Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Biological Clock Discoveries by 3 Americans Earn Nobel Prize

Nobel Prize
The discoverers of the 'internal clock' of the body, Nobel Medicine 2017

The winners are Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young

US scientists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young today won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine, "for their discoveries of the molecular mechanisms that control the circadian rhythm," according to the jury of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, responsible for the award. The prize is endowed with nine million Swedish crowns, about 940,000 euros.

Thanks in part to his work, today it is known that living beings carry in their cells an internal clock, synchronized with the 24-hour turns of the planet Earth. Many biological phenomena, such as sleep, occur rhythmically around the same time of day, thanks to this inner clock. Its existence was suggested centuries ago. In 1729, the French astronomer Jean-Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan observed the case of mimosas, plants whose leaves open during the day into the sunlight and close at dusk. The researchers discovered that this cycle was repeated even in a dark room, suggesting the existence of an internal mechanism.

In 1971, Seymour Benzer and his student Ronald Konopka of the California Institute of Technology took a momentous leap in research. They caught vinegar flies and induced mutations in their offspring with chemicals. Some of these new flies had alterations in their normal 24-hour cycle. In some, it was shorter and in others, it was longer, but in all of them, these perturbations were associated with mutations in a single gene. The discovery could have earned the Nobel, but Benzer died in 2007, at age 86, for a stroke. And Konopka died in 2015, at age 68, of a heart attack.

The Nobel, finally, was taken to Hall (New York, 1945), Rosbash (Kansas City, 1944) and Young (Miami, 1949). The three used more flies in 1984 to isolate that gene, baptized "period" and associated to the control of the normal biological rhythm. Subsequently, they revealed that this gene and others self-regulate through their own products - different proteins - generating oscillations of about 24 hours. It was "a change of paradigm", in the words of the Argentine neuroscientist Carlos Ibáñez, of the Karolinska Institute. Each cell had a self-regulating internal clock.

The scientific community has since established the importance of this mechanism in human health. This inner clock is involved in the regulation of sleep, in hormone release, in eating behavior and even in blood pressure and body temperature. If, as occurs in people working in shifts at night, the pace of life does not follow this internal script, can increase the risk of suffering different diseases, such as cancer and some neurodegenerative disorders, says Ibanez. The syndrome of fast time zone change, better known as jet lag, is a clear sign of the importance of this internal clock and its mismatches.

The Karolinska researcher sets an example with a 24-hour cycle, in which the internal clock anticipates and adapts the body's physiology to the different phases of the day. If the day begins with deep sleep and a low body temperature, the release of cortisol at dawn increases blood sugar. The body prepares its energies to face the day. When night falls, with a peak blood pressure, melatonin, a hormone linked to sleep, is secreted.

These inner rhythms are known as circadian by the Latin words circa, around, and dies, day. The scientific community now knows that these "around the clock" molecular dashes emerged very soon in living things and were preserved throughout its evolution. They exist in both single-cell life forms and in multicellular organisms such as fungi, plants, animals, and humans.

At the time of its discovery, Hall and Rosbash were working at Brandeis University in Waltham, and Young was researching at Rockefeller University in New York. Its recognition follows the tonic of the Swedish awards. Men have won 97% of Nobel prizes in science since 1901. In the category of Medicine, statistics improve slightly: 12 of the 214 women are awarded the prize: 5.6%.

Pixel 2, Home Mini and Pixelbook What You Need to Know

Google Home Mini
At an event on October 4, the Silicon Valley firm is all set to expose its latest gadgets comprising of latest phone. However before the event can take place, a consumer publication has got itself a series of images which displays the majority of what Google would probably launch. The following are what can be expected from the Google event together with its fresh line-up of gadgets:
 

Google makes hardware


 
Together with its search ability and drives in AI, Google is said to have moved firmly in the hardware area in the last few years. Moving away from its Nexus phone brand and trying to reinvest its attempts under the moniker of Made by
Google, the company has now released various high end gadgets. These comprises of its Pixel and Pixel XL phones, a mobile virtual reality headset known as Daydream, together with a Google Wi-Fi box and its amazon Echo voice assistant competitor, Google Home. Many have been expecting to see new repetitions of these devices at the forthcoming event of the company.
 

What’s the event holding?

