Month: April, 2018

Chocolate Production Generates A Lot Of Pollution

For decades, commuters and tourists have delighted in the mouthwatering smells radiating from the Blommer Chocolate Co.’s factory near the Chicago River downtown.

But following a federal agency’s complaint, the aroma will soon disappear.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently cited the family-run business for alleged clean-air violations, and officials are hurrying to install equipment that will reduce emissions — and stop the smell.

It’ll start to go away as we put pollution abatement equipment in place,” the company’s vice president, Rick Blommer, told The Associated Press.




The company that makes chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and other products for bulk sale is trying to resolve allegations that its cocoa-crushing process causes air pollution.

Still, the demise of the rich, brownie smell spilling from the 66-year-old Blommer plant will be a bitter loss, said odor researcher Alan Hirsch, head of the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation.

Chocolate smells put people in a relaxed state,” said Hirsch, who likened the effect of chocolate vapors on the brain to an antidepressant.

It’s been shown bad odors increase aggression; pleasant ones make people more docile. So you could say the chocolate smell is a real service to Chicago.

Smells are a big deal in this city once closely associated with the stench of slaughtered cows and whose very name etymologists say comes from the American Indian words for skunk or onion.

But a pleasant smell to some is pollution to others.

In citing the company earlier this month, the EPA said inhaling the plant’s emissions in high concentrations can harm children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases.

But within smelling range of the factory, it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who doesn’t rave about the chocolate aroma.

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How To Increase Your Virtual Desktop Space

Feeling overwhelmed by all the windows you need open for various jobs or tasks? Virtual desktops can help, by letting you sort your windows and reduce clutter.

But what are virtual desktops, and how do you set them up in Windows?

It’s hard to explain just how useful virtual desktops are, but once you start using them you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without.

There’s something about sorting the many things you need to do throughout the day – communication, research, productivity – to different spaces. Not seeing everything at once makes getting started on your tasks simpler.




If you need lots of windows open to do your job, but feel stressed by all the clutter, virtual desktops are for you.

Mac and Linux users can set up virtual desktops out-of-the-box, but Windows computers prior to Windows 10 don’t come with this feature.

Don’t worry, though, because there are plenty of great apps out there that set up desktops for you. Let’s go over a few, and explore which work best.

Desktops (Free) from Sysinternals: Basic and Stable

Windows does come, built-in, with support for multiple desktops – there’s just no way to turn it on within Windows itself. Free app Desktops gives you a quick way to use this built-in process.

It’s no-frills, to say the least, but coming from Microsoft-owned Sysinternals you can expect stability.

Switching desktops is done with keyboard shortcuts.

Note that this app, last updated in 2012, doesn’t work perfectly with Windows 8. In my tests, the Start Menu would only load on the first desktop.

It’s also impossible to move a window from one desktop to another, meaning you can only easily launch applications you’ve pinned to the taskbar.

Still, it’s fast and stable – and perfect for Windows 7 users.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and fast.
  • Uses keyboard shortcuts.
  • Very stable: built on functionality already built into Windows.
  • Quick-look view of all desktops from the system tray.

Cons:

  • Windows 8 users can only use the Start button on the first desktop.
  • There’s no way to move applications from one desktop to another.
  • Not much here for mouse-heavy users.

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Nike’s Vaporfly Elite FlyPrint Leans Hard Into Computational Design

Computational design is the hottest phrase in manufacturing and 3D printing at the moment.

It’s changing the way people make all kinds of goods, and Nike used it to design and manufacture its new Vaporfly Elite FlyPrint shoe, which it’s announcing today.

The shoe is a specialized edition of its Zoom Vaporfly Elite 4%, which was used by elite runner Eliud Kipchoge during Nike’s Breaking2 event, which resulted in the fastest marathon ever run.

The special sauce in this edition is the FlyPrint upper, which is printed on the fly by a specially customized 3D printer out of a proprietary Nike polymer.

The material is printed out in a pattern specifically designed for a given athlete’s needs and attached to the much hyped Zoom X foam midsole from the 4% model.

The process, which Nike is calling FlyPrint, has some similarities to Nike’s other famous ‘fly’ process, FlyKnit, hence the name. The printing process, says Chen, is a lot like painting the material.

The uppers look a lot like a regular butterfly upper, with the same kind of flexibility you’re used to seeing from fabric or other polymer-based upper materials. This is not a hard-shell 3D-printed material, it’s a fabric of sorts.




