New device gets power from 5G signals grabbed from the air

The new technology might one day help power the Internet of Things.

This may look like spidery art on a playing card, but it’s actually a tiny array of antennas and a lens. The device can grab waves of 5G energy from the air, focus them, and then turn those waves into electricity.
CHRISTOPHER MOORE/ GEORGIA TECH

A few years ago, Aline Eid was sitting in a restaurant sharing popcorn with Jimmy Hester. They weren’t just snacking, though. They were puzzling over a tough problem. How could they tap into the power of invisible signals that send data to cell phones, computers and other devices? If they could manage this, people might someday run their electronics without batteries or cords. As they brainstormed, an idea took shape. That idea has now become a reality.

The heart of their innovation is a special gadget. It helps gather wireless signals sent out by cell-phone towers. Called a Rotman lens, the device looks a bit like a flat metal spider. “We were so excited. I knew it was going to work,” recalls Eid. She’s a PhD student in electrical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Hester is the cofounder of the tech company Atheraxon. It’s also in Atlanta. He and Eid shared the idea with their professor, Manos M. Tentzeris. “That was a breakthrough solution,” Tentzeris says. The three described their new device in January 12 in Scientific Reports.

The tarantula

The harvesting of wireless energy doesn’t work well over long distances. It’s one that electrical engineer Hina Tabassum also knows well. At York University in Toronto, Canada, she works on this problem, too.

Radio waves and microwaves carry data from cell-phone towers to our phones and other devices. The area each tower covers is called a cell. Your cell phone contacts the nearest tower to exchange data. The first cellular networks used radio waves to send and receive data. Newer 5G networks now use higher frequency microwaves. These waves can carry more data and transmit it faster. While that can help save energy, these waves they don’t reach as far. That’s because buildings and other objects block them. Moisture in the atmosphere absorbs them, too, reducing their strength the farther they travel.

Explainer: Understanding waves and wavelengths

When waves of energy wash over a phone or other device, they drop off data and then continue on their way. The energy that had been used to carry those data has no use now. It’s a waste, says Tentzeris — unless the new device transforms it into electricity.

This energy tapping is possible across the electromagnetic spectrum. But “you cannot get a lot of power out of low frequencies,” says Eid. Millimeter-range 5G is exciting because cell towers use much more energy to blast out these high frequencies. So a harvesting antenna could get more electricity out of these signals.

A typical 5G tower sends microwave signals out some 180 meters (590 feet). To gather their energy from the edge of this distance, a receiving antenna must point in the exact same direction from which the waves are coming. Yet to be practical, Eid notes, a 5G-energy harvester should work from anywhere within a 5G cell and no matter which way the receiver is pointing. Eid and Hester had been pondering how to harvest energy from such distance and from lots of different directions.

5G promises new energy savings for digital tech

They solved the problem with that Rotman lens. These have been around for a long time. But engineers had only used them to send signals, not to receive them. Says Tabassum, using them as a receiver is “a new technology, for sure.”

The lens looks a bit like a flattened metal tarantula. Spidery “legs” extend from two sides of a central body. On one side, these legs lead to eight small antennas. On the other side, they lead to six beam ports. The antennas catch microwaves and focus them onto a single point at one of those beam ports — whichever one lines up best with the direction of the incoming waves. Another part in the device transforms the microwaves it receives into electrical power.

The six beam ports are like six of the eight eyes on a real tarantula’s head. With them, Eid says, “our system can also look in six different directions.”

The researchers tested their device in the lab across a distance of 2.8 meters (9 feet). They weren’t able to test it at the same high energies a 5G tower would use. But they gathered enough information to simulate how the device should work in the real world. At 180 meters, they now report, this device could deliver six microwatts of power.

Tabassum worries that this estimate might be too high. Her main concern is that things such as buildings, trees and people would block signals, limiting how much of this energy reaches a device.

Tentzeris says his team accounted for that. The Georgia Tech team is now planning to test the device at even longer distances.

The Internet of Things

Six microwatts is not much power. Charging the typical battery for one of today’s cell phones needs around 6 million microwatts (6 watts) of power. Still, the new invention would have enough power to run most sensors and microchips.

As the Internet of Things is emerging, sensors and microchips are spreading everywhere. Low-power electronics can measure air or soil quality. They can keep tabs on safety aspects of bridges or buildings. They can manage the heat or lighting in a home and even track someone’s health. But the batteries that power these electronics contain heavy metals that aren’t easy to make or to dispose of safely. Finding a way to power the Internet of Things without batteries would be good for the environment, says Eid.

Her team figured out how to make its new device at low cost, mainly by using an inkjet printer. They hope to start marketing it as a product within the next few years.

Will they name it “The Tarantula”? Probably not. But Eid does say it has one more thing in common with spiders. “A tarantula can climb anywhere,” says Eid. The device is lightweight and bendable. You can put it anywhere you want, like a sticker — a very special playing-card-sized sticker that grabs energy from the air!

Loneliness

Loneliness makes our brain crave people.

After 10 hours of isolation, people’s brains perked up at the thought of social time.

A hungry brain craves food. A lonely brain craves people. A new brain study demonstrates this. After being isolated, it shows, people’s brains perked up at the sight of other people. The action was in the same brain region that revs up when a hungry person sees food.  

“There’s a ton of research showing loneliness is associated with depression,” says Livia Tomova. She’s a cognitive neuroscientist, someone who studies how the brain produces mental activities. Tomova works at the University of Cambridge in England. But while scientists know loneliness and depression are related, it’s hard to tell if one causes the other. “Are they depressed because they’re lonely, or lonely because they’re depressed?” she asks. “One way to study that is [to look at] how the brain responds to periods of being alone.”

When she began this study, Tomova was a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. She and her colleagues recruited 40 people. On one day, the participants had to fast — not eat anything at all — for 10 hours. On another day, the same people were placed in a room for 10 hours. They couldn’t see anyone. No friends, no family and no social media. They weren’t even allowed to check their email.

After both days, Tomova and her colleagues put the people in a fMRI machine. It shows activity in the brain by tracking how much blood is flowing to each region.

At the end of each day, the participants showed high activity in a brain area called the midbrain. The scientists were interested in two small areas within it. One was the substantia nigra pars compacta. The other was the ventral tegmental area. Both areas produce dopamine. It’s a chemical messenger that is important in craving and rewards.

The two areas activated when hungry participants saw pictures of tasty pizza or juicy hamburgers. After the volunteers had been isolated, those brain areas became active when they saw social activities they missed. It might be playing sports or chatting with friends.

The midbrain plays an important part in people’s motivation to seek food or friends. In fact, it responds to food and social signals even when people aren’t hungry or lonely. But hunger and loneliness increased the reactions and made people’s responses specific to the thing they were missing. And the more hunger or isolation the volunteers said they were experiencing, the stronger the activity in this part of the brain. Tomova and her colleagues published their results November 23 in Nature Neuroscience.

People need people

One of the goals of studying people, says Thuy-vy Nguyen, is to find out what our basic needs are. Nguyen studies solitude — when people wish to be alone — at Durham University in England. People often say that humans are social animals, Nguyen notes.  She wonders, “Where did this phrase come from? … Do we have evidence for this?” This new paper, she concludes, shows that, yes, social time is a basic need.

The results are very elegant, says Turhan Canli. He is a neuroscientist at Stony Brook University in New York. However, he adds, 10 hours isn’t that long to spend isolated from anyone else. So the responses “may be very different from those individuals who have experienced chronic social isolation,” he says, such as older people living by themselves. Personality could matter, too. Someone who likes their alone time might not have a brain response that is as strong as someone who is a social butterfly.

The study seems especially important now, when so many people are isolated due to the pandemic. “We’ve been dealing with COVID-19 and some form of social distance for [many] months,” says Naomi Eisenberger. She’s a social neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. But in an effort to stay safe from disease, people may end up lonelier than ever. “We tell people to stay away and it’s so hard. All of us on some level are starving for social interactions.”

The findings “speak to our current state,” agrees Tomova. “It’s important to look at the social dimension of this kind of crisis.”

Floating Nature

Floating nature- Forward campus imagined for New York Harbor.

rendering of floating campus on New York Harbor

We The Planet, an organization committed to protecting life on Earth through sustainable and innovative design, has commissioned architecture studio 3deluxe to design a floating campus for New York Harbor. The campus will be a people- and wildlife-friendly space in harmony with nature. The initial concept comprises seven covered “discs” that will be linked via walkways and surrounded by wetlands populated by local flora and fauna. 

The campus will be designed according to 3deluxe’s 50/50 concept, which is that all building projects should give back just as much substance to nature as they take from it. As a result, half of all building space would be dedicated to nature-oriented biotopes. “The quality of life in the cities would be enormously improved in every respect” with these designs, according to the architects. Air quality would improve, the traditional heat-island effects of urban environments would decrease, and the enjoyment of nature would be possible within cities.

rendering of the walkways at the floating campus at the New York Harbor

The floating campus would be mobile and, thus, unaffected by rising sea levels. It would include public areas for sports and leisure, a transition area at the center of the campus with a meadow and a beach, and facilities that could be used for meetings and educational events. The goal is that the complex will be an example of what life, community, and work could look like in the future. 

Natural and recycled materials would be used to create the buildings, and green roofs would be used to boost the availability of natural habitats.

Additional floating platforms could be added to expand the available green spaces and parks along the city’s shoreline, holding, for example, a looped running track through and surrounded by wetlands. The campuses could be attached to a shoreline pier or each other, or anchored within the harbor as individual islands.

The campus is envisioned as being entirely self-sufficient, generating its own energy and producing its own water. Bioluminescent bacteria that convert methane gas into energy could be used as a light source at night. In addition, wind turbines, photovoltaics, and specialty marine turbines under the platform designed to work with slow-moving water would generate energy, while algae bioreactors and oyster farms would naturally scrub pollutants from water.

REFERENCE: This article is from “Urban nature” as the issue of civil engineering.

Testing and Treating Microplastics in water face challenges

The deadline is looming: According to a state law adopted in 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board has until July 1 to adopt a standard methodology for testing drinking water for the presence of microplastics; adopt requirements for four years of testing and reporting of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of the results; and accredit qualified laboratories in California to analyze microplastics.

The problem? Testing for microplastics — which are defined as any plastic material less than 5 mm in length — is not quite ready for prime time. It is not yet precisely clear what effects microplastics have on animals, including humans, and at what levels they may be harmful. And it’s not entirely clear how microplastics get into our bodies — through water, air, food, or other sources, if not all of the above.

A law before its time?

Theresa Slifko, Ph.D., a chemistry unit manager at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — a regional wholesaler that provides drinking water to nearly 19 million state residents — says managing microplastics requires “a method to evaluate toxicity in animals; a method to evaluate occurrence in water, including drinking water; good studies to evaluate toxicity in animals and humans; and good studies to evaluate if microplastics are present in treated drinking water and what treatment can remove them.”

So the MWDSC is one of 40 labs — and the only public drinking water system — participating in a study coordinated by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project that will report its findings to the state water board this summer. The board plans to use the information to help it select methods and develop a microplastics monitoring program for drinking water. “The recommendations will also be used to help California develop, adopt, and implement a statewide strategy for lessening the ecological risks of microplastics to coastal marine ecosystems,” Slifko says. “This legislation is not about developing best available treatment technologies to remove microplastics. We need to figure out if there is a problem and the potential extent that would need to be addressed first.”

The effect of ingesting microplastics from drinking water is “one of the questions we’re trying to wrap our heads around,” Slifko says. “Unfortunately, health assessments of microplastics pose unusual and difficult situations because those studies also require good analytical tools. (Researchers) need to be able to design the right studies, ask the right questions, and get the answers they need to inform decision-making. Those goals are also impacted by lots of uncertainty and missing information.”

Once researchers determine what levels of microplastics are actually harmful and in what ways, the next challenge will be determining how to test a given water sample to determine if it contains that threshold level. “One of the most important and key critical elements to monitoring drinking water for microplastics is the collection of a representative drinking water sample,” Slifko says.

Making it mainstream

Marie Enfrin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s School of Engineering who focuses on microplastics research within the school’s department of civil and environmental engineering, agrees that there is much information yet to be determined. “We have been surrounded by plastics for decades, but we don’t know the effects of microplastics yet,” Enfrin says. “When we don’t know, we can’t say for sure whether the effects are serious or not. And because there’s this lack of knowledge, we still need to research the topic.”

But Enfrin is convinced that once some of the basic questions have been answered, a traditional water filtration method could be of use. Various types of membranes are effective at removing other contaminants this way, and part of Enfrin’s research is to develop a membrane system that can filter microplastics.

“Water treatment plants treat loads and loads of water every second,” Enfrin says. “It’s just not (feasible) to take 1 ml of water (out of the system) and take an hour or more to get an accurate estimate of microplastics concentrations” in that sample.

For now, though, microplastics’ varying sizes and resistance to settling are challenges to be overcome before any useful in-process treatment systems can be designed. “Most (microplastics) have the same density as water, which means they do not float and they do not really sink,” Enfrin says. This precludes the use of settling tanks or skimming procedures, two common methods used in water treatment today.

One possibility, Enfrin suggests, is finding a way to force the microplastics to coagulate into large enough particles to be filtered out, possibly toward the end of the treatment train.

For now, all that is certain is uncertainty: Testing and treatment are still far from ready to tackle the incidence of microplastics in drinking water — law or no law.

Green Infrastructure

Cities Around the Great lake plans for a changing future.

Water ran from a fire hydrant, down the street and into a recently redesigned street median in Detroit last week. 

It was both unassuming and a demonstration of the city’s single largest investment in green stormwater infrastructure: infrastructure that uses natural processes like the ability of soil and plants to filter and store water. The 10 reworked street medians on Oakman Boulevard will help manage 37.3 billion gallons of storm water a year , easing the burden on the city’s wastewater system and reduce basement flooding.

In August 2014, historic and deadly flooding took Detroit by surprise. Heavy rains submerged interstate highways, swamped vehicles, filled basements and caused an estimated billion dollars in damage.

The city responded, in part, by turning to green stormwater infrastructure.

It’s a strategy that cities around the Great Lakes basin have increasingly been employing to ease the burden on their wastewater infrastructure and improve water quality, while deferring or avoiding costly upgrades to wastewater treatment plants. 

