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June 29, 2006, 0:02 AM CT

How To Record A Smell?

How To Record A Smell?
Engineers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan are building an odour recorder capable of doing just that. Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse its odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals.

The device could be used to improve online shopping by allowing you to sniff foods or fragrances before you buy, to add an extra dimension to virtual reality environments and even to assist military doctors treating soldiers remotely by recreating bile, blood or urine odours that might help a diagnosis.

While many companies have produced aroma generators designed to enhance computer games or TV shows, they have failed commercially because they have been very limited in the range of smells they can produce, says Pambuk Somboon of the Tokyo team.

So he has done away with pre-prepared smells and developed a system that records and later reproduces the odours. It's no easy task: "In video, you just need to record shades of red, green and blue," he says. "But humans have 347 olfactory sensors, so we need a lot of source chemicals".

Somboon's system will use 15 chemical-sensing microchips, or electronic noses, to pick up a broad range of aromas. These are then used to create a digital recipe from a set of 96 chemicals that can be chosen as per the purpose of each individual gadget. When you want to replay a smell, drops from the relevant vials are mixed, heated and vaporised. In tests so far, the system has successfully recorded and reproduced the smell of orange, lemon, apple, banana and melon.........

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June 28, 2006, 11:41 PM CT

Breakthrough in Silicon Photonics Devices

Breakthrough in Silicon Photonics Devices
Building on a series of recent breakthroughs in silicon photonics, researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a novel approach to silicon devices that combines light amplification with a photovoltaic - or solar panel - effect.

In a study to be presented today at the 2006 International Optical Amplifiers and Applications Conference in Vancouver, Canada, UCLA Engineering researchers report that not only can optical amplification in silicon be achieved with zero power consumption, but power can now be generated in the process.

The team's research shows that silicon Raman amplifiers possess nonlinear photovoltaic properties, a phenomenon related to power generation in solar cells. In 2004, the same group at UCLA Engineering demonstrated the first silicon laser, a device that took advantage of Raman amplification.

"After dominating the electronics industry for decades, silicon is now on the verge of becoming the material of choice for the photonics industry, the traditional stronghold of today's semiconductors," said Bahram Jalali, the UCLA Engineering professor who led researcher Sasan Fathpour and graduate student Kevin Tsia in making the recent discovery.

The amount of information that can be sent through an optical wire is directly related to the intensity of the light. In order to perform some of the key functions in optical networking - such as amplification, wavelength conversion, and optical switching - silicon must be illuminated with high intensity light to take advantage of its nonlinear properties. One example is the Raman effect, a phenomenon that occurs at high optical intensities and is behind many recent breakthroughs in silicon photonics, including the first optical amplifiers and lasers made in silicon.........

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June 28, 2006, 0:07 AM CT

Improved Rating For Residential Fuel Cells

Improved Rating For Residential Fuel Cells
A new performance rating system for residential fuel cells developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can help prospective buyers assess the economic value of alternative fuel-cell technologies.

Residential fuel cells now being developed combine hydrogen from natural gas or propane with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. Homeowners might be able to meet all of their energy needs with a residential fuel cell and, in some cases, even sell excess energy to a utility. Currently, PTC 50, an ASME standard, is used to measure fuel cell system performance, but it does not take into account either seasonal changes in heating and cooling requirements, or a residence's quickly changing demands for electricity.

To bridge the gap between the PTC 50 standard and the information that consumers will need to make economic decisions on installing a fuel cell, NIST scientists have published proposed test and rating methods* that will help consumers assess the economic feasibility of four different types of residential fuel cells under different climate conditions in six different geographic locations. The rating will provide the annual electrical energy produced, fuel consumed, thermal energy for domestic water heating and space heating delivered, and water used by the residential fuel cell system.........

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June 26, 2006, 11:21 PM CT

Kestrel 4000 Pocket Wind Meter

Kestrel 4000 Pocket Wind Meter
I have to admit this is the best weather gadget i've seen so far. It's an awesome-fully-packed Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Meter Station. It could now measure every major environmental condition, easily, and accurately right in your hand. The chart mode allows users to recall and graph up to 2,000 measurements, along with the date and time of storage. You can even check the current Wind speeds, temperature for air/water/snow, Wind chill, Bew point, Heat stress Index, Barometic pressure, Density altitude, and Wet bulb temperature. The flip-top impeller cover allows use of other functions while protecting the impeller. If you happen to drop it and spoilt the impeller, you can change it without any tools.

