Record Setting Material for Producing Electricity

New material breaks world record turning heat into electricity
Prof. Ernst Bauer in the lab. Credit: TU Wien

A new type of material generates electrical current very efficiently from temperature differences. This allows sensors and small processors to supply themselves with energy wirelessly.

Thermoelectric materials can convert heat into . This is due to the so-called Seebeck effect: If there is a temperature difference between the two ends of such a material, electrical voltage can be generated and current can start to flow. The amount of electrical energy that can be generated at a given temperature difference is measured by the so-called ZT value: The higher the ZT value of a material, the better its thermoelectric properties.

The best thermoelectrics to date were measured at ZT values of around 2.5 to 2.8. Scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) have now succeeded in developing a completely new material with a ZT value of 5 to 6. It is a  of iron, vanadium, tungsten and aluminum applied to a silicon crystal.

The new material is so effective that it could be used to provide energy for sensors or even small computer processors. Instead of connecting small electrical devices to cables, they could generate their own electricity from temperature differences. The new material has now been presented in the journal Nature.

Electricity and Temperature

“A good thermoelectric material must show a strong Seebeck effect, and it has to meet two important requirements that are difficult to reconcile,” says Prof. Ernst Bauer from the Institute of Solid State Physics at TU Wien. “On the one hand, it should conduct electricity as well as possible; on the other hand, it should transport heat as poorly as possible. This is a challenge because  and thermal conductivity are usually closely related.”

At the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Thermoelectricity, which Ernst Bauer established at TU Wien in 2013, different  for different applications have been studied over the last few years. This research has now led to the discovery of a particularly remarkable material—a combination of iron, vanadium, tungsten and aluminium.

“The atoms in this material are usually arranged in a strictly regular pattern in a so-called face-centered cubic lattice,” says Ernst Bauer. “The distance between two iron atoms is always the same, and the same is true for the other types of atoms. The whole crystal is therefore completely regular.”

However, when a thin layer of the material is applied to silicon, something amazing happens: the structure changes radically. Although the atoms still form a cubic pattern, they are now arranged in a space-centered structure, and the distribution of the different types of  becomes completely random. “Two  may sit next to each other, the places next to them may be occupied by vanadium or aluminum, and there is no longer any rule that dictates where the next iron atom is to be found in the crystal,” explains Bauer.

This mixture of regularity and irregularity of the atomic arrangement also changes the electronic structure, which determines how electrons move in the solid. “The electrical charge moves through the material in a special way, so that it is protected from scattering processes. The portions of charge traveling through the material are referred to as Weyl Fermions,” says Ernst Bauer. In this way, a very low electrical resistance is achieved.

Lattice vibrations, on the other hand, which transport heat from places of high temperature to places of low temperature, are inhibited by the irregularities in the crystal structure. Therefore, thermal conductivity decreases. This is important if electrical energy is to be generated permanently from a temperature difference—because if temperature differences could equilibrate very quickly and the entire material would soon have the same  everywhere, the thermoelectric effect would come to a standstill.

Electricity for the Internet of Things

“Of course, such a thin layer cannot generate a particularly large amount of energy, but it has the advantage of being extremely compact and adaptable,” says Ernst Bauer. “We want to use it to provide  for sensors and small electronic applications.” The demand for such small-scale generators is growing quickly: In the “Internet of Things,” more and more devices are linked together online so that they automatically coordinate their behavior with each other. This is particularly promising for future production plants, where one machine has to react dynamically to another.

“If you need a large number of sensors in a factory, you can’t wire all of them together. It’s much smarter for the sensors to be able to generate their own power using a small thermoelectric device,” says Bauer.

More information: B. Hinterleitner et al. Thermoelectric performance of a metastable thin-film Heusler alloy, Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1751-9

Journal information: Nature

Provided by Vienna University of Technology

AI created to combat Internet Censorship

Internet censorship by authoritarian governments prohibits free and open access to information for millions of people around the world. Attempts to evade such censorship have turned into a continually escalating race to keep up with ever-changing, increasingly sophisticated internet censorship. Censoring regimes have had the advantage in that race, because researchers must manually search for ways to circumvent censorship, a process that takes considerable time.

