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    Showing posts with label SCIENCE. Show all posts

    Does the moon really affect our actions?

    The findings revealed that nocturnal sleep duration full moon compared to new moon reported an average decrease of five minutes.
    To establish if lunar phases somehow do affect humans, an international group of researchers studied children to see if their sleeping patterns changed or if there were any differences in their daily activities.
     To establish if lunar phases somehow do affect humans, an international group of researchers studied children to see if their sleeping patterns changed or if there were any differences in their daily activities.

    While the full moon cannot turn people into werewolves, some people do accuse it of causing a bad night’s sleep or creating physical and mental alterations. But is there any science behind these myths?

    To establish if lunar phases somehow do affect humans, an international group of researchers studied children to see if their sleeping patterns changed or if there were any differences in their daily activities. The results were published in Frontiers in Pediatrics.

    “We considered that performing this research on children would be particularly more relevant because they are more amenable to behaviour changes than adults and their sleep needs are greater than adults,” said Dr Jean-Philippe Chaput, from the Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

    The study was completed on a total of 5,812 children from five continents. The children came from a wide range of economic and sociocultural levels, and variables such as age, sex, highest parental education, day of measurement, body mass index score, nocturnal sleep duration, level of physical activity and total sedentary time were considered.

    The findings obtained in the study revealed that in general, nocturnal sleep duration around full moon compared to new moon reported an average decrease of five minutes (or a one per cent variant). No other activity behaviours were substantially modified.

    “Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people’s behaviour. The only significant finding was the one per cent sleep alteration in full moon, and this is largely explained by our large sample size that maximises statistical power,” said Chaput.

     The clinical implication of sleeping five minutes less during full moon does not represent a considerable threat to health. “Overall, I think we should not be worried about the full moon. Our behaviours are largely influenced by many other factors like genes, education, income and psychosocial aspects rather than by gravitational forces,” he added.

    Are you a lucid dreamer? If you are, you’re likely to be ahead of the game when you’re awake, too

    New research finds that those who spot the logical flaws of their dream-world are likely to show greater insight when awake

    You’re in a lecture hall giving the talk of your life, when you suddenly become aware of the fact that you aren’t wearing any trousers.

    Dr Patrick Bourke, Senior Lecturer at the Lincoln School of Psychology, says: It is believed that for dreamers to become lucid while asleep, they must see past the overwhelming reality of their dream state, and recognise that they are dreaming.The same cognitive ability was found to be demonstrated while awake by a person’s ability to think in a different way when it comes to solving problems.

    Not everyone experienced lucid dreamsIn order to investigate the connection between our sleeping and waking minds, the researchers examined 68 participants between the ages of eighteen and 25, ranging from frequent lucid dreamers to those who had never experienced the awareness of being in a dream state.
    Full Article Available At: Independent
    Read the full article right now: Click to read

    A woman wins ‘Nobel Prize of math’ for the first time

    Although Albert Einstein praised another as “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began” after her death in the ’30s, she couldn’t get a teaching job. When she finally did, the Nazis took it away because she was Jewish.

    The struggles of female mathematicians Hypatia (killed in the 5th century), Sophie Germain (1776–1831) and Emmy Noether (1882–1935) are now history. However, not until Tuesday did a woman win the Fields Medal — “the Nobel of math,” as Time magazine put it — first awarded in 1936.

    The achievement of Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani is not just unprecedented, but unlikely in a field where women remain underrepresented. As few as 9 percent of tenure-track positions in math are held by women, according to a 2010 study.

    “This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” Mirzakhani said in a Stanford University news release. “I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.”

    Mirzakhani was born in Iran, dreaming of becoming a writer. It was a tumultuous time in Iran, she said in an interview with the Clay Mathematics Institute. The country was still embroiled in war with Iraq and “those were hard times,” she said.

    But she nonetheless remembers the first time she heard about mathematics. Her brother had a problem — and it would make her abandon her writing aspirations.

