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How Insects Cope When Blood Rushes to Their Heads

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Then they realized that they hadn’t been paying attention to whether the grasshopper was head up or head down in the container that held it. Grasshoppers, like other insects, get oxygen through tubes, or trachea that are open to the outside air and branch into smaller and smaller tubes in the insect’s body. All insects have these, and some have air sacs, to store and pump air, as grasshoppers do.

It turned out that the tubes were more compressed at the bottom of the animal, because gravity was causing the grasshopper equivalent of blood to sink to the bottom half of the animal.

This is similar to what happens when humans stand up quickly and become lightheaded, or the way blood goes to the head during a headstand. Humans have valves in the circulatory system to combat this problem, and your heart rate can increase, to pump blood faster.

But insects don’t have the same system. A grasshopper has a heart, but most of its body had been thought to be like one big bag of blood. Nonetheless, the researchers found that the grasshoppers could substantially counter the effect of gravity when they were conscious. When they were anesthetized with nitrogen, they could not.

The researchers found that the grasshoppers could change the pressure in different parts of their body. And the animals were able to keep different pressure in different parts of the body. How they do it is the next question. But they must have some way of blocking off the abdomen from the thorax, say, to create different pressures.

The discovery reveals something brand-new about the intersection of physics and biology. For now, it seems to be true in grasshoppers, at the least, and probably beetles, based on another study of Dr. Socha’s. But all insects are going to be subject to the same physical forces, which few scientists have ever paid attention to before. And it seems unlikely, said Dr. Socha, that grasshoppers are the only ones to evolve coping mechanisms.

Still, it may be that smaller insects, like fruit flies, don’t need to regulate their bodies in the same way. Dr. Hu said that ants maintain the same metabolism whether they are walking horizontally or straight up a wall. Future studies will show at what size insects have these adaptations, and what exactly they are.



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Apple may be forced to ditch Lightning charge cable amid new EU rules

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On September 7th Apple will release the highly anticipated iPhone 7. Design changes to the new model are suggested to affect the 3,5mm headphone jack, to be replaced with the proprietary Lightning jack.

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The European Union (EU) is revamping plans that could force smartphone makers, such as Apple, to share the same charging method.

European policymakers want to make life easier for consumers as well as to reduce electronic waste across the 28-country region. As a result, they are looking at introducing a single universal charging cable. This would be particularly relevant for Apple given its different charging options.

“We are drowning in an ocean of electronic waste,” Roza Thun und Hohenstein, a European lawmaker said at the European Parliament Monday. “We cannot continue this way,” she added.

Old chargers generate more than 51 000 metric tons of electronic waste per year, according to the European Parliament. Lawmakers want one single charger that fits phones, tables, e-books and any other portable device. Apple’s Lightning connector cable, which is used to charge and sync different devices, would therefore be at risk.

However, Apple believes that the EU’s plan would hurt innovation.

“Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it. Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers,” Apple said in a feedback form issued to the European institutions last year.

Apple, of its own choice, has already stopped using Lightning on the 2019 version of the iPad, moving to the USB-C port used on MacBooks. USB-C and micro-USB are also used on Android devices.

“This has been a long-term objective of the industry,” Dexter Thillien, a senior industry analyst at Fitch Solutions, told CNBC Friday. “Most Android devices already use the same charging system (USB-C and micro-USB), so it would impact Apple more than anybody else.”

However, Thillien also noted that Apple is already using USB for some iPads, “so it wouldn’t be completely new for them, and would only apply to future models.”

The EU pushed for a single charging mechanism back in 2014. At the time, the European Commission – the EU’s executive arm, tried to encourage smartphone makers to develop a solution among themselves. However, the voluntary scheme did not achieve what European policymakers wanted and they are now looking at putting it into law.

“It is never too late for industry to come up with a suitable proposal, but we now must consider the legislative approach,” a Commission source told CNBC via email.

The future is wireless

Smartphone developers, including Apple and Samsung, have presented devices that are charged wirelessly. Though the technology is still at its early stages, analysts believe this is the future.

“As tech wants to prove it’s becoming greener, (implementing a common charger system is) a move they might make without too much opposition. And obviously the future is wireless charging, so no need for cables,” Thillien told CNBC.

Apple shares are up by more than 100% over the last 12 months.



