The research and technology are advancing at a rapid rate. First, it was the confirmation of the “impossible” EM Drive by the German scientists and NASA, and now it is the creation of a wormhole device. It looks as if all of our sci-fi fantasies will soon be coming to reality.
A wormhole is not a new concept for the physicists. As soon as Einstein’s general theory of relativity gained prominence, further research showed the existence of invisible bridges that could connect two different points/places in space-time. These hypothetical bridges were termed as wormholes which would allow travel of matter from one point in the Universe to other in the blink of an eye.
The device claimed by the physicists as a wormhole device, however, does not fit the traditional image of a wormhole, but technically it does tunnel two points in space-time. The magnetic wormhole device created by the Spanish physicists can tunnel the magnetic field through space.
Study co-author Jordi Prat-Camps, a doctoral candidate in physics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain said:
This device can transmit the magnetic field from one point in space to another point, through a path that is magnetically invisible. From a magnetic point of view, this device acts like a wormhole, as if the magnetic field was transferred through an extra special dimension.
As you can see in the picture, the ferromagnet has its magnetic field subjected through the spherical magnetic wormhole device. In image A, the field of a magnetic source (right) is appearing as an isolated magnetic monopole when passing through the magnetostatic wormhole where the whole spherical device is magnetically undetectable.
In image B, you can see the spirally bound ferromagnetic sheet (blue) that has naturally occurring magnetic field lines, a shell of yttrium barium copper oxide (yellow) that bends the magnetic field lines through space, and the outer spherical shell that cancels out the field lines’ distortion.
Simply stated, the device’s architecture renders the magnetic field lines invisible and effectively creates a tunnel.
And there you are, you just got yourself a magnetic wormhole. The magnetic wormhole technology has many applications as well. The whole dull experience of getting an MRI done, sticking yourself inside that magnetic tube would be the thing of the past. We would be able to take pictures of a human body with a strong magnet from far away.
But, here’s a fun fact: although revolutionary, still, don’t dream of this technology to zap you into the other end of the universe anytime soon. Nevertheless, stay optimistic.
Credit : fossBytes
Ultrasound could waken a sleeping smart home
The home of the future, we are assured, will be swarming with tiny sensors: security cameras, carbon monoxide detectors, speakers, and everything else. Few need to be running all the time — but how do you wake them up when they’re needed if they’re off in the first place? Ultrasound.
That’s the idea being pursued by Angad Rekhi and Amin Arbabian at Stanford, anyway. Their approach to the problem of devices that can’t stay on, yet can’t be all the way off, is to minimize the amount of energy necessary to send and receive a “wake” signal. That way the internet of things really only consumes power when they’re actively in use.
Radio, which of course all these tiny sensors use to transmit and receive information, is actually pretty expensive in terms of power and space. Keeping the antenna and signal processor ready and listening uses more energy than these devices have to spare if they’re to last for years on a charge.
Ultrasonic sensors, on the other hand, are incredibly power-efficient and require very little space. Ultrasound — soundwaves above the human range of hearing, 22KHz or so — is a much more physical phenomenon, and detecting it is easier in many ways than detecting radio frequency waves. It’s a bit like the difference between a sensor that’s sensitive to nearly intangible x-rays versus one that detects ordinary visible light.
Rekhi, a grad student in electrical engineering working under Arbabian, describes their approach in a paper just presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. It’s a simple idea in a way — a small switch that hits a bigger switch — but the results are impressive.
The system’s ultrasound receiver is efficient even for an efficient class of sensors; the tiny, super-sensitive microphone was developed at Stanford as well, by the Khuri-Yakub Group. The receiver is always on, but draws an amazingly small 4 nanowatts of power, and is sensitive enough to detect a signal with a single nanowatt’s strength. That puts it well ahead of most radio receivers in terms of power consumption and sensitivity.
There’s one from a study last year that has it beat on both… but it’s also more than 50 times bigger. The ultrasonic sensor only takes up 14.5 square millimeters to the radio chip’s 900. That’s valuable real estate on an embedded device.
You wouldn’t be able to activate it from across town, of course — ultrasonic signals don’t travel through walls. But they do bounce around them, and the wake-up system’s sensitivity means even the smallest fragment of an ultrasonic signal will be sufficient to activate it.
It’s just a prototype right now, but don’t be surprised if this sort of mega-efficient tech gets snatched up or duplicated by companies trying to squeeze every ounce of life out of a watt-hour.