    “My older brother was the person who got me interested in science in general,” she told the Clay Mathematics Institute. “He used to tell me what he learned in school. My first memory of mathematics is probably the time that he told me about the problem of adding numbers from 1 to 100. I think he had read in a popular science journal how [German mathematician Johann Carl Friedrich] Gauss solved this problem. The solution was quite fascinating for me. That was the first time I enjoyed a beautiful solution.”

    There would be many more in her career. The war ended when she finished elementary school, and she and a friend spent time wandering in and out of bookstores in Tehran. “We couldn’t skim through the books like people usually do here in a bookstore,” she said. “So we would end up buying a lot of random books.”

    New IPCC climate report predicts significant threats to Australia

    Australia's multibillion-dollar mining, farming and tourism industries face significant threats as worsening global warming causes more dangerous and extreme weather, the world's leading climate science body will warn.

    A final draft of a five-year assessment by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - seen by Fairfax Media - details a litany of global impacts from intensifying climate change including the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, reduced crop yields and the loss of trillions of dollars from the global economy.

    The report is the second part of the IPCC's fifth major assessment and focuses on climate change's impacts and how the world might adapt. It will be finalised at a meeting in Japan next weekend before its release on March 31.
    The final draft Australasia chapter also outlines significant local threats if human-caused climate change gets worse, in particular high confidence that fire seasons, particularly in southern Australia, will extend in high-risk areas.

    There is also significant risk of increased damage and death from heatwaves resulting from more frequent extreme high temperatures. Flood risk too would be worse.
    The draft says these new extremes imply Australia's mammoth mining industry is increasingly vulnerable without adaptation measures. The report points to significant loss of coal exports revenue of $5 billion to $9 billion when mines were flooded in 2011.
    Tourism also faces some significant threats, the draft says. The Great Barrier Reef is expected to degrade under all climate change scenarios, reducing its attractiveness to visitors.
    Australia's $1.8 billion ski industry is identified as most negatively affected, with little option for it to counteract threats.
    For Australian farming a 4 per cent reduction in the gross value of beef, sheep and wool is expected with 3 degrees of warming above a 1980-99 baseline.

    Dairy output is projected to decline in all regions, except in Tasmania.
    Out of the major risks identified for Australia in the draft, the loss of montane ecosystems and changes in coral reefs, appear to be very difficult to avoid. The draft also finds modelling consistently indicated the range of many wildlife species will contract.

    And there is high confidence climate change is already affecting Australia's oceans, with climate zones and species shifting hundreds of kilometres southwards.

    Professor Jean Palutikof - a review editor of the assessment and director of Australia's National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility - said while adaptation measures were important, there were limits to what the world could do and it was important to cut global emissions to ensure these thresholds are not reached.
    ''I think it is quite black and white, there is a risk we will go beyond the limits of the natural environment and human society to adapt to the climate'' she said.

    A spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government recognised the importance of adapting to the impacts of climate change, pointing to the refunding of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, which it has asked to ''focus on putting practical adaptation information in the hands of decision-makers so we can build a stronger, more resilient Australia''.

    LG eyes 10% of Indian smartphone market by 2014-end

    LG has made clear its ambitions to grab a higher market share in the booming Indian smartphone market. According to Soon Kwon, Managing Director, LG Electronics India, LG is aiming at a 10% market share in the Indian smartphone market by the end of 2014. As of now LG has about 4.8% market share in the segment. LG's flagship model, the G2, is expected to fuel much of this growth.

    LG announced few more products today at its Tech Show 2014, taking place in Delhi. The primary one is the LG G2 4G LTE variant, to which the company has also added two colour variants, and which the company says will hit the Indian market around mid-March. The pricing of the 4G LTE versions been revealed and the 16 GB variant will leave you lighter by Rs. 46,000, while the 32 GB will be priced at Rs. 49,000. This device is a sequel of the 3G variant of the LG G2, which was launched in India back ..
    LG also showcased its G Pro 2, the next in line to the G2, though it did not announce its India pricing and availability. The G pro 2 is a powerful device that comes with the Android Kitkat version, sports a 5.9 inch True IPS+ LCD capacitive touch screen rendering 1080 x 1920 pixels resolution, and is equipped with a 2.26 GHz quad core krait 400 processor and Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset.

