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Posts Tagged ‘england’

Lego robot sets new Rubik’s Cube world record


(Credit:
ARM)

Solving a Rubik’s Cube is no easy feat, especially in less than 5 seconds, but that’s exactly what Lego Mindstorms robot CubeStormer 3 did this week, with seconds to spare. The CubeStormer 3 impressed spectators at Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, England, with its new world record of 3.253 seconds.

Designed by inventors Mike Dobson and David Gilday, the ARM-powered CubeStormer 3 uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. The phone analyzes the cube squares using a custom app to calculate the correct number of moves to solve the puzzle. The ARM processors move the Lego Mindstorms EV3 bricks, which execute the motor sequencing.

“Our real focus is to demonstrate what can be achieved with readily available technology to inspire young minds into taking a greater interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” Gilday said in a statement.

“We knew CubeStormer 3 had the potential to beat the existing record but with the robot performing physical operations quicker than the human eye can see there’s always an element of risk,” Gilday added. “Our big challenge now is working out if it’s possible to make it go even faster.”

The new record beats the existing time of 5.27 seconds, set two years ago by the same team.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/7_iUQF4Nl6k/

One more thing: Opera mashes up Steve Jobs, Shakespeare

Jobs surrounded by his team of singing software engineers.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Eric Mack / CNET)

Steve Jobs built his castle through Apple from which to oversee a digital kingdom, complete with the world’s most sought-after walled garden seeded with beautiful devices in constant bloom. Jobs was as much a king of computers as Shakespeare’s Henry V was king of England, or at least that’s the premise behind an opera that mashes up the lives of the two leaders, which debuts Friday at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in France.

Titled “Steve Five (King different)” and composed by Roland Auzet, the Opera de Lyon production looks at the similarities in how the two “monarchs” led their troops into battle, both by venturing from England to invade France and by conquering the “cloud” from a Silicon Valley ivory tower.

Appropriately, the production makes use of video, and classical and contemporary music, even including a bit of rap. Hey, whatever, so long as it “just works.”

Perhaps most notable is the fact that Jobs seems like a lot less of a belligerent jerk when he’s singing in a delightful tenor. If you speak French, you can get the full low-down in the video below. The show runs through next week.

Via: Cult of Mac

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/bvSbAYxtl7E/

New breakthrough: Engineered immune cells may block HIV

Scientists claim they have safely introduced engineered immune cells in 12 people with HIV that have the ability to resist the virus.

Researchers are lauding it as a step toward paving the way to curing the disease. Typically, patients must stay on HIV treatments the rest of their lives.

“This reinforces our belief that modified T cells are the key that could eliminate the need for lifelong (antiretroviral drug therapy) and potentially lead to functionally curative approaches for HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Carl H. June, Richard W. Vague Professor in immunotherapy in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said in a statement.

Researchers used so-called zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) technology — what they referred to as “molecular scissors” — to modify T cells in the immune system to mimic the CCR5-delta-32 mutation, a process called gene editing.

The CCR5-delta-32 mutation has been known to make people resistant to HIV, but is only found in about 1 percent of Caucasians. Timothy Ray Brown, known as the “Berlin Patient,” had both HIV and leukemia, and was believed to be “cured” of AIDS after he had blood stem cells containing the rare mutation transplanted in 2007. He said in 2012 that he hadn’t taken HIV medication since.

To create the mutation’s effect, the researchers infused 10 billion SB-728-T cells into two groups of patients between May 2009 and July 2012. Between 11 and 28 percent of the T cells were modified with the ZFN technology. The gene editing limited the amount of CCR5 proteins that existed on the cells’ surface. Without those proteins on the surface, HIV could not enter the T cells.

Within a week, all the patients saw a surge in their number of T cells due to the infusion. T cell numbers began to decline over the next few weeks, one of the hallmarks of HIV infection. Researchers observed that natural, unmodified levels of T cells declined, but the modified T cell numbers did not go down as much, suggesting they may have created HIV protection.

Six patients were taken off their antiretroviral drugs for up to 12 weeks starting four weeks after the infusions, while the other six stayed on the treatment.

The amount of HIV dropped in four of the patients who stopped treatment, one of whom had viral levels fall below the normal detection limits.That patient was later discovered to be a part-carrier of the CCR5 genetic mutation. The researchers said the subject could teach them more about the mutation in future studies.

The virus did return eventually in all the patients, but the researchers saw that the decline of the number of modified T cells was significantly less than the unmodified cells. The study’s primary objective was to look at the infusions’ safety.

Jay Johnson, 53, has been living with HIV for two decades.


