Friday, July 27, 2012

Top Immigration Officials Describe Border Chaos Resulting From Admin's Amnesty Policy

The DREAMers: A Demographic Profile Of Eligible Immigrants Under New Obama Policy 

Less than a week ago, President Obama announced a policy change that could affect as many as 1.4 million young undocumented students living in the United States by halting their deportation proceedings and granting them temporary work permits. However, figuring out who is eligible under Obama's new policy, and how many of them exist, has been no easy task.

Pew Hispanic Center associate director Mark Hugo Lopez explained that measuring an undocumented population is inherently challenging and estimates can therefore vary widely.
"There are no surveys which ask people, 'Are you here in the country illegally or not?' And if there were, I'm not sure how reliable responses would be. So we have to rely on a number of different existing sources," Lopez told The Huffington Post.

Obama's directive will reportedly affect many of those undocumented immigrants -- often termed DREAMers -- who would have benefitted under a decade-old bill called the Dream Act, last struck down in 2010. The new policy includes those living in the country under the age of 31 who came to the U.S. as children; who don't have a criminal record; and who have served in the military, or are currently attending, or have graduated from, high school or college.

The Department of Homeland security estimated on the day of the policy announcement that nearly 800,000 individuals would be affected. However, the Pew Hispanic Center and Migration Policy Institute have independently given a number almost twice the size, projecting that nearly 1.4 million individuals will be affected.

"We're probably using some different sources and data sets," Lopez explained.
Despite numerous obstacles in measuring the population, various research organizations have begun attempts to identify who the young beneficiaries of Obama's plan are.

Nearly 60 percent of those eligible for Obama's new policy (about 800,000) are currently enrolled in K-12 institutions, a quarter of those eligible (about 370,000) are high school graduates or have earned a GED certificate, and more than 15 percent (about 220,000) are enrolled in or have graduated from college, according to recent estimates by the Migration Policy Institute.

Nearly 70 percent of beneficiaries of the new DHS directive are from Mexico, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The remainder are likely comprised of mostly Asian and Latin American immigrants, according to a report by MPI which measured those individuals eligible for the 2010 congressional Dream Act. Jeanne Batalova, a policy analyst and demographer at the MPI, says there is significant overlap between the two populations, but that because those up to age 36 were eligible for the 2010 Dream Act, those eligible under Obama's plan are younger on average.

A quarter of those affected by the new order, nearly 350,000 young people, reside in California, according to MPI. Texas and Florida have the second and third highest numbers of eligible beneficiaries. Those eligible for Obama's new policy also tend to be from poorer families, Batalova said.

While MPI has been able to guess how many are eligible for the program, it's hard for them to tell how many will come forward, Batalova said. "At the moment it's even more difficult for us to predict how many will be affected immediately, because it's unclear who and how many will feel comfortable about stepping forward and revealing themselves to the agency," she noted.

Batalova predicts that many will not come forward until they discover if the policy will continue past Obama's first term. Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has not yet announced whether or not he will overturn the policy if elected, but has set forth his own plan to allow those undocumented youth who serve in the military a pathway towards citizenship.

Myrna Ortiz, who is a youth organizer for California's DREAMer network, told The Huffington Post that her organization has brought on five interns and a small army of volunteers in order to answer calls about Obama's new policy. In the state most affected by Obama's immigration shift, the small staff can barely keep up with phone calls from DREAMers eager to apply. However, during the 60-day period in which DHS will decide the implementation specifics of the program, Ortiz says the "most important advice" is simple:

"Wait," Ortiz said. "All you can do now is wait."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Who Really Invented the Internet?

Gordon Crovitz: Who Really Invented the Internet?

Contrary to legend, it wasn't the federal government, and the Internet had nothing to do with maintaining communications during a war.

A telling moment in the presidential race came recently when Barack Obama said: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." He justified elevating bureaucrats over entrepreneurs by referring to bridges and roads, adding: "The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet."

It's an urban legend that the government launched the Internet. The myth is that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep its communications lines up even in a nuclear strike. The truth is a more interesting story about how innovation happens—and about how hard it is to build successful technology companies even once the government gets out of the way.

For many technologists, the idea of the Internet traces to Vannevar Bush, the presidential science adviser during World War II who oversaw the development of radar and the Manhattan Project. In a 1946 article in The Atlantic titled "As We May Think," Bush defined an ambitious peacetime goal for technologists: Build what he called a "memex" through which "wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified."

That fired imaginations, and by the 1960s technologists were trying to connect separate physical communications networks into one global network—a "world-wide web." The federal government was involved, modestly, via the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. Its goal was not maintaining communications during a nuclear attack, and it didn't build the Internet. Robert Taylor, who ran the ARPA program in the 1960s, sent an email to fellow technologists in 2004 setting the record straight: "The creation of the Arpanet was not motivated by considerations of war. The Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks."
If the government didn't invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet's backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks.

Xerox PARC headquarters.

But full credit goes to the company where Mr. Taylor worked after leaving ARPA: Xerox. It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks. Researchers there also developed the first personal computer (the Xerox Alto) and the graphical user interface that still drives computer usage today.

