Bill News

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blond Lobsters

Blond Lobsters
French Journal Says New Crustacean Found
Divers have discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blonde fur, French researchers said Tuesday.
Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new genus and new family for it.


A team of American-led divers found the animal in waters 7,540 feet deep at a site 900 miles south of Easter Island last year, according to Michel Segonzac of the French Institute for Sea Exploration, or IFREMER.
The new crustacean is described in the journal of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. The animal is white and 5.9 inches long, about the size of a salad plate.
In what Segonzac described as a "surprising characteristic," the animal's pincers are covered with sinuous, hair-like strands. The diving expedition was organized by Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

                             

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Korea Develops Running Robot

Korea Develops Running Rob
By Kim Tae-gyu
Staff Reporter


Humanoid robot RX

South Korea has developed a robot that is capable of running. The feat is the second in the world after Japan and was accomplished by a local venture start-up working on a small budget.

Robotis Thursday took the wraps off the network-based humanoid, tentatively named RX, which can run roughly 500 meters an hour empowered by outsourced software.


``This robot is built up with modulated blocks, which means it can be transformed easily to other types because it is made like Lego building blocks,¡¯¡¯ Robotis chief executive Kim Byoung-soo said.
``Another strength is that this 60-centimeter-tall machine works via software upgraded from outside network, the features our Japanese rivals do not have,¡¯¡¯ Kim said. In developing sophisticated robots, Japan has been in the driver¡¯s seat over the past several years and that is the case to the running humanoids.
Sony stunned the world in late 2003 by unveiling QRIO, the first-ever running robot, and its ferocious competitor Honda countered with ASIMO that can run about 3 kilometers per hour.

The mechanical units also show compelling features such as voice and face recognition, a key to remembering people, including their likes and dislikes.
But the costs to produce the fancy models are prohibitively high as all of their necessary software were crammed into the small-sized machine.
Korea jumped to the global bandwagon of researching robots only of late but the country has fast caught up with Japan despite small amount of funds.
Honda, the Tokyo-headquartered firm famous for its leading-edge motorcycles, is estimated to have poured $300 million in the past two decades for the ASIMO walker.
By contrast, a domestic team headed by Prof. Oh Jun-ho at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology created a prototype bipedal worker in 2002 with three students and a budget of $80,000.
Oh¡¯s team continues experiments to upgrade the two-legged robot, today known as HUBO, just like ASIMO that can move smoothly and climb stairs with a humanlike gait.
Robotis also channeled some $1 million to complete the running robot RX in a year through a joint project with Samsung Electronics, sponsored by the Ministry of Information and Communication.
Oh Sang-rok, projector manager at the ministry, claims the Korean robots have brighter commercial outlooks compared to its Japanese counterparts since the formers cheaply gain software by outsourcing it instead of using expensive embedded one.
``Japanese robots are all-in-one models outfitted with all software for sensing and processing capabilities. But our robots are designed to download programs for such features from outside servers with casual updates,¡¯¡¯ Oh said.
``Because of that we can offer robots at prices that will not scare off average users while Japanese players cannot. You can guess the difference from Sony¡¯s abandoning of QRIO,¡¯¡¯ he added.
Indeed, Sony announced late last month that it will stop development of QRIO apparently due to the low commercial viability of the pricey humanoid.
Meanwhile, the MIC plans to commercially launch several types of network robots priced between $1,000 and $2,000 late this year under business alliance with private makers.
They will be wheeled robots but will be eventually upgraded to bipedal models thanks to ceaseless advances in the robotic hardware, which are now underway here at a fast pace, according to Oh.

                             

Friday, February 10, 2006

Swimming in syrup is as easy as water

Swimming in syrup is as easy as water
Michael Hopkin

You can swim just as fast in a pool of gloop.
It's a question that has taxed generations of the finest minds in physics: do humans swim slower in syrup than in water? And since you ask, the answer's no. Scientists have filled a swimming pool with a syrupy mixture and proved it."What appealed was the bizarreness of the idea," says Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, who led the experiment. It's a question that also fascinated his student Brian Gettelfinger, a competitive swimmer who narrowly missed out on a place at this summer's Olympic Games in Athens.Cussler and Gettelfinger took more than 300 kilograms of guar gum, an edible thickening agent found in salad dressings, ice cream and shampoo, and dumped it into a 25-metre swimming pool, creating a gloopy liquid twice as thick as water. "It looked like snot," says Cussler.

