A U.S. team of researchers hunting for dark matter in a former gold mine in South Dakota, said Wednesday that the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment has proven itself to be the most sensitive dark matter detector ever created.

physicists-reveal-results-of-dark-matter-study-from-bottom-of-a-gold-mine

LUX researchers, seen here in a clean room on the surface at the Sanford Lab, work on  the detector, before it is inserted into its titanium cryostat

Announcing the first results from the test’s initial 90-day run during a seminar at the Sanford Lab in Lead, S.D., the team said they have obtained results that are “the first physics outcomes achieved since the Ray Davis solar neutrino experiment, which earned him a Nobel Prize for Physics.”

“LUX is blazing the path to illuminate the nature of dark matter,” said Brown University physicist Rick Gaitskell, co-spokesperson for LUX with physicist Dan McKinsey of Yale University.

The scientists have been working at the one-of-a-kind laboratory located at the bottom of what was once North America’s deepest gold mine, hoping to find more definitive evidence of the mysterious substance estimated to make up as much as 85% of the universe’s total matter.

“This is only the beginning for LUX,” said team leader Dan McKinsey. “Now that we understand the instrument and its backgrounds, we will continue to take data, testing for more and more elusive candidates for dark matter.”

Less than 15% of the universe is made up of conventional matter — protons, neutrons, and electrons. Most of the rest is thought to be dark matter, which cannot be seen or felt, and seems to interact weakly, if at all, with conventional matter. (Hence the nickname for dark matter particles — WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles.) Identifying the raw material of the universe is a high priority for physicists and astronomers.

AAA

Henry Sapiecha

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MULTITESTER OF SUBSTANCES IN THE FIELD IS A BREEZE FOR THIS DEVICE

In war and disaster, ignorance is dangerous & deadly, so it’s important that soldiers and front liners & those in the trenches get the information they need as quickly as possible. Dr. Peter White, a scientist with Britain’s Ministry of Defence, has invented a handheld device that makes collecting samples and carrying out tests in the field much simpler and faster than previously possible. Developed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Integrated Multiplex Assay and Sampling System (IMASS) can collect samples of and detect eight different substances simultaneously.
Testimonial Monkey

Originally designed to sample and detect hazardous and explosive materials, IMASS is a very simple device. Essentially, it’s a plastic cylinder containing eight assay strips. These strips can test powder, liquids or surfaces directly by removing the cap and touching IMASS to the area. The assay strips then react to the sample in the same way as a home pregnancy kit, providing a positive or negative result. Exactly what the strips detect depends on the needs of the user, and IMASS can be custom outfitted for specific substances with strips that are chemistry or immunoassay-based. It can also be used for enzymatic detection.

Having it easy to use is particularly important, since IMASS is intended for field use. “Devices that are currently fielded do not integrate sampling with detection and are not easy to use if you are wearing gloves,” said Dr. White. “This invention combines a mature, established detection technology into an integrated handheld device that could be used by a generalist front line operator wearing protective clothing.”
Phi Sciences

The original users of IMASS are front line troops and counter-terrorism personnel, but that will soon expand to include British forensic and security forces. With this in mind, the Home Office has provided funding to Dstl to study how IMASS can be used in anti-terrorism operations.

In addition, overseas markets have shown interest in the device. Dstl through its technology transfer company Ploughshare Innovations Ltd has licensed the patented technology to BBI Detection Ltd. BBI has further developed IMASS for detecting food allergens and illegal drugs, and sees more applications in hospitals or in bio-threat situations where responders must work in cumbersome protective clothing.

Sources: Ministry of Defence, BBI International
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3D IMAGERY THE SOLUTION FOR SMITHSONIAN DISPLAY PROBLEMS

What  you do when you’re the world’s largest museum but can display only two percent of the 137 million items in your collection (a mere 2.75 million) at any given time? In an effort to get more of their treasures into the public eye, specialists at the Smithsonian Institution’s 19 collective museums and galleries hit upon the solution of digitizing their collection and 3D printing key models and displays suitable for traveling exhibitions. It’s a tall order, but one that’s sure to give the rapidly blooming business of additive manufacturing a huge boost.