According to a book about Xerox PARC, "Dealers of Lightning" (by Michael Hiltzik), its top researchers realized they couldn't wait for the government to connect different networks, so would have to do it themselves. "We have a more immediate problem than they do," Robert Metcalfe told his colleague John Shoch in 1973. "We have more networks than they do." Mr. Shoch later recalled that ARPA staffers "were working under government funding and university contracts. They had contract administrators . . . and all that slow, lugubrious behavior to contend with."

So having created the Internet, why didn't Xerox become the biggest company in the world? The answer explains the disconnect between a government-led view of business and how innovation actually happens.

Executives at Xerox headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., were focused on selling copiers. From their standpoint, the Ethernet was important only so that people in an office could link computers to share a copier. Then, in 1979, Steve Jobs negotiated an agreement whereby Xerox's venture-capital division invested $1 million in Apple, with the requirement that Jobs get a full briefing on all the Xerox PARC innovations. "They just had no idea what they had," Jobs later said, after launching hugely profitable Apple computers using concepts developed by Xerox.

Xerox's copier business was lucrative for decades, but the company eventually had years of losses during the digital revolution. Xerox managers can console themselves that it's rare for a company to make the transition from one technology era to another.

As for the government's role, the Internet was fully privatized in 1995, when a remaining piece of the network run by the National Science Foundation was closed—just as the commercial Web began to boom. Blogger Brian Carnell wrote in 1999: "The Internet, in fact, reaffirms the basic free market critique of large government. Here for 30 years the government had an immensely useful protocol for transferring information, TCP/IP, but it languished. . . . In less than a decade, private concerns have taken that protocol and created one of the most important technological revolutions of the millennia."

It's important to understand the history of the Internet because it's too often wrongly cited to justify big government. It's also important to recognize that building great technology businesses requires both innovation and the skills to bring innovations to market. As the contrast between Xerox and Apple shows, few business leaders succeed in this challenge. Those who do—not the government—deserve the credit for making it happen.

(Note: This column has been altered to correct the misattribution of Brian Carnell's quote.)
A version of this article appeared July 23, 2012, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Who Really Invented the Internet?.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hepatitis C Cured By Nanoparticle

While Americans worry every year about getting a flu shot or preventing HIV/AIDS, the deadlier silent is actually Hepatitis C; killing over 15,000 people yearly in the U.S. since 2007 and the numbers continue to increase as the carriers increase in age. While there is no vaccine, there is hope in nanoparticle technology.

The breakthrough came from a group of researchers at the University of Florida, creating a “nanozyme” that eliminates the Hep C 100% of the time; before now, the six-month treatment would only work about half the time. The particles are coated with two biological agents, the identifier and the destroyer; the identifier recognizes the virus and sends the destroyer off the eliminate the mRNA, which allows Hep C to replicate.

There is good and, unfortunately, disappointing news with this discovery. The good news is that the mice test subjects have displayed no side effects from this new treatment, but (this is the disappointing part) because it is still just in the rodent testing stages it is still a long way away from human trials, much less public use. However, it is hope for the future and it may lead towards treatments in other fatal diseases like HIV/AIDS or even a vaccine if all goes well.

Nanoparticle Completely Eradicates Hepatitis C Virus 
POSTED BY: Dexter Johnson

Researchers at the University of Florida (UF) have developed a nanoparticle that has shown 100 percent effectiveness in eradicating the hepatitis C virus in laboratory testing.

The nanoparticle, dubbed a nanozyme, consists of a backbone made from gold nanoparticles and a surface with two biological components. One biological component is an enzyme that attacks and destroys the mRNA, which provides the recipe for duplicating the protein that causes the disease. The other biological part is the navigator, if you will. It is a DNA oligonucleotide that identifies the disease-related protein and sends the enzyme on course to destroy it.

Y. Charles Cao, a UF associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Chen Liu, a professor of pathology at the UF College of Medicine published their research online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ("Nanoparticle-based artificial RNA silencing machinery for antiviral therapy").

The basis of the work is mimicking the biological process of RNA interference, which researchers in the past have used effectively in the laboratory for treating HIV. In the UF research the nanoparticle mimics the function of RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), which mediates the RNA interference process.

Current hepatitis C treatments do attack the replication process of the virus but they are not entirely effective and only help about 50 percent of the patients treated with them. Cao and Liu along with their team wanted to see if they could improve upon that percentage. The researchers claim that their treatment (in cell culture and mice) led to a near 100 percent eradication of the hepatitis C virus without bringing on any side effects caused by the immune system attacking the treatment.

Of course, this is a long way from becoming a treatment anytime soon. A major caveat is that the use of nanotreatments for the targeting and destroying of abnormal cells like cancer cells is always problematic since those cells are “still us” as George Whitesides noted some time back.  It’s always a bit of a tricky business to make sure that nanoparticles are targeting those biological processes within us that we want stopped and not the ones we want to keep.

