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David Alan Gilbert
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Apollo 13 Hasselblad image from film magazine 62/JJ - Onboard
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Lifesaving sticky tape!
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A couple of days ago, 'The Times' had an insert on corporate risk,  and at number 10 was the IoT.  Interesting (and good) to see that someone is paying attention and pointing it out to top level execs and that it was split out from general cybercrime risks.
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if rapidly falling oil prices cause such a mess on the markets, I hate to think what will happen if the oil prices suddenly bounce back.
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A nice article explaining a bit more behind the science of something that apparently makes us human - different toes - but actually the way this was found is more interesting, looking for genetics that hadn't changed for many species but is different in humans.

http://lawnchairanthropology.com/2016/01/13/did-gdf6-gene-tweak-allow-humans-to-become-upright/
The short answer is, "Not really." But as is often the case, the real story behind so many headlines last week is a bit more complicated. What are they talking about, Willis? These headlines, each ...
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Very nice set from +Mark Bruce this week.
 
SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 02/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/protein-fabrication-moving-brain.html

Protein fabrication, Moving brain recording, Touchable holograms, 3D printed ceramics, Modular robot arm, Wireless power charging, EEG mind reading, Cheap LIDAR, New elements, Nanofabrication of wires and ribbons.

1. Cell-Free Protein Synthesis
A new microfluidic system incorporating a nanoporous membrane works as an effective bioreactor to advance the field of cell-free protein synthesis https://www.ornl.gov/news/ornl-cell-free-protein-synthesis-potential-lifesaver. The dual-channel of the device allows the transfer of molecules through the membrane from metabolic feeder to bioreactor channels and back again. This technology is a milestone on the path towards true nanofabricators. The current chip offers many avenues for optimisation and improvement and is able to produce on demand different proteins as needed and offering the possibility of producing proteins on-site without the need for pre-production and sensitive storage.

2. Recording Whole Brain Activity in Moving Animal
New microscope techniques now allow the activity of individual neurons in a living brain to be captured in 3D in real-time while the animal is moving in and responding to its environment https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S45/14/90K98/index.xml. While this is presently limited to comparatively simple organisms like nematode worms, it still provides never-before-possible insights into brain activity and body movement and response. The technique produces a lot of data that the group are still analysing, but the hope is this will help in generating new models of brain function.

3. Touchable Haptic Holograms & VR
New technology uses ultrasound to let users “feel” holograms, although the demonstration is currently limited to two boxes, one of which displays the hologram to the user and the other requires the user to insert their hand to explore the volume of space in which the holographic object is apparently located http://qz.com/584704/japanese-scientists-have-created-a-new-type-of-hologram-that-you-can-actually-feel/. Pretty nice technology but I’m struggling to think of viable applications at this stage; perhaps the ultrasound could respond to the user’s movements to allow molding the virtual object into different shapes? Other recent technologies enabling users to touch and feel virtual environments include full body suits such as this one http://mic.com/articles/128253/the-tesla-suit-simulates-touch-and-lets-you-feel-hugs-from-miles-away#.qXYawbtrJ.

4. Better 3D Printed Ceramics
A new 3D printing process can produce nearly flawless ceramics in arbitrary shapes that achieve the incredible heat resistance that has so far proved elusive http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a18801/3d-printed-wonder-ceramics-wont-shatter/. These new printable materials start off looking like plastics and polymers that, when subsequently heated in a furnace, transform into more conventional ceramics with desireable ceramic properties. Silicon carbide ceramics were formed this way for the first time, other ceramics are expected by adjusting the resin composition, and the ceramics produced this way turn out uniform and lacking the pores and defects that has hampered other efforts.

5. Versatile Modular Robotic Arm
KATIA is a versatile programmable robotic arm that uses swappable modular hands to enable it to perform a very wide range of tasks http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/06/this-robotic-arm-can-do-everything-from-3d-printing-to-laser-cutting-to-cake-decorating/. A 3D printing module allows it to be a 3D printer, a 3D laser-scanner allows it to be a 3D scanner, a laser module allows it to be a laser cutter, other modules allow it to decorate cakes or grip, manipulate and move objects. The arm can also be trained simply to do repetitive motions much like ReThink’s Baxter robots and the versatility offered by swappable custom modular hands allows applications in industry, biotech, manufacturing, and packaging.

6. Wireless Power Technology is Coming
There are an increasing number of advances and announcements with wireless power technology, the most recent of which comes from Ossia and their new wireless charging product Cota http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/consumer-electronics/gadgets/ossias-cota-wireless-power-tech-promises-to-enable-the-internet-of-everything. The system uses a base unit with 1,000s of tiny antennas to transmit power via conventional 2.4GHz radio over multiple pathways to embedded receiving antennas in devices up to 10m away. Ossia has figured out how to project energy in the shape of an antenna out to a precise random point in 3D space, tracking the antenna in 3D space via pings and projecting energy to the last reported location many times per second. And it can also do data transfer of course. Such a technology, when ubiquitous, would be transformative for our devices, homes, and implantables.