This is reinforced by the fact that several components of the shoe are still made of FlyKnit including the tongue and collar. Those parts are so similar in chemical composition that there is no glue needed to attach them.

Instead, the FlyPrint material is bonded seamlessly with the FlyKnit, making for a one-piece design that is stronger and lighter.

The process of computer aided design in consumer products has a long history — but computational design is an evolution of this concept and has begun to gain steam lately with production-ready 3D-printing processes like Carbon’s

Carbon’s M-series digital light synthesis printers and Desktop Metal’s Production System.

The guiding force behind computational design is that you feed parameters and physical properties into a model — basically limitations and desired outcomes — and get designs that would either be impossible or incredibly time consuming for humans to produce.

In the case of the new FlyPrint upper, the constraints are the properties of the material and the forces that Kipchoge’s feet were exerting on that material.

With that data, along with the chemical composition of the polymer, a computational model allowed Nike to tweak the design for support, flexibility, reinforcement or relaxation on a much more granular level than they could ever accomplish with FlyKnit.

Nike is using an established 3D printing process called fused deposition modeling, basically painting shapes onto a surface with production-ready TPU materials.

Neither will say what printers Nike is using but note the company’s history in ‘hacking’ manufacturing tools to get the job done. As an industry note, Stratasys is one of the more established players in FDM printing.

Computational design and production ready 3D printing are changing footwear as we speak. Adidas and Carbon are focusing on the midsole in fashion and basketball, Nike is reinventing the upper for elite runners.

But the real gem here might not be the speed or customization — both important advancements.

The Vaporfly Elite FlyPrint is a product for elite runners only, and a small amount of them will be available at an event in London soon, as well as on the feet of Kipchoge and other Nike runners.

But there is an epochal shift in the way shoes (and other products) are made coming, and this is one of the harbingers of that shift. Pay attention.

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How To Find Out Everything Facebook Knows About You

If you use Facebook, then you know the deal.

Facebook is free to use and fun, and sometimes necessary if you belong to groups that use it to communicate with their members.

But in exchange for that service, you have allowed it to track your activity so that advertisers can find you, hopefully to show you stuff you’ll want to buy.

In other words: you can’t opt out of ads on Facebook without opting out of Facebook itself.

But there’s still a lot you can do to control the ads you see.




And there’s also stuff you can do to stop Facebook from watching what you do on the rest of the internet in service of its advertisers.

Besides all the usual arguments about privacy, there is another good reason to figure out what Facebook knows about you and participate in that.

It shows you ads based on what it thinks you like. The better it does this, the more likely you are going to see ads on things that truly interest you.

Facebook has three ways to figure you out.

1. What you tell it directly (name, age, marital status, parental status, where you live, work, went to school, etc.).

2. What you do while you are on Facebook, including stuff you’ve “liked,” groups you joined, photos and links you’ve shared, things you click on.

3. What you do on the rest of the internet outside of Facebook such as websites you visit.

Many sites track this information via cookies and Facebook reads those cookies and uses that information to serve up ads both on its site and on other websites, it says.

It’s easy to see the things you’ve directly shared with Facebook on your Timeline profile page. But to see a fully tally of what Facebook thinks you like, you need to find a tool called Ad Preferences.

This tool is not easy to find. Locate it by using the controls Facebook has embedded into the ads themselves.

Head to your Facebook news feed.

Hover your mouse over any ad you see in the right-hand column and look for the little “x” to appear in the corner of the add. Click on it.

You can make Facebook stop tracking you on the internet.

Facebook does watch what you do outside of Facebook to show you ads.

For example, if you visit travel websites, you might then see ads on Facebook for hotel deals. We call this online interest-based advertising,” it explains.

You can tell it to stop showing you ads based on you do on the internet. Click on the lock icon in the blue bar. Then click on “Ads” in the left column, then choose “Off.”

This will not stop Facebook from showing you just as many ads, but it won’t be using your web activity for them.

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Can Fasting Help You Lose Weight And Live For Longer?

New research suggests that fasting could slow down ageing and extend people’s lives. What fasting diets are there – are are they a good idea?

Intermitent Fasting is in fashion.

There are all sorts of ratios and variants on core idea of dramatically restricting calories for a few days each week while eating normally on other days.

And while this approach seems totally at odds with the traditional health advice we’ve always been given about eating balanced, regular meals, a growing number of scientists are saying IF diets can reduce our chances of developing some chronic diseases and may even add years our lives.




