Microsoft launches Xbox Music on Web for free
September 11, 2013: Microsoft is making its Xbox Music streaming service available for free
on the Web even to those who donít use Windows 8. The expansion beyond Windows 8 devices and Xbox
game consoles starting on September 9, 2013 is intended to bring new customers into the software giantís
ecosystem of devices and services and could help it compete with other
digital music offerings like Pandora, Spotify and iTunes. Itís also an
acknowledgement that the music service hasnít done much to drive sales of the Windows 8 operating system.
The move represents another step toward Microsoftís goal of
becoming a company that sells devices and services, rather than primarily software.
Most buyers of the new Windows 8 operating system discovered Xbox Music
because itís the default player for music files that people have imported from elsewhere, according to
Xbox Music general manager Jerry Johnson.
Xbox Music allows people to choose from 30 million tracks and
stream them for free with ads. Microsoft is also launching apps for iPhones and Android devices that will allow paying subscribers to access
Xbox Music. Previously, you had to have a device running the Windows
Phone 8 operating system to access the plan on the go. Microsoft is also updating its
Xbox Music interface by reducing the size of cover art but adding tabs to make it easier to create and manage
playlists. Starting with its release on Nov. 22, Xbox One users will also, for the
first time, be able to play games while listening to Xbox Music simultaneously,
a feature that isnít offered on the Xbox 360. Source: The Hindu
India's Chandrayan helps NASA detect water on Moon
August 29, 2013
(PTI): NASA said scientists using data from the M3 instrument aboard ISRO's
Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, remotely detected magmatic water from deep within the Moon's interior.
The findings represent the first remote detection of this form of water
that originates deep within the Moon's interior, NASA researchers said.
Earlier studies had shown the existence of magmatic water in lunar samples returned during the Apollo
programme. NASA said scientists using data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper
instrument aboard the Indian Space Research Organisation's
Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, remotely detected magmatic water, or water that originates from deep within the Moon's
interior, on the lunar surface. M3 imaged the lunar impact crater
Bullialdus, which lies near the lunar equator.
"This rock, which normally resides deep beneath the surface, was
excavated from the lunar depths by the impact that formed Bullialdus
crater," said Rachel Klima, a planetary geologist at the Johns Hopkins
University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. "Compared to its
surroundings, we found that the central portion of this crater contains a significant amount of hydroxyl - a molecule consisting
of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, an evidence that the rocks in this crater contain water that originated beneath the lunar
surface," Klima said.
In 2009, M3 provided the first mineralogical map of the lunar surface
and discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the Moon. This water is thought to be a thin layer formed from solar wind hitting
the Moon's surface. Bullialdus crater is in a region with an unfavourable environment for solar wind to produce significant amounts
of water on the surface, NASA said.
World's first talking robot Kirbo sent into space
Washington, August 05 2013 (PTI): The world's first talking robot astronaut
Kirobo was successfully blasted into space today by Japanese scientists.
The robot was designed to be a companion for astronauts to stop them from getting lonely while in space. Officials at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the H2B
rocket, carrying food, water and other supplies, lifted off from the island of
Tanegashima today. Included in the cargo is a small robot named
Kirobo, which will serve as a companion for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata who will join the crew
later this year.
Kirobo was put through a series of zero-gravity and other safety tests
before it was deemed ready for flight. The 34 centimetres tall robot can speak Japanese and is designed to
provide emotional support for people isolated forlong periods, 'SPACE.com' reported.
The Kirobo space robot is a diminutive mechanical person just 34
centimetres tall, built to converse with astronauts on long space voyages.
The robot, and its ground-based counterpart Mirata, are part of the Kibo
Robot Project to develop new technologies to enhance human-robot interaction in space.
Kirobo speaks Japanese and is expected to talk to JAXA astronaut Koichi
Wakata when he arrives at the space station in November. The name of Kirobo is a merging of Kibo and robot, project officials
have said. Kirobo and Mirata were built by scientists and engineers at the
University of Tokyo. Both robots come equipped with voice-recognition and face-recognition
technology, as well as a camera, emotion recognition software and natural language processing.
