World-first images show what the universe would look like if humans could see radio waves

A rainbow coloured night sky above a desert.

The world’s first pictures of the universe in radio technicolour have been produced using a $50 million radio telescope in the Western Australian outback.

The ground-breaking Galactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA (GLEAM) survey has created multi-coloured images of 300,000 galaxies, millions to billions of light years away, in the southern sky.

The spectacular pictures, published today by the Royal Astronomical Society, show what the universe would look like if the human eye could see radio waves.

The galaxies were observed by the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope, located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, 315 kilometres north-east of Geraldton.

GLEAM’s lead author, Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker, said the survey offered new insights into the enormity of the cosmos.

“When you’re looking up at the sky normally … you’re constrained as to what you can see,” she said.

“With the radio [telescope], we can peer out onto the immensity of the universe.

“We can see bright galaxies with super massive black holes and we can get this incredible picture of the sky.”

Dr Hurley-Walker is an astronomer with Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).

Sharing the culmination of three years of “blood, sweat, tears and supercomputers” was exciting, she said.

“People think ‘Oh astronomers, how romantic, you’re out there peering through a telescope’,” Dr Hurley-Walker said.

“A lot of my day-to-day job is running code on computers until I get it right, so it’s great to have finally got it right to share with the world.”

Using cutting-edge technology to turn up the technicolour

Dr Hurley-Walker painstakingly calibrated about 45,000 images to radio frequencies between 70 and 230 megahertz to provide the colourful catalogue of celestial bodies.

“Most radio surveys just look at a single frequency,” she said.

“This … gives them essentially a black and white image of the universe.

“What’s really cool about GLEAM is that we observe over a really wide range of frequencies.”

In simple terms, GLEAM is like going from black and white to colour television.

The three colours — red, blue and green — represent physical processes taking place in space.

“It gives us a real insight into what’s going on in the universe,” Dr Hurley-Walker said.

Remote WA location crucial to breakthrough

Dr Hurley-Walker said the MWA’s remote desert location and lack of radio interference was crucial to conducting the survey.

“It doesn’t receive any other interfering radio signals from people because the Murchison is basically empty,” she said.

“There’s no wifi, there’s no mobile phones, there’s not even any FM radio.

“When we’re trying to observe at the radio frequencies, normally this radio interference is a huge problem.

“In a remote location like the Murchison … we can observe in frequencies that have never been observed before because of the human-caused radio collusion.”

MWA director Randall Wayth said GLEAM was one of the biggest radio surveys of the sky ever assembled, and was a significant achievement.

“Large sky surveys are extremely valuable to scientists and they’re used across many areas of astrophysics, often in ways the original researchers could never have imagined,” Dr Wayth said.

Hundreds of Millions of People Are Using Smartphones You’ve Never Even Heard Of

“I love the screen on your Oppo R9, but have you seen the camera on my Vivo X7?”

More than half a billion Chinese own smartphones. But their favorite handsets barely register any brand recognition outside of China. In the third quarter of this year, nearly one-third of the world’s largest smartphone market was controlled by two domestic makers, Oppo and Vivo, according to Counterpoint, a Hong Kong-based technology market research firm. Oppo’s R9 handset was the best selling phone in that period, besting Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy. Overall, 120 million smartphone handsets were sold in China from June to September this year, Counterpoint says.

Gone are the days when foreign competitors were guaranteed pole position in China. “Chinese companies can compete with foreign brands like Samsung or Apple not just on lower price,” says Sun Yanbiao, founder of Mobile No. 1, an independent Chinese mobile industry analysis firm. “Some of them even have better functions.”

Rather than offering low-cost handsets, Oppo and Vivo are offering premium products with local customization (seamless tie-ups with Chinese social-media, online entertainment and e-commerce platforms) and innovation (top-notch screens, cameras and battery power).

Some Chinese brands, like Huawei and Xiaomi, the No. 3 and 4 phone-makers respectively, have attempted international forays. One-third of all smartphones sold in India, for example, are now Chinese brands. But the prize remains the domestic market, which has cycled through industry leaders with whiplash speed. Walk through any Chinese city and billboards for Apple (now No. 5 in terms of China market share) are dwarfed by advertisements starring Scarlett Johansson, Lionel Messi and even FC Barcelona—all pitching for local brands.

Here are five Chinese smartphone makers worth getting to know.

1. Oppo

From June to September 2015, Oppo controlled 9.9% of the Chinese smartphone market. This year, during the same time period, Oppo ranked No. 1 with 16.6% market share, according to Counterpoint. Its flagship R9 may look like an iPhone and act sort of like an iPhone but it’s got a bigger screen, lower price point and a much faster-charging battery. To burnish its international image, Oppo has signed a sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona. The company’s handsets have done particularly well with young Chinese from inland cities.

