New Scientist

Leopards in Mumbai City

Leopards in Mumbai City

So, can people and leopards coexist in Mumbai? I ask Vidya Athreya, an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society-India. She studies human-leopard interactions in heavily populated areas. Her research formed the plot of the Bollywood movie Ajoba, released in Mumbai this summer. She says wildlife living among people, even a potentially dangerous species like leopard, is not a new phenomenon in India. Big cats survive because the rural populace tends to be tolerant. Even around the SGNP in Mumbai, where people live in open houses […]



Elephant Conservation Conundrum

Elephant Conservation Conundrum

Those who grew up in southern India may fondly recall temple elephants with their tinkling neck-bells. As children, we didn’t notice the shackles on their legs. Elephants have iconic status in India, they  were used in warfare, and also in construction and transportation, apart from pageantry. They are still used in religious celebrations. Here is an excellent story about celebrity elephants;  a news item about an 1500 lb.+ golden ornament which a chosen elephant carries during Mysore’s biggest annual festival. Elephants are protected in India; their […]



Take my taxi to the moon

Take my taxi to the moon

Susmita Mohanty, the founder of India’s first private space company, Earth2Orbit, wants India to claim bigger piece of the space-launch pie.She is CEO of Earth2Orbit, which recently launched its first client satellite. An aerospace entrepreneur and spaceship designer, she has worked at NASA and Boeing, and holds a PhD in aerospace architecture How active is India’s space programme? The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which was founded in 1969, launches rockets, builds and uses satellites extensively for earthly applications and has recently started planetary exploration. […]



Glasses-free 3D screen lets you see the wider picture

Glasses-free 3D screen lets you see the wider picture

Future displays may soon go even further. Researchers from the Institute of Informatics at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Brazil, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and MIT have designed a screen that can compensate for bad eyesight, too. “It creates hologram-style imagery that adjusts itself to the subject’s eye conditions,” says Vitor Pamplona of the UFRGS, who designed the prototype and will also present his idea at SIGGRAPH. We are experiencing a revolution in the field of displays, says […]



One Minute with Nicholas Negroponte

One Minute with Nicholas Negroponte

Can tablet computers “parachuted” into remote areas transform childhood learning, asks Nicholas Negroponte, the man behind One Laptop per Child You’ll helicopter computers into remote areas so the children there can teach themselves to read and write. Where did the idea come from? One Laptop per Child (OLPC), even after giving out nearly 3 million laptops, is still criticised along the following lines: “Negroponte believes that you can give a child a laptop and walk away.” Whether I ever believed that or not is now […]



One for Homer Simpson

IT’S a couch potato’s dream come true. Teletouch, a program that runs on a smartphone, can dim the lights, turn off an alarm, or even double as a television remote. To use this universal remote, a user points their smartphone’s camera at an appliance that has been fitted with a Wi-Fi node. Vision software on the phone recognises what it is looking at and the phone then looks up the IP address of the appliance. The user classifies it as something that can be switched […]



Smartphone add-on will bring eye test to the masses

Smartphone add-on will bring eye test to the masses

HAVING trouble reading your cellphone’s screen? If that’s because you need glasses, your phone itself could be used tell you what strength lenses you need. Ramesh Raskar of the Camera Culture group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has devised a method of providing basic eye tests using only a smartphone and a specially designed eyepiece. It could provide a home-based eye test for millions of people who cannot easily access regular optometry services. Raskar’s Near-to-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment (Netra) consists of a viewer […]



18th century Painters give Photographers new Perspective

Wide-angle lenses are great for taking dramatic photographs with a big scenic sweep, but they’ve got a big weakness too – they distort objects towards the edge of the frame. Now software can make wide-angled digital photos with perfect perspective, thanks to a secret of 18th-century painters. The so-called Panini software can even turn shots taken with a fish-eye lens into natural-looking images. Wide-angle views are notoriously difficult to display on a flat surface because of perspective problems. In the case of photography, most cameras […]



Embedded Electronics Bring Pop-Up Books to Life

Embedded Electronics Bring Pop-Up Books to Life

Move over Kindle, there’s a new type of electronic book on the scene – and this one’s got pop-ups. The Electronic Popable book, developed by the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, has electronic circuitry embedded in its pages that transforms the tabs, flaps and wheels of a traditional pop-up into switches and a variety of sensors. The interactive pages come alive with LED lights, sounds and even vibrate in response to touch. Venus fly traps spring up invitingly from one […]



You'll buy more from web ads that know how you think

Amid the wealth of information streaming out of websites, banner ads get little of users’ attention. For website operators that depend on advertising revenues and online retailers, that’s not good news. So could they make those banners more appealing by tailoring the content more closely to users’ personality type? Glen Urban, an internet marketing researcher at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts, thinks so, and has developed an “ad morphing” system along with colleague John Hauser to do just that. Urban says […]