Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Mysterious Bubbles Fox Astronomers

November 11, 2010

Cambridge, MA, Nov 11 : NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way — a finding likened in terms of scale to the discovery of a new continent on Earth. The feature, which spans 50,000 light-years, may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy.

“What we see are two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles that extend 25,000 light-years north and south of the galactic center,” said Doug Finkbeiner, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., who first recognized the feature. “We don’t fully understand their nature or origin.”

At more than 100 degrees across, the structure spans more than half of the sky, from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus. It may be millions of years old.
Mysterious bubbles fox astronomers
From end to end, the newly discovered gamma-ray bubbles extend 50,000 light-years, or roughly half of the Milky Way’s diameter, as shown in this illustration. Hints of the bubbles’ edges were first observed in X-rays (blue) by ROSAT, a Germany-led mission operating in the 1990s. The gamma rays mapped by Fermi (magenta) extend much farther from the galaxy’s plane. Credit: NASA/GSFC

A paper on the findings will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Finkbeiner and Harvard graduate students Meng Su and Tracy Slatyer revealed the bubbles by processing publicly available data from the satellite’s Large Area Telescope (LAT). Their work expanded on previous studies led by Greg Dobler at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Fermi’s Large Area Telescope is the most sensitive and highest-resolution gamma-ray detector ever orbited. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light.

Mysterious bubbles fox astronomers

From end to end, the newly discovered gamma-ray bubbles extend 50,000 light-years, or roughly half of the Milky Way’s diameter, as shown in this illustration. Hints of the bubbles’ edges were first observed in X-rays (blue) by ROSAT, a Germany-led mission operating in the 1990s. The gamma rays mapped by Fermi (magenta) extend much farther from the galaxy’s plane. Credit: NASA/GSFC

The structures eluded previous astronomers studying gamma rays due in part to the so-called diffuse emission — a fog of gamma rays that appears all over the sky. The emissions are caused by particles moving near the speed of light interacting with light and interstellar gas in the Milky Way.

The Fermi LAT team is constantly refining models to uncover new gamma-ray sources obscured by the diffuse emission. By using various estimates of the gamma-ray fog, including the Fermi team, Finkbeiner and his colleagues were able to subtract it from the LAT data and unveil the giant bubbles.

“The LAT team confirmed the existence of an extended structure in the direction of the inner part of the Milky Way and we’re in the process of performing a deeper analysis to better understand it,” said Simona Murgia, a Fermi research associate at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, Calif.

The researchers believe that an important process for producing the Milky Way’s gamma-ray fog, called inverse Compton scattering, also lights up the bubbles. In that process, electrons moving near the speed of light collide with low-energy light, such as radio or infrared photons. The collision increases the energy of the photons into the gamma-ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The bubble emissions are much more energetic than the gamma-ray fog seen elsewhere in the Milky Way.

The bubbles also appear to have well-defined edges. Taken together, the structure’s shape and emissions suggest that it was formed as a result of a large and relatively rapid energy release — the source of which remains a mystery, Finkbeiner noted.

One possibility includes a particle jet from the super massive black hole at the galactic center. In many other galaxies, astronomers see fast particle jets powered by matter falling toward a central black hole. While there is no evidence that the Milky Way’s black hole sports such a jet today, it may have in the past.

The bubbles also may have formed as a result of gas outflows from a burst of star formation, perhaps the one that produced many massive star clusters in the Milky Way’s central light-years several million years ago.

“In other galaxies, we see that starbursts can drive enormous gas outflows,” said David Spergel at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Whatever the energy source behind these huge bubbles may be, it is connected to many deep questions in astrophysics.”

Finkbeiner noted that, in retrospect, hints of the bubbles appear in earlier spacecraft data, including the Germany-led Roentgen X-ray Satellite (ROSAT) and NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).

Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA)

Dell Launches Android Phones in India

November 10, 2010

Dell-XCD35_grey.jpg

Dell XCD35

New Delhi, Nov 10 : PC maker Dell has made its entry in the Indian smartphone market with the launch of Android-based smartphones — XCD28 and XCD35.

Featuring a 2.8-inch LCD touchscreen display, Dell XCD28 will come with a 3.2 megapixel digital camera. Dell XCD35 sports a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display and has access to Android Market for applications.

Powered by Android 2.1 OS, the phones will support 3G for high speed connectivity, WiFi and Bluetooth. Dell XCD28 also offers full internet browsing, a media player supporting multiple formats for videos, music and photos and features such as location awareness.

