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Hackster.io

“Doctor Who” HiFive Inventor Coding Kit

Wow! This new kit from BBC Learning, SiFive, and Tynker comes with lessons narrated by Jodie Whittaker – the newest Doctor Who – herself!

// https://www.hackster.io/news/bbc-announces-risc-v-powered-doctor-who-themed-hifive-inventor-educational-microcontroller-kit-8dbffb7a7adb
// https://www.hifiveinventor.com
// https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/19/bbc_doctor_who_sifive
// https://www.sifive.com/documentation
// https://www.hackster.io/search?i=projects&q=minecraft

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ProgrammableWeb

Ayrshare Launches API for Automated Social Media Posting

Ayrshare, the social media API platform, recently announced the public launch of the Ayrshare Application Programming Interface, or API, to automate social media posting. The API addresses the needs of companies and platforms that programmatically post content to multiple social media networks.

“For companies that are publicly facing, social media is important to build their brand, engage their community, and drive new sales,” said Geoffrey Bourne, co-founder of Ayrshare. “We are now seeing a fresh wave of adoption of API-first workflows which generate content dynamically and connect directly to the social media destinations. Ayrshare is the first API offering to tackle this challenge head-on.”

The Ayrshare API provides a range of benefits. For instance, platforms using Ayrshare can enable their users to distribute text, images, and videos created on the platform to multiple social destinations including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others. They can deploy the Ayrshare solution in a few hours, versus an in-house build process that typically takes weeks of approvals, requires complex and disparate implementations, and continuous maintenance and upgrades.

Developers are increasingly looking for APIs that remove the hassles of researching, onboarding, integrating, and supporting multiple integrations, so they can focus on their core product offering. Ayrshare addresses these needs and offers detailed technical documentation, simple API calls, and a free plan to get started.

Features of the Ayrshare API include integration with six social media networks, sending real-time and scheduled posts, deleting posts, getting history, managing images, link shortening, auto hash-tags, auto-reposting, and more.

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">ProgrammableWeb PR</a>

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ScienceDaily

Pesticide deadly to bees now easily detected in honey

A common insecticide that is a major hazard for honeybees is now effectively detected in honey thanks to a simple new method.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo developed an environmentally friendly, fully automated technique that extracts pyrethroids from the honey. Pyrethroids are one of two main groups of pesticides that contribute to colony collapse disorder in bees, a phenomenon where worker honeybees disappear, leaving the queen and other members of the hive to die. Agricultural producers worldwide rely on honeybees to pollinate hundreds of billions of dollars worth of crops.

Extracting the pyrethroids with the solid phase microextraction (SPME) method makes it easier to measure whether their levels in the honey are above those considered safe for human consumption. It can also help identify locations where farmers use the pesticide and in what amounts. The substance has traditionally been difficult to extract because of its chemical properties.

“Pyrethroids are poorly soluble in water and are actually suspended in honey,” said Janusz Pawliszyn, a professor of chemistry at Waterloo. “We add a small amount of alcohol to dissolve them prior to extraction by the automated SPME system.”

Farmers spray the pesticides on crops. They are neurotoxins, which affect the way the brain and nerves work, causing paralysis and death in insects.

“It is our hope that this very simple method will help authorities determine where these pesticides are in use at unsafe levels to ultimately help protect the honeybee population,” said Pawliszyn.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency tests for chemical residues in food in Canada. Maximum residue limits are regulated under the Pest Control Products Act. The research team found that of the honey products they tested that contained the pesticide, all were at allowable levels.

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ScienceDaily

Machine learning: A breakthrough in the study of stellar nurseries

The gas clouds in which stars are born and evolve are vast regions of the Universe that are extremely rich in matter, and hence in physical processes. All these processes are intertwined on different size and time scales, making it almost impossible to fully understand such stellar nurseries. However, the scientists in the ORION-B* programme have now shown that statistics and artificial intelligence can help to break down the barriers still standing in the way of astrophysicists.

