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Warren Ellis » Your Moment Of Swine Flu Zen

The BBC reports that Jakarta International Airport is using thermal imaging scanners to identify passengers that might have swine flu.

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BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | 'Silver sensation' seeks cold cosmos

Next week the ESA will put the largest space telescope, the 3.5 metre Herschel Telescope, into orbit at Lagrance point 2, 1.5 million kilometres from earth. Also being launched on the same mission is the Planck telescope that views the sky in the microwave wavelength.

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EarthNow! Landsat Image Viewer

Ever wonder what the Landsat 5 is looking at now? The USGS provides near-real-time coverage of the data being acquired by the satellite, complete with a small window to show it's where it is above the Earth.
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RPI: News & Events - Controlling Light With Sound: New Liquid Camera Lens as Simple as Water and Vibration

System using an adaptive liquid lens that can capture up to 250 images per second. The lens is made of water droplets that vibrate in response to high frequency sound, which is then used to focus the lens.The lens uses little energy is practically "always" in focus, after a software interface detects and discards the out-of-focus images. The system is intended for a variety of systems ranging from cellphone cameras to miniature spy planes

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Transsexuality gene identified... maybe - A variation in the gene cytochrome P17 leads to higher-than-average levels of both male and female sex hormones, and appears to be linked to female-to-male transsexuality. The researchers caution that this only means that there is probably a genetic component to transsexuality and that it is a complex behaviour with multiple factors involved. In fact, the gene variant is present in some women who are not transsexual, and is absent in some women who are transsexual.

New solar cell material soaks up the infrared - Almost half of energy from the sun is in the infrared wavelength, but contemporary solar cells can only capture the visible wavelengths so are limited to a theoretical maximum of 40% efficiency. A new material developed by Spanish researchers can absorb both visible light and infrared wavelengths so could boost the theoretical upper limit to 63%.

Efficiency of thermoelectric materials boosted - US researchers have boosted the zT from 1 to 1.5, a 50% improvement in thermoelectric efficiency. Although still a long way from the goal of 3 or 4 (sufficient to compete with an automobile engine), this discovery indicates that the maximum thermoelectric efficiency should be higher than 1.5. Many mechanical systems, such as steam generators and automobile engines, generate a lot of waste heat (60% in the case of a gasoline engine), so adding a thermoelectric material could increase the overall efficiency of these systems.

Former Queen guitarist completes his PhD - After a 30-year hiatus, Brian May returned to school to complete his doctorate in astronomy. His thesis is titled A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.

Nanowires used to make large image sensor - Berkley researchers were able to build a prototype image sensor by growing two types of nanowire "lawns", then transferring them to a the same surface. Almost 80% of the elements were functional. The process can work with a wide range of surfaces, and easily scalable to large surface areas.
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I'm cleanup up a bunch of archived images and stories. This post is all on imaging of various sorts, under a cut to avoid taking over your friends list.

9 images under the cut )
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Canon has copyright a method for using the iris pattern of the photographer to watermark photos they take. The photographer would register their iris by looking at a dot through the viewfinder and pressing the shutter button. The iris information is then embedded as metadata in all images taken by that user. A camera with this feature would allow up to five registered users. Click on the image to read the patent details.

