Science fiction is being transformed into science fact using tiny implants effectively to channel brain-waves to prosthetic limbs.
Children of the 1970s will remember the American TV series The Six Million Dollar Man featuring Steve Austin as a bionic man.
Micro Bridge Services, based at Cardiff University, south Wales, is pioneering work which brings that fiction close to reality.
It is a leader in micro-engineering design and manufacture and possibly the only firm in the world capable of creating the implants.
The implants are the size of a match head which carries 100 sensors made of extremely hard tungsten carbide which conducts electricity.
The sensors are only slightly thicker than a human hair and sit on the brain picking up nerve impulses to relay to prosthetic limbs.
The hope is the technology will be instrumental in allowing amputees to learn to move prosthetic limbs and regain lost mobility.
Micro Bridge Services Ltd was set up by Cardiff University to tap the commercial potential of research being done there.
Researchers at Utah University, in the USA, asked the Cardiff Company to develop micro-needle array sensors which are durable.
The American team had already been successful developing implants capable of manipulating computers and prosthetic appendages.
But the implants had been made of silicon which proved to be brittle and had a useful life of less than a year.
The micro-needle array needed to be hardy but capable of penetrating deep enough into the brain to pick up electrical signals.
As a pioneer in its field its ability to manufacture the tiny micro-needle array precisely using an extremely strong material proved vital.
The implant works by detecting electrical signals from the brain, amplifying them then transmitting them to produce movements in the prosthetic limbs.
A patient fitted with an implant literally has to learn to think the correct mental activity to get the required response from the system.
Weeks of training are necessary but tests on volunteers have already shown promising results.
The outcome, is supposed to be what people call a bionic man.
For the future the hope is that the technology could be used on patients paralyzed in accidents which damage the spine.
The implant would be placed on the spinal column effectively bridging the injury and allowing them to relearn how to move.
--By Richard Alleyne
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
PCs Going Green
AS a joint initiative between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),USA and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, "Green Computers" are going to come in the market to tackle one of the biggest causes of e-waste: corporate computers.
The federal program, called the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, is designed to help large companies and institutions procure more laptops, desktop computers, printers, and handheld electronic devices that won't harm the environment. The goal is to heighten demand for green computers, which don't include cadmium, mercury, chromium, lead, PVCs, certain flame retardants, and other problematic materials.
So far, 16 computer manufacturers have registered to sell EPEAT-approved products. The federal government has committed to buying about $40 billion worth of the green computers, which are not expected to cost more than conventional computers.
The 16 companies include most of the heavy hitters--Apple, Sony, Dell, HP, and Gateway. The article also notes that just from purchases made by the federal government, EPEAT-registered computers could reduce enough energy to power 72,630 households for a year (saving $71.4 million in energy costs) and reduce toxic materials by 75.1 metric tons.
PC and electronics makers are going greener bit by bit, with Dell a good example in the U.S.--its Dell Earth program is voluntarily moving toward compliance with the European RoHS (Return of Hazardous Substances) standard, which EcoGeek notes has "virtually eliminated the use of lead on their motherboards, power supplies and chassis." Dell is also jumping on the carbon offset bandwagon to help assuage your guilt with planted trees. You can also go to the Dell Earth Web site to calculate energy consumed by several iterations of Dell PCs (along with connected peripherals).
But if you really want to go green with your new PC, ExtremeTech suggests going the DIY route. It offers recommendations on individual components--from a power supply that complies with 80 PLUS efficiency requirements to an energy-sipping Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor. But if you're not so adventurous ,you can add to your current system as well as settings for optimizing Windows Vista.
Treehugger.com has released a list of the top 10 ways you can make your home greener by more efficient use of your electronics.
And if not doing it for the planet, what about your wallet? “40% of the energy used for electronics in your home is used while these devices are turned off.” according to Treehugger. Think of what that could do for your electric bill!! So, buy you a few power strips and flip them off when not using your entertainment centers.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Modern Panchtantra Story [ IT HUMOR ]
Once upon a time, there was a software engineer who used to develop programs on his Pentium machine, sitting under a tree on the banks of a river. He used to earn his bread by selling those programs in the Sunday market.
One day, while he was working, his machine tumbled off the table and fell in the river. Encouraged by the Panchatantra story of his childhood (the woodcutter and the axe),he started praying to the River Goddess. The River Goddess wanted to test him and so appeared only after one month of rigorous prayers. The engineer told her that he had lost his computer in the river.
