WhatsApp puts users at risk, Oracle gave Amazon 97.5% discount to beat Google, and more

WhatsApp puts users' at risk, uses a 1970's system of sending SMS messages to verify users. Oracle gave Amazon 97.5% discount to beat Google. Facebook patent may replace emojis with user's face. And more such news from Astronomy and Technology

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News in Astronomy and Technology 19 May 2016
News in Astronomy and Technology 19 May 2016

News in Astronomy

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Picture of Milky Way taken from ISS released

NASA has released a picture of the Milky Way galaxy captured from the International Space Station (ISS) on August 9, 2015, while passing over the Kiribati – an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean. “Scientists were able to match the star field in the photo to charts describing which stars should have been visible at that moment”, NASA wrote.

Evidence of 2nd oldest asteroid crash found

Australia-based scientists have uncovered evidence of an asteroid that struck the Earth around 3.46 billion years ago, making it the second oldest known asteroid to hit the planet. The team explained that the event’s impact was the largest the human race have ever experienced. Measuring around 20-30 km across, it was one of the largest to have hit the Earth.

Physicists discover new form of light

Ireland-based physicists have discovered a new form of light whose angular momentum is exactly half of Planck’s constant – a physical constant equivalent to 6.626 times 10 raised to -34. Until now, the angular momentum of a beam of light was found to be a multiple of Planck’s constant. The discovery could help in secure optical communications, a researcher said.

Solar System may be habitable after Earth’s end

According to models developed by astronomers at Carl Sagan Institute, in a few billion years from now, after Earth’s destruction caused by the Sun’s expansion, bodies in outer Solar System may become habitable. The models depicted that Europa and Enceladus, the moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn, which are currently frozen, will melt into ocean moons, offering a possibility of life.

News in Technology

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Google unveils Google Assistant

Google today unveiled a virtual assistant tool called Google Assistant, an upgraded version of Google Now. Users can ask a question for an answer, and follow up with multiple questions, with Google picking the conversation and returning the right answer. Users can also make queries via chat.

Oracle gave Amazon 97.5% discount to beat Google

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz on Tuesday said that in order to compete with Google-owned Android platform the company had offered Java at a 97.5% discount to Amazon for its Kindle Paperwhite. Oracle and Google are currently involved in a $9 billion case where the former has claimed that the other party owes it for using its Java code in Android.

Sheet that can remove viruses from water created

Sweden-based scientists have created a paper sheet, mille-feuille filter, that can filter-out viruses from water. It is made of cellulose nanofibers and has a layered internal architecture resembling that of mille-feuille, a French puff pastry. “Our goal is to develop a filter paper that can remove even the toughest viruses from water as easily as brewing coffee”, a researcher said.

Mirror image of DNA-copying protein created

Scientists in Beijing have created a mirror-image version of a protein responsible for two critical functions – copying DNA and transcribing it into RNA. The work is a “small step” along the way to making mirror-image life form, a researcher said. In principle, molecules’ mirror versions should work the same way as normal ones, while being resistant to viral attacks.

Researchers design modular touchscreen display

A group of researchers from the University of Bristol have created a prototype of a reconfigurable Rubik’s cube-like modular touchscreen display, dubbed the Cubimorph. The device features a single display built out of smaller six-sided display cubes which are connected together through turntable-mounted hinges, allowing its users to reposition the cubes to get the required configuration.

BitTorrent launches live video app for Apple TV

Torrent client provider BitTorrent has launched ‘BitTorrent Live’, a multichannel video streaming application, for Apple TV that will be made available later in the week. The initial coverage includes five sections namely news, sports, music, technology and youth culture. The service is expected to come to Android, iOS and OS X versions in June.

FB patent may replace emojis with user’s face

According to a patent filed by Facebook earlier this month, the social networking platform may replace emojis with a user’s face through the facial recognition technology. Facebook will reportedly sort through the tagged photos of the users to find faces that best match the emoji for use. For example, a smiling emoji may be replaced with a user’s smiling face.

Solar-powered stretchable battery developed

US-based scientists have developed a solar-powered and stretchable mesh of power cells that can be stuck to several surfaces. It uses multiple thin lithium-ion battery tiles bonded with a rubbery material and fitted with tiny solar panels. The excessive length of interconnecting wires allows the mesh to stretch in all directions by 30% while still working perfectly, a researcher said.

New device can detect bacteria in water faster

Researchers from York University in Toronto have developed a device that can help detect the deadly E. coli bacteria in water in a few hours, instead of the few days taken by standard procedures. The results of the water test, estimated to cost around ₹155 per test, can also be broadcasted using a mobile app developed by the team.

Engineers set solar cell efficiency world record

Australian engineers have developed a photovoltaic cell that has successfully achieved the sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency of 34.5% without any concentrators like mirrors, thereby setting a new world record. The team used a 28 square centimeter module embedded in a prism for extracting the maximum possible energy from sunlight. The previous best conversion efficiency was 24%.

