Review Category : Science & Technology

How to keep your laptop battery happy, healthy

As college students, almost every Aggie has a laptop; they are a great tool due to their mobility. However, they are less effective when they are constantly plugged into a power source. There are many myths and tips on how to maximize battery life and battery health in order to get the most of your device. The way you charge your battery can affect its ability to hold a charge in the long run. Some believe that you should let your computer drain and then charge it to 100 percent to keep the battery healthy. However, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, this might not be the best practice. “If you frequently drain a lithium-ion battery, and then recharge it, it can quickly lose its ability to hold a charge, which affects the accuracy of the battery meter …  Lithium-ion batteries last longer if you charge them often, a little at a time, to maintain a minimum charge of about 40 percent capacity,” said a Microsoft spokesperson in an email interview.... ...

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This week in science: March 12, 2014

 Vitamin D reduces risk of breast cancer According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream were twice as likely to survive than cancer patients who did not. These findings were published in Anticancer Research. When present in sufficient levels, vitamin D prevents tumors from growing. Consulting your physician is highly recommended before increasing your vitamin intake. http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306163236.htm Improved care through smart-eye phones Exciting new research published in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine from Stanford University Medical Center sheds a new path on providing ophthalmology care. The innovative technology uses smartphones to take very accurate images of the eye and immediately uploads them to patients’ electronic records. This would allow for health professionals to provide remote feedback between specialties and thus effectively diagnose and treat a patient. It also cuts down the cost of the standard equipment, which requires extensive training to use. Anyone in the health field could use this technology... ...

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UC Riverside, Russian Academy for Science produce holographic memory

Joint research out of UC Riverside and the Russian Academy for Science has produced a new type of holographic memory device utilizing spin waves. Their invention has the potential to make improvements to modern technology, including the benefits of increased storage and processing capacity that has never before been attainable. The UC Riverside team is led by Professor Alexander Khitun, who has worked on spin wave-based technologies for over nine years. He, along with team member and UC Riverside graduate student Frederick Gertz, submitted their research for publication in the journal Applied Physics Letters on Jan. 21 of this year. Spin waves are magnetic waves that are caused by an alternating magnetic field. They were used in order to increase memory capabilities, lower energy consumption and meet the requirements of today’s electrical components. “If you throw two rocks into a pond at the same time, they will both create waves, and where these waves meet they will ‘interfere’ or cause the waves to change slightly. The same is true for... ...

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Study tracks Yosemite black bear food consumption

The Yosemite black bear is a curious, bold and predictable creature. Many of these bears, who have learned since infancy to fulfill their energy requirements through consumption of the vastly diverse and procurable human foods, pose an imminent nuisance to campers and hikers vacationing on the Yosemite grounds. Jack Hopkins, a research fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), has composed a rigorous investigation of the changing dietary patterns of the Yosemite bear population over time. He has done so hoping to highlight successful methods in deterring food based human-bear interactions. With the help of his research, Yosemite management will continue to take successful, preventative measures in encouraging bears to return to their natural diets and to spend less time foraging in visitor areas. Through the installation of bear-resistant food-storage containers and the establishment of a “bear team,” Yosemite continues to see increased visitor compliance regarding food storage in areas that are popular spots for bears to scavenge. “Yosemite has a rich history of bear-management practices as a... ...

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This week in science: March 6, 2014

Gesture into the future New gesture recognition technology is now cheaper than ever before and uses significantly less power than touch screens. AllSee, created by Bryce Kellogg, Vamsi Talla and Shyam Gollakota from the University of Washington, has a small sensor that can be installed on the phone. Through this sensor it uses television signals that already exist to recognize gestures and sources of power itself. Unlike current gesture recognition technology, the device can be in your pocket and still pick up your gestures. Diet vs. regular According to a paper published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, cognitive psychologist Cecile Marczinski found that mixing vodka with diet soda would get men drunk faster than if they had mixed it with regular soda. Apparently, diet soda mixers increase the rate of alcohol absorption. It may come down to the the types of sugars used because because diet drinks contain artificial sugars. Breast milk cheese It turns out you cannot make cheese from human breast milk. According to Michael... ...

