Thursday, 5 March 2015

Scientists Track Parasites with Satellites

Satellite Data to Combat Parasitic Diseases 

Latest reports is that scientists are now developing a system of using satellite data to combat parasitic diseases such as malaria, hydatids and worms and this new project is an example of progress in the field of disease research, wherein updated tools like spatial statics are rendering support to developers in bringing together the earth observations as well as disease data in order to analyse and foreseen the pattern of disease.

We find several types of parasites; organisms which tend to live in a host and cause diseases in humans. While some parasitic diseases could be treated easily, there are others which are not easily treated such as malaria. Several of the parasitic diseases are mostly found in the tropics as well as in subtropics, where the burden tends to fall on the under developed countries affecting hundreds of millions of people annually.

At a recent AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA, professor and a leader of the new project at the Australian National University in Canberra, Archie Clements, informed delegates, on how a system like the one they were working on could be helpful for developing countries to target scarce resources to the greatest effect. Professor Clements is also a director of the University’s Research School of Population Health.

Geographical Information System – GIS 

Professor Clements states that some diseases could be highly sensitive to their environment especially parasitic diseases and with remote sensing; one can identify the areas where diseases could spread. He, together with his colleagues is on the project of developing a method of combining satellite data with health data in a computerized geographical information system – GIS. The purpose of utilising the GIS is that decision maker could locate the high risk location quickly and check for sufficient resources for these areas.

The satellite data comprises of information about the climate as well as land conditions like the temperature, vegetation, rainfall and land usage. Moreover, the team is also gathering on the knowledge of entomologist, software developers, epidemiologist, social scientists as well as health policy specialists in order to ensure that the GIS data is rich and useful to the maximum. He further explains that `the result is maps which are accessible to countries with limited capacity in managing disease data, tailored to their local needs’.

Meaningful Impact on the World 

The new system has been tried is areas like Bhutan, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to track malaria and the team is now on the lookout for sponsorship in order to support them in applying the system, to larger countries. They are striving in the development of the GIS to predict worms as well as hydatids which is a kind of tapeworm that could be transmitted by dogs coming in contact with sheep in China, Philippines and the other countries in the of Asia Pacific countries.Prof. Clements is of the opinion that the research could help authorities in the developing countries to fight against parasitic diseases and by taking up this research they are provided with an opportunity in having a meaningful impact on the world thereby saving the lives of many.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Hacker Ring Stole $1B from Banks in 30 Countries, Says Report

Again a hacker group has stolen more than $1 billion from different banks in all over the world and till now it is one of the biggest banking breaches, as per the reports of cyber-security firm.

According to Kaspersky Lab, which is one of the Russian security companies, “One of the hackers ring is active from last quarter of 2013 and they have infiltrated more than 100 different banks in 30 countries, including four banks in Canada.

They are using phishing schemes and other techniques to gain access banks computer and after that they lurk form one month to two month, to learn the banks' systems and in taking the screen shots or video of employees using their computers, the report says. As soon hackers become familiar with the banks' operations than they use their knowledge to steal money without raising any kind of suspicious activity, by setting up their fake accounts and transferring a lot of cash into them or programming ATMs to dispense money at their choice of time and more, according to Kaspersky.

This report was prepared to present in a security conference at Cancun, Mexico, but it was first reported by The New York Times.

It seems that hackers limit their theft $10 million before moving to another bank and this is why their fraud was not detected earlier, Vicente Diaz, Principal security researcher of Kaspersky said to The Associated Press in a telephone interview. These attacks were unusual because this time hackers target the banks rather than targeting any individual customers.

It seems that their goal is financial gain rather than espionage, Diaz said. This time hackers are not interested in any kind of personal information, they are only interested in financial gain. These hackers are flexible and quite aggressive as well because they have special tool for doing whatever they want to do. The most targeted countries are the U.S., Germany, Russia, Ukraine and China as attackers are expanding throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Kaspersky says.

One of the bank lost more than $7.3 million through ATM fraud, whereas; in another case one of the financial institution lost $10 million because attackers exploit the bank’s online banking platform. Till now the name of banks are not clear and still Kaspersky is working with law-enforcement agencies to investigate these attacks.

These days, White House is putting a lot of focus on cyber-security due to many data breaches in national security agencies and companies, which are ranging from mass retailers to financial institutions such as; Home Depot and Target to Sony Pictures Entertainment and other insurance companies.

Now U.S. administration wants Congress to replace the all existing patchwork of national and state laws by giving a 30 days’ notice to companies that consumer’s personal information has been compromised. “As a officials at this point of time we cannot disclose the actions of individuals, but we believe that our officials are taking an appropriate actions to prevent these attacks and minimize any effects on customers”, one of the national security agency of U.S. said in a statement.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval

U.S. government has approved the commercial planting of Apples, which are genetically engineered to develop the resistant against turning brown, when bruised or sliced. The researcher of Okanagan Specialty Fruits said that it seems that non-browning feature will be popular among both consumers and food service companies as it has ability to make sliced apples more appealing than normal apple.

But many other executives in the apple industry stated that we are worry that the biotech apples are safe to eat or not or will consumers accept it or not? They also express their concern that exports of apples from other countries will like genetically modified foods or not?

The Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for the approval of genetically engineered apples said, that they have considered these issues, however this approval was based on whether; a genetically modified crop poses a threat to other plants or not and the Department of Agriculture confirmed that these apples posed no such risk.

These Arctic apples will be available in the Golden Delicious and Granny Smith varieties as they are genetically engineered with a technique to suppress the production of an enzyme, which causes browning when cells in the apple get injured from slice. The non-browning effect is not comes in existence by putting genes from another species into the apple’s DNA, which is widely used method with most of the genetically altered crops.

