Young Scientist Invents New Fingerprint Recovery Mechanism After Home Burglary

What sounds like the story from a Hollywood crime show is actually a real story originating from Australia. A young scientist, Dr Kang Liang, comes home one day to find his house burglarized. The thief got away with some of his favourite belongings and frustrated by the law enforcers limitations he uses his knowledge of science to create a new and improved method for fingerprint capturing.

The new process allows forensic investigators to use a new liquid instead of the old fashioned dusting technique. The liquid contains luminescent crystals that bond to the residue and become visible with UV light. The new technique will allow to take high-resolution digital images of the fingerprint and get much better and detailed images than previously possible. To get the same results, the item with the fingerprint currently needs to be shipped to a special lab where it will be heat and vacuum treated and thereby.

With this new method, investigators can take high-resolution digital photos of the fingerprints right away and transfer them digitally to a central for processing and matchmaking. This could save days if not weeks in investigations and eventually even save lives in some cases.

CSIRO said in a statement: “As far as we know, it’s the first time that these extremely porous metal organic framework crystals have been researched for forensics,” and they are now looking to partner with police forces around the Australia. A thing that I’m sure will spread around the world shortly thereafter, also aided by a large news outlet such as The Sydney Morning Herald bringing this news to everyone.

While the new process won’t help Dr Kang Liang of CSIRO in his own case and get his things back, it might make things a lot more difficult for any other criminal out there.

Scientists Come up with Perfume That Smells Better the More You Sweat

Scientist at Queen’s University Belfast have apparently developed the first-ever perfume delivery system which ensures that the more a person sweats, the better they will smell. It is said that the perfume releases more of its aroma when it comes into contact with moisture, leading to the person smelling nicer when they sweat.

The perfume uses a raw fragrance on an ionic liquid, which is basically salt in the form of liquid, which releases its aroma when it comes into contact with water. In addition, the perfume also has the ability to remove bad odours that come from sweat by attaching themselves to the ionic liquid and losing their potency.

“This is an exciting breakthrough that uses newly discovered ionic liquid systems to release material in a controlled manner. Not only does it have great commercial potential, and could be used in perfumes and cosmetic creams, but it could also be used in others area of science, such as the slow release of certain substances of interest.” stated Dr Nimal Gunaratne, the project lead. “This innovative development demonstrates the drive of researchers at Queen’s to advancing knowledge and achieving excellence for the benefit of society as a whole.”

The university is currently in talks with a perfume development company to identify a number of products ideas that could be sold in shops, but given its effects, it is bound to have a lot of marketing potential in the sportswear market.

Thank you Psy.org for providing us with this information

Scientsits Find a Way to Wirelessly Transmit Energy across 55 Meters

Japanese scientists from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have announced that they have been successful in transmitting energy wirelessly and with high accuracy, being able to microwave 1.8 kilowatts (just enough to heat a kettle) over a distance of 55 meters.

“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of electric power via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device,” a spokesperson for JAXA stated.

Before getting too excited, there is still a long way to go from here. The scientists’ ultimate goal is to set up solar satellites around 36,000 km of Earth’s surface in order to harness the Sun’s power and beam it back to the Earth’s surface via antennae. This means that, if proven successful, we could be looking at an unlimited energy solution. However, there is still a matter of taking everything from the planning stage to the actual application phase… and that takes time.

“But it could take decades before we see practical application of the technology – maybe in the 2040s or later,” the spokesperson stated. “There are a number of challenges to overcome, such as how to send huge structures into space, how to construct them and how to maintain them.”

Even so, given that the experiment will eventually take place and be successful, we are looking at one of the most important technological breakthroughs in human history.

Thank you Science Alert for providing us with this information

You can now Listen to Wi-Fi – Reports Claim

 

Nope, we’re not talking about the screeching sounds of a Dial-Up modem from the 90’s – you can (apparently) hear WiFi with the help of some fancy hearing aids.

In comes Frank Swain, not exactly a bionic human, but has the ability to listen out to a WiFi signal. He’s able to do this by utilizing his modified hearing aids installed with his special ‘Phantom Terrains’ tooling.

Designed in conjunction with sound artist Daniel Jones, Swain has reportedly been experiencing a decrease in his hearing abilities since age 20. He applied and was approved for a grant through a UK innovation charity – rending Phantom Terrains a possibility. The software operates through a jail broken iPhone and works by tuning into wireless communication fields. This software picks up information such as the router name, encryption modes and distance to the device.