It’s also a valuable adaptation to a changing climate, which is likely to make rainstorms more severe.

Reducing street flooding by catching millions

Street flooding occurs when too much rain falls too quickly, and stormwater systems can’t keep up. Water can also back up through drains into nearby basements.

After the 2014 floods, Detroit officials started meeting with residents of one flooded neighborhood to discuss possible solutions to their flooding problem, said Bryan Peckinpaugh, the deputy director of public affairs for the Detroit Water and Sewage Department.  

After years of discussion and planning, the city turned the medians on Oakman Boulevard into bioretention features. These features look like large rain gardens and allow stormwater from the street to flow into the median where it filters through the ground and some of it is collected in large tanks below the surface. Those tanks slowly release stormwater back to the sewer system, easing the load on the whole system.

Storm drains in nearby areas were diverted to the new bioretention areas as well, bumping the affected area to 400 acres, Peckinpaugh said.

The bioretention features will help manage 37.3 million gallons of water each year, according to a press release about the project from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department. 

Residents are noticing a difference.

Earlier this year Mackenzie Street, locally referred to as Lake Mackenzie, was uncharacteristically free of standing water during the first big rain since the project’s completion, Peckinpaugh said.

Fewer floods, better water quality

Green stormwater infrastructure does far more than reduce flooding.

It protects water bodies that receive stormwater by filtering out pollutants from impermeable surfaces like parking lots, streets or roofs. As water filters through soil, it leaves some of those pollutants behind. When it finally reaches the receiving waters, it’s cleaner.

By slowing the flow of stormwater to the sewers, green stormwater infrastructure can also reduce combined sewer overflows, which occur when heavy storms overwhelm the wastewater system and stormwater and sewage is discharged directly into a river or lake.

In 2019, the most recent report data available, 2.7 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater spilled into Michigan’s waterways in combined sewer overflows.

“The gold standard of green stormwater infrastructure is that our receiving waters—our lakes, our streams and our rivers—they don’t know that we developed the landscape around it,” said Donald Carpenter, professor of practice of civil and architectural engineering at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.

In terms of achieving that goal, “we’re not even close,” Carpenter said.

In the Great Lakes basin, green infrastructure like that in Detroit might have an outsized impact because it protects the largest store of surface freshwater in the world. Projects around the basin are planned or in place that could have a major impact on water quality.

The increase of green infrastructure is largely due to the Clean Water Act, a 1972 law that set standards for water quality, said Joan Nassauer, a professor at the School of Environment and Sustainability at University of Michigan. 

By 2035, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District plans to use green infrastructure to capture the first half inch of rain that falls in its service area, about 740 million gallons of water.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has reduced stormwater runoff in the Cleveland area by more than 26 million gallons  a year through grants for green stormwater infrastructure projects.

Cities are also required by the U.S. EPA to implement green infrastructure.

In 2014, Chicago was required to use it to reduce street flooding and basement backups, including transitioning vacant lots into stormwater parks that both filter water and provide recreation opportunities to the public.

Cleveland was required in 2010 to spend $42 million on green infrastructure.

And in southern Indiana on the Ohio River, a park is being designed, not to mitigate flooding, but to adapt to it. 

When the river floods, Origin Park, in Clarksville and New Albany, Indiana, won’t shut down. It’ll just be used differently. 

“A lot of our woods will flood seasonally. So what that means is in July and August, you’ll be hiking through the woods, but then in March and April, you’ll be paddling through those same woods,” said Scott Martin, the executive director of River Heritage Conservancy, the organization building and running the park.

The park is “100% climate change oriented,” Martin said.

Current conditions don’t require elevated trails or building canoe put-ins so far from the river that people will think they’re “insane.” For Origin Park, it’s all about looking ahead and building for what’s coming.

“This is the frontline of climate change,” Martin said. “If we’re really intentional and thoughtful about it, we can design cities that are even more livable, more green, in places where people don’t expect to see it.”

The park’s first construction is getting underway. A canoe path will open by the end of the year.

Planning for a changing future

Replacing or supplementing grey infrastructure—storm drains, pipes, treatment facilities—with green can save cities time and money.

“To rip out and replace all this grey infrastructure would cost billions if not trillions of dollars,” Carpenter said. But adding green infrastructure can lighten the burden put on stormwater infrastructure by changing precipitation patterns.

Climate change is expected to increase Great Lakes rainfall by 10 to 20%, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s due in part to an increase of heavy rainstorms that can overwhelm stormwater and sewer systems built to rainfall expectations of past decades.

That’s just one area that green infrastructure can help. 

“Green stormwater infrastructure has all these other ancillary benefits that make it really attractive,” Carpenter said.

Common green storm water infrastructure tools—rain gardens, bioretention features or growing plants on roofs—incorporate plants, which also improve air quality, make for cooler neighborhoods and act as public health boosting greenspace Carpenter said.

Nassauer, who has installed large bioretention projects in Detroit, says vacant land in large Great Lakes cities with shrinking populations are perfect for green infrastructure projects. 

Changing vacant lots into park-like rain gardens can transform a neighborhood. Gardens she helped install six or seven years ago regularly come up in conversations with locals, who appreciate the benefits beyond flooding, she said.

BOREDOM MAY POSE A PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT IN THE SOCIAL DISTANCING ERA

New studies offer clues to why some people find it difficult to follow social-distancing guidelines. Two recent studies suggest that people prone to boredom are more likely than others to break social-distancing rules. Accepting the idea that feeling bored is normal could help people cope, say researchers.

In recent months, you may have heard about “pandemic fatigue.” The term is not clearly defined. But the gist is that people have grown tired of the pandemic and of having to keep apart for so long. That fatigue can show up as feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, frustration, anger and boredom.

Seeing boredom on that list worries those who study the condition. “Usually boredom tells you that you should do something else,” says Wanja Wolff. During a pandemic, “that might not be the best thing,” says this sports psychologist. He works at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

Recently, scientists have shown that those fears could pose a problem. Two new studies have found that people who often feel bored are more likely than others to flout social-distancing guidelines. Those boredom-prone people also appear to be at higher risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

Boredom, these studies suggest, may well be a real threat to public health.

Defining boredom

“Boredom is a sign that you’re not meaningfully engaged in the world,” says Erin Westgate. She’s a social psychologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She and other researchers have identified two paths to boredom: a loss of focus and a loss of meaning.

Many of us have lost the focus, or mental clarity, that we had before the pandemic, Westgate says. The pandemic has brought many sources of stress. They include city shutdowns and remote-schooling. At the same time, there have been many other stressors both big and small. These include civil-rights protests, political unrest and tough economic times.

Such disturbances can impair our ability to stay mentally sharp. Westgate and others have found that both too much and too little stimulation can short-circuit one’s ability to pay attention.

Meanwhile, many of our lives have come unraveled. “We’re in a collective loss of routine right now,” says. She is a social psychologist at Rutgers University-Newark in New Jersey. Social-distancing guidelines are aimed at protecting us from a deadly disease. But they have also stolen the seemingly little things that we enjoy. Those monthly outings for ice cream with grandma or weekly baseball games with friends are more than just fun routines. They actually give our lives meaning.

When people lose both focus and meaning in their lives, the boredom becomes “doubly bad,” Westgate says. Even when something is meaningful, she points out, you may lose focus, she points out. If can be because either “it’s too easy or too hard. You can also be bored because you can pay attention, but it’s meaningless,” she says. “But if something is meaningless and you can’t pay attention, you’re like double bored.”

Prone to the blahs

The two new boredom studies each included almost 1,000 North American participants. They show how elevated boredom among people prone to the feeling may be playing out during the pandemic.

In one study, researchers looked at a person’s propensity for boredom. They sought to quantify how this related to rule-breaking behaviors during the pandemic. One example might be going to a party. Proneness to boredom explained 25 percent of the variance in rule-breaking behaviours among participants. The team reports this in the March Personality and Individual Differences.

No one thing can explain all of any human behavior, says James Danckert. But “25 percent is a huge amount.” This coauthor of the study is a cognitive neuroscientist. He works at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Wolff and his colleagues, meanwhile, found that boredom-prone people ranked social distancing as more difficult  than others had. They were also less likely to follow social-distancing guidelines. Their findings appeared online July 28, 2020 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Both studies showed that people who scored higher in boredom were also slightly more likely than those scoring lower to report having gotten COVID-19.

“Boredom is an incredibly powerful motivator for behavior,” Wolff says. Yet, he adds, people can struggle with how to respond to that signal in safe and meaningful ways.

The danger of the doldrums

Westgate is not surprised that people who are especially prone to boredom find staying home dull. She does wonder, though, about the rest of us. How are people who aren’t used to being bored coping with the pandemic? Are they also breaking the rules?

The research here is less direct but suggestive. In one 2014 study in Science, Westgate and her colleagues asked 42 undergraduate students to sit alone with their thoughts for several minutes. No cell phones were allowed. The students, though, had the option to push a button to receive a painful electric shock. About two-thirds of the male and a quarter of the female students pushed that button. Some pushed it more than once. This suggests that even pain can be preferable to boredom for some.

Similarly, one 2019 study induced boredom in people through a repetitive gambling game. That boredom prompted them to take more risks.

Momentary boredom is not inherently bad, says Wijnand Van Tilburg. He is a social psychologist at the University of Essex in England. He also coauthored the 2019 study, published in Behavioral Decision Making. But over a longer period, boredom can lead to serious public health outcomes. That’s true if the situation “is unresolved or the resolution to it is harmful, like overeating or becoming aggressive or not wearing a mask,” he says. 

A recent study provides clues to how unresolved boredom may play out. It was published in the December 22 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The pattern of death rates from COVID-19 in some states did not match what researchers expected if people had hunkered down as the virus surged. Then the researchers factored into their models that some people would stop social distancing earlier than recommended. Now their models better replicated the real death rates.

The authors attribute people’s actions, and the higher-than-expected death toll, to pandemic fatigue. This includes boredom.

In the coming months, boredom from pandemic fatigue could worsen as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread in the United States and many other places. Hope is at hand with the rollout of vaccines. But public-health experts warn that vaccinating enough people to halt a U.S. spread of the virus could take several more months. How is that collision of hope and despair affecting our levels of boredom? How many of us will drop our guard?

What now?

Wolff is now looking at how to help people who are bored to follow social-distancing rules. His paper, last July, showed that when boredom-prone people have a lot of self-control, they do a better job with adherence. Training people to have more self-control can be difficult, however. Wolff instead suggests that people reduce the need for self-control by creating backup plans.

His preliminary research was posted online last June 25 at PsyArXiv.com. It suggests that “if-then ” plans can help. For instance, if an indoor gym is too dangerous, a person could plan to start running outside. Wolff suggests people take small steps to make it easier to follow such forced changes to their routine. One example: Put workout clothes out on the bed the night before and sneakers by the front door. “The idea is to make behavior more automatic,” he says.

But even with the best-laid plans, retaining focus and meaning during the pandemic is no easy task. Researchers say it’s worth reminding ourselves that boredom is a neutral signal. It is neither bad nor good. And some people may discover that their boredom has roots that may predate the pandemic.

So perhaps the best way to view the situation is that some people will use this moment of boredom to think about larger life goals, Van Tilburg says. “It is possible to get meaning out of these negative situations.”  

MOVEMENT IN YOUR DAY

The trick is to get started not wait for a good time to do it.

Moving your body regularly and often is a key to good health. But for people who don’t feel urge to exercise, sitting can become a habit that hurts the body and the brain. Here are some easy tips that will invite more movement into your routines.

1.Budget in some mobile breaks

Make a conscious effort and set simple goals, say Tatiana Warren of Just TATI in Baltimore, Md. For example, for every hour that you’re sitting , you might set yourself a goal to get up for ten minutes and move round . Schools and work places can be creative about building those breaks into the day , she says.

2. Give yourself prompts

Are you forgetting to get up? Set a timer if you have to. Let it remind you to “break up” an hour of sitting with a couple-minute breaks for walking or more, says Aaron Kandola at University College , London.

“Or if you are watching television , just get up when there’s an advertisement break”, Hallgren says. For example, you might use the short break to do a quick chore like empty the dishwasher or pick up the dog’s toys.

3. Work with what you have

“If it’s nice weather , you should definitely get out,” Warren says. Even a quick walk up and down the block can help. If the weather is bad, plan for other options.

Warren likes to jump rope in her high-ceiling apartment. But you could stand and stretch even in a small place. Dance around online exercise videos. For example, the Lake Country YMCA in Ohio has free eight to twelve minutes kids’ yoga videos . Their themes include Star Wars, dinosaurs and the jungle.

4. Use the buddy system

Work with friends to remind each other to stand up and a stretch. Or, remind each other to stand when you are on the phone. Get your family involved too. Warren says her cousins’ family likes to play board games. But they often stand to reach for something or even jump during the games. No one sits still for long , she says.

5.Stand or walk in place

If you are watching something, such as a video or TikTok, consider standing while you do it. If you are listening to music , try dancing to the beat at least once every 20 to 40 minutes. If you are working on the computer, place it on a taller surface , a dresser or tabletop so you can stand while you work. If you are talking on the phone, walk around the room while you chat.

6. Push for better policies

School is a great place to start breaking up long periods of sitting , says Warren. And creative breaks can be fun . Tell your teacher , guidance counselor or principal what you have learned here. Suggest a trail school wide policy to get everyone moving, or maybe even a competition. Everyone stands to benefit from moving more.

These days we are moving to the work from home culture which means movement becomes less and lesser . Sitting in a place for a while could cause more problems so try to make movements and do muscular exercises. Stay healthy and Stay safe.

Most people will add something-even when subtracting makes more sense

This “more is better” attitude could underlie modern day excesses expert say.

Picture a bridge made of Lego blocks. One side has three support pieces, the other two. How would you stabilize the bridge? Most people would add a piece to the short stack, a new study suggests. But why not remove a piece from the taller stack? When it comes to Lego blocks, ingredients in a recipe or words in an essay, people prefer to add, not subtract.

People can be nudged to subtract instead. But effectively changing that preference seems to require reminders or rewards. That’s the finding of a new study . Its authors shared details of it in the April 8 Nature.

This preference for adding isn’t limited to building blocks, cooking and writing. It might also contribute to modern-day excesses. Think about cluttered homes, excess government rules and even a tendency to pollute, says Benjamin Converse. He’s a behavioral scientist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He worries that because of this bias toward adding, “We’re missing an entire class of solutions.”  

