Month: August 2019

Interstellar Spaceflight Is It Possible

first_imgWith current space travel limited to just a few robotic probes visiting nearby planets, how realistic is it to think about reaching the nearest stars? For the short term, not very – especially when we speak of manned missions. But the long term – 50 or even 100 years – chances are good mankind will have missions, unmanned to start with, traveling to stars in our galactic neighborhood. Image from: http://www.itsf.org/brochure/ramscoop.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Interstellar Spaceflight: Is It Possible? (2005, December 7) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2005-12-interstellar-spaceflight.html The sail material could be some form of Mylar – both thin and strong. Steering the sail and aiming the huge lasers, however, are not trivial problems. By huge lasers, think 10 gigawatts shining on a 1 kilometer in diameter sail just to send a 16 gram payload to the closest star. The laser must be precisely aimed on target for as long as possible to get the desired velocities. According to its inventor, this light-powered ship could make it to the next star in only ten years.This technology also scales up to allow for larger payloads but laser power levels quickly become gargantuan. To send a 1,000 ton ship with a crew to the same destination would require a 1,000 kilometer sail driven by a 10 million gigawatt laser – ten thousand times more than the power used on all the Earth today.These sails have been tested: On August 9, 2004 Japanese ISAS successfully deployed two prototype solar sails in low Earth orbit. A clover type sail was deployed at 122 km altitude and a fan type sail was deployed at 169 km altitude. Both sails used 7.5 micrometer thick film. They used the force of the sun’s photons as propulsion rather than a large laser.Faster speed could be achieved by fusion motors. Unfortunately, unlike light sails, fusion has yet to be sufficiently well understood to use as a propulsion device. Not for want of billions of dollars in funding to study it, however. Someday soon we may have the ability to control the same reaction that drives our sun. Fusion liberates tremendous energy from a given mass making it ideal for long voyages when fuel weight becomes the critical factor.One interesting idea is the Bussard ramjet first proposed in 1960 by the American physicist RW Bussard. Rather than bring fuel, why not get it from space? Explore further Actually, we already have space craft venturing into interstellar space. Pioneer and Voyager probes, 2 each, have reached the sun’s escape velocity and are now forever outward bound. The fastest, Voyager 1, is traveling at 62,000 kilometers per hour (39,000 mph). Even at that tremendous speed it’s painfully slow when interstellar distances are involved. Voyager 1 would take over 17,000 years to get Proxima Centuari, our nearest neighbor at 4.22 light years distance. With a theoretical speed limit imposed by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity at 1,079,252,848.8 km/h, or the speed of light, even the closest stars are very far away indeed. But if you take in to consideration the rapid pace of technological advancement, things look brighter. The Wright brothers’ first feeble flights advanced to a man on the moon in just 50 years. In less than 100 years, we can travel 1,000 times faster. If this rule holds true for the next hundred years, we will be able to travel to the nearest stars with relative ease.Predicting this future, however, is not easy. We simply lack even the basic theories to travel at above light speed making the engineering of an interstellar drive even further away. There are however, some interesting ideas on the drawing board that are within current theoretical limits.A study by NASA in 1998 identified 3 potential propulsion technologies that might enable exploration beyond our solar system. Antimatter, fusion and light sails.Light sails currently are the most technologically viable of the three. Robert L. Forward, scientist and science fiction writer first proposed them in 1984. The basic idea is to use huge lasers to push an object out of the solar system. Although it sounds strange to think of light pushing an object, photons do exert a very small force over objects they hit. Since the force it small, the object needs to be both large and lightweight – like a sail. It also needs to be reflective as only photons bouncing off an object impart velocity – absorbed photons generate heat. To prevent the heat from building up, the backside of the sail needs to be an effective radiator. Although commonly perceived to be empty, interstellar space has a minuscule amount of hydrogen gas – at a density of about one or two atoms per cubic centimeter. Bussard’s idea is to scoop this gas up using electromagnetic force fields that extend outwards in front of the spacecraft. This field would need to be absolutely gigantic – upwards of 50,000 kilometers in diameter. Shipboard superconducting coils would steer interstellar gas towards the ship compressing it until the density was enough to produce usable fuel. In order to start this collection process the ship would already need substantial velocity – on the order of 3 to 4% light speed.A Bussard ramjet could conceivably achieve a constant 1g acceleration that would allow the pilot to make very long journeys. To an Earthbound observer, such a ship would take hundreds of thousands of years to reach the center of the galaxy. But because of relativistic time dilation, only 20 years would pass for the crew on the ship. Imagine – just 20 years to the center of the galaxy! Of course, technical problems remain such as force field drag, shielding the crew from interstellar radiation and the ability to control fusion reactions.Even farther off technically is the antimatter drive. When matter and antimatter come in to proximity, they annihilate each other releasing even more energy than fusion. A fusion based propulsion unit could generate 100 trillion joules per kilo of fuel – respectable when considering that it would be 10 million times more efficient than chemical rockets. Matter-antimatter reactions, however, dwarf all other reactions. Imagine a drive could generate 20 quadrillion joules per kilo of reaction mass. That’s enough power form one kilo to supply the world’s needs for about 25 minutes.Technical problems include lack of fuel – the world supply is a few dozen nanograms a year, fuel handling – you can easily predict the catastrophic results of an antimatter fuel accident – and reaction control. All these technologies are as far away now as the atomic bomb was to Alfred Nobel – the inventor of TNT. That is to say, not very. We may see the beginnings of an interstellar spaceflight program before the end of the millennium. We will simply need a compelling reason.To contemplate seriously reaching the nearest stars, we need to understand the hurdles involved. First, there is the enormous cost involved in deploying any of the understood technologies. Second, despite UFO enthusiast’s beliefs, there is no hard evidence that we have ever been visited by alien spacefarers. Third, we know we can send radio waves to these destinations without problems.With this in mind, it may simply be too expensive and technically difficult to travel in interstellar space. A better solution has been proposed: why not create an intergalactic Internet? Send small, self-replicating research probes to other stars. Once there, they build copies of themselves and continue to explore outwards, relaying a steady stream of information back to Earth.These self-replicating probes, also known as Von Neumann machines, are named after their inventor, mathematician John Von Neumann (1903-1957). The beauty of this idea is once you manage to construct the first self-replicating machine, the rest is automatic. The probes would expand into space geometrically, spreading rapidly to fill the whole galaxy. Once established, this network could be used for communication and localization of new Earthlike planets to colonize.As of now, building machines that work well unassisted remain a problematic task for even the best scientists if recent unmanned mission failures are any indication. A self-repairing and self-replicating robotic probe seems distant indeed.Travel in interstellar space represents a huge challenge to humankind. For now, it remains in the realm of science fiction – but soon, who knows? We may yet live to see the first missions to nearby stars – that is if the last 100 years of history is any guide.by Chuck Rahls, Copyright 2005 PhysOrg.com Image from: http://www.itsf.org/brochure/solarsail.html Because photons exert a tiny force even over a large area, the sail must be large indeed. However, since space is virtually empty, there is very little drag. This means any imparted velocity is incremental – a tiny push over a long period equals one big push. Experimental cosmologist group launches its first iterations of space-traveling ‘wafercraft’last_img read more

