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The Environmental Edge

Novel Device Removes Heavy Metals From Water

December 17th 2011

Environment Topics - outflow pipe

Engineers at Brown University have developed a system that cleanly and efficiently removes trace heavy metals from water. In experiments, the researchers showed the system reduced cadmium, copper, and nickel concentrations, returning contaminated water to near or below federally acceptable standards. The technique is scalable and has viable commercial applications, especially in the environmental remediation and metal recovery fields. Results appear in the Chemical Engineering Journal.

An unfortunate consequence of many industrial and manufacturing practices, from textile factories to metalworking operations, is the release of heavy metals in waterways. Those metals can remain for decades, even centuries, in low but still dangerous concentrations. Read more ..


Medicine Edge

Scientists May Be Able to Double Efficacy of Radiation Therapy

December 16th 2011

Health/Medicine - bladder-radiation-therapy
Radiation Therapy

Scientists may have a way to double the efficacy and reduce the side effects of radiation therapy.

Georgia Health Sciences University scientists have devised a way to reduce lung cancer cells' ability to repair the lethal double-strand DNA breaks caused by radiation therapy.

"Radiation is a great therapy – the problem is the side effects," said Dr. William S. Dynan, biochemist and Associate Director of Research and Chief, Nanomedicine and Gene Regulation at the GHSU Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics. "We think this is a way to get the same amount of cancer cell death with less radiation or use the same amount and maybe cure a patient that could not be cured before." Read more ..


The Electrical Edge

Intelligent Plug Aims To Save Energy

December 16th 2011

Technology - eliminata

A new range of intelligent plugs that tailor electricity supply to appliance usage and can pay for themselves in a year has been launched by Cambridge-based Energy Reducing Products (ERP). The ELIMINATA range claims to take the guesswork out of energy saving by supplying power to office appliances only when it is needed.

ERP was founded by two entrepreneurs, John Halfpenny and Giles Hutchinson. Halfpenny said: “It’s inevitable that at the end of a long day the last person out of the office doesn’t always remember to go around checking that every appliance is switched off. In fact, many need to be left on for a little while longer: you may want to leave a printer to finish a job overnight, and the water cooler needs to regularly run its sanitisation features". Read more ..


The Robotic Edge

Creepy-Crawly Cyborgs are the Next First-Responders

December 15th 2011

Science - Cyborg insect
Photo credit: Erkan Aktakka

Research conducted at the University of Michigan College of Engineering may lead to the use of insects to monitor hazardous situations before sending in humans.

Professor Khalil Najafi, the chair of electrical and computer engineering, and doctoral student Erkan Aktakka are finding ways to harvest energy from insects, and take the utility of the miniature cyborgs to the next level.

"Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack," Najafi said. "We could then send these 'bugged' bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go."

The principal idea is to harvest the insect's biological energy from either its body heat or movements. The device converts the kinetic energy from wing movements of the insect into electricity, thus prolonging the battery life. The battery can be used to power small sensors implanted on the insect (such as a small camera, a microphone or a gas sensor) in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.
Read more ..

The Medical Edge

New Technique Identifies Magnetized Cancer Cells and Simplifies Treatment

December 15th 2011

Science - Remy Elbiz UMichigan cancer cells
Remy Elbez in the U-Michigan physics laboratory

A technique that lets researchers monitor single cancer cells in real time as they float in liquid could help doctors study the breakaway tumor cells that cause metastasis. Metastasis is the process of the disease spreading through the body.

The approach, developed at the University of Michigan, could also pave the way for new types of targeted therapies that go beyond personalized medicine, researchers say.
 
Remy Elbez, a doctoral student in applied physics, takes a sample of a solution that contains magnetized cervical cancer cells. He will place several drops of the solution in a special magnetic field. Then, after placing the whole apparatus under a microscope, he can watch the cells spin on a screen and determine their shape and status from their rotation rates. This new technique could help doctors understand the process of cancer metastasis. Photo by Nicole Casal Moore"We're looking toward individualized treatment, not just to the person, but to the cell," said Remy Elbez, a doctoral student in applied physics. He is a co-author of a paper on the work published in PLoS ONE.
 
In recent years, researchers have come to understand that not all cells in a cancerous tumor share the same genetic code. This means some are more difficult to kill than others. And techniques that enable single-cell study are in demand. Approaches that process many cells at once aren't as useful for researchers who want to look, for example, at a small number of cells that a particular cancer drug left alive. Read more ..


