Tag Archive: Science



Accenture Friday said it has developed an artificial intelligence powered solution to help visually impaired people improve the way they experience the world around them and enhance their productivity in the workplace.

The solution, called Drishti, was developed as a part of Accenture’s focus on Tech4Good, which aims to apply technology to improve the way the world lives and works by solving complex social challenges, a company release said.

Accenture, plans to introduce Drishti to more than 100 visually impaired employees in India.

The solution is currently being piloted at Accenture in South Africa, and a Spanish language version is being tested with Accenture employees in Argentina.

Drishti, which means ‘vision’ in Sanskrit, provides smart phone-based assistance using AI technologies such as image recognition, natural language processing and natural language generation capabilities to describe the environment of a visually impaired person.

Initially developed and tested with 10 blind professionals through a collaboration with the National Association for the Blind in India, the solution provides narration to the user on the number of people in a room, their ages, genders and even emotions based on facial expressions.

It can also be used to identify and narrate text from books and documents, including currency notes, and identify obstructions like glass doors to improve the safety of the user.

“This Tech4Good solution is a great illustration of how AI technology can empower humans by augmenting their capabilities so they can achieve more for themselves and the world around them,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer, Accenture.

Pallavi Kadam, executive director, National Association for the Blind in India said, “This project makes us excited for a not-too-distant future where the widespread use of technologies such as this will have a significant and positive impact on the blind community.”

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

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An unmanned NASA spacecraft is about to fly over a massive storm raging on Jupiter, in a long-awaited a journey that could shed new light on the forces driving the planet’s Great Red Spot.

The flyby of the Juno spacecraft, surveilling the 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm, is scheduled for 9:55pm Monday (1:55am GMT Tuesday, 3:25am IST).

“Jupiter’s mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

“This monumental storm has raged on the solar system’s biggest planet for centuries.”

The storm looks like a churning red knot on the planet’s surface. It has been monitored since 1830, and may have existed for more than 350 years, the US space agency said.

Juno, which earlier this month marked its first year in orbit of the gas giant, will offer “humanity’s first up-close and personal view of the gigantic feature,” NASA said in a statement.

Equipped with instruments that can penetrate clouds to measure how deep the roots of this storm go, scientists hope to learn more about the workings of the raging tempest.

All eight of Juno’s instruments, including its camera, will be on when the spacecraft passes about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Giant Red Spot clouds, NASA said.

Juno launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in August, 2011, on a mission to learn more about Jupiter’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


A brain training computer game developed by British neuroscientists has been shown to improve the memory of patients in the very earliest stages of dementia and could help such patients avert some symptoms of cognitive decline.

Researchers who developed the “game show”-like app and tested its effects on cognition and motivation in a small trial found that patients who played the game over a period of a month had around a 40 percent improvement in their memory scores.

“We hope to extend these findings in future studies of healthy ageing and mild Alzheimer’s disease,” said George Savulich, who led the study at Cambridge University.

Dementia is a huge global health problem. The World Health Organization says some 47.5 million people had dementia in 2015, and that number is rising rapidly as life expectancy increases and societies age.

The condition is incurable and there are few drugs that can alleviate the symptoms – which include declining memory, thinking, behaviour, navigational and spatial skills and the gradual loss of ability to perform everyday tasks.

Publishing his results in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Savulich said that as well as improving their memory scores in the game, patients who played it retained more complex visual information than those who didn’t.

Independent experts said the study’s findings were encouraging, but that the app needed be tested against other forms of brain training in trials involving more people.

“While this type of brain training will not ultimately be able to prevent or cure memory diseases like dementia, (it is) a promising way to improve early memory symptoms of the disease,” said Tara Spires-Jones of the University of Edinburgh.

 

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NASA scientists detected a pulse of melting ice and water travelling through a major glacier in Greenland that was so big that it warped the solid Earth – a surge equivalent in mass to 18,000 Empire State Buildings.

The wave – which occurred during the 2012 record melt year – traveled nearly 15 miles through the Rink Glacier in western Greenland over four months before reaching the sea, the researchers said.

“It’s a gigantic mass,” said Eric Larour, one of the study’s authors and a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It is able to bend the bedrock around it.”

