W3C looks to improve speech recognition technology for web transactions

first_imgW3C, the standards-setting body for the Internet (World Wide Web Consortium), has completed a draft for the important VoiceXML 3.0 – technology enabling voice identification verification. While normally associated with voice commands, it has the potential to greatly speed and improve the accuracy and positive proof of online transactions. Name that voice: Mathematica catches impersonations Explore further Some larger net businesses are even using it to confirm orders and verify identity. Many, however, have become increasingly worried about the reliability and security of these transactions with fraud and identity theft on the rise. Error rates have been around 1 to 2% – unacceptable for ironclad business transactions.W3C does not actually make software but produces standards. They now have a working draft, said James Larson, co-chair of the W3C VBWG – Voice Browser Working Group. The standard also addressed the issue of extending its Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) functionality to certain languages including Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean. SSML is important because it allows software makers to control speech from pitch to volume to pronunciation. This insures the software will hear the right tones and pitches so critical in languages were a tiny change in pronunciation can affect the whole meaning of a word.SSML is also used to tag areas of speech with different regional pronunciations. It is based on JSpeech Grammar Format (JSGF).A technical description and how to use SSML version 1 on a web page can be found here: www.xml.com/pub/a/2004/10/20/ssml.htmlMicrosoft Agent website is another source for would be speech interface developers.www.microsoft.com/MSAGENT/downloads/user.aspOpera browsers can be programmed for speech recognition with some XHTML (Extended Hypertext Markup Language) extensions. my.opera.com/community/dev/voice/Working with web-based speech applications can be frustrating. While the speech recognition software works well, poor quality microphones and PC speakers combined with slower Internet connections can put a damper on effectiveness. These issues will be difficult to address due to being largely beyond the control of the developer. New speech compression algorithms and simple responses like yes or no make the job much easier.Trained systems – ones that are accustomed to the user’s voice – have been much more successful, but users typically do not have the patience to complete the training and the time factor makes it impractical. Expect to find the first complex VoiceXML 3.0 technology mostly in telephone-connected and cell-phone activated systems – ones that have more controllable voice quality.Hopefully, with the new W3C standards, companies can dedicate more to useful speech recognition and less to reinventing the wheel. Standards usually lead to software tool kits for programmers and these often end up in popular packages like Microsoft’s Frontpage and Adobe’s Macromedia Dreamweaver.Amateur and professional web designers alike may soon find a compelling reason to upgrade to voice enabled web design suites.Maybe one day you can toss that pesky keyboard and mouse and talk to your machine instead – a promise made since the late 1980s and not yet satisfactorily realized.by Philip Dunn, Copyright 2005 PhysOrg.comcenter_img Citation: W3C looks to improve speech recognition technology for web transactions (2005, December 10) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2005-12-w3c-speech-recognition-technology-web.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Nextgeneration cameras inspired by fruit flies and moths

first_img Citation: Next-generation cameras inspired by fruit flies and moths (2006, May 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2006-05-next-generation-cameras-fruit-flies-moths.html Explore further Today’s digital micro-cameras and other optical devices use lenses based on human-type single aperture eyes. These lenses, which are manufactured with macroscopic technology, do not get thinner than about 5 mm. However, insects such as fruit flies and moths have a completely different type of eye called compound eyes to accommodate the animals’ small size and low brain processing capabilities. Compound eyes consist of up to tens of thousands of tiny sensors called “ommatidia” that detect light and sometimes color. Flies and moths see images made of a combination of inputs from the ommatidia that point in different directions, forming a large field of view while the total volume consumption remains small. To fabricate the first type of compound eye, called an apposition compound eye and found mainly in diurnal insects such as flies, the scientists used photolithography to arrange a microlens array on a thin silicon wafer. Acting as ommatidia, the microlenses could be specially tuned to improve homogenous resolution over the entire field of view. Further, the scientists found that the large focal depth of apposition compound eyes cancels the need to adjust lens focus for distant or near objects.The second type of compound eye, found mainly in nocturnal insects such as moths and deep water crustaceans such as shrimp, have greater light sensitivity than apposition compound eyes. Comprised of an array of microtelescopes, these eyes are known as superposition compound eyes or simply cluster eyes. Using reactive ion etching to transfer the microlenses onto fused silica, the scientists fabricated cluster eyes whose individual lenses also improved resolution homogeneity. Compared with apposition compound eyes, cluster eyes require thicker objectives but offer higher resolution. Both types have potential for use in tiny cameras.“Deciding between the apposition and cluster eyes depends on the required resolution vs. compactness vs. price,” said Duparre. “The apposition eye will be cheaper and smaller but have lower resolution. It thus will more work like an imaging optical sensor, while the cluster eye could actually be used to present images directly to a customer, but is more complex.”These advantages of artificial compound eyes were discovered despite one major technical drawback: both types of compound eyes were arranged on a flat surface, while the curved base of natural insect eyes offer several advantages. Hopefully, a special type of laser beam writer currently being developed could fabricate compound eyes on curved surfaces.Citation: Duparre, J. W. and Wippermann, F. C. Micro-optical artificial compound eyes. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics. 1 (2006) R1-R16.By Lisa Zyga, Copyright 2006 PhysOrg.com The fruit fly has apposition compound eyes, which scientists have fabricated using photolithography to arrange and tune an array of microlenses. The microlenses act as “ommatidia,” the insect’s tiny eye sensors. Photo credit: IOP. Inspired by the way that nature has evolved the eyes of small insects, scientists have fabricated artificial compound eyes that could make camera lenses tiny enough to fit on credit cards or stickers.center_img “While human eyes use a spherical volume, compound eyes use only a spherical shell, so that much of the space and weight is saved for the brain,” Jacques Duparre, coauthor with F. C. Wippermann of a recent paper in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, told PhysOrg.com. “The arrangement allows for a large field of view, but does not require large signal processing.”Although single aperture eyes have advantages in resolution and sensitivity in large lenses, compound eyes have the potential to make more compact, robust and cheap vision systems. At the micro level, compound eyes’ individual viewing channels on curved lenses have minimal aberrations, or focusing errors that cause blurring. Cameras with compound eye lenses could have applications in many tight spaces, such as those encountered in automotive engineering, security and surveillance, and medical technology.“Thin lenses might have applications in flat panel displays, and we’re also working on another arrangement for minimal invasive surgery,” said Duparre, who is currently working on a patent for this arrangement.Scientists have studied optical lenses based on natural compound eyes for more than a hundred years, but classical macroscopic technology has not provided the necessary fabrication and assembly accuracy. For the first time, Duparre and Wippermann have fabricated and tested two different compound eye lenses using state-of-the-art micro-optics technology. Scientists fabricated an artificial apposition compound eye (center) that is significantly cheaper and smaller than a traditional 20-mm single lens objective (left) with the same magnification; and much smaller – though not quite as cheap – as a Euro cent (right). Photo credit: IOP. Researchers develop liquid-crystal-based compound lenses that work like insect eyes This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Rumor Microsoft to possibly release a Windows 8 tablet

first_img Microsoft to release a tablet OS in 2012 While some reporters and bloggers are speculating that this may be part of Windows attempt to create an iPad killer, few are pointing out the holes in that theory. First is the fact that Windows current model of licensing out the Windows 7 operating system to third party tablet makers is relatively low risk and highly profitable for Microsoft. Few companies are willing to rock the boat on a profitable business model. The second reason that Microsoft trying to make their own iPad killer would be unlikely is that history is not on their side. Many of us remember the ill fate of the Zune, which at the time was launched as competition to the now ubiquitous iPod family of device. Then there is the Kin, a Microsoft phone, which failed to take a bite out of the iPhone popularity. It was pulled from the market after failing to sell. If Microsoft has learned it lesson about coming late to market against Apple in mobile devices, they’ll stick with their profitable licensing agreements and let their partners with stronger track records in mobile, like Motorola, try to make an iPad killer. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: via Digitimes Explore further (PhysOrg.com) — Rumors are circulating around that Microsoft may be bringing a Windows 8 tablet to consumers in 2012. Reporters over at Digitimes have been theorizing, based on information from a chip-supplier, that the Redmond, Washington, based software giant may be putting out a tablet of its own in the near future. As is expected with a rumor of this nature, the company has declined to comment. Windows 8 screenshot Citation: Rumor: Microsoft to possibly release a Windows 8 tablet (2011, June 8) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-06-rumor-microsoft-possibly-windows-tablet.html © 2010 PhysOrg.comlast_img read more

