Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Rosetta Spacecraft Raises New Questions About Comet’s Origin

Rosetta – To Orbit a Comet’s Nucleus

According to a new research released recently, Scientists using Europe’s comet-orbiting Rosetta spacecraft have discovered that its complicated ancient body is coated with simple organic molecules surrounded by a changing cloud of gases.Rosetta will be the first mission to orbit a comet’s nucleus to land and probe on its surface and will also be the first spacecraft to fly along with a comet heading towards the inner Solar System, to observe how a frozen comet gets transformed by the warmth of the Sun.

After a long journey of 10 years, Rosetta reached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August, placing itself in an orbit for an unprecedented long term study. It released a piggyback-riding spacecraft in November which descended on the comet’s surface for various series of independent research.

Comets are presumed to be frozen leftovers from the formation of planets around 4.6 billion years back and the Rosetta mission would probably give us some understanding on the solar system’s early days, on studying one of its pristine comet remnants. Though the results from the Philae spacecraft experiments remains pending, scientists recently released 7 papers in the journal Science which provides information on Rosetta’s discoveries during its initial two months around 67P.

Discovery of Wide Variation in Gases

It was found that the comet’s body which is around 100 million time more massive than the International Space Station is covered in ripples and dunes with little water ice on its surface together with generous amount of hydrocarbons. Scientists are of the opinion that they are expecting to find more complex carbon containing molecule though have found mostly simple hydrocarbons.

This has led them to queries on how organic compounds could have been formed and spread through the solar system. The first thing that scientists need to figure out is how the comet has changed over a period of time, details of which will emerge as 67P travels towards the sun and heats up developing a coma or a visible atmosphere together with a tail.

Researchers have already discovered wide variation in the gases that are released from the nucleus, the comet’s body and the changes in the quantities of these gases seems to appear to be tied to speculation on a section of the rotating nucleus which is made of dust, rock and frozen gas, is in daylight or darkness.
Research – Understanding of Comet Formation & Evolution

According to Rosetta scientist, Myrtha Hassig of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonia, Texas, she states that seasonal effects could also be discovered over a period of time. These studies would have an ultimate impact on the scientist on their understanding of comet formation and evolution.

Another scientist, Stephen Fuselier, also from Southwest Research Institute, commented that they were taught that comets were made mostly of water ice and for this comet, the coma sometimes contains much more carbon dioxide than water vapour’.

Scientists are working in figuring out if the 67P which is shaped as a rubber duck, was actually two smaller comets which had melded together. Rosetta will carry on flying around the comet moving towards and then away from the sun, the closest approach being about 116 million miles away from the Sun on August 13.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

How These Energy Geeks Are Re-imagining an Old School Utility

Utility Research Team – Testing Charging - Power by Solar Panels

A non-descript, 53,500 square foot building with a $12 billion utility research team are planning in testing everything from charging electronic vehicles through cell phones to devices that can smooth out the power created by rooftop solar panels.

There are around 60 projects in the works at Edison’s Advanced Technology division having a small annual budget of $19 million though its influence goes beyond that. Engineers from California’s largest utility are planning to insure the survival of it and also the survival of the nations’ other big utilities which are closely monitoring the project.

The lab was formed by Southern California Edison in 2009 after California had passed a landmark law, to lower its greenhouse gas emission to 1990 levels, sourcing one third of its electricity from renewable source by 2020. This resulted in more electric vehicles in the Golden State together with more solar as well as wind power that has got the state’s utilities and nationwide,trying to adapt to it.Power from solar and wind sources, unlike traditional electricity tend to fluctuate depending on the weather thus making it difficult to manage on the grid. Moreover, the cost of the solar power has reduced so much that several homeowners are now producing their own power thereby paying less to their utility.

Utility Death Spiral

California’s largest three utilities sourced around twenty three percent of their power from renewable sources in 2013 and Gov. Jerry Brown called for a target of fifty percent by 2030.According to North Carolina State University’s database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, twenty nine states have laws needing more renewables.

Accenture states that with plenty of distributed energy on the grid, mainly from solar panels, the utility industry would foresee revenues fall between $18 billion and $48 billion per year by 2025 which is the reason why some have called it the utility death spiral. The reason for the lab’s work getting plenty of attention is that it is producing results as well as sharing the work with utility officials as well as researchers from faraway places like China.

Edison’s work designing cyber security systems and developing used for advance energy meters, for instances, have received high rating from other utilities according to Mark McGranaghan, Vice President at the Electric Power Research Institute.