Additionally, the phones will offer support for FM Radio and access to Microsoft Email Exchange through Activesync. The phones come equipped with 200MB of internal memory that can be expanded upto 16GB using Micro SD memory cards.

“For more than 25 years, Dell has played a critical role in transforming computing, enabling more affordable and more pervasive access to technology around the world. With today’s launch, we extend the same to the smartphones market as starting with the XCD series, we look to offer technology solutions to a much larger audience,” said Mahesh Bhalla, General Manager, Consumer & SMB, Dell India.

“Today’s launch validates our intention to bring accessible technology to key markets like India as we work relentlessly to enable our customers to grow and thrive. We chose to launch the new XCD range of smartphones first in India to offer a complete portfolio of Dell mobile Internet products in all screen sizes”, said Farooq Butt, Vice President Worldwide Business Development & Strategy, Dell Inc.

Dell XCD28 is priced at Rs 10,990 while Dell XCD35 will sell for Rs 16,990. According to Dell, XCD28 will be immediately available in the market while XCD35 will be available by December 2010.

Everest Gets 3G Mobile Internet

October 31, 2010

mount everest 3GNepali mobile network operator Ncell has installed the first 3G base station at the base camp of Mount Everest, giving visitors, climbers and people living in the Khumbu Valley the ability to make calls and wirelessly connect to the Internet .

To test out the new facility, Ncell also made the world’s highest video call at 17,388 feet.

So far, visitors of Mount Everest had to depend on satellite phones to make calls, but now they can do so through a standard GSM, 3G-enabled network. “The coverage of the network will reach up to the peak of the Everest,” Ncell Nepal chief Pasi Koistinen said to reporters in Kathmandu on Thursday.

Ncell is a joint venture between private investors and Sweden-based telecom TeliaSonera. Ncell’s network currently covers less than one-third of Nepal’s population, but TeliaSonera said it planned to invest $100 million in the next year to extend coverage to more than 90% of the country’s population.

“This achievement is as mighty as the altitude as 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services to the people living in the Khumbu Valley, trekkers, and climbers alike,” said TeliaSonera CEO Lars Nyberg.

10,000 Sign Up For Game of Zombie Tag in Facebook

October 28, 2010

Facebook turns zombie game into monster happening

Whitney Metzger coordinated Survive Norfolk, a community-wide zombie-themed game of tag, which will be held Friday, October 22.
By Alan Gomez

Whitney Metzger coordinated Survive Norfolk, a community-wide zombie-themed game of tag, which will be held Friday, October 22.

Whitney Metzger thought it would be fun to hold a zombie-themed game of tag in her Norfolk, Va., neighborhood of Ghent. She hung fliers, invited friends and hoped for maybe 100 people.

Now the mayor of Norfolk says the number could be more like 10,000.

Metzger’s game exploded through Facebook. By Thursday afternoon, 7,200 people had signed up for tonight’s event, and 6,000 more said they might attend.

Metzger was blindsided by the rush, forcing the 26-year-old office administrator to raise money for a permit, off-duty police and insurance.

“I’m not sure we could stop it now if we tried,” Mayor Paul Fraim said. “So we’re just trying to go with the flow and make the best of it.”

The game is fashioned after a form of tag called Humans vs. Zombies that has become popular on college campuses. Those designated undead flesh-eaters chase the humans as they try to reach checkpoints and a finish line.

Metzger wanted to organize something fun for her friends and opted for zombie tag for a simple reason: “Zombies are awesome.”

She posted the game on Facebook on Oct. 6 and was soon forced to navigate city planning and security. She agreed to limit the event to 1,500 people, although Fraim wonders whether it’s possible to stop more people from showing up.

The permit cost $110, the one-day insurance policy cost $332, and the nine off-duty police officers required to monitor the event cost $1,660. Metzger was still waiting Thursday for a final price tag for closing off three city blocks that will serve as the starting point.

She started asking for $5 donations online. Community members and local businesses chipped in, hosting fundraisers and providing signs. She has collected more than $3,800 and said any extra money will be donated to three local charities.

Some people are nervous about the idea of thousands of teens and young adults sprinting through their neighborhood of century-old homes.

Alisa Landrum, a high school French teacher who lives a couple of blocks from the starting point, is concerned about the area’s elderly being terrified by marauding hordes of zombies.

“I just don’t think you can bring that many people into a small neighborhood without someone getting hurt and something getting damaged,” said Landrum, 57.

