Bio-friendly energy storage device draws electrical power from the human body

May 23, 2017 by  
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Humans are constantly on the go, so doesn’t it make sense to harness some of that kinetic energy ? Scientists from UCLA and the University of Connecticut asked themselves that question, which eventually led to them developing an energy-storing device that can draw electrical power from the human body. The biological supercapacitor is a protein-based battery-like device capable of extracting energy from the human body. A supercapacitor is a term used to describe a high-performance electrochemical capacitor (ECs), which is similar to batteries but has a much higher power density. Supercapacitors have faster char-discharge rates, lower internal resistance, higher power density and better cycling ability than batteries. Once energy is obtained by the newly-developed energy storage device, it is then released inside an electrical circuit which looks similar to an implantable medical device. According to the paper Ultrathin Graphene – Protein Supercapacitors for Miniaturized Bioelectronics , which was published earlier this month, the supercapacitor utilizes a “harvester” that operates by using the body’s heat and movements to capture electrical charges from ions, which are found in human body fluids including blood and urine. Bleeping Computer reports , “As electrodes, the harvester uses a carbon nanomaterial called graphene, layered with modified human proteins. The electrodes collect energy from the human body , relay it to the harvester, which then stores it for later use.” Graphene sheets can be drawn as thin as a few atoms, which means the incredibly thin supercapacitors could potentially serve as alternatives to batteries. Related: Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery Most importantly, the supercapacitors are bio-friendly , as they are made with natural materials. Graphene is composed of carbon, whereas current implantable medical devices are powered by classic batteries that contain toxic materials. Because the new device is thinner than a human hair, it is more flexible than traditional batteries, as well. This technology could have far-reaching implications for the medical industry. Researchers believe that an implantable medical device using a supercapacitor could last a lifetime. In result, patients wouldn’t need to go through operations at regular intervals to replace batteries – one of the main complications with implantable medical devices. In addition to being used with pacemakers, the new energy device could be paired with devices that stimulate other organs, such as the brain, stomach and/or bladder. + UCLA Via Bleeping Computer Images via Islam Mosa/University of Connecticut and Maher El-Kady/UCLA , Pixabay

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Bio-friendly energy storage device draws electrical power from the human body

Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular urban land and air transport system

March 17, 2017 by  
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Showcasing what could be the future of human transportation, Airbus and Italdesign unveiled their Pop.Up concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday – a modular ground and air transport system. With the goal of tackling rush hour traffic around the world, the companies have essentially created a car paired with a drone that can swoop down, pick it up and transport passengers far above the traffic below. Passengers use a smartphone app to call for the drone, and Airbus says the vehicle might one day be able to pair with future transport systems like Hyperloop . According to Airbus , their modular concept includes a capsule that connects to either a ground or air module, and can be integrated into other means of transportation. Trips in the vehicle are entirely managed by an artificial intelligence platform that offers passengers multiple optimized choices of transport combinations based on where and how they want to travel. Passengers can interact with the computer through their smartphone app, and enjoy the stress-free ride of an autonomous vehicle that travels on both land and air. Related: The world’s first flying car is finally available for pre-order The heart of the vehicle is the capsule, designed to house passengers. It becomes a city car by connecting with a battery-powered chassis ground module made of carbon fiber, to become an electric city car for two people. When traffic becomes too much to bear, the passengers can call on the air module powered by eight counter-rotating motors to come and pick up the capsule – leaving the chassis on the ground. It then essentially becomes a vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL), autonomous urban air vehicle . Airbus notes that upon depositing passengers at their destination, both the air and ground modules autonomously return to their respective charging stations to wait for their next customers. While it’s exciting, the project is likely to remain a concept for the time being, as neither Airbus nor Italdesign make any mention about production or launch of their new creation. Airbus technology incubator, A 3 is, however, hard at work on Project Vahana – a futuristic urban transit system that includes single-passenger aircraft. Via Airbus Images via Italdesign

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Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular urban land and air transport system

Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification

March 17, 2017 by  
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The Sahara Desert we know, with its rolling sand dunes and hot temperatures, used to be a verdant grassland with lakes. Scientists have traditionally attributed the dramatic change to a wobble in Earth’s orbital axis , but now archaeologist David K. Wright of Seoul National University is suggesting actually, humans may have been to blame. A 10,000-year or so wet period called the African Humid Period brought moisture to northern and eastern Africa. But around 8,000 years ago the moisture balance began to change. Today below the sand-dominated landscape can be found signs of rivers and plants, remnants of a greener history. In an article published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science , Wright explained humans used to be thought of as passive agents in the end of the African Humid Period. But he thinks humans might actually have been active agents in the change. Related: The Mediterranean will become a desert unless global warming is limited to 1.5°C Wright said, “In East Asia there are long established theories of how Neolithic populations changed the landscape so profoundly that monsoons sopped penetrating so far inland.” He thinks a similar phenomenon could have happened in the Sahara. People growing crops and raising livestock could have changed the environment , exposing soil, and sunlight bouncing from the soil could have warmed the air, influencing atmospheric conditions enough so there wasn’t as much rainfall, which only added to the desertification of the Sahara. As yet, Wright needs more evidence for other scientists to fully get on board with his ideas. He said, “There were lakes everywhere in the Sahara at this time, and they will have the records of the changing vegetation. We need to drill down into these former lake beds to get the vegetation records, look at the archaeology , and see what people were doing there.” If Wright turns out to be right, his research could yield insights into how we can adapt to large scale climate change . Via Phys.org and ScienceAlert Images via Charly W. Karl on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump team claims funding climate change is "a waste of your money"

March 17, 2017 by  
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Predictions that the environment wouldn’t fare well under Donald Trump are already coming true. His budget proposal aims to slash Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding by 31 percent, tossing out climate change programs because as White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said, those are “a waste of your money.” Perhaps Trump’s America First budget proposal shouldn’t come as a surprise: it’s highly militaristic and hard on the arts, the sick, the poor, foreign aid, and of course climate change. Under the Trump budget, pollution cleanup efforts and energy efficiency measures would be shoved to the side. Related: Trump to purge climate change from federal government Over 50 EPA programs could be lost under the Trump budget, including large-scale cleanup efforts for the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes and assistance for Alaskan villages hurting because of climate change. States would be left to pick up the pieces. And so much for Trump’s blustering about jobs – around one in five EPA workers would lose theirs under the so-called America First budget. Mulvaney hearkened back to campaign trail language when he said, “This comes back to the president’s business person view of government , which is if you took over this as a CEO, and you look at this on a spreadsheet and go, ‘Why do we have all of these facilities, why do we have seven when we can do the same job with three, won’t that save money,’ and the answer is yes…You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it. So, I guess the first place that comes to mind will be the Environmental Protection Agency.” He also doubled down on Trump’s view of climate change. “We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mulvaney said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money.” Ultimately Trump’s budget is simply a recommendation; Congress will write and pass a budget. It remains to be seen if they’ll gut the EPA as much as Trump wishes. Via The Guardian Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Eric Vance/USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency on Flickr

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Trump team claims funding climate change is "a waste of your money"

