Alex Torex Blog

SciTech oriented blog

DNA-testing for crime scene investigations will soon identify criminals in a matter of HOURS

  • UK Home Office has invested £431,000 in development of ‘Rapid DNA’
  • The system will enable the identification of suspects in under two hours
  • One device being introduced looks like a printer and accepts swabs
  • It can be used by someone with no expertise and matches the inputted swab against the national DNA database to make a match
  • And at Sheffield Hallam University in-depth fingerprint technology is being developed to reveal more about a criminal’s background

DNA-testing for crime scene investigations will soon identify criminals in a matter of HOURS | Mail Online

July 28, 2014 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment

Solar Cells Cool Themselves To Increase Efficiency

Solar cells do need to remain nice and cool in order to extend their life as well as increase the level of efficiency. Active cooling such as ventilation is not the most practical and affordable way to get the job done, and it could help lower the exact rays that the cells are supposed to gather in the first place. Stanford University researchers have come up with a new kind of solar cell that can cool itself, through embedding a pattern of extremely tiny cone and pyramid shapes into the collector’s silica surface, helping it bounce hot infrared wavelengths away without hampering visible light from generating energy.

Solar Cells Cool Themselves To Increase Efficiency | Ubergizmo

July 28, 2014 Posted by | Technology - Green | Leave a comment

Making a great “mobile first” app, the right way

There are now more than one million apps in the Apple app store but a study by Deloitte’s showed that 80 per cent of apps get less than 1,000 downloads each. If we assume (very, very conservatively) that those apps cost an average of £6,000 ($10,000) to develop – that is at least £4.7 ($8) billion being wasted making apps no one uses.

In reality, the cost is often over £60,000 ($100,000), which makes the wastage around £47 ($80) billion. That is a lot of marketing and development dollars being spent that could have been better used on something else.

Of course, when an app works – as Whatsapp has shown with 450 million users across all platforms and a valuation of £11 ($18.7) billion – it really works.

We decided to step back and see what it meant to be truly “mobile first” as that is a buzzphrase that is being bandied about by a lot of companies.

Making a great “mobile first” app, the right way | TG Daily

July 28, 2014 Posted by | IT | Leave a comment

Lenovo’s beast of a smartphone, the K920, to be announced August 5th, full specs now available

The K920 is Lenovo’s most impressive flagship yet, and it’s literally filled to the brim with bleeding edge hardware that will leave nobody wanting. We’re talking a 6-inch, Quad HD (1440 x 2560) IPS display by Japan’s JDI, apparently capable of brightness levels of up to 630 nits, an LTE-enabled quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, and 3GB of RAM. There’s also a 16-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization at the rear (5-megapixel selfie cam), 32GB of internal storage, support for two SIM cards (LTE/3G), and a massive, 4000 mAh cell. Now that last one ought to ensure excellent battery life, even with a QHD display on board.
 
Still not impressed? Well, consider this: the Lenovo K920 is made out of metal, just like the K900 before it, and its thickness measures just 7.7 mm. If that wasn’t enough, the phone also comes with extremely thin bezels all-around, and the screen-to-body size ratio sits at 83.5%, reportedly. If true, that would rank the K920 at the very top on that metric.

Lenovo’s beast of a smartphone, the K920, to be announced August 5th, full specs now available

July 26, 2014 Posted by | Gadgets | Leave a comment

‘Epigenetic’ gene tweaks seem to trigger cancer

We now have the first direct evidence that switching off certain genes – something that can be caused by our lifestyle or the environment we live in – can trigger tumours, without mutating the DNA itself. The good news is that these changes are, in theory, reversible.

All cells contain the same DNA, but individual genes in any cell can be switched on or off by the addition or subtraction of a methyl group – a process known as epigenetic methylation.

For years, researchers have known that mutations to our DNA – either those passed on at birth or those acquired as a result of exposure to radiation, for example – can cause cancer. But epigenetic changes have also been implicated in cancer because abnormal patterns of gene methylation are seen in virtually all types of human tumours.

For example, a gene called MLH1 produces a protein that repairs DNA damage. It is often mutated in colon cancer tumours, but in some tumour samples the gene is healthy, but appears to have been silenced by methylation.

