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Updated: 3 hours 20 min ago

British researchers create new black hole ‘like’ material

3 hours 58 min ago

How black can a black get? The ‘new black’ of the science world is so dark that it makes it almost impossible for the human eye to see it. British researchers have created a “strange, alien” radiation-absorbing material that absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of light. Setting a new world record, Vantablack is so dark the human eye finds it difficult to determine its shape and dimension.

It is also said to conduct heat seven and half times more effectively than copper, and is ten times stronger than steel.

The super black material is created by Surrey NanoSystems using carbon nanotubes, each 10,000 thinner than a human hair. Vantablack has the highest thermal conductivity and lowest mass-volume of any material that can be used in high-emissivity applications, according to the company.

“You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it’s like black, like a hole, like there’s nothing there. It just looks so strange,” Ben Jensen, the firm’s chief technical officer, told The Independent.

The company has released some pictures of the material which shows that it has been grown on sheets of aluminium foil. Though the foil may look uneven, the surface covered by Vantablack seems to be completely smooth thanks to its light absorbing property.

Jensen added: “Vantablack is a major breakthrough by UK industry in the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation. For example, it reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems. Its ultra-low reflectance improves the sensitivity of terrestrial, space and air-borne instrumentation.”

Developed for use in astronomical cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning systems, Vantablack will be showcased at the Farnborough International Airshow this week.

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Android Wear Mini Launcher makes accessing apps from your smartwatch easy

4 hours 43 sec ago

When Google designed its Android Wear, the idea was not to copy the smartphone’s interface onto the mini device. The reason was clear- a tiny screen cannot do justice to the features present in a big screen. However, this made users struggle and they had to follow a cumbersome process to launch apps on the Android wear.

To access apps, users either had to give voice commands, which did not always gave the right results and also took approximately 7 seconds to launch an app or scroll through a long list to get the right app. As always, developers have come to your rescue by bringing an Android app launched on your wrist-wear.

Using Wear Mini Launcher, users simply have to swipe the top right edge of the screen. It displays an app drawer wherein users can see app icons just like they appear on the smartphone.  Users can then scroll up and down as they would on their smartphone or tablet.

If you have an Android smartwatch, it’s time you gave the Wear Mini Launcher a try.

Source: Phandroid

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Chromebooks, Chromeboxes may become even cheaper, thanks to new chips

4 hours 1 min ago

To the regular consumer, Chromebook may not be a very cheap device but mind you, if you know the right places to shop, you can actually get a Chromebook that’s as cheap as $200. Now news doing rounds suggest that they could get cheaper than that. MediaTek has reportedly added a new experimental entry-level ARM Cortex A7 board to the open source Chromium OS repository. This will be used in place of the Cortex A15/A7 hybrid that is used by Samsung- not to forget the Intel Celeron chips that are used in other Chrome devices. In theory, this will make Chromebooks and Chromeboxes cost even less than $200, but will be offering sluggish speed.

MediaTek has yet not disclosed its intent behind adding the code, but it’s not too tough to guess why the company is interested in supporting the Chrome gear. MediaTek chips are present in almost every basic smartphone that we know in developing countries. Now if the company supports a starter Cortex-A7 processor, it would be present across PCs soon, ensuring PCs to people who do not have a computer at all.

Ever since the news got viral, tech buffs have been ranting about the RAM of the existing Chromebooks and how the speed is not up to the mark. There are others who are speculating if MediaTek will now also be contributing some drivers, which has been a weak area for them so far. Let’s wait and watch…

Source:  GoogleSource / Engadget 

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US accuses Chinese man of stealing military data from Boeing, Lockheed Martin

4 hours 12 min ago

In its latest effort to put pressure on Chinese computer espionage activities, US authorities have charged a Chinese national living in Canada with hacking into the computer systems of Boeing and other US defense contractors.

Su Bin, the owner of a Chinese aviation technology company, was arrested in Canada last month and is facing extradition. He is accused of working with two anonymous hackers to steal data about military aircraft produced by US defense contractors and then sell the stolen information to China.

The US Department of Justice has charged Su with targeting information about fighter jets, military cargo aircraft and weapons. The complaint said that Su’s company “is in contact with military and commercial entities involved in aerospace technology” in China.

“The trio allegedly stole sensitive information about Boeing’s C-17 military transport plane and two of the Pentagon’s most advanced fighter jets, the F-22 and F-35, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., among other projects,” The Wall Street Journal said in a report.