Others are looking forward to the spectacle.

David Schinderle, 42, a physician, said Ghent has always been an “eccentric, funky, fun neighborhood” that is home to many artists and musicians. He said his house might provide a front-row seat for the event and he might make a night of watching the game.

Even Fraim, whose children went to school with Metzger, is making sure he gets a good view: “I’ve got a reservation at a restaurant right on the main drag, just to watch it all go by.”

source : The Virginian-Pilot

A Look At The Windows Phone 7

October 23, 2010

Review: Windows Phone 7

When it comes to smartphones, Microsoft is itching to get back in the game.

Microsoft was sick of watching consumers flock to Apple’s iPhone and smart phones running Google’s Android software as its own Windows Mobile software floundered. So the world’s largest software maker started from scratch with its new phone operating system, Windows Phone 7, which wireless carriers are rolling out on smart phones starting next month.

I tested three of them to get a feel for Microsoft Corp.’s latest work. The Samsung Focus and the HTC HD7 will be available Nov 8 from AT&T and T-Mobile, respectively, while the HTC Surround is coming to AT&T by late November.

On its face, Windows Phone 7 is unabashedly consumer focused and pleasantly easy to use.

Home screen

Home screen

The phone’s main screen features a wall of bright tiles that you tap to open applications. You can make tiles for everything from websites to Facebook friends.
There are plenty of fun features, such as the ability to connect to the company’s online game service, Xbox Live, and to download music, apps and games through Microsoft’s Windows Phone Marketplace. If you pay $15 per month for a Zune Pass, you can listen to as much music as you want right on the phone.

8GB memory, 5 MP camera & more

8GB memory, 5 MP camera & more

Beyond this, there are lots of solid features that all Windows Phone 7 handsets will share: A minimum of 8GB of internal memory (like the iPhone, there is no slot for a memory card), a five-megapixel camera and the ability to record high-definition videos, a multi-touch screen and a simple on-screen keyboard that is impressively accurate.
For search and maps, unsurprisingly, the phone turns to Bing. It uses Microsoft’s TellMe voice recognition software to operate voice controls.

For biz users

For biz users

The operating software should also appeal to business users, as it integrates with e-mail and calendars from corporate Exchange servers and allows you to set up several different Exchange accounts.
If you want to do work on the go, it includes mobile versions of Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

No IM app

No IM app

There is no instant-messaging application built into the phone, though you will be able to download one. And you won’t find any free turn-by-turn navigation software here as you’d find on Android phones, though the built-in mapping application is good-looking and simple.
Windows Phone 7 does have a feature I wish all smart phones had: Hold down the camera button even when the phone is locked and asleep, and the camera turns on. If you have a password set on your phone, you’ll still have to tap it in to use the other functions, but it’s handy for taking photos on the fly.
But will all this be enough to sway smart-phone-seeking consumers who have long been bombarded by sexy ads for the iPhone and Android phones, not to mention surrounded by others who are using those phones? I tend to doubt it.

Moves over Kin OS

Moves over Kin OS

Windows Phone 7 is good — far better than the hobbled software Microsoft briefly introduced on the Kin phones earlier this year — but it’s not phenomenal.
I immediately took a shine to its ease of use, but at the same time it feels limited. For example, the phones I tested had two main screen panels that just got longer and longer as I added more applications to them. Somehow, it doesn’t feel as jazzy or cutting-edge as Apple’s iOS4 or Google’s latest Android release. Those phones have numerous, screen-fitted panels.

Fewer apps

Fewer apps

One area that I’m withholding judgment on is Microsoft’s Marketplace. Just a few hundred apps were listed when I played with the phones, including a Netflix movie-watching app and one from location-sharing service Foursquare.
So it didn’t seem fair to judge it against the well-established app stores available for the iPhone and Android phones. Microsoft said it plans to add several hundred apps each week this year; based on that, it will be a while before we can gauge its competitiveness.
Beyond the Microsoft experience loaded onto the phones, each one has its own quirks, so below is a rundown of how each fared in testing.

Fewer apps

Fewer apps

One area that I’m withholding judgment on is Microsoft’s Marketplace. Just a few hundred apps were listed when I played with the phones, including a Netflix movie-watching app and one from location-sharing service Foursquare.
So it didn’t seem fair to judge it against the well-established app stores available for the iPhone and Android phones. Microsoft said it plans to add several hundred apps each week this year; based on that, it will be a while before we can gauge its competitiveness.
Beyond the Microsoft experience loaded onto the phones, each one has its own quirks, so below is a rundown of how each fared in testing.

