Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekly RonudUp

Sorry all folks out there, it is really getting tough to be regular. Any way, for this weeks roundup, we have lot of hands on stuff. Not any theory, or theories in the making. We are going to see some pretty real stuff. Its people like these who give make use of all the technology that comes up. From discussion on various electricity standards around the world, to glitch art and paper art we have some amazing things made by some amazing people.

Electricity around the world: We all at least those of you who have traveled in more than one country have faced this issue. Your laptop charger or your mobile charger does not fit into the point there. And even if it fits, you may be witness to some great fireworks if there is some difference in the specifications. Now we have a site which brings out all the world standards at a glance. Next time you travel you know what to carry or at least what to expect. This website by Conrad H. McGregor also contains more information on the driving sense in different countries, the international paper sizes, international bar codes and so on. Its really a must for all those travellers out there.

Paper Art: Su Blackwell has an amazing work of art. See for yourself this beautiful piece made from book cuts. For more of his masterpieces go to his site at

Glitch Art: Looks like art is the flavor of the day. How many of us have seen glitches on screens, be it be TV, your calculator, that new camera or the inseparable monitor. Ant Scott turns this glitches into art. A good collection of glitches and he goes on to explain the story behind each. Impressive I would say.

History: Continuing in the same vein, let us see two sites which offer an insight into the past. One titled Historical Photos, contains a very nice collection of aero engines, dog breeds, steam engines and many more from the past. One more site that caught my attention was The Cathode Ray Tube Site. This site has on display the history of various tubes. It has nicely divided the tubes into CRTs, Camera tubes,X-ray tubes and so on. Thus providing us with an easy navigation. An informative site and a must for all tube enthusiasts.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rapid detection of Viruses: Silver Nanorods

Silver bullet: UGA researchers use laser, nanotechnology to rapidly detect viruses

Athens: Waiting a day or more to get lab results back from the doctor's office soon could become a thing of a past. Using nanotechnology, a team of University of Georgia researchers has developed a diagnostic test that can detect viruses as diverse as influenza, HIV and RSV in 60 seconds or less.

In addition to saving time, the technique – which is detailed in the November issue of the journal Nano Letters – could save lives by rapidly detecting a naturally occurring disease outbreak or bioterrorism attack.

"You could actually apply it to a person walking off a plane and know if they're infected."

Technology behind it:

The technique, called surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), works by measuring the change in frequency of a near-infrared laser as it scatters off viral DNA or RNA. This change in frequency, named the Raman shift for the scientist who discovered it in 1928, is as distinct as a fingerprint. It is interesting to note that the findings of Indian Pioneer of Science, Sir Raman is coming handy in latest nanotechnology applications.

This phenomenon is well known, but Tripp explained that previous attempts to use Raman spectroscopy to diagnose viruses failed because the signal produced is inherently weak.

But UGA physics professor Yiping Zhao and UGA chemistry professor Richard Dluhy experimented with several different metals and methods and found a way to significantly amplify the signal. Using a method they've patented, they place rows of silver nanorods 10,000 times finer than the width of a human hair on the glass slides that hold the sample. And, like someone positioning a TV antenna to get the best reception, they tried several angles until they found that the signal is best amplified when the nanorods are arranged at an 86-degree angle.

Tripp said the technique is so powerful that it has the potential to detect a single virus particle and can also discern virus subtypes and those with mutations such as gene insertions and deletions.

The researchers have shown that the technique works with viruses isolated from infected cells grown in a lab, and the next step is to study its use in biological samples such as blood, feces or nasal swabs. Tripp said preliminary results are so promising that the researchers are currently working to create an online encyclopedia of Raman shift values. With that information, a technician could readily reference a Raman shift for a particular virus to identify an unknown virus.

Next year, they plan on moving their enterprise to the Georgia BioBusiness Center, an UGA incubator for startup bio-science companies.

Limitations of Existing Techniques

Presently, viruses are first diagnosed with methods that detect the antibodies a person produces in response to an infection. Tripp explained that these tests are prone to false positives because a person can still have antibodies in their system from a related infection decades ago. The tests are also prone to false negatives because some people don't produce high levels of antibodies.

Because of these limitations, antibody based tests often must be confirmed with a test known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which detects the virus itself by copying it many times. The test can take anywhere from several days to two weeks. Tripp said the latter is clearly too long, especially in light of emerging threats such as H5N1 avian influenza.


Dialogues from Shawshank redemption

This one is from Leo (he posted it on his personal blog). It has got nothing to do with technology. But then the reason technology exists is because of  us humans. This movie amazes me every time I think of it. And am sure all those who haven't watched it must see it.