Smart cap tells when blind swimmers need to flip

Samsung has developed ‘Blind Cap’, a smart cap with in-built vibration sensor that alerts paralympic swimmers when they need to turn and flip. The smart cap connects to a Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch or any Android smartphone through an app. A coach can alert the swimmer by tapping once on the smartwatch or the phone.

WhatsApp vulnerable to phishing attacks: Report

According to media reports, WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is vulnerable to hacker attacks as its uses a 1970’s system of sending SMS messages to verify users. Researchers at Positive Technology, a computer and network security company, claim they successfully impersonated WhatsApp targets in various tests. Cyber-thieves can also reportedly steal users’ chat histories.

Smart tampon tells user when its time to change

A startup from the HAX Hardware Accelerator has developed ‘my.Flow’, a smart tampon that reminds the user when its time to change tampon during menstruation. Connected to a traditional tampon, it consists of a bluetooth sensor on a user’s waist, which lights up when its time to change. User is also notified through an app, which also tracks the period.

India successfully test-fires Prithvi-II missile

India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile on Wednesday from Chandipur, Odisha. The 4,600-kg surface-to-surface missile, with a 350-kilometer strike range, can carry 500-1,000 kg of warheads. Inducted into the armed forces in 2003, the medium range Prithvi-II missile was the first to be built by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

Punjab gets world’s largest rooftop solar plant

The world’s largest solar power plant on a single rooftop with a capacity of 11.5 megawatts was inaugurated by Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal at Dera Baba Jaimal Singh near Amritsar on Tuesday. The project is also India’s largest rooftop solar power plant installed over multiple roofs in a single campus with a capacity of 19.5 megawatts, Punjab government claimed.

Google develops gigapixel ‘Art Camera’

Google has developed a new camera, dubbed the “Art Camera”, which is a custom-built, robotic camera capable of capturing gigapixel images quickly. The project, which was unveiled by the Google Cultural Institute, lets web users view artworks down to individual brush strokes. To achieve this, the camera, steered by a robotic system, took thousands of high-resolution close-ups of several artworks.

New method to generate ‘truly’ random numbers

US-based scientists have developed a new method to generate ‘truly’ random numbers, a breakthrough that could be used to improve cybersecurity. The method merges two weakly random sequences of numbers, data sampled over time that can exhibit predictable patterns, into one sequence of truly random numbers. An important application for truly random numbers is in generating keys for data encryption.

Phone logs can reveal sensitive details: Study

Stanford researchers have demonstrated that telephone metadata – information about calls and text messages, including time and length – can reveal sensitive personal information. For this, the team developed a smartphone application that retrieved the phone’s metadata, helping the researchers to infer users’ sensitive information such as their health details or whether the user owns a gun or not.

Trial begins for India’s 1st driverless train

The trial run of India’s first driverless train was on Tuesday flagged off by Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had acquired the trains from a Korea-based manufacturer last year. The trains will, however, be run by operators till next year to allow DMRC to identify and fix shortcomings.

MIT researchers 3D-print programmable hair

A team of MIT researchers have developed a way to 3D-print programmable hair called Cilllia. Cilllia can be programmed by specifying certain parameters to provide warmth, adhesion, locomotion and act as a sensor, a researcher said. The team created several toys including finger swipe sensors and a furry bunny fitted with an LED that changed colors when petted.

‘Liquid wire’ inspired by spider silk developed

Researchers from the University of Oxford and University of Paris VI, inspired by spider silk, have developed a new type of composite wire, which they are calling ‘liquid wire’. The spider silk property which was imitated was that it never sags after snapping back from the stretched state. This advancement can help in engineering, medicine and materials, a researcher said.

IBM demonstrates improved Phase Change Memory

IBM Research scientists have demonstrated reliably storing three bits of data per cell using the Phase Change Memory technology, instead of the usual storage density, that allows cells to be either ‘on’ or ‘off’. The technology will be significantly cheaper than DRAM, which are typically used in personal computers, and will be significantly faster than flash storage, a researcher said.

World’s first Zika virus clone developed

In a first, US-based researchers have genetically engineered a clone of the Zika virus strain, an advance that may aid the development of vaccine and therapies against the infection. Furthermore, they also engineered a luciferase reporter Zika virus which can be used to track the infection in mosquitoes. Notably, Luciferase is the chemical that causes the signature glow in fireflies.

AI improves Bose-Einstein condensate experiment

Australian researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that has performed the experiment to create a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) – 2001 Nobel Prize-winning discovery. A BEC is a state of matter of a dilute gas of photon-like particles cooled to temperatures around –273.15ºC. They found that the condensates can be created faster, under more conditions and in greater quantities.

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Avani Lalka is an experienced marketer, and a writer in the field of new-age marketing and career development. She writes from her heart to make a difference in the lives of the people that follow her. Currently she is heading Account Based Marketing (ABM) in a popular Pune-based startup. Feel free to connect her as she welcomes new ideas and opportunities. Email: lalka.avani7@gmail.com

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