" The fluid looked like snot. I don't know how to describe it any more poetically."
Edward CusslerUniversity of Minnesota

The pair then asked 16 volunteers, a mix of both competitive and recreational swimmers, to swim in a regular pool and in the guar syrup. Whatever strokes they used, the swimmers' times differed by no more than 4%, with neither water nor syrup producing consistently faster times, the researchers report in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal1.

Planning permission
The most troublesome part of the experiment was getting permission to do it in the first place. Cussler and Gettelfinger had to obtain 22 separate kinds of approval, including persuading the local authorities that it was okay to put their syrup down the drain afterwards.But it was worth the hassle, Cussler says, not least because his quest for an answer made him something of a celebrity on campus. "The whole university was arguing about it," he recalls. "It was absolutely hilarious."But while it might sound like a trivial question, the principle is actually fundamental. Isaac Newton and his contemporary Christiaan Huygens argued the toss over it back in the 17th century while Newton was writing his Principia Mathematica, which sets out many of the laws of physics. Newton thought that an object's speed through a fluid would depend on its viscosity, whereas Huygens thought it would not. In the end, Newton included both versions in his text.Hamstrung by their lack of access to guar gum or competitive swimmers, Newton's and Huygens' work was mainly theoretical. Cussler's demonstration shows that Huygens was right, at least for human-sized projectiles.

" The best swimmer should have the body of a snake and the arms of a gorilla. "
Edward CusslerUniversity of Minnesota

The reason, explains Cussler, is that while you experience more "viscous drag" (basically friction from your movement through the fluid) as the water gets thicker, you generate more forwards force from every stroke. The two effects cancel each other out.That's not always the case. Below a certain threshold of speed and size, viscous drag becomes the dominant force, making gloopy fluids are more difficult to swim through. Had Cussler done his experiment on swimming bacteria instead of humans, he would have recorded much slower times in syrup than in water.But for humans, speed depends not on what you swim in, but on what shape you are. Once the effects on thrust and friction have been cancelled out, the predominant force that remains is 'form drag'. This is due to the frontal area presented by a body - try running with a large newspaper held in front of you and see how much more difficult it is.So the perfect swimmer, whether in water or syrup, has powerful muscles but a narrow frontal profile. "The best swimmer should have the body of a snake and the arms of a gorilla," recommends Cussler.The journal that published the study is the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal, not the American Institute of Chemistry and Engineering Journal as initially reported.

                             

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Do I Have To Pay Taxes On My Ad Revenue?

Do I Have To Pay Taxes On My Ad Revenue?
The short answer is that Yes, it is taxable income. But how much tax you'll actually have to pay is what this site is all about. With all the possible Adsense-related deductions, you may even pay LESS tax than without your Adsense income!

Taxes are a very complex issue, and there are many publishers earning anywhere from pennies to thousands of dollars a day. This site's goal is to gather, organize, and share information on how to legitimately minimize tax liability for publishers subject to U.S. income taxes. Imagine your receipts and bills for internet access or that new computer being worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars!
How? Google Adsense™ income is business income. Since you are getting paid via a 1099-MISC, which means Google is treating you as an independent contractor, the U.S. Government has decided that income is taxable. More importantly, Google will be reporting your income to the IRS as one of their expenses. Businesses only have to pay taxes on their profits, so listing expenses reduces the tax bill. Just like Google is reporting paying you as an expense, you need to be keeping track of every expense that you can. Just bought a new domain name? Save your receipt!
Thinking about retirement? More good news is that you can also possibly defer paying taxes on your income if you put the money into an appropriate retirement account.
There is also some bad news. You may be subject to self-employment tax, if you made more than $400 your 1099-MISC. The current focus is on individuals, and not corporations or LLCs. Information for other business types and countries may be added later. Whenever possible, you will be redirected to the specific IRS documents that is applicable. Please check out the categories on the menu bar above.

