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Why Are Houses Built This Way?

first_imgReaders of GreenBuildingAdvisor’s Q&A forum, and the bi-monthly Q&A Spotlights, are probably used to thorough parsings of seemingly small details in high-performance construction. But GBA reader Peter L. brings our attention to an elemental question: Are we still in the dark ages of residential building?A case in point is a partially completed house near Phoenix, Arizona, that Peter says is missing only a layer of rigid insulation and building paper before it will be finished with a coat of stucco. The photos he sends show whole sections of wall without sheathing, and a bizarre detail of using building tape to seal window flanges to nothing but air.“Brand new build going up in Phoenix,” Peter writes. “What you see is completely 100% framed and ready for stucco. The missing OSB sheathing is done on purpose. They do ‘open framing’ and use sheathing only where required. The rest is open 2×4 framing.“They will stuff R-13 batts within the 2×4 walls, staple on some building paper, then put 1 inch of rigid EPS on the outside, and use conventional stucco to finish it off,” he continues. “A recent blower door test on a home like this showed 15 air changes per hour. All of the ductwork and air handlers are installed in the 150°F unconditioned attic.” RELATED ARTICLES Are Energy Codes Working?Are We Really Better Off With Building Codes?Comfort Comes With Green BuildingWhat’s Wrong With This Insulation Job? Regional market conditions are a factorAre shoddy construction practices the result of regional market forces? Dana Dorsett thinks so.“My understanding is that local markets in much of the Southwest demands a very low price per square foot, which drives all sorts of cost-cutting measures (including rampant exploitation of undocumented labor) for builders to stay competitive,” Dorsett writes.“The skim-coat-of-stucco-on-1-inch EPS sheathing with the minimum amount of shear panels or cross bracing doesn’t exactly offer much confidence about the longevity of the building, even if the big bad wolf doesn’t show up to huff, puff, and blow the damned thing down,” he continues. “But sadly, it seems to be the current standard in the region. I’m sure there are a lot of trailers that will last longer than some of these houses.”Also, local building codes are apparently no help.Most Arizona building codes are based on the 2009 version of the International Residential Code, Dorsett says, which requires an inspection or blower door test results of 7 air changes per hour at 50 pascals or less — half the leakage rate of houses built like this.“Maricopa County (the Phoenix metro area) does not require the blower door test,” Peter replies. “The county amended any codes requiring blower door tests. The blower door test that was done was merely for reference purposes to see how tight or leaky these new homes are. “And the result is very high energy bills for residents.“The photo at the top of the thread is of course a two-story home and around 3,200 square feet,” Peter adds. “They will install two 5-ton AC units, one for each floor. The monthly summer AC bill on this type of home will average around $350 to $500 per month depending on where the occupants set the temperature at. Typically, they set it at 79°F but for those who like it colder at around 75°F, they will see the $500 a month bill.” Construction at this level has some obvious problems and some not-so-obvious flaws as well. With no sheathing in spots, for example, burglars can get inside with nothing more formidable than a screwdriver.Is this type of construction typical? And what would home buyers think if they could look beneath the skin of a house like this? Or maybe we’re just generally too fussy. Those are topics for this Q&A Spotlight. Our expert’s opinionPeter Yost, GBA’s technical director, had this to add:Why are we still seeing this sort of stuff in the 21st century? I think that this video, “If Cars Were Built Like Houses,” provides part of the answer. Yes, quality can be achieved on the job site, but the process is inherently more than just challenging.In this specific instance — production homes in hot dry climates — is there really any way that high performance can be achieved? I think so, for these reasons and with these caveats:Open-cavity face-sealed stucco homes are being built regularly in the Southwest that comply with Energy Star Version 3.0 and offer thermal comfort guarantees and space conditioning energy bill guarantees. (See, for example, Environments for Living Platinum homes in Phoenix.)Ducts in unconditioned space never cut it; high-performance production builders in the Southwest primarily insulate and air seal at the roofline.If you include home security as part of the definition of a high-performance home, then “open-cavity” wall assemblies clearly don’t cut it. (Pardon the pun on “cut.”) But then there are “high-performance” production builders in the mid-Atlantic using thin-profile foil-faced panels (such as Thermo-ply who would not make the cut either.To build high-performance buildings, you have to invest in training the trades, and when you do, they get it.Many years ago, when I was working in the Building America program at Building Science Corporation, we did a case study on a production builder in Banning, California, who had the most amazing build team. (The guy’s name was Josh, but I can’t find the case study on the BSC or the Building America Solutions Center.) The “champion” was a very young project manager who trained, treated, and lauded every building assembly (and HVAC) contractor and their crews with 100% attention to detail. At a site meeting I was