New work led by University of Maryland computer scientists could shift the balance of the censorship race. The researchers developed a tool called Geneva (short for Genetic Evasion), which automatically learns how to circumvent censorship. Tested in China, India and Kazakhstan, Geneva found dozens of ways to circumvent censorship by exploiting gaps in censors’ logic and finding bugs that the researchers say would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually.

The researchers will introduce Geneva during a peer-reviewed talk at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 26th Conference on Computer and Communications Security in London on November 14, 2019. “With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race,” said Dave Levin, an assistant professor of computer science at UMD and senior author of the paper. “Geneva represents the first step toward a whole new arms race in which artificial intelligence systems of censors and evaders compete with one another. Ultimately, winning this race means bringing free speech and open communication to millions of users around the world who currently don’t have them.”

All information on the internet is broken into data packets by the sender’s computer and reassembled by the receiving computer. One prevalent form of internet censorship used by authoritarian regimes works by monitoring the data packets sent during an internet search. The censor blocks requests that either contain flagged keywords (such as “Tiananmen Square” in China) or prohibited domain names (such as “Wikipedia” in many countries).

Read the full article at TechExplore

11 Types of Muscle Tension Caused by Emotions

11 Types Of Muscle Tension That May Be Caused By Bottling Your Emotions:

1. Upper Back Tension

You are holding onto something very sad, this sadness has built up to the point where you are feeling it physically. Perhaps you need to let go of past heartbreaks or things of the sort? Did you refuse to allow those feelings to ride out as they should have?

2. Shoulder Tension

The shoulder is often associated with responsibilities and with good reason. The more weight you add on without acknowledging that you need help the worse this tension is going to get. You have to be able to ask for help when you need it, pretending everything is fine when it isn’t is not helping things at all.

3. Lower Back Tension

The lower back is where our insecurities grow. Have people been making fun of you? Do you hate something about yourself? These are things we all face, you shouldn’t be ignoring them but rather working through them. Accept yourself and everything will begin feeling better.

4. Abdominal Tension

This is basically tension or cramping in the stomach. It happens when we refuse to process something important. Just because it is hard does not mean we should pretend it didn’t happen; feel the things you need to feel.

5. Neck Tension

Neck tension is basically you refusing to deal with the stress at hand. It is building up and you are not releasing it as you should be. When this happens a lot of problems occur. Do you wake up with serious neckaches on the daily?

6. Middle Back Tension

If you are feeling tension here you are most likely refusing to deal with a guilty conscience. Have you done something wrong? Is there something you need to own up to? We all make mistakes in life, there is nothing that cannot be forgiven in time.

7. Head Tension

Tension in your head stems from fear. What are you afraid of? Is something bothering you that you aren’t even aware of?

8. Wrist Tension

Wrist tension is one of the more common issues people seem to face. We deal with tension here when we are upset and angry. Anger manifests itself whether we are aware of it or not. If someone or something is pissing you off, your body knows.

9. Outer Thigh Tension

This is where your past seems to haunt. Any sense of betrayal you have experienced but ignored makes its way here. If this is happening to you, you need to figure out how to get over it.

10. Inner Thigh Tension

This is where your impatience comes in to play. Are you being too pushy? This stems from being frustrated and is something a lot of people struggle with. It is one of the easier tensions to relieve believe it or not.

11. Knee Tension

Now, tension in the knee can be a bit tricky. For the most part, it seems to stem from being afraid of showing your vulnerable side and bottling it away. There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable sometimes. Stop being afraid to feel things.

Source – AwarenessAct 

Pearl Skull Art Transformation


Shinji Nakaba has been making brilliant pieces of jewelry, and everything he designs is wearable. If you ask the Tokyo-based artist, he will say his creations are “wearable sculptures.” The artist uses unconventional material for his creations, and pearls are probably his favorite.

Nakaba’s primary goal is to give life to common materials. He uses precious metals, stones, aluminum beer cans, plastic bottles and other pieces of garbage. That’s what makes his creations so special.

Nakaba started carving corals, crystals, ivory and other precious stones. Pearls without cores turned out to be his favorite. These pieces provide smooth carving, and there’s almost no risk of shredding or peeling.

The artist notes that he has experimented with different materials to carve out skulls, adding that pearls are most durable. Turning pristine pearls into skulls is a completely different approach, and it outlines the link between the pure and the dark.

