Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

Elysium or the Elysian Fields is a conception of the afterlife that developed over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life.The Elysian Fields were, according to Homer, located on the western edge of the Earth by the stream of Okeanos. In the time of the Greek oral poet Hesiod, Elysium would also be known as the Fortunate Isles or the Isles of the Blessed, located in the western ocean at the end of the earth. The Isles of the Blessed would be reduced to a single island by the Thebean poet Pindar, describing it as having shady parks, with residents indulging their athletic and musical pastimes.The ruler of Elysium varies from author to author: Pindar and Hesiod name Cronus as the ruler, while the poet Homer in the Odyssey describes fair-haired Rhadamanthus dwelling there. Wikipedia.


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News Article | September 30, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

The Latin phrase per asperaad astra, meaning "through hardships to the stars," has become a kind of unofficial shorthand for human efforts to explore and eventually colonize space. Aside from its lyrical ring, the axiom owes much of its popularity to the oft-repeated refrain that "space is hard," and that people courageous enough to venture off the planet can expect to experience all manner of discomfort, from cramped quarters to dizzying g-forces, and sometimes even injury or death. But for centuries, many speculative fiction writers have bucked this trend by envisioning plush spaceships decked out with opulent furnishings to support the extravagant lifestyles of elite passengers. This vision of spaceflight—let's call it per luxuria ad astra—has yielded some of the most memorable fictional spacecraft in popular culture, from the campy starliner Fhloston Paradise in The Fifth Element to the mollycoddling generation ship Axiom from WALL-E. But is luxury spaceflight a realistic dream that humans should pursue, or a delusional fantasy nurtured by underappreciation of the comforts of a planet as dope as Earth? To find out, let's embark on a brief tour of the "Starship Luxurious" trope in science fiction history, to root out the underlying philosophies that have given it such mass appeal over the centuries. Almost as soon as spaceship concepts begin to show up with some regularity in science fiction, writers felt the impulse to pimp them out. For instance, take the 1727 Swiftian satire A Voyage to Cacklogallinia, written under the pseudonym Captain Samuel Brunt. The story describes a trip to the Moon in a spacefaring palanquin borne by enormous sentient chickens (naturally). "The only Talk now in Town was our designed Journey to the Moon, for which a great many of the swiftest Flyers were inlifted with Promises of great Reward. Palanquins were made sharp at each End, to cut the Air; the warmest Mantles and Hoods were made for the Bearers, and the Projector's and my Palanquin were close, and lined with Down. A Company was erected, Shares sold of the Treasure we were to bring back; and happy was he who could first subscribe." The passage pays some lip service to the presumed discomforts associated with space travel—cold temperatures, for instance. But more importantly, it casually dismisses those hardships using existing luxury concepts like palanquins, vehicles that have long been signifiers of affluence and high status. Brunt's tale hints not only at the luxury experience of spaceflight, but also at luxury markets that might be catalyzed by spaceflight. The "Treasure" the narrator plans to bring back from the Moon was no doubt inspired by the valuable items being funneled back to Europe from around the world during the 1700s. Pricey goods from farflung destinations were dispersed by increasingly sophisticated seafaring vessels, which stimulated the hefty European hunger for colonial wealth. Space fiction stories from this era often reflect these mercantile dynamics. It's not surprising, then, that whoever Brunt really was, he was not alone in his thinking. Many other 18th century writers spelled out various capitalist justifications for space exploration in their own works. According to Ron Miller's The Dream Machines, the German astronomer Eberhard Christian Kindermann, born in 1715, suggested that "flights to Jupiter could be made in order to bring back exotic plants, in the same way that 'monkeys and peacocks from Asia' were being brought to Europe." Setting aside the innocence it takes to deem the introduction of Jovian invasive species to Earth as a great business opportunity, these early writings demonstrate that fictional spaceships could be viewed as both lucrative purveyors of luxury goods, as well as big ticket items unto themselves. Nowhere is this more clear than in Edward Everett Hale's story story The Brick Moon, which was serialized in Atlantic Monthly from 1869 to 1870. One of the earliest depictions of a fully fledged space station, the tale follows the unintentional launch of a spherical brick satellite, 200 feet in diameter, while people are onboard. Early in the story, Hale goes to great lengths to describe how expensive this satellite was to build, and how difficult it was to secure the funds to greenlight it. He also mentions that the artificial moon's living spaces are "much more comfortable" than the cabins surrounding its launchpad on Earth, which explains why the satellite was inhabited during its surprise trip to space. Basically, the faux-moon was so plush that people started squatting in it. As soon as the station is identified in orbit, the narrator becomes almost envious of the accidental astronauts and their new lifestyle beyond the skies. "They had three acres of surface, and there were but thirty-seven of them," Hale writes. "Not so much crowded as people are in Roxbury, not nearly so much as in Boston; and, besides, these people are living underground, and have the whole of their surface for their exercise." While the genetic diversity issues presented by an isolated population of 37 people are not explored, the story idealizes the experience of living in space as some weird off-Earth riff on a pastoral wonderland. In fact, the narrator draws