Focus – Edison is Energy Storage

Moreover, the lab has also been a model for the others as well and the National Renewable energy Laboratory, wherein in 2013, itopened a $135 billion Energy Systems Integration Facility that complements Edison’s research. Besides this, the New York Power Authority has also been working in establishing a similar lab.

The focus of Edison is energy storage, automation and digital communication which could improve the efficiency as well as the reliability of the grid and the utility speculating that it will result in new revenue as the power demand flattens with more energy-efficient home and rooftop solar is on the rise. Ted Craver, CEO of Edison International, the utility’s parent company, states that `they are the only provider of the wires and these technologies will become more prevalent and feels that they are on the cutting edge’. Several of the technologies are yet to be commercialized though the market is growing.

 According to Navigant Research, smart grid spending would reach to $70.2 billion by 2023 from $44.1 billion in 2014, the reason for Edison in building nine labs here. Edison researchers replicated a complete power grid in one room which was used to troubleshoot while Edison had been working on new transmission line in order to connect its grid with other huge utility of California, Pacific Gas & Electric.

Edison to make Recommendation on Smart Grid Technologies 

While in another lab `smart’ inverters are testing the capabilities of smoothing out the voltage sent to the grid by solar panels and these devices are common in Europe though have yet to be rolled out in the United States.

The Advanced Technology group seeks project proposals every year, from the utility and one worth mentioning is a project which studied how the amount of wind and solar power could affect power restoration at the time of blackouts, while another, tested the different types of batteries to check on their performance while storing energy along the grid. Several of the updated technologies were taken for a test drive at the University of California, Irvine faculty housing – `The Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration’, which is a $79 million project that was launched and funded in part by the U.S Department of Energy in 2010 and will probably wrap up somewhere later this year.

Computer science professor, Crista Lopes, commented that the project cuts down her electric bill to zero in summer and the utility at her house with solar panels has around 50 LED light bulbs with new appliances such as smart refrigerator and she can track its power usage. The conclusion drawn is that Edison would make recommendation on smart grid technologies to the industry and the utility would then take the testing to bigger area probably to various homes.

Bat-Inspired Robot Can Walk, Fly and Chase You

A team of researchers has successfully developed a robot drone which can both fly and crawl for the first time. This innovation gives boost the capabilities of drones which were to some extent in earlier cases. Researchers have provided with retractable wings, legs and wheels which allow the robot to handle any kind of terrains with ease. This feat has been achieved by the researchers of Switzerland essentially for providing assistance in rescue and search operations but given the capabilities this bat-like robot might evolve into something much better.

Technology Used In Creating Bat-like Features

This new vampire bat like robot uses the adaptive morphology in the form of Desmodus rotundus. In simple words this robot has a foldable skeleton under its fabric-covered wings almost like a bat literally. This robot has been named DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot) which has been designed by a team of researchers at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and The National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics in Switerzerland, who had announced their work in the journal Bioinspiration & Biometrics.

Features and Capabilities Of DALER

This robot is capable of flying long distances in order to survey large spaces within a short time span and it can also easily access the dangerous, remote and inaccessible areas. It has been found that most of the flying robots suffers from the issue of navigating the small areas but DALER capability of crawling makes it easier to access and survey such places with distinction.

Researchers had a hard time to achieve the limited trade-offs which can provide them with an solution for the perfect synchronization between the center of mass of the drone and the axis of rotation for improving the fuel efficiency. After lots of experimentation researchers found the optimum balance of masses which allows the DALER to reach to great speed of 70 km/h while flying and around 6 cm/s on ground surface. It can achieve the maximum step distance of about 6 cm.

Benefits Of DALER

The research team has pointed out various benefits which could be derived from the DALER. It capability as a walking and flying drone will provide great assistance in helping to locate the survivors in dangerous terrains or unstable areas in an event of natural or man-made disaster. Furthermore DALER could even be remotely deployed in affected areas to access the damaged building or destroyed infrastructure with its flying capability. It can land in such place to begin locating the victims by crawling on the surface. This would be highly beneficial for the rescue teams to improve their efforts in various different scenarios.

Researchers had also claimed to bring in hover capabilities to this drone through future developments which it give it ability to take off autonomously from the ground after completion of the mission as well returning to the base automatically. DALER is still in the prototype stage and researchers had made no announcement regarding its future commercial development.

Apple Buys British Music Data Startup

Recently, Apple has acquired Semetric, which is a British music data analytics start-up, as Apple is trying to boost the ability of iPhone for listening trends. This year, Semetric was launched as international beats music streaming service.