 
The company had called another press conference; precisely a year after Google had released the Pixel, its first own-name branded phone. This would most probably see the overview of its latest hardware attempts though no one could be completely sure till it shows up. The event is said to take place at 9 AM PT in San Francisco and there would also be a press event that would take place at the same time in the UK. This would kick-off at 5PM and would also be live-streamed online
 

What would the latest phones look like?

 
Owing to the outburst of leaks the latest being from DroidLife, it is a known fact that the upcoming gadgets, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Android devices would have a same form factor to their predecessors. From the leaked images of the two phones, it displays a single camera on the rear, a fingerprint scanner together with colours ranging from light blue to white and black combo. DroidLife reported that the Pixel XL 2 a bigger screened version of the phone would have 64GB or 128GB storage and the price is from $849 to $949. The smaller gadgets Pixel is said to have the identical storage choice and is priced at $649 and $749. With regards to specs, the reported details are scarce on the ground presently. The Verge had reported that the XL would be having a 6-inch OLED screen, a Snapdragon 835 process with the potential of controlling the phone by squeezing it which had been introduced in the HTC U11. The company had spoken a lot about the Google Lens, a feature enabling a phone camera to comprehend what it tends to see, at the developers conference earlier in the year. It is also expected that the Pixel 2 XL would be having a much less of a bezel than the smaller product devices.
 

Google Home – Mushroom-Like Speaker

 
Google seems to be established in introducing smaller gadgets version of the Google Home if one is into voice assistants. Details of the Home Mini was made available by source, which is a mushroom-like speaker that tends to sit in one’s home , pay attention and chat with you. Similarly, Amazon provides a low-priced Echo Dot which tends to rival with Google. The price of the Home Mine is said to be around $49, with shades of silver, orange and dark grey featuring the Google Assistant. The company had mentioned that it is an AI company instead of a search giant and it would not be surprising for Google to disclose more update regarding its Assistant. The company desires its voice assistant to be implanted in several third-party gadgets as imaginable. It has reported that VR viewer DayDream of Google would be provided with an update and would be offered in various colours. Further details with regards to the interior of the device is not clear though it would remain to be a mobile VR viewer housing a phone and it would come at a price of $99.
 

Chromebook Pixel - PixelBook

 
According to some sources as informed to Android Police the re-born Chromebook Pixel gadgets will show up soon. A Pixel Chromebook would be launched according to Android Police had been confirmed in the latest series of report. The device has been dubbed the PixelBook and is said that the same would comprise of 128GB, 256GB and 512GB of storage and priced at £1,119. The original Chromebook Pixel had been released by Google in 2013 and had been revitalized in 2015 and has not launched a newer version since then. For several years, third-party vendors like HP and Acer have been proposing some cool Chromebooks. At this point of time not much is revealed. Android Police wonders that it could be born out of the Project Bison of the company that had been planned to be presented during the third quarter this year. We need to wait and watch for the forthcoming event of October 4 for the surprises in store by Google.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Amazon Revamps Echo Smart Speaker Family

Amazon

Echo Smart Speaker – Improved Sound & Voice Recognition

 
New forms of its Echo smart speaker with the possibility of improved sound and voice recognition has been announced by Amazon. Moreover, the simple model also enables in changing its shell and provides it with different looks which is a feature offered already by the opponent Home gadget of Google. A bigger Echo Plus enhanced by a `home hub’ enables it in controlling smart light bulbs together with third party products minus a separate data-linking gadget.

 The Echo Spot tends to have a screen which makes the video calls as wells camera feed promising. Sales figures for the earlier Echo line-up had not been released by Amazon, however researchers have recommended it. Its smaller sibling, the Echo Dot has been the best-selling device.

The Echo family is said to account for around 75% of the US market with regards to internet-linked speakers together with built-in smart assistant functionality that has been estimated earlier this month by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Till date it has been suggested that around 15 million devices have been sold. The latest Echo smart speaker is said to be smaller than its predecessor and has the advantage from a keen bass tweeter.
 

Six Swappable Shells/Various Materials

 
The Echo smart speaker comes with the option of six swappable shells with various materials and gadget is priced at £90/$100/100 euros which it around 40% cheaper than the earlier version and challenging the £129 Google Home gadget. The Echo Plus compatible with the Zigbee smart home protocol is priced at £140/$150/150 euros while the Echo Spot having a screen size of 2.5-inch together with a built-in camera is priced at $130.

