop a drone with similar characteristics.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Goshawks move their wings and tails in tandem to carry out the desired motion, whether it is rapid changes of direction when hunting in forests, fast flight when chasing prey in the open terrain, or when efficiently gliding to save energy,&quot; said Enrico Ajanic, the first author and PhD student in Floreano's lab.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Our design extracts principles of avian agile flight to create a drone that can approximate the flight performance of raptors, but also tests the biological hypothesis that a morphing tail plays an important role in achieving faster turns, decelerations, and even slow flight,&quot; added Floreano</p> <p>The team's research has been published in <i>S</i><i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">cience Robotics</i>.<br> </p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Bird-inspired drone</b><br> </p> <p>The engineers already designed a bird-inspired drone with morphing wing-back in 2016. In a step forward, their new model can adjust the shape of its wing and tail thanks to its artificial feathers.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It was fairly complicated to design and build these mechanisms, but we were able to improve the wing so that it behaves more like that of a goshawk,&quot; said Ajanic. &quot;Now that the drone includes a feathered tail that morphs in synergy with the wing, it delivers unparalleled agility.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>The drone changes the shape of its wing and tail to change direction faster, fly slower without falling to the ground, and reduce air resistance when flying fast. It uses a propeller for a forward thrust instead of flapping wings because it is more efficient and makes the new wing and tail system applicable to other winged drones and aeroplanes.</p> <p>The advantage of winged drones over quadrotor designs is that they have a longer flight time for the same weight. However, quadrotors tend to have greater dexterity, as they can hover in place and make sharp turns.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The drone we just developed is somewhere in the middle. It can fly for a long time yet is almost as agile as quadrotors,&quot; said Floreano. This combination of features is especially useful for flying in forests or cities between buildings.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">AI-based flight system</b><br> </p> <p>Flying this new type of drone isn't easy, due to a large number of wing and tail configurations possible. To take full advantage of the drone's flight capabilities, Floreano's team plans to incorporate artificial intelligence into the drone's flight system so that it can fly semi-automatically.</p> Thu Dec 03 16:12:51 IST 2020 mere-keyhole-wasp-can-bring-down-airplane <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A new study finds that invasive keyhole wasps at the Brisbane Airport were responsible for a series of serious safety incidents involving pitot probes.</p> <p>The study by Alan House of Eco Logical Australia and colleagues underscore the importance of risk-mitigating strategies, such as covering pitot probes when aircraft arrive and setting up additional traps to intercept the wasps.</p> <p>Over a period of 39 months, invasive keyhole wasps at the Brisbane Airport were responsible for 93 instances of fully blocked replica pitot probes—vital instruments that measure airspeed.</p> <p>Interactions between aircraft and wildlife are frequent and can have serious financial and safety consequences. But the risk posed by wildlife when aircraft are on the ground is much less understood, and specific threats posed by insects have not been quantified before.</p> <p>In the new study, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, House and his colleagues investigated the possible role of keyhole wasps (Pachodynerus nasidens) in obstructing pitot probes at Brisbane Airport.</p> <p>A total of 26 wasp-related issues were reported at the airport between November 2013 and April 2019, in conjunction with a series of serious safety incidents involving pitot probes.</p> <p>In its native range in South and Central America and the Caribbean, the wasp is known to construct nests using man-made cavities, such as window crevices, electrical sockets, and of course, keyholes.</p> <p>The researchers used 3D-printing technology to construct a series of replica pitot probes, which they mounted at four locations at the airport. All nests in these probes were made by keyhole wasps, and peak nesting occurred in the summer months.</p> <p>Nesting success (i.e., the proportion of nests producing live adults) was optimal between 24 and 31°C, and probes with apertures of more than 3 mm in diameter were preferred. The majority of nests were constructed in one area of the airport. The proportion of grassed areas within 1000 m of probes was a significant predictor of nesting, and the nest volume in pitot probes may determine the sex of emerging wasps.</p> <p>"We hope this research will bring attention to a little known but serious issue for air travel in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Having found its way across the Pacific Ocean, there is no reason to doubt that it could spread to other parts of Australia. The consequences of not managing this clever but dangerous pest could be substantial,” the authors said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Dec 02 11:31:36 IST 2020 water-may-have-formed-when-planets-took-shape <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>'Follow the water' has been NASA's motto in its outer space search for extraterrestrial life. Water is essential for life since it provides the best media to transfer substances from a cell to the cell's environment. Therefore, scientists believe that wherever water flows on a planet, there could be life.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The emergence of life is a mystery. Nevertheless, researchers agree that water is a precondition for life. The first cell emerged in water and then evolved to form multicellular organism. The oldest known single-cell organism on Earth is about 3.5 billion years old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If life emerged in water, where did the water come from?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A new study by the University of Copenhagen turns the theory about the emergence of water upside down.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There are two hypotheses about the emergence of water. One is that it arrives on planets by accident, when asteroids containing water collide with the planet in question," says Prof Martin Bizzarro from the Centre for Star and Planet Formation at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The other hypothesis is that water emerges in connection with the formation of the planet. Our study suggests that this hypothesis is correct, and if that is true, it is extremely exciting, because it means that the presence of water is a bioproduct of the planet formation process," said Martin Bizzarro.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prof Bizzarro and Asst Professor Zhengbin Deng have joined together to propose this new theory.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If Martin Bizzarro and Zhengbin Deng's theory proves correct, life in planetary systems may have had better chances of developing than previously assumed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study shows that there was water on Mars for the first 90 million years of the planet's existence. In astronomical time, this is a long time before water-rich asteroids bombarded the planets of the inner Solar System like Earth and Mars, according to the first hypothesis. And this is very sensational', Martin Bizzarro explains.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It suggests that water emerged with the formation of Mars. And it tells us that water may be naturally occurring on planets and does not require an external source like water-rich asteroids."&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study is based on analyses of an otherwise modest black meteorite. But the meteorite is 4.45 billion years old and contains invaluable knowledge about the young solar system.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Black Beauty, which is the name of the meteorite, originates from the original Martian crust and offers unique insight into events at the time of the formation of the solar system.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It is a gold mine of information. And extremely valuable," says Martin Bizzarro. After having been discovered in the Moroccan desert, the meteorite was sold for USD 10,000 dollars per gram.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With help from funds, Martin Bizzarro managed to buy just under 50 grams for research purposes back in 2017. With the meteorite in the laboratory they are now able to present signs of the presence of liquid water on Mars at the time of its formation. First, however, they had to crush, dissolve and analyse 15 grams of the expensive rock, Zhengbin Deng explains:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We have developed a new technique that tells us that Mars in its infancy suffered one or more severe asteroid impacts. The impact, Black Beauty reveals, created kinetic energy that released a lot of oxygen. And the only mechanism that could likely have caused the release of such large amounts of oxygen is the presence of water," Zhengbin Deng says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another bone of contention between researchers is how Mars with its cold surface temperature could accommodate liquid water causing the depositions of rivers and lakes visible on the planet today. Liquid water is a precondition for the assembling of organic molecules, which is what happened at least 3.5 billion years ago at the emergence of life on Earth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers' analysis of Black Beauty shows that the asteroid impact on Mars released a lot of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Zhengbin Deng, 'this means that the CO2-rich atmosphere may have caused temperatures to rise and thus allowed liquid water to exist at the surface of Mars'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers are now aiming to do a follow-up study examining the microscopic water-bearing minerals found in Black Beauty. The age-old watery minerals are both original and unchanged since their formation, which means that the meteorite has witnessed the very emergence of water.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Dec 01 12:22:58 IST 2020 plastic-pollution-from-fishing-nets-threatening-ganges-wildlife-study-finds <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Plastic pollution from discarded fishing gear in the Ganges River poses a threat to wildlife such as the critically endangered three-striped roofed turtle and the endangered Ganges river dolphin, according to an international team including researchers from the Wildlife Institute of India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the study, published in the journal <i>Science of The Total Environment</i>, surveys along the length of the river, from the mouth in Bangladesh to the Himalayas in India, show levels of waste fishing gear are highest near to the sea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers noted that fishing nets―all made of plastic―were the most common type of gear found.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interviews with local fishers showed high rates of fishing equipment being discarded in the river―driven by short gear lifespans and lack of appropriate disposal systems, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The Ganges River supports some of the world’s largest inland fisheries, but no research has been done to assess plastic pollution from this industry, and its impacts on wildlife,” said Sarah Nelms from the University of Exeter in the UK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Ingesting plastic can harm wildlife, but our threat assessment focussed on entanglement, which is known to injure and kill a wide range of marine species,” Nelms said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers used a list of 21 river species of “conservation concern” identified by the Wildlife Institute of India in Uttarakhand.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They combined existing information on entanglements of similar species worldwide with the new data on levels of waste fishing gear in the Ganges to estimate which species are most at risk.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There is no system for fishers to recycle their nets. Most fishers told us they mend and repurpose nets if they can, but if they can’t do that the nets are often discarded in the river,” said Nelms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Many held the view that the river ‘cleans it away’, so one useful step would be to raise awareness of the real environmental impacts,” she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The findings offer hope for solutions based on “circular economy” where waste is dramatically reduced by reusing materials, according to Professor Heather Koldewey, from the Zoological Society of London(ZSL).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“A high proportion of the fishing gear we found was made of nylon 6, which is valuable and can be used to make products including carpets and clothing,” Koldeway said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Collection and recycling of nylon 6 has strong potential as a solution because it would cut plastic pollution and provide an income,” she added.</p> Mon Nov 30 14:52:40 IST 2020 scientists-create-worlds-thinnest-memory-storage-device <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin created the world's smallest memory storage device based on a discovery from two years ago.</p> <p>The new invention will help build faster, smaller, smarter and more energy-efficient chips for everything from consumer electronics to big data to brain-inspired computing.</p> <p>In this new work, the researchers reduced the size even further, shrinking the cross section area down to just a single square nanometer. And in the process, they figured out the physics dynamic that unlocks dense memory storage capabilities for these tiny devices.</p> <p>The research was published recently in <i>Nature Nanotechnology</i>.</p> <p>Getting a handle on the physics that pack dense memory storage capability into these devices enabled the ability to make them much smaller. Defects, or holes in the material, provide the key to unlocking the high-density memory storage capability.</p> <p>"When a single additional metal atom goes into that nanoscale hole and fills it, it confers some of its conductivity into the material, and this leads to a change or memory effect," said Deji Akinwande, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.</p> <p>"The scientific holy grail for scaling is going down to a level where a single atom controls the memory function, and this is what we accomplished in the new study," Akinwande said.</p> <p>Akinwande's device falls under the category of memristors, a popular area of memory research, centered around electrical components with the ability to modify resistance between its two terminals without a need for a third terminal in the middle known as the gate. That means they can be smaller than today's memory devices and boast more storage capacity.</p> <p>This version of the memristor—developed using the advanced facilities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory—promises capacity of about 25 terabits per square centimetre. That is 100 times higher memory density per layer compared with commercially available flash memory devices.</p> <p>Though they used molybdenum disulfide—also known as MoS2—as the primary nanomaterial in their study, the researchers think the discovery could apply to hundreds of related atomically thin materials.</p> <p>The race to make smaller chips and components is all about power and convenience. With smaller processors, you can make more compact computers and phones. But shrinking down chips also decreases their energy demands and increases capacity, which means faster, smarter devices that take less power to operate.</p> <p>"The results obtained in this work pave the way for developing future generation applications that are of interest to the Department of Defense, such as ultra-dense storage, neuromorphic computing systems, radio-frequency communication systems and more," said Pani Varanasi, program manager for the US Army Research Office, which funded the research.</p> <p>The original device—dubbed "atomristor" by the research team—was at the time the thinnest memory storage device ever recorded, with a single atomic layer of thickness. But shrinking a memory device is not just about making it thinner but also building it with a smaller cross-sectional area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Nov 28 15:58:35 IST 2020 magic-bullet-invades-cancer-cells-without-harming-healthy-cells <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A new approach to treating cancers and other diseases that uses a mechanically interlocked molecule called 'magic bullet' has been designed by researchers at the University of Birmingham.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Destroying non-cancer cells along with cancer can do severe damage to the body. In contrast to therapeutic drugs, 'magic bullet' discriminates between cancerous and healthy cells. Targeted delivery.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Called rotaxanes, the molecules are tiny nanoscale structures that resemble a dumbbell with a ring wrapped around the central post. Scientists have been experimenting with rotaxanes based on thin, thread-like central posts for several years, but this new design uses instead a much larger cylindrical-shaped supramolecular 'helicate' molecule—around 2nm long and 1nm wide—which have remarkable ability to bind Y-shaped junctions or forks in DNA and RNA.</p> <p>These forks are created when DNA replicates and, in laboratory tests, the Birmingham researchers have shown that, when they bind to the junctions, the cylinder molecules can stop cancer cells, bacteria and viruses from reproducing.<br> </p> <p>To gain control over that binding, the team from the University's Schools of Chemistry and Biosciences, collaborated with researchers in Wuhan, in China, and Marseille, in France, to solve the challenge of identifying a ring structure large enough to fit around this central cylinder molecule. They have now shown that a giant pumpkin-shaped molecule, called a cucurbit, can host the cylinder. When the ring is present, the rotaxane molecule is unable to bind.<br> </p> <p>To prevent the cylinder from slipping out of the pumpkin-shaped ring, the researchers added branches to each end of the cylinder. They demonstrated that the cylinder then becomes mechanically locked inside the ring and that they can use this to control the way the supramolecular cylinder interacts with RNA and DNA.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The results, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, show not only how these complex molecules can be produced simply and efficiently, but also how the number of branches can be used to regulate the speed at which the cylinder can escape from the pumpkin-shaped ring—from quickly to not at all. This allows temporal control of the fork-recognition and thus the biological activity.</p> <p>Lead researcher, Professor Mike Hannon, explains: "This is a really promising new approach that harnesses robust and proven chemistry in an entirely new way that has potential for targeted treatment of cancers and other diseases.</p> <p>"Our approach is very different from leading cancer drugs which commonly affect all cells in the body, not just the cancer cells. The rotaxane molecule holds the promise that, by turning it on and off as required, it can specifically target and inhibit cancer cells with a high degree of accuracy."