(Credit:
CBS News)

CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook spoke with one of the 12 men in the program: Jay Johnson, 53, who has been living with HIV for more than two decades.

Three years later, the modified cells continue to circulate in Johnson’s body and he continues to feel fine.

“It makes me very excited. Hopeful, and it makes me want to…shout out to the world that there could be an end to this,” said Johnson.

The new therapy approach may work where other recent attempts have failed. In July 2013, physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston announced two HIV-positive men who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma — a type of blood cancer — had no signs of the disease after receiving stem cell transplants. At the time of the announcement, each patient had been off medication for seven and 15 weeks. The stem cell donors in these two men’s cases did not have the CCR5-delta32mutation.

In December, their doctors had announced the disease had come back in the Boston patients. The virus had lurked in disease reservoirs, which are areas of the body that store inactive HIV virus.

“The Boston cases show us that for the Berlin patient, it was not the chemotherapy or infusion of a donor’s stem cells that staved off the HIV; it was the protection of the T cells by the lack of CCR5,” Dr. Pablo Tebas, director of the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at the Penn Center for AIDS research, said in a statement.

Since the Boston procedures couldn’t completely eliminate the HIV reservoirs, the T cells were susceptible to infection once the HIV came back.

“The ZFN approach protects T cells from HIV and may be able to almost completely deplete the virus, as those cells are still functional,” Tebas said.

The research was published online March 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The results from this small study are notable,” wrote Dr. Mark Kay, a geneticist at Stanford, and Dr. Bruce Walker, an HIV researcher at the Raigon Institute in Boston, in an editorial published in the same journal issue.

They said the genome-editing technology might be used to treat other diseases than HIV, such as by fixing diseases caused by harmful genetic mutations.

“This proof-of- principle study is an important first step, not just in the treatment of those infected with HIV but also for genome editing in a broader sense,” they added.

This story originally appeared as “New advance: Engineered immune cells seem to block HIV” on CBSNews.com.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/Oq8Ysk1qqzI/

Ride the Oculus Rift to outer space!

Kickstarter

The proposed payload that will travel twice as high as a commercial airliner so you can do the same without ever leaving Earth!


(Credit:
Surrey Space Center,Aaron Knoll)

“Only 530 humans have traveled to space. This project isn’t for them. It’s for the rest of us…”

So begins the video presentation for a new Kickstarter campaign that’s seeking funding to create a virtual ride to the highest reaches of our atmosphere. The team of researchers developing the idea is working at Surrey Space Center at England’s University of Surrey. They propose to send a series of 24 GoPro Hero3 cameras attached to a balloon approximately 12.5 miles into the air. There, the balloon will pop, a parachute will open, and the whole works will drift peacefully back to Earth, filming all the while.

The video footage of the journey will then be stitched into a continuous immersive experience that will be available as software for the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, complete with its own musical soundtrack (which you can customize using your own MP3 player). The software will allow you to speed up, slow down, and reverse time — all the while looking wherever you want thanks to the magic of the OR headset.

The cameras will be encased in a Styrofoam orb complete with sensors, an SD card to store the video, battery pack and, of course, a hand warmer to keep things toasty in the upper atmosphere, where temperatures average -67 degrees Fahrenheit.

For those who don’t have an Oculus Rift — which, seeing as it’s not yet commercial available, might be a percentage only a little lower than those of us who’ve been to space — the developers plan to have versions of the software available for smartphones and PCs. Smartphone users will be able to look around by tilting their devices, while the experience on PCs will be controlled via mouse, similar to an FPS game, according to the site which adds: “Either way, you’ll be able to look around freely in real time as if you were a virtual passenger riding the balloon to space.”

The bid to get the Oculus Rift software (the Rift itself is yours to try and score) is 50 pounds (about $84). Considering a seat on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic trip to space costs $250,000, this might indeed be a more affordable option. But you won’t get those little packets of peanuts.

Here’s a bit more about the project:

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/O_Po14ngdHw/

Who needs 100-foot scuba limits with this 1,000-foot exosuit?

February 28th, 2014 No comments

Diver Michael Lombardi tests out the “exosuit,” which allows going to depths of 1,000 feet.


(Credit:
American Museum of Natural History)

As anyone who’s ever been a recreational scuba diver knows, diving beyond a depth of 100 feet requires special training. So imagine being able to go down to 1,000 feet and stay there for hours.

That’s the goal of the deep-diving “exosuit,” a “next-generation atmospheric diving system” that will be on display at the American Museum of Natural History through March 5.

