Scientists develop integrated system for early diagnosis of diseases using wearable monitors

first_imgThe energy derivation and self-repair give the new device a long lifespan, and prevent the need to turn off the system for repair or charging. “This system will not just continuously monitor physiological markers in the wearer. It also aid the long-term collection of extensive information that may be used for epidemiological studies,” said Prof. Haick.Although the system’s components already exist, a platform that integrates them all has not yet been developed. It requires a complex array of sensors, a tiny and flexible circuit board for measuring the markers, and components that process the information and transfer it to the cloud. All of these are being implemented in the new system being developed by Prof. Haick’s research group. Source:http://ats.org/news/wearable-devices-for-early-disease-monitoring-and-diagnosis/ A combination of precise sensing and advanced analysis tools The energy it requires for operation is derived from the wearer’s body (movements and body heat) The device is made of advanced self-healing materials in case of a scratch or cutcenter_img May 16 2018Researchers from the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed an integrated system for early diagnosis of diseases using wearable monitors. Able to continuously monitor physiological indicators without disturbing the user, the system can repair itself in the event of a tear or scratch, and receives the energy required for operation from the wearer.This could help spare patients much pain and suffering, greatly reduce medical expenses, and provide extensive and detailed information for epidemiological studies. The system was presented in a review paper published in Advanced Materials by Technion Professor Hossam Haick and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Weiwei Wu (who is now a professor at Xidian University in China).Related StoriesNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerWearable devices for medical monitoring are gaining momentum, because they provide a convenient and inexpensive platform for the continuous collection of medical information without the need for invasive procedures. Such devices enable early disease monitoring, before outbreaks, and earlier and more efficient treatment. They can be attached to shirts, jewelry, sweatshirts, watches, shoes, and glasses, and allow the user to go about his or her day without interruption. As a result, such devices are expected to encourage people to be proactive about their health and to reduce avoidance of medical examinations.”Normal health is characterized by known markers such as 60 to 100 heart beats per minute and 7 to 8 breaths per minute,” said Prof. Haick. “If we detect dramatic changes in the various markers in real time, we can refer the patient to a more comprehensive diagnosis and prevent disease from developing or worsening.”The system developed at the Technion contains sensors and tools that process the data and transmit it to the authorized medical authority. It combines a series of innovative elements that provide unprecedented monitoring capability:last_img read more

The Genetics of Blond Hair

For all those brunettes wishing they were naturally blond, a small genetic change could have made all the difference. Scientists have found that replacing one of DNA’s four letters at a key spot in the genome shifts a particular gene’s activity and leads to fairer hair. Not only does the work provide a molecular basis for flaxen locks, but it also demonstrates how changes in segments of DNA that control genes, not just changes in genes themselves, are important to what an organism looks like.“It really is a nice story that pulls together and helps make sense of a lot of the biology that we have partially understood up to this point,” says Richard Sturm, a molecular geneticist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, who was not involved with the work.Because our appearance is so strongly influenced by the color of our skin and hair, geneticists have long sought to understand the genetic bases of these traits and when they evolved. Over the past 6 years, studies of genetic variation in thousands of people have linked at least eight DNA regions to blondness based on the fact that a certain DNA letter, or base, was found in people with that hair color but not in people with other hair colors. Some of those base changes, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), were in genes involved in the production of pigments, such as melanin. Mutations in these genes typically change skin and hair color. Other SNPs lay outside genes but could be part of the regulatory DNA that helps control the function of genes nearby. Changes in that regulatory DNA could result in hair color but not skin color change, or vice versa, because regulatory DNA can change gene activity in just certain parts of the body. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email In northern Europeans, the closest gene to an SNP that was strongly linked to blondness was KITLG, which codes for a protein that is key to making sure cells go to their proper places in the body and specialize accordingly. That SNP caught the eye of David Kingsley, an evolutionary geneticist at Stanford University in California. He and his colleagues had found that this gene was key to altering the coloration of fish called sticklebacks that had become isolated in freshwater rivers and lakes when glaciers receded. In each freshwater location, these fish were evolving independently, yet time and time again, changes in the regulation of this gene led to fairer or darker skin, depending on the murkiness of the water. “We had a choice,” Kingsley recalls. “We could study skin color in fish or in humans—it was the very same problem in the very same gene.”To learn whether that SNP was part of the regulatory DNA for human KITGL, Kingsley’s team turned to mice. The researchers knew they were on the right track because mice with DNA that’s backward in that region were lighter or even white, instead of the usual brown. They made two variations of the human version of that DNA to put into mice. In one variant, they left the blond-generating SNP intact; and in the other variant, they changed that SNP to another base, so that the DNA looked like it does in brunettes. They inserted just one copy of one DNA variant into each mouse.Mice with the blond-generating SNP were lighter than mice with the other variant, Kingsley and his colleagues report online today in Nature Genetics. When he and his colleagues studied this regulatory DNA in human cells grown in a laboratory dish, they discovered that the blond-generating SNP reduced KITLG activity by only about 20%. Yet that was enough to change the hair color. “This isn’t a ‘turn the switch off,’ ” Kingsley says. “It’s a ‘turn the switch down.’ ”“This study provides solid evidence” that this switch regulates the expression of KITLG in developing hair follicles, says Fan Liu, a genetic epidemiologist at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who was not involved with the work. He and his colleagues have found they can predict red and black color pretty accurately based on looking at 22 hair-color-related SNPs that a person has, but distinguishing blonds and brunettes is “much more difficult,” he says.“Regulatory DNA is very likely to play an important role in pigmentation in general,” adds Eiríkur Steingrímsson, a molecular biologist at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, who was not involved with the work.Blond hair may not be important to survival, but the story of one of its genetic causes helps clarify how evolution can occur. KITLG is active in many places in the body, and any mutation in the gene itself would result in widespread problems in the body and even death. Yet it is bracketed by sections of regulatory DNA, any one of which may take control in a different tissue. “This finding explains why the effect of KITLG is specific to hair but not eye and skin, which is quite unique compared to most other pigmentation genes known today,” Liu says. Thus, the change that led to blond hair did not affect the gene elsewhere in the body. “It’s literally only skin deep,” Kingsley says. read more