</p> <p>The University of Birmingham Enterprise has a filed patent application covering the structure and design of these novel rotaxanes, and the team has already started work to explore a variety of applications for the approach.<br> </p> Sat Nov 28 12:19:22 IST 2020 wood-fire-cooking-can-cause-lasting-damage-to-lungs <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Around 3 billion people in the world cook with biomass, such as wood or dried brush. Pollutants from cooking with biomass are a major contributor to the estimated 4 million deaths a year from household air pollution-related illness.</p> <p><br> <br> <br> </p> <p>Advanced imaging with CT shows that people who cook with biomass fuels like wood are at risk of suffering considerable damage to their lungs from breathing in dangerous concentrations of pollutants and bacterial toxins, according to a study being presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The study results underscore the importance of minimising exposure to smoke. Even in the absence of overt symptoms or breathing difficulties, the lung may have injury and inflammation that can go undetected and potentially unresolved in some people.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>While public health initiatives have tried to provide support to transition from biomass fuels to cleaner-burning liquefied petroleum gas as a fuel source, a significant number of homes continue to use biomass fuels. Financial constraints and a reluctance to change established habits are factors, combined with a lack of information on the impact of biomass smoke on lung health.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>"It is important to detect, understand and reverse the early alterations that develop in response to chronic exposures to biomass fuel emissions," said study co-author Abhilash Kizhakke Puliyakote, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>A multidisciplinary team led by Eric A. Hoffman, at the University of Iowa, in collaboration with researchers from Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology, investigated the impact of cookstove pollutants in 23 people cooking with liquefied petroleum gas or wood biomass in Thanjavur, India.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The researchers measured the concentrations of pollutants in the homes and then studied the lung function of the individuals, using traditional tests such as spirometry. They also used advanced CT scanning to make quantitative measurements—for instance, they acquired one scan when the person inhaled and another after they exhaled and measured the difference between the images to see how the lungs were functioning.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Analysis showed that the ones who cooked with wood biomass were exposed to greater concentrations of pollutants and bacterial endotoxins compared to liquefied petroleum gas users. They also had a significantly higher level of air trapping in their lungs, a condition associated with lung diseases.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>"Air trapping happens when a part of the lung is unable to efficiently exchange air with the environment, so the next time you breathe in, you're not getting enough oxygen into that region and eliminating carbon dioxide," Dr. Kizhakke Puliyakote said. "That part of the lung has impaired gas exchange."</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The researchers found a smaller subset of the biomass users who had very high levels of air trapping and abnormal tissue mechanics, even when compared to other biomass users. In about one-third of the group, more than 50 percent of the air they inhaled ended up trapped in their lungs.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>"This increased sensitivity in a subgroup is also seen in other studies on tobacco smokers, and there may be a genetic basis that predisposes some individuals to be more susceptible to their environment," Dr. Kizhakke Puliyakote said.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>CT added important information on smoke's effect on the lungs that was underestimated by conventional tests.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Exposure to biomass smoke is affecting the small airways in the lungs.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>"For people exposed to biomass smoke for any extended duration, it is critical to have a complete assessment of lung function by health care professionals to ensure that any potential injury can be resolved with appropriate interventions," Dr. Kizhakke Puliyakote said.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>While the study focused on cooking with biomass, the findings have important implications for exposure to biomass smoke from other sources, including wildfires.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Nov 27 11:39:48 IST 2020 IBM-MeitY-collaborate-to-build-future-ready-skills-enhance-employability <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Tech giant IBM on Thursday said it has collaborated with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to create a robust education and skilling ecosystem through the Common Services Centre Academy.<br> <br> CSC Academy, part of the Common Services Centre (CSC), and IBM, along with implementation partners CSR Box, Uva Jagriti Sansthan and Jeevitam will foster the capability and development of learners with diverse backgrounds and educational needs, a statement said.<br> <br> They will extensively use technology, teaching and delivering of specialised courses/training programmes in areas including Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to train learners such as village-level entrepreneurs, functionaries and stakeholders of the CSC programme, it added.<br> <br> As a part of the collaboration, IBM will curate and provide content from its key skilling programs - SkillsBuild and STEM for Girls - to be used for the training services and in community development programmes that is currently being conducted across 6,000 CSC Academies.<br> <br> The CSC Academy supports more than 3.7 lakh common service centres, including 60,000 women-only centres and is planning to set up 6,000 CSC Academy centres (one in every block) out of which 5,000 are already set up across the country.<br> <br> &quot;This collaboration with IBM aligns with the National Education Policy's emphasis on learning 21st century skills to ensure the future-readiness of India's youth and realizing the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat,&quot; CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd Managing Director Dinesh Tyagi said.<br> <br> To make learning experiential, IBM will also focus on getting the learners involved in trainings, workshops, train-the-trainer programs and co-create training materials and conduct orientation camps, the statement said.<br> <br> This programme will also provide access to employment to 4,000 village level youth in the identified rural areas, it added.<br> <br> &quot;Exponential technologies like AI and Hybrid Cloud can drive path-breaking innovations and fuel the nation's digital India vision. To make this a reality there is a need to create the right avenues and platforms for learners to be equipped with industry-ready skills,&quot; Sandip Patel, Managing Director at IBM India/South Asia, said.<br> <br> SkillsBuild has covered 40,000 learners with 1.10 lakh learning hours and 80,000 course completion since its launch in November 2019 in India.<br> <br> The IBM STEM for Girls is a three-year program that initially reached over 600 secondary schools and 78,000 girls and 45,000 boys in the first year. Its goal is to advance the STEM skills and career prospects of two lakh girls and one lakh boys by promoting digital literacy, coding/tech skills, career development, and girls' empowerment by 2022.<br> Thu Nov 26 14:30:55 IST 2020 Sweden-getting-on-board-Indias-Venus-mission-with-payload-to-explore-planet <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Sweden is getting on board India's Venus orbiter mission 'Shukrayaan' with a scientific instrument to explore the planet.<br> <br> Ambassador of Sweden to India, Klas Molin said Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) is engaged in the venture, its second collaborative project with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).<br> <br> &quot;IRF's satellite instrument Venusian Neutrals Analyzer (VNA) will study how the charged particles from the Sun interact with the atmosphere and exosphere of the planet&quot;, he told PTI.<br> <br> &quot;The new Venus mission means that the collaboration between IRF and ISRO continues&quot;.<br> <br> The VNA would be the ninth generation of IRFs series of miniatured ion and ENA (Energetic Neutral Atoms) instruments, according to Swedish officials.<br> <br> The first generation was named SARA (Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyzer) and was launched on board the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 that explored the Moon in 2008-2009.<br> <br> SARA consisted of two sensors.<br> <br> One was a detector for energetic neutral atoms and the other was an instrument to measure the flow of ions in the solar wind.<br> <br> The instrument studied how the plasma around the Moon interacts with the moon where the surface is not protected by an atmosphere or a magnetic field, they said.<br> <br> &quot;For the first time ever, SARA could investigate energetic atoms that are knocked from the lunar surface when they are hit by the solar wind&quot;, Swedish officials said.<br> <br> The SARA experiment was the first collaborative project between IRF and the ISRO.<br> <br> On collaboration in general with India in the field of space, Molin said Sweden has quite a lot to provide, both from its institutions and from space tech companies.<br> <br> He said India has a clear ambition to explore the universe, other planets and to send humans to space.<br> <br> &quot;This segment includes to a large extent R&amp;D effort, both regarding space technologies and services.&quot;<br> <br> &quot;The unique Space Tech Testbed capability at Esrange can also carry out even more advanced tests of equipment and technologies that should be used in exploration campaigns&quot;, Molin said.<br> <br> On future prospects in the space field between the two countries, the Ambassador noted that India has recently created National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) to provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.<br> <br> This is part of reforms aimed at giving a boost to private sector participation in the entire range of space activities, he said.<br> <br> &quot;The future is exciting as India is opening the space market for commercial player participation and easing import- export restrictions, including 100 per cent FDI allowed in satellite development and deployment.<br> <br> It is important to underline that ISRO will remain as the main Indian customer in the coming years, but the market growth could be exponential&quot;, Molin said.<br> <br> According to ISRO officials, the Indian space agency has short-listed 20 space-based experiment proposals, including from France, for its proposed Venus mission to study the planet for more than four years.<br> <br> They include &quot;collaborative contributions&quot; from Russia, France, Sweden and Germany.<br> <br> ISRO was eyeing June, 2023 for the country's first mission to Venus.<br> <br> &quot;But we are currently reviewing this mission timeline due to delays arising from the pandemic situation&quot;, an ISRO official said.<br> <br> &quot;Future launch opportunity is either in 2024 or 2026&quot;.<br> <br> It was noted that optimal launch window (when Venus is closest to the Earth) comes about every 19 months.<br> <br> Of the Indian and international payload proposals it received in response to an announcement of opportunity for novel space-based experiments to study Venus, ISRO has short- listed 20 and they are currently under review.<br> <br> The one already selected, according to French space agency CNES, is France's VIRAL instrument (Venus Infrared Atmospheric Gas Linker) co-developed with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the LATMOS atmospheres, environments and space observations laboratory attached to the French national scientific research centre CNRS.<br> <br> Scientific objectives of ISRO's Venus mission are investigation of the surface processes and shallow subsurface stratigraphy; and solar wind interaction with Venusian Ionosphere, and studying the structure, composition and dynamics of the atmosphere, according ISRO.<br> <br> The payload capability of the proposed 2500-kg satellite, planned to be launched on GSLV Mk II rocket, is likely to be 175 kg with 500W of power.<br> <br> The proposed orbit is expected to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus.<br> <br> This orbit is likely to be reduced gradually, over several months to a lower apoapsis (farthest point).<br> Wed Nov 25 16:28:00 IST 2020 Data-from-NASA-Curiosity-rover-hints-at-ancient-megaflood-in-Mar-Study <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Giant flash floods once washed through Gale Crater on Mars' equator around four billion years ago, according to a study which hints at the possibility that life may have existed on the Red Planet.<br> <br> The research, published recently in the journal Scientific Reports, assessed data collected by NASA's Curiosity rover -- launched in November 2011 -- and found that &quot;gigantic flash floods,&quot; likely touched off by the heat of a meteoritic impact, unleashed the ice stored on the Martian surface.<br> <br> Based on the analysis, scientists including those from Cornell University in the US, said these floods of &quot;unimaginable magnitude&quot; set up gigantic ripples that are tell-tale geologic structures familiar to scientists on the Earth.<br> <br> &quot;We identified megafloods for the first time using detailed sedimentological data observed by the rover Curiosity,&quot; said study co-author Alberto G. Fairen from Cornell University.<br> <br> According to the scientists, geological features including the work of water and wind have been frozen in time on Mars for about four billion years.<br> <br> They said these features convey processes that shaped the surface of both the Earth and the Mars in the past.<br> <br> This case includes the occurrence of giant wave-shaped features in sedimentary layers of Gale crater, often called &quot;megaripples&quot; or &quot;antidunes&quot; that are about 30-feet high and spaced about 450 feet apart, lead author Ezat Heydari, a professor of physics at Jackson State University in the US, noted.<br> <br> The antidunes are indicative of flowing megafloods at the bottom of Mars' Gale Crater about four billion years ago, which are identical to the features formed by melting ice on Earth about two million years ago, Heydari added.<br> <br> According to the study, the most likely cause of the Mars flooding was the melting of ice from heat generated by a large impact, which released carbon dioxide and methane from the planet's frozen reservoirs.<br> <br> The water vapour and release of gases combined to produce a short period of warm and wet conditions on Mars, the researchers said.<br> <br> They believe the condensation may have formed water vapour clouds, which in turn likely created torrential rain, possibly planetwide.<br> <br> This water may have entered Gale Crater, and combined with water coming down from Mount Sharp in Gale Crater to produce gigantic flash floods, the scientists added.<br> <br> The Curiosity rover science team had already established that Gale Crater once had persistent lakes and streams in the ancient past.<br> <br> The researchers believe these long-lived bodies of water are good indicators that the crater, as well as Mount Sharp within it, were capable of supporting microbial life. Mon Nov 23 16:53:39 IST 2020 AI-ML-5G-IoT-will-be-most-important-tech-in-2021-Study <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) would be the most important technologies in 2021, according to a new study by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).<br> <br> The technical professional organisation on Monday released the results of a survey of Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Technology Officers (CTO) in the US,<br> <br> the UK, China, India and Brazil.<br> <br> The survey was on the most important technologies for 2021, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the speed of their technology adoption and the industries expected to be most impacted by technology.<br> <br> On which would be the most important technologies, nearly one-third of the total respondents (32 per cent) said AI and ML followed by 5G (20 per cent) and IoT (14 per cent), according to an IEEE statement.<br> <br> Manufacturing (19 per cent), healthcare (18 per cent), financial services (15 per cent) and education (13 per cent) are the industries that most believe would be impacted by technology, according to the CIOs and CTOs surveyed.<br> <br> At the same time, more than half (52 per cent) of CIOs and CTOs see their biggest challenge as dealing with aspects of COVID-19 recovery in relation to business operations.<br> <br> These challenges include a permanent hybrid remote and office work structure (22 per cent), office and facilities reopenings and return (17 per cent), and managing permanent remote working (13 per cent).<br> <br> However, 11 per cent said the agility to stop and start IT initiatives as this unpredictable environment continues would be their biggest challenge.<br> <br> Another 11 per cent cited online security threats, including those related to remote workers, as the biggest challenge they see.<br> <br> CIOs and CTOs surveyed have sped up adopting some technologies due to the pandemic.<br> <br> More than half (55 per cent) of respondents have accelerated adoption of cloud computing, 52 per cent have accelerated 5G adoption and 51 per cent have accelerated AI and ML.<br> <br> The adoption of IoT (42 per cent), augmented and virtual reality (35 per cent) and video conferencing (35 per cent) technologies have also been accelerated due to the global pandemic.<br> <br> Compared to a year ago, CIOs and CTOs overwhelmingly (92 per cent) believe their company is better prepared to respond to a potentially catastrophic interruption such as a data breach or natural disaster.<br> <br> &quot;Whats more, of those who say they are better prepared, 58 per cent strongly agree that COVID-19 accelerated their preparedness,&quot; the statement said.<br> <br> Asked which technologies would have the greatest impact on global COVID-19 recovery, one in four (25 per cent) of those surveyed said AI and ML.<br> <br> The top two concerns for CIOs and CTOs when it comes to the cybersecurity of their organisation are security issues related to the mobile workforce including employees bringing their own devices to work (37 per cent) and ensuring the IoT is secure (35 per cent).<br> <br> This is not surprising, since the number of connected devices such as smartphones, tablets, sensors, robots and drones is increasing dramatically.<br> <br> Slightly more than one-third (34 per cent) of CIO and CTO respondents said they can track and manage 26-50 per cent of devices connected to their business, while 20 per cent of those surveyed said they could track and manage 51-75 per cent of connected devices.<br> <br> &quot;The IEEE 2020 Global Survey of CIOs and CTOs&quot; surveyed 350 CIOs or CTOs in the US, the UK, China, India and Brazil from September 21 - October 9, 2020, it was stated.<br> Mon Nov 23 16:02:01 IST 2020 scientists-discover-mechanism-that-controls-brain-development <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Scientists have achieved a major milestone in understanding the complex mechanisms that control development of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that plays a key role in attention, perception, awareness, thought, memory, language, and consciousness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Brain is composed of billions of neurons that communicate together by forming numerous connections and synapses. The cerebral cortex (plural cortices) is the outer layer of neural tissue of the cerebrum of the brain in humans and other mammals. Previous studies have shown that evolution of the brain in mammals has been accompanied by a progressive enlargement of the cerebral cortex.