Items filtered by date: Sunday, 04 June 2017

Technology Has More Harm To Environment Than Benefits

Every year, World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June for creating awareness on emerging environmental issues. Environment Day is celebrated by over a billion people every year, and is a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes. Environment Day reminds us about the need for conservation of our planet.The theme for World Environment Day 2017 is ‘Connecting People to Nature’, which asks us to get outdoors into the lap of nature, to understand its importance, to appreciate its beauty and to take forward the need to protect the earth where we live in.

This year’s theme invites everyone to think about how we are part of nature and how we depend on it. However, in order to make lives easier, humans have implanted technology in almost every sphere of life; without giving much ado to its repercussions.Vehicles have made transportation easier but they have turned the air around us poisonous. Water wastage is also rampant; reports of drought and water scarcity are a regular issue.Infrastructure development is resulting in lesser forest area, more cars on the road means more pollution and decreasing natural resources. Increased consumption and manufacturing produces more solid waste, consuming more land space and contaminating natural resources.Technology has had some positive effects like bringing in electric car technology and efficient heating, lighting and cooling systems. Incandescent bulbs are fast changed to LEDs.However, issues like pollution, global warming, overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, deforestation, among others are fast exhausting the environment.

Scientific evidences have now proved that humans are living unsustainably, and that an extraordinary collective effort is needed to maintain an ecological balance. For humans to live sustainably, earth's natural resources must be used at a certain rate at which they can be replenished and used again by future generations.Sustainability is the key to reduce the effect of environmental issues and moving in the right direction will decrease the drastically rising environmental degradation. Harmony between human and nature is needed so that both can flourish.

Rajguru Tandon/Flipboard

  • Published in Tech

Google And Wonder Woman Teach Girls How To Code

There are many initiatives and projects to teach children how to code, and many of these initiatives are aimed specifically at girls to encourage them to enter an otherwise male-dominated career. 

According to Google, about 22% of gaming developers are women. So Google has teamed up with the Wonder Woman movie to launch a new coding project that is based around the movie.

It is part of Google’s Made with Code initiative. This project will have kids code three unique scenes from the movie using introductory coding principles that will have Wonder Woman navigating obstacles and to reach her ultimate goal.

Google says that, “Made with Code, Google’s initiative to champion the next generation of female leaders and inspire them to see coding as a way to pursue their dreams, is releasing a new interactive coding project for wonder women everywhere to add coding to their superpower toolkit.”

It looks like a pretty fun learning experience for kids and while it is aimed at girls, boys can join in on the fun as well. If you are interested in checking it out, head over to Made with Code’s website for the details. Then have some fun times while learning to code.

Source Ubergizmo


  • Published in Tech

New experiment hopes to revise our understanding of the universe

Studying the tiniest parts of the universe can sometime require very complex transportation arrangements. Just ask the folks at Fermilab.


Scientists at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have begun the latest chapter in the quest to explain how the universe works at the smallest, most invisible levels of particle physics with the help of a very large and well traveled superconducting electromagnet.

On May 31, the Muon g-2 experiment at Fermilab kicked off its search for mysterious particles or forces that could upend our fundamental understanding of what holds everything together. 

Muons are one of a number of elementary particles known to exist, according to the standard model of particle physics, and research into muon properties from around the turn of the 21st century at Brookhaven National Lab in New York have yielded some surprising results that demanded a closer look.

To make that possible, the 50-foot-wide electromagnet from the Brookhaven experiments was transported via a very long barge ride and a specially-designed truck to Fermilab in 2013, where it is now paired with the lab's intense beam of muons to follow up on some of the questions raised by the experiments at Brookhaven. 

"Getting the magnet here was only half the battle," said Muon g-2 experiment project manager Chris Polly in a release. "Since it arrived, the team here at Fermilab has been working around the clock installing detectors, building a control room and, for the past year, adjusting the uniformity of the magnetic field, which must be precisely known to an unprecedented level to obtain any new physics." 

