Tuesday, June 23, 2015

(Image: Siri Stafford/Getty)
Thanks to the latest advances in computer vision, we now have machines that can pick you out of a line-up. But what if your face is hidden from view?
An experimental algorithm out of Facebook's artificial intelligence lab can recognise people in photographs even when it can't see their faces. Instead it looks for other unique characteristics like your hairdo, clothing, body shape and pose.
Modern face-recognition algorithms are so good they've already found their way into social networks, shops and even churches. Yann LeCun, head of artificial intelligence at Facebook, wanted to see they could be adapted to recognise people in situations where someone's face isn't clear, something humans can already do quite well.
"There are a lot of cues we use. People have characteristic aspects, even if you look at them from the back," LeCun says. "For example, you can recognise Mark Zuckerberg very easily, because he always wears a gray T-shirt."
The research team pulled almost 40,000 public photos from Flickr - some of people with their full face clearly visible, and others where they were turned away - and ran them through a sophisticated neural network.
The final algorithm was able to recognise individual people's identities with 83 per cent accuracy. It was presented earlier this month at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston, Massachusetts.
An algorithm like this could one day help power photo apps like Facebook's Moments, released last week.
Moments scours through a phone's photos, sorting them into separate events like a friend's wedding or a trip to the beach and tagging whoever it recognises as a Facebook friend. LeCun also imagines such a tool would be useful for the privacy-conscious - alerting someone whenever a photo of themselves, however obscured, pops up on the internet.
The flipside is also true: the ability to identify someone even when they are not looking at the camera raises some serious privacy implications. Last week, talks over rules governing facial recognition collapsed after privacy advocates and industry groups could not agree.
"If, even when you hide your face, you can be successfully linked to your identify, that will certainly concern people," says Ralph Gross at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who says the algorithm is impressive. "Now is a time when it's important to discuss these questions."

Facebook can recognise you in photos even if you're not looking

All together now: yeasts can evolve to form snowflake-like multicellular shapes (Image: Courtesy of Jennifer Pentz, Georgia Tech)

The leap from single-celled life to multicellular creatures is easier than we ever thought. And it seems there's more than one way it can happen.

The mutation of a single gene is enough to transform single-celled brewer's yeast into a "snowflake" that evolves as a multicellular organism.

Similarly, single-celled algae quickly evolve into spherical multicellular organisms when faced with predators that eat single cells.

These findings back the emerging idea that this leap in complexity isn't the giant evolutionary hurdle it was thought to be.

At some point after life first emerged, some cells came together to form the first multicellular organism. This happened perhaps as early as 2.1 billion years ago. Others followed – multicellularity is thought to have evolved independently at least 20 times – eventually giving rise to complex life, such as humans.

But no organism is known to have made that transition in the past 200 million years, so how and why it happened is hard to study.

Special snowflake

Back in 2011, evolutionary biologists William Ratcliff and Michael Travisano at the University of Minnesota in St Paul coaxed unicellular yeast to take on a multicellular "snowflake" form by taking the fastest-settling yeast out of a culture and using it to found new cultures. And then repeating the process. Because clumps of yeast settle faster than individual cells, this effectively selected yeast that stuck together instead of separating after cell division.

The team's latest work shows that this transformation from a single to multicellular existence can be driven by a single gene calledACE2 that controls separation of daughter cells after division, Ratcliff told the 15-19 June Astrobiology Science Conference in Chicago.

And because the snowflake grows in a branching, tree-like pattern, any later mutations are confined to single branches. When the original snowflake gets too large and breaks up, these mutant branches fend for themselves, allowing the value of their new mutation to be tested in the evolutionary arena.

"A single mutation creates groups that as a side effect are capable of Darwinian evolution at the multicellular level," says Ratcliff, who is now at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta.

Bigger is better

Ratcliff's team has previously also evolved multicellularity in single-celled algae calledChlamydomonas, through similar selection for rapid settling. The algal cells clumped together in amorphous blobs.

Now the feat has been repeated, but with predators thrown into the mix. A team led byMatt Herron of the University of Montana in Missoula exposed Chlamydomonas to a paramecium, a single-celled protozoan that can devour single-celled algae but not multicellular ones.

Safety in even numbers (Image: Jacob Boswell)

Sure enough, two of Herron's five experimental lines became multicellular within six months, or about 600 generations, he told the conference.

This time, instead of daughter cells sticking together in an amorphous blob as they did under selection for settling, the algae formed predation-resistant, spherical units of four, eight or 16 cells that look almost identical to related species of algae that are naturally multicellular.

"It's likely that what we've seen in the predation experiments recapitulates some of the early steps of evolution," says Herron.

Neither Ratcliff's yeast nor Herron's algae has unequivocally crossed the critical threshold to multicellularity, which would require cells to divide labour between them, says Richard Michod of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

But the experiments are an important step along that road. "They're opening up new avenues for approaching this question," he says.

One gene may drive leap from single cell to multicellular life

Will more sensory substitution devices hit the market soon?

The BrainPort V100

Courtesy Wicab, Inc.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that medical device company Wicab is allowed to market a new device that will help the blind “see.” The device, called theBrainPort V100, can help the blind navigate by processing visual information and communicating it to the user through electrodes on his tongue. Though this isn’t the first device to go on the market using sensory substitution (where information perceived by one sense is communicated through another), the sophistication and usability of the BrainPort V100 could mean that the number of sensory substitution devices permitted by the FDA is on the rise.

The BrainPort V100 consists of a pair of dark glasses and tongue-stimulating electrodes connected to a handheld battery-operated device. When cameras in the glasses pick up visual stimuli, software converts the information to electrical pulses sent as vibrations to be felt on the user’s tongue. Like most sensory substitution devices, “seeing” with your tongue may not be intuitive at first. But the researchers who developed the device tested it over the course of a year, training users to interpret the vibrations. Studies showed that 69 percent of the test subjects were able to identify an object using the BrainPort device after a year of training. However, the device is expensive; Wicab toldPopular Science that it will cost $10,000 per unit, the same as its price when first reported back in 2009.

Researchers have been fiddling withsensory substitution for a long time, but most of these devices are not yet widely available. The BrainPort V100 will be on one of the first, having passed the FDA’s review through recently-updated guidelines called the premarket review pathway: “a regulatory pathway for some low- to moderate-risk medical devices that are not substantially equivalent to an already legally-marketed device,” according to the press release. Since this device is now allowed to be marketed and was approved relatively quickly through these new guidelines, the BrainPort may be paving the way for an explosion of sensory substitution devices to hit the market in the next few years, which could help the growing numbers of Americans with sensory impairments.

Device That Helps Blind People See With Their Tongues Just Won FDA Approval

Technology can reconstruct video based on a person's thoughts and even anticipate your moves while you drive. Now, a brain-to-text system can translate brain activity into written words.

In a recent study in Frontiers in Neuroscience, seven patients had electrode sheets placed on their brain which collected neural data while they read passages aloud from the Gettysburg Address, JFK’s inaugural speech, and Humpty Dumpty.

As each patient spoke, a computer algorithm learned to associate speech sounds—such as "foh", "net", and "ik"—with different firing patterns in the brain cells. Eventually it learned to read the brain cells well enough that it could guess which sound they were producing with up to 75 percent accuracy. But the program doesn't need 100 percent accuracy to put those sounds together into the word "phonetic". Because our speech only takes certain forms, the system’s algorithm can correct for these errors “just like autocorrect,” says Peter Brunner, one of the co-authors of the study.

“Siri wouldn’t be more accurate than 50 or 70 percent,” he says. “Because it knows what the potential options are that you choose, or the typical sentences that you say, it can actually utilize this information to get the right choice.”

It is important to record the data directly from the brain, says Brunner, because picking up neural activity from the scalp only gives a “blurred version” of what is happening in the brain. He likened the latter method to flying 1000 feet above a baseball stadium and only being able to vaguely recognize that people are cheering, but not the specifics of what the people’s faces look like.

In this case, the patients were already undergoing an epilepsy procedure where the skull is popped open and an electrode grid is placed on the brain to map areas where neurons are misfiring. The resourceful team of researchers from the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies and the State University of New York at Albany used this time to conduct their own research. However, it means study was limited by each patient’s individualized epilepsy treatment, such as where the electrodes were placed on the brain.

Because every person’s brain is so unique, and the neural activity must be picked up directly from the brain, it would be difficult to create a general brain-to-text device for the average consumer, says Brunner. However, this technology has a lot of potential to be used for people who suffer from neurological diseases, such as ALS, who lose the ability to move and to speak. Instead of using an external device like Steven Hawking to pick out words on a screen for a computer to read, the computer would simply speak your mind.

“This is just the beginning,” said Brunner. “The prospects of this are really endless.”

Mind-Reading Program Translates Thoughts Into Text

Monday, June 22, 2015

Source: Google

Let's face it... America is crazy for apps. According to ratings company Nielsen, the average U.S. smartphone user spends 37.5 hours every month playing games, browsing social media, or consuming news through apps.

Not only is that a significant amount of time, it's quickly increasing. Overall, the company found that time spent on apps more than doubled from 18.3 hours a month in Q4 2011 to the aforementioned 37.5 in Q4 2014, which is good for an annualized growth figure of 27%.