explicit comparisons between the environments of the Brick Moon and the Earth: "I knew that at half-past ten they would pass into the inevitable eclipse which struck them every night at this period of their orbit, and must, I thought, be a luxury to them, as recalling old memories of night when they were on this world." This sentence represents an interesting paradigm shift in the history of plush fictional spacecraft, because it correlates "luxury" directly to "Earthlike." Later spaceship concepts would take this link and run with it, offering a variety of lush simulated Earth environments in space, from the botanical wonders of Cloud 9 in Battlestar Galactica to the ritzy Mayflower colony ship that peaces out on Mega-City One in the Judge Dredd franchise. The Brick Moon subverts a few other traditional space fiction tropes as well, especially because the titular spacecraft is a human-made object that is treated like a permanent home, and not merely a temporary stopgap between planetary worlds. In contrast to astronauts traveling to other natural bodies to cart back luxury items, the people of the Brick Moon request comfort goods to be sent to them from Earth. This results in another botched launch in which most of the pricey cargo burns up in the atmosphere. The only surviving items are "two croquet balls and a china horse" that arrive on the station intact, and a bunch of crap that gets caught in the orbit of the Brick Moon. "They had five volumes of the 'Congressional Globe' whirling round like bats within a hundred feet of their heads," Hale writes. "Another body, which I am afraid was 'The Ingham Papers,' flew a little higher, not quite so heavy. Then there was an absurd procession of the woolly sheep, a china cow, a pair of india-rubbers, a lobster Haliburton had chosen to send, a wooden lion, the wax doll, a Salter's balance, the 'New York Observer,' the bow and arrows, a Nuremberg nanny-goat, Rose's watering-pot, and the magnetic fishes, which gravely circled round and round them slowly and made the petty zodiac of their petty world." Hale doesn't mention whether the livestock orbiting the satellite are dead, but in any case, it's entertaining that the moon's inhabitants would be able to literally count sheep in their skies. It's also a poignant image: The first humans in space gazing up at an arched ribbon of expensive items orbiting just out of their reach. This metaphorically rich tableau indicates the ongoing maturation of the luxury spaceship trope through its successive incarnations. To that point, the rising popularity of opulent ocean-liners like the ill-fated Titanic at the turn of the 20th century further cemented the idea that dangerous frontiers like the seas could be braved in relative comfort and class. The imaginative implications of these vessels for space travel was certainly not lost on science fiction creators. Massive luxury starliners laden with pampered passengers started cropping up more often in fiction. These include the lunar tourism ship Meteor envisioned by Washington Gladden in 1880 or the Buck Rogers concept of a "Cruise Ship to the Stars." Author Michael Flynn recently took the Titanic analogy to its darker conclusion with his novel The Wreck of the River of Stars, about the deteriorating remains of a leisure spaceship. Today, the Starship Luxurious trope has evolved to convey several themes and ambiences, some of which are directly counter to its origins as a standin for European exploitation of global resources. For instance, the 2013 film Elysium uses the titular super-wealthy orbital enclave to critique the same capitalist ideas that first gave rise to luxury spaceships, particularly the polarizing effects of income inequality. In Pixar's WALL-E, the Axiom starliner built by Buy n Large corporation offers a more light-hearted commentary on consumerism. In exchange for instant gratifications and endless coddling by the ship's mostly robotic staff, the Axiom's passengers are hoodwinked into shedding many basic concepts and skills, including walking. Though their descent into intellectual, emotional, and physical laziness is mostly played for laughs, the notion that material overindulgence can lead to a loss of humanity is central to the film's message. There are countless other examples of the trope, from the sleek fleet of starships depicted in the Star Trek franchise, to the plush quarters of the Shepard character in Mass Effect, to Douglas Adams' Milliways, a transdimensional five-star restaurant at the end of the universe. But will this longstanding dream of luxury spaceflight ever come to fruition in the real world? Contemporary human spaceflight is, after all, decidedly not luxurious, as one look inside the International Space Station aptly demonstrates. Given the exorbitant cost of sending people and supplies into space, astronauts have to be extremely thrifty with their resources, which results in major sacrifices in comfort during their time off the planet. Likewise, the first space tourists have been more akin to wilderness adventurers willing to brave the outer elements than vacationers looking for a little rest and relaxation. It seems that for the near future, at least, space is still a challenging frontier open only to the boldest among us, and not a carefree playground for wealthy tourists. But as to the far future: Who knows? There is certainly no shortage of speculative design concepts for spacecraft engineers to play with, and the cost of sending humans to space may drastically decrease over the coming decades, perhaps even by five million percent, if SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has his way. On Tuesday, Musk unveiled his new concept for an Interplanetary Transport System that he claimed would include "zero G games," "movies," and "a restaurant" for use by a population of about 100 passengers. This could be one small step towards the first luxury starliners, or it could be the latest in a long line of similarly proposed spacecraft that will likely never make it off the drawing board, let alone the launchpad. Only time will tell. Luxury Week is a series about our evolving views of what constitutes luxury. Follow along here. Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.


