29 July 2015

Microsoft Windows 10 is released here’s how to download it

Windows 10

Our long national nightmare is over Windows 8.1 is no longer the current version of Windows. Now it’s Windows 10, and today’s the day it hits the airwaves for what appears to be as many people as Microsoft can keep the servers running for. For a while, it was expected that only Insiders would get it first, followed by those who request the update, as well as anyone who buys a new machine starting today. It appears that lots of people are getting it right away though, which is a nice surprise.

To install it on your current machine, first check Windows Update; you should see a notification saying that it’s available, assuming you’ve pre-registered for it. If it’s there, then that’s the simplest way, and you can install it right over your current install and preserve all of your existing software and data.

Windows 10 ISO image page

The better news is that if you want to do a clean install of Windows 10 say, if you’re a stickler for a super-clean machine like we are you can do it starting today with a new Windows 10 ISO file, which you can download straight from Microsoft’s website and install on a USB key.

Several of us have already given our thoughts on the roller-coaster ride that was Insider Preview. Our sister site PCMag has a full review up, which we encourage you to read, as well as we own continuing coverage of the Windows 10 launch including how to turn off Microsoft’s automatic WiFi password sharing, why Windows 10 even has the name it does, and more.

And as Microsoft has made clear over and over, it looks at Windows 10 as a living, breathing document, er, operating system meaning that even though this is the final release version, the company will continue to patch it often, and even prefers to abandon the idea of version numbers altogether.

So which of you are upgrading to Windows 10, and which are holding off for now? I can tell you that on the Devil’s Canyon mini-ITX machine I literally just built a month ago, I somehow managed to scrog the Windows 7 install. It’s throwing .DLL errors on bootup and explorer.exe crashes, even though all I’ve installed on it are Steam and some audio applications. I may reformat with Windows 7 and try again, or I may try again with Windows 10 to see how it goes this way I can write about how I regret it and have to go back to Windows 7. I’m kidding, I think. Anyway, let us know your thoughts on all this in the comments below.


26 July 2015

New production process makes PLA bioplastic cheaper and greener

Researchers in Belgium have developed a simpler process for the production of PLA bioplastic (Credit:Shutterstock)

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable bioplastic that is already used to produce a variety of everyday items, such as cups, trays, bowls and vegetable wrapping foil. Unfortunately, the current PLA production process is expensive and produces waste. Researchers at the KU Leuven Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis in Belgium have now developed a new production technique that is cheaper and greener and makes PLA a more attractive alternative to petroleum-based plastics.

PLA boasts a number of advantages over petroleum-based plastic. It is one of the few plastics suitable for use in 3D printers, it is biocompatible, making it suitable for medical use, and it biodegrades in a few years in certain environments, and is industrially compostable and recyclable. But when it comes to cost, PLA can't compete with petroleum-based plastics due to the intermediary steps required to produce it.

As its name suggests, lactic acid is a main building block of PLA. This can be obtained by the fermentation of sugar that can be sourced from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca and sugarcane.

"First, lactic acid is fed into a reactor and converted into a type of pre-plastic under high temperature and in a vacuum," explains Professor Bert Sels from the Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis. "This is an expensive process. The pre-plastic a low-quality plastic is then broken down into building blocks for PLA. In other words, you are first producing an inferior plastic before you end up with a high-quality plastic. And even though PLA is considered a green plastic, the various intermediary steps in the production process still require metals and produce waste."

To develop a more efficient and economical route to PLA, the researchers have borrowed a petrochemical concept that uses a zeolite (a porous mineral composed of aluminium, silicon, and oxygen) as a catalyst in the reactor to guide the chemical process that converts lactic acid into lactide.

"By selecting a specific type [of zeolite] on the basis of its pore shape, we were able to convert lactic acid directly into the building blocks for PLA without making the larger by-products that do not fit into the zeolite pores,” said postdoctoral researcher Michiel Dusselier.

In practice, this means the intermediary steps that require metals and produce waste are eliminated from the production process, while providing higher yields of lactide. A patent for the new technique has already been bought by a chemical company that intends to scale up the production process to an industrial capacity.

While admitting that biodegradability isn't a desirable property for all plastics, (toilet drain pipes, for example), and the team isn't aiming to promote disposable plastic, Dusselier says that products that are made from PLA have the potential to become cheaper and greener thanks to the this new technique.

