Saturday December 16, 2017
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Toyota to develop ‘self-driving’ cars

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

tdy_tren_google_140528.nbcnews-video-reststate-560Machines are known to effectively reduce human labor. But the four-wheeler machine that are driven all around the world are set to become self-driven!

Toyota, Japanese automaker will be investing approximately USD 50 million over to the next five years to set up joint research centers at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for developing “intelligent” self-driving cars.

“This bold collaboration will address extremely complex mobility challenges using ground breaking artificial intelligence research. I’m thrilled to be a part of the synergies and talent sharing of Toyota, MIT, and Stanford,” said Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The two research centers will focus on using technology to make driving safer by inventing ways for cars to recognize their surroundings and make decisions that avert potential accidents.

“Our team will work to help intelligent vehicles recognize objects in the road, predict behaviours of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions,” said Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Not far away from Stanford, both General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have established offices in Palo Alto, California, in their mission to make smarter cars.

After smart phones and smart cities, smart cars are on their way!

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Mystery of arsenic release into groundwater solved

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New York: Stanford scientists have solved an important mystery about where the microbes responsible for releasing dangerous arsenic into groundwater in Southeast Asia get their food.

Groundwater in many countries, including India, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam, contains concentrations of arsenic 20 to 100 times greater than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended limit.

Arsenic is bound to iron oxide compounds in rocks from the Himalayas and gets washed down the major rivers and deposited in the lowland basins and deltas.

Scientists know that in the absence of oxygen, some bacteria living in those deposited sediments can use arsenic and iron oxide particles as an alternative means of respiration.

When they do this, however, the microbes separate the arsenic and iron oxides and transfer the toxin into underlying groundwater.

The mystery in this system, though, is an obvious source of energy that the microbes can tap to fuel the separation process.

“The question that really limits our ability to come up with predictive models of groundwater arsenic concentrations is how and why does the food they use vary across the landscape and with sediment depth,” said professor Scott Fendorf from Stanford.

In their study, Fendorf and his team found that mixing sediments collected from different depths in vials with artificial groundwater revealed that the oxygen-deprived bacteria living in the upper few feet of permanent wetlands were releasing arsenic.

However, water mixed with sediments gathered from the same shallow layers of seasonal wetlands was arsenic free.

The Stanford scientists hypothesized that bacteria residing in the shallow layers of seasonal wetlands were eating all of the digestible plant material during dry periods when sediments are exposed to air and the microbes have access to oxygen.

As a result, no food is left for the microbes when the floods returned, rendering them unable to cleave arsenic particles from iron oxides.

“The arsenic-releasing bacteria living in the shallow regions of seasonal wetlands are ‘reactive’ carbon limited – that is, they don’t release arsenic into the water because there isn’t enough carbon available in a form they can use,” Fendorf explained.

The findings have large-scale implications for projecting changes in arsenic concentrations with land development in South and Southeast Asia and for the terrestrial carbon cycle.

“If you change the hydrology of a region by building dams or levies that change the course of the water, or if you change agricultural practices and introduce oxygen or nitrate into sediments where they didn’t exist before, that will alter the release of arsenic,” Fendorf said.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Geosciences.

(IANS)

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Will your kids get enough water? Global demand of water to surpass supply by 2050

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

If we keep wasting water at the current rate, there will be a severe shortage of water by 2050, a study has suggested.

According to a research by  Anthony Parolari from Duke University, the global demand of water will  surpass the supply if the population keeps burgeoning in the current manner by 2050. The water levels are diminishing and the consumption trend is a worrying site.

“But if population growth trends continue, per-capita water use will have to decline even more sharply for there to be enough water to meet demand,” said researcher Anthony Parolari from Duke University.

The researchers used what is called a delayed-feedback mathematical model to analyze historic data to help project future trends.

“The world population is projected to escalate up to 96 billion till 2050. What strains us is how would we comply to the growing needs of every new born? How much more water can we supply? We might be reaching an alarming state where the efficiency measures are no longer sufficient and water scarcity either impacts population growth or pushes us to find new water supplies,” researches said.

“For every new person who is born, how much more water can we supply? The model suggests we may reach a tipping point where efficiency measures are no longer sufficient and water scarcity either impacts population growth or pushes us to find new water supplies,” Parolari noted.

Water recycling, and finding new and better ways to remove salt from seawater, are among the more likely technological advances that could help alleviate or avoid future water shortages.

 

 

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Indian-origin scientist Ravi Majeti, turns cancer cells into harmless cells

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By Anurag Paul

An Indian-origin researcher at the Stanford University in the US has found a method that can cause dangerous leukemia cells to mature into harmless immune cells known as macrophages.

Assistant professor of medicine Ravi Majeti made the key observation after collecting leukemia cells from a patient and trying to keep the cells alive in a culture plate.

During the study, Majeti and post-doctoral scholar Scott McClellan found that some of the cancer cells in culture were changing shape and size into what looked like macrophages.

The team confirmed that the methods shown to have altered the destiny of the mouse progenitor cells years ago could be used to transform these human cancer cells into macrophages which can engulf and digest cancer cells and pathogens.

“We were giving everything at them to help them hold out,” said Majeti in a report that appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. B-cell leukemia cells are in many ways progenitor cells that are forced to stay in an immature state.

B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia with a variation called the Philadelphia chromosome is a especially aggressive cancer with poor results.

“So finding potential treatments is especially exciting,” Majeti added.

Majeti and his colleagues have some reason to hope that when the cancer cells become macrophages, they will not only be neutralized but may actually assist in fighting the cancer.

“Because the macrophage cells came from the cancer cells, they will already carry with them the chemical signals that will distinguish the cancer cells, causing an immune attack against the cancer more likely,” Majeti explained.

The researchers’ next steps would be to find out if they can discover a drug that will incite the same reaction and that could function as the groundwork for a therapy for the leukemia.