Space shuttle Endeavour carries stamp-sized mini-satellites into orbitt

When space shuttle Endeavour blasted off Monday morning it carried three tiny satellites — each the size of a postage stamp — along with it.

Endeavour, NASA’s next-to-last shuttle mission, left its Florida launch pad at 5:56 a.m. Pacific Time with the slim, 1-inch-square chips aboard. The mini-satellites are set to be mounted on the outside of the International Space Station and will collect data measuring the harsh conditions of space.

Mason Peck, the professor who led the project to build the satellites at Cornell University, said the spacecraft, dubbed Sprite, are prototypes. The mini-satellites will remain in space for a “few years,” before they’re to be removed and brought back to Earth.

In the future, Peck envisions launching waves of the little satellites simultaneously to capture information about space in real-time.

“Their small size allows them to travel like space dust,” he said in a statement. “Blown by solar winds, they can ‘sail’ to distant locations without fuel.”

Currently the cost of building, maintaining and launching full-size satellites is in the millions of dollars. These small, light spacecraft could bring costs down, Peck said.

“We’re actually trying to create a new capability and build it from the ground up,” Peck said. “We want to learn what’s the bare minimum we can design for communication from space.”

 

Amazon Server Said to Be Used in Sony Attack

A Sony Corp. logo is displayed outside an electronics store in Tokyo. Sony's online entertainment systems was attacked by hackers in April 2011. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)’s Web Services cloud- computing unit was used by hackers in last month’s attack against Sony Corp. (6758)’s online entertainment systems, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Hackers using an alias signed up to rent a server through Amazon’s EC2 service and launched the attack from there, said the person, who requested anonymity because the information is confidential. The account has been shut down, the person said.

The development sheds light on how hackers used the so- called cloud to carry out the second-biggest online theft of personal information to date. The incursion, which compromised the personal accounts of more than 100 million Sony customers, was “a very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack,” Sony has said. (more…)

Is Sony getting a bad rap on its data breach ?

Sony didn’t show up for last week’s Capitol Hill hearing on its massive data breach, thought to have affected more than 100 million video gamers. But that didn’t stop Representative Mary Bono Mack from laying into the company, along with Epsilon, a marketing company that experienced a similar breach just weeks before. (more…)

Sleep apnea device eases fatigue in three weeks

Sleep Apnea(Reuters) – People with breathing problems that disrupt their sleep were less tired after three weeks of treatment with a breathing device compared to those treated with a placebo, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.

The findings show that regular use of treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks reduces fatigue caused by obstructive sleep apnea, a chronic disorder that affects 12 million Americans.

Sleep apnea raises the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat and diabetes.

It occurs when soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airway and causing the brain to rouse the sleeper, who gasps for air — a cycle that can occur as many as 30 times in an hour.

CPAP disrupts this cycle by providing a steady stream of air through a mask that keeps the airway open during sleep.

Companies that make CPAP treatments include Graymark Healthcare and ResMed Inc.

“These results are important as they highlight that patients who comply with CPAP therapy can find relief from fatigue and experience increases in energy and vigor after a relatively short treatment period,” Lianne Tomfohr of San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego, whose study appears in the journal Sleep, said in a statement.

Several studies have shown that CPAP treatment can reduce other health risks, such as lowering the risk of stroke, but few have studied the impact on fatigue, which can reduce work performance and increase the risk of accidents.

For the study, Tomfohr and a team at the University of California, San Diego, studied 59 adults in their late 40s who had at least 10 partial or complete pauses in breathing per hour of sleep.

These volunteers were randomly assigned to get either CPAP or a sham therapy. Both groups were trained on the proper use of the equipment and filled out questionnaires.

After three weeks, volunteers who got CPAP treatment had significantly less fatigue on two independent scales measuring fatigue and they reported having more energy.

There was no such improvement among those who got the placebo treatment.

CPAP treatment is the most common treatment for sleep apnea.

Action against dyeing units in Varanasi for polluting Ganga

Ganga river

The Varanasi district administration closed down three textile dyeing units on Wednesday and issued warning to six others for releasing untreated chemical waste into rivers Ganga and Varuna.

The units had been served notices twice by the Uttar Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) but they had not complied with the notice and the Board finally asked district administration to take action against them.

The ADM (City) Varanasi, Atal Rai, who is also a member of the district Pollution Control Committee, said the textile dyeing units in Varanasi had become some of the biggest pollutants of Ganga in the district.

“In May, a team of experts from UPPCB had visited the city and marked 12 textile dyeing units which were releasing dangerous chemicals into the river without treating them,” he said. “The first notice was served to them in June, followed by a second in October. But the units did not comply with the directions. The UPPCB finally handed us a list of the nine most polluting units for action.”

On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, a team of officials, led by Additional City Magistrate Sabhajeet Tiwari, raided the premises of three units, namely Sai Prints, Shilpi Prints and Shaqeel Prints, all situated near Shivpur Railway Crossing. While two of the units were closed, one was open at the time of the raid. The officials closed down all three and registered a complaint under Section 33-A of the the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974.

Rai said: “We will be taking action against the remaining six units within a week. The district administration has taken up the cleaning of Ganga seriously and any unit polluting the river will not be spared.”

CID’s maiden charge-sheet in cyber crime case

Cyber Crime

Cyber Crime

GUWAHATI, Jan 1 – Working on vital inputs provided by foreign-based agencies like Google Inc., the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) today filed the State’s first chargesheet in a cyber crime case.

The chargesheet, related to CID police station case number 60/10 u/s 66(A)/67 of the Information Technology Act, was filed last evening with the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup.