The experiment has just begun what should be a three-year effort to observe what happens when muons are placed in that very precise magnetic field. If they can reproduce the strange anomaly first seen at Brookhaven, it could mean that the standard model as we know it today is incomplete and the Higgs boson will not go down as the final piece of the particle physics picture. 

"The magnet has been working, and working fantastically well," said David Hertzog of the University of Washington and a co-spokesperson of the Muon g-2 collaboration. "It won't be long until we have our first results and a better view through the window that the Brookhaven experiment opened for us."  

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.



  • Published in Tech

Scientists Just Solved The Strange Case of Pine Trees That Always Lean Towards The Equator



You can find them in many places around the world - tall, lean conifers that can't seem to grow straight. And now scientists have figured out that the direction these Cook pines (Araucaria columnaris) lean is always towards the equator, but they're not quite sure why.

Scientists have measured these trees across five continents and, for the first time, documented a species with a leaning pattern that appears to be hemisphere-dependent. 

Cook pines originally come from New Caledonia, a tropical archipelago in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The trees were first classified during Captain James Cook's second mission to circumnavigate the globe.

These stately pines are a popular choice for parks and gardens in many parts of the world. They can grow up to 60 metres tall (197 feet), and due to their short branches, they have a characteristic narrow appearance.

But even more characteristic is a propensity for a drunken-looking slant.

"When grown outside of its native range, this species has a pronounced lean so ubiquitous that it is often used as the identifying characteristic for the species," the researchers write in their paper.

Leaning pines on the campus of the University of California, US. Photo: Johns et al., Ecology (2017)

It started out as an anecdotal observation - one of the researchers, botanist Matt Ritter from California Polytechnic State University, noticed that in California and Hawaii, the pines all seemed to be leaning south.

But A. columnaris are also commonly grown in Australia, where one of them has even become an infamous leaning Christmas tree in the town of Lismore.

And weirdly enough, colleagues told him that the tilt in the southern hemisphere is directed towards the north.

To investigate this, Ritter and his team gathered measurements from 256 trees across 18 regions on five continents, including the species' native range in New Caledonia.

The researchers excluded any trees whose growth could be impacted by another object, such as a building or electricity pole.

They recorded the height of each tree, trunk diameter, as well as the compass direction and extent of the lean, and to their surprise, Cook pines turned out to be more systematic in their leanings than anyone could have expected.

"We uncovered a surprisingly consistent pattern of hemisphere-dependent directional leaning in A. columnaris," the team reports.

On average, the pines tilt by 8.05 degrees, leaning south in the northern hemisphere, and the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere. Less than 9 percent of the trees measured didn't conform to this pattern.

And latitude makes a difference, too - the further away the trees grew from the equator, the greater the slant. So instead of labelling them drunks, it could have something to do with sunlight.

Many plants, including conifers like these pines, are known for their propensity to lean towards a light source when it's not directly above the shoot - a characteristic known as phototropism.

But there's a different plant characteristic that helps trees stay upright - their ability to detect gravity at a molecular level, and therefore direct roots and shoots in the correct directions (towards and away from the ground, respectively).

Even if a baby tree develops a tilt towards the sun, as the plant matures it tends to correct this asymmetry and grow upwards, unless there's an environmental force preventing this, such as really strong prevailing winds in one direction.

But for some reason, A. columnaris just keep on tilting, no matter how tall they grow. And they even appear to be unique in this regard, because other Araucaria species from New Caledonia can stand up straight no matter where in the world you plant them.

It's possible that Cook pines have a genetic quirk that allows them to lean, seeking out more sunlight in latitudes other than their native range. But scientists think that gravity and even Earth's magnetic field could be playing a role, too.

"The mechanisms underlying directional lean of A. columnaris may be related to an adaptive tropic response to the incidence angles of annual sunlight, gravity, magnetism, or any combination of these," they write.

Of course, the researchers are hoping to investigate further. They think that further studies of the species could even lead to discovery of little-known mechanisms that plants use to respond to environmental cues.

The study was published in Ecology.

  • Published in Tech

Scientists create 'molecular black hole' in laboratory using world's most powerful x-ray beam




The world’s most powerful X-ray laser beam has been used to create a tiny microscopic “black hole."

