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November 16, 2006, 4:53 AM CT

Grid computing 'Mappa mundi'

Grid computing 'Mappa mundi'
Visitors to Supercomputing '06 in Tampa, Florida this week will be the first to see a new interactive map that shows nine of the world's largest computing Grids. The map, developed by researchers from GridPP in the UK and the European particle physics laboratory, CERN, in Geneva, uses Google Earth to pinpoint Grid sites on six continents, showing more than 300 sites overall. Like the medieval 'mappa mundi', which showed what was known of the world at the time, this is one of the first attempts to show the whole scientific Grid world.

Laurence Field, who works at CERN for the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE project, has been leading work on the map. He explains, "Today there are a number of production Grids being used for science, several of which have a strong regional presence. Many of them are using different middleware, which can artificially limit scientific collaboration. The Grids shown on the map are all taking part in the Open Grid Forum's Grid Interoperation Now (GIN) group, which is trying to bridge the differences and enable seamless interoperation between the various infrastructures".

Gidon Moont from Imperial College London, developed the interface with Google Earth. It was then adapted by the GIN group, and will be shown on CERN's stand and the UK e-Science stand at Supercomputing.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 9:44 PM CT

Listening To Gunshots May Save Lives

Listening To Gunshots May Save Lives Montana State University electrical engineering professor Rob Maher
From the crack of a supersonic bullet, Montana State University electrical engineering professor Rob Maher is exploring how sound can be used for everything from saving soldiers from snipers to saving wilderness from noise pollution.

This fall, Maher presented the results of two years of research into gunshots at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Society's annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Because of its intense energy and distinctness, a gunshot is "the perfect signal" with which to explore the uses of sound, Maher said.

"It produces what engineers call the 'impulse response' of the sonic environment," Maher said. "If we can't make sense of how a gunshot behaves, then it's unlikely we can do much with more complicated, or lesser quality, sounds".

Maher initially explored two questions with gunshots: First, could the sound of a gunshot on a 911 recording be associated with a specific weapon? The question has intrigued prosecuting attorneys for decades. Second, could the sound of a gunshot be used to determine the location of a hidden sniper?

Through a search of prior studies and his own research, Maher found the "acoustical fingerprinting" of a gunshot from a 911 tape was impossible.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 4:43 AM CT

Nanoparticles To Target Brain Cancer

Nanoparticles To Target Brain Cancer
Tiny particles one-billionth of a meter in size can be loaded with high concentrations of drugs designed to kill brain cancer. What's more, these nanoparticles can be used to image and track tumors as well as destroy them, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Researchers incorporated a drug called Photofrin along with iron oxide into nanoparticles that would target cancerous brain tumors. Photofrin is a type of photodynamic therapy, in which the drug is drawn through the blood stream to tumor cells; a special type of laser light activates the drug to attack the tumor. Iron oxide is a contrast agent used to enhance magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.

"Photofrin goes into tumor blood vessels and collapses the vasculature, which then starves the tumor of the blood flow needed to survive. The problem with free photofrin therapy is that it can cause damage to healthy tissue. In our study, the nanoparticle becomes a vehicle to deliver the drug directly to the tumor," says study author Brian Ross, Ph.D., professor of radiology at the U-M Medical School and co-director of Molecular Imaging at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Photofrin has been used to treat several types of cancer, including esophageal, bladder and skin cancers. It works by traveling through blood vessels until it reaches the vessels supplying blood to the tumor. When activated by light, the Photofrin collapses these blood vessels, starving the tumor of the blood it needs to survive.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 14, 2006, 5:07 AM CT

SimCity for real

SimCity for real
Social policy makers and town planners will soon be able to play 'SimCity' for real using grid computing and e-Science techniques to test the consequences of their policies on a real, but anonymous, model of the UK population. Dr Mark Birkin and colleagues, who are developing the model at the University of Leeds, will be demonstrating its potential at the UK e-Science stand at SC06, the world's largest supercomputing conference in Florida, this week.

