Saturday, August 16, 2014

World’s first smartphone turns 20

The first ever smartphone — a $900 clunky IBM Simon mobile phone —turned 20 on Saturday.
The phone with a battery life of one hour was developed by IBM and the American cellular company BelSelf and went on sale in 1994.

At around 23 cm long and weighing half a kg, it was about half the size of a house brick. “It was called Simon because it was simple and could do almost anything you wanted,” the Irish Times reported.
With its green LCD screen, Simon had touch screen technology. Its software allowed users to write notes, draw, update their calendar and contacts and send and receive faxes, as well as allowing calls.
“It has all the components of a smartphone, including a slot in the bottom to insert different applications such as mapping ones, spreadsheets and games. So it was really a forerunner to the iPhone,” Charlotte Connelly from the London’s Science Museum was quoted as saying. Around 50,000 handsets were sold.
In October, the relic phone will go on display as part of a permanent exhibition on the history of communication and information technology at London’s Science Museum.
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india vs England

During the fifth Test’s opening day at the Oval, pigeons assembled at the practice pitches that are parallel to the main square. The birds blissfully foraged for worms and weeds. A peck here, a peck there and all was fine with the avian world.
Yes, a match was in progress but with the action centred entirely upon the middle, in the truest sense, as England seamers revelled, the close-in fielders caught well and Indian batsmen perished, the prospect of a well struck cricket ball scattering the pigeons seemed rare.
At one point, a lone pigeon inched closer to the main pitch and M.S. Dhoni, already saddled with the onerous task of sweeping away the debris of a batting collapse, had the delicate task of nudging an obstinate feathered specimen away. It was the only time when an England bowler lent a helping hand as James Anderson got the bird to move aside.
Tragically, India suffered another meagre first innings, mustering just 148. Dhoni (82, 140b, 15x4, 1x6), played a lone hand and his 58-run tenth-wicket partnership with Ishant Sharma, who was dropped by Ian Bell, was the only pocket of resistance. The skipper was the last man to be dismissed.
At close, England scored 62 for no loss after Alastair Cook was lucky to survive an lbw appeal from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
India suffered a minor scare when Ishant grimaced and limped after his second delivery but once the landing area was sorted out, the speedster seemed at ease but wickets remained elusive.
The day’s theme was primarily about the England fast bowlers scuttling the Indian line-up while Dhoni stood tall. The Indian captain took some blows on his body, unsettled the seamers’ lines and unlike the men above him in the batting order, never got bogged down. When opportunity arose, he drove — twice against Stuart Broad and once off Chris Woakes. He also lofted Chris Jordan for a six.
Later, he cut and pulled while the morning horrors extended into the second session with a watchful Stuart Binny (he replaced RavindraJadeja) and a positive R. Ashwin succumbing to the host. Bhuvneshwar made it worse, chasing Jordan’s wide delivery but the lower order cannot be expected to stand up all the time and if blame has to be apportioned, a sizeable chunk has to be laid at the top-order’s doors!
Earlier, after damp conditions delayed the start by 30 minutes, Cook opted to field and felt vindicated as Anderson scalped Gautam Gambhir for a duck in the first over. The opener shaped to play, realised that there was drastic seam movement but couldn’t withdraw his bat in time. Cheteshwar Pujara tried to stonewall but Broad darted one in and disturbed the stumps.
At 10 for two, India was in trouble but Murali Vijay played straight and an out-of-form Virat Kohli cover-drove Anderson. However uncertainty wasn’t far and Kohli shouldered arms to Jordan. It seemed as though the delivery that rapped the pad was off target but replays showed that it was headed towards off-stump. 

