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June 20, 2006, 7:20 PM CT

Snappy Face Recogniser WebCam

Snappy Face Recogniser WebCam
If you tend to forget your login password very often then now you don't need to burden your brain for so small a thing! Instead, let your handsome face do the trick with the innovative Snappy Face Recogniser. The intelligent webcam with snappy face recogniser allows you to access your computer system using your face.

The webcam's advanced face recognition technology protects your computer and important information from unwanted access. The compact and ultra light webcam features 1.3 megapixel high image resolution. So, all you pretty ladies out there! Don't be careless to put on your pancake make-up from now on!!! The webcam is available for 49.98 pounds.........

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June 18, 2006, 11:02 AM CT

From Aerosol Particles To Cloud Droplets

From Aerosol Particles To Cloud Droplets
In spite of diverse origins and composition of aerosol particles in central Europe, their ability to grow into cloud droplets is controlled predominantly by their size.

Clouds play a central role in the Earth's climate system and water cycle. A cloud's behavior depends to a great extent on the number and size of the droplets it is made of. Since each of these droplets requires a seed aerosol particle to grow upon (called cloud condensation nucleus, CCN), it is essential to understand what properties of an aerosol particle allow it to grow into a cloud drop. Basic physical chemistry shows that, to a first approximation, this depends on the number of soluble molecules it contains, which is a function of its size and composition. Given the very diverse origin of atmospheric particles (e.g., sea salt, dust, smoke, and industrial emissions), the complexity of their composition has long been seen as a major obstacle to modeling and predicting aerosol effects on cloud properties and climate.

To separate the effects of size and composition, the scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the University of Mainz divided ambient aerosols into narrow size classes and then determined their chemical composition and ability to grow into cloud drops. They made the measurements in summer 2004, on top of the Kleiner Feldberg in the Taunus Mountains of Gera number of. During the 3-week measurement period, diverse air masses were encountered at the mountaintop station: aged continental air that had accumulated industrial and traffic pollution, marine air masses that had moved in rapidly from the North Atlantic, and fresh pollution from the densely populated and industrialized Rhine-Main area. The aerosol composition was dominated by organic material in all air mass types, followed by ammonium, sulfate and nitrate. Interestingly, in spite of the different histories of the air, the soluble fraction of the particles did not appear to vary all that much.........

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June 18, 2006, 10:58 AM CT

Chemists Direct Silicon Oxide

Chemists Direct Silicon Oxide

Chemistry often seems to operate at random. However, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Coal Research and the International Max Planck Research School "SurMat" have been able to change that: they grew silica particles from a solution onto a surface in such a way that a pattern of tiny little cones was regularly formed. Every silica cone was made of numerous spirals sitting on top of each other, and every spiral was made of tubes, in which the silica grouped itself around micelles of long-chain organic molecules. These kinds of selected hierarchical structures, which are exactly defined at large and small scales, were unknown to scientists except in nature, for example in bones, wood, and sea shells. Now, however, they can be grown in test-tubes - and that could allow engineers to produce even smaller optical and electronic components (Advanced Materials, April 18, 2006).

Bones are light and stable. That is because they are built optimally, at the smallest and largest levels. Their smallest elements are bound to fibrils, which fold together to make lamellae. These, in turn, organise themselves into girders that form a scaffolding, which has inspired even/also? structural engineers. Materials scientists call this kind of highly selected structure "hierarchical". Now, chemists from the Max Planck Institute of Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, have created a selected hierarchical structure from silica particles for the first time. It was made from a reaction solution in which very different forms of silica particles were able to grow. A silicon compound was mixed with an amine dragging a long tail of fatty acid. The amine molecules assemble micelles, which form long threads, and the silica accumulates on these threads. If the scientists dip an untreated support into the solution - for example, a lightly contaminated glass plate - the particles form random deposits: sometimes cone-shaped, sometimes a double cone, sometimes fibre-like shapes.........

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June 17, 2006, 1:35 PM CT

Hot Wheels For Wheelchair Users

Hot Wheels For Wheelchair Users
Style has rarely been a priority in industrial design for the disabled - until now that is. Designed in Hungary, the Kenguru is a car specially designed for wheelchair users. The car's interior space has no front seat - just a space built to house the driver's own wheelchair so all he/she has to do is simply roll in through the extra large car doors and into position.

The wheelchair locks into place, within easy reach of the car's controls which are centred around a joystick. It's light years away from the current options for disabled drivers, which involve having to hoist themselves into the driver's seat of standard cars.

by Billy T........

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June 15, 2006, 0:13 AM CT

Controlling The Computer By Thought

Controlling The Computer By Thought
Controlling a computer just by thought is the aim of cerebral interfaces. The engineer from Pamplona, Carmen Vidaurre Arbizu, has designed a totally adaptive interface that improves the performance of currently existing devices in, reducing the time needed to become skilled in their operation and enhance the control that users have over the interface. Moreover, according to Ms Vidaurre, the majority of the population is capable of using it.

The results appear in the PhD thesis, Online Adaptive Classification for Brain-Computer Interfaces, defended recently at the Public University of Navarre.

Cerebral interface.

A cerebral interface or brain-computer interface (BCI) allows people with communication problems to relate to their surroundings using a computer and the electrophysiological signals from the brain. The actual interface with which Carmen Vidaurre has worked with is based on electroencephalograms (EEG) of the individual, although there are others that use signals recorded from electrodes fitted directly into the brain.

The user and the interface are highly interdependent "systems" that, up to recently, adapted to each other independently. In the past, when a non-experienced individual started to use a BCI, the systems were unable to supply feedback, i.e. the individual was unable to see the results of their brain patterns on the screen.........