For now please sail through the famous dialogues.

The most famous dialogues of the Best Movie ever Made : SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Can anyone forget Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman in Shawshank?? least I cant..coz this one movie taught me a through these dialogues carefully..each line has a story to tell teach you..!!

RED: Andy? I guess we're getting' to be friends, ain't we?

ANDY: I suppose we are.

RED: I ask a question? Why'd you do it?

ANDY: I'm innocent, remember? Just like everybody else here.

ANDY: What are you in for, Red?

RED: Murder. Same as you.

ANDY: Innocent?

RED: The only guilty man in Shawshank.

RED: Heywood, enough. Ain't nothing wrong with Brooksie. He's just institutionalized, that's all.

HEYWOOD: Institutionalized, my ass.

RED: Man's been here fifty years. This place is all he knows. In here, he's an important man, an educated man. A librarian. Out there, he's nothing but a used-up old con with arthritis in both hands. Couldn't even get a library card if he applied. You see what I'm saying?

FLOYD: Red, I do believe you're talking out of your ass.

RED: Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. After long enough, you get so you depend on 'em. That's "institutionalized."

JIGGER: Shit. I could never get that way.

ERNIE: Say that when you been inside as long as Brooks has.

RED: Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that's just what they take. Part that counts, anyway.

RED: I have no idea to this day what them two Italian ladies were singin' about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singin' about something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away... and for the briefest of moments -- every last man at Shawshank felt free.

ANDY: Here's where it makes most sense. We need it so we don't forget.

RED: Forget?

ANDY: That there are things in this world not carved out of gray stone. That there's a small place inside of us they can never lock away, and that place is called hope.

RED: Hope is a dangerous thing. Drive a man insane.

ANDY: You're right. It's down there, and I'm in here. I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.

RED: Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, a million years of mountain-building there, plates of bedrock grinding against each other over a span of millennia... Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes, really. Pressure and time.

RED: I like to think the last thing that went through his head... other than that bullet... was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him.

ANDY: Dear Red. If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.

RED: I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain... I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.


Thursday, November 16, 2006


BioPen Senses BioThreats

Bioluminescent fiber-optic bio-reporter biosensor to environmental toxicant
Bioluminescent fiber-optic bio-reporter biosensor to environmental toxicant

A novel pen-like device, capable of rapidly detecting biowarfare agents on the battlefield, is being developed by a team of Israeli scientists at Ben Gurion University in the Negev. The BioPen or "Lab-in-a-Pen", as it has also been dubbed, could be used additionally as a point-of-care test tool for examining patients and to assist in the accurate, rapid, and on-the-spot diagnosis of a variety of diseases.

Image of BioPen concept CAD (computer aided design)
Image of BioPen concept CAD (computer aided design)

The BioPen has been designed to help soldiers on the battlefield determine whether they have been exposed to dangerous biological agents in under 20 minutes. The novel diagnostic device – equipped with a small LCD screen – is user-friendly, does not require the user to have any preliminary training, and is self-sufficient. In addition, it can be used to check whether water is drinkable, to detect environmental toxins, and to diagnose various common infections such as Hepatitis B and C, and even several types of cancer, more accurately and efficiently than tests currently in use. This amazing feat is achieved by a special method devised by the Ben Gurion University team for antigen detection, which is an adaptation of the widely employed Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wiztec in Your Language

Thanks to so many enterprising souls on the net, now those of you in various parts of the world (at least 9 languages and those countries that speak these languages) will be able to get it in your language. I won't write much here, except credit all the people who played a role in current status of wiztec.

Let me start with Hackosphere, this guy Ramani has really helped me with my blog (without knowing that). If I could include some features in my blog without any effort worth mentioning the credit goes to him.

Now comes cOOL HOOp, Leo as I know him is with me at Nirmalabs, a biotechnologist, he is one of the contributors to this blog. Check out his blog, he has some cool stuff. Check out wiztec for more of Leo.

There are other people(the links point to there blogs), Ashish Sinha from iDea Labs, Annie from BlogU, then we have Amit Agarwal from Digital Inspirations. Many other blogs and sites have helped me with the posts here, and I have credited most of the sites/persons in the posts.

To end with, we assure you that we will try to be more regular with the posts, updating you on whats happening. If you want to here, or there is a topic that you want us at wiztec to post, do write to us. We will be too happy to take your feedback.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Back In Time

How nice it would be if we can go back in time to those good olden days, get nostalgic about those days. Now you may have to wait for a few more decades or centuries for time travel (in more than one direction) to be a reality. For now Google maps let you go back and check how your world looked at that time.

