Libra Abandoned by Several Payment Giants


Payment giants such as Mastercard, eBay, Visa, and Stripes have pulled their names out from the embattlement of Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra earlier this year. Recently, another payment behemoth, PayPal has also withdrawn its name from the supporter list for the upcoming cryptocurrency. This came as a shock to the social media giant. This is because the company was planning to launch Libra as a global currency. However, now Mark Zuckerberg has to appear before the House Committee on Financial Services to discuss Libra’s tentative roll-out.

How did the Pull-outs Began?


The first report of pull-out published in the Financial Times, after which PayPal made its move. The withdrawals were accompanied by several concerns including the potential risk of Libra being used in money laundering. This has drawn heavy scrutiny for the Libra project resulting in which the CEO of Facebook has to appear in the hearing.

The withdrawals include six major players dealing in payment transfer business including Mastercard and PayPal. Apart from these six companies, only PayU remains as the founding member of the Libra project.

As per eBay’s statement, it respects the vision of the project but, restricts itself from being the founding member. Currently, the company will emphasis on eBay managed payment services providing a better shopping experience to its customers.

In another statement released by Stripe states that it supported Libra’s aim of making payment easier. The company states that Libra has plenty of potentials and will keep on monitoring its progress over the period of time. Whereas, Visa says that it shall evaluate the Libra’s potential and final decision will depend on various factors including Libra Association’s capability to fulfill all regulatory expectations.


Machine Learning to Interpret Climate Change


Methane is a strong greenhouse gas that finds way into the atmosphere via both human activities and natural processes. Human activities of adding methane into the atmosphere include energy production and agriculture.

In a bid to ascertain human emissions of methane, researchers need a complete view of methane cycle in the atmosphere. Researchers need to know the magnitude of inputs and output of both natural and human sources. The duration of presence of methane in the atmosphere is also needed for this.

To ascertain this, a team of researchers from the University of Rochester, University of California, and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research employed data science. This study was to determine how much methane oceans emit into the atmosphere each year.

The results of the study is published in Nature Communications. The study fills a longstanding gap for methane cycle research and will also help climate scientists better gauge the extent of human activities. Meanwhile, the study for methane is part of a larger study to better understand how greenhouse gases, including carbon and nitrogen, impact the climate.

Accurate Estimate of Methane Emissions Important for Methane Budget


The Global Carbon Project- the international consortium of climate scientists updates its methane budget every three years. The methane budget helps to understand the current state of inputs and outputs of the overall global methane cycle.

Importantly, the methane budget helps to place in context human methane emissions and provides a baseline against to assess changes in the future. Earlier, the ocean has been an uncertain term for methane budgets. However, the natural release of methane from oceans into the atmosphere is verified, not necessarily the volume.

Meanwhile, in the methane budget, uncertainty in one factor adds uncertainty to all other components. This thus limits the researchers’ ability to project changes in the global methane system. This is the reason for need of accurate estimate of methane emissions from the oceans.

Scientists Prove the Existence of Dark Matter by Listening to It


A team of physicists at Stockholm University and the Max Planck Institute for Physics have proposed a theory to prove the dark matter. For the ones who are unaware of the term dark matter, it is the most abundant matter in the entire universe. It comprises 85% of all the bodies that exist in entire universe. The term was coined to explain why the force between proton and neutron has not changed since the beginning.

To explain this invisible matter, physicists have proposed a new axion that shall provide evidence of the dark matter. According to this axion is present not in the form of a discrete particle. Instead, it has a continuous wave-like pattern. The scientists have developed a new device that can listen to the sound produced by the matter.

How the Device Can be Helpful in Identifying the Dark Matter?


According to Dr. Alexander Millar finding an axion is somewhat similar to tuning into a radio. One must need to find the correct frequency to listen to the sound. In this experiment, instead of music, the scientists will hear the sound of the dark matter traveling through space. The major propulsion of the experiment depends on the generation of an electromagnetic field produced by the axion. This EM field can fuel oscillation which can amplify the signals for scientists to tune into axion radio.