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June 12, 2006, 11:33 PM CT

Prettier World Of Computer Modeling

Prettier World Of Computer Modeling
Taking issue with the perception that computer models lack realism, a Sandia National Laboratories researcher told his audience that simulations of the nanoscale provide researchers more detailed results - not less - than experiments alone.

The invited talk by Eliot Fang was delivered to members of the Materials Research Society at its recent semiannual general meeting.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

Fang derided the pejorative "garbage in, garbage out" description of computer modeling - the belief that inputs for computer simulations are so generic that outcomes fail to generate the unexpected details found only by actual experiment.

Fang not only denied this truism but reversed it. "There's another, prettier world beyond what the SEM [scanning electron microscope] shows, and it's called simulation," he told his audience. "When you look through a microscope, you don't see some things that modeling and simulation show".

This change in the position of simulations in science - from weak sister to an ace card - is a natural outcome of improvements in computing, Fang says. "Fifteen years ago, the Cray YMP [supercomputer] was the crown jewel; it's now equivalent to a PDA we have in our pocket".

No one denies that experiments are as important as simulations - "equal partners, in fact," says Julia Phillips, director of Sandia's Physical, Chemical, and Nanosciences Center.........

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June 11, 2006, 9:38 AM CT

On Track To Win Case Against iTunes

On Track To Win Case Against iTunes
On 25th January, the Consumer Council lodged a complaint with the Consumer Ombudsman against iTunes Music Store Norge for breach of fundamental consumer rights.

Among other things, the decision clearly states that the terms of agreement demanded by iTunes are unreasonable with respect to Section 9a of the Norwegian Marketing Control Act. Moreover, it is unreasonable that the agreement the consumer must give consent to is regulated by English law. That iTunes disclaims all liability for possible damage the software may cause and that it may alter the rights to the music, are also considered unreasonable. iTunes must now alter their terms and conditions to comply with Norwegian law by the 21.of June.........

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June 11, 2006, 9:32 AM CT

A Sixth Sense

A Sixth Sense

That gave Jarrell and Haworth a new direction: Could they obtain that effect deliberately, extending the sense of touch into a sense of magnetism?

Todd Huffman, a graduate student at Arizona State University with a background in neuroscience, joined the project and brainstormed with Jarrell and Haworth about how, and where, to best implant a powerful magnet. He helped come up with the most effective design for an implant, and eventually became the first recipient. "The fingertip was chosen because of the high nerve density, and because the hands are constantly interacting with the environment, increasing the chances of sensing electromagnetism in the world," Huffman says.

"We chose the ring finger primarily because of its size and relatively low importance in gripping action, so there was plenty of room for the implant and a lower chance of physically damaging the implant," Huffman explains. Jarrell puts it more bluntly, writing about the procedure in a BMEZine article from March: "'If you had to lose or seriously damage one of your fingers, which would it be?' This was our answer." But nobody's finger fell off, and Huffman's results were better than they'd imagined.........

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June 11, 2006, 8:00 AM CT

Computing Material Truths

Computing Material Truths
It can take three decades before a new alloy makes its way from a glimmer in a scientist's mind to,say, the body of an airplane. That's because the development of alloys requires years of experiments to characterize the materials' mechanical properties. But what if you could model those characteristics in a computer? UC Berkeley engineer Daryl Chrzan is doing just that. He uses computational materials science to predict the properties of materials from the bottom up. His research could impact fields as diverse as nanotechnology and aeronautics.

"The intent of our work is to start with the properties of atoms and predict the larger scale properties that we experience everyday," says Chrzan, a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Already, scientists use computational tools to gain insight into the optical and electronic properties of certain materials. Predicting the mechanical properties, how a piece of metal will bend, for example, is a much harder problem though. That's because the number of degrees of freedom of a typical solid, how a number of ways the atoms can move, is "enormous," Chrzan says. A typical cubic centimeter of a metal contains 10 to the 22nd (10 followed by 22 zeros) atoms. Storing even the initial conditions of those atoms would require more computer memory than exists in the world, he explains. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that the structure of a material is not symmetric--defects are what allow it to bend in the first place.........

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June 10, 2006, 7:58 PM CT

Producing Bio-ethanol From Agricultural Waste

Producing Bio-ethanol From Agricultural Waste
Research conducted by Delft University of Technology has brought the efficient production of the environmentally-friendly fuel bio-ethanol a great deal closer to fruition. The work of Delft researcher Marko Kuyper was an important factor in this. His research in recent years has greatly improved the conversion of certain sugars from agricultural waste to ethanol. On Tuesday 6 June, Kuyper received his PhD degree for his research into the subject.

The search for alternatives to the current, oil-based, fuels is the focus of great interest around the world. One of the most attractive alternatives is bio-ethanol - alcohol produced from agricultural crops. At present, bio-ethanol is only made from sugars derived from corncobs, sugar beets, grain and sugarcane, with the help of baker's yeast. A great number of by-products result from the cultivation of these crops, such as straw and corn husks. It would be a major step forward if this leftover material, which also largely consists of sugar, could be used for the production of bio-ethanol. This would allow agricultural land to be used more efficiently and at the same time prevent competition with food supplies.

Until recently, the problem was that the complex mixture of sugars that makes up these leftover materials could not be efficiently converted into ethanol by the baker's yeast. Delft University of Technology, however, has recently devised a solution for this, which is achieved by genetically modifying the baker's yeast. The Delft scientists have inserted a gene (derived from a fungus that is found in elephant faeces) into baker's yeast, allowing it to convert an important sugar type, xylose, into ethanol, thereby making the production of bio-ethanol from supplies of leftover materials possible.........

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