Archive for June, 2013

New system uses low-power Wi-Fi signal to track moving humans — even behind walls

Posted in Technology on June 30, 2013 by betweentwopines

New system uses low-power Wi-Fi signal to track moving humans — even behind walls

ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTINE DANILOFF/MIT
‘Wi-Vi’ is based on a concept similar to radar and sonar imaging.
Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent
June 28, 2013
The comic-book hero Superman uses his X-ray vision to spot bad guys lurking behind walls and other objects. Now we could all have X-ray vision, thanks to researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Researchers have long attempted to build a device capable of seeing people through walls. However, previous efforts to develop such a system have involved the use of expensive and bulky radar technology that uses a part of the electromagnetic spectrum only available to the military.

Now a system being developed by Dina Katabi, a professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and her graduate student Fadel Adib, could give all of us the ability to spot people in different rooms using low-cost Wi-Fi technology. “We wanted to create a device that is low-power, portable and simple enough for anyone to use, to give people the ability to see through walls and closed doors,” Katabi says.

The system, called “Wi-Vi,” is based on a concept similar to radar and sonar imaging.  But in contrast to radar and sonar, it transmits a low-power Wi-Fi signal and uses its reflections to track moving humans. It can do so even if the humans are in closed rooms or hiding behind a wall.

As a Wi-Fi signal is transmitted at a wall, a portion of the signal penetrates through it, reflecting off any humans on the other side. However, only a tiny fraction of the signal makes it through to the other room, with the rest being reflected by the wall, or by other objects. “So we had to come up with a technology that could cancel out all these other reflections, and keep only those from the moving human body,” Katabi says.

Motion detector

To do this, the system uses two transmit antennas and a single receiver. The two antennas transmit almost identical signals, except that the signal from the second antenna is the inverse of the first. As a result, the two signals interfere with each other in such a way as to cancel each other out. Since any static objects that the signals hit — including the wall — create identical reflections, they too are cancelled out by this nulling effect.

In this way, only those reflections that change between the two signals, such as those from a moving object, arrive back at the receiver, Adib says. “So, if the person moves behind the wall, all reflections from static objects are cancelled out, and the only thing registered by the device is the moving human.”

Once the system has cancelled out all of the reflections from static objects, it can then concentrate on tracking the person as he or she moves around the room. Most previous attempts to track moving targets through walls have done so using an array of spaced antennas, which each capture the signal reflected off a person moving through the environment. But this would be too expensive and bulky for use in a handheld device.

So instead Wi-Vi uses just one receiver. As the person moves through the room, his or her distance from the receiver changes, meaning the time it takes for the reflected signal to make its way back to the receiver changes too. The system then uses this information to calculate where the person is at any one time.

Possible uses in disaster recovery, personal safety, gaming

Wi-Vi, being presented at the Sigcomm conference in Hong Kong in August, could be used to help search-and-rescue teams to find survivors trapped in rubble after an earthquake, say, or to allow police officers to identify the number and movement of criminals within a building to avoid walking into an ambush.

It could also be used as a personal safety device, Katabi says: “If you are walking at night and you have the feeling that someone is following you, then you could use it to check if there is someone behind the fence or behind a corner.”

The device can also detect gestures or movements by a person standing behind a wall, such as a wave of the arm, Katabi says. This would allow it to be used as a gesture-based interface for controlling lighting or appliances within the home, such as turning off the lights in another room with a wave of the arm.

Venkat Padmanabhan, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, says the possibility of using Wi-Vi as a gesture-based interface that does not require a line of sight between the user and the device itself is perhaps its most interesting application of all. “Such an interface could alter the face of gaming,” he says.

Unlike today’s interactive gaming devices, where users must stay in front of the console and its camera at all times, users could still interact with the system while in another room, for example. This could open up the possibility of more complex and interesting games, Katabi says.

Source  http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/new-system-uses-low-power-wi-fi-signal-to-track-moving-humans-0628.html

Is climate change to blame?

Posted in Science, Uncategorized on June 28, 2013 by betweentwopines

BY LIVE SCIENCE


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s research vessel Knorr docked before its departure on Sept. 6 to study salinity in the mid-Atlantic ocean. (NASA)

By Wynne Parry

Over the past 50 years, the salty parts of the oceans have become saltier and the fresh regions have become fresher, and the degree of change is greater than scientists can explain.

Researchers are heading out into one particularly salty ocean region, in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, in the hopes of better understanding what drives variation in salinity in the upper ocean.

Ultimately, they hope, research like this will offer insight on the dynamics behind the dramatic changes in the ocean’s salt content.

