A really important part to be known by all designers on True Dimension and Projected Dimension.
Thursday, 18 August 2016
Sunshine, seaweed help to break down dye waste:
The researchers developed a photocatalyst using titanium dioxide doped with red seaweed polymer carrageenan to degrade the dyes.
Scientists at the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), Bhavanagar, Gujarat have been able to completely degrade three industrial dyes — methyl orange, methylene blue and reactive black-5 — in the presence of sunlight.
The researchers developed a photocatalyst using titanium dioxide doped with red seaweed polymer carrageenan to degrade the dyes. The results were published recently in the journal RSC Advances.
Despite stringent environmental regulations, a comprehensive method of treating industrial dye is not available. The methods available are expensive and do not completely break down the dye molecules to non-toxic constituents but merely concentrate the contaminants.
“Annually, more than 500 tonnes of non-degradable textile colour wastes are being disposed of in natural streams without adequate treatments,” the paper says.
Titanium dioxide has conventionally been used for photocatalytic degradation of industrial dyes, but it takes a long time to degrade dyes. So the researchers doped titanium dioxide nanoparticles with sulphur and carbon by treating it with carrageenan.
The nanocomposite was found to behave as an excellent photocatalyst that helped degrade industrial dyes quickly in a single-step process.
“The energy required to activate the catalyst is less when it is doped and this makes the dye degradation faster,” says Dr. Ramavatar Meena, the senior author of the paper from CSMCRI.
Solar concentrator used
Unlike a commercial titanium-dioxide-based catalyst that did not clear the dye solutions, the photocatalyst prepared in the lab was found to degrade the dyes when exposed to direct sunlight between noon and 2 pm during May-July.
“The Titanium-dioxide-doped photocatalyst degraded reactive black-5 and methylene blue in about one-and-half hours and 60 per cent of methyl orange in two hours,” says Dr. Meena. “Visible light is mainly responsible for degradation; ultraviolet radiation intensity was just 3 per cent.”
When a solar concentrator was used, the degradation process was hastened. “Reactive black-5 and methylene blue degraded within five minutes and methyl orange degraded completely in 20 minutes,” says Dr. Meena. There was no significant colour change in the case of control titanium dioxide sample that was not doped.
“When a solar concentrator is used the intensity of visible light is more and this plays an important role in the degradation process,” says Jai Prakash Chaudhary, the first author of the paper from CSMCRI.
The researchers are planning to conduct studies during winter to assess the photocatalyst’s ability to break down the dyes when bright sunlight is not available.
The nanocomposites are thermally stable and can be reused up to six times with the degradation efficiency remaining at over 97 per cent.
The nanocomposite photocatalyst can safely and completely treat harmful dyes in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner, the study said.
Tuesday, 5 July 2016
New Nanoparticle Catalysts Improve Reactivity with Much Less Platinum:
A sample of a core-shell nanoparticle made by the researchers is shown in images made using scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX). Color images show where the different elements are located in the particle, with the precious metals platinum (Pt) and ruthenium (Ru) concentrated in the shell, and the other constituents, tungsten (W), and titanium (Ti), concentrated in the core.
Monday, 4 July 2016
Google is trying to make it easier for you to manage the vast pool of information that it collects about your online activities across phones, computers and other devices.
Among other things, a new privacy tool will enable the more than 1 billion people who use Google's search engine and other services to block certain ads from appearing on every device that they log into, instead of having to make a special request on each individual machine.
Some users of Google's search engine, Gmail and Chrome browser will start receiving notices about the new option beginning Tuesday, but it will take several more weeks before it's available to everyone.
Google also is introducing a "My Activity" feature that will enable users to delete records of their online search requests and videos watched on YouTube in a single location instead of having to visit different websites or apps.
Google's business has been built on its longtime practice of monitoring its users' online behavior in an effort to learn about their interests so it can show ads most likely to appeal to them.
Those customized ads shown alongside Google's search results and the content on millions of other websites have turned Google's corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., into one of the world's most profitable companies.
In an effort to minimize complaints about invading people's privacy, Google has long allowed its users to impose limits on how much data is accumulated about them and how many customized ads they see.
Last year, Google also opened a "My Account" hub to serve as a one-stop shop for setting privacy and security controls.
If they choose, users will now be able to authorize Google to store their web browsing histories in the "My Account" center.