Converse was part of a team that first found this bias when they asked 1,585 study participants to tackle eight puzzles and problems. Each could be solved by adding or removing things. One puzzle required shading or erasing squares on a grid to make some pattern symmetrical. In another, people could add or subtract items on a list of intended destinations to improve their vacation experience.

In each case, the vast majority of people chose to add not subtract. For instance, of 94 participants who completed the grid task, 73 added squares. Another 18 removed squares. Three simply reworked the original number of squares.

The researchers suspect that most people default to adding simply because subtracting never even comes to mind. But through a series of controlled trials, the team was able to nudge recruits toward the minus option.

Hint, hint…

In one test, the team offered 197 people wandering around a crowded university site a dollar to solve a puzzle. People viewed a Lego structure. It had a figure standing atop a platform with a large pillar behind her. A single block on one corner of the pillar supported a flat roof. Researchers asked the participants to stabilize the roof to avoid squashing the figure.

lego block tower with roof
In this test, people had to stabilize a Lego roof over a figurine (represented by the piece of paper). Most people added blocks even though each piece cost 10 cents. Only after researchers noted that removing pieces was free did more people consider taking off the center block and resting the roof on the wide pillar below it.ADAMS ET AL/NATURE 2021

The researchers warned 98 participants that “each piece you add costs 10 cents.” Yet only 40 of them thought to remove the destabilizing block so that the roof could rest on top of the wide pillar below. The other 99 participants were told about the 10-cent cost of each extra block. But these people also learned “removing pieces is free.” That cue prompted 60 of them to remove the block.

Practice did help participants call to mind that elusive option of removing (subtracting) something. In a variation on the grid test, where subtraction yielded the best solution, participants got three practice runs. When they performed the actual task, more people now chose to subtract squares than did those who worked this problem without practice. 

Throwing unrelated information at people reduced the chance they would subtract something. In fact, people added even more when fighting information overload, the new study reports.

“When people try to make something better … they don’t think that they can remove or subtract unless they are somehow prompted to do so,” says Gabrielle Adams. She’s a behavioral scientist who also works at the University of Virginia. 

On some deep level, people seem to realize that subtraction comes less naturally than addition, the authors say. That may be what’s behind such sayings as “less is more” and Marie Kondo’s now infamous recommendation that people rid themselves of everything that fails to spark joy.

But curbing our love of excess will take more than nudges and a clear mind, suspects Hal Arkes. He’s a researcher at Ohio State University in Columbus. There, he studies judgement and decision-making. Organizational and political leaders really hate cutting the fat, he notes. They seem to feel that “if you add more people and more dollars, you won’t make any enemies,” Arkes says. “You’ll just make friends.” For them, he argues, “subtraction has serious downsides.”

Copper foam could be used as filter for COVID-19 masks

Ask the Expert: Do I Have to Wear Sunscreen Under My Mask? - The Skin  Cancer Foundation

Face masks have become a common method of protection during the COVID-19 pandemic . A new copper foam could make those masks work even better. The lightweight new material is washable and recyclable.

Face masks have become a vital tool in a showing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. They help filter or block spit or mucus droplets that carry infectious particles. Even homemade fabric masks can do a good job. But many are not very durable. Now, researchers have come up with a new sort of filter for use in masks. Made of copper, it’s sturdy and lightweight. The sponge-like material also is easy to clean and can be recycled. In tests, it outperformed the filtering ability of a standard N95 mask. It might even trap and kill bacteria, its developers say.

Masks to guard against viruses can be made of many different materials. Some fabric ones even use extra layers– often cotton, silk or some synthetic –to boost their filtering process. Others use paper similar to coffee filters. With so many people now being asked to wear masks during the pandemic researchers began scrambling to identify new and better filters. Kai Liu was among them.

This materials scientist thought his team at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., had a head start. They already had been testing materials to filter small particles out of polluted air.

Recalls Liu, “We saw that small droplets carrying viruses were the same size as some atmospheric pollutants”. Right away, he says, “We thought we should check our materials to see it they might make good filters for face masks”.

A lightweight form of copper foam (sample resting on plant fibers ) could render face mask filters washable or recyclable.

Liu’s team soon began cranking out new batches of a material they call copper foam.

They started with templates to make copper nanowires. The diameter of each wire was typically about 200 nanometers, says Liu- or less than one millionth of an inch . After dumping those wires into ultrapure water, they flash-froze the mix in liquid nitrogen. Afterward, they put the copper filled ice in a vacuum chamber. It drove off the water to freeze dry the now loosely packed mass of tiny copper wires. Finally , they heated the mass of wires to 300 degree Celsius(572 degree Fahrenheit). This fostered chemical reactions that helped bind them into a mesh.

An open mesh of copper nanowires can filter small droplets better than a hospital style N95 mask.

Unfortunately, that mesh was super flimsy, says Liu. Tests showed it would collapse if someone breathed on it. Obviously, that would not work well in masks. So, the researchers kept tweaking the process.

They bathed the weak mesh in a liquid that included copper ions. Then they sent an electric current through this chemical bath. That deposited more copper onto the nanowires, thickening them. Liu says that it also helped in welding the wires at points where they touched. In tests, some samples of this material could now support about 10,000 times their own weight without collapsing. That was true even when the material was 85 percent air.

More importantly this 85 percent air foam filtered out tiny particles. A sample 2.5 millimeters (0.1 inch) thick captured 97 percent of particles between 0.1 to 0.4 micrometers in diameter . Such super small particles not only are the hardest to trap but also the size of aerosol droplets that can carry virus particles . These particles don’t get trapped by the material’s tiny pores, Liu explains. “The particles are instead attracted to the enormous surface area that the nanowires provide. They get stuck there on it as they try to move through the wire mesh between the outer and inner edges of the filter”. Liu and his colleagues described their innovative new foam.

“The Georgetown team developed an interesting and innovative way to produce their material “says Semali Perera. She is a Chemical Engineer at the University of Bath in England. She wonders, however, if it would be hard to scalp up the process to make really big batches and large pieces of the thin foam for use in masks.

Perera’s team is taking a different approach to germ filters. Theirs were initially targeted to collect and kill bacteria. Now they’re being designed to trap viruses , too.

One promising material her team is exploring is a plastic like foam made out of a polymer called polyimide. To give it a germ killing punch , the researchers added copper and nickel. Nickel helps slow the growth of bacteria and copper helps kill them. Those metals make up about 80 percent of the material, says Perera. The plastic like polymer helps bind the metal atoms together.

Instead of using a multi step process to make its material, this group mixes its ingredients in one container all at once. A chemical reaction that generates large amounts of carbon dioxide makes the material frothy , Perera notes. As it foams, it expands into a mold. Within three seconds it hardens into its final shape. To make big batches, the researchers merely mix more of the ingredients and then cook them up in a bigger pot.

Perera and her team are working with companies to design new products . One potential use for their material might be filters for home air-conditioners.

DAILY TECHNOLOGY

Technology is basically the way we execute the discoveries of science and blend it with our own needs. Technology is a general term used to refer to the different tools, machines and equipment we use in everyday life. These tools and equipment have been invented by man to make the tasks faster, easier and more comfortable.

Advancements of Technology:

Since the invention of the wheel to the use of microchips in computers and mobiles, technology has come a long way. The man has reached the moon and explored the outer space just because of the advancement in the aeronautics field. Even in primitive occupations such as agriculture, there have been so many technological advancements with modern tools such as traction engine and steam tractor technology which has helped us make progress.

Prominent Examples:

Although there have been countless examples where technology has changed our lives, there are some which are considered as revolutions for mankind. The technology used in the field of robotics in one such fine example. Nowadays robots are being used by people and industries all over the world for various purposes. They are also used in places which are otherwise considered harmful for humans thereby protecting us. One such area is the cleaning and managing of radioactive waste.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another field which is a classic example of the technological advancements man has achieved. Who could have imagined that a machine would be capable of thinking like us? That is what AI has been successful in doing. It is an intelligent machine capable of behaving like us. It can do activities such as problem-solving, planning, learning and even reasoning. Today AI is used in all major areas such as warfare, security, healthcare and communication. On top of this, it is far more efficient than us and has a lower rate of error.

Importance of Technology:

Technology has its own importance in our lives. Without technological advancements, our lives would not have been simpler and faster. The modernisation that the world is witnessing today has all been possible because of the technological developments in different fields. Moreover, it has helped in reducing the risks people had to undertake in many sectors such as mining. With new tools available, the tasks are less risky and are more efficient as well.

Drawbacks of Technology:

Although technological advancements are important for us, it is also true that we seem to be over-dependent on them nowadays.

The drawbacks of technology can be seen in the following ways:

1. The use of mobiles was meant to be able to keep in touch in difficult times. But now we see kids too much involved in the different applications on mobiles and killing their valuable time.

2. Many crimes have been reported through the misuse of digital technology.

3. Also, it has been seen that many people lack the basic education required to ensure the proper use of the technology available today. In fact, most of them use it for the sake of fashion and hence end up misusing it.

4. People have been so dependent on technology that they no more want to do any kind of manual activity. Even for small works that can be done manually, people prefer to do it through technology. This has resulted in making humans mentally as well as physically dormant.

Technology is surely a boon for mankind. It is all the more important for the economic growth of a country. Modern technologies have in fact succeeded in reducing the human effort and the risk in doing a lot many things. But, still, it is for us to see how best we make use of the technology available to us.

While on one hand we can make use of technological advancements of nuclear energy to generate electricity and help many villages lighten us, at the hand the same nuclear energy can be used to create bombs which can cause mammoth destruction. Similarly, robots and other technological advancements have served as a good servant to us but the moment it becomes the master it can wipe off humanity from the Earth.

ATTITUDE

My attitude is my unique gift which i am not obliged to explain to anyone.

4 Different Types of Attitudes of People As Per Psychology | Styles At Life

Our attitude defines our mood or behaviour towards things, situations and individuals. All humans are made up of different vital statistics, features , mental abilities and nature . While every human is similar in structure what makes them unique is your attitude. Attitude does not only depicts your behaviour but it also includes emotions, feelings and the way you look at things.

Having the right attitude is essential for a human being to keep moving successfully in life. Not every situation is the same but what matters is your attitude towards it. By feeling positive and taking things forward with the right attitude one can change their life.

My behaviour depends on your attitude and my attitude depends on your behaviour but my personality doesn’t depend on anything.

– Anshuman Sharma

Attitude refers to one’s behaviour and thinking . A person’s attitude is quickly analyzed by anyone by reading their body language, communication, skills and facial expressions. Since every human being has a different perspective on life, the attitude also differs in each individual . Some take life positively and lightly, while some do not believe in this agenda and tend to take too much stress in their daily lives which causes anxiety and depression. In simpler words, attitude is one’s behaviour and approach towards life. When you are positive, you tend to take everything with the right attitude and the right perspective which leads to fruitful things in life.

Their is the belief that when people have the right attitude they mostly succeed in their lives and every outcome comes out with flying colors . Having a positive attitude towards life can help you make the right decision even in the hard times. We can only drive our goals when we know how to take things with a positive spirit and let poor situations outside from life with a healthy frame of mind. If someone is making fun of your thoughts, looks, belief and more and you are positively taking up each challenge, then nobody can stop you from getting success in life. Moreover, if you think that you will not be able to do anything , you are pessimistic about life and skills. Thus, being optimistic plays a major role in driving through life with the right attitude.

All human creatures have different skills, which a person should explore themselves if you are thinking you’re not the right person by hearing some bad reviews about you. You’re making a wrong decision because this thing will not give you the success that you deserve. So, believing in your looks, skills and yourself is something that stands you out from the crowd. Some people believe that being rich or having money in your pocket can give you a chance to show yourself. Suppose you have talent that doesn’t just press it under your mouth . Show the world who you are and people will accept you when you have the right talent, the right platform and the right attitude to show them.

60 Best Behavior Quotes And Sayings

It does not matter if you are wealthy or jobless, it is only your attitude and outlook towards life that makes a difference. It is said that when there is calmness inside you, the outer circumstances fail to affect your peace of mind. Following this advice, many entrepreneurs, speakers , teachers and monks have fulfilled the purpose of their life. If you have everything such as good wealth, health, supportive friends and family but have an arrogant attitude towards people, nobody will respect or appreciate you. So, the moral for “Attitude is great” is that it is necessary to opt for a healthy and positive attitude to strive through life and difficult situations we face as we age. Keep up with the positive attitude and see your life unfolding for the better in the near future.

Make everything right with attitude… with right attitude!

DIET ANT NUTRITION DURING COVID-19

There is little doubt that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting every aspect of our lives—from virtual classrooms to telecommuting to early restaurant closing times to outright quarantines. Observing public health measures and reducing exposure to the virus are required to slow the spread of this disease. No one knows how long these virus safety measures will need to stay in place, but it presents a perfect time to protect and improve your health while practicing social distancing. Healthy eating is especially important for keeping your immune system in top condition. Here are some steps you can take to eat healthy in the times of COVID.

THREE STEPS TO STAY HEALTHY DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

1.Minimize the trips to the supermarket and eat healthy

Plan ahead. Visualize breakfast, lunch, and dinner for at least 5 days. What will you serve? What do you need? Consider the foods your family likes, your food preparation methods, interests and skills, and the time and energy you will have for preparing meals. Working from home may not mean there is more time to cook—especially if you are now responsible for teaching your kids and doing the work your employer expects.

Have children at home? Include children in meal planning, preparation, and clean up while teaching them writing, math, reading, and science. 

  • Reading/Writing: Ask your kids to make a list of what’s in the pantry and refrigerator. Then, have them look through cookbooks or online recipes sites to find meals and snacks that use up what is on hand.  Have them share their breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal ideas.
  • Math: Find math in measuring spoons and cups, counting out numbers of ingredients, taking stock of pantry items, or planning the time it will take to prepare, cook, eat, and clean up a meal. 
  • Science: Get kids involved in baking bread, cooking an egg, or creating a homemade salad dressing—then, search the internet to discover the science behind why ingredients change when they are combined, heated, or blended

Think nutrition. The healthiest meals emphasize whole grains, vegetables, and fruits—serve them in the greatest amounts.  Meat portions should be smaller—this will save money and help keep dietary saturated fat in check. 

