Month: August 2019

Researchers fashion swan egg into sensor to monitor hatching process

first_imgImage: Flickr Explore further Swans help explain evolutionary question Citation: Researchers fashion swan egg into sensor to monitor hatching process (2012, August 15) retrieved 18 August 2019 from ( — Researchers in Britain are confused by the mute swans of Abbotsbury Swannery. They lay four to ten eggs during a laying cycle which lasts generally a couple of days. During that time, they sometimes sit on the eggs laid up to that point, but not long enough to cause the eggs to begin incubation; that doesn’t start until all of the eggs have been laid. So why do they bother at all beforehand? It seems like a waste of energy, which birds as a general rule, tend to avoid. That’s what this new research aims to find out. The group have taken a real egg, sawed off one end and fitted it inside with electronics embedded in rubbery silicon. The electronics consist of an accelerometer to measure movement, a radio signal generator, a thermometer to find out just how much heat the birds are offering to the eggs both before all are laid and after and a chip to do all the conversions. The end product is good enough to fool the swans and thereby give the researchers a way to measure what goes on with the egg, something that could not be done any other way. The egg sends data to a remote computer eight times a second, where the information is analyzed and stored.The swannery in Abbotsbury has hosted swans, scientists believe, for over a thousand years and is unique in that it’s the only mute swan colony that is managed by humans. It’s also a tourist attraction. Because of that, the swans are used to people and don’t grow flustered and leave when they come around. The colony typically supports over 600 swans of which generally just a hundred and fifty are part of mutual pairings. Nesting swans are generally quite territorial leading to nests that are rather far apart. In Abbotsbury, that’s not possible, so the birds sometimes lose track of young as they wander into the nests of others nearby. Back in the 1500’s the swans were eaten at special events by monks from the Benedictine monastery at St. Peter’s.In addition to figuring out why the birds roost before laying all their eggs, the researchers hope to learn more about the process by which cygnets hatch in general.last_img read more

Google issues Maps APIs for tighter tabs on vehicles

first_img(—Google has been branded and promoted to the point where two associated words-come to mind, “search” and “Maps.” Over 800,000 developers worldwide use Google Maps APIs, according to the company, to create their own location-based applications based on Google Maps. Now Google is promoting its Maps technology benefits to a special audience, the enterprise. Google on October 17 officially rolled out two new APIs targeted at enterprise customers for building their own location-enabled applications. The standard reason offered for why businesses should respond is efficiency. Google announces Floor Plan app for venue owners More information: … to-add-location.html Explore further Citation: Google issues Maps APIs for tighter tabs on vehicles (2012, October 21) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2012 “Businesses have a lot of moving parts – sometimes quite literally,” said Nabil Naghdy, Google Maps Product Manager. “Map-based information is useful for any business that relies on a fleet of vehicles, employees who travel, or other mobile resources. To help organizations build their own location-enabled applications, we’re launching two new APIs.” The new APIS are Maps Tracks and Maps Geolocation.Maps Tracks API gives organizations the ability to introduce apps that can store, display and analyze GPS data on a map. The idea is for the business to track, analyze, and visualize asset movement. The business payback would lie in how the Maps Tracks API, for example, could provide a fleet management company with tools for analyzing data from past and present deliveries. By seeing routing information on a Google Map, they can determine which routes can save time and fuel.The API is built on top of Google’s cloud infrastructure and offers something called geo-fencing. With geo fencing, a company creates a virtual region on a map to notify a device when it enters or exits a predefined area. In the case of a fleet operation, notifications could be set that would automatically alert drivers if they were ten miles outside their delivery territory and needed to turn around. The notifications could reduce dependence on a central dispatcher.The new Google Maps Geolocation API enables an application or device to determine its own location without the use of GPS. With a Geolocation API, a business could keep tabs on its vehicles without having to install expensive GPS units. It does this by looking up locations of nearby WiFi access points and cell towers. Google notes that a device can save battery life and work indoors or in remote areas by limiting GPS use. In dense city blocks where GPS dropout is not unusual, a dispatcher can still locate its fleet. “The Google Maps Geolocation API returns a location and accuracy radius based on information about cell towers and WiFi nodes that the mobile client can detect,” according to Google. “Communication is done over HTTPS using POST. Both request and response are formatted as JSON, and the content type of both is application/json.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Mechanobiology Enzyme micropump autonomously delivers insulin in response to glucose levels