Details of the team's research were published in the journal Science.
Source: KU Leuven, gizmag 

Smartphone usage could be analyzed to warn of depression

smartphones can detect-depression

Although you might not realized you're depressed, your smartphone may know better (Credit: Shutterstock)

One of the problems with depression is that because it often forms so gradually, many people don't even realize that they're suffering from it – they just assume that normal life is pretty dreary. With that in mind, researchers from Chicago's Northwestern University have devised a method of analyzing at-risk individuals' smartphone use, to see if they're developing signs of the disorder.

In a study conducted at the university, the phone-usage of 28 test subjects (20 women and eight men, average age of 29) was monitored over a two-week period. They also all completed a PHQ-9 questionnaire, which is commonly used to assess depression by asking questions about symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness and sleep disturbances.

When the smartphone-activity and PHQ-9 data was tabulated and cross-referenced, it was found that the 14 subjects who scored highest for depression on the questionnaire also had some phone-related traits in common. These included more overall use of their smartphones (an average of 68 minutes a day, as opposed to 17 for the other test subjects), spending more time at home or in fewer locations (as measured by their phone's GPS tracking feature), and a less regular day-to-day travel schedule.

While increased phone usage might suggest more contact with other people, the researchers believe that it instead indicates non-social activity such as web-surfing and game-playing. These could be examples of "avoidance behavior," that people engage in to avoid dealing with mental anguish.

The fact that the subjects left home less often is in keeping with the known fact that depressed people tend to lack the motivation to get out and do things, instead opting to remain sedentary. Likewise, not maintaining a consistent daily schedule has also been linked to depression.

All told, the study matched smartphone use to subjects' level of depression with 87 percent accuracy. While approaches such as questionnaires are certainly helpful, the researchers believe that patients often lack accuracy when performing such self-assessment techniques.

"The significance of this is we can detect if a person has depressive symptoms and the severity of those symptoms without asking them any questions," says Northwestern's Dr. David Mohr, senior author of a paper on the study. "We now have an objective measure of behavior related to depression. And we’re detecting it passively. Phones can provide data unobtrusively and with no effort on the part of the user."

The paper was recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Source: Northwestern University, gizmag 

Hankook airless tires passes high-speed tests closer to production

Hankook airless tires

Hankook's iFlex recently passed a series of tests for durability, hardness, stability, slalom and speed

Airless tires are one step closer to becoming a production reality, after Hankook successfully put its iFlex tire through a series of high speed tests. The iFlex is Hankook's fifth attempt at non-pneumatic tires, and brings with it a number of environmental benefits compared to conventional tires.

As you might have guessed from the name, non-pneumatic tires don't require any air. Instead, Hankook's iFlex eschews conventional construction for a material that the company says is energy-efficient to manufacture and easy to recycle. The material also has allowed Hankook to halve the number of steps involved in manufacturing.

In testing, the iFlex was put through its paces in five different categories: durability, hardness, stability, slalom and speed. The electric car Hankook used hit 130 km/h (81 mph) without damaging the tire, and the iFlex was able to match the performance of a conventional pneumatic tire in all the other tests although further details about the results have not been revealed.

Hankook isn't the only company testing airless tires. Michelin has opened a North American plant dedicated to production of the Tweel, and Bridgestone has been testing its recyclable, puncture-proof tires on Japanese single person vehicles that are usually used by the elderly.

Although still in the testing phase, the airless tire has huge potential in production cars. They don't puncture, and depending on the materials used they also have the potential to significantly cut down on the emissions involved in the production and recycling of tires.

Source: Hankook, gizmag

25 July 2015

Toyota-Hino fuel cell bus tested in Tokyo

The Toyota-Hino fuel-cell bus is undergoing real-world tests in Tokyo

Toyota and Hino Motors have begun testing a jointly-developed fuel cell bus in Tokyo, Japan. The brief test, which is taking place on public roads in the central and waterfront areas of the city, is designed to will help Toyota evaluate and improve the technology ahead of a possible market launch.

A number of other cities around the world have either begun testing or rolling out buses that do not rely on burning fossil fuels. London and Gothenburg have seen electric buses introduced to their fleets, while hydrogen fuel cell buses were being trialled in Hamburg and north-east China as early as 2009.