Daily Life In Myanmar
Kevin Zen—Getty ImagesChinese mobile phone manufacturers Oppo’s advertising is in the streets on June 5, 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar.

2. Vivo

Vivo has only been making phones for five years, but it is second only to Oppo in Chinese market share, with smartphone sales growing by 114% year-on-year this past quarter, to 16.2% of the market. Vivo’s X7 handset offers a front-facing 16 megaixel camera—perfect for selfies and the highest resolution in the industry—shared only by Oppo handsets. The similarity between the two firms’ products is no coincidence. Vivo is owned by BBK Electronics. The company first made its name with a gaming console that seemed to borrow heavily from Ninetendo’s Game Boy, but it moved into communications and now also happens to control market leader Oppo. It has two other smartphone brands, OnePlus and imoo. BBK is based in Dongguan, the southern Chinese factory town, but it has global ambitions, sponsoring India’s premier cricket league and exclusively partnering with the NBA in China. Still, it’s not clear how China’s ultra-competitive smartphone market will support both Vivo and Oppo in the future.

3. Xiaomi

Offering everything from smartphones to rice cookers, Xiaomi made history as China’s largest privately held startup. But after holding the No. 1 sales position for two years because of its low-priced phones and savvy online marketing, Xiaomi lost out to high-end local competitors. This week, Xiaomi unveiled its priciest product yet, the $600 Mi Mix, which features a Philippe Starck-designed ceramic body and bezel-less screen. The company may also be hoping that its Mi Note 2, a Galaxy Note 7 lookalike, will profit from the Samsung product’s exploding-phones debacle.

General Views - 12th Zurich Film Festival
Andreas Rentz—Getty ImagesA visitor uses a Huawei phone during the 12th Zurich Film Festival on September 26, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland.

4. Huawei

Just a few months ago, Huawei ranked as China’s No. 1 selling brand, according to market researcher IDC, but the Shenzhen-based firm has since succumbed to upstarts Oppo and Vivo. Like the offerings of many of its domestic competitors, Huawei’s high-end P9 smartphone has dual SIM card slots so that people can switch between two numbers. (More than half of Chinese have two SIM cards.) The P9 camera boasts a Leica co-engineered lens. To pitch products overseas, Huawei has tapped football star Lionel Messi and Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson.

5. LeEco

Once an online video-streaming site, LeEco has expanded into smartphones, smart TVs and even blockbuster movies. (The company also promises to debut self-driving cars.) LeEco’s handset sales recorded robust growth in Q3 largely because of its ability to stream proprietary TV shows and movies onto its devices, as well as a massive library of other entertainment. The company expects to ship 25 million handsets this year. LeEco will begin online sales of its handsets (plus streaming entertainment ecosystem) in the U.S. next month but it’s hard to see how the Chinese brand can compete with the likes of Apple.

Apple says it needs ‘a little more time,’ delays AirPods release

When Apple announced AirPods, its new wireless ear buds, at its September iPhone 7 keynote, the company said the wireless headphones would launch in October. It’s now late October and we still don’t have an idea when the AirPods will ship. There could be more to this story than we thought.

Apple has informed TechCrunch via a statement that it needs “a little more time” before releasing its AirPods and no longer has plans to ship the headphones in October.

Apple went on to say that despite the fact that its AirPods have been well received, it doesn’t want to ship a product before it’s ready, so the company has delayed the shipment of the devices. Apple did not say what caused the delay.Back in September MobileSyrup Senior Editor Patrick O’Rourke reviewed Apple’s AirPods, and was impressed with their performance and connectivity, titling the review, “welcome to the wireless future.”

We’ll be sure to provide updates when we can, but for now, the wireless future will have to wait a little longer.

Going to space is a real pain in the back

Astronaut Scott Kelly grew taller in space 01:56

Story highlights

  • Astronauts can temporarily gain 2 inches in height but suffer muscle loss and back pain
  • More countermeasures involving exercise may help mitigate pain and muscle loss

(CNN)A six-month stay on the International SpaceStation can be a pain in the back for astronauts. Whilethey may gain up to 2 inches in height temporarily, thateffect is accompanied by a weakening of the musclessupporting the spine, according to a new study.

In 1994, astronaut Mark Lee had his height measured by fellow astronaut Jerry Linenger as part of a study on back pain.

Astronauts have been reporting back pain since the late 1980s, when space missions grewlonger. Their flight medical data show that more than half of US astronauts have reported backpain, especially in their lower backs. Up to 28% indicated that it was moderate to severe pain,sometimes lasting the duration of their mission.
Things don’t improve when they return to Earth’sgravity. In the first year after their mission, astronautshave a 4.3 times higher risk of a herniated disc.
“It’s sort of an ongoing problem that has been asignificant one with cause for concern,” said Dr.Douglas Chang, first author of the new study andassociate professor of orthopedic surgery and chief ofphysical medicine and rehabilitation service atUniversity of California San Diego Health. “So this studyis the first to take it from just an epidemiologicaldescription and look at the possible mechanisms for what is going on with the astronauts’backs.”

