Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (RAPD)

The Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (RAPD) program supports research that will lead to the development of new technologies, devices, or software for persons with disabilities. Research may be supported that is directed to the characterization, restoration, and/or substitution of human functional ability or cognition, or to the interaction of persons with disabilities and their environment.

Areas of particular recent interest are disability-related research in neuroscience/neuroengineering and rehabilitation robotics. Emphasis is placed on significant advancement of fundamental engineering and scientific knowledge and not on incremental improvements. Proposals should advance discovery or innovation beyond the frontiers of current knowledge in disability-related research. Applicants are encouraged to contact a program director prior to submitting a proposal.

Undergraduate Engineering Design Projects are also supported, especially those that provide prototype "custom-designed" devices or software for persons with disabilities. The education of undergraduate engineering students is enhanced through Undergraduate Engineering Design Projects' awards supported by the RAPD program.

Characteristics of undergraduate engineering design projects to aid persons with disabilities include:

* The primary goal of this activity is to provide a meaningful design experience for the engineering student that will directly aid a specific individual with a disability. Undergraduate student engineers or engineering technology students develop prototype "custom-designed" devices and software in this regard.

* The PI and the students work with institutions providing care or education for individuals with disabilities.

* The proposal must include a short description of ten possible design projects. These projects should be suitable for an undergraduate student, or a small team of students, to complete in about one year. The proposal should include a letter of support from an appropriate administrator of an institution providing care or education to individuals with disabilities. The letter should certify that the institution and the university will work cooperatively on the design projects.

* The PI provides an annual report that includes a description of the successfully completed design projects during the previous academic year. Each PI is expected to implement a high percentage of projects each year. It is also expected that the projects will contain appropriate levels of quantitative engineering analysis.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Glory Mission

The Glory Mission Will Increase Our Understanding of the Earth's Energy Balance
Twenty years ago, Brent Holben was part of a NASA team studying vegetation from space. In an unlikely career twist, his research morphed into the study of a critical, if overlooked, subplot in the story of climate change.

From his office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., Holben helps manage the world’s largest network of ground-based sensors for aerosols -- tiny specks of solids and liquids that waft about in the atmosphere. These particles come from both human and natural sources and can be observed everywhere in the world.

Scientists know that some of them play an outsized role in Earth’s climate. And much of that knowledge has come from the Aerosol Robotic Network, or AERONET, the collaborative, international sensor network which Holben leads.

"Aerosols play a key role in climate, and pretty much everybody who studies aerosols uses data from AERONET," said William Lau, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Division at Goddard. "Without AERONET, our understanding of the climate system simply wouldn’t be where it is today."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Underwater Submersibles

Over the last few decades, engineers have urbanized submersible technologies capable of meeting the several challenges that the deep sea imposes ahead explorers. Using advanced submersible technologies, amazing new deep-water ecosystems have been discovered. Many of these communities were supposed not to exist in harsh environments devoid of light and under severe pressure. One such community was found in an area surrounding a hydrothermal vent, where water temperatures reach hundreds of degrees Centigrade and the water is covered in caustic sulfur. After preliminary studies, which discovered many new species and raised even more questions about these organisms, researchers declared these communities to be as complex as many found on land.

As much as we may learn about our planet's underwater habitats through the use of satellites, shipboard sensors and divers, these technologies scratch only the surface of the oceans. Submersibles alone allow us to explore the abyssal depths. This section of the Ocean Explorer Web site highlights more than a few of the major advancements in submersible equipment. These submersibles allow us to travel deeper and with a greater degree of freedom than ever before, so that we can observe, describe and ultimately explain the phenomena of life in the deep ocean kingdom.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The oldest mummies

Archaeologist’s digging out a 5 000-year-old burial site exterior Cairo has opened a tomb containing the little of the earliest evidence of mummification. They say hat this is the oldest mummies ever found.

Archaeologists opened a number of unbroken wooden coffins found in a previously ignored committal shaft in the Sakkara area, about 25km south of Cairo. One of the skeletons, lying in the fetal position and facing east, had linen wrapped around parts of the body.

Burial place opened in past backed up that dating. It enclosed with the body of 35-year-old women with proof of blood around her. X-rays exposed that she had a broken skull, and sign that she might have been assassinated for a sacrifice.

The partially mummified skeleton will be X-rayed and studied to resolve its sexual characteristics and age at death. Each and every one wooden coffer would also be inspected closely and treated with natural substances to help protect its condition.
As the area is only partly cleared, it is not well-known yet how large it is or how many tombs it contains.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

IT sector sees hope in BJP's vision

Most IT firms opine that the IT Vision of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a good omen for the domestic IT industry which is buckling under the pressure of the global meltdown for the last couple of quarters. The BJP created a flutter in the industry circle when its announced a 30-page IT vision document which includes creation of 12 million IT-enabled jobs for rural India; providing of laptops to 10 million students at Rs 10,000 per piece; immediate implementation of VoIP; protection of domestic hardware manufacturers against imports and promotion in the usage of open source software. The party reportedly consulted the heads of at least 10 top IT companies before finalising the document.

