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Three super-Earths found 21 light years from Earth

A new “secret” planetary system that includes three super-Earths and one outer giant planet has been discovered by astronomers at a distance of just 21 light years from Earth.

The remarkable system, named HD219134, in the constellation Cassiopeia hosts one outer giant planet and three inner super-Earths, one of which transits in front of the star.

The transiting super-Earth has a density similar to the Earth’s. It is by far the closest transiting planet known today, researchers said.

The system is so close that astronomers already dream about taking pictures of the new “Stars.”

HARPS-N, designed and built by an international consortium and installed at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo on the La Palma island in Spain, unveiled the exceptional planetary system around HD219134.

The star, a 5th magnitude K dwarf, slightly colder and less massive than our Sun, is so bright that we can follow it with a naked eye from dark skies, next to one leg of the W-shape Cassiopeia constellation, all year round in our boreal hemisphere, researchers said.

The cortege of planets is composed of three mostly rocky super-Earths and an outer giant planet, a configuration reminiscent of our own Solar System, they said.

“When the first HARPS-N radial-velocity measurements indicated the presence of a 3-day planet around HD219134, we immediately asked NASA for Spitzer space telescope time,” said Ati Motalebi, astronomer at University of Geneva (UNIGE) and first author of the paper describing the discovery.

“The idea was to check for a potential transit of the planet in front of the star, a mini eclipse, that would allow us to measure the size of the planet,” she said.

HD219134b does indeed transit the star. It is by far the closest transiting planet known, and likely to remain one of the closest ever.

The mass of the planet obtained from the ground-based radial velocities, combined with the planet radius derived from space observations with Spitzer, yield the mean density of the planet.

HD219134b is 4.5 times more massive than the Earth and 1.6 times larger, what planet hunters call a super-Earth. Its mean density is close to the density of the Earth, suggesting a possibly similar composition as well.

The team discovered three additional longer-period planets in the system from the HARPS-N radial velocities.

In the inner regions, a planet weighing 2.7 times the Earth orbits HD219134 in 6.8 days, and a planet of 8.7 times the mass of the Earth resides on a 46.8-day orbit.

If, by chance, these 2 planets would be in a coplanar configuration with their 3rd inner sister, as often observed for compact systems, the whole family might be transiting.

The research will be published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.
  • Published in Technology

New mobile technology can help blind people 'see'

Computer scientists are developing new adaptive mobile technology that could enable blind and visually-impaired people to 'see' through their smartphone or tablet.

A team from University of Lincoln in Britain plans to use colour and depth sensor technology inside new smartphones and tablets to enable 3D mapping and localisation, navigation and object recognition.

The team will then develop the best interface to relay that to users -- whether that is vibrations, sounds or the spoken word.

"If people were able to use technology embedded in devices such as smartphones, it would not require them to wear extra equipment which could make them feel self-conscious," said project lead Nicola Bellotto.

The researchers aim to develop a system that will recognise visual clues in the environment. This data would be detected through the device camera and used to identify the type of room as the user moves around the space.

A key aspect of the system will be its capacity to adapt to individual users' experiences, modifying the guidance it provides as the machine 'learns' from its landscape and from the human interaction.

So, as the user becomes more accustomed to the technology, the quicker and easier it would be to identify the environment.

"There are also existing smartphone apps that are able to, for example, recognise an object or speak text to describe places.

But we aim to create a system that understands how people observe and recognise particular features of their environment," Bellotto explained.

  • Published in Technology

The BBC has technology that allows people to control iPlayer with their mind.

The kit sees users strap a headset on and use particular thoughts to turn on iPlayer and start watching a programme. It is only experimental technology at the moment — built to give “an idea of how this technology might be used in the future” — but it worked for everyone that has used it in testing, the BBC said.

The prototype works by reading brainwaves using a sensor that rests on the forehead, and another that attaches to the ear using a clip. Those sensors can then track the electricity as it moves around the brain — watching for concentration, and filling up a bar of brainwaves when they concentrate hard enough to trigger a change on screen.

Eventually, the technology could be used to create a new kind of iPlayer — one that could help improve accessibility for disabled users as well as making it easier to control technology without needing to use one’s hands. Some of the BBC’s apps have already integrated similar, though less intense, technology, such as the iPlayer app on Xbox One that allows people to control the app using just their voice.

“Our proof-of-concept is only an experiment and just a toe in the water, but it helps our initial understanding of how we might be able to control devices using our brainwaves in the years to come,” wrote Cyrus Saihan, head of the BBC’s business development, in a blogpost about the testing.





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  • Published in Technology

Google patents 'creepy' internet toys to run the home

Google's R&D team has looked into making internet-connected toys that control smart home appliances.

The firm has published a patent that describes devices that would turn their heads towards users and listen to what they were saying, before sending commands to remote computer servers.

The three-year old patent was spotted recently by the legal technology firm SmartUp.

It described the proposal as "one of Google's creepiest patents yet".

Privacy campaigners have also raised concerns.

A spokeswoman for Google was unable to say whether this was a product the firm might develop and sell.

"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with," she said.

"Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications," she added.

Curious face
The patent was originally filed back in February 2012, but has only just been published.

Google describes how the toys would communicate with its servers to control devices in the home
Its inventor is named as Richard Wayne DeVaul, whose job title is "director of rapid evaluation and mad science" at Google X - the firm's secretive "skunkworks" lab.

The patent describes how the toys would include microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet.

It states that a trigger word would cause them to wake up and turn their gaze towards the person addressing them, and would be able to check if the person talking was making eye contact.

The document suggests the device could respond both by speaking back and by expressing "human-like" expressions of interest, curiosity, boredom and/or surprise.

"To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head and/or focus its gaze on the user," Mr DeVaul wrote.