In the past, whenever curators wanted to duplicate an object, they turned to traditional rubber molds and plaster casts. Now, with the Smithsonian’s budding digitization initiative coming up to speed, teams can deploy expensive minimally-invasive laser scanners to generate virtual models of items in the collection with micron-level accuracy. Large additive manufacturing companies, such as RedEye on Demand, can then take those files and generate actual physical replicas suitable for display or loan to other museums, or even schools. The savings on insurance premiums alone could go a long way toward defraying the cost of the massive scanning project.

The program’s two co-coordinators, Adam Metallo and Vincent Rossi, both with fine art backgrounds, began at the museum as model makers. Eventually they managed to secure a grant for a 3D scanner which they knew could generate far better models when teamed with a quality 3D printer. A recent effort resulted in what the Smithsonian calls the “largest 3D printed museum quality historical replica” in the world – a statue of Thomas Jefferson identical to the one on display at Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

“Our mission,” Rossi told SPAR, “is to digitize these huge collections in 3D – everything from insects to aircraft. Our day-to-day job is essentially trying to figure out how to actually accomplish that.” They’ll certainly have their hands full – the museums’ collections literally fill acres of storage space in several facilities scattered around the region.

Unfortunately, funding for the project is still scarce, so Metallo and Rossi split their time between digitizing artifacts with laser or CT scanners (or open-source cloud-based digitization software and standard digital cameras) and touting their services to the museum’s many researchers, curators and conservators, as well as potential corporate sponsors, hoping to drum up support.

“The one resource we have plenty of is amazing content,” Rossi mused, “and along with that comes frustrating problems for us, but they’re potentially interesting problems for the industry. How do we take 3D digitization and take it to the Smithsonian scale? We’re at the ground floor of trying to understand that.”

Indeed, one major issue with archival scans is how to store the digital files so that they’ll be accessible decades into the future, when formats will surely have changed. With millions upon millions of items yet to be scanned, it appears we’ll just have to wait to see how things shape up on that front.

Rossi and Metallo will report on their Smithsonian work at SPAR International 2012, April 15-18, in Houston.

Source: SPAR Point Group via CNET

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

POINT-AIM-SHOOT-WE KNOW YOUR NAME BECAUSE OF YOUR SKIN TYPE ETC

Online shopping and advertising already do it, take information based on the pages or products that a person had looked at and provide advertisements, or links to other products that may also interest that person.

In just a few years shops could use facial recognition technology to do the same.

A Perth professor is working on research that he hopes could play a role in creating this technology.

Associate Professor Ajmal Mian from the University of Western Australia first became interested in facial recognition technology when doing his PHD which he completed in 2006.

Since then he has continued to research how to use satellite technology to identify facial features that lie under the skin.

It is believed that a dot-sized part of a face may soon be all that is needed to identify a person.

Professor Mian said by incorporating numerous images of a person from different angles into a system, these could possibly be used to later identify that person by just a small section of their face.

He said while facial recognition technology was not new, being able to identify someone from just a small part of their face meant recognition could be done faster and easier.

“To be more useful it has to not be intrusive, so you don’t need to come in contact with it like fingerprinting and the ultimate is to do it without people noticing it’s happening, without them having to stop and look at a camera,” Professor Mian said.

“I am trying to dig out more accurate techniques and find different algorithms to be able to identify people more easily.”

He said a shop may use the technology to maintain a customer database.

“We know security cameras are there but if shops say you need to get fingerprinted, people are not going to want to do that,” Professor Mian said.

He said the technology may not necessarily associate people by their names.

“They may group you by different charts, they don’t necessarily have to attach a name to it, each time you come in they see what you buy, if customer A buys item such-and-such they are most likely to buy item such-and-such, like on Amazon,” he said.

Mr Mian said it was up to marketing staff as to how the information was used.

He said multi-spectral imaging can be used to measure light reflected off a face at hundreds of discrete wavelengths in the visible spectrum and beyond.

This meant that the technology being worked on would be able to recognise a person despite their different facial expressions.

Professor Mian said his research may also be able to detect people who have used cosmetic surgery to alter their looks.

He said he did not expect the technology to be expensive once created.