You can find a lot of creations on Nakaba’s website, and you can pick your favorite. He makes necklaces, rings and even brooches. Oh yes, he is also great in arranging flowers. Have you ever heard of ikebana jewelry?

Artists like Nakaba give us a different definition of life and art. Every type of art is special, but how often do you see pearls carved into skulls? We’d definitely like to have one of these.


Travel Select: Lake Tana The Blue Nile


The Blue Nile looks like a sluggish beast as it meanders out of Lake Tana, but not far out of Bahir Dar you’ll see the Nile in a very different mood. The river pours over the side of a sheer 42m-high chasm and explodes into a melange of mists and rainbows (best at 10am) before continuing on its tumultuous path to Khartoum, where it finally gets to kiss the White Nile.

The catch to this impressive scene is that hydroelectric projects upstream have stolen most of the energy from Tis Abay, the ‘Nile that Smokes’. Though far smaller than its natural 400m-wide flow, the three-pronged waterfall is still jaw-droppingly huge in August and September. From around January or February until March it’s now known as ‘Blue Nile Shower’ and it’s not really worth a visit. The in-between time is still beautiful enough that most people enjoy the trip (though note that one of the hydro plants only operates on standby and if it’s turned on during this time the waterfall gets turned off). You may want to ask fellow travelers who’ve recently been to the falls about the flow, as tourist-industry operators won’t always give you a straight answer.

The ticket office is at the very end of the road through the town of Tis Abay. The road to the falls starts 50m west of here and it’s 1.5km to the start of a rocky footpath that leads down to a 17th-century Portuguese bridge (which was the first bridge to span the Blue Nile) along the so-called eastern route. From here the trail climbs up through a small village and a gauntlet of children selling souvenirs to reach the main viewpoints. Some people backtrack from here, but the better option is to take the suspension bridge over the narrow Alata River and walk down to the base of the falls. In the dry season you can swim at the bottom and walk behind the watery curtain. You can complete a circuit by using a path above the falls and crossing the river by motorboat. The boat service usually operates 7am to 6pm, but when the river runs too fast the boats can’t cross. Look for crocs during dry-season mornings. The entire walk is about 5km and takes about 2½ hours with lots of gawping time. As it’s not very steep, less energetic or mobile people may want to approach and return from the falls along this western route.

The falls are located 28km southeast of Bahir Dar down a bad dirt road; the first 10km were being sealed at the time of writing. Buses from Bahir Dar leave about hourly for Tis Abay village (Birr15, one hour). The last bus back usually leaves about 4.30pm, but to be safe, plan to return around 3.30pm. You don’t need to pay anyone to hold a seat for you. If you miss the bus, hitching back isn’t tough, though it will probably be expensive.

Zelalem Memory in Bahir Dar can organise excursions here for Birr1200, which includes a vehicle, fuel and a driver; a guide costs Birr400 extra. It’s pricey, but less so if you can get a group together.

Tickets & tours

Lake Tana and Blue Nile Falls Day Tour
Best of Bahir Dar in One Day: Blue Nile Falls and Island Monastries
Day Trip To Debre Libanos & Blue Nile Gorge

Find out more about the waterfall and ethiopian tours here. 

Priceadult/student/child Birr50/30/free, personal video cameras Birr50, mandatory guide Birr100

Breakthrough Cancer Cure Style Virus?

  • Scientists are hoping a new cowpox-style virus could kill every type of cancer 
  • Professor Yuman Fong, from the US, is engineering the treatment called CF33 
  • The treatment is being developed by Australia biotech company Imugene 

The treatment, called CF33, can kill every type of cancer in a petrie dish and has shrunk tumours in mice, The Daily Telegraph reported.

US cancer expert Professor Yuman Fong is engineering the treatment, which is being developed by Australia biotech company Imugene.

They are hoping the treatment will be tested on breast cancer patients, among other cancer sufferers, next year.

Scientists have created a new cowpox-style virus in a bid to cure cancer (stock image)

Scientists have created a new cowpox-style virus in a bid to cure cancer (stock image)

Professor Fong is currently in Australia to organise the clinical trials, which will also be run overseas.

Patients with triple negative breast cancer, melanoma, lung cancer, bladder, gastric and bowel cancer would be tested in the ‘basket study’.

