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What do machines dream of? New images released by Google give us one potential answer: hypnotic landscapes of buildings, fountains and bridges merging into one.

The pictures, which veer from beautiful to terrifying, were created by the company’s image recognition neural network, which has been “taught” to identify features such as buildings, animals and objects in photographs.

They were created by feeding a picture into the network, asking it to recognise a feature of it, and modify the picture to emphasise the feature it recognises. That modified picture is then fed back into the network, which is again tasked to recognise features and emphasise them, and so on. Eventually, the feedback loop modifies the picture beyond all recognition.

At a low level, the neural network might be tasked merely to detect the edges on an image. In that case, the picture becomes painterly, an effect that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has experience playing about with photoshop filters:

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Source (The Guardian) has some interesting illustrations.

The San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District has detected invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the county. They were most recently found in late January in areas of Menlo Park.

Aedes aegypti is not native to San Mateo County. It is a small, day-biting mosquito that prefers to feed on humans. It is capable of transmitting several viruses, including dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. While these viruses are not currently transmitted in San Mateo County, they are periodically introduced by international travelers.

In the presence of a large population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a single case of one of these diseases has the potential to become an epidemic, county health officials say.

The Vector Control District has been actively looking for the mosquito in areas of the county where Aedes aegypti has been detected. These efforts include door-to-door inspection of residential properties for standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito lays its eggs just above the water surface in small containers, such as flowerpots, plant saucers, pet bowls, bottles and bird baths. As these mosquitoes can breed in amounts of water as small as a bottle cap, residents are reminded to survey their property and immediately eliminate all standing water.

Residents can reduce the chances of being bitten by Aedes aegypti or other mosquitoes by:
• Applying insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 and following label instructions;
• Making sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens;
• Eliminating standing water and containers that can hold water from around the home;
• Reporting neglected swimming pools or other water sources;
• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

Anyone who is being bitten by mosquitoes during the day should report them to the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District (650) 344-8592 or by visiting www.smcmvcd.org.
What started as a measles outbreak among seven people who visited Disneyland in December has spread to more than 26, as an unvaccinated California woman apparently transmitted the virus through airports and the theme park, health officials said.

State health departments in California, Colorado, Utah and Washington and have confirmed cases of the extremely contagious virus, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. Taken together, the cases would account for almost 12% of the expected measles cases for the entire year (there are 220 cases per year on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
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It has a weird shape, but that's because it's not limited to the roads. Flap the wings and fly to your will. AeroMobil 3.0 prototype shows a fully functional flying car. An idea that took more than 20 years in the making, the prototype was announced at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna.

Drive it around the road and people are sure to follow you. Not just because of the weird shape, but also because it has wings. The video demonstration shows the car being driven on roads and taken to a field, to fly. And it's all real.

It looks fairly simple. There isn't any separate flying gear. It's all part of the car. The steering wheel is equipped for both driving and flying modes. And you can even take someone with you, as the flying car is a 2 person ride. However, the prototype is not yet ready for mass production, but it's very close. Availability of such a vehicle would also require legal permission. You don't simply fly a car, you know.

Founder of the Department of Transport Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Slovakia, Stefan Klein designed the prototype. Founder Stefan Klein and CEO Juraj Vaculik believes their innovation can change personal transportation on a global scale.

What's amazing about this flying car, is that it runs on gas just like regular cars. If you want to fly, you'll need 650 feet to take off and only 164 feet to land safely. And also, maybe a pilot's license. You can fly as fast as 200 kilometers/hour, or 124 miles/hour.
Remember the Google Ara Project? Yes, the phones that you can assemble using separate blocks of hardware. Although the project has been widely discussed and once live demonstrated by Google, we haven't seen a properly working prototype, until now.

This video made by Phonebloks, shows a working prototype of an assembled phone. The functional phone is shown at the end of the video for roughly 15 seconds, where the phone is assembled and booted up to run an application. The phone is lagging, as you can see in the video, but it is still much better than the previous prototype that didn't quite work so properly (froze after starting up).

The Google Ara project is very innovation, no doubt about that. It will change the mobile market, like custom PC's did. Having a phone with hardware of your choice certainly is a great idea. It's not just more affordable, but also easier to fix. You can just change the separate blocks and upgrade specifically whatever you need.

The Spiral 1 prototype was just the beginning. As explained in the video, Toshiba made improved chips for the Spiral 2 prototype, which you can see in the video. The video demonstrates that Project Ara is currently going at a steady pace and we can expect a working model soon. The Spiral 2 prototype will be shown at the next Developers Conference, in January next year.

For those yet unfamiliar with the Google Ara Project, here's a quick introduction. The Google Ara project aims to create phone models that can be assembled with custom hardware of the user's choice. Just like custom PCs, you can pick whichever hardware you want and assemble them into the blocks to create your desired phone. This way, you can change only one component or hardware of the phone if you want. If you want to change the Camera features, you simply have to change the Camera hardware block for an improvement.
After many rumors, Microsoft finally announced its first wearable called Band. The device can track your heart rate, calories burnt, exercises, sleep and the number of steps taken. This is the first wearable by the company, which will be competing against already dominant wearable devices like Fitbit.

Microsoft Band Screenshot
Microsoft plans to make the wearable available to everyone on all platforms. So the apps are available on iOS and Android as well as Windows. Microsoft has been focused on universal availability for its applications. Previously, we have seen apps like Photosynth and Skype having cross-platform availability.

