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As we all know, a pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across the world and created havoc. For instance, you might have heard this term when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the WHO. Although the history of pandemics is quite long and extensive, from the 1918 Spanish Flu to COVID-19 now, pandemics have always impacted life as we know it. It all started with the earliest recorded pandemic which happened during the Peloponnesian War. After it affected Libya, Ethiopia, and Egypt, it not only crossed the Athenian walls but also lay siege to the Spartans — as many as two-thirds of the population died of it. Even though this was the first-ever pandemic, it was not as deadly in comparison to other subsequent pandemics.
One of the worst pandemics was “The Plague of Justinian”. The number of deaths is unknown. It was the beginning of the first Old World pandemic of plague, the contagious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. It started in 541 AD and ended around 750 AD. Scientists believe that the Plague of Justinian spread through fleas. Studies indicate the plague may have originated in China or India and was then transported to the fertile valleys of Egypt through trade routes since technology and medicines were quite old and some had not yet been discovered. Surprisingly, the plague doctors had to guess as to what might end this pandemic. They attempted treatments such as vinegar and water or told the patients to carry flowers around all day, but they all failed.
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Now, let’s come to one of the major pandemics, the ‘Spanish Flu’. The Spanish Flu, which is also known as the 1918 Influenza virus, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza virus. Lasting from February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people — about a third of the world’s population at the time — in four successive waves. By the summer of 1919, the flu pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity.
History tells us that the worst pandemic recorded to date is the ‘Black Death’, which killed roughly over 75-200 million people. Black Death was essentially a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Afro-Eurasia from 1346 to 1353. It was present mainly in Eurasia and North Africa. This plague was also caused by the Yersinia pestis. It was spread around through fleas. These bugs picked up the germs when they bit infected animals, then passed them to the next animal or person they bit.
This pandemic eventually ended through the implementation of quarantines, that’s right, the same quarantine that we are currently stuck in. The uninfected would typically remain in their homes and only leave when it was necessary, while those who could afford to do so would leave the more densely populated areas and live in isolation. I believe that if this same faith and patronage are to be followed now, the current COVID-19 cases will drop and we can return to normalcy.
Coming the West African Ebola virus epidemic, which started on Dec 26, 2013, and ended by Jun 9, 2016, it killed over 11,323 people. It was deadly and dangerous and people again had no clue about the symptoms or how to stay safe from the virus. Researchers and scientists eventually found a solution i.e., a vaccine.
On December 31, 2020, the first-ever coronavirus case was recorded. As we all know, ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ stands for the virus and ‘D’ for disease. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China and from there it traveled and spread across the globe. The cause of the coronavirus is unknown but that doesn’t change the fact that it is fatal and destructive. In 2020, when the first lockdown happened, we were all quite alarmed and frightened as to where this would lead and how we would manage. We didn’t realize that it was just the tip of the iceberg.
Now that it’s 2021, the situation has not gotten better but worsened. The cases are higher than ever, people are dying and in need of oxygen or plasma. In India, things are not looking good but we can also curb this situation and help out each other in these difficult times by donating plasma or money or even basic supplies, volunteering virtually. There is always something you can do to help others.
Although this article doesn’t even come close to capturing all the deadly and disastrous pandemics, what we do know is that these pandemics have brought untimely deaths of our near and dear ones and a lot of pain and suffering to mankind. Not only this but pandemics are also known to create havoc in human civilizations and disrupt life as we know it. But what I have learned is that in the midst of a pandemic, there is always a greater sense of unity amongst the people also bringing out the goodness and kindness in people. As history is witness, we always end up adapting to such situations and find a solution to make it out of these pandemics. So, with this, we must realize that a crisis can bring misery, difficulty, and death, but it also brings forth hope, the strength of human spirit, the goodness of the human heart, and formidable will to say: “The show must go on.” (IANS/JC)
As robots evolve to do more work around us, the UK-based humanoid robot manufacturer Engineered Arts has infused more human-like facial expressions into one of its robots, which may leave you with an eerie feeling.
In a video posted on YouTube, the robot called 'Ameca' displays various human expressions, like appearing to "wake up" from sleep, as its face shows confusion and frustration when it opens its eyes.
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Once awake, 'Ameca' starts looking at its hands and arms, opens its mouth and raises its eyebrows, just like a human does.
At the end of the video, Ameca smiles and holds a welcoming hand out towards the viewer.
According to Engineered Arts, the humanoid bot is currently unable to walk and it is working towards giving it the ability in the near future.
"Designed specifically as a platform for development into future robotics technologies, 'Ameca' is the perfect humanoid robot platform for human-robot interaction," says the company.
The 'Ameca' hardware is a development based on its own research into humanoid robotics and built on its advanced 'Mesmer' technology.
Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.Unsplash
Also read: NASA humanoid robot dances to technology
Engineered Arts is slated to put 'Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.
"Human-like Artificial Intelligence needs a human-like artificial body. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems can be tested and developed on Ameca alongside our powerful 'Tritium' robot operating system," the company posted on its website. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Humanoid Robot, Ameca, Technology)
Microsoft has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group, gaining control of the malicious websites the group used to attack organisations in the US and 28 other countries around the world.
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) said in a statement that a federal court in Virginia granted its request to seize websites of the hacking group called 'Nickel', enabling the company to cut off Nickel's access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks.
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"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.
Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft's secure servers will help the company protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities.
Also Read : Fortnite : A Gold Mine for Hackers
"Our disruption will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities, but we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks," Burt said late on Monday.
To date, in 24 lawsuits - five against nation-state actors -- Microsoft has taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 sites used by nation-state actors.
"We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future," the tech giant informed.
"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations."Unsplash
In some observed activity, Nickel malware used exploits targeting unpatched on-premises Exchange Server and SharePoint systems.
"However, we have not observed any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products as part of these attacks. Microsoft has created unique signatures to detect and protect from known Nickel activity through our security products, like Microsoft 365 Defender," the company noted.
Nickel has targeted organisations in both the private and public sectors, including diplomatic organisations and ministries of foreign affairs in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : hacking, China, Microsoft, website, victim, intelligence, attack, malicious, traffic, server, company, disruption, lawsuits, cybercriminals, vulnerability.)
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Chip manufacturer MediaTek on Monday announced that it is focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, substantial expansion in Research and Development capabilities.
MediaTek's plans to boost technology democratisation and enable access to disruptive connectivity with its range of mainstream to flagship 5G chips.
"We at MediaTek are focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, and substantial expansion in our R&D capabilities. For 2022, we are focused on further strengthening our presence in India, offering incredible experiences to customers, and supporting the country's technology initiatives with our expertise and collaboration with leading OEMs," Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India said in a statement.
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In the flagship segment, MediaTek recently announced the Dimensity 9000 chip, which is a milestone of innovation and a rise to the incredible, built-to-power flagship 5G smartphones in the world, the company claims.
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 features a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
It packs a 10-core Arm Mali-G710 that takes care of graphics processing, the report said.
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.Unsplash
Also read: Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.
The chipset can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolutions. It is also the first chipset to have an 18-bit image signal processor, offering the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320MP sensor. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: 5G, smartphones, Mediatek)