Success with mice does not ensure the virus will be able to treat humans, but  Professor Fong remains positive, as other specific viruses have been effective in fighting cancer in humans.

How music effects the brain?

I’m a big fan of music, and use it a lot when working, but I had no idea about how it really affects our brains and bodies. Since music is such a big part of our lives, I thought it would be interesting and useful to have a look at some of the ways we react to it without even realizing.

“Without music, life would be a mistake” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Of course, music affects many different areas of the brain, as you can see in the image below, so we’re only scratching the surface with this post, but let’s jump in.


We can usually pick if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn’t just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. In fact, our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music.

Even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us. One study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral.

Something else that’s really interesting about how our emotions are affected by music is that there are two kind of emotions related to music: perceived emotions and felt emotions.

This means that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why some of us find listening to sad music enjoyable, rather than depressing.

Unlike in real life situations, we don’t feel any real threat or danger when listening to music, so we can perceive the related emotions without truly feeling them–almost like vicarious emotions.


We all like to pump up the tunes when we’re powering through our to-do lists, right? But when it comes to creative work, loud music may not be the best option.

It turns out that moderate noise level is the sweet spot for creativity. Even more than low noise levels, ambient noise apparently gets our creative juices flowing, and doesn’t put us off the way high levels of noise do.

The way this works is that moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In other words, when we struggle (just enough) to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches.

In high noise levels, however, our creative thinking is impaired because we’re overwhelmed and struggle to process information efficiently.

This is very similar to how temperature and lighting can affect our productivity, where paradoxically a slightly more crowded place can be beneficial.


Take this one with a grain of salt, because it’s only been tested on young adults (that I know of), but it’s still really interesting.

In a study of couples who spent time getting to know each other, looking at each other’s top 10 favorite songs actually provided fairly reliable predictions as to the listener’s personality traits.

The study used five personality traits for the test: openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

Interestingly, some traits were more accurately predicted based on the person’s listening habits than others. For instance, openness to experience, extraversion, and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. Conscientiousness, on the other hand, wasn’t obvious based on musical taste.

Here is also a break-down of how the different genres correspond to our personality, according to a study conducted at Heriot-Watt University:

Click to expand

To break it down, here is the connection they have found:

  • Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing
  • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle
  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
  • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
  • Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease
  • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease

At this point in the article is where I tend to go left but If you would like to finish reading it go to  Fast Company 

Carbohydrates 101

Do Bodies Process Carbs Differently?



All healthy adult bodies process carbohydrates the same way, but not all carbs digest in the same manner. Some types of carbs break down quickly, others take a while and fibrous carbohydrates don’t break down at all. In some cases, certain digestive issues or nutritional deficiencies may contribute to an inability to digest carbohydrates. Because carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source, it is important to know how they digest and break down.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are sugars and can be naturally occurring or added. For example, fruit contains natural sugar called fructose, while milk has its own naturally occurring sugar called lactose. Processed junk foods often have added sugar in the form of sucrose, dextrose or high fructose corn syrup. These simple carbohydrates all process in a similar manner in your body. After you chew and swallow the food, sugars quickly travel down into your small intestine. From there, enzymes convert the sugars directly into glucose, which is the main fuel source for every cell. Glucose molecules absorb through intestinal walls and immediately enter your bloodstream.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are starches that have long branched chains. Your system has to work hard to deconstruct these molecules into simpler forms. When you chew food that has starch, such as potatoes, whole-grain foods or corn, saliva in your mouth goes to work. Saliva engulfs complex starch compounds and turns them into a type of simple carbohydrate called maltose. Once maltose molecules reach your small intestine, enzymes turn them into glucose and they enter your bloodstream in the same way as sugars.


Your body processes fiber in a completely different manner than sugars and starches. Although fiber is a complex carbohydrate, it does not break down into glucose. Fiber stays intact, for the most part, as it travels through your gut. Soluble fiber is the soft part of plants that holds onto water. It acts similarly in your gut by attracting water. When soluble fiber binds with water it forms a sludge or gel substance that slows digestion. Soluble fiber allows nutrients to absorb through intestinal walls, delays absorption of sugar and can help lower blood cholesterol by sticking to cholesterol and pushing it out through waste. Insoluble fiber is the rigid structural component of cell walls. This is the type of fiber that is difficult to chew and gets stuck in your teeth. Insoluble fiber speeds up digestion and makes it easy for you to have bowel movements. Most fibrous foods provide some of each type of fiber.

