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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Systems Theory!

AI is the only option in the future of cyber security

AI is the only option in the future of cyber security | Amazing Science |

The cyber security wars of the future will be fought by good AI bots and bad ones, with the rest of us just watching to see who wins. That’s the future according to Jason Hoffman, Ericsson’s VP of Cloud Infrastructure. It isn’t quite as dark as the world being taking over by robots or sentient beings, but it’s a very realistic possibility due to the vast complications and workloads which will soon be placed on security teams.


“Ironically and unfortunately, some of the people who are becoming most advanced when it comes to artificial intelligence in the security world are the ones on the offensive,” said Hoffman. “These are the cyber criminals, and one of the only ways to combat these guys will be to escalate defences to be built around artificial intelligence.”


It’s a world which pits computer against computer, where Darwinism has taken a twist. The definition of ‘fittest’ moves away from strength and into the sphere of the intellectuals. But this is the end of the story, not the beginning.


At the beginning, where we are right now, there is a shift in the security paradigm. In the first instance, its due to the way infrastructure is purchased and managed. In years gone, buying and securing infrastructure was relatively simple. You bought the hardware and set up restrictions surrounding the software do define who could access sensitive areas. The introduction of cloud-computing has increased accessibility, and therefore the way in which we make our life secure.


One of the most attractive principles of cloud computing is the ease to scale and consume. On the operational side, this is a game changer, but for security it becomes a much more complicated task. The security paradigm has been permanently altered, as more people are now able to access sensitive areas of the machine.


If one objective is to remove the threat of malicious insiders, the task has become more complex, as the ease of consumption has multiplied the number of potential malicious insiders vastly. Restrictions have to be opened up to create the cloud business model and move towards a DevOps mindset, but this involves a much more comprehensive security and governance model to be put in place, which most organizations do not currently have.


Another complication is the means the shift in how infrastructure is managed. Previously, hardware has been bought, it is secured in the warehouse and then shipped to the customer. It was secure until it had served its purpose and ultimately replaced. Hoffman highlighted that a continuous stream of software updates now mean the system is only as secure as it was the last time you checked. Every update is a potential weak link in the perimeter, which again, organizations are not prepared for. It involves a complete rethink of how supply chain assurance is managed.


In both these instances, the data which needs to be managed to ensure security is far too vast for any human to consider. From Hoffman’s perspective, the only option is a machine learning algorithm, which understands what would be considered normal performance from each component, and constantly monitors for the anomalies. Here, artificial intelligence is aiding the security professionals by finding the leak and then alerting, but it won’t be long before AI is the leading player.

Via Ben van Lier
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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Blockchain is making it easy for neighbors to sell each other excess solar energy over P2P

Blockchain is making it easy for neighbors to sell each other excess solar energy over P2P | Amazing Science |

If you have solar panels that produce more energy than you need, you can sell the excess to a utility company. But what if you could sell it to your neighbor instead?


A company called LO3 Energy has developed a system that lets people buy and sell locally generated solar energy within their communities. The system uses blockchain—the electronic ledger technology that underpins the digital currency Bitcoin—to facilitate and record the transactions.


Distributing energy this way is more efficient than transmitting energy over distances, said LO3’s founder, Lawrence Orsini, and would make neighborhoods more resilient to power outages, as well as helping meet demand when energy needs exceed expectations. It’s also in line with growing public support for renewable energy, distributed and decentralized energy systems, and “buy local” programs in general.


At Business of Blockchain, a conference organized by MIT Technology Review and the MIT Media Lab, Orsini said that 69 percent of consumers told the technology consultancy Accenture that they were interested in having an energy-trading marketplace, and 47 percent said they planned to sign up for community solar projects.


LO3 Energy launched its peer-to-peer energy transactions system, which it calls the Brooklyn Microgrid, about a year ago. The miniature utility grid connects people who have solar panels on their roofs in several parts of Brooklyn with neighbors who want to buy locally generated green energy. Like other microgrids it operates alongside, but separate from, the traditional energy grid.


Blockchain makes the Brooklyn Microgrid possible, Orsini said. Participants install smart meters equipped with the technology, which track the energy they generate and consume. Records of the automatic “smart contracts” that enable neighbor-to-neighbor transactions are also tracked using blockchain. LO3 Energy hired the software maker ConsenSys to build the system, which is based on the blockchain-based distributed computing platform Ethereum.


“Blockchain is a really good communications protocol for what we want to do,” Orsini said at the conference. “This isn’t just about settling energy bills,” he added. “It’s about self-organizing at the grid edge, which can’t be done with normal databases.”


Could microgrids like this shake up the energy industry? At the moment, Brooklyn Microgrid consists of only 50 physical nodes, but Orsini signed a partnership with German conglomerate Siemens in November and is talking to regulators in the U.S., Australia, and Europe about expansion. He is also willing to collaborate with utilities. “We’re not putting the utilities out of business, but we want their business model to evolve,” he said.

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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Who has the smarter AI?

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Who has the smarter AI? | Amazing Science |

Amazon's Echo, a Bluetooth speaker powered by voice assistant Alexa, burst on to the scene a couple years ago and instantly captured the hearts and minds of consumers. You could hear the collective cry: voice control is finally here! Of course, there was lots of voice control on the market already (including Apple's O.G. Siri), but Alexa was the first out of the gate that promised—and delivered—on making voice commands useful in the home. With "Skills" being developed for a wealth of tasks (and Alexa being built into a lot of smart products like cars, refrigerators and lamps), it's as easy to ask her to tell you the weather or read you news headlines as it is to have her water your lawn, lock your door or order you a pizza.