Exosuit lets divers go 1,000 feet deep (pictures)

The 6.5-foot-tall, 530-pound, hard-metal suit is designed to let a diver reach depths of 1,000 feet, where water pressure is 30 times that of the surface, and to conduct special scientific work there. Among those tasks, for which the suit will be used during the Stephen J. Barlow Bluewater Expedition this July, are things like imaging deep-water marine life with high-resolution underwater cameras, and sampling.

The exosuit is owned by the J.F. White Contracting Company, and the July expedition is meant to explore an area known as “The Canyons” off the coast of New England. There, depths drop to 10,000 feet. With the exosuit, scientists can study the so-called mesopelagic, or midwater, zone. According to a release about the museum exhibit, this zone is ideal because many different marine animals, including some that bioluminesce (using chemical reactions to generate visible light) pass vertically through it.

The suit will be used in conjunction with a special remotely operated vehicle known as the DeepReef-ROV, which can study bioluminescent and biofluorescent animal life in the deep.

To be sure, atmospheric suits like the exosuit have been in use for decades. But the hope is that the exosuit, which features four 1.6-horsepower thrusters and 18 rotary joints in the legs and arms, will allow scientists to broaden their ability to study the deep.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/VNY0_NFN2fU/

Don’t shoot! You’re not in a video game anymore

February 28th, 2014 No comments

Gaming

Is it real or is it virtual? Excessive gaming might make it hard to tell the difference.


(Credit:
Nottingham Trent University)

If you’re a casual gamer or even — gasp! — a non-gamer, that security camera in the mall is nothing more than a surveillance device designed to keep people from stealing sugar packets from the food court. If you’re an “excessive” gamer, however, that very same camera is the eye of the evil overlord and it must be avoided at all costs.

That, at least, is what’s implied by the findings of a study conducted by Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University in England.

As part of ongoing research into the impact of gaming on real-life perception, Griffiths, working with psychologist Angelica Ortiz de Gortari, interviewed 42 hard-core gamers between the ages of 15 and 21 years old.

They found that something they termed Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) occurs after excessive hours at the console. (We’ve reached out to the researchers to find out how many gaming hours is considered excessive and will update when we hear.) In short, this means that gamers did and saw things in real life that usually only happen on the screen.

What kind of things?

Well, one participant reported reaching for a game controller that wasn’t there to pick up a sandwich that had dropped on the very real floor. Another saw “health bars” appear over the heads of rival team members during a soccer match. Still another considered using a hook that didn’t exist to retrieve something in the distance, while a fourth expressed the desire to zoom in to something off in the distance (a skill I myself would like to have). According to The Telegraph, other interviewees ducked out of the way of surveillance cameras and “approached game-associated objects ‘with the intention to shoot them with a non-existing gun.’”

The study found that the behaviors, which usually only lasted a few seconds, were sometimes triggered by real-life situations that resembled those in video games (like shooting the phantom gun), but that they also occurred when gamers reacted to non-gaming-related scenarios as if they were in a game.

About the admittedly small study of 42 gamers, which will be released in the next issue of the International Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning, Griffiths said: “We believe this is the first study to attempt to explore game transfer phenomena, and these initial findings have proved extremely interesting. Almost all the players reported some type of GTP, but in different ways and with varying degrees of intensity. We are now following this up with a further study of a much larger number of gamers.”

So if you find yourself thinking it’s OK to try to leap from one rooftop to another because you have two more lives, or trying to activate a forcefield instead of ducking when someone throws a right hook your way, you just might want to get in touch with Griffiths and offer yourself up for his next research project.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/TJSwQCwF-zo/

Who needs 100-foot diving limits with this 1,000-foot exosuit?

February 28th, 2014 No comments

Diver Michael Lombardi tests out the “exosuit,” which allows going to depths of 1,000 feet.


(Credit:
American Museum of Natural History)

As anyone who’s ever been a recreational scuba diver knows, diving beyond a depth of 100 feet requires special training. So imagine being able to go down to 1,000 feet and stay there for hours.

That’s the goal of the deep-diving “exosuit,” a “next-generation atmospheric diving system” that will be on display at the American Museum of Natural History through March 5.

Exosuit lets divers go 1,000 feet deep (photos)

The 6.5-foot-tall, 530-pound, hard-metal suit is designed to let a diver reach depths of 1,000 feet, where water pressure is 30 times that of the surface, and to conduct special scientific work there. Among those tasks, for which the suit will be used during the Stephen J. Barlow Bluewater Expedition this July, are things like imaging deep-water marine life with high-resolution underwater cameras, and sampling.

The exosuit is owned by the J.F. White Contracting Company, and the July expedition is meant to explore an area known as “The Canyons” off the coast of New England. There, depths drop to 10,000 feet. With the exosuit, scientists can study the so-called mesopelagic, or midwater, zone. According to a release about the museum exhibit, this zone is ideal because many different marine animals, including some that bioluminesce (using chemical reactions to generate visible light) pass vertically through it.