As per Dr. Matthew Lawson, plasma has a dual and a crucial role in finding proofs of the axion and further the dark matter. It creates an optimal environment for conversion axions into light and provides resonant plasmons that can collect the energy of the dark matter.

To quantify their proposal, scientists have developed a device called “wire metamaterial”. It uses a system of wires that are even thinner than human hair and can change the characteristics of the plasma.


Are Smart Classrooms Destroying Critical Thinking?

smart classroom

A chalk and a board was all that a teacher needed about two-three decades ago. Today, not only these teaching tools but the teachers itself have been replaced by technology. Smart Classrooms. Rather, the use of audio-visual content that intrigues people over printed words. Further, it has had more impact than textbooks as it allows students to easily grab the content.

What’s more, it is not only more appealing, but also eliminates the dependence on a teacher to explain concepts to you. However, an emerging consequence of this digital learning, educationists say, is the lack of understanding. Further, teachers claim that students fail to distinguish between reality and fiction.

Influence of Technology 

Anup Sinha, the author of a story points out two personal examples that show the influence of technology on students. In one instance, when he started teaching at one of the leading universities in India, he introduced a rule. Further, he urged the students to not use mobile phones while he was teaching. However, it did not work, and after two weeks, he gave up. Later, when he asked the students who wish to use the phone during his class to move to a corner. Shockingly, 20 out of the 70 students walked away.

Then, in the second instance, he asked his students to vote after a long debate on use of non-violence as a political tool. Again, to his surprise, majority students voted in favor of violence. As a result, Sinha feels that the link to both the instance lay in a common funda.

Researchers Develop Novel Superconducting Property in Twisted Bilayer Graphene


Scientists in pursuit of novel materials have correlated insulating property of a twisted bilayer graphene with superconducting states. The researchers recently claimed to achieve a breakthrough by stacking two monolayers of graphene at a very specific angle called magic angle. The angle, estimated at θ = 1.1 ± 0.1, has remained elusive for long.  Single layers of this two-dimensional material don’t exhibit the property of superconductivity. But a popular approach they call twistronics has enabled researchers to leverage amazing properties of two-dimensional materials. Now, this same concept has allowed scientists to achieve the magic angle between two layers of graphene. The angle is the key enabler of amazing properties in graphene.

Achieving Magic Angle in Graphene Layer No More Elusive

A team of researchers at The Ohio State University teamed with several other researchers and conducted a study on achieving the magic angle. They were able to demonstrate the superconducting property of twisted bilayer graphene. They found that to make the layer superconducting twisting at an angle of approximately 0.9 degrees could do the wonder. The study has paved way to new scientific investigations into using superconductors such as graphene for real-world applications.

The study helps the scientific community to observe new phenomena in twisted bilayer graphene and expand their understanding of the same. Superconductors made of this graphene layer hold great potential as a useful source of energy to power devices in commercial and industrial applications. Achieving the magic angle sooner was nothing short of a breakthrough. Soon the material will see real-world applications in the electrical transmission application and in powering trains and homes.

Novel System Advances Localization of Things Concept in Smart Devices


Reliable interconnection between smart devices is the backbone of internet of things (IoT). Precise localization technique for ascertaining the position of these devices is thus imperative. GPS satellites and wireless technologies fail in variety of situations that interfere these signals. Notable conditions include places housing several reflecting surfaces and typical snags such as urban canyons. Numerous teams of researchers from different universities has leveraged the concept they call ‘localization of things’. The concept houses a system that has potential to offer localization information even reliably even in GPS-denied areas.

Machine Learning Techniques Improves Accuracy of System

The teams demonstrated the system worked closely to meet the theoretical limit of localization accuracy. It does so by leveraging what they call soft information for nodes in the network; nodes represent devices in IoT. The system extracts a wide array of features from the signals, notably including all possible contextual data. However, the vast data can be increasingly complex. Hence, researchers contended that for the system to be successful, they need to tone down the dimensions of these data. They achieved this by principal component analysis.