Further complicating this particular line of research is some of the terminology that is part of the press release. They have decided to use the term “nanorobots” to describe the nanoparticles, apparently because that can really excite the general public about what might otherwise be a fairly niche story.  That’s fine, I suppose. Whatever manages to get the public interested in what is genuinely ground breaking research. The problem is that it creates confusion in some terribly misguided people who are convinced that we are about to be overrun by ‘nanobots’ that will render the planet into nothing but “gray goo”.   Can’t we just retire the term “nano robots” for the sake of human life?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cliff Diving

By Tom Goodenough 

Every sport has its dangers, but plunging 100 feet into a watery abyss between jagged rocks surely ranks cliff diving as one of the most terrifying.
But for competitors in the Red Bull Cliff Diving series taking place in the Portuguese islands of the Azores, it's all part and parcel of the job.

Leaping from a rock monolith, the divers throw themselves into the Atlantic Ocean with the scant consolation that at least the water below that greets them- if they manage to avoid the rocks that is - is a comfortable 22 degrees.

American diver David Colturi leaps into the waters below during the World Cliff Diving series
American diver David Colturi leaps into the waters below during the World Cliff Diving series

Athletes from all over the world gather on the small islet of Villa France do Campi situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
And as the rocky outcrop is 850 miles west of mainland Europe, help is far from close-at-hand.

The rocky outcrop of Villa France do Campi, where the series is taking place, lies 850 miles west of mainland Europe

The rocky outcrop of Villa France do Campi, where the series is taking place, lies 850 miles west of mainland Europe
Gary Hunt of Great Britain, who finished fifth in the first round of proceedings, dives 29 metres from the rock monolith
Kent De Mond, who is topping the leader board after the first round, leaps into the Atlantic
American diver Kent De Mond, pictured right leaping into the Atlantic Ocean, currently stands at the top of the leader board after the first round of proceedings
The latest event is the third stop on the current World Series.
It is also the first time in the history of the competition that divers have leaped straight from the rocks into the sea below.

As proceedings stand, Kent De Mond's leap - which earned him a high score of 95.40 points - means that the American is currently leading the pack.
The American diver, known as 'De Mondster' to fans of the sport, said that it was a joy to take part.

The third stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series is taking place on the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in the sunny Azores

The third stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series is taking place on the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo in the sunny Azores
The latest leg of the World Series is the first time in the history of the competition that athletes have jumped directly from rocks

The latest leg of the World Series is the first time in the history of the competition that athletes have jumped directly from rocks
'I love diving straight out from the cliff - it feels really natural,' he said.
De Mond was tied in score with Russian Artem Silchenko who executed a reverse somersault from the rocky platform.

But with the final series of dives taking place today and with challenging conditions making the event one of the more unpredictable on the tour, the remaining 11 athletes have everything to play for.
Also taking part in the death-defying event is Tom Daley's ex-diving partner Blake Aldridge.

Tom Daley's former diving partner Blake Aldridge dives 29 metres from the rock monolith
Despite the appearance of the photographs, all of the athletes at the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series landed safely
The athletes climbed a precarious-looking wooden ladder to reach the platform, almost 100 feet above the sea, for their jumps
The 29-year-old former European champion described the event as 'massive'.
He told 'I only came on the tour last year as a wildcard. I didn’t even do the qualification and I’ve only done two competitions.
Everything has been a learning curve. It’s all been happening so fast (and)...I just can’t wait to start scoring points.'

The Azores leg of the tour is part of a packed schedule of diving for the athletes this summer.

On August 4th, competitors will arrive in the ominously-named Serpent's Lair in Ireland for the next round of the series.
And with the water temperature averaging at 15 degrees - several degrees cooler than the sunny Azores they may be in for a surprise when they land.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Subconscious password

Unbreakable crypto: Store a 30-character password in your brain’s subconscious memory


A cross-disciplinary team of US neuroscientists and cryptographers have developed a password/passkey system that removes the weakest link in any security system: the human user. It’s ingenious: The system still requires that you enter a password, but at no point do you actually remember the password, meaning it can’t be written down and it can’t be obtained via coercion or torture.

The system, devised by Hristo Bojinov of Stanford University and friends from Northwestern and SRI, relies on implicit learning, a process by which you absorb new information — but you’re completely unaware that you’ve actually learnt anything; a bit like learning to ride a bike. In short, the system teaches the password to a part of your brain that you cannot physically access — but it is still there in your subconscious, just waiting to be tapped.

The process of learning the password (or cryptographic key) involves the use of a specially crafted computer game that, funnily enough, resembles Guitar Hero (pictured below). There are six buttons — S, D, F, J, K, L — and the user has to hit the corresponding key (note) when the circle reaches the bottom (fret). During a typical training session of around 45 minutes, a user will make about 4,000 keystrokes — and here’s the genius bit: Around 80% of those keystrokes are being used to subconsciously teach you a 30-character password.
SISL implicit learning, via Guitar Hero
Before running, the game creates a random sequence of 30 letters chosen from S, D, F, J, K, and L, with no repeating characters. This equates to around 38 bits of entropy, which is thousands/millions of times more secure than your average, memorable password. This 30-character sequence is played back to the user three times in a row, and then padded out with 18 random characters, for a total of 108 items. This sequence is repeated five times (540 items), and then there’s a short pause. This entire process is repeated six more times, for a total of 3,780 items.