India shivered at 26 for three and Ajinkya Rahane joined Vijay. India’s two century-makers on this tour were together but hopes were misplaced. The checked-drive, which undid Rahane in previous games, surfaced again and he tamely patted back to Jordan. Vijay edged Woakes to a juggling Joe Root and India wobbled at 36 for five, well before lunch.
At Manchester, India had scored eight for four and 61 for five in the initial part of its first and second innings respectively. A crumbling top-order continues to plague Dhoni’s men and it was terrible to watch on a gloomy Friday.submited by web design company
India – 1st innings: Murali Vijay c Root b Woakes 18 (64b), Gautam Gambhir c Buttler b Anderson 0 (1b), Cheteshwar Pujara b Broad 4 (19b), Virat Kohli lbw b Jordan 6 (18b, 1x4), Ajinkya Rahane c & b Jordan 0 (8b), M.S. Dhoni c Woakes b Broad 82 (140b, 15x4, 1x6), Stuart Binny c Cook b Anderson 5 (30b), R. Ashwin c Root b Woakes 13 (17b, 1x4), Bhuvneshwar Kumar c Buttler b Jordan 5 (11b, 1x4), Varun Aaron c & b Woakes 1 (17b), Ishant Sharma (not out) 7 (42b); Extras (b-6, lb-1): 7; Total (in 61.1 overs): 148.
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Gambhir), 2-10 (Pujara), 3-26 (Kohli), 4-28 (Rahane), 5-36 (Vijay), 6-44 (Binny), 7-68 (Ashwin), 8-79 (Bhuvneshwar), 9-90 (Aaron).
England bowling: James Anderson 17-4-51-2, Stuart Broad 15.1-4-27-2, Chris Jordan 14-7-32-3, Chris Woakes 14-7-30-3, Moeen Ali 1-0-1-0.
England — 1st innings: Alastair Cook batting 24 (49b, 2x4), Sam Robson batting 33 (65b, 5x4); Extras (b-4, w-1): 5; Total (for no loss in 19overs): 62.
India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 7-1-25-0, Ishant Sharma 7-2-12-0, Varun Aaron 3-0-14-0, Stuart Binny 2-0-7-0.
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Modern military guarantee against war: Modi

Terming military might as the biggest deterrent to war, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the defence forces will be modernised to ensure that “nobody casts an evil eye” on the nation.
“Fighting a war and winning it has now become less difficult these days. But a modern military, armed with state of the art weaponry alone is a guarantee against war. When we are capable, no one can dare challenge us,” Mr. Modi said addressing a gathering after dedicating the largest indigenously built warship INS Kolkata to the nation. “When people have a sense of our military capability, nobody will ever dare to cast an evil eye on our nation,” he said.
Stressing the importance of maritime security in fast expanding global trade and commerce, the Prime Minister said India, with its vast coastline, was playing a major role in it. “In the coming days, INS Kolkata will inspire confidence to those involved in maritime trade,” he said.
Describing the building of the destroyer ship as a big achievement by India’s technicians, engineers and defence experts, Modi said the government was committed to modernising the defence forces so “our jawans don’t feel they are lagging behind in defending our nation.
“When I dedicate INS Kolkata to the nation, I am confident it will boost our military prowess and give confidence to our soldiers.”
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan were present at the ceremony held at the Naval dockyard.
The warship, constructed by the Mazagon Dockyards Limited, has been designed by Navy’s design bureau. The 6,800 tonne warship is a technology demonstrator and will showcase a giant leap in shipbuilding technology in the country.smarttechies
The Prime Minister had dedicated India’s largest warship INS Vikramaditya to the nation in June in his first outing after taking charge.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

PM Modi addresses the nation on I-Day

He hoped that the country will scale new heights of development.

