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Online Music Streaming Doubles In UK In 2013

Online Music Streaming Doubles In UK In 2013

Online Music Streaming Doubles In UK In 2013. Online music streaming in the UK has doubled in the last year, according to new figures.

But that has come at the expense of album sales, which have seen an overall dip during 2013 due to the decline in CD sales as people turn to digital listening.

Research by music trade body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Official Charts Company shows 7.4 billion tracks were played on paid-for or ad-funded streaming services in the last year – twice the 3.7 billion figure of 2012.

Around £103m was brought in over the past 12 months by subscription services – up £26m on the previous year.

The total income generated by streaming will be much higher as the figure does not include the cash from advertising on free streams and on services such as YouTube.

Album sales were worth £772m last year, which is down £29m compared with the previous year.

Arctic Monkeys were the most streamed artists in the UK

Arctic Monkeys were the most streamed artists in the UK

CD sales of 60.6 million were down almost 13% on 2012, but still account for almost two-thirds of the album markets in the UK.

Digital sales of 32.6 million – up nearly 7% – now represent almost 35% of the total market.

Rock quartet Arctic Monkeys were the most streamed artists of the year.

The band, who headlined Glastonbury and whose fifth album AM was nominated for the Mercury Prize, beat Bastille into second place, with French duo Daft Punk third.

The biggest-selling album of the year was the compilation Now That’s What I Call Music 86, selling 1.1 million copies, way ahead of the biggest seller by an artist which was One Direction’s Midnight Memories, shifting 685,000 copies.

A report in trade magazine Music Week last month said 2013 is the first year since the 1980s in which there has been no million-album-selling artist in the UK.

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Reflected Eye Photos Could Help Solve Crimes

Reflected Eye Photos Could Help Solve Crimes

Reflected Eye Photos Could Help Solve Crimes. The reflections in the eyes of people who feature in photographs could increasingly be “mined” to help solve crimes, researchers say.

Zooming in on high-megapixel images can capture recognisable images of the person taking the photo, or other people present at the time.

An experiment by the University of Glasgow’s psychology department found that faces of onlookers could be identified even from small, poor quality reflected images.

The zoomed-in images were only 27 to 36 pixels wide but participants could still reliably identify the face.

An example of this tech

An example of this tech

“For crimes in which the victims are photographed (eg, hostage taking, child sex abuse), reflections in the eyes of the photographic subject could help to identify perpetrators,” say researchers Rob Jenkins and Chistie Kerr – who published their findings in the PLoS ONE journal.

“One possible extension of this technique would be to combine pairs of images recovered from the subject’s two eyes,” they add.

“In principle, these images contain the stereo disparity information required to reconstruct a 3D representation of the environment from the viewpoint of the photographic subject.”

A high-end 39 megapixel Hasselblad camera was used in the experiment, while the onlookers were close to the subject and the room well lit.

However, as the study notes, with mobile phone cameras featuring ever-higher pixel counts the technique could become more useful to police looking to gather evidence from a crime scene.

Researchers studying the incredible level of detail in modern digital photographs were able to pick out the tiny reflections of faces hidden in the eyes of the subject. By zooming in on the subject’s eyes in high-resolution, passport-style photographs, they were able to pick out the faces and accurately identify them.

The pupil of the eye is like a black mirror, said Rob Jenkins, of the Department of Psychology at the University of York. To enhance the image, you have to zoom in and adjust the contrast. A face image that is recovered from a reflection in the subject’s eye is about 30,000 times smaller than the subject’s face.

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Teenagers Leaving Facebook For Cooler Alternatives

Teenagers Leaving Facebook For Cooler Alternatives

Teenagers Leaving Facebook For Cooler Alternatives. Facebook is “basically dead and buried” with many UK teenagers feeling embarrassed even to be associated with it, new research says.

Young people are apparently turning away from it “in their droves” and are using “cooler” websites and apps such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Professor Daniel Miller, from University College London, which helped carry out the research, said: “Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives.”

“Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things.”

He added: “What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request.”

In Snapchat pictures disappear after they have been viewed

In Snapchat pictures disappear after they have been viewed

“You just can’t be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion.”

“The desire for the new also drives each new generation to find their own media and this is playing out now in social media.”

“It is nothing new that young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore.”

The EU-funded research, which questioned 16 to 18-year-olds in the UK, suggested the newer sites and apps were not as good as Facebook in terms of functionality.

Facebook is more integrated, better for photo albums, organising parties and more effective for observing people’s relationships, said the survey.

But WhatsApp is better for messaging and is now said to have overtaken Facebook as the number one way to send mobile messages, it added.



WhatsApp, one of the most used messaging apps

WhatsApp, one of the most used messaging apps

A lot of teenagers have also turned to Snapchat, a picture-sharing service that allows you to send pictures that disappear seconds after they have been viewed.