News Article | January 6, 2016
Site: phys.org

IBM CEO Virginia Rometty says the future of gadgets is not just connectivity, but the ability to analyze and "think." While IBM isn't known for consumer technology, Rometty argued that her company's "Watson" artificial brain can enhance a variety of consumer products. In a talk Wednesday at the CES gadget show, she announced new partnerships with three companies that will use Watson, the IBM "cognitive computing" system that ran the table on Jeopardy a few years back. Under Armour, the athletic apparel maker, is releasing a fitness app that uses Watson to analyze a users' activity, weight and other data to make personalized recommendations for diet and exercise. Medtronic, which makes medical equipment, has developed an app that uses Watson to help diabetics track their blood sugar level, diet and other factors to warn them of impending hypoglycemic events up to three hours in advance. Rometty also introduced a humanoid made by Japan's SoftBank that uses Watson's intelligence to work as a mobile concierge in banks and stores. The robot uses voice recognition and synthesis to answer questions and recommend products based on the data it collects from customers. In an event as large and sprawling as CES, sometimes it takes star power to attract attention—the type of star power that Las Vegas and Hollywood understand so well. Repeat celebrity CES attendees include former basketball star Shaquille O'Neal, comedian and television host Nick Cannon and radio/TV personality Ryan Seacrest. Shaq is here for Monster, the audio equipment maker; Seacrest has represented iHeartRadio and his own mobile keyboard company in the past. This year, both he and Nick Cannon, who was the event's "entertainment matters ambassador" last year, are leading sessions on tech. Fitness trackers, of course, demand solid athletic endorsements, which is why sports stars such as football quarterback Tony Romo, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and baseball hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr. are making booth appearances. All three are representing Under Armour, which announced a new fitness tracker Tuesday. Most CES celebrity appearances anymore are reserved for evening performances or parties sponsored by various brands. Hip-hop artist Fetty Wap is featured at a Google cocktail party Wednesday. Chris Brown, a resident performer at Drai's nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip who made news in the New Year when a woman accused him of battery, is the centerpiece of iHeartMedia's annual CES party on Thursday. He's denied any wrongdoing. The automotive presence at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas has grown so large that the show's organizers are bragging about supplanting Detroit. "You could say we've shifted the center of gravity from Detroit to Las Vegas this week," Gary Shapiro, CEO and president of the Consumer Technology Association, said Wednesday at the introduction of Chevrolet's new all-electric Bolt compact car. Companies that make auto electronics such as computers, cameras, laser sensors and maps are ubiquitous at the Las Vegas show as the march toward autonomous cars gains speed. But they're largely absent from the big Detroit auto show that opens next week. Big automakers such as Ford and General Motors are now saving technology announcements for CES, leaving the Detroit show for new product introductions. But those are down this year to 45, 10 fewer than last year. Some people slurp their coffee while it's piping hot, others warm their hands with it till it cools to a drinkable temperature. A smart mug called Ember aims to keep it at the perfect temperature for two hours using a rechargeable battery. A touch sensitive logo indicates the temperature at which your java is resting, while turning the ring at the bottom lets you adjust that up or down. Apparently, most people enjoy their cup of joe at about 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. A pop-up lid means you can drink from any direction without searching for the opening. Pre-orders for the Ember cost $129 and delivery is expected in May. General Motors executives say the new Chevrolet Bolt electric car was designed so it can handle a future filled with cameras, sensors and supercomputers on the way toward autonomous driving. "It is an upgradable platform for new technology," CEO Mary Barra said Wednesday as she introduced the car's production version, which boasts a 200-mile battery range, at the CES gadget show. The five-passenger Bolt, priced about $37,500 excluding a $7,500 federal tax credit, has a 10.2-inch touch screen and can be recharged to 80 percent of its battery capacity in an hour on a 240-volt charger, she said. It will go on sale late this year as a 2017 model. The Bolt should help GM in its alliance to provide cars and eventually self-driving vehicles to ride-sharing service Lyft. The company announced a $500 million investment in Lyft on Monday. GM says the Bolt's higher driving range, which competes with upstart Tesla Motors at a lower price, should draw buyers even with low gas prices. Research has shown that limited range is a big barrier to many drivers, the company said. "This takes that excuse away," said GM product development chief Mark Reuss. Celebrities with new Netflix shows owe much of their current success to technology, and as a result are, well, big fans of Netflix. But they're a bit warier about the rest of the gadget world. Krysten Ritter, who stars in the Netflix series "Jessica Jones," has a few ideas for new gadgets: a device that deactivates phones inside cars, and maybe a hoverboard "that doesn't blow up." Comedian Chelsea Handler, meanwhile, says she runs her house from her iPad, but that if she tries to turn on the TV, "the microwave goes off. It's a mess." Take that, Internet of Things! Actors Will Arnett ("Flaked") and Wagner Moura ("Narcos") are sanguine about the opportunities created by entertainment tech. Both expect TV watching to grow ever more immersive, with technologies like augmented and virtual reality putting viewers in the same room with actors. But only up to a point. Moura says he just hopes "we're not going to be replaced by robots or anything." They aren't Marty McFly's self-lacing sneakers from "Back to the Future," but Digitsole's shoes promise to tighten and loosen with a touch of a smartphone app. The French company says the pair on display at this week's CES gadget show in Las Vegas will sell for $450 starting around October. Another French company says it has solved the problem of matching one's shoes to one's outfit. Shoe retailer Eram, teamed up with tech firm BlueGriot to invent Choose, a shoe that the company says changes colors based on photos a person snaps—including images taken of a person's other attire. Sony unveiled a prototype TV capable of showing 4K programming with a brightness level it claims is four times as bright as its competitors. Using a technology it called Backlight Master Drive, the company said its prototype TV could emit 4,000 nits of brightness, which is four times as high as the 1,000 nits boasted by competitors LG and Samsung on their liquid crystal display TVs. It's about 10 times brighter than most sets today. The company said the technology was unique to Sony. It also said it would launch an app called Ultra so users could buy and stream 4K movies that were also encoded for a new standard called high dynamic range (HDR). Titles to be made available include Sony Pictures films like "Elysium," ''Chappie" and "Fury." Sony also showed off a flagship TV it calls the X93D it will launch later this year to show 4K HDR movies and shows. It said it would brand all its new TVs that are capable of playing the new format with the "4K HDR" label, not the "Ultra HD Premium" label that is sanctioned by the UHD Alliance, a group of electronics makers and studios of which Sony is a member. The government says companies shouldn't use "big data" to discriminate. The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday released a report with recommendations on how companies should use big data, or huge sets of information, when they incorporate it into decisions like hiring or lending. Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said during a talk at CES that it's important for companies to realize that using such data sets could exclude or hurt minorities. The FTC's recommendations are not binding on businesses, but if they aren't followed, the FTC may scrutinize their practices. The agency also says it will continue monitoring to see if companies' practices violate existing laws and "bring enforcement actions where appropriate." For one week in Las Vegas, the likes of Samsung, Snapchat and a mobile game called Boom Beach are as visible as Britney, Cirque du Soleil and Donny and Marie. You can't walk 10 paces down the Strip without buses telling you how to send digital cash, the monorail swooshing by leaving traces of cartoonish troops and tanks in its wake, or the walls of the city's monument-sized casino-hotels informing your choice of instant-messaging app. Few are as omnipresent as ads for Boom Beach. As early as New Year's Eve, massive animated ads for the combat-strategy game were playing on rotation across the side of Planet Hollywood. A representative for the company that owns the game, Supercell, didn't answer an emailed question asking how much the company spent on the CES-week promotions, saying the company's executives had been inundated with interest and couldn't be reached. A breathalyzer for fat-burning? The folks at Seattle-based Levl claim to have come up with just that. Blow into a small container for about five seconds then put it in a sensor-laden machine, and out pops a report that purports to tell you how much acetone you're producing. A number around 4 on a 5-point scale suggests you're incinerating the lipids. Below that and you might want to cut back on the carbs and get some exercise. A few days of changed behavior can make a difference, the company says. The app is designed to encourage users who can manage a long streak of fat-burning; it estimates how many calories they'll burn in fat per day. But there's one big gotcha: drinking alcohol could throw off the reading and make it seem like you're burning more fat than you are. The company aims to sell the product this year but hasn't determined a price. The Federal Aviation Administration says it has developed a smartphone app to show drone operators where it's OK to fly and what areas are off limits. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta also announced at a news conference at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas that by early Wednesday, 181,061 operators had registered their drones as new rules require. The FAA launched online registration Dec. 21. Officials say they hope registration will help them trace drones caught flying too close to manned aircraft or over crowds, and create a "culture of accountability." The smartphone app, B4UFLY, uses maps that identify the operator's current location and restricted areas in a radius around the operator. It's available now for Apple devices from the App Store and for Android devices from the Google Play Store. Kids tossing around a football probably hope to throw a perfect spiral in a big game one day. Technology is about to help them out. Sports equipment maker Wilson is preparing to release this year a smart football equipped with accelerometers that measures stats like spiral efficiency, spin rate, speed and distance. It can even tell if it was caught or dropped. Developed by a trained aerospace engineer, the ball knows to wake up its Bluetooth transmitter with a specific snap motion, says Bob Thurman, Wilson's vice president of innovation. And because it can ignore the toss back by the receiver, a future Hall of Famer can drive down the field under time pressure without actually going anywhere. Talk about fantasy football. Wilson is already selling a smart basketball for $199 that can tell whether you've swished or missed and keeps track of your lifetime stats. It wakes up by being spun in the air. Thurman says the ball is 97 percent accurate at reading misses or makes. That's probably better than your free throw percentage. Chinese drone maker Ehang Inc. is unveiling what it calls the world's first drone capable of carrying a human passenger. Ehang's booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center features a prototype of the Ehang 184—covered with a cloth for a planned noon unveiling. In the meantime, the company played a video of the vehicle flying over cityscapes. It looks like a small helicopter but with four doubled propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones. According to the company, the electric-powered drone can carry up to 100 kilograms of weight (220 pounds) and fly for 23 minutes at sea level. With propellers folded up, it's designed to fit in a single parking spot. The cabin fits one person and a small backpack and even has air conditioning and a reading light, Ehang said. Some of the company's claims border on the heroic. The company said the drone can be fully charged in 2 hours, adding that after setting a flight plan, passengers only need to give two commands, "take off" and "land," each controlled by a single click. U.S. authorities are just starting to lay out guidelines for drone use, and a human-passenger drone seems certain to face strict scrutiny. The beginning of life itself? Now there's an app for that. Pregnancy-test maker First Response is introducing a new Bluetooth-enabled stick that still requires nature's call. But it'll also distract a would-be mom with in-app videos or quizzes from BuzzFeed while she waits three minutes before she gets her answer. Pregnancy tests have evolved rapidly from sticks with one or two lines, to digital readouts that say "yes" or "no," to tests that can detect a likely pregnancy several days before a missed period. Competitor Clear Blue also offers a digital test that it says can estimate the number of weeks a woman has been pregnant prior to taking the tests. Having the test talk to your phone may be a new development. The app is designed to stick around as a resource for expectant mothers; it offers a calendar aid for calculating the likely due date and assistance for reaching out to a doctor and for letting others in on the news via texts and email. First Response says the tests will ship to stores in the spring and should cost $14.99 or $21.99 depending on where they're sold. That's a bit more than the company's other digital and analog versions that offer two for $9.99 or $14.99. Netflix subscribers watched 12 billion hours of programming on the Internet video service during the final three months of 2015, a nearly 50 percent increase from the previous year. CEO Reed Hastings disclosed the growth during a Wednesday presentation in Las Vegas at CES, a high-profile showcase for gadgets and technology services. Netflix entered the fourth quarter with 69 million subscribers compared to the previous year's 53 million, a group that watched 8.25 billion hours of programming. That means Netflix subscribers watched a weekly average of 13 hours of programming in the 2015 period versus 12 hours in 2014. The company's periodic revelations about the behavior of its subscribers are one of the few ways outsiders can gauge the popularity of its series and movies. The much-hyped Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will cost $599 and ship to 20 countries beginning on March 28, the company said Wednesday. Bundles that include a powerful computer needed to use the device will be available for pre-order in February starting at $1499. The pricing details and shipping information had been long awaited. Oculus, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $2 billion, began accepting pre-orders for the device at 11 a.m. E.T. on Wednesday. It will also be available in some undisclosed retail locations starting in April. The Rift comes with a built-in headphones and mic, sensor and an Xbox One controller. It also comes with a remote to help navigate virtual worlds. PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster said the cost of the Rift is higher than the $449 he expected, but said he still expects a few hundred thousand units to sell during 2016. The CES gadget show, which officially opens at 10:00 a.m. today in Las Vegas, has begun catering more heavily to startups hoping to break through the noise. The sprawling show has sections for wearable fitness gadgets, drones, autonomous vehicles, education, virtual reality, video games, robots, 3-D printers and smart homes. The startups will help fill a gap left by many of technology's biggest names, who have been no-shows for some time. That roster includes Apple Inc., which has skipped the show since the 1990s, Microsoft Corp., which abandoned its keynote slot after 2012, Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The Consumer Technology Association that runs CES is aiming for attendance this year at or below last year's record 176,000. Shawn DuBravac, the CTA's chief economist, argues the show's maturity is a good thing because its focus has shifted over two decades from the "technologically possible" to the "technologically meaningful." In other words, it's no longer about a robot that can walk up steps. It's about robots that actually mow your lawn. CES is first and foremost a venue for promoting the tech industry, and sometimes the hype falls flat. 3-D screen technology unveiled at CES in 2010 went from the next big thing to a mostly unused feature. Netbooks introduced in 2009 took a back seat to the iPad released a year later. And concepts such as the smart home have taken a really long time to materialize. Explore further: Gadgets get smarter, friendlier at CES show