Many oceanographers have a hunch about what is going on: Climate change, Ray Schmitt, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told journalists during a news conference Wednesday (Sept. 5).

“Climate is changing all the time, and some of that change is due to natural variation,” Schmitt said. “The 50-year trend we are talking about, most of us believe is really due to the general trend of global warming.”

Salt & the global water cycle

This matters because the ocean is at the heart of the planet’s water cycle: 86 percent of global evaporation and 78 percent of global precipitation occur over the ocean, according to NASA, the lead entity behind the project, called Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS).

Over the ocean, more evaporation as compared to precipitation translates into saltier water. Meanwhile, in regions where precipitation is favored, water is fresher.

By tracking ocean salinity, researchers can better understand the global water cycle. Global warming is expected to intensify it, but current computer models do not predict the amount of change seen over the last 50 years, Schmitt said.

Aside from an increase in evaporation caused by warming, such factors as winds can also contribute to changes in salinity.

“We have a lot of questions about the basic physics we hope to resolve with this cruise,” Schmitt said.

In addition to instruments attached to the research vessel itself, scientists plan to deploy a variety of drifting, remotely operated and moored sensors. European researchers are also visiting the site and collecting data.

Salinity data is also expected to come from the satellite-borne instrument, called Aquarius, launched about a year ago, as well as the global network of Argo floats, which measure temperature and salinity. [Satellite Gallery: Science from Above]

The research vessel Knorr departed Woods Hole, Mass., for the mid-Atlantic Thursday (Sept. 6). The researchers will spend about three weeks deploying their instruments, leaving some behind for when they return. Due to hurricanes Leslie and Michael, the vessel’s captain decided to travel quickly to the east and then south to miss the worst of the weather on their way to the study site.

Ongoing work

The mid-Atlantic isn’t the only area where researchers hope to study ocean salinity in detail.

“SPURS is named because spurs come in pairs,” said Eric Lindstrom, a physical oceanography program scientist at NASA headquarters, explaining that researchers hope to do something similar in a low-salinity region, such as the Bay of Bengal or an area south of Hawaii.

While researchers think global climate change may be behind the changes in ocean salinity, changes like these are expected to have their own implications for climate. This is because ocean salinity also affects ocean circulation, and as a result, ocean temperatures, which have implications for weather.

Here’s how it works: Compared with fresh water, salty water is heavier, and so more prone to sinking. Temperature has a similar effect, with warmth causing water to rise. Differences in salinity and temperature drive a slow-moving conveyor belt of ocean currents that encircles the planet. The Gulf Stream, which carries warm water across the Atlantic to Europe, is part of this conveyor belt.

It may work out that higher salinity in some regions counterbalances fresher water in others, Schmitt said: “It is a delicate balance and what we think now is it is not too likely the conveyer belt is going to shut down anytime soon.”

 

Source  http://weather.aol.com/2012/09/09/mysterious-changes-in-ocean-salt-spur-nasa-expedition/#page=1

Abenomics: Japan May Data Indicates Success of Prime Minister’s Reflationary Strategy

Posted in Finance on June 28, 2013 by betweentwopines


By JERIN MATHEW: Subscribe to Jerin’s RSS feed | June 28, 2013 7:26 AM GMT

Japan’s PM Abe speaks during a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo
Japan’s economy fared well in May with increased industrial production and retail sales as well as a halt in the decline of consumer prices, signalling that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s anti-deflationary measures are going in the right direction.

Data from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) shows that Japan’s industrial production increased for the fourth consecutive month, rising 2.0% on month in May. The figure was well ahead of economists’ forecast of a 0.2% rise. In the previous month, industrial production rose by 0.9%.

The increased industrial output indicates surged domestic demand for power generation equipment and a pickup in exports in line with the global economic recovery.

On a yearly basis, industrial production declined by 1.0% in May, but it was better than economists’ expectations of a contraction of 2.4% following a 3.4% decline in the previous month.

By sector, production by makers of general purpose and business-oriented machinery increased 7.6% on rising demand for components of steam turbines and boilers from Japanese utilities, according to the official data. Output of electrical machinery also rose 6.1% amid increased solar panel production in the country suffering from energy shortage.

The index of industrial shipments grew 0.8% in May to 96.6 while that of inventories was down 0.3% to 107.1.

The ministry notes that industrial production is showing a moderate pick-up trend. A survey of manufacturers by the ministry predicts a 2.4% fall in industrial production in June followed by a 3.3% increase in July.

Separate data from the METI shows that retail sales increased by 0.8% in May compared to a year earlier and by 1.5% from the previous month, but large-scale retailers saw a 0.4% year-on-year decline in sales. Further, Japanese consumer prices avoided deflationary territory in May despite a surprise decline in household spending.