Courtesy to another blog post on Makezine, I am made aware of this cool tool from google. If it were to be only about this particular feature, this article would not have deserved any mention here on my blog. Make also gives us direction to a host of other links, which allow you to play with Google Maps. Now the ball is in your court.

or all those who got excited of time travel, you may need to hold your reins as we have a few restrictions. In a blog on Zdnet by Garett which was the source for the post on Make, we also get to see the exact nature of the maps available. Please visit this Google Earth in 4D for details.

I am sure the day is not far of when another Web2.0 company sells you prime real estate from the past !!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weekly Round Up

I have a lot to write. However, my schedule prevents me from doing it the way I would have wanted to. I was pressed to find a solution? The solution, publish a summary of things that I felt was interesting and would interest you. Until I can write regularly or we have more people contributing this space, this might be the arrangement. Please continue reading for the first ever wiztec weekly roundup.

: This is about FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection), nothing new but something very interesting with promise. Read on what Han a researcher at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences has to say about it. The touch driven interface is so lovely. Catch Han in a video on TED in TEDTalks in Monterey. (source
Update: Check this video by Han at TED 2007.

Virtual Fabric: Another thing that interested be was this blog on Engadget. There is a research going on in University of Geneva that will incorporate touch into your online shopping. Now will that not be fantastic. Now will it be a success !! Whatever happened to online aroma sensing, that I last heard of when I was in college.

Penny Powered LED: Have you ever wondered what you would do with all your old coins that have piled up since your fad for coin collection passed. Of course you can always display it to no one in particular or give it to your child who does not need it. Now you need not worry about all this, Makezine brings you an interesting way to power a LED. Check this following link on one of the many ways to put those pennies to use.

Alien World: Since you are already on flickr, have a look at the following pics in the album Halloween 2006. Those of you who shudder at the thought of aliens please refrain from clicking this link.

Visual Search: Gadgetell brings to us a search engine "Quintura". One more search engine, yes it is, but it might hold your interest for a few more seconds than that one more search engine. What appeals to me is the following features it has to offer. "Context Management", "Dynamic Data Clustering", "Visual Symantic Map" all these coupled with a friendly clean interface. The search results themselves look very impressive, though I cannot comment much until I put it to extensive use.

First Speaker Phone: Many a times the past looks more beautiful than the present and the future. More so when it is presented in a elegant manner. Another one from Makezine is a post on "First Speaker Phone". The phone for sure is impressive. However, what hooked me is the blog itself. This blog named Modern Mechanix, has the history of many things, categorising them under various heads of Automation, Computers, Aviation, Cool and so on. Its is a must in the feeds of all blogdicts.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

On Fast and Single Photography

Looks like the flavor of the season is photography. In my previous post I was talking about a company which produced an 8.6Gigapixel photo. Now I bring you the news of a few geeks come up with the photograph of fastest waves ever. The second from the other end of the spectrum, a camera which works with just a single pixel.

Slashdot as was the case with the earlier post is the source for this post on "Fastest Waves Ever Photographed". Now this many of you may ask, I take a photo in light, so I am taking photograph of light, so what big deal about this. Yes there is nothing wrong in your understanding. Only you should realise that you do not take the photo of light. The content of this post talks about photographing particles that travel very near the speed of light, 99.997% to quote the lay language paper describing the research. You read a more details at this post on Physics Buzz.

From what I gather with my little understanding of particle physics, the above research might provide a breakthrough in the area particle accelerators (table top accelerators might be a reality). Hopefully this will pave way for taking the research to the next level, on the lines of Planck's Quantum theory kicking a new era in the area of Quantum mechanics.

The second one may not spawn a new era. However, it might address some of the shortcomings of the current day technology. This is called Single Pixel Camera and falls in a new category of Compressive Imaging, the source for this is post is Physics Buzz. The concept is very simple, instead of an array of pixels capturing the picture use a single pixel to capture the whole picture. What I understand from the research of some physicists at Rice University in Houston is like this analogy. It is like philosophy. You actually get the whole gist in one go, later the more thought you spend on it, the better you understand it. We first capture the image, then you apply the algorithms to recover the signal.

The best part about the above technique, is you can improve the quality of an image in retrospect. That is if I decide to enhance the resolution of an image after an year, I can do it. This is one more technology that will host a range of products in the times to come.

PS: Being alien to the above mentioned technologies at this stage, I might have misunderstood or mis-communicated some things. Please educate me.