Here’s how free coffee could reduce distracted driving in Japan

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US insurance companies may want to adopt this idea.

Continue reading Here’s how free coffee could reduce distracted driving in Japan

Here’s how free coffee could reduce distracted driving in Japan originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 20 Sep 2016 14:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Turkish company builds real life Transformer out of a BMW 3-series

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You know you want one.

Continue reading Turkish company builds real life Transformer out of a BMW 3-series

Turkish company builds real life Transformer out of a BMW 3-series originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Gamers beat scientists to making a protein discovery

It’s no great shock to see citizen scientists make discoveries that professionals miss, but making it through a video game? That’s different. Gamers playing Foldit, a puzzle title that has teams trying to fold the best protein, have identified the shape of a protein before scientists (including two trained experts and 61 University of Michigan undergrads) could manage the feat. And it’s not as if there were legions of contributors, either, as it took a relatively modest 469 players to help out.

The protein in question may be particularly significant. It prevents plaque formation, hinting that it might help fight Alzheimer’s if and when the medical community develops a practical use for it.

The achievement underscores the primary advantage of crowdsourced research: you can foster the kind of large-scale collaboration that would be utterly impractical for academics. At the same time, though, it may also demonstrate the value of adding a game element to scientific education. Paper co-author Scott Horowitz notes that Foldit players were quick to learn about proteins "because it’s fun," while students take "weeks and weeks" of lectures to wrap their heads around the same concept. It’s easy to see more studies turned into games going forward — it could save scientists some valuable time.

Source: University of Michigan, Nature, Foldit

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Xiaomi-backed mirrorless camera gives you Leica looks for $330

Xiaomi’s camera strategy goes beyond action cams. Its associated Xiaoyi brand is introducing the M1, a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera that promises solid performance (not to mention some familiar looks) for the money. This isn’t the most advanced camera between its 20-megapixel sensor, a maximum ISO 25,600 sensitivity, and the absence of either a built-in flash or an electronic viewfinder. However, it also starts at the equivalent of $330/£253 bundled with a 12-40mm f/3.5-5.6 lens ($450/£345 with a 42.5mm f/1.8 lens), and bears more than a passing resemblance to modern Leica cameras — it’s a relatively accessible and stylish entryway into the world of interchangeable-lens photography.

And it’s not as if the M1 doesn’t have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. You can effectively shoot 50-megapixel photos, and record 4K video at 30 frames per second. There’s also a 3-inch, 720 x 480 touchscreen to give you "phone-like" control, while Bluetooth and WiFi will help you share your photographic output with your smartphone.

The camera will sell through China’s JD.com on September 23rd. There’s no mention of an international release, although it won’t be surprising if online retailers are willing to import it. Just don’t expect to get quite as big a bargain by the time it reaches your door.

Via: Engadget Chinese (translated)

Source: Xiaoyi

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Graphene key to promising treatment for spinal cord injuries

Graphene seems to have almost limitless potential, from making better batteries to night-vision windshields and microscopic sensors. And now, a team at Rice University has shown the material could be key to a promising new treatment for severe spinal cord injuries.

Previous work has shown graphene can stimulate the growth of neurons, while polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been used with limited success to heal damaged spinal cords in animals. Building on this, researchers at the university used their chemistry knowhow to combine graphene nanoribbons (stripped from larger carbon nanotubes) with PEG to produce Texas-PEG. The amazing thing about this new material is that it acts as a much more potent "conductive scaffold," promoting the two ends of a severed spinal cord to repair and reconnect. Importantly, this isn’t just theoretical.

In an animal study involving a rat with a severed spinal cord, treatment with Texas-PEG restored some function within just 24 hours. After two weeks, the same rat was well on its way to a full recovery, displaying "almost perfect motor control." We’re still aways from translating this early research into an available treatment for spinal cord injuries in humans, but as the Rice release describes it, Texas-PEG’s potential "is too promising to be minimized."

There is already a heap of incredible work being done by doctors, researchers and engineers to restore the function of paralyzed limbs and improve the quality of life of patients — implants, electrical stimulation, exoskeletons and virtual reality therapy being a few examples. And, if new treatments come along that can help repair spinal cord damage soon after injury, all the better.

Source: Rice University

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Quantum Teleportation Enters the Real World

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(Credit: asharkyu/Shutterstock)

Two separate teams of scientists have taken quantum teleportation from the lab into the real world.