Ancient America

Clues to Ancient Hunters found on the Bottom of Lake Huron

December 13th 2011

Archaeology Topics - divers in Lake Huron

Under the cold clear waters of Lake Huron, University of Michigan researchers have found a five-and-a-half foot-long, pole-shaped piece of wood that is 8,900 years old. The wood, which is tapered and beveled on one side in a way that looks deliberate, may provide important clues to a mysterious period in North American prehistory.

"This was the stage when humans gradually shifted from hunting large mammals like mastodon and caribou to fishing, gathering and agriculture," said anthropologist John O'Shea of the University of Michigan. "But because most of the places in this area that prehistoric people lived are now under water, we don't have good evidence of this important shift itself– just clues from before and after the change. Read more ..


Edge of Nature

Bee Swarms Sweetly Unlock Secrets of the Human Brain

December 12th 2011

Animals - European honeybee and flower

Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom believe decision making mechanisms in the human brain could mirror how swarms of bees choose new nest sites.

Striking similarities have been found in decision making systems between humans and insects in the past but now researchers believe that bees could teach us about how our brains work.

Experts say the insects even appear to have solved indecision, an often paralysing thought process in humans, with scouts who seek out any honeybees advertising rival nest sites and butt against them with their heads while producing shrill beeping sounds.

Dr. James Marshall, of the University of Sheffield's Department of Computer Science, who led the UK involvement in the project and has also previously worked on similarities between how brains and insect colonies make decisions, said: "Up to now we've been asking if honeybee colonies might work in the same way as brains; now the new mathematical modelling we've done makes me think we should be asking whether our brains might work like honeybee colonies. Read more ..


The Automotive Edge

Magna Brings Camera-Based Driver Assistance Systems to Volume Markets

December 9th 2011

Technology - camera car system

Magna International has developed a driver assistance system that uses a single, forward-looking video camera to provide safety and convenience features such as forward collision and lane departure warnings. More affordable than comparable systems, the Magna system has recently launched on General Motors vehicles in the North American market, available as an option on the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain.

In the development of this camera-based driver assistance system, Magna Electronics has partnered with Dutch vision technology provider Mobileye. The first product to be introduced was the Lane Departure Warning system based on the EyeQ1, launching also with General Motors on the Cadillac STS and DTS and Buick Lucerne. The current product is based on the second generation Mobileye processor, the EyeQ2. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

Strange New "Species" of Ultra-Red Galaxy Discovered

December 4th 2011

Science - Ultra-Red Galaxy

In the distant reaches of the universe, almost 13 billion light-years from Earth, a strange species of galaxy lay hidden. Cloaked in dust and dimmed by the intervening distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope couldn't spy it. It took the revealing power of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to uncover not one, but four remarkably red galaxies. And while astronomers can describe the members of this new "species," they can't explain what makes them so ruddy.

"We've had to go to extremes to get the models to match our observations," said Jiasheng Huang of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Spitzer succeeded where Hubble failed because Spitzer is sensitive to infrared light - light so red that it lies beyond the visible part of the spectrum. The newfound galaxies are more than 60 times brighter in the infrared than they are at the reddest colors Hubble can detect.

Galaxies can be very red for several reasons. They might be very dusty. They might contain many old, red stars. Or they might be very distant, in which case the expansion of the universe stretches their light to longer wavelengths and hence redder colors (a process known as redshifting). All three reasons seem to apply to the newfound galaxies. All four galaxies are grouped near each other and appear to be physically associated, rather than being a chance line-up. Due to their great distance, we see them as they were only a billion years after the Big Bang - an era when the first galaxies formed. Read more ..


The Edge of Earth

Scientists Make Key Discovery about Early Earth Atmosphere and Beginning of Life Itself

December 4th 2011

Environment Topics - Southern California Coastal

Scientists in the New York Center for Astrobiology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have used the oldest minerals on Earth to reconstruct the atmospheric conditions present on Earth very soon after its birth. The findings, which appear in the Dec. 1 edition of the journal Nature, are the first direct evidence of what the ancient atmosphere of the planet was like soon after its formation and directly challenge years of research on the type of atmosphere out of which life arose on the planet.

The scientists show that the atmosphere of Earth just 500 million years after its creation was not a methane-filled wasteland as previously proposed, but instead was much closer to the conditions of our current atmosphere. The findings, in a paper titled "The oxidation state of Hadean magmas and implications for early Earth's atmosphere," have implications for our understanding of how and when life began on this planet and could begin elsewhere in the universe. The research was funded by NASA. Read more ..


