Surface Pro 7 features – will they be worth the wait and extra money?

The Surface Pro range of two-in-ones may not be the game changers per say, but they are one of the most practical and amazing hardware that we have ever seen come out of Microsoft factories. Surface Pro 7 is the next in line and it is already being talked about even though the current generation Surface Pro – the Surface Pro 6 – has been barely out for a few months.

Surface Pro 6 isn’t an over the top device as far as features are concerned. Processor upgrades as well as a few internal changes may be acknowledged but that doesn’t really up the ante by a whole lot. The Surface Pro devices in general have been the go-to item if you want a portable laptop which is premium and lightweight and by far the best alternative to Apple’s MacBook.

As its predecessors, the yet to be confirmed Surface Pro 7 will also most likely feature the same sleek and light design but fans are expecting more out of it as far as hardware and features are concerned as the Surface Pro 6 left many users dissatisfied.

So what could Microsoft do to appease its users. Surface Pro 7 could come with larger RAM options as the same, if not lower price options. Further, the storage options could be increased or the SSDs upgraded with better technologies. Processors will definitely receive a bump and if possible, Microsoft could even fit in latest NVIDIA GPUs in some of its models.

If we are to believe rumors, Microsoft could also launch an AMD chip powered Surface Pro 7 with improved battery life and USB-C Magnetic Surface chargers.

Surface Pro 7 isn’t due for another 6 months, but it is safe to assume that Microsoft has already started working on Surface Pro 6 successor. We also anticipate a Surface Go device launch and release of some accessories for the laptop are also expected.

We know nothing about the exact pricing of the Surface Pro 7. The Surface Pro 6 was launched at $899(base model). So one can expect the pricing of the next Surface to be around that price level.

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Israeli spacecraft Beresheet barely misses soft landing on moon

Israel’s ambitions for a moon landing will have to wait for now as Beresheet, the first privately funded mission to the moon, barely missed the lunar landing as it crashed in the last part of its journey.

The spacecraft crash landed on the moon moments before it was supposed to soft land, reports indicate. If the country would have managed to soft land the spacecraft on moon, it would have made it the fourth country to do so after the US, the former Soviet Union and China. The $100 million spacecraft, built by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, lost communications with the control room during the landing sequence. At the time of the communications failure, the Beresheet was travelling at 2,110 mph and was about 120 km from its intended landing site.

“I am sorry to say that our spacecraft did not make it in one piece to the moon,” Opher Doron, the manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ Space Division, said. “We made it all the way to the moon. This is a great accomplishment. We are the seventh country to make it all the way to the moon.”

Back in 2008, NASA has signed an agreement with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL’s commercial lunar mission. The US space agency contributed a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and Deep Space Network support to aid in mission communication. ISA and SpaceIL shared data with NASA from the SpaceIL lunar magnetometer installed aboard the spacecraft.

The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science, measured the magnetic field on and above the landing site. If the landing would have been successful and the instrument active, the data collected by it would have been made publicly available through NASA’s Planetary Data System.


Vitamin D deficiency said to influence susceptibility to multiple sclerosis

A new study by scientists at University of Edinburgh has shed light on the links between vitamin D deficiency and its influence on susceptibility to diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

It has long been known that our body produces vitamin D in response to sunlight. Researchers have found in previous studies that it also affects key cells of the immune system. The latest discovery could possibly explain how vitamin D regulates immune reactions that have been implicated in autoimmune diseases such as MS.

For the study, researchers at the University of Edinburgh focused on how vitamin D affects a mechanism in the body’s immune system – dendritic cells’ ability to activate T cells. It has long been known that in healthy people, T cells play a crucial role in helping to fight infections. In people with autoimmune diseases, however, they can start to attack the body’s own tissues.

By studying cells from mice and people, the researchers found vitamin D caused dendritic cells to produce more of a molecule called CD31 on their surface and that this hindered the activation of T cells. The team observed how CD31 prevented the two cell types from making a stable contact – an essential part of the activation process – and the resulting immune reaction was far reduced.

Researchers say the findings shed light on how vitamin D deficiency may regulate the immune system and influence susceptibility to autoimmune diseases. Low vitamin D status has long being implicated as a significant risk factor for the development of several autoimmune diseases. Our study reveals one way in which vitamin D metabolites can dramatically influence the immune system.

The study, published in Frontiers of Immunology, was funded by the Medical Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Wellcome.


