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Di seguito gli interventi pubblicati in questa sezione, in ordine cronologico.
 
 
By Admin (from 22/02/2011 @ 10:00:32, in en - Science and Society, read 1507 times)

Eduardor Relero has made these amazing chalk drawings in the streets of Spain. However, this don’t look like your average Julian Beever drawings, each one could contain a hidden message about poverty or death such as “Amnesty International“, but I’m stumped for what these pictures could mean. I especially like the rich man or women holding the gun, it took me a while to see that. I also like the baby head and the skull drawings because they’re done so well! I appreciate the skull one more though, because if you look closely at the background the sun appears to be right above the drawing, but the drawing itself seems to create its own light source. How amazing is that?

Source: moillusions.com

 

Bell, Book & Candle restaurant in the West Village is using its roof to grow sixty percent of its ingredients via energy-efficient Aeroponic growing towers. Led with Chef John Mooney’s locavore beliefs, Mooney’s initiatives transcend the typical local farm-to-table restaurant. By growing vertically, Mooney is able to control what goes into each vegetable, with a contained water system and no soil – meaning no additives or pesticides are necessary.

Furthermore, since Bell, Book & Candle is self-supplying, fruits and veggies are picked at their peak and used immediately, rather than being stored for long periods of time. A carbon neutral pulley brings each day’s harvest down into the kitchen to be turned into mouth-watering dishes such as Roasted Heirloom Pumpkin Soup, Rooftop Mixed Green Salad, and Gin & Tonic Wild Salmon with caramelized cauliflower. Any produce that isn’t sourced from above is instead purchased from a cold-weather greenhouse in nearby Lancaster, PA. But it really doesn’t get any fresher than rooftop-to-table!

Source: InHabitat - zeitnews.org

 
By Admin (from 25/02/2011 @ 08:00:55, in en - Science and Society, read 1503 times)

We have previously reported on the development of prototype adaptive focus glasses at the University of Arizona (UA) that were able to switch focus electronically. Unlike manually adjustable focus glasses, such as TruFocals, that place a flexible liquid lens between two rigid lenses, the lenses of the prototype glasses consisted of a layer of liquid crystals sandwiched between two pieces of glass. By applying an electric charge, the orientation of the liquid crystals – and therefore the optical path length through the lens – was able to be changed, resulting in glasses that changed focus electronically. This technology is now on its way to consumers with PixelOptics showing its emPower! glasses at CES 2011.

Relying on liquid crystals, the glasses, which PixelOptics will bring to market under the brand name emPower!, are able to switch focus in the blink of an eye and with no moving parts – unless you count the reorientation of the liquid crystals. Being electronically activated also allows for a neat feature. While the wearer is able to manually activate the change of focus by touching the arm of the emPower! glasses, thanks to an accelerometer embedded in the arm, with a swipe they can also set the glasses to change focus automatically when they look down to read.

Being electronic also means batteries. The battery embedded in the glasses can be recharged in around two hours using an inductive charger and is good for two to three days, depending on usage patterns.

Calling them the “world’s first electronic focusing eyewear,” PixelOptics' emPower! glasses are based on the technology originally developed at UA, which licensed three patents to Johnson & Johnson, who then sold the patent licenses to PixelOptics to commercialize the technology. That commercialization is set to happen some time this year when PixelOptics plans to launch its emPower! glasses in around 36 different styles.

Source: GizMag - zeitnews.org

 
By Admin (from 26/02/2011 @ 12:00:03, in en - Science and Society, read 2156 times)

A team of Northern Illinois University scientists, with a major role played by NIU Ph.D. students, has discovered a new, convenient and inexpensive way to make high performance hydrogen sensors using palladium nanowires.

The technology could help enable a scale-up for potential industrial applications, such as safety monitors in future hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Highly flammable hydrogen gas cannot be odorized like natural gas. The new technology produces nanoscale sensors that work extremely fast and would allow for closing of safety valves before dangerous concentrations of the gas could be reached.

Scientists have known that palladium nanowires demonstrated promise as hydrogen gas sensors in speed, sensitivity and ultra-low power consumption. But the utilization of single palladium nanowires faced challenges in several areas, including nanofabrication.