invited to attend, every single worker — right down to the young tiny guy insulating and air sealing all the lousy and tight spaces in their attics — was incredibly proud of his work and their product. These guys “fought” to stay on the crews working for this particular manager. Latino or Anglo—no one cared. It was doing good work with good results that drove this team and their work, and it really showed.When you hear someone in the building industry say, “Buyers just aren’t interested in energy efficiency or performance,” it’s because they are not interested. I am so tired of hearing this; it is flat-out never true. Imagine someone buying a car or other “performance” purchase saying, “I don’t care about miles per gallon or horsepower or if the heater, defrost, or air conditioner works well.”It’s not that home buyers don’t want performance or energy efficiency — they just don’t connect those attributes to their home purchase, strange as that may seem. If you make that connection for them, they move very readily from buyers interested in curb appeal and granite countertops to savvy performance-interested buyers. This would all be a lot easier for builders and buyers if realtors, appraisers, and lenders understood buildings as performance products too, but that is another problem I am tired of ranting on…center_img Is the local labor pool a factor?Writing from neighboring New Mexico, Nate G suggests that part of the problem is that undocumented Mexican workers that make up most of the labor pool are more familiar with masonry construction than wood framing. Not taking advantage of their skills, he says, is a missed opportunity.“You tell a bunch of Mexicans to lay block and plaster it, and they’ll do a beautiful job, code or no,” Nate writes. “You give them a pile of lumber and tell them to build a house, and it comes out like that mess, even with codes and inspections. They simply don’t have the cultural knowledge of wood construction that others do; they can do masonry, but we don’t ask them to do it here. They can’t understand why.That’s not it at all, says GBA senior editor Martin Holladay. “Your obsession with ‘illegal Mexicans’ is entirely misplaced,” Holladay says. “The fact that this house has almost no wall sheathing, and convoluted ductwork in an unconditioned attic, has nothing to do with whether the workers on the site were born in Denver or born in Guadalajara,” he continues. “I’m sure that it was the developer who approved the design and specifications, and directed the contractors to install just a few sheets of OSB on the corners, and to route the ducts through the attic.”Construction workers do what their employers pay them to do, Dorsett adds. “It’s an open secret that undocumented labor is widely (ab)used in the house building industry in the southern U.S.,” he says. “But regardless of citizenship or other status, construction workers do what their employers pay them to do, at the quality standard that the employer demands…“There are crappy builders everywhere, and if nobody is calling them to task on it, that becomes the accepted standard,” Dorsett continues. “It doesn’t take a lot of training or time to fix most of the construction detail issues in those pictures, but it does take some willingness on the builder’s or inspector’s parts to make it happen.”He doubts it would be much cheaper to insulate a house built with CMUs to code minimums would be much cheaper than stick-framing, but the difference probably wouldn’t be huge.“Still,” he says, “if the market isn’t asking for it, it won’t get built. We can all shake our heads about the insanity of it all, but that’s the way it is. Code enforcement is spotty even in the best of markets, all but absent in others.” Damage to exterior foam and building paper is commonPeter describes the typical construction sequence after framing and partial sheathing this way: First, applying a layer of building paper, and second, a 1 inch layer of rigid foam insulation before the stucco crew moves in. But because some areas aren’t sheathed, there’s no solid support between the studs to prevent ladders and careless workers and tools from breaching the building paper, which is the weather-resistive barrier (WRB), and breaking the foam.A lack of solid sheathing also makes a weather-tight window installation difficult, if not impossible. Window flanges should be taped to the OSB sheathing, but where sheathing is missing the tape is applied to nothing but air.“When they stretch the building paper layer over the open void of the studs every 16 inches, they end up ripping the paper in dozens of spots because without the OSB sheathing there is no solid backing surface,” Peter says. “The paper ends up ripping between the studs and they end up stapling the paper to open air since they miss the 1.5-inch stud area. They end up totally massacring the WRB.”Crews have an equally difficult time nailing the foam to the studs, so that layer, too, gets mangled. A lack of roof overhangs means that rain gets past the stucco layer, past the foam and ripped building paper, and in some cases right into the R-13 fiberglass batts in the wall cavities.The lack of wall sheathing is also an invitation to easy entry by burglars. Once they figure out where the studs are located by tapping on the wall, it’s not difficult to cut their way inside with nothing more than a utility knife.“Yes, folks, that’s how they build them in the Wild West,” he says. “I come from the Midwest, where I lived in a home that was built in the 1960s. It never had a water leak through the wall and one couldn’t break in by cutting a hole from the outside wall. That home that is 55 years old was better built than this junk they are putting up today.” Builders would do even less if they couldPeter spoke with one of the builders on the project he’s documented, and learns that energy efficiency isn’t very important.“They stated that they would leave the wall cavities without insulation if they could,” Peter says. “Granite tops and fancy kitchen cabinets sells homes. R-values and energy efficiency do not.”The sales brochure for these homes, he adds, is focused on square footage, fancy tile work, cabinetry, and molding, “and nothing at all about R-values and air-sealing techniques.”“Most people buying homes are clueless about what is inside of the walls, ceilings, or windows, or the missing OSB on the walls,” he says. “It’s all hidden behind drywall and stucco.”last_img read more