Such a “wave” has never before been detected in a Greenland or Antarctic glacier. The total amount of mass carried in the wave – in the form of either water, ice, or some combination of both – was 1.67 billion tons per month, or 6.68 billion tons overall over four months, the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, found.

The study was led by the lab’s Surendra Adhikari and was also co-authored by Erik Ivins.

“These solitary waves, they’re fairly well known in rivers,” said Ivins, also a researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Rivers can have inundations upstream where a lot of water is collected, and the water gets bunched up as it’s going downstream, and doesn’t ever really flatten out, it just remains as this wave and continues down a river.”

However, the scientists don’t know what the wave actually looked like or precisely what caused it – much of it was occurring below the surface of the glacier. They also don’t know precisely what it was made of. “We are losing a combination of water and ice, we don’t know what fraction,” said Adhikari.

The researchers were only able to detect the wave because a GPS sensor, located in a rocky inland area a little over 12 miles, moved 15 millimeters as the wave went by, pushing down on the Earth’s crust and causing a deep indentation.

“The GPS can sense that,” explained Larour.

Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Penn State University who was not involved in the study, compared the effect something much more mundane and relatable in our everyday lives.

“Find a bed,” Alley said by email. “Put a little piece of tape on the sheet. Put your fist right next to the tape and push down, while watching the tape. The tape will move down as you push down, and also will move horizontally toward your fist just a little. Put your fist farther away and the tape won’t move as much. Push harder, and it will move more. While pushing down, slide your fist past the tape and you’ll see a pattern of vertical and horizontal motions of the tape.”

“A bed isn’t exactly the elastic earth, but that’s sort of what this team did,” Alley continued. “They saw a ‘fist’ of mass sliding down the glacier past their GPS station, caused by extra meltwater.”
The “wave” occurred in the wake of a 2012 summer melting event that saw most of the surface of Greenland become covered with liquid water, and that still has not been surpassed by subsequent warm years. The researchers suspect that some of that meltwater flooded beneath the ice sheet and then pulsed outward through Rink glacier.

“It’s really related to the deep interior of Greenland that’s full of melt and it’s trying to get rid of that melt through gravitational processes,” said Ivins.

The study also documented another, smaller “wave” at Rink Glacier in 2010, another major melt year.

Rink is far from the largest glacier in Greenland. It is about 3.4 miles wide at its front where it touches the ocean and a little over half a mile deep in the same location. Researchers have also shown that pulses of meltwater flow out from beneath the glacier in colorful silt-filled plumes, presumably through subterranean channels, which could be how some of this mass exited to the ocean in 2012.

The scale of the pulse, 6.68 billion tons, or gigatons, is still only a fraction of what Greenland contributes to the ocean every year in the form of water and ice. NASA has estimated that Greenland loses 287 billion tons annually at present (though it lost far more than that in the banner melt year of 2012).

Still, the research gives a sense of the tremendous magnitude of the changes now occurring on Greenland which is covered by enough ice to raise sea levels by over 20 feet if it were all to slide into the ocean.

And it pairs with other studies showing that the breaking off of large pieces from Greenland glaciers causes major earthquakes, and that enormous lakes atop the Greenland ice sheet can vanish within hours into its depths.

The study also raises questions about whether more huge ice and water pulses will be seen as the Arctic continues to warm, and Greenland to melt – and thus whether this is how a melting ice sheet exports its mass to the ocean.

But mostly, it’s just staggering to contemplate.

If the analogy of 18,000 Empire State buildings isn’t striking enough, the researchers offered another. The mass loss through Rink Glacier from the wave, they say, was equivalent to “150 million fully loaded 18 wheelers.”

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


The operationalisation of India’s heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk II (GSLV-Mk II) opens up more launch service revenue opportunity, said a top official of Antrix Corporation Ltd.


India on Thursday successfully put into orbit its Insat-3DR weather satellite using GSLV-Mk II rocket and in the process put the rocket, which has a carrying capacity of 2-2.5 ton to geo-transfer orbit, for commercial launches from its “developmental” stage.

“The global satellite launch services market is estimated at around $5 billion. It is not known the annual launch market size of satellites that would suit GSLV-Mk II,” S.Rakesh, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Antrix told reporters here.