Make a shopping list—and use it!  You’ll be less like to forget items or buy impulse items.

Stock upon nutrition packed foods that stay fresh longer

  • Breads—corn tortillas, whole grain English muffins, bagels, breads, wraps, frozen whole wheat waffles
  • Grains—instant oatmeal, quick cooking pasta, frozen brown rice, couscous, refrigerated pizza crust
  • Fruits—sturdy fresh fruit (apples, citrus), dried, plain frozen, canned in juice or water
  • Vegetables—sturdy fresh veggies (celery, broccoli, onions, potatoes), plain frozen, low sodium canned, sun-dried
  • Sauces—tomato pasta sauce, salsa
  • Soups & Broths—canned, frozen, shelf-stable cartons
  • 100% Juice—refrigerated, frozen, canned, boxed
  • Milk—fresh, canned, shelf-stable packages
  • Eggs—fresh eggs, egg whites in cartons
  • Cheese—sliced, cubed, shredded, crumbled, grated hard cheese
  • Beans/Legumes—canned beans (black beans, chickpeas), dry beans
  • Nuts and seeds—bagged, canned, nut butters
  • Chicken—frozen or canned
  • Seafood—frozen ready-to-cook fish fillets, frozen shrimp, canned tuna, salmon, and sardines
  • Beef—pre-made frozen lean ground patties or meatballs
  • Flavorings—add zing with dried herbs & spices, vinegars, mustard, hot/steak sauces, lemon/lime juice, light dressings, honey, Greek yogurt

Go easy on the frozen dinners—most are high in sodium, fat, and calories.

Limit purchases of tempting foods like chips, sodas, cookies, and ice cream. They are high in empty calories and run up your grocery bill.

Keep costs down—consider low cost alternatives. Instead of buying ready-made hummus, pureed a drained can of chickpeas to make your own. Try a meatless meal, like chili with beans instead of beef. If fresh fruits and veggies are too costly—remember, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same nutrients as fresh. Best bets are plain frozen veggies and fruits. Go for low sodium canned veggies and fruits canned in juice or water—if these are in short supply, buy regular canned fruits and veggies—drain and rinse before use.

Think about friends and neighbors, especially older adults or those with health conditions. Could you save them a trip to the grocery store?

Try online shopping—it will save you time and let you keep your social distance. Be sure to play ahead, many stores need a day or two from order to delivery or pickup.

While at the supermarket during the Coronavirus pandemic…

Use a disinfecting wipe—wipe your hands and grocery cart handle, then put the wipe in the trash.

Prepared for the unexpected—supermarkets are running low on many items. Be sure to take your own bags. Be ready with a back-up plan if an ingredient you need is unavailable.

Keep the less fortunate in mind—contribute to local pantries and soup kitchens now. Then, when it is all over—donate extra food you stocked up on that is still fresh and safe to eat.

Use contactless payment or credit cards. If you use the payment keypad, tap the buttons and screen with your knuckle—then use hand sanitizer after completing your payment. 

2.Eat out safely with restaurants curfews

If you want to have take-out meals, take the food home right away and eat it while it is hot. Store leftovers safely—wrap tightly and refrigerate any dishes with meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products—be sure to reheat these leftovers thoroughly before eating.

Make eating together at home a positive experience

Whether it is homemade or takeout, eating more meals at home is a new routine for many families. Keep the stress down by making mealtime fun.

  • Get the family involved—kids can help set the table, pour the water, make the salad, or grate the cheese. Make mealtimes a family affair.
  • Try some new recipes—if you have never made homemade pizza, roasted a whole chicken, or cooked meatballs from scratch—now is a good time to try!  There are lots of great recipes on the internet! Look for those that call for only a few ingredients and use common kitchen tools.
  • Reconnect with the family—eat together at the table or spread a blanket on the floor and have an indoor picnic. Be sure to separate mealtime and TV time—watching while eating makes it too easy to pay attention to TV and not your food, so you are likely to overeat. Wonder what to talk about at mealtime? Chat about things you will do this summer, tell jokes—just keep the conversation upbeat and fun.

3. Think positively -Mental health is more important

  • Practice positive stress management strategies. Walk the dog, call a friend, soak in the tub, or cuddle your kids. Skip the alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
  • Stick with your routine as much as you can. Go to bed and get up in the morning on your usual schedule. Eat meals at regular times. Find ways to exercise away from the gym—do yoga in the living room, trim the hedge, have a scavenger hunt in the backyard with your kids, or just toss a ball or play tag as a family.
  • Manage boredom. Stay busy and engaged—resist hanging around the fridge or mindlessly watching TV. Enjoy your hobbies, read, cook, make videos with your kids, start a scrapbook, help your kids with their virtual schoolwork, and stay in touch with family, friends, and colleagues.

When you do go out, wash your hands before you leave home and as soon as you return.

Have a dry cough? Feeling feverish?  Hard time breathing? Don’t hesitate to reach out to your health care provider for further instructions.

We are all in facing this together. Let’s make the most of it to come out stronger and wiser and ready to enjoy all the wonderful times to come!

Alternative fuel vehicle

Alternative Fuel Vehicle refers to a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than traditional gasoline or diesel; any method of powering an engine that does not involve petroleum.

Due to a combination of heavy taxes on fuel, particularly in Europe, tightening environmental laws, particularly in California, and the possibility of further restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, work on alternative power systems for vehicles has become a high priority for governments and vehicle manufacturers around the world.

Current research and development is largely centered on “hybrid” vehicles that use both electric power and internal combustion.

Other R&D efforts in alternative forms of power focus on developing fuel cells, alternative forms of combustion such as GDI and HCCI, and even the stored energy of compressed air.

The use of alcohol as a fuel for internal combustion engines, either alone or in combination with other fuels, has been given much attention mostly because of its possible environmental and long-term economical advantages over fossil fuel.

Both ethanol and methanol have been considered for this purpose.

While both can be obtained from petroleum or natural gas, ethanol may be the most interesting because many believe it to be a renewable resource, easily obtained from sugar or starch in crops and other agricultural produce such as grain, sugarcane or even lactose.

Since ethanol occurs in nature whenever yeast happens to find a sugar solution such as overripe fruit, most organisms have evolved some tolerance to ethanol, whereas methanol is toxic.

Other experiments involve butanol, which can also be produced by fermentation of plants.

A hybrid vehicle uses multiple propulsion systems to provide motive power.

This most commonly refers to gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, which use gasoline (petrol) and electric batteries for the energy used to power internal-combustion engines and electric motors.

These powerplants are usually relatively small and would be considered “underpowered” by themselves, but they can provide a normal driving experience when used in combination during acceleration and other maneuvers that require greater power.

A hydrogen car is an automobile which uses hydrogen as its primary source of power for locomotion.

These cars generally use the hydrogen in one of two methods: combustion or fuel-cell conversion.

In combustion, the hydrogen is “burned” in engines in fundamentally the same method as traditional gasoline cars.

In fuel-cell conversion, the hydrogen is turned into electricity through fuel cells which then powers electric motors.

With either method, the only byproduct from the spent hydrogen is water.

A small number of prototype hydrogen cars currently exist, and a significant amount of research is underway to make the technology more viable.

A solar car is an electric vehicle powered by solar energy obtained from solar panels on the car.

Solar cars are not a practical form of transportation; insufficient power falls on the roof of a practically sized and shaped vehicle to provide adequate performance.

TOO MUCH SALT

Eating too much salt could mess with your immune cells.

High salt diets have been linked to many different problems in the body.

A tipped-over salt shaker with spilled salt.

Eating too much salt may reduce the amount of energy that immune system cells can make, preventing them from working normally, according to a new study.

Eating an excess of sodium has previously been linked to many different problems in the body, including high blood pressure and higher risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease, Live Science previously reported.

“Of course the first thing you think of is the cardiovascular risk,” co-author Markus Kleinewietfeld, an associate professor at Hasselt University in Belgium, said in a statement. “But multiple studies have shown that salt can affect immune cells in a variety of ways.” If salt disrupts immune functioning for a long period of time, it could potentially drive inflammatory or autoimmune diseases in the body, he added.

A few years ago, a group of researchers in Germany discovered that high salt concentrations in the blood can directly impact the functioning of a group of immune system cells known as monocytes, which are the precursors of Pac Man-like cells called phagocytes that identify and devour pathogens and infected or dead cells in the body. 

In the new study, Kleinewietfeld and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments to figure out how. First, they zoomed in on that link in the lab using mouse and human monocytes. They found that within three hours of exposure to high salt concentrations, the immune cells produced less energy, or adenosine triphosophate.

Mitochondria, the cells’ power plants, produce ATP from energy found in  food using a series of biochemical reactions, according to the statement. ATP then fuels many different cellular processes, such as powering muscles or regulating metabolism, according to the statement. 

Specifically, the researchers discovered that high salt concentrations inhibit a group of enzymes known as complex II in the chain reaction that produces ATP, which leads the mitochondria to produce less ATP. With less ATP (less energy), the monocytes matured into abnormal-looking phagocytes. 

The researchers found that these unusual phagocytes were more effective at fighting off infections. Still, that’s not necessarily a good thing, the researchers say, as an increased immune response can lead to more inflammation in the body, which in turn, can increase the risk of heart disease. 

The researchers then conducted multiple experiments in people; in one, healthy male participants took daily salt supplement tablets of 6,000 milligrams — nearly three times the recommended amount — for two weeks. In another experiment, a group of participants ate a whole pizza from an Italian restaurant.

They found that after eating the pizza, which contained 10,000 mg of salt, participants’ mitochondria produced less energy. But this effect wasn’t long-lasting; eight hours after the participants ate the pizza, blood tests showed that their mitochondria were functioning normally again.

“That’s a good thing,” Dominik Müller, a professor at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center in Berlin, said in the statement. “If it had been a prolonged disturbance, we’d be worried about the cells not getting enough energy for a long time.”

Still, it’s not clear whether mitochondria are affected in the long-term if a person consistently eats a high-salt diet, according to the statement. The researchers hope to understand whether salt can impact other cells, because mitochondria exist in almost every cell in the body, according to the statement.

SELF HEALING CONCRETE

Bacterial concrete or Self Healing concrete fills up the cracks developed in structures by the help of bacterial reaction in the concrete after hardening. In modern days , the use of technology has taken the standards of construction to a new high level. Different types of procedures, methods and materials are used to attain very good , sustainable and economic concrete construction but due to human mistakes , incorrect handling and unskilled labors an efficient building is hard to sustain its designed life. Many problems like weathering , cracks, leaks and bending etc,. arises after the construction . To overcome this types of problems, many remedial procedures are undertaken before and after the construction.

The common problem found in buildings is cracks. Crack may be due to many reasons. Some reasons are listed below;

  • Concrete expands and shrinks due to temperature differences
  • Settlement of structure
  • Due to heavy load applied
  • Due to loss of water from concrete surface shrinkage occurs
  • Insufficient vibration at the time of laying the concrete
  • Improper cover provided during concreting
  • High water cement ratio to make the concrete workable
  • Due to corrosion of reinforcement steel
  • Many mixtures with rapid setting and strength gain performance have an increased shrinkage potential

This common problem of cracking in building has many remedies before and after the crack. One of the remedial process is Bacterial Concrete or Self Healing Concrete. The process of self healing of cracks or self filling up of cracks by the help of bacterial reaction in the concrete after hardening is known as Self Healing Concrete. It can be observed that small cracks that occur in a structure of width in the range of 0.05 to 0.1mm gets completely sealed in repetitive dry and wet cycles. The mechanism of this autogenously healing is the width of range 0.05-0.1 mm act as capillary and the water particles seep through the cracks. These water particles hydrate non or partially reacted cement and the cement expands, which in turn fill the crack. But when the cracks are of greater width , need of other remedial work is required. One possible technique is currently being investigated and developed was based on application of mineral producing bacteria. These types of bacteria can be in dormant cell and be viable for over 200 years under dry conditions. These bacteria acts as a catalyst in the cracks healing process.

Various types of Bacteria used in concrete

There are various types of bacteria were used in bacterial concrete construction are;

  • Bacillus pasteurizing
  • Bacillus sphaericus
  • Escherichia coli
  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Bacillus cohnii
  • Bacillus balodurans
  • Bacillus pseudofirmus

Mechanism of Bacterial Concrete

Self Healing concrete is a result of biological reaction of non-reacted limestone with a calcium based nutrient with the help of bacteria to heal the cracks appeared on the building. Special type of bacteria known as Bacillus is used along with calcium nutrient known as Calcium Lactate. While preparing concrete, this products are added in the wet concrete when the mixing is done. This bacteria can be in dormant state for around 200 years. When the cracks appear in the concrete, the water seeps through the cracks. The spores of the bacteria germinate and starts feeding on the calcium lactate consuming oxygen. The soluble calcium lactate is converted to insoluble limestone. The insoluble limestone starts to harden. Thus filling the crack automatically without any external aid. The other advantage of this process is that the oxygen is consumed by the bacteria to convert calcium into limestone , it helps in the prevention of corrosion of steel due to cracks. This improves the durability of steel reinforced concrete construction.

Bacterial Concrete or Self Healing Concrete For Crack Repairs

Preparation of Bacterial Concrete

Bacterial concrete can be prepared in two ways,

  1. By Direct application
  2. By encapsulation in lightweight concrete.

In the direct application method, bacterial spores and calcium lactate is added into concrete directly when mixing of concrete is done. The use of bacteria and calcium lactate doesn’t change the normal properties of concrete. When cracks are occurred in the structure due to obvious reasons, the bacteria are exposed to climatic changes. When the water comes in contact with this bacteria, they germinate and feed on calcium lactate and produces limestone. Thus sealing the cracks.

By encapsulation method the bacteria and its food i.e,. calcium lactate are placed inside treated clay pellets and concrete is prepared. About6% of the clay pellets are added for making bacterial concrete. The concrete structures are made with bacterial concrete when the cracks occur in the structure then the clay pellets are broken and the bacteria germinate and eat down the calcium lactate and produce limestone, which hardens and thus sealing the crack. Minor cracks about 0.5mm width can be treated by using bacterial concrete.

Among these two methods, Encapsulation method is commonly used , even though it is costlier than direct application.