The Hindu Exclusive: Now that the speech has concluded, have a look at these exclusive pictures from The Hindu Archives - Of India celebrating her Independence over the years: From 1947 - 2014
8:40am: The PM's speech has concluded. 
8:40am: We need cooperation from neighbouring and SAARC nations to jointly tackle poverty: PM
8:37am: The strength of the saviour is much more than the strength of the person who kills. Lets unite to fight poverty: Narendra Modi
8:35am: Can we not wage a war and emerge victorious against poverty. Let us defeat poverty: Narendra Modi 

8:29am: People are asking about the Planning Commission: Times have changed from the time the Planning Commission was created: Narendra Modi
8:25 am: Narendra Modi announces a new initiative- Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. 
8:20am: So far, the Prime Minister has spoken on a wide range of issues in his Independence Day speech: sex ratio, rape, female foeticide and digital India.  
8:14am: Let us come together and think of ways India does not have to import but we export to the world: PM 
8:12am: Let us think about 0 defect - that our products are not defected and 0 effect: PM  
8:10am: I tell the world - Come, Make In India. Sell anywhere but manufacture here. We have the skill and talent: PM 
8:10am: We need to give impetus to manufacturing sector: Narendra Modi  
8:06am: Prime Minister Modi announces a new project: the Jan Dhan Yojana. "We want to integrate the poorest of the poor with bank accounts," he says. 
8:04am: We are a youthful nation. Our youth are our strength. The world and India needs a skilled workforce: Narendra Modi  
8:02am: I appeal to parents not to sacrifice the girl child, PM says. 
8:00am: We have not got anything from the path of violence. We have seen instances of communal violence for long: PM  
7:50am: Our head hangs in shame when we hear news about rape. Parents ask about daughters but did anyone ask their sons: PM 
7:47am: Govt. is not an assembled entity but an organic entity. I have tried to break down these walls: PM 
7:46am: One government department is quarelling against the other. Matters reached the Supreme Court too. How can we take India ahead like this: PM 
7:40am: It is farmers, labourers, women, youth, seers, scientists who made it: PM
7:34am: These days give us inspiration & they showcase the national character. This day can inspire us to take India to newer heights: PM
7:32 am: PM begins his speech. "Many generations gave sacrifices for Independence, spent youth and life in freedom struggle. To those martyrs my salutations," he says.
7:30am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoists the National Flag from the ramparts of Red Fort
7:30am: PM Narendra Modi arrives at Red Fort 

7:20am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at Rajghat, pays homage
7:15am Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on Independence Day and hoped that the country will scale new heights of development.

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Gold demand in India down 39% in Q2

Continuing restrictions on gold imports into India have led the World Gold Council (WGC) to re-calibrate its projected demand for the year 2014 to 850-950 tonnes from the earlier 900-1,000 tonnes.
In its report ‘India demand statistics’ for the April-June 2014 quarter, WGC, on Thursday, announced that India’s demand for gold was down 39 per cent at 204.1 tonnes and in value terms, it had come down by 41 per cent to Rs.50,564.3 crore.

Of this, WGC said, jewellery demand was down 18 per cent at 154.5 tonnes while in value terms, it was down 20 per cent at Rs.38,269.5 crore. Investment demand was down a significant 67 per cent in volume and value terms at 49.6 tonnes and Rs.12,294.8 crore.
Recycled gold in India during the quarter was up at 16.4 tonnes (9.5 tonnes).
Somasundaram P. R., Managing Director, India, WGC, said, “Restrictions played a part in the drop in demand but there are also expectations of a price drop. Inflation cut into the wallet of the buyer and savings were lower. Besides, it comes against a backdrop of huge jump in demand in 2013.”
For the first-half of calendar 2014, Indian gold demand was lower by 34 per cent in volume terms at 394.4 tonnes and 37 per cent in value terms at Rs.99,417.3 crore. Further, Mr. Somasundaram said the huge negative sentiment which was there in the second-half of 2013, when restrictions were imposed, had been overcome.
Considering that the policy squeeze and other economic factors had affected savings in general in the first-half, for the second-half, monsoon looked near normal and there was a general positive smarttechies sentiment in the economy, he said.
“With the impending wedding season and favourable monsoons, it is likely that the demand in the second-half of the year will be near normal. We, therefore, expect annual demand to be in the region of 850-900 tonnes with over 200 tonnes flowing through the grey market,” he said.
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Happy Independence Day! This is a special issue commemorating our Independence. Read stories and take a look at some rare pictures to learn more about this unique day.