Earth on Edge

Magnetic Pole Reversal Happens All The (Geologic) Time

December 4th 2011

Science - Blue Planet

Scientists understand that Earth's magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia. In other words, if you were alive about 800,000 years ago, and facing what we call north with a magnetic compass in your hand, the needle would point to 'south.' This is because a magnetic compass is calibrated based on Earth's poles. The N-S markings of a compass would be 180 degrees wrong if the polarity of today's magnetic field were reversed. Many doomsday theorists have tried to take this natural geological occurrence and suggest it could lead to Earth's destruction. But would there be any dramatic effects? The answer, from the geologic and fossil records we have from hundreds of past magnetic polarity reversals, seems to be 'no.'

Reversals are the rule, not the exception. Earth has settled in the last 20 million years into a pattern of a pole reversal about every 200,000 to 300,000 years, although it has been more than twice that long since the last reversal. A reversal happens over hundreds or thousands of years, and it is not exactly a clean back flip. Magnetic fields morph and push and pull at one another, with multiple poles emerging at odd latitudes throughout the process. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

Christmas Burst Reveals Neutron Star Collision

December 3rd 2011

Science - Revolving galaxy

A strangely powerful, long-lasting gamma-ray burst on Christmas Day, 2010 has finally been analyzed to the satisfaction of a multinational research team. Called the Christmas Burst, GRB 101225A was freakishly lengthy and it produced radiation at unusually varying wavelengths. But by matching the data with a model developed in 1998, the team was able to characterize the star explosion as a neutron star spiraling into the heart of its companion star.

The paper, "The unusual gamma-ray burst GRB 101225A from a helium star/neutron star merger at redshift 0.33," appears in tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature. Christina Thöne of Spain’s Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía is the lead author, and Los Alamos computational scientist Chris Fryer is a contributor.

Fryer, of the Lab's Computer, Computational, and Statistical Sciences Division, realized that the peculiar evolution of the thermal emission (first showing X-rays with a characteristic radius of ~1011 cm followed by optical and infra-red emission at ~1014 cm) could be naturally explained by a model he and Stan Woosley of the University of California at Santa Cruz had developed in 1998. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

Team of Astronomers Finds 18 New Planets

December 3rd 2011

Science - Mars & Earth, Christopher Leather U Chicago

Discoveries of new planets just keep coming and coming. Take, for instance, the 18 recently found by a team of astronomers led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

"It's the largest single announcement of planets in orbit around stars more massive than the sun, aside from the discoveries made by the Kepler mission," says John Johnson, assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech and the first author on the team's paper, which was published in the December issue of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. The Kepler mission is a space telescope that has so far identified more than 1,200 possible planets, though the majority of those have not yet been confirmed. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Nokia Tweaks Bluetooth for Indoor Navigation

November 30th 2011

Architecture - indoor

Nokia Research is courting partners and expanding Bluetooth as part of an initiative on indoor location-based services. The company aims to leverage its handset and mapping products to enable a wide range of services including indoor navigation and retail analytics.
"We want to take what's been done in navigation outdoors and bring it inside," said Fabio Belloni, a principal researcher in Nokia's radio systems lab that looks for new ways to use networks.

Nokia has two pilots using a new Bluetooth protocol in the works and has reached out to as many as 30 companies in an effort to set broader standards that ultimately may include Wi-Fi and other networks.

The company is leading work on a new Location Extension protocol to ride on top of Bluetooth 4.0. It could be issued as a standard by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group in about 18 months.

Nokia designed a prototype based on a room outfitted with Bluetooth Low Energy antenna arrays that track devices with Bluetooth tags. The prototype uses triangulation to create 3-D maps of a room. Researchers envision equipping malls, exhibit halls and other large buildings with the antenna arrays to help people people navigate though them. They also foresee large stores using tagged carts to track and study shopper behavior. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

PC Market Lifted by iPad Demand, Says Analyst

November 30th 2011

Technology - tablet & laptop

Global PC shipments will be 415 million units in 2011, up 15 percent year-on-year, predominantly thanks to sales of iPad tablet computers, according to market research firm Canalys Ltd.
Tablet shipments are expected to reach 59 million units in 2011 with 22 million shipping in the fourth quarter. While the iPad will dominate in Q4, the recently announced Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are also anticipated to impact the US market, Canalys said.

Tablet computer popularity has propelled Apple into second place in the worldwide PC market in Q3 2011 and Canalys expcts Apple to overtake Hewlett Packard as the leading global PC vendor in the first half of 2012. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Wireless Display In a Contact Lens Takes Shape

November 27th 2011

Health/Medicine - Contact-Lens

Researchers in Finland and the US have developed and tested a prototype contact lens that could provide the wearer with a real time hands-free display.