    LG also announced its wearable device called the Lifeband Touch, and with that has entered the wearable computing device segment, in direct competition with Samsung which launched its Samsung Gear Fit at the recently concluded Mobile World Congress. LG has announced that the Lifeband Touch will be available in India in the second half of 2014. However, the company has not disclosed the price of this one.

    Prithvi-II Missile Successfully test-fired

     India on Tuesday successfully test-fired indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile with a strike range of 350 km from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha as part of a user trial by defence forces.

    The surface-to-surface missile was test-fired at around 10:05 a.m. from a mobile launcher in salvo mode from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range, about 15 km from Balasore, defence sources said.

    Describing the launch of the sophisticated missile as a complete success, ITR Director M.V.K.V. Prasad said all the mission parameters were met during the trial.

    “The missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the launch activities were carried out by the specially formed Strategic Force Command (SFC) and monitored by scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of training exercise,” the sources said.

    “The missile trajectory was tracked by DRDO radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations located along the coast of Odisha,” they said.

    “The downrange teams onboard a ship deployed near the designated impact point in Bay of Bengal monitored the terminal events and splashdown,” they said.

    Inducted into India’s Strategic Forces Command in 2003, Prithvi, the first missile developed by DRDO under India’s prestigious IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program), is now a proven technology, said a defence official.

    “The launch was part of a regular training exercise of SFC and was monitored by DRDO scientists,” he said.

    Such training launches clearly indicate India’s operational readiness to meet any eventuality and also establishes the reliability of this deterrent component of India’s strategic arsenal, the official said.

    Prithvi is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory.

    The last user trial of Prithvi-II missile was successfully carried out from the same base on October 7.

    India's Mars mission enters second stage; outpaces space rival China

    The success of the spacecraft, scheduled to orbit Mars by next September, would carry India into a small club of nations including the United States, Europe, and Russia, whose probes have orbited or landed on Mars.

    India's first mission to Mars left Earth's orbit in the early hours of Sunday, clearing a critical hurdle in its journey to the red planet and overtaking the recent efforts of rival Asian giant China.

    The success of the spacecraft, scheduled to orbit Mars by next September, would carry India into a small club of nations including the United States, Europe, and Russia, whose probes have orbited or landed on Mars.

    India's venture, called Mangalyaan, faces further hurdles still on its journey to Mars. Fewer than half of missions to the planet succeed.

    "While Mangalyaan takes 1.2 billion dreams to Mars, we wish you sweet dreams!" India's space agency said in a tweet soon after the event, referring to the citizens of the world's second-most populous country.

    China's Mars probe rode piggyback on a Russian spacecraft that failed to leave Earth's orbit in November 2011. The spacecraft disintegrated in the atmosphere and its fragments fell into the Pacific Ocean last year.

    India's mission showcases the country's cheap technology,  encouraging hopes it could capture more of the $304-billion global space market, which includes launching satellites for other countries, analysts say.

    "Given its cost-effective technology, India is attractive," said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, an expert on space security at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in Delhi.

    India's low-cost Mars mission has a price tag of 4.5 billion rupees ($73 million), just over a tenth of the cost of NASA's latest mission there, which launched on Nov. 18.

    Homegrown companies -- including India's largest infrastructure group Larsen & Toubro, one of its biggest conglomerates, Godrej & Boyce, state-owned aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Walchand Nagar Industries -- made more than two-thirds of the parts for both the probe and the rocket that launched it on November 5.

    India's probe completed six orbits around Earth before Sunday's "slingshot", which took it into a path around the sun to carry it towards Mars. The slingshot requires precise calculations to eliminate the risk of missing the new orbit.

    Sex-starved fruit flies live shorter, more stressful lives

    Sexual frustration impairs the health of fruit flies and causes premature death, according to new research.