With the aim of providing the most detailed analysis yet of the Orion molecular cloud, one of the star-forming regions nearest the Earth, the ORION-B team included in its ranks scientists specialising in massive data processing. This enabled them to develop novel methods based on statistical learning and machine learning to study observations of the cloud made at 240,000 frequencies of light**.

Based on artificial intelligence algorithms, these tools make it possible to retrieve new information from a large mass of data such as that used in the ORION-B project. This enabled the scientists to uncover a certain number of ‘laws’ governing the Orion molecular cloud.

For instance, they were able to discover the relationships between the light emitted by certain molecules and information that was previously inaccessible, namely, the quantity of hydrogen and of free electrons in the cloud, which they were able to estimate from their calculations without observing them directly. By analysing all the data available to them, the research team was also able to determine ways of further improving their observations by eliminating a certain amount of unwanted information.

The ORION-B teams now wish to put this theoretical work to the test, by applying the estimates and recommendations obtained and verifying them under real conditions. Another major theoretical challenge will be to extract information about the speed of molecules, and hence visualise the motion of matter in order to see how it moves within the cloud.

Footnotes

*- Standing for Outstanding Radio-Imaging of OrioN B. The scientists involved are from the Laboratoire d’Etudes du Rayonnement et de la Matière en Astrophysique et Atmosphères (Observatoire de Paris — PSL/CNRS/Sorbonne Université/Université de Cergy-Pontoise), Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM), Centre de Recherche en Informatique, Signal et Automatique de Lille (CNRS/Université de Lille/Centrale Lille), Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNRS/Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier), Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse (CNRS/Toulouse INP/Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier), Institut Fresnel (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université/Centrale Marseille), Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux (CNRS/Université de Bordeaux), du Laboratoire de Physique de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (CNRS/ENS Paris/Sorbonne Université/Université de Paris), Laboratoire Grenoble Images Parole Signal Automatique (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes), Instituto de Física Fundamental (CSIC) (Spain), National Radio Astronomy Observatory (United States), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), Cardiff University (United Kingdom), Harvard University (United States), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Chile).

**- The observations were made using one of IRAM’s radio telescopes, the 30-metre antenna located in Spain’s Sierra Nevada.

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IEEE Spectrum

Painless FPGA Programming







































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ScienceDaily

Taking a shine to polymers: Fluorescent molecule betrays the breakdown of polymer materials

Nylon, rubber, silicone, Teflon, PVC — these are all examples of human-made polymers — long chains of repeated molecular units that we call monomers. While polymers also exist in nature (think wool, silk, or even hair), the invention of synthetic polymers, the most famous of which is plastic, revolutionized the industry. Light, stretchy, flexible, yet strong and resistant, synthetic polymers are one of the most versatile materials on the planet, used in everything from clothing to building, packaging and energy production. Since the very beginning of this new era in material engineering, understanding the influence of external forces on polymers’ strength and stability has been crucial to evaluate their performance.

When subjected to mechanical stress, the weak bonds that keep some polymer chains together are overcome, and one inevitably breaks. When this happens, a free radical (a molecule with an unpaired electron, which is naturally unstable and very reactive, called a “mechanoradical” in this case) is generated. By estimating the amount of free mechanoradicals produced, we can infer the resistance of a material to the amount of stress. While this phenomenon is well documented, scientists struggled to observe it under ambient temperature in bulk state, because mechanoradicals produced for polymers in bulk are not stable due to their high reactivity toward oxygen and other agents.

Researchers from Tokyo Institute of Technology led by Professor Hideyuki Otsuka decided to take up the challenge. In their study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, they used a small molecule called diarylacetonitrile (H-DAAN) to capture the rogue free radicals. “Our theory was that H-DAAN would emit a distinctive fluorescent light when it reacts with the free radicals, which we could then measure to estimate the extent of polymer breakdown,” explains Prof Otsuka. “The theory is simple; the higher the force exerted on the polymer, the more mechanoradicals are produced, and the more they react with H-DAAN. This higher reaction rate results in more intense fluorescent light, changes in which can easily be measured.”