Sixty seven years ago, India gained its independence from the British. We have learnt about India’s freedom movement, from the first war of independence in 1857 to Gandhiji’s non-violent movement and the extremist revolutionary tactics used against British Rule. Most of our knowledge about India’s freedom struggle comes from History books, but that is only a drop in the ocean.
For example, take the date August 15. Have you wondered why this date was chosen? Lord Louis Mountbatten, then Viceroy of India, chose August 15 to commemorate the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces during World War II. But it was later revealed that Lord Mountbatten was aware that the situation in India was getting out of hand and decided to give her independence sooner than later. 

Tell me more
Interesting? Well, get this. When the entire nation was celebrating India’s independence, an important man chose to stay away from the celebrations. Mahatma Gandhi was in Calcutta trying to ease the tension after violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims.
Heard of the Civil Disobedience movement? Gandhiji was inspired by the book Civil Disobedience by David Thoreau that stated no one should pay taxes! He and his followers, therefore, broke the law to protest the imposition of taxes on salt and use of foreign goods.
In granting India her independence, the British agreed to a peaceful transfer of power, which would have originally come into effect in 1948, but was moved ahead by Lord Mountbatten.
India shares its Independence Day with three other countries — South Korea, Bahrain and the Republic of Congo. Pakistan also would have shared this honour, but Lord Mountbatten moved its Independence Day ahead by one day because, as the last Viceroy of British India, he was expected to attend the Independence Day festivities in both countries. To avoid inconvenience, he moved Pakistan’s Independence Day to August 14. Smart cookie, that Lord Mountbatten is!
Flag tales
You know the colours of our National Flag. Go on, list it — Saffron for strength and courage, white for peace and truth, and green for growth and fertility of our land. The blue Ashoka Chakra with 24 spokes on it denotes the continual progress of the nation. Here are a few things you may not have known about the Tricolour.
The National Flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya, an agriculturist.
Originally, the flag designed by Pingali Venkayya had only two colours, green and red with a spinning wheel in the middle. Gandhiji suggested the addition of white to represent other communities in the country.
A previously used version of the flag — with green, yellow and red horizontal strips representing different communities, with Vande Mataram embossed on the centre — failed to catch on, but was first hoisted on August 7, 1906, in Parsee Bagan Square, Calcutta, now Kolkata.smarttechies
The spinning wheel was later replaced by the Ashoka Chakra to represent India’s growth and progress.
The National Flag should be made of khadi, and the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission is the only licensed flag manufacturer. As of 2008, the Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha is the sole manufacturer of the flag.
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Cell phones can be charged using sound

                       A device now can generate five volts, which is enough to charge a phone

Soon you can use traffic noise, music, chants from a football ground and even your own voice to charge your cell phone.
Scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Nokia have created an energy—harvesting prototype (a nanogenerator) that could be used to charge a cell phone using everyday background noise — such as traffic, music, and our own voices.
The team used the key properties of zinc oxide, a material that when squashed or stretched creates a voltage by converting energy from motion into electrical energy, in the form of nanorods.
The nanorods can be coated onto various surfaces in different locations making the energy harvesting quite versatile. When this surface is squashed or stretched, the nanorods then generate a high voltage.
The nanorods respond to vibration and movement created by everyday sound, such as our voices. Electrical contacts on both sides of the rods are then used to harvest the voltage to charge a phone, ‘’ reported. Researchers first developed a process whereby they could spray on the nanorod chemicals — almost like nanorod graffiti — to cover a plastic sheet in a layer of zinc oxide.
When put into a mixture of chemicals and heated to just 90 degrees C, the nanorods grew all over the surface of the sheet. Secondly, gold is traditionally used as an electrical contact but the team were able to produce a method of using cheap and cheerful aluminium foil instead.presented by smarttechies
Five volts
The ultimate device generates five volts, which is enough to charge a phone.
“Being able to keep mobile devices working for longer, or do away with batteries completely by tapping into the stray energy that is all around us is an exciting concept,” said Dr Joe Briscoe from QMUL’s School of Engineering and Materials Science.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sunni militants attack Iraq's Baiji refinery

