Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Could your smartphone detect earthquakes? Tiny sensors could be used to create a real-time map of seismic activity -

Could your smartphone detect earthquakes? Tiny sensors could be used to create a real-time map of seismic activity - 

Collecting accurate, real-time data on earthquakes has always been a problem for seismologists.
But a tiny sensor found in smartphones could help fill in the gaps by instantly turning your mobile phone into an earthquake sensor.
The chip, originally intended to change the orientation of the screen, can detect earthquakes greater than a magnitude of 5, according to a new study.

Known as a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) accelerometer, the sensors measures the rate of acceleration of ground motion and vibration of cars, buildings and installations. 

MEMS is also used in laptops to detect the motion of falling, and in computer games to sense movement and speed. 
Antonino D'Alessandro and Giuseppe D'Anna, both seismologists at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy, wanted to see whether the sensor could also reliably detect ground motion caused by earthquakes.

They tested the LIS331DLH MEMS accelerometer in an iPhone and compared it to the earthquake sensor EpiSensor ES-T force balance accelerometer.
The test showed that the MEMS accelerometers could detect moderate to strong earthquakes, greater than magnitude 5, when located near the epicentre. 
The researchers believe the technology will soon be advanced enough to detect quakes less than magnitude 5. 
The real advantage, they say, is the widespread use of mobile phones and laptops that include MEMS technology, making it possible to dramatically increase coverage when strong earthquakes occur.

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Nursing Home Patient Catches Fire - Left To Smolder Outside -

Nursing Home Patient Catches Fire - Left To Smolder Outside - 

A man smoking a cigarette catches on fire. What happens next has outraged his family.

CBS 2′s Dave Savini has video of the incident.

Lisa Couch says her brother, Michael Lewis, was nearing the end of his stay at Lake Shore HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre when tragedy struck.

“He burned to death,” she says.  “He sustained burns like from mid-thigh up to the eyebrows.”

Security camera footage shows Lewis on the patio, a designated smoking area, when the lighter in his pocket suddenly catches his shirt on fire. Residents try, but fail, to put out the flames. Lewis then frantically pushes himself back inside to get help.

“The horror, to think my brother is on fire and no one is there?” Couch says.

The video shows frantic workers inside the building. Staff members spray Lewis with a fire extinguisher; then they roll him back outside, where his smoldering body covered in foam sits motionless.

“Doesn’t look like they were trying to take care of Michael,” his sister says.

State nursing home regulators say spraying Lewis directly with the extinguisher was against the rules.

Dr. Stanley Zydlo, an emergency response expert, watched the video and says there were numerous additional problems.

“There didn’t seem to be anybody in control as to who was to do what,” Zydlo says.

He also said a blanket should have been used to cover Lewis immediately. Someone should have been checking the victim’s airway, too, he says.

More than five minutes after the fire, a man in blue scrubs brings oxygen.

“We don’t see anybody evaluating him or doing CPR for him,” Zydlo notes.

In fact, there’s no evidence on the security camera video of anyone performing life-saving CPR on Lewis until after Chicago EMS crews arrive on the scene. By then, crucial minutes had already passed.

Rescue crews find Lewis lifeless in cardiac arrest. Ten minutes after the fire started, CPR was finally administered.

Zydlo says someone should have put damp sheets on Lewis.

“The burn process is progressive unless you cool it down,” says Zydlo. “It will continue.”

Facility representatives refused to talk on-camera about Michael Lewis’s death. They sent a statement saying they cannot comment due to privacy laws.

The home was cited for failing to train staff in emergency procedures.

“There was no one there to help him,” Couch says.

She says her brother was getting ready to leave the facility and return home. She has filed a lawsuit against Lakeshore HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre.


Cassini probe sees plastic ingredient on Titan moon Titan - has detected propene or propylene -

Cassini probe sees plastic ingredient on Titan moon Titan - has detected propene or propylene - 

The Cassini probe has detected propene, or propylene, on Saturn's moon Titan.

On Earth, this molecule, which comprises three carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms, is a constituent of many plastics.

It is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than our home world, says the US space agency (Nasa).

The discovery, made by Cassini's infrared spectrometer, is reported in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"This chemical is all around us in everyday life, strung together in long chains to form a plastic called polypropylene," said Conor Nixon, a Nasa planetary scientist from the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center. A classic example would be the plastic boxes used to store food in kitchens worldwide.