first_imgAt catalase enzyme is immobilized on a gold platform. The enzyme pumps out fluid (which contains tracer particles to allow for observation) at a rate that is dependent on the concentration of glucose oxidase and glucose in the surrounding solution. Credit: Sengupta, et al. ©2014 Nature Journal information: Nature In a recent study published in Nature Chemistry, Samudra Sengupta, et al., from The Pennsylvania State University, the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, have designed and demonstrated a self-powered enzyme micropump that autonomously delivers small molecules and proteins in response to specific chemical stimuli.”We demonstrate that surface-anchored enzymes can act as pumps in the presence of their respective substrates, pumping fluid and particles in a directional manner,” coauthor Ayusman Sen, Professor of Chemistry at Penn State, told “This discovery enables the design of non-mechanical, self-powered nano/microscale pumps that precisely control flow rate and turn on in response to specific stimuli. One example described in the paper is the release of insulin from a reservoir at a rate proportional to ambient glucose concentration.”As a proof-of-principle, the researchers demonstrated how an enzyme micropump can be used to pump out insulin in response to the glucose concentration in the surrounding solution. A similar process occurs in the pancreas of healthy individuals, and afterwards the increased insulin stimulates muscle and fat cells to absorb the increased amounts of glucose from the blood.However, in individuals with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin in response to elevated blood sugar levels. By autonomously releasing insulin in response to glucose concentration, the enzyme micropump essentially fulfills this role of the pancreas. Explore further © 2014 , Nature Chemistry “In living systems, the motors and pumps are powered by enzymes that convert ATP to ADP,” Sen explained. “What we show is that one need not be tied to this one specific reaction, and that other enzymatic reactions can also generate a mechanical force for pumping. Our results open up a new area of mechanobiology: intrinsic force generation by non-ATP-dependent enzymes and their role in fluid transport in and outside biological systems.”For the case of the insulin-producing enzyme micropump, the researchers used a highly flexible hydrogel as a scaffold to serve two purposes: immobilize the enzymes, and trap and store the insulin molecules that will later be pumped out. Although previous research has demonstrated passive insulin pumps that release insulin through scaffold decomposition, the active enzyme micropump has the advantages of releasing insulin at a rate proportional to the glucose concentration, as well as offering the possibility for being rechargeable. In addition, these self-powered pumps can remain viable and be capable of ‘turning on’ even after prolonged storage.”Obviously, much more work and testing needs to be done to make the micropumps useful in diabetes therapy,” Sen said. “I suppose that the hydrogel could be implanted in the body and they could be recharged by injecting more insulin into the gel reservoir. We have not yet completely worked all this out. The gel will also need to be tested for biocompatibility.”In addition to pumping insulin, enzyme micropumps could have many other applications. As one example, the pumps can be used to reduce the concentration of toxic substances. As the researchers explain, a pump can be triggered by a toxic substance, such as a nerve agent, that will then be drawn toward the pump and be consumed.”The enzyme pump might use nerve agents as fuel and release an antidote in return,” Sen said. Currently, the researchers are working on expanding the enzyme micropump concept to involve multienzyme cascades, which could lead to microfluidic logic gates. Still other applications include inexpensive sensors (tracers or dyes in the fluid can be used to monitor fluid speed, which indicates the concentration of a biomarker or toxin), as well as particle assembly/disassembly.”Since the enzyme pumps can pump particles suspended in a fluid, it should now be possible to form particle assemblies in specific locations by directional pumping,” Sen said. “Furthermore, pumping can also be employed to disassemble such structures by directed transport of materials to specific places.” Citation: Mechanobiology: Enzyme micropump autonomously delivers insulin in response to glucose levels (2014, April 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from More information: Samudra Sengupta, et al. “Self-powered enzyme micropumps.” Nature Chemistry. DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1895 PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Play Demonstration of the fluid flow produced by a urease enzyme micropump in response to the presence of urea. Credit: Sengupta, et al. ©2014 Nature The pump itself is relatively simple, consisting of a group of enzymes that are immobilized on a substrate. If the enzymes were not immobilized, the forces that they generate by releasing fluid would cause them to move around. The researchers built enzyme micropumps using four kinds of enzymes (catalase, lipase, urease, and glucose oxidase), each of which responds to different chemical stimuli. For each case, the researchers observed that the pumping velocity is directly dependent on the stimulus concentration, enabling controllable delivery with no external power source. Reducing diabetics’ hypoglycaemic events ( —For next-generation smart devices, autonomy is key. These devices will be able to power themselves, independently respond to stimuli, and perform different kinds of work, all without human intervention. With these abilities, smart devices could potentially have very wide-reaching implications.last_img read more

