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Tech & Science Archives – Page 41 of 45 – Mirror Daily

A new patent application filed by Apple hints at the fact that their new smartphone, the iPhone 6S is going to be waterproof.

iPhone users have been pining for a waterproof smartphone for quite some time now and it seems that Apple has finally caved in and is giving its clients what they want.

A new patent filing was submitted by Apple in which various methods of preventing core components of the smartphone to become damaged by liquids are detailed and explained. The title of the patent is Methods for shielding electronic components from moisture and after a quick scan over it, it is clear that Apple plants to make their iPhone waterproof by applying a hydrophobic coating to the device’s components.

This particular approach is very interesting, as many of the waterproof smartphones on the market today simply offer the seal-tight approach.

The method that was described in the patent included the use of a chemical vapor deposition technology that will coat water-sensitive components and prevent water damage. This waterproof coating is applied to the electromagnetic interference shield as well as to the printed circuit board in the smartphone.

Also, other circuit boards in the device can be protected through silicon seals that are placed so that they frame electrical connectors.

This is a fragment of the patent application:

Many electronic devices are susceptible to water damage because they are not fully sealed and include various openings for charging, connecting peripherals, and inputting and outputting audio. While bulky cases have had a certain amount of success at mitigating water entry through the aforementioned openings, a protective case is of little or no value once water has entered a device housing.

Samsung’s previous flagship model, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the most popular waterproof smartphones. It has a rating of IP67, which means that you can keep it submerged in water up to 1 meter in depth for a whopping 30 minutes and it will be just fine. It is also dustproof, as no dust particles can enter it. All you need to do is secure the plastic flat that covers the USB port and you’re good to go.

Samsung Galaxy S5 was a hit and it was praised for its waterproof capabilities, yet Samsung shocked the smartphone world when it introduced its newest flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S6 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month and the device was no longer waterproof.

In order for the waterproof iPhone 6S to be a success, it needs to make waterproofing spectacular.

Image Source: Forbes

In a partnership with Google, researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, are working towards setting up a quantum computing research laboratory. Professor John Martinis from the University of California, who joined the team at Google a year ago, is directing work on superconducting aluminium chips that function very near the absolute zero temperature (0°K, which is −273.15° C or −459.67° F). This research, which had already begun before Professor Martinis joined Google, has yielded results that were published today in “Nature”.

Google started investing interest in quantum computing in 2009. It worked together with D-Wave Systems, who sell a proto-form of a quantum computer. Microsoft has a quantum computing research program as well. But with all the energy devoted, it will still take some time before all the difficulties of this new technology are solved and these computers become accessible to the public.

Quantum programming is based on qubits, the quantum equivalent of bits. They are quantum-mechanical systems with two simultaneous states (for instance, the polarization of one photon, that can be vertical or horizontal), which make possible the codification of more information. Because of the superposition of states in qubits, they can code both 1 and 0 at the same time, thus reducing the difficulty of large calculations. A quantum computer requires the assembling of many qubits together, which makes it susceptible to errors because these qubits code the 1s and 0s using minute quantum mechanical effects that cannot be detected at normal temperatures, nor in large scales. Thus heat and other disturbances can distort the quantum states and cause failures.

Most of the research in this field is set on trying to make the systems of qubits correct its internal errors. Martinis’s team of scientists has advanced a very plausible technique for achieving this goal, known to experts as “surface codes”. A nine-qubit chip was programmed to monitor its own errors (called “bit flips”) – each qubit monitored the others and took action to ensure that the mistakes would not affect later steps of the calculation, but the qubit network was not able to actually correct the bit flips. Of course, a lot more is to be done before the errors become harmless to the system, according to researcher Daniel Gottesman. Simple bit-flips like the ones the Martinis group is working on require classical algorithms, but there are other errors (like phase alterations due to environmental noise) whose fixing presupposes other, more complicated algorithms. Google quantum electronics engineer Austin Fowler declared that the group of researchers is now working on error-checking in systems larger than nine qubits. Gottesman (who works on quantum error correction in Waterloo, Ontario) is confident that it will not take more than a few years before error correction techniques are perfected.

image source: fossBytes

At a Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, several producers of head gears (Sony and Oculus, which is a Facebook subsidiary, among them) explored the future of virtual reality. After long years of anticipation, we might have reached the point where the technology is advanced enough to get close to simulating real-life effects. During this conference, Sony launched a new prototype of “Morpheus”, a virtual reality-generating head gear, whose form for consumers will be ready in the early months of 2016. The gadget, whose prospective price is yet unknown, is built to connect to Play Station 4 video game consoles. HTC also announced that they will release a Vive virtual reality head gear by the end of 2015, and Oculus chief technology officer John Carmack disclosed that his company, along with Samsung, is finishing work on a similar device, about to be launched before the end of the year.