The Toyota-Hino bus is powered by the Toyota Fuel Cell System developed for use in the Toyota Mirai.

The system features two fuel cell stacks and motors alongside eight high-pressure hydrogen tanks that can store up to 480 l (106 gal) of hydrogen. It can produce a maximum power output of 114 kW in each of its two units.

Source: Toyota, Gizmag

Carbon nanotubes used to create conducting fibers for artificial muscles

carbon nanotube sheathed rubber fiber@2x

An electric current can flow even when the fiber is stretched to over 14 times its initial length (Credit: UT Dallas Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute)

A new kind of conducting fiber developed at the University of Texas at Dallas is being used to develop artificial muscles and capacitors that store more energy when stretched. The fiber, which is composed of carbon nanotube sheets wrapped around a rubber core, may one day also find use in morphing aircraft, stretchy charger cords and exoskeleton limbs, along connecting cables for a wealth of other devices.

Unlike previous carbon nanotube fibers, which emphasized rigid strength that could be applied to bulletproof vests or offer an alternative to traditional carbon fiber, or that combined strength, flexibility, and conductivity, this new fiber is super stretchy.

The nanotube sheets are wrapped around the rubber while it is stretched, which results in buckling when the wrapped rubber relaxes kind of like an accordion. Unlike an accordion, however, the fiber buckles in two dimensions not only along its length, but also around its circumference, because stretching causes the rubber to shrink in diameter.

This buckling is key to the fiber's design. It makes the electrical resistance insensitive to stretching, to the extent that an electric current can flow even when the fiber is stretched to over 14 times its initial length.

The researchers didn't stop there. They layered rubber and carbon nanotube sheaths atop the fibre to create a stretchable fiber capacitor, with the second layer of rubber acting as a dielectric between the two buckled nanotube sheath electrodes.

The double-sheath fibers could then be twisted to form artificial muscles that can rotate mirrors in optical circuits or pump liquids in miniature devices.

The researchers found that their fiber technology can be scaled up or down even as small as 150 microns, which is twice the width of a human hair depending on the circumference of the rubber core. "Individual small fibers also can be combined into large bundles and plied together like yarn or rope," said research associate Nan Jiang.

Co-author Raquel Ovalle-Robles also noted that the technology could see rapid commercialization because the bulk of the material required is inexpensive rubber and the procedure is not particularly complex.

The researchers found that the carbon-nanotube-sheathed rubber fiber could be used as a conductive wire in a pacemaker cable

The researchers believe that carbon-nanotube-sheathed rubber fiber could find a multitude of practical applications besides artificial muscles, including as a conductive wire in a pacemaker cable, super-elastic electronic circuits, super-stretchy cables that extend up to 31 times their initial length, optical circuits, morphing structures in space, and robotic arms with extreme reach.

You can watch a video demonstration of the fiber's stretchiness below.

A paper describing the research was published in the journal Science.

Source: University of Texas at Dallas, Gizmag

24 July 2015

Remote-control device releases drugs right into the brain

device releases drugs right into brain

Rarely has an invention with a subtext so directly from one of Aldous Huxley‘s dystopian futures appeared in the pages of an academic journal. In a study featured in the journal Cell, Washington University associate professor Dr. Michael R. Bruchas has led a team of researchers in developing a device for releasing drugs directly into the brain via remote control.

For those not familiar with the epic science fiction Brave New World, it lays out a future in which the citizenry are kept in a state stupefied pleasure through a universally endorsed drug – soma. While the Cell article focuses on the therapeutic uses for the device, for instance in treating intractable depression, it isn’t difficult to imagine Brave New World-type scenarios in which giving people access to the pleasure and pain centers of their brains via remote control opens up a whole Pandora’s box of dystopian horrors.

Before delving into these morally hazardous subplots, let’s look at the science behind the device. For years researchers have been struggling with an effective means for delivering drugs to the brain. One of the main issues is that the blood brain barrier prevents most substances from ever reaching their targets within our gray matter. Another problem is in getting the dosage right. People metabolize drugs differently, so knowing exactly how much of a drug to administer to create the desired effect can be tricky. Creating a device the delivers drugs wirelessly to the brain via remote control has the potential to solve both issues at once.

