Walyou » Science http://walyou.com Cool Gadgets, New Gadgets, Tech News and Geek Design Thu, 30 Jul 2015 22:01:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 6 Different Types of Time Travel Movies http://walyou.com/time-travel-movies-categories/ http://walyou.com/time-travel-movies-categories/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:00:56 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=217230

I’m a sucker for Time Travel films, even the ones that are poorly done. Of all the Sci-Fi sub-genres, it’s my favorite, and includes the best film of all-time: Back to the future.

But not all time travel films are the same. There are those dealing with alternate timelines. Others tackle different paradoxes, the most famous of them being the grandfather paradox. Others are all about escaping a time loop which is reliving the same day over and over again.

Grandfather Paradox


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Maybe the most famous of the cinematic time travel tropes: The time traveler goes back in time and kills his own grandfather. As a result, the time traveler is never born. But, if he were never born, then he would be unable to travel through time and kill his grandfather, which means the traveler would then be born after all — but then, if he were born, he would be able to travel through time and kill his grandfather. In Back to the Future, travelling back to 1955 causes Marty to interfere with his parents’ meeting, and then races to rectify the mistake before he’s erased from existence. But… if he is erased from existence, then he never would have traveled back in time and interfered with his parents’ first meeting, and thus would have been born after all.

Alternate Timeline

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In the film Deja Vu there’s a perfect example of the alternate timeline facet of Time Travel in films. Someone affects the events of the past, creating an alternate timeline where his/hers present never occurred, or has been altered.

Predestination Paradox

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In this paradox, the protagonist travels back in time and starts a chain of events that underpin their own present, which is pretty much a chicken-and-egg scenario, with a loop sequence that doesn’t actually have a beginning. Interstellar is an excellent example of this paradox.

Time Loop

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There are a few different kinds of time loops in film: In films like Edge of Tomorrow, Groundhog Day and Source Code, he same time loop is formed multiple times. The time period repeats over and over again, trapping the protagonist until he does it the “right” way.

In Looper and Frequency, it’s a one-and-done loop. It’s formed and then the timeline continues. In the lesser known Triangle, Timecrimes and The Route V50 there are multiple time loops overlapping each other.

Time Slip


The time slip is a little more subtle than the previous methods, as the protagonist or time traveller isn’t aware he has just made the change. Midnight in Paris is a fine example of this trope, as the time travel occurence isn’t explained. Unlike a lot of other films with this “time trick”, the character isn’t stranded in the new “time” he encountered but moves back and forth between “worlds”.

Ontological Paradox

A scenario where, through time travel, a future event is the cause of an earlier (past). The paradox usually involves the creation or transfer of an object, an idea, or information.

Hat Tip

For more on time travel, check out these “actual” cases of time travel, or our ranking of the best films in this category.

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Check the International Space Station from the inside http://walyou.com/check-the-international-space-station-from-the-inside/ http://walyou.com/check-the-international-space-station-from-the-inside/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 20:31:10 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=217188

The ESA (European Space Agency) has made possible to virtually take a stroll on the International Space Station (ISS). This is somewhat like a Google Maps service inside the spaceship.

The ESA came up with a simple yet really cool concept: to let users virtually walk around, using the zoom, turning around and exploring every inch of the ISS, just as if the people on the other side of their computers were on the space station themselves.

Recently, Samantha Cristoforetti broke the female record of permanence in space with some 199 outside our planet, and before coming back to Earth performed a mission where she had to take 15 images of each one of the modules of the International Space Station.  After some time in processing, they created a virtual model of the ISS in 360º degrees, which users can check out from the ESA‘s official website.

The only part we won’t be able to visit is the sector that corresponds to the Russian modules, which will be added this year – so no conspiracy theories, there.

This experience isn’t only about checking out the space station, but also having a certain degree of interaction. Depending on where users place their cursos, they will be able to check out videos and text that explain what is going on on screen, as if it was a new version of the old Encarta encyclopedia.

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Software Analyzes Face Videos to Determine Pain Levels http://walyou.com/pain-assessment-computer-vision-algorithm/ http://walyou.com/pain-assessment-computer-vision-algorithm/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 12:30:08 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=216628

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have developed a computer vision algorithm that assesses pain depending on the facial expression of the patient during surgical procedures.