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UCLA researchers link common pesticides to Parkinson’s disease

A team of medical researchers at UCLA has drawn an unnerving link between pesticide exposure and an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. For individuals of a genetically at-risk population, even low levels of exposure can exponentially increase the likelihood of developing the disease. The research was published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Neurology. Parkinson’s disease is the progressive degradation of an individual’s capacity to move in a smooth, stable fashion. This chronic disorder involves the loss of function and eventual death of indispensable neuronal tissue in the brain, specifically of the substantia nigra region (this is the region responsible for voluntary movement). One of the primary functions of the endangered neuron population is the synthesis of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is key for movement control and coordination. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, the declining neural population of the substantia nigra region is unable to secrete adequate levels of dopamine for an individual to produce coordinated movement. What begins as a faint quiver eventually progresses into a pronounced loss... ...

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UC Davis experts weigh in on global warming

We have all heard about the foreboding effects of global warming. Global warming is happening, and its ramifications affect everything from increased natural disaster probabilities to food decline and shortage. The facts are all around us: California’s drought, rising sea water and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report stating scientists are 95 percent certain that mankind is the “dominant cause.” So how can we fix our planet? Dr. Anthony Wexler, who is the director of the UC Davis Air Quality Research Center and a member of three departments at UC Davis (mechanical and aerospace engineering, civil and environmental engineering and land, air and water resources) offered his opinion on the crisis. “The reality is we aren’t doing nearly enough. One of the best ways we could reduce global warming is by imposing taxes on carbon emissions which would stay until there was a noticeable decrease. Such a tax would have to be extended to both imported and exported goods, based on how much greenhouse gas emission was associated. Taxing... ...

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UC Davis study finds antibacterial soaps may have health risks

Germs, bacteria, microbes, parasites and viruses — we all want to stay away from them, especially during the dreaded flu season. To do so, we often rely on antibacterial soaps to give us peace of mind that our hands are squeaky clean. However, a UC Davis study in collaboration with University of Colorado found that triclosan, a chemical found in antibacterial soaps like Dial, may impair muscle function. Because triclosan has been a concern for both human and environmental health, the researchers evaluated the effects of this common household item on muscle activity in a series of experiments with mice and fish. “Triclosan weakens skeletal and cardiac muscle contraction by interfering with molecular signals that link the electrical impulses at the surface of the muscle cell to the release of calcium from inside the muscle cell. Interfering with the release of calcium inside muscle cells is absolutely essential for contraction,” said Dr. Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the UC Davis School of Veterinary... ...

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Mandatory kill switch technology bill enters California State Senate

Californians may be seeing some extra security on their phones if San Francisco District Attorney (DA) George Gascón’s bill passes. Cell phone theft has risen to become a global pandemic and Senate Bill (SB) 962 intends to address that. Due to rising smartphone thefts, a mandatory kill switch may be put on every device by 2015. “SB 962 will require any smartphone or tablet in California to include a technological solution that renders the essential features of the phone inoperable when stolen,” said Max Szabo, legislative affairs and policy manager at the office of DA Gascón. Those behind the bill hope that the ability to turn stolen smartphones into bricks may deter thieves from stealing them in the first place. The idea is to get rid of the incentive (the resellability) to greatly reduce theft, therefore saving people from being victimized. The specific technology behind the kill switch would be up to the companies. By not having one universal kill switch technology, there is hope that it will be even... ...

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Researchers create new method for producing biogasoline

Researchers at UC Davis have created a new process for “biogasoline.” The procedure effectively converts cellulosic and biomass materials — including waste from cities, farms and forests — into potential gasoline substances. The team of chemists who published their findings in the journal Angewandte Chemie include Professor Mark Mascal and co-author post-doctoral researchers Saikat Dutta and Inaki Gandarias. “Most biomass-derived hydrocarbons are linear chain molecules, [related] to diesel and jet fuel, but not to gasoline, which requires branched molecules,” Mascal said. Mascal’s method produces hydrocarbons that have this branched carbon chain, making the fuel available for gas-powered cars. “The techniques where diesel-range straight chain hydrocarbons can be made from biomass which then have to undergo ‘cracking,’ a known technology in the petroleum industry, for the production of gasoline-range branched hydrocarbons. Our method allows the production of gasoline-range branched hydrocarbons directly from biomass without requiring further energy-intensive processing,” Dutta said. Some biofuel processes require the biomass material to be converted into sugars for the purpose of fermentation. However, with the new... ...