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2010.3.2-04 | Award Amount: 3.90M | Year: 2011

RADAR is a 7-member consortium that aims to develop a robust, sensitive, and versatile label-free, biosensor platform for spot measurements and on-line monitoring of toxins and pollutants in food production processes and in the aquatic environment. Specificity towards chemical pollutants and toxins is achieved by using recombinant receptors (namely the estrogen receptor and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor) whose amino acid sequences have been rationally designed based on genomic and functional information from aquatic organisms. Sensitivity of the biosensor is increased by the unique combination of isotachophoretic pre-concentration step, and surface nanostructuring & chemical modification. The integration of the label-free detection sensors with an on-line automated sample handling and a wireless communication system will yield a best-in-class biosensor platform for robust, specific and sensitive detection of EDCs and PAHs in difficult operating conditions. To validate the RADAR biosensor the consortium will test the biosensors in fresh and marine water, in fish farms, and in food products such as fish, fruit juices, and milk. Through their contacts in these industries, the partners will evaluate the performance of the biosensors in such environments, analyzing a representative number of samples and reporting on the stability, ruggedness and accuracy of the sensors used under laboratory and real test conditions. This project is expected to have a high economic impact, since our cost-effective sensor could find a worldwide distribution in most food production and water testing lines as supported by Agilent Technologies Inc.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Mars' mantle may be more complicated than previously thought. In a new study published today in the Nature-affiliated journal Scientific Reports, researchers at LSU document geochemical changes over time in the lava flows of Elysium, a major martian volcanic province. LSU Geology and Geophysics graduate researcher David Susko led the study with colleagues at LSU including his advisor Suniti Karunatillake, the University of Rahuna in Sri Lanka, the SETI Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA Ames, and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in France. They found that the unusual chemistry of lava flows around Elysium is consistent with primary magmatic processes, such as a heterogeneous mantle beneath Mars' surface or the weight of the overlying volcanic mountain causing different layers of the mantle to melt at different temperatures as they rise to the surface over time. Elysium is a giant volcanic complex on Mars, the second largest behind Olympic Mons. For scale, it rises to twice the height of Earth's Mount Everest, or approximately 16 kilometers. Geologically, however, Elysium is more like Earth's Tibesti Mountains in Chad, the Emi Koussi in particular, than Everest. This comparison is based on images of the region from the Mars Orbiter Camera, or MOC, aboard the Mars Global Surveyor, or MGS, Mission. Elysium is also unique among martian volcanoes. It's isolated in the northern lowlands of the planet, whereas most other volcanic complexes on Mars cluster in the ancient southern highlands. Elysium also has patches of lava flows that are remarkably young for a planet often considered geologically silent. "Most of the volcanic features we look at on Mars are in the range of 3-4 billion years old," Susko said. "There are some patches of lava flows on Elysium that we estimate to be 3-4 million years old, so three orders of magnitude younger. In geologic timescales, 3 million years ago is like yesterday." In fact, Elysium's volcanoes hypothetically could still erupt, Susko said, although further research is needed to confirm this. "At least, we can't yet rule out active volcanoes on Mars," Susko said. "Which is very exciting." Susko's work in particular reveals that the composition of volcanoes on Mars may evolve over their eruptive history. In earlier research led by Karunatillake, assistant professor in LSU's Department of Geology and Geophysics, researchers in LSU's Planetary Science Lab, or PSL, found that particular regions of Elysium and the surrounding shallow subsurface of Mars are geochemically anomalous, strange even relative to other volcanic regions on Mars. They are depleted in the radioactive elements thorium and potassium. Elysium is one of only two igneous provinces on Mars where researchers have found such low levels of these elements so far. "Because thorium and potassium are radioactive, they are some of the most reliable geochemical signatures that we have on Mars," Susko said. "They act like beacons emitting their own gamma photons. These elements also often couple in volcanic settings on Earth." In their new paper, Susko and colleagues started to piece together the geologic history of Elysium, an expansive volcanic region on Mars characterized by strange chemistry. They sought to uncover why some of Elysium's lava flows are so geochemically unusual, or why they have such low levels of thorium and potassium. Is it because, as other researchers have suspected, glaciers located in this region long ago altered the surface chemistry through aqueous processes? Or is it because these lava flows arose from different parts of Mars' mantle than other volcanic eruptions on Mars? Perhaps the