HTC Surround

HTC Surround

The Surround’s most interesting feature is a long speaker with a kickstand on its back that slides out from its right side. While I appreciated this setup for listening to music or watching videos, the sound wasn’t incredible. I would have preferred a skinnier phone with just a speaker on the back.
The Surround’s touch screen — 3.8 inches diagonally — was crisp enough for surfing the Web and futzing around on Facebook, but videos streamed from Netflix looked surprisingly pixelated.
The phone’s 16 gigabytes of storage seems generous enough, but users may be unimpressed by its battery life, which is rated for up to just 4 hours of talk time.

HTC HD7

HTC HD7

The largest of the bunch, the HD7 includes a 4.3-inch touch screen that makes a fine display for videos and a giant viewfinder for the phone’s built-in digital camera.
The phone conveniently includes a Netflix app, so if you have a Netflix account, you can use it to watch movies and TV shows on your phone (other phones can download the app from the Marketplace).
I started watching “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” over Wi-Fi and found it streamed well on the HD7’s generous screen, though I had expected it to look sharper. The phone has a smartly designed kickstand hidden around the camera lens and flash. Over T-Mobile’s network, the movie took longer to load than over Wi-Fi and often stopped to re-load, which was frustrating.
The big screen is good for playing games, too.
The HD7, which includes 16 GB of memory, is rated for as many as 6.5 hours of talk time. This probably won’t be enough if you’re having a marathon movie-watching session, but should hold up through regular multitasking.

Apple’s Lightest MacBook Air

October 21, 2010

Inside Apple's lightest MacBook Air

Basking in the glory of the success of its tablet device iPads and mobile device iPhone, Apple has added some of their features to its computers.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled company’s new ultra-light laptop MacBook Air which — like its popular iPad — has no hard drive. Also, Apple’s popular App Store, available on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, too has come to Macintosh computers.

Introduced in two sizes, the new laptops aim to boost the company’s falling share in the PC market. Here’s looking inside Apple’s just-launched MacBook Air.

Looks

Looks

Featuring an all-aluminum unibody design, the new MacBook Air is Apple’s lightest laptop ever. The laptop measures 0.11-inches at its thinnest point and 0.68-inches at its thickest, and weighs just 2.3 pounds for the 11-inch model and 2.9 pounds for the 13-inch.

Multi-touch trackpad

Multi-touch trackpad

Apple Air features a full-sized keyboard for typing as well as the popular glass Multi-Touch trackpad found on Apple’s MacBook Pro. The Multi-Touch trackpad lets users pinch, swipe, or rotate to adjust an image, zoom in on text, or advance through a photo album.

FaceTime camera

FaceTime camera

Apple is also bringing the FaceTime video chatting to Macs. The feature debuted this year on the iPhone 4 and has since been added to the iPad. The new FaceTime for Mac application, currently in beta, will let users make FaceTime calls over Wi-Fi with anyone who has a Mac, an iPhone 4, or the new iPod touch.

Flash storage

Flash storage

The new generation MacBook Air models use flash drives instead of hard drives. The new MacBook Air is designed completely around flash storage. MacBook Air uses the same solid state storage technology as the iPad.
Apple has done away with CD and DVD drives in the very first edition of its MacBook Air, and in the current models the company ditches the hard disk drive. This, according to Apple, will speed up laptops’ boot up time.
The 11-inch MacBook Air comes with 2GB of memory and 64GB/128GB of flash storage. The 13-inch model will pack 2GB of memory and 128GB/256GB of flash storage. The 13-inch MacBook Air also includes an SD card slot.

Processor

Processor

Like the 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air too features the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor. It gives over 2x performance over the previous-generation MacBook Air. It also packs Intel Core 2 Duo processors.

OS

OS

Air packs the latest version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard. The OS includes iTunes, Time Machine, Quick Look, Spaces, Spotlight, Dashboard, Mail, iChat, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, DVD Player, Photo Booth, Front Row and Xcode Developer Tools.
At the event, Apple also unveiled a new version of Mac operating software. Nicknamed “Lion,” it includes an improved “iLife” multimedia suite, its set of programs for managing photos, editing videos and music and doing other tasks.

Battery life

Battery life

As for the battery, the 11-inch model delivers up to 5 hours of battery life and the 13-inch model promises upto 7 hours. Both have standby time of upto 30 days.