According to him, India’s lighter rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is consolidating its position in the small satellite launch market.

“The GSLV rocket will operate in a different satellite launch segment. We are looking at various avenues to earn foreign exchange using this rocket,” Rakesh said.

Adding to this, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Chairman A.S.Kiran Kumar said: “Antrix is also looking at launching small satellites in low orbits. Several small satellites can be accommodated in one GSLV.”

India will also test launch a much heavier rocket GSLV-Mk III with four ton carrying capacity during this December or in January 2017.

“It is a new vehicle (rocket). The target launch date was December 2016 but there could be slight delay as large number of tests have to be carried out. We will also be taking the opportunity to launch a communication satellite atop the GSLV-Mk II that will be similar to GSAT 11 but slightly small in size,” said Kiran Kumar.

Officials of Indian space agency had earlier termed GSLV as the “naughty boy” as owing to its failure rate and tricky cryogenic engine technology.

However on the back of GSLV-Mk-II success for third consecutive time, S.Somanath, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) declared that “the cryogenic engine technology no more scares Isro”.

Queried about the impending launches, K.Sivan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) said India will be launching ScatSat – a weather monitoring and forecasting satellite — with polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) at the end of the month.

The Indian satellite will have as its co-passenger an Algerian Alsat satellite and six other satellites.

Both the satellites will be put into different orbits. Thus, the fourth stage/engine of the rocket will be switched off after first ejecting ScatSat. Then, after a gap of around 30 minutes, the engine will be restarted to put the Algerian satellite into its intended orbit.

About the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), Kiran Kumar said the service is being used by several entities.

He said an advertiser on autorickshaws use IRNSS to track the vehicles and pay the vehicle owners.

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Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


US-based Intel on Tuesday announced a deal to buy an artificial intelligence startup as the computer chip colossus looks to broaden its role in data centers and the expanding internet of things.

Intel did not disclose how much it is paying for Nervana Systems, but US media reports put the price at more than $350 million (roughly Rs. 2,333 crores).

“With this acquisition, Intel is formally committing to pushing the forefront of AI (artificial intelligence) technologies,” Nervana co-founder and chief executive Naveen Rao said in a blog post.

“We can now shatter the old paradigm and move into a new regime of computing.”

Founded two years ago in Southern California, Nervana has specialized in combining hardware and software to help machines think in ways similar to human brains, according to the companies.

Intel plans to put Nervana expertise to work in Xeon and Xeon Phi chips to better handle “deep learning” in the Internet cloud, Intel data center group executive vice president Diane Bryant said in an online post.

“While artificial intelligence is often equated with great science fiction, it isn’t relegated to novels and movies,” Bryant said.

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Researchers from Facebook’s Connectivity Lab have developed a new technology that can one day make light-based wireless communications – a far superior technology than the ones based on radio frequencies or microwaves – a reality in the future.

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The new technology can pave the way for fast optical wireless networks capable of delivering Internet service to far-flung places.

“A large fraction of people don’t connect to the Internet because the wireless communications infrastructure is not available where they live, mostly in very rural areas of the world,” said Tobias Tiecke, who led the research team.

Light-based wireless communication, also called free-space optical communications, offers a promising way to bring the Internet to areas where optical fibres and cell towers can be challenging to deploy in a cost-effective way.

Using laser light to carry information across the atmosphere can potentially offer very high bandwidths and data capacity, but one of the primary challenges has been how to precisely point a very small laser beam carrying the data at a tiny light detector that is some distance away.

The Facebook researchers used fluorescent materials instead of traditional optics to collect light and concentrated it onto a small photodetector.

They combined this light collector, which featured 126 sq cm of surface that can collect light from any direction, with existing telecommunications technology to achieve data rates of more than 2 gigabits-per-second (Gbps).

“We demonstrated the use of fluorescent optical fibres that absorb one colour of light and emit another colour,” Tiecke said.

“The optical fibres absorb light coming from any direction over a large area, and the emitted light travels inside the optical fibre, which funnels the light to a small, very fast photodetector,” he added in a paper described in the journal Optica.

The new light collector uses plastic optical fibres containing organic dye molecules that absorb blue light and emit green light.

