Category Archives: News

Earpieces for police radios

There are quite a few police earpieces on the market right now, so the high likelihood is that whatever you need, someone, somewhere will be selling it. If it helps, I’ll give you a bit of an overview…

If you’re in the market for an overt police earpiece, or even if you fancy something a bit more discreet (like, um, a covert earpiece), you’ll certainly be able to find it on the World Wide Web. Police organizations across the world employ a wide variety of communications equipment, from ‘listen only’ devices to PTT (Push To Talk) earpieces and, as I said, a significant portion of that equipment is available for consumer purchase.

Covert earpieces can be wireless or wired and consist on an in-ear receiver and a hidden mic. The wireless models start at about £200 (240EUR), but the better models will set you back about £500 (607EUR). The more basic ‘wired’ models (the ones with the familiar coiled tube) are FAR cheaper, usually costing around £20 (24EUR).

The tube can fit into your ear canal either via a ‘mushroom tip’ (which blocks the ear canal entirely – hence the name, as there isn’t ‘mushroom in your ear’ once you wear it! Groan), or a ‘gel insert’ (I haven’t got any jokes for this one, sorry!) that is a little less invasive. The mushroom tip tends to block out ambient sounds, not unlike noise-cancelling headphones, while the gel inserts allow more background noise to bleed in. Both types work equally well and frankly it comes down to a matter of personal choice.

Finally, we come to the shapes: the two main shapes that police use are G€™ shape and D™ shape. The G shape looks, well, a bit like a ‘G’ and slips over the top of the ear, whilst the ‘D’ shape hooks round the back of the ear and resembles, you guessed it, the letter ‘D’. Once again, this is a matter of personal preference, but according to my reading, the G is considered more comfortable by most users.

The Motorola MTH800 and Sepura SRH series are among the most widely used police radios.

I hope that little info-bomb helps you, Renee. Police communication equipment tends to be sturdy, reliable and high performance, so it is the logical choice for security or surveillance work. It can also be available at very fair prices, which means that everybody has access to decent equipment.

Thanks for your question!

A Look At The Different Motorola Radio Earpieces

When it comes to discreet affairs, there definitely must be a discreet communication. Whether it is a security personnel or just a private group of designated people. Radios are used for communication between compatible devices within a specified location. Nevertheless, it would be less comfortable if someone talks via the radio and everyone hear the entire communication. Given the different types of two-way radios in the market, they usually come with a compatible earpiece. Among the most common radios are the Motorola radios. It would be super discreet and stylish if you had AMotorola radio earpiece to accompany your device. Some of the ideal Motorola 2-way radio earpiece connectors at EarpieceOnline include the following;

CP040 DP1400 2-Pin Connector

This Motorola 2-pin connector can work with a number of Motorola 2-way radios. It can also support some of the old version radios such as the DP1400, GP040 and the GP300. Some of the novel version of radios that are compatible to this earpiece include the DP1400 and the DP1000.

Features of the connector

* It has a changeable Foam sock so that you can replace if it has worn out.

* The earpiece also has a comfortable and flexible C-shaped earpiece.

* There is a secure moulded ear hook, for holding firm on the ear.

* It provides high quality audio.

* It comes with a noise reducing microphone for enhanced reception of incoming voice messages.

* The earpiece has a plastic that is covered by a label clip PTT button. The wire PTT is separated from the microphone and an ear hangar earpiece.

* It has a RoHS compliant feature and comes with Motorola earpiece 2-pin connector GP300/CP040/XTN/DP1400 and GP340 adapters.

DP3400 DP3600 Multi Connector

This is a multi pin connector works with all DP3000 DP4000 range of radios, with a 12-pin connector, it slots perfect onto the side of the DP radio and is securely screwed in so that the earpiece is securely locked in.

Features

* It is incorporated with Kevlar Reinforced for better surveillance and security.

* It has a secure fit tube connector, to avoid accidents of it cut from rough encounters.

* It offers a high quality audio.

* The earpiece has a Lapel clip PTT button and a separate wire PTT. That is separated from a noise reduction microphone and an acoustic tube. The acoustic tube runs over the ear, the FBI style.

* There is a changeable connector for flexible modification and flexible mushroom plugs that you can replace whenever.

DP2400 DP2600 multi connector

This is yet another different multi-pin connector that lets you connect to the DP2000 range of radios. This 8-pin connector fits on to the side of the radio and is locked in with a ‘pull out and slot-in’ connector, reducing the risk of broken screws or damage to the radio.

Features

* The acoustic tube runs over the ear and it has a secure fit connector for super surveillance and comfort.

* It has a separate wire PPT different from the acoustic tube and a microphone that reduces noise from the surrounding.

* The mushroom plugs are changeable and you can simply remove them when they are loose or worn out.

* It produces a high quality audio that reduces strain even when in a noisy environment.

GP340 GP680

This multi connector is compatible the GP range of radios, including the GP340 and GP680. The Connector is a 13-pin connector and is secured on the side of the radio, with a screw-in to secure the earpiece to the radio.