Featured Image: mrtom-uk/Getty Images Readmore
RightEye’s portable eye-tracking test catches concussions and reading problems in five minutes
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but physiologically speaking, they’re really windows to the brain.
RightEye looks through that window to detect common but often subtle vision issues resulting from concussions and other brain troubles. Its quick, portable eye-tracking station can tell in minutes whether you should see a doctor — or look into becoming a pro ball player.
It turns out there’s quite a lot you can tell from how someone’s eyes move. We may not notice it ourselves, but we all vary in how and how well we execute a number of basic tasks, from flicking our eyes back and forth to smoothly tracking a moving target. For instance, your eyes may over-correct, fail to line up correctly, or track up or down when moving along a straight line.
For healthy individuals, these variations fall within a safe range, just part of the ordinary differences between bodies. But certain patterns well outside the baseline can be strong indicators of things like concussions and eye muscle problems — and even Parkinson’s and Autism-spectrum conditions.
RightEye tracks these movements with a custom device that looks a bit like an all-in-one desktop; it uses a Tobii eye-tracking module built into a single-purpose computer loaded with a library of simple tests. A basic EyeQ (as they call it) test takes five minutes or so, with more specialized tests adding only a few more, and results are available immediately.
To give you an idea: one test in game form has you defending a space station, destroying incoming ships by looking at them. But certain colored ships you must not destroy — meaning you have to detect them in your peripheral vision and avoid looking at them. In another test, you flick your eyes rapidly between two targets appearing on opposite sides of the screen, demonstrating accuracy and functioning saccades (micro-corrections made by your eye muscles).
Each eye is tracked independently, and their performance as a matched pair is evaluated instantly. An easy-to-understand results sheet shows their actual movements and how (if at all) they deviate from the baseline.
It’s compact and can run on battery for some 8 hours, making it ideal for deployment outside hospitals or the like: anywhere from school nurse’s office to the sidelines of an NFL game, even in the home.
I tested the device out myself at CES (my vision is just OK, but I want a rematch), and later chatted with Barbara Barclay, RIghtEye’s President. The two most exciting applications of the technology, as judged by her enthusiasm anyway, are in identifying vision-related cognitive problems in kids and in creating a sort of eye fitness test for sporting persons.
Say a child is having trouble learning to read, or perhaps can’t pay attention in class. The immediate thought these days is frequently ADD. But it’s more than a little possible that it’s a vision problem. A subtle difference in how the eyes track, perhaps one going off the horizontal when tracking a line of text, could easily make reading on the page or blackboard frustrating or even painful. What 3rd-grade kid would keep at it?
This isn’t some groundbreaking new idea — but reliably and objectively evaluating individual eye movements was only something you could do if you went to see a specialist, perhaps after other explanations for a behavior didn’t pan out. RightEye’s test practically runs itself and can detect or eliminate the possibility of vision problems in minutes. Honestly, I think a kid might even find it fun.
Barclay has personal experience with this, her own daughter having had health issues that only after multiple false starts were found to have their root in a relatively simple vision problem the system indicated.
In 2016, RightEye acquired the rights to a pair of tests based on research linking eye movement patterns to Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, as well as Autism spectrum conditions. It’s not a magic bullet, but again, the quick and easy nature of the tests make them ideal for routine screening.
The Autism spectrum test is for children aged only 1 to 3, and watches eye movements between images of people and images of geometric shapes. Lingering on the shapes more than the people, it turns out, is a good indicator that at the very least the kid should receive further testing.
The Parkinson’s and Huntington’s tests watch for the more well understood patterns that accompany the motor degeneration found in those afflictions. They can be administered to people of any age and have (using earlier eye-tracking setups) contributed to many identifications of the diseases.
On a very different, but perhaps more immediately remunerative, note, Barclay told me that the test also works as a way to find outliers on the other end: people with what amounts to super-vision.
It’s entirely possible that someone could take the test and their results will show that they have faster, more accurate saccades, quicker target acquisition, and better continuous object tracking than the baseline. That’s a heck of an asset to have if you’re batting, fielding, goalkeeping, playing tight end — pretty much anything, really.
It’s also a heck of an asset to have if you’re a scout or coach. If Lopez is catching great on the left side of the field but not the right, you can look into the possibility that he’s having trouble tracking the ball when looking over his left shoulder, his eyes all the way to the right.