Like being in a body cast

Much attention has been focused on intervertebral discs, the spongy shock absorbers that sitbetween our vertebrae, as the culprit for the back issues that astronauts face. But the new studyruns counter to that thinking. In this research, funded by NASA, Chang’s team observed little tono changes in the discs, their height or swelling.
What they did observe in six astronauts who spent fourto seven months on the ISS was a tremendousdegeneration and atrophying of the supportingmusculature in the lumbar (lower) spine, Chang said.These muscles are the ones that help us stay upright,walk and move our upper extremities in anenvironment like Earth, while protecting discs andligaments from strain or injury.
In microgravity, the torso lengthens, most likely due tospinal unloading, in which the spinal curvature flattens.Astronauts also aren’t using the muscle tone in their lower backs because they aren’t bendingover or using their lower backs to move, like on Earth, Chang said. This is where the pain andstiffening occurs, much like if the astronauts were in a body cast for six months.
MRI scans before and after the missions revealed thatthe astronauts experienced a 19% decrease in thesemuscles during their flight. “Even after six weeks oftraining and reconditioning here one Earth, they areonly getting about 68% of their losses restored,” Changexplained.
Chang and his team consider this a serious issue forlong-term manned missions, especially whenconsidering a trip to Mars that could take eight or ninemonths just to reach the Red Planet. That trip, and theastronauts’ potential time spent in Martian gravity — 38% of the surface gravity on Earth –creates the potential for muscle atrophy and deconditioning.
The team’s future research will also look at reported neck issues, where there can be even moreoccurrences of muscle atrophy and a slower recovery period. They are also hoping to partnerwith another university on inflight ultrasounds of the spine, to look at what happens to astronautswhile they are on the space station.

Yoga in space?

Because nobody likes back pain and muscle loss, Chang suggested countermeasures thatshould be added to the already two- to three-hour workout astronauts have on the space stationeach day. Though their exercise machines focus on a range of issues including cardiovascularand skeletal health, the team believes that space travelers also need to include a core-strenghtening program focused on the spine.
In addition to the “fetal tuck” position astronauts use inmicrogravity to stretch their lower back or alleviateback pain, Chang suggested yoga. But he knows thatis easier said than done.
“A lot of yoga depends on the effects of gravity, likedownward dog, where a stretch through the hamstring,calf muscles, back of the neck and shoulders arepossible because of gravity. When you remove that,you may not have the same benefit.”
Any machines on the space station also have to be designed with regards to weight, size andeven the reverberations they could produce on the station.
Scott Parazynski, who walked in space seven times, assisted with construction on the space station in 2007.

Chang and the other researchers brainstormed with a virtual reality team about differentexercise programs that would enable astronauts to invite friends, family or even Twitter followersto join them in a virtual workout, making the daily repetition of their workouts more fun andcompetitive.
One of Chang’s teammates has felt this pain personally. Dr. Scott Parazynski is the onlyastronaut to summit Mount Everest. He experienced a herniated disc after returning from the ISSto Earth. Less than a year later, when he attempted to climb Everest the first time, he had to beairlifted off. After a rehabilitation process, he eventually made the summit. Now, he speaks tocurrent astronauts about the ways they can contribute to studies about their health inmicrogravity.
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Keeping the astronauts healthy and fit is the least theycan do, Chang said.
“When a crew comes back, they say on one side ofthe space station, they see this beautiful blue planet,”he said. “Everything they hold dear to them is on thisfragile little planet. And they look out the other windowand just see infinity stretching off into the blackness, and they come back with a different senseof themselves and their place in the universe.
“All of them are committed to furthering space knowledge and making incremental stepsforward in any way they can for the next crew.”

New hybrid nanostructures may be right for next-gen green cars: U.S. scientists

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) — A new design for storage materials that uses layers of graphene separated by nanotube pillars of boron nitride, may be a suitable material to store hydrogen fuel in cars, according to U.S. scientists.

The results suggest that the new computational study is “as an excellent candidate for hydrogen storage, providing ample opportunities to further tune this hybrid material for efficient hydrogen storage,” said Farzaneh Shayeganfar and Rouzbeh Shahsavari, materials scientists from Rice University in the United States on a study published in the recent issue of the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir.

According to the study, the researchers had already used computer models to determine the resilience and toughness of pillared graphene structures. Then they added boron nitride nanotubes into the mix to model a unique three-dimensional architecture.

The researchers focused the simulations on four variants: pillared structures of boron nitride or pillared boron nitride graphene doped with oxygen or lithium.