In this process, apple’s own genes are manipulated in a way to turn down the browning mechanism. Before that in November 2014, the Agriculture Department has approved a genetically engineered potato, which was developed by the J.R. Simplot Company, which has used similar technique to prevent browning. Now apple will join the community of other genetically modified fruits and vegetables such as; sweet corn and papaya.

A representative of the Agriculture Department said that it will take a time to analyze the issues and all comments, which we have received as in two different public comment periods we have received more than 175,000 comments and it is clear indication that majority have opposed the approval.

While majority in the apple industry had opposed the approval as some of them are saying that they will work to ensure that customers and clients know most apples are not modified and when modified apple’s comes in market so they will be safe. This approval was unusual in Okanagan, which is in Summerland, British Columbia. Most of the genetically modified crops are developed through large chemical and seed companies such as; DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

It is expected that Arctic apples will be available in few years because trees have to first be planted and then they will get mature enough to bear fruit. In a recent conversation with press Mr. Carter said that in this spring four growers will plant a total of 20,000 trees within the covering of 20 acres or more and it is expected that by fall of 2016, from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of apples would come in market, which will be great amount to provide samples to food service companies and for other potential buyers, whereas; in stores product will reach in very small amount.

Accessory Lens for Google Glass Invented

Latest Invention – Google Lens

The latest invention which has been developed by Wichita State University professor Jibo He and Barbara Chaparro who worked with graduate student Long Wang on the project known as Google Lens, have found ways to be more creative and innovative on inventing a device which could have positive development in the medical field in the future.

The device has been invented which can be attached to the Google Glass wearable computer and gives the user an enlarged image. The device seems to be an accessory lens; a wearable product which uses voice control to enable users to check information easily when their hands tend to be busy and the information is displayed in Google Glass see through head mounted display with its built-in camera enabling video sharing as well as remote conference.

The Google Glass responds to voice commands and has a tiny screen with a camera which is placed to a glass-like frame but the display seems to have one setback wherein its webcam has a narrow field of vision of 54.8 degrees horizontally by 43.5 vertically with limitation to its use in some applications. The attachment of Google lens enables the user to capture an enlarge vision of 109.8 degrees horizontally and 57.8 vertically.

The Importance of Expanding Google Glass view

Several professionals have the need to use Google Glass for many things like surgery and medical training to usability research as well as flying an aircraft. Most of the hospitals which include Wesley Medical Centre in Wichita and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston are developing Google Glass applications in order to enhance their medical services, new doctor training and surgery.

It is said that `the object needed to broadcast may be out of the field of view of Google glass and despite all of its remarkable features, Google Glass has some limitations in its hardware and Google lens solves the problem’. The device includes a holder which is attached to the lens of the frame of Google Glass where the lens that is fixed into the accessory has the capabilities of being changed with ease. Moreover, the accessory lens is helpful in the bottleneck of Google Glass camera improving and expanding Google Glass’ application in professional areas.

Patent Files for Google Lens – Awaiting Approval

Both Jibo along with Chaparro has applied for a U.S. patent for Google Lens and are waiting for its approval. They are both part of Wichita State University psychology department where Chaparro is the director of WS’s Software Usability Research Laboratory studying human-computer interaction and working with industry on software design and usability.

Jibo He on the other hand was among the first Google glass Explorers in 2013 and through the Explorer program, was granted by Google, programmers and researchers early access to the Google Glass device prior to going on sale to the general public and though it is not available to the general public, some businesses like hospitals having been using Google Glass.

Initial research related to whether it would be safe to drive while interacting with Google Glass and later on studied how Glass could be used in detecting when the driver was fatigued.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Google's Vint Cerf Warns of 'digital Dark Age'

In recent interview with Pallab Ghosh, Google's Vint Cerf warns about 'digital Dark Age'. Vint Cerf, who is a Vice-president of Google, says that he is worry about all the images and documents, which we have saved on our computers or on other devices because in future we can eventually lost them. He believes that it could occur as software and hardware become obsolete.

Vint Cerf fears that in future our generations will have very little or no record about 21st Century, if we will face digital Dark Age scenario. He made his comment at science conference in San Jose, where he arrived in a three-piece suit, for annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science. We all know that he is an iconic figure, who love to define that how data packets moves in all over internet and he is the only Google employee who love to wear tie and suit.

Now his main focus is to solve this new problem of digital Dark Age, which is threatens to eradicate our past or history. Our memories, our life, our happiness, our sorrows and cherished family photographs now exist as bits of information on our hard drives or in cloud. But change is the law of nature and so technology moves on and we can lose them while accelerating the digital revolution.

What is Digital Dark Age? 

In report, Pallab Ghosh from BBC told that “I worry as Mr. Cerf told me that in near future you and I can experience the things like this because old formats of documents, which we have created in present they may not be readable in future when latest versions will come in existence and we all know that software’s backwards compatibility is not guaranteed.

And due to that in the presence of archives of digital content, we will not be able to scratch or use it as we may not know what it is. While promoting the idea to preserve each and every piece of software, technology and hardware he said that with the help of this idea we will be able to overcome from this issue and we can store them in the form of digital or in servers over could as things happens in a museum. If this idea of Mr. Cerf, will work, so our memories could be accessible for upcoming generations.

The recommended solution is to take an X-ray snapshot of the operating system, application, and content together with the detailed description of the machine, which runs on and able to preserve that for long periods such as; 100 to 200 years.

And these digital snapshots will be helpful to recreate the past in the future. There will be companies in future who will provide these services and therefore I suggested to Mr Cerf that how companies will exist for hundreds of years and because of that we cannot guarantee that both personal and human history would be safeguarded in the long run.

But Vint Cerf replied that we are trying to capture X-ray snapshot and they will be transportable from one place to another and so it will be easy to move them from Google cloud to some other cloud or move it into a machine.