Research reveals the Earth may have once had a solid egg-like crust

March 2, 2017 by  
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Extending the symbolism of eggs as a metaphor for life and reproduction, recent research reveals the Earth itself may have once had an egg-like structure. According to a report from the University of Maryland , the plate tectonics that now define the Earth’s geology may have begun later in the planet’s history. Before the plates began moving and colliding to define the surface we know and love today, the Earth’s crust likely consisted of a solid but deformable shell encasing a molten liquid interior. The research, a joint effort between the UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Curtin University and the Geological Survey of Western Australia , was recently published in the journal Nature, and represents the latest in a longstanding debate over the Earth’s geological history. One side of the debate says plate tectonics began right after the Earth started to cool (known as uniformitarianism), while the other proposes the planet went through a long phase with a solid shell enveloping it. This latest study clearly favors the latter view. Models for how the first continental crust formed generally fall into two groups: those that invoke modern-style plate tectonics and those that do not, says Michael Brown, a professor of geology at the University of Maryland and a co-author of the study. “Our research supports the latter ‘stagnant lid’ forming the planet’s outer shell early in Earth’?s history. Related: Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight Coming to this conclusion was no easy task. Brown and his team studied rocks collected from the East Pilabara Terrane – a large area of ancient crust located in Western Australia . As old as 3.5 billion years, these rocks are some of the oldest on the planet. The researchers looked at the granite and basalt rocks for signs of plate tectonic activity, such as subduction of one plate beneath the other. As UMD explains it: “Plate tectonics substantially affects the temperature and pressure of rocks within Earth’?s interior. When a slab of rock subducts under the Earth’s surface, the rock starts off relatively cool and takes time to gain heat. By the time it reaches a higher temperature, the rock has also reached a significant depth, which corresponds to high pressure – in the same way a diver experiences higher pressure at greater water depth.” In contrast, a stagnant lid regime would be very hot at relatively shallow depths and low pressures. Geologists refer to this as a “high thermal gradient.” According to Brown, the results showed the Pilabara granites were produced by melting rocks in a high thermal gradient environment and the composition of local basalts shows they came from an earlier generation of source rocks supporting the ‘stagnant lid’ theory of the Earth’s early formation. Images via Robert Whitehead , domdomegg

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Research reveals the Earth may have once had a solid egg-like crust

New details of feathered dinosaur could elucidate the origins of flight

March 2, 2017 by  
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A small red-crested dinosaur from the Late Jurassic era could help us unlock the origins of flight, now that we have a better idea of what it looked like. Using high-powered lasers, scientists from the University of Hong Kong have illuminated previously invisible soft tissues of the foot-tall Anchiornis , providing, for the first time, a detailed outline of the avian-like creature. The quantitative reconstruction of Anchiornis , which was first discovered in northeastern China in 2009, show that the animal possessed drumstick-shaped legs, long forearms connected by wing-like membranes, foot scales, and a slender tail. “The detail was so well lit that we could see the texture of the skin,” said paleontologist Michael Pittman, who described the discovery in a paper published in Nature Communications this week. These traits, Pittman added, could help us understand how dinosaurs eventually took to the skies as birds. As a field of science, paleontology is riddled with mysteries. The skeletons scientists dig up from the ground are seldom complete, and soft tissues like organs, muscle, or skin almost never survive into the present. On the rare occasion that tissues have endured the test of time, they’re unobservable with the naked eye. Related: Scientist finds dinosaur tail trapped in amber and it is covered with feathers That’s where a technique known as laser-stimulated fluorescence comes in. By bouncing wavelengths of light aimed a fossil sample in a dark room, Pittman and his team were able to manifest high-fidelity features that offer clues to how Anchiornis attempted, or even achieved, aerodynamic flight 160 million years ago. Anchiornis didn’t necessarily fly, of course. Even modern birds with wing folds, like the weka of New Zealand , never escape the pull of gravity. Nevertheless, the research remains vital to our understanding of where birds came from, since they appeared around the same time, Pittman said. “What our work does underscore,” Pittman told National Geographic , “is the broad extent to which bird-like dinosaurs were experimenting with their anatomy and functional capabilities before we had the first unequivocal gliding and flying birds.” + Nature Communications + University of Hong Kong Via National Geographic

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MIT says 3,000 ride-sharing cars could replace all New York City taxis