NIH cancels massive US childrens study

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Emailcenter_img One researcher who has been involved with NCS since it began says he’s not surprised by NCS’s demise. “It’s a bittersweet moment. I think it was not only the right thing, it was the only thing that could be done,” said pediatrician and epidemiologist Nigel Paneth of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who is part of a group of academic researchers who until recently led NCS research sites.Congress called for NCS in 2000, outlining a longitudinal study that would look at the influences of a range of factors, from chemical to psychosocial, on child development and health. Planners decided to enroll 100,000 children before birth and investigate a range of hypotheses developed by hundreds of scientists. To assemble a representative sample of the U.S. population, they would recruit pregnant women by knocking on doors in a random sample of about 100 counties. In 2007, funding ramped up for a pilot called the Vanguard Study.But the recruitment plan proved too cumbersome, so NCS tested other designs. Concerned about costs, in 2012 NIH dropped the 40 NCS sites at academic institutions and turned the 5000 children enrolled in the Vanguard Study over to a few large contractors. It also slashed NCS’s then-$194-million-a-year budget.The changes sparked an uproar from researchers at the 40 NCS sites, who argued that the new NCS plan would compromise the study’s goals. Congress then called for an Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) review. That panel’s June 2014 report concluded that NCS had great potential, but found problems with its design and management. Collins put the study on hold and asked a working group of the ACD to advise him on its future.That group, co-chaired by Philip Pizzo and Russ Altman of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, released its report today. The group agrees with the need to study how exposures early in life affect health. But it concurred with the IOM/NRC panel that there are numerous problems with NCS, which would likely cost billions of dollars. Despite years of planning, “there is no protocol,” Pizzo said, and developing one could take 18 to 24 months.In addition, the study as currently envisioned does not take into account new science, such as the role of microbial communities in health. And it is not designed to make use of new technologies such as social media and electronic medical records that could bring down costs.The working group also agreed with IOM that the study’s management team lacks appropriate scientific expertise. When they consulted with experts from the environmental health, epidemiology, and pediatrics community, most told them NCS should be redesigned or discontinued. The working group’s conclusion: NCS, “as currently outlined, is not feasible.”The report recommends that the NCS program office at NIH be disassembled and the Vanguard Study be mothballed, with existing data and biospecimens made available to outside researchers. It also recommends a “series of smaller focused studies” that “could make the original goals of the NCS more achievable, feasible, and affordable.”Collins said he is moving immediately to carry out these recommendations. He will close the NCS program office, which has about 25 staff members, and phase out contracts for the Vanguard Study and other NCS work.NIH also expects to redirect some of NCS’s funding, a plan that Congress has already endorsed. The 2015 omnibus spending bill moving through Congress states that the $165 million allocated for NCS could instead go to NIH institutes to “support activity related to the goals and objectives of the NCS.” That “could be pretty exciting,” Collins said.Paneth says former NCS investigators are already thinking about ways that they could conduct smaller studies with some of the same objectives. If funding does go for related work, “that would be a very positive outcome of this,” he says. But as he notes, one question is whether the extra funding will continue beyond 2015. At today’s meeting, Collins noted that NIH already spends about $1.2 billion a year on research involving environmental influences on children’s health. Federal officials are pulling the plug on an ambitious plan hatched 14 years ago to follow the health of 100,000 U.S. children from before birth to age 21. The National Children’s Study (NCS), which has struggled to get off the ground and has already cost more than $1.2 billion, has too many flaws to be carried out in a tight budget environment, advisers today told National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. He announced he is dismantling the study immediately.At the same time, the advisers endorsed the aims of the study and urged NIH to fund related research. NIH now plans to figure out a way to do that by redirecting some of NCS’s $165 million in funding for 2015, Collins said today at a meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD).Collins insisted that the news is not all bad. “This is not killing the study. It is discontinuing a study in the form that had been previously contemplated. But it is opening up a much broader array of scientific horizons to try to accomplish those goals, which we all strongly agree are worthwhile and highly deserving of that kind of attention,” he said.last_img read more

Podcast What dogs lost during domestication cosmic toothpaste and more

first_imgDid the fluoride in your toothpaste come from supernova explosions? What important skill did dogs lose when they evolved from wolves? And what happens when you turn back the clock on chicken domestication? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi. Plus, Daniel Markovits discusses the preferences for fairness and equality among potential future U.S. leaders.last_img

Why large dogs live fast—and die young

first_imgNEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA—For most mammals, size matters: Large ones, such as elephants and whales, live far longer than small ones like rodents. But among dogs, that rule is reversed. Tiny Chihuahuas, for example, can live up to 15 years—8 years longer than their much larger cousins, Great Danes. Now, a team of undergraduates may be closer to figuring out why. The most likely culprit? More harmful oxygen free radicals in fast-growing, fuel-burning puppies.When an organism grows, its cells break down food to make the molecular fuel they need. But generating this energy can also generate an unwelcome visitor: renegade molecules called oxygen free radicals. These molecules are missing electrons, and as they try to poach them from other cells in the body, they can quickly damage cell membranes and eventually contribute to cancer and other diseases. Molecules known as antioxidants neutralize these free radicals. But ultimately, the more energy a body produces, the more free radicals it makes, and consequently, the more antioxidants it needs. Some scientists think that escaped free radicals contribute to aging, although this is hotly debated.To find out whether that might be true in canines, undergraduates Josh Winward and Alex Ionescu from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, asked veterinarians for the ear clips, dewclaws, and cut-off tails of puppies and the ear clips from old dogs that had recently died. Altogether, they collected about 80 samples from large and small breeds. Working with Colgate animal physiologist Ana Jimenez, the students isolated cells from those tissues, grew the cells in a lab dish for a few weeks, and then analyzed them. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Email In the adult dog cells, energy and free radical production was about equal in the two breed sizes. But in the puppy cells, that balance was off. Adult large and small dogs had about equal amounts of antioxidants, but the cells from large breed puppies had too many excess free radicals for the antioxidants to fight, the undergrads reported here last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. That’s likely because large breed puppies have fast metabolisms, growing faster and requiring more energy than smaller breeds, Winward says. Cell damage even at this young age can have long-lasting effects.The results are preliminary, and there are other ideas about why dogs age the way they do. But if the findings hold up, it might be possible to extend large dogs’ lives with antioxidant supplements for puppies, Winward suggests. These antioxidants could help get rid of those young dogs’ extra free radicals before they do damage.Adam Brasher, an undergrad studying the effects of oxygen free radicals at Auburn University in Alabama is cautious. Excessive amounts of these molecules can be detrimental, he concedes, “but moderate levels are beneficial.” To figure out what level of antioxidants are helpful, and whether their findings apply more broadly to other breeds, Jimenez and her students plan to expand the current study next summer. “Stay tuned!” she says.last_img read more