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

first_img(—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team describes how they found the quasicrystal and offer some possible explanations on how it was formed. Citation: Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal (2016, December 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Prior to the 1980’s, scientists believed there were just two types of solids; crystals and amorphous solids. Crystals are materials made of atoms that are joined in a repeating lattice. Amorphous solids are rather the opposite, having no real order. But then researchers discovered that another type of structure could exist, at least theoretically—quasicrystals. They are made of latticed atoms, like crystals, but do not repeat. After establishing their existence, researchers began making them in labs—over 100 have been created thus far. At the time, it was not clear if quasicrystals could exist naturally, though some suggested there was no reason for them not to come about under conditions similar to those used in labs—thus began a search for an example. That search came to fruition in 2009, as a team studying samples from the Khatyrka meteorite in northeastern Russia found two examples of quasicrystals that were of the same type that had been made in the lab. In this new effort, the researchers report that they have found a third quasicrystal from the same meteorite sample, but this one has never been made artificially before—it is also very similar to one of the other two quasicrystals found in the meteorite. All three have metallic aluminum, which, the team notes, bonds well with oxygen. The newest one also has iron and copper.Though they have no way to prove it, the researchers suggest it is possible the quasicrystals came about due to a collision between asteroids—such a violent impact would provide both the heat and energy needed to cause the unique formations. They suggest that further study of the specimens could lead to a better understanding of the early solar system. The discovery also offers fresh hope that naturally occurring quasicrystals could be found that originated on Earth. (A) Grain 126A; red dashed box indicates the region to be enlarged in (B). (B) The area where there are the three metal assemblages containing the two different icosahedral phases; red dashed boxes (indicated as 1, 2 and 3) indicate the regions to be enlarged in panels on right. Panels 1, 2 and 3 show the different associations of minerals in the three metal assemblages. Credit: Scientific Reports (2016). DOI: 10.1038/srep38117 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore furtherlast_img read more

Study suggests climate change may kill off the aardvark in some areas

first_img(—A team of researchers with the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa has found evidence that suggests the aardvark may face a large decrease in population as the planet heats up due to global warming. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes how they fastened monitors to a group of aardvarks who by happenstance were forced to endure a severe drought—and how the animals fared. Journal information: Biology Letters More information: Benjamin Rey et al. Drought-induced starvation of aardvarks in the Kalahari: an indirect effect of climate change, Biology Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2017.0301AbstractAardvarks (Orycteropus afer) are elusive burrowing mammals, predominantly nocturnal and distributed widely throughout Africa except for arid deserts. Their survival may be threatened by climate change via direct and indirect effects of increasing heat and aridity. To measure their current physiological plasticity, we implanted biologgers into six adult aardvarks resident in the semi-arid Kalahari. Following a particularly dry and hot summer, five of the study aardvarks and 11 other aardvarks at the study site died. Body temperature records revealed homeothermy (35.4–37.2°C) initially, but heterothermy increased progressively through the summer, with declining troughs in the nychthemeral rhythm of body temperature reaching as low as 25°C before death, likely due to starvation. Activity patterns shifted from the normal nocturnal to a diurnal mode. Our results do not bode well for the future of aardvarks facing climate change. Extirpation of aardvarks, which play a key role as ecosystem engineers, may disrupt stability of African ecosystems. Aardvark mother and young. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0 Explore further That’s no kangaroo on the manuscript – so what is it?center_img Aardvarks are interesting mammals, to say the least; they have floppy ears, a tubular snout and a body reminiscent of an armadillo. They survive by hiding from sub-Saharan African heat inside burrows they dig and eating ants and termites at night. As the researchers note, aardvarks are considered to be a keystone species because others animals use the burrows they build as nests, sleeping quarters or simply as a place to escape from predators and he intense desert heat. But their very existence might be in jeopardy, the researchers with this new effort have found, as the planet heats up and conditions in parts of Africa become more inhospitable.As part of an ongoing study of the creatures, the researchers affixed sensors to the bodies of several specimens and then released them back into the wild. The sensors tracked both body temperature and activity. As it turned out, the period of study happened to occur during a particularly hot and dry spell in the area, offering an opportunity to see how the aardvarks might fare as sub-Saharan Africa grows hotter and drier.As it turned out, the aardvarks did not fare well at all—five out of six of the monitored creatures died from apparent unnatural causes. Study of data from the sensors showed that the animals had swapped their usual routines, venturing out during the day to eat, rather than at night. They also showed that the body temperature of the animals had declined—an indication of malnourishment. This was backed up by measurements of extremely low body weight. The researchers suggest the reason the aardvarks had trouble finding food was because ants and termites need a certain amount of water in the soil to survive. The aardvarks that died had starved to death, the researchers concluded, as had several other aardvarks they observed in areas around the test site. This, the team suggests, indicates that aardvark populations are likely going to plummet as their habitats grow hotter and drier. © 2017 Citation: Study suggests climate change may kill off the aardvark in some areas (2017, July 19) retrieved 18 August 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Expressions galore

first_imgInclusion Mela is a musical performance that tries to educate children through music and theatre. Delhi-based choir group Mazil Mystics and Roleplay Production have organised the event that will present a drama titled PaheliyanPaheliyan is a bunch of riddles that four genies ask one another and to the audience and unfold four different stories based on gender roles — responsibility, discrimination and gender stereotypes. There will also be a 10-minute-long musical performance questioning the social exclusion we all practice in our society. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Manzil shares passion for traditional Indian music, Indian Folk music, and a desire to celebrate their culture through songs. They use music as a creative tool to contribute wherever they feel a need. Learning Through Music is a project started by a Delhi-based choir group. In this project through music, children are taught how to express their hopes, ideals, anger and frustrations. They are also taught life skills like decision-making, critical thinking, values clarification, leadership and team building.Myrole on the other hand, explores gender and its complexities. The attempt is to notice and further question gender discrimination and gender imbalance in our society and express it creatively.When: June 4Where: The American CenterTiming: 6pm to 7:30pmlast_img read more

