SciTech Briefs

Humans wired to see an image in different colors

Since last Thursday, an image of an ambiguously colored dress has gone viral on the Internet, triggering heated debates on social media. While some people see the color of the dress as black and blue — the actual color of the dress — others see it as gold and white.

Such controversy presents an interesting case involving the varying visual perceptions within the human population. Wired to see in daylight, the visual cortex within the human brain takes into account the chromatic bias of the daylight axis when producing an image. In spite of differing lighting conditions, the visual system allows humans to interpret the fixed color of an object. Hence, when people see white and gold colors, their brains remove the blue cast of the dress, with the perception that the image is in dim light. People who see the black and blue colors are under the impression that the image was under bright light.

Source: Wired

Physicists pose possible answer to origin of matter

Addressing a mysterious scientific phenomenon, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have attributed the asymmetry of matter and antimatter within the universe to the motion of the Higgs field, associated with the Higgs boson particle. The Higgs boson particle is thought to be responsible for all mass in the universe. Elementary particles acquire mass by coupling to the Higgs field.

The researchers believe that after the Big Bang, particles and antiparticles existed in equal amounts, with the exception of a tiny asymmetry amounting to one particle for every billion.
As the universe cooled, particles and antiparticles annihilated each other in even amounts, leaving a tiny number of particles that gave rise to the stars, planets and gas in today’s universe.

Thus, the findings, which were published in Physical Review Letters, may explain the origin of matter in the universe.

Source: ScienceDaily

Dozens of new sinkholes found throughout Siberia

Through satellite, more sinkholes have been discovered in Siberia, and people speculate that there are many more to be found.

While the cause for these sinkholes has not been confirmed, researchers speculate that these craters may have been formed as a result of gas explosions. Last summer, scientists studied craters thought to be formed by the explosion of methane gas. Some researchers speculated that climate change will make sinkholes more common. With the recent discoveries, there have been urgent demands for research to confirm the causes of these craters. However, the potential explosions from gas emissions pose a risk to the well-being of the researchers studying those craters.

Furthermore, gas emissions have been shown to cause fatal damage on drilling rigs, oil and gas fields, and offshore pipelines, which can ultimately disrupt the operation of oil and gas complexes in northern cities.

Source: Discovery News

Scientists validate the presence of greenhouse gases

Last Wednesday, researchers published a study in Nature that presented the first observational evidence of the direct correlation between increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the rise in thermal radiation striking the Earth’s surface.

At two sites, one in Alaska and one in Oklahoma, climate scientists measured the quantity of thermal radiation on cloudless days. Since carbon dioxide emits light within a unique range of wavelengths, the team was able to identify energy balance changes that came from the particular gas. After taking measurements for more than a decade, the researchers discovered that an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations of 22 parts per million resulted in an increase in incoming thermal radiation, measured in watts per square meter, of about ten percent.

The team believes that their work supports the theory that human activity has played a part in global warming.

Source: Science News

Prosthetic leg with an artificial vision system developed

At the Michigan Technological University, a group of engineers headed by Mo Rastgaar, a professor of mechanical engineering, is developing a prototype of a prosthetic leg that will be able to see where it is going. The artificial vision system will be a low-cost camera that can identify the profile of the ground. Meanwhile, by analyzing the information from the camera, the computer-controlled actuator will determine the location of the next footstep.

Additionally, the computer will calculate the appropriate angle and stiffness of the ankle, allowing for flexibility in motion. A system of cables would control the motion of the ankle.
The researchers have refined the actuator so that it can be carried in a pocket, rather than on the prosthesis, which will improve ease of use.

The team hopes that one day, the prosthetic leg will be introduced into the market to help patients in need of artificial limbs.

Source: ScienceDaily

Volvo develops and integrates self-driving vehicles

Recently, the Volvo Group, a Swedish multinational manufacturing company, disclosed the latest developments in its Drive Me project. The project aims to allow self-driving cars to integrate into regular traffic alongside cars with human drivers. A Drive Me vehicle gets accurate information about its surroundings from a high-performance GPS and a high-definition 3-D map.

Working with many different legislative and transportation officials, Volvo hopes to have 100 self-driving vehicles on the road in selected areas around Gothenburg, Sweden, by 2017. The company is working towards a near 100 percent reliability in their autonomous driving system.

Developing compatible infrastructure is also critical for the integration of these self-driving cars. Volvo is working on developing cars that will know what is going on a few miles away from them, not just in their immediate position.

Source: TechNewsWorld