But Alexa has a new competitor—Google Home. It's a speaker just like Alexa, but its brains are powered by the all-knowing Google Assistant. It's empowered with all that Google knows about search, plus data from other Google apps (like traffic from Google Maps). It can also get personal, alerting you to meetings on your Google Calendar or changes in your flight information by reading your Gmail Inbox.

The options are seemingly endless for these two equally charming and brainy gadgets, but how do their strengths and weaknesses stack up if they were engaged in a little battle? Which of the two would be the most useful?

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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Mixed reality: Experience gets more intuitive, immersive, and empowering

Mixed reality: Experience gets more intuitive, immersive, and empowering | Amazing Science |
Increasingly, augmented and virtual reality are about more than gaming—companies are finding enterprise potential in the technology. The goal: to replace keyboards and flat displays with new paradigms for communication and collaboration, bringing a major shift in user engagement.


Mixed reality elevates the potential of AR, VR, and IoT technology by combining the best of our digital and physical realities. Instead of removing users completely from the real world, or simply layering flat content on top of our immediate view, MR adds intelligence—physics, gravity, dimension, even personality—to digital content relative to the space around us. As a result, we are able to blur the lines between what is real and what is imagined while stripping away the barriers that interfere with our ability to make decisions quickly, absorb and process critical information, visualize possible scenarios before acting, or share knowledge and tasks between individuals and groups. Science fiction no longer, the future of engagement is here, and enterprises will likely be the first to embrace it.

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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

This Neural Probe Is So Thin, The Brain Doesn't Know It's There

This Neural Probe Is So Thin, The Brain Doesn't Know It's There | Amazing Science |

Wiring our brains up to computers could have a host of exciting applications – from controlling robotic prosthetics with our minds to restoring sight by feeding camera feeds directly into the vision center of our brains. Most brain-computer interface research to date has been conducted using electroencephalography (EEG) where electrodes are placed on the scalp to monitor the brain’s electrical activity. Achieving very high quality signals, however, requires a more invasive approach.


Integrating electronics with living tissue is complicated, though. Probes that are directly inserted into the gray matter have been around for decades, but while they are capable of highly accurate recording, the signals tend to degrade rapidly due to the buildup of scar tissue. Electrocorticography (ECoG), which uses electrodes placed beneath the skull but on top of the gray matter, has emerged as a popular compromise, as it achieves higher-accuracy recordings with a lower risk of scar formation.


But now researchers from the University of Texas have created new probes that are so thin and flexible, they don’t elicit scar tissue buildup. Unlike conventional probes, which are much larger and stiffer, they don’t cause significant damage to the brain tissue when implanted, and they are also able to comply with the natural movements of the brain.


In recent research published in the journal Science Advances, the team demonstrated that the probes were able to reliably record the electrical activity of individual neurons in mice for up to four months. This stability suggests these probes could be used for long-term monitoring of the brain for research or medical diagnostics as well as controlling prostheses, said Chong Xie, an assistant professor in the university’s department of biomedical engineering who led the research.


“Besides neuroprosthetics, they can possibly be used for neuromodulation as well, in which electrodes generate neural stimulation,” he told Singularity Hub in an email. “We are also using them to study the progression of neurovascular and neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”


The group actually created two probe designs, one 50 microns long and the other 10 microns long. The smaller probe has a cross-section only a fraction of that of a neuron, which the researchers say is the smallest among all reported neural probes to the best of their knowledge.


Because the probes are so flexible, they can’t be pushed into the brain tissue by themselves, and so they needed to be guided in using a stiff rod called a “shuttle device.” Previous designs of these shuttle devices were much larger than the new probes and often led to serious damage to the brain tissue, so the group created a new carbon fiber design just seven microns in diameter.


At present, though, only 25 percent of the recordings can be tracked down to individual neurons – thanks to the fact that neurons each have characteristic waveforms – with the rest too unclear to distinguish from each other. “The only solution, in my opinion, is to have many electrodes placed in the brain in an array or lattice so that any neuron can be within a reasonable distance from an electrode,” said Chong. “As a result, all enclosed neurons can be recorded and well-sorted.”

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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Graphene sieve turns seawater into drinking water

Graphene sieve turns seawater into drinking water | Amazing Science |
Graphene-oxide membranes have attracted considerable attention as promising candidates for new filtration technologies. Now the much sought-after development of making membranes capable of sieving common salts has been achieved.


New research demonstrates the real-world potential of providing clean drinking water for millions of people who struggle to access adequate clean water sources. The new findings from a group of scientists at The University of Manchester were published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Previously graphene-oxide membranes have shown exciting potential for gas separation and water filtration.


Graphene-oxide membranes developed at the National Graphene Institute have already demonstrated the potential of filtering out small nanoparticles, organic molecules, and even large salts. Until now, however, they couldn't be used for sieving common salts used in desalination technologies, which require even smaller sieves.


Previous research at The University of Manchester found that if immersed in water, graphene-oxide membranes become slightly swollen and smaller salts flow through the membrane along with water, but larger ions or molecules are blocked.