New evidence suggests large asteroid strike may have influenced Mercurys spin

first_img It’s partly because of evidence like this that a group of European researchers is proposing that Mercury, the planet closest to the sun in our solar system, was once tidal locked with the sun, but now is not, because, as they assert in their paper published in Nature Geoscience, it was knocked into its current spin by a large asteroid. They even have a likely crater made by the impact to back up their theory.It’s called Caloris Basin, the largest impact crater on Mercury’s surface, and it appears to be just the right size to fit the computer model the team has created. What happened, they suggest, is that long ago, Mercury had an east to west (retrograde) spin, but then over millions of years, slowed till it spun no more. Then, at some later time, the planet was struck by an asteroid large enough to cause it to begin spinning again. But this time, in the opposite direction, though not very fast, causing Mercury’s current 3/2 (three spins on its axis for every two trips around the sun) spin it has today.The team points out that one side of Mercury clearly has more craters than the other, but perhaps more concretely suggest that the thus far inexplicable hollows inside the Caloris Basin could be the result of ice that was once buried by matter from the asteroid when it hit, then melted as sunlight began to fall on it as a result of the planet spinning again.And finally, they say, the side that would have been the hot side before being struck by the asteroid would have been flatter than the opposite, more cratered side, do to molten activity. Evidence from Mariner 10 and MESSENGER, suggest that this is the case as well.It all adds up, the team concludes, to a planet that once spun one way, stopped, then was knocked into spinning the other way. Probing Question: Why does the Earth rotate? This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further © 2011 PhysOrg.com Journal information: Nature Geosciencecenter_img More information: Mercury’s spin–orbit resonance explained by initial retrograde and subsequent synchronous rotation, Nature Geoscience (2011) doi:10.1038/ngeo1350AbstractThe planet Mercury rotates three times about its spin axis for every two orbits about the Sun, in a 3/2 spin–orbit resonance. This unique state has been explained by an initial rapid prograde rotation, which was then decelerated by tidal torques to the present resonance. When friction at the core–mantle boundary is accounted for, capture into the 3/2 resonance occurs with a probability of only 26%, whereas the most likely outcome is capture into one of the higher-order resonances7. Here we use a numerical model of Mercury’s rotational evolution to investigate the consequences of an initial retrograde rotation of Mercury. We find that in this case, the planet would be captured into synchronous rotation, with one hemisphere always facing the Sun, with a probability of 68%. Strong lateral variations in the impact cratering rate would have existed, consistent with the observed distribution of large impact basins. Escape from this highly stable resonance can be initiated by the momentum imparted by large, basin-forming impact events, and subsequent capture into the 3/2 resonance is likely. During synchronous rotation, substantial quantities of volatile deposits would have accumulated on the hemisphere facing away from the Sun, potentially explaining the existence of sublimation hollows on Mercury’s surface (PhysOrg.com) — Planets orbiting a sun generally, but not always spin on their axis. Some spin east to west, others west to east. Those that don’t spin are said to be tidal locked with their sun; always showing it the same face, such as the moon does with planet Earth. In these instances, the planet tends to develop different properties than it would were it spinning. One side is cold, the other hot, for example leading to unique geophysical properties. Also because of the sun’s gravitational pull, more asteroids are likely to hit the far side of the planet, leaving more craters. Citation: New evidence suggests large asteroid strike may have influenced Mercury’s spin (2011, December 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-12-evidence-large-asteroid-mercury.html Mercury. Credit: NASAlast_img read more

Two New Zealand scientists to travel to Antarctica to measure magnetic South

first_img(PhysOrg.com) — While the rest of the world gets on with meeting the New Year head on, two research scientists from New Zealand are traveling to the Antarctic to take measurements of the magnet South Pole. Such periodic measurements are necessary geo-scientists say, because the magnetic poles keep moving around. The south magnetic pole, for example is slowly moving north toward Australia at almost ten miles per year; this matters because very accurate ground measurements are necessary to keep satellites properly calibrated, ensuring such things as GPS coordinates are accurate. The magnetic poles move, as do other parts of the Earth’s surface, because the outer core inside the planet is made of molten metal. As the Earth moves through space, spinning and circling the sun, there is some jostling that goes on, resulting in some shifting. And unfortunately, it doesn’t do so in a regular predictable fashion, which means changes to the surface of the Earth must be constantly monitored all over the planet. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, New Zealand has been charged with monitoring the south magnetic pole, and has been doing so by traveling there every five years since the 1950’s.This latest expedition, made up of just two guys, Stewart Bennie and Tony Hurst, will travel first to a particularly barren locale known as Lake Vanda in one of Antarctica’s dry valley areas. After that, they will travel to a site near the shelter constructed and used by the infamous polar explorer Robert Scott and his team before they were lost trying to return home back in 1912-13 as part of the Terra-Nova Expedition.To take their measurements, the team will make note of physical landscape features, then will use a tool known as a magnetic theodolite to measure magnetic field angles relative to the ground. At the south magnetic pole, such fields should be 90 degrees relative to the horizon. They will also be using instruments that allow them to measure the strength of the magnetic field, which will be useful, because scientists have found that the magnetic fields have been diminishing over the past couple of hundred years, a sign perhaps that a “flip” is in the making over the next thousand years or so.To take into account the wobbling that occurs with magnetic fields, the two will take many such measurements over the course of a day to make sure that what they bring back to report, is truly accurate. © 2011 PhysOrg.com Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. South Pole… 1: South Geographic Pole, 2: South Magnetic Pole (2007), 3: South Geomagnetic Pole, 4: South Pole of Inaccessibility. Image: Wikipediacenter_img via Nature Ulysses Flyby of the Sun’s North Pole Citation: Two New Zealand scientists to travel to Antarctica to measure magnetic South Pole (2012, January 2) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-01-zealand-scientists-antarctica-magnetic-south.html More information:last_img read more

