Weather plays a role in swine flu outbreak

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (UPI) — With swine flu being reported in the United States, one might wonder whether weather has any part in spreading the flu — and the answer is maybe

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The main way swine flu is transmitted is through contact with an infected person or contact with a pig that is infected. In people, it’s thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing.

As to the question of the role weather conditions play in the outbreak, accuweather.com said the warmer weather means more people are gathering for events and, therefore, they can come into contact with infected people who potentially remain contagious for up to seven days following illness onset.

An infected person who sneezes or coughs without covering their mouth can theoretically allow a dispersion of the virus in crowded, public locations, thereby expanding the outbreak.
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And accuweather.com noted the warmer spring weather also means more vacations and more people traveling. That means some of the cases might be related to people traveling into Mexico, the outbreak’s epicenter.

Accuweather.com Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity urges travelers to check the CDC Web site for information on restrictions due to the swine flu.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 30th April 2009

Nanoparticles boost cancer treatment

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SEATTLE (UPI) — U.S. researchers say combining nanoparticles with a scorpion venom compound can cut the spread of cancerous brain tumor cells by 98 percent.

The University of Washington said the nanoparticles more than double the effectiveness of chlorotoxin, a small peptide isolated from scorpion venom.
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“People talk about the treatment being more effective with nanoparticles but they don’t know how much, maybe 5 percent or 10 percent,” Miqin Zhang, professor of materials science and engineering, said Friday in a release. “This was quite a surprise to us.”

The findings are published in the journal Small.

Researchers said adding nanoparticles can improve a therapy by increasing the length of time the combination lasts in the body. Nanoparticles also boost effectiveness of treatment compounds because therapeutic molecules tend to clump around each nanoparticle, the report said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April 2009

Phthalates found in obese children

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NEW YORK (UPI) — A U.S. study suggests endocrine disruptors such as phthalates may play a role in childhood obesity, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine said.

Researchers found children in New York’s East Harlem are three times more likely than other children in the United States to be overweight.
The study determined neighborhood characteristics — including availability of convenience foods — likely play a strong role in the number of obese children. Eighty percent of the children in the study reported purchasing food items from convenience stores at least one time per week, the hospital said in a report released Thursday.

High levels of phthalates and Bisphenol A found in the children’s urine may play a role in obesity by disrupting hormones that regulate growth and development, researchers said. Higher levels of three endocrine disruptors — 2,5 DCP, MBP and MEHHP — were also found.
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The levels of DCP, formed in the body from the chemical DCB, were three to 10 times higher than those found in a national sample of children the same age, the report said. The chemical is common in mothballs, room deodorizers and toilet bowl deodorizer cakes.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April 2009

Sharp, Pioneer Enable Communication Between Cell Phones, Car Navigation Systems

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Apr 14, 2009 19:57
Naoshige Shimizu, Nikkei Electronics

Sharp Corp and Pioneer Corp announced April 13, 2009, that they jointly developed “Photoremo@Navi Ver1.0,” a data standard for communications between mobile phones and car navigation systems.

Using Photoremo@Navi-based mobile phones and car navigation systems, it is possible to easily exchange GPS data, expected arrival time calculated by a car navigation system, notifications of received e-mails and calls, etc via Bluetooth and infrared rays.

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The data standard was developed as part of the two companies’ joint development projects that were launched after they formed a capital alliance in 2007 and cover a variety of themes in the TV and car electronics areas. They will promote the standard to other mobile phone and car navigation system manufacturers.

“We are aiming to make the format open to anyone in the future,” Sharp said. However, Pioneer said, “We have yet to determine when and how we will release the format.”

“Photoremo” is a standard originally developed by Sharp for data exchange between mobile phones and home appliances. It attaches information used to control home appliances to images in JPEG format. With Photoremo@Navi, the same capability can be easily used with car navigation systems.

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For example, a user carrying a GPS mobile phone finds a good restaurant and takes a picture of it (in JPEG format). Then, the photo data is registered together with its location data based on the Photoremo@Navi standard. If this photo is sent to his/her friend’s mobile phone, the friend can easily register the photo and location data in his/her car navigation system.

“One of the major issues with car navigation maps is the fact that they cannot quickly update store names and other variable information,” Pioneer said. “If Photoremo@Navi can enable the easy registration of the names and locations of the stores that users recommend, this challenge can be overcome.”

“Photoremo@Navi is also available for any devices that support Photoremo,” Sharp said.

Currently, Photoremo-compatible products include Sharp’s “SH706iW” mobile phone and “Aquos R” series LCD TVs released in 2008. Meanwhile, Pioneer has not yet determined when it will release a Photoremo-compatible car navigation system.