"I want to help create a world where humans and robots can live together," Kirobo told reporters when the project was unveiled.
A new hi-tech pen that vibrates when you make spelling error
Washington, July 16, 2013 (PTI): German inventors have developed a new hi-tech pen that gently vibrates
every time it senses a spelling mistake or sloppy handwriting. Lernstift is a regular pen with real ink, but inside is a special motion
sensor and a small battery-powered Linux computer with a WiFi chip. Together those parts allow the pen to recognise specific movements,
letter shapes and know a wide assortment of words. If it senses bad
letter formation or messy handwriting, it will vibrate, 'ABC News' reported.
Users can choose between two functions: Calligraphy Mode - pointing out
flaws of form and legibility or Orthography Mode - recognising words and
comparing the word to a language database. If the word isn't recognised
it will vibrate, according to Daniel Kaesmacher, the 33-year-old co-founder of Lernstift from Munich.
The other co-founder Falk Wolsky, 36, had the idea for the pen last year
while his 10-year-old son was doing his homework. "His son had been struggling with his work and staying focused and Falk
thought there should be a pen that gives him some sort of signal so he
stays focused," Kaesmacher said. After a year and a half in development, the founders have now brought
Lernstift to Kickstarter to begin raising money and gauging interest.
Simple phones can now access smartphone technology
June 25, 2013: An Israeli technology company has developed a method where old or
outdated phones can run apps available only on smartphones. The system developed by the VascoDe
company allows users to obtain apps with the firm's cloud-based system that requires no downloads and uses
the text-based Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), similar
to the Short Message Service (SMS), Xinhua reported. Customers will be able to use many apps available until now for
smartphone users only. However, the only difference is that they will see the apps in black and white.
The USSD system does not allow access to the internet, but rather it
uses the API (Application Programming Interfaces) from pages like
Facebook, Gmail, and the like, according to technology and health
website Israel21c. VascoDe CEO Doron Mottes said 83 percent of cellphones in the world are
simple and do not connect to the internet, which means that almost four
billion people in the world cannot check their email on the go. He said the difference between being able to
check emails and respond to them, can make a whole difference in a world so hung up on the internet,
because it can give you the possibility to respond to job offers, for
example. Source: Dayafter Digital Magazine
Goa MIT student Andrea Colaco invents gesture-recognition smartphone technology
May 23, 2013: With the new invention of
gesture-recognition by an MIT student users will be allowed to interact
with their devices through thin air. A young PhD student from South Goa's Velim, Andrea Colaco has innovated
a gesture-recognition based technology for smart phones. This is a path-breaking discovery as this would aide the cell-phone
companies to do away with the screen-touch technology that is currently
in use in most of the smart phones these days. Colaco not only earned a graduate and master's degree, and later earned
one of the most-sought after doctorate seats at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT), but has earlier this month won
the MIT $100K entrepreneurship competition for her innovation which
provides real-time, millimetre accurate 3D gesture sensing on devices
like mobile phones. Colaco thinks that this is an immediate and un-addressed market.
With the prize money she plans to take 3dim full steam. She plans to
develop the technology for customers-smart-device manufacturers
-who have already expressed interest in the product. 3dim is a team that consists
of a bunch of technology enthusiasts who are excited about changing the way humans interact with computers.
The team is made up of accomplished innovators in signal
rocessing, human-computer interface design and hardware systems along with veterans
of the semiconductor industry and academic experts. Sorce: DNA
Samsung announces 5G data breakthrough
Seoul, May 15, 2013 (PTI):Samsung Electronics said today it had successfully tested super-fast
fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology that would eventually allow users to download an entire movie in one second.
The South Korean giant said the test had witnessed data transmission of
more than one gigabyte per second over a distance of two kilometres. The
new technology, which will not be ready for the commercial market before
2020 at the earliest, would offer transmitting speeds "up to several
hundred times faster" than existing 4G networks, it said in a statement.