Change in early human ancestor diet came earlier than thought

first_img Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Scientists have known for quite some time that the diet of our earliest ancestors changed, from eating mostly leaves and berries, to grasses, tubers and eventually meat. But the timing of that changeover has been up for speculation, though many have believed it was approximately three and a half million years ago. To pin down the time frame, the researches with this new effort gained access to 152 fossilized teeth found in sites in Africa, from a variety of primates and other ancient animals and carbon tested them to collect evidence of the types of food that the creatures that used them ate.In looking at the results, the team found that most of the primates had been eating C3 type plants (so named because they have three-carbon atoms) which generally meant tree leaves and berries and some cool weather grasses. In contrast, they found that some species of primates (our early ancestors) had added C4 type plants to their diet as far back as 3.76 million years ago, which included savannah grasses, tubers and sedges. This is an important point in human history, the team notes, because adding such foods to the diet allowed our ancestors to broaden their range because they could survive under more variable conditions—not only were more foods available to them, but the new kinds of food offered more energy. And that, the researchers suggest, set them apart, and led eventually to mass migrations and even greater adaptations. © 2015 Phys.org The researchers note that the changes in diet only came about after changes in teeth and jaws evolved in a way that allowed for chewing the new types of food—and of course, changes in the digestive tract to allow for gaining nutrients and energy from them. More information: Dietary change among hominins and cercopithecids in Ethiopia during the early Pliocene, Naomi E. Levin, PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1424982112AbstractThe incorporation of C4 resources into hominin diet signifies increased dietary breadth within hominins and divergence from the dietary patterns of other great apes. Morphological evidence indicates that hominin diet became increasingly diverse by 4.2 million years ago but may not have included large proportions of C4 foods until 800 thousand years later, given the available isotopic evidence. Here we use carbon isotope data from early to mid Pliocene hominin and cercopithecid fossils from Woranso-Mille (central Afar, Ethiopia) to constrain the timing of this dietary change and its ecological context. We show that both hominins and some papionins expanded their diets to include C4 resources as early as 3.76 Ma. Among hominins, this dietary expansion postdates the major dentognathic morphological changes that distinguish Australopithecus from Ardipithecus, but it occurs amid a continuum of adaptations to diets of tougher, harder foods and to committed terrestrial bipedality. In contrast, carbon isotope data from cercopithecids indicate that C4-dominated diets of the earliest members of the Theropithecus oswaldi lineage preceded the dental specialization for grazing but occurred after they were fully terrestrial. The combined data indicate that the inclusion of C4 foods in hominin diet occurred as part of broader ecological changes in African primate communities.Press release A field worker shows a fragment of a hominin tooth from Woranso-Mille, Afar, Ethiopia, one of 152 tooth fragments sampled for isotope analysis to find evidence of diet change. Credit: Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Cleveland Museum of Natural History Researchers find human ancestors switched to eating grasses earlier than thoughtcenter_img Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Credit: University of California Museum of Paleontology Citation: Change in early human ancestor diet came earlier than thought (2015, September 15) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-09-early-human-ancestor-diet-earlier.html (Phys.org)—A team of researchers in the U.S. has found that our early human ancestors expanded their diet to include savannah grasses and other food sources approximately a quarter of a million years earlier than had been previously thought. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team explains how they tested a variety of fossilized teeth, what they found and the impact the change in diet likely had on the ability of our ancestors to thrive.last_img read more

Selfpowered ewatch is powered completely by wrist movements

first_img Explore further (Phys.org)—Researchers have created a self-powered electronic watch that harvests energy from the wearer’s wrist movements for continuous operation. By combining two different energy conversion mechanisms (electromagnetic and triboelectric) in a single hybrid nanogenerator, the device can harvest significantly more energy than previous harvesters that use only a single mechanism. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen Play Rapid wrist movements can charge a capacitor connected to the watch (which is not ticking in the beginning of the video) to 1.6 V, after which the watch begins ticking. Credit: Quan, et al. ©2015 American Chemical Society The researchers experimented with the way that different wrist movements can charge and power the watch. They found that the best wrist movement is a twisting motion that can generate a current of up to 12 mA, which means that thirty-nine seconds of this twisting motion can power the watch continuously for about 7.5 minutes. By adding a homemade Li-ion battery to store the energy produced by the hybridized nanogenerator, the researchers found that 32 minutes of the twisting motion can generate enough energy to continuously power the watch for more than 3.5 hours. Based on this data, the researchers calculated that 3.6 hours of wrist movement can generate enough energy to power the watch for one day of continuous operation.Since the current prototype is rather large in size, the researchers attempted to reduce the dimensions by replacing the magnetic ball with a thin magnetic sheet. However, they found that the magnetic sheet does not move as easily as the ball, and so in the future they plan to investigate other methods of miniaturizing the nanogenerator. They also hope to eliminate the need for the battery.”The future plan is to solve the power source issue of the wearable electronic device, so that these devices can work sustainably without being charged by the external power source,” Yang said. “Ideally, the motion of human-body-induced energy will be enough to power these devices.” Citation: Self-powered e-watch is powered completely by wrist movements (2015, November 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-self-powered-e-watch-powered-wrist-movements.html Journal information: ACS Nanocenter_img More information: Ting Quan, et al. “Hybridized Electromagnetic–Triboelectric Nanogenerator for a Self-Powered Electronic Watch.” ACS Nano. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05598 (Top) The hybridized nanogenerator contains a magnetic ball inside an acrylic box with six coils on the sides of the box. The watch strap is made of nylon and PDMS-PVB nanowires, connected to copper electrodes. (Bottom) Photos of the nanogenerator and twisting wrist movements. Credit: Quan, et al. ©2015 American Chemical Society The scientists, led by Ya Yang at the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems in China, and Zhong Lin Wang at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, have published a paper on the hybrid nanogenerator in a recent issue of ACS Nano.”This kind of nanogenerator can also be utilized to power other wearable electronic devices, such as a wireless smart pedometer for reading data on walking steps, distance, and energy consumption,” Yang told Phys.org.The hybrid nanogenerator consists of a small box (3.6 cm x 3.6 cm x 3 cm) with a magnetic ball inside. When the wearer moves their wrist, the ball’s motion generates electricity by both the electromagnetic and triboelectric effects. Due to the electromagnetic effect, when the ball collides with six metal coils on the sides of the box, the ball’s mechanical energy is converted into electricity. The triboelectric effect occurs when two materials are rubbed together, similar to how rubbing a balloon on a person’s hair creates static electricity. Here, the watch strap serves as the triboelectric component. The strap is made of two materials with different triboelectric polarities, nylon and a polymer composite, which are attached to the bottom of the box and to two electrodes. When the moving magnetic ball presses down on the watch strap, the nylon and polymer come in contact with each other, generating triboelectric charges and causing electrons to flow between the electrodes. United States, China team explore energy harvesting © 2015 Phys.orglast_img read more