Features

* This multi connector has a high quality audio reception. That makes it comfortable to use anywhere, even in a crowded, noisy place.

* There is a microphone, which is separate from a wire PTT and an acoustic tube. The microphone is a noise reducing microphone, that helps to make the other end-user be comfortable.

* It has a RoHS compliant and an over the ear acoustic tube that holds firm to the ear.

* There is an adjustable connector that is versatile to other devices.

An elegant and well fitted earpiece will not only promote surveillance, but it will also be comfortable on the ear. That will ensure it is safe from damages in rough situations. A Motorola radio earpiece will be beneficial if you want a comfortable communication without having to speak loudly over the radio. Some of the radios are also slightly heavy, which makes them more comfortable when using an earpiece, that is worn beneath the clothing.

In NASCAR, How Do The Drivers Communicate With The Pit Crew?

NASCAR drivers use a unique radio system that is built in to their crash helmets. These are occasionally customized to suit the individual wearer. In addition to this, there is a push-to-talk button (exactly like the one found on a walkie-talkie), which is situated in the steering wheel. A wiring harness connects the various components together and a separate battery operates the whole thing. The signal is broadcast via a whip antenna that is attached to the roof of the car. In this fashion, NASCAR drivers are able to communicate with pit crews.

In addition to this, most cars are outfitted with a spare Motorola two-way radio that is within easy reach of the driver.

A firm out of Atlanta, Georgia named ‘Racing Radios’ provides the vast majority of the radios used in NASCAR races. Racing Radios have provided equipment to NASCAR races for 30 years or so; they are a trusted firm, creating all the standard NASCAR radio technology and also providing custom radios/peripherals for individual drivers.

According to Racing Radios spokesperson Tony Cornacchia, the majority of NASCAR drivers prefer to buy their own specialized equipment from the firm.

Because so many teams are racing and so many people are working on the race overall, it is not uncommon for NASCAR events to feature 100 FCC licensed radio broadcasts at any given time.

Racing Radios is the company that programs the individual frequencies, not only for drivers and pit crews, but also for staff, officials and security personnel. RR do such a good job, that neither drivers nor pit crews suffer regularly from interference or dead spots. Now that’s something.

According to Terry Boyce of ‘HowStuffWorks’, Many teams outfit their entire pit and support crews with custom-engineered, hand-built headphones and two-way radios ordered through Racing Radios. Multi-car teams may choose to connect even more people through their radio communications network. Active Noise Reduction (ANR) technology helps to cancel out distracting background noise. Exceptional communication is one of the reasons a 21st century NASCAR pit crew can change four tires and refuel a race car in around 13 seconds — and do it 10 or more times in a single race”.

The Different Icom Radio Connector Types Available

For a long time now, icom radios have been serving most of the consumers’ interests, offering both feature rich and compatible products. These products however need to be complemented with just the right accessories for them to work right. Here is a look at the icom 2 way radio connectors.

The Icom 2 pin right angle connector
The icom right angle connector is both convenient and flexible. It is used by most of the icom radio users, seeing it serve more people compared to the other two icom 2 way radio connectors. The icom right angle connector features a surgical grade acoustic. This ensures that you get incoming signals clearly, further enhancing efficiency. It is also made in a manner that it is easy to conceal, allowing use in environments that require discreetness. In addition to this, it also offers comfort, allowing you to wear it even for extended periods of time without feeling the itch that comes with most other connectors.

For convenience, the icom right angle connector is made in a manner that it is easy and fast to wear. It is suitable for use with the following range of icom radios: IC-F15, IC-F21, IC-F25, IC-F4GT, IC-G3GT, IC-F15s, IC-F3G, IC-F43GT, IC-F11, and the IC-F31 among others.

The icom straight pin connector
The icom straight pin connector is one of the icom 2 Way radio connectors made primarily for use with icom’s range of marine radios. Just like the icom right angle connector, the straight pin connector also offers excellent signal quality as it also comes with features like surgical grade acoustic. It is also made in a manner that it is easy to conceal, allowing for use in places where discreteness is crucial.

It further comes with a noise reducing microphone, a feature that adds to the audio quality. This allows the user to get clearer signals, and hence make better informed decisions. For convenience, it is also quite easy to put on and quite comfortable to the ears too.
If you are wondering whether your icom radio is compatible with the icom straight pin connector, you can easily verify this by checking the location of your radio’s switch. Generally, the icom range of radios compatible with this connector usually has the switch located at the place where the right angle pin connector would be connected to the radio.

The icom multi pin connector
The multi pin icom connector serves a lesser portion of the icom radio connectors as compared to the other icom 2 way radio connectors, being used mostly on the IC-F50 and the IC-F30GS. It comes with a nine pin connector making it flexible for most of the range products it is designed for. It further comes with a locking screw for effective fastening.
It also comes with surgical grade acoustic for good quality signal transmission. This ensures the user gets good quality and clear audio, ensuring efficiency. For use in sensitive areas, it is easy to conceal, and is designed in a manner that putting it on is easy and fast.