On the surface, this sounds like good news for both major operating systems -- Google's(NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS -- as it portends growing importance for app gatekeepers and ecosystems. Look more deeply into the data, however, and the proliferation of apps is decidedly better for one company than the other... and it isn't the company that makes the majority of its revenue from search.

Even with the majority of the mobile OS market, Google is a search company
Google commanded a massive 1.6 billion smartphone installed base as of year-end 2014, good for 76% market share and leading Apple's total of 410 million smartphones. But that's not how Google makes the majority of its money. Looking at the last fiscal year, the company reported $66 billion in total revenue, with $59 billion of that coming from advertising and search. The remainder -- roughly $7 billion -- is reported in a catch-all "other revenues" figure, which includes revenue from apps and content from the Google Play store.

Here's the conundrum: While Google has the largest app store by sheer subscriber numbers, the company receives the majority of its money from advertising and search-based revenues. For an interesting corollary, investment firmGoldman Sachs estimated that in 2014, Googlemade more in mobile search revenue from Apple's iOS than it made from its own app store and mobile search, combined.

As a matter of fact, eMarketer (via Business Insider) estimates that $38 billion of Google's total revenue -- nearly 60% -- comes directly from search. And considering that very few apps utilize any search features at all, the migration toward an apps-based Internet experience, and away from web browsing, presents a headwind of sorts for Big G.

Google's attempt to lessen app dependence
According to Amir Efrati from the website The Information, Google's not taking this threat lightly. The search giant quietly acquired Agawi last year. This company's technology allows smartphone users to access an app on the web via streaming without having to download the actual app. And while there are a few other reasons to buy the technology -- most notably, to save internal phone storage -- the most plausible reason for the purchase is to keep smartphone users from downloading apps.

Is this technology a game changer? Who knows; but the fact that the technology was purchased last year, and is just now being reported, points to the fact that more development or integration is needed. In addition, it now appears that Google is working more closely with app developers to improve its mobile search experience.

The key here is that Google is working on reducing the growing dependence on apps, while also working harder to monetize app-based browsing -- all good news for long-term investors.

The next billion-dollar Apple secret
Apple forgot to show you something at its recent event, but a few Wall Street analysts and the Fool didn't miss a beat: There's a small company that's powering Apple's brand-new gadgets and the coming revolution in technology. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors! To be one of them, just click here.

The End of the "Made-In-China" Era 
The 21st century industrial revolution has already begun. Business Insider calls it "the next trillion dollar industry". A new investment video reveals the impossible (but real) technology that could make you impossibly rich. Simply enter your email address below to see the surprise ending:

Google Attacks Its Own App Store With Its Newest Acquisition

Sunday, June 21, 2015

#Diet #Health – New 5-Day ‘Fasting’ Diet Seems To Lower Disease Risk, Slow Aging – 

The new Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), developed by university researchers is under human trials in the United States. The new diet produces the best results when people starve by cutting calories for five days in a row. The “fasting” diet could help to produce results such as weight loss; better immune system; lower risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes; and looking younger.

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) created the diet. They stated that most people would only stick to the diet plan four times every year. One of the benefits of the new diet is that there is no need for calorie reduction.  Significant lowering of caloric intake can result in people often feeling hungry and getting moody.

Dr. Valter Longo is a USC professor. He is also one of the main developers of the new fasting method.The findings of Longo’s recent study were published this week in the journal Cell Metabolism.

In the laboratory research, old mice were placed in cycles of a low-calorie diet for four days. The dieting effects included belly fat loss, more stem cells in many organs, and improved memory, according Tech Times. A human trial of FMD included 19 humans who completed a monthly “fast,” according to The Telegraph.  The fasting diet lasted 5 days.

New 5-Day ‘Fasting’ Diet Seems To Lower Disease Risk, Slow Aging

In 1850, the Reverend Thomas Kirkman, rector of the parish of Croft-with-Southworth in Lancashire, England, posed an innocent-looking puzzle in the Lady’s and Gentleman’s Diary, a recreational mathematics journal:

“Fifteen young ladies in a school walk out three abreast for seven days in succession: it is required to arrange them daily, so that no two shall walk twice abreast.” (By “abreast,” Kirkman meant “in a group,” so the girls are walking out in groups of three, and each pair of girls should be in the same group just once.)

Solve a variation of Thomas Kirkman’s puzzle by arranging nine girls in walking groups. And think fast—the clock is ticking. Emily Fuhrman for Quanta Magazine, with design by Olena Shmahalo. Collage resources from The Graphics Fairy and and Clker.

Pull out a pencil and paper, and you’ll quickly find that the problem is harder than it looks: After arranging the schoolgirls for the first two or three days, you’ll almost inevitably have painted yourself into a corner, and have to undo your work.

The puzzle tantalized readers with its simplicity, and in the years following its publication it went viral, in a slow, modestly Victorian sort of way. It generated solutions from amateurs (here’s one of seven solutions) and papers by distinguished mathematicians, and was even turned into a verse by “a lady,” that begins:

Quanta Magazine


Original story reprinted with permission fromQuanta Magazine, an editorially independent division of SimonsFoundation.org whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.

A governess of great renown,
Young ladies had fifteen,
Who promenaded near the town,
Along the meadows green.

While Kirkman later bemoaned the fact that his weightier mathematical contributions had been eclipsed by the popularity of this humble brainteaser, he was quick to defend his territory when another prominent mathematician, James Joseph Sylvester, claimed to have created the problem “which has since become so well-known, and fluttered so many a gentle bosom.”

The puzzle may seem like an amusing game (try a simpler version here), but its publication helped launch a field of mathematics called combinatorial design theory that now fills gigantic handbooks. What started as an assortment of conundrums about how to arrange people into groups—or “designs,” as these arrangements came to be called—has since found applications in experiment design, error-correcting codes, cryptography, tournament brackets and even the lottery.

Yet for more than 150 years after Kirkman circulated his schoolgirl problem, the most fundamental question in the field remained unanswered: Do such puzzles usually have solutions? Kirkman’s puzzle is a prototype for a more general problem: If you have n schoolgirls, can you create groups of size k such that each smaller set of size t appears in just one of the larger groups? Such an arrangement is called an (nkt) design. (Kirkman’s setup has the additional wrinkle that the groups must be sortable into “days.”)

Thomas Kirkman’s popular math puzzle was first published in the 1850 edition of the Lady’s and Gentleman’s Diary. Hathi Trust

It’s easy to see that not all choices of nk and twill work. If you have six schoolgirls, for instance, you can’t make a collection of schoolgirl triples in which every possible pair appears exactly once: Each triple that included “Annabel” would contain two pairs involving her, but Annabel belongs to five pairs, and five is not divisible by two. Many combinations of nk and t are instantly ruled out by these sorts of divisibility obstacles.

For the parameters that aren’t ruled out, there’s no royal road to finding designs. In many cases, mathematicians have found designs, through a combination of brute force and algebraic methods. But design theorists have also found examples of parameters, such as (43, 7, 2), that have no designs even though all the divisibility requirements check out. Are such cases the exception, mathematicians wondered, or the rule? “It was one of the most famous problems in combinatorics,” said Gil Kalai, a mathematician at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He recalls debating the question with a colleague a year and a half ago, and concluding that “we’ll never know the answer, because it’s clearly too hard.”

Just two weeks later, however, a young mathematician named Peter Keevash, of the University of Oxford, proved Kalai wrong. In January 2014, Keevash established that, apart from a few exceptions, designs will always exist if the divisibility requirements are satisfied. In asecond paper posted this April on the scientific preprint site arxiv.org, Keevash showed how to count the approximate number of designs for given parameters. This number grows exponentially—for example, there are more than 11 billion ways to arrange 19 schoolgirls into triples so that each pair appears once.

The result is “a bit of an earthquake as far as design theory is concerned,” said Timothy Gowers, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge. The method of the proof, which combines design theory with probability, is something no one expected to work, he said. “It’s a big surprise, what Keevash did.”

Winning Big

Mathematicians realized in the early days of design theory that the field was intimately connected with certain branches of algebra and geometry. For instance, geometric structures called “finite projective planes”—collections of points and lines analogous to those in paintings that use perspective—are really just designs in disguise. The smallest such geometry, a collection of seven points called the Fano plane , gives rise to a (7, 3, 2) design: Each line contains exactly three points, and each pair of points appears in exactly one line. Such connections gave mathematicians a geometric way to generate specific designs.

The geometric structure called a “Fano plane” corresponds to a (7, 3, 2) design. Gunther

In the 1920s, the renowned statistician Ronald Fisher showed how to use designs to set up agricultural experiments in which several types of plants had to be compared across different experimental conditions. Today, said Charles Colbourn, a computer scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe, “one of the main things [experiment-planning software] does is construct designs.”

Starting in the 1930s, designs also became widely used to create error-correcting codes, systems that communicate accurately even when information must be sent through noisy channels. Designs translate neatly into error-correcting codes, since they create sets (groups of schoolgirls) that are very different from each other—for instance, in the original schoolgirl problem, no two of the schoolgirl triples contain more than a single girl in common. If you use the schoolgirl groups as your “code words,” then if there’s a transmission error as you are sending one of the code words, you can still figure out which one was sent, since only one code word will be close to the garbled transmission. The Hamming code, one of the most famous early error-correcting codes, is essentially equivalent to the (7, 3, 2) Fano plane design, and another code related to designs was used to encode pictures of Mars that the Mariner 9 probe sent back to Earth in the early 1970s. “Some of the most beautiful codes are ones that are constructed from designs,” Colbourn said.