The suit will be used in conjunction with a special remotely operated vehicle known as the DeepReef-ROV, which can study bioluminescent and biofluorescent animal life in the deep.

To be sure, atmospheric suits like the exosuit have been in use for decades. But the hope is that the exosuit, which features four 1.6-horsepower thrusters and 18 rotary joints in the legs and arms, will allow scientists to broaden their ability to study the deep.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/VhP1jlkDaQg/

Are selfies causing the spread of head lice?

February 25th, 2014 No comments

head lice

Could something as innocent as a selfie lead to this diabolical critter climbing onto your head?


(Credit:

Gilles San Martin, Flickr
)

When people lean their heads together to pose for a selfie, they’re capturing a shining moment and preserving it in pixels for posterity. They might be capturing something else too: head lice.

At least that’s the claim of Marcy McQuillan, a lice-treatment expert who runs two Nitless Noggins lice-treatment centers in California. She says she’s seen a dramatic uptick in the incidence of lice among young people, and it’s due, she maintains, to all that head bumping for selfie snaps.

“Head lice are spread through head-to-head contact. Lice don’t jump or fly, so you actually have to touch heads,” McQuillan said in a press release that went out on Monday and captured headlines as fast as, well, a bunch of little critters can leap around a scalp. “Every teen I’ve treated, I ask about selfies, and they admit that they are taking them every day.”

As that didn’t sound like rigorous research to us — and McQuillan’s business would certainly stand to gain from selfie panic — we contacted a dermatologist and another lice-treatment center to see what they had to say about the theory of selfies spreading lice. It’s a theory that led to alarming headlines around the Web Monday linking selfies to “a massive lice outbreak” and “a head lice epidemic.”

When asked about McQuillan’s theory, Vanessa Mor, supervisor at Lice Control in Oakland, Calif., said, “That makes a lot of sense. In order to get it, you have to be direct contact — sitting on the same towel, sharing headphones together, or using someone else’s hair curler, sharing hats, sweaters, and scarves.”

Mor said she has seen a recent uptick in lice in teens and young adults in her area (one local high school is in the midst of a breakout, she said), though she did not attribute the problem specifically to selfies.

Dr. Nick Celano, a resident at the Los Angeles + USC Medical Center, is more dubious about the link. While it might be possible for lice to travel from one head to another, the amount of time a typical selfie takes to snap wouldn’t generally be sufficient time for widespread transmission, he said.

“The way we’re taught,” he said of his medical schooling, “is that it takes contact for an extended period of time, and 10 seconds is not what I’d consider an extended period of time. We’re in rooms with patients that have lice, and we don’t really worry about getting it transmitted from one person to the other while in the room.”

Celano said he couldn’t pinpoint the exact amount of time it takes for lice transmission to occur, though he did say that a much more common way for lice to spread is through the sharing of combs, hats, and bedding. But he doesn’t rule out the selfie theory entirely, so taking McQuillan’s advice to keep heads separated during selfie shots might not be a bad idea — at least while other doctors look into the claims (CNET has reached out to several other dermatologists and will update this post as soon as we hear back). McQuillan also advises keeping long hair pulled back in an elastic band.

Dr. Richard J. Pollack, who teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health and runs a pest identification business called IdentifyUS, would likely advise otherwise when it comes to selfie precautions related to pests.

“This is a marketing ploy, pure and simple,” he told NBC News. “Wherever these louse salons open a new branch, there always seems to be an epidemic. It’s good for business.”

Should a lice infestation develop, McQuillan and other lice-treatment professionals around the country offer a solution developed by Dale Clayton, a biologist at the University of Utah. Clayton had been researching lice on birds while at Oxford University in England, but when he moved his lab to Utah in 1996 he found he had a hard time keeping the critters alive.

He soon figured out that it was Utah’s hot dry climate that kept the parasites from thriving. After some tinkering, he invented a sort of modified blow dryer that, the device makers claim, can eliminate 99 percent of lice and their eggs in just an hour’s treatment. That device, originally known as the “Louse Buster,” now goes by the fancier name AirAllé.

To treat lice at home, shampoos are available at pharmacies, along with special lice combs that remove the creatures from hair. If that treatment is unsuccessful, a dermatologist can prescribe medication.

CNET’s Leslie Katz contributed to this report.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/6I2T_sLnfkA/

Hand-stitched ‘Star Wars’: Tapestry of a galaxy far, far away

February 21st, 2014 No comments

The beloved space tale of Jedi masters battling the Empire is retold through cross-stitch in this epic Star Wars tapestry by artist Aled Lewis.