Accessories for icom 2 way radio connectors
Adjustments can be made to make these icom radio connectors work even better and with more ease on both parties’ parts. This can be made so by use of the diverse range of icom radio earpieces. Common accessories include soft ear plugs which make the icom connectors even more comfortable to the ears, allowing use for long periods of time. You may also connect with Bluetooth connectors for better signal transmission as well as to enable connection with other ranges of relevant devices.

Ensure you get good quality connectors
The quality of signal and audio you are bound to get on your icom connectors will depend on the quality of the connectors themselves. As such, it is crucial to ensure that you get good quality products. To ascertain the products quality and legitimacy, check to see that they are ROHS compliant, as this guarantees quality check. Also check to see that they are original icom products.

For enjoyable and assured shopping, it is recommended that you purchase these products from reputable sellers in the market. Market sentiment on icom 2 way radio forums will give you pretty good guidance.

Conclusion
Make the most out of your icom 2 way radio by using the right and good quality icom 2 way radio connectors.

Is it Worth Buying a Cheap Two Way Radio?

It depends on what you want to do with it. Two way radio technology is actually fairly simple. The basic mechanics of a radio don’t really change much from unit to unit, or from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Some radios may have flashier features (which you can decide for yourself if you really need) and others might have extra functions, such as the ability to switch between analogue and digital, but, to a large extent, a two way radio is a two-way radio.

A few of the features advertised (and no doubt added to the overall price) will do you no good whatsoever. For example, a radio claiming to have a range of 25-30 miles is simply lying to you. The average radio has a range of between 1 and 2 miles. Some are a little stronger that this, most are not.

Some radios advertise being waterproof or water resistant (some even come with built-in weather warnings) and, if you’re planning on using the radio in more outdoor conditions, then this is definitely a plus and worth spending money on.

Now, as for the tech itself, your radio’s power output is an important factor, but if you are only having a bit of fun, you likely wouldn’t need to go over 0.5 watts (and thus end up applying to Ofcom for a radio license). Generally, FRS (Family Radio Service) radios are cheapest and they are fine for a bit of fun, but GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radios, although they cost a little extra, are worth it if you need to transmit a stronger signal over a longer distance.

Other features, such as a built-in LED torch, a stopwatch, built-in alarms and/or a fancy light-up screen are only worth spending out on if you have a use in mind for them. Otherwise, it might be cheaper to simply provide torches and stopwatches to your staff if they require them. That’s a judgment call.

An emergency button, however, is always a good idea. The same is true for a ‘privacy’ function, especially if you are using your radio in an area with lots of other radio signals bouncing about.

Finally, we come to the idea of brand name. Certain products (we could name a particular headphone brand endorsed by a certain rapper, but we won’t) are all about selling the ‘in thing’ with a flashy logo, a branded image, a HUGE markup and little else to offer the customer. Radios are not this way, if you buy a trusted brand (such as Motorola), you can be assured of getting a quality product. In this instance, spending a little more for an established name can definitely pay off.

Essentially, if you want a two-way radio for business use, then it is worth spending out that little extra. However, if you only want one for hobby use, then you can pick one from the lower end of the market and not worry too much about it. Extra features are what add to the price more than anything else and it is entirely up to you to decide if you need them or not.

Time Travel is Possible, Says Noted Physicist

Physics Professor Brian Cox has determined that time travel is theoretically possible and that time machines could one day be a reality.

The British professor, who is also a TV Presenter and pop musician (having some success with the Northern Irish band D:Ream in the 1990’s), used Dr. Who’s famous TARDIS as a broad example of the type of time machine that he believes to be theoretically possible as well as scientifically sound.

“Can you build a time machine?” asked Cox during his speech at the British science festival, before answering his own question with a resounding “yes”.

However, according to Cox’s research, whilst time travel to the future is theoretically possible, time travel to the past is completely impossible. In addition, the trip would only be one way; there would be no going home.

Cox isn’t the first person to make this announcement; in fact, he’s borrowing directly from Einstein’s theory of special relativity when he states that movement at speeds close to the speed of light would theoretically cause time to slow down, but only for the individual travelling at such speeds.

Says Cox, “If you go fast, your clock runs slow relative to people who are still. As you approach the speed of light, your clock runs so slow you could come back 10,000 years in the future,”

Some scientists have suggested that the use of ‘wormholes’ would be a theoretically acceptable form of time travel. In fact, wormholes are a staple of science fiction stories. A wormhole (perhaps better referred to as an Einstein-Rosen Bridge) is, effectively, a passageway, or ‘shortcut’, through spacetime. The effect of a wormhole would be the spacial equivalent of writing ‘A’ on the far end of a piece of paper and ‘B’ on the other side, then putting the two letters together and punching a hole through the paper with a pencil.

However, in his speech, professor Cox refuted the idea that such a ‘bridge’ could ever be truly stable, saying,

“In General Relativity, you can do it in principle. It’s to do with building these things called wormholes; shortcuts through space and time. But most physicists doubt it. Hawking came up with the ‘chronology protection conjecture’ – physics we don’t yet understand that means wormholes are not stable.”