Chemical process of Bacterial Concrete

When the water comes in contact with the unhydrated calcium in the concrete, calcium hydroxide is produced by the help of bacteria, which acts as a catalyst. This calcium hydroxide reacts with atmospheric carbon dioxide and forms limestone and water. This extra water molecule keeps the reaction going.

CaO+H2O——>Ca(OH)2

Ca(OH)2+CO2——>CaCO3+H2O

The limestone then hardens itself and seals the cracks in the concrete.

Tests on Bacterial Concrete

Standard test were conducted on normal concrete and self healing concrete. Tests conducted were Compressive test and Flexural strength test on a concrete cube for 7 and 28 days.

SL. No.DAYSNORMAL CONCRETE [N/mm2]BACTERIAL CONCRETE [N/mm2]
1720.8527.10
22830.0038.95
COMPRESIVE STRENGTH TEST RESULT FOR 7 AND 28 DAYS FOR BACTERIAL CONCRETE
SL.No.DAYSNORMAL CONCRETE [N/mm2]BACTERIAL CONCRETE [N/mm2]
173.904.60
2287.057.80
FLEXURAL STRENGTH TEST RESULT FOR 7 AND 28 DAYS FOR BACTERIAL CONCRETE

From the results, we can see that both the compression and flexural strength of the bacterial concrete is greater than that of normal concrete.

ADVANTAGES OF BACTERIAL CONCRETE

  • Self repairing of cracks without any external aid.
  • Significant increase in compressive strength and flexural strength when compared to the normal concrete.
  • Resistance towards freeze-thaw attacks.
  • Resistance in permeability of concrete.
  • Reduces the corrosion of steel due to cracks formation and increases the durability of steel reinforced concrete.
  • Bacillus bacteria are harmless to human life and hence it can be used effectively.

DISADVANTAGES OF BACTERIAL CONCRETE

  • Cost of bacterial concrete is double than the conventional concrete.
  • Growth of bacteria is not good in any atmosphere and media.
  • The clay pellets holding the self-healing agent comprise 20% of the volume of the concrete. This may become a shear zone or fault zone in the concrete.
  • Design of mix concrete with bacteria here is not available in any IS code or other code.
  • Investigation of calcite precipitate is costly.

GRAPHIC LCD

Easy to install Graphic LCD for High end level controls.

Helps improve customer experience in the use of level and ow for measuring and control technology in industries .

An intelligent ow technology system providing accurate, reliable and safe operation is the EA DOGM128L-6 series display by Magnetrol International.  

“As the number and complexity of level measurement technologies grow, the ease of operation of our products depends on the user interface,” says Kevin Haynes, Senior Project Engineer at Magnetrol International. “Incorporation of a graphic display allows for improved customer experience in the set-up and use of Magnetrol level and low controls. Because first impressions are so important, it was an easy decision to transition to a graphic user interface.” 

CRYSTALFONTZ GRAPHIC LCD Module - 128 x 64 Dot Matrix - CFAG12864B - Blue  Screen - $18.95 | PicClick

Some of its benefits are:  

More information can be presented on a single screen 

The use of larger characters improves viewing distance 

In combination with four key switches, user navigation of the menu structure is simple and intuitive   Instruction details are available at the unit  

Diagnostic details are available to speed installation and troubleshooting  

Signal waveforms can be presented and analysed 

Provides a quality look and feel    

Key challenges faced to make use of a graphic display a reality were:  

Limited power requirements for the display    

Perfect display size – small enough to t a housing but large enough for good readability Excellent optical performance  

Sucient operating temperature range to meet industrial control applications 

Fewer connector contacts from serial communication to the display 

Customised terminal leads 

“The DISPLAY VISIONS EA DOGM128L-6 series display ordered an ideal t for these needs. In our search, we found a simulator for windows. The simulator helped sell the concept early in our design eorts and aided in our product selection. Later, we made use of demo boards, obtained through distributors Mouser and Digi-Key, to investigate the capability of the display. The demo boards also allowed us to begin rmware design early in the project—a great benet. DISPLAY VISIONS provided great support for character set creation and display simulation. This helped us get a quick start in this design eort. As the project progressed, we investigated many custom features for this graphic display directly with DISPLAY VISIONS Field Application Engineers, such as extended temperature range operation and the use of longer terminal leads,” said Kevin Haynes. 

He further adds, “The graphic display allowed us to improve the customer experience in the set-up and use of level and low controls and continues to set excellence in the level control.”

Target markets: 

Measuring and control technology 

Medical technology 

Mechanical engineering 

Industry 

Worldwide sales and distribution network is via Display Visions webshop.

INTEGRATED REGULATORS

Integrated regulators simplify the High efficiency power conversion.

It can accept an input voltage from 3.5V to 38V, suitable for use in battery-powered applications and power supplies.

To simplify the power-supply design by integrating power elements, feedback circuitry and safety features in a compact chip, here’s presenting the L6981 synchronous step-down regulators that have a high efficiency of 90 per cent. 

Rated to deliver up to 1.5A, the L6981C for low-current operation uses pulse skipping to maximize efficiency at light loads, extending the runtime of battery-powered devices. The L6981N prioritizes low noise by operating permanently in PWM (pulse-width modulation) mode at a constant switching frequency, minimizing voltage ripple at light loads. 

As the L6981 converters come in two variants optimised for light-load efficiency and noise performance, they both can accept an input voltage from 3.5V to 38V, making them well suited to use in 24V industrial bus-powered applications, 12V and 24V battery-powered equipment, HVAC power supplies, decentralised intelligent nodes, smart sensors and always-on applications. The output voltage can be adjusted from 0.85V up to the input-voltage value using external resistors. 

Integrated features include:  

High-side and low-side NMOS power transistors 

Feedback-loop compensation 

Over-voltage protection 

Thermal protection.  

There is also soft-start circuitry that limits inrush current and ensures a constant output voltage slope. An Enable pin permits power-up/power-down sequencing and allows a synchronising clock signal to be applied to the L6981N low-noise converters.  

The L6981 is in production now and available from STMicroelectronics, in the proven, rugged SO8L package. The STEVAL-L6981CDR evaluation board for the low-current converter and STEVAL-L6981NDR for the low-noise version are also available to help designers accelerate device selection in power-supply development. 

ELATED LOVE

Love is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world. Almost every individual has experienced in his life. Whether it is in the form of parent love, sibling love, spouse love or grandparent love , it is a special feeling that can’t be put in the words. Something that you can only feel and cannot express is Love. Being appreciated and cared is the basic need of every human. Every person wants to feel cherished and loved . Love is a set of behaviors, beliefs and strong emotions. The intensity of these emotions is powerful that it can even move mountains. Love brings out all the best qualities in a person.

Our whole life revolves around love. This feeling of love should be set free. It should not be associated with any person, thing or place. Once you associate it, that is when you find it as a burden, or an attachment. The beauty of love is that it vanishes all the feelings of fear, jealousy, possession, anger and other negative feelings . Love is eternal . True love just needs the other person to be happy. Spread love and affection wherever you go.

Love is the feeling of mutual concern and care among people. It is one of the most beautiful things that binds not just people but also animals together. Love is omnipresent . It is present everywhere , but its form can be different. It is an unspoken language of heart.

It comes in many shades. It has nothing to do with the looks of a person or richness, profession, money and other traits. A rich or a poor experience the same. Love is a feeling of affection and care that every person is bestowed with. It is the life’s essence and the privilege of a human being.

Love is the emotion that each and every person long for. Love is an innate desire in every person. Without it life will be meaningless. Love is an essential ingredient of a fulfilling life. It nurtures our emotions and keeps us alive. Love has been ingrained into us since the day we born. It has been said that Love moves the world. It is so powerful that it can make a person conquer anything and everything in this world.

Right from the day we born on this earth we carve love. The whole universe is born out of love. Love is a simple feeling that every single creature on this planet could understand without speaking any single word. It is the language of soul. You don’t need to be rich or educated to experience it . There is no distinction on the grounds of cast, creed, sector, religion, etc,.

Yet people mistake it by taking it in a narrow minded way. When you try to get a hold on love, that is when it creates issues between people. Don’t chase love and don’t beg love. Focus on how much you have been given in a place of how much you have received . A person with good heart will always succeed in life. Don’t label it in the form of a relationship or any possession. The moment you start doing this, it will start to disappear.

The way you interpret it, is the way in which you will see its impact on your life. It is said that Rise in love and don’t fall in love. A narrow minded and selfish love will result in misery where a sincere and expectation less love will nourish emotions, heal your soul, give you peace and strengthen your relations. Love has the power to bring a positive change in the personality and life of the person. A person who has love in his heart would never do anything that harms his fellow mate. Such a person would have peace in his heart that wishes only good for others.

50+ Short Love Quotes to help you express Your Love | PixelsQuote.Net

If everyone experience love in themselves and focus on giving it over receiving it, then this planet would become a better place to live. It will become free from violence, stress, corruption and all other negative tendencies that comes out of negative emotions of love such as anger, greediness, hatred, depression and so on. So spread love and positivity wherever you go. I thank god for the love he bestowed on me.

LONELINESS TO ADDICTION

Loneliness is a risk factor associated with adolescents being drawn into compulsive internet use. The risk of compulsive use has grown in the corona virus pandemic , loneliness has become increasingly prevalent among adolescents, who spend longer and longer periods of time online.

A study investigating detrimental internet use by adolescents involved a total of 1,750 Finnish study subjects , who were studied at three points in time at 16, 17 and 18 years of age. The results have been published in the “Child Development ” journal.

Adolescents net use is a two-edged sword; while the consequences of moderate use are positive , the effects of compulsive use can be detrimental. Compulsive use denotes , among other things , gaming addiction or the constant monitoring of likes on social media and comparisons to others.

In the corona virus period , loneliness has increased markedly among adolescents . They look for a sense of belonging from the internet. Lonely adolescents head to the internet and are risk of becoming addicted . Internet addiction can further aggravate their malaise, such as depression“, says Professor of Education and Study Lead Katariina Salmela-Aro from the University of Helsinki.

HIGHEST RISK FOR 16 YEAR OLD BOYS

The risk of being drawn into problematic internet use was at its highest among 16 year-old adolescents, with the phenomenon being more common among boys. For some, the problem persists into adulthood , but for others it eases up as they grow older. The reduction of problematic internet use is often associated with adolescent development where their self-regulation and control improve, their brains adapt and assignments related to education direct their attention.

“It’s comforting to know that problematic internet use is adaptive and often changes in late adolescence and during the transition to adulthood . Consequently, attention should be paid to the matter both in school and at home . Addressing loneliness too serves as a significant channel for preventing excessive internet use. If parents are not very interested in the lives of their adolescents, the latter may have difficulty drawing the lines for their actions.

PROBLEMATIC NET USE AND DEPRESSION FROM A CYCLE

In the study participants , compulsive internet use had a link to depression. Depression predicted problematic internet use , while problematic use further increased depressive symptoms.

Additionally, problematic use was predictive of poorer academic success which may be associated with the fact that internet use consumes a great deal of time and can disrupt adolescents sleep rhythm and recovery, consequently eating up the time available for academic effort and performance.

Parents should take care of their children and continuously monitor their activities . They are the future of our country. Make them involve in social activities and to understand their social responsibilities . Encourage them to work creatively and usefully. Loneliness and depression are the illusion created in their minds thinking that they are unnoticed by everyone around them. It actually occurs in everyone’s teenage . We just diverted ourselves by moving out , exploring new places and gaining knowledge. But in this pandemic situation they are compelled to spend their whole time in their room. We should save the youngsters from this disease of depression than from corona virus.

STORY SOURCE:

Materials provided by University of Helsinki. Original written by Katariina Salmela- Aro , Suvi Uotinen.

SINGLE USE PLASTIC TO FUEL

NEW CHEMICAL PROCESS TURNS SINGLE USE PLASTIC INTO FUELS

plastic bag

New research may offer a way to keep single-use plastics such as grocery bags, bottles, straws and food containers out of landfills. But instead of transforming these hard-to-recycle products back into useful plastics, the new technique reduces the plastics back down to the petroleum oil used to make them in the first place, reports Molly Taft for Gizmodo. The resulting oil can then find a new life as fuels or lubricants.

Apart from keeping single-use plastics out of landfills, if implemented at a large scale the new method could reduce the world’s oil demands. Per Gizmodo, plastic manufacturing is projected to comprise half of the world’s oil demand by 2050.

Researchers say their process, described in a paper published last week in the journal Science Advances, works best on plastics called polyolefins, which are used to make products we are often told can’t be recycled, such as plastic bags.

The basic concept is to heat the plastics to break their chemical bonds and reduce them down to their constituent parts. What’s new is that the team behind this research has found a way to achieve this at much lower temperatures than ever before, which makes the process more energy efficient and cost effective.

“This is the first technology that’s able to take the most difficult plastics and recycle them into something really useful,” Dionisios Vlachos, a chemical engineer at the University of Delaware and co-author of the paper, tells Jordan Golson of Inverse. “It’s the best way to recycle single-use plastics and packaging like polyethylene and polypropylene.”

Using heat to break down plastics is called pyrolysis, and Vlachos tells Gizmodo that most prior research focuses on processes that require temperatures ranging from 752 to 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit to work. Vlachos says his team’s technique can get the job done at just 437 degrees, and that the end result is “nearly ready-to-use fuels for cars, trucks, or airplanes and lubricants.”

The special sauce in this new method is its catalyst, which is a combination of zeolites (minerals mostly made up of aluminum and silicon) and metal oxides including platinum and tungsten, per the paper.

“Alone these two catalysts do poorly. Together, the combination does magic, melting the plastics down and leaving no plastic behind,” says Vlachos in a statement.

According to Inverse, the method can convert up to 85 percent of the original material into useful oil. Vlachos tells Inverse he estimates around 300 half-liter water bottles could produce enough oil to make a gallon of gasoline, and two pickup truck beds full of plastic bottles might fill a car’s gas tank.

Vlachos and his co-authors have filed a provisional patent on their technique and its catalyst, but he says more work is needed to translate the method to industrial-scale use.

“We need to take action on the plastics problem and develop technologies and policies to eliminate it from the environment,” Vlachos tells Gizmodo. “Research takes 10-plus years before it becomes useful. Investing in this field now is a priority.”

