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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 ..


The Digital Edge

Nokia Tries Again with New Windows Phones

October 28th 2011

Technology - Nokia 710 & 800
Nokia 710 and 800

On October 26, at Nokia World in London, the Finnish phone maker unveiled its first two Windows Phone powered devices, the Nokia Lumia 800 and the Nokia Lumia 710, running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango.

The higher end Lumia 800 with its 3.7 inch AMOLED display, 1.4 GHz processor, 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera and 16 GB of embedded memory is targeted to compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone 4S and Samsung’s Galaxy S II, while the Lumia 710, with a 5 megapixel camera and 8GB of embedded memory, is aimed more at the mid-tier segment. Both phones boast a 1450 mAh battery.

“This is a slim and sleek, well designed phone, featuring a best in class camera and it has some strong key selling points,” said IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo of the Lumia 800, though he admitted the phone may have trouble competing in a market where Android and iOS still dominate. The Lumia 710, he said, was more of a dark horse in that it had surprised the mid-tier segment with a device it wasn’t expecting until the second quarter of 2012. “This is the most affordable 1.4 GHz processor device, a mid price-tier handset with high-end specs,” he said. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Health Information Technology: Keep it Simple

October 28th 2011

Health/Medicine - Docs and Tech
credit: Emma Schwartz/iWatch News

Making electronic record-keeping systems easier for health providers to use can help prevent dangerous or even fatal mistakes, says the draft of a project by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The draft, titled “Technical Evaluation, Testing and Validation of the Usability of Electronic Health Records,” is available for informal public comment until Nov. 10, 2011. It provides guidance from NIST, a technical research agency within the Department of Commence, for testing electronic health record-keeping systems to make sure they are understandable for health care practitioners. The draft was released in September. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Nanoconfined Organic Solar Cell Material Enhances Conductivity

October 27th 2011

Technology - Solar Cells

The advance doesn’t improve overall solar-cell efficiency, however, because the nano-confined light-absorbing material doesn’t cover as much area as in the thin-film format. But the research suggests that such nanoscale restructuring, described in the cover article of the October 17, 2011, issue of Applied Physics Letters and in the September 13, 2011, issue of ACS Nano, might eventually achieve that goal, and make polymer-based solar cells - potentially manufactured as inexpensively as plastics - more competitive in the marketplace.

“Judged by their physical properties, organic semiconductors should be more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity than they are,” said Charles Black, group leader for electronic materials at Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN). “One of the goals of our research is to understand why - and to devise new solar cell architectures to improve them.” Read more ..


The Green Edge

Greener Heating for Hotels and Hospitals

October 24th 2011

Israel Topics - Phoebus Energy

An Israeli hybrid water-heating system shaves thousands of dollars a year off heating costs at big facilities, and vastly improves efficiency.

Heat pumps, more common in moderate climates than extreme ones, have been around for about 60 years. They create a greener heating system and work by using a small amount of electricity to pull heat from one place to another.

Improving on the old design, the Israeli company Phoebus Energy is giving "brains" to the water heating industry. The Phoebus solution can save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on heating costs for big facilities, and improve efficiency by up to 70 percent, they say. Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

Bionics Innovation Reduces Battery Electrode Filling Times

October 22nd 2011

Energy Topics - Battery

The latest development by engineers of KIT is inspired by nature. To fill the porous electrodes of lithium-ion batteries more rapidly with liquid electrolyte, they use a physico-chemical effect that also provides for transport in trees.

Engineers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a new process that increases the throughput of battery production and reduces investment costs.  The new technology fills porous electrodes of lithium-ion batteries more rapidly with liquid electrolyte by using a physico-chemical effect that also provides for transport in trees.              

The electrodes inside modern batteries are as porous as a sponge. Unlike household sponges, however, pore size is in the micrometer range. As a result, the electrode has a large surface area and provides much space for the chemical processes during electric charge and discharge. This is necessary for developing batteries for electric vehicles that can cover large distances and be recharged rapidly.  Read more ..


The Animal Edge

A Welcome Scoop For Dog Owners

October 22nd 2011

Technology - ashpoopie
The prototype AshPoopie, targeted for retail in 2012.

Coming to pet shops in 2012: An Israeli pooper-scooper that turns droppings into harmless, odorless ash within seconds.