The Manchester-based group have now further developed these graphene membranes and found a strategy to avoid the swelling of the membrane when exposed to water. The pore size in the membrane can be precisely controlled which can sieve common salts out of salty water and make it safe to drink.


As the effects of climate change continue to reduce modern city's water supplies, wealthy modern countries are also investing in desalination technologies. Following the severe floods in California major wealthy cities are also looking increasingly to alternative water solutions.


When the common salts are dissolved in water, they always form a 'shell' of water molecules around the salts molecules. This allows the tiny capillaries of the graphene-oxide membranes to block the salt from flowing along with the water. Water molecules are able to pass through the membrane barrier and flow anomalously fast which is ideal for application of these membranes for desalination.


Professor Rahul Nair, at The University of Manchester said: "Realisation of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology. "This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes."

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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Paralyzed man moves arm using power of thought in world first

Paralyzed man moves arm using power of thought in world first | Amazing Science |

A man who was paralysed from below the neck after crashing his bike into a truck can once again drink a cup of coffee and eat mashed potato with a fork, after a world-first procedure to allow him to control his hand with the power of thought.


Bill Kochevar, 53, has had electrical implants in the motor cortex of his brain and sensors inserted in his forearm, which allow the muscles of his arm and hand to be stimulated in response to signals from his brain, decoded by computer. After eight years, he is able to drink and feed himself without assistance.


“I think about what I want to do and the system does it for me,” Kochevar explained. “It’s not a lot of thinking about it. When I want to do something, my brain does what it does.” The experimental technology, pioneered by the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, is the first in the world to restore brain-controlled reaching and grasping in a person with complete paralysis.


For now, the process is relatively slow, but the scientists behind the breakthrough say this is proof of concept and that they hope to streamline the technology until it becomes a routine treatment for people with paralysis. In the future, they say, it will also be wireless and the electrical arrays and sensors will all be implanted under the skin and invisible.


“Our research is at an early stage, but we believe that this neuroprosthesis could offer individuals with paralysis the possibility of regaining arm and hand functions to perform day-to-day activities, offering them greater independence,” said Dr Bolu Ajiboye, lead author of a paper detailing the research in the Lancet medical journal.

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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Whole-body vibration may be as effective as regular exercise

Whole-body vibration may be as effective as regular exercise | Amazing Science |

If you’re overweight and find it challenging to exercise regularly, now there’s good news: A less strenuous form of exercise known as whole-body vibration (WBV) can mimic the muscle and bone health benefits of regular exercise — at least in mice — according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.


Lack of exercise is contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, according to the researchers. These disorders can also increase the risk of bone fractures. Physical activity can help to decrease this risk and reduce the negative metabolic effects of these conditions.


But the alternative, WBV, can be experienced while sitting, standing, or even lying down on a machine with a vibrating platform. When the machine vibrates, it transmits energy to your body, and your muscles contract and relax multiple times during each second.


“Our study is the first to show that whole-body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combating some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes,” said the study’s first author, Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, Ph.D., ofAugusta University in Georgia. “While WBV did not fully address the defects in bone mass of the obese mice in our study, it did increase global bone formation, suggesting longer-term treatments could hold promise for preventing bone loss as well.”


Just as effective as a treadmill

Glucose and insulin tolerance testing revealed that the genetically obese and diabetic mice showed similar metabolic benefits from both WBV and exercising on a treadmill. Obese mice gained less weight after exercise or WBV than obese mice in the sedentary group, although they remained heavier than normal mice. Exercise and WBV also enhanced muscle mass and insulin sensitivity in the genetically obese mice.


The findings suggest that WBV may be a useful supplemental therapy to combat metabolic dysfunction in individuals with morbid obesity. “These results are encouraging,” McGee-Lawrence said. “However, because our study was conducted in mice, this idea needs to be rigorously tested in humans to see if the results would be applicable to people.”


The authors included researchers at the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Aging (NIA). Funding was provided by the American Diabetes Association, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, and the National Institute on Aging.

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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Wi-fi based on infrared rays of light: 100 times faster, and never overloaded

Wi-fi based on infrared rays of light: 100 times faster, and never overloaded | Amazing Science |

Slow wi-fi is a source of irritation that nearly everyone experiences. Wireless devices in the home consume ever more data, and it’s only growing, and congesting the wi-fi network. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with a surprising solution: a wireless network based on harmless infrared rays. The capacity is not only huge (more than 40Gbit/s per ray) but also there is no need to share since every device gets its own ray of light. This was the subject for which TU/e researcher Joanne Oh received her PhD degree with the ‘cum laude’ distinction last week.


The system conceived in Eindhoven is simple and, in principle, cheap to set up. The wireless data comes from a few central ‘light antennas’, for instance mounted on the ceiling, which are able to very precisely direct the rays of light supplied by an optical fiber. Since there are no moving parts, it is maintenance-free and needs no power: the antennas contain a pair of gratings that radiate light rays of different wavelengths at different angles (‘passive diffraction gratings’). Changing the light wavelengths also changes the direction of the ray of light. Since a safe infrared wavelength is used that does not reach the vulnerable retina in your eye, this technique is harmless. 