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Sunni militants attacked Iraq's largest oil refinery, located in Baiji in northern Iraq, with machine-gun fire and mortars on Wednesday, Iraqi security sources and refinery employees said.
The attack started at 4 am (0100 GMT) from outside two of the three main entrances to the sprawling facility, the sources said.
One mortar hit a spare-parts warehouse and smoke billowed from the building, the sources said. On Tuesday, foreigners were evacuated from the refinery as security forces braced for an attack on the compound.
The refinery has been under siege since Sunni militants began a major military offense in northern Iraq last week.
(Reporting By Ghazwan Hassan; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Court: $1.8M house built on park must be removed

A developer who mistakenly built a $1.8 million waterfront house on parkland has been ordered to remove it.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court found that the unoccupied home in Narragansett was built entirely on land owned by the Rose Nulman Park Foundation, and therefore must be removed.
The developer, Four Twenty Corp., began building the home in 2009, but it didn't discover the error until 2011 when it tried to sell the house and the prospective buyers got a survey. Robert Lamoureux, who owns the company, then contacted one of the park's trustees to try to work something out, but she told him the land was not for sale, according to Friday's opinion.
The foundation was set up to preserve the property as a park in perpetuity. A 2008 agreement among the family members says that if the trustees allow the land to be used as anything other than a public park, they must pay $1.5 million to New York Presbyterian Hospital.
The developer argued it should not be penalized for an innocent surveying mistake. The court said it was sympathetic, but it said the park's property rights outweighed that. It also said it was in the public's interest to keep the land as a park.
"Any attempt to build on even a portion of the property would constitute an irreparable injury, not only to plaintiff but to the public," it wrote.
Messages left with the developer's lawyer were not immediately returned.
A judge will decide how much time the developer has to remove the house.
A lawyer for the foundation, Mark Freel, says the developer has secured most of the permits he needs to move it to the neighboring land, but that the fate of one critical permit is still up in the air. The timing of that could affect whether the house has to be torn down.
"My client has wanted for a long time for the house to be removed," he said. "My client's very clear and firm position is that it's time for the house to go."

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NASA Dark-Energy Mission Could Spot 3,000 New Alien Planets

A mission NASA is designing to probe the nature of mysterious dark energy could discover thousands of alien planets as well.

NASA's proposed Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission aims to help researchers better understand dark energy, the puzzling stuff that makes up about three-quarters of the universe and drives its accelerating expansion.
But WFIRST — which is tentatively scheduled to launch in the early to mid-2020s — should also prove to be an adept planet hunter, complementing the activities of the space agency's prolific Kepler space telescope, researchers say. [Gallery: A World of Kepler Planets].

"We predict WFIRST will have 3,000 individual planet detections, the same order of magnitude as Kepler," Scott Gaudi, of Ohio State University, said in April during the Space Telescope Science Institute's Habitable Worlds Across Time and Space Symposium in Baltimore.
Gravitational microlensing
Scientists detect planets around other stars using several different methods. Kepler notes the tiny, telltale dimming of light that occurs when a planet crosses, or transits, the face of its host star from the spacecraft's perspective. But WFIRST would rely on gravitational microlensing.
In this technique, astronomers watch what happens when a big object passes between Earth and a background star. The foreground object's gravity bends and amplifies the light from the background star, acting like a magnifying glass.
If the foreground object is a star, and it has planets, the planets can affect the magnified light, creating a signal that astronomers can detect. The process behind this strategy was laid out in 1936 by Albert Einstein, based on his general theory of relativity.
Earth-based telescopes have already detected more than 20 exoplanets using microlensing. WFIRST will be a space-based telescope, which opens up greater detection abilities, researchers said.
"If you go to space, you can do a lot of great things," Gaudi said.
Because microlensing requires the correct lineup of foreground and background stars, the ability to follow up on WFIRST's finds will be limited. However, the process will expand the population of known alien planets, aiding scientists aiming to determine how rare Earth-size planets might be.
"This will dramatically improve our yield of planets," Gaudi said.