mantle has changed over time, meaning that more recent volcanic eruption flows differ chemically from older ones. If so, Susko could use Elysium's geochemical properties to study how Mars' bulk mantle has evolved over geologic time, with important insights for future missions to Mars. Understanding the evolutionary history of Mars' mantle could help researchers gain a better understanding of what kinds of valuable ores and other materials could be found in the crust, as well as whether volcanic hazards could unexpectedly threaten human missions to Mars in the near future. Mars' mantle likely has a very different history than Earth's mantle because the plate tectonics on Earth are absent on Mars as far as researchers know. The history of the bulk interior of the red planet also remains a mystery. Susko and colleagues at LSU analyzed geochemical and surface morphology data from Elysium using instruments on board NASA's Mars Odyssey Orbiter (2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2006). They had to account for the dust that blankets Mars' surface in the aftermath of strong dust storms, to make sure that the shallow subsurface chemistry actually reflected Elysium's igneous material and not the overlying dust. Through crater counting, the researchers found differences in age between the northwest and the southeast regions of Elysium -- about 850 million years of difference. They also found that the younger southeast regions are geochemically different from the older regions, and that these differences in fact relate to igneous processes, not secondary processes like the interaction of water or ice with the surface of Elysium in the past. "We determined that while there might have been water in this area in the past, the geochemical properties in the top meter throughout this volcanic province are indicative of igneous processes," Susko said. "We think levels of thorium and potassium here were depleted over time because of volcanic eruptions over billions of years. The radioactive elements were the first to go in the early eruptions. We are seeing changes in the mantle chemistry over time." "Long-lived volcanic systems with changing magma compositions are common on Earth, but an emerging story on Mars," said James Wray, study co-author and associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. Wray led a 2013 study that showed evidence for magma evolution at a different martian volcano, Syrtis Major, in the form of unusual minerals. But such minerals could be originating at the surface of Mars, and are visible only on rare dust-free volcanoes. "At Elysium we are truly seeing the bulk chemistry change over time, using a technique that could potentially unlock the magmatic history of many more regions across Mars," he said. Susko speculates that the very weight of Elysium's lava flows, which make up a volcanic province six times higher and almost four times wider than its morphological sister on Earth, Emi Koussi, has caused different depths of Mars' mantle to melt at different temperatures. In different regions of Elysium, lava flows may have come from different parts of the mantle. Seeing chemical differences in different regions of Elysium, Susko and colleagues concluded that Mars' mantle might be heterogeneous, with different compositions in different areas, or that it may be stratified beneath Elysium. Overall, Susko's findings indicate that Mars is a much more geologically complex body than originally thought, perhaps due to various loading effects on the mantle caused by the weight of giant volcanoes. "It's more Earth-like than moon-like," Susko said. "The moon is cut and dry. It often lacks the secondary minerals that occur on Earth due to weathering and igneous-water interactions. For decades, that's also how we envisioned Mars, as a lifeless rock, full of craters with a number of long inactive volcanoes. We had a very simple view of the red planet. But the more we look at Mars, the less moon-like it becomes. We're discovering more variety in rock types and geochemical compositions, as seen across the Curiosity Rover's traverse in Gale Crater, and more potential for viable resource utilization and capacity to sustain a human population on Mars. It's much easier to survive on a complex planetary body bearing the mineral products of complex geology than on a simpler body like the moon or asteroids." Susko plans to continue clarifying the geologic processes that cause the strange chemistry found around Elysium. In the future, he will study these chemical anomalies through computational simulations, to determine if recreating the pressures in Mars' mantle caused by the weight of giant volcanoes could affect mantle melting to yield the type of chemistry observed within Elysium. David Susko led the team with LSU undergraduate student Taylor Judice from Lafayette, La., mentored by their advisor Suniti Karunatillake. This multi-institutional and international investigation was co-authored by Gayantha Kodikara at the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka; John Roma Skok, SETI Institute; James Wray at Georgia Institute of Technology; Jennifer Heldmann at NASA Ames; and Agnes Cousin at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in France. NASA's Mars Data Analysis Program (MDAP) funded the project at LSU, which used data from several missions, including the 2001 Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) and the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).