New generation of flow batteries could eventually sustain a grid powered by

first_imgCommercial flow batteries, such as this zinc-bromine system from Redflow, are helping back up renewables. REDFLOW LIMITED Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Batteries already power electronics, tools, and cars; soon, they could help sustain the entire electric grid. With the rise of wind and solar power, energy companies are looking for ways to keep electrons flowing when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind ebbs. Giant devices called flow batteries, using tanks of electrolytes capable of storing enough electricity to power thousands of homes for many hours, could be the answer. But most flow batteries rely on vanadium, a somewhat rare and expensive metal, and alternatives are short-lived and toxic.Last week, researchers reported overcoming many of these drawbacks with a potentially cheap, long-lived, and safe flow battery. The work is part of a wave of advances generating optimism that a new generation of flow batteries will soon serve as a backstop for the deployment of wind and solar power on a grand scale. “There is lots of progress in this field right now,” says Ulrich Schubert, a chemist at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany.Lithium-ion batteries—the sort in laptops and Teslas—have a head start in grid-scale applications. Lithium batteries already bank backup power for hospitals, office parks, and even towns. But they don’t scale up well to the larger sizes needed to provide backup power for cities, says Michael Perry, associate director for electrochemical energy systems at United Technologies Research Center in East Hartford, Connecticut. That’s where flow batteries come in. They store electrical charge in tanks of liquid electrolyte that is pumped through electrodes to extract the electrons; the spent electrolyte returns to the tank. When a solar panel or turbine provides electrons, the pumps push spent electrolyte back through the electrodes, where the electrolyte is recharged and returned to the holding tank. Scaling up the batteries to store more power simply requires bigger tanks of electrolytes. Vanadium has become a popular electrolyte component because the metal charges and discharges reliably for thousands of cycles. Rongke Power, in Dalian, China, for example, is building the world’s largest vanadium flow battery, which should come online in 2020. The battery will store 800 megawatt-hours of energy, enough to power thousands of homes. The market for flow batteries—led by vanadium cells and zinc-bromine, another variety—could grow to nearly $1 billion annually over the next 5 years, according to the market research firm MarketsandMarkets.But the price of vanadium has risen in recent years, and experts worry that if vanadium demand skyrockets, prices will, too. A leading alternative replaces vanadium with organic compounds that also grab and release electrons. Organic molecules can be precisely tailored to meet designers’ needs, says Tianbiao Liu, a flow battery expert at Utah State University in Logan. But organics tend to degrade and need replacement after a few months, and some compounds work only with powerful acidic or basic electrolytes that can eat away at the pumps and prove dangerous if their tanks leak.Researchers are now in the midst of “a second wave of progress” in organic flow batteries, Schubert says. In July, a group led by Harvard University materials scientist Michael Aziz reported in Joule that they had devised a long-lived organic molecule that loses only 3% of its charge-carrying capacity per year. Although that’s still not stable enough, it was a big jump from previous organic flow cell batteries that lost a similar amount every day, Liu says.Iron, which is cheap and good at grabbing and giving up electrons, is another promising alternative. A Portland, Oregon, company called ESS, for example, sells such batteries. But ESS’s batteries require electrolytes operating at a pH between one and four, with acidity similar to vinegar’s. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Robert F. ServiceOct. 31, 2018 , 2:10 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email C. Bickel/Science Tanked up Because flow batteries store charge in tanks of electrolytes, they can be scaled up as a backup source of grid power. A new design relies on ferrocyanide to capture and release electrons. During discharge, ferrocyanide (green) loseselectrons, which travel through a circuit to aviologen-based electrolyte (orange). Ferrocyanide During charging, electrons reverse course. Ammonium ions (center) travel back and forth to balance charges. Viologen derivative Electrode Ammonium Energygeneration Energy storage Circulation pump + – New generation of ‘flow batteries’ could eventually sustain a grid powered by the sun and wind Now, Liu and his colleagues have come up with a flow battery that operates at neutral pH. They started with an iron-containing electrolyte, ferrocyanide, that has been studied in the past. But in previous ferrocyanide batteries, the electrolyte was dissolved in water containing sodium or potassium salts, which provide positively charged ions that move through the cell to balance the electron movement during charging and discharging. Ferrocyanide isn’t very soluble in those salt solutions, limiting the electrical storage capacity of the battery.So Liu and his colleagues replaced the salts with a nitrogen-based compound called ammonium that allows at least twice as much ferrocyanide to dissolve, doubling the battery’s capacity. The resulting battery is not as energy-dense as a vanadium flow battery. But in last week’s issue of Joule, Liu and his colleagues reported that their iron-based organic flow battery shows no signs of degradation after 1000 charge-discharge cycles, equivalent to about 3 years of operation. And because the electrolytes are neutral pH and water-based, a leak likely wouldn’t produce environmental damage.”Overall, that’s an excellent piece of work,” says Qing Wang, a materials scientist at the National University of Singapore. Still, he and others caution that the battery is sluggish to charge and discharge. Liu says he and his colleagues plan to test other electrolyte additives, among other fixes, to boost conductivity.It’s too early to say which flow battery chemistry—if any—will support the renewable grid of the future. Another contender uses electrolytes made from metal-containing organic compounds called polyoxometalates, which store far more energy in the same volume than the competition. In the 10 October issue of Nature Chemistry, for example, researchers led by Leroy Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, reported a polyoxometalate flow battery that stores up to 40 times as much charge as vanadium cells of the same volume. The downside for now is that these electrolytes are highly viscous and thus more challenging to pump through the battery, Cronin says. “Today, no one flow battery fills all the needs,” Schubert says. That means there’s still plenty of room for innovation.*Correction, 21 November, 4 p.m.: This story has been updated to correct the name of the company ESS, Inc.last_img read more

Africas largest mammalian carnivore had canines the size of bananas

first_img Email Africa’s largest mammalian carnivore had canines ‘the size of bananas’ By Munyaradzi MakoniApr. 18, 2019 , 12:15 AM MAURICIO ANTON Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe When paleontologists dug up the bones of Africa’s largest carnivore in the early 1980s, they had no idea what they had found. So many other fossils littered the dig site, at Meswa Bridge in western Kenya, that the giant bones were just one more item to be cataloged. So, they stuck them in a drawer in the Nairobi National Museum, where they remained for nearly 4 decades.Then a new team of researchers showed up. They pulled open the drawer by chance and found “canines the size of bananas,” says carnivore paleontologist Matt Borths at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The teeth—with molars 6 centimeters long and canines 10 centimeters long—were just the beginning. Attached to them was an enormous jaw and other bone fragments dated to 23 million years ago. The researchers estimate the 1.2-meter-tall creature (artist’s rendition above) would have weighed 1500 kilograms and measured 2.4 meters from snout to tail—making it bigger than a polar bear and one of the largest mammalian meat eaters on record, the researchers report today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.Named Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, which means “big lion from Africa” in Swahili, the apex predator would have played a similar role in the region’s ecosystem as today’s lions, whose ancestors did not arrive in Africa until 3.7 million years later. Prior to that, Simbakubwa was one of the only land-dwelling carnivores in Africa, part of a group of giant extinct mammals called hyaenodonts. But whereas modern lions have only one pair of specialized, meat-slicing teeth on either side of their jaws, Simbakubwa had three, making it a formidable enemy. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The researchers say Simbakubwa’s teeth are in almost pristine condition, helping them sort out its relationship to the other giant carnivores in its family. But, they say, they still have much to learn about why these giant meat eaters went extinct—and what they can teach us about the risks to modern carnivores.last_img read more

Neanderthals may have trapped golden eagles 130000 years ago

first_imgStewart Finlayson Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email By Michael PriceApr. 26, 2019 , 1:05 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Neanderthals may have trapped golden eagles 130,000 years ago The golden eagle has been hunted and revered by human cultures for thousands of years. Yet this may not have been a uniquely human devotion—Neanderthals, too, may have targeted these impressive birds of prey some 130,000 years ago, according to new research. What’s more, modern humans may have learned their eagle-catching techniques from their hominin cousins.With its luminous auburn feathers and massive 2.2-meter wingspan, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is associated with solar deities in religions around the world, from Native American traditional belief systems to Roman and Greek mythologies.A family team of anthropologists wanted to find out whether Neanderthals were part of that heritage. Eagle bones and talons have been found across dozens of sites in central and western Europe occupied by both Neanderthals and modern humans. So the researchers combed through the literature on 154 Neanderthal-associated sites to see whether golden eagle remains stood out in any way. Although rock dove and raven remains were the most numerous birds, the remains of golden eagles were also present at 26 sites. Cut marks along the wing bones—where golden eagles have little meat—suggest Neanderthals carefully extracted the feathers, the researchers report in Quaternary Science Reviews. Additional cuts to the birds’ leg and foot bones suggest their claws and talons were also delicately separated from the rest of their bodies.No golden eagle Neanderthal jewelry has been discovered, but anthropologists in 2015 reported finding talons from another eagle—the white-tailed eagle—adorning a Neanderthal necklace. Because Neanderthals were apparently catching and fashioning jewelry from large raptors in Eurasia thousands of years before modern humans migrated up into the continent from Africa, the authors suggest our ancient ancestors may have picked up the practice from watching their Neanderthal neighbors.last_img read more