Mahapatra holds meeting in Hooghly to check floodlike situations

first_imgKolkata: The state Irrigation minister Soumen Mahapatra held a high level meeting in Hooghly to check floods during monsoon. Mahapatra spoke with the people’s representatives from the district to take stock of the situation so that necessary steps can be taken, if necessary, to ensure that the people of the district do not face any trouble during monsoon.Senior officers of the department were present in the meeting. The minister urged all the people’s representatives to keep watch at their respective areas, so that proactive steps can be taken up if crack or anything similar is identified in any part of the embankments. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeAt the same time, senior officials of the state Irrigation department will also be taking necessary steps to avoid any flood-like situation.It may be mentioned that there are certain pockets in the district that are prone to floods. There were also discussions over the preparation in these areas to avoid flood-like situations. The meeting in Hooghly continued for around three long hours and the peoples’ representatives put forward various suggestions. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedIt may be recalled that the state Irrigation minister has already held meetings with concerned authorities to check flood-like situations during monsoon. There were separate meetings for North and South 24-Parganas.The Mamata Banerjee government has also taken up several steps to check floods in different parts of the state, throughout the past seven years. Mahapatra also held a meeting with officials of all the concerned agencies, including Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), earlier, to discuss issues related to checking of floods during monsoon. The agencies have assured that they will be carrying out necessary work so that flood-like situations can be avoided.There was also a discussion with the DVC authorities regarding release of water from the reservoirs. Stress was also given on better communication between the state Irrigation department and the agencies.last_img read more

Excise dept looks to ensure that liquor manufacturers adhere to safety norms

first_imgKolkata: The state Excise department is bent upon ensuring foolproof safety during preparation of country spirit and foreign liquor, in the wake of complaints of unhygienic manufacturing of the same. There have also been reports of not demineralising the water that is used to dilute spirit for manufacturing country spirit.”Liquor has been declared as food by the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and so it comes under the ambit of the regulations framed by FSSAI in connection with food safety. The Excise Commissioner has directed stakeholders to ensure safety at the time of manufacturing liquor, to comply with the FSSAI regulations,” said a senior official of the state Excise department. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeAn order in this regard has recently been issued by the Excise Commissioner. It directs that the lubricant used in and around the distillation unit for procurement of spirit and the manufacturing of any kind of liquor including beer at the brewery shall have Unites States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) or NSFH1 certification. It further orders that to avoid the formation of calcium oxalate in the bottles of country spirit, demineralised water should be used for dilution, to make it potable at the time of manufacture. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed”The brand owners or suppliers desirous of supplying any kind of liquor by way of import to the West Bengal State Beverages Corporation Ltd. shall have to submit a certificate to the corporation, stating that the supply of liquor intended is produced in a plant that has used food grade lubricant and demineralised water,” the official added. The order issued in this regard will come into effect from June 1, 2019, so that all licence holders of factories across the state of all kind of liquor make necessary arrangements in their respective units to strictly adhere to the orders and ensure that the standards of FSSAI are met.last_img read more

Army rescues over 2500 stranded tourists in Sikkim

first_imgDarjeeling: The Indian Army emerged as the savior for more than 2,500 tourists stranded at the Indo-China border of Nathula (14,400 ft) in Sikkim on Friday owing to heavy snowfall.All the tourists were safely evacuated to Gangtok on Saturday. The army personnel even vacated their barracks and camps to accommodate the stranded tourists. Nathula, 52 km from Gangtok, is a popular tourist destination. Owing to the heavy snowfall on Friday the tourists got stranded. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life”There were around 2,500 tourists including women and children. We shifted all those who were there above 13,000 ft to 9000 ft. Our boys vacated the transit camp and barracks which were used to accommodate the tourists. We ensured that people who required medical attention got it. They all were fed and kept warm,” stated Brigadier Dhadwal, who over saw the operations. Around 90 persons who were sick were sent in 10 army gypsies and 3 ambulances. At 11:50 am on Saturday, around 355 tourist vehicles started moving from 17th Mile. By the end of the day, all the tourists were safely evacuated. “Hats off to the Indian Army who offered their bedding and food. Truly overwhelmed by the hospitality,” said a tourist.last_img read more