On the heels of this announcement, Professor Cox, an ardent fan of Dr. Who, will be delivering a 60-minute speech about the popular TV show, which will be screened by the BBC on November 23rd. In the speech, the professor will share his thoughts on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the potential discovery of new dimensions and, of course, time travel.

Yahoo! Becomes ‘Yikes!’ as Recycled Accounts Relay Sensitive Information to the Wrong People

Yahoo!’s policy of recycling inactive email accounts has backfired on them, as new account owners are receiving personal emails that aren’t meant for them.

The policy, active since June, means that Yahoo IDs and addresses are reassigned to a new user if left inactive for a year or more. But obviously both Yahoo! and some of its users got more than they bargained for.

The emails have been reported to contain highly sensitive information. As a result, privacy experts have been called in, in order to solve the problem quickly and without further incident.

According to a Yahoo! Spokesperson, “Before recycling inactive accounts we attempted to reach the account owners [in] multiple ways to notify them that they needed to log in to their account or it would be subject to recycling,” The spokesperson went on to say that, “We took many precautions to ensure this was done safely – including deleting any private data from the previous account owner, sending bounce-backs to the senders for at least 30-60 days letting them know the account no longer existed and unsubscribing the accounts from commercial mail.”

Interviewed by BBC News, Tom Jenkins, an IT security professional and recipient of such an account, revealed just how damaging this malfunction could potentially be, “I can gain access to their Pandora account, but I won’t. I can gain access to their Facebook account, but I won’t. I know their name, address and phone number. I know where their child goes to school. I know the last four digits of their social security number. I know they had an eye doctor’s appointment last week and I was just invited to their friend’s wedding.”

As much as Yahoo! has responded swiftly to this scandal, critics who have slated the initiative from the beginning are now finding themselves vindicated. Mike Rispoli of Privacy International said, “These problems were flagged by security and privacy experts a few months ago when Yahoo announced their intention to recycle old emails, and cautioned that Yahoo’s plan created significant security and privacy risks. Yahoo downplayed these risks, and ignored critics, but now we see these concerns were legitimate,”

Mr. Rispoli went on to say that, “This email recycling scheme, an effort to re-engage old users and attract new ones, is resulting in some of our most intimate data being accessed by someone we don’t know and without our knowledge (…) We’re talking about account passwords, contacts for friends and families, medical records – this issue needs to be addressed immediately by Yahoo if they care about the privacy of their users and want them to trust the company with sensitive information.”

Our experts say that the best way to avoid this fate is actually to cancel any email account that is not currently in at least semi-regular use, having first deleted all content from the account.

SOURCE:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24283179

Tech We’d Like to See: Cities on the Moon

What it is:

Placing a city (or several) on the moon has long been a dream of science fiction writers, futurists and ambitious scientists. Recently however, renewed public interest in space exploration, together with a growing realization that the world is becoming dangerously overpopulated, has lead some scientists, artists and zealous would-be lunar colonists to start taking this ages-old dream extremely seriously.

Why we want it:

Because it could potentially be one of the only non-genocidal solutions to the eventual overpopulation of planet earth. Also, who wouldn’t want to sit on the moon and watch the Earth rise?

When can we expect it?

A couple of years ago, a group called Moon Capital launched a high profile competition, allowing scientists, architects and aspiring artists the chance to create scientifically plausible scenes of moon colonisation (in the style made famous by super-artist Chesley Bonestell).

The competition had (hypothetical) moon colonisation taking place in the year 2068. This estimate was good enough for the entrants of the competition, so it’ll be good enough for us, too. Hopefully, then, you’ll get your lunar colony in about 55 years time (just under a hundred years after Neil Armstrong took that one small step….)

Of course, the problems posed by such a feat of engineering are many-fold. For starters, the moon is some 380,000 km away from us at any given time, (which is quite a trip for a moving van, even taking speed cameras out of the equation), then there’s the difficulty of actually building a working city in such a hostile environment…

We’ve built space stations, of course, so we know we can construct things in space, but they aren’t exactly desirable places to live. Also, we can get people to the moon and back (we’ve been at it since the 60’s, no matter what the conspiracy nuts tell you), but the trip is still intensely dangerous and requires a great deal of training and preparation.

Finally, we come to the complete lack of breathable atmosphere on the moon; this would require scientists to create some sort of artificial environment (or else speed up development of terraforming methods, but that’s a story for another time).

Oh yeah, there’s no food either, not unless you like your Selenite steaks rare.

Yes, the idea of colonising the moon poses a number of mind-boggling obstacles, but if there’s one thing that we as a species excel at, its overcoming obstacles.

So, while it may seem far-fetched to imagine something like this actually happening, consider this; the first powered flight took place in 1903 and just 66 years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were hanging out on the moon. Think on that for a second.

Cool Factor: 5/5

Cities on the moon? Now that’s cool.

What you need to consider before buying a Motorola Earpiece

For most people, clarity of sound when using their radios is very important. Only through clear sound will you be able to receive and understand the message being conveyed. For proper sound, you might consider using a good set of earpiece. Motorola radio earpiece is the ear piece to go for. This earpiece has been made using the latest technology to ensure you enjoy top quality sound. Additionally, the huge popularity of the gadget is more than enough proof of its reliability and exceptional performance.

