Tag: Science

Cern boffins stage human sacrifice to Kali

MURDER_AT_CERN_-_DISTURBING_HUMAN_SACRIFICE_VIDEO_SURFACES_-_YouTube_Bosses at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) are not amused as a video has tipped up showing staff conducting a mock ritual human sacrifice to the goddess Kali.

The video includes the staged “stabbing” of a woman. It is filmed from the perspective of a secret viewer watching from a window above who, as the ceremony reaches its climax, lets out a string of expletives and flees with the camera still running.

The video, which circulated online, shows several individuals in black cloaks gathering in a main square at Europe’s top physics lab.

The statue of the Hindu deity Shiva is on permanent display at the complex, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

A Cern spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse that the scenes were filmed on its premises but without official permission or knowledge.

“Cern does not condone this type of spoof, which can give rise to misunderstandings about the scientific nature of our work.”

The “investigation” under way was an “internal matter”,  she said.

Those responsible for the prank had access badges.  But at the end of the day, boffins have a weird sense of humour.

Geneva police told AFP they had been in contact with Cern about the video but were not involved in an official investigation.

Cern hosts machinery carrying out some of the world’s most elaborate particle research, including an enormously powerful proton smasher trying to find previously undiscovered particles.

Kali was not available for comment, but everyone knows she does not want her sacrifices stabbed and the ritual needs to be conducted in a grave yard. Plus it is men who are sacrificed to her – never women.

Britexit slashes UK science funding

mad scientistUK boffins are being told to leave EU science projects because the country has decided that it can do all that sort of thing itself.

The UK’s science efforts received a huge chunk of funding from the EU, and was involved with a large number of joint projects but now it looks like the boffins are being told to walk away.

Fortunately, the UK government has piles of money which is why it is talking about flogging off the NHS and cutting back on education programmes.

Theoretically the UK should be fine at the moment, after all the country has not actually decided to follow the Brexit referendum and leave the EU, but apparently the EU has unleashed a wave of discrimination against UK researchers, with elite universities in the country coming under pressure to abandon collaborations with European partners.

In a confidential survey of the UK’s Russell Group universities, British academics are being asked to leave EU-funded projects or to step down from leadership roles because they are considered a financial liability.

For example an EU project officer recommended that a lead investigator drop all UK partners from a consortium because Britain’s share of funding could not be guaranteed. The note implied that if UK organisations remained on the project, which is due to start in January 2017, the contract signing would be delayed until Britain had agreed a fresh deal with Europe.

British researchers receive about £1bn a year from EU finding programmes such as Horizon 2020, but access to the money must be completely renegotiated under Brexit and is unlikely to happen.

The 24 universities in the Russell Group are regarded as Britain’s elite institutions. With Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, University College London and Imperial College among their number, they are renowned for world-class research and academic excellence.

New EU projects are reluctant to be in collaboration with UK partners, and that potentially all new funding opportunities from Horizon 2020 are closing”.

At least two social science collaborations with Dutch universities have been told UK partners are unwelcome, one Russell Group university said in the survey.

Speaking at Oxford’s Wolfson College last Friday, the university’s chancellor, Chris Patten, said Oxford received perhaps more research income than any European university, with about 40% coming from government. “Our research income will of course fall significantly after we have left the EU unless a Brexit government guarantees to cover the shortfall,” Lord Patten said.

Still a least we will not have the EU telling us what to do.  We will have an elected, democratic leader like Teresa May.  Oh..

Secret meeting mulls creating plastic humans

1431613943_valeriya-lukyanova-467More than a hundred scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs gathered in secret to discuss the radical possibility of creating a synthetic human genome.

According to the New York Times attendees were told to keep a tight lip about what took place, but someone must have dropped a hint to the press.  Synthetic human genome is a big step up from gene editing – it uses chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes. It relies on the custom-designed base pair series and geneticists wouldn’t be bound by the two base pairs produced by nature.

They could, in theory build microbes, animals and humans. So a company could build the right human for the job.

Obviously this is ethically a minefield and the world of science appears to have not really got the hang of how to succeed in getting the public on its side.  It seems to think that if there is a public debate, then religious nutjobs will lean on politicians who will put the lid on the whole thing. However keeping the meeting secret though has created an internet conspiracy stir and reports of the meeting appear to be getting out of hand.

George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard medical school and a key organizer of the proposed project said that the meeting wasn’t really about synthetic human genomes, but rather it was about efforts to improve the ability to synthesize long strands of DNA, which geneticists could use to create all manner of animals, plants and microbes.

Yet the original name of the project was “HGP2: The Human Genome Synthesis Project”. What’s more, an invitation to the meeting clearly stated that the primary goal would be “to synthesise a complete human genome in a cell line within a period of ten years”.

Church said the meeting was secret because his team has submitted a paper to a scientific journal, and they’re not supposed to discuss the idea publicly before publication.

Church does want to build a complete human genome in a cell line within ten years. So far scientists have synthesized a simple bacterial cell.