By this point, their experimental results suggest that the 30-letter password is firmly implanted in your subconscious brain. Authentication requires that you play a round of the game — but this time, your 30-letter sequence is interspersed with other random 30-letter sequences. To pass authentication, you must reliably perform better on your sequence. Even after two weeks, it seems you are still able to recall this sequence.
Bojinov's implicit learning SISL system, sequence advantage after 1/2 weeks
The most important aspect of this work is that it (seemingly) establishes a new cryptographic primitive that completely removes the danger of rubber-hose cryptanalysis — i.e. obtaining passkeys via torture or coercion. It also gives you deniability: If a judge or policeman orders you to hand over your password, you can plausibly say that you don’t actually know it. For a lot more information on the strengths and weaknesses of this cryptographic approach, called Serial Interception Sequence Learning (SISL) incidentally, hit up Bojinov’s research paper. Bojinov will present his findings at the Usenix Security Symposium in August.

With Black Hat, DEF CON, and the Usenix Security Symposium all taking place in the next few weeks, Bojinov’s SISL system is likely just the first of many awesome hacks that will emerge in due course. Last year saw the inaugural hacking of 4G and CDMA, opening car doors via SMS, and hacking wireless insulin pumps — and hopefully this year will be even better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Implant Gives Grayscale Vision To the Blind Using Lasers
The laser-powered bionic eye that gives 576-pixel grayscale vision to the blind
Bio-Retina retinal implant, diagram

After a lot of theorizing, postulating, and non-human trials, it looks like bionic eye implants are finally hitting the market — first in Europe, and hopefully soon in the US. These implants can restore sight to completely blind patients — though only if the blindness is caused by a faulty retina, as in macular degeneration (which millions of old people suffer from), diabetic retinopathy, or other degenerative eye diseases.

The first of these implants, Argus II developed by Second Sight, is already available in Europe. For around $115,000, you get a 4-hour operation to install an antenna behind your eye, and a special pair of camera-equipped glasses that send signals to the antenna. The antenna is wired into your retina with around 60 electrodes, creating the equivalent of a 60-pixel display for your brain to interpret. The first users of the Argus II bionic eye report that they can see rough shapes and track the movement of objects, and slowly read large writing.

The second bionic eye implant, the Bio-Retina developed by Nano Retina, is a whole lot more exciting. The Bio-Retina costs less — around the $60,000 mark — and instead of an external camera, the vision-restoring sensor is actually placed inside the eye, on top of the retina. The operation only takes 30 minutes and can be performed under local anesthetic.

Bio-Retina, diagram by PopSci
The Bio-Retina bionic eye implant. Image credit: PopSci

Basically, with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, the light-sensitive rods and cones in your retina stop working. The Bio-Retina plops a 24×24-resolution (576-pixel!) sensor right on top of your damaged retina, and 576 electrodes on the back of the sensor implant themselves into the optic nerve. An embedded image processor converts the data from each of the pixels into electrical pulses that are coded in such a way that the brain can perceive different levels of grayscale.

The best bit, though, is how the the sensor is powered. The Bio-Retina system comes with a standard pair of corrective lenses that are modified so that they can fire a near-infrared laser beam through your iris to the sensor at the back of your eye. On the sensor there is a photovoltaic cell that produces up to three milliwatts — not a lot, but more than enough. The infrared laser is invisible and harmless. To see the Bio-Retina system in action, watch the demo video embedded below.

Human trials of Bio-Retina are slated to begin in 2013 — but like Second Sight, US approval could be a long time coming. It’s easy enough to hop on a plane and visit one of the European clinics offering bionic eye implants, though. Moving forward, multiple research groups are working on bionic eyes with even more electrodes, and thus higher resolution, but there doesn’t seem to be any progress on sensors or encoder chips that can create a color image. A lot of work is being done on understanding how the retina, optic nerve, and brain process and perceive images — so who knows what the future might hold.

Record-setting 500 trillion-watt laser shot achieved


500 terawatt shot -  The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility (Photo: Damien Je...
500 terawatt shot - The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility (Photo: Damien Jemison/LLNL)

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) have achieved a laser shot which boggles the mind: 192 beams delivered an excess of 500 trillion-watts (TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to a target of just two millimeters in diameter. To put those numbers into perspective, 500 TW is more than one thousand times the power that the entire United States uses at any instant in time. Pew-Pew indeed ...

The NIF is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy which is responsible for enhancing national security through the application of nuclear science, and the news comes at a time when the U.S. military and various government agencies appear to be increasingly interested in the use of lasers as potential weapons.

However, though the potential national security benefits of such a powerful laser are clear, NIF also provides unique opportunities for wholly scientific pursuits. NIF is said to be the only such facility to offer the potential of duplicating phenomena which occurs in the heart of a modern nuclear device and this is cited by the lab as a key tool to be employed in order to keep underground nuclear testing firmly in the past.