How to choose the ideal earpiece
There are numerous brands of earpiece flooding the market. This makes it hard trying to choose the best earpiece. However, it is very much possible settling for the best. This is possible only if you put a few factors into consideration. Some of the things to note include:

• Cost. You certainly do not expect to spend a lot on this gadget. As much as you do not want to spend much, it is important that you consider the price. Ensure that you go for something that has a reasonable price. This will ensure that you get what you are looking for plus full value for your money.

• Quality. Price will certainly dictate quality. Quality earpieces produce clear sound. Additionally, quality means that the earpieces are durable and can endure any type of conditions.

• Brand name. The brand name on the earpiece is also very important. Therefore, ensure that you only go for a gadget that has been manufactured by an experienced company.

• Reviews. You might want to seek the opinion of people who have used the brand that you want to go for. This will ensure that you get an overview of the product you want to purchase.
motorola earpieceMotorola radio earpiece will definitely meet and surpass the requirements of any customer.
Why you need to chose Motorola radio earpiece
By choosing the earpiece from technology giants Motorola, you are assured of leaping numerous benefits. Additionally, the fact that the earpiece is widely used is more than enough proof of its reliability. The gadget has also undergone testing and has been proven fit for use. Some of the advantages of choosing Motorola earpiece are:

• Affordable. This gadget is offered at a very pocket friendly price. This is meant to ensure that anyone despite class or status can afford to receive the best sound from their radios

• Quality. This is a high quality gadget that gives an outstanding performance. The sound produced is of high quality and crystal clear. This does not pose a threat to the well being of your ears. This makes the earpiece very reliable.

• Durability. The material used in manufacturing the earpiece will ensure that it serves you for long. Additionally, the earpiece is able to withstand any condition without wearing out.

• Widely used. The wide use of this radio earpiece is more than enough assurance that you are purchasing a high quality product.

• Ideal for privacy. At times you might require taking a message discreetly. The Motorola radio earpiece will ensure that you receive the message in a clear manner.

• Striking features. The 3.5 mm jack makes it possible for you to use the earpiece with different gadgets. The earpiece is also built to enhance comfort while using it. It is compatible with: DP2400, DP3400, GP340 and CP040.

Where to purchase the earpiece
With the rise in counterfeit products, it is surely a hard task finding original products. Therefore, ensure you exercise a lot of caution when shopping for the gadget. This is a move bent at ensuring you do not make a purchase that you will later regret. Beware of con artists who are out there to make a kill out of your hard earned cash. Ensure you only purchase this gadget from a trusted dealer. Additionally, the earpiece is available in various online stores. Also, ensure you purchase from a reputable online store. This will ensure that you only purchase an original product that will diligently serve you.

Conclusion
It is time you received messages with a lot of clarity. This is only possible if you choose the appropriate set of earpiece. If you were wondering the ideal type of earpiece to go for, you now know better. Motorola 2 way radio earpiece is surely the choice to make.

Earth-Like’ Asteroid Devoured by Dead Star

The Hubble Space Telescope has recorded an intriguing event some 150 light-years from Earth.

A large asteroid was pulled into the White Dwarf star (named ‘GD 61’ by astronomers) and utterly destroyed. This is not an unusual event, as even dead stars still exhibit a very high level of gravity. However, scientists are interested because the chemical signatures left in the star’s atmosphere indicate the presence of water and a rocky surface, both considered to be key building blocks for the creation of life on our planet.

Until this event was observed, water and a rocky surface had never been found together on an object outside our solar system.

The asteroid consisted of the elements magnesium, silicon, iron and oxygen, all of which are usually found in rock minerals, but scientists believe that the abundance of oxygen indicated the heavy presence of H20.

The object was at least 90KM across and as much as 26% of that is thought to have been water. Earth is considered to be just 0.02% water.

This discovery is important because it gives scientists a vindicating glimpse of how inhabitable environments may have been formed, receiving key components (such as water) from outside sources such as meteorites.

It is thought that water first arrived on our planet by similar means and that other planets in the GD 61 system would once have received water this way as well. According to BBC News, scientists consider the presence of rocky planets in the GD system to have been “very likely”.

Scientists have observed over 1,000 planets outside our solar system, but none is thought to contain water.

Closer to home, some planets and heavenly bodies are thought to contain water. Mars is considered by many to once have had liquid water, but if this is still the case, it is a greatly reduced amount.

Elsewhere, Jupiter’s moon Europa raises a tantalizing prospect that there are oceans under its icy surface. This has led to some convincing research into the possible presence of ocean currents there. However, Europa is not alone, its fellow moons Callisto and Ganymede have also been suggested as candidates for liquid water.