Google Releases Chrome 20 Alpha

first_img(PhysOrg.com) — With the full release of Chrome 1.0 in December, Google has just released Chrome 2.0 alpha that brings many noticeable improvements over Chrome 1.0. With this new alpha release of Chrome 2.0, the browser has been overhauled in which it handles HTTP. LG Launches Versatile LG-KF700 Google Chrome 2.0 alpha Explore further Chrome 2.0 browser also includes the addition of auto-complete in text fields, full page zoom, improvements in spell checker, and auto scroll. Google also states that the 2.0 alpha is more reliable and faster browsing is achieved by accessing your hard drive less often.Now you can even import bookmarks from Google Bookmarks, a feature that was not found in Chrome 1.0. You also have the ability to drag a tab to certain positions on your monitor and have a docking icon appear. One interesting feature, worth mention, is the “Profiles” feature in this new release. The “Profiles” feature lets users separate their browser settings, including bookmarks, history, and cookies into different categories. For example if you use your work computer for personal use, you can set up a work profile and a personal profile so that your bookmarks, history and home pages are kept separate.A new version of WebKit rendering engine has also been implemented in Chrome 2.0 that’s the same as the one used in Apple’s Safari 3.1 web browser. The new rendering engine enables some CSS coding features such as reflections, masks, gradients, and canvas drawing. To get the new version of Chrome 2.0 you will need to have Chrome 1.0 installed on your PC. You will also need to subscribe to Google’s Developer Preview Channel. Keep in mind that Chrome 2.0 is an alpha release and expect it to crash quite often.On the web:Chrome 2.0.156.1 Release Notes: dev.chromium.org/getting-invol … s/releasenotes201561© 2009 PhysOrg.com Citation: Google Releases Chrome 2.0 Alpha (2009, January 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-01-google-chrome-alpha.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Reversals of Earths Magnetic Field Explained by Small Core Fluctuations

first_img Explore further Although volcanic basalt reveals when reversals occurred, it’s much more difficult to find evidence for why or how the Earth’s magnetic field reverses. In a recent study, scientists from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, both in Paris, have proposed a general mechanism that provides a simple explanation for field reversals. In their model, small fluctuations in convective flow in Earth’s core can push the planet’s sensitive magnetic system away from one pole toward an intermediate state, where the system becomes attracted to the opposite pole. “We have found a mechanism that gives simple explanations of many features of the reversals of Earth’s magnetic field,” François Pétrélis of Ecole Normale Supérieure told PhysOrg.com. “In particular, it explains the existence and the shape (slow phase followed by fast phase) of reversals, the existence and the shape of aborted reversals (‘excursions’), the statistical properties of reversals, and the possibility for very long durations without reversals (‘superchrons’).”At present times, the Earth’s magnetic field can be described as a magnetic dipole, with the magnetic south pole currently located near the Earth’s geographic north pole, and the magnetic north pole near the geographic south pole (both magnetic poles are misaligned along the Earth’s rotational axis by about 11.3 degrees). The existence of such a long-lived magnetic field can be explained by dynamo theory, which describes how a convective, electrically conducting fluid that rotates can maintain a magnetic field. As the scientists suggest, the reversal mechanism relies on the existence of a second magnetic mode, in addition to the dipolar field. The presence of a second mode, such as a quadrupolar field, can have significant effects on how the magnetic system reacts to changes in equatorial symmetry. As the researchers explain, the equator can be thought of as a plane of symmetry, and the convective flow in the Earth’s outer core is usually north-south symmetric. Previous studies on paleomagnetic data have proposed that reversals involve an interaction between the dipolar and quadrupolar modes, which would correlate with changes in equatorial symmetry. In support of this idea, some recent numerical simulations have shown that reversals do not occur when the convective flow remains equatorially symmetric. (PhysOrg.com) — Based on studies of old volcanic basalt, scientists know that the Earth’s magnetic field reverses at irregular intervals, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of years. Volcanic basalt rock contains magnetite, and when the rock cools, its magnetic properties are frozen, recording the Earth’s magnetic field of the time. With this data, scientists estimate that the last magnetic field reversal occurred about 780,000 years ago. According to a new model, small fluctuations in convective flow in Earth’s core can explain how the Earth’s magnetic field reverses. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. “The quadrupolar field (it is likely to be a quadrupole but another structure could be possible) is also generated by the flow of the liquid core of the Earth, exactly like the dipolar field,” explained the researchers. “Most of the time, we observe a dipolar field because it is more easily generated by the flow, but in other conditions a quadrupolar field could be maintained, and this occurs in a temporary manner during a reversal.”To further explain the dipole-quadrupole interaction, the scientists invoked a model that was recently used to describe the dynamics of a magnetic field generated in a very different system: a lab experiment involving a von Karman swirling flow of liquid sodium (which, like the Earth’s magnetic field, is generated by the dynamo effect). The scientists suggest that a general mechanism could explain both magnetic fields, independent of the different symmetries and velocities of the two systems.“We have shown that if the dipolar field of Earth is coupled to another magnetic mode (a quadrupolar field, for instance), this coupling provides a path to flip the dipole to its opposite,” the scientists said. “If this coupling is strong enough, the magnetic field will spontaneously oscillate between the two modes and their opposite polarities. We will then observe periodic reversals of the magnetic field (this is the case of the solar magnetic field, for which the period is 22 years). In the case of Earth, the coupling is not strong enough, and oscillations are not observed. Velocity fluctuations in the liquid core are then needed to trigger a reversal.”In the model, small fluctuations in convective flow can push the system away from one pole toward the intermediate quadrupolar state, where it becomes attracted to the opposite pole. A reversal occurs in two phases: a slow phase where the fluctuations are the motor of the evolution, and a fast phase during which the dynamics does not rely on the fluctuations. The first phase, during which the dipole amplitude decreases slowly, seems to last around 50 kiloyears (30,000-70,000 years). The second phase, which starts when the dipolar mode vanishes, is quite faster: 10,000 years are required for the dipole to recover with the opposite polarity. Sometimes, at the end of the first phase, the system may simply return to the initial pole, which is called an “excursion” when it occurs on Earth. However, if the system does reverse, the behavior happens relatively abruptly. In addition, the system usually overshoots immediately after reaching the opposite pole. The scientists noted that the amplitude of the fluctuations does not need to be large: “Fluctuations of the flow do not switch off the magnetic field and then regenerate it with the opposite polarity,” they said. “In contrast, the dipolar field continuously changes shape during a reversal because the amplitude of the other mode (the quadrupole, for instance) continuously increases, whereas the dipole decreases. When the dipolar component vanishes, it can increase again with the opposite polarity whereas the amplitude of the other mode decreases.”The model shows that the duration of the magnetic field in one state depends on the intensity of the convection fluctuations and also on the efficiency of the coupling between the two modes. Even a moderate change in convection can greatly affect the magnetic field polarity duration, which could account for “superchrons” – very long periods without geomagnetic reversals. Although little is known about the actual flow inside the Earth’s core, recent observations have shown that the ends of superchrons are often followed by major flood basalt eruptions, which are likely to produce equatorial symmetry breaking of convection at the core-mantle boundary, in support of the scientists’ model. More information: Pétrélis, François; Fauve, Stéphan; Dormy, Emmanuel; and Valet, Jean-Pierre. “Simple Mechanism for Reversals of Earth’s Magnetic Field.” Physical Review Letters, 102, 144503 (2009).Copyright 2009 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com.center_img Simulations shed light on Earth’s history of magnetic field reversals Citation: Reversals of Earth’s Magnetic Field Explained by Small Core Fluctuations (2009, April 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-04-reversals-earth-magnetic-field-small.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Space cannon to shoot payloads into orbit w Video