Great expectations surround the era of real life simulators, and game designers and producers are not afraid to dream. Scott Steinberg, chief of video game consulting firm TechSavvy Global, declared that the new headsets need very well-designed games, “that help show off the power of the hardware”, in order to improve the overall experience of virtual reality. It is not just about the possibility of enjoying the new technology; it is also about the quality of the games and about the entertainment they provide. In the view of Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, the goal of VR gears is to “deliver a real sense of presence to players”. According to Carmack, who before working for Oculus, was the co-founder of ID Software and one of the pioneers of three-dimensional computer gaming, sees the real stake of virtual reality devices as something larger than just gaming. He can easily imagine “a world with a billion people using virtual reality headsets”.

There are difficulties, of course, in adapting to this new technology (for instance many people get nauseous), but producers hope to overcome them with time, by improving the devices. Sony has already improved its Morpheus gear in terms of image-quality, eliminating blur and increasing speed.

MindMaze, a start-up founded by Tej Tadi, promoted another headset device, MindLeap, with sensors for thought-powered play. Tej Tadi says that the player’s emotions and particularities of feeling, perception and movement will be incorporated and replicated by the device “so you really believe you are in the virtual world”. Some veterans of the gaming industry, like the executive director of the International Game Developers Association, Kate Edwards, are still skeptical about the outcomes of the new branch and consider that the content of the games will make the difference.

image source: malaymail

An ancient lost city was discovered deep in the jungles of Honduras by American and Honduran archeologists.

The archeologists were accompanied by ex-SAS survival experts and a team of writers and photographers to document the expedition and discovery.

The ancient lost city is the fabled White City that has been eluding explorers since the 16th century when Spanish conquistadores started looking for it.

White City was also known as the City of the Monkey God, where inhabitants worshiped such a monkey god. Reports of the city’s gold and monkey children made the White City to be even more mysterious and sought after.

Scientists believe there are more lost cities in the Mosquitia jungle, where the remains of the White City were discovered.

The scientific world knows little about the people that lived in the White City. So little is known, that they don’t even have a name for the pre-Columbian people who inhabited the White City and mysteriously vanished without a trace. The massive discovery was made by an expedition funded by National Geographic.

The White City was discovered in the Mosquitia jungle, in a crater-shaped valley that is encircled by tall mountains.

The archeologists discovered remarkable stone sculptures, an earthen pyramid, extensive plazas and various earthworks. Many of the stone sculptures found were left unexcavated, but the researchers did document every finding.

Christopher Fisher, lead archeologist, revealed that the discovery of the White City in the 21st century only tells us that there is so much we still do not know about our world.

He continued:

The untouched nature of the site is unique and if preserved and properly studied can tell us much about these past people and provide critical data for modern conservation.

Steve Sullivan and Andrew Wood, former SAS soldiers and experts in bushcraft survival skills, joined the team to help them navigate through swamps, rivers, mountains and choking foliage. Honduran troops also joined them while they set up base in a small town in the jungle. The team used a military helicopter to access some areas of the jungle.

The success of this expedition was ensured by a 2012 aerial survey of the area that used novel radar technology to map the jungle floor even through the thick canopy. It was then that the large architectural site was noticed.

All the artefacts the archeologists discovered are believed to date from 1,000 to 1,400 AD.

Image Source: National Geographic

In order to make any estimates of how fast a prehistoric animal ran or how much it ate, in order to understand its metabolism, body mass is a necessary factor to take into account, explained palaeontologist Charlotte Brassey at the Natural History Museum of London. Until now, mass was approximated on the basis of thigh-bone and upper-arm-bone dimensions. But in order to check the accuracy of this method, professor Brassey and her team of researchers scanned all the bones that had been found from a female Stegosaurus stenops (nicknamed Sophie) – 360 bones in total, representing 80% of her skeleton – and measured the volume of their digitized images. By analogy with living animals, the volume of the whole body and then the mass of the dinosaur were calculated. The results of this research were published in Biology Letters.

The Stegosaurus is estimated to have weighed 3,527 pounds during its lifetime, which is a number very close to the one calculated by measuring thighs and upper-arms. However, this new method is more reliable and thus an important confirmation for the traditional one. Furthermore, professor Brassey’s method comes to correct the initial supposition of the old calculation technique, which had produced a figure for the Stegosaurus’s weight twice as big as the one discovered now. The error in that first calculation was due to the fact that scientists hadn’t taken into consideration Sophie’s still developing body (the dinosaur was not yet mature when she died), which would have accounted for the difference between bone-mass and body-mass (because the bones grow faster in adolescence, and the body mass accumulates later on). Having adjusted this detail, the two methods of calculating the mass of the Stegosaurus reached the same number.