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Young men struggle much more with body image disorders than thought

first_img Source:https://geminiresearchnews.com/2018/11/men-hooked-on-muscles-struggle-with-binge-drinking-depression-and-weight-loss/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 9 2018Young men who are overly preoccupied with building muscle have a significantly higher risk of depression, weekend binge drinking, and dieting that is not connected to obesity.They also have four times the probability of using legal and illegal supplements, and anabolic steroids, a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Harvard University has shown.The study also shows that ten per cent of men have what is thought of as the more common type of body image disorder. That is, they think they are too fat and want to be thinner.According to the study, more than one in three young men have been on a diet in the past year. Their dieting was unrelated to obesity.The study brings to light many alarming findings. It is the first of its kind in Norway and internationally to investigate men and their relationship to their body and muscles.The study makes clear that boys and young men struggle much more with body image disorders than we have been aware of.Want the same body as Ronaldo”I’m thinking of taking anabolic steroids.””I don’t think my chest is muscular enough.””I feel guilty if I miss a workout.”These and similar statement were made by 2460 men aged 18-32 years who participated in Trine Tetlie Eik-Nes’ study.She is an associate professor in NTNU’s Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science. The study was recently published in theInternational Journal of Eating Disorders, and suggests that many young men are preoccupied with a drive for muscularity.”The problem arises when the bodies of professional athletes like Ronaldo become the ideal for regular young men who have jobs, studies and family. Training has to be your full-time job if you want to look like Ronaldo. He belongs to one in a thousand of the world’s population who make their living from sports. Some people train as if they were on the national team, but they’re only exercisers. This is the difference we need be concerned about,” says Eik-Nes.She adds, “Girls are supposed to be thin and have small waistlines. Boys should have wide shoulders and big muscles. Those are the narrow ideals that young people grow up with today. It turns out that this unrealistic body image is as challenging for men as for women.”Boys asked questions more appropriate for girlsShe believes that the body image challenges facing men have flown under the radar of researchers, parents and health professionals.”We’ve been aware of young girls and eating disorders for a long time, and how unfortunate it is to grow up with role models that are so skinny. Studies have been carried out on young men too, but they were asked the same questions as girls. Boys aren’t looking to be thin. They want to have big muscles. So the questions given to girls are totally wrong if we want find out how young men see themselves and their own bodies,” says Eik-Nes.Related StoriesDiet and nutrition influence microbiome in colonic mucosaResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskMuscles work like cosmeticsPrevious studies have shown that boys who are overweight, or thin and lanky, are at greatest risk of developing body image disorders as young men. The study confirmed this idea, since the men’s desire for a muscular body was unrelated to their weight.According to Eik-Nes, muscles become a form of cosmetics for muscle-obsessed men. They’re not building their strength to ski faster, or to get better at football or to improve their health.”They’re only exercising to build their muscles, without the training having anything to do with muscle function. That’s a big difference,” she says.The challenge of being satisfied with your own body is the same across all education levels. People who are highly educated are no more satisfied with their bodies than anyone else, the study indicates.Should set off alarm bells”This drive for muscularity could be a sign that young men don’t have mastery over their lives, but they may feel that they’re mastering how to work out. In this context, in simple terms, you could say that girls vomit, while boys are much more preoccupied with exercising than normal,” says Eik-Nes.She emphasizes that exercise in itself promotes health. It’s when training takes over life that it can be problematic.”Parents’ alarm bells should go off if they have a youngster who’s at the gym everyday, who just wants to eat chicken and broccoli and who consumes protein shakes or supplements all the time. If their whole world is about their workouts, parents should take the time to talk with them – for example, by asking questions about what they’re actually training for,” Eik-Nes says.Young American men were the respondents for the study, which was conducted in the United States.”The culture and the role models in the Western world are largely the same. I don’t think Norwegian men would answer much differently than the American men did. This is the first study ever that shows the relationships between the desire for muscles among men and the risks this may entail. Now we have to go ahead and investigate the extent of the problem, the risk factors and treatment options,” says Eik-Nes.last_img read more