first_imgSpace gun. Image credit: John Hunter The rocket that thinks it’s a jet (PhysOrg.com) — A physicist has proposed using a 1.1 km (3,600 ft) cannon to deliver cargo into orbit, and says the cost would be around $250 per pound, a massive saving on the $5,000 per pound ($11,000 per kg) it currently costs to make deliveries using a rocket. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Space cannon to shoot payloads into orbit (w/ Video) (2010, January 18) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-01-space-cannon-payloads-orbit-video.html John Hunter, from the company Quicklaunch, which was set up by himself and two other scientists, bases its plans on previous work they carried out at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. In 1992 Hunter and his colleagues fired a 130 m (425 ft) cannon built to test launch hypersonic engines. Its piston, driven by methane, compressed hydrogen gas that expanded up the barrel of the over-sized gun to shoot the projectile. The Quicklaunch design has replaced the methane piston with a combustion system burning natural gas in a heat exchanger inside a chamber of hydrogen gas. The combustion system heats the hydrogen to 1,430˚C (2,600˚F), which increases the gas pressure by 500%. An operator then opens a valve to allow the hot, pressurized hydrogen into the 1100-meter-long barrel of the gun, where it instantly expands, shooting the projectile out and into space. As soon as the payload has left, an iris at the end of the barrel closes to capture the hydrogen for re-use. Once the projectile is launched, a small rocket engine then boosts the payload into a low-Earth orbit.Hunter calculates the pressure would be sufficient to launch a 450 kg payload at six kilometers per second (13,000 mph). The process would produce 5,000 Gs, and so would only be suitable for rugged payloads such as strengthened satellites and rocket fuel. Hunter said the system could not be used as a people-launcher because a person shot out of the cannon “would probably get compressed to half their size,” causing instant death.Hunter said the heat generated would be short-lived, with the projectile clearing the atmosphere in under 100 seconds. He also said the projectiles may need to be designed so that outer layers could burn off.Hunter’s proposal is to operate the “Quicklauncher” from the ocean near the equator, where the Earth’s faster rotation will help launch payloads into space. The cannon would float, with 490 m (1,600 ft) of it below the surface, where it would be stabilized by ballast. Operators would be able to swivel it as required to deliver the payload into different orbits.Hunter plans to test a 3 meter prototype in a water tank in February, and a full-size cannon could be built within seven years, if Quicklaunch can raise the required $500 million. While this is a sizeable upfront cost, the potential savings in the long term are substantial, because the cannon is reusable. Its use would significantly reduce the cost of keeping the International Space Station in orbit.The proposal was outlined in October in Boston, U.S., at the Space Investment Summit. More information: — Space Investment Summit: spaceinvestmentsummit.com/ Explore further © 2010 PhysOrg.comlast_img read more

iPhone5 may release midAugust

first_img Rumor: Unlocked iPhone 4 to come to USA A job posting put on an employment website targeted towards job seekers in the United Kingdom, Reed, has stirred rumors that the iPhone 5 could be released earlier than the tech community had originally thought. The iPhone, which was expected to be released in September of this year, may actually come out a little bit earlier than expected, in mid-August. Explore further © 2010 PhysOrg.com This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The job posting that started this rumor is in search of “full-time iPhone Sales Staff for an exciting project to work 5 days a week (Tuesday-Saturday) for the period 16th August – 29th October within key retail stores”. The post, which was put out by Gekko Ltd a staffing firm in the UK, shows up several different sections of the site, with each one for a different area of Great Britain. Gekko has previously been employed to do retail hiring for Apple in the past, though it has mostly been in the Apple sections of larger stores and not in the actual Apple stores themselves. The posting implies that Apple believes that they will have a need for more sales staff during this period, which some people have taken to mean that they have a big launch on tap for that week. Of course, since this is all speculation and Apple is not big on giving out information about the release of products before the day of the launch only time will tell if the speculation is true or not and an August launch would be a welcome surprise for end users that have been salivating over the idea of a iPhone 5 for months. Citation: iPhone5 may release mid-August (2011, July 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-07-iphone5-mid-august.htmllast_img read more

Japanese researchers using particle accelerator to breed salt resistant rice

first_img RIKEN ion beam technology used to create brewing yeast (Phys.org) — Japanese researchers at the Riken Nishina Centre for Accelerator-Based Science have been using their particle accelerator to cause mutations in rice for over two decades with the aim of breeding rice that is more resistant to saltwater. Up to now their results have been limited; just one new salt resistant rice variety has been created and it faced mixed reactions regarding taste. But now, because of the tsunami in that country last year that contaminated a lot of farmland with seawater, efforts there have picked up and researchers are reportedly coming close to developing a whole host of new saltwater resistant strains. Explore further Cambodia, Kratie: A worker is removing the rice seedlings. Image: Wikipedia Citation: Japanese researchers using particle accelerator to breed salt resistant rice (2012, May 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-05-japanese-particle-salt-resistant-rice.htmlcenter_img The idea isn’t all that novel, breeding new varieties of plants has been done for centuries. What the researchers at the accelerator facility are doing is speeding up the process. All breeding is based on mutations that occur in plant cells. Those mutations that create positive results in plants are favored over those that don’t. Over time successive generations result in plants that are ever closer to what is desired. With the particle accelerator, the research team at Riken, led by Tomoko Abe, fire an ion beam at grains of rice, creating a huge variety of mutations in their genes; afterwards the grains are planted and tested to see which are more resistant to saltwater. Those that are go through testing and are sometimes bred with other varieties with the hope of finding the perfect mix of salt resistance and good taste. In so doing the team is able to create new strains of rice in just a few years that normally would take decades using natural mutation methods.Developing strains of rice that are resistant to the salt in seawater is important, not just for Japan, which saw yields drop by over half in areas where the sea inundated farmland, but for many other countries in the world as well. With both rising populations and ocean levels, land that is occasionally flooded by the sea could be made useable if strains of rice can be developed that are able to grow there.The researchers at Riken have already developed strains that see yields drop by just twenty percent when inundated with seawater, and are hoping to improve that number as more research continues. They expect to see fully resistant rice strains as soon as four years from now. © 2012 Phys.Org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Scotland lunarcalendar find sparks Stone Age rethink

