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Scientists at IBM Research have created by far the most advanced neuromorphic (brain-like) computer chip to date. The chip, called TrueNorth, consists of 1 million programmable neurons and 256 million programmable synapses across 4096 individual neurosynaptic cores. Built on Samsung’s 28nm process and with a monstrous transistor count of 5.4 billion, this is one of the largest and most advanced computer chips ever made. Perhaps most importantly, though, TrueNorth is incredibly efficient: The chip consumes just 72 milliwatts at max load, which equates to around 400 billion synaptic operations per second per watt — or about 176,000 times more efficient than a modern CPU running the same brain-like workload, or 769 times more efficient than other state-of-the-art neuromorphic approaches. Yes, IBM is now a big step closer to building a brain on a chip.

The animal brain (which includes the human brain, of course), as you may have heard before, is by far the most efficient computer in the known universe. As you can see in the graph below, the human brain has a “clock speed” (neuron firing speed) measured in tens of hertz, and a total power consumption of around 20 watts. A modern silicon chip, despite having features that are almost on the same tiny scale as biological neurons and synapses, can consume thousands or millions times more energy to perform the same task as a human brain. As we move towards more advanced areas of computing, such as artificial general intelligence and big data analysis — areas that IBM just happens to be deeply involved with — it would really help if we had a silicon chip that was capable of brain-like efficiency.

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There is an odd dichotomy in human exploration: While we think nothing of going up — jetting through the skies six miles up, skydiving from the edge of space, or launching humans hundreds or thousands of miles into deep space — going down has always proven rather difficult. To this day, the deepest humankind has ever gone is just 7.6 miles below our feet — or just 0.2% of the distance to the Earth’s core. It’s not that we don’t want to go deeper — and there are huge scientific and commercial gains to be made if we could go deeper — but, try as we might, despite millennia of developing ever more advanced tools and materials, and exploration that has taken spacecraft to the edge of the Solar System, the subterranean depths remain firmly off-limits. Why?
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Bull Aldrin and the US flag, on the Moon

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On July 20, 1969 — 45 years and one day ago — Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the Moon. Buzz Aldrin would soon follow suit and climb down the ladder of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (the Eagle), and the pair would then spend two and a half hours being the first ever humans to explore the surface of another world. It’s funny, but also a little bit sad: More than four decades later, Apollo 11 and the six further landings between 1969 and 1972 are still some of humanity’s greatest technological achievements. In the years since, with political objectives sated and the Cold War diffused, funding for space exploration has all but dried up.

 

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Jul-16-2014

Six innovations revolutionising farming

Posted by MkTeam under Technology

 

 

Farm Africa Project

In 1798, economist Thomas Malthus predicted that the world would exceed its food supply by the late 20th century. While he was right to identify the challenges of feeding a growing population with a finite amount of land, in the last half a century agricultural production has tripled. So, how did this happen?

The answer: innovations in farming technology. Smallholder farmers in particular have seen a rise in productivity over the last decade. So what are the innovations making the difference? We asked our community and crowdsourced the answers.

 

1. Dairy hubs

Not enough local beef in Indonesia

These hubs have already had huge success in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Photograph: Hotli Simanjuntak/EPADairy hubs link smallholder farmers to dairy processors, cutting costs and putting money back into local communities. Through this model, farmers gain higher income, education and healthier animals, while the production of safe and affordable milk in developing countries increases. These hubs have already had huge success in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and are being trialed in India and east Africa.

2. Fertiliser deep placement

Grain

FDP is used by farmers across Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. Photograph: Image Broker/REXTraditionally, rural farmers apply fertiliser to crops by spreading the seeds by hand. Fertiliser deep placement (FDP) is a new way of distributing fertiliser that increases small holder yields by an average of 18% and reduces fertiliser use by a third. FDP works by using a specialised fertiliser (called ‘briquette’) which releases nitrogen gradually. The fertiliser is placed 7-10 centimetres below the soil, which allows less nitrogen to be lost through runoff. FDP is used by farmers across Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.

3. Mobile apps

Accenture: Social Media Apps on Apple iPhone 4

The farming instructor app gives agricultural information to rural farming communities. Photograph: AlamyA mobile app called VetAfrica, developed by a software company called Cojengo, is enabling animal health workers and farmers to accurately diagnose livestock illness and find the most effective drugs to treat the disease. With over 100 million farmers spread across thousands of square miles in east Africa, the developers predict massive growth of mobile and cloud tech solutions in African markets.