However, Microsoft Band is not limited to fitness tracking only. It can receive emails. You can get all your updates while you're out jogging or you're simply away from your phone. The device can detect whether you've worn it or not, and depending on that, it keeps track of your health.

The device will track your heart rates 24 hours. It will automatically start counting your activity once you start doing something like - walking or running. At the end of the day, you can see how many calories you've burnt and how many steps you've taken. The device will support GPS tracking, so you won't have to carry any device with you to track your activities. This is a great advantage, considering the Apple Watch lacks this feature and requires an Apple device to be connected.

As reported by the New York Times, Microsoft band will be available for $199, which is quite cheap compared to the Apple Watch coming next year for $349 and the Fitbit Surge coming next year for $250. The device will also have bar code scanner, to allow payments to be made from the wrists.
If you are scared of looking through the window on an airplane, then let me introduce you to the new window-less airplane concept. The Center for Processing Innovation (CPI) is going to make the first window-less plane. However, instead of windows, it will have OLED screens that show you real time view of the exterior of the plane.

In case you're still wondering, the concept is real and CPI is actually planning to make this plane soon. However, this plane, although won't have windows, won't really solve the problems regarding fear of height. Rather, it might be scarier for people as it show a full view of the exterior. According to an article by Mashable, CPI believes this concept will be a reality in 10 years.

A more important part of the design is the reduced fuel consumption. CPI says that there will be thinner walls and the plane would have less weight, leading to a reduced fuel consumption. This is particularly great. Less fuel consumption would mean a big deal for commercial airlines. There's more, the plane would have functions to give you a view from different angles. The view from your seat will not show the wings of the plane, so you can get a full-proof experience.

But question is, will people adapt to this new entertaining way of flying? Surely, this won't be suitable for all users.
05 August 2014 @ 05:18 pm
I've deleted the recent spam posts and reported the account responsible. I'll be keeping a closer eye on posts as well.
13 July 2014 @ 12:27 am
A Mississippi baby scientists thought was "functionally cured" of HIV now has detectable levels of the virus in her blood, her doctors say.

The news is disappointing for a case the scientific community hailed just last year as a potential game changer in the fight against AIDS.

"It felt like a punch to the gut," Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said of seeing signs of the virus on test results earlier this month.

"It was extremely disappointing from both the scientific standpoint ... but mainly for the sake of the child who is back on medicine and expected to stay on medicine for a very long time."

Media outlets around the world covered the Mississippi case when it was first made public in March 2013. CNN updated its story again in October when researchers announced the toddler was still HIV free.

The child was born to a mother who received no prenatal care and was not diagnosed as HIV-positive herself until just before delivery. "We didn't have the opportunity to treat the mom during the pregnancy as we would like to be able to do, to prevent transmission to the baby," Gay said last year.

Doctors administered high doses of three antiretroviral drugs 30 hours after the girl was born in case she was infected. They hoped to control the virus, which was not detectable at the time. The child remained on antiretroviral drugs for approximately 18 months. Her mother then stopped administering the drugs for an unknown reason.

A few months later, doctors said the little girl had no evidence of the life-threatening disease in her blood. They announced that the girl was the first child to be "functionally cured" of HIV. A "functional cure" is when the presence of the virus is so small, lifelong treatment is not necessary and standard clinical tests cannot detect the virus in the blood.

However, during a routine doctor visit early this month, tests detected HIV antibodies in the now 4-year-old child. Her T-cell count was also low, indicating a weakened immune system. More than two years after being taken off the medication, doctors started her again on antiretroviral therapy.

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Related post "Early Treatment Is Found to Clear H.I.V. in a 2nd Baby" here.


Grey wolves have been confirmed as far west as California and Oregon and as far east as Michigan AP

DNA testing has confirmed that an animal shot in February in Iowa's Buchanan County was in fact a wolf, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This is the first confirmed grey wolf (Canis lupus) in the US state since 1925.

Experts believe the wolf likely travelled south from Wisconsin or Minnesota, the latter of which has the largest wolf population in the lower 48.

The Iowa wolf, which was a 65-70 pound healthy female, was shot and killed in February of this year by a hunter who mistook it for a coyote. Although wolves remain a protected species in Iowa, the hunter was not cited, because he believed the animal to be a coyote and has cooperated with authorities, including bringing the wolf to them in the first place.

"I was surprised but not that surprised," DNA specialist Vince Evelsizer told the Gazette. "Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them."

After being nearly exterminated across the continental US, grey wolves have returned to many states in the last two decades, both due to reintroductions and populations migrating from Canada. Grey wolves have been confirmed as far west as California and Oregon and as far east as Michigan.

During the same time wolves have been vindicated by science as key ecological species. As top predators, wolves not only manage prey populations of animals such as deer and elk, but also change their behavior, curbing unhindered grazing. For example, the wolf's return to Yellowstone National park led to a resurgence in young forest and a subsequent explosion in biodiversity.

But in many states wolves are now actively hunted and trapped. A legislative rider stripped the wolves of protection from the Endangered Species Act in 2011, the only animal to ever lose its protection in this way.

As of January this year, hunters and trappers have killed 2,567 grey wolves in the US's lower 48 states since 2011. In all, around 6,000 wolves are thought to inhabit the lower 48 now, up from a nadir of 300 before the grey wolf gained protection in 1974.

Source: Guardian Environment Network