Super-Earth orbiting Barnard’s star potentially has atmosphere and life

There is a possibility that super-Earth planet orbiting the Barnard b (or GJ 699 b) star could potentially be having atmosphere and possibly life.

The planet is likely cold (-170 degrees centigrade), but scientists believe that it could still have the potential to harbor primitive life if it has a large, hot iron/nickel core and enhanced geothermal activity. Scientists have published their findings in a paper titled, “X-Ray, UV, Optical Irradiances and Age of Barnard’s Star’s New Super Earth Planet — ‘Can Life Find a Way’ on Such a Cold Planet?” [PDF].

Scientists say that geothermal heating could support ‘life zones’ under its surface, akin to subsurface lakes found in Antarctica. They say that surface temperature on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is similar to Barnard b but, because of tidal heating, Europa probably has liquid oceans under its icy surface.

The discovery of Barnard’s Star b was announced in November 2018 in the academic journal Nature. An international team of researchers led by Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), and Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) based its analysis on 18 years of observations combined with newly acquired data.

Barnard’s Star b, with a mass just over three times that of the Earth, orbits Barnard’s Star, a red dwarf star, every 233 days and at roughly the same distance that Mercury orbits the Sun. It passes near the dim star’s snow line.

Scientists have obtained high-precision photometry of Barnard’s Star (as well as dozens of other stars) for the past 15 years. This data, along with that of other observers, was included in a recent comprehensive study led by Borja Toledo-Padrón, a doctoral student at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, University of La Laguna. Although very faint, it may be possible for Barnard b to be imaged by future very large telescopes, according to Guinan. “Such observations will shed light on the nature of the planet’s atmosphere, surface, and potential habitability,” he added.


Hyaluronic acid could help in wound healing

Hyaluronic acid which is known to have many skin and ageing related benefits has found itself at the midst of one more use – wound healing.

According to a team of scientists at the Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania, hyaluronic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates tissue regeneration and this could be put to good use in wound dressings. The team is developing a new generation sponge-like wound dressings with hyaluronic acid. Antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory wound dressings stimulate tissue regeneration and can be especially efficient in treating deep wounds that are difficult to heal.

For deep wound to heal successfully, tissue regeneration is extremely important. Development of new generation wound dressings, which assist this process, is one of biggest challenges in tissue engineering. Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) researchers are developing sponge-like wound dressings based on hyaluronic acid, which is a well-researched polymer stimulating tissue regeneration and used in ophthalmology, bone regeneration and for other medical and cosmetic purposes.

Check out: Face Skin Care Hyaluronic Acid Skin Repair

Sponge-like wound dressings created at KTU have net structure, which is essential in developing wound dressings for tissue regeneration. Although biopolymers are often chosen for this purpose as they are compatible with biological systems, sponge-like wound dressings are mostly being made from alginate or collagen.

At the moment, KTU researchers have built hyaluronic acid scaffolds, which can be used for tissue regeneration. Collaborating with the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, the scientists are testing the prototype in vitro with different cells. According to researchers, the proof of concept stage research can take up a few more years.

Electronics Technology

Lithium battery fires could be prevented using graphene coating, study says

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Engineering have published a paper in journal Advanced Functional Materials wherein they have suggested that a thin coating of graphene could help protect fires in lithium batteries.

Over the last few years there has been a surge in the use of lithium batteries – primarily due to their size and energy density – in the electric vehicle segment. Lithium batteries hold the promise of allowing electric vehicles to travel several hundred miles on one charge. However, there is one problem that affects their increased use – occasional fire – an occurrence known to battery researchers as “thermal runaway.” These fires occur most frequently when the batteries overheat or cycle rapidly. With more and more electric vehicles on the road each year, battery technology needs to adapt to reduce the likelihood of these dangerous and catastrophic fires.

Researchers report that graphene may take the oxygen out of lithium battery fires. If the oxygen combines with other flammable products given off through decomposition of the electrolyte under high enough heat, spontaneous combustion can occur.

Scientists knew that graphene sheets are impermeable to oxygen atoms. Graphene is also strong, flexible and can be made to be electrically conductive. Scientists thought that if they wrapped very small particles of the lithium cobalt oxide cathode of a lithium battery in graphene, it might prevent oxygen from escaping. First, the researchers chemically altered the graphene to make it electrically conductive. Next, they wrapped the tiny particles of lithium cobalt oxide cathode electrode in the conductive graphene.

When they looked at the graphene-wrapped lithium cobalt oxide particles using electron microscopy, they saw that the release of oxygen under high heat was reduced significantly compared with unwrapped particles.