CONCRETE MATURITY SENSORS

INSITU CONCRETE MATURITY SENSORS SAVE CONSTRUCTION TIME AND MONEY

photograph of a concrete sensor
Purdue University engineers developed sensors that can instantly measure concrete strength, speeding construction and, in some cases, reducing cement use. (Photograph courtesy of Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe)

Researchers at Purdue University have developed in situ piezoelectric concrete sensors that can monitor in real time the strength of concrete as it cures. This development has the potential to significantly accelerate construction schedules and reduce spending on infrastructure projects.

The sensors work by converting electrical energy into mechanical energy before sending a mechanical wave into the concrete and measuring its propagation and speed using a resonator. When concrete is initially placed, it has little resistance to such waves, explains Luna Lu, Ph.D., the American Concrete Pavement Association professor of civil engineering at Purdue. However, as concrete cures, its resistance to the propagation of the waves grows. Using mathematical and physical models, the researchers established the relationship between the wave impedance and the concrete strength.

These sensors have the potential to replace the two most used methods of judging concrete’s strength: cylinder testing and maturity curves, both of which test a specific concrete mix in the laboratory. Because the sensors test concrete on-site rather than in a lab, they can work on any mix and under any temperature or humidity conditions.

This development has the potential to significantly accelerate construction schedules and reduce spending on infrastructure projects.

In cylinder testing, concrete is placed in a cylinder in a lab, then tested to destruction to establish the mix’s strength. But specimens in the lab may have lower break values than in the field, leading mix designers to compensate by adding roughly 10%-15% more cement into the mix than might otherwise be necessary, Lu says. Because the new Purdue sensors work on-site, such guesswork is eliminated. Less cement can be used, cutting costs and reducing the carbon footprint of the project.

Maturity curves, the other commonly used method, measure the temperature of concrete as it cures as a proxy for strength. “The temperature is a direct representation of the hydration process,” Lu explains. But in the field, many factors can affect that expected curing time. If water, an accelerator, or a decelerator is added, for example, those maturity curves are rendered inaccurate. Extreme temperatures can also impact the curing rate. By working on-site and in real time, the new sensors avoid these issues.

Currently, Lu and her team are developing a way for the sensors to automatically and wirelessly generate, store, and transmit data.

The sensors were first developed in 2017 for the Indiana Department of Transportation, which wanted to accelerate its roadway construction times. The sensors were deployed in three highways in Indiana in 2019. It was estimated at the time that the process could save millions of dollars annually. (In March 2021, this project was named an ASCE Gamechanger, an innovation that helps solve the problems identified in ASCE’s 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.)

The sensors are now being tested in a building as well. In late 2020, 12 sensors were placed on the third floor of the five-story Engineering and Polytechnic Gateway Complex project at Purdue, six in columns and six in decks. The building is under construction by F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co. Inc., with an expected completion date in fall 2022. 

Currently, Lu and her team are developing a way for the sensors to automatically and wirelessly generate, store, and transmit data. Her team is also working on more robust packaging. “As you know, the construction industry is not the most gentle or elegant,” she says. The team is also working with six states and the Federal Highway Administration to complete additional sensor tests so that the method can be accepted for use nationwide, she says. 

The sensors are being developed as part of Purdue’s Center for Intelligent Infrastructure, which focuses on research in sustainability and resiliency, smart sensing technology, autonomy and adaptivity, and artificial intelligence applications. It is led by Lu, who is the center’s director, and associate director Shaoshuai Mou, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the university’s school of aeronautics and astronautics. 

“The vision we have for the future of infrastructure is that it really has to be sustainable,” Lu says. “The next generation of infrastructure needs to be more adaptive. It needs to be more resilient, and it needs to have autonomous features.”

NEW PROJECT BY IIT BOMBAY

NITROGEN PLANTS INTO OXYGEN GENERATORS

Experts from IIT – Bombay have come up with a novel solution to the country’s oxygen shortage caused by the COVID-19 Corona virus. In collaboration with Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE) , the institute has come up with a device as part of a pilot project that can convert a standard nitrogen generator into a functioning oxygen generator.

This solution could appeal to a large section of the Indian Healthcare System given that it only takes three to four days to convert existing nitrogen plants. By comparison, setting up a new oxygen plant from scratch can take at least 45 days.

The conversion is done by replacing the molecular filters , people involved in the project said. Moreover , Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Nitrogen plants are available in several industries across India, making the idea more feasible. Another crucial factor here is that conversation of an existing nitrogen plant will only cost around 10 to 15 percent of the amount required to construct an oxygen plant.

Although IIT – Bombay has validated a proof of concept it is yet to be scaled up to accommodate the large potential demand. Professor at the Institute , Milind Atrey explained the process saying, “If the molecular carbon sieves (filters) in these plants are replaced with zeolite (another mineral) and the settings are modified a bit, we can do the reverse. Instead of rejecting oxygen from the atmosphere , this conversion process will help in its production.”

Oil refineries, food industries and a handful of other sectors make use of nitrogen plants. Atrey added that bringing the resources of all these plants under one regulatory body and purchasing zeolite from other sources will be instrumental in the mass production of oxygen.

Spantech Engineers which specializes in PSA nitrogen and oxygen plants , is also involved in this project. The company helped in installing the parts of the plant at IIT – Bombay’s refrigeration and cryogenics laboratory . TCE , IIT and Spantech have signed an MoU recently to scale up the technology for mass production.

As per the tests conducted at the site, oxygen production was achieved at 3.5 atmospheric pressure with a purity level of 3-6 percent . This is deemed suitable for use in COVID-19 hospitals.

Managing Director at TCE , Amit Sharma said , ” The center has directed setting up over 500 PSA oxygen plants. But , till then, this approach of conversion may be used under emergency needs. Post conversion of an existing nitrogen plant, the oxygen produced is approximately one third of the capacity of the original nitrogen plant output”.

Sharma was also wary of the hurdles they could face with the procurement of zeolite. “Procuring zeolite could be a challenge . But both the private and government entities have been procuring such zeolite material for the new oxygen plants and for industrial use and hence the same material could be used for this conversion”, he said.

After an existing plant has been converted into an oxygen generation facility, it will require requisite approvals from the Central Pollution Control Board as well as the local administration. Such plants will also need to be tested for quality and safety.

AI And ML Shifting Focus Back To Hardware

The adoption of articial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in dierent sectors has transformed the conventional approach for dierent applications. Although the terms AI and ML are used interchangeably, the former aims at the success of a task, whereas the latter ensures accuracy. 

From marketing and retail to healthcare and nance, adoption of articial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in these sectors is drastically transforming the conventional approach for dierent applications. AI makes it possible for systems to sense, comprehend, act, and learn for performing complex tasks such as decision making that earlier required human intelligence. Unlike the regular programming, where action needs to be dened for every situation, AI in conjunction with ML algorithms can process large data sets, be trained to choose how to respond, and learn from every problem it encounters to produce more accurate results. 

This has not only impacted how we use data but also how we design and fabricate hardware chips or integrated circuits (ICs) for enabling next-generation devices, thereby opening new opportunities. The growth of AI shifts the core of innovation from the software back to hardware. For better performance, for example, AI needs more memory as compared to traditional requirements to process and transfer large data sets. Consider the case of virtual assistants that are increasingly being used in homes. Without reliable hardware for such functionalities as those associated with memory and logic, these cannot work properly. 

According to Accenture Semiconductor Technology Vision 2019, from the annual report by the Accenture Labs and Accenture Research, the semiconductor industry is highly optimistic about the potential of AI in their work in the coming years when compared to that in technologies like extended reality, distributed ledgers, and quantum computing. Three-quarters (77 per cent) of semiconductor executives surveyed for the report claimed that they either had already adopted AI within their business or were piloting the technology. 

The concept of AI and ML 

Although the terms AI and ML are used interchangeably, the former aims at the success of a task, whereas the latter ensures accuracy. So, solving a complex problem is done through AI 

training, but maximizing efficiency by learning from the data and already performed tasks is the concept of ML. ML relies on large datasets to nd common patterns and makes predictions based on probability. 

Applied AI is more commonly seen in systems that are designed for nancial market predictions and autonomous vehicle control. Generalised AIs to handle dierent general situations is where ML, usually considered the subset of AI, comes into play. In what is called supervised learning ML algorithm, the relationship model between input data and target output is established to make predictions, whereas unsupervised learning does not involve categorising data for training. In situations like competing with humans in complex computer games where information needs to be gained from the environment continuously, reinforcement learning is implemented. 

Sub-branches of ML like deep neural networks have already been applied to elds, including speech recognition, social network ltering, computer vision, natural language processing, and so on. These technologies take and examine thousands of users’ data for precision and accuracy applications like face recognition. This is contributing to the rapid development of innovations that are considered magical right now, but with hardware advancements, its place might be taken by much more advanced innovations in the coming decades. 

The process (Credit: https://cooltechnospy.com

How AI and ML applications are redefining the traditional systems 

AI and ML could grow to the current extent due to advancements in not only algorithms but also in storage capabilities, computation capacity, networking, and the like, which made it possible to make advanced devices accessible to the masses at an economical cost. Traditionally, logic was usually hard-wired in the design of electronic systems. But in the light of high manufacturing costs presently and the growing complexity of chip development, AI driven processor architectures are redening traditional processor architectures to suit new demands. 

Computation is mainly done on the central processing unit (CPU), the brain of the computer. With the emergence of computationally demanding applications that apply AI and ML algorithms, additional processing choices through combinations of graphics processing units (GPUs), microprocessors (MPUs), microcontrollers (MCUs), programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and digital signal processors (DSPs) are coming up to meet the optimum feature

requirements. The options, considered distinct categories, are gradually becoming heterogeneous processing solutions like system-on-chips (SoCs) and custom-designed application-specic integrated circuits (ASICs).

Unlike traditional storage methods to store parameters while tuning a neural network model during training and inference, high-bandwidth RAM is required not only at data centres but also for edge computing. The increased amount of volatile memory for proper functioning causes an excessive rise in power consumption levels. This is driving the need for evolving memory interfaces to ensure that the tasks get executed at high speeds. Although new processor architectures are helping reduce the load, other mechanisms like new memory interfaces and processing into memory itself are also being researched upon and implemented. 

UK-based startup Graphcore’s IPU is a novel processor with high on-chip memory capacity specically designed for dealing with complex data structures in machine intelligence models. Outside memory sources take much more time to return a result than on-chip ones. According to a report from IHS Markit, worldwide revenue from memory devices in AI applications will increase to 60.4 billion dollars in 2025 from 20.6 billion dollars in 2019, while the processor segment will grow from 22.2 billion dollars in 2019 to 68.5 billion dollars in 2025. 

Graphcore’s AI chips used in MS Azure cloud (Credit: http://www.eetindia.co.in

Thus, semiconductors provide the necessary processing and memory capabilities required for all AI applications. Improving network speed is also important for working with multiple servers simultaneously and developing accurate AI models. Measures such as high-speed interconnections and routing switches are being examined for load balancing. 

The answer to improving chips for AI applications lies with the technology itself. AI and ML are being leveraged to improve performance, and as design teams become more experienced in this eld, they will enhance how chips are developed, manufactured, and tweaked for updates. Complicated issues related to the implementation, signo, and verication of chips that cannot be solved and optimised with traditional methods can be solved with AI and ML. 

Using ML-based predictive models inside the existing EDA tools, US-based company Synopsys claims to have achieved results like a five times faster Prime Time power recovery and a hundred times faster high sigma simulation in HSPICE. All this requires a focus on R&D and

accurate end-to-end solutions, creating opportunities for possibly entirely new markets with value-creation in dierent segments of semiconductor companies. 

Overcoming the challenges 

The main focus is on data and its usage. This requires more than just a new architecture for the processor. Dierent chip architectures work for dierent purposes, and factors like the size and value of the training data can render AI useless for some applications. 

AI makes it possible to process data as patterns instead of individual bits and works best when memory operations are to be done in the form of a matrix, thereby increasing the amount of data being processed and stored and hence the eciency of the software. For instance, spiking neural networks can reduce the ow of data as the data is fed in the form of spikes. Also, even if there is a lot of data, the amount of useful data to train a predictive model can be reduced. But the issues still exist. Like in chip design, the training of ML models happens in dierent environments independently at dierent levels. 

There needs to be a standardised approach to the application of AI. For ecient utilisation of AI, chips designed for AI, as well as those modied to suit AI requirements, need to be considered. If there is a problem in the system, there is a need for tools and methodologies to quickly solve it. The design process is still highly manual despite the growing adoption of design automation tools. Tuning the inputs is a time-consuming yet highly inecient process. Even just one small step in a design implementation can be an entirely new problem itself. 

There has been widespread misuse by companies claiming to use AI and ML to gain the advantage of the trend and increase sales and revenue. Although the cost of compression and decompression is not so high, the cost of on-chip memory is not so cheap. AI chips also tend to be very large. 

To build such systems that store and process data, the collaboration of experts on different teams is necessary. Major chipmakers, IP vendors, and other electronics companies will be adopting some form of AI to increase efficiency across their operations. The availability of cloud compute services at a reduced cost of computing can help in boosting evolution. Technology advancements will force semiconductor companies to empower and reskill their workforces, enabling the next generation of devices in the marketplace. 

INDIGENOUS SMART OXYGEN GENERATOR

JLSR Wellness, a startup in the healthcare and wellness space, has launched a rst-of-its-kind Wi-Fi enabled smart oxygen generator with an aim to bring a practical solution to the nation’s dire need to breathe in the fresh air. 

Air pollution is not a hidden fact; we are all aware of it. Yet deteriorating air quality continues to be a huge problem worldwide, with India being among the worst aected. 

According to the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report by The Energy Policy Institute, the University of Chicago, air pollution will reduce life expectancy in the country by 5.2 years if pollution is not reduced. 

While reduced particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 levels were observed during the lockdown, the pollutant levels are rising again with the unlock guidelines in action, which can aggravate the condition of Covid-19 patients. 

Giving a boost to Atmanirbhar Bharat, JLSR Wellness, a startup in the healthcare and wellness space, recently launched a rst-of-its-kind Wi-Fi enabled smart oxygen generator under the brand name UrbOx (Urban Oxygen) India with an aim to bring a practical solution to the nation’s dire need to breathe in the fresh air. The Made In India product was designed in partnership with leading technology companies from across the world. Anand Krishnan, COO, UrbOx, was the brainchild behind this product. He has had extensive experience in clinical research, medical devices, and drug development in the UK. 