Though the Justice Department said there was no specifically alleged involvement of the Chinese government in Su’s case, China has been accused of systematically stealing American high-tech data for its national gain.

Pentagon officials are concerned about the U.S. losing its technological superiority in some areas.

“We remain deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information,” a Justice Department spokesman said. “The conspirators are alleged to have accessed the computer networks of U.S. defense contractors without authorization and stolen data related to military aircraft and weapons systems.”

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Think twice before re-selling your Android device

Sunday 13th of July 2014 12:38:37 AM

If you recently sold your old Android smartphone on eBay or any other online auction site, chances are you have given away rather more than you wanted to. According to a recent investigation by Czech Republic-based security firm Avast, hundreds of naked selfies have been found on factory-wiped Android phones that their owners thought they had wiped.

Researchers said they studied 20 handsets purchased on eBay and found that the “factory reset” button on Android phones does not completely delete data that could be easily retrieved using publicly available forensic security tools.

“The amount of data we were able to retrieve was astonishing and proves that simply deleting is not enough,” Avast said.

The security firm was also able to extract other data from the second-hand phones, which included emails, text messages and Google searches.

In all, researchers found more than 40,000 personal photos, including 750 photos of women posing nude and 250 pictures of male anatomy.

It is worth mentioning here that the “factory reset” options in the settings menu is not enough to actually wipe the data from the storage on the device. Instead, it just erases the index which indicates the location where the material is stored.

And this is what Google had to say on Avast’s recent research. The search giant said that the firm used outdated smartphones. Their research did not “reflect the security protections in Android versions that are used by the vast majority of users,” it added.

If this is any indication, only versions running software before Android 4.0 are open to attack in this way.
Google suggests all users to enable encryption on their handsets before applying a factory reset to completely protect their files.

This feature, already available for three years, is not enabled by default though, which is likely to leave less tech-savvy users vulnerable.

Experts believe the only way to entirely erase data from your device is to “destroy your phone”.

“If you don’t want your data recovered, destroy the phone – and that has been standard security advice, in relation to telephones and computer drives, for a number of years. Any other ‘solution’ simply postpones the point at which someone is able to access your confidential data,” said Alan Calder, founder of cybersecurity and risk management firm IT Governance.

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Android L now available on HTC One

Saturday 12th of July 2014 12:15:38 PM

Ever since Google’s I/O event we have been swamped under with L reports. We previously reported of the leaked L features, the L preview and most recently the L ROM developed for the Nexus 4 by the xda guys. It now seems the clever guys at xda have done it again!

Today xda reported a team of their members have developed another working L ROM, although this time it is for the HTC One. The once popular flagship device is the first non-Nexus device to receive the elusive L as a working ROM. Now this is a very alpha L port and as such WILL be extremely buggy. For instance the developer thread actively declares WiFi, Bluetooth, Data, Camera, Sound and Sensors (except GPS) are not currently working. However as this is a work in progress you can expect updates frequently which will address these issues.

You may wonder what is the point in installer the port when it is in such an Alpha stage! Well, the main purpose of installing this early release is to get a real hands-on feel to how L will look and operate. So if you are adventurous, own a HTC One than you may want to give this one a try. If you don’t like it you can always revert back to whichever ROM you were using before.

Remember…backup!

For the advances users out there the developers very clearly note for them to be able to get this ROM working they had to “heavily” modify the ramdisk and kernel. So DO NOT flash any other kernel on to this port. The ROM will stop booting if you do.

Still interested?

Head over to the developer thread for a full breakdown of what is and what is not working and instructions to download.

Source: xda-developers

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Soon bullets will be able to change direction in mid-air to follow target

Saturday 12th of July 2014 02:23:18 AM

There is only one person in this world who can change the direction of a bullet in mid-air – Rajanikant, the super-star of South Indian film, as big a legend as is Chuck Norris.

Rajni has a competitor now, DARPA has managed to change the direction of bullets after they were fired. The agency’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets.

“EXACTO’s specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits,” says DARPA in a press statement.

DARPA explains:

The system combines a maneuverable bullet and a real-time guidance system to track and deliver the projectile to the target, allowing the bullet to change path during flight to compensate for any unexpected factors that may drive it off course.

Soon these bullets will be more or less like guided missiles and hunt down the target even after they left the barrel of the gun.

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FCC got over 647K comments on net neutrality, will it listen to ‘The People’?