Next, they bound together the wrapped particles with a binding material to form a usable cathode, and incorporated it into a lithium metal battery. When they measured released oxygen during battery cycling, they saw almost no oxygen escaping from cathodes even at very high voltages. The lithium metal battery continued to perform well even after 200 cycles.


Industrial 3D printing could soon be used for outdoor sporting goods

Gigabot X, an open source industrial FPF 3D printer, developed by engineers from Michigan Technological University and re:3D, Inc. could soon be used to manufacture outdoor sporting goods such as kayak paddles, snowshoes, and skateboards.

The newly developed 3D printer can use waste plastic particles and reform it into large, strong prints. Because of the unique challenges presented by sporting goods — size, durability, specificity — the team chose several Upper Peninsula-inspired items. The findings of the study have been published in Additive Manufacturing.

In the paper the team lays out how fab labs, which are prototyping and technical workshops that allow personal digital fabrication, and other 3D printing hubs like makerspaces, public libraries or schools can economically sustain themselves while printing environmentally friendly products using FPF. In some cases, the return on investment for a Gigabot X reached above 1,000 percent for high-capacity use paired with recyclable feedstock.

That’s a hallmark of the Gigabot X — last year a Michigan Tech and re:3D collaborative study showed that it could be used with a wide range of plastics plucked from the waste stream to live on in a new productive life. The system is based on a previous design from the MOST Lab, the recyclebot, which makes waste plastic filament for 3D printers. Pearce’s team has looked deep into better ways to sort, sift and classify plastic to improve its 3D printability. Melting and extruding, however, does weaken plastic, it can withstand five cycles before it’s mechanically compromised. What’s new with the Gigabot X is the process called fused particle fabrication (FPF) or fused granular fabrication (FGF) that skips the step of making filament before 3-D printing and saves on one melt cycle. Basically, it prints directly from shredded waste. The Gigabot X’s size and versatility to use any material including waste is reflected in the machine’s economics.

While not cheap by household standards — the Gigabot X runs around $18,500 — the upfront investment has greater potential return. The team used three case studies: a skateboard deck, double-bladed kayak paddle — both child-sized and adult-sized fitted on an aluminum pipe — and snowshoes.

Using their sporting goods prints, Pearce and his team compared costs of low-end and high-end options for commercially available products, prints with commercial filament, prints with commercial pellets and prints with recycled plastic. They ran these against four capacity scenarios: continuous printing, one new start per day, two new starts per day and printing once per week. The printed kayak paddle, which was the trickiest to produce and compare because of the metal pipe, was financially comparable to the least expensive off-the-shelf paddle. Skateboards and snowshoes were both easy to produce and significantly lower in cost than commercial products. FPF printing beat the economics of even the cheapest decks using commercial pellets and dropped in cost using waste plastic. Over their lifetime, if operated even only once a day, the Gigabot X could produce millions of dollars of sporting goods products.


Beauty spot in genes said to determine beauty of a person’s face

Scientists have determine ‘beauty spots’ in human genome that they claim are linked to facial beauty. They study has been carried out by Qiongshi Lu and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and findings have been published in PLOS Genetics.

For centuries humans have been known to devote a lot of time to look beautiful with a chunk of that time being devoted to facial beauty. While a person’s attractiveness is associated with academic performance, career success and economic mobility, having a beautiful face is still important for humans. Scientists haven’t been able to find out how a person derives their facial beauty and if there are genetic links.

In their latest study researchers performed a genome-wide association study using genetic information from 4,383 individuals to pinpoint parts of the genome linked to facial beauty. They had volunteers score yearbook photos based on attractiveness from participants with European ancestry and compared the scores to each person’s genetic information. The researchers identified several genes related to facial attractiveness, but their roles and relatedness to other human traits varied by sex. In women, certain genetic variations linked to beauty also appeared to be related to genes impacting body mass, while in males, variants were linked to genes affecting blood cholesterol levels.

The study provides new insights into the genetic factors underlying facial attractiveness and highlights the complex relationships between beauty and other human traits. “Similar to many other human traits, there is not a ‘master gene’ that determines a person’s attractiveness,” author Qiongshi Lu observed.

The researchers acknowledge, however, that their findings are based on a homogenous group of individuals of the same age and ethnic background. They propose that future analyses including a larger sample size of people from diverse populations and ages will further advance our understanding of this highly valued human trait.