You can choose between automatic store measurement upon shut off or manually store measurements with the press of a button. The advanced thing is it has exterior temperature, humidity and pressure sensors for fast and accurate readings. The humidity sensor can be recalibrated in the field with their "Relative Humidity Calibration Kit". No matter where you go, jungle tracking, diving or even flying, you wont need to worry about the "toughness-ity" of Kestrel 4000, it's waterproof and it floats! You can always use the included neck and wrist lanyards to make sure it won't let go from your side. Powered by two AAA batteries, i got only one word for this little-muscular-guy, PERFECT!........

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June 26, 2006, 8:14 PM CT

Stealth Radar System Sees Through Trees, Walls

Stealth Radar System Sees Through Trees, Walls Eric Walton
Ohio State University engineers have invented a radar system that is virtually undetectable, because its signal resembles random noise.

The radar could have applications in law enforcement, the military, and disaster rescue.

Eric K. Walton, senior research scientist in Ohio State's ElectroScience Laboratory, said that with further development the technology could even be used for medical imaging.

He explained why using random noise makes the radar system invisible.

"Almost all radio receivers in the world are designed to eliminate random noise, so that they can clearly receive the signal they're looking for," Walton said. "Radio receivers could search for this radar signal and they wouldn't find it. It also won't interfere with TV, radio, or other communication signals".

The radar scatters a very low-intensity signal across a wide range of frequencies, so a TV or radio tuned to any one frequency would interpret the radar signal as a very weak form of static.

"It doesn't interfere because it has a bandwidth that is thousands of times broader than the signals it might otherwise interfere with," Walton said.

Like traditional radar, the "noise" radar detects objects by bouncing a radio signal off them and detecting the rebound. The hardware isn't expensive, either; altogether, the components cost less than $100.........

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June 24, 2006, 11:59 PM CT

Diamond As A By-Product

Diamond As A By-Product
There may not be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but there appears to be nanocrystalline diamonds at the end of a process to produce and store hydrogen using anthracite coal.

"The idea we explored was based on ball milling graphite processes found in the hydrogen storage literature," said Angela D. Lueking, assistant professor of energy and geoenvironmental engineering. "We substituted anthracite coal for graphite because it is abundant and inexpensive. Now, with 20/20 hindsight, we are struck by the fact that coal gasification is currently the most economical way to produce hydrogen".

Interest in hydrogen as a vehicular fuel has many researchers investigating ways to create hydrogen inexpensively; other researchers are looking at ways to transport and store hydrogen in a safe manner. Lueking's group was exploring a way to store hydrogen in carbon-based materials, and inadvertently stumbled upon a method that combines production and storage and produces nanocrystalline diamonds as a by-product.

Lueking and colleagues, who included Humberto R. Gutierrez, post doctoral fellow in physics; Dania A Fonseca, post doctoral fellow in the Penn State Energy Institute; Deepa L. Narayanan, Dirk Van Essendelft and Puja Jain, graduate students in energy and geoenvironmental engineering and Caroline E. B. Clifford, research associate, Energy Institute, ball milled powdered anthracite coal with cyclohexene. Ball milling involves mixing a slurry of anthracite powder and cyclohexene with small steel balls and mixing so that the steel balls pound the coal particles and the cyclohexene causing physical and chemical changes. The researchers reported their results in a recent online issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.........

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June 22, 2006, 7:23 PM CT

Intel's Tri-Gate Transistor

Intel's Tri-Gate Transistor
Intel Corporation scientists today disclosed they have developed new technology designed to further extend the company's leadership in energy-efficient performance.

Intel's research and development involving new types of transistors has resulted in further development of a tri-gate (3-D) transistor for high-volume manufacturing. Since these transistors greatly improve performance and energy efficiency Intel expects tri-gate technology could become the basic building block for future microprocessors sometime beyond the 45nm process technology node.