As usual, the Goddess wanted to test his honesty. She showed him a match box and asked, "Is this your computer ?" Disappointed by the Goddess' lack of computer awareness, the engineer replied, "No."
She next showed him a pocket-sized calculator and asked if that was his.
Annoyed, the engineer said "No, not at all!!"
Finally, she came up with his own Pentium machine and asked if it was his.
The engineer, left with no option, sighed and said "Yes."
The River Goddess was happy with his honesty. She was about to give
him all three items, but before she could make the offer, the engineer
asked her, "Don't you know that you're supposed to show me some better computers before bringing up my own ?"
The River Goddess, angered at this, replied, "I know that, you stupid donkey! The first two things I showed you were the Trillennium and the Billennium, the latest computers from IBM !". So saying, she disappeared with the Pentium!!
Moral :If you're not up-to-date with technology trends, it's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Imagine a fuel which grows anywhere by sunlight and water which could produce enough oil to free the world from fuel crises. Though algae sound a strange contender for the veil of Worlds Next Great Fuel’ it has individuality in its favor. Algae, made up of simple aquatic organisms that capture light energy through photosynthesis, produces vegetable oil. Vegetable oil, in turn, can be transformed into biodiesel, which can be used to power just about any diesel engine.
Algae have some important advantages over other oil-producing crops, like canola and soybeans. It can be grown in almost any enclosed space, it multiplies like gangbusters, and it requires very few inputs to flourish-mainly just sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. Its high surface-area-to-volume ratio makes it able to absorb nutrients very quickly. Absolutely, its small size makes it persuasive. Infact, it doesn’t need fertile soil to flourish; it grows in ponds, bags and tanks which could be set up anywhere.
Solix Biofuels claims that these competencies will allow them to create algae-based biodiesel that costs about the same as gasoline, or even less. It’s a long way to go for Solix for such a fuel. They’ll have to discover which species of algae will produce the most oil and what’s the best way to grow it? The research and debate about it is intense and could take couple of years to instigate.
Algae Biomass Summit was was held on October 23 and 24, in Seattle. It was hosted by the Algal Biomass Association to help developing and commercializing algae biofuels. The two-day event has provided a broad overview of the industry: among the speakers were scientists, policymakers and investors.Algae has a great deal of promise for biofuels because of its rapid growth rate. Experiments in producing oil from algae have had impressively high outputs. An acre of algae could produce thousands of gallons of oil in a year, with estimates ranging as high as 20,000 gallons for some varieties. The next best plant matter for biodiesel is Chinese tallow, capable of producing perhaps 700 gallons in a year.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Micah Sanders is the only character known to have this ability. Limits. Micah 's power of technopathy seems to work with or without contact with electronics. Micah is a technopath able to communicate with machines and electronics, as seen when he fixed an out of order phone simply by touching it and concentrating. This ability seems to require physical contact and a certain level of focus and appears to affect both broken and working technology. Technopathy can make a person something of an 'R2D2' - the famous robot from Star Wars that could plug in to nearly any machine or system and manipulate it. Such a person could potentially override security codes and infiltrate an installation physically or remotely by manipulating electronic devices. Micah's use of this ability will only improve with time. Look out, ATM machines.
Manifested as a special form of electrical/telekinetic manipulation, a special form of shapeshifting which allows physical interaction with machines, or even a special form of ESP that allows for mental interface with computer data. Micah's power of technopathy seems to work with or without contact with electronics. He has been able to access the technology of broken items as well as working items. He describes his power as talking to machines. He can identify even the slightest signals in technology and uses electronics around him for tracking purposes. Micah manipulated traffic signals without touching them in Powerless, but he was also using Niki's cell phone to track Monica's at the time. In One of Us, One of Them, he also controlled a computer without actually touching it. However, his hand was only a few inches away from it. As of yet, it is not clear whether Micah has developed the ability to remotely control systems or to channel his ability through the cell phone network. He seems to have developed enough control over his ability that he can control systems at short range, however. Micah Sanders uses his powers to repair a broken telephone with a single touch. Micah communicates with an ATM, and convinces it to dispense a load of cash. (The Fix) Micah "talks" to a voting machine.(Landslide) Micah asks a computer who posted a hurtful image about his mom