Saturday 12th of July 2014 12:06:26 AM

FCC chief, Tom Wheeler, today tweeted that they have received over 647k net-neutrality comments on the FCC website, as it reaches the July 15 deadline. Reply to these comments are due September 10th. There is an anger in the US against Wheeler’s proposed ‘fast lane plan’ which would destroy the net-neutrality as we know it.

Bodies like EFF are asking FCC to reclassify high-speed Internet services as ‘telecommunication services” under Title II of the Communications Act. This reclassification will give FCC the authority it needs tor regulated the ISP to ensure net neutrality; without this lack of authority, FCC can’t touch ISP.

We’ve received about 647k #netneutrality comments so far. Keep your input coming — 1st round of comments wraps up July 15.

— Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) July 11, 2014

While FCC does create a possibility of this reclassification, it is a bit reluctant. Section I.4 clearly says:

At the same time, the Commission will seriously consider the use of Title II of the Communications Act as the basis for legal authority.

We emphasize in this Notice that the Commission recognizes that both section 706 and Title II are viable solutions and seek comment on their potential use.

Senator Chuck Schumer also agreed today that reclassification is the best way to protect the net-neutrality/.

He wrote on his Facebook page:

The Internet in the 21st Century is as important to our future as highways were in the 20th Century. Like a highway, the Internet must remain free and open for all; not determined by the highest bidders. This is vital for jobs, commerce, innovation and a prosperous future for America. The startup industry that has grown to employ hundreds of thousands of people was enabled by an open Internet.

Title II reclassification is the best way to for us to preserve the Internet as an unfettered tool for communication and the sharing of ideas, which is why I am signing onto Senator Edward J. Markey’s letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler. Protecting net neutrality is one of the most important issues before Congress and FCC Chairman Wheeler should listen to those of us who have voiced our strong support of this approach.

Check out our story on how reclassification will give FCC the authority it needs to regulate the Internet.

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First preview of KDE’s Plasma 5 desktop on a production machine

Friday 11th of July 2014 09:08:15 PM

I have been running KDE’s upcoming Plasma 5 on a test system for a while now. Today I gathered some courage to install it on a production machine which I use to files stories on The Mukt, and also as my primary computer. So far everything seems to be working fine.

The post First preview of KDE’s Plasma 5 desktop on a production machine appeared first on The Mukt.

OnePlus announce they will be attending xda’s devcon 2014

Friday 11th of July 2014 09:03:44 PM

Today OnePlus officially announced on their blog they will be attending the xda devcon event later this year.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with devcon this is the annual conference set-up by the xda community and focuses on bringing together developers, tech enthusiasts and hackers from across the globe. xda is a very popular online community with a huge subscriber base and this has naturally led to the site organizers deciding the community would be greatly enhanced by adding a physical event to their calendar.

devcon is all this but taken a step further by tearing down the virtual walls and closing the distances that separate our community members from each other”.

In contrast OnePlus have received a backlash recently from avid supporters who are increasing becoming fed-up with their invite-to-buy system and inability to simply purchase the OnePlus One in a normal way. So this decision is being seen as a way by OnePlus to try and re-establish support with their community.

Since the beginning, OnePlus has shared similar values to this community of tech enthusiasts who constantly search for new ways to challenge hardware capabilities”.

devcon is a European based event and as such this will be a good opportunity for OnePlus to officially unveil the ‘One’ to the European market. Due to their lack of public selling this will be one of the only opportunities for the public to actually see the One device in person.

This event is an opportunity to meet some incredibly talented Android developers and enthusiasts and also share with our supporters the One and some exclusive accessories…This will be our first stop in Europe; we hope many of you will join us at this event so we can finally get a chance to meet in person

So if you are already planning on going to devcon then I am sure you are aware of OnePlus One so take this opportunity to get the lowdown on the OnePlus One and share your thoughts with us.

For those of you interested but not yet going tickets are still available. The event is to be held in Manchester in the UK from September 26th through to the 28th. For more information on the event and how to buy tickets then follow the link to head over to the devcon website.

For those wanting to read the official OnePlus announcement than click here.

 

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New holography tech to fuel major innovation across industries

Friday 11th of July 2014 09:03:20 PM

Holography, the next phase of innovation in projection technology, is gaining traction across industries as it offers superior visual experience by addressing the shortcomings of current 3D solutions. Tel Aviv University researchers have developed the new holography technology, based on nanoantennas, that could change the way we view the world.