“On a scale from 1 to 10, how badly does it hurt?” is a question clinicians ask both children and adult patients when they are required to assess the pain level. However, we all perceive pain differently, and certain problems can mask the real answer. Determining the actual pain level should encourage the medical personnel to look for solutions to alleviate the ache. Until we get our own Baymax healthcare companion, a pain assessing computer vision algorithm might be our best chance.

To determine whether the software can correctly identify pain levels, the team of researchers tested it on kids five to 18 years old. Depending on their facial expression after a laparoscopic appendectomy, the software generated a result that was then compared to what the kids’ parents and nurses concluded. Needless to say, the computer vision algorithm is at least as accurate as nurses, so it shouldn’t take long until it is implemented on a larger scale.

Here is a fragment of the abstract published in journal Pediatrics:

“METHODS: A CVML-based model for assessment of pediatric postoperative pain was developed from videos of 50 neurotypical youth 5 to 18 years old in both endogenous/ongoing and exogenous/transient pain conditions after laparoscopic appendectomy. Model accuracy was assessed for self-reported pain ratings in children and time since surgery, and compared with by-proxy parent and nurse estimates of observed pain in youth.

RESULTS: Model detection of pain versus no-pain demonstrated good-to-excellent accuracy (Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.84–0.94) in both ongoing and transient pain conditions. Model detection of pain severity demonstrated moderate-to-strong correlations (r = 0.65–0.86 within; r = 0.47–0.61 across subjects) for both pain conditions. The model performed equivalently to nurses but not as well as parents in detecting pain versus no-pain conditions, but performed equivalently to parents in estimating pain severity. Nurses were more likely than the model to underestimate youth self-reported pain ratings. Demographic factors did not affect model performance.”

It won’t be long until such software makes its way into our homes, as hospitals are not the only environment where this could prove useful. The only possible problem is if the subject fakes the facial expression to trick the software.

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Researchers Invent Self-Powered Liquid Metal Machine http://walyou.com/liquid-metal-robot/ http://walyou.com/liquid-metal-robot/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:23:32 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215796

The T-1000 from Terminator 2 is one step closer to becoming something real, even though the liquid metal machine developed by Chinese researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China is nowhere as fast or dangerous.

Their project wasn’t born from the wish to put an end to humanity, and may indeed have some practical applications besides creating lean, mean, metal killing machines. The most fascinating aspect of this experiment is that the machine does not require any programming and as long as there is “fuel” around, it can move forward by eating.

“The soft machine looks rather intelligent and [can] deform itself according to the space it voyages in, just like [the] Terminator does from the science-fiction film,” explained Jing Liu from the Tsinghua University during an interview with Technology.org. “These unusual behaviours perfectly resemble the living organisms in nature.”

The liquid metal machine is actually made from galinstan, an alloy of gallium, indium and tin in these proportions: 68.5%, 21.5% and 10%. Since this mix has a melting point of -19 degrees Celsius, at room temperature it can always be found in a liquid state. The aforementioned fuel is represented by aluminum flakes, which the galinstan robot eats in order to propel itself.

It should be noted that the liquid motor can move by itself for up to an hour, as long as it’s placed in a Petri dish with sodium hydroxide or brine, and it’s fed an aluminum flake. If it’s locked into place, the galinstan machine can act as a pump. In this scenario, it can shift 50 milliliters of water per second. It might not sound like a lot, but a greater liquid machine would move greater quantities of water.

The liquid motor has been described by its inventors as having “large surface tension, desirable flexibility, high electrical conductivity and low toxicity,” and with so many advantages, we shouldn’t be surprised if it finds its way to industrial applications.

More details about this project are available in the journal Advanced Materials, where the Chinese researchers have published a paper titled Self-Fuelled Biomimetic Liquid Metal Mollusc. Adding intelligence to these robots is the next logical step, but that might indeed be a challenge, as coordinating a swarm of liquid metal drops to move together is not exactly child’s play.