Publisher gives “elite” Wackypedia editors present

Wikipedia_mini_globe_handheldScientific publisher Elsevier has donated 45 free ScienceDirect accounts to “top Wikipedia editors” to “aid them in their work” in a move which has been slammed by the open access movement.

Michael Eisen, one of the founders of the open access movement, which seeks to make research publications freely available online, tweeted that he was “shocked to see @wikipedia working hand-in-hand with Elsevier.

Elsevier provides very expensive scientific journals, which can be accessed on line. The assumption is that if Wackypedia gets access to his journals free they will link its papers as a form of advertising.

Eisen said that this would mean that it would populate encyclopaedia with links people cannot access without a big bank account.

Over the last few days, a row has broken out between Eisen and other academics over whether a free and open service such as Wikipedia should be collaborating with a closed, non-free company such as Elsevier.

Eisen’s fear is that members of the public seek to follow such links, they will be unable to see the article in question unless they have a suitable subscription to Elsevier’s journals, or they make a one-time payment, usually tens of pounds for limited access.

Eisen tweeted “@Wikipedia is providing free advertising for Elsevier and getting nothing in return,” and that, rather than making it easy to access materials behind paywalls, “it SHOULD be difficult for @wikipedia editors to use #paywalled sources as, in long run, it will encourage openness.”

He called on Wikipedia’s co-founder, Jimmy Wales, to “reconsider accommodating Elsevier’s cynical use of @Wikipedia to advertise paywalled journals.” His own suggestion was that Wikipedia should provide citations, but not active links to paywalled articles.

Silicon Gan but not forgotten

IBM engineers in a fabrication plant (fab)Hardly a week goes by without some boffin emerging from a smoke filled lab claiming to have found a replacement for silicon.

This week it is allium nitride (GaN) which could make data centres massively more efficient only this time its boffins have managed to create some actual product.

GaN was part of a $70 million research program by the US Department of Energy in 2013.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinout Cambridge Electronics (CEI) has unveiled a line of GaN transistors and power electronic circuits. It claims to cut energy usage in data centres, electric cars, and consumer devices by 10 to 20 percent globally by 2025.

CEI co-founder Tomás Palacios, who co-invented the technology said it was an “opportunity” to change electronics and how energy was used.

CEI’s GaN transistors have one-tenth the resistance of such silicon-based transistors. This allows for much higher energy-efficiency. CEI is using its transistors to enable ‘power electronics’ that will make data centres less energy-intensive, electric cars cheaper and more powerful, and laptop power adapters up to one-third the size.

MIT researchers slashed costs by using new manufacturing technologies that switched gold metals used in manufacturing GaN devices for metals that were compatible with silicon fabrication. They also developed ways to deposit GaN on large wafers used by silicon foundries.

Cambridge Electronics researcher Bin Lu said that advanced GaN transistors and circuits where fabbed in conventional silicon foundries, at the cost of silicon. The cost is the same, but the chips have 100 times better performance.

Transistors get atomic

atomium-BelgiumBoffins have emerged from their smoke filled labs with a transistor which works at an atomic level.

Physicists at the punchy titled Paul-Drude-Institut für Festkörperelektronik (PDI) institute and the Freie Universität Berlin (FUB), along with chums at the NTT Basic Research Laboratories (NTT-BRL), Japan, and the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) used a scanning tunnelling microscope to create a minute transistor consisting of a single molecule and a small number of atoms.

The observed transistor action is markedly different from the conventionally expected behaviour and could be important for future device technologies as well as for fundamental studies of electron transport in molecular nanostructures.

The complete findings are published in the August 2015 issue of the journal Nature Physics which we get for the spot the proton competition.

In atomic-scale transistors, current is extremely sensitive to single electrons hopping via discrete energy levels. Single-electron transport in molecular transistors has been previously studied but atomically precise control of the gate – which is crucial to transistor action at the smallest size scales has been impossible.

The team’s project involved building a transistor consisting of a single organic molecule and positively charged metal atoms, positioning them with the STM tip on the surface of an indium arsenide (InAs) crystal.

Means that the truly microtech has legs and might be with us in a decade or so.


Kids of today have a short attention spa…..

cloudMicrosoft’s Redmond boffins have been adding up some numbers and dividing by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that electronics have created brains which have a shorter attention span.

It recently published a study (conducted using both surveys and EEG scans) suggesting that the average attention span has fallen since the start of the century.

When I was a lad, people could focus on a task for 12 seconds. That figure dropped to 8 seconds in 2013.

The Volish boffins think that a combination of smartphones and an avalanche of content is frying our minds. The kids of today are compulsively checking their phones, with all this social networking it makes it all too easy to find diversions.

Microsoft’s report said that while tech is hurting attention spans overall, it also appears to improve your abilities to both multitask and concentrate in short bursts.  In other words you might have the attention span of a gnat but you get more done while you are focused.

You can do a better job of committing useful things to memory. Microsoft said there are limits as he or she who is a heavy user of social networking can’t even manage that.


Aussies leap last quantum computer hurdle

high-resolution-kangaroo-hd-wallpapers-new-fresh-images-of-kangaroo-animals-free-download-desktop-background-photosElectrical engineers at the University of New South Wales claim to have cleared one of the last hurdles to building a simple quantum computer.