If you have a dog, then you know that no matter how fancy a pooper-scooper you've got, after Rover's walk you are still left with a messy, smelly nuisance that pollutes the environment with sewage and plastic bags.

One Israeli who got fined for failing to pick up the droppings decided to contact Prof. Oded Shoseyov of the Hebrew University, a renowned biotech inventor, for a better solution. And Shoseyov rose to the challenge.

His novel idea is AshPoopie, a pooper-scooper with a critical difference: After it gathers the droppings, it turns them into odorless, sterile ash within seconds. All the dog-walker has to do is push a button to release an activation capsule from the cartridge inside the unit. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Wireless Service Providers Look to the Cloud to Regain Profits

October 22nd 2011

Technology - Cloud computing

Despite booming growth in data revenue, margins for wireless operators have been squeezed as they have been slow to react to the paradigm shift wrought by the explosive rise of broadband usage on smartphones and tablets, forcing the operators to embrace new revenue services and business models—including the cloud—to enhance profits, according to the IHS iSuppli.

“Mobile communications service providers have lagged behind in the race to unlock the value in the mobile communications industry, which is estimated to grow to a trillion dollars during the next two years,” said Jagdish Rebello, Ph.D., senior director and principal analyst for communications and consumer electronics at IHS. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

IHS Spotlights iPhone 4S Component Changes

October 20th 2011

Technology - iPhone4

Apple's latest iPhone - the iPhone 4S - may share many similarities to the iPhone 4, but it also features several notable upgrades, including a major upgrade to the applications processor, the use of a higher-resolution and more advanced camera module and the addition of a new cellular radio that makes the iPhone 4S a true "world phone," according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.

Apple has disclosed that the iPhone 4S features its dual-core A5 processor - the same processor found in iPad 2 - an upgrade from the single-core A4 found in iPhone 4 and other previous products. According to IHS' preliminary analysis based on features announced by Apple, iPhone 4S likely has the same 4-Gb SDRAM memory configuration found in iPad 2.

The use of this low density of memory highlights the efficiency of Apple’s iOS operating system compared to those of competitive smartphones, which use twice as much SDRAM, at 8 Gb IHS said. This lowers the cost of this memory subsystem, leading to greater design economy relative to alternative phones, according to IHS. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Google Rides the Swiss rails for Spectacular StreetView

October 20th 2011

Switzerland railway

Google Street View technology has put imagery of some of the world’s most interesting and significant sites online. So now Google has now captured the beauty and majesty of the Swiss Alps from its winding train tracks and switchbacks.

Cooperating with Rhaetian Railways of Switzerland, a Google Street View team collected images from the Albula-Bernina line in Switzerland that will soon be live on Google Maps. The route winds through the Swiss Alps and is one of most famous in the world, passing through alpine forests from Thusis, Switzerland and past the resort town of St. Moritz, then to its final stop just over the border in Tirano, Italy Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Chicago needs 84,500 Small Cells to Deliver Hi-Speed LTE by 2015

October 20th 2011

America Themes - Chicago skyline
Chicago skyline

Chicago will need approximately 84,500 small cells to deliver truly high-speed LTE by 2015, with acceptable coverage and speeds, according to analysis from Picochip. To provide LTE everywhere in the US around 1.8 million small cells would be required, based on estimations on data growth and usage across the country. This is in addition to residential femtocells and Wi-Fi.

The analysis models what will be required to deliver the advertised data rates consistently to users wherever they are. The capacity per cell is based on extensive simulations of traffic from projected device populations and traffic service types in 2015, incorporating propagation models and calculations of network efficiency and loading. Around 20,000 of the small cells needed for Chicago would be installed in malls and retail premises where demand for data is often highest. Other sites include airports, stations, office buildings and outdoor sites providing wider coverage in busy street areas.

The report was put together by Picochip’s CTO Dr. Doug Pulley, who also concluded that worldwide there would need to be in excess of ten million small cells to deliver comparable performance. Read more ..


Edge of Climate Change

American Forests Have Greater Capacity for Absorbing Carbon than Previously Assumed

October 18th 2011

Environment Topics - Hiawatha Natl Forest Michigan
Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

North American forests appear to have a greater capacity to soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas than researchers had previously anticipated.

