U.S. Navy sends more warships near Yemen in security move
Reuters) - The U.S. Navy has sent an aircraft carrier and a guided-missile cruiser into the waters near Yemen, officials said on Monday, heightening the U.S. maritime security presence as concerns mount over Yemen's escalating conflict.
The U.S. Navy sent the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its escort cruiser, USS Normandy, from the Gulf into the Arabian Sea on Sunday. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, denied reports the ships were on a mission to intercept Iranian arms shipments to Yemen.
The ships will join seven other U.S. warships in the waters near Yemen, which is torn by civil strife as Iranian-backed Houthi rebels battle forces loyal to the U.S.-backed president.
The U.S. Navy said it had increased its presence in the area because of the instability. It said in a statement the purpose was to "ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe."
The movements come as U.S. officials closely monitor an approaching convoy of seven Iranian ships believed to be headed toward Yemen with unknown cargo aboard.
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged concerns about arms shipments from Tehran to the Houthis.
"We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other forms of support to the Houthis in Yemen," Earnest said.
"That’s the kind of support that will only contribute to greater violence in that country, a country that’s already been racked by too much violence."
The Shi'ite Muslim Houthi fighters sidelined the central government after seizing the capital Sana'a in September and occupying a broad swath of Yemen, which borders oil giant Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its Arab allies have launched air strikes in an effort to stop the advance of the Houthis, a move Tehran has condemned.
One U.S. official said the presence of the U.S. warships off Yemen give American decision-makers options for action in the event the situation deteriorates.
The other U.S. warships in the region include two destroyers, two mine-sweepers and three amphibious ships carrying 2,200 U.S. Marines.
The United States has deepened intelligence cooperation with Saudi Arabia as it carries out airstrikes in Yemen and is providing logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition. But it is stopping short of directly participating in the strikes.
(Reporting by David Alexander and Phil Stewart; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Christian Plumb)
Google has used its Street View cameras to search for the Loch Ness Monster - and one picture in particular will attract the attention of Nessie hunters
Is this the monster? (Photo: Google)
By Oliver Smith 3:31PM BST 21 Apr 2015
Many have tried and failed to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster - now Google has joined the search.
The firm has, with the help of divers and local experts, used its Street View cameras to capture parts of the Scottish loch, the reputed home of the famous cryptid.
Its images, taken both above and below the surface of the water, are available to view from today - giving armchair travellers the chance to admire the Highlands scenery - or plunge to the depths in search of Nessie.
If you've ever untangled a Gordian knot of wires and cords, or seen your 2-year-old sucking on your laptop charger, you understand the appeal of wireless charging. Until recently, however, there weren't alternatives to charging through bulky wires and cords. But as wireless charging becomes more advanced, it may be used to power a wide variety of things other than phones or watches, such as lamps or even electric buses, experts say. But just what is wireless charging? And why is a technology developed a century ago just now becoming popular? We talked to a few experts to find out. How it works Wireless charging as a concept has been around since inventor and physicist Nikola Tesla first concluded that you could transfer power between two objects via an electromagnetic field, said Ron Resnick, president of the Power Matters Alliance, which has a wireless charging protocol.
Essentially, wireless charging uses a loop of coiled wires around a bar magnet — which is known as an inductor. When an electric current passes through the coiled wire, it creates an electromagnetic field around the magnet, which can then be used to transfer a voltage, or charge, to something nearby, Resnick said.
Most wireless power stations nowadays use a mat with an inductor inside, although electric toothbrushes, for example, have long had wireless charging embedded in their bases. Because the strength of the electromagnetic field drops sharply with distance (as the square of the distance between the objects), a device must be fairly close to a charging station to get much power that way, Resnick said.
But although the basic concept of wireless charging has been understood for more than 100 years, scientists hadn't figured out a way to efficiently transfer large amounts of power using this technique, Resnick said. The amount of electric charge transferred is proportional to the number of coils that can be looped around the tiny bar magnet, as well as the strength of the magnet. Until recently, wires and electronics couldn't be made small enough and cheaply enough to make wireless charging feasible. Improvements in technology But that's changed in recent years.