No interference

If you walk around as a user and your smartphone or tablet moves out of the light antenna’s line of sight, then another light antenna takes over. The network tracks the precise location of every wireless device using its radio signal transmitted in the return direction. It is a simple matter to add devices: they are assigned different wavelengths by the same light antenna and so do not have to share capacity. Moreover, there is no longer any interference from a neighboring wi-fi network.

Data capacity of light rays

Current wi-fi uses radio signals with a frequency of 2.5 or 5 gigahertz. The system conceived at TU Eindhoven uses infrared light with wavelengths of 1500 nanometers and higher; this light has frequencies that are thousands of times higher, some 200 terahertz, which makes the data capacity of the light rays much larger. Joanne Oh even managed a speed of 42.8 Gbit/s over a distance of 2.5 meters. For comparison, the average connection speed in the Netherlands is two thousand times less (17.6 Mbit/s). Even if you have the very best wi-fi system available, you won’t get more than 300 Mbit/s in total, which is some hundred times less than the speed per ray of light achieved by the Eindhoven study.

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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Tenor!

Sailing Yacht with Flexible Solar Sails

Sailing Yacht with Flexible Solar Sails | Amazing Science |

Aquila is a conceptual 50-meter sailing yacht that features solar sails thanks to CIGS solar cells technology. This project was born out of the idea to create a new generation of sailing yacht that follows recent trends of implementing futuristic technology in existing transportation. This futuristic sailing yacht features 50 meters length and 11.2 meters beam, it can accommodate up to 10 people at a time. 


This yacht design aims to redefine sustain sailing navigation by highlighting its ability to operate entirely on solar power. It uses green technology such as solar sails to operate the electronic systems, this yacht can also generate energy from the wind. 

Via Jason Arack
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Ultrashort configurable light pulses for fast 'lightwave' computers

Ultrashort configurable light pulses for fast 'lightwave' computers | Amazing Science |

Extremely short, configurable "femtosecond" pulses of light demonstrated by an international team could lead to future computers that run up to 100,000 times faster than today's electronics.


The researchers, including engineers at the University of Michigan, showed that they could control the peaks within the laser pulses and also twist the light. The method moves electrons faster and more efficiently than electrical currents -- and with reliable effects on their quantum states. It is a step toward so-called "lightwave electronics" and, in the more distant future, quantum computing, said Mackillo Kira, U-M professor of electrical engineering and computer science who was involved in the research.


Electrons moving through a semiconductor in a computer, for instance, occasionally run into other electrons, releasing energy in the form of heat. But a concept called lightwave electronics proposes that electrons could be guided by ultrafast laser pulses. While high speed in a car makes it more likely that a driver will crash into something, high speed for an electron can make the travel time so short that it is statistically unlikely to hit anything.


"In the past few years, we and other groups have found that the oscillating electric field of ultrashort laser pulses can actually move electrons back and forth in solids," said Rupert Huber, professor of physics at the University of Regensburg who led the experiment. "Everybody was immediately excited because one may be able to exploit this principle to build future computers that work at unprecedented clock rates -- 10 to a hundred thousand times faster than state-of-the-art electronics."


But first, researchers need to be able to control electrons in a semiconductor. This work takes a step toward this capability by mobilizing groups of electrons inside a semiconductor crystal using terahertz radiation -- the part of the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and infrared light. The researchers shone laser pulses into a crystal of the semiconductor gallium selenide. These pulses were very short at less than 100 femtoseconds, or 100 quadrillionths of a second. Each pulse popped electrons in the semiconductor into a higher energy level -- which meant that they were free to move around -- and carried them onward. The different orientations of the semiconductor crystal with respect to the pulses meant that electrons moved in different directions through the crystal -- for instance, they could run along atomic bonds or in between them.


"The different energy landscapes can be viewed as a flat and straight street for electrons in one crystal direction, but for others, it may look more like an inclined plane to the side," said Fabian Langer, a doctoral student in physics at Regensburg. "This means that the electrons may no longer move in the direction of the laser field but perform their own motion dictated by the microscopic environment."


When the electrons emitted light as they came down from the higher energy level, their different journeys were reflected in the pulses. They emitted much shorter pulses than the electromagnetic radiation going in. These bursts of light were just a few femtoseconds long. Inside a crystal, they are quick enough to take snapshots of other electrons as they move among the atoms, and they could also be used to read and write information to electrons. For that, researchers would need to be able to control these pulses -- and the crystal provides a range of tools.


"There are fast oscillations like fingers within a pulse. We can move the position of the fingers really easily by turning the crystal," said Kira, whose group worked with researchers at the University of Marburg, Germany, to interpret Huber's experiment. The crystal could also twist the outgoing light waves or not, depending on its orientation to the incoming laser pulses. Because femtosecond pulses are fast enough to intercept an electron between being put into an excited state and coming down from that state, they can potentially be used for quantum computations using electrons in excited states as qubits.

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Synthetic Spider Silk for Sale in Expensive Necktie

Synthetic Spider Silk for Sale in Expensive Necktie | Amazing Science |

We were promised carbon-nanotube space elevators, nanobots that would mend us from the inside out, bulletproof vests made from spider silk, and so much more. What we will get, at least when it comes to arachnid materials, is a $314.15, limited edition spider-silk necktie.


Bolt Threads will unveil the tie, which the company calls the first commercially available spider-silk product, Friday at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. David Breslauer, chief scientific officer at Bolt, says the production of the ties shows that spider silk fibers and textiles can be produced at large scale.