That will permit users to "transmit massive data files including high
quality digital movies practically without limitation", it said. "As a
result, subscribers will be able to enjoy a wide range of services such
as 3D movies and games, real-time streaming of ultra high-definition
(UHD) content, and remote medical services," it added. Samsung said it
had found a way to harness millimeter-wave bands which have proved to be
a sticking point for the mobile industry to date. The test used 64 antenna elements, which the tech titan said overcame the issue of
"unfavourable propagation characteristics" that have prevented data
travelling across long distances using the bands. One of the most wired
countries on earth, South Korea already has around 20 million 4G users.
Indian academic develops intelligent robots in UK
London, April 5, 2013 (PTI): An Indian academic in the UK has developed
humanoid robots which use artificial intelligence to take on humans and learn
opponents' strategy as they play and try to win the traditional 'rock-scissors-paper' game.
Dr Ram Ramamoorthy from Bangalore led the team in developing the humanoid devices at the University of Edinburgh where he held a
Ramamoorthy earned his undergraduate degree in Instrumentation and
Electronics Engineering from the University of Bangalore and then went
to the University of Texas at Austin, where he was awarded his PhD degree.
He arrived at the University of Edinburgh in 2007. He is now working in
the School of Informatics, which is the biggest computer science department in Europe.
The Robots will play rock-scissors-paper game against human opponents in
a series of sell-out shows at this year's Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Rock-scissors-paper is a hand game usually played by two people, where players simultaneously form one of three shapes with an outstretched
hand. The rock beats scissors, the scissors beat paper and the paper
beats rock. If both players throw the same shape, the game is tied. During a series of one-hour workshops at this year's festival, the
robots will also practice responding to human gestures. With help from a Microsoft Kinect - a motion-sensing device originally
designed for the Xbox 360 video game - the two-foot-high robots will
learn to respond to people's gestures and, ultimately, learn to anticipate their actions.
In addition, the robots hope to hone their soccer skills in anticipation
of the 2013 RoboCup, a global football contest for robot teams. The free one-hour workshops are to be held at the National Museum of
Scotland until Friday. Ramamoorthy, who is overseeing the robots' participation in the Science
Festival, said: "These popular little robots are very entertaining to
watch and we hope that the Science Festival crowds will enjoy seeing them in action.
Google doodle celebrates 540th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus
February 19, 2013: Nicolaus Copernicus was born on 19 February 1473 in Thorn (modern day
Torun) in Poland. His father was a merchant and local official. When
Copernicus was 10 his father died, and his uncle, a priest, ensured that
Copernicus received a good education. In 1491, he went to Krakow Academy, now the
Jagiellonian University, and in 1496 travelled to Italy to study law. While a student at the University of Bologna he stayed
with a mathematics professor, Domenico Maria de Novara, who encouraged Copernicus' interests in geography and astronomy.
During his time in Italy, Copernicus visited Rome and studied at the
universities of Padua and Ferrara, before returning to Poland in 1503.
For the next seven years he worked as a private secretary to his uncle, now the bishop of Ermland.
The bishop died in 1512 and Copernicus moved to Frauenberg, where he had
long held a position as a canon, an administrative appointment in the
church. This gave him more time to devote to astronomy. Although he did
not seek fame, it is clear that he was by now well known as an astronomer. In 1514, when the Catholic church was seeking to improve the
calendar, one of the experts to whom the pope appealed was Copernicus.Copernicus' major work 'De Revolutionibus Orbium
Coelestium' ('On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres') was finished by 1530. Its central
theory was that the Earth rotates daily on its axis and revolves yearly around the sun. He also argued that the planets circled the Sun. This
challenged the long held view that the Earth was stationary at the centre of the universe with all the planets, the Moon and the Sun
rotating around it. Source: BBC News
Evidence of water dissolving Mars surface found
LONDON, February 8, 2013: "Scientists at the University of Glasgow together with the Scottish
Universities Environmental Research Centre and the Natural History Museum
(London) have discovered the first evidence of water dissolving the
surface of Mars," the Glasgow University said in a statement today. In a paper published in the Meteoritical Society's journal MAPS, the
research team outlined the results of tests on a 1.7 gram fragment of a
Martian meteorite known as Nakhla, which was provided by the Natural History Museum.