The equipment at NIF allows scientists to study the states of matter which can occur in the centers of planets, stars and other celestial objects and further to this, the scientists based at NIF also work toward the goal of clean and sustainable fusion energy by aiming to ignite hydrogen fusion fuel in the lab and thus produce more energy than originally supplied to the target.

"For scientists across the nation and the world who, like ourselves, are actively pursuing fundamental science under extreme conditions and the goal of laboratory fusion ignition, this is a remarkable and exciting achievement," said Dr. Richard Petrasso, senior research scientist and division head of high energy density physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Having exceeded 1 MJ operation for the first time back in March 2009, the NIF has since increased its operational energy output by roughly 1 kilojoule each day, and the lab is currently operating 24 hours a day at unprecedented performance levels, with the 1.85 megajoules of energy recently achieved equivalent to approximately 100 times what any other laser can regularly produce.

This latest record-breaking laser shot is the culmination of 15 years of work by researchers at NIF and their experience is to be put to use elsewhere, with the team influencing the design of other giant laser facilities being built or planned in the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Japan and China.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Obama's favorite Girl Scout cookie: Thin Mints

From the article: "President Obama was also asked by a younger member of the crowd what his favorite Girl Scout cookie was. The president says it is the Thin Mints."


Top 10 Reasons Why Obama's Favorite Girl Scout Cookie is Thin Mints

1. They're the closest thing to menthols

2. It's the only cookie with a sensation that a smoker can detect

3. He was alluding to the Fed

4. He's reinforcing the notion that it's cool to always accept cookies

5. He was going to say 'Samoas' but his handlers discouraged overplaying the Southern affectation as in 'poli-ceh'

6. He's saving Dulce de Leche for when he campaigns in New Mexico

7. He's all about Tag-Alongs so long as it doesn't include the 1%. In fact, he's introducing a cookie called the Drag-Along to commemorate Obamacare.

8. Trefoils might be offensive to Muslims

9. Bow to your partner. Do-Si-Dos. Would-be gay marriage is the peanut butter promise that somehow got sandwiched between his would-be two terms - both remain to be seen. Apparently, not really Barry's favorite cookie, have a lemon cooler instead.

10. Do I waste #10 on an off-color remark about Obama sending Shout Outs, or do I compare Joe Biden to the All-About - described on the wiki page on Girl Scout cookies that I referenced to contrive this awful list - as a shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate with a thank you message. Oh, well, that's ten.

Friday, July 13, 2012

holographic 3D tv glasses-free, MIT

I swear I've seen this dragon before...


 The masterful engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are busy working on a type of 3D display capable of presenting that elusive third dimension without any eye gear. We say “elusive” because what you’ve been presented at your local cinema (with 3D glasses) or on your Nintendo 3DS console (with your naked eye) pales in comparison to what these guys and gals are trying to develop: a truly immersive 3D experience, not unlike a hologram, that changes perspective as you move around.

Today’s 3D technology falls short in a number of ways. The most obvious is the need for special viewing glasses that may be uncomfortable to wear, darken the on-screen imagery, and are prone to annoying finger smudges that are a bear to wipe off.

Nintendo’s 3DS console is one such device that dispenses with the need for eye gear by using two layered liquid crystal diode (LCD) screens to create the illusion of depth. Offset images create a sense of perspective, while alternating light and dark bands emanating from the bottom screen ensure your eyeballs only take in the images they’re supposed to at any given moment. It’s a serviceable recipe for rudimentary glasses-free 3D, albeit on a small scale suitable for handheld consoles.

Glasses Free 3D TV
In order to produce a convincing 3D illusion, MIT's three-panel technology requires a display with a 360Hz refresh rate.

What the researchers at MIT have come up with is a more sophisticated way to paint a 3D scene that changes perspective as you move around. It does away with the need to sit in a fixed, optimal position (think of how in a movie theater, everyone views the same perspective regardless of where they sit), and in fact could ultimately encourage changing your viewing angle, depending on how creative developers get with the technology. To give you an example, imagine leaning left in your chair to spy an enemy crouched behind a crate in a first-person shooter (FPS).

The project is called High Rank 3D (HR3D). To begin with, HR3D involved a sandwich of two LCD displays, and advanced algorithms for generating top and bottom images that change with varying perspectives. With literally hundreds of perspectives needed to accommodate a moving viewer, maintaining a realistic 3D illusion would require a display with a 1,000Hz refresh rate.

To get around this issue, the MIT team introduced a third LCD screen to the mix (pictured above). This third layer brings the refresh rate requirement down to a much more manageable 360Hz. More importantly, it means short term application of this technology is possible. Currently, TV technology maxes out at 240Hz, so a high-speed panel in the 360Hz range isn’t all that far-fetched.

The researchers plan to present a tri-panel prototype display at Siggraph. In the meantime, it’s worth carving out three and a half minutes of your time to watch the video below, which explains the technology in visual detail.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New chemical makes teeth 'cavity proof'

By Rob Waugh 

A new chemical could make human teeth 'cavity proof' - and do away with the need for visits to the dentists forever.