“We report on hydrogen sensors that take advantage of single palladium nanowires in high speed and sensitivity and that can be easily and cheaply made,” said lead author Xiaoqiao (Vivian) Zeng, a Ph.D. student in chemistry and biochemistry at NIU. The new research is published in the January edition of the American Chemical Society's prestigious journal Nano Letters.

“The new types of hydrogen sensors are based on networks of ultra-small (< 10 nanometers) palladium nanowires achieved by sputter-depositing palladium onto the surface of a commercially available and inexpensive filtration membrane,” Zeng said.

The research was conducted at both Northern Illinois University and Argonne National Laboratory. The scientists also found that the speed of the sensors increases with decreasing thicknesses of the palladium nanowires. The sensors are 10 to 100 times faster than their counterparts made of a continuous palladium film of the same thickness.

“The superior performance of the ultra-small palladium nanowire network-based sensors demonstrates the novelty of the fabrication approach, which can be used to fabricate high-performance sensors for other gases,” said NIU Presidential Research Professor of Physics Zhili Xiao, leader of the research team and co-adviser to Zeng.

Xiao noted that Zeng’s exceptional contribution to the research is particularly impressive for a Ph.D. candidate. Zeng came to NIU in the fall of 2008 after earning her master’s degree from the University of Science and Technology Beijing. She is now a recipient of the NIU Nanoscience Fellowship, jointly supported by the university and Argonne.

“It is extremely competitive to publish an article in Nano Letters, which has a very high impact factor that is better even than the traditionally prestigious chemical and physical journals,” Xiao said. “We’re proud of Vivian’s achievements and grateful for her creativity and diligence.

“Nanoresearch is truly interdisciplinary,” Xiao added. “Chemists have undoubtedly demonstrated advantages in nanofabrication by utilizing methods of chemical synthesis to obtain extreme nanostructures, while physicists have strengths in exploration of new physical properties at the nanoscale. This research benefitted tremendously from Vivian’s expertise in chemistry. In fact, the substrates used to form the novel networks of palladium nanowires are common filtration members known to chemists.”

Source: PhysOrg

 

Researchers have created a new aerogel that boasts amazing strength and an incredibly large surface area. Nicknamed ‘frozen smoke’ due to its translucent appearance, aerogels are manufactured materials derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas, resulting in a material renowned as the world’s lightest solid material. The new so-called “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” could be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components.

Although aerogels have been fabricated from silica, metal oxides, polymers, and carbon-based materials and are already used in thermal insulation in windows and buildings, tennis racquets, sponges to clean up oil spills, and other products, few scientists have succeeded in making aerogels from carbon nanotubes.

The researchers were able to succeed where so many before them had failed using a wet gel of well-dispersed pristine MWCNTs. After removing the liquid component from the MWCNT wet gel, they were able to create the lightest ever free-standing MWCNT aerogel monolith with a density of 4 mg/cm3.

MWCNT aerogels infused with a plastic material are flexible, like a spring that can be stretched thousands of times, and if the nanotubes in a one-ounce cube were unraveled and placed side-to-side and end-to-end, they would carpet three football fields. The MWCNT aerogels are also excellent conductors of electricity, which is what makes them ideal for sensing applications and offers great potential for their use in electronics components.

A report describing the process for making MWCNT aerogels and tests to determine their properties appears in ACS Nano.

Source: zeitnews

 
By Admin (from 03/03/2011 @ 10:00:31, in en - Science and Society, read 2423 times)

Southwest Windpower, maker of the Skystream 3.7, unveiled a new version of the popular turbine at CES 2011 called Skystream 600.  The turbine features an improved design with larger blades, enhanced software, and an improved integrated inverter.  And, according to a press release, Skystream 600 will be the “first fully smart grid-enabled wind turbine” on the market when available in April 2011.

With the improvements, Skystream 600 is estimated to produce about 74% more energy than Skystream 3.7.  The small wind turbine can provide an average of 7,400 kWh of energy per year in 12 mph average annual wind speeds.

These numbers are pretty good — about 60% of an average American’s home energy needs — but everything depends on siting, wind conditions, tower height, and several other factors.