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Know where your’e at

“It is impossible to make our car navigation systems compatible with Photoremo only by upgrading their software,” Pioneer said. “So, it is difficult to incorporate Photoremo@Navi capability in our existing products.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April 2009

KDDI Handset Uses Arm Swing

Motion for Personal

Authentication

Apr 14, 2009 17:55
Yukiko Kanoh, Nikkei Electronics
ID SENSOR BY MOVEMENT

KDDI R&D Laboratories Inc developed a system that can authenticate individuals by the way they swing a mobile phone embedded with an acceleration sensor (the arm swing authentication system).

The new system, which was developed jointly with Yoshinori Hatori Laboratory at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, retrieves signals from the acceleration sensor during arm swinging motion and judges the degree of similarity to a pre-registered swinging pattern.

A variety of individual characteristics, including physical characteristics including the length of an arm and muscle structure as well as action patterns such as holding methods and other habits, are reflected in the acceleration signals recorded during arm swinging motion, according to KDDI R&D Laboratories.

In addition, it is easy for a person to reproduce his/her own arm swing pattern, while it was confirmed that arm swing patterns are a physical characteristic that is difficult for someone else to reproduce even if the person happens to steal a look at the pattern, according to the company. Therefore, if an arm swing pattern known only to the user is used, it is possible to realize as accurate an authentication system as existing biometric authentication technologies.

The equal error rate, where an error rate of rejecting an authorized user and that of accepting a different person are equal, is 4% when arm swing patterns are disclosed. When action patterns are not disclosed, the equal error rate becomes even lower, according to the company.

The processing load for the authentication process is well within the level that a mobile phone can handle. The problem of instability that occurs until a certain pattern is learned and variations in the pattern over time will be solved by updating the template. The template update function modifies the registered action pattern by reflecting the latest pattern.

With the new authentication system, it will become possible to lock a personal folder in a handset by a secret action, and applications can be started by a special action pattern of the handset owner, the company said.

KDDI R&D Laboratories and its partner will enhance the maneuverability of the system by field experiments.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiech 22nd April  2009

JVC to Debut 46-inch Professional

3D Display

Apr 14, 2009 18:55
Yousuke Ogasawara, Nikkei Electronics

Victor Company of Japan Ltd (JVC) will release the “GD-463D10,” a 46-inch three-dimensional (3D) liquid crystal display designed for business use.

The display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. With the use of polarizing filters, it reproduces 3D images that can be viewed by wearing a pair of dedicated circular polarization glasses. JVC reduced the thickness to 39mm at the thinnest part and 75mm at the thickest part (excluding the stand).

Initially, the product will be targeted for use in production and promotion of 3D movies and various events. But the company plans to expand the sales, targeting scientific, medical and educational applications, as well as simulations.

The GD-463D10 employs the “Xpol polarizing filter method,” which allocates right and left images respectively to the odd- and even-numbered lines and displays the images through polarizing filters that have properties inverse to each other.

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To view 3D images, users need to wear a pair of dedicated circular polarization glasses that are lightweight and do not need batteries. The product comes with two pairs of glasses. It can reproduce 3D images with no flicker because it simultaneously displays the right and left images on the screen, JVC said.

The GD-463D10 supports the signal input by both the line-by-line and side-by-side methods. In the former method, video signals for the right and left eyes are alternately arranged in every other line. And, in the latter method, video signals for the right and left eyes are compressed to 1/2 only in the horizontal direction and arranged on the right and left sides.

The display has three HDMI input ports and supports the 1080/24p, 1080/50p, 1080/60p, 1080/50i and 1080/60i video signals. 3D representation at 1080/50i and 1080/60i are only possible by signals compliant with the side-by-side method.

The GD-463D10 is slated for release in early July 2009. There is no manufacturer’s suggested retail price. JVC plans to produce 2,000 units per year throughout the world. The company will exhibit the product at NAB Show 2009, which runs from April 18 to 23, 2009, in Las Vegas.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April  2009

Toyota to Develop Home Energy

Management System with Storage

Battery

Apr 15, 2009 18:57
Kouji Kariatsumari, Nikkei Electronics

Toyota Motor Corp and Toyota Housing Corp announced April 14, 2009, that they began in earnest the development of a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) equipped with a power storage function.

The companies plan to commercialize the system in 2011, starting with trial sales by Toyota Housing. The system will be priced at several hundred thousand yen (several thousand dollars) when they hit the market, the companies said.

Existing HEMSs are equipped with functions to display energy usage and control home appliances such as air conditioners and lights. In addition to these functions, the system to be developed by Toyota Motors and Toyota Housing will feature a function to store electricity.

Inexpensive night time power and excess power generated by residential photovoltaic equipment in the daytime can be stored in a storage battery such as a Li-ion secondary battery to cope with power shortage in the daytime.

The new system is composed of the main body, which consists of a storage battery, an electric power converter and a controller, and a display/control panel for use inside a house. Toyota Motor will lead the development, and Toyota Housing will manage product planning. Denso Corp and Misawa Homes Co Ltd will help develop the main body and the display, respectively, of the system.

Toyota Motor has already completed an initial prototype that incorporates a Li-ion secondary battery with a storage capacity of 5kWh. The storage battery used in the system to be commercialized will be determined by conducting evaluations based on assumed residential electric load, etc.

Furthermore, Toyota intends to realize collaborations of the HEMS with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and an electric vehicle (EV), which are expected to be widely used, in the future.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April 2009

[HK Fair] Chinese Firm Exhibits ‘

World’s Smallest’ Video Camera

Shenzhen AEE Wireless Technology Co Ltd of China exhibits what it claims is the world’s smallest video camera at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition).

The fair, which is organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, is taking place in Hong Kong from April 13 to 16, 2009.


The dimensions of the camera, “Mini DV,” are 55 x 20 x 18mm. Its volume is 20cm3 and weight is 50g.

“Only an ultra-small camcorder like this can enable people cycling or skiing, pet animals and radio control toys to shoot video,” AEE said. “We developed this product to have more flexability and to allow people to shoot a wider variety of scenes.”

The company reduced the size by focusing on image recording function. The Mini DV is not equipped with a monitor for checking images, and recorded images can be viewed only after they are transferred to a PC.

The camcorder employs a 2-Mpixel CMOS sensor. It shoots 640 x 480-pixel images at 30fps, compresses the images with the JPEG format and stores them in the AVI format by using a microSD memory card of up to 8 Gbytes.

The interface for PC connection is USB 2.0. When the camcorder is connected to a PC, images can be output to a PC in real time. Its Li-ion secondary battery has a capacity of 260mAh, allowing two hours of continuous shooting.

The Mini DV is equipped with a clip for attaching the camera to clothing or accessories like belts etc..  AEE offers a version including a mount that allows users to attach the camera to a helmet, etc, and is intended for filming while playing sports.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April 2009

Vehicle diagnostic device is developed

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (UPI) — U.S. engineers say they’ve developed technology that can detect defects in vehicles by driving over a speed bump-like “diagnostic cleat” containing sensors.

Purdue University Associate Professor Douglas Adams is working with the U.S. Army and Honeywell International Inc. to develop the system.

In the tests, military vehicles are driven over the diagnostic cleat, which is like a rubber-jacketed speed bump equipped with sensors called triaxial accelerometers. The system measures vibrations created by forces that a vehicle’s tires apply to the cleat. Damage is detected in the tires, wheel bearings and suspension components by using signal processing software to interpret the sensor data.

“Let’s say one of the tires is severely under pressure,” Adams said. “The cleat tells you to turn around and fill up that tire because you are about to embark on a 10-hour mission with this vehicle. Or, you are returning the vehicle to the depot and the cleat tells you that the right rear suspension has a problem in the shock absorber or a critical bolt in the front suspension is broken. The maintenance personnel don’t have to troubleshoot the vehicle. They know what to fix.”

The system also could be used to test civilian vehicles, he said.

Research findings are to be presented April 22 in Detroit during the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 20th April 2009

Factors other than genes may cause obesity

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (UPI) — Purdue University scientists say factors other than genetics may be involved in the development of obesity.

The researchers said they have uncovered evidence that genetically identical cells store widely differing amounts of fat, depending on subtle variations in how the cells process insulin. They said identifying the precise mechanism responsible for fat storage in cells could lead to methods for controlling obesity in humans.

“Insights from our study also will be important for understanding the precise roles of insulin in obesity or Type II diabetes and to the design of effective intervention strategies,” said Assistant Professor Ji-Xin Cheng, who said the findings indicate the faster a cell processes insulin, the more fat it stores.

Although other studies have suggested certain “fat genes” might be associated with excessive fat storage in cells, the Purdue researchers confirmed such genes are expressed, or activated, in all of the cells. Yet those cells varied drastically — from nearly zero in some cases to pervasive in others — in how much fat they stored.

The study is reported in the online journal PLoS One.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 20th April 2009