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The intentional study, led by Prof Lars Allan Larsen and Prof Søren Tvorup Christensen at University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark, has been published in Nature Communications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The team started with genetic analyses of a large family in which children were born with primary microcephaly, a rare congenital brain disorder characterised by a reduction in the size of the cerebral cortex and varying degree of cognitive dysfunction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The scientists found that the children were carriers of a mutation in both copies of the gene, RRP7A, and by the use of stem cell cultures as well as zebrafish as model organism, RRP7A was shown to play a critical role for brain stem cells to proliferate and form new neurons. This process is extremely complex and slight disturbances may have serious consequences, which may explain why the mutation affects the brain and no other tissues and organs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Our discovery is surprising, because it reveals hitherto unknown mechanisms involved in the development of the brain. In addition, it highlights the value of research in rare disorders, which is important both for the patients and family affected by the disease but also beneficial for society in the form of new knowledge about human biology," said Prof Larsen, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers further discovered that the mutation in RRP7A affects the function of the so-called primary cilia, which project in a single copy as antenna-like structures on the surface of cells to register environmental cues and control the formation of new neurons in the developing brain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Our results open a new avenue for understanding how primary cilia control developmental processes, and how certain mutations at these antenna-like structures compromise the formation of tissues and organs during development. To this end, we have already initiated a series of investigations to understand the mechanisms by which RRP7A regulates ciliary signaling to control formation and organization of neurons in the brain, and how defects in this signaling may lead to brain malformation and cognitive disorders, said Prof Christensen at Department of Biology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Nov 19 11:53:21 IST 2020 scientists-develop-energy-saving-smart-window <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Scientists have developed a liquid window panel that can simultaneously block the sun to regulate solar transmission, while trapping thermal heat that can be released through the day and night, helping to reduce energy consumption in buildings.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) developed their 'smart window' by placing hydrogel-based liquid within glass panels and found that it can reduce up to 45 per cent of energy consumption in buildings in simulations, compared to traditional glass windows. It is also around 30 per cent more energy efficient than commercially available low-emissivity (energy-efficient) glass, while being cheaper to make.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The study has been published in the journal Joule. The research team is hoping to collaborate with industry partners to commercialise the smart window.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The 'smart window' is the first reported instance in a scientific journal of energy-saving smart windows made using liquid, and supports the NTU Smart Campus vision which aims to develop technologically advanced solutions for a sustainable future.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Windows are a key component in a building's design, but they are also the least energy-efficient part. Due to the ease with which heat can transfer through glass, windows have a significant impact on heating and cooling costs of a building.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>According to a 2009 report by the United Nations, buildings account for 40 per cent of global energy usage, and windows are responsible for half of that energy consumption.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Conventional energy-saving low-emissivity windows are made with expensive coatings that cut down infrared light passing into or out of a building, thus helping to reduce demand for heating and cooling. However, they do not regulate visible light, which is a major component of sunlight that causes buildings to heat up.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>To develop a window to overcome these limitations, the NTU researchers turned to water, which absorbs a high amount of heat before it begins to get hot—a phenomenon known as high specific heat capacity.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>They created a mixture of micro-hydrogel, water and a stabiliser, and found through experiments and simulations that it can effectively reduce energy consumption in a variety of climates, due to its ability to respond to a change in temperature. Thanks to the hydrogel, the liquid mixture turns opaque when exposed to heat, thus blocking sunlight, and, when cool, returns to its original 'clear' state.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>At the same time, the high heat capacity of water allows a large amount of thermal energy to be stored instead of getting transferred through the glass and into the building during the hot daytime. The heat will then be gradually cooled and released at night.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>"Our innovation combines the unique properties of both types of materials -- hydrogel and water. By using a hydrogel-based liquid we simplify the fabrication process to pouring the mixture between two glass panels. This gives the window a unique advantage of high uniformity, which means the window can be created in any shape and size," said Dr Long Yi, lead author and Senior Lecturer at the School of Materials Science &amp; Engineering.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>As a result of these features, the NTU research team believes that their innovation is best suited for use in office buildings, where operating hours are mostly in the day.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>As a proof of concept, the scientists conducted outdoor tests in hot (Singapore, Guangzhou) and cold (Beijing) environments.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The Singapore test revealed that the smart liquid window had a lower temperature (50°C) during the hottest time of the day (noon) compared to a normal glass window (84°C). The Beijing tests showed that the room using the smart liquid window consumed 11 per cent less energy to maintain the same temperature compared to the room with a normal glass window.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The scientists also measured when the highest value of stored thermal energy of the day occurred.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>This 'temperature peak' in the normal glass window was 12 pm, and in the smart liquid window was shifted to 2 pm. If this temperature peak shift is translated to a shift in the time that a building needs to draw on electrical power to cool or warm the building, it should result in lower energy tariff charges for users.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Simulations using an actual building model and weather data of four cities (Shanghai, Las Vegas, Riyadh, and Singapore) showed that the smart liquid window had the best energy-saving performance in all four cities when compared to regular glass windows and low emissivity windows.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Soundproof tests also suggested that the smart liquid window reduces noise 15 per cent more effectively than double-glazed windows.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Nov 18 16:09:33 IST 2020 cannabis-potency-soars-over-past-half-century <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Largest study on how cannabis has changed over time finds increased strength putting consumers at greater risk of harm.</p> <p>Street cannabis across the world has become substantially stronger carrying an increased risk of harm, says a new research.<br> </p> <p>The team behind the study from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath, synthesised data from over 80,000 cannabis samples tested in the past 50 years from street samples collected in the USA, UK, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Italy and New Zealand.</p> <p>The findings are published in the journal <i>Addiction.</i></p> <p>The researchers investigated how concentrations of THC (the intoxicating component of cannabis responsible for giving users a 'high') had changed over time in different types of cannabis. In herbal cannabis, they found that THC concentrations increased by 14 percent from 1970 to 2017. This was primarily due to a rising market share of stronger varieties such as sinsemilla relative to traditional herbal cannabis which contains seeds and less THC.</p> <p>The team has previously found consistent evidence that frequent use of cannabis with higher levels of THC carries an increased risk of problems such as addiction and psychotic disorders.</p> <p>"As the strength of cannabis has increased, so too has the number of people entering treatment for cannabis use problems. More Europeans are now entering drug treatment because of cannabis than heroin or cocaine," said lead author Dr Tom Freeman, Director of the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath.</p> <p>The researchers found that the increases in THC were particularly high for cannabis resin, with THC concentrations rising by 24 percent between 1975 and 2017. Cannabis resin is extracted from herbal cannabis and is now typically stronger than herbal cannabis according to the findings.</p> <p>They also looked at concentrations of cannabidiol or CBD, which is not intoxicating but may have potential medical uses such as helping people to quit cannabis. In contrast to THC, they found no evidence for changes in CBD in cannabis over time.</p> <p>Study co-author Sam Craft also from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath explained: "Cannabis resin—or 'hash'—is often seen as a safer type of cannabis, but our findings show that it is now stronger than herbal cannabis. Traditionally, cannabis resin contained much lower amounts of THC with equal quantities of CBD, however CBD concentrations have remained stable as THC has risen substantially, meaning it is now much more harmful than it was many years ago."</p> <p>Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the world but has recently been legalised in Canada, Uruguay and several states in the USA.</p> <p>The findings of this new study have particular relevance in light of growing demands to legalise cannabis in an attempt to make it safer. Most recently a referendum in New Zealand (which ultimately failed to receive public support) included measures to limit the strength of cannabis sold through legalisation.</p> <p>The researchers argue that increases in cannabis strength highlight the need to implement wider strategies for harm reduction similar to those used for alcohol—such as standard units and public guidelines on safer consumption limits.</p> <p>"As the strength of cannabis has risen, consumers are faced with limited information to help them monitor their intake and guide decisions about relative benefits and risks. The introduction of a standard unit system for cannabis—similar to standard alcohol units—could help people to limit their consumption and use it more safely," Freeman said.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Tue Nov 17 16:15:16 IST 2020 wearable-circuits-printed-directly-onto-human-skin <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the near future, electronic circuits could be printed directly on to your skin to monitor health indicators, such as temperature, blood oxygen, heart rate and blood pressure, suggests a recent study.</p> <p>Wearable electronics that augments memory, intellect, creativity, communication and physical senses are getting smaller, more comfortable and increasingly capable of interfacing with the human body. To achieve a truly seamless integration, electronics could someday be printed directly on people's skin.</p> <p>Researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials &amp; Interfaces have safely placed wearable circuits directly onto the surface of human skin to monitor vital signs. The latest generation of wearable electronics for health monitoring combines soft on-body sensors with flexible printed circuit boards (FPCBs) for signal readout and wireless transmission to health care workers. However, before the sensor is attached to the body, it must be printed or lithographed onto a carrier material, which can involve sophisticated fabrication approaches.</p> <p>To simplify the process and improve the performance of the devices, Peng He, Weiwei Zhao, Huanyu Cheng and colleagues wanted to develop a room-temperature method to sinter metal nanoparticles onto paper or fabric for FPCBs and directly onto human skin for on-body sensors. Sintering—the process of fusing metal or other particles together—usually requires heat, which wouldn't be suitable for attaching circuits directly to skin.</p> <p>The researchers designed an electronic health monitoring system that consisted of sensor circuits printed directly on the back of a human hand, as well as a paper-based FPCB attached to the inside of a shirt sleeve.</p> <p>To make the FPCB part of the system, the researchers coated a piece of paper with a novel sintering aid and used an inkjet printer with silver nanoparticle ink to print circuits onto the coating. As solvent evaporated from the ink, the silver nanoparticles sintered at room temperature to form circuits. A commercially available chip was added to wirelessly transmit the data, and the resulting FPCB was attached to a volunteer's sleeve.</p> <p>The team used the same process to sinter circuits on the volunteer's hand, except printing was done with a polymer stamp.</p> <p>The researchers made a full electronic health monitoring system that sensed temperature, humidity, blood oxygen, heart rate, blood pressure and electrophysiological signals and analysed its performance. The signals obtained by these sensors were comparable to or better than those measured by conventional commercial devices.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> Tue Nov 17 12:25:15 IST 2020 study-reveals-physical-demands-breaking-two-hour-marathon-barrier <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Elite runners need a specific combination of physiological abilities to have any chance of running a sub-two-hour marathon, new research shows.</p> <p>The study is based on detailed testing of athletes who took part in Nike's Breaking2 project—an ambitious bid to break the two-hour barrier.</p> <p>Prof Andrew Jones, of the University of Exeter, said the findings reveal that elite marathon runners must have a "perfect balance" of VO2 max (rate of oxygen uptake), efficiency of movement and a high "lactate turn point" (above which the body experiences more fatigue).</p> <p>The VO2 measured among elite runners shows they can take in oxygen twice as fast at marathon pace as a "normal" person of the same age could while sprinting flat-out.</p> <p>"Some of the results—particularly the VO2 max—were not actually as high as we expected," Professor Jones said.</p> <p>"Instead, what we see in the physiology of these runners is a perfect balance of characteristics for marathon performance.</p> <p>"The requirements of a two-hour marathon have been extensively debated, but the actual physiological demands have never been reported before."</p> <p>The runners in the study included Eliud Kipchoge, who took part in Breaking2—falling just short of the two-hour target—but later achieving the goal in 1:59:40.2 in the Ineos 1:59 challenge.</p> <p>Based on outdoor running tests on 16 athletes in the selection stage of Breaking2, the study found that a 59kg runner would need to take in about four litres of oxygen per minute (or 67ml per kg of weight per minute) to maintain two-hour marathon pace (21.1 km/h).</p> <p>"To run for two hours at this speed, athletes must maintain what we call 'steady-state' VO2," Professor Jones said.</p> <p>"This means they meet their entire energy needs aerobically (from oxygen) - rather than relying on anaerobic respiration, which depletes carbohydrate stores in the muscles and leads to more rapid fatigue."</p> <p>In addition to VO2 max, the second key characteristic is running "economy", meaning the body must use oxygen efficiently—both internally and through an effective running action.</p> <p>The third trait, lactate turn point, is the percentage of VO2 max a runner can sustain before anaerobic respiration begins.</p> <p>"If and when this happens, carbohydrates in the muscles are used at a high rate, depleting glycogen stores," Professor Jones explained.</p> <p>"At this point—which many marathon runners may know as 'the wall'—the body has to switch to burning fat, which is less efficient and ultimately means the runner slows down.</p> <p>"The runners we studied—15 of the 16 from East Africa—seem to know intuitively how to run just below their 'critical speed', close to the 'lactate turn point' but never exceeding it.</p> <p>"This is especially challenging because—even for elite runners—the turn point drops slightly over the course of a marathon.</p> <p>"Having said that, we suspect that the very best runners in this group, especially Eliud Kipchoge, show remarkable fatigue resistance."</p> <p>The elite runners even joined in with the local runners and helped to pace their training. The testing was conducted in Exeter and at Nike's performance centre in Oregon, USA.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Nov 16 16:11:49 IST 2020 famisafe-screen-time-app-secure-safety-of-kids-online <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Kids use the internet for educational purposes. However, the internet consists of many sites that are either inappropriate for kids or are illegal. If there is no restriction on their smartphones that are using the internet, they may accidently visit those sites which can change their psychology of the mind. That is why the online safety of kids becomes important for every parent. For this purpose, they use a screen time app that can monitor all the online activity on their kid's phone. Many parental control apps have screen time features, but the best among them is&nbsp;<a href="">FamiSafe app</a>. This application is can easily limit the screen time of a kid's phone using a remote parent device. FamiSafe is the most advanced&nbsp;<a href="">screen time tracker app</a>&nbsp;with GPRS-enabled features. Using this feature, we can track the exact location of a kid's phone on a real-time basis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The need for Parental control app for parents</b></p> <ul> <li>Online safety of kids: - There are many drug-selling sites, sports betting sites, adult dating apps, and porn sites that are inappropriate for kids. These sites can be accessed if there are no restrictions made using the parental control app on the kid's phone. Using&nbsp;<a href="">FamiSafe</a>, we can easily restrict these sites and block them from being accessed on a kid's phone using a remote parent's device.</li> <li>Track live location of kids:-Some kids is notorious. Children often tell their parents that they are going out to school and go to a park or movie theatre with friends. However, using the FamiSafe app, we can track the live location of kids and find the exact route they follow. The information that this app provides is reliable and 100% accurate. That is why it is also used for tracking the exact location of criminals by investigation or crime branch.