A census of worlds
WFIRST should provide a wealth of information about what types of planets exist, allowing stronger statistical conclusions to be drawn, researchers said. Such work would be a nice follow on from Kepler, which has discovered thousands of candidate exoplanets, many of them in solar systems very different than our own.
"If every solar system looked like ours, Kepler would have found very few or no planets," Gaudi said. "The solar systems we're learning about with Kepler are very different from our own."
Kepler has had a great deal of success spotting planets that orbit relatively close to their stars (because they transit frequently). WFIRST, on the other hand, will be more sensitive to larger bodies farther from their suns, researchers said.
In addition, WFIRST should be able to detect smaller distant planets, as well as free-floating "rogue planets" that have been ejected from their systems. Together, Kepler and WFIRST will cover virtually the entire plausible spectrum of planets in mass and orbits.
WFIRST will be able to capture information about Earth-size planets that lie farther from their suns than Earth does, as well as unbound planets the size of Mars. According to Gaudi, in favorable cases, the instrument should be able to detect a terrestrial moon orbiting a distant Earth, or a gas-giant satellite as large as Ganymede (Jupiter's largest moon), though both observations would be challenging. Unbound moons, like unbound planets, would also be detectable.
Of the 3,000 new planets expected to be found by WFIRST, scientists think about 300 will be Earth-size worlds and 1,000 will be "super-Earths," possibly rocky planets up to 10 times the mass of our own.  Such predictions are based on present-day understanding of the distribution of types of planets, knowledge that may be either strengthened or challenged by the wealth of data that WFIRST will bring.
With WFIRST, Gaudi said, "we'll measure the galactic distribution of the planets."
At present, the observatory is in the pre-formulation stage, where it will remain until 2016. In addition to creating a statistical catalog of exoplanets, WFIRST will also directly image previously confirmed planets, study black holes, and hunt for clues about dark energy.

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Moon Bumps: Earth's Gravity Creates Lunar Bulges

Earth's gravitational pull is so powerful that it creates a small bulge on the surface of the moon. For the first time, scientists have observed this bump from orbit, using NASA satellites.
The gravitational tug-of-war between Earth and the moon is enough to stretch both celestial bodies, so they each end up having a slight oval shape, with the tapered ends facing each other.
On Earth, this gravitational tension shows up in the form of tides. The moon's pull has a strong effect on Earth's oceans because water has so much freedom of movement. [The Moon: 10 Surprising Lunar Facts]
The corresponding distorting effect on the moon, called the lunar body tide, is more difficult to see, because the moon is solid except for a molten core. But Earth's pull raises a small bulge about 20 inches (50 centimeters) from the surface on the near side of the moon and a matching bulge on the far side.
"The deformation of the moon due to Earth's pull is very challenging to measure, but learning more about it gives us clues about the interior of the moon," Erwan Mazarico, a scientist who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.

The same side of the moon always faces Earth, but the bulge does move around a few inches over time, wobbling and following Earth's pull like a magnet, as the moon shifts slightly during its orbit.
Scientists observed the lunar body tide using NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite, which is mapping the height of features on the moon's surface, and NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellite, which is mapping the moon's gravitational field. The satellites measured the height of 350,000 locations spread across areas of the moon closest to Earth and areas of the moon on the opposite side from Earth. The satellites passed over each location several times, so scientists could compare the height of each spot from one satellite pass to the next. By identifying which spots changed height, the researchers could track the lunar tide.
Scientists have studied the lunar body tide phenomenon from Earth, but this is the first time satellites have captured images of the lunar tide from orbit. The findings confirm the calculations scientists had already made from ground observations.