To effect a three-dimensional projection using existing technology, two-dimensional images must be “replotted” — rotated and expanded to achieve three-dimension-like vision.

But the team’s nanoantenna technology enables newly designed holograms to replicate the appearance of depth without being replotted. The applications for the technology are vast and diverse, according to the researchers, who have already been approached by commercial entities interested in the technology.

“We had this interesting idea — to play with the parameters of light, the phase of light,” said Yifat. “If we could dynamically change the relation between light waves, we could create something that projected dynamically — like holographic television, for example. The applications for this are endless. If you take light and shine it on a specially engineered nanostructure, you can project it in any direction you want and in any form that you want. This leads to interesting results.”

The researchers worked in the lab for over a year to develop and patent a small metallic nanoantenna chip that, together with an adapted holography algorithm, could determine the “phase map” of a light beam.

“Phase corresponds with the distance light waves have to travel from the object you are looking at to your eye,” said Prof. Hanein. “In real objects, our brains know how to interpret phase information so you get a feeling of depth, but when you look at a photograph, you often lose this information so the photographs look flat. Holograms save the phase information, which is the basis of 3-D imagery. This is truly one of the holy grails of visual technology.”

The researchers claim that their methodology is the first of its kind to successfully produce high-resolution holographic imagery that can be projected efficiently in any direction.

“We can use this technology to reflect any desired object,” said Prof. Scheuer. “Before, scientists were able to produce only basic shapes — circles and stripes, for example. We used, as our model, the logo of Tel Aviv University, which has a very specific design, and were able to achieve the best results seen yet.”

“This can be used for scientific research, security, medical, engineering, and recreational purposes,” said Prof. Scheuer. “Imagine a surgeon, who is forced to replot several CAT-SCAN images to generate an accurate picture. By generating just one holographic image, she could examine symptoms from every angle. Similarly, an architect could draw up a holographic blueprint that he could actually walk through and inspect. The applications are truly endless.”

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Higher efficiency fuel cells on the way!

Friday 11th of July 2014 09:02:46 PM

Fuel cells are nothing new, in fact they are a century old, having been invented in the early 1800s, but used commercially only recently. The main limiting factor with the fuel cells however is its efficiency. But thanks to a team of scientists at the Stanford University, that might be a thing of the past. The team has devised a new way to observe the actual chemical reaction as it happens in the fuel cells, thus opening up possibilities to push the efficiency envelope even further.

Fuel cells generally produce energy as long as the fuels, which can range from methanol to any other hydrogen rich hydrocarbons, are constantly supplied. As such, fuel cells in it can’t act like batteries which can store the energy. But that drawback can be overcome with reversible fuel cells, a newer type of fuel cell which can, in addition to cleaving water into hydrogen and oxygen, can also combine it back to water given the proper amount of current.

However, therein lies another problem with fuel cells. The reaction that recombines as well as splits the compounds aren’t really well understood enough to make it efficient. But thanks to William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and a member of the Stanford Institute of Materials and Energy Sciences at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, that might just be overcome. According to a new paper by Chueh, by observing the hydrogen-oxygen reaction in a specific type of high-efficiency solid-oxide fuel cell and taking atomic-scale “snapshots” of this process using a synchrotron, a type of particle accelerator, these reactions can be understood in greater details, thus allowing scientists to design much more efficient fuel cells that can perhaps replace mainstream renewable sources being used today.

In a fuel cell, there are both the movement of ions and electrons. The electrons are forced to move through the target circuit thanks to an electron-impenetrable membrane. “Electrons and ions constitute a two-way traffic pattern in many electrochemical processes,” Chueh said. “Fuel cells require the simultaneous transfer of both electrons and ions at the catalysts, and both the electron and ion ‘arrows’ are essential.” These movements, however, happens at very high degrees, around the range of 800 degrees centigrade, with the lowest being Cerium Oxide, accomplishing the same reaction at 600 degree C. Due to  this very high temperature, the reactions, although feasible theoretically, couldn’t be studied until now. Using this data, scientists can now fabricate efficient fuel cells that will have higher efficiencies of perhaps more than 60%, the current threshold.