</li> <li>Protection against kids' kidnappers:- Kidnappers use new ways to kidnap kids of rich parents. They kidnap them to get ransom money from their rich parents. Hence safety of kids is of utmost importance in this critical situation. By using the FamiSafe app, we can protect our kids from kid's kidnappers by tracking the live location of kid's phones. In this way, parents can easily ensure the safety of kids and protect them from any threat or potential danger.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How to use the FamiSafe application</b></p> <p>FamiSafe is a free app to limit the screen time of kids' phones. The application consumes less space on kids' phones and works in invisible mode. Parents can get all the information like call logs, incoming and outgoing messages, and interactions on social media profiles, and chat history on Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp. Not only this, FamiSafe application has suspicious photo detection features that can be stopped immediately by using a remote parent device at the time of need.</p> <p>Download link for android users:<a href=""></a></p> <p>Download link for apple users:<a href=""></a></p> <p>Download FamiSafe from Amazon:-<a href=""></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Features of FamiSafe Screen time app</b></p> <ul> <li>Android compatibility: - This application works perfectly on Android devices. Parents can easily download this application on their kid's Android device without any difficulty. They can go to the android play store on kids' phones install it easily.</li> <li>iPhone compatibility: - Apart from android platforms FamiSafe is compatible with the iOS platform as well. Parents need to download and install the FamiSafe app from the apple store on a kid's phone.</li> <li>Block or restrict sites remotely:-Parents can easily restrict or block illegal or inappropriate sites using the FamiSafe parental control app. In this way, we can easily monitor their online activity and grant access to good sites while restricting bad or inappropriate sites for kids.</li> <li>Excellent user interface: - This application has an excellent user interface which makes it user-friendly. Parents find no difficulty in tracking the live location of their kid's phone or checking their search history on the browser. We can also check their incoming and outgoing messages and call logs using the FamiSafe application.</li> <li>Works in hidden mode:- Since this application is installed in the kid's phone in the undetectable mode, it becomes invisible after installation on the kid's phone. That is why children hardly notice any spying activity from their phones.</li> </ul> <p>FamiSafe is the best solution to secure the safety of kids online. This application consumes less space on kid's devices, thereby making space for other useful apps.</p> Thu Nov 26 17:59:49 IST 2020 dogs-influence-by-owner-expression-of-preference <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Dogs are sensitive to their owners' choice even though they prefer to fetch their favorite toy when it is in reach, suggests a new study.</p> <p>Researchers at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE ) investigated whether dogs' behaviours are guided by human displays of preference or by the animals' own choices.</p> <p>They found that dogs' looking times, but not fetching behaviour, were influenced by the owner's expression of preference. Although the studies did not demonstrate that dogs override their own preferences for an object, the results suggested that the owners' expressed preference was perceived by the dogs and guided their perceptual focus.</p> <p>Studies on animal cognition deepen our understanding of the human mind's evolution and help inform policy makers in the production of legislation around animal keeping. Whether dogs have any idea that their humans have thoughts and emotions of their own, is one of the hot topics in dog research.</p> <p>One of these goals has been to investigate how dogs respond to expressions signaling the preferences of humans.</p> <p>The new study published in <i>Frontiers in Psychology</i> follows up on previous efforts in this direction.</p> <p>“18-month-old children recognise that their own preference might differ from that of others and they understand how desire can be inferred from emotional expressions, but 14-month-olds do not. We wanted to test where dogs are on this scale,” said Eniko Kubinyi, leading author of the study, senior researcher at Eötvös Loránd University.</p> <p>The researchers first tested a subset of dogs on their spontaneous preference for either a dog toy or a bracelet. The toy was without exception the more desirable object. Next, owners displayed happy expressions towards the bracelet and made disgusted faces towards the toy. Then the owner asked the dog to fetch, without providing additional guiding cues. All dogs fetched the toy, indicating that their own choice was not overcome by the emotional expressions of the owner. "Thus dogs either are not able to distinguish between their own and the owners' preference or they failed to inhibit the "wrong" response" explained Flóra Szánthó, co-author.</p> <p>The researchers decided to dig deeper. “Fetching was clearly not a good choice to measure dogs' sensitivity to others' preferences for several reasons" noted Kubinyi.<br> <br> “Since their own favourite object was in reach, the dogs had little incentive to factor in the owner's choice in their responses. We assumed that if the same objects were out of reach, they would stimulate what appears to be "showing" behavior in the dogs and they would direct more attention towards their owners' pick, thereby also weakening the affordance provided by their preferred object." <br> <br> To test this hypothesis, the researchers decided to put the objects up on the laboratory's windowsill where the dogs could not reach them.</p> <p>Fifty-one dogs were assigned to one of two experimental groups: a matching/congruent condition where owners displayed happy expressions towards the toy and made disgusted faces towards the bracelet, and a non-matching/incongruent condition, where owners showed happiness toward the bracelet and disgust toward the toy. After the emotion display, the toy and the bracelet were placed out of reach and the researchers now measured how much time the dogs looked at each object.</p> <p>"In this case", said Ivaylo Iotchev, postdoc at Eötvös Loránd University, and co-author, "the dogs looked at the favoured toy when their owner had previously responded to it with a happy face. In the other group they looked the same amount of time at the bracelet and the toy."</p> <p>The demonstration of the owners' preference affected the dogs' behavior. “It is not certain that this influence is the result of inferred and shared representations," said Kubinyi.</p> <p>"We have not found conclusive evidence that dogs, similarly to one and a half.year-old toddlers, understand the subjectivity of the desire—different people can have different attitudes toward the same object.</p> <p>“If they indeed infer the owner's preference, they might not understand fetching as an act of offering an object to a human, or response inhibition, an important aspect of cognitive control, was not sufficiently strong to overwrite the animals' own preference," Kubinyi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Nov 16 11:35:21 IST 2020 men-test-less-powerful-their-private-relationships <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Men perceive themselves as having less power in their private than in their public lives, suggests a new study.</p> <p>The study showed that men perceive themselves as having more power in public life, while women view themselves as having more power in their private life. Notably, the participants valued private life over public life.</p> <p>Both men and women agree that power in your private life matters more than that in public life.</p> <p>Power is often associated with men who possess visible status and money. But it can also be exercised in one's private life to initiate and relationships with a partner, children and friends.</p> <p>Researchers from Lund University, Stockholm University and Gävle University asked 808 Americans which areas they believe are important in life, and where they felt they had the most power.</p> <p>"The debate on gender equality tends to focus on topics in the public domain such as salaries, leadership in companies and politics, where women are underrepresented. However, our results influence how we should view power today", says Sverker Sikström, professor of psychology at Lund University in Sweden.</p> <p>When power in the various areas was weighted by the importance participants assigned to each area, perceived gender differences in power disappeared.</p> <p>"It is difficult to maintain the position that men have more power than women, when women are perceived as having more power in the areas that are viewed as the most important,” says Sverker Sikström.</p> <p>“The case for equality also needs to be made in the private life, where men often lose custody cases, are more negatively affected by separations, and have weaker networks of friends. Thus, equality needs to be improved both for men and women, in both private and public life."</p> Fri Nov 13 15:34:39 IST 2020 suicide-rates-increase-when-natural-disasters-strike <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Suicide rates increase when natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes occur, confirms a team of researchers that examined the impact of 281 natural disasters on suicide rates during a 12-year span.</p> <p>Disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes are occurring with increasing frequency and severity across the globe. In addition to impacting local communities, infrastructure and the economy, these disasters also can lead to severe emotional distress and anxiety for those living in their paths.</p> <p>The researchers—including the University of Delaware's Jennifer Horney, founding director of the epidemiology programme in the College of Health Sciences—looked at disaster declaration data and found overall suicide rates increased by 23 per cent when compared with rates before and after the disaster. Suicide rates increased for all types of disasters—including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms—with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster, according to an article published in <i>The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention</i>.</p> <p>"That finding is important, I think, because those could be preventable deaths with better disaster preparedness and response," Horney said. "It's particularly important to consider the risk of suicide since those with more existing social vulnerabilities live in areas with a greater risk of being damaged by disaster."</p> <p>The researchers looked at counties in the continental US with a single major disaster declaration between 2003 and 2015, based on data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For each county, suicide rates were estimated for three 12-month periods before and after the disaster. Although FEMA gives disaster declarations for nine types of disasters, storms, floods and hurricanes occurred frequently enough to be included in the study.</p> <p>For all disaster types combined as well as individually for severe storms, flooding and ice storms, researchers found the suicide rate increased in both the first and second year following a disaster, then declined in the third year. Flooding saw suicide rates increase by nearly 18 per cent the first year and 61 per cent the second year before declining to the baseline rate after that.</p> <p>By contrast, the suicide rate following hurricanes rose in the first year—jumping 26 per cent—then returned to the baseline in the second year. "Counties impacted by hurricanes saw the biggest increase in the rate of suicide in the first year, which makes sense because it's the most widespread type of disaster among those we examined," Horney said.</p> <p>The study only looked at counties with a single disaster declaration and excluded those with multiple disaster episodes. Therefore, "these data probably underestimate the association between disaster exposure and suicide because we know that there are a lot of additional mental health impacts from repetitive loss," Horney said.</p> <p>The findings suggest a need for more mental health resources being made available to address challenges that can arise after a natural disaster.</p> Fri Nov 13 11:38:58 IST 2020 cut-back-on-chores-chill-time-to-boost-academic-result <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>New findings highlight how light physical activity can drain time from other movement behaviours at the detriment of academic achievement.</p> <p>Determining a child's best daily balance of sleep, activity and relaxation can be a challenge, but if you're hoping to improve their academic results, then it's time to cut back on chores and chill time, according to research from the University of South Australia.</p> <p>Exploring associations between 24-hour daily activities (sleep, sedentary time, light physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity) and academic achievement, the study found that lesser the time children spent in light physical activity, the better their academic outcomes.</p> <p>Specifically, researchers found that lower light physical activity is related to better numeracy and literacy, and that higher sedentary time is related to better literacy.</p> <p>"When we talk about what makes up a child's best day for academic achievement, we have to consider all the different elements of that day—sleep, exercise, activity, rest and play—but of course, within the boundaries of 24 hours," NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow, UniSA's Dr Dot Dumuid says.</p> <p>"If a child is spending more time in light physical activity—doing chores, playing computer, or just puttering around—then they have less time for sleep, study and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, all of which are good for academic achievement.</p> <p>"In some ways it's like Newton's law—for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction—yet in this instance, every increase in one behaviour has a corresponding and equal decrease in one or more of the remaining behaviours.</p> <p>"So, you could say: it's not only what you do, but what you don't do that contributes to academic success."</p> <p>The study assessed 528 children (age 9-11 years) from the multinational cross-sectional ISCOLE study, and 1874 children (age 11-12 years) from the CheckPoint phase of the Growing Up in Australia study, with movement behaviours collected via seven-day accelerometry, and academic achievement tested across literacy and numeracy skills as determined by NAPLAN.</p> <p>NAPLAN is an annual assessment for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It tests the types of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life. The tests cover skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy.</p> <p>Light physical activity incorporated tasks such as doing chores, sitting at the computer, playing video games, preparing or eating food and general puttering around.</p> <p>The results were consistent across Australian samples, different age groups, different academic standards and achieved with different accelerometers, indicating the robustness of the study.</p> <p>Co-researcher, Prof Tim Olds says that poorer academic achievement is unlikely to be related to light physical activity per se, but that it displaces the remaining behaviours. "Each day has a fixed budget of 24 hours, so it's not so much about the fact that children engage in light physical activity, but by doing so, they reduce the amount of time they could be spending in other activities," Olds says.</p> <p>"Our results are consistent with the 24-hour movement guidelines of around one hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day, less than two hours of recreational screen time, and between 9-11 hours of sleep per night.</p> <p>"If parents can aim for their children getting enough sleep, enough exercise and sufficient study time, then their children might not even have enough time for light physical activity— problem solved!"</p> <p>School-related sedentary time constitutes 25 per cent of total sedentary time across a day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Nov 12 15:28:00 IST 2020 novel-transparent-solar-cells-boost-efficiency-beyond-limits <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Climate change crisis demands a shift from conventionally used fossil fuels to efficient sources of green energy. Solar power has shown immense potential as a futuristic, 'clean' source of energy.</p> <p>Technologists have been looking for ways to advance the current solar cell technology. Now, scientists have put forth an innovative design for the development of a high-power transparent solar cell. This innovation brings us closer to realizing our goal of a sustainable green future with off-the-grid living.</p> <p>Researchers are looking into the concept of "personalised energy," which would make on-site energy generation possible. For example, solar cells could possibly be integrated into windows, vehicles, cellphone screens, and other everyday products. But for this, it is important for the solar panels to be handy and transparent. To this end, scientists have recently developed "transparent photovoltaic" (TPV) devices—transparent versions of the traditional solar cell. <br> <br> Unlike the conventionally dark, opaque solar cells (which absorb visible light), TPVs make use of the "invisible" light that falls in the ultraviolet (UV) range.</p> <p>Conventional solar cells can be either "wet type" (solution based) or "dry type" (made up of metal-oxide semiconductors). Of these, dry-type solar cells have a slight edge over the wet-type ones: they are more reliable, eco-friendly, and cost-effective. Moreover, metal-oxides are well-suited to make use of the UV light. Despite all this, however, the potential of metal-oxide TPVs has not been fully explored until now.</p> <p>To this end, researchers from Incheon National University, Republic of Korea, came up with an innovative design for a metal-oxide-based TPV device. They inserted an ultra-thin layer of silicon (Si) between two transparent metal-oxide semiconductors with the goal of developing an efficient TPV device.</p> <p>These findings were published in a study in Nano Energy, which was made available online ahead of the scheduled final publication in the December 2020 issue). Prof Joondong Kim, who led the study, explains, "Our aim was to devise a high-power-producing transparent solar cell, by embedding an ultra-thin film of amorphous Si between zinc oxide and nickel oxide."</p> <p>This novel design consisting of the Si film had three major advantages. First, it allowed for the utilisation of longer-wavelength light (as opposed to bare TPVs). Second, it resulted in efficient photon collection. Third, it allowed for the faster transport of charged particles to the electrodes. Moreover, the design can potentially generate electricity even under low-light situations (for instance, on cloudy or rainy days). The scientists further confirmed the power-generating ability of the device by using it to operate the DC motor of a fan.</p> <p>Based on these findings, the research team is optimistic that the real-life applicability of this new TPV design will soon be possible.</p> <p>As for potential applications, there are plenty, as Prof Kim explains, "We hope to extend the use of our TPV design to all kinds of material, right from glass buildings to mobile devices like electric cars, smartphones, and sensors." Not just this, the team is excited to take their design to the next level, by using innovative materials such as 2D semiconductors, nanocrystals of metal-oxides, and sulfide semiconductors.</p> <p>"Our research is essential for a sustainable green future—especially to connect the clean energy system with no or minimal carbon footprint," concludes Prof Kim.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Nov 12 11:57:41 IST 2020 what-makes-human-intelligence-special <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Neuroscientists have released a study that breaks with the past 50 years of neuroscientific opinion, arguing that the way we store memories is key to making human intelligence superior to that of animals.