The researchers from the University of Washington and Aalto University, Finland, have constructed a computerised contact lens and demonstrated its safety by testing it on live eyes. At the moment, the contact lens device contains only a single pixel but the researchers see this as a "proof-of-concept" for producing lenses with multiple pixels which, in their hundreds, could be used to display short emails and text messages right into the eye. Read more ..


The Race for Fuel Cells

Fuel Cell Carmakers and Industry Highlight Zero Emission Mobility

November 27th 2011

Technology - hydrogen car

On 22 and 23 November, carmakers Daimler, Honda, Opel and Toyota have organized for the fourth time their Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Drive 'n' Ride in Brussels. At the event, the companies demonstrate how zero-emission technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells tackle transport emissions, one of the European Commission's two environmental priorities for 2012.

During the Drive 'n' Ride, more than 100 EU officials and other high-level stakeholders have the opportunity to experience the reality of clean technology by driving or riding in one of eight fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on display. In addition, for the first time in Brussels, a fully mobile and compact hydrogen station, provided by industrial gases vendor Linde AG and Daimler, will demonstrate the refuelling process. Read more ..


The Edge of Earth

Earth's Core Deprived of Oxygen

November 24th 2011

Israel Topics - Judaen Desert

The composition of the Earth's core remains a mystery. Scientists know that the liquid outer core consists mainly of iron, but it is believed that small amounts of some other elements are present as well. Oxygen is the most abundant element in the planet, so it is not unreasonable to expect oxygen might be one of the dominant "light elements" in the core. However, new research from a team including Carnegie's Yingwei Fei shows that oxygen does not have a major presence in the outer core. This has major implications for our understanding of the period when the Earth formed through the accretion of dust and clumps of matter.

According to current models, in addition to large amounts of iron, the Earth's liquid outer core contains small amounts of so-called light elements, possibly sulfur, oxygen, silicon, carbon, or hydrogen. In this research, Fei, from Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory, worked with Chinese colleagues, including lead author Haijun Huang from China's Wuhan University of Technology, now a visiting scientist at Carnegie. The team provides new experimental data that narrow down the identity of the light elements present in Earth's outer core. Read more ..


The Edge of Nature

UGA Scientists Invent Long-lasting Infrared-Emitting Material

November 23rd 2011

Science - Radio and Infrared Emission

In a paper just published in the early online edition of the journal Nature Materials, University of Georgia scientists describe a new material that emits a long-lasting, near-infrared glow after a single minute of exposure to sunlight. Lead author Zhengwei Pan, associate professor of physics and engineering in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering, said the material has the potential to revolutionize medical diagnostics, give the military and law enforcement agencies a "secret" source of illumination and provide the foundation for highly efficient solar cells.

"When you bring the material anywhere outside of a building, one minute of exposure to light can create a 360-hour release of near-infrared light," Pan said. "It can be activated by indoor fluorescent lighting as well, and it has many possible applications."   Read more ..


The Nano Edge

New Material Nearly as Light as Air is Breakthrough for Nano-Technology

November 22nd 2011

Science - New material

A team of researchers from the University of California at Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have developed the world's lightest material — with a density of 0.9 mg/cc — about 100 times lighter than Styrofoam. The new material redefines the limits of lightweight materials because of its unique "micro-lattice" cellular architecture.

The researchers were able to make a material that consists of 99.99 percent air by designing the 0.01 percent solid at the nanometer, micron and millimeter scales. "The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair," said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler of HRL.

The material's architecture allows unprecedented mechanical behavior for a metal, including complete recovery from compression exceeding 50 percent strain and extraordinarily high energy absorption.

"Materials actually get stronger as the dimensions are reduced to the nanoscale," explained UCI mechanical and aerospace engineer Lorenzo Valdevit, UCI's principal investigator on the project. "Combine this with the possibility of tailoring the architecture of the micro-lattice and you have a unique cellular material."

Developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the novel material could be used for battery electrodes and acoustic, vibration or shock energy absorption. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Researchers Tout Chip That Mimics Brain Activity

November 21st 2011

Health/Medicine - Invisible Brain

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have designed a chip that mimics how the brain's neurons adapt in response to new information.

The 400-transistor silicon chip can simulate the activity of a single brain synapse, the connection between two neurons that enables information to flow from one to the other.