He says, “In 2019, with the spark of an idea, a group of women entrepreneurs put together a robust R&D team for the further vision of the product, and thus I got introduced to the project as the lead scientist. The women possess strong background and skills from business and trade, technology development, nance, and accounting.” 

The articial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and Internet of Things (IoT) congured solution has been created by ne-tuning and improvising an open source technology that was developed by NASA for its critical space missions to suit commercial and residential needs. The technology has been previously used in Apollo spacecraft. 

The oxygen generator comes with oxygen-sensing air-quality monitor. The oxygen sensor, procured from a Switzerland-based company, is RoHS compliant based on the European Union’s Directive 2002/95/EC. The indoor unit can continuously measure the concentration of oxygen, besides other gases in a place. So, once you switch it on, it switches on and o automatically depending on the oxygen requirements in a room in real time. A mobile app, available on both iOS and Android, can be used to control and monitor the oxygen levels. 

MCERTS-certied optical PM sensor, CMOSens Technology for IR detection during carbon dioxide measurement, and NIST-traceable ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration technology ensure high accuracy and credibility. Temperature and humidity sensors together form a single unit. According to the company, the precision levels are ±3 per cent accuracy for humidity, ±1 hPa accuracy for pressure, and ±1.0°C accuracy for temperature. 

Krishnan says, “Developing world-class cutting-edge technology with the global partners was the key to success, and we had to overcome many hurdles during the corona times, but the team worked hard to make it available during these dicult times. Our product has exceptional long-term stability and is easy to install and operate. The sleek design perfectly complements the superior technology.” 

The device uses a process called Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) to generate a high concentration of oxygen gas from ambient air. This technique uses high pressure to separate a gas from a mixture based on properties like molecular characteristics and anity for an adsorbent material that dierentiates one from another. Once the pressure is reduced, the adsorbed gas—here oxygen—gets pumped back into the environment. In simple terms, the device captures atmospheric air and lters it to provide pure and fresh oxygen. 

The eco-friendly innovation works well for homes, workplaces, classrooms, operation theatres and clinics, and public places such as restaurants, airports, multiplexes, and gyms. These indoor areas can gain the maximum benet from the generator when the doors and windows are kept closed. In summers, it can be used along with air-conditioners. 

“Registered under the Make in India programme and Startup India programme, the need of the hour product has attracted many segments and audience. With India having more than 21 cities out of thirty cities which are most polluted in the world, UrB.Ox Smart Sensible Oxygen Generator becomes an important device to analyse, monitor, and generate your own oxygen for your enclosed indoors. Air puriers cannot generate oxygen and are limited to an area. Patients with asthma, breathing, and respiratory disorders can feel at ease without any tubes around their noses,” adds Krishnan. 

The oxygen generator was launched on 28th September, 2020 and comes in three variants. Urb.Ox Eco (two air dispensers, one indoor unit (AQI)) and Urb.Ox Premium (four air dispensers, one indoor unit (AQI)) are priced at ` 180,000 and ` 250,000, respectively,

excluding eighteen per cent GST. Urb.Ox Booster can be ordered for commercial establishments or other large spaces by making a payment of ` 500,000+ 18% GST. 

The benet is that it can be used 24/7 without any side eects. Both outdoor and indoor units are noiseless and consume low power. The units do not require large space for installation either—the indoor unit can even be tted on a room wall. Fireproof tubing ensures safety, and the oxygen is delivered in a controlled and optimised way. 

The products will be available on the company’s website as well as popular e-commerce sites. To adapt to the constantly evolving market, the team plans to launch more futuristic products at aordable costs. Krishnan says, “The company is in talks with potential collaborators from 

countries such as the UK, Europe, UAE, Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Africa, and is all set to foray into Sri Lanka in due course.” 

DEEP LEARNING MAKES CONVENTIONAL MACHINE LEARNING LOOK DUMB

Global media has called inventor and author Ray Kurzweil everything from ‘restless genius’ and ‘the ultimate thinking machine’ to ‘rightful heir to Thomas Edison’ and ‘one of the 16 revolutionaries who made America.’ His list of inventions is long—from at-bed scanners to synthesisers and reading machines for the visually-impaired. He has over 20 honorary doctorates, and has founded a string of successful companies. 

There is an interesting story about how this genius, who was not known to work for any company other than his own, joined Google as director of engineering in 2012. He wanted to start a company to build a truly-intelligent computer and knew that no company other than Google had the kind of resources he needed. When he went to meet Larry Page about getting the resources, Page convinced Kurzweil to join them instead. Considering that Google was already well into deep learning research, Kurzweil agreed. It is said that it is the aura of deep learning that closed the deal. 

What is this deep learning all about, anyway? It is machine learning at its best—machine learning that tries to mimic the way the brain works, to get closer to the real meaning of articial intelligence (AI). 

Today’s neural networks have several layers. The lowest layer takes raw data and its 

neurons store some information about the data these encounter. Each neuron sends 

information up to the next layer of neurons, which learn a more abstract version of the 

data below it. Higher layers learn more and more abstract features. The neural network 

in the image has five layers, of which three are hidden (Image courtesy: NVIDIA) 

Taking machine learning a bit deeper 

Machine learning is all about teaching a machine to do something. Most current methods use a combination of feature extraction and modality-specic machine-learning algorithms, along with thousands of examples, to teach a machine to identify things like handwriting and speech. The process is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a large set of data, heavy computing power and a lot of background work. And, despite tedious eorts, such systems are not fool-proof. These tend to fail in the face of discrepancies. For example, it is easy for a machine-learning system to get confused between a hurriedly written 0 and 6, or vice versa. It can understand brother but not a casually-scribbled bro. How can such machine learning survive in the big, bad, unstructured world? 

Deep learning tries to solve these problems and take machine learning one step ahead. A deep learning system will learn by itself, like a child learns to crawl, walk and talk. It is made of multi-layered deep neural networks (DNNs) that mimic the activity of the layers of neurons in the neocortex. Each layer tries to go a little deeper and understand a little more detail. 

The rst layer learns basic features, like an edge in an image or a particular note of sound. Once it masters this, the next layer attempts to recognise more complex features, like corners or combinations of sounds. Likewise, each layer tries to learn a little more, till the system can reliably recognise objects, faces, words or whatever it is meant to learn. 

With the kind of computing power and software prowess available today, it is possible to model many such layers. Systems that learn by themselves are not restricted by what these have been taught to do, so these can identify a lot more objects and sounds, and even make decisions by themselves. A deep learning system, for example, can watch video footage and notify the guard if it spots someone suspicious. 

Google has been dabbling with deep learning for many years now. One of its earliest successes was a deep learning system that taught itself to identify cats by watching thousands of unlabelled, untagged images and videos. Today, we nd companies ranging from Google and Facebook to IBM and Microsoft experimenting with deep learning solutions for voice recognition, real-time translation, image recognition, security solutions and so on. Most of these work over a Cloud infrastructure, which taps into the computing power tucked away in a large data centre. 

As a next step, companies like Apple are trying to gure out if deep learning can be achieved with less computing power. Is it possible to implement, say, a personal assistant that works o your phone rather than rely on the Cloud? We take you through some such interesting deep learning eorts.

Brain is Google’s deep learning project, and its tech is used in many of Google’s products, ranging from their search engine and voice recognition to email, maps and photos. It helps your Android phone to recognise voice commands, translate foreign language street signs or notice boards into your chosen language and do much more, apart from running the search engine so eciently. 

Google also enables deep learning development through its open source deep learning software stack TensorFlow and Google Cloud Machine Learning (Cloud ML). The Cloud oering is equipped with state-of-the-art machine learning services, a customised neural network based platform and pre-trained models. The platform has powerful application programming interfaces (APIs) for speech recognition, image analysis, text analysis and dynamic translation. 

Another of Google’s pets in this space is DeepMind, a British company that it acquired in 2014. DeepMind made big news in 2016, when its AlphaGo program beat the global champion at a game of Go, a Chinese game that is believed to be much more complex than Chess. 

Usually, AI systems try to master a game by constructing a search tree covering all possible options. This is impossible in Go—a game that is believed to have more possible combinations than the number of atoms in the universe. 

AlphaGo combines an advanced tree search with DNNs. These neural networks take a description of Go board as an input and process it through 12 dierent network layers containing millions of neuron-like connections. A neural network called the policy network decides on the next move, while another network called the value network predicts the winner of the game. 

After learning from over 30 million human moves, the system could predict the human move around 57 per cent of the time. Then, AlphaGo learnt to better these human moves by discovering new strategies using a method called reinforcement learning. Basically, the system played innumerable games between its neural networks and adjusted the connections using a trial-and-error process. Google Cloud provided the extensive computing power needed to achieve this. 

What made AlphaGo win at a game that baed computers till then was the fact that it could gure out the moves and winning strategies by itself, instead of relying on handcrafted rules. This makes it an ideal example of deep learning. 

AI world has always used games to prove its mettle, but the same talent can be put to better use. DeepMind is working on systems to tackle problems ranging from climate modelling to disease analysis. Google itself uses a lot of deep learning. According to a statement by Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind, deep learning networks have now replaced 60 handcrafted rule based systems at Google. 

Some trend-watchers claim that it is Watson, IBM’s AI brainchild, which transformed IBM from a hardware company to a business analytics major. Watson was a path-breaking natural language processing (NLP) computer, which could answer questions asked conversationally.

In 2011, it made the headlines by beating two champions at the game of Jeopardy. It was immediately signed on by Cleveland Clinic to synthesise humongous amounts of data to generate evidence based hypotheses, so they could help clinicians and students to diagnose diseases more accurately and plan their treatment better. 

Watson is powered by DeepQA, a software architecture for deep content analysis and evidence-based reasoning. Last year, Watson strengthened its deep learning abilities with the acquisition of AlchemyAPI, whose deep learning engines specialise in digging into Big Data to discover important relationships. 

In a media report, Steve Gold, vice president of the IBM Watson group, said that, “AlchemyAPI’s technology will be used to help augment Watson’s ability to identify information hierarchies and understand relationships between people, places and things living in that data. This is particularly useful across long-tail domains or other ontologies that are constantly evolving. The technology will also help give Watson more visual features such as the ability to detect, label and extract details from image data.” 

IBM is constantly expanding its line of products for deep learning. Using IBM Watson Developer Cloud on Bluemix, anybody can embed Watson’s cognitive technologies into their apps and products. There are APIs for NLP, machine learning and deep learning, which could be used for purposes like medical diagnosis, marketing analysis and more. 

APIs like Natural Language Classier, Personality Insights and Tradeo Analytics, for example, can help marketers. Data First’s inuencer technology platform, Inuential, used Watson’s Personality Insights API to scan and sift through social media and identify inuencers for their client, KIA Motors. The system looked for inuencers who had traits like openness to change, artistic interest and achievement-striving. The resulting campaign was a great success. 

Quite recently, IBM and Massachusetts Institute of Technology got into a multi-year partnership to improve AI’s ability to interpret sight and sound as well as humans. Watson is expected to be a key part of this research. In September, IBM also launched a couple of Power8 Linux servers, whose unique selling proposition is their ability to accelerate AI, deep learning and advanced analytics applications. The servers apparently move data ve times faster than competing platforms using NVIDIA’s NVLink high-speed interconnect technology. 

IBM is also trying to do something more about reducing the amount of computing power and time that deep learning requires. Their Watson Research Center believes that it can reduce these using theoretical chips called resistive processing units or RPUs that combine a central processing unit (CPU) and non-volatile memory. The team claims that such chips can accelerate data speeds exponentially, resulting in systems that can do tasks like natural speech recognition and translation between all world languages. 

Currently, neural networks like DeepMind and Watson need to perform billions of tasks in parallel, requiring numerous CPU memory calls. Placing large amounts of resistive random access memory directly onto a CPU would solve this, as such chips can fetch data as quickly as these can process it, thereby reducing neural network training times and power required. 

The research paper claims that, “This massively-parallel RPU architecture can achieve acceleration factors of 30,000 compared to state-of-the-art microprocessors—problems that currently require days of training on a data centre size cluster with thousands of machines can be addressed within hours on a single RPU accelerator.” Although these chips are still in the research phase, scientists say that these can be built using regular complementary metal oxide semiconductor technology. 

Speaking of reducing processing power and learning times, can you imagine deep learning being performed locally on a mobile phone, without depending on the Cloud? Well, Apple revealed at 2016’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) that it can do precisely that. The company announced that it is applying advanced, deep learning techniques to bring facial recognition to iPhone, and it is all done locally on the device. Some of this success can be attributed to Perceptio, a company that Apple acquired last year. Perceptio is developing deep learning tech that allows smartphones to identify images without relying on external data libraries. 

Facebook intends to understand your intent 

Facebook Articial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group has come out with innumerable innovations, which are so deeply woven with their products that we do not even realise that we are using deep learning every time we use Facebook. FbLearner Flow is Facebook’s internal platform for machine learning. It combines several machine learning models to process data points drawn from the activity of the site’s users, and makes predictions such as which user is in a photograph, which post is spam and so on. Algorithms that come out of FbLearner Flow help Facebook to identify faces in photos, select content for your news feed and more. 

One of their recent innovations is DeepText, a deep learning based text understanding engine that can understand the textual content posted on Facebook in 20-plus languages. Understanding text might be easy for humans, but for a machine it includes multiple tasks such as classication of a post, recognition of entities, understanding of slang, disambiguation of confusing words and so on. 

All this is not possible using traditional NLP methods, and makes deep learning imperative. DeepText uses many DNN architectures, including convolutional and recurrent neural nets to perform word-level and character-level learning. FbLearner Flow and Torch are used for model training. 

But, why would Facebook want to understand the text posted by users? Understanding conversations helps to understand intent. For example, if a user says on Messenger that “the food was good at XYZ place,” Facebook understands that he or she is done with the meal, but when someone says, “I am hungry and wondering where to eat,” the system knows the user is looking for a nearby restaurant. Likewise, the system can understand other requirements like the need to buy or sell something, hail a cab, etc. This helps Facebook to present the user with the right tools that solve their problems. Facebook is also trying to build deep learning architectures that learn intent jointly from textual and visual inputs. 