Swain produced a whole essay on this subject, published in New Scientist. Thanks to IFL Science, we were able to get our hands on an excerpt of it:

“The strength of the signal, direction, name and security level on these are translated into an audio stream made up of a foreground and background later: distant signals click and pop like hits on a Geiger counter, while the strongest bleat their network ID in a looped melody,” Swain writes in an essay in New Scientist. “The audio is streamed constantly to a pair of hearing aids. The extra sound layer is blended with the normal output of the hearing aids; it simply becomes part of my soundscape. So long as I carry my phone with me, I will always be able to hear Wi-Fi.” IFL Science and New Scientist

What exactly is the point of this software function? We’re not exactly sure. But it’s pretty cool none-the-less.

Interested in hearing exactly what it sounds like? Thankfully they’ve uploaded it to Sound Cloud and it mirrors something of a horror movie or space-based gaming cut scene.

Image courtesy of Stack Exchange

Scientists Solve the Mystery on Moving Death Valley Rocks

No matter how advanced we get, there still are dozens of unsolved mysteries everywhere. One of them is, or rather was, about the rocks that moved in strange patterns and seaminly by themselves through the death valley. And we aint talking small pebbles here, these stones weigh up 700 pounds each.

This however is one of the mysteries that was possible to solve definitive using our modern technology, and it was just a matter of time before someone with the right equipment found interest in it. A group of scientist led by paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have published a study in the journal PLOS One last week, showing just how it actually happens.

I was taught in high-school that the reason was enormous ice layers and heavy wind that made this possible, but shortly after I left school I learned that this was just one of many theories. Another was that it simply was the wind that moved the stones across the flat area. Other theories have involved sudden tilting of the earth as explanation, as well as magnetic influences.

The stones however didn’t seem to move in any logic pattern and could suddenly change direction completely while at other times they would lay still and not move for decades. Using motion activated cameras and GPS sensors embedded in some of the rocks, it was possible to figure out this mystery.

The theory I learned in school wasn’t entirely wrong though, as ice is involved. But not thick layers, but rather very thin. This unusual combination of ice and slow winds in an otherwise extremely hot area is the cause for the phenomena.

That happens when the dry lake bed they are in freezes over with a thin layer of ice which then breaks apart in a light wind, sending large sheets of ice against the rocks with enough force to move them a few yards per minute, Norris said.

Because of the ability of the large ice sheets to catch the wind, and aided by the underlying flow of water, the rocks, which weigh as much as 700 pounds (318 kg), are pushed along in a way that could not occur from the force of the wind alone, he said.

Norris went on to say that he thinks it will have a massive popular appeal, because it is one of these things that’s very widely known about but kind of marveled at. He went on to say that other people undoubtedly have witnessed the phenomenon before, but didn’t understand what was going on.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of imgur.

Forget the T-800, MIT and Google’s Boston Dynamics Are Said To Work on T-1000 Robots

There have been talk of future robots resembling the T-800 model from the Terminator series for some time now. Yet, no company has even arrived close to a design, yet alone a prototype of such a robot. While we won’t see any T-800’s running around anytime soon, we might see some versions similar to the T-1000. At least that is what MIT and Google’s Boston Dynamics are aiming to build.

Reports say that a team at MIT has discovered how to make a phase-changing material composed out of a mixture of wax and foam, having it change states from hard to soft at any given time. The researchers even state that thanks to the cheap materials and easy-to-make mixture, it can be used in a variety of robotics, spanning from common autonomous vacuum cleaners to high-tech advanced and complex robots.

The material has been stated to be the work of Anette Hosoi, a mechanical engineer and applied mathematics professor. She and her team, including her former graduate student Nadia Cheng, stated that the material could be used in a variety of fields, such as medical robots that can deform and change shape in order to navigate internal organs and vessels to perform delicate surgery. Other uses include rescue robots, having to navigate through collapsed structures in order to find and rescue survivors.

While the MIT has developed the material, it is said that Boston Dynamics is in charge of making the entire project, having it initially designed to contribute to Darpa’s Chemical Robots program aimed at developing robots with octopus-like abilities that are able to squeeze into small spaces. Therefore, the engineering team came up with the wax and foam idea, having the wax heated up with current running through a wire in the structure in order to make it malleable. A bonus to this technique is the material’s ability to ‘repair’ itself.