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Biological Drones Could Explore the Surface of Mars http://walyou.com/biological-drones-on-mars/ http://walyou.com/biological-drones-on-mars/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:55:17 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215777

Growing drones after reaching the Red Planet’s surface is a much more convenient alternative to shipping all the hardware and assembling it there, or at least that’s what some genius students are trying to prove.

The thought that future drones might be developed in Petri dishes instead of hardware factories is a bit scary, and could bring some of David Cronenberg’s movies to mind. However, this approach has its advantages, as evidenced by a team of students from Stanford University, Spelman College, and Brown University. Their biological drone was an entry in the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, and chances are that a version of that drone could one day fly across Mars.

The iGEM team collaborated with Lynn Rothschild, a synthetic biologist at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, to develop a drone using not much besides fungi and plants. Considering the type of biological material that has been used, one may be concerned of the fungi colony that might form in the event of a crash. However, the “components” of the drone are already dead by the time it’s airborne, so no one should worry about that.

“These are lightweight, cheap, and won’t litter the environment. It’s about as big a concern as leaving your sweater outside,” claimed Rothschild, emphasizing only a few of the bio-UAV’s advantages.

Of course, there still is some technology involved, as designing the bio-drone needs to be done in 3D modelling software. Next, the design file is sent to biomaterials company Ecovative Design that uses vacuforming to create an 8-inch square of fungal mycelium. The hard structure of the drone is composed of straw and dead leaves that are placed in the mold. “The biomaterial gets inoculated with fungus, then fungus grows throughout all the material in the mold,” pointed out Eli Block, one of the team’s members. “Before where it was kind of a loose material, after growing for a few weeks, it was a single solid chunk.”

The bio-drone’s chassis is actually made using two such molds, as Rothschild explained: “So it looks like a dried sandwich, and it’s the weight and feel of Styrofoam.”

Block also emphasized the importance of having the bio-drone sterilized: “The point of it is you’re not flying anything that could introduce negative organisms into the environment. Also you have this new biomaterial that you don’t want to get eaten by mold. So you don’t want it to break down immediately.”

Needless to say, in order to withstand Red Planet’s harsh atmospheric conditions, the drones need a bit more than that. However, the iGEM team has managed to create radiation and extreme temperature-resistant bacteria by inserting genes of “extremophile” bacteria in E. Coli.

“Let’s say you have certain cells that can sense carbon dioxide levels or radiation, and do some kind of color readout. You could be sensing things in parallel, without bulky sensors on your drone,” said Block, pointing out that genetically-modified biological sensors could even be used to replace conventional sensor hardware.

Not at last, the team intends to waterproof the bio-UAVs, and they turned to paper wasps to achieve this. “Paper wasps are an organism that when they build their nests they actually use cellulose, plant cellulose,” explains Jotthe Kannappan, a junior at Stanford, and a member of the iGEM team. “They chew bark on trees, spit it out, and something in that saliva makes cellulose really waterproof and really thermal-resistant. So our experiment was to figure out what protein in the saliva does that.”

The team even thought of a way of making the radiation-resistant cells become biodegradable: “It was changing what some of the genetic code stood for,” says Rothschild. “It’s like you took a book and every time you saw the word ‘today,’ you read the word ‘blue.’ The idea is that if this crashed somewhere and there were living cells on it, they would be speaking a different language than other cells in the environment.”

This is a very ambitious project that should become a reality, if we are to go to Mars anytime soon.

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Boeing to patent force fields – and that’s not just sci-fi http://walyou.com/boeing-patent-force-fields/ http://walyou.com/boeing-patent-force-fields/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 17:48:45 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215730

Creating a force field isn’t such a far off, futuristic concept if the Boeing team and their latest patent are to be believed.

The latest patent by Boeing claims to be a “Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc”, and is for all intents and purposes, a force field. This system was designed to be used by military vehicles, especially the ones transporting soldiers, yet it can’t protect against bullet impacts or phisical objects, but is aimed to stop shockwaves of nearby impacts – say, missiles or bombs that explode nearby.

In order to achieve this, the system uses a sensor that detects the shockwave, and is then connected to an electromagnetic arc generator that ionizes the affected area creating a plasma field that intercepts and weakens the wave before it ever gets to the vehicle, and the carriers.