Planar (or flat) transistors were conceived in the late 1950s and have been the basic building block of chips since the dawn of the semiconductor industry. As semiconductor technology moves deeper into the realm of nanotechnology (dimensions smaller than 100nm), where some transistor features may consist of only a few layers of atoms, what was previously thought of as "flat" is now being designed in three dimensions for improved performance and power characteristics. Intel, leading the industry in producing high volumes of ever smaller chip geometries, has created a way to use these three-dimensional, or tri-gate, transistors in concert with other key semiconductor technologies to enable a new era of energy-efficient performance.........

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June 22, 2006, 7:12 PM CT

When Robots Learn Social Skills

When Robots Learn Social Skills
Learning to communicate and adapting our behaviour to the information we receive has been fundamental to human evolution. If machines could do the same the intelligent talking robots of science fiction could become the stuff of science reality, as scientists aim to prove.

Most research into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that underpins any form of intelligent machine-machine or machine-human interaction has centred on programming the machine with a set of predefined rules. Scientists have, in effect, attempted to build robots or devices with the communication skills of a human adult. That is a shortcut that ignores the evolution of language and the skills gained from social interaction, thereby limiting the ability of AI devices to react to stimuli to within a fixed set of parameters.

But a team of scientists led by the Institute of Cognitive Science and Technology in Italy are taking a new approach to the problem, developing technology to allow machines to evolve their own language from their experiences of interacting with their environment and cooperating with other devices.

"The result is machines that evolve and develop by themselves without human intervention," explains Stefano Nolfi, the coordinator the ECAgents project, which, with financing from the European Commission's Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) initiative, has brought together scientists from disciplines as diverse as robotics, linguistics and biology.........

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June 21, 2006, 11:41 PM CT

Electrical Conductivity Helps Locate Septic System Failure

Electrical Conductivity Helps Locate Septic System Failure
An instrument that can measure how well soil conducts electricity also can spot the source of septic system failures without destroying a whole yard with a backhoe.

The instrument, called a non-invasive electromagnetic induction (EMI) sensor, measures electrical conductivity based on the soluble salts, water, temperature and percentage of clay in the soil. Purdue University scientists and his colleagues tested the tool on a failed septic system in northeastern Indiana and found that soil conductivity changes can signal septic failure.

They found that the sensor was capable of collecting soil data that identified problems in the septic tank and septic field trenches, said Brad Lee, a Purdue assistant professor of agronomy. The findings appear in the online journal Vadose Zone, a publication of the Soil Science Society of America.

"One of the big problems of looking for septic system contamination is that homeowners don't want their lawns dug up," Lee said. "The sensor can help researchers locate problems without digging. This is possible because soil contaminated with household waste has a higher electrical conductivity than the readings from the rest of the lawn. The instrument identifies these changes in soil electrical conductivity".

Using the electromagnetic sensor is advantageous because it's portable, it collects data quickly and it can measure down to a number of soil depths, he said. In addition, maps prepared from sensor data can be used to assess building sites, plan future testing, and locate the best sites for sampling and monitoring of soil for possible septic contamination.........

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June 20, 2006, 7:46 PM CT

Kodak Wi-Fi digital camera

Kodak Wi-Fi digital camera
Digital cameras are great. You can take a limitless number of pictures, and the immediate ability to look at the quality of pictures I've taken satisfies my urge for instant gratification. It's all good, except that I dislike the process of loading it up onto my computer. Kodak must have heard me.

The Kodak EasyShare One Series WiFi digital cameras offers the choice of 4.0 megapixels or 6.1 megapixels. Both give you WiFi capability with 3x optical zoom, and a 3.1" rotating touch screen. You can store and organize up to 1,500 pictures with 256 MB of internal memory, and can add even more picture capacity with the SD/MMC card expansion slot.

With WiFi capability and the Kodak EasyShare Dock, you'll be able to easily transfer pictures and videos to your computer without USB, connect to the Kodak Gallery and email pictures right from the camera. If you're equipped with the Kodak Photo Printer 500, you'll be able to print wirelessly as well. Also, with the dock, you'll be able to charge your camera in approximately 3.5 hours.

At a price of $299.99 USD, it sure is a nifty little device, and I can say goodbye to the USB transfer!........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


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