Researchers working in Calgary, Canada and Hefei, China, used existing fiber optics networks to transmit small units of information across cities via quantum entanglement — Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance.”

Stepping Outside the Lab

According to quantum mechanics, some objects, like photons or electrons, can be entangled. This means that no matter how far apart they are, what happens to one will affect the other instantaneously. To Einstein, this seemed ridiculous, because it entailed information moving faster than the speed of light, something he deemed impossible. But, numerous experiments have shown that entanglement does indeed exist. The challenge was putting it to use.

A few experiments in the lab had previously managed to send information using quantum entanglement But translating their efforts to the real world, where any number of factors could confound the process is a much more difficult challenge. That’s exactly what these two teams of researchers have done. Their breakthrough, published in two separate papers today in Nature Photonics, promises to offer important advancements for communications and encryption technologies.

Both experiments encode a message into a photon and send it to a way station of sorts. There, the message is transferred to a different photon, which is entangled with a photon held by the receiver. This destroys the information held in the first photon, but transmits the information via entanglement to the receiver. When the way station measures the photon, it creates kind of key — a decoder ring of sorts — that can decrypt the entangled photon’s information. That key is then sent over an internet connection, where it is combined with the information contained within the entangled photon to reveal the message.

The two experiments weren’t able to transmit very much information — the Calgary experiment was the quickest, and they only managed 17 photons a minute. The Hefei experiment was able to guess the state of the photons with better accuracy, however. While the Calgary researchers succeeded about 25 percent of the time, the Hefei researchers were right at most 50 percent of the time, due to their inclusion of an extra, albeit time-consuming, step in the process. Because both methods possess their own advantages, they will likely each form the basis for further research.

Nevertheless, both teams were able to use existing telecommunications infrastructure to accomplish something that had only been done in the lab before — a big step forward. The Calgary team sent photons over a distance of about 4 miles, while the Hefei team spanned almost 9.

Beam Me Up Scotty?

This isn’t teleportation in the “Star Trek” sense — the photons aren’t disappearing from one place and appearing in another. Instead, it’s the information that’s being teleported through quantum entanglement. The teleportation moniker is used because the initial message sent is destroyed when the photon carrying it gets measured, and it is only the information that gets teleported from one place to another.

One of the largest hurdles for both teams to overcome was the tendency of fiber optic cables to stretch and compress due to temperature changes. While this doesn’t matter for regular telecommunications, for quantum communication, the photons that are sent must arrive at precisely the same time. Both teams of researchers used additional complex data inputs to ensure that their photons were arriving exactly the same as they started out.

Quantum teleportation over long distances has actually been accomplished before — in 2012, a team of researchers from Austria sent information almost 90 miles between two of the Canary Islands using lasers. Using lasers to send information can work in some situations, but adverse environmental conditions can disrupt the signal. This is why the internet today consists of a network of fiber optic cables instead.

Quantum teleportation’s biggest application will likely be as a means of encrypting information. Because the two photons communicate with each other by entanglement, there’s no way for an outsider to read them. To decrypt a message, you would need the key, which is sent over the internet. Even if you intercepted the key, you would still only have half of the puzzle — to fully read it, you would need the entangled photons themselves.

The process could even theoretically be used to create a network of quantum repeaters to stretch the networks capabilities between cities and countries, New Scientist writes. Someday, the same spooky action that frustrated Einstein could be delivering your emails.

 

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After standoff, LA cops’ bomb disposal robot snatches man’s shotgun

Enlarge (credit: LA Sheriff’s Department)

It was just before dawn on September 9 in Lancaster, California, a small city on the northern edge of Los Angeles County. Dozens of sheriff’s deputies had been deployed several hours earlier to apprehend a gunman believed to have been responsible for an attempted murder, among other crimes, in the city during the previous day.

The man, Ray B. Bunge, had fled into a pitch-black open field and had barricaded himself in what authorities described as a “small dugout dirt berm with shrubs and fencing wire around him.” The previous day, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) had brought in a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera overhead, and a personnel carrier was set up in front of him.

In total, there were approximately 40 deputies on scene. After several orders to surrender throughout the night, Bunge did not comply. At his feet lay a shotgun—despite his shooting spree earlier in the day, he hadn’t fired a single shot toward law enforcement.

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