The most recent evidence comes from the University of South California, where researchers found that 34 people on a low-calorie, low-protein diet had a decrease in risk factors associated with chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

This builds on a number of earlier findings that suggest fasting reduces blood pressure, increases cellular repair and metabolic rate, and protects against conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

And while it is not be a step towards eternal life, a 2015 study at the University of Florida revealed that fasting on alternate days increased the gene related to anti-ageing in human cells.

Short periods of starvation effectively mimic the eating habits of our ancestors, who did not have access to grocery stores or food around the clock.

It’s not without its risks and downsides, though. Dieticians warn that skipping meals can cause dizziness, difficulties sleeping, dehydration and headaches.

Others are concerned it reinforces poor eating habits. “These diets can encourage a ‘scrimp and splurge’ approach to eating,” says British nutritionist Julia Harding.

“They don’t necessarily promote a good understanding of food. People need to make sure they’re eating nutritious, balanced meals on their ‘off days’ and think beyond calories.”

As fasting continues to win new fans, the array of variations is about as dizzying as a day on zero calories.

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5 Creativity Apps To Inspire Kids

Unleash your child’s creativity and imagination with these inspiring apps.

From arranging fruit to make faces to blowing an ink spot into a whimsical monster, this list is full of apps that will spark your kids’ creativity.

These apps will tickle your kids’ imaginations and encourage them to think outside the box.




1. Faces iMake – Right Brain Creativity

A fanciful and fun tool for creating faces out of everyday objects including food, toys, tools, and more.

Kids create faces using unusual collage materials, such as candy, toys, fruit, musical instruments, and more to make fanciful art.

2. MoMA Art Lab

Kids learn about modern art by playing with this unique set of art tools.

They can create their own artwork or follow step-by-step projects based on famous pieces of modern art during which they can add their own unique flair.

3. The DAILY MONSTER Monster Maker

Splat! An ink spot jiggles, hoping your creativity will turn it into a world-class monster.

This app provides inspiration to draw monsters by starting with a ink splat on the page. From there, kids add whimsical body parts by selecting and dragging them from a file labeled “Parts.”

4. Toontastic

Ready, Set, Action! With this set of intuitive digital tools, your kids will be creating and directing their own cartoons.

This app provides kids with a set of digital tools to create their own cartoons.

They choose their setting, add characters, move those characters around in the setting to create animation as they provide the voices, add music, and — Voila! they’re done!

5. Petting Zoo – Animal Animations

21 animals await your touching. Their responses to your touch, tap, or swipe are magical, endearing, and hilarious.

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Could Blue Origin Beat SpaceX?

Find out if Lumerit can save you time and money for college. Get a free quote at https://lumerit.com/answerswithjoe

Blue Origin is the private space flight company founded by Amazon CEO and current richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos.

Through their New Shepard and New Glenn projects, they are working toward the goal of having millions of people living and working in space.

Incredible Gold Metallic Colors Of Ancient Butterfly Ancestors That Lived Alongside Dinosaurs Are Revealed For The First Time

The beautiful gold metallic colors of the earliest known ancestors of moths and butterflies have been revealed for the first time.

Some of these creatures – now preserved in amber – inhabited the planet alongside dinosaurs as long as 200 million years ago.

Researchers found the structural colors of the fossils resulted from intricate light scattering, or photonic, microstructures.

This finding pushes back evidence for such light-scattering structures in the insect fossil record by more than 130 million years.

An international team of researchers, including Dr Tim Starkey from the University of Exeter, discovered the new evidence for color in Mesozoic fossils.

His team used powerful electron microscopes to detect tiny ridges and grooves in the insect’s wing scales, similar to those seen in today’s moths.




Optical models revealed these tiny features are photonic structures that would have produced metallic bronze to golden color appearances in the insects’ wings.

Dr Starkey, part of Exeter’s physics and astronomy department, said: “The structural colours exhibited by butterflies and moths have been a longstanding research interest in Exeter.

They have helped us develop biologically-inspired optical technologies for the present day.

However, in this study we’ve looked millions of years back in time to early origins of such colours in nature, to understand how and when the evolution of colours in these insects took place.”

The fossils studied are among the oldest known representatives of butterflies and moths.

Some specimens that originate from England’s Jurassic Coast date back 195 million years.

Insects have evolved an amazing range of photonic structures, experts say.

They can produce iridescence, metallic colours, and other flashy effects that are important for behaviour and ecological functions.

The fossils studied are among the oldest known representatives of butterflies and moths.