The mythology behind Game of Thrones White Walkers

first_imgThe eighth and last season of Game of Thrones appears poised for a final showdown among not only the main characters of the show — Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Jamie Lannister, and the surviving Stark siblings — but between the living and the dead: the White Walkers. In the fantasy world created by George R. R. Martin, the White Walkers are an ancient race of humanoid ice creatures who come from the Far North of Westeros. Some 8,000 years before the books begin, the longest winter in history descended and lasted an entire generation. It was only after a terrible war that humans ended the Long Winter.Season 8: Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOThe Wall and the Night Watch brothers were created to guard men from the return of the White Walkers. At Winterfell, the farthest north of the seven kingdoms, the Starks take the threat far more seriously than anyone else, as do those who serve them. “Winter Is Coming” is an apocalyptic warning.Nan, the Starks’ oldest servant, tells Bran Stark in Season One, “Fear is for the long night when the sun hides for years, and the children are born and live and die in darkness. That is the time for fear, my little lord, when the White Walkers move through the woods. Thousands of years ago there came a night that lasted a generation. Kings froze to death in their castles same as the shepherds in their huts.”Isaac Hempstead Wrigh as Bran Stark. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOFor those GOT fans who remember the HBO series’ beginning, the terrifying beings north of The Wall posed a threat since Episode One. In it, three Night’s Watch rangers discovered a group of dead north-of-the-wall humans called wildlings.Two of the rangers were ripped to pieces by the White Walkers who had killed the wildings, and the third fled south of The Wall — which led to his execution for desertion by Ned Stark (Sean Bean), the star of the first season.Some Game of Thrones insiders say the end of the series brings meaning to all of the many mysteries of Martin’s world.Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, told The Wrap last July that “all the pieces fit into this massive jigsaw puzzle. I mean, when I read it — I’ve spent so many years working on this and been guessing and trying to figure out how this will end — and when I read it, some of the parts of it I’d get, and other parts of it were just completely shocking and surprising.”Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOWhile there has been much written about the medieval origins of Game of Thrones, and how Martin made use of the Wars of the Roses to write the battle for power among the various families, the inspiration for the White Walkers is less certain.There is a strong zombie element to their creation since the dead are reanimated as foot soldiers for the White Walker army.But also Martin may have drawn on Celtic, Scandinavian, and Germanic myths to form this aspect of Game of Thrones. It is one of his strongest fantasy elements.Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOIn one of his few comments on the White Walkers, Martin said, “They are strange, beautiful … think of Sidhe made of ice, something like that … a different sort of life … inhuman, elegant, dangerous.”Picking up on this clue, Sidhe are an ancient supernatural race similar to fairies and elves that appear in Irish and Scottish mythology. “The belief in the Sidhe is part of the pre-Christian religion which survived for thousands of years and has never been completely wiped out from the minds of the people,” said The Celtic Society.According to the site Winter Is Coming, “The Sidhe are said to live in unknown lands across the sea, underground in fairy mounds (‘aos si’ means ‘people of the mounds’ in Irish) or an alternate world connected by various means to the world of humans. Martin’s White Walkers are similar in their distant origins (far North) and their movement between regular space and time, as when the Night King interacted with Bran Stark in the latter’s greensight visions.”Bran communicates with the Night King. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOIn Scottish mythology (where they are called the daoine sith), these folk are described as natural spirits but also as ancestors and gods.Some observers see elements of the Wild Hunt in the White Walkers, a motif appearing in much European folklore. It is a stormy procession of ghostly or supernatural huntsmen passing across the winter sky in pursuit of game.The leader (generally referred to as “The Hunter”) is believed to be associated with the Norse god Odin, the Devil, or a number of other mythological figures.“The Wild Horde appears in the deepest, darkest and coldest reaches of midwinter, and its single leader, like the Night King, has great supernatural powers,” says Winter Is Coming.Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOIn other mythology, riding down from the heavens, the Old Norse Valkyrie (from the Old Norse valkyrja for “chooser of the slain”) are a host of female warriors who descend to earth to resurrect half the dead human warriors from the battlefield and carry them to Valhalla. The fairest Valkyrie has white skin.No matter their origins, the White Walkers have a fearsome leader in the Night King. In the previous season, he killed one of Danny’s dragons, turning it into a zombie battle creature after its corpse was dredged from a deep lake. (And leading to dozens of memes asking how in a battlefield resembling Antarctica they managed to find the chains.)The Night King. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOThe theories about the White Walkers have become frenzied in the last several months, with speculation that the Stark family is connected by bloodline to the Night King. Bran Stark is a particular focus of this theory.Read another story from us: Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding is based on Scotland’s Black Dinner in 1440 and Glencoe Massacre of 1692Perhaps the wildest theory is that ultimately it will be revealed that the White Walkers are the good guys, which makes the humans … the bad guys.Game of Thrones’ eighth season premieres on April 14th.Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.comlast_img read more