As a result, they could help slow the pace of human-caused climate warming more than most scientists had thought, a University of Michigan ecologist and his colleagues have concluded.

The results of a 12-year study at an experimental forest in northeastern Wisconsin challenge several long-held assumptions about how future forests will respond to the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide blamed for human-caused climate change, said University of Michigan microbial ecologist Donald Zak, lead author of a paper published online this week in Ecology Letters.

"Some of the initial assumptions about ecosystem response are not correct and will have to be revised," said Zak, a professor at the U-Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Ann Arbor-based institution's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Costs Up at India's R&D Centers

October 15th 2011

India Topics - Indian Tech

Operational costs are on the rise at global technology companies' Indian R&D centers as the focus shifts from cost cutting to innovation and value creation, a recent study found.

Zinnov Management Consulting reported that R&D operational costs  are on course for a 9 percent year-on-year increase—13 percent in U.S. dollar terms—in 2011, following two years of stringent cost reductions.

Operational costs next year are expected to rise between 8 and 12 percent, the consultancy projects. Attrition among employees at the country's 700 R&D centers has been as high as 20 percent this year, companies told Zinnov analysts, while salaries have increased between 10 and 15 percent.

Read more ..


The Race for Wind

Turkish Village Goes Off The Grid With A Wind Turbine

October 15th 2011

Turkish Topics - wind energy

The lights in Akbıyık went out one and a half years ago, when the Turkish Electricity Distribution Company cut off the village’s electricity because of outstanding utility bills that amounted to TRY 33,000 ($18,000). At that point, the villagers faced a choice: pay off the debt and get back on the national power grid, or find a new energy source that they could harness and control on their own.

They chose to stay off the grid and switch to wind power, securing their energy future and making them one of the greenest villages in Turkey.

A carefully researched decision

Akbıyık’s residents and village headman researched various forms of renewable energy before settling on wind power. They proposed a TRY 160,000 wind turbine project to the government of their province, Bursa. The villagers contributed TRY 20,000, but the majority of the initial costs were paid by the Bursa Provincial Administration. Read more ..


The Edge of Science

The Scorned Scientist Who Became a Nobel Laureate

Israel Topics - Prof. Daniel Shechtman

Danny Shechtman's rigorous Israeli upbringing gave him the tenacity to keep him on a prize-winning scientific course despite ridicule from colleagues.

During paramilitary training at his Israeli high school, Danny Shechtman was usually the first to jump on the barbed wire blocking the students' path as they ran through a field.

"Everybody steps on you and then you try to shake yourself loose and run after them," the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology professor related to ISRAEL21c at a Jerusalem press conference on Sunday after the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced he was to become the 10th Israeli to win a Nobel Prize. Read more ..


Edge of Climate Change

Changes in Rainfall Patterns Are Projected for Next 30 Years

October 12th 2011

Weather - Rain

Scientists at University of Hawaii – Manoa have projected an increased frequency of heavy rainfall events but a decrease in rainfall intensity during the next 30 years (2011-2040) for the southern shoreline of Oahu, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Chase Norton, a Meteorology Research Assistant at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at UH - Manoa, and colleagues (Professors Pao-Shin Chu and Thomas Schroeder) used a statistical model; rainfall data from rainfall gauges on Oahu, Hawaii; and a suite of General Circulation Models (GCMs) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to project future patterns of heavy rainfall events on Oahu. GCMs play a pivotal role in the understanding of climate change and associated local changes in weather. Read more ..


Edge of Space

Massive Stars may be Responsible for Cosmic Fog of Early Universe

October 12th 2011

Science - star burst

The space between the galaxies wasn't always transparent. In the earliest times, it was an opaque, dense fog. How it cleared is an important question in astronomy. New observational evidence from the University of Michigan shows how high energy light from massive stars could have been responsible.

Astronomers believed that early star-forming galaxies could have provided enough of the right kind of radiation to evaporate the fog, or turn the neutral hydrogen intergalactic medium into the charged hydrogen plasma that remains today. But they couldn't figure out how that radiation could escape a galaxy. Until now.

Jordan Zastrow, a doctoral astronomy student, and Sally Oey, a U-M astronomy professor, observed and imaged the relatively nearby NGC 5253, a dwarf starburst galaxy in the southern constellation Centaurus. Starburst galaxies, as their name implies, are undergoing a burst of intense star formation. While rare today, scientists believe they were very common in the early universe. Read more ..