The researchers explain that operationally, about 100 billion neurons in the brain form synapses with many other neurons. The presynaptic neuron releases neurotransmitters, which bind to receptors on the postsynaptic cell membrane, activating ion channels. Opening and closing those channels changes the cell’s electrical potential. If the potential changes dramatically enough, the cell fires an electrical impulse.

Synaptic activity depends on the ion channels, which control the flow of charged atoms such as sodium, potassium and calcium.

The MIT researchers designed the chip so that the transistors could mimic the activity of different ion channels. Current flows through the transistors on the new brain chip in analog fashion. A gradient of electrical potential drives current to flow through the transistors just as ions flow through ion channels in a cell. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Cloud May Have Billion Dollar Impact on Ethernet

November 21st 2011

Computer Topics - Hand on Mouse

The Ethernet switch market is undergoing a technological transformation in the data center as virtualization changes where and how applications are connected to end users. New network topologies are driving entirely new switching platforms.

The Ethernet switch market is undergoing a technological transformation in the data center as virtualization changes where and how applications are connected to end users. New network topologies are driving entirely new switching platforms.

Over the next five years, vendors will expand and consolidate as the battle for supremacy in data center networking intensifies. The result is that there has never been a better time for new entrants or a better opportunity for existing vendors to gain share.

Two major trends will forever change the Ethernet switch market: a significant technology shift to 10 Gbit Ethernet for server access, and the emergence of powerful new cloud computing giants such as Google.

Until the past few years, almost all traffic flowed from server to user, commonly referred to as north/south traffic. Virtualized traffic and current applications now predominantly communicate server to server, commonly referred to as east/west traffic. The change in traffic patterns requires networks with fewer layers and higher bandwidth to handle east/west traffic flows. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Yeast Gene Sheds Light on Batten Disease

November 19th 2011

Health/Medicine - Black infant

Waste management is a big issue anywhere, but at the cellular level it can be a matter of life and death. An Institute study published in the Journal of Cell Biology has revealed what causes a molecular waste container in the cell to overflow in Batten disease, a rare but fatal neurodegenerative disorder that begins in childhood. The findings may form the basis for a therapy for this disorder.

In Batten disease, an insoluble yellow pigment accumulates in the brain’s neurons, causing these cells to degenerate and ultimately die. Patients gradually become disabled, losing their vision and motor skills and suffering mental impairment; they rarely survive beyond their early twenties. It’s been known for a while that the disorder is caused by a mutation in the gene referred to as CLN3, but the role of this gene in the cell was unknown. This role has now been discovered in the Weizmann Institute study, explaining the molecular dysfunction in Batten disease.

The research was conducted in the laboratory of Prof. Jeffrey Gerst of the Department of Molecular Genetics by Rachel Kama and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Vydehi Kanneganti, in collaboration with Prof. Christian Ungermann of the University of Osnabrueck in Germany. All the studies were performed in yeast, as the yeast equivalent of the mammalian CLN3 gene has been conserved almost intact in the course of evolution, making them ideal models for study. In fact, so similar are the yeast and the mammalian genes that when the researchers replaced a missing copy of the yeast gene with a working copy of mammalian CLN3, normal functioning of the yeast cell was restored. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Issa: Congress Using Google as ‘Piñata’

November 17th 2011

Technology - google

Google is being used as a “piñata” by lawmakers looking to blame the search giant for online piracy, powerful Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Wednesday in exclusive comments to The Hill.

Issa said lawmakers are beginning to realize they can’t just blame Google for the problem of online piracy, and predicted legislation opposed by Silicon Valley giants including Google, Facebook and eBay is doomed because Republican leaders will realize the damage it would do to the knowledge-based economy.

“What they’re realizing is there are so many unintended consequences that they can’t just use Google as a pińata and bash on it here,” Issa told The Hill during a break in Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act, which is opposed by much of Silicon Valley. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Ultrathin Flexible Electrode Array Enables Unprecedented Look at Brain Activity

November 17th 2011

Science - Brain Light

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have developed a flexible brain implant that could one day be used to treat epileptic seizures. In animal studies, the researchers used the device – a type of electrode array that conforms to the brain's surface – to take an unprecedented look at the brain activity underlying seizures.

"Someday, these flexible arrays could be used to pinpoint where seizures start in the brain and perhaps to shut them down," said Brian Litt, M.D., the principal investigator and an associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. The findings appear in this month's Nature Neuroscience.