"The cost to do it has been really reduced," Resnick told Live Science. "To make it more efficient, you have to have very, very flat coils of wire," enabling many loops of wire to be coiled around the tiny bar magnet, he said.
What's more, wireless power stations must charge only objects that are supposed to be charged, such as a phone, and not, for example, a stray penny that falls on it, Resnick said.
To ensure that the wireless charging station doesn't power an errant object, wireless power stations use tiny transmitters that communicate with small receivers in a device, such as a phone, said John Perzow, vice president of market development for the Wireless Power Consortium, which created the Qi wireless charging technology.
In essence, the receiver "talks" to the charging station, Perzow said. "If it says I'm an authorized Qi receiver, it's OK to send me some power. I'll let you know how much power I need, and as those needs change, I'll let you know. And when I'm done charging, I'll let you know so you can go back to sleep," he told Live Science.
Future uses Nowadays, both the Power Matters Alliance and Wireless Power Consortium have developed competing protocols, or systems, for wirelessly charging devices. Existing systems are used primarily to charge smartphones or smartwatches.
But wireless power may soon extend to many more applications. For instance, electric buses in South Korea can now be charged through a wireless platform, and IKEA is rolling out a new line of furniture, including lamps and tables, with built-in charging stations.
Other groups are integrating wireless charging stations into public locations so that people with so-called battery anxiety — that ever-present fear of running out of juice — can charge their devices on the go, Perzow said.
As technology improves, it may be possible to charge bigger and more power-hungry devices, such as blenders or even vacuum cleaners, Resnick said.
And companies are already designing systems in which wireless charging platforms in hotel rooms will be able to not only charge phones, but also figure out when people are in their rooms, sync their TV to the last spot in a movie they were watching on the plane and sense whether the air conditioning should be cranked up, Perzow said.
Kirlian photography was quite the in thing back in the seventies. It was supposed to be showing energy fields. Even energy fields from things that were not there, like missing fingers and sections of leaf that had been removed from the whole thing.
It was very interesting. The technical magazine Electronics Today International even ran an article on building your own Kirlian camera. I would have tried it but was in the army at the time.
As for curved space.
Begs the questions curved in which direction, and with reference to what ?
Isn't it midnight, on the other side of the world. Do you remember the face of a pretty girl ?
Monday 20 April 2015 12.22 EDT Last modified on Tuesday 21 April 2015 06.06 ED
Astronomers have discovered what they say is the largest known structure in the universe: an incredibly big hole.
The “supervoid”, as it is known, is a spherical blob 1.8 billion light years across that is distinguished by its unusual emptiness.
István Szapudi, who led the work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, described the object as possibly “the largest individual structure ever identified by humanity”. Hubble at 25: the best images from the space telescope - in pictures View gallery
Its existence only emerged thanks to a targeted astronomical survey, which confirmed that around 10,000 galaxies were “missing” from the part of the sky it sits in.
Szapudi’s team was intentionally searching for the void because they believed that it could explain previous observations showing that part of the sky is unusually cool.
The so-called Cold Spot was discovered 10 years ago and has proved a sticking point for the best current models for how the universe evolved following the Big Bang. Cosmological theory allows for a bit of patchiness in the background temperature, due to warmer and cooler spots of various sizes emerging in the infant universe, but areas as large and cold as the Cold Spot are unexpected.
Prof Carlos Frenk, a cosmologist at the University of Durham, said: “The Cold Spot raised a lot of eyebrows. The real question was what was causing it and whether it was a challenge to orthodoxy.”
The latest study suggests that the Cold Spot can be partly explained by a gigantic region of emptiness at its centre, which drains energy from light travelling through it.
The supervoid is not an actual vacuum, as its name suggests, but has about 20% less stuff in it than our part of the universe – or any typical region. “Supervoids are not entirely empty, they’re under-dense,” said András Kovács, a co-author at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.
The structure may sound unremarkable – hardly a standalone object even – but scientists say it is unprecedented given how evenly distributed the universe normally is at this spatial scale. “This is the greatest supervoid ever discovered,” Kovács said. “In combination of size and emptiness, our supervoid is still a very rare event. We can only expect a few supervoids this big in the observable universe.”