Vinnie Meheta, executive director of MAIT, the body that represents the hardware industry in India, said: “We are glad that somebody has defined their IT agenda very clearly. It’s more gladdening to see that they have touched the hardware sector which has untapped potential to create lot more job opportunities. The announcement is very timely and pertinent as the IT industry needs some succour due to the current economic situation.” “I think the BJP has really done well by including IT in their vision document. Many people feel that the government is facing a huge loss of tax by promoting the IT sector. However, many IT-rich southern states including Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have experienced tax growth of over 40 per cent during the last four years, mainly because of IT. The IT vision of BJP will really come handy for creation of new job opportunities in the IT and ITeS sector in India where we still have a large percentage of unemployed graduates struggling to provide their services for the growth of the country,” said Vivek Kulkarni, the former IT secretary of Karnataka who is now the chairman and CEO of BrickWork India.

Industry body Nasscom also is quite enthusiastic about the inclusion of IT in the manifesto of political parties. “The potential of IT in the creation of job opportunities in India is still enormous and I am delighted that the BJP has come out with a strong vision statement for the IT industry. I won’t be able to comment how it will help them in capturing votes,” Ganesh Natarajan, chairman of Nasscom said. The idustry feels the IT vision document by BJP is ‘very practical’ and can be implemented. “The proposals laid down by BJP in their vision document are very practical, and I see no reason why these can’t be implemented,” says Natarajan who is also the chairman of Pune-based Zensar Technologies. “A great degree of this is achievable provided they implement this in the first year of the new government, if come to power,” says T V Mohandas Pai, Head of Administration and HR, Infosys Technolgies.

Analysts also feel that political parties in India are slowly realising the importance of IT not only for the economy, but also for their poll campaigns. The Congress party which is now heading the UPA government at the Centre had been an active supporter of the IT industry in the past.

Industry body Nasscom has found very good supporters within the Congress party from leaders like Jairam Ramesh, Kamalnath and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

The fact that every year millions of youths are coming upto the voting age is driving political parties to show a tech-savvy face to such electorate base. Besides, political parties are also realising that technology will play a vital role in delivering good governance to common people and reaching out to the electorate.

Despite the growth in the IT sector, however, political parties in India lag their counterparts in Americas and Europe in the use of IT in election management.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/it-sector-sees-hope-in-bjp%5Cs-vision/352081/

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mobile Number Portability in August

Come August and mobile phone subscribers will not have to go through the troublesome routine of informing everyone about a number change in case they decide to switch to another service provider.

Union Communications and IT Minister A Raja said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) plans to introduce Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in major cities, followed by other cities by the end of this year. He made the announcement at the launch of BSNL's 3G services in Chennai.

The MNP system will allow subscribers to retain their number when they shift their telecom service provider.

The DoT had approved MNP in November 2008, saying the system would initially be introduced in the metros.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Killzone 2, Afro Samurai

When Sony showed off the capabilities of its newest system -- the PlayStation 3 -- at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2005, one game had nearly everyone talking.

The short video, presented without explanation, was an amazing futuristic war game with visuals that exceeded anything that could be done at the time. Quite simply, we couldn't believe our eyes; there was no way a game could look that good. Surely the footage had to be some kind of pre-rendered clip, not actual in-game footage.

When it is finally released on Feb. 27, will Killzone 2 be that great, once-in-a-lifetime game everyone is expecting it to be?

Sadly, the answer is no.

Don't get us wrong. K2 is still an amazing war game that belongs alongside the other big boys in the future war category, such as the Resistance and Gears of War franchises. It is technologically flawless and a sight to behold.

Unfortunately, it's really not much different from the rest of the aforementioned titles that came out last holiday season, save for the frustratingly different default control setup (which can be changed to a more standard setup without much trouble). Fight the bad guys, drive 'em back, blah, blah, blah. We've played this a thousand times before.

Though Killzone 2 does look better than most, it ultimately fails to live up to the insanely high expectations that had been created for it -- and that's a shame.

Grade: A (The same high level as its predecessors, but little else)

Details: PlayStation 3 platform; $59.99; rated Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language)

Wasting such great potential

All the elements are there to make Afro Samurai one of the best games ever: a fresh, comic-inspired visual style; funky, original characters; good controls; a great soundtrack supervised by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan; even the voice of Samuel L. Jackson in all his uncensored glory.

As if to prove that even the best ingredients still require a great chef, Samurai is so horribly assembled it quickly becomes apparent that the game is flawed to the core (and not just because you can slice people in half in a big, bloody mess).

Besides the atrociously confusing level design that seems as if it was created to force you to walk in circles, and the miserable sound mixing that sets some of the characters' voices at full scream while others are at whisper levels, when we tested it out, Samurai suffered from a giant glitch near the conclusion of the first battle that ended the fight abruptly and caused the game to inexplicably skip ahead.

All the money spent on those billions and billions of billboards advertising the game and the animated film on DVD would have been better spent on some quality control.

Grade: A (for visuals and story), D-minus (for level design and sound mixing)

Details: Xbox 360 and Play- Station 3 platforms; $59.99; rated Mature (blood and gore, drug reference, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language)

Killing zombies and looking good

Another recently released gory samurai game is the Japanese import Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad.

Here's the setup: Two shapely sisters have to fight off wave after wave of angry zombies, determined to eat brains or whatever it is zombies do. By swinging their mighty samurai swords, the sisters can slice the zombies in two. And, as in most cheesy horror films, even that won't stop the zombies; their legs and waists attack on their own.

Oh, and did we mention that the older sister wears a skimpy bathing suit that would fit right in with the ones in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and that the younger sister is dressed in full Japanese schoolgirl attire, pleated skirt and all?