The machine uses extremely bright, fast flashes of light to take atomic-level snapshots of some of nature’s fastest processes.

A single pulse stripped all but a few electrons out of one atom from the inside out.

This left a void that started pulling in electrons from the rest of the molecule – like a black hole gobbling a spiralling disk of matter.

It’s hoped the breakthrough will lead to advanced ultra-high-res images of viruses and bacteria – and the development of better drugs.

Staff scientist Sebastien Boutet, of Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, said the X-ray pulses are about a hundred times more intense than focusing all Earth’s surface sunlight “onto a thumbnail.”

The experiment was carried out using the California-based lab’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) – the most powerful x-ray laser in the world.

Within 30 femtoseconds – millionths of a billionth of a second – the molecule lost more than 50 electrons, far more than expected.

Then it blew up.


  • Published in Tech

Where to watch Apple’s WWDC 2017 live



At its Worldwide Developer Conference on June 5, Apple; background-size: 16px 16px; display: inline-block; position: relative; top: -2px; border: none !important; cursor: pointer !important; box-shadow: none !important; background-position: center center; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;"> is expected to announce a bunch of updates to its desktop, mobile, TV, and wearable platforms, as well as changes to its hardware lineup and give developers an idea of what it has in store for the coming year.

Want to catch it all live? Here’s how to tune in today as the event kicks off in San Jose at 10AM PDT / 1PM EDT / 7PM CEST / 10:30PM IST.

  • Fire up Safari 6.0.5 or later on your Mac (OS X 10.8.5. or newer), or Edge on your Windows 10 PC, and point it to
  • You can also use Safari on an iPhoneiPad, or iPod touch with iOS 7.0 or newer.
  • Turn on your Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation) with software 6.2 or later, or a 4th generation Apple TV. You should be able to find WWDC in the Apple Events app.
  • There’s also an unofficial WWDC app for MacOS you can try.

We’re also on the ground at the venue and will be reporting stories as they break, so stay tuned to TNW; background-size: 16px 16px; display: inline-block; position: relative; top: -2px; border: none !important; cursor: pointer !important; box-shadow: none !important; background-position: center center; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;"> for news and hot takes from the event.

Wondering what to expect? Here’s our list of predictions and wants for WWDC 2017.

  • Published in Tech

20 persons arrested in intensified loose firearms ops in Caraga region

By Mike U. Crismundo/

BUTUAN CITY – The regional command of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) reported on Monday that 20 persons were already arrested in their intensified drive against loose firearms in various parts of Caraga region for the month of May up to the present.

Caraga (Credits: Wikipedia | Manila Bulletin)

PRO 13 regional director Chief Supt. Rolando B. Felix told The Manila Bulletin there were 25 firearms and ammunition confiscated at the same period in its drive against loose firearms.

“Actually, we have intensified our drive against loose firearms in an objective that none of these drug syndicates and threat groups can enter in our region, especially that all-out operations against Maute terror group is ongoing in Marawi City,” said the region’s police chief .

He said the intensified PRO 13 operations against unlicensed guns is also part of the PNP’s “Kontra Boga” drive.

He said all these operations are targeting unregistered and unlicensed firearms in the hands of threat groups, criminal elements and other civilian population who initiates lawlessness in the community, as he assured that the peace and order in various parts of the region is relatively peaceful since the Marawi City siege started.

Felix ordered all field units in the region including operational control (Opcon) units to agressively launch more operations to recover loose guns, in round-the-clock basis.

He also ordered the tightening of all checkpoints spread in various parts of the region.

Last week, police units arrested a suspect for undocumented firearms in Barangay Songcoy, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.



DOT scores ‘breakthrough in meeting of minds’ with Koreans


The Philippine tourism sector is confident it will retain Korea as no. 1 visitor market, as the country’s delegation to the Korea World Travel Fair (KOTFA) in Seoul, showed high resolve to forge a stronger bond with Koreans.

In addition to the crowd-drawing stage presentations and exhibit set up by the Philippine Department of Tourism-Korea office and DOT-attached agency Tourism Promotions Board, tourism officials held “fact-finding” meetings with Korean travel executives and Seoul-based media, amidst security issues confronting international tourism.