‘Epigenetic’ gene tweaks seem to trigger cancer – health – 25 July 2014 – New Scientist

July 26, 2014 Posted by | Genetics | Leave a comment

Workout while you work: The $199 elliptical trainer designed to fit under your desk

If you just can’t find the time to get to the gym, don’t worry – a new gadget claims to be able to let you workout without having to leave the comfort of your office chair.

Called Cubii, the gadget works in the same way as a gym elliptical trainer – but is designed to be used while sitting at a desk.

It even comes with a special app to monitor how you are doing, and to control the trainer.

Workout while you work: The $199 elliptical trainer designed to fit under your desk | Mail Online

July 26, 2014 Posted by | Gadgets | Leave a comment

Atlast (literally)! Nasa to build the world’s most powerful telescope – and it could be our key to finding alien life

  • Nasa scientists in Maryland have revealed plans for a new giant telescope
  • Called the Advanced Telescope Large-Aperture Space Telescope (Atlast) 
  • It will be the successor to 2018’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
  • The huge telescope will be designed to hunt for alien life on other planets
  • And its primary goal will be to answer once and for all: ‘Are we alone?’

Atlast (literally)! Nasa to build the world’s most powerful telescope – and it could be our key to finding alien life | Mail Online

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment

Newegg takes pre-orders for Samsung’s first 3D Pro SSD

Newegg on Thursday began taking orders for Samsung’s most advanced solid-state drive (SSD), a model that uses stacked, or 3D, NAND flash to offer better performance and endurance than previous models that were based on conventional NAND flash.

Samsung’s new 850 Pro SSD is designed for workstations and high-end PCs.

Built on Samsung’s V-NAND, 3D NAND flash technology, the SSD is capable of handling up to a 40GB daily workload, which equates to 150TB written to it over 10 years. Because of that lifespan, the 850 Pro SSD comes with a 10-year limited warranty, which is unprecedented among Samsung SSDs.

Read more: Newegg takes pre-orders for Samsung’s first 3D Pro SSD – Computerworld

July 25, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

A fly-inspired miniature microphone

University of Texas Austin researchers have developed a tiny prototype microphone device that mimics the Ormia ochraceafly’s hearing mechanism. The design may be useful for a new generation of hypersensitive, millimeter-sized, low-power hearing aids.

The yellow-colored Ormia ochracea fly, the inspiration for the design, can pinpoint the location of a chirping cricket with remarkable accuracy because of its freakishly acute hearing, which relies upon a sophisticated sound processing mechanism that really sets it apart from all other known insects.

Read more: A fly-inspired miniature microphone | KurzweilAI

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment

Only a TENTH of human DNA does something important – and the rest is just ‘junk’

  • Scientists at Oxford University claim we only use 8 per cent of our DNA
  • Genes make up just over one per cent of the useful genetic material
  • Remaining 7 per cent is littered with switches that control these genes
  • It was previously estimated that 80 per cent of our DNA was ‘functional’

Only a TENTH of human DNA does something important – and the rest is just ‘junk’ | Mail Online

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Genetics | Leave a comment

Primordial soup that spawned life 4 billion years ago is STILL in our cells, scientists claim

  • Scientists at the University of East Anglia say our cells have ancient ability
  • Cells perform reactions from the origin of life 4 billion years ago
  • Primordial soup theory suggests life began in a pond or ocean
  • Energy such as lightning made the buildings blocks evolve into species
  • Research shows mitochondria continue to perform similar actions today

Primordial soup that spawned life 4 billion years ago is STILL in our cells, scientists claim | Mail Online

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Origin of Life | Leave a comment

Experts Say Autonomous Cars Are Unlikely to Master Urban Driving Anytime Soon

Humans make use of myriad “social cues” while on the road, such as establishing eye contact or making inferences about how a driver will behave based on the car’s make and model, Alberto Broggi, a researcher at Italy’s Universita di Parma, told MIT Technology Review.

Even if a computer system can recognize something, understanding the context that gives it meaning is much more difficult, said Broggi, who has directed several major European Research Council grants in autonomous driving. For example, a fully autonomous car would need to understand that someone waving his arms by the side of the road is actually a policeman trying to stop traffic.

When surveyed by the conference organizers, the 500 experts in attendance were not optimistic such problems would be solved soon. Asked when they would trust a fully robotic car to take their children to school, more than half said 2030 at the very earliest. A fifth said not until 2040, and roughly one in 10 said “never.”

