News Article | February 1, 2016
Internet users are all too aware that words can sometimes be taken out of context. However, what if comments that you made result in someone accusing you of being a terrorist? Unfortunately, many Muslims face this issue and feel they are unable to talk about their faith online without fear of just such an accusation. These kinds of mischaracterizations led Yusuf Hassan, a Nigerian tech entrepreneur based in the UK, to create Tutlub, a social media network aimed specifically at being a safe space for Muslims on the Internet. Anti-Muslim hate has become a real issue around the world, especially with backlash related to the terrorist attacks in Paris and California, as well as people in a position of power like Donald Trump, who has even suggested that Muslims should be banned from entering the U.S. Despite this, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been vocal about the fact that Muslims are welcome on Facebook. Tutlub, however, is aimed at standing in contrast to fears that social media networks are being used by the likes of ISIS as a recruiting tool. It's a place for Muslims to discuss their faith and find curated content for Muslims. According to Hassan, the site will also monitor the spread of propaganda and try to counter it. Of course, Tutlub isn't the first social media network aimed specifically at Muslims, but Hassan says that its timing is right, as Muslims need a safe place online and people in countries like Nigeria have more Internet access. In addition, Tutlub will be monitored by Muslim community leaders and clerics, which may help solve the problem of indoctrination in having such people available for answering questions. At the heart of Tutlub is the news feed, which is where users will see prayers from those they follow. The equivalent to the "like" button on Facebook is the "Amin," or "Amen," button to like someone's prayer. Another feed will allow users to ask community leaders questions, and users can be ask anonymously if they want. Of course, some could misunderstand the new network as being aimed at further segregating Muslims from non-Muslims. Hassan suggests that that is not the idea of Tutlub and says that Muslims should also be part of other social networks. "Our aim is to help Muslims to be better Muslims, showcase the best examples of Muslims and also help vulnerable Muslims from [being] misled," said Hassan in an interview with CNet.
As reported in a paper in Science Advances, a team of scientists from China and the UK has developed new solid 3D superlenses made from titanium dioxide nanoparticles that can reveal surface features not previously visible through a light microscope. Illustrating the strength of the new superlenses, the scientists describe seeing, for the first time, the actual information on the surface of a Blu-Ray DVD. Current light microscopes cannot see the grooves containing the data – but now this data can be revealed. Led by Zengbo Wang at Bangor University in the UK and Limin Wu at Fudan University in China, the team created tiny droplet-like lens structures, which are deposited on the surface being examined. These lenses act as an additional lens to magnify surface features that were previously invisible to a normal lens. Made of millions of nanoparticles, the lenses break up the light beam: each bead refracts the light to produce tiny, individual torch-like beams. The very small size of each beam of light helps to illuminate the surface, extending the resolving ability of the microscope to record-breaking levels. These new superlenses can increase the magnification of existing microscopes by a factor of five. Extending the limit of the classical microscope's resolution has been the 'Holy Grail' of microscopy for over a century. Physical laws of light make it impossible to view objects smaller than 200nm, around the size of the smallest bacteria, using a normal microscope alone. However, superlenses offer a way around this limit, with various labs and teams researching different models and materials. "We've used high-index titanium dioxide (TiO ) nanoparticles as the building element of the lens," explains Wang. "These nanoparticles are able to bend light to a higher degree than water. To explain, when putting a spoon into a cup of this material, if it were possible, you'd see a larger bend where your spoon enters the material than you would looking at the same spoon in a glass of water. Each sphere bends the light to a high magnitude and splits the light beam, creating millions of individual beams of light. It is these tiny light beams which enable us to view previously unseen detail." Wang believes that the results will be easily replicable and that other labs will soon be adopting the technology and using it for themselves. Not only is titanium dioxide cheap and readily available, but applying the superlenses to the material being viewed is easier than modifying the microscope. "We have already viewed details to a far greater level than was previously possible," says Wang. "The next challenge is to adapt the technology for use in biology and medicine. This would not require the current use of a combination of dyes and stains and laser light, which change the samples being viewed. The new lens will be used to see germs and viruses not previously visible." This story is adapted from material from Bangor University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.