Design theory may even have been used by betting cartels that made millions of dollars off of Massachusetts’ poorly designed Cash WinFall lottery between 2005 and 2011. That lottery involved choosing six numbers out of 46 choices; tickets won a jackpot if they matched all six numbers, and smaller prizes if they matched five out of six numbers.

There are more than 9 million possible ways to pick six numbers out of 46, so buying tickets with every possible combination would cost far more than the game’s typical jackpot. A number of groups realized, however, that buying hundreds of thousands of tickets would enable them to turn a profit by scooping up many of the smaller prizes. Arguably the best assortment of tickets for such a strategy is a (46, 6, 5) design, which creates tickets of six numbers such that every set of five numbers appears exactly once, guaranteeing either the jackpot or every possible five-number prize.

No one has found a (46, 6, 5) design so far, Colbourn said, but designs exist that are close enough to be useful. Did any of the betting cartels use such a design “to siphon money from the Lottery at no risk to themselves?” wroteJordan Ellenberg, a mathematician at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who discussed the Cash WinFall lottery in his book How Not to Be Wrong. If they didn’t, Ellenberg wrote, they probably should have.

It would be hard to make a complete list of the applications of designs, Colbourn said, because new ones are constantly being discovered. “I keep being surprised at how many quite different places designs arise, especially when you least expect them,” he said.

A Perfect Design

As the number of design applications exploded, mathematicians filled reference books with lists of designs that might someday prove useful. “We have tables that say ‘For this set of parameters, 300,000 designs are known,’” said Colbourn, a co-editor of the 1,016-page Handbook of Combinatorial Designs.

Peter Keevash of the University of Oxford. Peter Keevash

Despite the abundance of examples, however, mathematicians struggled to get a handle on just how often designs should exist. The only case they understood thoroughly was the one in which the smallest parameter, t, equals 2:Richard Wilson, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, showed in the mid-1970s that when t = 2, for any k there is at most a finite number of exceptions—values of n that satisfy the divisibility rules but don’t have designs.

But for t greater than 2, no one knew whether designs should usually exist—and for values of tgreater than 5, they couldn’t even find a single example of a design. “There were people who felt strongly that [designs] would exist, and others who felt strongly that it’s too much to ask for,” Colbourn said.

In 1985, Vojtěch Rödl of Emory University in Atlanta offered mathematicians a consolation prize: He proved that it’s almost always possible to make a good approximate design—one that perhaps is missing a small fraction of the sets you want, but not many. Rödl’s approach uses a random process to gradually build up the collection of sets—a procedure that came to be known as the Rödl nibble, because, as Keevash put it, “instead of trying to swallow everything at once, you just take a nibble.”

Since then, the Rödl nibble has become a widely used tool in combinatorics, and has even been used in number theory. Last year, for example, mathematicians used it to help establish how far apart prime numbers can be.

But mathematicians agreed that the nibble wouldn’t be useful for attempts to make perfect designs. After all, at the end of Rödl’s procedure, you will typically have missed a small fraction of the smaller sets you need. To make a perfect design, you’d need to add in some additional larger groups that cover the missing sets. But unless you’re very lucky, those new larger groups are going to overlap with some of the groups that are already in your design, sending new errors cascading through your system.

Designs just didn’t seem to have the kind of flexibility that would allow a random approach to work. It seemed “obviously impossible,” Gowers said, that an approach like Rödl’s could be used to make perfect designs.

Last year, however—nearly three decades after Rödl’s work—Keevash showed that it is possible to control the cascade of errors by using an approach that marries flexibility and rigidity. Keevash modified Rödl’s construction by starting off the nibble with a specific collection of schoolgirl groups, called a “template,” that has particularly nice algebraic properties. At the end of the nibble, there will be errors to correct, but once the errors propagate into the template, Keevash showed, they can almost always be fixed there in a finite number of steps, producing a perfect design. “The full proof is extremely delicate and it is a phenomenal achievement,”wrote Ross Kang, of Radboud University in the Netherlands.

“I think a few years ago, nobody thought that a proof was on the horizon,” Colbourn said. “It’s an extraordinary breakthrough.”

For pure mathematicians, Keevash’s result is in a sense the end of the story: It establishes that for any parameters t and k, all values of n that fit the divisibility conditions will have a design, apart from at most a finite number of exceptions. “It sort of kills off a whole class of problems,” Gowers said.

But Keevash’s result leaves many mysteries unsolved for people who care about actual designs. In theory, his template-nibble approach could be used to create designs, but for now it’s unclear how large n has to be for his method to work, or how long an algorithm based on his method would take to run. And while Keevash has proved that designs almost always exist, his result doesn’t say whether a design will exist for any particular set of parameters you might care about. “People will presumably still work on this for generations,” Wilson said.

An illustration of the nine prisoners problem from Martin Gardner’s book The Last Recreations. Martin Gardner / Springer Science+Business Media

Still, Keevash’s result will shift the mindset of mathematicians who are trying to find designs, Colbourn said. “Before, it wasn’t clear whether the focus should be on constructing designs or proving they don’t exist,” he said. “Now at least we know the effort should focus on constructing them.”

And the shortage of information about specific designs leaves plenty of fun puzzles for recreational mathematicians to solve. So in the spirit of Kirkman, we will leave the gentle reader with another brainteaser, a slight variation on the schoolgirl puzzle devised in 1917 by the British puzzle aficionado Henry Ernest Dudeney and later popularized by Martin Gardner: Nine prisoners are taken outdoors for exercise in rows of three, with each adjacent pair of prisoners linked by handcuffs, on each of the six weekdays (back in Dudeney’s less enlightened times, Saturday was still a weekday). Can the prisoners be arranged over the course of the six days so that each pair of prisoners shares handcuffs exactly once?

Dudeney wrote that this puzzle is “quite a different problem from the old one of the Fifteen Schoolgirls, and it will be found to be a fascinating teaser and amply repay for the leisure time spent on its solution.” Happy solving!

Original story reprinted with permission fromQuanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.

Answer to a 150-Year-Old Math Conundrum Brings More Mystery

Saturday, June 20, 2015

In order to understand how the organ selectively transmits cells from mother to child

A placenta on a chip device

Courtesy of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

From lungs to brains, organ tissues grown on a lab are telling researchers a lot about how their cells do their jobs. Now researchers are using the technology to better understand the placenta, the temporary organ that connects a fetus and mother during pregnancy.

The placenta’s primary function is to act as a “crossing guard” between mother and child—it sends the good stuff (like nutrients and oxygen) along to the baby, while leaving other damaging elements like chemicals from environmental exposure or disease-causing bacteria or viruses. If the placenta is damaged or doesn’t work right, it could endanger the health of both the mother and the baby.

Researchers don’t really know how the placenta is able to transmit the good things while keeping out the bad. That’s because the placenta is notoriously difficult to study in humans—it takes a long time, varies a lot between individual patients, and could put the fetus’ safety at risk. In the past, most studies about the placenta were done in animals to work around these issues. Animal studies have shed some light on how the placenta works, but the tissue is never quite the same as in humans.

A rendering of the placenta on a chip

Scientists Are Growing A Human Placenta On A Chip

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Apple Watch is barely two months old, but details are already starting to come out about what's planned for the next model. 9to5Macreports that Apple is currently planning to put a camera for video chatting on the top bezel of the Watch. It may also gain more independence from the iPhone by including a new wireless chip that would allow the Watch to use Wi-Fi to handle more advanced tasks. Apple is also said to be satisfied with the Watch's battery life and not focused on improving it for the next model. The report warns that Apple's current plans could be scrapped and saved for future models, depending on how development goes.

Video chatting sounds futuristic but frustrating

The addition of a video camera to the Watch is, arguably, a strange next step. While video chatting on a smartwatch certainly has a wonderfully futuristic vibe that could help to sell the new model, it could have significant downsides, including rapidly draining the Watch's battery, requiring an awkward arm position for an extended period of time, and only displaying the video on a very small screen. Of course, Apple also made the inclusion of front-facing smartphone cameras explode, so it's not worth counting this idea out based on the concept alone. Samsung has previously included a camera in a smartwatch, although it was oriented for taking photos.

Including more capable wireless abilities in the next Watch is certainly an important addition. The Watch is currently quite limited because it pretty much always needs to be paired to an iPhone over Bluetooth in order to work. It can currently do some functions over Wi-Fi, but it's largely meant as a backup — not as a way to use the Watch without a phone. It's not clear how much of that would change with an update to the Watch, but any alterations that let it grow a bit more independent are still meaningful and convenient steps forward.

Apple's customer research has apparently indicated that people are satisfied with the Watch's battery life, 9to5Mac reports. It's true that the Watch, typically, does make it through the day. But, much like the iPhone, if you actually decide to use the Watch in a significant way one day, there's a good chance that it'll run out quickly — and it's pretty rough having a dead Watch on your wrist. It's not entirely surprising then that Apple is trying to focus on new features while maintaining the Watch's existing battery life, but it would be nice to see improvement in that area in the future.