Having the wax material heated up, all deformations suffered while in the hardened state are said to repair themselves when in the soft state, just like the T-1000 robot from the Terminator movies, having the material recover from surface and even deeper damage. The researchers are said to now focus on finding a new material to replace the wax, having solder as a strong candidate. If the latter will prove to be true, then T-1000 models are not far away.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechCrunch

Scientists Work Out How To 3D Print Vascular Networks

3D Printing has come a long way, from objects to food and now even human skin and meat. One of the major problems when attempting to print human meat was printing out the vascular network, meaning all the blood vessels and ventricles. However, it appears that even the latter problem has been recently solved by scientists from the University of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

The scientists have apparently solved the problem by creating a skeleton of vessels, which was then used as a basis to grow human cells around it. Once the process was complete and stable, the scientists dissolved the 3D printed material, leaving only the vascular network.

“Imagine being able to walk into a hospital and have a full organ printed – or bio-printed, as we call it – with all the cells, proteins and blood vessels in the right place, simply by pushing the ‘print’ button in your computer screen,” said Dr. Luiz Bertassoni of the University of Sydney. “While recreating little parts of tissues in the lab is something that we have already been able to do, the possibility of printing three-dimensional tissues with functional blood capillaries in the blink of an eye is a game changer.”

Building vascular networks is a big thing, but using them is even greater than imagined. It appears that the vessels are then used to transport nutrients through bioprinted tissue in order to achieve better cell differentiation and growth. Summing it all up, scientists are now able to create ‘organs’ in the lab, having the scientists believe that this will eventually lead to true organ regeneration.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of 3DPrint.com

Facebook Policy Agreement Allowed Emotional State Study on 600,000 Users

When signing up for a Facebook account, the majority of users do not read the Facebook Data Use Policy and consider that their private user data is secure. While this is true, this does not mean that Facebook itself can’t use the data you post. This is where Facebook has gathered some data from random account feeds in order to use it in a little social experiment.

Facebook apparently has tweaked the content seen by more than 600,000 users in order to determine whether or not it would affect their emotional state. The study paper has been published under the name of “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” at The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. Users who like to view it would find how Facebook data scientists tampered the algorithm managing which posts appear on users’ news feeds, having it manage the number of negative and positive posts appearing on users’ news feed. Future posts from users ‘participating’ in the experiment were then analysed over the course of one week in order to determine if they would respond with increased positivity or negativity of their own and thus determining whether emotional states could be transmitted over a social network.

The result turned out to be positive, having users respond to the negativity or positivity of the content manipulated. The scientists have proved that the ‘mood’ can be changed over a social network and the overall point about modern psychology. Also, for concerned Facebook users, the paper states that the data gathered has been within the “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” agreement which everyone had to agreed with before signing up for a Facebook account. In addition to the latter, all personal and private data gathered has been done using the policy’s liberal constraints, having a machine analyse and pick out positive and negative posts.

Adam Kramer is listed as being the lead author for the paper, having him state in an interview that the reason he had joined the social network is that “Facebook data constitutes the largest field study in the history of the world.”. The latter statement proves the sad truth that while users view Facebook as a fun and loving place to post pictures, quotes, places you have been to and personal experience, it is without question a huge ‘research lab’ for some higher-ups as well.

Thank you A.V. Club for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of A.V. Club

NASA’s ‘ShadowNet’ Revealed To Be 10x Faster than Google Fiber

Google promised to bring internet speeds 1,000 faster than the current average internet speed found in homes around the US through Google Fiber. The connection, which is around 10 Gigabits per second, might be something seen only in sci-fi movies. However, NASA tends to disagree.

The space agency allegedly uses a shadow internet called ESnet, which is short for Energy Science Network, capable of delivering cross-country speeds of 91 Gigabits per second, deemed the fastest connection ever reported.

However, these speeds will not reach normal home connections anytime soon. NASA is using this shadow network to explore the next wave of computing applications. The U.S. Department of Energy is apparently running ESnet, having it be an important tool for researchers who require large amounts of data handled for projects such as the Large Hadron Collider and Human Genome Project.

The use of such technology leads back to how the Internet was born and eventually became the most important piece of technology used by everyone today. This is why ESnet and Internet2, a non-profit international network built-in 1995 for researchers after the Internet was commercialised, might hold the key of faster internet speeds in the future.

Also, equipment capable of handling high-speed internet, similar to what ESnet currently provides, has been out on the market since 2010. However, the Internet is not a straight line. Each piece of data needs to pass through various nodes before reaching its destination, similar to what a driver has to do when reaching an intersection. As a driver, you are required to slow down and even stop in order to check if you are clear to proceed on your way through the intersection. The same principle applies to data packets through a node.

ESnet is proof that internet speeds which most people only dream of can be achieved. With a lot of effort and probably some luck, similar internet speeds could be available on the commercial market in the future.

