E-books ‘damage sleep and health,’ doctors warn

Reading under the sheetsIf you curl up under the duvet with an e-book for a bedtime read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health, US doctors have warned.

A team from Harvard Medical School compared reading paper books and light-emitting e-readers before sleep.

They found it took longer to nod off with a back-lit e-reader, which led to poorer quality sleep and being more tired the next morning.

Original Kindle readers do not emit light so should be fine, say experts.

Experts said people should minimise light-exposure in the evening.

Whether you are perusing the Man Booker shortlist or leafing through Zoella, the impact of reading on your sleep is probably the last thing on your mind.

But there has been growing concern about the dangers of light before bedtime.

Body clock

Our bodies are kept in tune with the rhythm of day and night by an internal body clock, which uses light to tell the time.

But blue light, the wavelength common in smartphones, tablets and LED lighting, is able to disrupt the body clock.

Blue light in the evening can slow or prevent the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Book vs ereader

Twelve people were locked in a sleep laboratory for two weeks.

They spent five days reading from a paperback and five days from an iPad.

Regular blood samples showed the production of the sleep hormone melatonin was reduced by reading an e-book.

People also took longer to fall asleep, had less deep sleep and were more tired the next morning.

The researchers said other e-readers such as the Nook and Kindle Fire produced similar wavelengths of light and would have the same impact.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Lead researcher Prof Charles Czeisler told the BBC News website: “The light emitted by most e-readers is shining directly into the eyes of the reader, whereas from a printed book or the original Kindle, the reader is only exposed to reflected light from the pages of the book.”

He said disrupting sleep in turn affected health.

“Sleep deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes, and cancer.

“Thus, the melatonin suppression that we saw in this study among participants when they were reading from the light-emitting e-reader concerns us.”

Sleep hygiene

Dr Victoria Revell, who researches the impact of light on the body at the University of Surrey, told the BBC: “This is a very good study and I think it’s really interesting.

“We should be advising people to minimise their [light-emitting e-reader] use in the evening, particularly teenagers who are a group that are using their phones and tablets late in to the evening.”

Teenagers naturally have a late body clock, which makes them slow to rise in the morning and up late at night.

“People who already have a delayed body clock are delaying themselves much further and that is a very important message,” Dr Revell added.

Prof Czeisler agreed, saying there was “special concern” for teenagers who were already sleep deficient by being forced to get up early for school.

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/


This startup is putting solar cells on a diet, because thinner is better


In the lab of seven-year-old startup Solexel, just south of San Francisco, researchers have been busy re-inventing solar panels made with silicon, the material that already dominates the solar market. The startup is a rare breed these days, and among a dwindling group of venture capital-backed solar materials startups.

Many of these types of startups fell on hard times years back as a glut of cheap solar panels hit the market. Solexel has raised about $200 million in total from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Technology Partners, Intel and DAG Ventures.

But Solexel’s design is novel and it’s developing panels made of ultra-thin silicon solar cells, paired with diodes that can shut down poor-performing ones to prevent them from affecting the output of the neighboring cells. The back of the cells are layered with materials that improve their durability and the efficiency that sunlight is converted into electricity.


We’ll have to…

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Physicists have quantum teleported a particle of light across 25 kilometres

Scientists have successfully teleported the quantum state of a photon to acrystal over 25 kilometres of optical fibre, showing that information can be teleported from light into matter.


Crystals containing photonic information teleported over 25 kilometres.

Image: University of Geneva

The breakthrough was made by a team at the University of Geneva, and according to their press release, the results prove “that the quantum state of a photon can be maintained whilst transporting it into a crystal without the two coming directly into contact“.

Quantum teleportation involves moving tiny bits of data from one place to another instantly, through a phenomenon know as quantum entanglement. Entanglement is when two linked particles act like twins, even when they’re separated, and means that information can instantly be passed from one to the other without them touching.

Researchers are fascinated by quantum teleportation because it could revolutionise the way we carry and transmit data. But they’ve struggled until now to find ways in which quantum information stored in light can be used in existing communication systems, which are matter-based, and transferred further than a few kilometres.

In this new experiment, the physicists took two entangled photons and sent one along 25 kilometres of optical fibre, while the other was sent to a crystal, which stored its information.

A third photon was then sent like a billiard ball into the optical fibre to hit the first photon, obliterating them both.