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New policy on Science, Technology & Innovation being framed by Centre

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The government is working on a new National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, to replace the existing policy framed in 2013, which will be forward-looking and have both a vision document as well as an action plan on the fundamental research required in crucial areas such as space, health, atomic physics and bio-technology, a senior official has said.

The Department of Science & Technology is steering the exercise and will soon initiate stakeholder interaction on what the new policy should include, said Principal Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister K Vijay Raghavan in an interaction with journalists.

Nothing wrong with the existing policy

“There is nothing wrong with the existing policy. But it was made keeping in mind a snapshot of what the world was then (in 2013),” Vijay Raghavan said, adding that the older policy focussed more on what the problem areas were than on what was to be done.

There was no strict timeline at the moment for completing the exercise of drafting the new policy, but the stakeholder consultation process, which will be at four levels, would kick-off soon, he said.

The Principal Scientific Advisor pointed out that private investment in India in R&D was still very low and a suitable environment needed to be created to induce entities to invest. “One way to increase R&D spend in the country is to make it attractive for companies to invest,” he said.

Restoring the 200 per cent income tax deduction for in-house R&D spend, which was reduced to 150 per cent from April 1 2017, could be one way to encourage investment in the area. This has been a demand of the industry for a long time, Vijay Raghavan said.

Of the total R&D investments made in the country, 70 per cent is made directly by the government while 30 per cent of the investment comes from the industry. As much as 90 per cent of the industry investment is also made by the public sector units with private sector accounting for just 10 per cent (of 30 per cent), he added.

Consultation process

Sharing details of the consultation process for framing the new Science, Technology and Innovation policy, the Principal Scientific Adviser said that in the first level of consultations, the scientific community and industry representatives would talk to citizens of the country to find out what kind of scientific break-through and innovation were they looking for. This would help narrow down the field of new research for scientific development and innovation.

At the second level, the Centre would talk to State governments to discuss how both could work together to make a policy that would help them develop world-class products.

The third level of stakeholder consultations will be with various Ministries and Departments such as Railways, Shipping and Water Resources to find out what science and technology advantage would they need in their respective areas.

The fourth level of interaction would be horizontal, focussing on basic research needed in fundamental areas such as condensed matter physics, solid state physics, material research, etc. “We have to see where are we in these areas and what more needs to be done,” Vijay Raghavan said.





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Google owner Alphabet becomes trillion-dollar company | Technology

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Google’s owner Alphabet has become a trillion-dollar company for the first time, making it only the fourth US firm to reach the bumper valuation.

Alphabet’s value, based on the price of its Wall Street-listed shares, passed $1tn in the final minutes of trading on Thursday night, with shares closing at a record high of $1,450.16 each.

It marks a stellar rise for Alphabet, which floated as Google for $85 per share in 2004. After its initial public offering, the Silicon Valley firm was worth $23bn.

It has followed its tech rivals Microsoft, Apple and Amazon over the $1tn mark, amid a long rally in so-called Faang stocks.

Google’s value has steadily surged as it has tightened its grip on the search market, boosted its advertising revenues from web searches and YouTube, created and grown its Android mobile operating system, and launched a series of smart-tech products including Google Home and Google Assistant.

Alphabet may be headed for fresh milestones, with some analysts predicting it could hit the $2tn mark. Christopher Rossbach, the CIO of the private investment firm J Stern & Co, believes Alphabet’s share price will continue to climb.

“As Alphabet joins Apple, Microsoft and (from time to time) Amazon among tech companies that have reached this level, it marks just the start for the company. It still has significant further room to grow, both in its core online advertising business as it innovates in advertising monetisation and formats and in its cloud computing business,” Rossbach said.

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“It is also disrupting new multitrillion-dollar markets, for example, healthcare, with this technology. Its sizeable investments give Alphabet a sustainable competitive advantage as it applies this technology across its business.”

“Alphabet can be a $2tn company in the near future and is a compelling opportunity for long-term investors.”

However, the tech sector is also facing calls for stronger privacy and antitrust regulation. Earlier this month Google was accused of “losing its way” by its former head of international relations, who says it prioritises profits over human rights.

Alphabet is now the third most valuable US company, behind Apple at $1.4tn and Microsoft at $1.27tn, with Amazon currently worth $931bn.



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