Digestion Problems

Even though everyone processes simple carbs, complex carbs and fiber the same way, certain issues may affect how efficiently your body uses carbohydrates. If you are lactose intolerant, your body does not make enough lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk products. Lactose cannot digest and causes uncomfortable gas, bloating and diarrhea. Digestive issues, such as Crohn’s disease, or intestinal damage from anorexia nervosa or alcoholism, limit your body’s ability to absorb thiamine, or vitamin B-1. This vitamin is critical for digestion of carbohydrates. Without it, pyruvic acid builds up, causing difficulty breathing and heart damage. Diabetes is another issue that affects processing of carbohydrates. If you have diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, your body either can’t produce insulin or doesn’t produce enough working insulin to help cells absorb glucose after carbohydrate digestion. Glucose reaches dangerously high levels, which can lead to heart disease, kidney failure or blindness.


New NeuroHacking Cream?

A “neurohacking” cream that can help people learn musical instruments or languages faster could be available in the UK within five years – but British people may not want it, experts admit.

The neuropeptide dihexa was developed by Washington State University to combat Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment by slowing cell death and suppressing enzymes that destroy brain chemicals crucial for memory and learning.

It has been granted initial approval for use in the US following safety trials and is being prescribed to boost general mental performance. Dr Daniel Stickler, of Apeiron, a US biotech company, prescribes dihexa when clients want to achieve specific goals.

Speaking at the Biohackers Summit in Helsinki, Dr Stickler said: “Dihexa is a very short peptide, just six amino acids, and it can be rubbed into the skin. “It’s amazing for learning and memory. They are doing it in clinical trials for dementia and traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s but it’s also really good, if you’re learning to play the guitar or something, for creating that kind of mental response.”

Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules that help neurons communicate, and influence brain activity.

They are part of a new kind of medicine called biologics, which seek to use small molecules already in the body to fix problems rather than introducing foreign drugs which can cause off-target impacts and side-effects.

But he told The  Telegraph that early attempts to introduce the drugs into Britain had thrown up an unexpected obstacle. “When we were in London and meeting people, we were presenting this idea of improving human behaviour and we were finding that as long as there were other people worse off than them it was all OK, they just kept calm and carried on. That mindset was very different for us coming from the US where we have a very large percentage of people who think, ‘I know I’m good but I want to get better.’ So it’s been a foreign concept for people in Britain.”

But he added: “I think that is changing and although peptides are only legally prescribed in Australia and the United States right now, I think within the next five years you will see it coming into availability in the UK.”

Other neuropeptides currently being prescribed to boost brain power include cerebrolysin, which is derived from pigs’ brains and has been shown to be neuroprotective, enhancing learning and memory, increasing metabolism and decreasing amyloid beta – the stick plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Likewise, the neuropeptide nasal spray FGL is currently in phase 2 clinical trials and appears to help repair the myelin sheaths around nerves which are damaged in multiple sclerosis. MT-2, which is used chiefly for people hoping to boost their tan, is also now being taken to stimulate brainwaves.

And the brain molecule RG3, which is now also being prescribed, mimics exercise and increases the body’s ability to manage free radicals, the unstable atoms that damage cells, causing illness and ageing.

“You’re actually getting greater activation than you do with exercise,” said Dr Strickler. “This is pretty impressive. It’s a nasal spray so it’s simple to use.

“Biologics are things the body is familiar with, strings of amino acids that the body understands.

“They are very on-target, so when we give a biologic they go in and do what we intend them to do. With medicines the body reacts and we get side-effects and off-target effects. We’re going to see peptides overtake the pharmaceutical energy.”

Fabien Foelsch, of the biohacking company Braineffect, said people would increasingly need brain drugs and microdosing in the future to keep up with advancements in society.

“I believe that microdosing is able to provide us with the edge we need in the new neurosociety,” he told delegates. “Taking one to two grams of nicotine, I prefer in a gum product, has a good nootropic (brain boosting) effect.”

Source – Telegraph

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