</p> <p>It has previously been thought and copiously published that it is 'pattern separation' in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for memory, that enables memories to be stored by separate groups of neurons, so that memories don't get mixed up.</p> <p>Leicester University's Director of Systems Neuroscience Prof Rodrigo Quian Quiroga explains, "In contrast to what everybody expects, when recording the activity of individual neurons we have found that there is an alternative model to pattern separation storing our memories.</p> <p>"Pattern separation is a basic principle of neuronal coding that precludes memory interference in the hippocampus. Its existence is supported by numerous theoretical, computational and experimental findings in different animal species but these findings have never been directly replicated in humans.</p> <p>“Previous human studies have been mostly obtained using Functional Magnetic Resource Imagining (fMRI), which doesn't allow recording the activity of individual neurons. Shockingly, when we directly recorded the activity of individual neurons, we found something completely different to what has been described in other animals. This could well be a cornerstone of human's intelligence."</p> <p>The study, 'No pattern separation in the human hippocampus', argues that the lack of pattern separation in memory coding is a key difference compared to other species, which has profound implications that could explain cognitive abilities uniquely developed in humans, such as our power of generalization and of creative thought.</p> <p>Quiroga believes we should go beyond behavioural comparisons between humans and animals and seek for more mechanistic insights, asking what in our brain gives rise to human's unique and vast repertoire of cognitive functions.</p> <p>Quiroga argues that brain size or number of neurons cannot solely explain the difference, since there is, for example, a comparable number and type of neurons in the chimp and the human brain, and both species have more or less the same anatomical structures. Therefore, our neurons, or at least some of them, must be doing something completely different, and one such difference is given by how they store our memories.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Nov 11 15:23:41 IST 2020 a-new-era-in-private-spaceflight-elon-musk-spacex-launches-4-astronauts-nasa-mission <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX launched four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station on Sunday in NASA's first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately-owned spacecraft, Reuters reported. The Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the NASA centre early today morning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>US Vice President Mike Pence attended the event. It also marked only the second time in nearly a decade that astronauts were set to rocket into orbit from the US. SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk disclosed via Twitter that he most likely has a moderate case of coronavirus, despite mixed test results. NASA policy is that anyone testing positive for the virus to quarantine and remain isolated. Musk said&nbsp;that he had symptoms last week of a minor cold but currently felt pretty normal.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The launch of three Americans and one Japanese, all but one of them former space station residents, comes just three months after a pair of NASA test pilots successfully concluded SpaceX's first occupied flight of a Dragon crew capsule. The crew led by Hopkins, an Air Force colonel, includes physicist Shannon Walker and navy commander and rookie astronaut Victor Glover, who will be the first black astronaut to spend an extended period aboard the space station a full five to six months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will become only the third person to rocket into orbit aboard three different kinds of spacecraft. They named their capsule Resilience given all the challenges in 2020, most notably the global pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from agencies</p> Mon Nov 16 08:52:44 IST 2020 coastal-mangrove-biodiversity-under-threat-of-existence <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mangrove forests are facing a 'triple threat' to their long-term durability and survival, according to a new study.</p> <p>The study, published in <i>Environmental Research Letters,</i> says mangrove forests are under pressure from three distinct threats—sea-level rise, lack of mud and squeezed habitats.</p> <p>Mangrove forests, having a large biodiversity, are among the world's most valuable ecosystems that provide coastal protection.</p> <p>The research, conducted by an international team of experts including Dr Barend van Maanen from the University of Exeter, identifies not only how these coastal forests get pushed against their shores, but also what causes the loss of their diversity.</p> <p>It shows the negative effects of river dams that decrease the supply of mud that could otherwise raise mangrove soils, while buildings and seawalls largely occupy the space that mangroves require for survival.</p> <p>Coastal mangrove forests are valuable, highly biodiverse ecosystems that protect coastal communities against storms.</p> <p>Mangroves withstand flooding by tides and capture mud to raise their soils. But as the mangrove trees cannot survive if they are under water for too long, the combination of sea-level rise and decreasing mud supply from rivers poses a serious threat.</p> <p>New computer simulations show how coastal forests retreat landward under sea-level rise, especially in coastal areas where mud in the water is declining. The simulations include interactions among tides, mud transport and, for the first time, multiple mangrove species.</p> <p>"Both mangrove coverage loss and diversity loss go hand in hand when that landward retreat is limited by expanding cities, agriculture or flood protection works," said Dr van Maanen, senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and supervisor of the project.</p> <p>The model also shows that mangrove trees with dense roots trap mud more effectively and can stop it from reaching forest areas further inland.</p> <p>"This makes the more landward-located trees flood for longer periods of time, an effect that is intensified by sea-level rise,” said Danghan Xie, lead author of the study.</p> <p>"Increasing landward flooding then seriously reduces biodiversity.</p> <p>"Human land use prevents the mangroves 'escaping' flooding by migrating inland, narrowing the mangrove zone and further endangering biodiversity."</p> <p>A narrow mangrove zone is much less effective in protecting the coast against storms, or in the worst case loses its protective properties altogether.</p> <p>"The loss of mangrove species will have dramatic ecological and economic implications, but fortunately there are ways to help safeguarding these ecosystems,” said co-author Dr Christian Schwarz, environmental scientist at the University of Delaware.</p> <p>"It is essential to secure or restore mud delivery to coasts to counter negative effects of sea-level rise.</p> <p>"For coasts where mud supply remains limited, removal of barriers that obstruct inland migration is of utmost importance to avoid loss of mangrove forests and biodiversity," Schwarz said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Nov 11 11:38:34 IST 2020 novel-technique-may-stamp-out-wine-fraud <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Wine researchers are developing a fast and simple method of authenticating wine as a potential solution against the estimated billions of dollars' worth of wine fraud globally.</p> <p>The novel technique of molecular fingerprinting using 'fluorescence spectroscopy', a technology that analyses fluorescence of molecules, could offer a possible means of building regional branding.</p> <p>The team of scientists from University of Adelaide were able to identify the geographical origins of wines originating from three wine regions of Australia and from Bordeaux in France with 100 percent accuracy .</p> <p>The study has been published in the journal <i>Food Chemistry</i>.</p> <p>"Wine fraud is a significant problem for the global wine industry, given a yearly economic impact within Australia alone estimated at several hundred million dollars, and globally thought to be in the billions of dollars," says Ruchira Ranaweera, PhD student in the University's Waite Research Institute, who conducted the research.</p> <p>"Wine authentication can help to avoid any uncertainty around wine labeling according to origin, variety, or vintage. The application of a relatively simple technique like this could be adapted for use in the supply chain as a robust method for authentication or detection of adulterated wines."</p> <p>The researchers looked at Cabernet Sauvignon—a globally important grape variety and the second most planted in Australia—from three different wine regions of Australia and Bordeaux in France, the birthplace of Cabernet Sauvignon.</p> <p>The researchers compared an existing approach for authentication, which involves measuring elements in wine samples using 'inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry' (ICP-MS), with the more simple, rapid and cost-effective fluorescence spectroscopy technique.</p> <p>"This method provides a 'fingerprint' of the samples according to the presence of fluorophoric or light-emitting compounds," says Ms Ranaweera. "When used in combination with a robust data analysis using a particular machine learning algorithm, it is proving to be a powerful technique for authentication."</p> <p>In every wine they tested using the novel combination of fluorescence spectroscopy with machine learning-driven data analysis, they were able to correctly allocate the wine to region with the fluorescence data but not with elements determined by ICP-MS.</p> <p>There are other useful applications of this technology for the wine industry that are available now or in the pipeline, such as phenolic and wine colour analysis, and smoke taint detection.</p> <p>Project leader Associate Professor David Jeffery, from the Waite Research Institute and the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, says they hope ultimately to identify specific chemical markers that help discriminate between wine regions.</p> <p>"Other than coming up with a robust method for authenticity testing, we are hoping to use the chemical information obtained from fluorescence data to identify the molecules that are differentiating the wines from the different regions," Jeffery says.</p> <p>"This may help with regional branding, by understanding how their wines' characteristics are influenced by the region and how they differ from other regions."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Nov 10 15:46:10 IST 2020 fruit-fly-brain-model-for-making-efficient-future-ai-systems <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Study explores functions of fruit fly's nervous system in food seeking / results valuable for the development and control of artificial intelligence.</p> <p>Transformation of sensory information into memories in the brain could inspire development of future machine learning and artificial intelligence applications for solving complex tasks.</p> <p>Zoologists at the University of Cologne analysed how insects learn to associate sensory information in their environment with a food reward, and how they can recall this information later in order to solve complex tasks such as the search for food.</p> <p>The team studied the nervous systems of insects to investigate principles of biological brain computation and possible implications for machine learning and artificial intelligence. The study has been published in the journal <i>PNAS</i>.</p> <p>Living organisms show remarkable abilities in coping with problems posed by complex and dynamic environments. They are able to generalise their experiences in order to rapidly adapt their behaviour when the environment changes. The zoologists investigated how the nervous system of the fruit fly controls its behaviour when searching for food.</p> <p>The theoretical principles underlying this model can also be used for artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. They enable an artificial agent to learn much more efficiently and to apply what it has learned in a changing environment.</p> <p>Using a computer model, the researchers simulated and analysed the computations in the fruit fly's nervous system in response to scents emanated from the food source.</p> <p>'We initially trained our model of the fly brain in exactly the same way as insects are trained in experiments. We presented a specific scent in the simulation together with a reward and a second scent without a reward. The model rapidly learns a robust representation of the rewarded scent after just a few scent presentations and is then able to find the source of this scent in a spatially complex and temporally dynamic environment,' said computer scientist Dr Hannes Rapp, who created the model as part of his doctoral thesis at the UoC's Institute of Zoology.</p> <p>The model created is thus capable to generalise from its memory and to apply what it has learned previously in a completely new and complex odour molecule landscape, while learning required only a very small database of training samples.</p> <p>“For our model, we exploit the special properties of biological information processing in nervous systems,” explained Prof Martin Nawrot, senior author of the study.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Nov 09 16:15:47 IST 2020 Seven-fossilised-eggs-of-herbivorous-dinosaurs-found-in-MP <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Seven fossilised eggs of herbivorous dinosaurs belonging to the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago) have been found in Madhya Pradeshs Mandla district, a paleontologist claimed on Thursday.<br> <br> It seems these eggs belong to a possibly new species of dinosaurs hitherto not known in India, he said.<br> <br> These fossils of eggs were discovered in Mohantola locality, 4km from Mandla district headquarters, said Prof P K Kathal, who is attached to the Centre of Advanced Study in Geology at Sagar-based Dr Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, a central university.<br> <br> I visited the site on an invitation from Prashant Shrivastava, a schoolteacher in Mandla, on October30. It was he (Shrivastava) who obtained eggs from the site, when he first saw one of them in hands of a local boy.<br> <br> &quot;Later, I studied the fossilised eggs using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), the central varsity professor told PTI over the phone.<br> <br> The eggs have an average circumference of 40 cm with average weight of 2.6 kg each, he added.<br> <br> Kathal said these eggs were spotted in a newly-dug tank during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.<br> <br> It seems these eggs belong to a possibly new species hitherto not known in India, the researcher said.<br> <br> These reptiles used to come from far off regions to lay eggs on sandy banks of rivers in this area, identified scientifically as Lameta bed, he added.<br> <br> This find will help us understand the spread of dinosaurs and shed some light on causes of their extinction. The eggs seem to belong to a new species of beaked or sauropod dinosaur, he added.<br> <br> The first dinosaur fossils in India were discovered in 1828 by Colonel Sleeman in the cantonment area in Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh, Kathal said.<br> <br> Later, some eggs were recovered from the same area as well as from the Kuchhi region near Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, he added. Fri Nov 06 16:15:07 IST 2020 In-las-45-years-monsoon-withdrew-late-28-times-IMD-data <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Monsoon has retreated late from the country 28 times in the last 45 years, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) data suggests, pointing to a shifting weather pattern.<br> <br> From 1975-2020 monsoon has retreated four times (1978, 1979, 2001 and 2008) from the country on October 15, its normal withdrawal date until last year.<br> <br> The normal date for the onset of monsoon over Kerala is June 1. According to the revised monsoon schedule from this year, it usually covers the entire country by July 8.<br> <br> This year the southwestmonsoonmade an onset over Kerala on June 1 and covered the entire country by June 26, 12 days ahead of its normal date of July 8.<br> <br> The withdrawal was late. It retreated from west Rajasthan and parts of Punjab on September 28, 13 days after its normal withdrawal date.<br> <br> The withdrawal date was revised from this year to September 17 --- earlier the withdrawal date was September 1.<br> <br> It withdrew from the rest of the country on October 28, 13 days after its normal withdrawal date. Earlier, the withdrawal date was October 15 which has now been revised to October 17.<br> <br> There is a trend that the monsoon has been arriving and retreating late. This could be due to large scale multi-decadal oscillation. We have a 60-year cycle of monsoon, so it could be part of that. There is a shift in the monsoon pattern, said M Rajeevan, secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.<br> <br> Rajeevan, who has studied monsoon for the last 35 years as a scientist, said, This could be part of that or it could be due to climate change. We are not sure about the exact reason behind this. We need to do a very detailed study to understand.<br> <br> Mahesh Palawat, vice president Skymet Weather, said the extended monsoon could be because of global warming.<br> <br> The Bay of Bengal witnesses' cyclonic systems probably due to this heating. These systems, after reaching the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast, tend to recurve towards the northeast. But this year we have seen that they travelled all through central India. This delayed the withdrawal of monsoon, Palawat said.<br> <br> He added that this has been the trend for the last few years but there hasbeen nostudy on it.<br> <br> The late withdrawal also has its effects, especially on farming.<br> <br> Former IMD director general K J Ramesh said sowing picks up only after 60-70 millimetres of rains is realised in the farms. This happens from the third week of June to the end of July.<br> <br> October is the fag end of cropping. A day or an alternate day's spell is okay, but if the fields are inundated then there is a danger of losing the entire crop, Ramesh said.<br> <br> This year October saw two-three cyclonic circulations. One intensified into a deep depression, bringing heavy rains over Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. Thousands of hectares of crops and horticulture crops were destroyed due to the unseasonal rain. Tue Nov 03 14:36:22 IST 2020 Scientists-trace-genetic-legacy-of-modern-dogs-to-Ice-Age-canines <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> A global study by an international team of archeologists has found that there were five different types of dogs more than 11,000 years ago in the period immediately following the Ice Age, a discovery which sheds light on the origin of the many different lineages of humanity's best friend.<br> <br> The research, published in the journal Science, sequenced ancient DNA from 27 dogs, some of which lived up to nearly 11,000 years ago, across Europe and Siberia.<br> <br> The scientists, including those from Francis Crick Institute in the UK, found that that by this point in history, just after the Ice Age and before any other animal had been domesticated, there were already at least five different types of dogs with distinct genetic ancestries.<br> <br> The findings suggest that the diversity observed between dogs in different parts of the world today originated when humans were still hunters and gatherers.<br> <br> &quot;Some of the variation you see between dogs walking down the street today originated in the Ice Age. By the end of this period, dogs were already widespread across the northern hemisphere,&quot; said Pontus Skoglund, study co-author from Francis Crick Institute.