But the scientists discovered that the information from that third photon wasn’t actually destroyed, but had in fact been transferred into the crystal containing the second entangled photon. Their results are published in Nature Photonics.

This shows “the quantum state of the two entangled photons which are like two Siamese twins, is a channel that empowers the teleportation from light into matter,” co-lead researcher Félix Bussieres said in the press release.

“One needs to imagine the crystal as a memory bank for storing the photon’s information; the latter is transferred over these distances using the teleportation effect,” the press release explains.

There is still a long way to go before we’re using quantum teleportation in communication systems, but this is an important step that suggests the “vehicle” of the information doesn’t matter so much. As the authors write in Nature Photonics, the experiment demonstrates “quantum teleportation of the polarisation state of a telecom-wavelength photon onto the state of a solid-state quantum memory.”

And that opens up a lot of possibilities for future quantum teleportation research.

From: http://www.sciencealert.com.au/

Incredibly Fast Laser Could Speed Up Your Internet

Laser-internetResearchers in Germany and London have made what may now be the world’s fastest laser, and it could be used to make the Internet quicker.The laser turns on and off at a record-breaking speed. It’s uncertain what the real-world impact may be, but the researchers behind the laser say that it could be a big leap for communication technology and data connection speeds.

When Mashable reached out to the researchers for more details about how the laser would work, one scientist confirmed it could impact the web.

“If one can now switch the laser on and off very fast, then more information is transported for a given time frame,” Carsten Ronning, a scientist from Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University Jena, told Mashable.

The university also partnered with researchers at Imperial College London on the project.

What sets this laser apart from previous iterations is that the zinc oxide nanowire material used to develop the lasers is placed on silver instead of glass, which is traditionally used, according to an Imperial College London news release.

The scientists then use a special technique to squeeze light into a much smaller place than usual. By switching out a glass surface and shoving a bunch of light into a teeny tiny space, the researchers were able to shrink the diameter of the laser down to about a thousandth the size of a human hair, according to the news release. This causes a greater interaction between the light and nanowire, too.

The ultra-thin laser produces as many as 1 trillion pulses per second, making it much faster than your run-of-the-mill laser.

The laser operates stably at room temperature. Ronning said that this is probably the maximum possible speed at which such a laser can be operated.

From: http://mashable.com/

Google reveals Project Wing

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is developing airborne drones capable of flying on their own and delivering anything from candy to medicine, the internet company said.The effort, which Google calls Project Wing, marks the company’s latest expansion beyond its web-based origins and could help Google break into lucrative markets such as commerce and package delivery, ratcheting up the competition with Amazon.com.

Google, the world’s largest internet search engine, said it will take years of development to create a service with multiple vehicles flying multiple deliveries per day.

An early version of the drone, which Google showcased in a video on its website, has a 1.5 metre-(yard-) wide wingspan and is capable of flying pre-programmed routes.
“These planes have much more in common with the Google self-driving car than the remote-controlled airplanes people fly in parks on weekends,” Google said on its website, referring to the company’s test fleet of automobiles that use sensors and radars to navigate city streets and freeways on their own.

The drone Google showed in the video Thursday was equipped with rotors to allow for vertical takeoff and landing, as well as a fixed wing for plane-like flying. The drone flew about 40 metres above the treeline, Google said, and dropped a package of chocolate bars to a farmer in Queensland, Australia.

Google spokesman Ray Gobberg said it was too soon to discuss specific business plans for the delivery drones, but the company said on its website that self-flying vehicles could offer a cheaper, faster and less wasteful way to move goods.

Google rival Amazon.com announced plans last year to use aerial delivery drones for a service called “Prime Air.”
“Local delivery of products is the next battlefront,” said Sameet Sinha, an analyst with B. Riley & Co. “Google has had its eyes on e-commerce, basically trying to get around Amazon.”

Google has partnered with local retailers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York for its Shopping Express service, which allows consumers to order goods online and have them delivered to their doorstep on the same day.

While Google has been quietly developing its aerial drone project since late 2011, the company will now focus on teaching the vehicles to safely navigate around each other, to reduce the noise of the vehicles and to refine the delivery capability such that a package can be delivered to a spot the size of a doorstep.

Google’s Gobberg said the company has briefed the Federal Aviation Administration on the project and has been updating the agency. Gobberg said Google has done some “small scale research flights” in the United States but hoped to talk more with the agency to determine specific locations for testing.