Connectivity

Connectivity

For connectivity, MacBook Air includes Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, 802.11n Wi-Fi and 2 USB ports. The laptop also features a Mini DisplayPort that can connect to a 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display, projector or HDTV.

Mac App Store

Mac App Store

Apple will bring a version of its mobile applications store to the Mac. The App Store for the Mac will go live within 90 days, and developers will be able to start submitting apps from next month. They will get 70 per cent of the revenue from sales. The original App Store debuted in 2008 and helped spur sales of the iPhone.
The Apple’s App Store houses more than 250,000 apps and has generated over 7 billion downloads.

Now, a Crappy Idea That Works!

October 21, 2010

A car flushed with powerThe UK’s first poo-powered VW Beetle has taken to the streets. It’s a breakthrough that makes you go from ‘Yuck!’ to ‘Wow!’. Go on, step on the gas!

The Bio-Bug runs on methane gas generated during the sewage treatment process.

Waste flushed down the toilets of just 70 homes is enough to power the Bio-Bug for a year, based on an annual mileage of 10,000 miles.

With support from the South West Regional Development Agency, GENeco, a Wessex Water-owned company, imported specialist equipment to treat gas generated at Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth to power the VW Beetle in a way that doesn’t affect its performance.

Mohammed Saddiq, GENeco’s general manager, said he was confident that methane from sewage sludge could be used as an alternative energy source and was an innovative way of powering company vehicles.

He said: “Our site at Avonmouth has been producing biogas for many years which we use to generate electricity to power the site and export to the National Grid.

‘Poo’ to the rescue!

A car flushed with power

“With the surplus gas we had available we wanted to put it to good use in a sustainable and efficient way.

“We decided to power a vehicle on the gas offering a sustainable alternative to using fossil fuels which we so heavily rely on in the UK.

“If you were to drive the car you wouldn’t know it was powered by biogas as it performs just like any conventional car. It is probably the most sustainable car around.”

Following India’s cues

A car flushed with power

Countries including India and China use compressed natural gas (CNG) to power vehicles and a number of companies in the UK are now using CNG mainly to fuel buses and commercial vehicles. In Sweden, more than 11,500 vehicles already run on biomethane produced from sewage plants.

But using biogas from sewage sludge is yet to take off in the UK despite a significant amount being produced everyday at sewage plants around the country.

More ‘gas’, no CO2

A car flushed with power

To use biogas as vehicle fuel without affecting vehicle performance or reliability the gas needs to be treated – a process called biogas upgrading. It involves carbon dioxide being separated from the biogas using specialist equipment.

If all the biogas produced at Avonmouth was converted to run cars it would avoid around 19,000 tonnes of CO2.

Bio-Bug on the road

A car flushed with power

GENeco believes that more gas will be produced at its Avonmouth site when the company embarks on its latest green venture to recycle food waste.

Mr Saddiq said: “Waste flushed down the toilets in homes in the city provides power for the Bio-Bug, but it won’t be long before further energy is produced when food waste is recycled at our sewage works.

“It will mean that both human waste and food waste will be put to good use in a sustainable way that diverts waste from going to landfill.”

From the flush to the Bug!

A car flushed with power

Around 18 million cubic metres of biogas is produced at Bristol sewage treatment works a year.

It is generated through anaerobic digestion – a process in which bugs in the absence of oxygen break down biodegradable material to produce methane.

Bath-based Greenfuel Company converted the Beetle so it could run on biogas while bosses from GENeco ran a workshop at a University of Bath event for teenagers from schools in Bath and North East Somerset to come up with ideas for the car’s design.

Mr Saddiq added: “The choice of car was inspired by students who took part in a workshop. They thought it would be appropriate that the poo-powered car should be the classic VW Beetle Bug because bugs naturally breakdown waste at sewage works to start the treatment process which goes on to produce the energy.”

Bio-Bug in treatment process

A car flushed with power

The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) said the launch of the Bio-Bug proved that biomethane from sewage sludge could be used as an alternative fuel for vehicles.

ADBA chairman Lord Rupert Redesdale said: “This is a very exciting and forward-thinking project demonstrating the myriad benefits of anaerobic digestion (AD).

The Bug against climate change…

A car flushed with power

“Biomethane cars could be just as important as electric cars, and the water regulator Ofwat should promote the generation of as much biogas as possible through sewage works in the fight against climate change.”

ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton added: “We are delighted to see such ingenuity and commitment to maximising the potential of AD from the water industry.”

GENeco said if the trial involving the Bio-Bug proved successful it would look to convert some of the company’s fleet of vehicles to run on biogas.

Powering tomorrow

A car flushed with power

Claire Gibson, director of sustainable resources at the South West RDA, said: “I am really pleased that we have been able to support GENeco to demonstrate this alternative transport fuel.

“We have invested in a range of emerging low carbon technologies and renewable energy fuel types such as this to ensure the South West is well positioned to take advantage of this growing market.

“It is vital that the knowledge from initiatives such as this biogas project is shared so we can move more quickly towards a low carbon, resource efficient economy. I look forward to continuing to work with GENeco to achieve this.”

‘Yuck’ or ‘Wow’?

A car flushed with power

“On first hearing of the Bio-Bug, some people will smile, and some people will go ‘yuck’! Either way, what I hope they realise is that this is exactly the kind of innovation we now need for a more sustainable world – and those directly involved should be proud they’re making a small but significant contribution to it everyday!” — Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future.

Now, that’s one crappy idea that works!

Source: GENeco
Photos: GENeco

The New Pop Sensation

October 19, 2010

The new pop sensationShe’s cute, she’s adorable, she sings and she dances. A Japanese female robot is all set to take the international pop world by storm.

A close-up of the robot artiste. She looks so real and could easily pass for a little Japanese princess.

The 5-feet 2-inch tall humanoid robot “HRP-4C” of Japan’s Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) made her debut at the Digital Contents Expo in Tokyo on 17 October. AIST developed the entertainment software called Choreonoid, formed from choreograph and humanoid.

The new pop sensation

A photographer takes pictures of the robot.

The little robot also called the Divabot has movable features that are able to mimic the expressions of a human singer. She is able to ‘sing’ using a synthesised voice technology that sounds and breathes like a human too, reports the Daily Mail.

Masataka Goto, from Japan’s Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said: “This robot primarily utilises two technologies. One is for its singing voice.”

“Last year, we used Yamaha’s vocaloid software to synthesize notes directly. But this year, we’ve used our own technology called VocalListener,” Gato said.

This is a new technology which synthesizes a singing voice on the computer side as if imitating a person’s singing voice.

The new pop sensation

The little robot dances with the other performers. Only her legs tell her apart from the human performers.

The new pop sensation

The little robot sings.

“For the robot’s facial expressions, we’ve developed another new technology called Vocawatcher. This analyses a video of a person singing to create expressions naturally,” Gato added.

Researchers used a real singer as a model, recording her every move as she sang a typical Japanese pop song.

The movements were mapped onto HRP-4, who was then able to mimic her real-life counterpart’s every movement.

The team even helped the robot breathe realistically, by modelling real, human breathing sounds.

The new pop sensation

Another scene from the unique performance titled “Dance Robot Live! – HRP-4C Cybernetic Human”.

Wonder what the Japanese will come up with next?

Shinichiro Nakazawa, a scientist from the institute told the Daily Mail, “With the software, we hope to make robots act, sing and even walk on a catwalk during a fashion show. We want to create a new content industry with the technology”.

The new pop sensation

“This beauty has got the voice, she’s got the moves — and if she has a breakdown, you can just send her in for repairs,” says The Sun.

The new pop sensation

The centre of attraction.

The new pop sensation

“Wanna dance with me”?

Source: Agencies

Image credits: AFP

Telescope Finds Ghosts of The Future

October 15, 2010

Telescope finds ghosts of the futureCambridge, MA, Oct 15 : Astronomers using the South Pole Telescope report that they have discovered the most massive galaxy cluster yet seen at a distance of 7 billion light-years. The cluster (designated SPT-CL J0546-5345) weighs in at around 800 trillion Suns, and holds hundreds of galaxies.

An infrared/optical representative-colour image of a massive galaxy cluster located 7 billion light-years from Earth. This cluster weighs as much as 800 trillion Suns. Galaxies with “old” stellar populations, like modern-day ellipticals, are circled in yellow; galaxies with “young” stellar populations, like modern-day spirals, are circled in blue. Credit: Infrared Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Brodwin (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA) Optical Image: CTIO Blanco 4-m telescope/J. Mohr (LMU Munich)

“This galaxy cluster wins the heavyweight title. It’s among the most massive clusters ever found at this distance,” said Mark Brodwin, a Smithsonian astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Brodwin is first author on the paper announcing the discovery, which appeared in the Astrophysical Journal.