According to one person, who is familiar with transaction stated that this U.S. group has paid approx. $50 million for the startup company which is London-based and it has more than 40 employees and now most are working for Apple. But Apple’s officials have declined any comment on the specific deal of Semetric, which was closed at the end of 2014.

We all know that Semetric, is famous for its known brand Musicmetric and it was founded in 2008 to provide data on music streaming and downloads, it also provides data analysis about people’s choice and views about songs and artists through social media. Semetric has some well known clients, record labels and as well as digital music companies such as; Gracenote and Spotify.

This deal was first reported by Music Ally, which is one of the best digital music companies of London, as it includes MixCloud, Omnifone, Shazam and 7digital, the music recognition app, as stated on last week and raised more than 30 million in fresh funding, which make the valuation of British company more than $1 billion. Recently, acquisition of Semetric was attempted by Apple to establish its leadership in digital music that can add value in iTunes downloads that has started to flag over in 2014.

We all are aware about the fact that in May 2014, Beats Music was acquired by Apple in $ 3 billion acquisition deal of headphones maker Beats Electronics, which provides a subscription based streaming service. Apple is planning to bundle Beats Music into its own iOS operating system, so that millions of users can avail the benefit through iPhones and iPads and on the same time it can ramp up the pressure on Spotify, which is market leader in music streaming industry.

According to Alice Enders, who is working as music industry analyst in Enders Analysis stated that Apple is planning to merge Semetric’s data into Beats Music because they want to improve the song recommendations as well as positive connections with their fans. The more he added that its very invaluable analytics to understand that what people are listening and doing online.

This Semetric deal is the part of war race to become one of the strongest digital music company in industry by acquiring the expertise and as well as technology to optimize the way to deliver the best music service. Last year, Spotify was acquired. The Echo Nest, which is music analytics company in ht deal of $ 100 million.

The Echo Nest, is specializes in audio fingerprinting and listening a song to determine the different characteristics such as; the music is up-tempo or down beat or happy or motivated or sad whereas; the resulting data used to determine the song recommendations and to generate playlists. Apple officials declined any comment about that it would continue to supply Spotify or not.

Microsoft Just Handed Us Our Holographic Future

Last week Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will showcase Windows Holographic feature, which will allow the users to create their own or someone else holograms and print them with 3D printers. According to Microsoft officials, each and every Windows 10 device is enabled with holographic APIs, we all know that Windows 10 holograms are one of the Windows Universal Apps.

To avail the holographic feature, users need to get hands on Microsoft HoloLens headset as Kipman described in his statement that its first fully un-tethered computer. Windows 10 will feature the advanced sensors to capture physical information, spatial sound and high-definition holographic lenses, so that users can see and hear the holograms from behind.

Processing unit of Microsoft’s holographic: 

If you are planning to avail the feature of HoloLens, so you should know that it is built-in the high ended CPUs and in high-end processing units of graphics, but if you want to handle all the essential processing requirement, than you need to think and go beyond the GPU and traditional CPU and this is why Microsoft has invented a third processor as a holographic processing unit, said by Kipman, who is working with Microsoft on this project from last five years. According to Microsoft, HPU is able to understand the users' voices and as well as gestures, if one will process the terabytes of information in its sensors on real time basis, the more he added.

HoloLens have a capability to enable the holographic computing immediately without any external cameras, no phones, no wires and as well as no PC connection is required. For this operation Microsoft have created Holo Studio, which allow users to create their own holograms with 3D printing facility as shareable image with other in few minutes. It is reported that the headset will be developed under the codename of "Project Baraboo." Kipman invited the developers from Magic Leap, Magic Leap, and everyone else to create their own holographic apps for Windows 10.

HoloLens is one of the brand new kinds of computer that has user interface feature and due to this some of the people can call it next big step towards the singularity. According to Rob Enderle, who is principal analyst at the Enderle Group “At Microsoft's Windows 10, HoloLens eclipsed everything.” The more Rob Enderle added that, HoloLens was developed in the conjunction with the researchers of JPL labs. It is expected that HoloLens will be a game changer as whenever you can alter that what can people see on real time basis and it also allow them to interact with render through 3D creations and fundamentally it will change the way to use the computers.

HoloLens can be a reason for new wearable computer as it can control by voice, gestures and as well as to create the impression, which reality has been altered around us. According to experts if this project is ahead 10 years, so in near future this technology can replace the traditional computers.