The beloved space tale of Jedi masters battling the Empire is retold through cross-stitch in this epic “Star Wars” tapestry by artist Aled Lewis.


(Credit:
Aled Lewis)

If you watch the “Star Wars” movies enough, you can retell the epic story of Jedi, Sith Lords, droids, tauntans, wampas, Wookiees, Yoda, and the Death Star without too much effort. Now try to re-create every memorable scene stitch by stitch on a 30-foot tapestry.

Artist Aled Lewis did just that for six months. Creating each scene first on his laptop, he then transferred it in pixel format onto cloth and cross-stitched every detail. The art titled “The Coruscant Tapestry” is hand-stitched cotton thread on 30 feet of continuous length, 7-stitch-per-inch Klostern fabric. Stiffened with a thin batting and hemmed with a custom-made printed pixel star fabric on rear.

The tapestry depicting memorable moments from the “Star Wars” movies — from “A New Hope” all the way to “Revenge of the Sith” — is in a similar style to that of The Bayeux Tapestry, which also tells the tale of warriors and heroes, most notably the events that led to the Norman conquest of England.

The awe-inspiring artwork is for sale at $20,000 and is on display at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles.

Artist Aled Lewis even translated quotes from each movie into the fictional Star Wars language of Aurebesh on the border of the tapestry.

Artist Aled Lewis even translated quotes from each movie into the fictional “Star Wars” language of Aurebesh on the border of the tapestry.


(Credit:
Aled Lewis)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/1fGAblCZ4w8/

Want to be better at math? Electric shocks could help

February 14th, 2014 No comments

Neurons

Electrical stimulation may help neurons, like these, fire faster.


(Credit:

neurollero, Flickr
)

In a room at Oxford University in England, children between the ages of 8 and 10 are working on math problems on computers while being administered electric shocks by senior research fellow Roi Cohen Kadosh.

OK, they’re not really getting shocked, but they are getting a steady stream of low-current electricity delivered to their brains.

The procedure they’re undergoing is known as Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), and it’s one of the most recent brain stimulation techniques to come about in a long history of electrical currents used to manipulate the brain. Unlike earlier electroshock treatment programs, which tended to placate people with mental disturbances, the goal of this work is to help people with learning disorders overcome their difficulties, and to help others learn better generally.

The kids spend 30 minutes twice a week being studied by Cohen Kadosh as part of his ongoing research into how electrical currents could help learning.


The Focus’ four saline-soaked sponges that sit on the forehead. The saline is to prevent your skin from burning. (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
Focus Labs)

Cohen Kadosh just published a report in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience that details his work with two adult individuals suffering from Developmental Dyscalculia (DD), a condition in which people have difficulty learning math and processing numbers. DD affects nearly 7 percent of the population, according to the report.

Cohen Kadosh found that when he attached an anode to the area of the brain known as the left posterior parietal cortex and a cathode to the right side of the same region and applied the mild current, learning skills improved. Interestingly, when he reversed the electrical conductors, the treatment didn’t work.

The experiment involved assigning numbers 1-10 a series of symbols that represented them. Then Cohen Kadosh asked the two participants to say which symbol was bigger than another. Only the one who got the brain stimulation was able to go from distinguishing pairs that were sequential to distinguishing pairs that were not sequential.

Granted, two people is clearly a tiny sample group, but the findings dovetail with research Cohen Kadosh reported in the journal Nature in May of last year that showed that electrical stimulation could increase learning even in people without learning disabilities.

In that study, 13 Oxford students were given a type of electrical stimulation known as TRNS, or transcranial random-noise stimulation. Compared with a control group that got no electrical stimulation, they performed faster at both memorizing mathematical facts and executing complicated equations. Six months later, the “charged” group still performed 28 percent better than the control group.

In the studies, people wear a tight-fitting cap through which current supplied by a 9-volt battery is passed. The current can be directed to specific parts of the brain and allegedly feels akin to having a baby tug on your hair — gently. The theory behind why the research works is that the current lowers the threshold neurons have to reach before firing, and firing neurons help the brain transfer information, a key component of learning.

Brain-stimulating devices like the Focus headset are already available commercially, but Cohen Kadosh recommends caution. “It’s early days but that hasn’t stopped some companies from selling the device and marketing it as a learning tool,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Be very careful,” he added. Still, if you want to disregard that advice and can’t afford a new brain-boosting cap, you can learn how to make your own with a hot glue gun, two sponges, and few other doodads in this helpful YouTube video:

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/-o-U6dD2QPw/