Of Course Google Is Biased

first_imgBias is a nasty beast. A market research class I took in graduate school focused on the identification and elimination of bias. My final paper was on an intentionally biased piece of research. It was far easier to introduce bias and then talk about the bias than it would have been to attempt to do unbiased work and defend it as unbiased.For that reason alone, the Trump administration’s recent complaints that Google’s search engine is biased are almost certainly true.The nature of the bias, however, has not been determined. It actually could be bias in favor of Trump (though the odds are against that because Google was so tight with the Obama administration and liberals in general).The perception of bias simply may be driven by the overwhelming amount of negative ink on the administration and a revenue-focused algorithm that pushes people to that volume.I’ll share some thoughts on bias and then close with my product of the week: The Lenovo Yoga Book C930, announced at IFA last week, is one of the most innovative laptop/tablet products on the market. People create the algorithms that Google uses, which increasingly are considered AIs. Any bias those people have likely will be built into the algorithms because we don’t see our own biases. We don’t intentionally put filters between our brains and eyes, but they get there nonetheless, and the result is that our biased reality is our reality.A more common expression of this is that to us, perception is reality. The Google employees who build and test the Google algorithms for accuracy naturally are biased.From the standpoint of political bias, we should see a bias to the left in Google searches, given Google’s history with the Obama administration and the fact that tech companies, including Google, generally tend to lean left.What makes this difficult to confirm is that the news media obviously is biased against the Trump presidency. You really can’t blame them, though, because Trump stands out as pounding on media as dishonest. So even if Google were unbiased, the results from Google search would look biased, because of what appears to be an overwhelming bias in the news media.The big problem with Google, however, is likely not political bias but financial bias. We don’t pay Google for our results. We aren’t really the customer. In Google’s world — and this is the same for social media as well — we are the product. The customer is the vendor paying to find out about us, so they can sell to us more effectively.For instance, if I want to buy tires for one of my Jaguars (yes, I have more than one) the search starts with a listing from stores with prices. Some do attempt to answer the question, but likely are biased toward the tires that provide them the best margins.The one relatively unbiased source, the Jaguar Forum, was down mid-page and overwhelmed by the retailers. If Google were unbiased, it would rank the Jaguar Forum and sources like Consumer Reports toward the top, because, odds are good that they’d be a ton less biased than companies that are tying to sell me whatever tire they have overstocked.Now having the best tire does have an impact on your life. It can make the difference between avoiding an accident and dying in one. I should point out that this isn’t always the case, however. If you do a search on “best ways to lose weight,” for instance, Google does seem to put the independent sources up front, and it isn’t until the second page that you suddenly seem to get overwhelmed by biased vendor links.On politics it gets interesting. If you search on just the names “Trump Clinton” you are overwhelmed with negative Trump stories. To be clear, it does look like the stories out there are overwhelmingly negative except for those from Fox, which don’t show up at all on the first page (at least they didn’t when I tried it).However, we also know that Fox is one of the most powerful news organizations in America, so its stories should have shown up on the first page. If they don’t appear, then what else from the conservative side are we missing?You can see this if you just add the word “Fox” to Trump and Clinton. Granted, that is obviously biased toward Fox, but you suddenly see stories that should have come up in the more generic search.We know that conservative interests largely align with Fox while liberal positions are spread across a wider group of news suppliers. That should have pushed the Fox coverage to the top if the algorithm were based on general interest, but it didn’t.I’m a conservative myself. Given that these results should have been biased toward my interests and not away from them, it appears to confirm the likelihood that Google’s search engine algorithm has a goal other than meeting my personal needs and interests.Now I’m not suggesting any of these news sources are unbiased, the chart I link to above clearly shows they aren’t. However, we are focused on Google search and not the news services right now.It appears that Google’s bias is stronger politically than it is financially, because people don’t like to look at information that disagrees with their world view. Were Google exclusively, or mostly, revenue-driven, it likely would just give me Fox results (still bias, but driven by the need for profit rather than a political agenda). Bias is bad because it creates an unknown variation from the truth. A biased answer to a question is by nature not accurate. It results from taking reality through a filter that alters the perception of that reality and then produces a false conclusion based on the filter rather than the reality.For instance, suppose someone asks me what car to buy, and I say, “Don’t buy a Ford, it stands for ‘Fix Or Repair Daily’ and all Fords suck.” What I likely did was take my personal experience, based on ownership of a number of bad Ford cars, and use it to color my view, ultimately concluding that the brand was low quality.In reality, Ford’s quality is in line with other similar car makers — and often better, depending on the line. So, even if the best car for you might be a Ford, I’ve excluded all Fords from consideration due to my bias. My advice would be suboptimal at best. At worst it could influence you to make a truly bad decision.One of the most obvious places we see bias play out is in relationships. When we go into a relationship it is often with a bias toward our partner. We see the good, not the bad, which is due in part to the fact that in a new relationship people are initially on their best behavior. It’s also because we downplay the bad or ignore it, focusing instead on what we want to see.Flip to the other side. During a breakup or divorce, our perception is 180 degrees different. Now we can see only the bad and not the good. That once angelic partner has become a close and personal friend of Satan. Both perceptions likely are biased. During the good times, the partner wasn’t all good, and when the relationship failed, the partner wasn’t all bad.One of the ways to ensure better relationships is to do your homework on potential partners up front, before you become invested. What were their past relationships like? What are they looking for in a new relationship? Are they honest and transparent? Can you tolerate their family? Are your most important views, values and goals aligned?More typically, people are interested in whether prospective partners are hot or financially secure. Though these are factors to consider, they shouldn’t override the others. Assuming that success is either a long relationship, marriage, or at least a lasting friendship, then doing the honest assessment up front should get you closer to a good match. At the very least, you waste less time on sure failures, and are more likely to avoid nasty dramas. Regardless of whether the bias is financial or political, it is not in our best interests because search results lead to decisions. Ideally, we should be getting the closest thing to the truth that Google can deliver. That doesn’t appear to be the case, at least when it comes to politics or car tires.Now that would suggest the need for substantial government oversight, but how do we ensure that those doing the oversight aren’t swapping Google’s bias for their own? A bunch of Republican moderators would result in an all Fox result, and a bunch of Democrats would favor MSNBC. Neither would be better.That doesn’t mean we don’t need to prioritize fixing the problem. As we increasingly look to AIs to provide for our care and survival, it’s critical that we make sure those AIs have our best interests as their primary drivers. So far, as Google and Facebook showcase, we have failed to implement the proper protections and assurances. Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob. Back to Bias Being Bad Wrapping Up: Perhaps IBM Is the Answer When it comes to getting ahead of this, the one company that truly stands out is IBM, which earlier this year issued a series of internal edicts: Transparency and Trust in the Cognitive Era.Basically, they are rules to prevent IBM from developing technology that was counter to the interests of the people who used it. Before Google gets regulated, which now may be a foregone conclusion, the company likely should create a similar list and take it far more seriously than its old “don’t be evil” motto.We users may be Google’s product, but if its focus on creating political or financial bias harms us, then it likely harms Google as well. This class of Google users includes investors, employees, and the employees of the firms that fund Google.Put differently, Google still has to live in the world it screws up. What I’m suggesting is that if avoiding regulation isn’t enough of a motivator to shift to IBM’s more human-centric path, then maybe staying alive might be. Just saying… Why Bias Is Bad There are two products that really stand out to me as the only true 2-in-1 computers in market. They are the Surface Go and the Yoga Book.What makes them fit into this category better than others is their size and weight. Both are light enough and small enough to be considered a tablet (we know from surveys that most people will not accept a tablet that has an 11-inch or larger screen or a carry weight of much over a pound.The first Yoga Book stood out because of its more versatile flat keyboard that could work as a digitizer, but that keyboard was too strange and limited for most.Instead of that odd flat keyboard, the just-announced Yoga Book C930 has an ePaper display with touch capability and haptics. This allows you to not only write and draw on the keyboard but see what you drew on the keyboard as well. In addition, the ePaper display makes for a better high-contrast reading platform than any LCD or OLED screen can, and ePaper uses a tiny fraction of the power an LED screen consumes.Better with the WAN option so that you are always connected, the Yoga Book C930 really sets the bar in terms of innovation and delivers on the promise of a true 2-in-1. It is a legitimate, though small, laptop as well as a tablet you will be comfortable using as a tablet.Another really interesting thing about the keyboard is that it can shift not only between modes but also between languages and key configurations, near instantly.The only note of discord is that it has an Intel rather than an ARM processor, which likely would have been more appropriate for this form factor. I expect Lenovo is holding out for the Snapdragon 1000 before making that jump.The Yoga Book C930 is arguably the most innovative notebook I’ve seen in some time, and as a result, it is my product of the week.The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network. Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Google Is Biasedlast_img read more

Scientists shed light on roles of transcription factors TP63 and SOX2 in

first_img Source:http://news.nus.edu.sg/press-releases/TP63-SOX2-role-SCC Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 15 2018Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are aggressive malignancies arising from squamous epithelium of various organs, such as esophagus, head and neck, lung and skin. Previous studies demonstrated that two master transcription factors, TP63 and SOX2, effect genomic activation in SCCs. Now, researchers from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore have taken a step further and identified a SCC-specific protein complex activated by TP63 and SOX2 which triggers a gene cascade that promotes SCC growth.The findings of the study were published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications in September 2018.Related StoriesLiving with advanced breast cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyNew shingles vaccine reduces outbreaks of painful rash among stem cell transplant patientsDespite major advancements in cancer research, scientists do not completely understand the development and growth of SCCs, and no effective targeted treatment has been developed for the disease. Researchers at CSI Singapore have therefore embarked on the study in collaboration with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre at Los Angeles, USA, to deepen the understanding of SCC biology.To further investigate the roles of TP63 and SOX2 in SCCs, the team carried out epigenomic profiling of 4 different types of SCCs. Their analysis revealed that TP63 and SOX2 cooperatively and lineage-specifically regulate the expression of CCAT1, a long non-coding RNA which is associated with multiple cancers including SCCs, through activation of its super-enhancers and promoter. CCAT1 forms a protein complex with TP63 and SOX2 which then binds to the super-enhancers of EGFR to further activate two signaling pathways that ultimately trigger SCC progression.This sequence of molecular interactions driven by TP63 and SOX2 that the team uncovered opens up an array of avenues in which SCC progression can be interfered. “By elucidating the roles of TP63 and SOX2, we not only have identified possible cancer targets but also shed light on the related pathways which will act on SCCs. Collectively, the new knowledge will help pave the way for innovative SCC therapies to be developed,” said Professor H Phillip Koeffler, Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore and lead researcher for this study.Moving forward, the research team will look into more advanced mechanisms of the master transcription factors, TP63 and SOX2, on SCCs development. Using mathematical modeling, the research team will look into the interconnected transcriptional circuit formed by these master transcription factors, as well as their interactions with other super-enhancers. This may provide new clues that can contribute to the development of novel and effective therapeutic modality for SCCs.last_img read more