first_img Explore further More information: intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue34/gaffney_index.html Citation: Scotland lunar-calendar find sparks Stone Age rethink (2013, July 27) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-07-scotland-lunar-calendar-stone-age-rethink.html The beginning of time? World’s oldest ‘calendar’ discovered Scientists are now calling this discovery in Scotland that seems to mimic the phases of the moon to track lunar months the world’s oldest known calendar.”What we are looking at here is a very important step in humanity’s earliest formal construction of time, even the start of history itself,” said Vincent Gaffney, professor of landscape archaeology at Birmingham University, who led the team who analyzed the pits and their functions.Also referred to as the “Warren Field calendar,” referring to the land area in Aberdeenshire where the calendar was found, the discovery consists of an array of 12 pits and arc. They appear to represent the phases of the moon, going from waxing and waning to central arc, corresponding to the lunar months of the year. However, said Prof. Gaffney, because the lunar year does not correspond to the natural year, the sequence had to be calibrated annually, and the site seems to align along the midwinter solstice, indicating that each year it was calibrated, and kept good time.The experts believe the site dates back to around 8000 BC. Gaffney and team in their paper on the subject observed that the site “also aligns on the south east horizon and a prominent topographic point associated with sunrise on the midwinter solstice. In doing so the monument anticipates problems associated with simple lunar calendars by providing an annual astronomic correction in order to maintain the link between the passage of time indicated by the Moon, the asynchronous solar year, and the associated seasons.”Although previously excavated back in 2005, geophysical survey teams from several universities have been working to map the sites again and to look for further features. The Warren Field site was first discovered as unusual crop marks spotted from the air by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).The pit-creators are identified as a Mesolithic group, referring to a group of cultures between Paleolithic and the Neolithic. The three “lithics” belong to the Stone Age, and the Mesolithic were a transition group who succeeded in adapting to a collecting and fishing as well as hunting economy The question remains, why did these hunter gatherers track the phases of the moon? For hunting purposes? To explore celestial bodies? One theory comes from project member, Dr Christopher Gaffney, Archeological Science at the University of Bradford: “For pre-historic hunter-gatherer communities, knowing what food resources were available at different times of the year was crucial to survival. These communities relied on hunting migrating animals and the consequences of missing these events were potential starvation. They needed to carefully note the seasons to be prepared for when that food resource passed through, so from this perspective, our interpretation of this site as a seasonal calendar makes sense.”center_img © 2013 Phys.org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Archeologists have discovered a lunar calendar in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, that is nearly ten thousand years old. Their findings show that the calendar makers (1) thought about time and (2) figured out a means to follow it at a period in history that was still in the Stone Age. The discovery is considered both surprising and important because it now places a calendar nearly five thousand years before what was previously considered as the first formal calendar, created in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. But here, a discovery has been made of a calendar construct appearing to track the phases of the moon nearly 10,000 years ago.last_img read more

Researchers find Europes forests moving toward carbon sink saturation point

first_img Explore further More information: First signs of carbon sink saturation in European forest biomass, Nature Climate Change (2013) DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1853AbstractEuropean forests are seen as a clear example of vegetation rebound in the Northern Hemisphere; recovering in area and growing stock since the 1950s, after centuries of stock decline and deforestation. These regrowing forests have shown to be a persistent carbon sink, projected to continue for decades, however, there are early signs of saturation. Forest policies and management strategies need revision if we want to sustain the sink. Journal information: Nature Climate Change © 2013 Phys.org The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be reduced in two ways. The first and most obvious is for people to stop pumping so much of it into the air. The second is to take more out (i.e., create carbon sinks), which for now at least, means planting more trees. As many of us may recall from grade school, trees pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it in new growth—in return, oxygen is released into the atmosphere. Absorbed carbon remains in the wood until it either rots or is burned. For that reason, those concerned with reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and the associated rise in global temperatures promote the idea of planting more trees, while reducing deforestation.Europe is unique in that it’s one of the few places on the planet that has more trees now than it did a century ago. Replanting was initiated as part of rebuilding the continent after the ravages of two World Wars—particularly in France and Germany. Unfortunately, trees don’t live forever—those trees planted after the wars have grown so old that their ability to absorb carbon is slowing. The research team estimates these trees will reach a saturation point by 2030. The researchers also found that some parts of the continent have seen some deforestation as trees are cut to make room from expanding towns and cities. Cutting down trees and using the wood from them isn’t a problem of course, it’s when they are cut and not replaced that the problem occurs. For that reason, the research team suggests that old wood forests become part of harvesting programs to replace older trees with newer growth.The researchers also note that older forests are more at risk—fires, disease and insects all contribute to killing trees, allowing the carbon they hold to be released into the atmosphere. Cutting the trees and using the wood before they are killed, and then replacing them, the team notes, would make far more sense. Citation: Researchers find Europe’s forests moving toward carbon sink saturation point (2013, August 19) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-08-europe-forests-carbon-saturation.htmlcenter_img Credit: Wikipedia. Loss of African woodland may impact on climate, study shows (Phys.org) —A team composed of researchers from several European countries has found that, due to aging forests and deforestation, Europe’s forests appear headed for a carbon sink saturation point much earlier than anticipated. In their paper published in Nature Climate Change, the team describes that the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by forests on the European continent has been slowing since 2005. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