The same will be launched in December in the US though has not provided a release date elsewhere. Blake Kozak from the HIS Technology consultancy had commented that Amazon has been the first agent in this market and hence had the benefit over some of those who had entered the same space. He further added that it was incredibly important for them to do a refresh, wherein the original Echo came out in 2014 and the hardware had not been updated ever since, though the software as well as the back-end services had been enhanced incessantly.

Most of the latest systems tend to feature Alexa assistant of Amazon and would not be seen as a risk. Thereafter several more premium systems had been announced with higher quality speakers and hence Amazon needed to be seen to contest the competition. This brought in the Echo smart speaker in the market.
 

Competing Schemes

 
Earlier, Amazon had mentioned that it tends to sell its Echo smart speaker approximately for the price it cost in producing the gadget and since its final objective is to utilise Alexa as a means of driving sales of the other goods and services. However, earlier this month, at the Berlin’s Ifa tech show, many big name manufactures comprising of Sony JBL and Panasonic had launched systems powered by the rival Assistant of Google. Additional competing schemes that are anticipated before the end of the year comprise of-
  • Siri powered HomePod speaker system of Apple
  • Invoke of Harmon/Kardon that will utilise Cortana technology of Microsoft
  • Novel speaker from Sonos which would be supporting multiple smart assistants
  • The likelihood of a new version of the Google Home when search firm tends to host an event on 4 October.

 

Link to Landline – Speakers into Speakerphones

 
Besides the Echo smart speaker, Amazon has also made an announcement of the gadget, Echo Buttons – small Bluetooth based buzzers, at its Seattle event which could be utilised for playing games on its speakers, inclusive of an upcoming version of Trivial Pursuit. Moreover it has also publicized the Echo Connect which is a gadget that tends to link to a landline turning its speakers into speakerphones. It has also announced an arrangement of bringing Alexa to some of the BMW’S cars inclusive of its Mini brand.

Geoff Blaber from the tech consultancy CCS Insight had stated that Amazon tends to have the momentum in the smart speaker and voice assistant area. This announcement had been developed to deepen its role in daily lives and this tends to raise the bar considerably for Apple and Google.

Amazon seems to be functioning exceptionally hard in exploiting on the success of its smart assistant hardware and that he is concerned this new line-up seems to be complex and the most knowledgeable consumers would be perplexed as to what feature they would be expecting for their money. The option is said to be immense with Echo, Echo Plus, Dot, Look, Spot, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick together with the Dash Wand. With the Echo smart speaker, Amazon has the opportunity to do for home automation what Apple had done for smartphones.

It was essential for the company to announce a smartphone which would be an enhanced gadget than the upcoming iPhone X and now a home assistant set-up which is tougher than what had been portrayed by Amazon

Sunday, 1 October 2017

TU Delft Researcher Makes Alcohol Out Of Thin Air

Method of Producing Alcohol from Thin Air

Ming Ma, a TU Delft PhD student of Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, haslocated a method of producing alcohol from thin air.. He has found out a way of efficiently and accurately controlling the process of electro-reduction of CO2 in producing a wide range of useful products comprising of alcohol.

 With the possibility of utilising CO2as a means of resource in this manner could be just essential in dealing with climate change. His PhD defence took place on September 14th. For the purpose of modifying atmospheric CO2 concentration, carbon capture together with utilization CCU can be a practicable alternative strategy to carbon capture and sequestrations –CCS.

The electrochemical reduction of CO2 to fuels together with value-added chemicals has drawn significant attention as a capable solution. In this course of development, the captured CO2 is utilised as a means of resource and transformed to carbon monoxide – CO, methane – CH4, ethylene and also liquid products like formic acid –HCOOH, methanol – CH3OH and ethanol C2 H5OH. The great energy density hydrocarbons tend to be utilised directly and conveniently as fuels in the existing energy infrastructure.

Feedstock in Fischer-Tropsch

Besides the production of CO2 seems to be interesting as it could be utilised as feedstock in the process of Fischer-Tropsch, which is a strong technology used extensively in industry in the conversion of syngas CO and hydrogen H2 into useful chemicals like methanol and synthetic fuels like diesel fuel.

