Archive for August, 2014

Laser Instead of Needle for Diabetics

The regular glucose test needle pricks are a necessary evil if you are suffering from diabetes. No matter how much you fear or loathe these regular pin pricks there was no better way to calculate your blood glucose level until now. Researchers at the Princeton University, Engineering School have been working on a new type of laser device.

This new laser device is able to tell the blood glucose content of a diabetic patient without the prerequisite poke with a needle to draw blood. The device is pointed at the person’s palm, passes through the skin cells and is partially absorbed by sugar molecules. This action allows the researchers to calculate the level of blood sugar in the patient’s blood.

With some more work the size of the laser device will be made smaller and its portability will improve. This new device will offer a respite from blood testing to a large number of diabetic patients who are dependent on frequent blood glucose monitoring to adjust their insulin dosage.

The current version is about 84% accurate, but a few more improvements would make the laser device a very viable alternative to blood testing for checking the blood glucose of a patient. Now that is what we call a very useful and fruitful science project.

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Gift of Healthy Teeth From the Stars?

Different elements are formed at different temperatures and stages of a star. Of that much the scientific community was sure. However the origin of the element fluoride was somewhat controversial with three different theories in play.Now a study conducted by the Lund University in Sweden says that it was likely formed by heavier stars than our sun.

Toothpaste with fluoride is supposed to be great for your teeth, at least that’s what all the television advertisements seem to say.The fluorine that is used in such a common place item of daily use actually was formed in stars eons ago towards the end of their existence. So in a manner of speaking the dead ancestors of the sun gifted us with the fluoride that we use today as the sun and all the planets in the solar system are actually formed from the material that was left over from these ancient stars.

The study involved observing data on five stars which would have contained the element given the light emission patterns of the stars. Light of a certain wavelength indicates a certain element and the science project was able to confirm the origin of fluoride. No matter what the origin of the element, don’t forget to check if your toothpaste contains it to keep your teeth healthy.


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The Climate and the Sun

The common sense wisdom from down the ages has indicated that the sun affects our climate, and now after considerable study scientists agree. At the Lund University in Sweden a study has reconstructed solar activity during the last ice age and this is helping researchers better understand how the sun affects regional climate.By understanding exactly how the energy of the sun reaches out to affect the climate in our region it would be possible to better forecast the weather.

Raimund Muscheler, Lecturer in Quaternary Geology at Lund University said that the study shows an unexpected link between solar activity and climate change. It shows both that changes in solar activity are nothing new and that solar activity influences the climate, especially on a regional level. Understanding these processes helps us to better forecast the climate in certain regions Raimund concluded.

Currently there is much debate on just how the sun’s level of activity affects our climate on earth. It is believed that reduced activity may lead to colder winters, while others say that atmospheric circulation has a far greater effect on the weather. While the scientists debate what causes the greatest climatic change, studies like this one prove that no single scientific study will adequately answer these questions.

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Rosetta Makes Rendezvous With Comet

The day that the European Space Agency has been waiting for has finally arrived. Their space craft Rosetta has finally made rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after 10 years, five months and four days. In this process the space craft has gone round the sun five times and traveled 6.4 billion km.

Rosetta was launched on 2 March 2004 and is carrying a lander called Philae which it will drop down on to the comet’s surface in the month of Novemenber. The space craft is currently 550m km away from the Earth and a message from the Rosetta takes 22 minutes to reach the scientists on Earth.

The ten year chase to map the surface of the comet is now coming to its actual purpose. This is the first time that a comet has been studied in such detail. The comet orbits the sun every six and a half years and travels between the orbits of Earth and Jupiter. It is nearly 4 km wide and is minus seventy degree Celsius. This is a much warmer temperature than what the researchers expected.

More secrets from the comet’s surface will certainly be revealed when Philae lands and takes samples from its surface. We will wait and watch the results of this science project with baited breath. Rosetta will follow the elliptical orbit of the comet for nearly a year.


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Virtual Characters Get Facial Expressions

One of the most difficult things in animation is to simulate human facial expressions in virtual characters. Usually these virtual characters mimic human behavior through programmed commands or scripts which tends to give them a rather robotic feel. The spontaneous nature of human expression in ongoing communication is lost in this method.

Science experimenters at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) were able to generate expressions and emotions based on real people. This was done by taking recordings of sensors placed on 43 muscles involved in facial behavior on real people’s faces. These were then recorded by 3d cameras and translated into numerical data which could be used in programming languages.

A large number of emotions, intentions, attitudes and moods that vary depending on the social context were recorded for the study. The data collected was then used to generate facial expressions in virtual characters.Unlike video games and consoles, the data collected by this study is not for use by play software but for educational purposes.

The researchers are targeting different educational, scientific or civil strategies. They call it the “Serious Game”.  They want the findings of the study to be used for actually beneficial purposes for humanity. This science experiment is not being frivolous at all.


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