New high-end models could sit beneath the gold Editions

In addition to the new features, 9to5Mac reports that Apple is considering making a new high-end version of the Watch. It could be either an extension of the Apple Watch line or a new line that sits above the Apple Watch but well below the Edition. Apple reportedly wants to target people willing to spend more than $1,000, but not quite the $10,000 or so needed to buy a gold Edition. These new models could be the standard Apple Watch with new bands, or they could be part of a new line made with different materials, the report suggests.

There's been no real suggestion of when Apple will release the next version of the Watch, but it's likely that it won't be until next year. Apple typically updates its products on a one-year cycle, and the Watch is still only months old. It probably won't be ready for a refresh this fall, either, even when Apple releases watchOS 2, which brings with it support for native third-party apps. The updated software includes a number of other new features, including support for third-party complications, which could pretty quickly make the Watch a lot more useful.

Correction: This article previously stated that the Watch was incapable of updating apps like Weather over Wi-Fi. It can, so long as the network is already known through a paired iPhone.

The next Apple Watch could have a FaceTime camera

Researchers have built devices that harness changes in atmospheric humidity to generate small amounts of electricity, lift tiny weights, and even power a toy car. In the grand scheme of things, that captured energy is not free, but it’s pretty darn close. The study suggests that evaporation could be used to operate a variety of gadgets that don’t require a lot of power, scientists say.

“This is one of the first experiments to show that humidity can be a source of fuel,” says Albert Schenning, a materials scientist at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands who wasn’t involved in the new study. The team’s designs, he says, “are very nice and very clever.”

All the gadgets rely on a simple phenomenon—the change in size of bacterial spores as they absorb moisture from the air and then release it, says team leader Ozgur Sahin, a biophysicist at Columbia University. Sahin and his colleagues used the living but dormant spores from Bacillus subtilis, a species of bacteria commonly found in soil and in the human gastrointestinal tract. Each spore typically swells and then shrinks up to 6% when moved from dry air to extremely humid air and then back again, Sahin says. The researchers harnessed that size-changing action by gluing thin layers of spores onto one side of curved sheets of polymer. When the spores swelled, that side of the polymer sheet lengthened—which in turn caused the curved sheet to somewhat straighten out. The stretching and contracting of these spore-coated polymer sheets are the driving force for the team’s devices.

A change in size of 6% may not sound that impressive. But when the researchers strung together a series of these polymer sheets, the “artificial muscles” they created quadrupled in length when relative humidity changed from below 30% to more than 80%, the team reports today in Nature Communications.  

The thicker the spore layer, the longer it would take for the muscles to react to changes in humidity. So, to make sure their artificial muscles were quick-acting, the researchers used spore layers that were extremely thin—no more than 3 micrometers thick, or about 5 spores deep on average, Sahin says. Tests showed that the devices could react to humidity changes within 3 seconds, he notes.

Tests also revealed that the spore-coated polymer strips could expand and shrink for more than 1 million cycles with little change in their range of motion. Other trials showed that the strips, when they shrank, could lift more than 50 times their own weight (video). But they did so much more slowly than an animal’s muscle would, so the power they generated—that is, their rate of energy production—was correspondingly low.

Nevertheless, the team harnessed changes in humidity to perform actual work. In one device, the back-and-forth motion driven by one artificial muscle suspended above a postage stamp–sized patch of water provided enough electrical power to light an LED. In another, the expansion of muscles on one side of a Ferris wheel–like device (where the air was humidified by evaporation from a wet paper towel) but not the other triggered an imbalance that caused the wheel to rotate (video). The team used the motion of a similar wheel to power a 100-gram toy car(video).

“These are fun demonstrations, but they prove the principle,” says Peter Fratzl, a materials scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, who was not involved with the work. Researchers are constantly looking for sources of energy, even if they’re small, he notes. “It makes sense to use these gradients [in humidity], because they’re everywhere and they’re free.”

The team’s results are a good conceptual starting point, says George Whitesides, a chemist at Harvard University. Such devices could, in theory, generate enough electricity to run a few transistors, he adds. “But it will still be a while before these things are in every child’s bathtub.”

Energy harnessed from humidity can power small devices

After years of fasting, the Buddha’s “legs were like bamboo sticks, his backbone was like a rope, his chest was like an incomplete roof of a house, his eyes sank right inside, like stones in a deep well,” according to one account. The Buddha didn’t get what he wanted from this extreme fasting—enlightenment—but a new study suggests that a diet that replicates some effects of milder deprivation may not only lower your weight but also confer other benefits. Researchers report that following the diet for just 5 days a month improves several measures of health, including reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Eating shortens life, and not just because overindulgence can lead to diseases such as diabetes. A diet that cuts food intake by up to 40%, known as calorie restriction, increases longevity in a variety of organisms and forestalls cancer, heart disease, and other late-life illnesses. Although some short-term studies suggest that calorie restriction provides metabolic benefits to people, nobody has confirmed that it also increases human life span. The closest researchers have come are two large, long-term studies of monkeys, and they conflict about whether meager rations increase longevity.

Even if calorie restriction could add years to our lives, almost no one can muster the willpower to eat so little day after day, year after year. An alternative that might be more, er, palatable is fasting, the temporary abstinence from food. Gerontological researcher Valter Longo of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and colleagues have shown that fasting eases side effects of chemotherapy such as fatigue and weakness, and animal studies suggest that it produces health advantages similar to calorie restriction.

But hard-core fasting, in which people drink only water for days at a time, may be no easier than calorie restriction. “I’ve done it, and it was excruciating,” Longo says. For the new study he and his colleagues devised a less grueling diet that might still trigger the benefits of fasting. For two 4-day periods each month, middle-aged mice dined on low-protein, low-calorie chow. The rest of the month, they could nosh as much as they wanted.

The mice outlived their peers by an average of 3 months, a substantial amount for the rodents, and they displayed numerous signs of better health. As the researchers report online today inCell Metabolism, the mice shed fat and were 45% less likely to fall victim to cancer. During their lean cuisine episodes, their level of blood sugar fell by 40% and the amount of insulin in the blood was 90% lower. And although brainpower usually declines with age, the mice retained more of their mental ability; they bested control animals in two kinds of memory tests, perhaps because they produced more new neurons in the hippocampus, a brain area crucial for memory.

Longo and colleagues also uncovered evidence that the regimen boosted the animals’ capacity to restore and replenish their tissues. “That’s the most exciting” finding, Longo says. For instance, regeneration of the liver was quicker in the fasting animals, and the balance of different types of cells in their blood was more youthful. The numbers of certain stem cells also soared in the dieting rodents.

To determine whether occasional austerity might have the same impact on people, the researchers whipped up a menu of energy bars, soups, teas, and chips. One day’s fare furnishes between 725 and 1090 calories. “It’s not like eating ravioli, but it is better than going without,” Longo says. (The average adult man in America needs about 2000 to 3000 calories daily; people following calorie restriction may limit themselves to as few as 1200 calories.)

Much like the mice, the volunteers in the study followed the diet for 5 days straight and then returned to their usual dining habits for the rest of the month. In their paper, the researchers report the results for the first group of 19 subjects to try this “fasting mimicking” regimen and for 19 controls.

Only three rounds of alternating between the diet and normal eating appeared to improve the participants’ physical condition, reducing blood glucose, trimming abdominal fat, and cutting levels of a protein associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Longo and colleagues also detected a slight rise in the abundance of some stem cells in the blood, suggesting that the diet might promote regeneration in humans. “We think that what the fasting mimicking diet does is rejuvenate,” Longo says.

Other researchers say the results of the study are encouraging. “This single dietary change can counteract all these variables of aging, and I think that’s very impressive,” says molecular biologist Christopher Hine of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. The study shows that cutting calories all the time may not be necessary, adds biochemist James Mitchell, also of the Harvard School of Public Health. “Intermittent periods can have lasting effects.”

The new diet may also be more practical. “Calorie restriction has failed miserably in human trials” because it’s so hard to stick to, says gerontologist Rafael de Cabo of the U.S. National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland, who leads one of the monkey studies of calorie restriction. A regimen like the researchers use “is achievable,” he says.

Longo and colleagues have already completed a larger clinical trial of the diet with more than 80 subjects. Fasting like the Buddha is dangerous, and even the fasting mimicking diet could be harmful for some people, such as diabetics, Longo notes. Researchers need to study how the regimen works, who might benefit, and who might be harmed by it, Mitchell notes. “There is a lot of information to figure out.”

Short-term fasting may improve health

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sharp has announced that it has begun mass production of its in-cell type touch displays for smartphones this month. This design technique promises thinner, lighter displays, which could reduce the thickness and weight of upcoming smartphones.

Typically, smartphone displays are constructed from two layers. One layer for the actual light emitting parts, such as the LCD, with a separate touch recognition layer placed on top to detect user inputs. Sharp’s in-cell display technology integrates the two parts into the same layer, with touch sensor circuitry and LCD drive circuitry sitting side by side in the LCD module.

An example (not to scale) of how in-cell saves on display thickness.

Integrating the two parts into the same layer means that Sharp’s displays will end up being slightly thinner than before, enabling manufacturers to produce smaller devices or use the additional space for extra hardware, such as larger battery capacities.

Sharp has been at the cutting edge of several recent developments in mobile displays. As well as consistently pushing the limits of pixel density with a range of small form factor 4K panel prototypes, the company has also been pushing the use of IGZO backplane technology, resulting in lower power consumption and a wider range of possible free-form design shapes and sizes.