Having completed this project, professor Brassey’s next aim is to add muscles to the digital projection of Sophie’s skeleton in order to reconstruct the Stegosaurus’s movement.

image source: BBC news

Launched in 1995, the DMSP-F13 satellite was part of a network (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) that contained seven satellites, responsible for gathering meteorological data like infrared cloud imagery, as well as information relevant for oceanography experts. After 20 years of functioning and thousands of hours of weather-related pictures sent to the U.S. military, the satellite’s system collapsed because of overheating. The explosion split the device into 43 pieces of space debris, as approximated by Air Force Space Command, which made the accident public on February 27.

Signs of the DMSP-F13 system’s failure had been noticed previously, when, on February 3, 2015, the controllers in charge registered a temperature spike in the satellite and proceeded to shut down non-essential components. The first public announcement of the problems with DMSP-F13 was made on February 25, by T.S. Kelso, a senior research astrodynamicist for Analytical Graphic’s Center for Space Standards and Innovation in Colorado Springs (Colorado).

Although this is not the first incident of this kind, weather satellite explosions haven’t happened in the past decade. The last similar incident occurred in 2004, when one of DMSP-F13’s sister satellites (DMSP-F11) was blown into 56 pieces of spatial debris.

The loss of this satellite will not impair weather monitoring, because the device had been switched to a backup function in 2006 and was not in use by the National Weather Service or the Air Force Weather Agency at the time of the explosion. Without this satellite, real-time information about weather will be slightly scarcer for tactical users, but since the data it gathered was not being used for weather forecast modelling, the consequences of its breakdown will not affect the general public.

DMSP-F13 was the oldest satellite that worked continuously. It flew at an 800-kilometer altitude (standard for weather and spy satellites) and its orbit was sun-synchronous (meaning that its position changed with approximately one circular degree each day in relation to the celestial sphere, eastward, to keep pace with the Earth’s movement around the Sun).

image source: Urban Legends

It was recently revealed that scientists have discovered and photographed the smallest life-form on Earth, a bacterium. The bacterium is so tiny that the researchers are wondering how long it has been on our planet.

The smallest life-form on Earth has a volume of 0.009 cubic microns on film. In case you don’t know, a micron is one millionth the length on a meter. Below, you can see the tiny bacterium and under it, a scale bar that is 100 nanometers.

The researchers who discovered it believe that these bacteria have reached the lowest size limit possible for life-forms on planet Earth.

The cells of this bacterium are so small that it would take more than 150,000 of them to simply fill up the space of the tip of a human hair. Also, for scale, you should know that the largest virus, the Pandoravirus, is around 1 micron across.

The tiny bacterium was discovered in water and scientists believe that they are most likely harmless and probably very common.

The fact that this bacterium is so small is only a part of why this discovery is so important. It’s also amazing that scientists have discovered a new life-form on Earth, one that they had no previous knowledge of.

So how do these bacteria survive? Well, scientists say that they have a very basic life cycle. They appear to store their genes into packed spirals and run on barebones metabolism. You can observe in the image above that at the end of the cell there are ribosomes, which produce protein and energy for the bacterium.

Also, they found that the DNA of the cells of these bacterium is around one million base pairs in length. They have pili, which are hair-like ends, which serve as connection wires to other bacteria. Researchers also believe that keeping into account that these bacteria lack many basic functions, they most likely rely on other bacteria for necessities.

There is still plenty scientists do not know about this newly discovered smallest life-form on Earth. Jillian F. Banfield, Earth Science professor and University of California, Berkeley Earth Science senior faculty scientist released a statement in which she said that these newly discovered ultra-small bacteria are an incredible example of a subset of the microbial life on our planet of which humans know almost nothing about.

Image Source: Berkley Lab

Having sold 74.8 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2014, when Samsung only sold 73 million smartphones, Apple has finally become the leader of the phone market. This is the first time since 2011 when iPhones are sold better than Samsung smartphones globally.

The company founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak has reached its highest profit so far (higher than any private company’s profit ever reported): $ 18 billion in the last quarter of 2014, while Samsung declared that their profits have decreased by 37% compared to the previous year.

After Apple (with 20.4% of the smartphone market share) and Samsung (19.9%) comes Lenovo (who bought Motorola’s mobile division in the fall of 2014). Although its market share is still far behind the two giants (6.6%), this still represents a 47.6% growth over last year’s share. The ascending trend of this company is mirrored by other rising stars like Xiaomi (who offers good quality Android at more affordable prices and who tripled its sales in the last year). Having shipped 18.6 million smartphones in the last quarter of the past year, just a little behind Huawei’s 21 million and Lenovo’s 24 million, Xiaomi has a success that indicates that there is still an interest for alternatives, although Apple is so far ahead.