(PDOT) Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, head of the Philippine delegation at Korea’s biggest annual international travel event, described as a “breakthrough in the meeting of minds” with major travel agents and airline executives.

“We look at Korea as a mutual partner in growth, in tourism and our Korean partners are convinced that the Philippines remains in fact a safe haven for foreigners,’ said Bengzon.

The Korean travel and tour, and airline executives, who met with Bengzon and DOT spokesperson Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre include: Kim, Seong Hoon, sales manager and Kang, Hyuk Shin, country manager, Philippine Airlines; Kang, Yoon Ho, senior manager Cebu Pacific; Yong, Sun-Ok, senior manager and Jeong, Chan Woo, assistant manager, Hana Tour; Kim Jeong Tae, Manager, Mode Tour; Um, Jong Hyun, CEO, Yoo Han Travel.

In behalf of tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, Alegre held interviews with Seoul-based news media, pointing out that the isolated incident of peace disturbance in the remote area of Marawi City was immediately placed under control, and should not in any way deter foreigners’ trips to the Philippines.

Alegre said the imposition of temporary martial law in the southern region of Mindanao merely enhances the security measures against any potential terror threat that has become a staple in modern day living in everywhere in the world.

The DOT official underscored the importance of disseminating factual information on the differing situations in the thousands of travel destinations in the Philippines and elsewhere.

“We are indeed elated by the strong interest in our tourist destinations amidst the challenges faced recently by our tourism industry, a major contributor to the country’s gross domestic,” said Alegre.

Among those who met with Alegre were Ji Won Kim, Arirang TV; Boeun Kim, Korea Times; Choe Hyun Yi, Korea Travel Times; Jepil So, KOTFA Daily; and Chung Sun Hwa, Ewha Communications.



QC gov’t eyes scholarship grant to jail inmates

By Chito Chavez/

The Quezon City government has called on for the expansion of its scholarship program even for the city’s jail inmates in a bid to make education accessible to a wider group of individuals.

Mayor Herbert Bautista recalled the case of Victor Principe, a former inmate at the QC Jail who finished high school through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program while in prison, and said it served as an inspiration for the city government to expand its scholarship program.

Principe, who garnered 99 percent in the ALS equivalency examination in 2016, was awarded by Bautista with a four-year scholarship grant at the city government’s QCPU in Barangay San Bartolome upon his release from the QC Jail.

For qualified QC Jail inmates who plan to enroll in academic degree programs, the city government will be awarding a minimum tuition of P8,000 and a stipend of P3,000 a year.

For those interested in pursuing non-academic/technical vocational courses, they will be entitled to a minimum tuition of P4,000 and P1,500 stipend a year.

The city government will also be providing scholarships to QC inmates who plan to pursue post-graduate studies.

Under the program, qualified beneficiaries are entitled to a P40,000 minimum tuition and P30,000 stipend a year.

According to Scholarship and Youth Development Program (SYDP) chief Rogelio Reyes, the city government is set to deal a partnership with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) accredited institutions, to implement the program, which has been described as a pioneering effort by a local government unit.


Resorts World gunman: Gov't worker sacked for unexplained wealth

MANILA, Philippines – Jessie Carlos, identified by police as the lone gunman in the deadly attack at Resorts World Manila, was a former tax specialist at the Department of Finance (DOF) who faced a case before the Ombudsman for alleged ill-gotten wealth.

From 2000 to 2010, his assets jumped by more than P9 million but he also incurred liabilities of more than P7 million.

The Office of the Ombudsman in 2012 found Carlos guilty of grave misconduct and grave neglect of duty for the underdeclaration of his wealth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). The Ombudsman dismissed him in 2014.

The Ombudsman said that because there was a huge increase in Carlos' wealth over a 10-year period disproportionate to his salary as a DOF tax specialist and because of "his alleged failure to declare them," his wealth was considered ill-gotten.