Thank you Wired for providing this information
Image courtesy of Wired

Turing Test Passed by a ’13-year-old boy’ Computer

Before thinking that computers will soon rule the world, the Touring Test is merely a simple computer test which analyses a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human being. It has been created by scientist Alan Turing in the ’50s to answer the question of whether or not a computer can ‘think’.

Having that said, computer engineers led by Russian Vladimir Veselov and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko have presented Eugene Goostman, a computer designed to think as a ’13-year-old boy’, at the Touring Test 2014 competition in London. The artificial intelligence is said to be able to present its ‘preferences’, having it state to like hamburgers and candy, and state that its father is a ‘gynecologist’. These are merely some simple response examples, but its true skill stands in its ability to express all this information in a human-like manner.

This is how Goostman managed to convince at least 30% of the judges, it being the valid score in order to pass the test, having it be the first artificial intelligence to pass the Touring Test. Goostman made a similar attempt back in 2012, having it nearly passing it, but falling short at 29%. Professor Kevin Warwick from the University of Reading states that some people could claim the Touring Test has already been passed, having it been applied to events all over the world.

However, the professor added that the Touring Test 2014 event in London involved more simultaneous comparison tests ever before attempted, having all machines independently evaluated and, most importantly, the conversations are said to have been unrestricted. Veselov also notes that Goostman’s main strength, which most likely helped it win the competition, stands in its ‘age’. This is where the scientist explained that they have created Goostman to claim it knows everything, having its ‘age’ a perfectly reasonable negation prior to its claims.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge

Scientist Working On Nature Inspired Millimeter-Sized Drones

Drones are apparently not only becoming more common, but a lot smarter and smaller it seems. According to latest news, some research teams are currently looking into nature for answers in order to tackle the problems when designing new and improved drones.

From flying through narrow spaces to picking up objects, drones have plenty to learn from birds and other animals in the wild. However, the precision when looking at a flying drone depends entirely on its flight control. And where to get a better tutor than a which is born with the ability to fly.

This is the aim of some US-based groups scattered around the country. One of these groups is based in Harvard and is looking into creating a millimeter-sized drone which can manoeuvre in small, narrow and hard to reach areas. The drone at hand is reportedly inspired by flies or other winged insects, hovering in the air for extended periods of time. The team tasked with this project is hoping to gain a more detailed insight into insect population and even help in areas such as pollinating plants in the future.

Other groups such as the ones based in UNC Chapel Hill, Johns Hopkins University, or the University of California, are tasked with finding a way to create drones which can handle and perceive the elements of hot and cold or rain and heavy gusts of wind. The main objective for the latter teams is to come up with a wind-proof drone, having the hawk moth as the primary source of inspiration.

Thank you Daily Digest News for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Daily Digest News

Science’s Biggest Problems Solved By … Gamers?

It is unbelievable, but the truth is that the plain old gamer can really make a scientific breakthrough. Scientists might ponder, think through logically, mathematically and even metaphysically about humanity’s unsolved problems, but it sometimes takes a little craziness and another point of view, of course, to get on track and find the key element in solving a problem. And this is where gamers come in.

It is reported that in 2011, people playing a game called Foldit, an online puzzle genre game about protein folding, solved the structure of an enzyme that caused an Aids-like disease in monkeys. Researchers began working on a solution 13 years before the game launched. The gamers, however, solved it in just about three weeks.

A little over a year, another group of gamers playing Planet Huners, a space exploration game, found a peculiar looking planet with four stars in its solar system. And since then, around 40 planets that could support life were found, all of which have been previously overlooked by astronomers.

When you first hear ‘gamer’ and ‘scientist’, you think that they are far apart. But when you look closely, both parties are looking for the same thing, either in a lab or at home on a screen. Both gamers and scientists are looking for the same thing, a pattern that matches, whether in logical puzzle games such as Candy Crush for example where you have to find the matching candy shape and color to destroy blocks and collect points, or in a scientific environment where you have to find a pattern in a DNA string that causes mutations or diseases.

“Our brains are geared up to recognise patterns,” says Erinma Ochu, a neuroscientist and Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow at the University of Manchester, explaining why scientists are turning to gamers for help, “and we do it better than computers. This is a new way of working for scientists, but as long as they learn how to trust games developers to do what they do best – make great games – then they can have thousands of people from all around the world working on their data.”

However, don’t get this wrong, but not every gamer can become a scientist. Logical games are aimed to get your brain up and thinking about a solution to a basic problem explained in a graphical environment, a game. Gamers are known to have a keen eye for detail and come up with the simplest solution to a complex problem, hence the ‘new point of view’ that scientists want. Whereas a scientist who is being cooked up in a lab somewhere with complex problems and calculations on his mind tends to miss that simple solution.

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information