Source: EurekAlert

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Sandalwood (Chandan) scent can help heal wounds

Friday 11th of July 2014 07:27:00 PM

If you visit India you will often find Sandalwood incent sticks burned in temples or mosques. You an also find sandalwood scent across the country. It’s not just for fragrance, it has some healing value as well. If an Indian told you so, it would have been rebuffed as superstition or pseudo-sciecne, thanks to British education system which turned Indian knowledgebase into ‘superstition’.

Now a study conducted by Dr. Hans Hatt of Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, found that sandalwood scent may help healing of wounds. Dr Hans discovered that olfactory receptors (cell membrans sensitive to smell) are also found in keratinocytes cells which form the outer layer of skin. He also discovered that proximity of these cells to synthetic sandalwood activated them and triggered cell proliferation and cell migration.

The abstract from the study published in Journal of Investigative Dermatology says:

The activation of OR2AT4 induces a cAMP-dependent pathway and phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (Erk1/2) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (p38 MAPK). Moreover, the long-term stimulation of keratinocytes with Sandalore positively affected cell proliferation and migration, and regeneration of keratinocyte monolayers in an in vitro wound scratch assay. These findings combined with our studies on human skin organ cultures strongly indicate that the olfactory receptor 2AT4 is involved in human keratinocyte reepithelialization during wound healing processes.

Hatt said, “I feel a mission to convince my colleagues, and especially clinicians, that this huge family of olfactory receptors plays an important role in cell physiology.”

He is now curious whether this discovery may help in finding cure for caner as some T-cells also have olfactory receptors.

Can we revive Indian science?

Since I am studying a lot of ancient Indian text lately, I am curious if there are mention of healing properties of sandalwood in Ayurveda or other such text.

Sadly, one of the tragedies for India and Vedic science is that not much work is being done on it. There is a treasure trove hidden in Vedic literature which could help the humanity, but we can’t expect those Indian to explore it and revive it who feel ashamed of speaking their own mother tonge. I can only hope that the arrival of Modi government may also start reviving Sanskrit and also begin exploring the science explained in ancient Indian works like Vedas.

Thanks: Dr. Arvind Mishra

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Android Wear gets more features through widgets

Friday 11th of July 2014 01:29:04 PM

So you have Android Wear! Maybe you have Google Glass! Want to check the football scores without having to go through the hassle of digging your phone out of your pocket? Well, know you can thanks to ‘Wearable Widgets’.

Wearable Widgets is a nifty little app which allows Glass and Wear owners to add any smartphone home screen widget directly to their Smart watch or Glass. In effect this means you can very easily check the weather, football scores or the news without ever looking at your phone. It is not just for informative widgets either. Think of all the settings widgets you currently use. With Wearable Widgets you could toggle WiFi or Bluetooth on your Smartphone or even start a Scheduled Antivirus scan if you already have the widget. The uses are only limited to the number of widgets you have.

So how does it work? Well, it is an extremely simple app which requires no additional firmware, integration or customisation. You simply install the app, open the Wear Card (I assume if you have Glass or Wear you will know what this is) and then select the widgets. It’s that simple.

“The key to Wearable Widgets is our app runs on your Android phone (or tablet). Just like your home screen, it acts as a host for widgets from other apps: you can select a widget from any app you have installed, and our platform will then display it on your wearable device. In other words, your widgets are still running on your phone, not directly on your wearable”

Now before you get too excited this is an early release and as such don’t be surprised if some widgets respond better than others and some not at all. As the developers point out

“Some widgets lend themselves better than others to the screen size on wearable devices, and consequently, not every widget works well on every device – that’s unavoidable. In testing we’ve also come across a handful of widgets that don’t look quite right on-device (most notable of these is Twitter) and we’re still working to resolve these issues”.

If you want to give it a go… and yes, I know you do. After all you already own a Wear or Glass so that explains your adventurous nature then head over to the play store listing. The app at the moment is free but the free version only supports the use of one widget at a time. The multi widget version is offered as an upgrade (IAP). So at least you can give a try before you buy. If you want more information on the actual product then follow the link to visit the app website.

So what are you waiting for? Stop fidgeting and start widgeting.

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First beta of KDE’s Applications and Platform 4.14

Thursday 10th of July 2014 07:49:24 PM

The KDE Community has announced the first beta of the new versions of Applications and Development Platform. Developers will now focus on bug fixing and polishing it further as there is a freeze on APIs, dependencies and features.

The community, as usual, calls for testers to install in on their systems and help find and quash bugs.