"To express curiosity, [it] may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm."

Bedroom commands
Drawings show that the machine could be made to look like a bunny rabbit or teddy bear, and the text suggests other alternatives that include dragons and alien life forms.

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it.

"Young children might find these forms to be attractive," it says.

"However, individuals of all ages may find interacting with these anthropomorphic devices to be more natural than interacting with traditional types of user interfaces."

The movie AI featured a "super" teddy bear that interacted with its owners
The document suggests the toys could be used to control a wide range of devices, from televisions and DVD players to home thermostats, motorised window curtains and lights.

It adds that they might prove so popular that families would wish to buy several, placing them around the house including inside their bedrooms.

The idea echoes the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Steven Spielberg's 2001 movie AI.

But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay.

"The privacy concerns are clear when devices have the capacity to record conversations and log activity," said its director Emma Carr.

"When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line.

"Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy. It is simply unnecessary," she added.

The idea risks evoking memories of the evil toys in the video game Five Nights at Freddy's
The Center for Democracy and Technology - a research group that helped shape child protection laws in the US - said that parents would have to be "especially vigilant" over the coming years, whether or not Google ever put such toys on sale.

"In general, as technology moves forward, markets will offer a steady stream of products that push or even break mainstream social norms - on privacy as well as other things," said its director of European affairs, Jens-Henrik Jeppesen.

"Responsible companies will understand they need to provide full transparency about how such devices handle data.

"Some consumers may find such products appealing - I suspect most will not," he added.

Hi-tech dolls
Google is not the first firm to see the appeal of a family-friendly voice-activated control for the home, as an alternative to using remote controls or smartphones.

Amazon already sells the Echo in the US - a cylindrical internet-linked device that can be used to control music playback, check the weather and order food.

A marketing video for the device shows children using it.

Amazon launched the Echo in the US last November
But the fact that it does not look like a toy may have helped it become relatively uncontroversial.

By contrast, Mattel's recent announcement of Hello Barbie - a doll that uses a wi-fi connection and voice recognition to chat with young girls and recall things they said in earlier conversations - has prompted a backlash.

A lobby group called the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has launched petitions calling for the toy firm to drop the idea.

The petitions have attracted more than 42,000 online signatures.
  • Published in Technology

Infosys to Open Invest $ 120 Million for First Overseas Campus in China

BEIJING: As India pressed China to open its markets for Indian IT firms, technology major Infosys today announced establishing its first overseas centre outside India in China with an investment of about USD 120 million to tap in the burgeoning Chinese market.

An MOU in this regard was signed between Infosys and the local Chinese provincial government at the India-China Business Forum, which was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Shanghai today. The development centre, to be established in China's Guizhou province, with a staff capacity of about 4,500 will help to focus on Chinese and global markets, Rangarajan Vellamore, CEO, Infosys China, told PTI.

The centre, first to be established by Infosys outside India will be ready by next year, he said. This will help to capture the growth trends of Chinese markets for Infosys China, whose annual turnover is around USD 120 million.

The new Infosys centre is taking shape as India is pressing China to open its markets for Indian IT firms to address the USD 48 billion trade deficit in the bilateral trade, which stood at USD 70.6 billion last year.

The issue figured prominently in Modi's talks with Chinese leadership during his three-day visit to the country.
  • Published in Technology

National Technical Conference at Alva’s Engineering College

Moodbidri: Electronics and Communication department of Alva’s Engineering College hosted a two days national conference on “Advanced Innovations in Engineering and Technology” at the college premise in Mijar.

Senior scientist of TCS Bengaluru, Dr.M.Girish Chandra inaugurated the conference and said “Innovations must be done in respective fields so that society can get full benefit from science. The people who involve in innovations must study the original facts”.

Principal of the college Peter Fernandez presided over the conference. He said “People who want to teach about anything must not stop learning. Learning must be continues”.

Dean of the college Kishore Kumar Shetty was present.

Prof. Raghavendra Rao, Prof. Manjunath Kottari, Dr. Girish Chandra, Shruthi Kumari were present.
  • Published in Moodabidri

iPhone 6C image leak: No major design change

New images of a what looks like a smaller version of the iPhone or the iPhone 6C, as we had reported last week, have emerged online, further confirming that Apple could indeed opt to come out with a four-inch iPhone.

A closer look at the images that were posted by Futuresupplier, points to a device that looks similar to the iPhone 5C in terms of design.

The website, however, does not provide any details about the possible authenticity of the image simply stating that they found the housing.

Apple discontinued the four-inch model in 2014 and came out with two new devices sized 4.7 and 5.5 inches.

We had recently reported about the possible reintroduction of the 4-inch device.

Will you still buy a 4-inch iPhone?

Meanwhile, the new leaked images point to two changes in the back casing, one on the camera flash cover which is more or less oval and the speaker holes at the bottom of the case, the latter more like the iPhone 6 design.
  • Published in Technology

Sci-Curious at Bhuvanendra College: SDM ensembles awards

Karkala: As a part of National Science Day, Bhuvanendra College,  Karnataka Science and Technology Academy in association with Karkala  Sience forum, has conducted inter college State-level Science fest, ’Sci- Curious-2015'  for graduates.

SDM college ensembled overall championship awards and St.Aloysius became the runner up.

Retired prof. of Poorna Prajna College, Udupi, Dr. B.Manjunatha Somayaji inaugurated the fest and said, youth must use science and technology in the development of nation. As science is growing, technology is also growing but how to make use of it is depended on us he said.

Chief Guest Janardhan Idya Karkala Science Association said that the role of science is important for nation-building. Whole world is led by science and there is no end to it. Science not only restricted to education but also it compliments other fields too he supposed.

7 colleges participated in the fest.

  • Published in Karkala
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