Until now, Google had been keeping personal information in different digital dossiers that sometimes require users to take multiple steps to manage specific pieces of data.
For instance, someone annoyed by a Google-generated ad on their personal computer can prevent it from appearing again by clicking on an "X'' in the corner. Taking that step currently won't block the same ad from appearing on the targeted person's smartphone a few hours later.
Google says that will no longer happen if users allow it to stockpile web browsing histories in the "My Account" center.
The leading social network first made the "multilingual composer" tool available earlier this year for use on pages representing companies, brands, groups and celebrities through its Pages service.
Now it will be available to general users.
"Page authors and other people on Facebook can compose a single post in multiple languages, and the viewers who speak one of those languages will see the post in their preferred language only—allowing people to more easily interact with their diverse audiences," the company said.
Half of Facebook's more than 1.5 billion users worldwide speaks a language other than English, the California-based social network says.
Among factors Facebook will use to determine which language to use for posts include locales designated in account settings and which languages users routinely use for their posts.
The social network plans to use multilingual posts to improve machine translation capabilities with the aim of one day removing language barriers across the social network.
Sunday, 3 July 2016
This drug really could make you, here's why you can't take it yet:
Skye Gould/Tech Insider
There are several things you can do right now to clear up brain fog that makes it hard to keep up with everything you have to get done.
You could go for a run or hit the gym — exercise has been shown to effectively boost cognitive ability. You could get a good night's sleep, something that refreshes energy levels, is essential for memory, and makes it significantly easier to focus. You could have a cup of coffee andbenefit from that proven little helper, caffeine.
But sometimes none of that seems like enough. It makes you want an additional solution, a pill that can boost you for long enough to get you over that hump.
While students and overworked employees frequently experiment with substances like Adderall or Ritalin in an attempt to do just that, it hasn't been shown that most of these "cognitive enhancers" actually make anyone's brain work "better."
But there's one substance that a recent review published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology found actually does improve attention, memory, learning, and other cognitive abilities — modafinil.
Pharmaceutical cognitive enhancement isn't a new idea. People have used drugs to try to boost their brainpower for more than 100 years. Early in his career in the late 1800s, Sigmund Freud experimented prolifically with cocaine, which he described at the time as his "most gorgeous excitement." Mathematician Paul Erdős had such a serious relationship with amphetamines that when he once stopped taking them for a month to win a $500 bet, he immediately got back on drugs afterwards. He famously told the friend he bet: "You've set mathematics back a month."
Those substances, however, come with significant negative side effects. That's what makes modafinil so interesting.
In their review of the literature on modafinil, Oxford researchers Ruairidh Battleday and Anna-Katherine Brem found that it didn't seem to have any particularly serious side effects and didn't seem likely to cause dependency — though there are still unanswered questions there.
How modafinil affects your brain
Battleday and Brem reviewed 24 studies that assessed how modafinil affected healthy non-sleep deprived people's minds (they considered 267 studies, but rejected those that weren't placebo controlled, used unhealthy subjects, or tested animals and not people). The fact that subjects were healthy is an important distinction — many of the ways we look at drugs that affect thinking ability are designed to assess people with cognitive deficiencies.
Most studies could be broken down into either "basic" or "complex" tests of cognitive function, Brem and Battleday tell Tech Insider.
Basic tests assess just one sub-component of cognition and tend to be very simple tasks. On these tests, the effects of modafinil were mixed. It was on complex tests that the authors found consistent improvement, especially in terms of attention, the ability to focus on a task and process relevant information; learning and memory; and executive function, which includes the ability to take in information and use it to come up with plans or strategies.
These complex tasks are much better ways to answer the question of "does this substance actually improve cognitive ability" than the basic ones, the authors tell Tech Insider.
"Rarely in life do we spend an entire day using a sole cognitive sub-domain – attention, for example. Rather, we constantly plan, predict, and problem solve – all of which involve marshaling subdomains of cognition and integrating their output – over varying tasks and difficulties," they wrote in an email. "It is in this sense that complex tasks can approximate everyday functioning better than simple."
As for how modafinil works, we still really don't know. It was originally designed as a treatment for narcolepsy to keep people awake. But no one is entirely certain how it affects cognition.