January 3, 2017 by  
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Over 13,000 taxis roam the streets of New York City , but those gas-sucking, polluting vehicles could be replaced by ride-sharing cars, according to a new MIT study . Drawing on an innovative algorithm, researchers discovered 3,000 four-passenger cars could fulfill 98 percent of the city’s taxi demand, with passengers waiting around a mere 2.7 minutes for their ride. Less cars on the road would mean less traffic and less pollution , and MIT researchers even say drivers would make as much money as they do today. Researchers led by Daniela Rus of MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) developed an algorithm which utilizes data from three million cab rides. The algorithm reveals carpooling options from companies like Lyft or Uber could take thousands of cars off the road and even vastly improve commutes. Related: GM exec confirms plan to launch a self-driving Chevy Bolt EV with Lyft Rus said in a statement, “Instead of transporting people one at a time, drivers could transport two to four people at once, results in fewer trips, in less time, to make the same amount of money. A system like this could allow drivers to work shorter shifts, while also creating less traffic, cleaner air, and shorter, less stressful commutes.” Going a step further, just 2,000 10-person vehicles could fulfill 95 percent of taxi demand. MIT’s algorithm can also work to reroute cars, in real time, and proactively dispatch idle vehicles to high-demand locales, accelerating service by 20 percent, according to the researchers. Rus said the system could be easily adapted for autonomous cars , as vehicles are rapidly rerouted to fulfill requests. She said, “To our knowledge, this is the first time that scientists have been able to experimentally quantify the trade-off between fleet size, capacity, waiting time, travel delay, and operational costs for a range of vehicles, from taxis to vans and shuttles.” The Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences recently published the team’s research. Via CSAIL and The Verge Images via Daniel Wehner on Flickr and Pixabay

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MIT says 3,000 ride-sharing cars could replace all New York City taxis

Google’s self-driving AI could legally be considered a ‘driver’ according to the Feds

February 12, 2016 by  
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One of the biggest obstacles to getting self-driving cars  road legal in America may have just evaporated. In a decision that could change the way we think about car travel, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declared that the computer in Google’s autonomous cars can be considered the driver , for all intents and purposes. This position could eventually pave the way for autonomous cars to hit the streets – with or without a human occupant. Read the rest of Google’s self-driving AI could legally be considered a ‘driver’ according to the Feds

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Toyota, Stanford, and MIT launch $50 million Artificial Intelligence initiative to develop cars that think and learn

September 4, 2015 by  
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At a press conference today in Silicon Valley Toyota announced plans to invest $50 million over five years to set up joint artificial intelligence research centers at Stanford and MIT . The centers will focus on developing autonomous technology and next-gen systems that will make driving safer, easier, and more efficient. The initiative will take a human-focused approach to develop vehicles that think and learn from drivers – and systems that know when to step in to prevent accidents and save lives. Over 1 million people die every year in car accidents, and Toyota’s goal is to go beyond protecting people in a crash to preventing crashes entirely. Read the rest of Toyota, Stanford, and MIT launch $50 million Artificial Intelligence initiative to develop cars that think and learn

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Toyota, Stanford, and MIT launch $50 million Artificial Intelligence initiative to develop cars that think and learn

Google’s new Chomebit dongle will transform your TV into a PC

April 1, 2015 by  
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First, the ‘stick’—whether it be produced by Amazon , Roku or Google —replaced your cable box by providing online streaming to your TV, and now, Google’s latest dinky dongle offers to replace your home computer, by transforming your TV into a PC. The Chromebit plugs into your HDMI port, and according to Engadget crams in “a Rockchip 3288 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC memory, a USB 2.0 port, WiFi 802.11 ac support, Bluetooth 4.0, a Smart Ready controller and an ARM Mali 760 quad-core GPU.” It even swivels around to hide out of sight to keep your display looking sleek, and, well, TV like. The device is still at the testing stage, but the first Chromebits will be produced by ASUS, and will be available later this year for under $100 + Google Chrome Via Engadget Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: chrome bit , chromebit , chromebook , computer , dongle , google chromebit , hdmi , new google device , operating system , personal computer , turn tv into chromebook , turn tv into computer , turn tv into pc , usb tv , use tv as computer monitor

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Google’s new Chomebit dongle will transform your TV into a PC

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