<br> <br> In the study, the scientists extracted and analysed the genetic material DNA from skeletal material of the dogs.<br> <br> The team showed that over the last 10,000 years, these early dog lineages mixed and moved to give rise to the dogs we know today.<br> <br> Citing an example, they said early European dogs were initially diverse, appearing to originate from two highly distinct populations, one related to Near Eastern dogs and another to Siberian dogs.<br> <br> However, they said this diversity was lost at some point as it is not present in European dogs today.<br> <br> &quot;If we look back more than four or five thousand years ago, we can see that Europe was a very diverse place when it came to dogs,&quot; said Anders Bergstrom, lead author of the study from Francis Crick Institute.<br> <br> Although the European dogs we see today come in such an extraordinary array of shapes and forms, the scientists said they derive genetically from only a very narrow subset of the diversity that used to exist.<br> <br> They also compared the history of these dogs to changes in human evolution, lifestyles and migrations.<br> <br> In many cases, comparable changes took place, likely reflecting how humans would bring their dogs with them as they migrated across the world, the study noted.<br> <br> But the scientists said there were also cases when human and dog histories did not mirror each other.<br> <br> They said the loss of diversity that existed in dogs in early Europe was caused by the spread of a single dog ancestry that replaced other populations.<br> <br> This dramatic event is not mirrored in human populations, and it remains to be determined what caused this turnover in European dog ancestry, the study noted.<br> <br> &quot;Dogs are our oldest and closest animal partner. Using DNA from ancient dogs is showing us just how far back our shared history goes and will ultimately help us understand when and where this deep relationship began,&quot; said Greger Larson, another co-author of the study from the University of Oxford.<br> <br> While this study provides fresh insights into the early history of dog populations, the scientists said they are still trying to uncover where and in which human cultural context, dogs were first domesticated. Fri Oct 30 16:25:40 IST 2020 People-expect-tech-to-tell-mood-of-colleague-improve-taste-of-food-by-2030-Report <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> A large number of employees expect that technology will enable people to sense the mood of their colleagues, improve the taste of canteen food and other senses by 2030, according to a report released by Ericsson on Thursday.<br> <br> The Ericsson IndustryLab report, based on a survey that covered around 13.3 crore employees across 16 countries including India, found that nearly 6 in 10 foresee a permanent increase in online meetings.<br> <br> &quot;During this COVID-19 isolation, people everywhere are rediscovering the importance of smells and flavours and the sheer physicality of the locations they normally do business at.<br> <br> &quot;The pandemic has created a tipping point for what white-collar workers expect of the future digital office,&quot; Ericsson Consumer and IndustryLab Head (Research Agenda) Michael Bjorn said in the report.<br> <br> The report said respondents are also realising that while connectivity is now more important than ever before, digital meetings need to evolve before they become as effective as the real thing. There is simply a need for tools that better support remote interaction.<br> <br> The survey around 'Internet of Senses' collected opinions of people on how sensory connectivity through artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), 5G and automation can change the work situation for white-collar employees.<br> <br> &quot;Seventy-three per cent of senior managers believe that food in the company canteen can be digitally enhanced to taste like anything by 2030.<br> <br> &quot;Sixty-six per cent think that by 2030, technology will enable them to sense when a colleague is upset, that also means their employer will know when they themselves are upset,&quot; the report said.<br> <br> The report said people expect that there will be wearable devices that will use online weather forecasts and make users feel the oncoming weather, such as the amount of wind or rain that a person will be exposed to during commute or on a customer visit.<br> <br> &quot;The Internet of Senses will most likely be used for marketing and sales, with 59 per cent saying that spatial video and 50 per cent saying digital temperature will be used to have more immersive engagements with customers by 2030,&quot; the study said.<br> <br> More than six out of 10 respondents believe that flavours will be digitally tasted by 2030, it added.<br> <br> &quot;Digital touch tech evolves tactile experiences that eight in 10 believe will be available by 2030 via smartphone screens,&quot; the report said.<br> Fri Oct 30 14:58:28 IST 2020 isro-to-launch-pslvc49-today-first-from-indian-soil-this-year <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>ISRO’s PSLV-C49 is getting ready for its 51st mission to launch EOS-01 as primary satellite along with nine international customer satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The launch is scheduled at 3.02pm on Saturday.</p> <p>EOS-01 is an earth observation satellite intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support. The nine international customer satellites are being launched under a commercial agreement with the newly formed entity NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), Department of Space. </p> <p>This launch is significant because EOS-01 is the third satellite in a series of radar imaging satellites that ISRO is deploying following the launches of RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1. 4. This is an important launch because it marks ISRO's return to the launch pad after the lockdowns and the pandemic and it adds a critical technology piece to our space arsenal that will help with persistent round-the-clock monitoring for both the inland as well as border areas of our country.</p> <p>“The satellite was initially named RISAT-2BR2 but ISRO has changed the name after the pandemic to EOS-01 for probably two main reasons; a new convention of naming their satellites and to differentiate from the earlier satellites which had Israeli heritage in the technology that was used. This is a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite that will boost our persistent monitoring efforts over the Indian subcontinent. By persistent I mean it will be able to capture images even if there are clouds or even at night. It is unaffected by any earthly phenomena that could prevent it from imaging something on ground,” said Awais Ahmed, Co-founder and CEO at Pixxel.</p> <p>He further explained that an interesting thing about this launch is also that it is a new variant of the PSLV that has previously only been launched once. The fourth stage essentially acts as another satellite. “ISRO has been soliciting proposals for unique payloads to test out this orbital platform called the PS4-OP. This also means that no debris is left behind in space after the launch,” added Ahmed.</p> <p>Another significant thing about this launch is that it is that it is the first mission for the newly formed entity NSIL. “The launch by NSIL by ISRO shows the smooth transfer of responsibilities from ISRO to the new entity which will be taking on similar missions in the future. Also, given that SpaceX, Soyuz and other launchers were operating even during COVID, it was important for ISRO as a leader in ride-share launches to resume operations quickly. EOS-1 satellite will be a great addition to India's SAR capabilities in line with the previous RISAT missions,” observed Yashas Karanam, Director and Chief Operating Officer, Bellatrix Aerospace.</p> <p>With this launch, ISRO is back with bang and it also signifies that all the other ISRO programmes including Gaganyaan are back on track after the pandemic-induced lockdown. </p> <p>“EOS-01 increases the coverage and imaging cadence of our (SAR) satellite series ( RISAT-2B, RISAT-2BR1) with 24x7 all weather imaging (unlike optical imaging which is affected by cloud cover and day/night illumination),” said Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Skyroot Aerospace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Nov 07 13:01:45 IST 2020 beach-nourishment-may-safeguard-future-of-beaches <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An international team of coastal scientists has studied the claims that sandy beaches could become extinct over the course of the 21st century.</p> <p>Academics from the UK, France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the USA have re-examined the data and methodology that underpinned the original study and say they strongly disagree with its conclusion.</p> <p>The claim was made by European researchers in a paper published in Nature Climate Change in March 2020 (Sandy coastlines under threat of erosion by Vousdoukas et al).</p> <p>The researchers have published a rebuttal to the article in the same journal, and concluded that with the global data and numerical methods available today it is impossible to make such global and wide-reaching predictions.</p> <p>Critical to their disagreement with the original paper's conclusions is the fact that they say there is potential for beaches to migrate landwards as sea level rises and shorelines retreat.</p> <p>The key notion behind that is that if beaches have space to move into under the influence of rising sea levels—referred to as accommodation space—they will retain their overall shape and form but in a more landward position.</p> <p>The new research says that beaches backed by hard coastal cliffs and engineering structures, such as seawalls, are indeed likely to disappear in the future due to sea-level rise as these beaches are unable to migrate landward.</p> <p>They will first experience 'coastal squeeze' resulting in a decrease in width, and will eventually drown.</p> <p>However, beaches backed by low-lying coastal plains, shallow lagoons, salt marshes and dunes will migrate landward as a result of rising sea level. In these cases, the shoreline will retreat, but the beaches are still likely to remain, albeit a little raised in elevation and located landward, and will certainly not go 'extinct'.</p> <p>The new paper says there is currently no information available globally on the number of beaches which fall into either category and, as such, it is impossible to quantify what proportion of the world's beaches will disappear between now and 2100.</p> <p>Andrew Cooper, Professor of Coastal Studies at Ulster University and the new paper's lead author, said: "New methods are needed for predicting impacts of sea-level rise on the coast. This will require better datasets of coastal morphology and improved understanding of the mechanisms of shoreline response in given settings. As sea level rises, shoreline retreat must, and will, happen but beaches will survive. The biggest threat to the continued existence of beaches is coastal defence structures that limit their ability to migrate."</p> <p>Co-author Prof. Gerd Masselink, from the University of Plymouth's Coastal Processes Research Group, led a study earlier this year which found that island 'drowning' is not inevitable as sea levels rise.</p> <p>"Sea level is currently rising and will continue to rise at an increasing rate for many years to come. This will lead to more coastal erosion and it is crucial that we anticipate the future loss of land and take this into account in coastal management and planning to avoid putting more buildings and coastal infrastructure in harm's way, " said Masselink.</p> <p>“In the UK, Coastal Change Management Areas (CCMAs) are becoming increasingly important as a planning tool. CCMAs are areas that are likely to be affected by coastal change in the future and development in these areas should be avoided. This will then enable the coastline to respond naturally to sea-level rise, preventing coastal squeeze and loss of beaches."</p> <p>Coastal structures such as seawalls prevent beaches from naturally adjusting to rising sea levels by migrating landward and in those settings, removal of the structures (managed realignment) or nature-based solutions (beach nourishment) may be the only methods to safeguard the future of these beaches.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Oct 29 11:46:58 IST 2020 new-solar-panel-design-increases-efficiency-by-125 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Designing solar panels in checkerboard lines increases their ability to absorb light by 125 per cent, a new study says.</p> <p>Researchers say the breakthrough could lead to the production of thinner, lighter and more flexible solar panels that could be used to power more homes and be used in a wider range of products.</p> <p>The study investigated how different surface designs impacted the absorption of sunlight in solar cells, which when put together form solar panels.</p> <p>Scientists found that the checkerboard design improved diffraction, which enhanced the probability of light being absorbed that is then used to create electricity.</p> <p>The renewable energy sector is constantly looking for new ways to boost the light absorption of solar cells in lightweight materials that can be used in products ranging from roof tiles to boat sails to camping equipment.</p> <p>Renewable energy—including solar power—made up 47 per cent of the UK's electricity generation in the first three months of 2020.</p> <p>Solar-grade silicon—used to create solar cells—is very energy intensive to produce, so creating slimmer cells and changing the surface design would make them cheaper and more environmentally friendly.</p> <p>The study was led by researchers from the University of York and conducted in partnership with NOVA University of Lisbon.</p> <p>Dr Christian Schuster from the Department of Physics said, "We found a simple trick for boosting the absorption of slim solar cells. Our investigations show that our idea actually rivals the absorption enhancement of more sophisticated designs, while also absorbing more light deep in the plane and less light near the surface structure itself. Our design rule meets all relevant aspects of light trapping for solar cells, clearing the way for simple, practical, and yet outstanding diffractive structures, with a potential impact beyond photonic applications.”</p> <p>"This design offers potential to further integrate solar cells into thinner, flexible materials and therefore create more opportunity to use solar power in more products,” Schuster added.</p> <p>The study suggests the design principle could impact not only the solar cell or LED sector but also applications such as acoustic noise shields, wind break panels, anti-skid surfaces, biosensing applications and atomic cooling.</p> <p>Dr Schuster added, "In principle, we would deploy ten times more solar power with the same amount of absorber material: Ten times thinner solar cells could enable a rapid expansion of photovoltaics, increase solar electricity production and greatly reduce our carbon footprint. In fact, as refining the silicon raw material is such an energy-intensive process, ten times thinner silicon cells would not only reduce the need for refineries but also cost less, hence empowering our transition to a greener economy."</p> Tue Oct 27 12:16:27 IST 2020 faug-akshay-action-game-based-on-galwan-to-launch-next-month <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Actor Akshay Kumar, on Sunday, released a teaser of FAU-G the Indian alternative to PUBG. The game has been developed by Bengaluru-based nCore Games, in collaboration with Akshay, who had announced the game last month.</p> <p>“Today we celebrate the victory of good over evil, and what better day to celebrate our Fearless and United Guards, our FAU-G! On the auspicious occasion of Dussehra, presenting the #FAUG teaser,” Akshay tweeted.</p> <p>nCore also shared the teaser on its Twitter handle and confirmed that FAU-G will be launched in November.</p> <p>FAU-G will be released for both android and iOS users.</p> <p>The teaser which gave a glimpse into the game's basics, revealed that it will be based on the recent Galwan Valley clash between India and China. It shows Indian Army soldiers fighting wihthout weapons. According to reports, the multi-player action game will reprise the hand-to-hand combat that occurred in the Galwan Valley between the troops.</p> <p>A share of the net revenue generated from this game will be donated to 'Bharat Ke Veer Trust' that supports families of India's armed forces martyrs.&nbsp;</p> Mon Oct 26 14:01:01 IST 2020 seven-unbelievable-advances-in-gaming-technology <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Gambling can be traced back to as early as 200 BC and has come a long way in terms of continuous changes over the decades. The year 1990 brought about a turning point in gambling, as the internet was introduced to the casino world. People were now engaging in online gambling without having to get out of their houses. There couldn’t be a better way to make casino games so accessible. Since then, experts have been trying to enhance the gaming experience by introducing newer and smarter technological innovations to online games.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Enhanced AR and VR Technologies</b></p> <p>Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies offer an absolutely exotic gaming experience. <a href=""><b>Casino games in India</b></a> offer VR games that are played using VR headsets to get the experience of playing in a real casino. AR technology improves the online gaming experience by providing a 360-degree view on a mobile phone or desktop.</p> <p>Casinos now offer AR and VR in almost all casino games, so you can play the game you like the most and enjoy a casino-like experience.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Various payment options</b></p> <p>Technology has provided more comfort and safer transaction methods to the online fanatics. It can now be said that the internet has become a safe place to make payments and is geared with secure and lightning-fast transaction methods.</p> <p>While a lot of people like to use their credit and debit cards to make payments online, casinos now also offer fairly recent methods of payment, such as bitcoin and digital wallets, which are even more secure ways of online transactions. Other than that, PayPal and Neteller are also available. These are some user-friendly methods of payment.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Improved mobile gaming experience</b></p> <p>With more than 4 billion people using smartphones, online casino gaming platforms have a lot to offer to attract more customers. The most reputable online casinos are offering mobile versions and applications to penetrate deeper into the market. Now, a player can do plenty of things with a single device which fits into their pocket.</p> <p>Typically, mobile gaming is an emerging trend that facilitates a player to access an unlimited number of games with the convenience of their location. Cars, parks, trains, buses have now become moving casinos players can place a bet on live casino games via their smartphones.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Improved security</b></p> <p>Innovations have enabled players to enjoy a more secure gaming experience. Technology has introduced methods to cut off the chances of cyber fraud and hacking movement. In the near future, we may see things like facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, and many more to help customers keep their information secure, thus building trust in the online gaming world.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Artificial Intelligence (AI)</b></p> <p>AI is radically changing the gaming world for online gamblers. It has proved to be the biggest innovation to facilitate <a href=""><b>smarter gaming</b></a> technology. AI allows game designers to design high-quality games to meet a player’s expectations, thus engaging players more effectively.