They are using data recorded at the 2001 census to build a model of the whole UK population, but with personal details omitted so no individual or household can be identified. Their project, Modelling and Simulation for e-Social Science is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council National Centre for e-Social Science. "We're building a core model which represents the whole of the UK at the level of (synthetic) individuals and households with many attributes and behaviours," says Dr Birkin.

Data about these attributes - such as car ownership, house prices and use of health, education, transport and leisure facilities - are held by different agencies in different locations and often in different formats. "Historically, people have assembled data on a single PC or workstation. E-Science provides exciting opportunities to access multiple databases from remote, virtual locations, making it possible to develop highly generic simulation models which are easy to update," says Dr Birkin.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 13, 2006, 8:47 AM CT

No kidding - it's the Kid Treadmill

No kidding - it's the Kid Treadmill
Now here is a treadmill designed just for kids, the Kid Treadmill. Well, I never imagined I would see a product like this! I mean, I wonder if you could even convince your child to get on an exercise machine like this, even if you think he/she needs it. Aren't there more fun ways your child can get some physical activity than being on a boring treadmill? And isn't it an alarming indicator that obesity is setting in so early?

Nevertheless, if you are interested in the specs, the only new feature of this treadmill is that the height is customized for children. In addition, it has a normal treadmill display to indicate the speed, distance covered etc. And the speed can be adjusted to suit the mandatory level of exertion.

Available at FutureMemories for $99.95.

Via Medgadget.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:24 AM CT

Making Robotic Movement More Acceptable

Making Robotic Movement More Acceptable Making Robotic Movement More Acceptable
Robots running amok and destroying property may be a staple in science fiction films, but they aren't welcome in factories, warehouses and other places where automatic guided vehicle (AGV) forklifts are used. Under a cooperative research and development agreement with Transbotics, a Charlotte, N.C., AGV manufacturer, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is developing advanced sensor processing and modeling algorithms to help robot forklifts verify the location and orientation of pallets laden with goods.

The experimental system utilizes two onboard, single scan-line LADAR devices to negotiate obstacles and hone in on warehouse pallets. (LADAR--Laser Detection and Ranging--is an optical technology which measures properties of scattered laser light to find range and other information about a distant target.) One LADAR device, located at the base of the AGV, is used as a safety sensor to detect obstacles such as humans in the forklift's path. It also can be used to scan inside a truck's cargo area to detect the presence of a pallet or define distances from the forklift to the truck's inside walls.

The other sensor, called the Panner, is a panning laser ranger mounted on a rotating motor at the top front of the AGV. The Panner acquires a number of scan lines of range data that allows the scene in front of the device to be reconstructed in various visual formats such as a pseudo-colored coded image (where colors indicate relative proximity to an object) or a 3-dimensional data point "cloud." A computer model is then derived from the data with the output sent immediately to the AGV's control center. This allows the robot forklift to maneuver, load and unload pallets, verify the remaining space within the truck being loaded, and track the number of pallets still needing handling.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:40 PM CT

Nanoparticle Hold Promise in Reducing Radiation Side Effects

Nanoparticle Hold Promise in Reducing Radiation Side Effects
With the help of tiny, transparent zebrafish embryos, researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Medical College are hoping to prove that a microscopic nanoparticle can be part of a "new class of radioprotective agents" that help protect normal tissue from radiation damage just as well as standard drugs.

Reporting November 7, 2006 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Philadelphia, they show that the nanoparticle, DF-1 - a soccer ball-shaped, hollow, carbon-based structure known as a fullerene - is as good as two other antioxidant drugs and the FDA-approved drug, Amifostine in fending off radiation damage from normal tissue.