    Scientists found that male flies who were stimulated to mate but prevented from doing so, had their lives cut short by up to 40%.

    Those allowed to copulate not only lived longer but suffered less stress.

    The research is published in the Journal Science.

    In the experiment, the flies were put in close proximity to genetically modified males who had been altered to release female sex pheromones.
    Continue reading the main story   
    “Start Quote

        We immediately observed that they looked quite sick very soon in the presence of these effeminised males”

    Dr Scott Pletcher University of Michigan

    These hormones are used by flies to judge whether a potential mate is nearby, so when males secreted this sexually charged scent, it instantly aroused other males.

    But crucially, they were not able to mate.

    The flies that were tantalised but denied any action showed more stress, a decrease in their fat-stores and had their lives cut short dramatically.

    "We immediately observed that they looked quite sick very soon in the presence of these effeminised males," explained Dr Scott Pletcher at the University of Michigan, US, co-author of the research.

    The common fruit fly has a very short life of about 60 days. This makes them an ideal organism to study aging as the genes that regulate a fly's lifespan have been found to closely parallel those in humans.

    ISRO Mars mission: Our baby is in space looking for objects, scientists enthuse

    Scientists involved in the project say they have a long way to go as the orbit of the spacecraft has to be raised.

    It was moment of triumph for scientists closely involved in the Mars Orbiter Mission. For KS Shivkumar, director of the Isro Satellite Centre where the spacecraft was built, the placing of the Mars Orbiter spacecraft into the orbit around the Earth was like his baby taking its first steps.

    “Our baby is up in space looking for scientific objects but we have a long way to go,” he said.

    He said that the spacecraft was realised in a record 15 months. The project team has undertaken all contingency measures to ensure that the spacecraft can take decisions on its own in the event of any issue. He said full scale autonomy has been built into the spacecraft which would take decisions on its own and put it on safe mode without a ground intervention.  Developing such a system is a real challenge, he added.

    According to AS Kiran Kumar,  director of the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad,   the real challenge lies ahead. “We will have to raise the orbit from 23,000 km to 40,000 km and then to 2 lakh km. Then in the early hours of December 1, the crucial trans-Mars injection would be carried out to enable the spacecraft to undertake its 300 day journey to the red planet,” he said.

    Mission director P Kunhikrishnan said, “With the precise injection of the spacecraft in the desired initial orbit, the crucial part of the mission for its long journey to Mars has been achieved. It is the 25th mission of the PSLV rocket.”

    Professor Yashpal, founding father of ISRO, lauded India’s effort to chart its own path by launching the mission and not following others. “There are a whole lot of programmes going on in the Isro and the best part is that you are making your own path and not following anyone else’s,” he said.

    Professor UR Rao, who had conducted the feasibility study of the Mars mission, said: “It is indeed a great day for India as something that has gone out of our own cradle. I can proudly say India has become mature. I hope we get very good results.” He added, “I was talking to some scientist friends in the US and they told me why Indians are shouting about Rs.500 crore spent on the mission, it

    Ahead of Mars Mission, Temple run goes hand in hand with Rocket science

    For top Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) scientists, it has been a tradition to visit Tirupati temple before any major launch. It has been no different in the run-up to the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission on Tuesday.

    Isro chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan visited Tirupati on
    Sunday to seek blessings for the successful launch.

    Former Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair on Monday said, “This has been a tradition. I had also gone to Tirupati before the Chandrayaan mission.”

    But more than religious beliefs, he said these temple visits helped des-stress the mind and offer clarity.

    But beyond this, do superstitions and other beliefs have a hold on the scientists?

    “Not really,” said Mylswamy Annadurai, the project director of moon missions Chandrayaan 1 and Chandrayaan 2. “I read a page of Bhagawad Gita daily and will do so on Tuesday.”

    He added, “But yes I have just got a jar of peanuts and a good luck card from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Nasa. This is a very nice gesture. I will distribute these peanuts in my office on Tuesday morning.”

    Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) consider circulation of peanuts auspicious.