Carlos appealed this decision before the Court of Appeals (CA). In 2015, the CA Special 17th Division reversed the Ombudsman's decision but still found Carlos guilty of dishonesty and upheld his dismissal from service.

Unexplained wealth

Carlos started at the DOF in 2000 as a contractual Tax Specialist II at the department's One-Stop Shop Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center with an annual gross salary of P152,004. By 2011, his annual gross income had increased to P210,480.

By calculation, he started with an estimated P12,600 monthly salary which increased by almost P5,000 to P17,500 after 11 years. Case records also show Carlos started as a contractual employee and was only regularized by the DOF in 2005, or 5 years of his contract being renewed by the DOF every 6 months.

It was the DOF which filed a case against Carlos in 2011, prompting the lifestyle check by the Ombudsman. Among the assets found to be misdeclared in Carlos' SALN were:

  1. house and lot in Tondo acquired in 2003 for P1.1 million (only declared in 2008 SALN)
  2. Toyota Innova acquired through a loan in 2007 for P973,000 (only declared in 2008 SALN)
  3. wife's business interest in Armset Trading

Aside from the misdeclaration, the DOF also tagged some of Carlos' assets as "unexplained wealth" because it was disproportionate to his monthly salary of P12,000 to P17,000. Case records show the DOF said Carlos "obtained dubious loans to cover up the gains in his assets from 2008 to 2010." These were:

  1. personal loans of P4 million and P5 million in 2008 and 2010 respectively, and car loans for his P973,000 Toyota Innova and P1.6 million Hyundai Starex, also in 2008 and 2010 respectively
  2. house and lot in Sta Cruz, Manila with a Deed of Sale dated 2008 for P3 million
  3. two farm lots in Tanauan, Batangas with Deeds of Sale dated 2010 for P4 million paid in cash
  4. credit card debts from P200,000 in 2006 to P600,000 in succeeding years

Carlos' explanation

Carlos argued that he only declared his Innova in 2007 because that was only when it was fully paid. He said he sold the vehicle in 2010 and removed it from his SALN thereafter. Carlos added that he did not declare his wife's business interest because the firm was not operating at the time.

The Ombudsman was not satisfied by this explanation, however, and in dismissing him in 2014 raised more questions: "(1) How was he able to pay these loans and obtain some more when he has no other business interest or financial connections declared in his SALNs from 2000 to 2010? (2) Who are his creditors who can lend him millions of pesos without him paying any single centavo for years?"

The Ombudsman even indicted Carlos for the criminal charges of graft, violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, falsification, and perjury.

These are the increases in Carlos' wealth based on case records, which also shows huge jumps in liabilities:

Screenshot from case records at the Court of Appeals

Screenshot from case records at the Court of Appeals 

According to the CA, "it is incomprehensible how he could have acquired his undeclared assets on top of paying his taxes and living expenses."

Carlos' unit at the DOF, the One-Stop Shop Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center, had been tainted with the tax scam of the 1990s where officials conspired with company executives to illegally acquire tax credit certificates (TCCs).

However, we now know that Carlos had a big gambling problem, with the police revealing that he had sold his car and Batangas property to finance his addiction. (READ: Terrorism and ISIS at Resorts World attack?)

Carlos – identified as a "high roller" who usually placed a minimum bet of P40,000 – is said to have P4 million in debt with banks, plus an undisclosed amount of non-bank-related debts.

The CA upheld his dismissal on October 27, 2015.

Last Friday, June 2, police said Carlos barged into Resorts World Manila, where he fired shots and set gaming tables ablaze, before burning himself to death a few hours later. Police have ruled out terrorism in the attack. (READ: Palace suspects negligence by Resorts World Manila)

Smoke from the fires triggered by Carlos killed 36 people, who were trapped and suffocated inside the casino complex. President Rodrigo Duterte has said Resorts World Manila must explain why the victims were unable to leave immediately. (READ: From relief to despair: Brother of Resorts World victim recalls fretful wait

Carlos' father Fernando confirmed his son was in financial trouble but said Carlos was not mentally ill. Carlos' mother Teodora asked for forgiveness from the families of the victims, saying that their family is also a victim in the incident. –


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