New study does not support hypertensive effect from urate elevation

first_img Source:https://www.massgeneral.org/ Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 8 2018A study from a group of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators may reduce the concern that elevating levels of urate, an approach being investigated to treat several neurodegenerative disorders, could increase the risk of hypertension. The study authors – several of whom previously conducted a phase 2 trial finding that the drug inosine safely elevated urate levels in patients with early Parkinson disease – are reporting their most recent findings in EBioMedicine, an open-access journal published by The Lancet.”Our study does not support a hypertensive effect from urate elevation,” says Xiqun Chen, MD, PhD, of the MGH Department of Neurology, lead author of the EBioMedicine report. “It also highlights the need for a more careful evaluation of urate-lowering treatments being investigated to treat hypertension.”Animal studies have suggested that the antioxidant urate could have neuroprotective effects, and observations in human patients – associations between naturally higher urate levels and reduced risk of developing Parkinson disease or slower disease progression – led to initiation of the two-year, phase 2 SURE-PD clinical trial, led by MGH neurologist Michael Schwarzschild, MD, PhD, senior author of the current study. The encouraging results of that trial, which enrolled 75 newly diagnosed Parkinson disease patients with relatively low urate levels, led to the initiation of the larger SURE-PD Phase 3 trial, which is currently underway.But because significant evidence has suggested that higher urate is associated with hypertension, the team took a closer look at any potential effects on blood pressure among participants in the phase 2 SURE-PD trial. Among all three groups of participants – those receiving doses producing mild or moderate urate elevation or those receiving a placebo – there were no significant differences in blood pressure readings taken before, during or after the 18- to 24-month study period.Related StoriesNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injury’Traffic light’ food labels associated with reduction in calories purchased by hospital employeesAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaThose findings were further supported by experiments in mouse models genetically engineered to have either reduced urate or mild or moderate urate elevation. Those studies found no association of altered urate levels with significant differences in blood pressures between any of the genetically engineered mice and genetically unaltered control animals. In addition, the use of blood-pressure-manipulating agents had similar effects both on animals with elevated urate and on the controls, adding additional support to a lack of connection between urate levels and blood pressure.”Together with the original report on the SURE-PD trial, this study provides strong evidence that long-term administration of oral inosine can be generally safe in patients with early Parkinson disease.” says Chen, who is an assistant professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS). “Although those SURE-PD participants were otherwise healthy with no obvious cardiovascular or renal disease, these findings may not be generalized to all patients. More studies are needed to definitively determine the role of urate in hypertension – including the potential of the urate-lowering drugs currently being investigated. Meanwhile, we are taking advantage of the current phase 3 inosine trial to monitor any possible risks of urate elevation in a larger group of patients.”last_img read more

New model could cure the potential to underestimate how quickly diseases spread

first_img Source: https://engineering.nyu.edu/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 13 2018Researchers from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and Politecnico di Torino, Italy, have developed a mathematical model that could cure the potential to underestimate how quickly diseases spread. The team discovered that current predictive models may miss the influence of a critical aspect of the social behavior of individuals.In contrast to the current models – which generally assume a constant rate of spread – the new model takes into account the propensity for individual social interactions to alternate between periods of latency and “bursty” episodes of intense activity. In a globally connected world, burstiness can ignite the wildfire-like spread of disease, fueled by a social feedback loop in which individuals who are active in generating connections with others tend to further increase their activity. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as “self-excitement.””Human social behavior is often prone to self-excitement: The more we are active, the more we receive attention and gratification, which, in turn, bolsters our activity,” explained co-author Maurizio Porfiri, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering as well as biomedical engineering at NYU Tandon. Co-authors are Alessandro Rizzo, a visiting professor at NYU Tandon and an associate professor of control engineering at Politecnico; and Lorenzo Zino, a visiting student at NYU Tandon and a Politecnico doctoral student.Their new model appears in “Modeling Memory Effects in Activity Driven Networks,” published in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems.When diseases strike, epidemiologists, health care providers, policymakers, and scientists use predictive models to track and forecast how epidemics are likely to infiltrate populations. Those fighting recent outbreaks of Ebola, measles, the mumps, and tuberculosis all rely on predictive models to prescribe methods to halt the spread.In the paper, the researchers developed a time-varying network model incorporating burstiness, then simplified the model by use of a mathematical maneuver called Hawkes processes, which rely on just two parameters and are capable of reproducing highly complex phenomena observed in empirical data, such as burstiness and clustering.Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchPorfiri explained that the new research is a compelling step in developing mathematical models that are able to describe and predict all kinds of social dynamics.”Most of the existing literature assumes that epidemics spread either much faster or much slower than the speed at which individuals build social connections,” he said. “This is seldom true, as people can travel any distance in a few hours, effectively spreading many pathogens.””This phenomenon of individual interaction shapes the evolution of social systems and cannot be neglected when modeling real-world problems,” added Rizzo. “We believe that the formalization and analysis of such a feature is key to a mathematically grounded study of real-world problems, both from qualitative and quantitative points of view.”The team’s approach permits nuanced modeling of different illnesses — from a highly contagious airborne virus such as influenza, which moves quickly among people with high mobility but is limited by those who seclude themselves, to a virus like HIV, which has a long latency period and slower transmission rate.The team aims to incorporate other real-world features of human systems into the model.”We are also interested in investigating other dynamics, such as the evolution of opinions in social communities, cognitive biases or dissonances, or the competing spread of information and misinformation,” Rizzo said.The research emerges from a three-year, $375,000 National Science Foundation grant to study the concurrent evolution of the dynamics of infectious diseases and the networks through which they spread. The research was also funded in part by grants from the U.S. Army Research Office and Compagnia di San Paolo.last_img read more

Differential impact of appropriate use criteria on the link between age and

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 9 2019In the current issue of Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications volume 4, issue 1, pp. 63-69(7); DOI https://doi.org/10.15212/CVIA.2019.0005, Saurabh Malhotra, MD, MPH, FACC, FASNC and Rami Doukky, MD, MSc, FACC, FASNC, FASE, from the Division of Cardiology, Cook County Health, Chicago, IL, USA and the Division of Cardiology, Rush University, Chicago, IL USA consider differential impacts of appropriate use criteria on the association between age and abnormal stress myocardial perfusion SPECT.The diagnostic and prognostic value of appropriate use criteria (AUC) for coronary artery disease (CAD) is well established. Whether the diagnostic yield of AUC for predicting CAD is preserved among the elderly is not known. Age is a strong independent predictor of abnormal single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) and inducible myocardial ischemia. The value of age in predicting abnormal SPECT MPI is maintained across MPI test appropriateness categories. Appropriate testing identifies a greater prevalence of abnormal MPI in patients younger than 60 years of age, although it does not provide such a diagnostic discrimination among elderly patients. Cautious reliance on AUC is advised when one is considering elderly patients for MPI.Source: http://cvia-journal.org/last_img read more