Consumer prices, excluding fresh food, were little changed from a year before as the yen’s weakness pushed utility costs up at the fastest pace in almost five years. Prices, barring fresh food and energy, fell 0.4% in May from a year earlier.

The latest data offers further evidence of the effectiveness of Abe’s reflationary strategy as he looks to strengthen his political position before next month’s upper house election.

At the same time, the data may ease pressure on Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda to announce further monetary stimulus measures.

 

Source  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/484251/20130628/japan-industrial-production-consumer-prices-shinzo-abe.htm#

Former East German secret police captain says NSA spying ‘a dream come true’

Posted in Conspiracy, News on June 28, 2013 by betweentwopines

 

By David Ferguson
Thursday, June 27, 2013 15:35 EDT

 

A former agent of the Stasi, the much-feared East German communist secret police, has said that the recently revealed NSA spying program would have been his agency’s “dream come true” because it has collected “so much information, on so many people.” Wolfgang Schmidt, 78, said in an interview with McClatchy newspapers that it is “the height of naivete” to think that the information will never be used against U.S. citizens.

“You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” Schmidt said. As a lieutenant colonel in the Stasi, he said that technology limited the secret police’s ability to satisfy its voracious appetite for information. Their listening devices, he said, could only spy on 40 telephone lines at once. Targets had to be prioritized. To take on a new spying subject, an old one had to be let go.

The retired spy said his mind reels at the notion of being able to capture data from millions of cellphones and computers simultaneously. “So much information, on so many people,” he marveled to McClatchy.
The Stasi was one of the most ruthlessly intrusive spy agencies ever to have its records exposed to public scrutiny. Stasi listening agents kept track of when and what their subjects ate, when they visited the toilet and how often they had sex with their spouses or others. Its inner workings were exposed after the thawing of relations between East and West Germany in the 1990s and many Germans still remember the desperate fear that comes from being spied on by one’s neighbors.

Privacy concerns have recently been raised about spying undertaken by the U.S. and British governments as more and more revelations have come to light about the National Security Agency’s extensive surveillance programs both domestically and abroad. President Barack Obama and other U.S. government officials have repeatedly attempted to reassure the public that the programs are only being used fairly and judiciously to track criminals and terrorists.

Schmidt, however, warned darkly that this kind of data collection has a dark side, that even though the U.S. government has claimed that the gathered data serves no nefarious purpose, it someday will.

“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”

Source  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/27/former-east-german-secret-police-captain-says-nsa-spying-a-dream-come-true/

Italy Faces Huge Losses on Derivatives Restructured in Eurozone Crisis

Posted in Finance on June 26, 2013 by betweentwopines

The Financial Times notes that Italy faces billions in losses on Derivatives Restructured in Eurozone Crisis.

 Italy risks potential losses of billions of euros on derivatives contracts it restructured at the height of the eurozone crisis, according to a confidential report by the Rome Treasury that sheds more light on the financial tactics that enabled the debt-laden country to enter the euro in 1999.

A 29-page report by the Treasury, obtained by the Financial Times, details Italy’s debt transactions and exposure in the first half of 2012, including the restructuring of eight derivatives contracts with foreign banks with a total notional value of €31.7bn.

Experts who examined it told the Financial Times the restructuring allowed the cash-strapped Treasury to stagger payments owed to foreign banks over a longer period but, in some cases, at more disadvantageous terms for Italy.

The senior government official who spoke to the Financial Times and the experts consulted said the restructured contracts in the 2012 Treasury report included derivatives taken out when Italy was trying to meet tough financial criteria for the 1999 entry into the euro.

Three independent experts consulted by the FT calculated the losses based on market prices on June 20 and concluded the Treasury was facing a potential loss at that moment of about €8bn, a surprisingly high figure based on a notional value of €31.7bn.

Early last year Italy was prompted to reveal by regulatory filings made by Morgan Stanley that it had paid the US investment bank €2.57bn after the bank exercised a break clause on derivatives contracts involving interest rate swaps and swap options agreed with Italy in 1994.

An official report presented to parliament in March 2012 found that Morgan Stanley was the only counterparty to have such a break clause with Italy and disclosed, for the first time, that the Treasury held derivatives contracts to hedge some €160bn of debt, almost 10 per cent of state bonds in circulation.

The Bloomberg News agency calculated at the time, based on regulatory filings, that Italy had lost more than $31bn on its derivatives at then market values.

The facts seem difficult to piece together, but the amounts are significant. Some of the derivatives date back to 1994-1996 when Italy dressed up its finances to meet Maastricht treaty criteria, including a budget deficit less than 3 per cent.