Titan is dominated by hydrocarbons - principally methane, which after nitrogen is the most common component of the atmosphere.

Sunlight drives reactions that break apart the methane, allowing the fragments to join up and form even bigger molecules.

Other common species seen at the moon as a result are propane, which on Earth is used in portable cooking equipment, and ethane, which is the raw material for another ubiquitous plastic - polyethylene.

But the likes of methane, propene, propane and ethane are dwarfed by some truly colossal hydrocarbons that have been detected in Titan's atmosphere.

When the effects of ultraviolet light are combined with the bombardment from particles driven in Saturn's magnetic field, it becomes possible to cook up some very exotic chemistry.

Cassini's plasma spectrometer has seen evidence for hydrocarbons with an atomic mass thousands of times heavier than a single hydrogen atom.


RESEARCH: People who constantly text message 'experience more stress in friendships'... -

RESEARCH: People who constantly text message 'experience more stress in friendships'... - 

Many people claim they couldn't live without their phone, but this addiction could be doing them more harm than good, experts warn.
New research suggests that excessive texting can cause a whole host of sleep problems.
U.S. researchers found that people who send the most texts experience the most sleep problems.

They believe this could be because these people feel pressurised to respond to messages immediately regardless of the time, and that some people sleep with their phone next to their bed meaning they are woken up by incoming texts during the night.
Karla Murdock at Washington Lee University found that first year students who text a lot sleep less well, regardless of their level of stress.
She asked students to answer questions that assessed their emotional well-being and sleep problems.

She also asked them to estimate how many text messages they sent and received on an average day.
To assess the students' sleep quality, Dr Murdock used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. 
This is a widely-used instrument that measures multiple aspects of sleep quality such as sleep duration, the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, the amount of time actually spent sleeping while in bed, night time disturbances, and daytime sleepiness.

The study also found that frequent text messaging is associated with more friendship-related stress because texts are unable to convey subtle nuances in conversation
The key finding was that a higher number of daily texts was associated with more sleep problems. 
Dr Murdock notes that this finding reinforces previous evidence pointing to a direct association between mobile phone use and poor sleep in adolescents and young adults.
The study also found that frequent text messaging is associated with more friendship-related stress.
Dr Murdock wrote: ‘These correlational findings provide an initial indication that heavy text messaging could be problematic during times of stress. 
‘Although speculative, it could be argued that text messaging is a uniquely unsuitable mode of communication for coping with interpersonal stress in close relationships.’
For instance, Dr Murdock suggested the abbreviated language that is common in texting lacks the ability to provide the kind of nuance that is important in discussing sensitive issues. 
In addition, texting fails to offer critical non-verbal cues that would be part of a face-to-face conversation.
‘Text messaging may carry a high risk of producing or maintaining misunderstandings and/or unproductive interactions during periods of stress,’ she wrote. 
‘When interpersonal stress involves conflict, the conditions required for productive communication may be particularly difficult to achieve through texting.’


Tablets, smartphones fuel epidemic of 'iPosture'... -

Tablets, smartphones fuel epidemic of 'iPosture'...

It sounds like the latest gadget from Apple. But ‘iPosture’ is being blamed for an alarming level of  back pain among 18 to 24-year-olds.
The term is being used to describe the stooped body shape adopted by those texting, emailing or playing games on their iPad or smartphone.
Some 84 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 admitted to having suffered back pain in the past year, in a survey by the healthcare provider Simplyhealth.

Dr Brian Hammond, chairman of BackCare, the national back pain charity, said: ‘The vast majority of people experience back pain in the lower back.
‘Over half the population experience pain in the neck or lower back every year.

‘This survey shows that 18 to 24-year-olds are more likely to experience pain in the upper back and neck.
‘It is likely that slumping and hunching over computers and hand-held devices is a contributory factor in the different types of back pain reported by different generations.
‘Younger people are far more likely to be hunched over a device on a sofa, and would benefit from paying close attention to the basics of good posture.’
The results also show that almost all age groups spend as much time in front of a computer, laptop or tablet screen in total as they do asleep in bed, some even more so.
Excluding time spent watching the ‘traditional’ TV, the typical young adult spends 8.83 hours a day in front of a screen. The total is 6.64 hours for the older generation.
The 18 to 24-year-olds are also much more likely to either slouch or hunch in front of their PC or other devices.
Part of that could be down to a lack of old-fashioned advice, because it appears that being told to sit up straight seems to be on the decline.