Astronomers characterize two superEarths in a distant planetary system

first_img Citation: Astronomers characterize two ‘super-Earths’ in a distant planetary system (2017, May 16) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-05-astronomers-characterize-super-earths-distant-planetary.html More information: K2-106, a system containing a metal rich planet and a planet of lower density, arXiv:1705.04163 [astro-ph.EP] arxiv.org/abs/1705.04163AbstractAims: Planets in the mass-range from 2 to 15 MEarth are very diverse. Some of them have very low, others very high densities. Method: We determined the masses, radii and the densities for the two transiting planets orbiting K2-106, which have been previously found. The inner one is an ultra-short period planet with an orbital period of 0.57 days. The outer planet has orbital period of 13.3 days. Results: The two planets have similar masses, though very different densities. For K2-106b we derive M_p=7.69+/-0.82 MEarth, Rp=1.52+/-0.16 REarth, and a high density of 12.0 -3.2+4.8 gcm-3. For K2-106c, we find 6.79+/-2.29 MEarth, R_p=2.59+/-0.27 REarth and a relatively low density of 2.4-1.1+1.6 gcm-3. Conclusions: Since the systems contains two planets of almost the same mass, but different distances from the host star, it is an excellent laboratory to study atmospheric escape. Comparing the mass and radius of the inner planet with composition models implies that it has an iron core containing at least 50% of its mass. Such a high metal content is surprising, particularly given that the star has solar abundance. We discuss various formation scenarios for this unusual planet. Best-fit light curves to planet K2-106 b. Light curve is folded to the orbital period of the planet. Credit: Guenther et al., 2017. Located approximately 825 light years away from the Earth, K2-106 is a 5 billion-year-old star of spectral type G5. With a radius of about 0.83 solar radii, the star is 7 percent less massive than the sun. In 2016, researchers detected two planets transiting this star with orbital periods of 0.57 and 13.3 days.Now, Guenther’s team obtained absolute and relative radial velocity measurements of K2-106 using five different spectrographs worldwide in order to reveal more detailed information about this planetary system. The new observations show that the two exoplanets have almost the same mass, but orbit at different distances from the host, which makes the system an excellent laboratory to study atmospheric escape processes.”We determined the masses, radii and the densities for the two transiting planets orbiting K2-106, which have been previously found,” the paper reads.The researchers found that the planet closest to the star—K2-106 b—has a radius of about 1.52 Earth radii and is about 7.7 times more massive. Therefore, it has a high density of approximately 12 g cm-3.K2-106 c is bigger in size as its radius is about 2.6 Earth radii. However, the planet is less massive—6.8 Earth masses—which gives a relatively low density of 2.4 g cm-3.The team also revealed new information about the composition of K2-106 b. They assume that it is a metal-rich planet with an iron core containing at least 50 percent of its mass.”Ultra-short-period planets forming close to the star should all be iron-rich. Clearly, more research in this field is needed, but the results so far obtained show that studies of ultra-short period planets can give us key information on how and where low-mass planets form. The high metal content of the planet is thus very interesting, particularly because the host star has solar metallicity,” the authors wrote in the paper.The researchers noted that the K2-106 is particularly interesting because it hosts an ultra-short period planet subject to a strong stellar irradiation and an outer planet at a relatively large distance from the host star, where the atmospheric escape rate is expected to be low. Thus this system could provide important insights into the formation and evolution of planets. However, many observations are still needed to uncover more details about K2-106 and its planets.”K2-106 is a very interesting system that deserves further studies. (…) The next logical steps are search for the extended, escaping exosphere atmosphere of K2-106 b that has been suggest by Mura (et al. 2011) by obtaining spectroscopic transit observations in a similar way as we have done for CoRoT-7b (Guenther et al. 2011),” the astronomers concluded. Explore further ‘Hot Jupiter’ transiting a rapidly-rotating star discovered © 2017 Phys.org (Phys.org)—An international team of astronomers led by Eike W. Guenther of the Thuringian State Observatory in Tautenburg, Germany, has characterized two “super-Earth” exoplanets orbiting a distant star designated K2-106, determining their size, mass and density. The new findings were presented in a paper published May 11 on the arXiv pre-print server. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Tabbys star dims again

first_img Alien megastructure not the cause of dimming of the ‘most mysterious star in the universe’ Citation: Tabby’s star dims again (2018, March 28) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-tabby-star-dims.html © 2018 Phys.org The team of astrophysicists studying KIC 8462852, more well known as Tabby’s star, has reported that the star recently dimmed again, and did so quite dramatically. The group, led by LSU’s Tabby Boyajian who discovered the odd behavior of the star back in 2015, has been documenting their findings on their web site. Explore furthercenter_img Tabby’s star has been under study for many years, as one of a group of stars known to dim—space scientists are interested in such stars, because in most cases, they have planets transiting them, dimming their light. But KIC 8462852 is different, Boyajian noticed—it dimmed a lot more than other stars did—at one point, as much as 20 percent. That was too much to chalk up to a planet blocking its light. Also, the star tended to stay dim for longer periods of time than other dimming stars. So she and others wondered what could be causing the dimming.Researchers advanced many theories, such as aliens building a Dyson sphere, but most were shot down. The most likely explanation, Boyajian has suggested, is dust. She and her team found earlier this year that the light that makes its way to us from the star is of different wavelengths at different times, which, she notes, suggest that it is passing through something translucent, casting serious doubts on the Dyson sphere theory. She and her team have proposed several theories regarding the nature of the dust, most involving the idea of planets or other objects colliding. One notable exception is the possibility of a comet that was torn apart as it approached the star.In this latest report, the star was seen to dim on March 16—a dip that Boyajian reported was the largest observed since 2013 (she and her team went back and looked at old Kepler data after the star was found to dim abnormally). By the March 22, the star was nearly back to its normal brightness. In the same blog post, she reminded readers that the observation was made possible by donations to the Kickstarter campaign set up for just this purpose, and while that project has ended, she is still requesting donations. Credit: wherestheflux.com This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Faces of divinity

first_imgCelebrating one of the most recognised dances of India – Bharata Natyam, Divinity Series, in its maiden event, will endeavor to recreate the classical integrity of this temple dance form. The event presents three contemporary artistes – Rama Vaidyanathan from New Delhi, Meenakshi Srinivasan from Chennai and Mythili Prakash from Los Angeles, each of the performances will be preceded by a short recital of specially composed invocatory music by members of the acclaimed Gandharva Choir. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Meenakshi Srinivasan has studied Bharata Natyam under Smt. Alarmel Valli. She has been awarded the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for 2011 by Sangeet Natak Akademi. Srinivasan’s individual approach, technique and creativity are characterized by a distinctive sensuous geometry. Her strength relies on her ability to co-relate the different disciplines of the art and she has worked with various artists – composers, musicians, scholars and writers on new choreographic works. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixMythili Prakash is recognized as one of the world’s leading young exponents of Bharata Natyam – the classical dance of South India. Her classical, yet inventive approach to Bharata Natyam revitalizes the physicality, musicality and expressive theatricality of the dance to create an exceptional style that is distinct and meaningful to audiences across the world.Rama Vaidyanathan is a leading exponent of Bharata Natyam, a popular classical dance form of India. She is undoubtedly one of the most sought after artistes of her generation having carved a name for herself in the Bharata Natyam world. She has trained intensively under the legendary dancer Yamini Krishnamurthy and the renowned Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan. Conceptualised and organised by industry veteran Deepak Shourie and notable Bharata Natyam dancer and choreographer Jyotsna Shourie, Divinity Series seeks to create a new generation of cultural connoisseurs by offering an authentic celestial experience of the art form to fresh and diverse audiences. WHERE: Chinmaya Auditorium, Lodhi RoadWHEN: 27 to 29 September, 7 pm onwardslast_img read more