"The best idea we have is that by directly altering the concentration of a group of chemicals in the brain – called 'catecholamines' – modafinil upregulates activity in attention and executive control networks in the brain," the authors tell Tech Insider. "These changes are then hypothesized to allow individuals to perform better on cognitive tasks: particularly those requiring good focus and problem solving."
Can I take it?
So, will your doctor write you a modafinil prescription?
The answer for now is no, unless you have narcolepsy. But that may not always be the case.
When it comes to safety, Brem and Battleday said that the studies they reviewed didn't note serious side effects.
Most studies reported a slight boost to positive mood and no adverse effects. In the studies that found adverse effects, a small number of participants reported insomnia, headache, stomach ache or nausea, and dry mouth.
That may not sound great, but in context, those effects aren't such a big deal. That's essentially like having an extra cup of coffee that you didn't need, UCLA clinicalpsychiatrist James McGough told The Atlantic's Olga Khazan.
Only one study assessed the potential for abuse, and reported that it was low.
But none of these studies tested long term use, so we don't know if it's safe for someone to take modafinil over an extended period of time. As the authors point out, most of these studies only tested one single dose, which comes nowhere close to assessing risks of regular use.
Funding is scarce for drugs that help healthy people
Interestingly, Battleday and Brem point out that there isn't much research on cognitive enhancement for healthy people and that there's a lack of funding and perhaps even a bit of a taboo on studying the topic.
"It appears that funding for drug-based studies on healthy individuals fails to attract typically medical-oriented grants and awards," they say.
That's why they say it was hard to find good complex tests of cognitive enhancement, and they hope that perhaps their work will encourage researchers to further investigate the topic.
If that does happen, there may be surprises out there — perhaps some of the other drugs used for cognitive improvement, things like Adderall, work better for healthy people than we think they do despite their potential dependency risks.
But even if modafinil were to be proven safe long term and its cognitive boosting ability affirmed by further studies, there are still reasons why — for now — doctors aren't going to start prescribing it to healthy people.
At the recent annual meeting of the American Medical Association, the group decided to adopt a policy "discouraging the nonmedical use of prescription drugs for cognitive enhancement in healthy individuals."
Of prescription stimulants, they say that the cognitive effects appear limited for healthy people. Of other supplements and "smart drugs," known as nootropics, they say that there's limited research right now and that more analysis is needed before anyone can conclude that they are safe.
So don't expect a modafinil prescription soon. Not that that stops many users. There are healthy internet communities dedicated to nootropics, and plenty of user reports on modafinil specifically.
Most of those users order it off the internet from somewhat-shady pharmacies, a practicestrongly discouraged by law enforcement, since it's illegal and potentially dangerous.
Will you someday be able to take the smart pill?
Let's say it turns out that multiple studies show that it's safe to take modafinil occasionally over long periods of time — for the rest of your life, even. Let's say that there are no additional negative side effects that come with that use.
If that's the case, should you be able to use the drug?
"That is a very interesting question, and one society must properly address in the near future; not just for modafinil, but for all potential neuroenhancement agents," say Battleday and Brem. But they point out that even if something proves to be safe for an individual, that doesn't answer all questions about how its use affects the rest of society.
Some people fear that if we permit any use of cognitive enhancing drugs for individuals, it will eventually lead to people being required to use those substances, even if they don't want to. That could be due to internal pressure that comes from a fear of keeping up — if my co-workers are taking this brain-boosting drug and I'm not, will I be judged as not working hard enough?
There's even a concern that people in certain professions might be compelled to use brain-enhancing substances. Could we get to the point that it's considered unsafe for pilots to fly or surgeons to operate without using focus- and attention-boosting drugs?
In The Conversation, researchers Emma Jane and Nicole Vincent describe how the use of beta-blockers became widespread among classical musicians. While some people first used these drugs to get over performance anxiety, they were so effective and had minimal enough side effects that other musicians felt they were losing out by not using beta-blockers as well.
"Just as the use of beta blockers has become widespread in the classical music scene, so too cognitive enhancement threatens to become a new 'normal', a de facto standard that pressures everyone to bio-hack their brains to keep up," they write.
And the ethical questions don't stop there. There are questions about justice — if wealthy people can easily afford cognitive enhancement but no one else can, that's likely to create an even more unequal society.
Cognitive enhancing substances are already out there and more are likely to become available in the near future. These questions about how to use them or how to regulate them are important.
"This is not a future but already a present scenario," say Brem and Battleday.