The scientists, led by Adam Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and at Jefferson's Kimmel Cancer Center, and Ulrich Rodeck, M.D., professor of dermatology at Jefferson Medical College, compared DF-1 to two superoxidase dismutase mimetics, which are antioxidant drugs. They exposed zebrafish embryos to radiation with either DF-1 or a sod or amifostine. Each of the three markedly reduced radiation damage and increased overall survival and was comparable to the protection provided by the Amifostine.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 10:47 PM CT

Ethanol Production From Plant Fiber

Ethanol Production From Plant Fiber John Verkade, left, a University Professor of chemistry at Iowa State, and Reed Oshel, a graduate student in biorenewable resources and technology, are studying a chemical compound that breaks down plant fiber.
John Verkade remembers just how it happened some 40 years ago: One of his Iowa State University graduate students, David Hendricker, stopped by to report somebody was stealing a little wooden applicator stick from a beaker.

Oh, Verkade said, that's just a prank. Go hide around the corner and do some peeking until the joker shows up again. Thirty minutes later Hendricker was back in Verkade's office.

"You've got to see this," Verkade remembers him saying.

What they saw was a wooden stick falling apart and sinking into the chemical compound that had been the basis for Verkade's doctoral dissertation.

"That's an interesting observation," Verkade said at the time.

It was so interesting he asked Iowa State to consider a patent application. But that was a long time before breaking down plant fibers to produce ethanol was associated with energy independence and national security. So the university didn't move on a patent back then. And Verkade, now a University Professor in chemistry, moved on with his work in catalysis and molecular design.

A few years ago, George Kraus, another University Professor of chemistry at Iowa State, brought up Verkade's story of the dissolving wood. He said that compound could be a way to break down the tough cellulose that forms the structure of a plant's cell walls. Breaking down the cellulose can release the simple sugars that are fermented into ethanol. Making that happen could add some value to Iowa crops or the fibrous co-products of ethanol production.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 6, 2006, 8:12 PM CT

Laser Scanner to Convert Real-life Object into a 3D Model

Laser Scanner to Convert Real-life Object into a 3D Model
ZCorporation has come up with its ZScanner 700, an accurate handheld laser scanner to convert any real-life object into a 3D model, which may fulfill your dream to become a computer graphics artist. The handheld scanner can capture almost any object from any angle, and wherever you want.

All you have to do is connect the system to your laptop with FireWire-, add the reflective targets to the object, attune without wasting any time and start scanning. Plug-and-play set-up saves your precious time. You may carry the portable, lightweight and mobile system anywhere you need.

Presenting Laptop computer, ZScan- software, Calibration plate validation, Carry-on case and Ergonomic support, the ZScanner 700 offers 0.1 mm (0.004 in) Z Axis resolution, weights 980 grams (2.1 lbs) and comes in 160 x 260 x 210 mm (6.25 x 10.2 8.2 in) dimension.

You may have to dig your pockets deep to get the ZScanner for $39,900.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 6, 2006, 7:49 PM CT

Dried Plums As A Meat Preservative

Dried Plums As A Meat Preservative Sarah Parketon, Texas A&M University undergraduate student from Fort Worth, places boneless pork hams in a container after they are injected.
To help satisfy consumer demand for more natural food products, scientists at Texas A&M University are investigating dried plums as a meat preservative.

"We observed that dried plums, when pureed, actually have a very good antioxidant capacity," said Dr. Jimmy Keeton, professor of animal science and leader of the research at Texas A&M.

"We've been experimenting with dried plums and plum juice in different types of products such as pre-cooked pork sausages, roast beef and ham to see which of those products will respond most effectively as antioxidants," he said. "We observed that pre-cooked and uncured products like sausages and roast beef actually respond the best".

Antioxidants retard oxidation of fatty acids that make up fat, he said.

"If these are unsaturated fatty acids, they can oxidize more and produce off-flavors and cause shelf life problems," he said.

Synthetic products called BHA (butylated hydroxyl anisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxyl toluene) have long been used as antioxidants. The natural product, extract of rosemary, is also used.

Dried plums can enhance the flavor of some products, frankfurters in particular, Keeton said.

"We've actually had consumers tell us they prefer the flavor of products with the dried plum ingredient," he said.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


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