Fully wireless electricity may soon find its way into households thanks to new technology.

New electrical “resonance” technology introduced by WiTricity, an American engineering company, may soon make things such as wireless light bulbs and wireless battery charging possible. The new technology involves setting up a “Source Resonator” that generates a magnetic field in the local area when a power source is connected. The magnetic field allows wireless power transfer to other electronic devices.

A rendition of magnetic field usage in a house. (Image courtesy of CNN.)

A rendition of magnetic field usage in a house. (Image courtesy of CNN)

Magnetic fields have already seen implementation in current tech, such as Wi-Fi routers. However, the development of power transfer opens new doors, such as being able to charge a cell phone while walking around your home or having an electric car automatically refuel simply by being parked on the driveway. If the technology is implemented successfully, messy wires and crowded electric outlets could become problems of the past. The new magnetic power transfer technology also opens doors in the medical fields, allowing possibilities for new innovation in devices such as pacemakers that were previously limited by battery life. Challenges currently faced by WiTricity include implementation with modern appliances and making the technology efficient enough to be economically viable.

Source and more information can be found here.

A newly identified compound, developed into a drug, literally makes brain cancer cells explode.

A new compound was identified by scientists that can destroy malignant tumor cells in the brain by shutting off the cell’s ability to vent waste, eventually causing the cell to burst. This compound targets tumor cells in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), one of the most aggressive brain cancer types traditionally thought to be virtually incurable. Results from the study published in Cell showed promising results, using mice as test subjects. However, a great deal of further refinement and testing would be needed before human trials could be performed.

A graphical abstract of the study conducted using lab mice. (Image courtesy of Cell)

A graphical abstract of the study conducted using lab mice. (Image courtesy of Cell)

The compound, called “Vacquinol-1,” works by interfering with the cancer cells’ ability to regulate its cell membrane, effectively blocking what can enter or leave the cell. This causes the cells’ storage vessels, the vacuoles, to accumulate more and more materials such as water and nutrients over time. With no way to vent waste, the cells eventually reach maximum capacity and explode. Vacquinol-1 is notable in that it only targets GBM cells, leaving healthy cells untouched. In the medical experiments, lab mice with GBM that were given Vacquinol-1 survived up to 50 days longer than their control group counterparts, without inducing severe side effects. While the study is still largely in its preliminary stages, neuroscientists involved expressed their excitement at the direction this discovery could lead to. Concerns have included the high dosage of the drug in order for treatment to be effective and the side effects that might accompany Vacquinol-1 at human-level doses.

Source and more information can be found here.

Arnold Schwarzenegger raises over $500,000 for his chartable organization After-School All-Stars by holding a lottery for contributors to crush things in his tank.

Former California governor and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger has raised more than half a million dollars, to be matched by himself, from a charitable lottery he held recently. More than a million dollars will be going towards his After-School All-Stars organization, which runs programs for over 90,000 low-income youth in the US. The prize for winning the lottery? Getting to ride in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tank and crush things with the famous action star for a day.

Arnold Schwarzenegger crushing a giant easter egg in his tank. Yes, a giant easter egg.  (Image courtesy of Daily Mail)

Arnold Schwarzenegger crushing a giant easter egg in his tank. Yes, a giant easter egg. (Image courtesy of Daily Mail)

The fundraising campaign premiered as a video on YouTube on 12 March, which went viral immediately and has since accumulated more than 8.8 million views. In the video, Arnold is filmed driving in his decommissioned tank, which he acquired from the Austrian government over two decades ago, crushing various objects such as taxis, living room sets, bubble wrap, and even a horse-sized duck. The fundraising campaign involved donors paying an amount for a ticket in his lottery for a chance at joining Arnold for a day of tank-riding and working out, among other Arnold Schwarzenegger activities. After-School All-Stars provides comprehensive after-school programs to low-income children, helping keep them safe and providing proper mentorship to keep the children on track for success. Arnold Schwarzenegger founded the organization in 1991. The winner of the lottery was announced to be Alex Mihelick of Dallas, Texas.

Source and more information can be found here.

Vladimir Putin announces that Crimea will be annexed into Russia, following a treaty signed between Crimea and the Russian Federation.

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, made an announcement to the Russian parliament this past week of Crimea’s annexation into the Russian Federation, following a treaty signed by Putin and Crimean leaders. During the announcement, Putin commented that Crimea had “always been part of Russia.” Pro-Russian forces first invaded Crimea in February following sovereignty disputes with Ukraine. The Ukrainian foreign ministry said: “We do not recognize and never will recognize the so-called independence or the so-called agreement on Crimea joining the Russian Federation.”

Leaders of Russia and Crimea signing the treaty. (Image courtesy of BBC)

Leaders of Russia and Crimea signing the treaty recognizing the annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation. (Image courtesy of BBC)

A referendum was conducted in Crimea this past Sunday by Crimean leaders to survey the attitude of the people. 97% of voters were in favour of splitting from Ukraine to join Russia. Following the results, leaders of Crimea declared independence and applied to Moscow to officially join the Russian Federation. The legality of the referendum has been disputed internationally, but Putin remains adamant on the fact that the results are “more than convincing.”

Crimea was transferred from Russia to Ukraine while under Soviet rule in 1954, but disputes sprung back up after the dissolution of the USSR. Putin has recognized Crimea as a sovereign state, and has approved a draft bill for its ascension into Russia. The decision for Crimea to join Russia has been subject to international criticism.  Western powers have all expressed their condemnation of the treaty. The UK has announced it will suspend all bilateral military cooperation with Russia except treaty obligations while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the referendum, the declaration of independence, and Crimea’s “absorption into the Russian Federation” were “against international law”. Ukraine itself has begun training military reservists, fearing an escalation of the crisis.

Source and more information can be found here.

Facebook’s facial recognition algorithm, “DeepFace,” is reaching human-level accuracy with a 97.5% accuracy rating.

For better or for worse, Facebook has recently announced that its facial recognition program, “DeepFace,” has reached nearly human-level accuracy at identifying matching faces between two pictures. In fact, the algorithm behind the program has been reported to be as accurate as 97.5%.

A demonstration with actor Sylvester Stallone of how DeepFace deconstructs a face into wireframe models which it can then manipulate. (Image courtesy of Huffington Post)

A demonstration with actor Sylvester Stallone of how DeepFace deconstructs a face into wireframe models which it can then manipulate. (Image courtesy of Huffington Post)

DeepFace works by creating a 3D model of the facial structure in a picture, identifying ratios between facial features such as noses and eyes. Using this information, the program then compares it with similar 3D models from other pictures to identify a match. Whereas previous facial recognition software can be easily foiled by a simple tilt of the head or turn of the face, the advanced algorithms behind DeepFace allow the models it constructs to be rotated in 3D and adjusted for various angles or lightings. DeepFace accomplishes these feats using techniques from deep learning, a field of artificial intelligence specializing in interpreting irregular data. IBM’s famous Jeopardy-playing computer, Watson, is an example of another software making use of deep learning. DeepFace currently remains a research project and has yet to see direct implementation into Facebook itself. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has previously expressed interest in developing artificial intelligence beyond facial recognition. His ambitions include creating AI capable of analyzing texts in statuses and comments to determine mood and context. If implemented, DeepFace would be able to completely automate your photo-tagging and analyze information such as determining who you’re most frequently photographed with. Privacy advocates and government officials have expressed concern over the invasive effects these new programs could have.

Source and more information can be found here.