Previously, astronomers observing in the direction of the Cold Spot had established that there was no distant void in that part of the sky, but until now the nearer sky had not been surveyed.
The latest study used the Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) telescope located on Haleakala, Maui, and Nasa’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite to count the number of galaxies in a patch of sky around 3 billion light years away – relatively close in the cosmic scheme of things.
The survey, described in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, confirmed that there was a roughly spherical region that was far less densely populated by galaxies than the surrounding sky and that it was centred on the Cold Spot.
However, rather than solving the puzzle the latest discovery has only served to deepen the mystery. “It just pushed the explanation one layer deeper,” said Dr Roberto Trotta, a cosmologist at Imperial College London. “Now we have to figure out how does the void itself form. It’s still a rare event.”
Even more perplexing, according to Frenk, is the fact that the supervoid can only account for about 10% of the Cold Spot’s temperature dip.
“The void itself I’m not so unhappy about. It’s like the Everest of voids – there has to be one that’s bigger than the rest,” he said. “But it doesn’t explain the whole Cold Spot, which we’re still in the dark about.”
This partial explanation could point to the existence of “exotic physics”: new weird effects that scientists don’t yet know about.
The existence of an empty patch helps explain the Cold Spot because assuming the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, photons of light would be expected to lose energy (cool) as they cross a void.
This is because the photons convert kinetic energy to gravitational potential as they travel to the heart of the void and get further from denser surrounding patches of universe – think of it as climbing a hill. In a stationary universe, the situation would be symmetrical and so the photons would regain the lost energy on the way out of the void (down the hill). In an accelerated expansion of the universe, however, everything is effectively becoming less dense as space is stretched out, so voids become relatively shallower over time. This means by the time the light descends the virtual hill, the hill has become flatter and the light cannot pick up all the energy it lost on the way in. This means the light exits with a longer wavelength, corresponding to a cooler temperature.
The observation that the Cold Spot and supervoid coincide would fit with the idea that the universe is indeed expanding at an accelerating rate, which scientists put down to forces linked to dark energy. “This is independent evidence, in case anyone doubts it, for the existence of dark energy,” said Frenk.
« Last Edit: Apr 21st, 2015, 8:55pm by Sys_Config »
Video of UFO by plane in Rome baffles investigators
UFO investigaors say they are baffled by the object caught on camera by a professional photographer in Rome.
By Jon Austin PUBLISHED: 12:11, Wed, Apr 22, 2015
The unnamed man was filming a plane from his home on the City outskirts when the object was caught.He did not see the UFO until reviewing his video footage back, according to www.openminds.tvLocal UFO researchers were as baffled as the witness to what it the flying object could be.It is now being investigated by the Mediterranean UFO Center (C.UFO.M). C.UFO.M says the person who captured the footage is a professional photographer who specializes in taking photographs of actors, singers, and other important people. C.UFO.M said: "Upon review of the video, the photographer noticed a strange object pop onto the screen for a short period of time."
Computers That Know How You Feel Will Soon Be Everywhere
Sometime next summer, you ’ll be able to watch a horror series that is exactly as scary as you want it to be—no more, no less. You’ll pull up the show, which relies on software from the artificial intelligence startup Affectiva, and tap a button to opt in. Then, while you stare at your iPad, its camera will stare at you.
The software will read your emotional reactions to the show in real time. Should your mouth turn down a second too long or your eyes squeeze shut in fright, the plot will speed along. But if they grow large and hold your interest, the program will draw out the suspense. “Yes, the killing is going to happen, but whether you want to be kept in the tension depends on you,” says Julian McCrea, founder of the London-based studio Portal Entertainment, which has a development deal with a large unidentified entertainment network to produce the series. He calls Affectiva’s face-reading software, Affdex, “an incredible piece of technology.”
