Monthly Archives: March 2017

Alphabet Inc’s Google unit expects

.Tellenes wind farm, a 50-turbine strong wind farm of 160-megawatt (MW) capacity that is currently under development, will become Norway’s largest wind farm and Google’s biggest in Europe.

“We’ll purchase power as soon as the wind farm becomes fully operational, which we expect will take place in early September 2017,” a Google spokesman told Reuters.

Google last year signed a 12-year deal to buy 100 percent of the plant’s output. The company, which has four European data centres in Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland, said the wind power will be used to supply one or several of them.

The Tellenes wind farm’s first turbine will begin to generate power by next week, said Olav Rommetveit, a spokesman for farm maker Zephyr, although Google will not receive the initial output.

“Google will not immediately get the supply. It has an exclusive contract for 12 years and they will begin getting the electricity at some point after commercial operations begins,” said Rommetveit.

The electricity produced until Google starts receiving the farm’s full capacity, will be sold on the Nord Pool power exchange, he added.

BlackRock, which provided the project’s equity financing, confirmed the first turbine would be ready for production next week and said power sales would start a few days later.

Arise, a Swedish wind power company, will be the farm’s operator.

Google has also bought the future output of a smaller wind farm in Sweden, due to start operation in 2018, bringing the total capacity of its renewable power purchases in Europe to 500 MW, the company said.

A Web of Nouns

The "Internet of Things" may save us time and energy, but it's a headache fro astronomers. (Credit: Chesky/Shutterstock)

The trouble began because iRobot doesn’t want its customers to have to do any physical labor — not cutting the grass and definitely not digging the trenches for the underground wires that most autonomous lawn mowers use to sense the edge of their domain. iRobot applied to the FCC to be allowed to use wireless broadcasters instead, at radio frequencies between 6240 and 6740 MHz. Problematically, though, space-based methanol also broadcasts radio waves at those frequencies. Methanol traces star formation and tells us about the evolution of our galaxy, which (taken to its extreme) tells us how we got here. To protect that band, the FCC says “all practicable steps shall be taken to protect the radio astronomy service from harmful interference.” And within that band, it prohibits “fixed outdoor infrastructure.” The National Radio Astronomy Observatory says iRobot’s guiding beacons violate that prohibition and insist the mower-bot stay 55 miles away from its telescopes. iRobot says nuh-uh, “there is little risk of interference,” and 12 miles is sufficient.

If one brand’s wireless landscape-eater can cause such a stir, just imagine what could happen when our world is full of self-adjusting, internet-connected devices all communicating wirelessly with each other and with the Web. They will all need to use the radio “spectrum,” but how they’ll split it up — and share it with astronomers, other industries, and the government — when more devices need a slice of the pie remains to be seen.

Smart thermostats can already make your house the temperature you want while monitoring the outdoor weather. Bluetooth beacons help you find your keys. Sensors monitor inventory and alert vending machine owners that Fruitopia is sold out. This is the Internet of Things, and it’s coming. “There are no spectrum bottlenecks for dedicated Internet of Things systems yet,” Kevin Ashton, co-founder and former executive director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Auto-ID Center, told Bloomberg BNA, “but we are seeing Wi-Fi services get maxed out, as there are only so many channels you can cram into the available spectrum.”

Just a week after the OxygenOS 4.5.3 rollout

Just a week after the OxygenOS 4.5.3 rollout, OnePlus has now rolled out yet another software update for its OnePlus 5(Review) users. The latest OxygenOS 4.5.5 update brings bug fixes, performance improvements, Wi-Fi connectivity improvements, voice calling improvements, and much more.

In between, OnePlus has also rolled out a quick OxygenOS 4.5.4 update for users in Netherlands fixing 4G network issues reported by users in that region. This latest OxygenOS 4.5.5 update should arrive via an OTA, and if you haven’t received a notification yet, then head over to Settings to check for an update manually.

Interestingly, the OxygenOS 4.5.5 update comes with the same old May security update. Nokia 6, Google Pixel, and Nexus devices are now receiving the July security patch. The size of the update for the OnePlus 5 users is at 59MB.