The origins of polarized nervous systems

first_imgComb Jelly from phylum Ctenophora. Credit: ctenophore.wikispaces.com (Phys.org)—There is no mistaking the first action potential you ever fired. It was the one that blocked all the other sperm from stealing your egg. After that, your spikes only got more interesting. Waves of calcium flooding the jointly-forged cell stiffened its glycoprotein-enhanced walls against all other suitors and kicked off the developmental program ultimately responsible for constructing your brain. Unlike the nervous systems of the lower forms of life, our neurons have a clearly polarized form—a single output axon projecting far to parts unknown is charged by input dendrites feeding on the local metabolic soup de jour. The origins of this polarity in neurons, and therefore in nervous systems in general, are written in the primitive body plans of the mostly gelatinous organisms still hailing intact across deep time. Journal information: Journal of Experimental Biology This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: The origins of polarized nervous systems (2015, March 3) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-03-polarized-nervous.html Complex nerve-cell signaling traced back to common ancestor of humans and sea anemones How a blunt multipurpose neuronal toolkit that originally evolved to nourish was morphed into the precise cellular utensils we now use to mince the world is the subject of a new special issue in the Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB). The story of the acquisition of polarity, or rather the loss of universality, in the flow of resource through crude nerve nets is the story of our brains. Last year,Tim Jegla from Penn State published work showing that the human Erg potassium channels that are tuned to repolarize the long action potentials underlying the strong muscular contractions of our hearts have their origins in the earliest nervous systems ever evolved. Since then he has been piecing our brains together by tracing the evolution of related channels like the EAG potassium channels, and the so-called Shaker potassium channels in various primitive organisms. The creatures that have been the most informative mostly fall into taxonomic groups of typically radially-symmetric animals named with a strange variation on the letter C. The ‘cnidarians’ are animals like hydras and the true jellyfish, while the ‘ctenophores’ are the comb jellies that swim with cilia. In an article on polarity written together with Melissa Rolls, Tim explores how the positioning of different kinds of channels by the cytoskeleton (at places like the axon initial segment, nodes, and dendrites) is crucial for establishing directional signalling in neurons. So I asked him point blank if he could nail down when polarity first evolved. He said it was likely in an ancestor of the parahoxozons, a group defined by their possession of at least one of the Hox/ParaHox genes associated with the the specification of the body axis. With genetic experiments now in progress in his lab Jegla is looking for indications that polar neurons exist, contrary to the current literature, even in the lowly sea anemone. As cnidarians, anemone are privy to the benefits of parahoxozoans, something the ctenophores cannot claim. More information: Journal of Experimental Biology, jeb.biologists.org/content/current © 2015 Phys.org In looking for larger developmental trends in which to anchor the idea of increased polarity, or loss of flexibility in neurons, ctenophores may have other secrets to tell. One author writing in the special issue of JEB suggests that recent whole genome data puts ctenophores as a sister group to all other animals, placing them at the earliest branching lineage—a move which would make them a more basal metazoan than even SpongeBob himself. Two factors which complicate such analysis are convergent evolution and the loss of genes and function. We might imagine that the possibility of having at least two independent origins for neural systems exists regardless of which lineage was prior.It has been known since the work of Chun in 1880 that when ctenophore blastomeres are separated at the two-cell stage each half-embryo develops exactly half of adult structures. It seems that this high degree of determinism at the organism level, which fades in the progression of species, contrasts with the aquisition of specification at the cell level. Among the important proteins known to exist in these primitive organisms are various kinds of G-protein coupled receptors and gap junctions. Originally it looks like these proteins played important roles in cell adhesion and communication, and therefore in early development and specification of the body plan. Enzymes to synthesize and transport neurotransmitters were also present early on. A trend in moving to more advanced body plans, and neurons, is the restriction of the expression of these transmitter systems to specific cells. On top of this there is an inexorable refinement of multipurpose symmetric synapses into asymmetric synaptic diodes, with concommitant exclusivity of transmitter profile in both dense core and clear vessicles. In creature like planarians, worms, or flies, the percentage of neurons we might call ‘polar’ becomes an increasingly important thing for us to take account of. In C. elegans for example, many neurons, with the exception of the elaborate and highly branched sensory neurons that span the whole body, are fairly simple with just a few processess containing synapses that can be both pre and post synaptic. The neurons of many insects, like drosophila, are conspicuous for their dense regions of idiosyncratic branching where the terms dendrite or axon would seem to have little meaning. While the neurons of higher and larger vertebrates are expected to in a sense ‘feel’ every spike they might pull off throughout the whole neuron, it paradoxically seems that tiny invertebrate neurons none-the-less are more likely to contain isolated domains of protected metabolic and electrical activity. The details of all this are to be found at the molecular level, which at this time in the history of neurobiology means the the directions of the ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ ends of various cytoskeletal proteins, and the preferences of the motors that ride them in either direction. Like vertebrates, drosophila have axons that exclusively use plus-end-out microtubules. However, although their dendrites similarly are distinguished by the presence minus-end-out microtubules, one surprise was that almost all of their dendrites were this way. The kicker is that they start out with a even mix like vertebrates do, but over time somehow weed them out. An important element in any potential theory of neurons would be the role of the cell body (the nucleus, centriole and primary cilium) in the ongoing specification of the larger tree of axons and dendrites. A cell body that stands largely aloof from them, whether transiently or permanently, would appear to lose some of the authority it might have if interposed instead between them.The unique geometry of the pseudounipolar neurons of our dorsal root ganglion has been known for a while, but only more recently has the frequent presence of axons sprouting from dendrites in our hippocampus and cortex been appreciated. In seeking explanations for the structure of such neurons the influences of mitochondria in various states of performance and lifecycle should not be underestimated. In fact, mitochondria figure importantly in the entire evolutionary curiosity we have tried to lay out here. The same article above which stirred up question surrounding the primitive phylogeny of sponges also explored newly identified trends that emerge in looking at the sizes and contents of the genomes of mitochondria across metazoans—but that is probably a topic sufficient for another post. Explore furtherlast_img read more

Physicists propose method for braiding light

first_img The physicists, Thomas Iadecola, Thomas Schuster, and Claudio Chamon at Boston University, have published a paper on the non-Abelian braiding of light in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.As the scientists explain, non-Abelian braided light is the optical analogue of a similar phenomenon that occurs in electronic systems, called non-Abelian Berry phases, which have been known about since the 1980s. The electronic medium that electrons propagate through can be engineered to have topological defects, such as vortices, that can be wound around each other to form a braid. Within the electronic medium, zero-energy states called zero modes, which carry fractional charges of the full electron charge, bind to the braided defects and act as guides for the propagating charges. The new study marks the first time that zero modes, along with their ability to be braided, have theoretically been shown to exist in optical systems. The researchers propose that a set of waveguides can be arranged in a pattern containing vortices, where the precise positions of the vortices are etched into the optical medium using a femtosecond laser. Each vortex can trap a beam of light, so that light traces out a braided path as it propagates through the medium.”The greatest significance of this work is that it demonstrates the existence of defects with non-Abelian braiding in optical, rather than electronic, systems,” Iadecola told Phys.org. “Such defects are actively sought-after in the context of solid-state electronic systems, but the optical analogue that we suggest in this work could provide another avenue to observe non-Abelian braiding. The advantage of the optical systems we consider is that they have a high degree of tunability that allows one to precisely control the paths of the defects during braiding.”In both the electronic and optical systems, the non-Abelian nature of the braiding process means that performing the same braids in a different order yields different results. The non-Abelian nature arises directly from the braided topology of the zero modes, and is different from most processes that guide charges or light, which do not depend on the order of the steps in the process. (Phys.org)—Physicists have proposed a way to braid three beams of light by guiding the beams along swirling, vortex-shaped defects in the optical medium through which the beams travel. The braided light would have an unusual “non-Abelian” nature, meaning that its phase would depend on the exact order in which the defects are wound around each other. © 2016 Phys.org Explore further “The fact that the braided light behaves in a non-Abelian way is interesting because it constitutes a vivid manifestation of topology in physics,” Iadecola said. “The vortices that are used to trap the light and braid it are topological defects in the ordered pattern of the waveguide lattice. We believe that it may be possible to use these ‘topological’ waveguide lattices in optical circuit elements; this is an avenue that we are interested in pursuing further.” Citation: Physicists propose method for braiding light (2016, August 22) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-08-physicists-method-braiding.html Journal information: Physical Review Letters In the proposed experiment to detect non-Abelian braided light, light is braided in a different order in the two arms of an interferometer, and detectors determine whether the two arms produce different phases of light. Credit: Iadecola et al. ©2016 American Physical Society More information: Thomas Iadecola, Thomas Schuster, and Claudio Chamon. “Non-Abelian Braiding of Light.” Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.073901. Also at arXiv:1509.05408 [cond-mat.mes-hall] This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. How do braided river dynamics affect sediment storage? Another interesting aspect of the optical zero modes is that, while they occur at the quantum level with a small number of photons, the phenomenon persists even with large numbers of photons. For this reason, braided light can be understood using both quantum and classical descriptions of light.The researchers expect that braided light can be experimentally realized with current technology, and they have proposed an experiment to do so. The experiment uses an interferometer in which light is braided in a different order in the two arms. Detectors then measure whether different orders of braiding produce different phases of light, giving evidence of the light’s non-Abelian nature. “We intend to work with experimentalists in the waveguide optics field to implement a version of the experiment we proposed,” Iadecola said. “We would also like to determine whether there are other optics platforms that could support the ‘topological guided modes’ we study in the paper.” In the vortex pattern in which the waveguides are arranged, a vortex can trap a beam of light so that light traces out a braided path as it propagates through the medium. Credit: Iadecola et al. ©2016 American Physical Societylast_img read more