However, the company recently cut 6,000 jobs as part of this year’s restructuring plans, necessitated by Sharps’ third annual net loss in four years and a large bank bailout to keep the company afloat. Sharp’s LCD business accounts for the majority of its sales, thanks to orders from Apple and a number of Chinese manufacturers, so the company has been reluctant to make changes to this part of its business. Sharp seems to be hoping that new technologies will help increase orders from customers.

The first batch of in-cell displays to leave Sharp’s production line are destined for future smartphones. However, the company is also in the process of developing medium-sized in-cell touch displays for use in tablets and notebook PCs, where a little less bulk and weight will no doubt be even more appreciated.

Sharp in-cell display promises thinner smartphones

In an attempt to reverse evolution, the team has already made significant strides in mutating chickens back to the very creatures from which they descended. If that wasn’t enough genetic splicing and dicing, Harvard scientists attempted a similar feat recently by inserting the genes of a woolly mammoth into elephants in order to recreate the extinct beasts. Whoa baby.

If the four major differences between dinosaurs and birds are their tails, arms, hands and mouths, Horner and team have already flipped certain genetic switches in chicken embryos to reverse-engineer a bird’s beak into a dinosaur-like snout.

“Actually, the wings and hands are not as difficult,” Horner said, adding that a ‘Chickensoraus’ -- as he calls the creation -- is well on its way to becoming reality. “The tail is the biggest project. But on the other hand, we have been able to do some things recently that have given us hope that it won't take too long."

Scientists Say They Can Recreate Living Dinosaurs Within the Next 5 Years

#GalaxyNote5 #iPhone6s – Galaxy Note 5 said to launch in August ahead of iPhone 6s : Samsung recently denied any plans to rush the Galaxy Note 5’s release, but rumors of an early launch just won’t die. A new report out of Asia claims the flagship phablet could arrive in late August to get a head start on Apple’s next iPhone.

Earlier rumors claimed the Galaxy Note 5 could launch as soon as July, but even an August release could give Samsung a decent advantage over the competition. The company typically unveils each new Galaxy Note phone at IFA, an annual tech show held in Berlin in September.

An early release would likely also mean a standalone event separate from the Berlin-based expo. It’s not unheard of, but it does break Samsung’s tradition.

The Galaxy Note 5 will apparently pack a massive 5.89-inch display with a 2K resolution. Rumors also point to a 4100mAh battery, a USB-C port, upgraded flash memory and an in-house Exynos 7422 processor. We’re expecting an upgraded design too, likely with plenty of glass and metal to match the Galaxy S6.

We’re still not really sure when the Galaxy Note 5 will arrive. We’d love to see the new phablet launch earlier than expected, though Samsung’s flat out denial does seem pretty definitive. Still, considering how persistent this rumor has turned out to be, we wouldn’t be too surprised if the device surfaced sooner rather than later.

Galaxy Note 5 said to launch in August ahead of iPhone 6s

#Amazon #Student – Are You a Student? Amazon Wants to Give You $10 – If you’re a student looking for a good last-minute Father’s Day gift for your dad, Amazon may have just given you the perfect solution: buy him a $50 gift card as a present, and get a $10 credit for yourself. The offer is available only to Amazon Student members, and all the details can be found below.

Spend $50 or More on Select Father’s Day Amazon Gift Cards, Get a $10 Promotional Credit for Yourself

Show Dad you care with this Amazon Student-exclusive offer: Buy a Father’s Day gift card and get a $10 promotional code to spend on yourself. Just purchase at least $50 in select Father’s Day Amazon.com Gift Cards (shown below) in a single order by June 21, 2015 and we’ll email you a $10 promotional code to spend at Amazon.com. Here’s how:

1. Add at least $50 in Father’s Day gift cards (shown below) to your cart

2. Click the yellow button below or enter “STUDENTFD” in the “Gift Cards and Promotional Codes” box at checkout to qualify.

3. After your purchase, you’ll receive an email within 2 days containing a code for a $10 promotional credit that can be applied to your Amazon account for items sold and shipped by Amazon.com. Credit expires on August 31, 2015

A perfect present for dads, grandpas, and uncles, Amazon.com Gift Cards can be sent via email, printed at home, or sent through the mail (with Free One-Day Shipping). Amazon.com Gift Cards are redeemable storewide for millions of items and never expire. Learn how to use your promotional code. Terms and conditions apply; learn more.

Important Notification: This offer is valid ONLYto Amazon Student members with a free trial or paid membership to Amazon Prime. Not an Amazon Student? Go here to learn about and sign up for the program.

Are You a Student? Amazon Wants to Give You $10

#Biointerfaces #Chip – Biointerfaces Has Developed a Chip to Mimic Heartbeats Using Gravity – Researchers at the University of Michigan managed to mimic a heartbeat outside of the body, mimicking fundamental physical rhythms like the heartbeat.

Developed as a “lab on a chip,” microfluidic devices that can be extremely useful when performing complex laboratory functions in a tiny space.

Being an instant success in heartbeat mimicking, researchers have already started testing cardiovascular drugs and blood thinners, where blood flow and its accurate simulation can help develop new studies and medical solutions.

Apparently, cells will react more natural when subjected to the pulsing rhythms inside a body or when in motion, instead of the static environment of the lab. This way doctors will be able to test and simulate cell motion much more accurately before testing on live subjects.

Just to make an idea on how primitive heartbeat simulations were outside of a body before this new heart-on-a-chip arrived, doctors had to operate a syringe pump operated by a lab technician for a limited amount of time. The new device not only eliminated the human factor in simulating a heartbeat, but can also operate in infinitely longer amounts of time.

Biointerfaces Has Developed a Chip to Mimic Heartbeats Using Gravity

Samsung has already released a number ofthemes for the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edgeon the Theme Store, but none of them are actually that great. Most of them are cartoonish icons and other UI elements. I personally like only a couple of them; Urban and LEGO. A lot of buyers have already dreamed about Material Design theme for the Galaxy S6, and someone has already developed it.

A theme designer, who is also a senior member in the XDA Forums, has mentioned that two Material Design themes developed by him have already been approved by Samsung. The developer expects them to be released in the Theme Store by Samsung in the next few days (maybe tomorrow). Themes on the Galaxy S6 and its curvier variant can change the look and feel of the settings menu, notifications bar, quick setting toggles, icons and UI of pre-installed apps, keyboard, wallpaper, fonts, and notification sounds. For those (someone like me) who enjoy the stock Android interface, these themes would be ideal.

Once the two themes are released, we will notify you in our new dedicated section,Themes Thursday. Are you excited for these Material Design themes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Two Material themes are finally launching on the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

You may think that your Galaxy S6 and S6 edge Download Booster is fast, and that 4G LTE is as advanced as it gets, but your better buckle your proverbial seat belt: It turns out that Samsung, the first smartphone manufacturer to produce a device on the LTE-Advanced (or LTE-A) network, the Galaxy S4 LTE-A, is revolutionizing wireless technology once again by bringing 5G GiGA LTE technology to the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, and future devices, reports The Korea Herald. The Korean manufacturer has partnered with carrier KT over the last nine months to inaugurate the new technology in its native country.

What is GiGA LTE? GiGA LTE, or 5G as some call it, is made possible by taking your fast, Long-Term Evolution (or LTE) networks and making them possible via Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi speeds are about to take a turn for the better. How much better, though? According to the report, the new GiGA LTE network will have a maximum download speed of 1.17Gbps – that’s right, “Gigabits per second –, a speed four times faster than tri-band LTE A networks, and upload speeds ten times faster than tri-band broadband LTE-A networks.

GiGA LTE (or 5G) will not become mainstream until about 2020, but that won’t stop Samsung’s latest devices from experiencing cutting-edge tech now. For Samsung’s latest device owners of the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, GiGA LTE will become available to use today with a new firmware update that should be rolling out to devices even as you read this. Of course, the new GiGA LTE will become part of all Samsung’s high-end devices and a portion of the company’s mid-end devices in later 2015. LG Electronics will also release new devices this year incorporating 5G wireless capabilities.

KT will be the first Korean wireless carrier to deploy the technology for its customer base, but SK Telecom and LG Uplus have voiced approval for 5G wireless as well, so customers at those carriers should also see 5G wireless technology implemented in their phones soon.

KT Galaxy S6 and S6 edge customers should head on over to their settings and prepare for a firmware update. Have you received the update already? Are you noticing any faster internet speeds than before? You’re part of 5G wireless history, so let your voice be heard.

Samsung, KT announce 5G GiGA LTE, available for S6 and S6 edge today

Once again, in the “wish-it-was-available-outside-Japan” department, Fujitsu recently launched through NTT DoCoMo, its latest Android flagship, the Arrows NX F-04G.

The new Arrows has all the goodies we would expect to find of a modern banner bearer. It has a 5.2-inch 1440x2560 IPS display, showing off Android 5.0 Lollipop in a utilitarian, but handsome form factor.

Under the hood, an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 CPU and Adreno 430 GPU run the show fueled by a 3,120mAh battery. 3GB of RAM is on tap to keep things organized, along with 32GB of expandable storage. A Sony-supplied sensor is the foundation of the 21-megapixel main camera, providing all the features we have come to expect.