Several of them told MIT Technology Review they wouldn’t be surprised if self-driving cars were, for many decades, limited to specific, well-controlled settings, such as construction sites and campus-like environments with low speed limits and minimal traffic.

Most big auto companies are exploring self-driving cars. One of them, Nissan, caused a stir last year when it predicted it would be selling them by 2020. Last week, though, Nissan used the conference to dial back that forecast, saying instead that cars by the end of the decade will be able to handle selected tasks, such as parking and freeway driving. Despite being bullish about its technology, Google doesn’t make predictions about when fully autonomous vehicles might arrive.

John Leonard, an MIT expert in autonomous driving who attended the conference, says that he and other academics find themselves constantly battling the assumption that all of the technology challenges associated with robotic cars have been solved, with only regulatory and legal issues remaining. “It’s hard to convey to the public how hard this is,” he says.

Leonard stands by a comment that earned him some online criticism in an MIT Technology Review story last year, when he predicted that he wouldn’t see a self-driving Manhattan taxi in his lifetime (see “Driverless Cars Are Further Away Than You Think”).

Experts Say Autonomous Cars Are Unlikely to Master Urban Driving Anytime Soon | MIT Technology Review

July 25, 2014 Posted by | AI | Leave a comment

How to prevent diseases of aging

The diseases of old age — such as heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease — tend to come as a package, the researchers write. More than 70 percent of people over age 65 have two or more chronic diseases. But, they noted, studies of diet, genes and drugs indicate that interventions targeted to specific molecular pathways that delay one age-related disease often stave off others, too.

“Heart failure doesn’t happen all at once,” Fontana said. “It takes 30 or 40 years of an unhealthy lifestyle and activation of aging-related pathways from metabolic abnormalities such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes to give a person heart failure in his 60s. So we propose using lifestyle interventions — such as a personalized healthy diet and exercise program — to down-regulate aging pathways so the patient avoids heart failure in the first place.”

His own research has highlighted potential benefits from dietary restriction in extending healthy life span. He has found that people who eat significantly fewer calories, while still getting optimal nutrition, have “younger,” more flexible hearts. They also have significantly lower blood pressure, much less inflammation in their bodies and their skeletal muscles function in ways similar to muscles in people who are significantly younger.

Fontana and his co-authors also point out that several molecular pathways shown to increase longevity in animals also are affected by approved and experimental drugs, including rapamycin, an anticancer and organ-rejection drug, and metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Numerous natural and synthetic molecules affect pathways shared by aging, diabetes and its related metabolic syndrome. Also, healthy diets and calorie restriction are known to help animals live up to 50 percent longer.

But it’s been difficult to capitalize on research advances to stall aging in people. Fontana and his colleagues write that most clinicians don’t realize how much already is understood about the molecular mechanisms of aging and their link to chronic diseases. And scientists don’t understand precisely how the drugs that affect aging pathways work.

How to prevent diseases of aging | KurzweilAI

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Health - Anti-aging | Leave a comment

New Asus 802.11ac router can top 1.7Gbps

According to Asus, the RT-AC87 is the “world’s first” wave-two 802.11ac router and the “fastest” 5GHz offering. I’m not sure about that, but at $269.99, the RT-AC87 is definitely priced like a premium product. It features a Quantenna QSR1000 chipset, four antennas with universal beamforming, and multi-user MIMO, which prevents bottlenecks from cropping up on multi-device networks:

New Asus 802.11ac router can top 1.7Gbps – The Tech Report

July 25, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Worm neuron hack to probe the mysteries of our brains

Rabinowitch thinks the work could ultimately open up new ways to treat brain damage, by creating neural bypasses that miss out the damaged neurons. Other researchers are looking at ways to do this by implanting electrodes, but a genetic approach would allow brain cells to grow their own alternative route. “You can envisage a time when someone who has had a stroke goes to a clinic and is given a pill to reconnect damaged parts of their brain,” he says. “It’s science fiction but you’ve got to start thinking about it.”

One day, editing synaptic connections may even let us add to an organism’s capabilities, says Rabinowitch. Instead of training animals, we might grow them with specially designed brain circuits. For example, it might be possible to create C. elegans worms that protect fields of crops from disease by seeking out harmful bacteria.

“I view C. elegans as a kind of live prototyping tool,” says Rabinowitch. New connections for desired behaviour can be computer simulated and then tested.