But don’t expect to see spider-silk ties in Bloomingdale’s anytime soon. Starting on Saturday, just 50 ties will be available on the company’s website. Breslauer says the tie is a showpiece and that Bolt will release a more widely available product soon, though he declined to provide any details.


Spider silk’s properties have excited biomaterials researchers and the public for some time. The structure of spider-silk proteins, which mixes hard, crystalline regions with more elastic ones, gives the material some superlative properties. When single strands of spider silk are tested in the lab, the best can hold their own against steel and Kevlar, the material used to make bulletproof vests. Silks are versatile, and different spider species have their own distinct variations on the silk formula.

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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Fragments of Science!

The prototype of a chemical computer detects a sphere

The prototype of a chemical computer detects a sphere | Amazing Science |

Chemical computers are becoming ever more of a reality - this is being proven by scientists from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. It turns out that after an appropriate teaching procedure even a relatively simple chemical system can perform non-trivial operations. In their most recent computer simulations researchers have shown that correctly programmed chemical matrices of oscillating droplets can recognize the shape of a sphere with great accuracy.


Modern computers use electronic signals for their calculations, that is, physical phenomena related to the movement of electric charges. Information can, however, be processed in many ways. For some time now efforts have been underway worldwide to use chemical signals for this purpose. For the time being, however, the resulting chemical systems perform only the simplest logic operations. Meanwhile, researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS) in Warsaw have demonstrated that even uncomplicated and easy-to-produce collections of droplets, in which oscillating chemical reactions proceed, can process information in a useful way, e.g. recognizing the shape of a specified three-dimensional object with great accuracy or correctly classifying cancer cells into benign or malignant.


"A lot of work being currently carried out in laboratories focuses on building chemical equivalents of standard logic gates. We took a different approach to the problem," says Dr. Konrad Gizynski (IPC PAS) and explains: "We investigate systems of a dozen-or-so to a few dozen drops in which chemical signals propagate, and treat each one as a whole, as a kind of neuronal network. It turns out that such networks, even very simple ones, after a short teaching procedure manage well with fairly sophisticated problems. For instance, our newest system has ability to recognize the shape of a sphere in a set of x, y, z spatial coordinates".


The systems being studied at the IPC PAS work thanks to the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction proceeding in individual drops. This reaction is oscillatory: after the completion of one oscillation cycle the reagents necessary to begin the next cycle are regenerated in the solution. A droplet is a batch reactor. Before reagents are depleted a droplet has usually performed from a few dozen to a few hundred oscillations. The time evolution of a droplet is easy to observe, since its catalyst, ferroin, changes color during the cycle. In a thin layer of solution the effect is spectacular: colorful strips - chemical fronts - traveling in all directions appear in the liquid. Fronts can also be seen in the droplets, but in practice the phase of the cycle is indicated just by the color of the droplet: when the cycle begins, the droplet rapidly turns blue (excites), after which it gradually returns to its initial state, which is red.


"Our systems basically work by mutual communication between droplets: when the droplets are in contact, the chemical excitation can be transmitted from droplet to droplet. In other words, one droplet can trigger the reaction in the next! It is also important that an excited droplet cannot be immediately excited once again. Speaking somewhat colloquially, before the next excitation it has to 'have a rest', in order to return to its original state," explains Dr. Gizynski.

Via Mariaschnee
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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Science And Wonder!

What if you could type directly from your brain at 100 words per minute?

What if you could type directly from your brain at 100 words per minute? | Amazing Science |

Regina Dugan, PhD, Facebook VP of Engineering, Building8, revealed on April 19, 2017 at the Facebook F8 conference 2017 a plan to develop a non-invasive brain-computer interface that will let you type at 100 wpm — by decoding neural activity devoted to speech. Dugan previously headed Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, and before that, was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


She explained in a Facebook post that over the next two years, her team will be building systems that demonstrate “a non-invasive system that could one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or a new means for input to augmented reality.”


Dugan said that “even something as simple as a ‘yes/no’ brain click … would be transformative.” That simple level has been achieved by using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure changes in blood oxygen levels in the frontal lobes of the brain, as KurzweilAI recently reported. Near-infrared light can penetrate the skull and partially into the brain.


Dugan agrees that optical imaging is the best place to start, but her Building8 team team plans to go way beyond that research — sampling hundreds of times per second and precise to millimeters. The research team began working on the brain-typing project six months ago and she now has a team of more than 60 researchers who specialize in optical neural imaging systems that push the limits of spatial resolution and machine-learning methods for decoding speech and language.


The research is headed by Mark Chevillet, previously an adjunct professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. Besides replacing smartphones, the system would be a powerful speech prosthetic, she noted — allowing paralyzed patients to “speak” at normal speed.

Via LilyGiraud
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First zero-emissions train completed a successful test in Germany: The Alstom's hydrogen train 

Alstom offers a unique and sustainable alternative to non-electrified network operators: the emission-free regional train Coradia iLint. Alstom is the first rail manufacturer worldwide to develop a lowfloor passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.


Coradia iLint is special for its combination of different innovative elements: a clean energy conversion, a flexible energy storage and smart management of the traction power and remaining energy. The principle relies on a fuel cell which produces the electric power. The fuel cell is supplied with hydrogen on demand. Coradia iLint is developed in partnership with renowned German and Canadian companies boasting many years of experience in the fields of hydrogen energy and batteries.