</p> <p>The latest graphics technology provides the gaming experience of a real-world and creates a virtual environment and characters that make you feel as if you are playing in live casinos.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Cloud gaming</b></p> <p>Gaming-as-a-Service (GaaS), better known as cloud gaming, is one of the latest trends in gaming technology. Games are no longer needed to be limited by the amount of memory that a disk or console can hold. Cloud technology opens up to a massive server size where images are streamed through the internet.</p> <p>If this trend succeeds, then casino gaming will jump through the barriers and become an affordable alternative to the expensive hardware products, as hardware will no more be required to play quality games, says this website.</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Applications for wearable devices</b></p> <p>Smartwatches and fitness bands have proved to be a boon to the online gaming industry. Many casinos are working on a wristwatch development application to target their enormous target audience. Wearable applications for the gaming industry are expected to grow to a sci-fi level.</p> <p>Betting sites have integrated games with wearable devices to help players enjoy games on the go. These new gadgets have facilitated gamblers to access their favourite game variants easily, even without using their smartphones.</p> <p><b>Conclusion</b></p> <p>Technology has brought tremendous changes and simplified the everyday lives of people. Gaming and online casino sites aren't left behind, either. Advances in gaming technology have made gambling convenient, safe, and comfortable. Besides, casino games have experienced dramatic growth with the introduction of the internet, opening new avenues everyday.</p> Sat Oct 31 10:04:06 IST 2020 low-cost-oneplus-nord-n10-5g-and-n100-specs-leaked <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>With OnePlus making a resurgence in the mid-range and premium budget smartphone segment, the company’s much-vaunted Nord phone was released to much hype in July at a price point of Rs 24,999. Now, two more models in the Nord series are expected at an even lower price.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With OnePlus rumoured to launch the Nord N10 5G and Nord N100 on October 26, the specifications of the devices have been leaked in advance by <a href="">Steve Hemmerstoffer</a> of OnLeaks, who revealed the following specifications for the devices:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>OnePlus Nord N100:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Display: 6.52-inch HD+ LCD display</p> <p>Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 460</p> <p>Memory: 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM</p> <p>Rear camera: 13MP Primary + 2MP Macro + 2MP Bokeh</p> <p>Front camera: 8MP</p> <p>Battery: 5000mAh</p> <p>Misc: 4G only, Dual-SIM, USB-C, Headphone Jack</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>OnePlus Nord N10 5G Specs:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Display: 6.49-inch FHD+ with 90Hz refresh rate</p> <p>Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 5G</p> <p>Memory: 6GB RAM + 128GB Storage</p> <p>Rear camera: 64MP Primary + 8MP Ultra-Wide + 2MP + 2MP</p> <p>Battery: 4300mAh</p> <p>Misc: 5G, USB-C, Headphone Jack</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, both devices will come with a headphone jack (which was missing on the more-premium Nord).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Snapdragon 460 processor can also be found on the Oppo A33, which was recently released for Rs 11,990 and features a 90hz screen. With the A33, high-refresh rate screens are set to become a trend even in the budget smartphone segment. Other phones with this chip include the Vivo Y20, Nokia 3.4 and Moto E7 Plus.</p> <p><br> The 690 is to be found on a series of 5G phones by Sharp, Nokia, LG, Motorola and is touted as being able to handle 4K HDR streaming with ease.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Sun Oct 25 16:23:18 IST 2020 bioplastics-no-safer-than-other-plastics-says-study <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Bioplastics are just as toxic as other plastics, according to an article recently published in Environment International.<br> Conventional plastic is made from oil. The production of plastic is not sustainable, and it can contain substances we know are dangerous if ingested.<br> Bioplastic has some apparent advantages: it is usually made from recycled material or plant cellulose, it can be biodegradable—or both.<br> <br> "Bio-based and biodegradable plastic is not any safer than other plastics," says Lisa Zimmermann from Goethe Universität in Frankfurt. She is the lead author of the recent article.<br> Zimmermann points out that products based on cellulose and starch contained the most chemicals. They also triggered stronger toxic reactions under laboratory conditions.<br> <br> "Three out of four of these plastic products contain substances that we know are dangerous under laboratory conditions, the same as for conventional plastic," says Martin Wagner, associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Department of Biology.<br> Wagner is one of the collaborators for PlastX, a research group at the Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung (ISOE) in Frankfurt. This group has just led the work on the largest survey to date of chemicals in bioplastics and plastics made from plant-based materials.<br> <br> They have looked at toxic substances in these types of plastic. The substances can be directly toxic to cells in the laboratory, or they can act as hormones that in turn can disturb the body's balance.<br> The study includes 43 different plastic products, including disposable cutlery, chocolate packaging paper, drink bottles and wine corks.<br> "Eighty per cent of the products contained more than 1000 different chemicals. Some of them as many as 20 000 chemicals," says Wagner.<br> <br> It is almost impossible to keep track of absolutely all the possible harmful effects of so many different materials.<br> Even seemingly similar products have their special chemical composition. A plastic bag made of bio-polyethene can contain completely different substances than a wine cork made of the same material.<br> <br> "Making general statements about certain materials becomes almost impossible," says Wagner.<br> At present, the consequences this has for the environment and people's health are still uncertain.&nbsp; Sat Oct 24 16:46:15 IST 2020 Importance-of-happiness-in-human-brain-development <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>During human evolution, the size of the brain increased, especially in the neocortex, which enables us to speak, dream and think.&nbsp;A research team led by Wieland Huttner at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, who is one of the institute's founding directors, has investigated the cause of the evolutionary expansion of the human neocortex in many studies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A new study from his lab focuses on the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in this process. Serotonin is often called the happiness neurotransmitter because it transmits messages between nerve cells that contribute to well-being and happiness. However, a potential role of such neurotransmitters during brain development has not yet been explored in detail. In the developing embryo, the placenta produces serotonin, which then reaches the brain via the blood circulation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In search of the causes underlying neocortex expansion, researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, together with colleagues at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, previously identified a number of molecular players. These players typically act cell-intrinsically in the so-called basal progenitors, the stem cells in the developing neocortex with a pivotal role in its expansion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers now report an additional, novel role of the happiness neurotransmitter serotonin which is known to function in the brain to mediate satisfaction, self-confidence and optimism—to act cell-extrinsically as a growth factor for basal progenitors in the developing human, but not mouse, neocortex. Due to this new function, placenta-derived serotonin likely contributed to the evolutionary expansion of the human neocortex.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is true for humans as well as mice. Yet, the function of this placenta-derived serotonin in the developing brain has been unknown.&nbsp;The postdoctoral researcher Lei Xing in the Huttner group had studied neurotransmitters during his doctoral work in Canada. When he started his research project in Dresden after that, he was curious to investigate their role in the developing brain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I exploited datasets generated by the group in the past and found that the serotonin receptor HTR2A was expressed in fetal human, but not embryonic mouse, neocortex. Serotonin needs to bind to this receptor in order to activate downstream signaling. I asked myself if this receptor could be one of the keys to the question of why humans have a bigger brain," said Lei Xing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To explore this, the researchers induced the production of the HTR2A receptor in embryonic mouse neocortex. "Indeed, we found that serotonin, by activating this receptor, caused a chain of reactions that resulted in the production of more basal progenitors in the developing brain. More basal progenitors can then increase the production of cortical neurons, which paves the way to a bigger brain," explained Lei Xing.</p> <p>"In conclusion, our study uncovers a novel role of serotonin as a growth factor for basal progenitors in highly developed brains, notably human. Our data implicate serotonin in the expansion of the neocortex during development and human evolution," summarised Wieland Huttner, who supervised the study.</p> <p>"Abnormal signaling of serotonin and a disturbed expression or mutation of its receptor HTR2A have been observed in various neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, such as Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. Our findings may help explain how malfunctions of serotonin and its receptor during fetal brain development can lead to congenital disorders and may suggest novel approaches for therapeutic avenues," said Huttner.</p> Sat Oct 24 11:56:01 IST 2020 water-on-moon-there-may-be-more-than-suspected-according-to-nasa-latest-findings <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The moon's shadowed, frigid nooks and crannies may hold frozen water in more places and in larger quantities than previously suspected, which is good news for astronauts at future lunar bases who could tap into these resources for drinking and making rocket fuel, scientists reported on Monday.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While previous observations have indicated millions of tons of ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the moon's poles, a pair of studies in the journal Nature Astronomy take the availability of lunar surface water to a new level. More than 15,400 square miles (40,000 square kilometres) of lunar terrain have the capability to trap water in the form of ice, according to a team led by the University of Colorado's Paul Hayne. That's 20 per cent more area than previous estimates, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;These ice-rich areas are near the moon's north and south poles. Temperatures are so low in these so-called cold traps—minus 261 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 163 degrees Celsius)—that they could hold onto the water for millions or even billions of years. We believe this will help expand the possible landing sites for future lunar missions seeking water, opening up real estate previously considered 'off limits' for being bone dry,&quot; Hayne said in an email to the Associated Press.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the researchers identified cold traps as small as a metres across and as wide as 30 km and more, and used computer models to get all the way down to micrometers in size.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the little ones are too small to see from orbit, despite being vastly more numerous, we can't yet identify ice inside them, Hayne said. Once we're on the surface, we will do that experiment.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For a second study, scientists used NASA's airborne infrared observatory Sofia to conclusively identify water molecules on the sunlit portions of the moon, just outside the polar regions. Most of these molecules are likely stored in the voids between moon dust and other particles or locked inside glassy volcanic material.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Scientists believe all this water on the moon came from comets, asteroids, interplanetary dust, the solar wind or even lunar volcanic eruptions. &quot;They will have a better idea of the sources if we can get down on the surface and analyse samples of the ice,&quot; Hayne said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The lead researcher, Casey Honniball, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said at a news conference that she wanted to make it clear the Sofia study had not found puddles on the moon. Rather, the identified hydrogen and oxygen molecules are so far apart, they are neither in liquid or solid form, she noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NASA is under White House direction to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024. The space agency wants its new Artemis moon-landing programme to be sustainable, unlike the Apollo programme a half-century ago.&nbsp;</p> Tue Oct 27 08:42:05 IST 2020 newborns-have-brains-prewired-to-see-words <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Humans are born with a part of the brain that is prewired to be receptive to seeing words and letters, setting the stage at birth for people to learn how to read, a new study after analysing brain scans of newborns.</p> <p>In the study, published in the journal <i>Scientific Reports</i>, researchers explain that this part of the brain—called the "visual word form area" (VWFA)—is connected to the language network of the brain.</p> <p>"That makes it fertile ground to develop a sensitivity to visual words—even before any exposure to language," said Zeynep Saygin, senior author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at the Ohio State University.</p> <p>The VWFA is specialised for reading only in literate individuals. Some researchers had hypothesized that the pre-reading VWFA starts out being no different than other parts of the visual cortex that are sensitive to seeing faces, scenes or other objects, and only becomes selective to words and letters as children learn to read or at least as they learn language.</p> <p>"We found that isn't true. Even at birth, the VWFA is more connected functionally to the language network of the brain than it is to other areas," Saygin said. "It is an incredibly exciting finding."</p> <p>Saygin, who is a core faculty member of Ohio State's Chronic Brain Injury Program, conducted the study with graduate students Jin Li and Heather Hansen and assistant professor David Osher, all in psychology at Ohio State.</p> <p>The researchers analysed fMRI scans of the brains of 40 newborns, all less than a week old, who were part of the Developing Human Connectome Project. They compared these to similar scans from 40 adults who participated in the separate Human Connectome Project.</p> <p>The VWFA is next to another part of visual cortex that processes faces, and it was reasonable to believe that there wasn't any difference in these parts of the brain in newborns, Saygin said.</p> <p>As visual objects, faces have some of the same properties as words do, such as needing high spatial resolution for humans to see them correctly.</p> <p>But the researchers found that, even in newborns, the VWFA was different from the part of the visual cortex that recognizes faces, primarily because of its functional connection to the language processing part of the brain.</p> <p>"The VWFA is specialised to see words even before we're exposed to them," Saygin said.</p> <p>"It's interesting to think about how and why our brains develop functional modules that are sensitive to specific things like faces, objects, and words," said Li, who is lead author of the study.</p> <p>"Our study really emphasised the role of already having brain connections at birth to help develop functional specialisation, even for an experience-dependent category like reading."</p> <p>The study did find some differences in the VWFA in newborns and adults. Learning more about individual variability may help researchers understand differences in reading behaviour and could be useful in the study of dyslexia and other developmental disorders.</p> <p>"Our findings suggest that there likely needs to be further refinement in the VWFA as babies mature," Saygin said.</p> <p>"Experience with spoken and written language will likely strengthen connections with specific aspects of the language circuit and further differentiate this region's function from its neighbours as a person gains literacy."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Oct 23 16:15:58 IST 2020 people-with-blood-type-o-may-have-lowest-risk-of-covid-19-infection <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the global biomedical research community is working urgently to identify risk factors and potential therapeutic targets. The potential role of blood type in predicting risk and complications of COVID-19 infection has emerged as an important scientific question.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>People with blood type O may have a lower risk of COVID-19 infection and reduced likelihood of severe outcomes, including organ complications, if they do get sick. Individuals with blood type O may be less vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, suggest two new studies published in Blood Advances.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researches add evidence that there may be an association between blood type and vulnerability to COVID-19; however, additional research is needed to better understand why and what it means for patients.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Blood type O may offer some protection against COVID-19 infection, according to a retrospective study . Researchers compared Danish health registry data from more than 473,000 individuals tested for COVID-19 to data from a control group of more than 2.2 million people from the general population. Among the COVID-19 positive, they found fewer people with blood type O and more people with A, B, and AB types.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study results suggest that people with blood types A, B, or AB may be more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than people with type O. The researchers did not find any significant difference in rate of infection between A, B, and AB types. Since blood group distributions vary among ethnic subgroups, the researchers also controlled for ethnicity and maintained that fewer people with blood type O tested positive for the virus.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It is very important to consider the proper control group because blood type prevalence may vary considerably in different ethnic groups and different countries," said study author Torben Barington of Odense University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark. "We have the advantage of a strong control group—Denmark is a small, ethnically homogenous country with a public health system and a central registry for lab data—so our control is population-based, giving our findings a strong foundation."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Blood groups A and AB associated with increased risk of severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 infection People with blood groups A or AB appear to exhibit greater COVID-19 disease severity than people with blood groups O or B, according to a separate retrospective study .