"These flexible electrode arrays could significantly expand surgical options for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy" said Story Landis, Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which helped fund the work. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Leonardo DiCaprio Moves Into Israeli High-Tech

November 17th 2011

Film - Leonardo DiCaprio

Israeli startup Mobli enables users to see real-time events that others are watching. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was so impressed he invested in the company.

Contrary to popular belief, celebrities aren't all "ditzy." If you've heard of them - and if they've made a fortune in movies or TV - chances are they are sophisticated, intelligent people who know how to market themselves. After all, there is a lot of competition out there. So when a celeb like Leonardo DiCaprio sinks a significant sum into the startup Israeli phone app/website Mobli, you have to figure he knows what he's doing.

Mobli offers a unique and exciting real-time take on mobile video and photography. When you install the app on your phone, or check out the website, you can actually see what someone else is looking at.

According to the company's website, it all started when founder Moshe ("Moshiko") Hogeg was at a concert and could barely see the stage because his view was blocked by everyone in better seats holding up their phones to film the show.

"How cool would it be if he could somehow see everyone else's video from all different angles of the same concert? Not only could he see better videos and photos from better seats, but he could see it from a bunch of different views as it happens!"

Hogeg has been in the social media business almost since its inception. Prior to founding Mobli, he was a social media manager at Nike. A serial entrepreneur, Hogeg also founded Web2sport, where he acquired a soccer team and developed an innovative system to crowd-source its management to fans, eventually selling the product to Israel's leading sports channel. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

Galactic 'Sweet Spots' Favor Formation of Complex Organic Molecules

November 13th 2011

Science - Andromeda galaxy

Scientists within the New York Center for Astrobiology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have compiled years of research to help locate areas in outer space that have extreme potential for complex organic molecule formation. The scientists searched for methanol, a key ingredient in the synthesis of organic molecules that could lead to life. Their results have implications for determining the origins of molecules that spark life in the cosmos.

The findings will be published in the Astrophysical Journal in a paper titled "Observational constraints on methanol production in interstellar and preplanetary ices." The work is collaboration between researchers at Rensselaer, NASA Ames Research Center, the SETI Institute, and Ohio State University. Read more ..


The Automotive Edge

Assistant System Checks Driver's Health Condition While Driving

November 13th 2011

Automotive - BMW M1

Researchers of the Munich Technical University have developed a car-based sensor unit that can monitor the driver's health status. At the same time, the sensor can serve for early detection of sudden weakness of cardiac attacks.

The system has been developed in cooperation with carmaker BMW. Integrated into the steering wheel, the device measures vital parameters such as heart beat frequency, skin resistance and blood oxygen saturation. According to Professor Tim C. Lueth of the Munich Technical University's chair for micro technology and medical devices technology, there have been developed a number of systems serving to measure vital parameters during the ride in the context of stress tests. None of these systems however would be suitable for automotive volume production. By integrating their sensors into the steering wheel, the researchers could make a complex wiring of the driver unnecessary. The measurement data are radioed to a microcontroller that displays the results in the center stack screen of the vehicle. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

TI calls Baseband a Distraction, but is it?

November 11th 2011

Technology - IC Layout

While Texas Instruments pushes forward quickly and aggressively with its OMAP mobile processor, some still wonder whether the firm's “strategic decision” to leave out baseband could come back to bite it.

While competing silicon vendors have rushed to integrate baseband onto their chips, TI has shied away from doing so, calling it a mere “distraction” and proclaiming itself glad to no longer be dealing with the connectivity side of the business.

“TI made a strategic decision in 2008 to phase out of the baseband segment and focus on two key Wireless growth areas: OMAP processors and wireless connectivity solutions,” said the firm’s Director of Strategic Marketing Avner Goren when confronted with the question. Read more ..


Edge of Outer Space

Hubble Directly Observes the Disc Around A Black Hole

November 10th 2011

Science - Water ring in space

An international team of astronomers has used a new technique to study the bright disc of matter surrounding a faraway black hole.

Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, combined with the gravitational lensing effect of stars in a distant galaxy, the team measured the disc's size and studied the colours (and hence the temperatures) of different parts of the disc. These observations show a level of precision equivalent to spotting individual grains of sand on the surface of the Moon. While black holes themselves are invisible, the forces they unleash cause some of the brightest phenomena in the Universe. Quasars — short for quasi-stellar objects — are glowing discs of matter that orbit supermassive black holes, heating up and emitting extremely bright radiation as they do so. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

A Hormone Ensures its Own Future

November 7th 2011

Science - neurohypophysis (posterior pituitary)

Much of the body’s chemistry is controlled by the brain—from blood pressure to appetite to food metabolism. In a study published recently in Developmental Cell, a team of scientists led by Dr. Gil Levkowitz of the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Molecular Cell Biology has revealed the exact structure of one crucial brain area in which biochemical commands are passed from the brain cells to the bloodstream and from there to the body. In the process, they discovered a surprising new role for oxytocin, showing that it helps to direct the development of this brain structure.