Following its successful launch and early operations phase, EUMETSAT has been supporting the European Space Agency (ESA) in-orbit commissioning activities, before EUMETSAT takes over routine operations of the spacecraft and processing data at its Sentinel-3 Marine Centre. The Copernicus programme is Europe's response to the challenge of global environment monitoring and climate change. Sentinel-3A will provide systematic measurements of the Earth's oceans, land, ice and atmosphere. It has been described as "the most beautiful satellite ever built" from oceanographers' perspective, with its cutting-edge instruments' ability to provide highly accurate data on the ocean colour, sea surface temperature and sea surface height. These data are crucial for Europe's 500 billion euro a year "blue economy" and will be relied upon by the fishing and aquaculture industries, coastal planners, the marine transport industry, environment and climate scientists and others, in addition to weather and ocean forecasters. The EU has entrusted EUMETSAT to undertake, in cooperation with ESA, routine operations of Sentinel-3A, which was launched on 16 February and is now going through its commissioning phase, and to deliver its marine mission. In addition, EUMETSAT will deliver to Copernicus data from the joint European-US Jason-3 ocean altimetry satellite, which was launched in January this year, as part of an integrated marine data stream, incorporating data from third-party missions of our partners in the US, China and India. Jason-3 will expand until 2021 the unique mean sea-level climate data record, started in 1992 by Topex-Poseidon, and continue to provide the reference ocean surface topography measurements used for cross-calibrating all other altimeter missions, including Sentinel-3, and this data will also soon be available. Sentinel-3A has already delivered impressive first images from its Ocean and Land Colour Instrument, altimeter and Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer and the quality of the products is expected to improve with fine-tuning over the remaining months of the commissioning before EUMETSAT begins routine operations. When Sentinel-3A's marine mission is fully operational, these new, advanced instruments will be sending back to Earth high quality data in vastly increased amounts. EUMETSAT offers users and service providers access to a multi-mission data stream via EUMETCast, a highly-reliable, cost-effective system based on off-the-shelf, commercially available, standard Digital Video Broadcast technology. EUMETCast's highly scalable architecture will provide the near real-time Sentinel-3 data services to an unlimited number of simultaneous users, regardless of the possible limitations of local communication infrastructures. The UK-based European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which produces and disseminates numerical weather predictions to its 34 Member States and is both a research institute and operational service, receives more than 50 gigabytes of data via EUMETCast in near real time every day. "EUMETCast delivers the majority of the satellite observations operationally assimilated at ECMWF," ECMWF Head of Evaluation Section David Richardson said. "These are important to the quality of the forecasts in all regions and in those parts of the world where non-satellite observations are scarce the forecast skill would fall dramatically without the observations disseminated by EUMETCast. "EUMETCast provides a very reliable, cost-effective and easy to use mechanism for the near real time delivery of more than 50 gigabytes of satellite data every day. It is an essential component of ECMWF's data reception system. "ECMWF is also making use of the EUMETCast service to broadcast essential weather forecast products to over 50 African countries overcoming the lack of network infrastructure available in this area of the world." "The addition of Sentinel-3A data will complement the already existing marine data stream we have available on EUMETCast" EUMETSAT User Relations Manager Sally Wannop said: "As a single data access mechanism, EUMETCast is the one-stop-shop to a wide range of environmental data. "The addition of Sentinel-3A data will complement the already existing marine data stream we have available on EUMETCast." In addition, EUMETSAT will disseminate the Sentinel-3A data on-line, via itsCopernicus Online Data Access, and to international partners via EUMETCast Terrestrial, which functions like the satellite service but using a terrestrial network instead. The DVB satellite link is replaced by a connection to a national research network. EUMETCast Terrestrial has the potential to reach users beyond the EUMETCast satellite footprint, for example, in Australia. EUMETSAT is already looking at future evolutions of its data services to users. A series of pathfinder projects, involving hosted processing, new data view capabilities, the creation of a format conversation toolbox and online data platforms, for example, are currently being undertaken. Many of the enhancements arising from these projects will also be applied to the Copernicus data.