“Italy had a budget deficit of 7.7 per cent in 1995” but the deficit magically shrunk to 2.7% in 1998, the approval year for Italy joining the eurozone. The odds of that being legitimate are approximately zero percent.

ECB president Mario Draghi was head of the Italian central bank at the time much of this took place, so it’s no wonder details are scant.

Recall that Bloomberg lost a freedom of information lawsuit against the ECB regarding derivatives used to hide Greek debt on the basis “disclosure of the files would have undermined the protection of the public interest so far as concerns the economic policy of the European Union and Greece”.

I would be far more interested to see the complete Italy files, but clearly that’s not going to happen either.

Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/06/italy-faces-8bn-hit-on-317bn-in.html#mLho8Mtx0wy0OSmM.99

ATS thread http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread955726/pg1

Silver Makes Antibiotics Thousands of Times More Effective

Posted in Health on June 23, 2013 by betweentwopines

The antimicrobial treatment could help to solve modern bacterial resistance

By Brian Owens

 

Like werewolves and vampires, bacteria have a weakness: silver. The precious metal has been used to fight infection for thousands of years — Hippocrates first described its antimicrobial properties in 400 bc — but how it works has been a mystery. Now, a team led by James Collins, a biomedical engineer at Boston University in Massachusetts, has described how silver can disrupt bacteria, and shown that the ancient treatment could help to deal with the thoroughly modern scourge of antibiotic resistance. The workis published today in Science Translational Medicine.

“Resistance is growing, while the number of new antibiotics in development is dropping,” says Collins. “We wanted to find a way to make what we have work better.”

Collins and his team found that silver — in the form of dissolved ions — attacks bacterial cells in two main ways: it makes the cell membrane more permeable, and it interferes with the cell’s metabolism, leading to the overproduction of reactive, and often toxic, oxygen compounds. Both mechanisms could potentially be harnessed to make today’s antibiotics more effective against resistant bacteria, Collins says.

Resistance is futile
Many antibiotics are thought to kill their targets by producing reactive oxygen compounds, and Collins and his team showed that when boosted with a small amount of silver these drugs could kill between 10 and 1,000 times as many bacteria. The increased membrane permeability also allows more antibiotics to enter the bacterial cells, which may overwhelm the resistance mechanisms that rely on shuttling the drug back out.

That disruption to the cell membrane also increased the effectiveness of vancomycin, a large-molecule antibiotic, on Gram-negative bacteria — which have a protective outer coating. Gram-negative bacterial cells can often be impenetrable to antibiotics made of larger molecules.

“It’s not so much a silver bullet; more a silver spoon to help the Gram-negative bacteria take their medicine,” says Collins.

Toxic assets
Vance Fowler, an infectious-disease physician at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, says the work is “really cool” but sounds a note of caution about the potential toxicity of silver. “It has had a checkered past,” he says.

In the 1990s, for example, a heart valve made by St. Jude Medical, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, included parts covered with a silver coating called Silzone to fight infection. “It did a fine job of preventing infection,” says Fowler. “The problem was that the silver was also toxic to heart tissue.” As a result the valves often leaked.

Before adding silver to antibiotics, “we’ll have to address the toxicity very carefully”, says Fowler. Ingesting too much silver can also cause argyria, a condition in which the skin turns a blue-grey color — and the effect is permanent.

Collins says that he and his colleagues saw good results in mice using non-toxic amounts of silver. But, he adds, there are ways to reduce the risk even further. “We’re also encouraging people to look at what features of silver caused the helpful effects, so they can look for non-toxic versions,” he says.

This article is reproduced with permission from the magazine Nature. The article was first published on June 19, 2013.

 Source  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=silver-makes-antibiotics-thousands-of-times-more-effective

DEVELOPER: KAN. CAVERNS COULD PRESERVE HUMAN RACE

Posted in News on June 20, 2013 by betweentwopines

 

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — After most of the world’s population is wiped off the map by a wayward meteorite or hail of nuclear missiles, the survival of the human race might just depend on a few thousand people huddled in recreational vehicles deep in the bowels of an eastern Kansas mine.

That’s the vision of a California man who is creating what he calls the world’s largest private underground survivor shelter, using a complex of limestone caves dug more than 100 years ago beneath gently rolling hills overlooking the Missouri River.

“I do believe I am on a mission and doing a spiritual thing,” said Robert Vicino, who has purchased a large portion of the former U.S. Army storage facility on the southeast edge of Atchison, about 50 miles northwest of Kansas City, Mo. “We will certainly be part of the genesis.”