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This Week in Science: Feb. 20, 2014

The science of curls Curly-haired animated characters might become more common. Research conducted by MIT and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie has gotten behind the science of curly hair. It had originally been difficult to understand how hair could curl under it’s own weight. They were able to create a toolset to predict how a strand of hair would curl which will aid computer animators in creating realistic hairstyles for characters. Science brings in the Olympic medals The patterns show that the Olympic teams with the big sponsors and new, specially-designed equipment have the edge. That is not to say that tech alone can snag the gold but that skill and tech make the winning combination. The advances in science and research for sports equipment make it difficult to keep the games fair for the teams who don’t have a big time sponsor or government funding. 12,600-year-old remains to be reburied A study published in Nature explored the remains of an infant found in Montana in 1968. After... ...

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UC Davis Formula Electric builds all-electric racecar

Every week, a group of UC Davis mechanical and electrical engineering majors gather in Bainer Hall. There, they integrate knowledge from electrical circuits, dynamics, material properties and many other engineering disciplines. Their goal? To build the fastest electric racecar they can under the guidelines of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) Formula Electric competition. You might know them as the former Formula Hybrid team. This year, they have switched focus to electrical vehicles. According to several Formula Electric members, electric vehicles are the way of the future. “You can do more with a bigger electric motor. With a hybrid, you are constrained by the chassis and how much power you can put out,” said Jeff Bouchard, a fourth-year electrical engineering major. The general overview of how electric vehicles work starts with the motor. The motor turns electrical energy into mechanical energy, propelling the vehicle into motion. The motor receives commands from a computer called the motor controller. A person may input different commands to the motor controller, such as throttling.... ...

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Social media can impact future employment

Today, almost everyone has an internet presence. Social media has grown to be a great resource for Aggies to connect with friends; however, it can be a double-edged sword. At this moment, is there something on your Facebook that you wouldn’t want a current or future employer to see? Or even a potential grad school or professional school? Mary Ellen Slayter is a career expert with Monster. “Every recruiter that I know, every HR person that I know are all using tools that integrate social media into the way that companies filter through applicants for jobs. This is accelerating,” Slayter said. It is becoming more and more common for a social media presence to be looked at to judge an applicant’s suitability. Social media has given companies a window beyond your resume into your life. Employers use it to see if you would be a good image for their company. “Part of what companies do when they for you on social media is to see how you conduct yourself. They... ...

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This week in science:1/30/14 – 2/4/14

Rock, gas preserve fossil beds The Yixian and Jiufotang fossil beds in northeast China are known for having produced some of the most well-preserved plant and animal fossils ever found. The cause of such pristine preservation is now expected to be because of pyroclastic flows, which are high-speed rivers of rock and gas. It was the presence of sediment and cracks in the fossil bones that prompted a team led by Baoyu Jiang of Nanjing University to publish their findings in the Nature Communications Journal. http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140204/ncomms4151/full/ncomms4151.html Percentage of global smokers decrease, but news not all good A study from the University of Washington published in Journal of the American Medical Association broke down smoking percentage by country and gender from 1980 to 2012. On a global scale, male smoking dropped from 41 percent to 31 percent, and 11 percent to 6 percent for females. However, due to worldwide population growth, the total number of smokers rose from 721 million in 1980 to 967 million in 2012. The study also found... ...

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Print it with Flag

Living the college lifestyle often means having to learn to carefully budget your expenses. College students in particular are always looking for creative ways to still find what they want/need for the lowest possible prices. Now with the Flag app, college students and other budget-savvy shoppers can print photos saved on a smartphone for absolutely free. Entrepreneur Samuel Agboola recognizes the fact that printing out precious memories can become very costly very quickly. For instance, a printout of 20 photos at a local pharmacy such as CVS can cost over $75. Using only 220 gram photo paper from sustainable sources, this kickstarter company promises its users a printout of 20 free high-quality photos a month, with no additional shipping costs. In order to make a profit, ads get printed on the backs of photos. By charging for these ads, the company is able to maintain profits. If one is not particularly fond with the idea of ads printed on the back of the photos, one can order blank prints for... ...

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