What this device does exactly is changing the density and temperature of the air so it acts like a shield. This is nothing like the movies or videogames, where forcefields last for several seconds or even minutes, but an instant process that activates at the time of the impact only. The required energy to use this technology is huge, and is the greatest problem the Boeing team are facing. Furthermore, this technology is, as of now, harmful to the users inside the force field, and even blocks light, which render the concept interesting, although unusable.

This is just a patent, as of now, and a long time might pass before something comes off of it, yet it is a first step to create the futuristic technology we imagine when we think of future wars. Who knows, maybe the battle fields of the future will be safer…


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NASA Wants Your Help to Find Asteroids http://walyou.com/nasa-wants-your-help-to-find-asteroids/ http://walyou.com/nasa-wants-your-help-to-find-asteroids/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 13:00:58 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215663

NASA looks towards citizen scientists to help them to find asteroids in space, as it is too time consuming for the organisation to do it alone.

I’d like to know more about space, wouldn’t you? It’s a shame then that despite all of the many planets, stars and various bits of space junk floating about in our galaxy and beyond, our ability to discover these things is being hindered. In the last few years, the United States government has drastically slashed the budget of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) which has put a serious dent in their ability to go and explore space.

That may be one of the reasons why NASA has been turning to citizen scientists. Citizen scientists are regular old Joes and Janes like you and I who get to do some work for NASA without being paid for it. It sounds like a crummy deal when you put it like that, I know, but their latest project ‘Asteroid Data Hunter’ allows us to have a genuine impact on future space travel, and that seems like payment enough.

NASA explains:

“Protecting the Earth from the threat of asteroid impacts means first knowing where they are. NASA & Planetary Resources are harnessing the incredible potential of innovators, makers and citizen scientists by opening up the search. In an increasingly connected world, NASA recognizes the value of the public as a partner in addressing some of the country’s most pressing challenges. We need your help in identifying asteroids – and to help further this effort, we’ve built an application that enables everyone, everywhere, to help solve this global challenge.”

Asteroid Data Hunter works by getting a computer to identify where asteroids might be in a photo. It does this by using an algorithm (which was also developed by a citizen scientist) to look at the many photos that NASA has taken of space. All we have to do is point out where exactly in the photo the asteroids are and then this info “will be used on future spacecraft to identify asteroids to maximize the capability of missions in the future”. Our discoveries may even help NASA to protect the Earth from asteroids or the asteroids ay be mined for resources in future.

More info on how to sign up for Asteroid Data Hunter at the source link.

Source: Asteroid Data Hunter

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NASA To Create Wearable Glasses for Astronauts http://walyou.com/nasa-to-create-wearable-glasses-for-astronauts/ http://walyou.com/nasa-to-create-wearable-glasses-for-astronauts/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215614

To make it easier for their astronauts to follow directions when their hands are full, NASA is designing a pair of wearable glasses.

Being an astronaut is probably a pretty sweet deal. You get to fulfill your childhood dream of seeing space up close! You get to float in a rocket in zero gravity conditions! And most importantly, you get to eat freeze dried ice cream that never melts and is always delicious. The life of an astronaut becomes slightly more troublesome, however, when they have repair the ship or conduct an experiment; to find out what they’re meant to do they have to flip through index cards to find a solution.

As anybody who has tried to set up an Ikea product with a hammer and a nail in hand will tell you, trying to flip through physical instructions when your hands are full is more or less impossible. For astronauts that’s a serious thing seeing as a quick solution might be the difference between life or having their rocket crash back down to Earth. That’s especially the case as the current alternative to those paper guides is a phone call back to Earth, but if the astronauts go as far as Mars then it will take 20 minutes for their message to be received. That time only grows the further away from the planet the ship gets.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is hoping to solve this problem with a pair of wearable glasses. They’re teaming up with a San Francisco company called Osterhout Design Group to design the augmented reality tech and the hope is that they’ll be able to upload how-to guides to the glasses so that astronauts can access directions in a pinch.

Sean Carter, a strategic partnerships manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston explains that “It’s our goal to approach the programs shortly thereafter. I don’t know that the crew will let us wait that long” so we can probably expect some more developments on this soon.