The molecule has been called 'Keep 32' - after the 32 teeth in a human mouth.
The chemical was designed by dentists in Chile, and wipes out all the bacteria that cause cavities in just 60 seconds in tests. 

The chemical could be added to any current dental care product, turning toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum into 'super cleansers' that could get rid of the underlying cause of tooth decay.

The chemical targets 'streptococcus mutans', the bacteria that turns the sugar in your mouth into lactic acid which erodes tooth enamel.
By exterminating the bacteria, 'Keep 32' prevents the damage to teeth before it happens. 

Using a product containing the chemical keeps your teeth 'cavity proof' for several hours. 

The product has been under test for seven years, and is now going into human trials.
It could be on the market in 14 to 18 months, say researchers José Córdoba from Yale University and Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile.
The chemical could even be added to foods to stop bacteria damaging teeth as you eat.
The researchers hope to licence the patent to chemical giants such as Procter and Gamble.
'We are currently in talks with five interested in investing in our project or buy our patent,' say the researchers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

3D-printed atheletic shoe

article: A student at the Royal College of Art in London claims he has invented the world’s fastest running shoe. French-born engineer and designer Luc Fusaro developed a prototype that can be architectured around the unique shape of a sprinter’s foot, weighs just 96 grams, and can shed fractions of a second off your time. Here’s the coolest part (aside from the fact that it looks like God’s slipper): It comes straight out of a printer.
Designed to Win, as Fusaro calls it, is fabricated through selective laser sintering (SLS), a method for creating solid objects by fusing powdered materials with a CO2 laser. The process allows Fusaro to take 3-D scans of a runner’s foot, use digital tools to cater the stiffness of the soles to the athlete’s physical abilities, then print the shoes out of nylon polyamide powder, a material that is “one of the strongest in the range of additive manufacturing,” Fusaro says.
You wouldn’t want to run a marathon in these things. “It’s not good for more than 400 meters because it’s too stiff,” Fusaro tells Co.Design. But for sprinting, it can improve performance by as much as 3.5%--or about .35 seconds, which, in a 100-meter dash, could mean the difference between silver and gold.

Fusaro tested the shoe on several competitive sprinters in London and hopes to refine it for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Timur (Taron) Baysal




Animusic - Sesame Street rolling ball - Improv Everywhere

Sesame Street rolling ball...

I have been looking for this video for a while - I remembered the music so distinctly:

 ...and then this little gem popped up:

...and then I found Improv Everywhere

California high-speed rail gets green light

By JUDY LIN, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers gave the green light to start building the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line, a multibillion dollar project that will eventually link Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The move marked major political victories for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration. Both have promoted bullet trains as job generators and clean transportation alternatives.

In a narrow 21-16 party-line vote that involved intense lobbying by the governor, legislative leaders and labor groups, the state Senate approved the measure marking the launch of California's ambitious bullet train, which has spent years in the planning stages.

"The Legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and puts California out in front once again," Brown said.

Brown pushed for the massive infrastructure project to accommodate expected growth in the nation's most populous state, which now has 37 million people. State and federal officials also said high-speed rail would create jobs.

"No economy can grow faster than its transportation network allows," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "With highways between California cities congested and airspace at a premium, Californians desperately need an alternative."

The bill authorizes the state to begin selling $4.5 billion in voter-approved bonds that includes $2.6 billion to build an initial 130-mile stretch of the high-speed rail line in the agriculturally rich Central Valley. That allows the state to draw another $3.2 billion in federal funding.

The first segment of the line will run from Madera to Bakersfield.

Senate Republicans blasted the decision, citing the state's ongoing budget problems. They said project would push California over a fiscal cliff. No GOP senators voted for the bill Friday.

The final cost of the completed project from Los Angeles to San Francisco is projected to be $68 billion.

"It's unfortunate that the majority would rather spend billions of dollars that we don't have for a train to nowhere than keep schools open and harmless from budget cuts," Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, said in a statement.

Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is managing the project, said California would have lost billions of dollars in federal aid if the Senate fails to pass the bill before adjourning Friday for a monthlong recess.

California entered a contract that called for the federal government to provide money for building the Central Valley segment if the state also put up its share, he said.

"Not only will California be the first state in the nation to build a high-speed rail system to connect our urban centers, we will also modernize and improve rail systems at the local and regional level," Richard said Friday.

California was able to secure more federal aid than expected after Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down money.

Before Friday's vote, at least half a dozen Democrats in the 40-member Senate remained opposed, skeptical or uncommitted. Some were concerned about how the vote would impact their political futures, while others were wary about financing and management of the massive project.

In recent days, Democratic leaders included more state funding to improve existing rail systems in an effort to entice support for the bullet train.

The bill authorizes the state to sell nearly half of a $10 billion high-speed rail bond that voters approved four years ago under Proposition 1A. In addition to financing the first segment of high-speed rail, it allocates a total of $1.9 billion in bonds for regional rail improvements in Northern and Southern California.

The upgrades include electrifying Caltrain, a San Jose-San Francisco commuter line, and improving Metrolink commuter lines in Southern California.