In addition, Rhea (moon of Saturn), Titania (moon or Uranus), Oberon (also orbiting Uranus), Triton (moon of Neptune), Pluto (dwarf planet), Eris (dwarf planet), Sedna (possible dwarf planet) and Orcus (another possible dwarf planet) are all speculated to have oceans, some of which may be in contact with the rocky core of the respective body, which would hypothetically result in a steady stream of minerals and salts into the water – an important factor in creating life.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has geysers, which is seen as proof of the presence of water or at least water vapours. It has even been theorized by some that Neptune contains oceans of liquid diamond.

The heavy presence of water on this asteroid is a vital clue for scientists and their understanding, not only of the cosmos, but also of how our home planet came into being.

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24491845

Tech We’d Like To See: The Dermal Regenerator

What it is:

A prop oft mentioned and seen in ‘Star Trek’ from ‘The Next Generation’ onwards, the dermal regenerator is a wonderful little slice of 24th century medicine.

Usually depicted as a small, handheld device that emits a miniature laser beam, the Regenerator is used to heal minor flesh wounds, fix scars and repair trauma that would otherwise require stitches.

As far as I know, the theoretical underpinnings of this amazing device are never discussed, so I have no idea how it is supposed to work (unlike warp drive, which is powered by a matter/anti matter reaction, just in case you wondered).

Why we want it:

Can you imagine never needing to have stitches or never having to painfully heal up after a nasty run in with a kitchen knife? Moreover, can you imagine a world where serious injuries, 3rd degree burns or facial scars could be treated permanently, in a matter of seconds?

Many painful minor injuries would be rendered completely harmless and hospitals would get through most of their A&E in-patients in a matter of minutes.

When can we expect it?

Dermal regeneration technology is actually not as far away as we might think.

A few years ago, scientists pioneered what they called a ‘skin cell gun’ as a method for treating burn victims. This little doohickey literally sprays stem cells taken from the victim onto the inflamed skin.

While a skin graft can be prone to infection, take ages to heal and involve a long and agonizing recovery process, the skin cell gun can replicate a successful skin graft in a matter of days, completely removing the need for surgery.

The skin cell gun can be used to treat second-degree burns, as it relies on the body’s natural healing abilities and works with existing skin cells. It is, however, not quite at the level of Star Trek’s favourite medical tool.

The gun cannot be used to treat third-degree burns, for example, because they strip away both the epidermis and dermis skin levels, leaving the cells nothing to work with. In addition, the gun can only be used on fresh burns.

There are other drawbacks too, leading to the skin cell gun’s status as ‘not yet approved’ by the FDA. Principally, the device is still relatively untested and no one knows what sort of long-term future the repaired skin may have.

On the upside, Jörg C. Gerlach, inventor of this amazing device, has also been able to demonstrate that the newly grown skin cells actually go on to become fully functional in every way, forming epidermis, dermis and even new blood vessels. The new skin also better matches the original pigmentation of the victim.

It is hoped by many in the scientific community that a similar method as that used by the skin cell gun may also one day be used to grow replacement organs for those in need of a transplant.

Star Trek’s dermal regenerator may yet be a convenient fiction, but the prototype for it exists in the here and now, with extremely promising results. Will a technology that closely resembles the ones used by Beverly Crusher and her colleagues in the 24th Century be available in the real world one day? It certainly looks likely, I’m happy to say.

Cool Factor: 4/5

Nothing says progress like laser beams that re-grow injured skin in a matter of seconds. Imagine the amount of people who’s suffering would simply cease. Here’s hoping that we eventually see this device in action (or not, as the case may be, given that I’d probably have to endure a painful injury in order to do so).

What is Ham Radio & How Does it Work?

Ham radio (so called because its operators were originally derided as being ‘hammy’ in the 19th century, when the technology first emerged) is a term that applies to any form of amateur radio broadcasting.

There are designated radio frequency spectra available solely for public use. Uses range from recreation to communication and the non-commercial exchange of ideas. ‘Hams’ take advantage of these frequencies in order to transmit any number of things

Strictly speaking, there should not be any money involved in amateur radio (hence the term ‘amateur’). Although the majority of Ham radio practitioners are actually extremely knowledgeable about radio technology (don’t let the ‘ham’ part fool you), they are not considered professionals because they do not profit from their endeavors. Conversely, commercial broadcasting involves (a lot of) money: royalties are paid, producers and performers are paid and the whole thing is ultimately a commercial exercise.

Hams use a large amount of frequency bands from all across the radio spectrum, but the majority of frequencies are to be found just above the AM band.

A lot of hams, however, use VHF FM, operating hand-held transceivers that send on one frequency and receive on another. Local radio clubs set up FM Repeaters (which borrow space from other broadcast devices such as towers and, in doing so, amplify the radio signal’s strength hundreds of times over), so that hams can communicate with each other wirelessly over a distance of hundreds of miles.

As an example of what hams get up to, here’s an excerpt from Gary Brown, of ‘How Stuff Works.com

“Although a ham radio does broadcast in all directions, hams generally do not use their radios in a broadcast kind of way as a disk jockey would at a radio station. In normal AM or FM radio, one disk jockey transmits and thousands of people listen. Hams, on the other hand, conduct two-way conversations, often with another ham or with a group of hams in an informal roundtable. The roundtable of hams may be in the same town, county, state, country or continent or may consist of a mix of countries, depending on the frequency and the time of the day. Hams also participate in networks, often called nets, at predetermined times and frequencies to exchange third-party messages. In the case of disasters, hams exchange health and welfare information with other hams”.