The effectiveness of the device was ascertained in an experiment on laboratory mice. The rodents in question had been trained to react to stimulation by secreting a dopamine-releasing protein whenever they were exposed to light. The researchers interfered with the animals’ light-sensitive reaction using a remote control to release a drug that counteracted the effects of the dopamine. If this sounds familiar, dopamine is the same neurotransmitter in humans that controls risk-taking behavior like gambling.

Pictured is a mouse wearing the implantable device.Source: Jeong JW, McCall JG, et al. Wireless optofluidic systems for programmable in vivo pharmacology and optogenetics. Cell, published online July 16, 2015.

In another eerie sounding proof of principle, the laboratory mice were made to run in a circle by deploying a drug to one side of their brain using the wireless remote. That we may be approaching an era of remote-controlled pets is indicated by another technology which uses Bluetooth transmitters to steer cockroaches.

While the benefits this device will have in helping patients with intractable mental disease are real and formidable, to blithely ignore the potential moral ambiguities raised by turning animals into remote-controlled drones and handing people a device to dial down unwanted feeling at the push of a button could have lasting repercussions.

There’s little doubt that most in the scientific community would pale at the idea of using this kind of technology for terrorist purposes or too keep a population subjugated. It’s harder to say if the likes of Kim Jung Un and other brutal dictators don’t get a twinkle in their eye when scientific papers like this come tumbling out of academic institutions free of charge.

Source: Extremetech

23 July 2015

Metal foams could provide lightweight radiation shielding

A sample of the composite metal foam developed by Rabiei's research team

A sample of the composite metal foam developed by Rabiei's research team (Credit: Afsaneh Rabiei)

Radiation generally comes under the heading of "things you want to stay away from," so it's no surprise that radiation shielding is a high priority in many industries. However, current shielding is bulky and heavy, so a North Carolina State University team is developing a new lightweight shielding based on foam metals that can block X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron radiation, as well as withstanding high-energy impact collisions.

Though they aren't very familiar to the public, foam metals have been around for over a century. In its simplest form, a foam is made by bubbling a gas through molten metal to form a light froth that cools into a lightweight matrix. This produces a foam that is lighter than conventional metals, but has comparable strength.

Foams can also be made by milling or 3D printing, but whatever the method, they are expensive and difficult to manufacture, so their uses are restricted to very specialized applications, such as spacecraft or advanced cooling systems.

The new foam metal being developed by the NC State team led by Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was originally created as a strong, lightweight material for military and transportation applications, but Rabiei became curious about its potential in radiation shielding. The result was a high-Z steel-steel foam, which is a composite made of stainless steel with small amount of tungsten formed into hollow spheres and introduced into the steel matrix to make a foam that was less dense than stainless steel.

According to the team, the foam metal was subjected to multiple tests, which showed that it was effective in blocking X-rays, various forms of higher and lower energy gamma rays, and neutron radiation.

Compared against bulk materials, it demonstrated the same shielding properties for high-energy gamma rays, though its density was lower. In addition, it has better blocking qualities for low-energy gamma rays and neutron radiation. Although it was better than most materials at blocking X-rays, it wasn't quite up to the standard of lead.

"[We] are working to modify the composition of the metal foam to be even more effective than lead at blocking X-rays – and our early results are promising," Rabiei says. "And our foams have the advantage of being non-toxic, which means that they are easier to manufacture and recycle. In addition, the extraordinary mechanical and thermal properties of composite metal foams, and their energy absorption capabilities, make the material a good candidate for various nuclear structural applications."

The results of the study were published in Radiation Physics and Chemistry.

NC State University, Gizmag

16 July 2015

Moto G 2nd Generation: Where Quality Meets Value!

Moto G 2nd gen Highlights

Choosing a smartphone is getting tougher day by day. With so many phones launching in the market and with an array of brilliant features, the competition has only got hotter! Among the many brands, Motorola is one such brand which has been constantly producing phones for every budget with quality at par. If you have been in two minds about purchasing this phone, here are 5 reasons why you should totally go for it:

1)   Sharp display and design

The smartphone has a 5.00 inch screen and 720x1080 display. The 5.0 inch screen is ideal for people who don’t want too big a size but also do not want to compromise on the enjoyment level while watching videos or playing games. The screen is protected with Corning Gorilla glass to ensure that your phone survives the everyday cuts and scrapes. Shop for Motorola phones without breaking your bank by using Amazon coupons available on CashKaro.com to get wonderful deals and cash back.