Ming Ma, in his PhD theory, while working in the group of Dr Wilson A. Smith had defined that the processes that seemed to occur at the nanoscale when various metals were utilised in the electro-reduction of CO2. For instance, while utilising copper nanowires in the electro-reduction procedure would lead to production of hydrocarbons though nanoporous silver could develop CO.

Moreover, as per the discovery of Ma, the process could be quite accurately regulated by altering the lengths of the nanowires as well as the potential of the electrical. On modifying these conditions one is capable of generating any carbon based production or alternatively combinations in any desired ratio, thereby producing the resources for the three follow up processes mentioned above. On utilising metal alloys in the procedure, would lead to more stimulating results.

Formic Acid – Favourable usage in Fuel Cells

Though platinum tends to produce hydrogen on its own, and gold tends to generate CO, an alloy of these two metals tend to unexpectedly produce formic acid – HCOOH, in relatedly huge quantities where formic acid is said to have the possibilities of a very favourable usage in fuel cells. After this, the next step for the team at the Smith Lab for solar Energy Conversion and Storage at TU Delft is to look for means of enhancing the selectivity of individual products as well to start the designing of scaling up the procedure.

Smith had received an ERC Starting Grant to work on that to improve the understanding of the complicated reaction mechanism to obtain an improved control of the CO2electro catalytic process. The other task in the lab is directed on solar driven splitting of water wherein the simple solution tends to make hydrogen production from solar water splitting more efficient and cheaper. With cheap efficient and stable photo electrode would help in improving water splitting with solar energy.

New Machine Learning Algorithms of Google and MIT Retouch Your Photos Before You Take Them

Google Pixel

New machine learning algorithms by Google and MIT retouch your photos before being captured


It is getting tougher and tougher, as time goes by, to extract more and better performance out of your phone’s camera hardware. That is the reason why companies like Google are adopting the method of computational photography: using machine learning algorithm to improvise the output. The most recent exploration from the search giant, conducted along with scientists from MIT, progresses this work to a new level, creating machine learning algorithm that are able to retouch your pictures just like a professional photographer in reality, prior to capturing them.

The researchers utilised machine learning algorithm to build their software, instructing neural networks on a dataset of 5,000 images that are produced by Adobe and MIT. Every image in this compilation has been worked upon and improved by five various photographers and Google and MIT’s algorithms made use of this data to understand what kind of improvements are to be made to different photos. This might involve increasing the brightness at certain places, reducing the saturation elsewhere and so on.

Machine learning algorithm has been used before to improve photos, but the real progress with this particular research is concision of the algorithm so that they are compact and resourceful enough to efficiently and seamlessly run on any user’s device. The software itself if as big as a single digital image and as a blog post from MIT describes, it could be very well capable to “development images in a assortment of styles.”

This proves that in order to train the neural networks, new sets of images can be used and could also be able to replicate a particular photographer’s specific look. In similar way, companies like Facebook and Prisma have produced artistic filters that imitate the style of famous painters. Although smartphones and cameras are already processing the imaging data in real time, these recent techniques are more subtle and spontaneous and rather than applying general settings to the whole of the individual image.

For slimming down the machine learning algorithm, the researchers utilised a few varied techniques. These consisted of converting the changes made to every photo into formulae and using co-ordinates that are grid-like to map the pictures out. All of this means that the data about how the photos can be retouched can be mathematically expressed, instead of full-scale photos.

Google researcher Jon Barron told MIT that this technology has the probability to be very valuable for real-time image enrichment on a mobile phone. He added that utilising this machine learning algorithm for computational photography has an interesting outlook but it is retrained because of the severe constraints in computation and power of mobile phones. This paper may offer a way to avoid these hindrances and create new, interesting, real-time photographic memories without getting the battery drained or giving a slow viewfinder experience.

It’s not unlikely that this machine learning algorithm will be seen in one of Google’s future Pixel phones. Earlier, the company used its HDR+ algorithms to show more detail in terms of light and shadow on mobile phones right since the time the Nexus 6. And Google’s computational photography lead, Marc Levoy, told The Verge last year that they are “only just begun to scratch the surface” with their work.