New telementoring program seeks to improve quality of care for breast cancer

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 2 2019A new program led by The University of Kansas Cancer Center seeks to improve community oncology providers’ knowledge of genetic testing in breast cancer patients, as well as provide tools to allow genetic counseling and testing to be incorporated in their clinical practice. Called “ePOST BC” (Efficacy of Point of Service Testing in Breast Cancer), the program is based on the Project ECHO model, which links specialists at academic institutions with primary care clinicians in local communities.According to principal investigators Jennifer Klemp, PhD, MPH, and Lauren Nye, MD, conducting germline genetic testing in those with breast cancer can help determine optimal treatment and prevention strategies. Source:University of Kansas Cancer Center With the availability of next-generation sequencing, we have access to convenient and low-cost genetic testing. The majority of breast cancer patients meeting testing criteria have not been tested, and this burden will continue to grow.”Dr. Jennifer Klemp The goal is to achieve a 50% cancer genetic testing rate in eligible patients. Through this program we hope to identify the key elements that are sustainable and applicable for widespread adaptation of point-of-service genetic testing.”Dr. Lauren Nye Related StoriesHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsSpecial blood test may predict relapse risk for breast cancer patientsNew study to ease plight of patients with advanced cancerDr. Klemp added that discrepancies in testing often exist in rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, such as those throughout Kansas. Barriers to genetic testing include lack of access to genetic experts, high drop-out rate for those referred to genetic counseling, patient anxiety and low priority views of testing.Nine community-based practices that are part of KU Cancer Center and/or the Midwest Cancer Alliance have registered with the program. Monthly mentoring sessions take place via Zoom or over the phone.last_img read more

Singapore proposes allowing Airbnbtype rentals with tough conditions

Singapore recently fined two people more than $45,000 each for letting their private apartments on Airbnb Citation: Singapore proposes allowing Airbnb-type rentals, with tough conditions (2018, April 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-singapore-airbnb-type-rentals-tough-conditions.html Singapore on Monday proposed allowing private home owners to rent out their property for short-term stays but with stringent conditions, a move welcomed by home-sharing giant Airbnb. It came after two Singaporean Airbnb hosts were fined Sg$60,000 ($45,800) each this month for letting out apartments without official permission, underscoring the land-scarce city-state’s strict rules on short-term rentals.The prosecution prompted criticism from the firm, which is a popular and often cheaper alternative to hotels, and authorities decided to examine the issue.On Monday the government’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) published proposals for a regulatory framework for private home owners wanting to let out their properties for tourists.Members of the public are invited to provide their feedback until May 31.The proposal refers to private homes in the city-sate, which are usually gated, high-rise condominiums with strict security policies.It does not cover the government-subsidised apartments where more than 80 percent of the population in the rich but land-starved country live.The URA’s proposals included measures to safeguard the security and privacy of private home residents, including a short-term rental cap of 90 days per year and limiting the number of persons renting a unit to six.A person wanting to rent out his property for short-term accommodation must also get majority support from the other homeowners in a condominium complex, according to the proposal.Airbnb welcomed the suggestions.”This public consultation is an important step for the significant number of locals who want to share their homes, and travellers who want a unique and authentic experience when they visit Singapore,” said Mich Goh, head of public policy for Airbnb Singapore.Christine Li, head of research at real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield Singapore, said the proposed framework is unlikely to have a significant impact on the rental market due to the cap.”Landlords are still dependent on longer-term tenants who are working and living in Singapore, rather than short-term tourists,” she said in a statement.In some countries, Airbnb has faced criticism that it worsens housing shortages and squeezes the long-term rental sector. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Singaporean Airbnb hosts fined over unauthorised rentals © 2018 AFP read more

Facebook developer conference kicks off amid scandal

In this April 10, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. Zuckerberg will kick off F8, the company’s annual conference for software developers, Tuesday, May 1, in San Jose, California, having a fresh opportunity to apologize for Facebook’s privacy scandal and to sketch out Facebook’s future. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Citation: Facebook developer conference kicks off amid scandal (2018, May 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-facebook-conference-scandal.html This year, things might be different.The company’s annual F8 conference kicks off Tuesday in San Jose, California, following a year of fake news, privacy scandals, congressional testimony, Russia investigations and apologies. Facing the startups, software developers and other tech folks who are normally some of Facebook’s biggest fans, Zuckerberg will have a chance both to apologize again for the company’s missteps—and to talk about where things go from here.If his recent statements are any indication, Zuckerberg will probably mention that Facebook must take a “broader view” of its responsibility in the world, emphasize the value of the Facebook “community” and hint that Facebook’s efforts to fix things will be good for everyone—users, developers, Facebook itself, and even the world.Zuckerberg also might recap some of the privacy-related changes Facebook has made in recent weeks, including new restrictions on user data apps can have access to. Facebook also might unveil additional changes.It’s been six weeks since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, revealing that the political data-mining firm inappropriately accessed the information of as many as 87 million Facebook users. Facebook has been doing damage control ever since.For Zuckerberg, that’s meant repeated apologies to users and lawmakers, two days of congressional questioning about whether and how the company protects its users’ privacy. For Facebook, it’s also meant further limiting the data developers can access and how long they can access it; several audits; and the suspension of apps suspected of violating Facebook’s rules around user privacy.One such app maker, Cubeyou, says it was wrongfully suspended without warning and remains suspended despite having provided evidence that it didn’t sell or misuse people’s data.The problem, Cubeyou CEO Federico Treu said, is that Facebook is “so big and so important” that it can cut off anyone from its service with no consequence. Cubeyou has about 30 employees; Facebook, nearly 28,000.At F8 this year, Treu expects lots of questions about the future of Facebook’s relationship with developers. Instead of owning up to its faults, he said, Facebook is “trying to put the focus on bad developers, bad advertisers” and the Russians.Facebook did not immediately respond to a message for comment on Cubeyou on Monday.Zuckerberg is also likely to talk up new stuff, including AR and virtual reality. For instance, Facebook could use the conference to release a portable headset designed to turn the so far geeky realm of virtual reality into a mass phenomenon. Zuckerberg announced the $199 device, called the Oculus Go , six months ago without specifying when it would go on sale.Oculus, a VR company Facebook acquired in 2014, already sells a more expensive VR headset called the Rift. But that device needs to be tethered to a personal computer. That restraint, coupled with a $399 price tag and the cost for a PC to power the device, is one of the reasons VR so far has mainly appealed to lovers of video games who want to play in three-dimensional artificial worlds.Facebook is counting on the Oculus Go to widen the audience for VR. Last year, Zuckerberg described his strategy for using VR to reshape the way people interact and experience life, much as the company’s social network already has. His goal is to have 1 billion people immersed in VR on Oculus headsets at some indeterminate point in the future. Facebook asks users if they think it’s ‘good for the world’ A year ago , Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was dazzling thousands of software developers with the prospect of augmented reality features that could let people spruce up apartments with digital art. © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