Skystream 600 comes with the internet-accessible Skyview system showing users how much energy is produced in real time.  Southwest Windpower told Jetson Green in an email that the company has not yet decided on a price for the new turbine.

Source: JetsonGreen

 
By Admin (from 07/03/2011 @ 14:00:35, in en - Science and Society, read 2213 times)

How do you use a scientific method to measure the intelligence of a human being, an animal, a machine or an extra-terrestrial? So far this has not been possible, but a team of Spanish and Australian researchers have taken a first step towards this by presenting the foundations to be used as a basis for this method in the journal Artificial Intelligence, and have also put forward a new intelligence test.

"We have developed an 'anytime' intelligence test, in other words a test that can be interrupted at any time, but that gives a more accurate idea of the intelligence of the test subject if there is a longer time available in which to carry it out", José Hernández-Orallo, a researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), tells SINC.

This is just one of the many determining factors of the universal intelligence test. "The others are that it can be applied to any subject – whether biological or not – at any point in its development (child or adult, for example), for any system now or in the future, and with any level of intelligence or speed", points out Hernández-Orallo.

The researcher, along with his colleague David L. Dowe of the Monash University, Clayton (Australia), have suggested the use of mathematical and computational concepts in order to encompass all these conditions. The study has been published in the journal Artificial Intelligence and forms part of the "Anytime Universal Intelligence" project, in which other scientists from the UPV and the Complutense University of Madrid are taking part.

The authors have used interactive exercises in settings with a difficulty level estimated by calculating the so-called 'Kolmogorov complexity' (they measure the number of computational resources needed to describe an object or a piece of information). This makes them different from traditional psychometric tests and artificial intelligence tests (Turing test).

Use in artificial intelligence

The most direct application of this study is in the field of artificial intelligence. Until now there has not been any way of checking whether current systems are more intelligent than the ones in use 20 years ago, "but the existence of tests with these characteristics may make it possible to systematically evaluate the progress of this discipline", says Hernández-Orallo.

And what is even "more important" is that there were no theories or tools to evaluate and compare future intelligent systems that could demonstrate intelligence greater than human intelligence.

The implications of a universal intelligence test also impact on many other disciplines. This could have a significant impact on most cognitive sciences, since any discipline depends largely on the specific techniques and systems used in it and the mathematical basis that underpins it.

"The universal and unified evaluation of intelligence, be it human, non-human animal, artificial or extraterrestrial, has not been approached from a scientific viewpoint before, and this is a first step", the researcher concludes.

Source: PhysOrg

 

Scientists from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have developed a process for making fully biodegradable, non-toxic and non-hazardous thermoset resins from readily available, low-cost plant materials.

It's hoped that this new range of plastics could be used for panels such as MDF in the construction industry and replace polyurethane and polystyrene packaging... all without increasing cost or production times.

Most of the plastic products used in domestic products and the construction industry are thermosetting plastics; polymer materials that irreversibly cure.

They are made of three-dimensional networks of cross-linked polymers. Bakelite resin, produced from the reaction of phenol with formaldehyde, is one example, and the material is still used to bind wood fibers in pressed wood such as medium density fiberboard (MDF) and formica. Synthetic resins are also widely used in the construction industry for example in Medium Density Overlay (MDO), a combination of concrete and plywood, used in concrete molds.

Modern synthetic resins have a lot of negatives: they are made from diminishing fossil sources, are not biodegradable and can only be burned under strict conditions because they release toxic substances.

However, by combining plant materials and specific process conditions Professor Gadi Rothenberg and Dr. Albert Alberts of the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Heterogeneous Catalysis and Sustainable Chemistry research group, have created a selection of bio-plastics ranging from hard foam material to flexible thin sheet materials.

Production time is comparable to current thermosetting processes, and the research team believe they can compete with existing plastics on price, but will need to manufacture on a larger scale to be certain.

A major plus is the availability and affordability of raw materials. Any plant materials can be used, for example grass, hay and trees.

Follow-up research will focus on new applications and process development and upscaling.

Source: GizMag

 
By Admin (from 10/03/2011 @ 08:00:14, in en - Science and Society, read 1660 times)

We have seen some beautifull new designs for future cities over the last few years.And these images from Russian architectural firm Remistudio are nothing less than amazing. Remistudio has designed a massive hotel concept that can be erected at land or sea, is completely self sustaining and is able to endure extreme floods.