&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Researchers examined data from 95 critically ill COVID-19 patients hospitalised in Vancouver, Canada. They found that patients with blood groups A or AB were more likely to require mechanical ventilation, suggesting that they had greater rates of lung injury from COVID-19. They also found more patients with blood group A and AB required dialysis for kidney failure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Together, these findings suggest that patients in these two blood groups may have an increased risk of organ dysfunction or failure due to COVID-19 than people with blood types O or B. Furthermore, while people with blood types A and AB did not have longer overall hospital stays than those with types O or B, they did remain in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a longer average time, which may also signal a greater COVID-19 severity level.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Oct 23 13:13:07 IST 2020 social-networks-serve-amplifiers-for-idiots-and-crazy-people-former-google-ceo <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Amid the hullabaloo over the anti-trust suit filed against tech giant Google, the company's former CEO Eric Schmidt said that social networks serve as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people. According to a report in&nbsp;<a href="">Bloomberg</a>, Schmidt, who is still a majority shareholder of Alphabet Inc, said: "The context of social networks serving as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people is not what we intended. Unless the industry gets its act together in a really clever way, there will be regulation." He added that the anti-trust suit filed by the US government may be misplaced, but regulations could be in order.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, the US Justice Department had sued Google for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising—the government's most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. And it could just be an opening salvo. Other major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook are under investigation at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth," US Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters. "It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition." Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising. The case filed in federal court in Washington, DC, alleges that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay phone manufacturers to ensure Google is the default search engine on browsers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That stifles competition and innovation from smaller upstart rivals to Google and harms consumers by reducing the quality of search and limiting privacy protections and alternative search options, the government alleges. Critics contend that multibillion-dollar fines and mandated changes in Google's practices imposed by European regulators in recent years weren't severe enough and that structural changes are needed for Google to change its conduct.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The lawsuit didn't lay out specific remedies, although it asked the court to order structural relief "as needed to remedy any anti-competitive harm." That opens the door to possible fundamental changes such as a spinoff of the company's Chrome browser.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from agencies<br> &nbsp;</p> Thu Oct 22 11:48:23 IST 2020 NASA-spacecraft-collects-rock-samples-from-asteroid-Bennu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> A NASA spacecraft successfully touched down on the rugged surface of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, collecting a sample of rocks dating back to the birth of our solar system to bring back to Earth, the US space agency said.<br> <br> The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm, briefly touched the asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.<br> <br> Asteroid Bennu is currently more than 321 million kilometres from the Earth.<br> <br> It offers scientists a window into the early solar system as it was first taking shape billions of years ago and flinging ingredients that could have helped seed life on Earth, NASA said.<br> <br> If Tuesday's sample collection event, known as &quot;Touch-And-Go&quot; (TAG), provided enough of a sample, mission teams will command the spacecraft to begin stowing the precious primordial cargo to begin its journey back to Earth in March 2021.<br> <br> Otherwise, they will prepare for another attempt in January, according to NASA.<br> <br> &quot;This amazing first for NASA demonstrates how an incredible team from across the country came together and persevered through incredible challenges to expand the boundaries of knowledge,&quot; said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.<br> <br> &quot;Our industry, academic, and international partners have made it possible to hold a piece of the most ancient solar system in our hands,&quot; Bridenstine said in a statement.<br> <br> OSIRIS-REx fired its thrusters to nudge itself out of orbit around Bennu, extending the shoulder, then elbow, followed by the wrist of its 3.35-metre sampling arm, known as the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM).<br> <br> The spacecraft then transited across the asteroid while descending about 805 metres towards the surface.<br> <br> After a four-hour descent, at an altitude of approximately 125 metres, the spacecraft executed the &quot;Checkpoint&quot; burn, the first of two manoeuvres to allow it to precisely target the sample collection site, known as &quot;Nightingale.&quot;<br> <br> Ten minutes later, the spacecraft fired its thrusters for the second &quot;Matchpoint&quot; burn to slow its descent and match the asteroid's rotation at the time of contact.<br> <br> It then continued a treacherous, 11-minute coast past a boulder the size of a two-story building, nicknamed &quot;Mount Doom,&quot; to touch down in a clear spot in a crater on Bennu's northern hemisphere.<br> <br> The size of a small parking lot, the site Nightingale site is one of the few relatively clear spots on this unexpectedly boulder-covered space rock.<br> <br> &quot;This was an incredible feat -- and today we have advanced both science and engineering and our prospects for future missions to study these mysterious ancient storytellers of the solar system,&quot; said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters here.<br> <br> &quot;A piece of primordial rock that has witnessed our solar system's entire history may now be ready to come home for generations of scientific discovery, and we can't wait to see what comes next,&quot; Zurbuchen said.<br> Thu Oct 22 11:16:37 IST 2020 Lost-river-that-ran-through-Thar-Desert-172000-years-ago-found <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Researchers have found the evidence of a &quot;lost&quot; river that ran through the central Thar Desert, near Bikaner, as early as 172 thousand years ago, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the region.<br> <br> The findings, published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, represent the oldest directly dated phase of river activity at Nal Quarry in the central Thar Desert.<br> <br> The study by researchers from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Anna University in Tamil Nadu, and IISER Kolkata indicates that Stone Age populations lived in a distinctly different Thar Desert landscape than we encounter today.<br> <br> This evidence indicates a river flowed with phases of activity dating to approximately up to 172 thousand years ago, nearby to Bikaner, Rajasthan, which is over 200 kilometres away from the nearest modern river.<br> <br> These findings predate evidence for activity in modern river courses across the Thar Desert as well as dried up course of the Ghaggar-Hakra River, the researchers said.<br> <br> The presence of a river running through the central Thar Desert would have offered a life-line to Paleolithic populations, and potentially an important corridor for migrations, they said.<br> <br> The researchers noted that the potential importance of 'lost' rivers for earlier inhabitants of the Thar Desert have been overlooked.<br> <br> &quot;The Thar Desert has a rich prehistory, and we've been uncovering a wide range of evidence showing how Stone Age populations not only survived but thrived in these semi-arid landscapes,&quot; said Jimbob Blinkhorn from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.<br> <br> &quot;We know how important rivers can be to living in this region, but we have little detail on what river systems were like during key periods of prehistory,&quot; Blinkhorn said.<br> <br> Studies of satellite imagery have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert, according to the researchers.<br> <br> &quot;These studies can indicate where rivers and streams have flowed in the past, but they can't tell us when,&quot; explained Professor Hema Achyuthan of Anna University.<br> <br> &quot;To demonstrate how old such channels are, we had to find evidence on the ground for river activity in the middle of the desert,&quot; Achyuthan said.<br> <br> The team studied a deep deposit of river sands and gravels, which had been exposed by quarrying activity near the village of Nal.<br> <br> The researchers were able to document different phases of river activity by studying the different deposits.<br> <br> &quot;We immediately saw evidence for a substantial and very active river system from the bottom of the fluvial deposits, which gradually decreased in power through time,&quot; Achyuthan said.<br> <br> The researchers used a method called luminescence dating to understand when quartz grains in the river sands were buried.<br> <br> The results indicated that the strongest river activity at Nal occurred at approximately 172 and 140 thousand years ago, at a time when the monsoon was much weaker than today in the region.<br> <br> River activity continued at the site between 95 to 78 thousand years ago, after which only limited evidence for the presence of a river at the site, with evidence for a brief reactivation of the channel 26 thousand years ago, the study found.<br> <br> The river was flowing at its strongest during a phase of weak monsoonal activity in the region, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the Thar Desert, the researchers said.<br> <br> The timeframe over which this river was active also overlaps with significant changes in human behaviour in the region, which have been linked with the earliest expansions of Homo sapiens from Africa into India, they said.<br> <br> &quot;This river flowed at a critical timeframe for understanding human evolution in the Thar Desert, across South Asia and beyond,&quot; said Blinkhorn.<br> <br> &quot;This suggests a landscape in which the earliest members of our own species, Homo sapiens, first encountered the monsoons and crossed the Thar Desert may have been very different to the landscape we can see today,&quot; he added.<br> Wed Oct 21 15:17:29 IST 2020 scientists-seek-evidence-over-claim-that-cow-dung-chip-can-reduce-cell-phone-radiation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>More than 600 scientists and science educators have written to Vallabhbhai Kathiria, the chairman of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog, seeking scientific evidence to back his claim that a cow dung chip can reduce radiation from cell phone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A statement by the Mumbai chapter of the India March for Science said the scientists have also asked for details like where and when were the scientific experiments done and who were the principal investigators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They also sought to know where were the findings published.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They asked whether the data and experimental details can be provided.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kathiria last week claimed that keeping cow dung cake in homes reduces 'radiation' and a 'cow dung chip' has been produced which can reduce radiation when kept on the cellular phone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The India March for Science is a grouping of scientists, students and science educators that aims to promote scientific temperament.&nbsp;</p> Mon Oct 19 09:19:12 IST 2020 Climate-change-drove-early-human-species-to-extinction-study-says <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Climate change likely played a major role in driving early human species to extinction, according to a modelling study published on Friday which researchers said serves a &quot;thunderous warning message&quot; to humans today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of the six or more different species of early humans, all belonging to the genus Homo, only Homo sapiens have managed to survive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study, published in the journal One Earth, combined climate modelling and fossil record to search for clues to what led to all those earlier extinctions of our ancient ancestors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Our findings show that... past Homo species could not survive intense climate change,&quot; said Pasquale Raia of Universita di Napoli Federico II in Italy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is despite technological innovations including the use of fire and refined stone tools, the formation of complex social networks, and -- in the case of Neanderthals -- the production of glued spear points, fitted clothes, and a good amount of cultural and genetic exchange with Homo sapiens, Raia explained.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;They tried hard; they made for the warmest places in reach as the climate got cold, but at the end of the day, that wasn't enough,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The finding may serve as a kind of warning to humans today as we face unprecedented changes in the climate, the researchers said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To shed light on past extinctions of Homo species including H. habilis, H. ergaster, H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, H. neanderthalensis, and H. sapiens, they relied on a high-resolution past climate emulator, which provides temperature, rainfall, and other data over the last 5 million years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The team also analysed an extensive fossil database spanning over 2,750 archaeological records to model the evolution of Homo species' climatic niche over time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their findings offer robust evidence that three Homo species -- H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, and H. neanderthalensis -- lost a significant portion of their climatic niche just before going extinct.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This reduction coincided with sharp, unfavourable changes in the global climate, the researchers said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the case of Neanderthals, things were likely made even worse by competition with H. sapiens, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We were surprised by the regularity of the effect of climate change,&quot; Raia said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It was crystal clear, for the extinct species and for them only, that climatic conditions were just too extreme just before extinction and only in that particular moment,&quot; he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers noted that it is worrisome to discover that our ancestors, which were no less impressive in terms of mental power as compared to any other species on Earth, could not resist climate change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;And we found that just when our own species is sawing the branch we're sitting on by causing climate change. I personally take this as a thunderous warning message.</p> Sat Oct 17 17:03:53 IST 2020 intelligent-cameras-that-can-learn-by-viewing <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Intelligent cameras could be one step closer thanks to a research collaboration between the Universities of Bristol and Manchester who have developed cameras that can learn and understand what they are seeing.</p> <p>Roboticists and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers know there is a problem in how current systems sense and process the world. Currently they are still combining sensors, like digital cameras that are designed for recording images, with computing devices like graphics processing units (GPUs) designed to accelerate graphics for video games.</p> <p>This means AI systems perceive the world only after recording and transmitting visual information between sensors and processors. But many things that can be seen are often irrelevant for the task at hand, such as the detail of leaves on roadside trees as an autonomous car passes by. However, at the moment all this information is captured by sensors in meticulous detail and sent clogging the system with irrelevant data, consuming power and taking processing time. A different approach is necessary to enable efficient vision for intelligent machines.</p> <p>Two papers from the Bristol and Manchester collaboration have shown how sensing and learning can be combined to create novel cameras for AI systems.</p> <p>Walterio Mayol-Cuevas, Professor in Robotics, Computer Vision and Mobile Systems at the University of Bristol and principal investigator, commented: "To create efficient perceptual systems we need to push the boundaries beyond the ways we have been following so far.</p> <p>"We can borrow inspiration from the way natural systems process the visual world—we do not perceive everything—our eyes and our brains work together to make sense of the world and in some cases, the eyes themselves do processing to help the brain reduce what is not relevant."</p> <p>This is demonstrated by the way the frog's eye has detectors that spot fly-like objects, directly at the point where the images are sensed.</p> <p>The papers, one led by Dr Laurie Bose and the other by Yanan Liu at Bristol, have revealed two refinements towards this goal. By implementing Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), a form of AI algorithm for enabling visual understanding, directly on the image plane. The CNNs the team has developed can classify frames at thousands of times per second, without ever having to record these images or send them down the processing pipeline. The researchers considered demonstrations of classifying handwritten numbers, hand gestures and even classifying plankton.</p> <p>The research suggests a future with intelligent dedicated AI cameras—visual systems that can simply send high-level information to the rest of the system, such as the type of object or event taking place in front of the camera. This approach would make systems far more efficient and secure as no images need be recorded.</p> <p>The work has been made possible thanks to the SCAMP architecture developed by Piotr Dudek, Professor of Circuits and Systems and principal investigator from the University of Manchester, and his team. The SCAMP is a camera-processor chip that the team describes as a Pixel Processor Array (PPA). A PPA has a processor embedded in each and every pixel which can communicate to each other to process in truly parallel form. This is ideal for CNNs and vision algorithms.</p> <p>"Integration of sensing, processing and memory at the pixel level is not only enabling high-performance, low-latency systems, but also promises low-power, highly efficient hardware,” said Professor Dudek.</p> <p>'What is so exciting about these cameras is not only the newly emerging machine learning capability, but the speed at which they run and the lightweight configuration,” said Tom Richardson, Senior Lecturer in Flight Mechanics, at the University of Bristol.</p> <p>"They are absolutely ideal for high speed, highly agile aerial platforms that can literally learn on the fly!'</p> Thu Oct 15 16:17:14 IST 2020