Found on Slashdot.
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A new type of holographic display material has been developed that can be refreshed in minutes. The developers hope to be able to reduce the refresh rate to the 30 frames-per-second required for video. If they achieve this goal, holography could become a viable alternative to current 3D displays that often require the use of special glasses. LCD displays have also been developed to display video  information in 3D (there was one on display at the Electronic Imaging conference I attended last week... very cool but the image was distorted from some viewpoints). Moreover, they claim that the material can also be used storing large amounts of information. They use a photoreactive polymer to which they apply a 9000 volt charge during the writing process. Once the information is written, a 4000 volt charge is required to maintain the image.
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Researchers have developed the darkest surface known to man, using an array of carbon nanotubes, designed to minimize the amount of light reflected. The new substance has a reflectivity of 0.045 percent, far better than the previous standard (glassy carbon: 1.4 percent). More than just a laboratory curiosity, the material could be used solar cells, astronomy, and thermalphotovoltaic cells.
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Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a "...flexible, biologically safe contact lens with embedded circuits and lights." according to EurkAlert!. They hope to eventually develop heads-up displays that can be worn as contact lenses. Anyone who has read the early issues of Warren Ellis's "Doctor Sleepless" will recognize the technology; not surprising, given this article was found on his grinding.be site. They hope to power/control it using a combination of RF and solar power.
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For those who may not be aware, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is currently underway. One of the gadgets that appeared was the Photosimile, billed as a "PC-controlled desktop photography studio". It includes a light box and rotating turntable that lets the photographer a series of different shots of the product. What is really cool is that the system comes with software to stitch up to 20 photos together to generate a 3D image of the object in just 3 minutes.
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The Eye-Fi is a 2Gb SD memory card for digital cameras with the added feature that it can make the stored images available on a wireless network. Available now for $100(US) from Amazon, and it probably can be found at most electronics and camera stores. You can apparently set it up that as soon as you bring your camera home it automatically uploads your photos to your home PC (assuming both camera and PC are on), and can even upload them automatically to one of many supported photosites such as Fotki, flickr, or Facebook.
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The right-angle lens lets you take pictures of people beside you without them knowing. I'm sure there are lots of legitimate uses for this. Really. Just can't think of any. A $40(US) idea for the closet stalker on your list.
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The 3D Cap is a lens that splits an image to generate a stereoscopic image. For those who don't know what a stereoscopic image is, it consists of two images of the same scene, slightly offset from each other to represent the view from each eye.
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The digital review bike mirror lets a cyclist in classical racing pose see at a glance what it behind them.
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A new ultrasound scanner uses a laser to "twang" cells (that's how the authors put it) into emitting an ultrasonic wave that is detected, a process referred to as photoacoustic tomography. The result is a high-resolution image of things like blood vessels. The sound is generated by a cell a when near-infrared laser warms it briefly, causing it to expand and contract and in doing so emitting an ultrasonic wave.
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E-Ink has developed a full-colour electronic ink display using coloured filters over their patented display system. The system consists of black and white charged chips in a clear liquid that move depending upon the charge of a nearby electrode. They have also managed to push the "refresh rate" to the equivalent of 30 frames per second, making it viable for displaying video information in colour.
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Quantum-dot LEDs (QDLEDs) could potentially lead to brighter, cheaper displays with a wider range of colours.  Standard LCD monitors can generate no more than 500 cd/m2 of light energy, while QDLEDs are less energy-efficient but cna generate as much as 9000 cd/m2. The colour of  QDLED depends on its size, making it relatively easy to make QDLEDs of different colours (such as the Red, Yellow and Green of a typical display), and they are relatively easy to produce. Current research is focused on two limitations: they have a relatively short operating life (about 300 hours), and use cadmium which is highly toxic.
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University of California researchers have discovered a way to convert evanescent (near-field) light waves into "normal" light waves so that they can be detected by standard microscopes. A recently-developed silver-film "superlens" is placed  within 35 nanometres of the surface, and corrugations in the film's surface diffract the evanescent waves, converting them into  normal light waves that can be captured using a conventional microscope. As a result, the system was able to distinguish two nanowires placed within 70 nanometres of each other, more than three times closer than is possible using conventional methods.
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Among the stories in today's tech post: believing gossip over truth, synthesizing God, relating Alzheimers and Diabetes, bionic nerves, conducting your own virtual orchestra, the dangers of mixing acetaminophen and coffee, a gene switch for Schizoprenia, a neural link to anorexia, easy online photo resizing, and the affects of marriage on testosterone levels.
Reuters: Science
Gossip more powerful than truth, researchers say - Gossip is more powerful than truth, a study showed on Monday, suggesting people believe what they hear through the grapevine even if they have evidence to the contrary. (see also: Gossip more powerful than facts in shaping opinion: study)
Scientists Deliver 'God' Via A Helmet - Scientific American is reporting on scientific work done to map the euphoric religious feelings within the brain. As a result, it's now quite possible to experience 'proximity to God' via a special helmet. During the three-minute bursts of stimulation, the affected subjects translated this perception of the divine into their own cultural and religious language — terming it God, Buddha, a benevolent presence or the wonder of the universe.
Alzheimer's Could Be a Third Form of Diabetes - Insulin, it turns out, may be as important for the mind as it is for the body. Research in the last few years has raised the possibility that Alzheimer's memory loss could be due to a novel third form of diabetes. Scientists at Northwestern University have discovered why brain insulin signaling — crucial for memory formation — would stop working in Alzheimer's disease.
Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
New Tricks for Online Photo Editing - A site called Rsizr (pronounced "resizer") has added a feature that isn't even in the newest version of Photoshop: the ability to shrink or enlarge pictures--horizontally and vertically--with relatively little distortion. For instance, Rsizr can compress a photo of students in a classroom without sacrificing resolution by removing the pixels between desks. Likewise, Rsizr can expand the picture to fill, say, an entire computer screen by adding extra pixels in certain places.
PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news
'Bionic' nerve to bring damanged limbs and organs back to life - University of Manchester researchers have transformed fat tissue stem cells into nerve cells — and now plan to develop an artificial nerve that will bring damaged limbs and organs back to life.
Baton charge: Do-it-yourself conductors take over classical music - Instead of wielding a baton, the "conductor" wears an eWatch, a computer the size and shape of a large wristwatch that contains accelerometers and tilt sensors. Software then translates those actions into commands which tell a virtual orchestra -- a 3-D replication of a real-life performance by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra -- to play faster or slower, louder or softer.
Science Blog
How schizophrenia develops: Major clues discovered - Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because of a problem in an intermittent on/off switch for a gene involved in making a key chemical messenger in the brain, scientists have found in a study of human brain tissue. The researchers found that the gene is turned on at increasingly high rates during normal development of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in higher functions like thinking and decision-making – but that this normal increase may not occur in people with schizophrenia.
Unmarried men rule -- when it comes to testosterone - A fascinating new study is the first outside of North America to observe lower testosterone levels among married men. Supporting a growing body of research, the study reveals that even married men who are considered aloof spouses and provide minimal parenting have much lower testosterone levels than single, unmarried men.
Anorexic women taste different - Although anorexia nervosa is categorized as an eating disorder, it is not known whether there are alterations of the portions of the brain that regulate appetite. Now, a new study finds that women with anorexia have distinct differences in the insulta – the specific part of the brain that is important for recognizing taste – according to a new study by University of Pittsburgh and University of California, San Diego researchers currently on line in advance of publication in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Acetaminophen, caffeine mix may harm liver - Consuming large amounts of caffeine while taking acetaminophen, one of the most widely used painkillers in the United States, could potentially cause liver damage, according to a preliminary laboratory study reported in the Oct. 15 print issue of ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology.

January 2010

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