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ACCAHA guideline for prevention of cardiovascular disease released

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 18 2019The choices we make every day can have a lasting effect on our heart and vascular health. Adopting a heart healthy eating plan, getting more exercise, avoiding tobacco and managing known risk factors are among the key recommendations in the 2019 Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease guideline from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Also, it is recommended that aspirin should only rarely be used to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people without known cardiovascular disease.The guideline, presented today at ACC’s 68th Annual Scientific Session, offers comprehensive but practical recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Nearly 1 out of 3 deaths in the U.S. is due to cardiovascular disease.”The most important way to prevent cardiovascular disease, whether it’s a build-up of plaque in the arteries, heart attack, stroke, heart failure or issues with how the heart contracts and pumps blood to the rest of the body, is by adopting heart healthy habits and to do so over one’s lifetime,” said Roger S. Blumenthal, MD, co-chair of the 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and the Kenneth Jay Pollin Professor of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “More than 80 percent of all cardiovascular events are preventable through lifestyle changes, yet we often fall short in terms of implementing these strategies and controlling other risk factors.”The new prevention guideline, he said, is intended to provide a roadmap of strategies that can be used and tailored to help people without a history of heart disease stay heart healthy and, importantly, emphasize the need to identify and address personal or social barriers for doing so (e.g., income and education levels, cost concerns, lack of health insurance, access to healthy foods or safe places to exercise, life stressors).Risk AssessmentAccording to the guideline, any effort to prevent a first instance of cardiovascular disease (called primary prevention) should ideally start with a thorough assessment of one’s risk–that is, estimating how likely someone is to develop blockages in their arteries and have a heart attack or stroke or die as a result. All patients should openly talk with their care team about their current health habits and personal risk for cardiovascular disease and, together, determine the best way to prevent it based on current evidence and personal preferences.”We have good evidence now for how to identify these very high risk individuals with a physical exam and a good history, and for those at borderline risk there are additional factors that can help us determine who is at greater risk and should, for example, be on a medication like a statin earlier to prevent a cardiovascular event,” Blumenthal said. “In the past, a lot of people may have had a fatalistic attitude that they were going to develop heart problems sooner or later but, in reality, most cardiovascular events can be prevented.”The document synthesizes the best data and proven interventions for improving diet and exercise, tobacco cessation and optimally controlling other factors that affect one’s likelihood of heart problems and stroke (e.g., obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure). The document also discusses the challenges that may interfere with individuals being able to integrate better lifestyle habits.Lifestyle Change RecommendationsThe guideline underscores healthy lifestyle changes as the cornerstone of preventing heart disease and goes a step further by providing practical advice based on the latest research.”We can all do better with our dietary and exercise habits, and that’s so important when we think about wanting to live longer and healthier lives, whether it’s to see our grandchildren grow up or to stay as active as possible in older age,” Blumenthal said.Related StoriesCutting around 300 calories a day protects the heart even in svelte adultsRNA-binding protein SRSF3 appears to be key factor for proper heart contraction, survivalTeam approach to care increases likelihood of surviving refractory cardiogenic shockSome of the key lifestyle recommendations include:Eating heart healthier – choosing more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fish, and limiting salt, saturated fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sweetened beverages; specific eating plans like the Mediterranean, DASH and vegetarian diets are reviewed.Engaging in regular exercise – experts advise aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, dancing or cycling each week. For people who are inactive, some activity is better than none and small 10-minute bursts of activity throughout the day can add up for those with hectic schedules. Currently, only half of American adults are getting enough exercise and prolonged periods of sitting can counteract the benefits of exercise.Aiming for and keeping a healthy weight – for people who are overweight or obese, losing just 5 to 10 percent of their body weight (that would