Another innovative app our community highlighted is farming instructor, which provides online and offline agricultural information to rural farmers and their communities.

4. High-roofed greenhouses

A visitor looks through the glass of a greenhouse at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. The prestigious gardening show opens to the public on 20 May, and features hundreds of stands and exhibition gardens.

Greenhouses are a great way to increase production. Photograph: Dan KitwoodBecause of government restrictions, farmers in Turkmenistan often do not have access to large areas of land. Greenhouses are a great way to increase production, although a traditional greenhouse can only grow short tomato and cucumber plants. To combat this, experts from USAidhave created greenhouses with roofs of 12 feet or higher, which has been shown to double farmers’ yields.

5. New feeding systems

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Using a ‘total mixed ration’ has been found to reduce labour costs and increase animal health. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/APA new way of feeding farm animals, which involves weighing and blending all foodstuff into a complete ration, makes sure all an animals’ nutrient requirements are met. Using a ‘total mixed ration’ has been found to reduce labour costs, increase animal health and give farmers greater flexibility with feed ingredients. All these factors together improve farm profitability by reducing feed costs – which make up 60-70% of total farm costs – and maximise milk production.

6. Farm management software and training

Rural farmer

Farm management software is available to make farm management as simple as possible. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty ImagesFinally, no development issue exists in isolation, and perhaps the biggest improvement for rural farmers comes from getting adequate training on animal care, pest management and crop development. New farm management software is available that calculates food rations and milking systems to make farm management as simple as possible.

While this technology is not widely accessible for rural farmers, farm management training has been found to make a big difference to farming output. For example, providing cows with housing containing suitable bedding and food troughs has been shown to increase milk yield and drastically improve farm sustainability.

Are there any we’ve missed? Drop us a line in the comments below to share your thoughts.

 

Source: theguardian.com

 

 

 

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Keeping your smartphone running is even more important now that dead phones and other electronic devices will be banned from flights to the US. Photograph.

 

With the US’s Transportation Security Agency (TSA) ordering that peoplemay not carry “dead” devices on to plane flights as part of new security measures, and with many people heading off on holiday where the chance to charge their phone may be more limited, how do you extend your battery life?

These tips should help you get the longest life from your device.

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Facebook has revealed a new photo-messaging app after accidentally releasing it on Apple’s app store.

Known as Slingshot, the app’s features include sharing photos and videos with friends and sending “reaction shots”.

Like Snapchat, all images are deleted once sent and users can scribble or type over their photos.

Facebook has confirmed Slingshot’s existence, but it is not known when the app will be officially released.

Reporters from The Verge and TechCrunch took screengrabs of the app’s promotional material before it was removed by Facebook.

The images appear to reveal many of Slingshot’s features, the more unusual of which include an unlocking mechanism, whereby photos received from friends must be unlocked by sending a photo back to the original sender.

It is thought that the back and forth “slinging” of images is why the app is called Slingshot.

“Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we’re working on,” confirmed Facebook in a statement.

The company did not reveal when the app would be made available, stating: “It’ll be ready soon and we’re excited for you to try it out.”

Snapchat competitor?
In 2012 Facebook bought photo-sharing network Instagram for $1bn.

A year later, it was reported that Snapchat rejected a $3bn bid from Facebook, revealing the social media giant’s apparent continued and serious interest in photo-messaging services.

Previously Facebook attempted and failed to create a successful image-messaging app called Poke, which was recently abandoned and had been described by some as a “blatant copycat app.”

However, unlike Poke, Slingshot has a number of unique features not found in rivals such as Snapchat, which could make it a strong competitor.

Another similar app and potential rival is Taptalk, which is reportedly admired among some Facebook engineers.

Taptalk provides a comparatively minimalist and simplified approach to image messaging, allowing users to send personal pictures or videos by tapping or holding their friend’s profile picture.

It has also been noted that Slingshot’s icon is strikingly similar to Taptalk’s.

Source: bbc.com

Jun-4-2014

WIMAX FUTURE TECHNOLOGY

Posted by MkTeam under Technology

 

 

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WiMAX is brief for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (Global Interoperability for Microwave Access), symbolized in IEEE standard: 802.16, wireless networking standard that defines the metropolitan area. It’s a wireless technology (wireless), broadcast by radio, with excellent abilities, which in future will dominate the worldwide telecommunications market.

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