Facebook is constantly trying to develop and apply new deep learning technologies. According to a recent blog post, bi-directional recurrent neural nets (BRNNs) show a lot of promise, “as these aim to capture both contextual dependencies between words through recurrence and position-invariant semantics through convolution.” The teams have observed that BRNNs achieve lower error rates (sometimes as low as 20 per cent) compared to regular convolutional or recurrent neural nets for classification. 

Big Sur is designed around operational efficiency and serviceability (Image courtesy: 

If Google open-sourced its deep learning software engine, Facebook open-sourced its AI hardware last year. Known as Big Sur, this machine was designed in association with Quanta and NVIDIA. It has eight GPU boards, each containing dozens of chips. It has been found that deep learning using GPUs is much more ecient compared to the use of traditional processors. GPUs are power-ecient and help neural nets to analyse more data, faster. 

In a media report, Yann LeCun of Facebook said that, open-sourcing Big Sur had many benets. “If more companies start using the designs, manufacturers can build the machines at a lower cost. And in a larger sense, if more companies use the designs to do more AI work, it helps accelerate the evolution of deep learning as a whole—including software and hardware. So, yes, Facebook is giving away its secrets so that it can better compete with Google—and everyone else.” 

Deep learning can deeply impact our lives 

Deep learning’s applications range from medical diagnosis to marketing, and we are not kidding you. There is a fabulous line on IBM’s website, which says that we are all experiencing the benets of deep learning today, in some way or the other, without even realising it. 

In June 2016, Ford researchers announced that they had developed a very accurate approach to estimate a moving vehicle’s position within a lane in real time. They achieved this kind of sub-centimetre-level precision by training a DNN, which they call DeepLanes, to process input images from two laterally-mounted down-facing cameras—each recording at an average 100 frames/s. 

They trained the neural network on an NVIDIA DIGITS DevBox with cuDNN-accelerated Cae deep learning framework. NVIDIA DIGITS is an interactive workow based solution for image classication. NVIDIA’s software development kit has several powerful tools and libraries for developing deep learning frameworks, including Cae, CNTK, TensorFlow, Theano and Torch. 

The life sciences industry uses deep learning extensively for drug discovery, understanding of disease progression and so on. Researchers at The Australian National University, for example, are using deep learning to understand the progression of Parkinson’s disease. In September, researchers at Duke University revealed a method that uses deep learning and light based, holographic scans to spot malaria-infected cells in a simple blood sample, without human intervention. 

Abu Qader, a high school student in Chicago, has created GliaLab, a startup that combines AI with the ndings of mammograms and ne-needle aspirations to identify and classify breast cancer tumours. The solution starts with mammogram imaging and then sifts Big Data to build predictive models about similar tumour types, risks, growth, treatment outcomes and so on. He used an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU on his laptop along with TensorFlow deep learning framework. 

Deep learning is supposed to be the future of digital personal assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana. Bark out any command, and these personal assistants will be able to understand and get it done. Deep learning is also going to be the future of Web search, marketing, product design, life sciences and much more. 

Once the Internet of Things (IoT) ensnares the world in its Web, there is going to be Big(ger) Data for deep learning systems to work on. No wonder companies ranging from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, to NVIDIA, Apple, AMD and IBM, are all hell-bent on leading the deep learning race. A year down the line, we will have a lot more to talk about! 

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you.

What attitude did you bring into this article? Often, this brings puzzled looks. In truth, people generally do not have a high level of attitude awareness . They will know if they are hungry or if their feet hurt, but they usually do not have a good handle on their attitude. That is a mistake because attitude is everything. It governs the way you perceive the world and the way the world perceives you.

We all have a choice . We can choose an inner dialogue of self-encouragement and self- motivation or we can choose one of self-defeat and self-pity. It is a power we all have. Each of us encounters hard times, hurt feelings, heartache and physical and emotional pain. The key is to realize it is not what happens to you that matters; it is how you choose to respond.

Your mind is a computer that can be programmed. You can choose whether the software installed is productive or unproductive. Your inner dialogue is the software that programs your attitude, which determines how you present yourself to the world around you. You have control over the programming. Whatever you put into it is reflected in what comes out.

Many of us have behavior patterns today that were programmed into our brains at a very tender age. The information that was recorded by our brain could have been completely inaccurate or cruel. The sad reality of life is that we will continue to hear negative information, but we do not have to program it into our brain.

The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice, your self-critic. It can work for or against you, depending on the messages you allow . It can be optimistic or pessimistic. It can wear you down or cheer you on. You control the sender and the receiver, but only if you consciously take responsibility for and control over your inner conversation.

Habitual bad attitudes are often the product of past experiences and events. Common causes include low self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment, anger and an inability to handle change. It takes serious work to examine the roots of a harmful attitude, but the rewards of ridding ourselves of this heavy baggage can last a lifetime.

4 Simple Ways to Quickly Recover Your Positive Attitude After a Setback |  Inc.com

Here are ten strategies from the attitude tool kit to improve your attitude:

  1. Self-Coaching through affirmations
  2. Self-Motivation through discovering your motives
  3. The power of visualization
  4. Attitude Talk for Positive Internal Dialogue
  5. The power of words-WOW(Watch Your Words)
  6. The power in a positive greeting
  7. Enthusiasm – vital tool for staying motivated
  8. Connecting to your spiritual empowerment
  9. Lighten up your life with humor
  10. Exercising will help keep you motivated

Seek your personal and professional success by using the tools in this attitude tool kit. It is no secret that life seems to reward us most when we approach the world with a positive attitude.

Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

MIRROR MIRROR -A GREAT REWARD

As humans, we each have a powerful ability to easily recognize our own face. But now, researchers from Japan have uncovered new information about how our cognitive systems enable us to distinguish our own face from those of others, even when the information is presented subliminally.

In a study published this month in Cerebral Cortex, researchers from Osaka University have revealed that a central element of the dopamine reward pathway in the brain was activated when participants were subliminally shown images of their face. This provides new clues regarding the underlying processes of the brain involved in self-facial recognition.

When we are exposed to a subliminal image of our face–meaning we are not fully aware of it–many brain regions are activated in addition to those that process face information. Furthermore, our brain responds differently to supraliminal (conscious) and subliminal (subconscious) images of our face compared to faces of others. However, whether we use the same or different neural networks to process subliminal versus supraliminal faces has not been established something the researchers at Osaka University aimed to address this research.

“We are better at recognizing our own face compared to faces of others, even when the information is delivered subliminally”, says lead author of the study Chisa Ota. “However, little is known about whether this advantage involves the same brain or different areas that are activated by supraliminal presentation of our face.”

To address this, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the differences between brain activity elicited by subliminally presented images of the faces of participants and faces of others. They also examined brain activation produced by subliminally presented images of faces with modified features.

“The results provided us with new insights regrading the neural mechanisms of the self-face advantage”, explains Tamami Nakano , senior author. ” We found that activation in the ventral tegmental area, which is a central component of the dopamine reward pathway, was stronger for subliminal presentations of the participant’s face compared with faces of others”.

Instead, subliminal presentation of the faces of others induced activation in the amygdala of the brain, which is known to respond to unfamiliar information. This difference in brain responses to the face of the participant or those of others was consistent even when the faces were modified, as long as the shapes of the facial features were retained.

“Our findings indicate that the dopamine reward pathway is involved in enhanced processing of one’s own face even when the information is subliminal”, says Tamami Nakano. “Furthermore , discrimination of one’s own face from those of others appear to rely on the information of facial parts.”

These findings advance the understanding of the neural mechanisms of subliminal self-facial processing. Given that the dopamine reward pathway is automatically involved in unconscious self-facial processing this research may have applications in efforts to unconsciously manipulate motivation.

Face is the index of mind.

Story Source: Materials provided by Osaka University.

JOURNAL REFERENCE: Chisa Ota, Tamami Nakano “Self-Face Activates the Dopamine Reward Pathway without Awareness. Cerebral Cortex, 2021.

GOOD PARENTING

“Nobody on Earth can ever love you more than your parents.”

Parents and children have a special bond of love and affection. This bond can never be replaced by any other form of relationships, for as the saying goes, “Blood is thicker than water”. Parenthood like any other job requires dedication and sacrifice. So, what qualities should parents impart that would be considered good parenting?

Parenthood is a natural consequence of marriage. Prospective parents should recognize their responsibilities and realize what parenthood involves. One of the essential qualities parents should have is the acceptance of the role of parenthood. The father may resent the child because it would be a rival for the attention of the mother and father, more so if the child is a baby boy. Mother, on the other hand, is put in a different class where her time is no longer her own. Household routine is changed as baby makes demands on her time. Both parents should be willing to make sacrifices, including their career and accept their responsibilities.

Parents love their children and this is a universal truth. But love should in no way or at any time be considered as synonymous with parenting and spoiling the children. They should instill in the children qualities which will help them face life with a sense of integrity and strength of character. These can be cultivated if the parents teach them positively.

Parents should set good examples and provide the right atmosphere which is conductive to the growth of good character traits. A child learns good virtues and the influence of his parents counteract all other influence good or bad as like father like son.

In general, good parenthood requires love and understanding. These two qualities can build a strong world of parent-child relationship. Love must be wholesome but not blind in that it does not ignore discipline and moral values. This love must provide security and confidence to the growing child to be a good thinking adult. Understanding means giving the child the opportunity to find out what he wants, the freedom to try new ideas and the support when the child meets with failure.

Parents should be themselves and allow the children to grow up to be themselves too. Give support and encouragement wherever necessary but temper with love and understanding. Being a good parent is in itself a growing process. Learn to love but love wisely.

FRIENDSHIP AND RIVALRIES: COOPERATIVE MALE DOLPHINS

FRIENDSHIP AND RIVALRIES: COOPERATIVE MALE DOLPHINS

When it comes to friendships and rivalries, male dolphins know who the good team players are. New findings, published in Nature Communications by University of Bristol researchers, reveal that male dolphins form a social concept of team membership based on cooperative investment in the team.

Bottleneck dolphins have their own names - Big Think

The Bristol researchers , with colleagues from the University of Zurich and University of Massachusetts, used 30 years of observational data from a dolphin population in Shark Bay, Western Australia and sound playback experiments to assess how male dolphins responded to the calls of other males from their alliance network.

Dr. Stephanie King, Senior Lecturer from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences who led the research, said: “Social animals can possess sophisticated ways of classifying relationships with members of the same species. In our own society , we use social knowledge to classify individuals into meaningful groups. like sports teams and political allies. Bottlenose Dolphins form the most complex alliances outside humans, we wanted to know how they classify these relationships.”

Male dolphins offer gifts to attract females: study

Dr. Simon Allen, Research Fellow at Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences , who contributed to the study , added: “We flew drones above dolphin groups , recording their behavior during the sound playbacks, tracking their movements underwater and revealing novel insights into how dolphins respond to the calls of other males in their network of allies.”

Males responded strongly to all of the allies that had consistently helped them out in the past, even if they were not currently close friends. On the other hand , they did not respond strongly to males who had not consistently helped them out in the past, even if they were friends. What this shows is that these dolphins form social concepts of team membership, categorizing allies according to a shared cooperative history.

Dr. King said: “Such concepts develop through experience and likely played a role in the cooperative behavior of early humans. Our results show that cooperation-based concepts are not unique to humans, but also occur in other animal societies with extensive cooperation between non-kin.”

REFERENCE: “Cooperation-based concept formation in male bottlenose dolphins” by Stephanie L. King, Richard C. Connor , Michael Krutzen and Simon J. Allen, 22 April 2021, Nature Communications.

Simple oral hygiene

COVID-19 could pass into people’s lungs from saliva with the virus moving directly from mouth to bloodstream, particularly if individuals are suffering from gum disease, according to new research.

Evidence shows that blood vessels of the lungs, rather than airways, are affected initially with COVID-19 lung disease with high concentrations of the virus in saliva and periodontitis associated with increased risk of death.

The Researchers propose that dental plague accumulation and periodontal inflammation further intensify the likelihood of the SARS -CoV-2 virus reaching the lungs and causing more severe cases of the infection.

Experts say this discovery could make effective oral healthcare a potentially lifesaving action recommending that the public take simple, but effective, daily steps to maintain oral hygiene, such as the build-up plague.

An International team of researchers from the UK, South Africa and the United States today published their findings in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research. They note emerging evidence that specific ingredients of some cheap and widely available mouthwash products are highly effective at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 Virus.

Simple oral hygiene measures, including use of these specific mouthwash products, could help lower the risk of transmission of the virus from the mouth to the lungs in those with COVID-19 and help prevent severe instances of the infection.

Initial observations of lung CT scans from patients suffering from COVID-19 lung disease by Dr. Graham Lloyd Jones, a Radiologist, led to a collaboration between medical and dental researchers on the potential entry route into the bloodstream.

Co-author Iain Chapple, Professor of Periodontology at the University of Birmingham, commented:” This model may help us understand why some individuals develop COVID-19 lung disease and others do not. It could also change the way we manage the virus exploring cheap or even free treatments targeted at the mouth and ultimately saving liver.”

“Gum disease makes the gums weak, allowing microorganisms to enter into the blood. Simple measures such as careful toothbrushing and interdental brushing to reduce plague buildup along with specific mouth washers or even saltwater rinsing to reduce gingival inflammation could help to decrease the virus concentration in saliva and help mitigate the development of lung disease and reduce the risk of deterioration to severe COVID-19.”

The research team comprised of experts from Salisbury District Hospital, UK and the Mouth-Body Research Institute , Los Angeles , California and Cape Town, South Africa.

Their new model is based on the mouth providing a breeding ground for the virus to thrive with any breach in oral immune defenses making it easier for the virus to enter the bloodstream. Moving from blood vessels in the gums, the virus would pass through neck and chest veins reaching the heart before being pumped into pulmonary arteries and small vessels in the lung base and periphery.

“Studies are urgent required to further investigate this new model, but n the meantime daily oral hygiene and plague control will not only improve oral health and wellbeing but could also be lifesaving in the context of the pandemic”, added Professor Chapple.

REFERENCE: “The COVID-19 Pathway: A Proposed Oral-Vascular-Pulmonary Route of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and the Importance of Oral Healthcare Measures ” by Graham Lloyd Jones, Shervin Molayem, Carla Cruvinel Pontes and Iain Chapple, 20 April 2021, The Journal Of Oral Medicine & Dental Research.