    Vijay Saradhi, group director, project management, said, “Beliefs and prayers are personal. We had simply broken a coconut just before the entire process started in July. That’s all. We don’t believe in making our beliefs public.”

    SK Shivakumar, director, Isro Satellite Center, agrees. “I am just focussed on the launch. All these things are secondary.”

    Another scientist, who did not want to be named, said, “I will pray for the success of the launch during my routine daily worship. Nothing beyond that.”

    Moose Die-Off Alarms Scientists

    Across North America — in places as far-flung as Montana and British Columbia, New Hampshire and Minnesota — moose populations are in steep decline. And no one is sure why.

     Twenty years ago, Minnesota had two geographically separate moose populations. One of them has virtually disappeared since the 1990s, declining to fewer than 100 from 4,000.

    The other population, in northeastern Minnesota, is dropping 25 percent a year and is now fewer than 3,000, down from 8,000. (The moose mortality rate used to be 8 percent to 12 percent a year.) As a result, wildlife officials have suspended all moose hunting.

    Here in Montana, moose hunting permits fell to 362 last year, from 769 in 1995.

    “Something’s changed,” said Nicholas DeCesare, a biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks who is counting moose in this part of the state — one of numerous efforts across the continent to measure and explain the decline. “There’s fewer moose out there, and hunters are working harder to find them.”

    What exactly has changed remains a mystery. Several factors are clearly at work. But a common thread in most hypotheses is climate change.

    Winters have grown substantially shorter across much of the moose’s range. In New Hampshire, a longer fall with less snow has greatly increased the number of winter ticks, a devastating parasite. “You can get 100,000 ticks on a moose,” said Kristine Rines, a biologist with the state’s Fish and Game Department.

    In Minnesota, the leading culprits are brain worms and liver flukes. Both spend part of their life cycles in snails, which thrive in moist environments.

    Another theory is heat stress. Moose are made for cold weather, and when the temperature rises above 23 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, as has happened more often in recent years, they expend extra energy to stay cool. That can lead to exhaustion and death.

    In the Cariboo Mountains of British Columbia, a recent study pinned the decline of moose on the widespread killing of forest by an epidemic of pine bark beetles, which seem to thrive in warmer weather. The loss of trees left the moose exposed to human and animal predators.

    In Smithers, British Columbia, in April, a moose — starving and severely infested with ticks — wandered into the flower section of a Safeway market. It was euthanized.

    Scientists and officials say other factors could still emerge. Because most moose die in the fall, the next few months may provide insight.

    “It’s complicated because there’s so many pieces of this puzzle that could be impacted by climate change,” said Erika Butler, until recently the wildlife veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

    The stakes go beyond the moose themselves. The animals are ecosystem engineers; when they browse shrubs, for example, they create habitat for some nesting birds.

    And moose contribute to the economy. In New Hampshire, for instance, moose-watching tourism is a $115-million-a-year business, according to Ms. Rines. Hunting permits also generate revenue.

    Moose deaths are hard to study, scientists say. The moose is a member of the deer family, but unlike deer it is a solitary animal that does not run in herds, so it can be hard to track. Moreover, moose have such high levels of body fat that they decompose rapidly; after 24 hours, a necropsy has little value.

    In January, Minnesota started an unusual $1.2 million study using advanced monitoring technology to find moose as soon as they die. Live animals are captured and fitted with collars that give their location every 15 minutes, and they are given feed containing a tiny transmitter that remains in the body and monitors heart rate and temperature. Then the moose are released back into the wild.

    “If the heart stops beating, it sends a text message to our phone that says, ‘I’m dead at x and y coordinates,’ ” said Dr. Butler, who leads the study. The messages are monitored around the clock; when a moose dies, a team on call rushes to the scene by car or helicopter.

    The winter tick problem in New Hampshire is particularly vexing. The animals lose so much blood they can become anemic. Worse, the ticks drive the moose crazy; they constantly scratch, tearing off large patches of hair.