The result: at room temperature and in ambient pressure, oxygen-doped boron nitride graphene was proved the best, holding 11.6 percent of its weight in hydrogen of its gravimetric capacity and about 60 grams per liter of its volumetric capacity.

The U.S. Department of Energy has set standards for storage materials that can make hydrogen a practical fuel for light-duty vehicles. It currently aims to develop an economic storage media that can store more than 5.5 percent of its weight and 40 grams per liter in hydrogen under moderate conditions. The ultimate targets are 7.5 weight percent and 70 grams per liter.

“What we’re looking for is the sweet spot,” Shahsavari said in a statement, describing the ideal conditions as a balance between the material’s surface area and weight, as well as the operating temperatures and pressures.

“This is only practical through computational modeling, because we can test a lot of variations very quickly. It would take experimentalists months to do what takes us only days,” the scientist said.

The researchers believed that the newly designed structure can easily beat competing technologies like porous boron nitride, metal oxide frameworks and carbon nanotubes and it must be strong enough to easily satisfy the U.S. Department of Energy’s requirement that a hydrogen fuel tank be able to withstand 1,500 charge-discharge cycles

Integral Memory Announces SVR-PRO SATA III SSDs Featuring Novachips HLNAND – Exponential Leaps in Capacity!

UK-based Integral Memory is announcing that they have partnered up with Novachips to create a new series of solid-state drives (SSDs) that provide superior performance and an exponential leap in capacity.  The first products of this partnership are the SVR-PRO SATA III SSDs, which feature a unique storage control architecture that is ideal for the ever-growing requirement of enterprise data centers to ‘up-scale’ their storage systems.  This newly available capacity expansion capability should dramatically drive the continued growth of server rooms across Europe.

integral-memory-svr-pro-bannerThe key to the SVR-RPO series is a daisy-ring architecture that helps bypass the capacity restrictions of conventional parallel NAND configurations.  Each HyperLink NAND (HLNAND™) Flash chip is connected directly to its neighboring chip in the loop, with each unit of flash driving a single load, thus allowing an unlimited number of flash chips per channel.

integral-novachips-hlnandAccording to Samik Halai, Senior Product Manager for Integral Memory, “This breakthrough makes ‘scaling-up’ data centres an appealing alternative to ‘scaling-out’ across expensive extra floor space.  In addition to data centers, our new generation of SSD products will benefit commercial applications where space is at a premium, such as aerospace.  We are confident that many organizations will benefit from our products made in collaboration with Novachips.”

integral-svr-pro-100-both-form-factorsIntegral’s SVR-PRO SATA SSD 100-SRI and 200-SMW models provide up to 8TB of data storage capacity, and are geared toward the intensive usage required for today’s ‘big data’ environments.  The 100-SRI is geared toward performance-intensive applications, with a good balance of low latency and high read and write IOPS.  This makes the 100-SRI ideal for file servers, web servers, streaming and Video on Demand.

integral-svr-pro-200-both-form-factorsThe 200-SMW models are geared toward high endurance, providing 11,680 TBW, making it a great fit for servers that continuously execute mixed workloads.  Both models are rated for sequential read speeds of up to 551 MB/s, and sequential write speeds of up to 518 MB/s.  Random 4K read speeds are stated as up to 53,000 IOPS, with random 4K write speeds of up to 78,000 IOPS.  Integral is backing both the 100-SRI and 200-SMW with a five-year limited warranty.

integral-svr-pro-7mm-and-15mm-profilesThe lesser capacity models of both are built on a 2.5” x 7mm form factor, with the larger capacities housed in the 2.5” x 15mm form factor.  Both models support S.M.A.R.T. drive performance and health monitoring attributes.  Both models utilize a number of capacitors to ensure that data in the write cache is protected from corruption in the event of an unanticipated power interruption.

integral-memory-logoYou can view the product page for the Integral SVR-PRO 100-SRI SSD here, and the product page for the Integral SVR-PRO 200-SMW SSD here.  The press release announcing these new high-capacity SSDs can be viewed in its entirety here.


You Can Now Buy a Can of Beer Shipped by a Self-Driving Truck

Otto and Budweiser are proud to announce they have completed the world’s first shipmentby a self-driving truck.

With the full support from the State of Colorado, Otto and Anheuser-Busch delivered 51,744 cans ofBudweiser from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, traveling through downtown Denver during thetrip. The self-driving truck is equipped with cameras, radar and lidar sensors to see the road, whileOtto’s system controlled the truck’s acceleration, braking and steering to carry the beer exit-to-exitwithout human intervention.

Otto believes the shipment is the next step in realizing its vision for a safe and productive future onhighways, with the technology allowing truck drivers to have the opportunity to rest during longstretches of highway, while the truck continues to drive on its own.