Coradia iLint is based on the service proven of the diesel train Coradia Lint. Replacing the diesel traction by the fuel cell technology enables sustainable train operation while its performance matches that of regular regional trains. It can run at 140 km/h, with a 600 to 800 km/tankful autonomy, and accommodate up to 300 passengers.


Alstom provides a complete offer consisting of the train itself, its maintenance but also the whole hydrogen infrastructure out of one hand. This comprehensive solution allows operators to better focus on their core business.

Via Fernando Gil
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Filming mosquitoes reveals two completely new approaches to flight

Filming mosquitoes reveals two completely new approaches to flight | Amazing Science |
Mosquitos generate lift via three mechanisms, two of them new to us.


It's unmistakable. A high-pitched whine tells you you're sharing a room with a mosquito, and you are unlikely to end the evening without some itchy welts. The sound alone is enough to make you shudder.


You're not imagining things. Within the insect world, mosquitoes have a distinctive flight, with a short wing stroke and a very high frequency of wing beats. And now, researchers have figured out the physics behind their flight. They have identified two mechanisms for generating lift that had not previously been seen in any animal. "Much of the aerodynamic force that supports [the mosquito's] weight," the authors conclude, "is generated in a manner unlike any previously described for a flying animal."


The work, done by a small team of Japanese and UK researchers, involved setting up a series of eight high-speed cameras to capture every instant of a mosquito's wing flap from multiple angles. The resulting data allowed them to create a digital model of the wings as they went through a full stroke. This was then used to solve fluid dynamics equations for the air around the wings, letting the researchers track the movement of the air as the wing beat through it.

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Self-driving and electric cars will have tons of strange effects on society

Self-driving and electric cars will have tons of strange effects on society | Amazing Science |

Autonomy and electrification will have bigger impacts on the world than you might expect.


First, a bit of managing expectations: without regulatory incentives, America’s electric car adoption looks like it will be slow to grow, and the first wave of autonomous cars might prove to be rather underwhelming. And while automakers and technology firms are indeed racing to reboot our cars—making these technologies seemingly inevitable—they are likely to take a while to get here.


What's less certain is how they'll change the world. Benedict Evans, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and no stranger to tech trends analysis, has published some thoughts on what he calls second- and third-order effects of the disruption that’s going to play out on our highways. And his insights describe a future made fundamentally different by the technologies.


Consider electrification. We know that losing the internal combustion engine will be good for the planet. But, as Evans points out, a lot will change when the supporting infrastructure for gas guzzlers disappears: many repair shops will be out of a job, because most car maintenance is focused around the motor. And gas stations no longer have a purpose, so what happens to the convenience stores that they contain—and the half of America’s tobacco sales that gas stations account for?


As for self-driving cars, every company involved in the nascent industry is keen to point out that autonomous vehicles will crash less frequently than those driven by humans. But the benefits of a car that can drive itself aren't limited to moving folks from A to B: it can also go park itself somewhere usually considered too inconvenient for human passengers, ready to be beckoned when needed. That means that huge swaths of land in the hearts of cities, currently used as parking lots, could be repurposed—potentially upending the real estate market.


These are just a couple of the examples Evans provides, and there are far more to consider. He also traces out large-scale ramifications for the electricity industry, as home solar storage systems for car charging help solve the problem of peak demand; increased commute distances made possible by autonomous cars that drive faster and fender-to-fender; and huge shifts in the public transit sector as on-demand autonomous vehicles break down boundaries between cars, taxis, and buses.


But it's the combination of these outcomes that's really interesting. In an America without gas stations and inner-city parking lots, where on-demand transport rivals public transit, and car crashes are nonexistent, the urban landscape is redefined. In Europe, most cities predate cars by centuries, and were always built to be walkable. They could easily revert to type. American cities, on the other hand, have been designed around the car. That means that the way they’re used could change altogether.


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Airbus reveals a modular, self-piloting flying car concept

Airbus reveals a modular, self-piloting flying car concept | Amazing Science |

Airbus has been talking about its Vahana flying autonomous vehicle project for a while now, but at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, it’s showing off a concept design created in partnership with Italdesign. The demonstration vehicle offers modular functionality, meaning it an operate both on the ground and in the air, and Airbus thinks it’s one potential answer to the growing problem of urban traffic congestion.


As you can see, it’s suitably sci-fi in its design sensibilities, but it’s designed with practicality in mind. The concept vehicle is intended to work with others to form a network that can be summoned on demand, with passengers hailing a ride form an app on their mobile device. The capsule-based design can connect to either ground or air conveyance modules, letting customers specific their preferred method of transit. It’s also designed to be used in concert with other, existing transportation methods for maximum efficiency.


Airbus and Italdesign call their creation the ‘Pop.Up System,’ which includes the artificial intelligence platform that uses what it knows about any individual user, and available routes and transit options to determine the best travel options. The main vehicle itself is a passenger capsule, which holds the rider and which can be paired with either ground and air modules, as well as, Airbus suggests, with hyperloop systems down the line once that tech becomes more widely available.

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Thermal diode that operates at 600 K allows the construction of thermal computers

Thermal diode that operates at 600 K allows the construction of thermal computers | Amazing Science |

Researchers have built the hottest thermal diode to date, which operates at temperatures of more than 600 K (326 °C). Thermal diodes may serve as the building blocks of future thermal computers.