The State, which is witnessing a spurt in cyber crimes, registered 18 cases in the year 2010, of which some cases have already been closed due to lack on any clue while others are being investigated.

In 2009, only three cases were registered under the IT Act.

A senior CID official informed The Assam Tribune that the said FIR was lodged with the CID police station by a girl student alleging that some unknown persons have created a fake Orkut profile in her name and posted vulgar messages.

“During the course of investigation, we moved the authorities of Google Inc for providing the log-in details of the particular Orkut profile. The authorities of Google responded and Internet protocol details were ascertained,” the official said.

He went on to inform that after it was found that the accused used BSNL Internet connection for the purpose, the CID team took the help of BSNL officials who provided the name and address of the subscriber.

“The accused Shankar Manash Kashyap (23), a resident of Usha Court located in RG Baruah Road was arrested and during questioning he confessed his offence. The CPU of the computer was also seized and we managed to recover the deleted photographs of the girl student with help of forensic tools,” he stated.

The CID official further opined that the investigators should be able to solve more such cases with the able help from foreign agencies like Google.

The CID’s cyber wing is expected to become more potent as the government has decided to come up with a cyber lab in the CID premises in the current year.

Robot solves Rubik’s cube in 15 seconds

LONDON: Rubik’s cube still inspires engineers to create novel ways of solving it. Now, a robot has solved it in 15 seconds flat.

A team, led by Zachary Grady and Joe Ridgeway of Rowan University in New Jersey, has built a robotic arm and created software that which solve the cube in just 15 seconds, the ‘New Scientist’ reported.

Rubik's Cube

The system uses a camera to capture how the cube is scrambled and sends the images to a computer. It determines the pattern on each face and algorithms are used to solve the cube. The solution is then translated to the arm’s pneumatics and motors.

Ridgeway was inspired by his own expertise — he can consistently solve the cube in about 45 seconds. “We knew the device was capable of doing these movements,” he said.

The team designed the arm so that the cube could be held in one corner, allowing it to be quickly rotated without having to re-grip it after each move.

Now, a 3D food printer with edible ink

3D food printer

Feel like eating a hamburger? Or would you rather have a pizza? No problem, the 3D food printer will create anything you want, literally at the click of a button.

Scientists at Cornell University in New York are developing a commercially viable 3D food printer, which uses raw food ‘inks’ that are fed into the printer and once you load the recipe and press the button, voila!

An electronic blueprint states exactly what materials go where and are drawn up using traditional engineering computer-aided design (CAD) software.

“FabApps would allow you to tweak your food’s taste, texture and other properties. Maybe you really love biscuits, but want them extra flaky. You would change the slider and the recipe and the instructions would adjust accordingly,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Jeffrey Ian Lipton as saying.

So anything that can be loaded into syringes – liquid cheese, chocolate and cake batter – can be printed out! So far, they have had some success creating cookies, cake and ‘designer domes’ made of turkey meat.

Homaro Cantu, chef at Chicago’s Moto, has “printed sushi using an ink jet printer”.

“You can imagine a 3D printer making homemade apple pie without the need for farming the apples, fertilising, transporting, refrigerating, packaging, fabricating, cooking, serving and the need for all of the materials in these processes like cars, trucks, pans, coolers, etc.,” said Cantu.

“3D printing will do for food what e-mail and instant messaging did for communication.”

Smartphones too smart for owners

LONDON: With hundreds of thousands of applications available, smartphones allow users to do anything from checking their bank balance to booking a flight. But 71 per cent of owners use them simply to make a call, text or log on to Facebook , a new study shows.

The study by Envirofone, which recycles mobiles, revealed that a typical smartphone owner exploits only 10 percent of the phone’s functions, reports the Daily Mail.

The survey of 2,000 users also found more than half had felt pressured to get the latest or most popular smartphone such as Apple’s iPhone4 or a BlackBerry .

The devices, among top gadgets in this year’s New Year shoping list, are really pocket computers. In addition to the capacity for the downloadable programs, known as “apps,” they can also browse the internet and send and receive emails.

The research estimates there are 11 million smartphones in the UK.

While there are many useful “apps” offering train information or satellit navigation functions, others are bizarre.

A Zippo lighter app displays an animated picture to wave at concerts, while Annoy-a-teen plays a high-pitched sound that only teenagers are supposed to be able to hear.

Jon Butler, of Envirofone, said: “The latest phones have become status symbols which look flashy but aren’t fully utilised.”

Coming soon: Fridge of the future

hi-tech fridge

LONDON: Imagine your home refrigerator cleaning itself, offering up recipes depending on whether you prefer something Italian or fancy a spicy curry, cutting down on left-overs, and automatically re-ordering fresh food.

Well, your imagination may soon turn into a reality, thanks to British researchers who claim to be designing such a ‘ fridge of the future’ which could help you save precious time in today’s hectic life.

According to them, the fridge of the future would be able to automatically place supermarket home delivery orders when required and move food near its use by date to the front of the shelves, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

In fact, a joint team from the University of Central Lancashire and online supermarket Ocado are working hard to make such a fridge available in the market.

The planned new features include the ability for fridges to scan their shelves to see what is in stock and use this information to both plan meals and automatically place a supermarket food order, say the researchers.

The smart fridge will use “nano-articulated technology” shelf surfaces which, whilst smooth to the touch, will have millions of independently controlled micro-tiles which will manoeuvre products which soon need to be eaten to the front of the fridge.

The fridge will also monitor gases released by degrading foods and push these to the front of its shelves, according to the designers.

Ultrasound-scanning technology built into the door will allow the fridge to “swipe and capture” the food on a plate before and after mealtime, meaning it can assess what type and amount of food is wasted. (MORE) PTI MOT MOT 12261451 NNNN