Art for the people

first_imgTheir initiative Art for Concern  art show is an ‘affordable’ art show and  is being held at the Visual arts gallery, Indian Habitat Centre.Art is not just for art’s sake- 35 artists will exhibit their masterpieces to contribute towards grass-root programmes for education, health and community development. Each year 11 Art for Concern shows are held across as many as 7 cities in India.Showcasing the eclectic collection of art by masters and promising artists, the show boasts of works by acclaimed artists like Akbar Padamsee, Suhas Roy, Jogen Choudhary, Jayasri Burman, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Dhiraj Choudhury and Sudip Roy. While the prime focus is to raise funds for underprivileged sections of the society, it also takes this opportunity to bring forward the works of struggling and needy artists, thus providing them a platform to be visible alongside the masters. A majority of the art works are priced between Rs 15,000 and Rs 45,000, with the most expensive pegged at Rs 70,000. So not only art collectors, even mere art lovers will get an opportunity to make these masterpieces a part of their living rooms.Concern India Foundation is a registered, non-profit charitable trust working towards its objective of ‘Helping People Help Themselves’ by making the disadvantaged self-reliant. Set up in 1991, it supports over 275 programmes across India, working in the areas of education, health and community development.WHEN: 26 to 27 FebruaryWHERE: India Habitat Centrelast_img read more

Classy ton not enough

first_imgRohit Sharma’s rollicking 150-run knock went in vain as South Africa pulled off a thrilling five-run victory in the first cricket One-dayer against India to continue their winning run here on Sunday. Chasing a record 304 at the Green Park, the Indians fell agonisingly short of the target in the last over, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. With India needing 22 off the last two overs, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to finish the job after Rohit (150 runs off 133 balls) got out in the 47th over. The script went horribly wrong after Rohit’s departure as India crumbled under pressure to end at 298 for seven.last_img

A Jewellers ensemble

first_imgTo expand share of fashion jewellery in India’s export, the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) is organizing the 9th edition of the three-day Indian Fashion Jewellery and Accessories Show (IFJAS-2016) at the India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida, NCR Delhi from July 21 to July 23, 2016. Over 250 manufacturers and exporters from all over the country will be showcasing the wide range of fashion jewellery and accessories to attract overseas buyers and their representatives to source their requirements under one roof, informed Dinesh Kumar, Chairman – EPCH. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’He further informed that IFJAS 2016 will provide a global platform for the fashion jewellery and accessories sector to make a dent into the 16.3-billion-dollar world market and increase India’s share in this segment which is negligible at present.Mainly focusing on fashion products like fashion and costume jewellery, scarves, beads, wallets, fancy fashion footwear and many more, IFJAS 2016 will also showcase the widest range of materials, products and designs in five categories comprising of fashion jewellery, semi precious jewellery, fashion accessories, hand bags and fancy & embroidered fashion shoes, imitation jewellery and shawls. Describing it as an important part of India’s export basket, Rakesh Kumar, ED- EPCH, stated that “India’s exports of fashion jewellery and accessories in the year 2015-16 was to the tune of Rs 2755 crores, but still its share in the world market is very less and holding of IFJAS is part of Council’s drive to promote and expand horizons of key verticals of the handicrafts sector which has tremendous potential to expand further.”  Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe top importing nations for jewellery in the world are USA, Germany, UK, France, Japan, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Hong Kong, Spain, Australia, Italy and Latin American countries and India is already exporting to these markets, the ED-EPCH  added. Rakesh Kumar further said, “IFJAS would give a distinct platform to those specializing in the wide range of fashion products. A focused show for this sector, IFJAS would give exhibitors a unique opportunity to display capabilities and fully exploit their business potential.”  The   exports of fashion jewellery and accessories from India went up from Rs 2502 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 2755 crores  in 2015-16 registering a growth of 10.10per cent  added the Executive Director. “In the earlier times, there used to be a lot of sentiments attached to jewellery which is no longer the case, we are trying to bring back those lost sentiments with these fashion jewellery,” said Rakesh Kumar. A major highlight will be setting up of Young Designers Forum for providing business opportunities to upcoming designers for fashion jewellery sector. It was also said that the major competitor of Indian fashion jewellery is China, but their products are machine made while ours are handmade. Due to this factor India is gradually growing in this market. This year, some famous companies from USA, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium, Chile and Portugal will be importing the products on display at the exposition. Ajay Shankar Memorial awards for best designed stands in the category of fashion jewellery & accessories will also be distributed during IFJAS 2016 on July 22.last_img read more

Macron at Subodh Guptas studio

first_imgThe highlight of French President Emmanuel Macron’s India trip was the dinner hosted by renowned artist couple Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher for him on Sunday evening. Macron and his wife Brigitte drove straight to Gupta’s Gurgaon studio, after their visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra. Co-hosted by the French ambassador, Alexandre Ziegler, the evening was seminal since a head of state mingled with artists, writers and intellectuals, unlike their usual guest-list of industrialists and bankers. There were curator Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, author Vikram Seth, award-winning photographer Dayanita Singh, the genius Jitish Kallat, collector and impresario Kiran Nadar and Khoj Director and Curator Pooja Sood, filmmaker Alankrita Srivastava, fashion designer Manish Arora and photographer Gauri Gill. Macron invited curator Pooja Sood to showcase her work with India ‘s tribals. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfOver the past 20 years, Gupta has worked hard to build his own reputation and repertoire of works that cut across cultures and speak to all people everywhere. Galleries with an international name and lineage become his dealers and it is not surprising that his installation at Art Basel Hong Kong 2018 will be Arario Gallery.Gupta’s sprawling studio-workshop is in Gurgaon, he is very much the master of his three-storeyed enterprise. Gupta has designed the avant-garde exposed concrete and glass exterior of the building himself. Inside, it gives way to wood-panelled luxury and statement furniture that blends pragmatism and eloquent elegance. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveHis studio is built and spread over three floors. A medium sized room with the neon light alphabets ‘Ma ki Daal’ on the wall and another of his vessel installations on the wall tell you that he is an artist who thinks and brings the past forward to the present. Simplicity and elegance exude the language of India’s greatest installation artist. The table on this floor has a steel tumbler and ‘thali’ sunken into its circular surface. On the ground floor is where all the welding and the construction happens. A small staircase leads on to the larger space and a lift takes you up to the middle floor. Gupta greets you and takes you towards his works that he has just created. On this epic evening, Gupta had laid out a soiree of his many installations for President Macron to savour. From his vessels to light installations to the pots from the Philosopher’s Stone series his studio morphed into an avant-garde gallery for one night. Famous artist Jitish Kallat says: “Emanuel Macron was charismatic, graceful and humble, and the same could be said about Mme. Macron. They had a natural sociability that allowed them to dissolve seamlessly into the gathering, attentively exchanging words with each person they met. During my brief encounter, I conveyed to him how I felt his victory over Marin Le Pen represented a truly optimistic shift away from the kind of aggressive leadership that is becoming ubiquitous across the globe.” Subodh ‘s office and painting studio are spacious and spotless. A high backed chair with purple and lighter shades of upholstery is where he sits and thinks-an antique wooden Ganesha in its residual imperfect state makes you think of his love for antiquity and his brilliance at thinking out of the box. The square table at the centre is packed with books.The studio has the air of a mini-museum. A table with some of his potent vessel series, another with paint tubes and brushes-each corner is evocative.All in all a great moment Indian contemporary art as Gupta gets ready for a retrospective showing of his magnificent monumental steel vessels in Paris that opens on April 13 2018 and runs till August 28, 2018.last_img read more