The researchers now wanted to see how this would work in practice. When polystyrene (in the presence of H-DAAN) was subjected to mechanical stress via grinding, the H-DAAN acted as a radical scavenger for polymeric mechanoradicals, and bound with them to produce “DAAN* ,” which has fluorescent properties. This caused a visible yellow fluorescence to appear.

“More important, probably, is the clear correlation that we found between fluorescence intensity and the amount of DAAN radicals generated by the ground-up polystyrene, as we had predicted,” reports Prof Otsuka. “This means that it is possible to estimate the amount of DAAN radicals generated in the bulk system just by measuring the fluorescence intensity.”

The implications of their findings are wide-ranging: by being able to visually quantify how materials respond to different external stimuli, they can test how suitable polymers are for various uses, depending on the mechanical stress they will be expected to undergo. This method could prove to be an invaluable tool for scientists and engineers as they strive to improve material performance and specificity.

This exciting research this shine light on the responses of polymers to mechanical stress and illuminate the way forward in the research of polymer mechanoradicals!

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IEEE Spectrum

Turning the Body into a Wire







































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ScienceDaily

Stable catalysts for new energy

On the way to a CO2-neutral economy, we need to perfect a whole range of technologies — including the electrochemical extraction of hydrogen from water, fuel cells, or carbon capture. All these technologies have one thing in common: they only work if suitable catalysts are used. For many years, researchers have therefore been investigating which materials are best suited for this purpose.

At TU Wien and the Comet Center for Electrochemistry and Surface Technology CEST in Wiener Neustadt, a unique combination of research methods is available for this kind of research. Together scientists could now show: Looking for the perfect catalyst is not only about finding the right material, but also about its orientation. Depending on the direction in which a crystal is cut and which of its atoms it thus presents to the outside world on its surface, its behavior can change dramatically.

Efficiency or stability

“For many important processes in electrochemistry, precious metals are often used as catalysts, such as iridium oxide or platinum particles,” says Prof. Markus Valtiner from the Institute of Applied Physics at TU Wien (IAP). In many cases these are catalysts with particularly high efficiency. However, there are also other important points to consider: The stability of a catalyst and the availability and recyclability of the materials. The most efficient catalyst material is of little use if it is a rare metal, dissolves after a short time, undergoes chemical changes or becomes unusable for other reasons.

For this reason, other, more sustainable catalysts are of interest, such as zinc oxide, even though they are even less effective. By combining different measuring methods, it is now possible to show that the effectiveness and the stability of such catalysts can be significantly improved by studying how the surface of the catalyst crystals is structured on an atomic scale.

It all depends on the direction

Crystals can have different surfaces: “Let’s imagine a cube-shaped crystal that we cut in two,” says Markus Valtiner. “We can cut the cube straight through the middle to create two cuboids. Or we can cut it exactly diagonally, at a 45-degree angle. The cut surfaces that we obtain in these two cases are different: Different atoms are located at different distances from each other on the cut surface. Therefore, these surfaces can also behave very differently in chemical processes.”

Zinc oxide crystals are not cube-shaped, but form honeycomb-like hexagons — but the same principle applies here, too: Its properties depend on the arrangement of the atoms on the surface. “If you choose exactly the right surface angle, microscopically small triangular holes form there, with a diameter of only a few atoms,” says Markus Valtiner. “Hydrogen atoms can attach there, chemical processes take place that support the splitting of water, but at the same time stabilize the material itself.”

The research team has now been able to prove this stabilization for the first time: “At the catalyst surface, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. While this process is in progress, we can take liquid samples and examine whether they contain traces of the catalyst,” explains Markus Valtiner. “To do this, the liquid must first be strongly heated in a plasma and broken down into individual atoms. Then we separate these atoms in a mass spectrometer and sort them, element by element. If the catalyst is stable, we should hardly find any atoms from the catalyst material. Indeed, we could not detect any decomposition of the material at the atomic triangle structures when hydrogen was produced.” This stabilizing effect is surprisingly strong — now the team is working on making zinc oxide even more efficient and transferring the physical principle of this stabilization to other materials.