Source: Bloomberg

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Rewalk exoskeleton allows paralyzed users to walk http://walyou.com/rewalk-exoskeleton/ http://walyou.com/rewalk-exoskeleton/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 20:04:43 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215142

Rewalk, the robotic exoskeleton means to get paralyzed people walking again – and believe it or not, it seems to be doing an incredible job of it.

Paralyzed people have a hell of a situation to deal with – which is why we as a society spend so many resources trying to help them. Product of that is Rewalk, the exoskeleton that works as a mechanical set of legs and crutches. Unveiled last weekend at React, Rewalk helped Marcela Turnage, a victim of a spinal cord injury from Dallas to walk again after 12 years.

Rewalk works by powering movement of the hips and legs, allowing users to stand, walk and turn. It is powered by a single 28-volt lithium battery with enough juice for 8 hours, but the unit also carries a back up battery so users could technically use it for an entire day without any hiccups. With the help of the computers and motion sensors incorporated on Rewalk users can even climb stairs or walk on uneven terrain – as the tilt sensors detect the body shift in one direction, Rewalk takes a step. These units also come with a control unit on a brace, where users can change modes to stand, sit, walk or climb.

The FDA has approved this exoskeleton to be used to stand and walk, so we are not talking about some distant future but technology that is useful right now. Rewalk costs some $70,000, and needs to be approved by a professional physician who will determine whether the unit is useful or not for any given user. After that, users can take the unit back with them to use it at home or in public.

Via Web and Techs

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Virgin to Launch the ‘World’s Largest’ Internet Satellite Constellation http://walyou.com/virgin-to-launch-the-worlds-largest-internet-satellite-constellation/ http://walyou.com/virgin-to-launch-the-worlds-largest-internet-satellite-constellation/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 16:56:52 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=214910

As several other Internet providers reveal plans to provide the world with Internet, Virgin joins them, announcing plans for Internet satellite constellations.

Despite only having been around for two decades, the Internet has already massively impacted our lives. For some it has provided fame and fortune, for others it has provided jobs and friendship and for everybody else it just gives them a way to binge watch TV (Netflix!) when they have a bit of free time.

But as the world becomes more Internet focused than ever (kitchen appliances are already being hooked up to the net, for example) some people risk being left behind. Not only that but for those in remote areas or for those in poor, rural communities, the Internet could offer them a new source of livelihood. Unfortunately though, with them being unable to trump up the cost for fibre optic (or slower copper wired broadband) they haven’t got a chance.

This is something that Sir Richard Branson’s company, Virgin, would like to remedy. Off the back of his galaxy spanning Virgin Galactic program (which takes people to space and lets them float about in zero gravity conditions) they have now announced plans to work with a startup called OneWeb to launch “the world’s largest ever satellite constellation”.

Branson says that Virgin Galactic will “help make… frequent satellite launches (possible) at a much lower cost and greater reliability.” This will work by sending the Launcher One 51,000 feet into space via the WhiteKnightTwo cargo aircraft where it then releases a sub-500 pound device into a near-Earth orbit. This strategy, along with the fact that the launch uses much less fuel than conventional rocket launches, makes it ideal for putting together an Internet satellite constellation on the cheap.

With the lofty goal of 648 satellites, Virgin hopes to deliver Internet and phone reception to “billions of people” the world over. However, there are clear issues with this already. For one, the Virgin Galactic program has been going though some issues lately including the crash of SpaceShipTwo which killed a pilot and threw up questions of Virgin Galactic’s safety. At the time Branson assured people that Virgin Galactic is safe and that all the necessary precautions were taken but there are doubts nonetheless. There’s also the question of just how people in remote areas will be able to access these phone and Internet connections as presumably, if they’re remote enough to be off the grid then it’s likely that they’re remote enough not to own a smartphone or a laptop either.

And on top of this, Internet satellite programs have been attempted before. Iridium tried it in the mid-90s before failing (though they are looking to try again this year), while a Bill Gates backed program called Teledesic was officially suspended in 2002. That doesn’t bode well for Virgin’s chances but we’ll keep you posted once we know more.

Source: Virgin

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