LSU Geology and Geophysics graduate researcher David Susko led the study with colleagues at LSU including his advisor Suniti Karunatillake, the University of Rahuna in Sri Lanka, the SETI Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA Ames, and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in France. They found that the unusual chemistry of lava flows around Elysium is consistent with primary magmatic processes, such as a heterogeneous mantle beneath Mars' surface or the weight of the overlying volcanic mountain causing different layers of the mantle to melt at different temperatures as they rise to the surface over time. Elysium is a giant volcanic complex on Mars, the second largest behind Olympic Mons. For scale, it rises to twice the height of Earth's Mount Everest, or approximately 16 kilometers. Geologically, however, Elysium is more like Earth's Tibesti Mountains in Chad, the Emi Koussi in particular, than Everest. This comparison is based on images of the region from the Mars Orbiter Camera, or MOC, aboard the Mars Global Surveyor, or MGS, Mission. Elysium is also unique among martian volcanoes. It's isolated in the northern lowlands of the planet, whereas most other volcanic complexes on Mars cluster in the ancient southern highlands. Elysium also has patches of lava flows that are remarkably young for a planet often considered geologically silent. "Most of the volcanic features we look at on Mars are in the range of 3-4 billion years old," Susko said. "There are some patches of lava flows on Elysium that we estimate to be 3-4 million years old, so three orders of magnitude younger. In geologic timescales, 3 million years ago is like yesterday." In fact, Elysium's volcanoes hypothetically could still erupt, Susko said, although further research is needed to confirm this. "At least, we can't yet rule out active volcanoes on Mars," Susko said. "Which is very exciting." Susko's work in particular reveals that the composition of volcanoes on Mars may evolve over their eruptive history. In earlier research led by Karunatillake, assistant professor in LSU's Department of Geology and Geophysics, researchers in LSU's Planetary Science Lab, or PSL, found that particular regions of Elysium and the surrounding shallow subsurface of Mars are geochemically anomalous, strange even relative to other volcanic regions on Mars. They are depleted in the radioactive elements thorium and potassium. Elysium is one of only two igneous provinces on Mars where researchers have found such low levels of these elements so far. "Because thorium and potassium are radioactive, they are some of the most reliable geochemical signatures that we have on Mars," Susko said. "They act like beacons emitting their own gamma photons. These elements also often couple in volcanic settings on Earth." In their new paper, Susko and colleagues started to piece together the geologic history of Elysium, an expansive volcanic region on Mars characterized by strange chemistry. They sought to uncover why some of Elysium's lava flows are so geochemically unusual, or why they have such low levels of thorium and potassium. Is it because, as other researchers have suspected, glaciers located in this region long ago altered the surface chemistry through aqueous processes? Or is it because these lava flows arose from different parts of Mars' mantle than other volcanic eruptions on Mars? Perhaps the mantle has changed over time, meaning that more recent volcanic eruption flows differ chemically from older ones. If so, Susko could use Elysium's geochemical properties to study how Mars' bulk mantle has evolved over geologic time, with important insights for future missions to Mars. Understanding the evolutionary history of Mars' mantle could help researchers gain a better understanding of what kinds of valuable ores and other materials could be found in the crust, as well as whether volcanic hazards could unexpectedly threaten human missions to Mars in the near future. Mars' mantle likely has a very different history than Earth's mantle because the plate tectonics on Earth are absent on Mars as far as researchers know. The history of the bulk interior of the red planet also remains a mystery. Susko and colleagues at LSU analyzed geochemical and surface morphology data from Elysium using instruments on board NASA's Mars Odyssey Orbiter (2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2006). They had to account for the dust that blankets Mars' surface in the aftermath of strong dust storms, to make sure that the shallow subsurface chemistry actually reflected Elysium's igneous material and not the overlying dust. Through crater counting, the researchers found differences in age between the northwest and the southeast regions of Elysium—about 850 million years of difference. They also found that the younger southeast regions are geochemically different from the older regions, and that these differences in fact relate to igneous processes, not secondary processes like the interaction of water or ice with the surface of Elysium in the past. "We determined that while there might have been water in this area in the past, the geochemical properties in the top meter throughout this volcanic province are indicative of igneous processes," Susko said. "We think levels of thorium and potassium here were depleted over time because of volcanic eruptions over billions of years. The radioactive elements were the first to go in the early eruptions. We are seeing changes in the mantle chemistry over time." "Long-lived volcanic systems with changing magma compositions are common on Earth, but an emerging story on Mars," said James Wray, study co-author and associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. Wray led a 2013 study that showed evidence for magma evolution at a different martian volcano, Syrtis Major, in the form of unusual minerals. But such minerals could be originating at the surface of Mars, and are visible only on rare dust-free volcanoes. "At Elysium we are truly seeing the bulk chemistry change over time, using a technique that could potentially unlock the magmatic history of many more regions across Mars," he said. Susko speculates that the very weight of Elysium's lava flows, which make up a volcanic province six times higher and almost four times wider than its morphological sister on Earth, Emi Koussi, has caused different depths of Mars' mantle to melt at different temperatures. In different regions of Elysium, lava flows may have come from different parts of the mantle. Seeing chemical differences in different regions of Elysium, Susko and colleagues concluded that Mars' mantle might be heterogeneous, with different compositions in different areas, or that it may be stratified beneath Elysium. Overall, Susko's findings indicate that Mars is a much more geologically complex body than originally thought, perhaps due to various loading effects on the mantle caused by the weight of giant volcanoes. "It's more Earth-like than moon-like," Susko said. "The moon is cut and dry. It often lacks the secondary minerals that occur on Earth due to weathering and igneous-water interactions. For decades, that's also how we envisioned Mars, as a lifeless rock, full of craters with a number of long inactive volcanoes. We had a very simple view of the red planet. But the more we look at Mars, the less moon-like it becomes. We're discovering more variety in rock types and geochemical compositions, as seen across the Curiosity Rover's traverse in Gale Crater, and more potential for viable resource utilization and capacity to sustain a human population on Mars. It's much easier to survive on a complex planetary body bearing the mineral products of complex geology than on a simpler body like the moon or asteroids." Susko plans to continue clarifying the geologic processes that cause the strange chemistry found around Elysium. In the future, he will study these chemical anomalies through computational simulations, to determine if recreating the pressures in Mars' mantle caused by the weight of giant volcanoes could affect mantle melting to yield the type of chemistry observed within Elysium. Explore further: Research finds evidence of 2 billion years of volcanic activity on Mars