The researchers, Assistant Professor Sidy Ndao and graduate student Mahmoud Elzouka at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, have published a paper on the NanoThermoMechanical diode in a recent issue of Nature's Scientific Reports. "We have demonstrated the building block of what could be the thermal computer of the future, and it works at very high temperatures," Ndao told "For someone who also actively works in electronics cooling, it makes you wonder 'What if we stopped cooling electronics all together?'


"Unlike electronics, NanoThermoMechanical memory and logic devices use heat instead of electricity to record and process data; hence they can operate in harsh environments where electronics typically fail. A few examples include the exploration of planet Venus with average temperature over 400 °C, and deep-Earth drilling for petroleum and geothermal energies. Also equally important is the opportunity that this technology presents for waste heat recovery with the development of thermal batteries."


The function of a thermal diode is to allow heat to flow primarily in one direction but not the other, similar to how an electronic diode allows electric current to flow primarily in one direction. This ability to control the direction of flow enables diodes to produce two distinct levels of a signal, forming the basis for the "0" and "1" binary logic levels.


The new thermal diode achieves two distinct levels of heat flow by controlling the distance between two surfaces: a moving terminal and a stationary terminal. The researchers showed that changing the relative temperatures of the two terminals changes the gap size between them, which changes the amount of heat transfer, which in turn depends on the direction of heat flow.


This is the first time that the relation among these four factors— temperature, separation gap, heat transfer rate, and heat flow direction—has been exploited for use in a thermal diode.

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Double filters allow for highly enhanced tetrachromatic vision in humans

Double filters allow for highly enhanced tetrachromatic vision in humans | Amazing Science |

A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin has developed a pair of glasses that allows the wearer to have tetrachromatic vision. In their paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint sever, the group describes the inspiration for their glasses and explain how they work.


Humans have three types of cone cells in the back of the eye to differentiate color. Some react to blue, some to green and some to red. The cones do their work by responding to the difference in wavelength of the incoming light. Such vision is known as trichromatic. In this new effort, the researchers have found a way of fooling the brain into seeing as if there were a fourth type of cone, by wearing glasses with two types of filters. The result is tetrachromatic vision.


To create the glasses, the researchers fashioned two types of filters, one for each eye. The filters remove some parts of the blue light spectrum. But the filters each remove a different part. When the filters are fitted into a frame and worn like regular glasses, the wearer is able to see colors that are normally hidden—metamers. In a sense, it is rather the opposite of what occurs with people who are color blind. They might see blue and red as the same, even though there is more light information there. Adding spectrum identification to color blind eyes allows for seeing more of what is already there. With the new combined filter system, a person is able to look at what appears to be an object that is all the same color, such as purple, and see more colors in it—those normally hidden metamers.


The team notes that it should be possible to extend the idea used to create their glasses to the other two colors that cone cells process, red and green, to create glasses that offer the ability to see six basic types of colors instead of the normal three. They plan to start with green. Such glasses, the team notes, might be used to spot counterfeit money, or to see a person in the jungle wearing camouflage.

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Tiny liquid battery cools chips while powering them

Tiny liquid battery cools chips while powering them | Amazing Science |

Scientists from IBM and ETH Zurich university have built a tiny “flow” battery that has the dual benefit of supplying power to chips and cooling them at the same time. Even taking pumping into account, it produces enough energy to power a chip while dissipating much more heat than it generates. The result could be smaller, more efficient chips, solar cells that store their own energy or devices used for remote monitoring that don’t require external power sources.


“Redox flow” batteries that use liquid electrolytes are normally used on a large scale to store energy. For instance, Harvard Researchers recently created one that can last over ten years with very little degradation, making it ideal to store solar or wind energy.


Building them on a scale tiny enough for chips is another matter, however. The team from ETH Zurich and IBM managed to find two liquids that are suitable both as flow-battery electrolytes and cooling agents that can dissipate heat from chips in the same circuit. “We are the first scientists to build such a small flow battery so as to combine energy supply and cooling,” says doctoral student Julian Marschewski.

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Scientists reveal new super-fast form of computer that ‘grows as it computes’

Scientists reveal new super-fast form of computer that ‘grows as it computes’ | Amazing Science |

Researchers from The University of Manchester have shown that it is possible to build a new super-fast form of computer that “grows as it computes”.

Professor Ross D King and his team have demonstrated for the first time the feasibility of engineering a nondeterministic universal Turing machine (NUTM), and their research is to be published in the prestigious Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The theoretical properties of such a computing machine, including its exponential boost in speed over electronic and quantum computers, have been well understood for many years – but the Manchester breakthrough demonstrates that it is actually possible to physically create a NUTM using DNA molecules.

“Imagine a computer is searching a maze and comes to a choice point, one path leading left, the other right,” explained Professor King, from Manchester’s School of Computer Science. “Electronic computers need to choose which path to follow first.

“But our new computer doesn’t need to choose, for it can replicate itself and follow both paths at the same time, thus finding the answer faster.

“This ‘magical’ property is possible because the computer’s processors are made of DNA rather than silicon chips. All electronic computers have a fixed number of chips.