Nakhla, named after the town in Egypt where it landed in 1911 after
being blasted from the surface of Mars by a massive impact around 10
million years ago, has been studied for decades by scientists around the
world. Previous research on Nakhla has provided evidence of the existence of
water on Mars through the presence in the meteorite of 'secondary minerals' - types of carbonates, hydrous silicates and
sulfates most likely formed when Martian minerals reacted with water. Professor Martin Lee of the University's School of Geographical and
Earth Sciences, lead author of the paper, said: "What has been unclear
in the past is exactly where the chemical elements which made up the
secondary minerals within Nakhla came from. "Using a scanning electron microscope, we examined many tiny bowl-shaped
depressions, known as etch pits, in grains of the minerals olivine and augite found in the meteorite.
"What we've found for the first time is evidence that the etch pits were
created when water dissolved the olivine and augite, and that the elements released from those minerals led to the formation of the
secondary minerals. It's an exciting discovery and better informs our
understanding of how water affected rock on Mars," he said. "Our research does raise fascinating questions about exactly how long
ago the water interacted with the part of Mars which Nakhla came from
and where the water might have gone. Source: Times of India
Google doodles 64th Republic Day India
January 26, 2013: Google has doodled a tiger on the India home page as a mark of respect
on the occasion of the country's 64th Republic Day. The Republic Day in
India is celebrated as the day India's own constitution came into effect on 26th January 1950.
While India gained independence from the British on 15th August 1947, it
continued to be governed by the Government of India Act 1935, which was
a relic of the British era. Thus, the Republic Day, is seen as the day
India broke all ties from the British-empire, especially since it was
amongst the Commonwealth countries that refused to recognise the British
Queen as their head of state after independence. Other countries like
Australia and Canada, continue to have the British Monarch as their head of state till date.
Republic Day India commemorates the date that the Constitution Of India
was enacted and became the document that governed the country. On January 26, 1950, the Indian Assembly's 308 members signed two
handwritten copies of the new Constitution, an English and a Hindi version, and two days later the Constitution became the law. Drafted by
a committee headed by B R Ambedkar, the Constitution replaced the Government Of India Act Of 1935 that had previously governed colonial
India, and declared the country a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.
The Republic Day India doodle 2013 shows a tiger in all its glory. Last
year, the doodle depicted three elephants decked in finery, each with
two children and a tricoloured umbrella on the back, a reference to winners of the bravery awards who take part in the Republic Day parade
held in New Delhi every year. Source: NDTV
Earth-sized planets 'number 17bn'
California, January 8, 2013: Astronomers say that one in six stars hosts an Earth-sized planet in a
close orbit -suggesting a total of 17 billion such planets in our galaxy.
The result comes from an analysis of planet candidates gathered by Nasa's Kepler space observatory.
The Kepler scientists also announced 461 new planet candidates, bringing the satellites' total haul to 2,740.
Their findings were announced at the 221st meeting of the American
Astronomical Society in California.Since its launch into orbit in 2009, Kepler has stared at a fixed part
of the sky, peering at more than 150,000 stars in its field of view.
It detects the minute dip in light coming from a star if a planet passes
in front of it, in what is called a transit. But it is a tricky measurement to make, with the total light changing
just tiny fractions of a percent, and not every dip in light is due to a
planet. So Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics -
who discovered the first Earth-sized planets set about trying to find out not only which Kepler candidates might not be
planets, but also which planets might not have been visible to Kepler.
"We have to correct for two things - first [the Kepler candidate list]
is incomplete," he told BBC News. "We only see the planets that are transiting their host stars, stars
that happen to have a planet that is well-aligned for us to see it, and [for each of those] there are dozens that do not.
"The second major correction is in the list of candidates - there are
some that are not true planets transiting their host star; they are other astrophysical
configurations." These might include, for example, binary stars, where one star orbits
another, blocking some of the light as the stars transit each other.
"We simulated all the possible configurations we could think of - and we
found out that they could only account for 9.5% of Kepler planets, and
all the rest are bona fide planets," Dr Fressin explained. The results suggest that 17% of stars host a planet up to 1.25 times the
size of the Earth, in close orbits lasting just 85 days or fewer - much
like the planet Mercury. That means our Milky Way galaxy hosts at least 17 billion Earth-sized planets. Source: BBC News