To become a ham, I recommend that you join a club. You’ll need an amateur radio license, of course, but this won’t break the bank, I’m sure.

I hope that helps.

Why do secret service guys wear those earpieces with the coiled wires instead of something less conspicuous?

That’s actually a pretty good question. Good quality wireless earpieces are available, affordable and would be far more inconspicuous than the classic ‘wired’ models. So why don’t the secret service make their presence a little more, well, secret?

The main reason is largely psychological in nature (though there will be a technical component later on). You see, if a potential troublemaker looks into a crowd and sees nobody there that he/she identifies with as a threat, then said troublemaker will be far more likely to start making trouble. However, if they notice secret service guys using their trademark earpieces, then they might think twice about it and a lot of unpleasantness can actually be avoided.

To you or I (assuming that you aren’t a troublemaker, Joe), the secret service guys are just that, they usually appear to protect someone or something, so we ought to have no reason to fear them. Ergo, they stand out just enough to deter the would-be troublemakers, but not so much that they frighten the rest of us or distract from whatever proceedings we happen to be, um, proceeding with.

If you’re sitting there saying, “hang on, what happens if they want to sneak up on someone?” then my answer is still the same, expect that I would imagine that the secret service would put two or three agents within visual distance of a suspect and then ‘herd’ the troublemaker towards other agents in the vicinity. I have no evidence (or experience, I’m grateful to say), to back that up, but it seems reasonable to me to do it that way.

Now, onto the technical part: wireless communication, whilst it has improved greatly in the last few years, is still not as reliable as the more old fashioned forms of ‘wired’ communication. Wireless communication can be subject to signal interference, as well as suffering from a more limited bandwidth.Finally, wireless communications gobble up battery power far more than their wired counterparts, so for tasks that may last for several long hours at a time, long battery life is a must.

When the wireless technology improves, I suspect that the secret service will make the leap, but I also suspect that they’ll keep the coil, for the reasons stated above.

Also, as an added extra – if you’re wondering why they touch their ears when they receive a message (much to my fellow Brit James Bond’s chagrin), well, that’s because pushing the earpiece into your ear drowns out background noise and also makes the message louder. They simply do it for sound clarity when receiving important information.

Why Do Earphone Chords Get Tangled in Your Pocket?

The answer “because they just do” may be your first response to this question (indeed, it was mine), but its knot a good one (Yeah, yeah, I know…)

Actually, it has to do with Entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) and things tending toward disorder. In fact, the universe seems to exist in a state of ordered chaos (or chaotic order, whichever way you choose to see it) and your headphones are obeying the order of the Universe by causing chaos whilst in your pocket. Maybe.

Alternatively, Summer Ash of ‘NPR.org’ says that,

“Mathematicians have studied knots forever and developed all sorts of theories and classifications of their variations, but physicists have only recently began to explore what equations govern their formation”.

She goes on to describe an experiment, carried out by Physicists Douglas Smith and Dorain Raymer, which involved spinning a length of string with a motor to see if it was tangled or not, they did this 3,415 times. Why that precise number?

Well, according to Smith, “The scientific answer is that 3,415 was around the point where we had statistically compelling results. The human answer is that 3,415 times was about as much as we could stand.”

You wouldn’t expect a guy who appears to have taken the term ‘String Theory’ literally to have a sense of humour, but there you go. I’ll let Summer explain the rest;

“They concluded that with a minimum length of string (18.124 inches) and sufficient space for the string to shift around in its container, knots formed fairly quickly, often within the first few seconds. Inputting these results into a computer model, they even managed to create a program that could identify the “Jones polynomial” for each resulting knot, a mathematical property based on parameters such as the number of string crossings”.

Ergo, when you consider the length of your headphone chord and how much space it has to move around in your pocket (especially when you’re out and about, going to/from work, jogging, walking the dog or whatever), it becomes clear that you’re knot going to avoid the odd entanglements (sorry. I’ll stop now). Its just physics. In fact, if it doesn’t happen all the time, you’ve probably beaten odds close to winning a decent amount on the lottery. Think about that.

Anyway, to sum up, today, we’ve now learned together that knotted headphone cables are a natural symptom of business as usual in the Universe. It is indicative of the great wide somewhere winking down at us and reassuring us that it’s all going to be alright and that everything is going exactly according to plan. A way of saying that the days of our lives are as predestined as every grain of sand on every single beach on every single world in every single galaxy…

Or, if you prefer, the Universe is basically a Grant Morrison re-write of a Phillip K. Dick wet dream.

Or, if you prefer:

Headphones get tangled up in your pocket. Why?  Because they just do.

Why Did Blu Ray Beat HD DVD?

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but my first though upon seeing this question was ‘what is an HD DVD?’ This indicates at least two things:

1)      That HD DVD was never all that successful.