With the large number of changes, the 4.14 releases need a thorough testing in order to maintain and improve the quality and user experience. Actual users are critical to maintaining high KDE quality, because developers simply cannot test every possible configuration. We’re counting on you to help find bugs early so they can be squashed before the final release. Please consider joining the 4.14 team by installing the beta and reporting any bugs.

The complete source code for 4.14 Beta1 may be freely downloaded, you can get instructions on compiling and installing 4.13.80 from here.

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India plans world’s largest floating solar farm

Thursday 10th of July 2014 05:50:28 PM

Solar power is going to receive a boost from India as it looks to its water reservoirs to expand the use of renewable energy.

National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), the country’s leading hydroelectric company, has disclosed plans to set up a 50 MW solar photovoltaic project over the water bodies in the southern state of Kerala. This will be the world’s first large floating solar power plant.

Renewable Energy College has bagged the contract to provide installation assistance to NHPC for implementing the project.

“There are large stretches of water bodies in Kerala which NHPC wants to harness for solar power. This floating solar power technology was developed by the Renewable Energy College and has been implemented in the city. The first plant — a small pilot project — is scheduled to be commissioned in October this year,” said SP Gon Choudhury, chairman of the Renewable Energy College.

“NHPC had contacted us for offering technical know-how and installation assistance for their proposed 50-mw plant,” he added.

Built in a lake in Kerala, the pilot project is likely to generate around 12 kilowatts of power to begin with by October 2014.

Floating solar farms will help India in not only saving on land prices and bringing down power generation expenses, but also in preventing evaporation in the hottest months.

“The ecology of the water body is not likely to be affected much and it will also reduce evaporation, thus helping preserve water levels during extreme summer. Solar panels installed on land, face reduction of yield as the ground heats up. When such panels are installed on a floating platform, the heating problem is solved to a great extent,” said Choudhury.

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Check out this trailer of The Zero Theorem

Thursday 10th of July 2014 03:47:29 PM

The Zero Theorem is a science fiction film finished in 2013 and slated to hit US theaters later this year. Ironically this is one of those few movies which will come to the US at last while it hit screens in Australia in May and is being released in different countries as we read this story.

The film has an interesting plot, Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is an eccentric computer hacker whose goal is to find the reason for human life.

Terry Gilliam, the director of the film says, “We’ve tried to make a film that is honest, funny, beautiful, smart and surprising; a simple film about a complex modern man waiting for a call to give meaning to his life; about inescapable relationships and the longing for love, peopled with captivating characters, mouthfuls of wise and witty dialogue; raising questions without offering easy answers. Hopefully, it’s unlike any film you have seen recently; no zombies, no caped crusaders, no aliens or gigantic explosions. Actually, I might have lied about that last item.”

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Soon hard drives will be thousand times faster

Thursday 10th of July 2014 02:56:50 PM

Today we can get traditional hard drives (though SSDs are picking up, but are still far expensive than hard drives) with storage capacities in tera bytes. No matter how much data these drives can store and this capacity is increasing day by day, there is a limit on how fast data can be written to these hard drives. In layman’s terms that means these drives are slow when it comes to stories actual data.

Researchers at De Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e) have found a way to speed up data storage by a thousand times on hard drives. The way data is written to these hard drives relies on a natural principle of magnetism. The direction of magnetism (north and south) determines whether its 0 or 1.

Researchers explain, “A hard drive stores bits in the form of tiny magnetic domains. The directions of the magnetic north and south poles of these domains, which are referred to as the magnetization, determine whether they are a 0 or a 1. Data is stored by changing the direction of the magnetization of the associated bits. At present this is done using a write head to create a local magnetic field, which makes a bit change direction.”

The speed of switch relies on the strength of the magnetic field, the strong it is the faster is the switch and that’s where the problem begins. We have reached the limit of this switching which has resulted in saturation of data storage speed. We now need a new technology to boost the storage speed.

A simplified representation of the new technology. Two magnetic layers, each with a different magnetization, are separated by a neutral layer. A laser pulse strikes electrons in the upper layer. This causes them to move through the material, in the direction of the second layer. The spin of these electrons, in the direction of the magnetization of the upper layer, exerts a force on the spin of the electrons in the lower layer to make them rotate in the same direction. This makes the magnetization in the second layer change. [courtesy TU/e]

The team of physicists, led by TU/e professor prof. dr. Bert Koopmans, uses a special property of electrons, the spin – a kind of internal compass in the electron, to improve the storage capacity of hard drives.