The area in question, the neurohypophysis, is an interface between nerve fibers and blood vessels located at the base of the brain. Here, some of the major brain-body interactions take place: Hormones released from nerves into the blood vessels regulate a series of vital body processes, including the balance of fluids and uterine contractions in childbirth. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Build it Yourself Solar Solutions Available Now

November 6th 2011

Energy Topics - Do it yourself Solar
Home roof solar panels

In today’s growing solar energy market including large area projects occurring in the USA and in the Middle East too much attention is being placed on constructing large solar array farms in the middle of the desert.  One study made by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority even tries to show that large solar mirror arrays are dangerous to area wildlife. And that’s what BrightSource versus the turtles is all about in California. Among some new solutions for the homeowner are PV panels integrated into the roof of your house.

With this in mind, some solar energy system manufacturers, and the ones who market these systems are putting their efforts into the manufacture and installation of smaller individual solar energy systems that can even be used on private homes. Two local Israeli solar energy and smart electrical energy companies Shyrel Solar Energy Systems and Ludivine Solar have teamed up with a Swiss solar and thermal dynamics company Swiss Solar Tech Ltd, and  Schneider Electric from France to give homeowners the power to create their own renewable energy. Read more ..


The Edge of Climate Change

A Glacier Grows in Sahara?

November 6th 2011

Energy Topics - Sun Glacier Leaf Project
Artist rendition of sun glacier leaf project in Sahara

We have learned time and again what a mistake it is to see the desert as a giant wasteland, a fact that artist Ap Verheggen intends to drive home with the incredible SunGlacier project. Based in the Netherlands, Verheggen is developing a giant sun-powered artificial leaf that uses condensation to create ice out of humidity in the Saharan desert.

This may sound like fantasy, but a pilot project that tests the theory behind the SunGlacier proposal is well underway. Instead of a 200m2 elm-leaf shaped structure with an PV cell coated underbelly, which powers cooling condensers that in turn convert humidity from the desert air into ice, engineers have simulated the desert environment inside of a shipping container. And they’ve already made a 10cm slab of ice! Read more ..


The Race for Hybrids

Bordeaux's New Hybrid Diesel-Electric River Shuttle To Be Powered by Saft Li-ion Batteries

November 6th 2011

Energy Topics - Battery

Saft has been selected to supply advanced lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery systems to provide quiet, efficient, low-emission power for two hybrid diesel-electric ferryboats that will operate a shuttle service across the Garonne river in Bordeaux.

Keolis, France’s largest private sector transportation group, will launch the new hybrid ferry service in 2012 to help the Urban Community of Bordeaux (CUB) move towards greener transportation methods that will enable the port city in southwest France to meet its stringent environmental targets. The river shuttle service is expected to carry around 200,000 passengers and their bicycles a year.

Each hybrid ferryboat will be equipped with a 140 kWh Saft Li-ion battery system that will supply power both for its electric propulsion motor and auxiliary loads such as lighting and communications. The battery will work in conjunction with the boat’s diesel engine, storing power produced by the generator as well as providing additional propulsion power when required. Read more ..


The Race for Alt Fuel

Power Supply Design Impregnated Into Textiles

November 4th 2011

Technology - power supply fabric

Scientists in the US have taken the first steps towards designing a flexible and lightweight fabric that can act as a power supply for smart garments. Electronic textiles, or 'smart' textiles, are fabrics that have built-in functions such as sensing, data storage and communication. But as with all electronics, they require a power source. Conventional batteries are too bulky to wear, so a power source that can be combined and integrated into the garment is highly desirable.

Previous attempts to make wearable energy storage devices involved the use of nonwoven materials not usually used in clothes and expensive active materials like carbon nanotubes and nanowires. Yury Gogotsi and colleagues at Drexel University, Philadelphia, have taken every day fabrics like woven cotton and polyester materials and impregnated them with porous carbon powders, taking advantage of the natural porous nature of these materials. Using common techniques like screen printing, ink-jet printing and dip-coating, textile electrodes can be made on a large scale without the expense of new processes. Read more ..