Some specimens that originate from England’s Jurassic Coast date back 195 million years.

Insects have evolved an amazing range of photonic structures, experts say.

They can produce iridescence, metallic colours, and other flashy effects that are important for behaviour and ecological functions.

However, researchers say they were surprised to find wing scales preserved, let alone microscopic structures that produce color.

They say this tells us color was an important driving force in shaping the evolution of wings even in the earliest ancestors of butterflies and moths.

Luke McDonald from University College Cork added: “Uniquely in this study, we show that impression fossils are equally as capable as compression fossils at preserving the structure of scales in sufficient detail to elucidate the moths’ 180 million‑year‑old colours.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science Advances.

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New Telescope In Chile Unveils Stunning First Images

The first released VST image shows the spectacular star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula, as it has never been seen before. This vast region of gas, dust and hot young stars lies in the heart of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer)

A new state-of-the-art telescope has snapped its first impressive images of the southern sky over the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) is the latest addition to the European Southern Observatory’s network of telescopes at Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

The first image released from the VST shows the spectacular star-forming region Messier 17, also known as the Omega nebula or the Swan nebula, as it has never been seen before.

This nebula, full of gas, dust and hot young stars, lies in the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation of Sagittarius.

The VST’s field of view is so large that is able to observe the entire nebula, including its fainter outer parts.

The second of the newly released images is a portrait of the star cluster Omega Centauri in unprecedented detail. Omega Centauri is the largest globular cluster in the sky and the VST’s view includes about 300,000 stars.

ESO’s new telescope

The VST is a 2.6-meter telescope with a 268-megapixel camera, called OmegaCAM, at its core. The visible-light telescope is designed to map the sky both quickly and with precise image quality.

The VST is a wide-field survey telescope with a field of view twice as broad as the full moon. It is the largest telescope in the world designed to exclusively survey the sky in visible light.

ESO officials oversee many telescopes based at three observing sites in Chile’s high Atacama Desert. In addition to the telescopes atop the summit of Cerro Paranal, the observatory has sites at La Silla and Chajnantor.




Mapping the cosmos

Over the next five years, the VST and its OmegaCAM will make three detailed surveys of the southern sky, and the data will be made public for astronomers around the world to analyze.

The KIDS survey will image several regions of the sky away from the Milky Way. The study aims to further astronomers’ understanding of dark matter, dark energy and galaxy evolution, and find many new galaxy clusters.

The VST ATLAS survey will cover a larger area of sky and focus on understanding dark energy and supporting more detailed studies using the VLT and other telescopes.

The third survey, VPHAS+, will image the central plane of the Milky Way to map the structure of the galactic disc and its star formation history.

VPHAS+ will yield a catalogue of around 500 million objects and is expected to discover many new examples of unusual stars at all stages of their evolution.

The VST project is a joint venture between ESO and the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Naples, Italy.

Watch NASA Dummies Crash Test Flying And Falling Vehicles

This week, NASA’s Langley Research Center published a video of the crash-test-dummies whose horrifying accidents make air and space travel safer for their human counterparts.

The dummies keep humans safer by giving scientists key data about whether bodies bend or break under different crash conditions.

So they’re outfitted with sensors and instruments, and can vary in size from 105 to 220 pounds to simulate a range adult human bodies.

Then, the dummies are strapped into the seats of both aircraft and spacecraft and dropped. In March 2017, for example, 10 dummies and a whole lot of luggage from an unclaimed baggage center in Alabama were loaded into an airplane’s fuselage, which was dropped 14 feet onto hard dirt.

The bags damaged the plane’s floor in some spots, but the dummies suffered no major injuries. That information will be key for setting safety standards for new planes.




NASA researchers also used dummies in a series of crash tests in 2016 for the Orion crew capsule, which is intended to one day carry astronauts to deep space and back again.

When it returns, the plan is for it to splashdown in the Pacific ocean, slowed by three main parachutes.

NASA used a pair of dummies — one large and one small — in a mockup of the Orion capsule and tested them by dropping it into a 20-foot-deep pool, called the Hydro Impact Basin.

The researchers crash tested both naked and clothed dummies to get a better sense for how a spacesuit and helmet would change the way the body moves.

The truth is that in the end, as valuable as these dummies are, they don’t get a lot of dignity.

So, to the brave dummies at NASA enduring helicopter crashes, fuselage drops, and water landings in mockup spacecraft, we salute you. The safety of air travelers and NASA astronauts alike rests on your battered shoulders.

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