2)    Hear every beat

If you thought experiencing stereo level sound was too much of an expectation from your phone, you will be blown away by it! Motorola G 2nd Generation smartphone is equipped with two speakers on the front of the phone. Having two speakers on the front improves as well as increases the clarity of the sounds. Groove to the beats of foot tapping music on this phone and experience a delightful world of enjoyment through songs and videos here.

3)    Beautiful shots

The one feature which almost every person wants from their phone is a good camera. They can compromise on other features a bit but bargaining on the quality of a camera is something they won’t do. Understanding the needs of today’s consumer, Motorola G 2nd Generation possesses an 8 mega pixel rear camera and 2 mega pixel front camera. Don’t let mega pixels be your deciding factor as they only dictate the size. 2 mega pixel for a front camera are more than decent to let you take a clear selfie. Add to it the amazing features the phone holds.

4)    Uninterrupted tasks

With so much on your plate, the last thing you want on earth is your smartphone making you wait. It’s the era of getting things done within seconds and it’s not unfair that you expect the same from your smartphone. Motorola G 2nd Gen will surely not disappoint you. Itcomes with a great Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1.2GHz quad-core CPU to let you move on from one application to another in a smooth manner. Running on Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, it makes for a smoother journey for you. Shop for Motorola phones online at low prices by taking advantage of Paytm coupons present on CashKaro.com which will fetch you amazing discounts and cash back.

5)    Non-stop support

Everyone knows that smartphones today are not just limited to chatting, messaging and playing games. They are much more than that. From being personal finance assistants to helping in cooking, helping manage appointments to making bill payments and recharging phone to never missing a moment; there is just so much that smartphones are doing today. They are being used from morning to night for a variety of purposes. Under such conditions, it becomes imperative for your phone to run for an entire day without you having to charge it frequently. This phone will help you do just that!The 2070 mAh battery will let you stay in continuous touch with your loved ones and do tasks without any disruption.

Motorola G 2nd generation can be bought in six shades of interchangeable backs to suit every mood.

09 May 2015

New low-cost cerium alloy magnets developed for motors and turbines

motor assembly

Permanent magnets based on neodymium-iron-boron are about the strongest money can buy. The main problem with them is that in order to work above room temperature you need to add significant amounts of the rare element dysprosium. With prices soaring, this situation will likely have to change. Researchers at the Energy Department’s Ames Laboratory have just found that the most abundant rare earth we have, cerium, can substitute for dysprosium when properly co-alloyed with cobalt.

Previously, attempts to use cerium in magnets failed because it actually lowered the Curie temperature. That’s the point above which magnetic properties for the alloy or metal are lost. However, when cobalt is added to the mix, you get an alloy that performs better than anything else above 150° C. Several important variables come into play when spec’ing out a magnet, but its intrinsic coercivity at elevated temperatures is key for many common applications. This is the ability of the material to resist the evil forces of demagnetization.

In addition to the magnet-busting effects of elevated temperature, the forces that degrade motor magnet lifetime and performance include vibration and even radiation. For mining companies that can hardly give cerium away, the robustness of these new cerium alloys to these forces is great news. Compared with the standard dysprosium based magnets now used in many turbine, electric car, and servomotor applications, cerium should chop 20 to 40 percent off the sticker price.

motor stator and rotor magnet

That may not sound like a huge deal, but as demand for larger permanent magnet motors increases, manufacturers may be able to meet it using cerium. Some electric vehicles still use induction-style or other motor designs that lack permanent magnets. But above a certain size, manufacturing big magnets gets progressively more uneconomical. On the other hand, winding the coils of all-electromagnetic motors gets easier when everything gets bigger. For applications like 10 degree-of-freedom robotic arms, you are never going to beat the compactness and power density of permanent magnet motors.

It is estimated that the drive motor in a hybrid typically delivers around 80 horsepower per kilogram of neodymium. With more elite applications like all-electric airplanes now looming, motors will likely be pushed to their extreme. The high temperature capabilities of cerium magnets would let motors made from them run at correspondingly higher temperatures. That means that the currents pushed through their coils can be higher, longer, and stronger.

In a time when China tightly regulates more than 90 percent of the world’s production of rare earth metals, being a little more strategic with our strategic materials would seem like a wise move. Moving to more abundant cerium would certainly be one way to do this.

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