One dissenter, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said public support had waned for the project, and there were too many questions about financing to complete it.

"Is there additional commitment of federal funds? There is not. Is there additional commitment of private funding? There is not. Is there a dedicated funding source that we can look to in the coming years? There is not," Simitian said.

The Bay Area Council, a group of business leaders from the San Francisco Bay and Silicon Valley areas, cheered the vote.

The bill, which already passed the state Assembly, heads to Brown for his signature.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Apple iGlasses Coming Soon? New Patent Reveals Rival To Google's Project Glass

article quote: "Isabelle Olsson, an engineer on the Glass project, said the company created the glasses for people to interact with the virtual world without distracting them from the physical world.

It is designed to interact closely with your senses, without blocking them.
She said Google had two broad goals in mind: communications through images and quick access to information. The device has a camera to capture fleeting moments and allow others to see the world through your eyes."



By Dave Smith

Unveiled as the first major product of the highly secretive "Google X" laboratory, Project Glass stole the show at last month's Google's I/O conference thanks to a live demonstration of the technology. It displayed skydiving, biking and rappelling down the side of the building, all using the live streaming feature from Google Hangouts to share the wearers' first-person perspectives with the world. Thanks to a YouTube hookup, audiences around the world got a great idea of what Google's Glasses can really do in the wild.

Google's "Project Glass" is incredibly ambitious, but it appears that Google is no longer alone in exploring the realm of wearable tech solutions. Apple was reportedly granted a patent on Tuesday in relation to "peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays."
Of all the companies to build a Project Glass rival, Google should worry most about Apple.

While Google Glass places a piece of smartglass right above the user's eye, Apple's solution uses two peripheral lights to show two different images to each eye "to create an enhanced viewing experience for the user." Apple's patent also attempts to address the biggest problems with head-mounted displays (HMDs), which have yet to gain traction in the consumer market for several reasons: They're too bulky, the tech and battery life aren't quite ready yet, and they're not fashionable enough for people to want to wear. At least not yet. 

Apple outlines the applications and benefits of HMDs in its patent filing:

"Some HMDs can be used to view a see-through image imposed upon a real world view, thereby creating what is typically referred to as an augmented reality. This is accomplished by reflecting the video images through partially reflective mirrors, such that the real world is seen through the mirrors' reflective surfaces. The augmented reality can be combined with the stereoscopic images in various types of applications. Some examples include applications in surgery, where radiographic data, such as CAT scans or MRI imaging, can be combined with the surgeon's vision. Military, police and firefighters use HMDs to display relevant tactical information, such as maps or thermal imaging data. Engineers and scientists use HMDs to provide stereoscopic views of CAD schematics, simulations or remote sensing applications. Consumer devices are also available for use in gaming and entertainment applications."

Apple hopes to solve many longstanding issues with HMDs, particularly the general risk of eyestrain that could be caused by the difference in distances between the wearer's field of vision and the peripheral display itself. Essentially, Apple's technology dynamically matches the color images being transmitted with either LED, OLED or lasers, which are converged stereoscopically to reduce the "tunnel effect" experienced in many of today's HMDs.

"Various embodiments of the invention allow users to customize different viewing parameters of the head mounted displays to accommodate for variation in the individual users' eyes," Apple wrote.
Apple's solution takes separate bits of information from the two incoming images -- the first image is broken down by the device's processor into a plurality of regions, colors and signals, while the second image is projected for the second eye to see -- to create a viewing experience that is significantly more comfortable than conventional HMDs, which "may also lead to a smaller likelihood of the user experiencing 'motion sickness' phenomena during extended viewing."

Apple says its technology can do many things with the data collected by its HMD, including storage, transferral, combination, comparison and other forms of manipulation used to produce, identify, run, determine, compare, execute, download or detect. 

iGlasses: Coming Soon?
Google said that it would exclusively release an "Explorer Edition" of Project Glass to developers next year for $1,500, but Google says the augmented reality headset will ship to consumers less than a year after the developer release, which means we will likely see Project Glass released before the end of 2013, probably just in time for Christmas.

Nobody outside of Cupertino knows how far along Apple is in developing its own AR headgear, but it's likely nowhere near where Google is right now. For the past several months, Google co-founder Sergey Brin has been much more visible with Project Glass, donning the glasses in more interviews and opportunities to put Project Glass out in the world.
Apple filed its patent in 2006, but that doesn't mean the company has been working on this project in that time. Patents are filed and granted for technologies all the time, simply because companies don't know which ideas to pursue and which to shelve for later. There's no way of knowing if Apple truly wants to build headgear with virtual capabilities, but given that there have been no rumors or reports from Apple's loose-lipped foreign supply chains, we can presume that Apple is still far from the prototype stage.
If Apple wants to build this patent into a viable, wearable solution, iGlasses would not likely be ready for a few years. Apple is likely waiting to see how the public takes to Google Glasses, at which point it will decide if it wants to compete. Apple typically doesn't enter markets where companies are currently succeeding (e.g: the search game), but the company will move on this if they can feel their product would offer something different and valuable.