What causes ionic wind

first_img In a new paper published in Nature Communications, a team of researchers from South Korea and Slovenia has experimentally investigated how ionic wind is caused when charged particles collide with neutral particles. One of their main findings is that electrons—and not only ions—play an important role in generating ionic wind, prompting them to call the effect “electric wind.” “In general, the electric wind has been called an ‘ionic wind’ because only the positive and negative ions have been considered as key players,” coauthor Wonho Choe, Professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, told Phys.org. “In our study, however, both electrons and ions participate in the generation of electric wind, depending on the polarity of the biased electrode. So the use of nomenclature for the ‘ionic wind’ requires a new consensus. We use the term ‘electric wind’ instead of ‘ionic wind,’ as our key finding indicates that electrons are the main player rather than negative ions such as O2- and O- during the negative voltage period.”In their experiments, the researchers generated a neutral helium flow and a pulsed plasma jet at various voltages. Then they used a technique called Schlieren photography (which is often used to photograph airplanes in flight) to take pictures of the flows of these particles. By controlling the pulse width and height of the plasma jet, the researchers monitored how these changes affect the particles’ movement and the resulting wind. As this is the first experiment to clearly show the coupling between neutral and charged particles in a plasma, the results provide direct evidence of what happens as the electrons and ions push the neutral particles away. The resulting momentum transfer causes a charged particle drag, which generates an electrohydrodynamic force (one caused by charged particles), giving rise to a clearly observable wind of charged particles.”The electric wind was previously considered to be a result of collisional momentum transfer from accelerated charged particles and neutral particles, based on heuristic observations and experiments,” Choe said. “However, as mentioned in our paper, there was no convincing evidence regarding the major mechanism (the correlation between plasma and momentum transfer) for the generation of electric wind, which is created during either the ‘streamer propagation (ionization wave)’ or the ‘space charge drift.’ Our model experiments clearly show that the contribution of the moving plasma streamer to electric wind generation is negligible, and the electric wind is mainly caused by the residual space charges after the plasma streamer propagates and collapses.”The results should lead to a better understanding of the interactions between charged and neutral particles in various situations, and has potential applications in areas such as flow control engineering.”Our findings may have applications for reducing the drag force on a vehicle, resulting in the reduction of fuel consumption and nitrogen oxides, which are an environmental pollutant and one of the major sources of micro dusts,” Choe said. “It may also reduce flow separation on wind turbine blades.”The researchers also plan to investigate potential applications with plasmas. “One of the recent interesting topics in the plasma community is the selective control of chemical production by low-temperature air plasmas,” Choe said. “We have planned research to study a correlation between plasma chemicals and electric wind. We may also investigate the possible correlation between the electric wind and the plasma ball, a phenomenon that can occur when lightning strikes.” Journal information: Nature Communications Citation: What causes ionic wind? (2018, February 7) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-ionic.html The stability of the solar wind More information: Sanghoo Park, Uros Cvelbar, Wonho Choe, and Se Youn Moon. “The creation of electric wind due to the electrohydrodynamic force.” Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02766-9 © 2018 Phys.orgcenter_img The phenomenon of ionic wind has been known about for centuries: by applying a voltage to a pair of electrodes, electrons are stripped off nearby air molecules, and the ionized air collides with neutral air molecules as it moves from one electrode to the other. The effect is easy enough to produce that it often appears at science fairs, and may even have a future in spacecraft propulsion. However, exactly what causes ionic wind is still an open question. (Top left) Image of the plasma jet in continuous mode and (bottom left) composite image of nanosecond-resolved images. (Right) Schlieren photography images of the trajectory of gas flow with and without a plasma jet. Credit: Park et al. Published in Nature Communications Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Celebrating the Capital spirit

first_imgDelhi, a city which is all encompassing, modern and always looking ahead; a ‘mini-India’, the national Capital is a melting pot for people from all parts of country who bring to it their diverse religious and cultural beliefs that enrich and augment Delhi’s all encompassing spirit.In a unique and special initiative to celebrate this Spirit of Delhi, a 3-day folk festival presented by Delhi Government’s Department of Art, Culture and Languages and the Sahitya Kala Parishad will kick off from 30 August. To be inaugurated Sheila Dikshit, the Delhi Carnival will be showcased in such a manner that it brings the grandeur of the Indian folk to the people. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’A 64/40 feet multi-level stage, 250 performers from across India and two special songs by noted singer Palash Sen of the Euphoria band – have been put together in preparation for the mega event. The festival which for the first time is taking place at the East Delhi-situated Yamuna Sports Complex will be a specially choreographed presentation of the folk music and dances from various parts of India.‘We have 250 performers from across the country- from Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and others, who are going to put their best and enthrall the Delhi audience through this endeavor that celebrates cultural diversity and the richness it brings to a civilization,’ Bharti adds.last_img read more

Chennai Open 2015 Tipsarevic pulls out

Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic (in pic), the 2013 singles champion, on Thursday withdrew from the upcoming ATP Chennai Open due to health issues. The former World No. 8, recovering from a foot surgery, was all set to make a return to competitive tennis in the new season and granted a singles wild card.Sweden’s Elias Ymer will now battle it out in the main draw of the upcoming tournament, debuting as a wild card entry in the 20th edition. The 2015 edition of the ATP 250 tournament, has an exciting lineup that includes world no. 4 and defending singles champion Stanislas Wawrinka, world no. 14 Feliciano Lopez, world no. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut and world no. 22 David Goffin. Other leading players include Spaniards Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Marcel Granollers, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu and 2014 finalist Edouard Roger-Vasselin. read more