OxygenOS 4.5.5 brings improvements to Wi-Fi connectivity, something that was already fixed with the previous update. However, there might have been some fresh loopholes that needed plastering, and this update does just that. The update also notes that battery drain while voice recording is also much lesser now, voice calling has been improved, and that the vibration intensity while receiving a call has also been decreased. The entire changelog can be found below:

Optimisations:

  • Further improvements to Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Improvements for voice calling
  • Voice recording now uses less battery
  • Vibration intensity when receiving calls has been decreased

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed Wi-Fi signal consistently being displayed as weak
  • Fixed certain apps not able to work under IPv6 network settings
  • To restore connectivity to a Windows 10 PC, please turn off USB debugging prior to the upgrade

The OnePlus 5 is available in India in two variants – 6GB RAM/64GB storage and 8GB RAM/128GB storage. The price of both the variants is at Rs. 32,999 and Rs. 37,999 respectively. The smartphone is available exclusively on Amazon India and OnePlus Stores online and offline.

The 5 Retro Science Kits That Inspired a Generation of Tinkerers

Manu Prakash was himself a kid who liked to blow up stuff. As a child in Rampur, India, Prakash didn’t have a chemistry set, so he harvested chemicals after the fireworks show during Diwali, the Hindu light festival.
“My brother and I would go out in the early morning, the day after, and collect all of the unexploded fireworks,” he recalls. “We removed all the chemicals and made a giant pile. We actually lit that thing. We didn’t put it in containment; our goal wasn’t to make a large bang. We were curious what happens when there is no coverage. It pretty much produced a mushroom cloud. It was very beautiful.”Although he burned his hand and still carries a small scar, the Stanford bioengineer says such open-ended play was important in setting his career path. And as the first-prize winner of the Science, Play and Research Kit (SPARK) competition for reimagining scientific toys for the 21st century, he hopes his brainchild device, called the Punchcard Using Microfluidics, will provide the same inspiration and opportunities for future crops of scientists.

Inspiration struck Prakash when his wife brought home a small hand-cranked music box, which pulled a ribbon with holes in it through two sets of pins. When pins encountered each other through the holes, one pin plucked another and produced a musical tone. He predicted he could program such a system to instead pump fluids, control valves and generate liquid droplets.

The A.C. Gilbert Co. developed hundreds of toy kits, ranging from magic sets to the extraordinarily popular Erector sets that inspired young children to build anything from model engines to model Ferris wheels.
Lambert/Getty Images
Working with a graduate student, Prakash paired a silicone chip (containing tiny channels that guide the droplets) with a small hand-cranked device and some punch-card paper to dictate when valves release the different fluids. Voila! A $50,000 prize winner was born.Prakash’s invention allows young chemists to mix fluids and observe reactions. Users can mix chemicals in tiny amounts, and any reactions are confined by the chip, which (alas!) safely reduces the scope of powerful odors and explosions.

Prakash hopes to see manufacturing and distribution of his miniature chemistry set, with the SPARK prize money earmarked for a start toward that end. “We want children to have that ‘aha!’ moment . . . a lifelong passion from figuring it out for yourself,” he says.

Prakash’s vision is one shared by many. “I loved science as a kid because we were able to go out and just sort of see what was going to happen,” says Rosie Cook, a curator at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. “So much of it now is, ‘Mix this and tell me what happened,’ even at the Ph.D. and postdoc level. There’s very little of the ‘I’m going to mix A and B together and see what happens!’ ”

Cook, who oversees the foundation’s planned 2015 exhibition of vintage science kits, says that letting students discover things on their own energizes them and often allows them to internalize it as something wonderful. “How many Nobel laureates got their start just from experimenting?” she asks. “That was the wonder of those old chemistry sets. They really allowed for free play and experimentation.”

That career-shaping moment of awe and wonder came about for many via their first scientific toy. Here are a few of our favorites (and maybe yours, too).