The Arrows NX F-04G will also support LTE-Advanced and download speeds up to 225Mbps, Voice-over-LTE, NFC, GPS, and Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n/ac). All in a package that is roughly the same size as a Samsung Galaxy S6, and just 2mm thicker.

So far, it reads like a lot of devices already available in most developed markets. What makes the Arrows NX special? It is equipped with an iris scanner. The feature is called Iris Passport, and once you have everything mapped, it takes roughly half a second for your phone to unlock, just by looking at it. Moreover, Iris Passport can be used with any applications that require a password, or for payment authentication. The iris scanner can even distinguish differences in the eyes of twins trying to unlock the same device.

The Iris Passport is part of NTT DoCoMo’s initiative to bring standards-based biometric authentication to the forefront. Several models are already on the market with fingerprint authentication, the Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G is the first with the ability to authenticate through iris detection. It is also an intelligent module, learning more about your eyes’ patterns each time you use it.

The Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G is available through NTT DoCoMo in Japen for approximately $750 full retail. There are no announced plans to bring the device to the United States (or anywhere for that matter), but we want one.

Fujitsu first to market with iris scanning authentication on the Arrows NX F-04G smartphone

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Kodak IM5 is the first smartphone to bear the iconic photography brand and it was announced all the way back at CES in January. Reports then led us to expect a UK launch in March or April, but the phone never made it to store shelves.

Well, over five months after the announcement, the phone is finally available to purchase, but not in the UK, but in the Netherlands instead. The smartphone retails for €280 free of contract, and can be purchased today, we're not talking about a pre-order. Obviously a host of contract options are also offered on either of the country's three carriers.

That serious sum of money for a SIM-free purchase gets you a rather modestly equipped smartphone. There's a 5-inch 720p display, a Mediatek MT6592 chipset with 1.7GHZ octa-core processor and only a single gig of RAM. Internal storage is rather low at 8GB, expandable by up to 32GB, while battery capacity is 2,100mAh.

The Kodak IM5 comes with a 13MP primary camera with little manual control and focus on easy sharing and printing. All this runs on a heavily customized Android KitKat build, with large icons aiming for ease of use. A Lollipop update is promised, though we don't see an overly bright future for the smartphone, priced as it is.

Kodak IM5 smartphone finally launched in the Netherlands

 Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Flu Virion

This negative-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicts the ultrastructural details of an influenza virus particle, or virion.

Dying from the flu can be a lot like drowning. As it progresses, the influenza virus affects the cellular barrier between the circulatory and respiratory systems, allowing other bodily fluids to leak into the lungs and causing them to fail. In the past, flu-fighting drugs have targeted the virus itself. But a new drug called Vasculotide reinforces the cellular barrier in the lungs, giving the body more time to rid itself of the virus. Astudy about the new drug was published recently in Scientific Reports.

Flu shots contain cells of the flu strain that researchers anticipate to be the one going around that year. When they’re right, vaccines work pretty well, provided that enough people get them well before they contract the virus. But if researchers are wrong, the vaccines could lead to viral resistance, maybe even resulting in a more virulent strain that could have devastating effects on the population. Since Vasculotide just treats the flu’s most life-threatening symptom, it doesn’t increase viral resistance.

Plus, Vasculotide works, at least in initial studies done in mice. The researchers infected two species of mice with lethal doses of three strains of the flu. After 48-72 hours, they weren’t looking so good—their body weight declined and they showed signs of hypothermia, all typical for having the flu—the researchers gave them Vasculotide. And it worked: 70 percent of the mice that received the drug after 72 hours survived.

Vasculotide is inexpensive to produce and is chemically stable, the researchers note. But a big part of the drug’s draw, as Michael Byrne notes in a piece for Motherboard, is that it doesn’t affect or “boost” the immune system. It merely buys the body some time to rid itself of the flu. And that could make all the difference.

New Flu Drug Gives Your Body More Time To Defend Itself

Monday, June 15, 2015

Taking a look back at seven days of news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit includes Samsung’s confirmation of the Galaxy S6 Active, BlackBerry’s potential switch to Android from BB10, Samsung’s definition of insanity, Xiaomi’s Mi+ plans, Google’s ‘Which Phone’ tool, the new family-friendly section of the Google Play Store, HMRC choosing Google over Microsoft, and Larry Page’s nomination as CEO of the year.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can read the weekly Apple news digest here).

Samsung Support Pages Confirm Galaxy S6 Active 

The annual tsunami of derivative Galaxy handsets shows no sign of stopping in 2015 as the South Korean manufacturer confirmed the Galaxy S6 Active handset through an update to its support pages. Forbes’ Jay MacGregor looks at the details of the ’rugged’ version of the Galaxy S6 - this year’s iteration is missing a few key features:

 Today’s leak, however, details that Samsung will stick the 2500mAh battery, no microSD slot, a fingerprint scanner and stay loyal to the current S6 dimensions. It seems strange that the rumours could’ve been so wrong for months, but it’s possible. What’s also possible is that those specifications are a placeholder for the actual specifications of the soon-to-be-released handset. The fact that the width and weight of the device is no different -when the active models are typically larger – support this idea.

Is BlackBerry Risking A Move To Android?

There is news from Reuters that Android may be welcoming another hardware company into the fold. The beleaguered BlackBerry is reportedly looking at adopting Android for a slider handset that will be launched in the second half of 2015. Personally it feels like too little, too late, because there are a lot of risks in changing operating systems from the homespun BB10 to the Google-influenced Android:

A Google Play certified BlackBerry device would have easy access to the full range of Android apps, but with strict requirements on the inclusion placement of Google apps, certification would limit BlackBerry’s ability to stand out through its software.

That said, a switch to Android-powered hardware does make some business sense. While BlackBerry continues to design handset, the construction is by Foxconn. With Android the software driving the hardware, there are cost savings to be made through off-the-shelf hardware with existing driver support for Android. CEO John Chen continues to focus on efficiency savings and cost reductions - reducing the support cost on hardware integration with software could be his next target.

Samsung’s Definition Of Insanity

Speaking of strategy and planning, handsets such as the Galaxy S6 Active and the leaked Galaxy S6 Mini and S6 Mega speak to Samsung’s plans for the rest of 2015. It all looks remarkably like the same strategy that was found wanting in 2014, the same strategy that was moderately successful in 2013, and the same strategy that delivered stellar results in 2012.

At every opportunity, Samsung has taken the safe option, the option that lets them hedge bets, the option that minimises exposure to risk, and the option that will bring in guaranteed income but not necessarily enough income to improve on the return seen in previous years.

Irrespective of who you want to attribute the quote to, Samsung continuing to follow the same playbook year after year fits in with the cliché “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing year after year and expecting different results.” Samsung’s strategy is delivering weaker results year on year, and the opportunity to change the strategy for 2015 has been missed.

My editorial from earlier this week has more details on Samsung’s missed opportunities.

The South Korean ‘Insult’

Speaking of Samsung and its avalanche of handsets, SamMobile’s editor-in-chief Abhijeet Mishra has penned an angry editorial about Samsung’s choice of specifications on the current S6 family. He’s not happy that the ‘flagship’ Galaxy S6 is less advanced and less capable than the derivative models. Gordon Kelly sums up the story along with his own thoughts on the issue:

Mishra’s problem? The Galaxy S6 Active packs a huge 3,500 mAh battery, a capacity nearly 1,000 mAh greater than the batteries in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge…

Despite the validity of Mishra’s points, I personally think ‘insult’ goes too far. The Galaxy S6 Active is not simply an improved Galaxy S6, but a whole different animal which actually has as many negative aspects as positives…

The Active is a deliberately niche product and I doubt Samsung made it to spite or insult early adopters of its more heavily publicised brothers.

Xiaomi’s Mi5 Plans Look A Little Familiar

August 2014 saw Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi launch the Mi4 handset (reviewed here previously on Forbes). It won’t come as a surprise to learn that the Mi5 is on its way before the end of the year. Xiaomi is looking to outfit the handsets with the Qualcomm SnapDragon 820 with its 64-bit architecture, with hopefully fewer of the issues that dogged the SnapDragon 810.

The new snapdragon chipset, which saw a low-key release from Qualcomm earlier this year, is said to use the 14nm FinFET (Fin-Shaped Field Effect Transistor) process, and will reportedly start shipping later this year.

The Mi4 was pitched as a rival to Apple’s iPhone when it was launched and was one of the main competitors to Tim Cook’s smartphone in Asia. The two rumoured models of the Mi5 bear a spooky resemblance to Apple’s portfolio:

…the Chinese company is also said to be set to release a 6-inch version of the Mi5, to be called Xiaomi Mi5 Plus, which will also have the latest Snapdragon chipset… If Xiaomi does release Mi5 and Mi5 Plus, both devices could well rival the Apple iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in China, especially given Xiaomi’s identiy as a rising “China’s Apple.”

Founder, Chairman and CEO of Xiaomi Global, Lei Jin (L) and Vice President, Hugo Barra gesture during the launch of Xiaomi’s Mi4i smart phone (MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Let Google Find The Right Phone For You

With so many Android devices currently on the market (and all of having broadly similar specifications and capabilities), it can be tricky to decide which Android smartphone is the phone for you. Google now has a handy ‘Which Phone?” tool you can use to get suggestions from the current manufacturer and carrier portfolios.

With many Android phones to choose from, here’s a great place to start.Answer three or more quick questions, and we’ll suggest phones just for you.