News Article | February 13, 2017
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

James Hansen and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby have attracted some heavy hitters from the Reagan Administration to the idea that the simplest, most elegant, most market-friendly and effective approach to reducing CO2 emissions is to apply a direct tax (fee) on all fuels in proportion to the amount of CO2 that they would release when burned. To prevent such a tax from burdening society or growing government, they would accompany the tax with a 100% distribution of the money collected. The distribution would be exactly the same for each citizen of the United States. Each person would initially receive dividends of approximately $500 per year. A family of four would initially receive $500 every three months with the starting tax rate set at $40 per ton. The price of a gallon of gas would initially increase by about 36 cents. That price change, while noticeable, pales in comparison to the kinds of changes in gas prices consumers experience with changes in crude oil prices. This change, however, would be in service of our long term interests and to our short term advantage in keeping dividend checks coming. In contrast, American consumers and businesses have no means of controlling gas price changes as OPEC manipulates its quotas to adjust the world supply and demand balance in ways that its ministers feel are favorable to their own interests. Consumers can only react to changes and adjust driving habits or vehicle purchase decisions. Since the price increases would not apply to fuels that do not produce CO2, electricity and heat generated by nuclear fission would see a small, but steadily rising cost advantage over competitive fuels. That compares favorably to the current case where nuclear generators pay for their waste storage while their competitors take the waste disposal service at the open end of their smokestacks without payments to anyone. George Shultz and James A. Baker III are stalwart members of the Republican establishment. Shultz first achieved national prominence as Treasury Secretary for Richard Nixon and later served Ronald Reagan as the Secretary of State. Baker served Ronald Reagan as the Treasury Secretary and George H. W. Bush as Secretary of State. They have joined the public discussion as advocates of the carbon fee and dividend model with an explanatory op-ed in the Feb 7 edition of the Wall Street Journal titled A Conservative Answer To Climate Change. Baker and Shultz’s piece was matched by an opinion piece in the New York Times titled A Conservative Case For Climate Action. The names of the authors of that piece, Martin S. Feldstein, Ted Halstead and N. Gregory Mankiw are not as immediately recognizable as Shultz and Baker but they have been involved in national affairs almost as long in less public roles as advisors and thought leaders. Both pieces were aimed at introducing and summarizing a report produced by the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) titled The Conservative Case For Climate Dividends. In addition to the editorial pieces, members of the CLC held a rollout press conference – launch event – that can be watched on YouTube. Aside: It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the self described “who’s who of the Republican establishment” have the capability to attract attention. End Aside. Atomic Insights generally takes the position that The Establishment hasn’t done a very good job in recent decades of leading our nation to the better distribution of prosperity and environmental cleanliness that would be achievable with more effective use of our systematic advantages. We have pointed out many instances in which the people who have already achieved wealth and power have erected barriers to beneficial technology developments in order to protect their own positions. Often it seems that they overlook the enourmous benefits that modern nuclear energy technologies can provide to the rest of us. However, we’ve been advocating for the CO2 fee and dividend plan for several years and are heartened by the fact that experienced, numerically inclined people who care deeply about our nation and its security have recognized the elegance and potential effectiveness of a tax and dividend approach. Not surprisingly, the plan released by Republican Party stalwarts hasn’t been warmly received by all. People who have an ideological aversion to “new taxes” have raised a stink while people with an ingrained distrust of “the government” assert there is no way that bureaucrats will be able to resist grabbing some or all of the fee revenue for pet projects. A piece from The Daily Signal titled This Republican Tax Proposal Is Anything But Conservative combines both fears and also points to a Heritage Foundation report that indicates numerous negative impacts on the economy as the result of adding costs to fuels that currently supply more than 80% of our foundational energy needs. Those computed impacts are scary and discouraging, but they rest on a faulty set of assumptions. The most important of those assumptions is that the only nuclear option available through the period of analysis is “advanced” light water reactors costing somewhere between $5500 – $6500 per kilowatt of capacity, with that cost rising with inflation and requiring a decade or more to build. The model Heritage uses includes factors for “learning” cost reductions for various technologies, but it assumes that advanced nuclear will improve at a rate equal to that for advanced combustion gas turbines and about 1/4th as rapidly as offshore wind, carbon capture and sequestration, or battery storage. Because they are not yet commercially available Heritage Foundation and Energy Information Agency modeling ignores the efforts of companies like NuScale, Terrestrial Energy, ThorCon, Moltex, X-Energy, U-Battery, Flibe, Holtec, mPower, Elysium, LeadCold, Oklo, ARC, Westinghouse, Kepco, GE-Hitachi, Areva and Rosatom to continue improving their nuclear technology offerings. Several of those names are unknown to most, but the teams working under their logos are led by people who know that nuclear energy can compete if, and only if, they find effective ways to make large, rapid strides towards simplicity and cost reductions. If there is an established and predictably rising tax on the CO2 potential for competitive fuels, there will be greater interest in proving some of the modern designs and moving them from paper to full scale manufacturing and operations. That’s the x-factor that many carbon fee and dividend critics overlook or purposely ignore. The post Elegant simplicity of a CO2 tax and dividend should attract broad spectrum support appeared first on Atomic Insights.


News Article | November 15, 2016
Site: www.cnet.com

It's no secret that President-elect Donald Trump has a fondness for gold. Just take a peek at his penthouse home in New York's Trump Tower. Leave it up to sci-fi director Neill Blomkamp to create the proper presidential transportation for the 45th president. Blomkamp uploaded two short films through his OatsStudios YouTube channel late last week showing exaggerated versions of the president's limo and airplane. Blomkamp is known for movies such as "District 9," "Elysium" and an upcoming "Alien" project. He turned his ample imagination toward creating a Trump limo decked out in sparkling gold with chariot-style flair. There's a massive eagle on the front, huge wings extending from the back and a woman's figure, arm raised, leading the charge as a life-size hood ornament. Blomkamp's concept for Air Force One includes a massive presidential seal, large guns attached at the front and a curved glass greenhouse stretching the length of the plane. A forest of palm trees extends upward beneath the glass. It's too bad Blomkamp's ideas will never become reality. That plane looks like a sweet ride.


Patent
Elysium and CELSYS Inc. | Date: 2012-12-04

A method of controlling a model by a computer, includes accepting an instruction of changing a pose or a movement of a standard model for which control data for joint angles is attached; determining a pose or a movement of the standard model based on the instruction and the control data for joint angles; and determining a pose or a movement of a target model to be controlled where parts of the standard model and parts of the target model being in correspondence with each other, such that the pose or the movement of the target model follows the pose or the movement of the determined standard model based on the correspondence of the parts of the standard model and the parts of the target model.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Mars' mantle may be more complicated than previously thought, report researchers. Their report documents geochemical changes over time in the lava flows of Elysium, a major martian volcanic province.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

How nature gets microscopic dust and tiny, pebble-sized pieces of proto-planetary material to clump and stick together to make bigger and bigger objects is still puzzling. In a gas-rich disk of material around a forming star these small components are buffeted, dragged, and broken. What may help are ‘dust traps’, regions in the disk where gas pressures are high and solids can slow down for long enough to get bulked up. New work by Gonzalez et al. suggests an ‘aerodynamic drag back-reaction’ (where dust helps squeeze gas into dense traps) that could help. Problems with the main propulsion on NASA’s Juno mission have led to the decision to keep the spacecraft’s orbit in its present configuration – a longer-than-expected 53 day loop around Jupiter. All the primary science should still get done, and Juno may even last longer because it will avoid more of the intense Jovian radiation environment, but a longer mission also costs more. Researchers studying data on the Elysium lava flows on Mars have concluded that these great, ancient, outflows show signs of geochemical diversity. This chemical variation indicates a complex geophysical history for Mars (and its mantle), making the planet more similar to the Earth than perhaps we thought. The most recent lava deposits in Elysium seem like they could be a mere 3-4 million years old. Big planets that orbit close to their host stars might cause some stellar ‘irritation’. De Wit et al. report evidence that the 8 Jupiter mass planet around the star HAT-P-2 is somehow perturbing the stellar atmosphere into a pulsating or flaring behavior.

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