Mandarin language learners get a boost from AI

first_img When learning a new language, especially one as difficult as Mandarin, it’s important that students have many opportunities to speak and practice their conversational skills. Acquiring a new language naturally, through cultural immersion, may be more effective than non-immersive practices. Yet, experiential learning is unavailable to most new learners of Mandarin. That’s why we developed the CIR.An immersive gamification classroom environmentThe CIR brings together several state-of-the-art technologies such as speech-to-text, natural language understanding, and computer vision to enable immersion and natural multi-modal dialogue. The room includes a 360-degree panoramic display system, an audio system, multiple cameras, multiple Kinect devices, and multiple microphones, as well as computer systems to support the AI technologies, some located in the room and others in the cloud.Our goal is to combine cognitive, immersive technologies with game-playing elements to enable students to experience a cultural environment, practice daily tasks, and get help from intelligent agents. With the Mandarin Project, we use IBM Watson within the CIR as a conversational agent to engage students while they learn the language. Our approach involves IBM Watson speech recognition and natural language understanding technologies for English and Chinese. IBM Research and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) are collaborating on a new approach to help students learn Mandarin. The strategy pairs an AI-powered assistant with an immersive classroom environment that has not been used previously for language instruction. The classroom, called the Cognitive Immersive Room (CIR), makes students feel as though they are in restaurant in China, a garden, or a Tai Chi class, where they can practice speaking Mandarin with an AI chat agent. The CIR was developed by the Cognitive and Immersive Systems Lab (CISL), a research collaboration between IBM Research and RPI. Citation: Mandarin language learners get a boost from AI (2018, August 24) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-mandarin-language-learners-boost-ai.html Our system was tested in a Chinese 1 class on RPI’s campus in the late fall of 2017. This fall, we will continue using AI as a teaching tool in Chinese 1, 2 and 3 classes, with the goal of offering a new class merging Chinese 1-3 in the summer of 2019.The research behind—and beyond—the classroom Explore further Microsoft Learn Chinese for iOS helps beginners, intermediates Provided by IBM Blog Researchcenter_img Rahul Divekar, a Rensselaer computer science graduate student, demonstrates an AI-assisted Mandarin Chinese language learning aid under development at CISL. Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Credit: IBM As part of the IBM AI Horizons Network, CISL creates and uses such technologies as context-aware systems, pitch tone contour analysis, language-switch between Chinese and English in a natural language conversation between people and AI agents, multi-user multimodal interaction, reasoning and planning in the decision-making process and multimodal storytelling with automatic generation of narrative, visualization and sonification.The CIR is one of four use cases in CISL. The lab is also working to augment group intelligence for critical decision-making in real-world environments like boardrooms. In the future, these new cognitive and immersive systems could fundamentally change the way people live and work. The early prototypes of CIR have also provided opportunities for user interaction research, enabling us to find and address new challenges in language learning. One of the biggest obstacles in learning a foreign language through immersion is students’ fears of being judged by native speakers. In the CIR, however, students can work with virtual conversation partners to practice vocabulary and pronunciation without the pressures of a real-world setting.Many language learning researchers are working with virtual or augmented reality, but we are investigating human-scale, immersive, gaming environments where students can physically walk around without having to wear specialized equipment. This reflects a broader trend in human-computer interaction, as our engagement with information in our daily lives becomes ever more immersive and our interactions with intelligent machines shift towards partnership. CISL researchers demonstrate an AI-assisted Mandarin Chinese language learning aid. Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutelast_img read more

Brazil court overturns suspension of BoeingEmbraer tieup

first_img Citation: Brazil court overturns suspension of Boeing-Embraer tie-up (2018, December 10) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-brazil-court-overturns-suspension-boeing-embraer.html Explore further © 2018 AFP An appeals court in Brazil on Monday overturned an order blocking a proposed $4.75 billion tie-up between US aerospace giant Boeing and the civilian business of Brazilian plane-maker Embraer. The ruling superseded a lower federal court decision in Sao Paulo last week that prevented the outgoing government taking any “concrete acts” on the deal, leaving it for incoming president Jair Bolsonaro administration, which takes office January 1.Appeals court judge Luiz Alberto de Souza Ribeiro said the lower court’s order was “hasty and unfounded,” and the public interest had not been shown to be at risk.Boeing and Embraer had announced their deal in July this year, under the government of outgoing center-right President Michel Temer. It was expected to be finalized by the end of 2019, the companies said.Under its terms, Boeing is to take an 80 percent stake in the Brazilian company’s commercial business, thus allowing Boeing to offer planes with capacity of up to 150 seats—a market in which it currently does not compete. Embraer’s military aircraft business was excluded to overcome Brazilian government opposition to giving up a national champion to a foreign entity.The agreement was seen as a response to a similar strategic partnership announced in October 2017 between Boeing’s European arch-rival Airbus and Canada’s Bombardier.The American firm will have operational and management control over the new venture, which will be led by a Brazil-based chief who will report to Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, the companies said in July.The companies are creating another joint venture to promote their defense products and services, especially Embraer’s KC 390, a military transport aircraft vehicle.Embraer, the third-largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, was founded as a state group in 1969 before being privatized in 1994, although the Brazilian government retains a “golden share” giving it the right to make strategic decisions for the company. Bolsonaro, a far-right politician with close ties to the military, had a long record as a nationalist and protectionist when it came to Brazil’s economy. But he changed tack to win over voters and investors in the run-up to his November election by advocating privatizations.center_img Boeing and Embraer have proposed a tie-up that would give the US aerospace giant an 80 percent stake in the Brazilian company’s commercial aviation business Boeing taking over Embraer’s commmercial jets in joint venture deal This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Sidestepping trade war Musk breaks ground on Tesla Shanghai plant

first_img Citation: Sidestepping trade war, Musk breaks ground on Tesla Shanghai plant (2019, January 7) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-tesla-ground-shanghai-war-lingers.html Tesla meets Model 3 target, bemoans China tariffs © 2019 AFP The plant in a Shanghai suburb is Musk’s biggest overseas move yet and will eventually have an annual production capacity of 500,000 vehicles, Tesla says, dramatically increasing the California-based company’s output.”China is becoming the global leader in electric vehicle adoption, and it is a market that is critical to Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” Musk said, according to a statement released by the manufacturer.Musk had hinted recently at an upcoming Shanghai trip to break ground for the plant but Monday’s event was not publicly announced until the Tesla CEO broke the news in a series of tweets earlier in the day.In typically iconoclastic style, the 47-year-old Musk changed his Twitter profile picture around the time of the ceremony to one showing his face with an exaggerated handlebar moustache drawn on it.The Shanghai government later posted photos on social media showing Musk and officials from Tesla and the city on a large stage at a launch ceremony at the site, located on Shanghai’s distant outskirts.No investment figures were given but the cost of the project has been estimated by analysts at up to $5 billion.The Shanghai venture comes as US companies face pressure from President Donald Trump to keep manufacturing jobs at home, and as Beijing and Washington wage a trade spat that has seen both sides levy tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of products.Slowing downAnalysts say production in China would allow Tesla to side-step such measures, which have already caused a spike in the price of the cars the company now imports to the Chinese market.But construction of the plant—the subject of stop-start negotiations between Tesla and Shanghai for well over a year—gets under way just as the outlook for China’s consumer market has turned worrisome.Apple sparked global alarm over the prospects for the world’s second-largest economy last week when it cut its revenue forecast, citing slowing demand in China and the trade war.Domestic and foreign automakers have been racing to grab shares of China’s electric-vehicle sector—already the world’s biggest and expected to continue to grow as the Chinese government pushes clean technologies.But the pace of growth is expected to slow along with China’s economy.The Shanghai factory will be Tesla’s first production line outside the United States.Musk tweeted earlier Monday that Tesla was “aiming to finish initial construction this summer, start Model 3 production end of year & reach high-volume production next year”.The Shanghai plant would supply the “Greater China region” with “affordable versions” of the Tesla Model 3—the carmaker’s first mid-price, mass-market vehicle—and its planned Model Y, Musk tweeted.The Model S, Model X and “higher cost versions” of the 3 and Y would continue to be made in the United States for the global market, including China, he added.Despite its relative affordability compared to other Tesla models, the price of a US-made Model 3 now starts at about $50,000, but Musk has said he aims to get that down to $35,000. He provided no price figures for China-made cars.China typically requires foreign automakers to forge joint ventures with domestic firms when establishing manufacturing plants, which means sharing profits and technology with local partners. But Tesla has said its Shanghai plant will be “wholly-owned” by the company. Explore furthercenter_img The new plant near Shanghai will be Tesla’s first outside the United States Tesla boss Elon Musk presided Monday over the ground-breaking for a Shanghai factory that will allow the electric-car manufacturer to dodge the China-US tariff crossfire and sell directly to the world’s biggest market for “green” vehicles. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more