KMC collaborates with IIT to stop waterlogging in North Central Kolkata

first_imgKolkata: Kolkata Municipal Corporation will take assistance from IIT Kharagpur to come up with a solution for water-logging problem at a handful of pockets in North and Central Kolkata where water takes reasonably longer time to drain out. Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s revamped drainage system has ensured that water drains out at a fast pace through out the city, if there is water accumulation due to heavy rain but the civic body has been struggling to make inroads in these pockets. A meeting was held in this regard with experts from IIT KGP in presence of Member Mayor in Council (Drainage ) Tarak Singh on Thursday at the KMC headquarters. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: Mamata “We have identified four pockets in Sukia street, Madan Mohan Burman Road, Mahatma Gandhi Road and a part of Bidhan Sarani having the acute problem. Our engineers have found that water supply line in these areas has gone through the drainage supply line. The work for the pipelines were done during the British period. The system has led to contraction of the pipes’ diameter so water takes more time to drain out,” Singh said. The water supply line in all these wards are linked with the Talah pumping station and the engineers had never stumbled upon any other supply line with similar characteristics in the entire city. “There are a number of places where drainage pipeline has gone over water pipeline and vice versa, but this is for the first time when we have come across this type of supply line,” Singh added. He maintained that the matter will be included in the master plan of the drainage department soon so that the problem can be addressed with priority. The problem had come to light after Singh held a meeting at Borough 4 with local MLA and councillors last month.last_img read more

Tickle therapy may help slow ageing

first_imgTickling the ear with a small electric current may rebalance the nervous system in over-55s and help them age more healthily, a study claims Scientists at the University of Leeds in the UK found that a short daily therapy delivered for two weeks led to physiological wellbeing, including a better quality of life, mood and sleep. The therapy, called transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, delivers a small, painless electrical current to the ear, which sends signals to the body’s nervous system through the vagus nerve. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThe new research, published in the journal Aging, suggests the therapy may slow down an important effect associated with ageing. The researchers suggest that the ‘tickle’ therapy has the potential to help people age more healthily, by recalibrating the body’s internal control system. “The ear is like a gateway through which we can tinker with the body’s metabolic balance, without the need for medication or invasive procedures. We believe these results are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Beatrice Bretherton, from the University of Leeds. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive”We are excited to investigate further into the effects and potential long-term benefits of daily ear stimulation, as we have seen a great response to the treatment so far,” Bretherton said. The autonomic nervous system controls many of the body’s functions which don’t require conscious thought, such as digestion, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. It contains two branches, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic, which work against each other to maintain a healthy balance of activity. As we age the body’s balance changes such that the sympathetic branch begins to dominate. This imbalance makes us more susceptible to new diseases and leads to the breakdown of healthy bodily function as we get older. Clinicians have long been interested in the potential for using electrical currents to influence the nervous system. The vagus nerve, the major nerve of the parasympathetic system, has often been used for electrical stimulation and past research has looked at the possibility of using vagus nerve stimulation to tackle depression, epilepsy, obesity, stroke, tinnitus and heart conditions. However, this kind of stimulation needs surgery to implant electrodes in the neck region, with associated expense and a small risks of side effects. However, there is one small branch of the vagus nerve that can be stimulated without surgery, located in the skin of specific parts of the outer ear. Previous research has shown that applying a small electrical stimulus to the vagus nerve at the ear, which some people perceive as a tickling sensation, improves the balance of the autonomic nervous system in healthy 30-year-olds. Other researchers worldwide are now investigating if this transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) could provide a therapy for conditions ranging from heart problems to mental health. In their new study, scientists wanted to see whether tVNS could benefit over 55-year-olds, who are more likely to have out-of-balance autonomic systems that could contribute to health issues associated with ageing. They recruited 29 healthy volunteers, aged 55 or above, and gave each of them the tVNS therapy for 15 minutes per day, over a two week period. Participants were taught to self-administer the therapy at home during the study. The therapy led to an increase in parasympathetic activity and a decrease in sympathetic activity, rebalancing the autonomic function towards that associated with healthy function. In addition, some people reported improvements in measures of mental health and sleeping patterns. Being able to correct this balance of activity could help us age more healthily, as well as having the potential to help people with a variety of disorders such as heart disease and some mental health issues, researchers said. Improving the balance of autonomic nervous system also lowers individual’s risk of death, as well as the need for medication or hospital visits, they said.last_img read more