Assuming Apple's iGlasses could do everything Project Glass can, it would be great to take pictures and videos with our eyes and transmit those videos to our iPhones, iPads and Macs via iCloud. With the new Maps application coming in iOS 6, we could get turn-by-turn directions with real-time traffic information while never having to take our eyes off the road. Apple users could set reminders, learn about places and things by looking at them, and of course, ask questions with Siri and use FaceTime to chat. If Apple can create this type of hands-free high-tech, it will effectively free the iOS platform for real-world applications. If iOS applications can escape the iPhone, and the virtual market can blend into the real-world market, Apple may see that $1 trillion market cap sooner than we think.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Google glass, smart glasses

Updating my thoughts about 'smart glasses'

If you search my blog with the word 'glasses', you find that I've been thinking about combining functionality through tech glasses for a while, sending myself emails since around 2003 or so. A hands-free camera through glasses became an interest long ago, then further so when I used to juggle while running. I later read about MIT's memory glasses. I also designed a cordless sport headphone to use with my iPod Shuffle.  Combined with my interest in motion capture, I began to consider ways of combining GPS / wifi / satellites with glasses for overlaying avatars onto the public, for use in a simulation environment for augmented reality gaming, training, sport, etc.

Think Microsoft Kinect, only users are not limited to one location. Game players would view their environment through glasses with built in headphones and microphones. Avatars can be superimposed over the players, and integrate with other elements that could be projected into a given environment, using the local area network and localized GPS or cameras to track the players. Like any POV game, the result would be a mixed/augmented reality of actual physical involvement by the player (running and spatial relations), with superimposed elements (the avatar/appearance of other players, AI elements, effects, etc.) and sounds would be blended into the actual surrounding sounds and voices of other players around the person as well. Add some earphones to the frames.

An indoor arena or warehouse environment with a ceiling rack system built above would allow for an array of cameras to capture movement, like motion capture or similar to the Kinect. Or possibly, players would have to wear transmitters on their points of articulation to relay their postures back to the system.

Uses could include military simulations, team sports, sci-fi/fantasy spectator sports with pro teams that combine athletics with simulated 'powers' and effects, simple social uses like having a public avatar or virtual fashion adornment, theme parks (imagine a roller coaster ride that combines not only augmented reality with superimposed elements but allows users to see each other's point of view by dialing into each other's camera/audio.

This idea of dialing into another person's experience as it is happening is an entirely other dimension that opens up a huge range of potential...

And of course public marketing - information about our environment being broadcast visually and narrated with audio - users would set up preferences or maybe toggle preferences via mobile devices.

Concerns: Use of subvocal technology for communication would afford greater privacy for both users and those around them. The implications of mainstream social agreement to wear cameras in daily interaction are...many.

Ideas submitted to Google here today. What the hell.

Human Stem Cell Transplants Successfully Reversed Diabetes in Mice

Scientists successfully reversed diabetes in mice by transplanting mice with human stem cells in a discovery that may lead to way to finding a cure for a disease that affects 8.3 percent of the U.S. population.

By Christine Hsu  
Scientists successfully reversed diabetes in mice by transplanting mice human stem cells into mice in a discovery that may lead to way to finding a cure for a disease that affects 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. 
Researchers say that the latest study, published in the journal Diabetes, was the first to show that human stem cell transplants can successfully restore insulin production and reverse type 1 diabetes in mice.
In an experiment designed to mimic human clinical conditions, researchers were able to wean diabetic mice off of insulin four months after the rodents were transplanted with human pancreatic stem cells.
Scientists led by Timothy Kieffer, a professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and scientists from the New Jersey-based BetaLogics, were able to recreate the "feedback loop" that enabled insulin levels to automatically rise or fall based on the rodents' blood glucose levels.
Additionally, researchers found that the mice were able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels even after they were fed large quantities of sugar.

After several months, researchers removed the transplanted cells from the mice and found that the cells had all the markings of normal insulin-producing pancreatic cells.
"We are very excited by these findings, but additional research is needed before this approach can be tested clinically in humans," Professor Kieffer said in a statement.
Researchers noted that their study had used mice that had a suppressed immune system to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells.

"The studies were performed in diabetic mice that lacked a properly functioning immune system that would otherwise have rejected the cells. We now need to identify a suitable way of protecting the cells from immune attack so that the transplant can ultimately be performed in the absence of any immunosuppression," he added.

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that happens when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that enables glucose to be stored by the body's muscle, fat and liver to be used as fuel.  Insulin shortage can lead to high blood sugar, blindness, heart attack, stroke, nerve damage and kidney failure.

The most common treatment for type 1 diabetes is regular injections of insulin, and while experimental transplants have been shown to be effective, researchers said that the treatment is severely limited by the availability of donors.

Previous research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that type 1 diabetes can be successfully reversed by injecting patients with their own stem cells.
Other studies have found that stem cell transplantation can only temporarily treat diabetes because anywhere from half a year to three years after transplantation, the patient's immune system often begins rejecting and attacking transplanted insulin-producing cells.