    Some moose lose so much hair they look pale, even spectral; some people call them “ghost moose.” When it rains in the spring, the moose, deprived of their warm coats, then become hypothermic.

    Winter ticks hatch in the fall and begin to climb aboard their host. They are dormant until January or February, when they start to feed, molt into adults and then drop off.

    Moose spend a lot of time feeding in lakes, but wading in water doesn’t drown the ticks, which form an air bubble that allows them to survive immersion in water.

    New Hampshire’s winter tick problem is a relatively recent phenomenon. But then, so are moose. The animals were hunted out of existence during Colonial times; they returned to the state only in the 1970s.

    Sony Xperia C with 5-inch display, dual-SIM available online for Rs. 20,490

    Sony seems to be geared up to officially launch another mid-range smartphone, the Xperia C for the Indian market. The device is currently available online for Rs. 20,490 on Saholic, while it is up for pre-order on Flipkart with the same pricing. Both the ecommerce sites have mentioned that the device will be available from second week of October. The Xperia C was officially unveiled earlier this year at the Mobile Asia Expo.

    The Sony Xperia C is the first smartphone from the Japanese handset giant to be based on quad-core MediaTek MTK6589 processor; clocked at 1.2GHz. It comes with 5-inch TFT LCD qHD (540x960 pixel) display and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It includes 1GB of RAM and 4GB of inbuilt storage, which can be further expandable up to 32GB via microSD card. The Sony Xperia C is a dual-SIM smartphone (GSM+GSM) with dual standby.

    The Xperia C sports an 8-megapixel rear camera with Exmor R sensor. The rear camera comes with features like face detection and Sweep Panorama, and is also capable of shooting videos in full-HD (1080p) mode. There is a 0.3-megapixel front camera onboard also. Connectivity options include 3G, Wi-Fi, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. The smartphone will be available in White, Black and Purple colour options.

    Other features on the Sony Xperia C include motion-gaming, FM radio with RDS, Walkman app and 'screen mirroring'. The device is backed by a 2330mAh battery, which the company claims can deliver up to 10 hours of talktime and up to 588 hours of standby time.

    Neurons Caught in Action Zebrafish Brain Filmed While Firing Signals

    It’s the brain like never seen before. A group of researchers – Misha Ahrens, neurobiologist, and Phillipp Keller, microbiologist from Howard Hughes medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus, have been able to see individual neurons firing in the brain of a larval zebra-fish, recording activities across the entire fish brain.

    They have mapped the exact firing pattern for 80% of the 100,000 neurons in the brain, suggesting that, should an upscaling of this mapping be done, the human brain might finally be in the imaging line.

    The imaging technique is ingenious, but theoretically simple. The researchers created genetically modified zebrafish, so that the neurons make a protein which fluoresces when there is a change in the concentration of the calcium ions. Calcium ion concentrations change when a neuron fires, meaning that there will be a small fluorescence when a neuron fires.

    Now, a thin sheet of light was sent through the brain and this captures any optical activity in the brain and then records it on a screen. This imaging technique is called ‘light-sheet microscopy’ and the Janelia team was able to upgrade it count at a rate tenfold its original rate. The entire brain of the larval fish was mapped every 1.3 seconds. One whole experiment lasted for 10 hours, generating as much a few terabytes of data.

    Ahrens commented on his pet method, explaining why it is so much better than conventional techniques. Available techniques allow one to image at most 2000 neurons at one go, but this one can see the entire circuitry in the brain. As Ahrens puts it:
    Read more at http://techie-buzz.com/science/zebrafish-brain-map.html#L4pK064y8VK9FjMe.99

    Fancy Touch Screen fails Against Cheaper Clickers

    The good: Sleek universal remote with beautiful-looking design; large color touch screen with custom virtual buttons and numeric keypad; recognizes limited gestures; Web-programmable via Windows or Mac PCs, but can edit commands without having to connect a computer; rechargeable via the included cradle; controls up to 15 devices.

    The bad: Much more expensive than the superior Harmony 650; poorly placed "transport" buttons; lacks dedicated forward and reverse skip keys; limited customization options for the touch screen; nonremovable battery; no RF compatibility.