                             

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rumours mount over Google's internet plan

Rumours mount over Google's internet plan
By Benjamin Cohen

Google is working on a project to create its own global internet protocol (IP) network, a private alternative to the internet controlled by the search giant, according to sources who are in commercial negotiation with the company.
Last month, Google placed job advertisements in America and the British national press for "Strategic Negotiator candidates with experience in...identification, selection, and negotiation of dark fibre contracts both in metropolitan areas and over long distances as part of development of a global backbone network".
Dark fibre is the remnants of late 1990s internet boom where American web companies laid down fibre optic cables in preparation for high speed internet delivery. Following the downturn in the technology sector during the early 2000s, the installation process for many of these networks was left incomplete. This has resulted in a usable network of cables spread across the United States that have never been switched on. By purchasing the dark fibre, Google would in effect be able to acquire a ready made internet network that they could control.
Late last year, Google purchased a 270,000sq ft telecom interconnection facilities in New York. It is believed that from here, Google plans to link up and power the dark fibre system and turn it into a working internet network of its own.
It was also reported in November that Google was buying shipping containers and building data centres within them, possibly with the aim of using them at significant nodes within the worldwide cable network. "Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box<" Robert Cringely wrote. "The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid." Google has long been rumoured to be planning to launch a PC to retail for less than $100. The Google computers are likely to be low-grade machines that require a connection to Google to be able to perform functions such as word processing and spreadsheet manipulations. While using the computers, it is understood that consumers will be shown personalised advertising from the company's AdWords network. The various reports prompted analysts Bear Stearns to note last year: "We think Google could be experimenting with new hardware endeavours that could significantly change potential future applications by Google, creating another advantage for Google over its competitors. Investors may currently under appreciate Google as a potential hardware company." The technology industry has also been alive with talk that the Google $100 machines will be less like a standard home PC and more like a television: in effect, one of the first convergent devices betweem the internet and television. While offering the standard PC applications, the "Google Cube" will also offer interactive content from a variety of sources while retaining Google branding and displaying Google advertising. A leading content provider, who did not wish to be named, told Times Online: "We are in discussions with Google to provide content for their alternative internet service, to be distributed through their Google Cube product. As far as I'm aware they have been conducting negotiations with a number of other players in our marketplace to provide quality content to their users." However, industry insiders fear that the development of a network of Google Cubes powered over a Google-owned internet network will greatly increase the power that Google wields over online publishers and internet users. Should Google successfully launch an alternative network, it is is theoretically possible for them to block out competitor websites and only allow users to access websites that have paid Google to be shown to their users. However, the moves towards providing equipment for as little as £60 will prove popular with home users and even governments, who will welcome the spread of the internet to homes that could not previously afford the intital costs of purchasing PCs. Contacted by Times Online today, a spokesperson for Google denied that it had any such plans, before adding its customary rider: "It's Google's policy not to comment on speculation concerning products before they are launched." Benjamin Cohen is a regular contributor to Times Online, writing about the internet and commerce. He is the CEO of pinknews.co.uk

                             

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sexual Chemistry Only Lasts Two Years