Edge of Outer Space

Life-Giving Water Found in a Distant Solar System

November 1st 2011

Science - Water ring in space
TW Hydrae system

For the first time, astronomers have detected around a burgeoning solar system a sprawling cloud of water vapor that's cold enough to form comets, which could eventually deliver oceans to dry planets.

Water is an essential ingredient for life. Scientists have found thousands of Earth-oceans' worth of it within the planet-forming disk surrounding the star TW Hydrae. TW Hydrae is 176 light years away in the constellation Hydra and is the closest solar-system-to-be. The researchers used the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) on the orbiting Hershel Space Observatory to detect the chemical signature of water.

"This tells us that the key materials that life needs are present in a system before planets are born," said Bergin, a HIFI co-investigator. "We expected this to be the case, but now we know it is because have directly detected it. We can see it." Read more ..


The Sporting Edge

Olympics Don't Accurately Detect Female Sprinters' False Starts

October 31st 2011

Sports Topics - female sprinter

Olympic timing procedures don't accurately detect false starts by female sprinters, according to a new analysis by University of Michigan researchers.

Under the current rules, a woman can purposely anticipate the gun by up to 20 milliseconds, or one-fiftieth of a second, without getting called for a false start, the researchers say.

"This is unfair to the other women in the race because a medal can be won or lost in 20 milliseconds," said James Ashton-Miller, the Albert Schultz Collegiate Research Professor in the College of Engineering, the Institute of Gerontology and the School of Kinesiology.

The findings, published in PLoS One (Public Library of Science), have implications beyond competitive sports. They provide insights into the fastest whole-body reaction times humans are capable of, and they could possibly inform automobile brake engineering, the researchers say.

Olympic officials use the same criteria to disqualify both male and female sprinters for jumping the gun. A "false start" occurs if an athlete applies an estimated 25 kilogram force to the starting blocks within a tenth of a second (100 milliseconds) of the gun. Why 100 milliseconds? That was thought to be the fastest possible human reaction time. It's a threshold largely based on a 1990 study of eight Finnish sprinters, none of whom were Olympians and none of whom were women. Read more ..


The Race for Smart Grid

Smart Grid research collaboration aims to develop a Renewable Ireland

October 31st 2011

Science - superconducting fibers

Leading European energy and ICT companies, R&D centers and universities, including ESB, Intune Networks and the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) are teaming up as part of a €5million for EU Collaboration to develop innovative “smart grid” energy solutions and services for homes, buildings, industry and the transport infrastructure.

The project aims to identify the requirements of a “smart grid” ICT system. Smart grids provide a balance between the supply of energy generated and demand. They can integrate advanced information and communication technology (ICT) into the energy distribution network so that electricity delivery is remotely controlled and automatically optimized. Read more ..


The Ancient Edge

New Archaeological Evidence of Early Hunters Dates Earliest Americans to 12,000 BCE

October 29th 2011

Science - Mastodon bones

A new and astonishing chapter has been added to North American prehistory in regards to the first hunters and their hunt for the now extinct giant mammoth-like creatures – the mastodons. Professor Eske Willerslev’s team from the Centre for GeoGenetics, University of Copenhagen, has in collaboration with Michael Waters’ team at the Center for the Study of the First Americans, University of Texas A&M, shown that the hunt for large mammals occurred at least 1,000 years before previously assumed.

This new study concludes that the first-known hunters in North America can now be dated back at least 14,000 years. The results are published today in the internationally renowned scientific journal Science.

“I am sure that especially the Native Americans are pleased with the results of the study. It is further proof that humans have been present in North America for longer than previously believed. The “Clovis First” theory, which many scientists swore to just a few years back, has finally been buried with the conclusions of this study,” says Professor Willerslev, director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. Read more ..


Africa on Edge

'Balanced' Approach Needed to Solve Food Insecurity in Central Africa

October 29th 2011

Africa Topics - African subsistence farming

The polarized debate over the use of organic and inorganic practices to boost farm yields is slowing action and widespread farmer adoption of approaches that could radically transform Africa's food security situation, according to a group of leading international scientists meeting in Kigali this week.

"The ideological divide over approaches to farm production are a distraction from the actions needed to address food security now and ensure it in the future," said Nteranya Sanginga, director general designate of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). "Persistently high food prices and low farm yields are weakening Central Africa's food security and putting the region's fragile stability and economic growth at risk."

"Climate change, rapid population growth, and intense land pressure are major challenges for the region. It's time to focus on practical, evidence-based solutions that will forever end the cycle of hunger, poverty and civil conflict," he added. Read more ..



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