7. Basic Mind Reading with EEG Scans
A limited form of mind reading has been demonstrated with EEG scans of people’s brains http://techxplore.com/news/2016-01-decipher-words-mind-spoken.html. People were scanned while thinking about certain words and speaking them aloud, and the pattern of EEG signals was stored in a database. When the people recited the words the researchers determined if they could predict the exact word before it was spoken. With a limited vocabulary the group correctly interpreted up to two seconds beforehand, the words about to be spoken 25% percent of the time, although they achieved 90% if the vocabulary was further limited to Japanese characters or syllables. The group hopes further development will further boost accuracy and building on related work taking place to give us full mind control over devices and a form of technological telepathy in future.

8. More Cheap LIDAR Solutions
Quanergy launched a small compact LIDAR unit for $250 as the start of a roadmap leading to a $100 device in a few years with custom chips and and mobile device integration http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/quanergy-solid-state-lidar. This is solid-state LIDAR with no moving parts required to rapidly track a laser over an environment to determine distances, but rather uses a phased optical array - a grid of tiny antennas that can steer laser light passing through it by shifting the phase of the light electronically - to send out 1,000,000 pulses per second at up to 150m range. We’ve seen huge price drops in LIDAR for autonomous vehicles over the years (from $70k) driven by Quanergy and an ecosystem of competitors, which is excellent, but also great to see phased optical array technology being developed; such a thing might power 3D holographic displays in future.

9. Four New Elements for the Periodic Table
Superheavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 were officially recognised and added to the periodic table this week, completing the seventh row after waiting for data concerning the existence of the element to be double-checked by an international team http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/four-new-elements-are-added-periodic-table-180957705/?no-ist. The issue of course is that such elements are so heavy and unstable that they only exist for the briefest fractions of a second after being synthesised before decaying again. Personally I’m waiting for element 126 and others with “magic numbers” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_number_(physics) that might be stable enough to be actually useful.

10. New Nanofabrication Tricks
We had a few new interesting nanofabrication tricks this week. First, fabricating silicon nanowires that span ultradeep trenches in silicon, by carving away the silicon block to leave them intact http://phys.org/news/2016-01-fabrication-silicon-nanowires-bridging-thick.html. Second, individual graphene nanoribbons can now be interconnected via a molecular assembly technique to produce larger branched ribbon structures that retain the original properties but which might form circuits in future http://phys.org/news/2016-01-electronically-graphene-nanoribbons-high-speed-electronics.html. Finally, a new 3D printing technique using metal nanoparticles in a solvent can form grids of metal walls 80nm to 500nm thick that might be used as transparent electrodes in touch screens https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2016/01/nanowalls-for-smartphones.html.

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/protein-fabrication-moving-brain.html
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David Alan Gilbert

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vbindiff is a nice curses based tool for comparing binary files; it does have a 4GB size limit, but if you do have two 4GB RAM images to compare it does beat  diff (< xxd )  (< xxd)
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ah the trees in bloom, the daffodils starring to open, it must be, ... hang on it's only 2nd Feb!
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Sigh, we're running out of ETLAs now; the Radio Disney Music Awards do not make the life of someone programming high bandwidth/low latency networks easy when searching.
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off to a few talks this evening, the computer conservation society has a task on the history of information security and Manchester openstack has a few talks - although I think I'll probably end up missing part of one of those getting from the CCS talk.
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Bad HP - don't get inventive with breaking uefi! Just helped someone with a Linux install at ManLUG on an HP G3-255 - the problem was that at every boot HP add two new boot options at the start, explicitly pointing to the windows boot manager; so whatever your OS install does it always ends up further down the boot list; changing the list with efibootmgr doesn't help because it gets rewritten.
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Nasty shell hack of the day:
sleep $(printf ".%05d" $RANDOM)

is there a nicer way to get a subsecond random length sleep?
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perl -e 'select undef,undef,undef,rand'
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RISC-V is a really interesting open processor (anyone free to implement); I really hope it takes off; http://www.adapteva.com/andreas-blog/why-i-will-be-using-the-risc-v-in-my-next-chip/  has a nice summary of some of the points.
This week I attended the 3rd RISC-V Workshop and I was blown away by the momentum and energy in the room. This architecture is clearly going places! The best way to convince yourself of the quality...
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I thought I saw a cut down version for the Zynq FPGA
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