Fake degree row Surinder Singh meets police chief offers to surrender

first_imgSingh said he had appeared for examinations in 2009, 2010 and 2011 from Eiilm University, Sikkim, and was awarded a BA degree in 2012. He also admitted that there was a “typo” error in the affidavit even as his party alleged that police was targeting its leaders.The Delhi Cantt MLA, who met police commissioner BS Bassi along with senior party leader Sanjay Singh, said he also offered to “surrender” before the law enforcing agency in the case. “I showed him (Bassi) my documents. I also told him that I gave exams in  2009, 2010 and 2011 and the university came under the scanner in April, 2015. Why should I be blamed for it? This is a political conspiracy by my opponents. Also Read – Company director arrested for swindling Rs 345 crore“If police still think there is a need to arrest me, then I am available for it,” he said after meeting Bassi.Earlier in the day, Singh, a former NSG commando who combated terrorists during the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, addressed a news conference along with Sanjay Singh where they charged that the police was targeting AAP. Sanjay Singh said Surinder was a “victim” in the case and not an “offender”. “The Centre is trying to suppress AAP by arresting our leaders and MLAs. Narendra Modi had resorted to similar tactics in Gujarat. There are several FIRs registered against BJP leaders, but the police are showing promptness only in arresting Surinder Singh and AAP leaders.“In this case, Surinder Singh is a victim and not an offender. The university has issued degrees to thousands of students.  “If the university turns out to be dubious, then the MLA cannot be blamed for that,” Sanjay Singh said.last_img read more

Kolkata Police creates short film to spread awareness on fake news

first_imgKolkata: Kolkata Police has prepared a video and uploaded the same on Facebook, creating awareness to check circulation of “fake news”, mainly through social media.Following direction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the police had been creating awareness among people on how circulation of fake news may lead to deterioration of law and order. The police are also keeping a watch to take immediate action against rumour mongers as spreading fake news is a “punishable offence”.At the end of the 1.08 minute long video, Kolkata Police has left a message that reads: “Do not post anything on social media without confirming an input you may have received. It may lead to confusion, tension and/or unrest. Do not share such posts either. It is a punishable offence.”In the video an office-goer and a youth are seen waiting at a bus-stop. The youth asks the office-goer why there was no bus on the particular route. In reply, the office-goer says that they would not get any bus there as he has received a phone call from one of his colleagues saying that some trouble had initiated at Moulali-Mallick Bazar and it is ‘communal in nature’. The office-goer leaves the bus-stop, saying that he has to reach office by foot.Right at that moment the youth receives a call from another friend, whom he tells over phone that he was yet to get a bus due to ‘communal tension’ at Moulali-Mallick Bazar. Immediately, his friend says that there was a need to give an update in social media. The youth also says that he will be sharing the same in a social media group. After the telephonic conversation, the youth cross checks with a pedestrian whether there was any trouble at Moulali-Mallick Bazar. The pedestrian replies that there was “nothing as such”. The youth finally realises the mistake he was going to do by sharing the “wrong information” on social media.It may be mentioned that Kolkata Police often posts various messages on social networking sites to make people aware of the adverse affects of circulating wrong information.last_img read more

A Tribute to IndoAfrican cultural ties

first_imgAs India looks forward to host 54 African countries in the largest ever India-Africa diplomatic summit, DIAF in alliance with NDMC paid a tribute to the shared arts and cultural bonding of the two countries.The 9th Delhi International Arts Festival showcased two special events on the occasion of the Africa–India Summit titled, “Welcome Africa” and “Africa In India” on October 24 and 25, at Nehru Park. ‘Welcome Africa’,  which was held on October 24 and 25, had soul searching ‘Whirling Dervish’ from Egypt, fun performances from Ethiopia, Indian bands, crossover music from Indian and African artists, Hip-Hop, Reggae and Afro Beat from Congo, ‘Everything Nice’ from Nigeria, ‘Afro de Asia’, a percussion band with artistes from Ghana and India. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Another event named, “Africa In India” will be held on the October 31 and it will feature a specially choreographed performance with artists from many African Countries such as Zambia, Ghana, Uganda and “The Vessel”—an African choir from Kenya and Congo.This performance will be performed in front of all the heads of Government from African Countries at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 29.The Delhi International Arts Festival is among the country’s largest and most prestigious art festival. It has run for eight years and this year, the festival is being organised from the October 16 to November 1.  Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThis festival is organised on a public-private partnership model. The Union Ministry of Culture and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations are important collaborators of the festival. The calendar of events of DIAF include all genres of music, dance, theatre, puppetry, poetry, literature, visual arts, films and exhibitions — from the most traditional to the contemporary expressions of all these art forms. Several Embassies, Foreign Governments, Cultural Centres, international cultural managers, other international festivals and artists from around the world are also part of it. It is now recognised all over the world as India’s Signature Festival. Over 250 events are held in a span of two weeks in more than 45 venues.last_img read more

Selfish genes tell us to stay home when sick

first_imgThere are some “selfish” genes which tell you to stay in bed whenever you feel sick, your nose is stuffed and your headache is spreading to your toes —only to save others from infections, say researchers.Along with the symptoms, the sick individual can become depressed and lose interest in social and sexual contact, limiting opportunities to transmit pathogens, they noted.According to them, feeling sick is an evolutionary adaptation and evolution is functioning on the level of the “selfish gene”. Even though the individual organism may not survive the illness, isolating itself from its social environment will reduce the overall rate of infection in the group. “From the point of view of the individual, this behaviour may seem overly altruistic. But from the perspective of the gene, its odds of being passed down are improved,” said lead researcher Keren Shakhar from Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The scientists went through a list of common symptoms, and each seems to support their hypothesis. Appetite loss, for example, hinders the disease from spreading by communal food or water resources. Fatigue and weakness can lessen the mobility of the infected individual, reducing the radius of possible infection.“We know that isolation is the most efficient way to stop a transmissible disease from spreading,” added Guy Shakhar from Weizmann Institute’s Immunology Department in Israel.“The problem is that today, for example, with flu, many do not realise how deadly it can be. So they go against their natural instincts, take a pill to reduce pain and fever and go to work, where the chance of infecting others is much higher,” Shakhar concluded. The study was published recently in the journal of PLoS Biology.last_img read more