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Harvard Scientists Send the First Transatlantic Smell via iPhone

NEW YORK — Did you hear about the latest iPhone app out of Harvard? It really stinks.
Harvard scientists successfully transferred the first scent from Paris to New York on Tuesday morning via an iPhone app. The champagne and passion fruit macaroon-scented message was transferred via a new communication platform called the oPhone.
It works like this: A custom-made app allows you to take a photo of something and “tag” it with a few aroma notes (from more than 3,000 scents). These smells — which range in category from “Paris Afternoon” to “Plantation” — are transferred via a pipe-like smelling station called an oPhone Duo and are controlled by an iPhone app called oSnap.
When you send an oNote, your recipient will click a link that leads him to a photo, as well as the specific aromatic notes you have chosen. When connected to the oPhone Duo, the hardware piece, it’ll emit slight scents from two separate pipes to be smelled in conjunction with the message. Otherwise, the app will just offer some vivid description of the scent your sender is trying to convey. 
You don’t have to own the oPhone hardware, which starts at $149 on the company’s Indiegogo page, to send or receive a smell. Anyone without the contraption will still be able to tag images using the oSnap app (out in the App Store now) and mark it with around 16 different high and low notes. Currently, user creations range from “Lady Gaga” to “My Room” to “Smoky Beach.”
Screenshots from the oSnap app.
The oPhone, available to purchase on Indiegogo for $149, will be available to test at certain hotspots in New York, Paris, and Cambridge. (Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)
The device’s co-inventor, Harvard Professor David Edwards, hopes to spread this new technology to the hands of consumers over the next year via “hotspots.” The American Museum of Natural History, where the initial demonstration took place, will host the first oPhone hotspot in the United States for three consecutive weekends starting July 12. Other hotspots will be located in Paris cafes and in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anyone who has made an oSnap via the app will be able to access it and smell its aroma in real life, using a Duo device at any of these special locations. 
Edwards first began developing the idea for the his communication system in collaboration with a 23-year-old student, Rachel Field. The two hope to see it used in foodie cultures—to be paired with the images of meals that many already send to their friends, or share on social media sites like Instagram or Facebook.
“Say I’m a barista and I have these great coffees, and I have difficulty describing them,” Edwards said at the demonstration. “You come to the cafe, you’ve got the iPad, ask, ‘What kind of coffee is that? and you can play it, get the primary and secondary and the mixed notes. It’s an education; it helps you talk to the barista. From the retail point of view, it’s a real way of reaching out and saying, ‘Get some coffee.’ ”
Edwards documented the aromas of the above spread of food, using the oSnap app. (Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)
The guts of the oPhone Duo consist of several small circular plastic pieces, what Edwards calls the “neurons” of the contraption. Inside each neuron are four air holes, three of which are packed with dry, aromatic material. When the oSnap app sends a signal to the oPhone, indicating which aromas to conjure, the machine spins the circular neurons so their holes align with an air current. The smell is then pulled up.
A pack of four neurons will sell for $20. Like an ink cartridge, these pieces supply a vast number of smells depending on what combinations you ask for.
Edwards admits that, “like playing the piano,” learning to identify aromatic notes is a process that takes time. “Once you get used to it, you get better at it,” he said at the event. “We’re really intrigued to see how people are using this.”
The oPhone isn’t the first gadget to enable an iPhone owner to experience smells. My colleague David Pogue reviewed a dongle from Pop Secret that attached to the iPhone and could puff out the scent of freshly popped popcorn. Oscar Mayer released a similar contraption that simulated the smell of bacon frying in the pan. 
The oPhone can produce more sophisticated scents, though it’s not nearly as mobile as those gimmicky dongles. And that’s where the Harvard team’s other invention in the pipeline comes in: the oPhone Uno, a contraption that would theoretically allow you to dock your mobile phone to constantly receive smells.
“Ultimately if there’s enough interest here, you want this to be with you in your pocket everywhere.”