If you’re curious, Google suggested the Galaxy S6 / Galaxy S6 Edge pairing for me.

The Family Friendly Space In Google Play

Continuing with Google’s efforts to improve accessibility to the Android ecosystem is the launch of the ‘Family Friendly’ section of the Google Play Store. This offers curated apps that Google’s staff believe are suitable for young children using Android devices (which typically means tablets). Stephen Hall at 9to5Google:

The new “Family” app category includes only apps that have gone through and been approved by a hand-picked selection process. Currently, the top section features apps that are only on Google Play, the second is a “New & Popular” list (assumably, apps that are new and popular), there’s a “Spotlight on Disney” section, a section that sorts apps by character, and more.

You can access the new section on the web at this link, and the mobile version will be available in the Play Store app on your Android device.

Call The Taxman, Call The Google Taxman

While it might not be directly related to Android, the continued expansion of Google’s cloud services into the corporate and enterprise space increases the reach and credentials of Google as a platform player, and that does help Android. So the capture of the UK Government’s tax department (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) from Microsoft is a very big win for Mountain View:

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the first major department to move to Google Apps, part of an apparent loosening of Microsoft’s stranglehold on the government’s software services. The department will join the Cabinet Office and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in deploying the fluffy white stuff. HMRC has 70,000 staff, and as such will be Whitehall’s first mass deployment of Google’s cloud services.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MAY 15: Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO speaks during the opening keynote at the Google I/O developers conference at the Moscone Center on May 15, 2013 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

And Finally…

Larry Page is the best CEO ever! That’s the conclusion of Glassdoor‘s survey of employees on the ‘Top 50′ CEO’s’. Chance Miller at 9to5Google puts that into context:

This year, Google CEO Larry Page was voted as the chief executive officer of the year with a 97 percent employee approval rating. Last year, Page was 10th on the list, with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner taking the top spot. Weiner this year fell to 12th overall with an approval rating of 93 percent.

‘Android Circuit’ will round-up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course read the sister column in Apple LoopLast week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!

Android Circuit: Samsung 'Insults' Galaxy Fans, Google Wins HMRC Contract, Xiaomi Mi5 Mimics Apple

Friday, June 12, 2015

After Google, Amazon and Best Buy announced a $150 discount on Nexus 6, Motorola.com follows suit. Reuters

The Nexus 6 phablet has been criticized by tech experts for its hefty price tag. Last week, the Google Nexus 6 was made available with a huge discount of $150 atleading retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. However, Google was the first one to offer the $150 price cut at the Play Store. And now Motorola has joined the bandwagon,  selling the Nexus 6 with the same discount.

The deadline of the $150 price cut offer on the Motorola Nexus 6 is not mentioned on Amazon, Best Buy or Google. Phandroid says Google is offering the discount for a limited period.Motorola has said the new Nexus 6 deal will expire on June 23 at 10:59 a.m.

The Nexus 6 with 32 GB is available for $499.99 on Motorola.com. The usual price of this variant is $649. The 64 GB version is priced at $549.99; it's regular price is $699.99. The handset is available in color options like Midnight Blue and Cloud White.

Compared with other retailers, purchasing the Nexus 6 through Motorola.com has its own advantage, claims Phandroid. Motorola is exclusively offering an extended warranty of $130 on the device. The warranty can be used to cover accidental damages for a time period of up to two years.

The Nexus 6 was launched with the Android 5.0 Lollipop OS. Google showcased the Android M Developer Preview during the Google I/O 2015 held in May. The Android M is expected to be released on the Nexus 2015 smartphone.

The Motorola Nexus 6 that was released in October is the very first iteration from Google in the phablet segment. It features a 5.96-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 805 chipset, 3 GB of RAM, internal storage options of 32 GB and 64 GB, 13 MP camera with dual-LED flash, 2 MP front-facing camera, nonremovable battery of 3,220 mAh capacity and  connectivity options like 4G LTE, 3G, Bluetooth v4.0, NFC, aGPS and GLONASS.

Nexus 6 Now Available With $150 Discount At Motorola.com Until June 23

Need Clean Water?

Clean, drinkable water is unfortunately out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world, contributing to a vicious cycle of poverty and disease. People who have to spend large amounts of time finding safe water to drink don't have time for other things like education or work, and contaminated water often harbors deadly diseases. But there is hope, in the form ofnanotech filterslight-based water purifiers, and an ancient Egyptian seed.

In ancient Egypt, people used the crushed seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree to clear up cloudy water. Scientists later discovered that a protein in the seeds kills bacteria by gathering them into clusters which sink to the bottom of the container.

In a recent paper in Langmuir, researchers at Penn State announced that they'd solved a piece of the puzzle: how the protein kills the bacteria. It seems to fuse the membranes of the bacteria together. Membranes are designed to protect a cell, so when those defenses are breached, it's bad news for the bacteria.

Clean Water

The bottle on the left has been treated with crushed seeds, which cause the bacteria to clump together and die.

The researchers also worked out the best time to harvest the seeds. Until now, harvesting the seeds at the peak of their useful protein was guesswork. People knew that seeds harvested at different times had different abilities to clean water, but the differences hadn't been quantified. The new research found that the proteins were at their strongest cleaning ability when harvested as mature seeds during the rainy season.

Eventually, the scientists hope that the seeds can be grown and harvested in areas where they are most needed. Other parts of the plant are edible, making it useful for not only cleaning water, but providing a nutritious source of food for communities.

Just Add These Seeds To clean your water

Jurassic World, out tomorrow, is getting praise for its awesome dinosaur action. But it’s also getting a lot of criticism for its characters, especially the way it handles Bryce Dallas Howard. We talked to director Colin Trevorrow about how to make a monster movie in the Age of Sharktopus.

Spoilers ahead...

How do you deal with the fact that we’re living in the age of Sharktopus? There are so many CG monster movies out there, and we’re so used to all the tropes?

I feel like our movie is aware of that, hopefully not hyper-aware of it, but it acknowledges it. And yet I also think that monster movies are fun, and we enjoy these things for a reason. So I wanted to find a way to balance that, to recognize that it’s inherent in this story we’re telling, that people are going to this theme park because they want to see that. 

You can kind of see that moment in the film, when the crowd is watching the Mososaurus finish off the shark, and it’s like they’re at an MMA fight. They’re all cheering, because they want that carnage. There’s something really interesting about how human beings just want to see animals tear each other apart, maybe because we can’t do it. I thought there was at least something in there where we could be the thing that we’re talking about, and hopefully get away with it.

Monster movies are constructed around set pieces where you have people at a lake and then a monster comes out and eats them. I feel like this movie does a lot to shake that up. Did you think about how to break up the structure? You reveal the Indominus Rex really early in the movie, instead of making us wait for it.

Somewhat early. Definitely earlier than we [showed the main dinosaurs] in the previous ones. I knew they were going to show it in all the trailers, no matter what they promised. Steven [Spielberg] had the luxury of making a movie where there was one trailer, where you didn’t see any dinosaurs. So the level of joy and surprise is very different. But we did try to certainly show its consequences.

We wanted these dinosaurs to feel like real animals. That’s a theme that we’re very interested in, and certainly pushing forward with this, is to make it not a monster movie. These are living, breathing animals that did once exist on this planet and by resurrecting them, we have made these things un-extinct. 

And so I felt like presenting these dinosaurs as something that will just eat you all the time, every time, wasn’t the way to go. I got to the point where, even at the end of the movie, a dinosaur chooses not to engage in battle, with an animal that has been its nemesis every time we’ve seen them together. They always fight. I don’t think it gave them a certain amount of humanity, but I think it gives them an amount of nuance, and hopefully as characters allows us to respect them a little more. And sort of drive our respect for animals, which would be a goal for me.

I did notice with the Indominus, you do the classic monster movie thing of showing us glimpses of it, and then slowly revealing it.

That’s because it’s so early in the movie. That would be too early. We wanted to do it just enough so, you know, there’s something inherently engaging about not being able to see the monster, but at a certain point, we knew that we were going to have to unleash it, and ideally because we’re treating the raptors and the T-Rex and these other animals as characters, it allows us to build for a little while. 

In a movie that’s sort of a single monster movie, like Jaws, once you see the animal, it identifies the threat and you’re able to start working on ways to take down the threat. I think showing its powers, like any hero, any villain, spending the first half of the movie creating a mythology for it. It’s not Godzilla, where we all know the mythology. We’re introducing a new villain that is a synthetic, in the same way that Darth Vader, and Captain Hook, and Frankenstein all had, like, synthetic elements to them. It’s sort of a “classical villain” trope if anything. Not that I want to engage in tropes, but we know what these things are.

In the same way that in a superhero movie, you spend the first half building up the powers of the hero, he discovers what they are, and then the second half he’s executing those powers. We sort of did they same thing with the villain. By the time you get to the second half of the movie, you know what the Indominus can do. You know what it is. You’ve seen it, and now we’re moving forward.

Actually, did you see Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla? What did you think about that in terms of how it handles this iconic monster?

I thought he handled it really well. I feel like the thing looked beautiful, when you finally saw it. It was such a great effect. I think Godzilla is such an inherently challenging property, and I was just impressed that they were able [to pull it off]. I don’t know if I would have attempted to do it myself, cause I don’t know how the human characters and Godzilla can have a relationship in any way. It makes it really difficult, and that was something that was so important to me. You can see how I work hard to make sure that [a relationship] exists here.