News Article | March 26, 2016
The UK Government has initiated an inquiry into Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), given its rising influence and daunting advancement in technology. They intend to determine what impact the rise of AI will have at a holistic level on the workforce and the society in general. Further, the corresponding social, legal and ethical aspects also need to be scrutinized. This inquiry will be carried out by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The inquiry was particularly launched, given the astounding turn of events that robots are winning over humans in complex games such as "Go". Google's DeepMind AlphaGo AI beat South Korean Go champion Lee Sedol in a series of matches. In acknowledgement of robots beating humans in games such as "Go" known for its complexity, Nicola Blackwood MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said that going forward Artificial Intelligence would be playing an increasing role in our lives. From navigation systems to medical treatments and from new manufacturing techniques to unmanned vehicles, new applications are rapidly being developed that involve robotic decision making. "It is important that the UK is ready with the research, innovation and skills to be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities and manage any risks. The global market for the AI sector is expected to grow to $2-6 trillion by 2025," she further added. Taking these factors into account, the Committee is therefore accepting written submissions on robotics and artificial intelligence by April 29, 2016, on issues that surround the following key areas: -The implications of robotics and artificial intelligence on the future UK workforce and job market, and the government's preparation for the shift in the UK skills base and training that this may require. -The extent to which social and economic opportunities provided by emerging autonomous systems and artificial intelligence technologies are being exploited to deliver benefits to the UK. -The extent to which the funding, research and innovation landscape facilitates the UK maintaining a position at the forefront of these technologies, and what measures the government should take to assist further in these areas. -The social, legal and ethical issues raised by developments in robotics and artificial intelligence technologies, and how they should be addressed.
News Article | August 17, 2016
Carrier FreedomPop is sweetening its cheap offers with the launch of a new WhatsApp SIM, granting unlimited access to WhatsApp even without a data plan in more than 30 countries. FreedomPop has been trying for a good while now to lure wireless carriers to its cheap services, offering SIM cards under free basic mobile plans, as well as low-cost data and voice packages. In its latest attempt to attract more customers in the United States, the carrier is now offering zero-rated access to WhatsApp. For those unfamiliar with the concept, some mobile networks use zero-rating to encourage the use of a particular app, allowing free access to it without charging for data. Zero-rating offers are typically agreed upon by a company and a mobile network or ISP, focusing on a specific app. In FreedomPop's case, that zero-rating app is now the popular messaging service WhatsApp, which already enjoys a whopping customer base worldwide. With the new WhatsApp SIM, FreedomPop now offers 200 MB of free data and 100 voice minutes in addition to free WhatsApp access, though customers who want additional data or voice minutes will have to sign up for a paid plan starting at $10. Just like its free voice and data services, the new FreedomPop WhatsApp SIM will work in the United States and 30 countries worldwide, thanks to its various partnerships with global carriers. FreedomPop's international data and voice services are currently available in the United States, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, and a slew of other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia. "There really is no reason anyone should have to pay for voice and text in today's environment. Over-the-top communication services like WhatsApp have eliminated the need for traditional voice and text services that carriers still force U.S. users to pay hundreds of dollars a year for," says Chris Chen, FreedomPop's senior vice president of Product. "The zero-rated model is gaining traction in more developing countries, and FreedomPop is leading the way here in the [United States]." The carrier has already launched zero-rated services in other markets worldwide, but points out that this is the first of its kind to become available in the United States. To check whether the WhatsApp SIM offer applies in your area, head over to the carrier's website and check for availability based on location. To start enjoying the benefits, simply pop a FreedomPop SIM into an Android or iOS device. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.