Another novel element to the system was incorporating machine learning (ML) techniques in the system. This equips the system to get acquainted with a statistical model that houses contextual data and measurements. The technique helps to reduce the effect of signal bouncing on the system.

Smart Cities to Harness The Potential

Industry players will harness the system in localization of things concept for various applications. Vast potential of the system serve as strong case for the expansion of the localization of things market. According to industry experts, the market will reach worth of no less than $128 billion by the end of 2027. Key ones are supply chain monitoring and autonomous navigation. In the coming years, connected smart cities will see the capabilities in connected smart cities in developed worlds. Further research will take place with nodes that have constraints of resources. The focus of the researchers will be to use as less computation power as possible.

Nissan Makes Replacement Parts for Discontinued Car Models Easy Available

Nissan has developed “dual-sided dieless forming,” a technique using robots to make car parts out of sheet steel. This could make replacement parts for discontinued models more widely available for customers. Thanks to its flexible production, short lead times and minimal upfront costs, the new technique could make it commercially viable to produce and sell a wide variety of after-service and replacement parts in small volumes for cars that Nissan no longer makes. This was previously not possible due to the high upfront costs and long lead times to develop and make dies for stamped parts.

Robotics has already demonstrated a good potential in high-volume production of replacement parts of automobiles. Automotive manufacturers need only smaller bathes for cars that are not popular. Particularly, it is difficult to get parts from the original manufacturer of models of cars, notably vintage cars, that no long find a market. Subsequently, the use of robots has been constrained by numerous challenges. A multinational automobile manufacturer Nissan has created a new robotic system to circumvent the problems. The company calls the new system nothing short of state-of-the-art technique where robots make replacement parts from flat sheet metals.

New Robotic System to Commercialize High-Precision Dual-Sided Dieless Forming

Most notably, the breakthrough they have achieved is through dual-sided dieless forming. The method was commercially infeasible as it needed two robots to work at the same time. The Japanese automaker has made this possible through software that make two robots work on different sides of the metal using separate dies at the same time. The company revealed that the system works with high precision, and use diamond coated tools to carve parts with high surface finish.

Nissan Venturing into Low-Production Manufacturing Techniques

Nissan has begun making efforts to make the technique cost-effective, faster, and precise, to aid commercialization. It has recently started venturing into low-production manufacturing techniques. Though, it has consolidating its robotic technologies for mass production, a low-set up manufacturing process such as this holds great promise.

However, the way toward commercialization won’t be easy. It has struck success with only sheet metals; several mechanicals are still out of the ambit of the system.

Scientists Develop New 3D Printing Technique for Soft Biomaterials

3D Printing

3D printing has still to show its potential in biomedical applications. Researchers particularly are interested in unleashing the additive manufacturing technology for medical implants. Printing of soft biomaterials has been replete with challenges—the most prominent of which is lack of biocompatibility. Previous techniques have been inefficient to support soft structures, since soft materials sag. Scientists have possibly found a solution to circumvent this.

Novel 3D Printing Technique Makes High-Precision Implants Possible  

Recently, researchers from the University of Birmingham have come out with a new technique they call suspended layer additive manufacturing (SLAM). The 3D printing technique uses polymer-based hydrogel which can house soft materials. The self-healing properties enables gels, and collagens, and other biomaterials to take shape with high precision. The lead of the research, Professor Liam M Grover, team opined that SLAM has an incredible potential in making implants.  Most notable of these are heart valves, blood vessels, and biocompatible plugs. Further, he contended that the technique can be useful in developing biomaterials to repair cartilage and bone damage.

Self-Healing Properties of Hydrogel Central to All

According to researchers, self-healing properties of the hydrogel has been the key aspect of the potential of the new 3D printing method. The properties help these materials to retain their shape, making 3D printing possible.

The research has opened a new paradigm in the use of 3D printing in health care. Hospitals in not-so-distant future will use the method to offer patient-tailored implants. Further, growing numbers of hospitals will benefit from a centralized 3D printing center. However, the clinical translation will take some time, unarguably.