be 10-20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds) can markedly cut their risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues.Avoiding tobacco by not smoking, vaping or breathing in smoke – 1 in 3 deaths from heart disease is attributable to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, so every effort to try to quit through counseling and/or approved cessation medications should be supported and tailored to each individual.Aspirin UseFor people who’ve had a heart attack, stroke, open heart surgery or stents placed to open clogged arteries, aspirin can be lifesaving. But regular use of aspirin to prevent heart attacks and stroke in healthy people isn’t as clear-cut.In this guideline, ACC/ AHA experts offer science-based guidance that aspirin should only rarely be used to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people without known cardiovascular disease. Recent research suggests that the chance of bleeding, given the blood-thinning effect of aspirin, may be too high and the evidence of benefit–the number of heart attacks or strokes that are actually prevented–is not sufficient enough to make a daily aspirin worth taking for most adults in this setting.”Clinicians should be very selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease,” Blumenthal said. “It’s much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol as opposed to recommending aspirin. Aspirin should be limited to people at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease and a very low risk of bleeding.”Based on a simplified synopsis of the latest ACC/AHA cholesterol guideline, for primary prevention, statins should be commonly recommended with lifestyle changes to prevent cardiovascular disease among people with elevated low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (? 190 mg/dl), Type 2 diabetes, and anyone who is deemed to have a high likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack upon reviewing their medical history and risk factors and having a detailed discussion with their clinician.DiabetesFor people with Type 2 diabetes, which is one of the strongest risk factors for cardiovascular disease, there are new data that two classes of diabetes medications, which work to lower blood sugar levels, can also cut the risk of heart attack, stroke and related deaths.The 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease will simultaneously publish in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.Source: https://www.acc.org/about-acc/press-releases/2019/03/17/09/49/acc-aha-guidance-for-preventing-heart-disease-stroke-releasedlast_img read more

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Scientists make a mazerunning artificial intelligence program that learns to take shortcuts

Self-navigating AI learns to take shortcuts: study Explore further Interview with Caswell Barry about grid cells. Credit: DeepMind Among the neurons associated with these “cognitive maps”: place cells, which light up when their owner is in some particular spot in the environment; head-direction cells, which tell their owner what direction they’re facing; and grid cells, which appear to respond to an imaginary hexagonal grid mapped over the surrounding terrain. Every time a person steps on a “node” in this grid, the neuron fires. An AI system learns to take shortcuts. Credit: Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0102-6 ©2018 Los Angeles Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. The emergence of these computational “grid cells,” described in the journal Nature, could help scientists design better navigational software for future robots and even offer a new window through which to probe the mysteries of the mammalian brain.In recent years, AI researchers have developed and fine-tuned deep-learning networks—layered programs that can come up with novel solutions to achieve their assigned goal. For example, a deep-learning network can be told which face to identify in a series of different photos, and through several rounds of training, can tune its algorithms until it spots the right face virtually every time.These networks are inspired by the brain, but they don’t work quite like them, said Francesco Savelli, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University who was not involved in the paper. So far, AI systems don’t come close to emulating the brain’s architecture, the diversity of real neurons, the complexity of individual neurons or even the rules by which they learn.”Most of the learning is thought to occur with the strengthening and weakening of these synapses,” Savelli said in an interview, referring to the connections between neurons. “And that’s true of these AI systems too—but exactly how you do it, and the rules that govern that kind of learning, might be very different in the brain and in these systems.”Regardless, AI has been really useful for a number of functions, from facial recognition to deciphering handwriting and translating languages, Savelli said. But higher-level activities—such as navigating a complex environment—have proved far more challenging.One aspect of navigation that our brains seem to perform without conscious effort is path integration. Mammals use this process to recalculate their position after every step they take by accounting for the distance they’ve traveled and the direction they’re facing. It’s thought to be key to the brain’s ability to produce a map of its surroundings. Interview with Matt Botvinick about neuroscience and AI. Credit: DeepMind Grid cells appear to be so useful for path integration that this faux-rodent came up with a solution eerily similar to a real rodent brain. The researchers then wondered: Could grid cells also be useful in another crucial aspect of mammal navigation?That aspect, called vector-based navigation, is basically the ability to calculate the straight-shot, “as the crow flies” distance to a goal even if you originally took a longer, less-direct route. That’s a useful skill for finding shortcuts to your destination, Savelli pointed out.To test this, researchers challenged the grid-cell-enabled faux-rodent to solve a maze, but blocked off most of the doorways so the program would have to take the long route to its goal. They also modified the program so it was rewarded for actions that brought it closer to the goal. They trained the network on a given maze and then opened shortcuts to see what happened.Sure enough, the simulated rodent with grid cells quickly found and used the shortcuts, even though those pathways were new and unknown. And it performed far better than a faux-rodent whose start point and goal point were tracked only by place cells and head-direction cells. It even beat out a “human expert,” the study authors said.The findings eventually could prove useful for robots making their way through unknown territory, Savelli said. And from a neuroscientific perspective, they could help researchers better understand how these neurons do their job in the mammalian brain.Of course, this program was highly simplified compared to its biological counterpart, Savelli pointed out. In the simulated rodent, the “place cells” didn’t change—even though place cells and grid cells influence each other in complex ways in real brains.”By developing the network such that the place-cell layer can be modulated by grid-like inputs, we could begin to unpack this relationship,” Savelli and Knierim wrote.Developing this AI program further could help scientists start to understand all the complex relationships that come into play in living neural systems, they added.But whether they want to hone the technology or use it to understand biology, scientists will have to get a better handle on their own deep-learning programs, whose solutions to problems are often hard to decipher even if they consistently get results, scientists said.”Making deep-learning systems more intelligible to human reasoning is an exciting challenge for the future,” Savelli and Knierim wrote. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Scientists make a maze-running artificial intelligence program that learns to take shortcuts (2018, May 11) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-scientists-maze-running-artificial-intelligence-shortcuts.html Call it an a-MAZE-ing development: A U.K.-based team of researchers has developed an artificial intelligence program that can learn to take shortcuts through a labyrinth to reach its goal. In the process, the program developed structures akin to those in the human brain. More information: Andrea Banino et al. Vector-based navigation using grid-like representations in artificial agents, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0102-6 Journal information: Nature “Grid cells are thought to endow the cognitive map with geometric properties that help in planning and following trajectories,” Savelli and fellow Johns Hopkins neuroscientist James Knierim wrote in a commentary on the paper. The discovery of grid cells earned three scientists the 2014 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.Humans and other animals seem to have very little trouble moving through space because all of these highly specialized neurons work together to tell us where we are and where we’re going.Scientists at DeepMind, which is owned by Google and University College London, wondered whether they could develop a program that could also perform path integration. So they trained the network with simulations of paths used by rodents looking for food. They also gave it data for a rodent’s movement and speed as well as feedback from simulated place cells and head-direction cells.During this training, the researchers noticed something strange: The simulated rodent appeared to develop patterns of activity that looked remarkably like grid cells—even though grid cells had not been part of their training system.”The emergence of grid-like units is an impressive example of deep learning doing what it does best: inventing an original, often unpredicted internal representation to help solve a task,” Savelli and Knierim wrote. read more

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Longawaited video service expected from Apple on Monday

first_img It’s a long-awaited attempt from the iPhone maker, several years after Netflix turned “binge watching” into a worldwide phenomenon.The new video service is expected to have original TV shows and movies that reportedly cost Apple more than $1 billion—far less than Netflix and HBO spend every year.Also expected is a subscription service consisting of news, entertainment and sports bundled from newspapers and magazines.Apple is making the announcements at its Cupertino, California, headquarters during an event likely to be studded with Hollywood celebrities.The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline. The company is pushing digital subscriptions as it searches for new growth.Making must-have TV shows and movies that are watchable on any device has propelled Netflix into a force in both Silicon Valley and Hollywood.But Apple remained focused on making on gadgets: iPhones, iPads, computers and its Apple TV streaming box for TVs. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs began toying with the idea of building a powerful TV business, but he couldn’t pull it off before his death in 2011. It has taken his successor, CEO Tim Cook, nearly eight years to draw up the script that the company will now try to execute. Netflix tells Apple: Count us out of your streaming plans Apple is expected to announce Monday that it’s launching a video service that could compete with Netflix, Amazon and cable TV itself. In this July 28, 2016 file photo, the Apple logo is shown on a sign hanging in front of a new Apple Store in the Williamsburg section in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Apple is expected to announce Monday, March 25, 2019, that it’s launching a video service that could compete with Netflix, Amazon and cable TV itself. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore furthercenter_img In this June 4, 2018 file photo, Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. Apple is expected to announce Monday, March 25, 2019, that it’s launching a video service that could compete with Netflix, Amazon and cable TV itself. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Citation: Long-awaited video service expected from Apple on Monday (2019, March 25) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-long-awaited-video-apple-monday.html “Apple is very late to this game,” eMarketer analyst Paul Verna said. “Netflix has become the gold standard in how to create and distribute content, using all the data they have about their viewers.”Netflix’s prowess has attracted 139 million subscribers worldwide. But Apple will have several other deep-pocketed competitors fighting for consumers’ dollars. Amazon has also become a formidable force in video streaming. Walt Disney Co. is launching its own service this year, armed with an imposing library that became more formidable with its purchase of 21st Century Fox’s films and TV series. AT&T is debuting another streaming service built around HBO.Apple has plenty of money to spend, though, with about $245 billion in cash and marketable securities. It must prove itself attractive to Hollywood even without a track record for supporting high-quality programming and then ensuring it gets widely seen.As part of its efforts to make quick connections, Apple hired two longtime Sony television executives, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, in 2017. They have reportedly signed up stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Aniston.last_img read more

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Story of Simon Oran Going hungry to bring water to Jharkhand villages

first_img Satyajeet Kumar New DelhiJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 08:36 IST Photo for representationIt is rare in life that we get to see people who are larger than life, making sacrifices for the greater good.One such person who has come into the limelight is Padma Shri awardee Simon Oran. His story is somewhat similar to Dasrath Manjhi of Bihar.Dasrath Manjhi is the man on whose life the film Manjhi: The Mountain Man starring Nawasuddin Siddiqui was based.While the nation lauded Manjhi’s efforts to carve a road out of a mountain and came to be known as the “mountain man”, most people are unaware of Simon Oran.Simon Oran managed to build canals and constructed three dams by drilling through mountains in Bero region of Jharkhand. His efforts earned him the name “waterman”.However, though his actions have benefitted the larger community, he himself is weighed down by poverty.For his contribution to environmental protection, water conservation and rain water harvesting, Simon Oran was felicitated with the Padma Shri by the then President Pranab Mukherjee.However, his days in glory were short-lived.The man, who dared to brave mountains, is proud of his medal and certificate but has been living a life of hardships.Simon Oran has always stood up for social causes but the other side of his life has a different story.Oran lives in a thatched house, the roof of which leaks during the monsoon. However, he does not have a BPL card.He is also under debt. He had taken a loan to dig a pond.Despite his financial troubles, Oran holds his head high with pride and does not ask for help from the government or any other agency.He says that villagers have been making efforts since 1961 to preserve water and not let it flow away.The entire area where he lives is dependent on agriculture which requires a huge amount of water. Oran was able to mobilise the people of many villages to contribute in the water-saving campaign.The collective efforts eventually paid off and a canal was built by carving mountains which led to the construction of three dams to fight the water woes. Now, the situation is under control and all one sees are the lush green fields.The people still conserve the forest by taking turns to guard it. Simon Oran’s wife stays with him but she looks tired, having battled poverty all along. Her face talks about the miseries of the life they lead in financial scarcity.Simon Oran is the parha raja which means the chief of 51 villages, according to the tribal institutional provision which is also recognised by the state government. Oran commands a great respect and easily motivates people towards his cause. Irony is such that while he is known for his efforts in social causes, Oran himself struggles on the personal front.Also read: Headless bodies of 2 children found in Jharkhand village, mentally unstable man heldALSO WATCH| Blast from the past: When dosa king P Rajagopal was convicted of murderFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byIram Ara Ibrahim Story of Simon Oran: Going hungry to bring water to Jharkhand villagesSimon Oran managed to build canals and constructed three dams by drilling through mountains in Bero region of Jharkhand.advertisement Nextlast_img read more