The arch-shaped building, dubbed the Ark, has a structure that enables it to float and exist autonomously on the surface of the water. The Ark was also designed to be a bioclimatic house with independent life-support systems, including elements ensuring a closed-functioning cycle.

The Ark concept, which Remistudio designed in connection with the International Union of Architects’ program “Architecture for Disaster Relief,” can be built in various climates and in seismically dangerous regions because its basement is a shell structure, devoid of ledges or angles. A load-bearing system of arches and cables allows weight redistribution along the entire corpus in case of an earthquake. The building’s clever design enables an optimal relationship between its volume and its outer surface, significantly saving materials and providing energy efficiency. Its prefabricated frame also allows for fast construction.

The Ark constitutes a single energy system. Its shape is convenient for installing photovoltaic cells at an optimal angle toward the sun. The cupola, in the upper part, collects warm air which is gathered in seasonal heat accumulators to provide an uninterrupted energy supply for the whole complex independently from outer environmental conditions. The heat from the surrounding environment — the outer air, water or ground — is also used.

Alexander Remizov, of Remistudio, said: 'For architecture there are two major concerns.  "The first is maintenance of security and precautions against extreme environmental conditions and climate changes. The second one is protection of natural environment from human activities. The Ark is an attempt to answer the challenges of our time. Provision is made for an independent life support system. 'All the plants are chosen according to compatibility, illumination and efficiency of oxygen producing, and with the aim of creating an attractive and comfort space. Through the transparent roof there is enough light for plants and for illuminating the inner rooms."

Source: Inhabitat

 

The mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life from human cells to algae has been identified by scientists.

Not only does the research provide important insight into health-related problems linked to individuals with disrupted clocks – such as pilots and shift workers – it also indicates that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae and dates back millions of years to early life on Earth.

Two new studies out today in the journal Nature from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh give insight into the circadian clock which controls patterns of daily and seasonal activity, from sleep cycles to butterfly migrations to flower opening.

One study, from the University of Cambridge's Institute of Metabolic Science, has for the first time identified 24-hour rhythms in red blood cells. This is significant because circadian rhythms have always been assumed to be linked to DNA and gene activity, but – unlike most of the other cells in the body – red blood cells do not have DNA.

Akhilesh Reddy, from the University of Cambridge and lead author of the study, said: "We know that clocks exist in all our cells; they're hard-wired into the cell. Imagine what we'd be like without a clock to guide us through our days. The cell would be in the same position if it didn't have a clock to coordinate its daily activities.

"The implications of this for health are manifold. We already know that disrupted clocks – for example, caused by shift-work and jet-lag – are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer. By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hope that the links to these disorders – and others – will be made clearer. This will, in the longer term, lead to new therapies that we couldn't even have thought about a couple of years ago."

For the study, the scientists, funded by the Wellcome Trust, incubated purified red blood cells from healthy volunteers in the dark and at body temperature, and sampled them at regular intervals for several days. They then examined the levels of biochemical markers – proteins called peroxiredoxins – that are produced in high levels in blood and found that they underwent a 24-hour cycle. Peroxiredoxins are found in virtually all known organisms.

A further study, by scientists working together at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, and the Observatoire Oceanologique in Banyuls, France, found a similar 24-hour cycle in marine algae, indicating that internal body clocks have always been important, even for ancient forms of life.

The researchers in this study found the rhythms by sampling the peroxiredoxins in algae at regular intervals over several days. When the algae were kept in darkness, their DNA was no longer active, but the algae kept their circadian clocks ticking without active genes. Scientists had thought that the circadian clock was driven by gene activity, but both the algae and the red blood cells kept time without it.

Andrew Millar of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "This groundbreaking research shows that body clocks are ancient mechanisms that have stayed with us through a billion years of evolution. They must be far more important and sophisticated than we previously realised. More work is needed to determine how and why these clocks developed in people – and most likely all other living things on earth – and what role they play in controlling our bodies."

Source: PhysOrg

 
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Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch since I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that Thank you for lunch! Whenever you ha...
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