And here the key relationship in a lot of ways is the relationship between Chris Pratt and the raptors, this whole idea of training them, and him being an animal trainer. Where did that develop from?

There was an idea that Steven [Spielberg] had, of a guy who could sort of command raptors in battle and have that human-animal communication. So Derek and I, we tried to dial it back a little bit, to the point where maybe that relationship is just being tested and figured out.

Because that’s something that exists on this planet right now — you have people in Africa who are out in fields with lions, rolling around with tigers and hugging these vicious predators that would kill anybody else and eat them. And so we felt like that’s at least a relationship that people can understand and connect to, and I thought it’s pretty cool when you replace lions and tigers with dinosaurs. And it allowed us to have a relationship that could be tested, because they are predators.

And I thought even though he imprinted on them very young in their lives, it would reach a point where they would have to choose between this human who has cared for them and obviously loves them and something else that is ‘one of them,’ to a certain extent. To have that build up, to be the climax of our movie, to build to that, I feel like that’s an emotional arc that we could rest this whole thing on.

And the theme of nature. In the film, people point out that none of these things are actually natural, in that they’re engineered. And they don’t have any instinct because they’ve been raised in captivity and they didn’t have any parents to teach them. Is the theme of nature vs. nurture something you guys talked about?

Absolutely. There’s a story about a tiger that had been raised in captivity that got loose and just went on a killing spree, like a serial killer. And it killed everything in its path, every living thing that it came upon. And so we based [the Indominus story] on that, and there are examples all over of animals raised in captivity not necessarily having the same psyche, the same mindset as animals that have grown up in a more traditional environment.

We haven’t seen that in other Jurassic Parkmovies before and I found that the balance of this movie is me trying to make sure that people love these movies and have something that they can feel comfortable with — but also be bold and push it forward and address some new ideas. And that, to me, felt like one of the most salient ideas that we could grab onto.

I know. I mean, look, I had that conversation with her so many times, and she insisted on wearing those heels. They meant something to her personally. She felt like, this is her talking, that those heels were her shield in a certain way as a woman. That’s just how she felt. She felt like surrendering the heels felt like surrendering the femininity of the character, even though women are — I don’t want to say forced to wear heels — but you’re expected to wear heels in certain environments.

And she felt that, even though the image of her running away from the T-Rex in heels is... honestly, maybe I feel that I’m revealing my own ignorance in not having anticipated how that was going to become a subject of discussion, the way that it has. I was thinking about it solely for her comfort, and for logic reasons — the same thing that we’re talking about: ‘Can’t we find some other way? And she’s like, ‘No, no, I’m going to go for it.’ 

Because that’s something special. I mean, we are talking about it. And these movies, having something that’s iconic to themselves — for better or worse, that’s an image that people are going to remember. [Laughs] And I just hope that it’s recognized that I did bring it up on many occasions. [Laughs] But I support my actors! I want her to feel comfortable. And I want her to create a [character] that is truthful and true to her and how she feels in that character’s shoes, for lack of a better [word]. And that’s what made her feel like Claire.

And these movies aren’t strict realism.

No, but knowing that character, I can buy that character would never take her heels off. She walks around in those heels every day. She’s already in that jungle wearing a white dress. I mean, I think to her it was just true to Claire, even if it’s not true to anybody else.

So what do you think about the criticisms of the gender roles in the movie? At times, Chris Pratt seems condescending towards Bryce Dallas Howard, and that’s mixed in with the romance subplot.

I mean, he is condescending, at points. And that, to me, was designed to focus on our lead character, who is Bryce Dallas Howard. I mean, she’s the hero of the movie, and she’s the one who changes. She goes through a pretty massive arc, from being the head woman in charge and very corporatized, and very much governed by the needs of that corporation, to somebody who has kind of stripped herself of all the trappings, and become very at one with her inner animal — and the natural world. And [she’s] recognized that she saw these animals as assets, and as numbers, and that they are in fact living, breathing creatures. And I found it to be a movie about her finding her humanity. And that’s always how I saw it.

And honestly, I guess it’s a testament to my own ignorance of how things can be perceived — I never really saw it any other way. I definitely didn’t see it as a character who was learning to want to have children. That didn’t even occur to me. Because I don’t see her as going off and having children at the end of the movie — that doesn’t seem like that’s what she’s going to do. But I’ve heard that argument.

And look, it’s hard for me to debate any of those things, because it’s all about perception. It’s all about something lands with somebody. And I feel like everybody is right. However it lands with you, and however you perceive what we’re doing, you’re right. Because that’s how you saw it. So all I can say is, I hope that whatever people see in it, they know I very sincerely was looking to make a real badass action heroine who doesn’t surrender her femininity in the process of being a badass action heroine.

Changing gears... Tim Story, who directed Barbershop and then was hired to direct the first two Fantastic Four movies, has talked about how easy it is for a director coming to big VFX movies for the first time to lose control over the VFX part of the movie and just work with what they give you and get swept along by it. He seems to have felt like maybe he wasn’t entirely in control. Do you think that’s a danger? And how do you deal with that?

It’s a danger. It’s not what happened with me. I was in control of this whole movie, from start to finish. And I don’t have the ability to pass the buck to anyone else — not that that’s what he was doing.

I’m quoting him from memory, so that may not be 100 percent accurate.

But I just don’t have that luxury. Everything you see on the screen was something that I wanted to put there. And I was supported by the studio and by Steven in wanting to put these things on. But it’s my movie. I feel like there’s a certain amount of creative freedom that comes along with that, and that’s very satisfying. But there’s also something taken away from you — you don’t get to say, ‘Oh, this giant corporation made me do all this stuff.’

But how do you communicate your vision to the VFX people? They’re showing you animatics and simulations, and how do you shape that?

I’m there every day, and telling them what it’s going to be, and then they’re being creative as well. This is a collaborative relationship, and it’s a fantastic one. I didn’t find any of that. VFX animators and everyone at ILM, and people who do previz — all of these people are there to realize your vision. So if you’re clear with it, and you know what you want, and you articulate it in detail, they can realize anything in your imagination. All of that stuff was a very positive experience for me.

This whole thing, from start to finish — it’s gone very, very well. I am so conscious of the fact that that’s kind of an anomaly. It’s very rare that movies go as well as this. We finished ahead of schedule, under budget [and] didn’t have to do any reshoots. All of the things that very often happen — and [they] don’t always mean that a movie’s going to be bad. Some of our greatest movies have gone through extensive reshoots. And yet, for me as a personal experience, this all went very smoothly, and I’m very grateful for that.

Do you think younger film-makers, who grew up with computer animation, are more comfortable using it as a tool?

We used what was necessary in the moment, to execute whatever the vision was. We did use animatronics. We used motion-capture, which I thought added a certain humanity to the animals. I don’t know...

I learned on film at NYU. I was probably the last generation that was analog. Anyone who was a year younger than me, it was probably all digital. I shot [Jurassic World] on film, but my first film was digital. So I’m [not a] digital kid, either. I’m right on the bridge. What’s really interesting about the younger film-makers that came up in that age is, they got to make so many more films. There was no limitation to how much they could do, so they’ve all made a thousand weird little shorts, and they were able to hone their skills, that I’m not sure I ever got a chance to do. I made one short film, Safety Not Guaranteed, and this.

And so, I think being able to have that incubation period is really valuable for a film-maker. To the point where I’m going to go backwards now, and buy myself an incubation period [using] whatever cred I get with this in the business. I’m going to go make a smaller film, and then a medium-sized film, and continue to hone my skills as a storyteller, because I think I have to.

The message in the first Jurassic Park is, “Nature finds a way,” and “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” In this movie, is the message all the stuff where people say, “You guys went too far for spectacle. You demanded things that weren’t realistic in the dinosaurs. You wanted bigger and better.” And so on?

Not necessarily in the context of [talking about] movies, specifically — although I know it can be applied to that. It was really more [that] we live in kind of this ‘upgrade’ culture, where we feel very entitled to be entertained and pleased all the time. ‘Give me something more, and then I’m going to hate it.’ [Laughs] ‘Then give me something else, and I’ll hate that.’

And what I saw in all of that is, dinosaurs are a very humbling presence. And I think just the very idea that you would be in front of something that is that grand and that spectacular, and you would shoot it on your phone — and not have that experience, not have that connection. There’s lot of things [in this movie] about connection, between humans and animals, between humans and each other, humans and ourselves — between brothers — I hope that there’s a humanity in the movie. Or an encouragement of humanity in the face of great corporatization. And it’s not an anti-capitalist movie, or an anti-corporate movie... but there is something dehumanizing in the corporatization of everything.

And we talk about it very early in the movie, how that first [Jurassic] Park was legit, because they just had real dinosaurs. They didn’t have all these genetic hybrids. And I would hope that, yeah, it’s a movie that encourages humans to embrace one of our great gifts: That we’re sentient, and we can fall in love, and we can connect with each other. And maybe that’s all too simple, for a movie that I think asks a lot of big questions and I think handles a lot of big themes, but in the end is a children’s film. And I feel like [it’s] a children’s film about, ‘Hey, let’s all fall in love.’

Jurassic World Director Talks About That Infamous Running-In-Heels Scene

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