How Many Laser Pointers Would You Need in Order to Kill a Human?

Scientists seem to have a lot of time on their hands if this is anything to go by, but hey ho, if you quite liked the idea of world domination while using a death ray, then this article is for you.

A single laser pointer is not anywhere near powerful enough to inflict a nasty end on one’s enemies due to having a power rating of 5-milliwatts. According to James Kakalios who is a physics professor at the University of Minnesota and the author of “The Physics of Superheroes”, what a job that is, makes the point that it’s in reality quite tough to kill a human being with lasers. But he did have a go at explaining it by stating that the most effective way to use a laser on a human is to “target the eye and thus melting the brain”, blimey, he must be fun at dinner parties.

So, how many lasers would you need? Well, according to Rebecca Thompson of the America Physical Society, you would need a laser at approximately 1KW, this equates to around 200,000 laser pointers. You would also need each laser pointer to focus through a lens on one spot with the aim of concentrating enough power. Every laser beam would also need to be in a “semi-circle with a radius of about 5.5”, so in theory you could buy 200,000 “laser pointers before mounting them on a Sphere with a radius of 5, 5 and aim them all through a lens.”

So yes, there you go, now you can in theory build your own death ray, well sort of, (quick disclaimer, eTeknix would advise that no one attempted to build their own death ray, we do want readers that are not melted.)

On a side note, below is a video that shows this concept being conveyed at an insane level, a Youtuber who goes by the username “styropyro” has built his own Laser shotgun which has a combined power of 40W, as you do. Guns are a problem within society, let’s hope no one decides to use laser weapons instead.

How Much Would It Cost To Build a Bionic You?

Well this is an interesting start to an article, in a world where machines are fast evolving with the aim of becoming the new humans of choice, what would be the theoretical financial cost if you either quite fancied a bionic body double, or have decided to take a career deviation to a more Iron Man existence. It turns out it is technically possible in a theoretical but far less evolved way, although it is unlikely you will see any custom iHumans anytime soon; you would need access to both the most cutting edge of tech and also the required disposal income.

Brain

So, what do you need to become truly bionic? A brain, yes that would help, Google operates artificial neural networks (ANN) and uses them for services like Google Translate, or recommending videos on YouTube. These are prohibitively expensive, but the search giant does offer a low-cost version which stands at around £13,000. An average human brain is still vastly superior and surprisingly has a power consumption of around 20 watts, which is less than a light bulb. Especially those so-called energy-saving bulbs which when you turn on take a while to provide you with any kind of light.

Eyes

What else do we need then? Eyes? Yep their kind of important, Robots like the WALK‐MAN use infrared, radar, sonar and lasers to help them perceive the world. The price? That would be £98,000; there is a slight downside as robots struggle to identify objects, this is why many robotic vision systems use a combination of vision techniques, for example combining a high-speed stereoscopic camera with a slower laser scanner, which builds a 3D map of the world.

Skin

Skin would also be essential for that authentic human look, the icub, not an Apple spinoff, has created an “artificial skin” on a machine. The robots chest, arms, hands and legs are covered in pressure sensitive skin that allows the child‐sized robot to interact more delicately with objects and humans. The reasoning behind this is that electric ‘nanowires’ are being developed with the aim of eventually allowing robots to properly ‘feel’ the world around them. Oh and the price would be at least £164,000, it’s cheaper to build an actual human rather than a robot one at this rate.

Hands

Next up, hands, a research project at the John Hopkins University has built 10 prosthetic hands, at a cost of around £325,000 each. Or if you would prefer an alternative then there is a project from Open Bionics, which utilizes a 3D‐printed prosthetic hand. This works by detecting muscle movements with electrical signals. It can be custom-built and fitted in only two days, at a cost of £2000. It will be an interesting chapter in the world when you can print your own hands.

Joints

Joints are next and arrive courtesy of Festo’s prototype Bionic Handling Assistant which is modelled on an elephant’s trunk. But what if you would like the cream of the crop? Nasa have thought of this and have built a “humanoid Robot” which uses similar technology to that of Festo’s and have coined it the Robonaut 2. Its flexible joints have already helped it climb around the International Space Station. I would not open your wallets just yet as the price would be around $14 million, which is a lot.

Legs and Feet

Lastly, there is the question of legs and feet, how much would they cost? The WALK‐MAN has devised legs which are pliant rather than rigid, making balance easier and allows them to walk in a smooth-ish fashion. It’s still nowhere near as advanced as a human though and it does require a hefty power supply, prices would be around £4.3 million.

Right, if you have access to the best bionic tech, then it would cost quite a lot, to make one bionic would require a vast array of tech which would at this time be not as good as us. Advancements have been implemented, but nothing has touched the power and intricacy of for example the human brain, robots are good at being machines and humans are good at being us, well most of us.

TL;DR we’re a lot of money and that’s without adding Iron-Man like abilities.

Thank you sky for providing us with this information.

New Techniques Show iPhone Data Extraction

Previously unpublicized techniques show how personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through trusted devices.

Researcher Jonathan Zdiarski showed in a presentation at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference this week, how the services take a surprising amount of data for what Apple says are “diagnostic services meant to help engineers”.

The users are not notified that the services are running and can not disable them. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block any future connections.

The same techniques to circumvent the backup encryption could however also be used by law enforcement or others with access to the “trusted” computers to which the devices have been connected.