    The bottom line: The Harmony Touch can't justify the high price of its touch screen compared with traditional multibutton universal remotes.
    A touch-screen remote at first glance seems like an obvious evolution over the button-festooned scepters of yore, but the Logitech Harmony Touch is a significantly worse remote than many traditional universal clickers, like the superb and much less expensive Harmony 650.

    The Touch evokes buttonless tablets and smartphones while still offering dedicated keys for the most important functions. Logitech's newest high-end remote sports a 2.4-inch color touch screen accompanied by 27 buttons, exactly half the number found on the Harmony 650. The $250 Touch features the same Web-based programming and activity-based controls (such as "Watch TV") that have made Harmony remotes so popular, but the focus is clearly on the touch screen, which takes up about a third of the length of the remote.

    The screen has its advantages, including more flexible customization, the capacity to display a bunch of channel icons at once, on-remote editing, and support for a few gestures. But its main disadvantage -- the fact that you have to look down at the remote to make sure you're pressing the right virtual button -- is a deal-breaker for me. Logitech could have minimized this issue with better placement and selection of the hard keys, using the discontinued Harmony One as a model perhaps, but instead it plopped the screen front and center. Throw in the exorbitant price and the fact that you can circumvent Logitech's arbitrary device limit (more about this later), and there's simply no good reason to buy a Harmony Touch instead of a 650.

    Design and button layout
    You might be tempted to buy a Touch if appearance and feel were your only criteria. It's probably the nicest-looking remote I've seen, and it fits great in the hand. The glossy black face is a bit of a fingerprint magnet but no more so than a phone or tablet. It arcs gracefully down from back to front and sexy curves extend around the softly textured back, for an easier grip than with larger wands like the 650.
    source  :- http://reviews.cnet.com

    Comeback cod lessens gloom over emptying oceans

     It was hours before dawn on a heaving Arctic sea, and snow showers were making it hard for Kurt Ludvigsen to find his fishing buoys with the trawler's powerful searchlight.

    But the 49-year-old Norwegian was less bothered by the conditions than by the large numbers of cod flailing in the nets he and his younger brother, Trond, winched aboard.

    "It's paradoxical but we have too many fish this year," the older Ludvigsen said. "Prices have fallen 30 percent ... We're having to work far harder."

    Just over six years ago, an article in the U.S. journal Science projected that all fish and seafood species, on current trends, would collapse by 2048.

    A cod bonanza off north Norway and Russia, and recovery of some fish stocks off the coasts of developed nations from the United States to Australia, have led many scientists to say the future for overfished world stocks is a bit less bleak.

    Stocks off the coasts of developing nations — from the Pacific to the Caribbean — are still in sharp decline, but the recoveries give hope that the problems are not irreversible.

    "The outlook is improving relative to what we saw in 2006," said Boris Worm, a professor of biology at Dalhousie University in Canada and lead author of the 2006 study in Science.

    "It's more than isolated examples — it's a substantial number" of successes, he said.

    A lot is at stake. Fisheries, both marine and farmed, provide livelihoods for up to 820 million people, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, which emphasizes that globally, overfishing is still on the rise.

    Cod, the 11th most-caught fish species on the FAO list (behind the Peruvian anchovy, skipjack tuna and Atlantic herring), has had a mixed fate.

    While a 1990s fishing moratorium off eastern Canada is still in place, and European Union quotas are unchanged this year, the quota off northern Norway and Russia is a record 1.1 million tons, up a third from 2012, and six times as high as in 1990.

    Part of the reason is that global warming has expanded the cod's habitat northwards. And strict management of quotas by Oslo and Moscow have played a role, fisheries experts say.

    Among other encouraging examples: Fish landings off the United States rose to a 14-year-high in 2011, "thanks in part to rebuilding fish populations," according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    U.S. successes include Atlantic swordfish, summer flounder, New England scallops, Pacific lingcod and mid-Atlantic bluefish, the Washington-based Pew Environment Group said.