McCrea is one of the first outside developers to experiment with Affectiva’s developer tools to make technology capable of interpreting feelings based on tracking your facial expression. Scientists Roz Picard and Rana el Kaliouby spun the Waltham, Massachusetts-based tech startup out of MIT Media Lab in 2009. Picard has since left the company, but El Kaliouby, 36, remains the chief science officer and is committed to a bigger vision: “Personally, I’m not going to stop until this tech is embedded in all of our lives.” Already, CBS has used it to determine how new shows might go down with viewers. And during the 2012 Presidential election, Kaliouby’s team experimented with using it to track a sample of voters during a debate.
With $20 million in venture funding, the company has so far worked closely with a few partners to test its commercial applications. Now it plans to open its tools to everyone. Starting today, Affectiva will invite developers to experiment with a 45-day free test and then license its tools. You remember Intel inside? El Kaliouby envisions “Affectiva-embedded” technology, saying, “It’ll sit on your phone, in your car, in your fridge. It will sense your emotions and adapt seamlessly without being in your face.” It will just notice everything that’s happening on your face.
Millions of Faces
El Kaliouby has a PhD in computer science from Cambridge University, completed a post-doc at MIT Media Lab, and built Affectiva’s core technology as part of her academic work, intending to use it to help children with autism. “As I was doing that we started getting a lot of interest from industry,” says el Kaliouby. “The autism research was limited in scope,” she explained, so she turned to the business world to have a greater impact.
Affdex, the company’s signature software, builds detailed models of the face, taking into account the crinkle of the skin around the eye when you smile or the dip in the corner of your bottom lip when you frown. Since el Kaliouby started working on the Affectiva algorithms, the software has logged 11 billion of these data points, taken from 2.8 million faces in 75 countries.
With its massive data set, el Kaliouby believes Affectiva has developed an accurate read on human emotions. The software can, in effect, decode feelings. Consider Affectiva’s take on tracking empathy: “An example would be the inner eyebrow rise,” says el Kaliouby. “Like when you see a cute puppy and you’re, like, awww!” It can even note when you are paying attention.
The software relies on a so-called Facial Action Coding System, a taxonomy of 46 human facial movements that can be combined in different arrays to identify and label emotions. When it was developed in the late 1970s, humans scored emotional states manually by watching the movement of facial muscles. It was time intensive. “It takes about five minutes to code one minute of video,” says el Kaliouby. “So we built algorithms that automate it.” The software had to be trained to recognize variety in expressions. My smirk, for example, might not look like your smirk. “It’s like training a kid to recognize what an apple is,” el Kaliouby says.
Five years in, the technology has become robust enough to be reliably useful. Experience designer Steve McLean, for example, who runs the Wisconsin design firm Wild Blue Technologies, has used Affectiva to build a video display for Hershey to use in retail stores. If you smile at the screen, the display dispenses a free chocolate sample. Tech startup OoVoo, which competes with Skype, has integrated the software into its videochat to create a product called intelligent video that can read chatters’ emotions. “We’re looking at focus groups, online education, and political affinity,” says JP Nauseef, managing director of Myrian Capital, which invested in both Affectiva and OoVoo and sits on Affectiva’s board.
But for all of Affectiva’s potential, it will take more than creative developers to help its technology catch on more broadly. “The hidden discussion that hasn’t been brought up is trust,” says Charlene Li, CEO of the research outfit Altimeter Group, who has followed Affectiva closely since 2011. “I love the product, but I’m also terrified by it,” she says. She points out that should this data fall into the wrong hands, it could be dangerous for consumers. What happens, for example, if you are often sad while using a piece of Affectiva-embedded software and the software’s developer chooses to sell that information to a pharmaceutical company?
It’s a concern that el Kaliouby takes very seriously. “We actually don’t store any personal information about the consumers, so we do not have any way of tying back the facial video to an individual,” she says. “We have 2.78 million face videos in the platform, and if your face was in there, none of our team would be able to pull it out for you.”
That may be so, but as the company makes its tools available to a broader set of developers, it will have to monitor how the software is rolled out to prevent them from abusing it—and to make sure that as users interact with it for the first time, they’re aware of it and feel they are in control of the experience.
The technology may be very good at reading your emotions. But humans will have to take care how to act on them.