Not only that, but you can test for effects of concussions or other traumas right there on the field if they’re having trouble. Given how widespread such injuries are and the immense danger of repeated concussions, testing early and often could literally save lives.
Right now, Barclay told me, 7 MLB teams are using RightEye tech for player assessments. As for the medical side of things, she said the company currently has 200 clients. The new hardware should help boost that number.
Perhaps more importantly, it has the backing (and therefore clout) of VSP, the country’s largest vision insurance company. That’s both a tremendous vote of confidence and a major in — nothing gets people using a system faster than knowing it’s covered by their existing insurance.
SpaceX aims to make history 3 more times in 2018
Tuesday’s Falcon Heavy launch made history, not only becoming the highest-capacity rocket platform since the Saturn V but accomplishing the first double autonomous booster landing. And that’s just the start of what could prove to be an epic year for SpaceX — if Elon Musk’s ambitious timeline isn’t delayed, say by high winds.
There are three major events in the works for 2018 — two likely in the summer and one at the end of the year.
First there’s the next Falcon Heavy launch, which after multiple delays will hopefully be taking off in June with a handful of satellites both military and private. This could set a couple of records — heaviest commercial payload, for instance, and if things go well it might even get that triple autonomous booster landing that was hoped for yesterday.
The June launch, by the way, will carry a couple interesting payloads. You may remember the test flight of Lightsail, a prototype solar sailing spacecraft that launched in 2015. The new version should launch this year, built by the Planetary Society; Bill Nye is one of the project’s most outspoken advocates. And there’s also the Deep Space Atomic Clock, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, keeping hyper-accurate time that spacecraft can check with for navigational purposes.
SpaceX may also attempt the first water landing of its fairing, Musk hinted in the press conference following the Falcon Heavy launch. We can expect it in the next six months, he said, but the problem is that it’s not a guided landing and the fairing tends to drift on its way down.
“Fairing recovery has proven surprisingly difficult. You pop the parachute and you’ve got this giant awkward thing — it tends to interfere with the air flow on the parachute,” he said. “My guess is next six months we’ll figure out fairing recovery. We have a special boat to catch the fairing; it’s like a giant catcher’s mitt in boat form.”
That would be the “Large Barge,” though it hasn’t been put into play yet. Catching a falling fairing before it hits the water would be another historic feat, further reducing the cost of launch and recovery. (Clearly they’re saving the capsule catch record for another year.)
“I think we might be able to do something similar for Dragon,” he added, half-jokingly.
The last major item planned for this year is a crewed flight of the new Dragon capsule. Musk said at the press conference that “After Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy Block 5 [the next revision of the platform], it’s all hands on deck for Crew Dragon. We’re aspiring to fly a crew orbit by the end of this year. I think the hardware will be ready.”
Commercial crewed missions are the next major area of interest of commercial space industry, and SpaceX is competing with Boeing for the glory of it and, as a secondary consideration, the lucrative government contracts. But sending actual humans up in rockets that still occasionally explode isn’t an option — the reliability of the launch platform has to be rock-solid and any issues causing failures need to be addressed.
SpaceX’s record has been clear for over a year; the last real failure was in 2016, when on September 1 a Falcon 9 exploded on the pad during launch prep, apparently caused by a pressure vessel failure. In late 2017 a Merlin engine exploded during testing, but that’s kind of what testing is for. And the mysterious Zuma payload from Northrop Grumman didn’t go right just last month, but it wasn’t actually SpaceX’s fault. Again, though, actual humans will be on this. As they say, “Failure is not an option.”
Nevertheless, Musk seemed confident that they would be ready for a crewed Dragon orbit by the end of the year.
Less clear timing-wise are early tests for the spaceship section of SpaceX’s BFR project. Musk gave a few hints about this at the press conference following the Falcon Heavy launch.
“I think we might also be able to do short hopper flights with the spaceship part of the BFR, maybe next year,” he said. “By hopper tests I mean go up several miles and come down. We’ll do flights of increasing complexity. We want to fly out, turn around, accelerate back real hard, and come in hot to test the heat shield.”
“The ship is capable of single-stage orbit if you want to fully load the tanks,” he added, but real test flights probably won’t happen for three or four years. How that all will play out is very much in flux right now. And who knows when Starlink, or whatever it’s called, will happen.
Whether the company will accomplish these three feats in the next year depends on quite a lot, but after Tuesday’s launch I’m feeling optimistic.
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