Before it comes time to ride out Armageddon or a deadly global pandemic, though, Vicino says the Vivos Survival Shelter and Resort will be a fun place for members to take vacations and learn assorted survival skills to prepare them for whatever world-changing catastrophe awaits.

Jacque Pregont, president of the Atchison Chamber of Commerce, said some people think the shelter plan sounds creepy or that Vicino has “lost his mind,” while others are excited because they will finally get a chance to tour the property.

Atchison is known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart and one of the most haunted towns in Kansas, Pregont said, so the survival shelter is likely to add to the town’s tourism draw.

“It’s quirky, and quirky gets attention,” she said.

Recent Hollywood movies have done big business exploring themes about threats to the human race, either through climate shifts, meteor impacts or zombie invasions. And the National Geographic Channel show, “Doomsday Preppers,” documents the efforts of Americans who are preparing for the end of the world with elaborate shelters and plenty of freeze-dried rations.

Paul Seyfried, who belongs to a group that promotes preparing for manmade or natural disasters, said Americans have become complacent ever since the death of John F. Kennedy, the last president who urged people to build fallout shelters.

“There has been no war on our soil in over 100 years, so the horror of war is not stamped indelibly in Americans’ minds,” said Seyfried, a member of The American Civil Defense Association’s advisory board.

Ken Rose, a history professor at California State University-Chico, is an outspoken critic of underground shelters. Though he acknowledged that interest in underground shelters is growing, he called projects like the Kansas facility a “colossal waste of time and money.”

“Some people are just obsessed by this idea,” Rose said. “… Without minimizing the terror threat here today, the threats were much greater at the height of the Cold War. At least then anxiety was based on a realistic scenario.”

The Kansas caverns are 100 feet to 150 feet below the surface and have a constant natural temperature in the low 70s. They are supported by thick limestone pillars six times stronger than concrete and will have blast doors built to withstand a one-megaton nuclear explosion as close as 10 miles away, Vicino said.

Other than being surrounded by more than a mile and a half of 6-foot-high chain-link fence topped with sharp rows of barbed wire, the land above ground isn’t distinguishable from expanses of hills and trees that surround it. The proposed shelter’s entrances — nondescript concrete loading docks tucked discretely into the wooded hillside — are easily defensible against any potential intruders provided there’s not a full-scale military attack, Vicino said.

The Army used the caverns — created by limestone mining operations that started in the late 1880s — for decades as a storage facility before putting them up for auction last year. The winning bid in December was $1.7 million, but financing fell through and the site was put up for sale again.

Springfield, Mo., investor Coby Cullins submitted his winning $510,000 bid for the property in early April, and he immediately started looking for ways to use it. One of his ideas was to lease the land to a company that builds survival bunkers.

Vicino, whose company is based in Del Mar, Calif., said he received an email from Cullins and flew to Kansas two days later to check out the property. Vicino agreed to purchase 75 percent of the complex, rather than lease it, while Cullins retained the rest and is marketing it to local businesses.

The complex consists of two fully lighted, temperature-controlled mines with concrete floors. The east cave, which Cullins owns, encompasses about 15 acres and contains offices, vaults, restrooms and other developed work spaces. The much larger west cave, which covers about 45 acres, is mostly undeveloped and will be converted into the Vivos facility.

The shelter will have enough space for more than 1,000 RVs and up to about 5,000 people. Members will be charged $1,000 for every lineal foot of their RV to purchase their space, plus $1,500 per person for food. That means a person who plans to park a 30-foot vehicle in the shelter with four people inside will pay $30,000 for the space and $6,000 for food.

Actual sales won’t begin until a “critical mass” of reservations are received and processed, Vicino said, which hasn’t happened yet at the Kansas shelter.

Vivos also owns a shelter in Indiana with room for 80 people to live comfortably for up to a year. There, members pay $50,000 per adult and $35,000 per child, so a family with two adults and two children would have to come up with $170,000 to be part of the post-apocalyptic generation.

Purchasers will be required to pay for the full balance before taking possession of their shelter space, though the company has offered limited financing in the past with a sizable down payment.

Vicino says he won’t say specifically where the Indiana shelter or any of his smaller facilities are located because he fears there would be anarchy in the event of a world-changing catastrophe.

And it doesn’t matter who comes knocking at the “moment of truth,” Vicino said, they’re probably not getting in.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘I will just show up at the door,'” he said. “Our response is, ‘great, where is the door?’ At our secret shelters, you don’t know where to go, and your cash will be worthless at that time.”

 

Source  http://bigstory.ap.org/article/developer-kan-caverns-could-preserve-human-race