2)      That I’m a bit of an idiot.

Well, for the uninitiated (such as myself) a quick search to Wikipedia, reveals that

“HD DVD (short for High-Definition/Density DVD) is a discontinued high-density optical disc format for storing data and high-definition video. Supported principally by Toshiba, HD DVD was envisioned to be the successor to the standard DVD format. In February 2008, after a protracted format war with rival Blu-ray Disc, Toshiba abandoned the format, announcing it no longer developed or manufactured HD DVD players or drives”.

In an amusing blog posted by Thomas Ricker at Engadget.com (the principal image of which is Monty Python’s totally dismembered Black Knight with the words ‘HD DVD’ superimposed on his helmet), Toshiba’s backing out of manufacturing HD DVD was very much the death knell for the ailing format. He says,

“HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer electronics and IT will continue to progress”.

Elsewhere, whilst there are some other blog posts of the time that seem to maintain a tone similar to ‘the South shall rise again’ (no, it won’t. No matter how many times you say it), the majority can see the writing on the wall by February 2008.

But why did Blu Ray beat HD DVD? And why did it apparently happen so suddenly?

Well, it seems that Sony and Toshiba both wanted to develop an HD disc format as a natural successor to DVD, however, they just couldn’t agree on the specifics. For whatever reason, no matter how hard executives argued on both sides, no compromise could be made as to which approach was best. According to T3.com’s Chris Smith,

“Talks took place in April in an attempt to unify the formats, but ended in a stalemate and studios began to pick sides. Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, New Line, HBO and Microsoft Xbox initially backed HD-DVD, while Disney, Lionsgate, Mitsubishi, Dell and the PlayStation 3 had Blu-ray’s back. Both companies enjoyed minor victories, but it would all come down to the grandest arena tech has to offer: the Consumer Electronics Show 2008. Both sides were primed and ready for CES to turn the tide. Then Warners defected to Blu-ray. HD-DVD’s celebration Champagne corks came out not with a victorious pop but with an embarrassed fart”.

 Smith goes on to report that the trade show was an unequivocal disaster. The decline of HD DVD seems to be traced directly back to that moment, with Warner Bros striking the killing blow for the fledgling format. It is amazing just how quickly a technology can go from a neck and neck race for the top spot to an ignominious death in just a few short hours. From the standpoint of the consumer, it was easier (not to mention cheaper) to have a clear option to buy, which ultimately meant that there could only ever be one winner.

I’ll let Chris Smith deliver the postscript, following the CES failure,

“HD-DVD tried to counter with almost daily price cuts, but its remaining partners deserted it. Just five weeks after CES, Toshiba shut down the HD-DVD production line and the hi-def death match was over. After a brief, face-saving assertion that DVD upscaling was now the way to go, Toshiba eventually caved in and released its first Blu-ray player last year. For Sony, 20 years after being forced to embrace the VHS format that killed Betamax, it must have been an exceedingly sweet moment”.

Sweet indeed.

MATE ROV Competition and Live Video Feed

Today was the first of three competition days at the MATE international ROV competition in Orlando, Florida. The Casus team spent the day attending competition events, unpacking the ROV, preparing for a safety inspection, and setting up a display for engineering judges. The ROV passed the safety inspection, but would not respond when it was powered up. The controls team identified the problem — a faulty power conversion unit, likely damaged during the shipping process. As of 10:30 PM, the Casus team is working in a hotel room, equipped with a limited set of tools, but with confidence in their ability to fix the problem.

We Need Your Help To Get To Florida

As the competition deadline draws near, we are making final changes to the as-of-yet unnamed ROV. Mission tooling is being attached. The pressure hull is being improved on. Most of our work involves the technicalities presented by the international competition. To travel to Florida and compete, the team will need to write a technical report, create a display poster, and practice a confident vehicle presentation. Travel has to be booked, and fast: our team has a great machine and the motivation to do well at the competition, but we haven’t raised the funds necessary to pay for our shipping, flight, and hotel room expenses in Florida. If you’re anything like me, it might be easier to donate money designated toward ROV parts than trip expenses for some college students. So, I’d like to give you a few reasons the trip is important:

  • Publicity. The UW ROV team can make its name known at the international venue, attracting support from a larger audience.
  • Practice. We plan on winning Seattle’s competition next year, and the experience gained at the Florida venue would pave the way for our success.
  • We want to help you. The UW ROV team isn’t just in this for the show. We want to build an ROV for use by researchers in the Puget Sound, and this competition is a stepping stone for that goal.
  • Our machine deserves the chance. We’re confident in our ability to make a great run at the competition, and take a shot for the first place trophy.
  • We’re really cool. Some of us spend many hours each week working on this project, and although we don’t do this for the glory, it would be rewarding to see our hard work paid off in a competition against our peers.

Sound good? I think so, too. Head over to http://www.uwrov.com/about-us/ to help us out. Your contribution will be put to good use. We’d like to thank you ahead of time for your support, and recognize that none our work is possible without our sponsors. UW ROV: Getting the job done since 2011.