Redshift measures how light from a distant object has been stretched by the universe’s expansion. Located in the southern constellation Pictor (the Painter), the cluster has a redshift of z=1.07. This puts it at a distance of about 7 billion light-years, meaning we see it as it appeared 7 billion years ago, when the universe was half as old as now and our solar system didn’t exist yet.

Even at that young age, the cluster was almost as massive as the nearby Coma cluster. Since then, it should have grown about four times larger. If we could see it as it appears today, it would be one of the most massive galaxy clusters in the universe.

“This cluster is full of ‘old’ galaxies, meaning that it had to come together very early in the universe’s history – within the first two billion years,” stated Brodwin.

Telescope finds ghosts of the future

This optical image of the newfound galaxy cluster highlights how faint and reddened these galaxies are due to their great distance. The cluster remained hidden until the South Pole Telescope spotted it by looking for distortions in the cosmic microwave background. (Such distortions are called the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect.) The blue streak is a satellite passing through the field of view during the timed exposure. Credit: CTIO Blanco 4-m telescope/J. Mohr (LMU Munich)

Galaxy clusters like this can be used to study how dark matter and dark energy influenced the growth of cosmic structures. Long ago, the universe was smaller and more compact, so gravity had a greater influence. It was easier for galaxy clusters to grow, especially in areas that already were denser than their surroundings.

“You could say that the rich get richer, and the dense get denser,” quipped Harvard astronomer Robert Kirshner, commenting on the study.

As the universe expanded at an accelerating rate due to dark energy, it grew more diffuse. Dark energy now dominates over the pull of gravity and chokes off the formation of new galaxy clusters.

Brodwin and his colleagues spotted their quarry in the first 200 square degrees of data collected from the new South Pole Telescope. The SPT is currently completing its pioneering millimeter-wave survey of a huge swath of sky covering 2,500 square degrees.

They’re hunting for giant galaxy clusters using the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect – a small distortion of the cosmic microwave background (a pervasive all-sky glow left over from the Big Bang). Such distortions are created as background radiation passes through a large galaxy cluster.

Telescope finds ghosts of the future

Astronomers using the South Pole Telescope report that they have discovered the most massive galaxy cluster yet seen at a distance of 7 billion light-years.

Surveying for this effect has significant advantages over other search techniques. It works just as well for very distant clusters as for nearby clusters, which allows astronomers to find very rare, distant, massive clusters. Further, it provides accurate measurements of the masses of these clusters, which are crucial to unraveling the nature of dark energy.

The main goal of the SPT survey is to find a large sample of massive galaxy clusters in order to measure the equation of state of the dark energy, which characterizes cosmic inflation and the accelerated expansion of the universe.

Once this distant cluster was found, the team studied it with the Infrared Array Camera on the Spitzer Space Telescope to pinpoint galaxies within the cluster. Detailed observations of the galaxies’ speeds with the Magellan telescopes in Chile proved that the galaxy cluster was a heavyweight.

The team expects to find many more giant galaxy clusters lurking in the distance once the South Pole Telescope survey is completed.

“After many years of effort, these early successes are very exciting. The full SPT survey, to be completed next year, will rewrite the book on the most massive clusters in the early universe,” added Brodwin.

Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

iPhone vs Android Phones

October 15, 2010

iPhone vs 4 Android phones

The year 2010 saw several big smartphone launches including the Apple iPhone 4.

However, the past few months have seen the Google Android revolution sweeping across the smartphone world.

Hardware giants like Dell, Samsung and HTC are boasting of a strong Android-powered smartphone line-up to challenge the iPhone dominance.

So, here’s looking into how iPhone compares to the new breed of Android-based smartphones.

Apple iPhone 4

Apple iPhone 4

Apple’s champion smartphone is now 9.3mm thin and adorned with a stunning hi-res “retina” display.
It sports a 1GHz A4 processor (as used in the iPad), built-in noise cancelling, a 5MP camera with HD video capture and a new glass sandwich form. It has got a metal antenna on the outside and we’ve found no major downturn in signal reception compared to the 3GS. A three-axis gyroscope joins the accelerometer and compass to allow for six-axis motion control. The App Store is so far ahead of its rivals in both quantity and quality that it’s in a league of its own.
Verdict Despite valiant attempts from all comers to knock it from its throne, the iPhone 4 still rules by far. OS: iOS 4
Display: 3.5in, 640×960 LCD capacitive touchscreen
Camera/video: 5MP, front-facing VGA, 720p@ 30fps
Storage: 16GB/32GB
Connectivity: 3G, A-GPS , Bluetooth 2.1, USB, Wi-Fi
Battery: 7hrs talk

HTC Desire

HTC Desire

HTC’s Desire is the only Android device here to have been updated to the latest 2.2 “Froyo” version of Google’s OS.