Building a Utopian community

first_imgArjun Chopra never really intended to be an entrepreneur, but when an interesting idea presented itself, he couldn’t help but pursue that project. Utopia is a global platform for grown-ups to meet, share and connect. One of the founders and director of the application, Arjun says, “This app is basically for people above 40 to connect through high-quality experiences and in-depth discussions.” Utopia has been conceptualised and designed for mature adults from the ground up and provides a meticulously designed online interface where members can enjoy thought-provoking discussions initiated by thought leaders and eminent experiences organised by experience partners. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfIn a generation which barely has time for themselves let alone elders, who would have thought that a 25-year-old would think about 40-year-olds and actually do something to make their lives even slightly better. So what prompted him to go ahead with this app? He says, “We saw a lot of people sitting in coffee shops like Starbucks. A lot of people above 40, talking about travel or going for a drink somewhere or playing golf. So we thought that there are a lot of apps for young people but there is nothing really out there that’s connecting and catering to this audience exclusively. So we wanted to make a platform for this audience to feel secure and comfortable.” Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive”We wanted to do something different. A lot of startups, especially in India, take ideas from outside and they just bring them here. We have done a thorough market research and the closest thing there is to our concept is a dating app for people above 50. So, in terms of what we are doing, there is nothing really out there,” added Arjun.A person who joins the Utopia community can have a conversation centred on any aspect. “We have a few thought leaders, for example, there is a person called Muraad Ali who is a very famous historian. We have him on board to initiate discussions on history. Similarly, we have people for fashion, food, and wine, travel. A student of DPS RK Puram, Arjun then went to Berkley University in California to pursue his higher studies in computer science. During those four years, he also did some courses in economics and psychology. And after working in a research lab for a year, he came back to India to do his masters but plans changed and now, he is successfully running this app. Utopia is available on Google Playstore and can be downloaded for free. But as Arjun said, this is an exclusive application for 40-year-olds and above and needs extensive authentication to prove one’s age in order to ensure a secure and pleasant environment for its users.With a simple, sophisticated design, this app is easy to use. Even for someone who is new to a smartphone and its intricacies, Utopia does not confuse. All the buttons and options are clearly written and not buried inside other options; with elegant colour schematics, one can effortlessly read and scroll through the insights for the day. “We have paid a lot of attention towards our design. There’s a section of the app called ‘Experiences’ so everything is really easy to use. Apart from that a lot of people are shifting to smartphones these days. I believe at this age you don’t really have an option but to be a little tech savvy, especially if you are working. You have to get used to online navigation,” suggested Arjun, who is working his fingers to the bone to better his app along with his cousin, the co-founder, and a team of six.The utopian team, on October 28, organized a whiskey tasting event in collaboration with Whiskey Works – one of the few brands in India who deal in luxury whiskey. The motive was to bring together all the Utopians i.e. the people using this app, to connect them and start a conversation. Similarly, the team is planning to hold a coffee tasting event next month, this time, in collaboration with Blue Tokai.”These brands are looking for the right kind of people to come for the experiences and some things are pretty expensive. And they can’t really go to facebook and advertise there because no one is going to pay. But what they know with us is that we already have the right audience. This audience has the time and they have the spending power to afford these kinds of experiences,” explained Arjun.It has only been a few months since Arjun and his team launched this app and without any marketing, the Utopia page on facebook already have more than 1000 members. They plan to expand to other cities soon. “We are planning to go city by city since we want to grow this organically. We don’t want to have this all over the place. We will be starting with Delhi and our third co-founder in the US will be starting parallelly in New York,” said the brainchild behind Utopia.”We plan to scale up by going to every metro. We have a target of 10000 people, once we hit that, we can move on to any other metro like Bombay, Bangalore and follow the exact same procedure there,” he further added. Currently, the team is bootstrapped but with the systematic way they are going, this small business might turn out to be a huge community where people are having meaningful conversations instead of just randomly chatting.last_img read more

Hailstorms to lash North Bengal light to moderate rain soon in city

first_imgKolkata: Hailstorms are likely to occur in parts of North Bengal, especially in and around Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts.The Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore predicted hailstorm activity in some areas of North Bengal on February 26-27. Thunderstorms accompanied with gusty winds are likely to take place in some South Bengal districts as well. This is mainly because of the Western disturbances. A senior official of the Alipore Met office explained that moist air coming from Bay of Bengal towards North and the Himalayan ranges running in the East-West direction are helping in lifting the moist air towards the sky. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseThe official also said that a strong breeze with an approximate speed of 45-50 km per hour may hit the South Bengal districts soon, including the city. According to the weather office, the city will receive light to moderate rainfall on February 25-26. The city may witness intermittent rain for two days from Monday onwards, following the impact of the Western disturbances. Various South Bengal districts may also receive rainfall accompanied with strong breeze. There is a possibility of heavy downpour in North Bengal districts, coupled with hailstorms on February 26 and 27. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataFor the past few days, the city’s temperature has climbed up by a few notches and city dwellers have been experiencing a spell of dry weather. As per the Met office prediction, the highest temperature in the city and its adjoining parts may hover around 32-33 degree Celsius in the next few days. There may be a drop in the temperature during night hours and a moderate level of temperature fluctuation every now and then, throughout the week. People in the city may get temporary relief from the ongoing warm and humid conditions due to the rain but the temperature will continue to soar high as soon as the rainy spells are over. The city’s sky may remain partially cloudy, particularly in the morning hours, in the next three days, the Met office maintained. The Met office also said that some parts of Northern India have been receiving moderate spells of rainfall due to Western disturbances. It is likely to move eastward, bringing some rainfall in Bengal. Moderate to heavy rainfall may also lash Odisha and Jharkhand.last_img read more

TMC to lodge complaint with EC against intimidation by CRPF

first_imgKolkata: Trinamool Congress has decided to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission, alleging intimidation of voters on the part of a section of Central forces that have been deployed in the state for area domination before the Lok Sabha polls.”We have seen that during route march, the Central force in a certain area has been intimidating voters and are resorting to partiality. This is undesirable. Central force should not come with any specific commitment. If they do so, it is unfortunate. The Central forces are deployed by the Election Commission for boosting the confidence of voters. The force should act neutrally,” state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim said on the sidelines of a party meeting of the Kolkata South constituency at Nazrul Manch on Saturday. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseSenior TMC leader Mala Roy, who is the chairperson of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, is the candidate from the constituency. “Our all India general secretary Subrata Bakshi along with Partha Chatterjee will soon move the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Bengal with a complaint in this regard,” said Hakim. Hakim added that when the state government had earlier sought Central forces for disturbance in Junglemahal, the Centre did not comply. “Now 135 companies have come for the Lok Sabha elections. I am not aware whether such a large contingent of Central force is in Kashmir,” he added. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataWhile addressing the meeting, Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee said: “The job of the Central force is to ensure peaceful elections. But we have seen in a video footage that they are trying to terrorise voters. Do they have the right to do so? We will go as far as we can to address this issue.” He alleged that the BJP is trying to project themselves as ‘Bahubalis’ and so such a huge contingent has been deployed in the state. During his address, Hakim claimed that the people of the state have united to vote for Chief Minister Mamatra Banerjee and the all-round development of the state. “Central forces were also deployed during the bypoll at Maheshtala and Uluberia, but people in the state have voted for Trinamool candidates and they had won convincingly in both the seats. People will be electing the TMC candidates in Lok Sabha as well, irrespective of deployment of Central forces,” he maintained.last_img read more