The researchers have reported this missing piece in the journal Science Advances which we get for the spot the quantum boomerang competition.

Project leader Andrea Morello said that the whole thing was a bit like a Lego box – you can start building up a large architecture by piecing its components together.

Then we guess it breaks and you have a quantum bit on the floor which you tread on in the dead of night when you get up for a glass of water.

Morello and his colleagues have so far been perfecting its basic element, the “quantum bit”. This is a single phosphorus atom entombed in a silicon crystal. Using a carefully tuned magnetic field, the researchers can manipulate the atom’s quantum “spin”, flipping it up or down.

A quantum computer is “not just a ‘faster’ computer,” Morello says. “They are the equivalent of a jet plane to a bicycle.”

Last year the team showed they can write, read and store the spin of a single quantum bit with better than 99.99% accuracy using a magnetic field.

But to carry out complex calculations, a quantum computer needs thousands, or even millions of quantum bits, that can all be individually controlled.

In their latest work, carried out by experimental physicist Arne Laucht, Morello and his team found a way to control each quantum bit using a simple electrical pulse and flooding the whole device with a single magnetic field.

By timing their electrical pulses, the team can tune the phosphorus atom in and out of the oscillating magnetic field, and so flip the phosphorus atom’s spin into any position they want – up, down or an intermediate superposition – without affecting its neighbours.
Kane cautions that we are still a long way from large-scale quantum computing in silicon but he thinks that large-scale silicon quantum computing will become a reality, but there is still a long, steep road ahead.

The group is already at work on these challenges. Morello is confident they will have all the elements in place to build a small-scale test-system within 10 years.

No cats were harmed during testing.

Boffins speed up Wi-Fi by 10 times

technic, funk, man at short-wave receiver, 1961, 1960s, 60s, 20th century, historic, historical, radio operator, radio operatorsResearchers at Oregon State University emerged from their smoke filled labs with a technology that can increase the bandwidth of Wi-Fi systems by 10 times.

The technology, which uses LED lights, can be integrated with existing Wi-Fi systems to reduce bandwidth problems in crowded locations, such as airport terminals or coffee shops.

LED technology developments have made it possible to modulate the LED light rapidly, meaning that a “free space” optical communication system is possible.

The system uses inexpensive components.

The prototype, called Wi-FO, uses LEDs that are beyond the visual spectrum for humans and creates an invisible cone of light about one metre square in which the data can be received. To address the problem of a small area of usability, the researchers created a hybrid system that can switch between several LED transmitters installed on a ceiling, and the existing Wi-Fi system.

Thinh Nguyen, an OSU associate professor of electrical and computer engineering said the Wi-FO system could be easily transformed into a marketable product, and he was looking for a company that is interested in further developing and licensing the technology.

The system can potentially send data at up to 100 megabits per second. Although some current Wi-Fi systems have similar bandwidth, it has to be divided by the number of devices, so each user might be receiving just five to 10 megabits per second, whereas the hybrid system could deliver 50-100 megabits to each user.

In a home where telephones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, and televisions may all be connected to the internet, increased bandwidth would eliminate problems like video streaming that stalls and buffers.

The receivers are small photodiodes that cost less than a dollar each and could be connected through a USB port for current systems, or incorporated into the next generation of laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

A patent has been secured on the technology, and a paper was published in the 17th ACM International Conference on Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of Wireless and Mobile Systems.

Most emails replied to within a day

POSTMANPATBoffins from Yahoo Labs in California and Spain have discovered that most emails are read within minutes of them being sent.

The researchers looked at more than two million users who exchanged 16 billion emails over the course of several months.

Nearly 90 percent of users replied to their emails within a day, with about half responding in around 47 minutes. The most frequently occurring reply time was just two minutes.

Most email replies were very short: between five and 43 words. Just 30 percent of emails went on for 100 words or more.

As email exchanges progressed, replies came faster although many emailers lost steam by the last exchange, possibly because there was nothing left to say. Email length also grew as the conversation progressed. But at the end, the last reply was very short.

Email sent on the weekend or overnight had shorter replies. But emails sent first thing in the morning were rewarded with faster and longer replies, researchers found.

Teens and youngsters answered their emails faster than any other group — taking just 13 minutes on average to fire off a response of about 17 words. More mature users – those over 51 years of age – took an average of 47 minutes and 40 words before pressing send on their replies.

Men jump on their emails slightly faster than women, taking 24 minutes to respond compared to 28 minutes. Both sent an average of about 30 words per email.

Emails sent to phones were replied to faster than those sent to tablets. Email responses from tablets faster were than on desktops which took an average of 62 minutes.

If you send anything with an Email attachments you can expect the reply to take an hour longer.

People bombarded with 100 emails or more per day only bothered answering about five percent of them, compared to a 25 percent average email response rate for people who had smaller in-boxes to manage.

Young emailers – 25 and under – were better at handling the email avalanche. The more emails they got the faster they replied and the shorter messages they sent.