The Eerie Prophecies of Mother Shipton that Terrified all of England

first_imgMother Shipton still provides a scare to British folklorists. In the spring of 1881, families across England deserted their homes, too terrified to sleep in their beds. They slept in fields or prayed in churches and chapels for God to spare their lives in the apocalypse that was foretold: “The world to an end shall come; in eighteen hundred and eighty-one.” The source of the population’s terror was Mother Shipton, also known as Ursula Shipton, a woman whose prophecies had been circulating through England and beyond since the 17th century.In often cryptic verse, the crone-like seer predicted wars, rebellions, and all types of natural disasters. After London burned in 1666, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary: “Mother Shipton’s word is out.” Her prophecies were published in one form or another over 20 times between 1641 and 1700.But in the 1800s, her predictions grew even more terrifying: The end-of-the-world was foretold in a book published in 1862. Its other prophetic verse included: “A carriage without a horse shall go; Disaster fill the world with woe; In water iron then shall float; As easy as a wooden boat.”The world did not end in 1881. People began sleeping in their beds once more. It was not the first time that fear of a Mother Shipton prediction convulsed a nation and it would not be the last.Mother Shipton and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, whose downfall as Henry VIII’s minister she foretold.Today there is considerable skepticism that a prophetess named Mother Shipton ever existed. Many of her written predictions are, after all, confirmed forgeries, created to sell greater numbers of chapbooks and almanacs. Her 1684 “biographer” spun spooky details of her birth and existence; the 1881 end-of-the-world prophecy was debunked when the Victorian editor Charles Hindley publicly confessed to concocting the verses himself.Nonetheless, belief in Mother Shipton persisted. Today a thriving tourist attraction called Mother Shipton’s Cave, at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, features the cave where she was born and the petrifying well where objects can turn to stone. There’s also a shop selling mugs, tea towels, thimbles, and wishing-well water in dark pink, ruby red, and kelly green.But just because Mother Shipton has become the label on kelly-green wishing-well water does not mean that she has no basis in fact. Like Robin Hood or King Arthur, it’s believed that if we were able to trace the myth-making back to the very beginning, a living, breathing person could be identified.Mother Shipton in Knaresborough Photo: Immanuel Giel CC BY 3.0There are no written references to Mother Shipton in the 1500s. That name does not appear in print until 1641; prophecies in her name didn’t exist in her lifetime or for decades afterward. But a mention of a “witch of York” in a chilling letter written by King Henry VIII himself could be the elusive source of the legend.The context of the letter is critical. It was written to Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, while the duke was in the middle of a clean-up operation following the Northern rebellion against the king known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. Thousands of commoners and a fair number of nobles rose up against the reforms in religion forced on the country by Henry VIII. The rebels were particularly upset by the fresh taxes and the closing of the monasteries, which in the poorer regions of the North were needed sources of food, shelter, and medical care.The Duke of Norfolk had defeated this 1537 outbreak, which followed the main rebellion of 1536, and he was now imprisoning and then executing people without trial, imposing martial law. He wrote his king that he hanged more than 70.Mother Shipton’s houseHenry VIII, who wanted harsh measures taken against the rebels, dictated the following letter to Norfolk in response:“We approve of your proceedings in the displaying of our banner, which being now spread, till it is closed again the course of our laws must give place to martial law; and before you close it up again, you must cause such dreadful execution upon a good number of inhabitants, hanging them on trees, quartering them, and setting their heads and quarters in every town, as shall be a fearful warning, whereby shall ensue the preservation of a great multitude… You shall send up to us the traitors Bigod, the friar of Knareborough, Leche, if he may be taken, the vicar of Penrith and Towneley, late chancellor to the bishop of Carlise, who has been a great promoter of these rebellions, the witch of York and one Dr. Pykering, a canon. You are to see to the lands and goods of such as shall now be attainted, that we may have them in safety, to be given, if we be so disposed, to those who have truly served us…”“The witch of York”…could this be a contemporary reference to a woman who not only caused enough trouble to incite the wrath of Henry VIII but also transformed into Mother Shipton?Her legend grew and grew in the 1600s, in published almanacs: Ursula was born in a cave in 1488, the child of an orphan servant girl and an unknown father–perhaps Lucifer himself. She was singularly ugly, called “Devils Bastard” and “Hag-face.” Nonetheless, Ursula married a builder named Toby Shipton and lived quietly with him, never prosecuted for witchcraft though regularly uttering prophecy. “Her stature,” wrote her biographer, “was larger than common, her body crooked, her face frightful; but her understanding extraordinary.” How much of this describes the “witch of York” described by Henry VIII is unknown.Sculpture of Mother Shipton in her alleged birthplace, a cave in Knaresborough .Photo:chris 論 –CC BY 3.0The fact that Mother Shipton’s first known prediction concerned the fate of Cardinal Wolsey is significant. According to Wolsey’s gentleman usher and later biographer, George Cavendish, Wolsey, near the end of his life, was disturbed by a prophecy he heard. Cavendish wrote: ” ‘There is a saying, quoth he, ‘that When this cow rideth the bull, then priest beware thy skull.” According to Tudor-court interpretation, the cow was Anne Boleyn, who in her holding sway over Henry VIII and convincing him to divorce his queen to marry her, triggered the break with the Catholic Church. Mother Shipton was not attributed to this prophecy by Cavendish. But in the future, her soothsaying would intertwine with Wolsey’s fate.Belief in prophecy ran through every level of Tudor society. It reached a fever pitch during the dangerous 1530s, when queens and courtiers were beheaded, monasteries fell, and rebels were hanged from trees across the North of England.Mother Shipton’s cave.  Photo:chris 論 –CC BY 3.0Many prophecies were used for political purposes. Uprisers against Henry VII said they were following the ancient sages. The rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace cried that Henry VIII was the ancient “Mouldwarp,” a monster ruler foretold by Merlin who would be “cast down.” Anthony Babington, who conspired to assassinate Elizabeth I, carried a prediction of Merlin’s sayings. One popular prophecy during Elizabeth’s time was “When HEMPE is soon, England’s done.” HEMPE was thought to stand for Henry-Elizabeth-Mary-Philip-Elizabeth.Madeleine Dodds in Political Prophecies in the Reign of Henry VIII wrote: “Political prophecies tended to be invoked at a time of crisis, usually to demonstrate that some drastic change, either desired or already accomplished, had been foreseen by the sages of the past.”Related story from us: Eleanor Cobham, a seductive royal duchess, was found guilty of witchcraft in 15th century and forced to walk through London in penanceIn the 1700 and 1800s, Mother Shipton’s prophecies broadened to cataclysmic disasters, amazing inventions, and, of course, the end of the world. Stripped of politics, they were more potent than ever. Perhaps they filled a deep craving within to feel that everything happens by some design, even if it is drawn by an ancient mystic, sage or witch. We are all of us fulfilling an obscure and coded destiny.It’s a craving that we still see around us today. It just might be part of being human.Nancy Bilyeau, the U.S. editor of The Vintage News, has written a trilogy of novels set in the court of Henry VIII: ‘The Crown,’ ‘The Chalice,’ and ‘The Tapestry.’ The books are for sale in the U.S., the U.K., and seven other countries. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com.last_img read more

Back to the Future – The First Time Machine was a Refrigerator

first_imgAs one of the defining movie franchises of the 1980s, Back To The Future is fondly remembered by a generation. So much so that its iconic time travelling car, the DeLorean DMC-12, featured recently in Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg’s pop culture-fueled sci-fi spectacular. Together with career-boosting turns from Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd as “Doc” Brown, it took the high concept movie to new heights, and spawned throwaway concepts that are talked about to this day.1982 De Lorean DMC12 coupe. Marty McFly’s driver’s licence and sunglasses. Taken at the 2013 New South Wales All American Day, held at Castle Towers Shopping Centre, Castle Hill, Sydney. Photo by sv1ambo CC By 2.0Back To The Future Part II featured the hoverboard and infamous movie tribute Jaws 19, while Part III received a tribute via Seth MacFarlane when he brought Lloyd in for a cameo in A Million Ways To Die In The West.Back to the Future Delorean (Mattel booth). Photo by The Community – Pop Culture Geek CC BY 2.0Yet Marty’s adventures could have taken a very different turn had the original story been stuck to. The first film had been developed over several years, with the tricky subject of time travel leading writers Robert Zemeckis (who also directed) and Bob Gale to consider different options for their young, decade-hopping hero.Robert Zemeckis. Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson CC BY 2.0There’s something so perfect about the DeLorean that it seems unthinkable anything else would have been on the table. However, as The Huffington Post reported in 2015, the initial idea was a little less mobile. In fact it could be described as cool, but not in a good way.The first draft “set the story in 1982… the journey would have taken young Marty McFly to 1952. Originally, the time travel device was a beam of sorts which was powered by plutonium (and Coca-Cola) that effectively ‘zapped’ Marty back in time.”A red vintage coca cola vending machine.Plutonium and Coca-Cola doesn’t sound like the wisest of combinations but clearly the writers thought they were onto something. ‘52 was also a significant year in the calendar of American nuclear activity, as it “happened to have the last above ground atomic bomb detonation in the United States in Atkins, Nevada (something helpfully referenced in Marty’s history class earlier in the film).”Every Day Items Used As Movie PropsNow if the idea of a time jump powered by nuclear physics and a well-known soft drink sounds a little out there, how about the mode of transportation itself? Zemeckis and Gale were thinking less in terms of a vehicle. They applied the concept to… an appliance.Back In The Future Marty Mcfly at Comic Con.Marty McFly’s teeth would have been chattering, because he was due to shut himself inside a refrigerator for the jaunt through history. The atomic test came into play for the return trip. Instead of a clock tower hit by lightning, “the 1952 version of Emmett Brown… rigged up a special lead-lined refrigerator with the device attached to it so that Marty could ride out the atomic detonation inside the refrigerator while the blast would trigger the time travel device.”Emmett Brown from Back to the Future. Universal Studios Florida. Photo by Eliedion CC BY-SA 4.0It didn’t take a man of Emmett Brown’s genius to work out fridges and teenagers were not a good mix. Fearing youngsters might lock themselves in and suffocate, the element was dropped and audiences wound up with the classic image of heartthrob and hot wheels.DeLorean time machine at the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, Illinois. Photo by Lautenbach – Flickr CC BY 2.0Many years later the bizarre idea was revived for another big screen American adventurer, this time Indiana Jones. Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment had produced Back To The Future and the chilling plot device had clearly struck a chord with the legendary director.Robert Zemeckis was afraid that kids would imitate the film and get trapped in refrigerators.For Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Harrison Ford’s Indy managed to astonish viewers by hiding in a refrigerator to protect himself from a nuclear blast, rather than travel through time in its wake. Pretty far-fetched stuff, but nothing compared to what Dr. Brown had in mind.Read another story from us: Olivia de Havilland turns 102! What is the ‘Gone With the Wind’ star doing now?It was only fitting that Back To The Future’s legacy came full circle to be part of Ready Player One and its VR Eighties-scape. Though if they’d pressed ahead with the initial storyline, there might well have been a fridge flying around with Donkey Kong and Chucky instead of a DeLorean.last_img read more