The Plant Edge

Artificial Leaf Performs Direct Hydrolysis in Sunlight

October 10th 2011

Energy / Environment - Leaf

Researchers led by MIT professor Daniel Nocera have produced something they call an "artificial leaf": Like living leaves, the device can turn the energy of sunlight directly into a chemical fuel that can be stored and used later as an energy source.

The artificial leaf - a silicon solar cell with different catalytic materials bonded onto its two sides - needs no external wires or control circuits to operate. Simply placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, it quickly begins to generate streams of bubbles: oxygen bubbles from one side and hydrogen bubbles from the other. If placed in a container that has a barrier to separate the two sides, the two streams of bubbles can be collected and stored, and used later to deliver power: for example, by feeding them into a fuel cell that combines them once again into water while delivering an electric current.

The device, Nocera explains, is made entirely of earth-abundant, inexpensive materials - mostly silicon, cobalt and nickel - and works in ordinary water. Other attempts to produce devices that could use sunlight to split water have relied on corrosive solutions or on relatively rare and expensive materials such as platinum.

  Read more ..


Significant Lives

Apple's Steve Jobs Passes into History and so does an Era

October 6th 2011

Computer Topics - Steve Jobs 2

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and the holder of more than 300 technology patents, died on October 5. The eccentric entrepreneur who built Apple into the world’s leading technological company started in a prosaic garage in Silicon Valley. Having built one of the first personal computers marketed, Jobs led Apple to create wildly popular devices such as the iPhone. He was 56.

Sometimes accused of egocentricity, Jobs pioneered the concept of the personal computer and of navigating them by clicking onscreen images with a mouse, which he also developed. In more recent years, Jobs introduced the iPod portable music player, the iPhone and the iPad tablet, which changed how content is accessed and consume in the digital age. "Steve Jobs is one of the great innovators in the history of modern capitalism," New York Times columnist Joe Nocera said in August. "His intuition has been phenomenal over the years." Read more ..


Edge of Outer Space

NASA Finds Fewer Deadly Planet-Busting Asteroids than Feared

October 3rd 2011

Science - asteroid belt

The U.S. space agency, NASA, says there are slightly fewer massive, planet-buster asteroids and far fewer mid-sized, city-buster asteroids than previously thought in near-Earth orbit. The findings were the latest from NASA's asteroid-hunter, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, known as WISE.

Imagine a census of the inner solar system. Specifically, imagine a count of asteroids that orbit within 195 million kilometers of the Sun into Earth's orbital vicinity.

This is a population that fascinates Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. She is the principal investigator for the near-Earth Orbit Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE.

"As one of my colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory likes to say, 'the best three ways of dealing with the potential of an asteroid impact are to find them early, find them early and find them early,'" Mainzer said. Read more ..


Destination Israel

WeMakeIt Mobile Pocket Hotspot Connects Israel Travelers to the Country and the Planet

October 1st 2011

Jerusalem-Temple and Wall

More than three million people visit Israel each year. More every month. They are tourists, pilgrims, businessmen, diplomats, students, and celebrants. 

Most visitors to Israel are highly wired and connected individuals who need to stay in touch with home and business. But they also need to maximize their enjoyment of Israel's endless attractions. The problem is that getting connected in Israel is difficult. Naturally, your smartphones are going to become completely stupid in Israel due to incompatible signal. Therefore, any hookup for telephone is still going to require a global phone--very expensive, or a travel phone rental--less expensive.

The workaround for smartphone apps is your laptop or iPad. But your iPads and tablets will not work because you lack an Israeli wireless connection. When you finally connect at your hotel, the daily connect fee is often double or triple the cost of a typical US hotel fee—as much as $20 to $30 per day plus tax just to get connected. All this aggravation can be avoided with a small box about the size of a wallet--the mobile hotspot. It is offered by a recently formed Israeli hi-tech company called WeMakeIt. You will find it easily available on demand from the leading car rental company, Eldan, or delivered to your hotel. The fact that Eldan makes the mobile hotspot—or MiFi—as easily available as US rental agencies do for navigators, sets Israeli travel ease a notch ahead for ease and access. Read more ..



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