    In September, another study in the journal Science said catches of the best-studied stocks off the coasts of developed nations were shifting towards sustainable levels.

    "We now know that we can make fisheries recover," said Christopher Costello, lead author of that study, and a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    "That sounds obvious, but even 10 years ago many people would have disagreed, saying 'we've already decimated them to a point of no return.'"

    Many experts are now dropping a belief that overfished stocks, like cod off Canada, can never revive. Closing fishing grounds, or cracking down on illegal catches, usually gives stocks a needed respite, he said.

    That is much harder for developing nations, from the Philippines to Ecuador, to enforce, with the result that better conservation in one area may simply shift problems elsewhere.

    Apple Stock Suffers Worst Day In More Than Four Years

     The smallest of gains gave the Standard & Poor's 500 its seventh straight winning day on Thursday, but the index failed to hold above the 1,500 line, restrained by Apple's worst day in more than four years.

    Apple Inc slid 12.4 percent to $450.50 a day after it posted revenue that missed Wall Street's forecast as iPhone sales were poorer than expected.

    The sharp drop wiped out nearly $60 billion in Apple's market capitalization to less than $423 billion, leaving the company vulnerable to losing its status as the most valuable U.S. company to second-place ExxonMobil, at $416.5 billion.

    The S&P 500, however, managed to hit its longest winning streak since October 2006.

    "The market has sent the message it is no longer driven by the whims of Apple," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

    The S&P 500 briefly traded above 1,500 for the first time since Dec. 12, 2007, but failed to hold above it, indicating that momentum is waning and a pullback is in the charts.

    "If the market had a little bit more excitement to it, momentum players would have jumped after it broke through 1,500. Investors know the market is a little bit ahead of itself," Polcari said.

    Economic data helped buoy equities as U.S. factory activity grew the most in nearly two years in January and new claims for jobless benefits dropped to a five-year low last week, giving surprisingly strong signals on the economy's pulse.

    At the same time, Chinese manufacturing grew this month at the fastest pace in about two years, while data suggesting German growth picked up boosted hopes for a euro-zone recovery.

    "PMI in Asia, Europe, and obviously, here in the United States, is moving in the right direction, and that's stuff people should be excited about," Polcari said.

    The Dow Jones industrial average rose 46 points or 0.33 percent, to 13,825.33 at the close. The S&P 500 inched up just 0.01 of a point, or 0 percent, to finish at 1,494.82. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.29 points or 0.74 percent, to end at 3,130.38, with most of that loss on Apple's slide.

    The broader Russell 2000 index also hit a milestone as it closed above 900 points for the first time.

    Video streaming service Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street with a quarterly profit after it added nearly 4 million customers in the United States and abroad. Netflix shares surged 42.2 percent to $146.86, its biggest percentage jump ever.

    Earnings have helped drive the stock market's recent rally. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent have exceeded expectations - above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

    Gliese 581g Exoplanet May Be 'Potentially Habitable' Alien World After All

    Nearly two years after spotting Gliese 581g, the celebrated "first potentially habitable" alien world, the planet's discoverers continue to fight for its existence.

    The discovery of Gliese 581g made headlines around the world in September 2010, because the planet was said to orbit in the middle of its star's "habitable zone" — that just-right range of distances where liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, could exist.

    Just a few weeks later, however, another prominent research team began casting doubt on the find, saying the alien planet didn't show up in their observations. This group, led by Michel Mayor of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, had found the previously known four planets in the Gliese 581 system.

    But in a new study that will be published Aug. 1, 581g's discoverers examine the Swiss team's since-expanded data set and take issue with their conclusions, saying that the evidence supports the planet's existence after all.

    The data and analyses "point to there being at least one other planet beyond the confirmed 4, a 5th planet, with a period in the 26-39-day regime," lead author Steve Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told SPACE.com via email. [The Strangest Alien Planets]

    "This 5th planet would have a mass of only 2-3 [times that of] Earth, and would orbit pretty much squarely in the star's habitable zone," he added.

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