Worm neuron hack to probe the mysteries of our brains – life – 23 July 2014 – New Scientist

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Neuroscience | Leave a comment

New technique could boost internet speeds tenfold

But why go to the trouble of complicating things so much? The answer is that now, unlike with TCP/IP, the recipient doesn’t need to receive packets in order. In fact, the order in which packets are received becomes completely irrelevant. All that matters is that the recipient obtains N coded packets, all with different coefficients, so it can solve the equations and obtain the original data.

This flexibility in the order means that the whole system is much more efficient, because all the packets are interchangeable. A lost packet is no longer cause for severe transmission delays as in TCP/IP.

And because the order doesn’t matter, the packets can now travel along different paths through the network. This also increases security, because it becomes nearly impossible for anyone to intercept the communication by tapping into a single line.

Read more: New technique could boost internet speeds tenfold

July 23, 2014 Posted by | IT | Leave a comment

Nokia’s latest 4G smartphone Lumia 1520 uses Assertive Display by Apical

Apical announces that the Nokia Lumia 1520 4G Windows Phone 8 smartphone is the first smartphone from Nokia to feature its revolutionary Assertive Display technology, a result of over a decade’s research and development into modelling human vision.

By digitally modelling the way the eye adapts to virtually any ambient light, rather than simply adjusting the display, Assertive Display delivers a seamless viewing experience to the user from a dark room to bright outdoor light. Further, colour and contrast ratio are preserved delivering TV-like video quality without the familiar washout of earlier technologies.

This new capability ensures that content previously unwatchable in daylight, such as premium sports, games, movies and photos, can be clearly viewed. Ultimately this means a more immersive, natural and comfortable experience where the display is always adapted to the user’s own eyes.

Surprisingly, this increased viewability does not come at the expense of display power –in fact display power can frequently be reduced using Assertive Display, extending battery life.

Read more: Nokia’s latest 4G smartphone Lumia 1520 uses Assertive Display by Apical | Apical

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Gadgets | Leave a comment

Do black holes EXPLODE when they die? Theory claims they become white holes

A new theory suggests black holes might die by transforming into a ‘white hole,’ which theoretically behave in the exact opposite manner as a black hole.

Rather than sucking all matter in, a ‘white hole’ is thought to spew it all out.

The theory is based on the speculative quantum theory of gravity and scientists believe it may help determine the great debate about whether black holes destroy the things they consume.

Read more: Do black holes EXPLODE when they die? Theory claims they become white holes | Mail Online

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Cosmology | Leave a comment

Has the mystery of proton ‘spin’ been solved?

The new research shows that gluons, which have a spin of 1, contribute as much as half of the proton’s spin.

This was based on proton-proton collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).

When protons are smashed together their interaction is controlled by the strong force.

This is determined by gluons, meaning they are intricately involved in the collisions of protons.

The orientation of the protons’ spins was then used to determine that gluons must indeed have an effect on spin.

More data is needed from collisions at lower momentum to confirm the result, but for now it looks like one of the great mysteries in subatomic physics might finally be solved.

And doing so will enable scientists to better understand how particles get their mass.

One of the other unsolved mysteries of subatomic physics is that of confinement – why quarks, gluons and so forth are only ever found within other subatomic particles like protons, and not by themselves.

Solving this would help explain how quarks and gluons in turn get their own spin.

This result could be an important factor in determining where proton mass comes from.

Read more: Has the mystery of proton ‘spin’ been solved? | Mail Online

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Physics | Leave a comment

Google Now reigns triumphant in virtual assistant battle with Siri

Apple’s Siri virtual assistant is getting better all the time, but Google Now still takes the biscuit, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Munster ran both virtual assistants through a battery of tests, and shared the results in a new research note, published Tuesday. He concluded that Android’s voice search correctly answers questions asked 84 percent of the time, while Apple’s Siri follows up behind with a still impressive 82 percent correct rate.

Notably, Munster points out that both platforms have come on in leaps and bounds since he first ran the virtual assistant test back in December 2012. Even as recently as last December, Munster graded both Siri and Google Now with identical C+ grades. In his latest rankings, Siri has worked her way up to a B-, while Google Voice is doing better still with a firm B grade.

Cult of Android – Google Now reigns triumphant in virtual assistant battle with Siri | Cult of Android

July 23, 2014 Posted by | AI | Leave a comment

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