In 2012, Congress required the FAA to establish a road map for the broader use of drones. The FAA has allowed limited use of drones in the US for surveillance, law enforcement, atmospheric research and other applications.

From: techgig.com

Tata Motors’s JLR developing ‘self-learning’ cars

Tata Motors's JLR developing 'self-learning' cars
Jaguar Land Rover is developing much smarter cars that will offer a completely personalized driving experience and help prevent accidents.

DUBAI: Tata Group’s flagship Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) unit is developing much smarter cars that will offer a completely personalized driving experience and help prevent accidents by reducing driver distraction.

Using the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques, JLR’s proposed car will offer a comprehensive array of services to the driver, owing to a new learning algorithm that recognizes who the driver is and learns their preferences and driving style.

The software then applies this learning by using a range of variables including your calendar, the time of day, traffic conditions and the weather to predict driver behaviour and take over many of the daily driving ‘chores’, allowing the driver to concentrate on the road ahead.

READ ALSO: Android Auto-powered cars coming in 2014, Google says

“The aim of our self-learning technology is to minimize driver distraction, which will help reduce the risk of accidents,” Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology for JLR, said.

“Presenting the driver with information just at the right time whilst driving will reduce both cognitive distraction and the need for the driver to look away from the road to scroll through phone lists, or adjust mirrors, temperature or seat functions while on the road,” he said.

Epple added that up until now most self-learning car research has only focused on traffic or navigation prediction.

“We want to take this a significant step further and our new learning algorithm means information learnt about you will deliver a completely personalized driving experience and enhance driving pleasure,” he said.

READ ALSO: Apple puts iOS in the car, launches CarPlay

The intelligent car will recognize the driver by the smartphone or other device in their pocket and by the time the driver has opened the car door, the mirrors, steering wheel and seat settings will all be set to the individual’s preferences.

The cabin will be pre-set to the desired temperature — and be intelligent enough to change it if it is snowing or raining.

READ ALSO: Vodafone eyes smart cars with $197m Cobra Automotive buyout

Google Places Another Bet in Space

MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory/Zuma Press

Google GOOGL +0.15% GOOGL -1.41% is placing a constellation of bets in space.

Two days after Google bought satellite startup Skybox Imaging for $500 million, a person familiar with the matter says Google is in talks with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to set up a satellite-launching partnership.

The person said Google will invest about $30 million for a minority stake in the company, though the investment could grow substantially.

The talks were first reported by Sky News, [LINK:http://news.sky.com/story/1280919/google-in-talks-to-take-virgin-galactic-stake] which said Google’s investment would value Virgin Galactic at around $2 billion. Virgin Galactic declined to comment. A Google spokesman declined to comment.

The talks come amid a flurry of deals and investments being made by Google to gain more data and beam Internet access from various layers of the atmosphere. It has purchased Titan Aerospace, a startup that is developing solar-powered drones; its Google X skunkworks is testing balloon-powered Internet as part of its Project Loon.

Meanwhile, Google is expected to use the satellite technology it just acquired from Skybox Imaging, which is a specialist in providing imagery of the Earth’s surface, to help beam broadband from space.

Separately, Google is also rolling out Google Fiber service in more cities in the U.S., building fiber optic networks in Uganda to help local Internet service providers deliver faster connection speeds as part of Project Link, and leasing dark fiber while bringing online new submarine and underground cables.

Google makes the vast majority of its profits from Web search advertising, which should only increase as Internet access becomes more widespread and speeds increase.

A deal would provide an important vote of confidence in Virgin Galactic, which has suffered years of delays and nagging problems with the engines of its passenger spaceship. The company is gearing up for its first test flight outside the atmosphere later this year, and if all goes well could begin regular commercial service by early 2015.

But its supplemental satellite-launching system still needs to undergo airborne testing, and commercial flights are expected to be spread out significantly in the beginning.

As Google considers its options, there are a few other companies that could provide launches for its small satellites. Alliant Techsystems Inc.ATK +0.36%Orbital Sciences Corp.ORB +0.48% and Sierra Nevada Corp. all have rockets that could do the job, while startups such as closely-held Xcor Aerospace Inc. could develop the capability in coming years.

In addition, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has larger rockets primarily designed to launch larger satellites, but those systems can be adapted to carry small satellites as secondary payloads.

From: http://online.wsj.com/news/technology