Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for September 7th, 2017

Squid ink could make your dentist visits much less painful

Posted by kenmay on September - 7 - 2017

Your dentist visits could become a pleasant pain-free experience, and it’s all thanks to squids . A team of engineers from the University of California San Diego have developed an imaging method using squid ink and ultrasound to check for gum disease. If you’ve ever had to get your mouth checked for gum issues, you know what I’m talking about: the current method to assess gum health involves inserting a periodontal probe’s metal hook in between your gums and teeth. Sometimes, depending on the dentist’s technique your pain tolerance, it hurts. The team’s method eliminates the need for probing — you simply need to gargle some food-grade squid ink mixed with water and cornstarch. Squid ink is rich in melanin nanoparticles, and those get trapped in the pockets between your teeth and gums. When a dentist shines a laser onto your mouth, the nanoparticles swell and create pressure differences in the gum pockets. That’s where the ultrasound part of the imaging method comes in. Ultrasound can detect those pockets, so dentists can create a full map of your mouth, like this: [Image credit: Jokerst Bioimaging Lab at UC San Diego. Ultrasound image of the teeth is in black and white. The photoacoustic signal from the squid ink contrast agent in the pocket depth is in red and signals from stains on the teeth are in blue. ] The result shows how deep those pockets are, which indicate gum health. That’s why dentists stick a probe in those pockets to begin with — if they’re only one to two millimeters in depth, it means your gums are healthy. Anything deeper than that is a sign of gum disease, and the deeper those pockets are, the worse the issue is. Problem is, the results of periodontal probing depend on the amount of pressure a dentist uses and the area he’s probing. He could be probing the wrong location or putting too little or too much pressure. Jesse Jokerst, the study’s senior author likened the periodontal probe to “examining a dark room with just a flashlight” wherein “you can only see one area at a time.” He said that their method is more like “flipping on all the light switches so you can see the entire room all at once, ” leading to more accurate findings. The engineers have big plans for their creation, starting with replacing the lasers in the method with more affordable LED lights. Their ultimate goal, however, is to create a mouthpiece that can instantly assess your gum health. They also want to get rid of the the squid ink concoction’s salty and bitter taste, though I’ll take than any day over painful probing. Source: UC San Diego

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Enlarge Francis Rawls A man jailed for two years for refusing to decrypt his hard drives must remain confined while he appeals his contempt-of-court order to the US Supreme Court, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Francis Rawls, a fired Philadelphia cop, has been behind bars since September 30, 2015 for declining a judicial order to unlock two hard drives that authorities found at his residence as part of a child-porn investigation. After a two-year failed effort to convince the lower courts that his confinement amounted to a Fifth Amendment violation of his constitutional right against compelled self-incrimination, his lawyers asked a Pennsylvania federal judge if Rawls could be released pending the outcome of a forthcoming appeal to the US Supreme Court. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Juno’s breathtaking images of Jupiter

Posted by kenmay on September - 7 - 2017

The Juno probe is recording incredible image data of Jupiter . Not least are the new aurora studies that are shaking up what we know of the planet’s extreme weather systems . But it’s the sheer painterly beauty of the world, up-close, that is most breathtaking . And then there’s actual paintings, too …

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Saint Catherine’s Monastery, a sacred Christian site nestled in the shadow of Mount Sinai, is home to one of the world’s oldest continuously used libraries. Thousands of manuscripts and books are kept there — some of which contain hidden treasures. An anonymous reader shares a report: Now, a team of researchers is using new technology to uncover texts that were erased and written over by the monks who lived and worked at the monastery. Many of these original texts were written in languages well known to researchers — Latin, Greek, Arabic — but others were inscribed in long-lost languages that are rarely seen in the historical record. Manuscripts with multiple layers of writing are known as palimpsests, and there are about 130 of them at St. Catherine’s Monastery, according to the website of the Early Manuscript Electronic Library, which has been leading the initiative to uncover the original texts. With the rise of Islam in the 7th century, Christian sites in the Sinai Desert began to disappear, and Saint Catherine’s found itself in relative isolation. Monks turned to reusing older parchments when supplies at the monastery ran scarce. To uncover the palimpsests’ secret texts, researchers photographed thousands of pages multiple times, illuminating each page with different-colored lights. They also photographed the pages with light shining onto them from behind, or from an oblique angle, which helped “highlight tiny bumps and depressions in the surface, ” Gray writes. They then fed the information into a computer algorithm, which is able to distinguish the more recent texts from the originals. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Skycool Systems is a Stanford spin-out that uses panels composed of “layers of silicon dioxide and hafnium oxide on top of a thin layer of silver” to convert the waste-heat from air-conditioners’ heat exchangers into 8-13 micrometer radiation, which passes through the atmosphere and radiates into space. (more…)

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Hackers Have Penetrated Energy Grid, Symantec Warns

Posted by kenmay on September - 7 - 2017

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Hackers have been burrowing their way inside the critical infrastructure of energy and other companies in the U.S. and elsewhere, warns cybersecurity giant Symantec. In a new report, Symantec claims that the threat of cyberattack-induced power outages in the west has elevated from a theoretical concern to a legitimate one in recent months. “We’re talking about activity we’re seeing on actual operational networks that control the actual power grid, ” Eric Chien, technical director of security technology and response at Symantec, told Fortune on a call. Reports surfaced over the summer of hackers targeting staff at nuclear energy facilities with phishing attacks, designed to steal login credentials or install malware on machines. The extent of the campaign as well as the question of whether the attackers had breached operational IT networks, rather than merely administrative ones, was unclear at the time. Symantec is now erasing all doubt. “There are no more technical hurdles for them to cause some sort of disruption, ” Chien said of the hackers. “All that’s left is really motivation.” Symantec detailed its findings in a report released Wednesday morning. The paper tracks the exploits of a hacker group that Symantec has dubbed DragonFly 2.0, an outfit that the company says it has linked to an earlier series of attacks perpetrated between 2011 and 2014 by a group it dubbed DragonFly. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The internet has finally killed off the Yellow Pages

Posted by kenmay on September - 7 - 2017

If you’re after a plumber you look on Checkatrade, if you need a cab you fire up the Uber app , and if you’re craving pizza you simply ask Alexa to order one . With all the conveniences the internet affords, it was inevitable the local listings tome that is the Yellow Pages would go the way of the dodo eventually. Yell has announced that the large paper doorstop is indeed approaching its final hour. After distributing a penultimate edition in Kingston in January next year, Yell will officially say goodbye to the Yellow Pages in January 2019, when the last ever copies will hit doorsteps in Brighton — back where it all began in 1966. Yell embraced online many moons ago, of course, with a listings site and mobile apps, but this will mark “the company’s full transition to a purely digital business.” The Yellow Pages is a British institution, but even icons have to roll with the times. Take telephone boxes, for example, which are being ripped out and replaced left, right and centre on account of them being obsolete in the mobile age. The internet has had a particularly broad impact on publishing, causing the closure or moving online of various print publications over the years. Playboy even scrapped nudity because of all the nakedness available online — well, for a year at least. Via: BBC , Gizmodo Source: Yell

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