“Once the algorithm is developed it won’t be expensive, it is the research which is the expensive part, all you will need is a few cameras.”

“It’ll start up in shops that spend a lot of money on customer care and marketing and others will follow.”

He admitted that there would be some concerns about privacy.

“There’s always a concern about security and privacy and there’s always a trade off, it will be a discussion of topic forever,” Professor Mian said.

He said the kind of facial recognition technology he envisioned could be used in security and if used at airports could greatly improve the identification process at the immigration sections of airports.

Professor Mian was also looking into the possibility of applying it to psychology and also identifying whether people had certain syndromes.

Associate Professor Mian is the only West Australian to have won the Australasian Distinguished Dissertation Award from The Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia.

He has also won two prestigious national fellowships: the Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Australian Research Fellowship.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Check this out here as MakerBot unveils its new 3D printer, the Replicator


The folks at MakerBot Industries have not exactly been resting on their laurels since causing a stir at CES last year with the Thing-o-Matic 3D printer. Even though the original small object creation device would still see the jaws of most people dropping in wonder, the company has now unveiled a new model at CES 2012 called the Replicator that is not only capable of fabricating much bigger objects than its predecessor, but can also do so in two colors at the same time.

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HOME BREWED BEER IN RECORD TIME WITH THIS MACHINE

Home beer-brewing is sort of like writing a novel – although you might like the idea of having done it, the thought of all the work involved in doing it can be off-putting. If the PR materials are to be believed, however, the WilliamsWarn brewing machine could make the process a lot easier … and quicker. Unlike the four weeks required by most home brewing systems, it can reportedly produce beer in just seven days.

The WilliamsWarn was created by New Zealand “beer-thinkers” Ian Williams and Anders Warn, and was released in that country this April. The duo claim that it addresses 12 of the key challenges thwarting many home brewers, including the carbonation process, temperature control, and clarification.

Kind of like a Mr. Coffee (perhaps they should have called it “Mr. Beer”), the machine reportedly incorporates all the hardware needed for brewing. This includes a stainless steel pressure vessel with carbonation level control, and systems to control factors such as clarification, sediment removal, temperature, and gas dispensation. Last, but certainly not least, it also features a draft dispense mechanism, for pouring out a glass of the chilled “commercial quality” finished product.

Users spend about 90 minutes cleaning and sterilizing the system, and adding supplied ingredients at the beginning of the process. After that, minimal input is required until a week later, at which point 23 liters (6 U.S. gallons) of beer should be ready for drinking. Part of the reason that it’s able to make beer so quickly is the fact that the carbonation and fermentation processes take place simultaneously. The clarification process is also said to take no more than one day.

The WilliamsWarn brewing machine is currently only available in New Zealand, although its makers hope to expand to the Australian and American markets soon. It sells for NZ$5,660 (US$4,577), plus NZ$39.50 (US$32) for the ingredients for each batch of beer.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Soon we may be able to power our iPads, iPhones and other portable electronics with just the tap of our finger.


That’s because researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have for the first time discovered how they can use piezoelectric thin films to turn mechanical pressure into electricity.

Lead co-author of the findings at RMIT, Dr Madhu Bhaskaran, said the university’s research combined the potential of piezoelectrics – materials capable of converting pressure into electrical energy – and the cornerstone of microchip manufacturing, thin film technology.

Dr Madhu Bhaskaran.Dr Madhu Bhaskaran.

“The power of piezoelectrics could be integrated into running shoes to charge mobile phones, enable laptops to be powered through typing or even used to convert blood pressure into a power source for pacemakers – essentially creating an everlasting battery,” Dr Bhaskaran said.

The Australian Research Council-funded study assessed the energy generation capabilities of piezoelectric thin films at the nanoscale, for the first time precisely measuring the level of electrical voltage and current – and therefore, power – that could be generated.

“The next key challenge will be amplifying the electrical energy generated by the piezoelectric materials to enable them to be integrated into low-cost, compact structures,” Dr Bhaskaran said.

A club in London has used piezoelectricity to generate about 60 per cent of the energy needed to run the club. It requires people to dance on its dance floor to generate electricity.

Solve the world’s energy problems?