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Deep underground, water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If you want to find Earth's vast reservoirs of water, you may have to look beyond the obvious places like the oceans and polar ice caps.
Scientists on Friday said massive amounts of water appear to exist deep beneath the planet's surface, trapped in a rocky layer of the mantle at depths between 250 miles and 410 miles (410 km to 660 km).
But do not expect to quench your thirst down there. The water is not liquid - or any other familiar form like ice or vapor. It is locked inside the molecular structure of minerals called ringwoodite and wadsleyite in mantle rock that possesses the remarkable ability to absorb water like a sponge.
"It may equal or perhaps be larger than the amount of water in the oceans," Northwestern University geophysicist Steve Jacobsen said in a telephone interview. "It alters our thoughts about the composition of the Earth."
"It's no longer liquid water that we're talking about at these great depths. The weight of hundreds of kilometers of rock and very high temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) break down water into its components. And it's not accessible. It's not a resource in any way," Jacobsen added.
Jacobsen said water is taken down into the mantle with minerals during the process known as plate tectonics - the slow, inexorable movement of the colossal rock slabs that make up the Earth's surface.
When the minerals containing this water reach certain depths, they break down in a process called dehydration and release the water to form magmas. Such "dehydration melting" is common in the shallow mantle and forms the source for magmas in many volcanoes.
In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers present evidence that this is also occurring much deeper in the mantle in a region called the "transition zone" between Earth's upper and lower mantle.
The study combined lab experiments involving synthetic ringwoodite being exposed to conditions simulating the heat and pressure of the "transition zone" and observations of events in this zone based on seismic data from a network of more than 2,000 seismometers across the United States.
A team led by Jacobsen and University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt identified deep pockets of magma, a likely signature of the presence of water at those depths.
"Melting of rock at this depth is remarkable because most melting in the mantle occurs much shallower, in the upper 50 miles (80 km)," Schmandt said in a statement. "If there is a substantial amount of H2O in the transition zone, then some melting should take place in areas where there is flow into the lower mantle, and that is consistent with what we found."
The research built on another study in March showing that a commercially worthless diamond found in Brazil contained ringwoodite that entrapped water amounting to more than 1 percent of its weight. Ringwoodite has been found in meteorites, but this was the first terrestrial sample because it normally is so deeply buried.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Google unveils new modular smartphone designs at Ara Developers Conference

Google at its first-ever Ara Developers' Conference, being held from 15 April to 16 April, showed off new modular smartphone designs and revealed more details about its first modular smartphone.

Mashable quotes Project Ara chief Paul Eremenko who said that two more developer conferences are scheduled for this year in July and September. Eremenko revealed that the first Project Ara modular smartphone can be expected to ship next January.

Further, Eremenko added that by the end of this year, ahead of the launch of modular phones, Google will be rolling out an update for Android that will add support for Ara's modular components.

Eremenko confirmed that the first modular phone will be a generic device dubbed 'gray phone', something we heard back in February, and will be available for developers for $50.

The report says the Project Ara team also showed off the Ara Configurator, which is a tool for customizing each module of the phone. Users would have the privilege of designing their own modular phone.

Google announced the dates of its first Ara Developers' Conference in February and is notably, live streaming the event.

Earlier, Google ahead of the Ara Developers' Conference, released the Project Ara Module Developers Kit (MDK). The released MDK version 0.10 covered guidelines for developers for designing Project Ara smartphones, creating valid module dimensions, components and layout for power pads.

For those unaware, the Project Ara design scheme comprises of what Google calls an endoskeleton (endo) and modules. The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place, while a module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter or some other customizable hardware unit.

Prior to this, Google gave the world its first glimpse of the Project Ara modular prototype smartphone at the 'Launch' event in San Francisco.
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