This setup replaces the classical optics and motion platform typically required to point the light to the collection area.

The fast speeds are possible because less than two nanoseconds lapse between the blue light absorption and the green light emission.

In addition, by incorporating a signal modulation method called orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, or OFDM, the researchers transmitted more than 2Gbps despite the system’s bandwidth of 100MHz.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Twelve students from a Delhi school have been selected to participate in the finals of the prestigious International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) at Nasa.

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The Class X to XII students of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, were invited by Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh for an interactive session on the eve of their departure for Florida.

Hailing the achievement of the students, Singh said they not only deserve encouragement, but, in addition, their success story should be propagated among school children across the country, so that those with hidden talent for space experimentation are able to realise their passion.

At the same time, he said other students also become aware of the various options available across the world for developing their scientific skills.

Singh said it was no small achievement that the team was selected through a very rigorous and objective competition at continental level.

“Their names were finalised for the international finals only after they won the Asian regional round against teams from countries including Pakistan, China, Japan and Korea,” a statement quoting Singh said.

The selected students were Varun Arora, Dibyadarshi Dash, Aman Siddhant, Aditya Soni, Suryansh Garg, Hersh Aditya Singh, Aryan Gupta, Raj Bakshi, Arunim Gupta, Yash Khurana, Anhad Singh and Shashwat Goel.

 
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Scientists at the US space agency Nasa have discovered tridymite an unexpected silica mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater on Mars that may alter our understanding of how the Red Planet evolved.

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Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, has been exploring sedimentary rocks within Gale Crater since landing on Mars surface in August 2012.

On sol 1060 (the number of Martian days since landing), the rover collected powder drilled from rock at a location named “Buckskin”, Nasa found in a study.

Scientists in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston led the study and the paper on the team’s findings was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The detection was a surprise to the scientists because tridymite is generally associated with silicic volcanism, which is known on Earth but was not thought to be important or even present on Mars.

Tridymite requires high temperatures and high silica concentrations to form, conditions which most typically are found in association with silicic volcanism.

“On Earth, tridymite is formed at high temperatures in an explosive process called silicic volcanism. Mount St. Helens, the active volcano in Washington State and the Satsuma-Iwojima volcano in Japan are examples of such volcanoes,” said Richard Morris, Nasa planetary scientist at Johnson.

“The combination of high silica content and extremely high temperatures in the volcanoes creates tridymite. The tridymite was incorporated into ‘Lake Gale’ mudstone at Buckskin as sediment from erosion of silicic volcanic rocks,” Morris, who is also the lead author of the paper, added.

The discovery of tridymite might force scientists to rethink the volcanic history of Mars, suggesting that the planet once had explosive volcanoes that led to the presence of the mineral.

“I always tell fellow planetary scientists to expect the unexpected on Mars,” said Doug Ming, ARES chief scientist at Johnson and co-author of the paper.

“The discovery of tridymite was completely unexpected. This discovery now begs the question of whether Mars experienced a much more violent and explosive volcanic history during the early evolution of the planet than previously thought,” Ming added.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


The US space agency has released its popular Nasa app for a new platform – the fourth-generation Apple TV – that will provide you access to Nasa TV on your TV as well live views from the International Space Station (ISS).

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This version joins the app’s other versions available for iOS in iPhone and iPad versions, Android and Fire OS.

The Nasa app, available for free in the App Store on Apple TV, has been downloaded more than 17 million times across all platforms.

“The Nasa app has been a fantastic way for the public to experience the excitement of space exploration from their mobile devices,” said David Weaver, Nasa associate administrator for Communications.

“Now, users with the latest Apple TV can explore and enjoy our remarkable images, videos, mission information, Nasa Television and more on the big screen with the whole family,” he added in a statement.

The Nasa app for Apple TV offers several features for users.

You can watch live streaming Nasa TV and get a real-time view of the Earth from the space station.

The users can view more than 15,000 images individually or as a continuous slideshow and play “on demand” Nasa videos.

They can view other Nasa satellites pass overhead, based on their location and discover the latest Nasa mission information.

“The users can listen to Nasa’s online radio station “Third Rock” and view the Earth as art image gallery,” Nasa said.

 
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