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SCI-TECH

AN ULTRA-THIN CAMERA WITH NO LENS

FlatCam is little more than a thin sensor chip with a mask that replaces lenses in
atraditional camera. Making it practical are sophisticated computer algorithms
that process what the sensor detects and converts them into images and videos.

20

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2015


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Pune Mirror, November 25, 2015. Pp.20

Earth may have hairy


dark matter: NASA
When dark matter goes through a planet, the stream particles focus into an ultra-dense filament or
hair of dark matter. Researchers believe that there should be many such hairs sprouting from the Earth

NASA/JPL-Caltech

MOBILEAPP

REAL BOXING 2: CREED


Infinity Blade, Real Racing, Modern Combat: there are a
few games on mobile that stand out because of just how
good they look, and Real Boxing is right up there. Real Boxing 2: Creed isnt just a sequel, but also a tie-in to the movie Creed. Theres a complete story mode, where you create your own boxer, train with the legendary Rocky Balboa,
and aim to become world champion across single and multiplayer modes. Its definitely worth the download, just as
long as your device can handle it.
Real Boxing: Creed is free
for iOS and Android devices. Scan the relevant QR
code to visit the games
store page.
Android
iOS

New sensor sees nerve


action as it happens

R
Left: An illustration showing Earth surrounded by dark matter hairs; Right: An artists rendering of what dark matter hairs might look like around Earth
Pune Mirror Bureau
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here may be long filaments of dark matter or hair on our Earth, suggests new
research, adding further study is needed
to unlock the mysteries of the nature of
dark matter on our planet.
Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up about 27 per cent of all matter and energy in the universe.
Regular matter, which makes up everything
we can see, is only five per cent of the universe.
The rest is dark energy, a phenomenon associated with the acceleration of our expanding universe.
According to previous calculations and simulations, dark matter forms fine-grained
streams of particles that move at the same velocity and orbit galaxies such as ours.

A stream can be much larger than the solar


system itself and there are many different
streams crisscrossing our galactic neighbourhood, said Gary Prezeau from NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
He found that when a dark matter stream
goes through a planet, its particles focus into an
ultra-dense filament or hair of dark matter.
In fact, there should be many such hairs
sprouting from the Earth.
A stream of ordinary matter would not go
through the Earth and out the other side, but for
dark matter, the Earth is no obstacle.
According to Prezeaus simulations, the
Earths gravity would focus and bend the stream
of dark matter particles into a narrow, dense hair.
Hairs emerging from planets have both
roots, the densest concentration of dark matter in the hair, and tips where the hair ends.
When particles of a dark matter stream pass
through the Earths core, they focus at the root

of a hair, where the density of the particles is


about a billion times more than average.
The root of such a hair should be around one
million kilometres away from the surface, or
twice as far as the moon.
The stream particles that graze the Earths
surface will form the tip of the hair, about twice
as far from the Earth as the hairs root.
If we could pinpoint the location of the root
of these hairs, we could potentially send a probe
there and get a bonanza of data about dark matter, Prezeau noted.
A stream passing through Jupiters core
would produce even denser roots: almost one
trillion times denser than the original stream, according to Prezeaus simulations.
Dark matter has eluded all attempts at direct
detection for over 30 years. The roots of dark
matter hairs would be an attractive place to look,
given how dense they are thought to be, added
Charles Lawrence, chief scientist for JPL.

Google developed Star Trek-like communicator device

oogle has developed a prototype wearable


device based on the communicator in Star
Trek which uses a microphone to listen to a
users voice and can use Bluetooth to send those
commands to another device.
In science fiction, Captain Picard and his
crew used their lapel pins to talk to the AI and
crew onboard the Starship Enterprise.
Googles circular prototype device connects
to a smartphone through Bluetooth, Amit Singhal, senior vice president and executive in
charge of the firms search initiatives, told Time
magazine.
The concept was intended to test out how users might interact with voice search in new ways.
Worn on the chest, the Google pin is activated

The prototype was spearheaded by Amit Singhal,


head of Googles search initiatives

with a light tap.


The prototype might output sound through
an onboard speaker or by connecting to headphones. The idea was to make it easier to query to
Google without fishing out a cell phone.
I always wanted that pin, Singhal was
quoted as saying. You just ask it anything and it
works. Thats why we were like, Let's go prototype that and see how it feels.
The device hasnt left the testing phase but illustrates how far Google is willing to go to chart
the future of search.
The company is trying to redefine the way
people access information through voice
search, which is getting more adept at understanding natural language, Time said.
MM

esearchers at Duke and Stanford Universities


have devised a way to watch the details of neurons at work, pretty much in real time.
Every second of every day, the 100 billion neurons in your brain are capable of firing off a burst of
electricity called an action potential up to 100 times
per second. For neurologists trying to study how this
overwhelming amount of activity across an entire
brain translates into specific thoughts and behaviours, they need a faster way to watch.
Existing techniques for monitoring neurons are
too slow or too tightly focused to generate a holistic
view. But in a new study, researchers reveal a technique for watching the brains neurons in action
with a time resolution of about 0.2 milliseconds a
speed just fast enough to capture the action potentials in mammalian brains.
We set out to combine a protein that can quickly
sense neural voltage potentials with another protein
that can amplify its signal output, said Yiyang
Gong, assistant professor at Duke.
The resulting increase in sensor speed matches
what is needed to read out electrical spikes in the
brains of live animals.
Gong and his colleagues sought out a voltage sensor fast enough to keep up with neurons. After several trials, the group landed on one found in algae, and
engineered a version that is both sensitive to voltage
activity and responds to the activity very quickly.
The amount of light it puts out, however, wasnt
bright enough to be useful in experiments.
To meet this engineering challenge, Gong fused
the newly engineered voltage sensor to the brightest
fluorescing protein available at the time. He linked
the two close enough to interact optically without
slowing the system down.
When the voltage sensing component we engineered detects a voltage potential, it absorbs more
light, said Gong. And by absorbing more of the
bright fluorescent proteins light, the fluorescence of
the system dims in response to a neuron firing.
The new sensor was delivered to the brains of
mice using a virus and incorporated into fruit flies
through genetic modification. In both cases, the researchers were able to express the protein in selected
neurons and observe voltage activity.
They were also able to read voltage movements in
different sub-compartments of individual neurons,
which is very difficult to do with other techniques.
Being able to read voltage spikes directly from
the brain and also see their specific timing is very
helpful in determining how brain activity drives animal behaviour, said Gong.
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