Piezoelectric thin films were “never going to be something that’s going to save the energy problems of the world”, Dr Bhaskaran told Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.

This was because the amount of electricity generated from the pressure would not be enough to power anything other than something that “runs off a couple of batteries”, Dr Bhaskaran said.

In about five or six years we would begin to see the first devices integrating piezoelectrics, she said.

Dr Bhaskaran co-authored the study with Dr Sharath Sriram, within RMIT’s Microplatforms Research Group, which is led by Professor Arnan Mitchell. The pair collaborated with Australian National University’s Dr Simon Ruffell on the research.

The study was published in materials science journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

SILVER PEN TO BE USED TO BUILD CONDUCTIVE CIRCUITS

People have been using pens to jot down their thoughts for thousands of years but now engineers at the University of Illinois have developed a silver-inked rollerball pen that allows users to jot down electrical circuits and interconnects on paper, wood and other surfaces. Looking just like a regular ballpoint pen, the pen’s ink consists of a solution of real silver that dries to leave electrically conductive silver pathways. These pathways maintain their conductivity through multiple bends and folds of the paper, enabling users to personally fabricate low-cost, flexible and disposable electronic devices.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Inhaling alcohol instead of drinking it

By Mike Hanlon

A new way of consuming alcohol that offers an immediate hit with no hangover the next day has been introduced in the United Kingdom.The new method is known asAWOL, an acronym for ‘Alcohol With Out Liquid’, and could become a hit in the global club scene due to the euphoric ‘high’ created when alcohol is vaporised, mixed with oxygen and inhaled. Billed at launch as the ‘ultimate party toy’, AWOL machines serve bar customers via tubes and could be seen as a modern version of the ‘Nargile’ or ‘Hookah’ water-pipe which originated in India and became an important part of society in Turkey and Middle Eastern countries in the 17th century, eventually becoming the height of fashion at sheik Western society parties during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Like the Hookah, the AWOL machine has a central body and a number of tubes running from it.The user chooses which spirit will be used and the spirit is loaded into a diffuser capsule in the machine. The oxygen bubbles are then passed through the capsule, absorbing the alcohol, before being inhaled through a tube. The resultant cloudy alcohol vapour is then inhaled from the end of the tube via a device akin to an asthma inhaler.

Once inhaled, the alcoholic gas goes straight into the bloodstream to give an instant ‘hit’. The potent combination of oxygen and alcohol creates a feeling of well-being which intensifies the longer the vapour is inhaled.This high-tech 21st century ‘Hookah’ is the brainchild of 30 year old UK entrepreneur Dominic Simler, and has a patent pending.

“The vapour produces an instant ‘high’ with no hangover the next day,’ said Simler, who will market the machines to clubs and bars in the UK to provide ‘partygoers and hedonists with a radical new way to consume alcohol.”

The outcry by the British media has been predictably damning of the new device, with an article in the Sunday Times dated 15 February quoting the Chief executive of the UK Alcohol Advisory Service referring to AWOL as ‘solvent abuse for adults.’Professor Oliver James, the head of clinical medical sciences at Newcastle University in the UK was quoted in the article as saying, ‘by snorting the alcohol it can go directly into the brain without being filtered by the liver. What is getting into your brain could be the equivalent of many times more than by drinking it.’

Professor James has since stressed that the comments that he made to the Sunday Times were purely speculative and theoretical, that his statements were made without first seeing or trying AWOL and that he made it clear to the reporter that he has no previous professional experience or clinical evidence of alcohol being consumed via vapour.

Professor James has now agreed to carry out independent tests on AWOL and Simler is hoping that the tests will ‘remove any element of doubt regarding the safety of AWOL.’Until the results of the university tests on AWOL are available the company has advised all customers that the application should only be used to inhale alcohol vapour orally and not via the nose. Professor James has confirmed that AWOL is safe to be consumed in this manner.

The first venue to offer the AWOL experience is il Bordello, an exclusive members-only club built on a Dutch barge located in Bristol. Club proprietor Liz Lewitt has been ‘overwhelmed’ with bookings for AWOL – the shots are consumed at the rate of approximately one shot per hour (maximum) and cost UKP’6 a shot.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha