Toxic smog has once again threatened to engulf the National Capital Region (NCR) as farmers in parts of Haryana and Punjab have begun to burn their crop residue. And the zika virus, spread by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, has mysteriously raised its head in Rajasthan, having already infected about 90 people and worrying health officials. Now a team led by Sabyasachi Sarkar, visiting professor and nano-technologist at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) in Shibpur, West Bengal, has proposed a single solution to solve these twin problems.
The novel method (for simultaneous mosquito and smog control) has been reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Vector Borne Diseases. The female Aedes mosquitoes that spread dengue, chikungunya, and zika viruses, lay eggs in water bodies along the roadside and in decorative flower pots and vases in homes or offices. In laboratory studies, the researchers have now shown that water-soluble nano-carbon particles (wsNCP) dissolved in water prevent respiration of mosquito larvae, causing anoxia (lack of oxygen) and ultimately their death. In fact, the larvae exposed to these nano-particles fail to reach even the pupae stage — one step before becoming an adult mosquito.
“And interestingly, these nano-carbon particles, that are a potent new weapon against the Aedes mosquitoes, can be obtained from ‘controlled burning’ of crop residue,” Sarkar, formerly a chemistry professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, told this correspondent.
The odorless nano-carbon thus produced is environment friendly and is non-toxic to humans. It has also been shown to be harmless to fish and other living species in water, the report says. For their study, the researchers collected a few Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae from a shallow pool near their institute and reared them in an aquarium containing “fluorescent” wsCNP at a concentration of three micro-grams per millilitre (3ig/ml). According to the report, “fluorescent imaging” of the entire life cycle of mosquitoes revealed that larvae exposed to the carbon nano-particles died even before attaining the pupae stage. The nano-particles displayed a unique property by getting deposited over the air tube of the larvae choking their respiration causing anoxia and death.
“Based on these observations it can be concluded that the use of non-toxic, wsCNP is safe to prevent growth of mosquitoes in water pots and other hot-spots around house-hold premises,” says the report. “These nano-particles could be economically produced and preserved in the solid form for a long time and can be used as and when required by people without any need to spray chemical insecticides or fogging,” Sarkar said. “Once added to water, being non-destructive, it may not require much replenishment.”
Sarkar said their study has incidentally shown a solution to the air pollution over the nation’s capital due to uncontrolled crop residue burning in neighboring states. “Under controlled burning of the crop residue, one can get tonnes of such nano products with little chemical modification,” Sarkar said. “This carbon based nano-powder so obtained can be distributed to the people for application on any suspected waterbody near homes, offices and schools.” However some experts are sceptical about nano-carbon emerging as a weapon against mosquitoes.
“This will work only in a petri-dish,” Payyalore Rajagopalan, former director of the health ministry’s Vector Control Research Centre in Puducherry told this correspondent in an email, adding: “But not in nature.”
Google Assistant Can Now Wake You Up by Gradually Turning on Your Smart Lights
Google Assistant has received a Gentle Sleep & Wake feature that will enable your Google Home device to set a routine and gradually turn lights on or off over the course of 30 minutes. The feature will work with Philips Hue smart lights to gently wake you up in the morning or go to sleep at night by adjusting the lighting in your room. This essentially mimics a sunrise and sunset. Google has initially brought the smart feature in Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK, and the US in English only.
Utilising the new addition, you just need to ask “Turn on Gentle Wake up” after activating Google Assistant on your Google Home device by saying, “Hey Google.” This will automatically pair your daily morning alarms with gradual brightening of your Philips Hue lights. However, it is worth noting here that you need to speak the Gentle Wake Up command on the same Google Home device on which you set your alarms on.
Similarly, you can ask Google Assistant “Sleep my lights” to gradually start dimming your Philips Hue lights. You can also programme the command for up to 24 hours in advance. Further, you can precisely tell Google Assistant to dim lights of a particular room by saying, “Hey Google, sleep the lights in the living room.”
Google Assistant can also gradually brighten your Philips Hue lights at the time you set and can be set up to 24 hours in advance by saying, “Hey Google, wake up my lights at 6:30am.”
Additionally, Google has made the Google Assistant smarter to enable your Google Home device to tune out ambient noises. You just have to say, “Hey Google, play white noise” and see the new change in your room.
Google Home in your room can also help you try out a short meditation or a sleep exercise. You have to ask, “Hey Google, tell Headspace I’m ready for bed” or “Hey Google, I want to meditate.” This will trigger Google Assistant to give you recommendations such as healing sounds and sleep sounds through your Home device.
For someone who wants to enable Google Home Hub to save step-by-step recipes for later use, Google has made a “My Cookbook”. Google Home Hub can also play workout videos by saying “Hey Google, show me barre workout videos.” Moreover, Google Home devices can also read out audiobooks for you once you say, “Hey Google, ready my book.” You can also say, “Hey Google, stop playing in 20 minutes” to set a timer for bedtime reading each night.
Asus ZenFone Live L2 With 3,000mAh Battery, Gradient Finish Launched
Asus ZenFone Live L2 has been quietly introduced by the Taiwanese computing giant. Currently listed on the Asus’ global website, the smartphone is a successor to the company’s ZenFone Live L1 phone that was launched in May last year. Asus ZenFone Live L2 runs on obsolete Android 8 Oreo and sports a dated design with massive top and bottom bezels. There is no word on the pricing or availability details of the phone at this point.
According to the official listing, Asus will be releasing the ZenFone Live L2 smartphone in two colour options – Rocket Red and Cosmic Blue – both of which come with a gradient finish.
Asus ZenFone Live L2 specifications
The dual-SIM (Nano) Asus ZenFone Live L2 runs on Android Oreo with the company’s ZenUI 5 on top. The phone features a 5.5-inch HD (720×1440 pixels) IPS display with 18:9 aspect ratio, 400 nits brightness, and 82.3 percent screen-to-body ratio. It will be powered by quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 SoC, depending on the market, paired with Adreno 505 and Adreno 308 GPU respectively. Additionally, the ZenFone Live L2 packs 2GB of RAM, 16GB/ 32GB of onboard storage, and a dedicated microSD card slot (up to 2TB).
On the imaging front, Asus will be offering a 13-megapixel or 8-megapixel primary camera with an f/2.0 lens. There will also be a 5-megapixel f/2.4 selfie shooter as well on the front.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 4G LTE support, and Micro-USB 2.0. Further, ZenFone Live L2 includes a 3,000mAh battery and a 3.5mm audio jack. The dimension of the phone are 147.26×71.77×8.15mm and it weighs 140 grams.
Microsoft unveils new Xbox all-digital edition
Microsoft has unveiled its Xbox One S All-Digital Edition for $249 which would be available starting May 7.
This is a new model that will be sold alongside the original Xbox One S and the more powerful Xbox One X.
“A disc-free, completely digital Xbox One is no longer just a rumoured pipe dream for cord cutters and the current generation of Fortnite fanatics who’ve never had to set foot inside of a GameStop.
“The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition will hit retailers on May 7 for $250 (that’s $50 less than the Xbox One S) and it’s available for pre-order today,” Engadget reported on Tuesday.
The new console comes with three popular Microsoft-owned titles, namely Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 3 and Minecraft.
“The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is $50 less than Xbox One S and we expect to maintain at least this price difference between the two consoles,” Jeff Gattis, General Manager of Platform and Devices Marketing at Microsoft was quoted as saying by The Verge. There’s also a special offer on Xbox Game Pass, the monthly subscription service that includes access to more than 100 games.