Via Integrated DNA Technologies
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Weapons Physicist Posts Declassified Nuclear Test Videos to YouTube

Weapons Physicist Posts Declassified Nuclear Test Videos to YouTube | Amazing Science |

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory weapon physicist Greg Spriggs gives researchers a new way to study the power of nuclear weaponry.


A treasure trove of footage from early U.S. nuclear weapons tests has just been declassified and uploaded to YouTube.

The film release was part of a project headed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapons physicist Greg Spriggs which aimed to digitize and preserve thousands of films documenting the nation’s nuclear history. The endeavor required an all-hands-on deck approach from archivists, film experts and software engineers, but the team says that this digitized database is already yielding new insights from the decades-old tests.


The films all stem from the 210 atmospheric nuclear tests undertaken by the U.S. between 1945 and 1962. There are an estimated 10,000 films from these tests, capturing multiple angles and data points. The project has so far tracked down 6,500 of them, and converted 4,200 to a digital format—750 have so far been declassified, and this week’s batch is the first to be released.


Preserving the films wasn’t easy. It required modifying equipment to match the specifications of the old film, and locating data logs that provide critical information about camera placement, speed and focal length. Then, they watched each film to determine the exact frame rate, as it was known to vary from camera to camera at the time. Several programmers assisted Spriggs’ team and provided computational tools to analyze films frame-by-frame—a task that was once done by hand. Once a film was digitized and the relevant information matched to each, it can be used to study the behavior of nuclear weapons.


The videos include several of the major nuclear weapons testing runs from the era, including Operations Plumbbob and Dominic. The tests were mostly conducted at sites in Nevada or on atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Several of the early tests would raise concerns over the fallout from nuclear device testing, both on soldiers involved in exercises nearby and on civilians in the surrounding areas.


The films were originally meant for researchers, to be used as study guides for the next round of development and testing. In the years following the first nuclear explosion, the Trinity test in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, researchers raced to comprehend the magnitude of their creation.


The hundreds of tests that followed comprised an array of bomb designs and testing environments, including underground, underwater and high-altitude tests. The videos of these events were obsessively studied frame by frame to gauge the magnitude of the explosion by looking at its brightness and shockwave, as well as the effects on nearby military equipment, towns and livestock.


Looking back through the footage today, Spriggs says it’s apparent some the data gathered 60 years ago is incorrect. With the benefit of modern-day technology, he is hoping to rectify those mistakes and provide accurate information after all this time. “When you go to validate your computer codes, you want to use the best data possible,” he says. “We were finding that some of these answers were off by 20, maybe 30, percent. That’s a big number for doing code validation. One of the payoffs of this project is that we’re now getting very consistent answers. We’ve also discovered new things about these detonations that have never been seen before. New correlations are now being used by the nuclear forensics community, for example.”

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Two radio signals, one chip, open a new world for wireless communication

Two radio signals, one chip, open a new world for wireless communication | Amazing Science |

Cornell engineers have devised a method for transmitting and receiving radio signals on a single chip, which could ultimately help change the way wireless communication is done.


Separating the send and receive bands is difficult enough, but the problem is compounded by the ever-increasing number of bands in the latest devices, which handle everything wireless technology has to offer. From GPS to Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, each band requires a filter to stop the strong transmit signals from drowning out reception.


Alyosha Molnar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), and Alyssa Apsel, professor of ECE, have come up with an ingenious way to separate the signals. Their work is described in "A wideband fully integrated software-defined transceiver for FDD and TDD operation," published online in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Journal of Solid-State Circuits.


Their idea lies in the transmitter -- actually a series of six subtransmitters -- all hooked into an artificial transmission line. Each of the subtransmitters send signals at regular intervals, and their individually weighted outputs are programmed so that they combine to produce a radio frequency signal in the forward direction, at the antenna port, while canceling out at the receive port.


The programmability of the individual outputs allows this simultaneous summation and cancellation to be tuned across a wide range of frequencies, and to adjust to signal strength at the antenna. "In one direction, it's a filter and you basically get this cancellation," Apsel said. "And in the other direction, it's an amplifier."


"You put the antenna at one end and the amplified signal goes out the antenna, and you put the receiver at the other end and that's where the nulling happens," Molnar said. "Your receiver sees the antenna through this wire, the transmission line, but it doesn't see the transmit signal because it's canceling itself out at that end."


This work builds on research reported six years ago by a group from Stanford University, which devised a way for the transmitter to filter its own transmission, allowing the weaker incoming signal to be heard. It's the theory behind noise-canceling headphones. Unlike the Stanford work, the Cornell group's subtransmitter concept will work over a range of frequencies - a positive in this age of scrambling for available frequencies that used to be the realm of over-the-air television.

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Scientists reveal how thieves can steal your pin code within seconds

Scientists reveal how thieves can steal your pin code within seconds | Amazing Science |
Researchers from the University of Stuttgart in Germany say the technique works up to 30 seconds after you've stop tapping on the screen.


When you tap in your PIN code, your fingers leave traces of heat on your screen.  Scammers can use thermal cameras to quickly take a snapshot of your PIN seconds after you've tapped it in. The thermal images are then subjected to a six-stage process, where the color image is converted into grayscale and stripped to leave only the heat spots. The final step is to work out how much each circle has faded over time - to unveil the likely order that the passcode was typed in. The process can also be used to work out the hand-drawn pattern Android users use to unlock their phone.

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