In a video demonstration where Zdiarski showed what he could extract from an unlocked phone and a trusted computer, he also told us that the only way to un-pair your iPhone is to wipe it. The NSA collaboration rumors started right away, but Apple denied creating any “back doors” for intelligence agencies.

”We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” Apple said. “A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data.”

Zdziarski said he did not believe that the services were aimed at spy agencies, but that they do extract way more information than needed, with little to no disclosure.

Security industry analyst Rich Mogull said Zdziarski’s work was overhyped but technically accurate. ”They are collecting more than they should be, and the only way to get it is to compromise security.”

Mogull also agreed with Zdziarski that since the tools exist, law enforcement will use them in cases where the desktop computers of targeted individuals can be confiscated, hacked or reached via their employers.

For all the attention to the previously unknown tools and other occasional bugs, Apple’s phones are widely considered more secure than those using Google Inc’s rival Android operating system, in part because Google does not have the power to send software fixes directly to those devices.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Apple.

Numenta Releases Gork, The First App to Work Similar to a Human Brain

A Redwood City, Californian-based startup company by the name of Numenta has apparently held a conference to show off their achievement, which is a piece of software mimicking the processing power of a human brain.

The company, started by Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky nine years ago, has set out to achieve an algorithm that would process information like a normal human brain. The company is said to have already shipped its first product, Gork, a piece of software that would detect unusual patterns in information technology systems. By detecting these anomalies in a computer server early, the company states it would help avoid further problems while also saving a lot of time in manually finding and fixing them.

Their first application may seem strange at first, but it fits the description of what the human brain is good at, meaning pattern recognition. It is said that the company built its architecture on Hawkins’ theory of Hierarchical Temporal Memory, having the brain store data in time sequences. This is easily noticeable by the fact that we quickly remember the words and music of a song. This theory has apparently become the foundation for Numenta’s code base, bearing the name of Cortical Learning Algorithm (CLA), which the company intends to use in future applications as well.

Hawkins and Dubinsky have stated at the company’s conference that they are even more excited about new applications based on the CLA code, having already started ‘deeper’ conversations with potential partners about how to use the technology. What would we expect from such a code in the future? Your guess is as good as ours.

Thank you Venture Beat for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Venture Beat

No More Tangled Headphones as Physicist Unravels His ‘String Theory’

There are a number of things in life that are simply frustrating – traffic jams, paperwork and queues are just some, but high up on the frustration list for many is that simple act of tangled headphones. No matter how hard you tr, carefully wrapping up your headphones before placing them in your bag or pocket, somehow they manage to unwrap themselves and play a game of twister when out of sight so that when you next get them out, you have to spend five minutes trying to intricately undo the mass of knots that have miraculously appeared.

‘Tangle-free’ headphones have been around for a little while now and to be honest I think they’re just marketing junk as those cables still feel the need to wrap themselves around each other, leading you to the point at which you want to scream. This age-old problem however is no more as Robert Matthews, a physicist at the Aston University in Birmingham has unravelled this mystery and come up with a drop dead simple solution that appears to put an end to tangled headphones. Yes, that’s right, science and universities have come to the rescue once again for a solution to a trivial conundrum.

The solution comes with two simple steps. The first of these is to ensure the two ear buds are clipped together (this is where that random bit of rubber around your headphones comes into play) after which you clip the buds and the jack together as seen above, with the intention that holding them together stops the cable from threading through itself and creating the knots.

Matthews says

‘The study explains why your headphone cable mysteriously turns into one big jumbled mess while it’s in your bag or pocket. We’ve also struck upon an easy solution – simply clipping together the two ends of the cords makes the cable less likely to form a knot – saving the frustration of having to untangle it before plugging in. This was all about using hard science to tackle an everyday issue.

It was great to see how enthusiastic school students were to get to grips with the surprisingly complex science behind the phenomenon, and carry out experiments to study the effect and identify the solution.’

If you don’t quite believe that this simple ‘trick’ works, I’ve tried it with a couple of pairs of headphones myself and even when trying to mess the cable up in my hands, everything just falls out with no knots, tangles or swearing-in sight. Matthews may have just created the antidote to traumatic tangled cables syndrome.

Source and image courtesy: Daily Mail

Scientists Have Simulated a Time Travel Scenario… But Only with Photons

Time travel is a thing for science fiction, a theory that has been debated for a long time, but without any physical proof of it being possible. Scientific advancements and human curiosity however tends to take imagination to the next level. This is the case of a few scientists from University of Queensland, where they managed to successfully simulate quantum particles travelling through time, helping them understand some inexplicable aspects of modern physics.

The scientist state that time travel stands between two of the most successful yet inexplicable physical theories, which are Einstein’s general relativity and quantum mechanics. While the first is described as viewing the world at a very large-scale full of stars and galaxies, the other describes it as very small, at a scale of atoms and molecules.

“The properties of quantum particles are ‘fuzzy’ or uncertain to start with, so this gives them enough wiggle room to avoid inconsistent time travel situations,” UQ’s Tim Ralph explains. “Our study provides insights into where and how nature might behave differently from what our theories predict.” These include the violation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, cracking of quantum cryptography, and perfect cloning of quantum states.

What is known so far is the fact that time speeds up and slows down depending on how fast an object is moving relative to another object, having Einstein’s theory suggest that traveling back in time would require following a space-time path that returns to the same point in space, however at an earlier time.

The theory described above is said to be called a closed timelike curve, having the author state that the paradox of time travel can be solved in a quantum regime. The principle works by having a quantum particle travelling through a wormhole back in time and returning to the same location at an a previous time.

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