Unique research opportunities for energy system transformation

Atomic surface structures have been studied at TU Wien for many years. “At our institute, these triangular structures have first been demonstrated and theoretically explained years ago, and now we are the first to demonstrate their importance for electrochemistry,” says Markus Valtiner. “This is because we are in the unique situation here of being able to combine all the necessary research steps under one roof — from sample preparation to simulation on supercomputers, from microscopy in ultra-high vacuum to practical tests in realistic environments.”

“This collaboration of different specialties under one roof is unique, and our great advantage to be able to be a global leader in research and teaching in this field,” says Carina Brunnhofer, student at the IAP.

“Over the next ten years, we will develop stable and commercially viable systems for water splitting and CO2 reduction based on methodological developments and a fundamental understanding of surface chemistry and physics,” says Dominik Dworschak, the first author of the recently published study. “However, at least a sustainable doubling of the current power output must be achieved in parallel,” Markus Valtiner notes. “We are therefore on an exciting path, on which we will only achieve our climate targets through consistent, cross-sector research and development.

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ScienceDaily

Blast from the past

An international team of astronomers using Gemini North’s GNIRS instrument have discovered that CK Vulpeculae, first seen as a bright new star in 1670, is approximately five times farther away than previously thought. This makes the 1670 explosion of CK Vulpeculae much more energetic than previously estimated and puts it into a mysterious class of objects that are too bright to be members of the well-understood type of explosions known as novae, but too faint to be supernovae.

350 years ago, the French monk Anthelme Voituret saw a bright new star flare into life in the constellation of Vulpecula. Over the following months, the star became almost as bright as Polaris (the North Star) and was monitored by some of the leading astronomers of the day before it faded from view after a year [1]. The new star eventually gained the name CK Vulpeculae and was long considered to be the first documented example of a nova — a fleeting astronomical event arising from an explosion in a close binary star system in which one member is a white dwarf, the remnant of a Sun-like star. However, a string of recent results have thrown the longstanding classification of CK Vulpeculae as a nova into doubt.

In 2015, a team of astronomers suggested that CK Vulpeculae’s appearance in 1670 was the result of two normal stars undergoing a cataclysmic collision. Just over three years later, the same astronomers further proposed that one of the stars was in fact a bloated red giant star, following their discovery of a radioactive isotope of aluminum in the immediate surroundings of the site of the 1670 explosion. Complicating the picture even further, a separate group of astronomers proposed a different interpretation. In their paper, also published in 2018, they suggested that the sudden brightening in 1670 was the result of the merger between a brown dwarf — a failed star too small to shine via thermonuclear fusion that powers the Sun — and a white dwarf.

Now, adding to the ongoing mystery surrounding CK Vulpeculae, new observations from the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, reveal that this enigmatic astronomical object is much farther away and has ejected gas at much higher speeds than previously reported.

This team, led by Dipankar Banerjee of Physical Research Laboratory Ahmedabad, India, Tom Geballe of Gemini Observatory, and Nye Evans of Keele University in the United Kingdom, initially planned to use the Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph (GNIRS) instrument on Gemini North on Hawai’i’s Maunakea to confirm the 2018 detection of radioactive aluminum at the heart of CK Vulpeculae [2]. After realizing that detecting this in the infrared would be far more difficult than they originally thought, the astronomers improvised and obtained infrared observations across the full extent of CK Vulpeculae, including the two wisps of nebulosity at its outermost edges.