The ascent of these Chinese companies on the lower cost market, along with Apple’s domination on the premium phone market, exposes Samsung to a double pressure. The way to survive this crisis, according to Gartner research director Roberta Cozza, is for Samsung to aim for a longer-term differentiation by structuring its apps and services in a very coherent, organic manner.

Despite Apple’s clear advance in the last quarter of 2014, Samsung remains the biggest vendor of the year in the phone industry, with 307.5 million devices shipped (compared to Apple’s 191.4 million). The whole smartphone market has surpassed the 1 billion threshold in 2014 (1.2 billion devices sold, compared to 969.7 million in 2013).

Image source:

A new research has shown how life-forms on Titan could potentially look like. The study that details these findings has been published in the journal Science Advances.

Titan is Saturn’s giant moon that has seas made of liquid methane and scientists have tried to imagine how life-forms could look like on this planet. Because of the methane on the surface of the planet, as well as the methane in the atmosphere, scientists believe that the life would present itself very differently than here on Earth.

Scientists have imagined a new type of life-form, based on methane and oxygen-free that can reproduce and thrive in a similar way as cells that are found on Earth.

Astronomers and chemical engineers have designed a form of life that could actually thrive on Titan’s harsh surface. The only type of life-forms that Titan could harbor, scientists believe, would only be methane-based cells that survive without oxygen.

Shown in the image above, the new alien life-forms on Titan would be made from organic nitrogen compounds and capable of thriving in liquid methane temperatures of -493 F (-292 C).

Professor Paulette Clancy, lead author of the study and chemical molecular dynamic expert, along with graduate student in chemical engineering at Cornell University in the US, James Stevenson revealed that even though they are not biologists, not astronomers, they did have the right tools to imagine such a life-form.

Clancy stated:

Perhaps it helped, because we didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t. We just worked with the compounds that we knew were there and asked, ‘If this was your palette, what can you make out of that?

For better understanding, one needs to know that here on Earth, cells have a water-based membrane that house their organic matter.

Usually when astronomers try to imagine alien life-forms, they imagine them in habitable zones, where oxygen and water could exist, but that doesn’t really need to be the case, as it was shown by Professor Clancy and her team.

The engineers who created the cell called it an azotosome, which means nitrogen body, from azote which means nitrogen in French. This azotosome is made from carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen molecules, all known to exist in the seas of Titan. The next step, scientists believe, would be to demonstrate how these cells would behave in their native methane environment and how they would reproduce.

Image Source: Beforeitsnews

A new study performed by scientists at the University of California, Berkley have finally solved the mystery behind the Old Faithful and why geysers erupt periodically. It appears that their underground plumbing is looped with plenty of side-chambers, which causes steam to heat up the water and make it erupt. The results of the study were published in the February issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

Volcanologists at the University of California, Berkeley, led by Carolina Munoz-Saez, a UC Berkeley graduate student from Chile and professor of Earth and Planetary Science, Michael Manga found why geysers erupt. It appears that there are that underground loops and bends that trap steam which then slowly heats up the water column above it until it is almost boiling hot. The water column boils water from the top downward, which causes steam and water to be expulsed hundreds of feet into the air.

Manga detailed their finding:

Most geysers appear to have a bubble trap accumulating the steam injected from below, and the release of the steam from the trap gets the geyser ready to erupt. You can see the water column warming up and warming up until enough water reaches the boiling point that, once the top layer begins to boil, the boiling becomes self-perpetuating.

Manga spend years understanding the mechanics behind geysers. He studied them in Yellowstone, which houses half of the world’s geysers and Chile. He and his students also build their own geyser in the laboratory from glass with a loop. This one, too erupts periodically, but not as regularly as a real geyser. El Jefe, for example, is a geyser in the Atacama Desert in Chile that erupts every 132 seconds (give or take two seconds).

There are few geysers in the world, around 1,000 and all of them are located in formerly active or active volcanic areas. Water from the Earth’s surface goes back into the soil and gets heated up by magma and then rises back to the surface in the form of mud pots, hot springs and geysers.

Manga is studying geysers to gain insight into volcanoes and volcanic eruptions, which are somewhat similar to geysers, but much harder to study and observe. He gathered his data by inserting temperature and pressure sensors 30 feet deep into geysers and correlated the data with measurements obtained from the surface by seismic sensors. This way he deduced the sequence of events from the underground that lead up to an eruption.

Manga concluded:

One of our goals is to figure out why geysers exist – why don’t you just get a hot spring – and what is it that controls how a geyser erupts, including weather and earthquakes.

Image Source: Wikipedia

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