Everything zips along on HTC’s brilliant Sense interface. Screen transitions are smooth and web pages fly into the WebKit browser window. With the update comes a string of new features, including a Wi-Fi Hotspot app which lets you piggyback up to eight Wi-Fi devices onto the phone’s 3G connection.

Video recording gets a boost from WVGA to 720p but quality is still average at best. Footage is a little drab and lifeless, and tends to drop the frame rate as you shoot. On the plus side there’s Flash 10.1 support (handy for YouTube) and the ability to sync with iTunes. But the Desire stands out as the most user-friendly , well made Android handset yet. Verdict Android at its best, and the Sense interface proves custom skins are more than eye candy
OS: Android 2.2

Display: 3.7in, 480×800, AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
Camera/video: 5MP, 720p@ 24fps
Storage: 512MB + microSD
Connectivity: 3G, A-GPS , Bluetooth 2.1, USB, Wi-Fi
Battery: 6hrs 30m talk
Price: 28,900

Samsung Galaxy S

Samsung Galaxy S

The massive 4 inch touchscreen of the Galaxy S beats the iPhone’s display in many areas:
brightness, contrast and viewing angle are second to none. It looks great but it’s a shame those good looks don’t continue through to the build quality. The plastic rear cover feels as though it might blow off on a windy day; you certainly wouldn’t fancy its chances in an encounter with the pavement.

Screen aside, the Galaxy’s big pull is its camera. The flashless 5MP snapper produces shots of amazing vibrancy in daylight, all the better to view on that incredible screen. And there’s stunning hi-def video capture too. The new 1GHz processor motors along, so you won’t be waiting around for apps to load or encountering bumpy transitions. Verdict Powerful and user-friendly , with one of the best screens ever to grace a smartphone OS: Android 2.1
Display: 4in, 480×800, Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
Camera/video: 5MP, front-facing VGA, 720p@ 30fps
Storage: 8GB + microSD
Connectivity: 3G, A-GPS , Bluetooth 3.0, USB, Wi-Fi
Battery: 6hrs 30m talk
Price: 31,500

Dell Streak

Dell Streak

For a phone, the Streak is huge: you get a 5 inch touchscreen within a substantial body
that weighs around half as much as the rest in this test. Arguably it’s more of a tablet computer than a mobile, but it has a camera and will fit into a large pocket.Start to play and you feel the full benefit of that extra screen space.
Web browsing is quick, and video playback doesn’t disappoint either, although the speaker, which peeps through a crack in the back, gets muted if you lay it flat on a table. However, taking a phone call on a 5 inch tablet will make you feel a bit odd in public. Verdict Dell’s tablet-style take on the smartphone proves big can be beautiful, and portable. OS: Android 1.6
Display: 5in, 480×800 capacitive touchscreen
Camera/video: 5MP, front-facing VGA, VGA@ 30fps
Storage: 512MB + microSD
Connectivity: 3G, A-GPS , Bluetooth 2.1, USB, Wi-Fi
Battery: 8hrs talk
Price: 35,000

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

With an 8.1MP camera proudly centred on the back of the phone, the X10 makes no bones about its stand-out feature.
It follows up on that promise with excellent shots for a mobile. Colours veer towards saturation and detail levels don’t match those of a decent 8MP digicam, but in daylight it makes a respectable opportunist snapper. At 13mm, it’s the fattest of the phones here. That thickness doesn’t translate into solidity though.
Clutch the phone tightly and you can hear the components creaking against each other. Switch it on, though, and those first impressions dissolve. Sony Ericsson’s custom skin is clean and simple, while the powerful 1GHz Snapdragon processor makes light work of navigating around it. Verdict Average 8.1MP snapper, and build needs work too, but ease of use, impresses. Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 OS: Android 1.6
Display: 4in, 480×854 capacitive touchscreen
Camera/video: 8.1MP, VGA@ 30fps
Storage: 1GB + microSD
Connectivity: 3G, A-GPS , Bluetooth 2.1, USB,Wi-Fi
Battery: 8hrs talk time
Price: 35,795