“The key to our discovery was the GNIRS measurements obtained at the outer edges of the nebula,” elaborated Geballe. “The signature of redshifted and blueshifted iron atoms detected there shows that the nebula is expanding much more rapidly than previous observations had suggested.” [3]

As lead author and astronomer Banerjee explains further, “We did not suspect that this is what we would find. It was exciting when we found some gas traveling at the unexpectedly high speed of about 7 million km/hour. This hinted at a different story about CK Vulpeculae than what had been theorized.”

By measuring both the speed of the nebula’s expansion and how much the outermost wisps had moved during the last ten years, and accounting for the tilt of the nebula on the night sky, which had been estimated earlier by others, the team determined that CK Vulpeculae lies approximately 10,000 light-years distant from the Sun — about five times as far away as previously thought. That implies that the 1670 explosion was far brighter, releasing roughly 25 times more energy than previously estimated [4]. This much larger estimate of the amount of energy released means that whatever event caused the sudden appearance of CK Vulpeculae in 1670 was far more violent than a simple nova.

“In terms of energy released, our finding places CK Vulpeculae roughly midway between a nova and a supernova,” commented Evans. “It is one of a very few such objects in the Milky Way and the cause — or causes — of the outbursts of this intermediate class of objects remain unknown. I think we all know what CK Vulpeculae isn’t, but no one knows what it is.”

The visual appearance of the CK Vulpeculae nebula and the high velocities observed by the team could help astronomers to recognize relics of similar events — in our Milky Way or in external galaxies — that have occurred in the past.

“It is difficult at this stage to offer a definitive or compelling explanation for the origin of the 1670 eruption of CK Vulpeculae,” concluded Banerjee. “Even 350 years after Voituret’s discovery, the nature of the explosion remains a mystery. “

Notes

[1] 17th-century astronomers who observed the bright new star CK Vulpeculae included distinguished Polish mayor, brewer, and astronomer Johannes Hevelius and the French-Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who discovered four of Saturn’s moons. After it faded from view in 1671 there were numerous unsuccessful attempts through the intervening centuries to recover it, some by noted astronomers including Halley, Pickering and Humason.

[2] A spectrograph is an instrument that splits light from an astronomical object into its component wavelengths, allowing the composition of the gas emitting the light, its speed, and other traits to be measured.

[3] Just as the pitch of an ambulance siren changes depending on whether the vehicle is moving towards or away from you, astronomical objects change color depending on whether they are moving towards or away from an observer. Objects moving away from Earth become redder (known as redshift) and approaching objects become bluer (known as blueshift).

[4] The brightness of an object is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from an observer. In the case of CK Vulpeculae, if the 1670 explosion occurred five times as far away it must have been 52 = 25 times as bright.

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Quantum magic squares

Magic squares belong to the imagination of humanity for a long time. The oldest known magic square comes from China and is over 2000 years old. One of the most famous magic squares can be found in Albrecht Dürer’s copper engraving Melencolia I. Another one is on the facade of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. A magic square is a square of numbers such that every column and every row sums to the same number. For example, in the magic square of the Sagrada Família every row and column sums to 33.

If the magic square can contain real numbers, and every row and column sums to 1, then it is called a doubly stochastic matrix. One particular example would be a matrix that has 0’s everywhere except for one 1 in every column and every row. This is called a permutation matrix. A famous theorem says that every doubly stochastic matrix can be obtained as a convex combination of permutation matrices. In words, this means that permutation matrices “contain all the secrets” of doubly stochastic matrices — more precisely, that the latter can be fully characterized in terms of the former.

In a new paper in the Journal of Mathematical Physics, Tim Netzer and Tom Drescher from the Department of Mathematics and Gemma De las Cuevas from the Department of Theoretical Physics have introduced the notion of the quantum magic square, which is a magic square but instead of numbers one puts in matrices. This is a non-commutative, and thus quantum, generalization of a magic square. The authors show that quantum magic squares cannot be as easily characterized as their “classical” cousins. More precisely, quantum magic squares are not convex combinations of quantum permutation matrices. “They are richer and more complicated to understand,” explains Tom Drescher. “This is the general theme when generalizations to the non-commutative case are studied.”

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