Puzzling and Funny Epitaphs of the Rich and Famous

first_imgWe can say this much for death: It gives us the chance to (finally) have the last word. And these well-known figures made the most of it with gravestone etchings that are pithy, provocative, and pretty unforgettable.Mel Blanc: That’s All Folks!Mel Blanc’s headstone at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Southern California. Photo by Robert A. Estremo CC BY SA 2.5Some epitaphs pretty much write themselves. Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig just lifted the words he ba-dee-ba-dee ba-dee shouted at the end of each Warner Brothers cartoon.Mel Blanc was the original voice of Bugs and would voice the character for nearly five decades.[Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA]Bette Davis: She did things the hard way.Bette Davis epitaph. Photo by Wildhartlivie CC BY BY 3.0No kidding. The greatest actress of her generation didn’t just tussle with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? co-star Joan Crawford.In 1937, not thrilled with the roles she was being offered, Davis sued Warner Brothers to break free of her contract — setting into motion the end of the all-powerful studio system.Studio portrait of Bette Davis (1940).(A delicious bit of irony: Before her death in 1989, Davis chose a burial plot with a nice view of her old stomping ground, the WB Lot.)[Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, CA]Martin Luther King, Jr.: Free at least, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m Free at Last.Photo by satomiichimura/Flickr CC BY 2.0How very fitting: The inspirational — and immortal — words that the eloquent civil rights leader delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in 1963, are etched into his tombstone.King at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.[National Historical Park, Atlanta, GA]Rodney Dangerfield: There goes the neighborhood.Rodney Dangerfield’s tombstone at Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Alan Light CC BY 2.0This was the final punchline from the self-deprecating comedienne, whose well-known catchphrase was “I don’t get no respect.”Press photo of Rodney Dangerfield performing on stage in 1972.It was fitting then that shortly after Dangerfield’s death, his widow held an event in which the word Respect was written in the sky, as guests released butterflies into the air.[Westwood Village Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA]William ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare’s tomb.Photo by David Jones CC by 2.0Good friend for Jesus sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Bless be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.William ShakespeareThe Bard was no fool. He actually penned this clever couplet to prevent his corpse from being dug up for research purposes — a pretty common (ewww!) activity during the 1600s.[Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, Warwickshire]Jack Lemmon: InJack Lemmon’s grave. Photo by Alan Light CC BY 2.0Succinct and clever — perfect for movies’ Everyman. Lemmon’s pal and frequent co-star, Walter Matthau, is buried nearby.[Westwood Village Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA]Robert Frost: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.Photo by Mauro Lanari CC BY SA 3.0The line came from one of the four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s less-well-known works, “The Lesson for Today.” The proceeding line: “I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” Frost was, you might say, true to his word.[Old Bennington Cemetery, Bennington, VT]Frank Sinatra: The best is yet to come.Frank Sinatra’s Grave in Cathedral City, California, USA.Song lyric and final wish. (Admit it, you thought it’d be “I did it my way,” right?)[Desert Memorial Park, Palm Springs, CA]F. Scott Fitzgerald: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.The grave of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland. The quote is the final line of The Great Gatsby.The legendary closing line of the novelist’s greatest work, The Great Gatsby, would become his epitaph.[Old Saint Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery, Rockville, MD]Ludolph van Ceulen: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288Ludolph van CeulenThe German-Dutch mathematician was the first brainiac to calculate the value of Π (or pi) to 35 numbers. He was so stoked by his discovery that he decided to have those very digits etched into his tombstone.[Pieterskerk, Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands]Lucille Ball: You’ve Come HomeLucille Ball from the New York Sunday News.A touching double-entendre: The famous redhead was originally buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood, but her ashes were moved in 2003 to her New York birthplace (residing in the same plot as her parents, grandparents, and brother).[Lakeview Cemetery, Jamestown, NY]Jesse James: Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.Jesse James’ grave. Photo by IslandsEnd CC BY SA 3.0The man of which the gunslinger will not speak: Robert Ford, a member of his posse, who shot the unarmed outlaw in the back of the head, as he was cleaning a dusty picture above his mantel. The words etched into Ford’s tombstone would read: “The man who shot Jesse James.”[Mount Olivet Cemetery, Kearney, MO]Rita Hayworth: To yesterday’s companionship and tomorrow’s reunion.Grave of film actress and dancer Rita Hayworth at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Photo by IllaZilla CC BY SA 3.0Wonder which of her exes (James Hill, Dick Haymes, Prince Aly Khan, Orson Welles, or Edward C. Judson) the oft-married Forties sex symbol was thinking of when she came up with this tender sentiment?[Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, CA]Merv Griffin: I will not be right back after this message.Merv Griffin’s grave. Photo by RadioTripPictures CC BY 2.0The final sign-off for this talk show host — who, during his almost-25-year-run, interviewed everyone from Andy Warhol to Rosa Parks.[Westwood Village Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA]1800s cowboy Clay Allison: He never killed a man that did not need killing.Sounds like a line from a John Ford western, right? Cattle rancher and gunfighter of the Old West, Allison had a rep for rowdiness, surviving several gunfights. Though it may be noted, this buckaroo had a “playful” side: A drunken Allison once rode his horse through town…wearing only a gun belt.[Robert Clay Allison Burial Site, Pecos, TX]Charles Bukowski: Don’t TryCharles Bukowski’s gravestone. Photo by Marika Bortolami CC By 2.0Two words the gritty novelist and poet would offer to aspiring writers about inspiration.Bukowski explained the phrase thusly: “Somebody asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try.”Bukowski artwork. Photo by Scottlbaker CC by 3.0“That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality.You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more.”[Green Hills Memorial Park, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA]HG Wells: Goddamn you all: I told you so.Boy, did he ever. Among the spot-on predictions that would see the light of day: television, email, genetic engineering, lasers, and the atomic bomb.The time machine and invisibility? Not so much. (Actually, Wells would be cremated, but he wanted these words to be his epitaph.)[Golders Green Crematorium, London]Read another story from us: “Don’t Try” – The Meaning Behind Charles Bukowski’s Gravestone EpitaphRest in peace? Hopefully. But these well-known figures weren’t about to enter The Great Beyond without having an iconic last word.last_img read more

Lakers Need To Make A Trade To Change The Narrative

first_imgAlso:-Raiders keep proving they don’t have a plan-Lakers need to target Bradley Beal-KD and the Warriors is more of a fling than a marriage <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>Lakers need to make a trade to change the narrativeA bombshell ESPN article went deep inside the dysfunctional Lakers and described in painstaking detail just what an absolute dumpster fire the organization has become since Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over basketball operations.The article makes the organization look terrible, but Colin believes it also should make it clear that L.A. needs to be aggressive and make a trade to change the narrative. With agents unlikely to steer their clients to Lakerland, a trade is the only option to attempt to jumpstart yet another reboot. Guests:Chris Broussard, Matt Barnes, Ric Bucher, Reggie Bush, and Nick Nurselast_img read more