Sexual Chemistry Only Lasts Two Years
A team from the University of Pisa in Italy found the bodily chemistry which makes people sexually attractive to new partners lasts, at most, two years.
When couples move into a "stable relationship" phase, other hormones take over, Chemistry World reports.
But one psychologist warned the hormone shift is wrongly seen as negative.
Dr Petra Boynton, of the British Psychological Society, said there was a danger people might feel they should take hormone supplements to make them feel the initial rush of lust once more.
'Not ever-lasting'
The Italian researchers tested the levels of the hormones called neutrophins in the blood of volunteers who were rated on a passionate love scale.
Levels of these chemical messengers were much higher in those who were in the early stages of romance.
Testosterone was also found to increase in love-struck women, but to reduce in men when they are in love.
But in people who had been with their partners for between one and two years these so-called "love molecules" had gone, even though the relationship had survived.
The scientists found that the lust molecule was replaced by the so-called "cuddle hormone" - oxytocin - in couples who had been together for several years.
Oxytocin, is a chemical that induces labour and milk-production in new and pregnant mothers.
Donatella Marazziti, who led the research team, said: "If lovers swear their feelings to be ever-lasting, the hormones tell a different story."
Similar research conducted by Enzo Emanuele at the University of Pavia found that levels of a chemical messenger called nerve growth factor (NGF) increased with romantic intensity.
After one to two years, NGF levels had reduced to normal.
'Real Cupid's arrows'
The researchers said: "Whether more nerve growth is needed in the early stage of romance because of all the new experiences that are engraved into the brain, or whether it has a second, as yet unknown function in the chemistry of love, remains to be explored."
Michael Gross, a bio-chemist and science writer who has studied the latest findings, said: "It shows that different hormones are present in the blood when people are acutely in love while there is no evidence of the same hormones in people who have been in a stable relationship for many years.
"In fact the love molecules can disappear as early as 12 months after a relationship has started to be replaced by another chemical glue that keeps couples together."
He added: "To any romantically inclined chemist, it should be deeply satisfying to be able to prove that chemical messengers communicate romantic feeling between humans."
"It may be the only thing that science can offer as a real-world analogy to Cupid's arrows."
But Dr Boynton said: "This feeds into a 1970s view that when you meet it's all sparky, and then it's a downward trajectory to cuddles - which is seen as a negative.
"It is suggesting that what happens first is the best bit - and that isn't true."
She added: "I'm concerned that, having identified these hormones, there will be some move to suggest replacements to recreate the early passion."
More here.

                             

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Matter bound by light

Matter bound by light
19 January 2006
Scientists in the UK have made 2D arrays of particles that are held together by nothing except light. The "optical matter" arrays developed by Colin Bain of Durham University and Christopher Mellor, now at the National Institute for Medical Research, consist of polystyrene nanospheres that are trapped by light that has been scattered off a prism. The arrays provide a new way of assembling matter on the nanoscale, and could also shed light on processes inside crystals that take place at even smaller scales (ChemPhysChem to be published).


A chessboard array of 460-nm particles (image courtesy: C Bain)


Bain and Mellor began by overlapping two laser beams on the surface of a silica prism. The beams were made to strike the surface above the critical angle, so that only the evanescent -- or surface -- fields penetrate out into the space beyond the prism. Next, the researchers placed a drop of water containing a dilute solution of polystyrene beads about 300 to 600 nm in diameter on the surface of the prism. The spheres are attracted by the evanescent field and spontaneously assemble into 2D arrays (see figure 1).
In the lab
"For most physicists, the idea of materials held together by light is still foreign," says Bain. "The most surprising result in this new work is the formation of a square array of 390 nm particles with orthogonally polarized laser beams. Although the electric field is quite uniform in the plane of the surface, a large regular array is observed."
The new optical matter arrays are distinct from optical tweezers, in which spatially varying electric fields are used to control the positions of particles. According to Bain and Mellor, the 2D ordering in optical arrays comes from the scattering of the evanescent light field by the particles themselves and not from an imposed field gradient.
"The arrays show many of the dynamical features of molecular crystals, such as surface diffusion, migration of defects, nucleation of phase transformations and 'Ostwald ripening' – where two arrays coalesce into one," says Bain. "As well as being a new way to assemble matter on the nanoscale, such arrays may also provide a way of visually studying, in real time, the processes that occur invisibly in crystals on sub-nanoscales."
Bain now plans to develop a quantitative model to explain the optical binding in these arrays, and to study how particles with different shapes and sizes assemble. He also hopes to extend the optical matter arrays into 3D.


Colin Bain with the experimental set-up (image courtesy: C Bain)