The researchers have managed to generate a flow of electrons using ultra-fast laser pulses in a material which all have the same spin. This spin changes the very magnetic property which is responsible for the storage speed.

“The change in the magnetization is of the order of 100 femtoseconds, which is a factor 1,000 faster than what is possible with today’s technology”, says Schellekens. As well as that, the researchers were able to describe the physical processes that are involved in detail. “There was discussion among physicists about whether the generated spin current is actually able to cause the change in magnetization. We now definitely show that this is really the case”, says TU/e researcher Sjors Schellekens.

The research will also help in improving the future optical computer chips, an important project of TU/e.

The university received a Dutch grant of almost 20 million euros to integrate photonics in computer systems. “Our technology allows optical data to be stored in the form of magnetic bits. That offers unprecedented opportunities if you want to use light as information carrier”, says Schellekens.

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World’s first roti-making robot, Rotimatic

Thursday 10th of July 2014 12:49:04 PM

What’s the right way to make round tasty roti, the much loved and adored Indian bread? Well, take some flour in a bowl, add water, a pinch of salt if you like and knead it with water. Finish it off by finally kneading in oil. For the veterans, it is an easy job but ask those who struggle to make a single edible looking one.

The latter need not worry anymore as now there is a robot that will do you your job. Dubbed Rotimatic, it is the first fully automated robot roti-maker. Weighing 39 pounds, the 40 cm x 40 cm x 40 cm device is made up of 10 motors, 15 sensors and 300 parts. It is capable to make one roti per minute.

The robot was made by the co-founders of Zimplistic, a Mountain View, California-based company, Pranoti Nagarkar and Rishi Israni wherein Nagarkar took care of the engineering, and Israni managed the software side. The invention came out of Nagarkar’s lacking roti-making skills.

The Rotimatic has three containers on top- the biggest one is the dry container for Flour, medium size one for water and the smallest for oil. There are three containers, which seal much like Tupperware: one for the dry-based ingredient (typically flour), another for water and the smallest for oil. If you wish to add salt, sugar or other dissolving ingredient, then you got to put it in the water container.

Easy-to-use, Rotimatic mixes ingredients to make one ball of dough unlike how it is done traditionally, where the whole dough is made together. Once the robot is convinced about the consistency of the dough, it pushes it to the chamber where it is flattened. Users can choose the thickness of the roti manually.

Priced at $599 per piece, it surely is an expensive piece of gadget but the makers claim that if you are a roti-eater, Rotimatic could pay for itself in a year. Right now it’s sold out but the company is in the process of attaining U.S. certification and is presently working on ironing out its assembly line.

Source: Mashable

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Britney Spears can’t sing!

Thursday 10th of July 2014 11:56:20 AM

I am a big Britney Spears fan. From the time when she fearlessly grooved to her peppy tracks, was unabashedly honest and sometimes snooty about her superiority, about her relationships to today when pictures of her unflattering bottom are splashed across media as she moves around with her sons enjoying a rich dollop of ice cream on her waffle. I adore her. Period.

So when I came across this unaltered leaked track of Britney’s album ‘Britney Jean’ titled Alien, I was reminded of her track ‘Piece of me’.

I’m Miss bad media karma
Another day another drama
Guess I can’t see the harm
In working and being a mama
And with a kid on my arm
I’m still an exceptional earner
And you want a piece of me

Coming back to the leaked track, they say the track doesn’t have the Auto-tune effect, thus, putting a ‘question mark’ on the singing ability of Britney, who is now considered a veteran of sorts in the field of audio recording.

For the uninitiated, Auto-tune is being used rampantly across the music industry as it helps create polished, hearable recordings even where an artist doesn’t have the natural ability to hit every note. It can even make the most terrible singers sound good.

Soon after the track leaked, producer William Orbit came to Britney’s defense, requesting listeners to not judge her basis this first-take warm up. Here’s what he wrote on Facebook: “I’d like to affirm that any singer when first at the mic at the start of a long session can make a multitude of vocalisations in order to get warmed up. Warming up is essential if you’re a pro, as it is with a runner doing stretches, and it takes a while to do properly. I’ve heard all manner of sounds emitted during warm-ups. The point is that it is not supposed to be shared with millions of listeners. Britney is and always will be beyond stellar! She is magnificent! And that’s that.”

So while we listen to this track over and over again and judge her singing prowess, I hear her sing in my mind ‘Oops, I did it again’…

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