With Facebook, there have been concerns about privacy as it was revealed this year that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was accessing data from the site.

But the migration away does not appear to be down to young people making a statement about mass surveillance or big corporations.

One of the most popular alternatives is Instagram, which allows you to upload and share photos, and which is owned by Facebook.

Mike Butcher, from, said: “Facebook used to be quite a private place, especially among university students.”

“And gradually because Facebook needs to make money it had to open up and become more public.”

“So that’s what’s happening and they (young people) are going towards new kinds of platforms like Instagram or Twitter.”

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Oppo Find 7 Specification For Their Screen With 2K Resolution

Oppo Find 7 Specification For Their Screen With 2K Resolution

Oppo Find 7 Specification For Their Screen With 2K Resolution. The upcoming Oppo Find 7 will have a 5.5-inch with the first ever 2K resolution display on a mobile phone.

The resolution of 2560 x 1440px on a screen with a 5.5-inch diagonal adds for the whopping 538 pixels per inch.

Not only that, but the company is also promising “a 5.5″ screen with the feel of a 5″ screen device”, meaning that it will probably have super slim bezels.

The Oppo Find 7 is a successor to the Oppo Find 5 but unlike what the name might suggest, it doesn’t have a 7-inch screen.

Oppo's Google+ post revealing the 2K resolution

Oppo’s Google+ post revealing the 2K resolution

We first heard about the Oppo Find 7 back in July but back then we weren’t sure about the specs even though we heard rumors of some serious hardware.

Then in December things started heating up with more rumors and teasers coming out.

First, Oppo teased us that their new device will have LTE connectivity and we started hearing rumors about the device having a Snapdragon 804 chipset and a 5.7-inch screen.

Later, Oppo announced that the phone will be launching in early 2014.

In another move, we saw Carl Pei, director of Oppo’s New Markets division, refute on Google+ the rumors about the device having a 5.7-inch or 7-inch screen leaving us curious and still guessing.

Then finally, ten days ago the company teased that the Oppo Find 7 will be the first phone to have a 2K display. That wasn’t hard to believe as it was namely Oppo that introduced the first smartphone with a 5-inch 1080p screen. That was the Find 5, which was announced exactly a year ago.

Today we finally see the official specs of the Oppo Find 7 screen – just enough to wow us, but leaving us wanting to learn more.
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Met Office To Launch Round The Clock Space Weather Forecasting

Met Office To Launch Round The Clock Space Weather Forecasting

Met Office To Launch Round The Clock Space Weather Forecasting Service. The UK government is launching a round-the-clock space weather forecasting system in partnership with the Met Office, which will make the country one of a just a handful monitoring the weather between Earth’s atmosphere and the Sun.

The service will be run by the Met Office thanks to a £4.6 million investment by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and will aim to protect national infrastructure. It equals to approximately one thousandth of the science budget, although it is being drawn from a separate pool of money, said Science Minister David Willetts, speaking at a press conference.

Space forecasts will start in spring 2014, but it will be autumn before the service is operating fully. The money will primarily be spent on the forecast bench, as well as a team of people that will collaborate with academia to make sure the latest research and knowledge is being properly relayed to the forecasters. Phil Evans from the Met Office claims the system will be cost effective as it will rely on pre-existing infrastructure, including the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, which will take us closer to the sun than we’ve ever been before.

The main aim of the service is to offer UK-centric advice, but it will also be part of a larger international effort. The US already has its own space weather monitoring service, but has approached the UK to try and combine efforts. The Met Office will be working with external partners including the British Antarctic Survey and NoAA Space Weather Prediction Centre, in the hope that the forecasting service will be able to benefit a wide range of sectors, as well as potentially be commercialised.

What are the risks posed by space weather?

Space weather is a term that is used to refer to the changing environmental conditions between Earth and the Sun. While the Sun is constantly giving off bursts of energy, some of these bursts pose greater risks than others.

Solar flares, for example, can cause HF radio blackouts, and because they only take about 8.5 minutes to arrive in Earth’s atmosphere, they are very hard to see coming. Radiation storms, on the other hand, take between ten minutes and an hour to arrive and so have a greater chance of being detected ahead of time. They can cause radiation damage to astronauts and airline passengers over the polar regions, meaning that if airlines are forewarned they can redirect planes and make allowances for longer flight times.

More serious, however, are CME large plasma bubbles, which cause geomagnetic storms (and the Aurora, as it happens) that can impact electricity grids and disrupt the ionosphere, although they are quite easy to predict given that they take between 17 hours and 39 days to arrive.

In 2011 the government put space weather on the national risk register. The reason that the risks posed by space weather are increasing are due to our increasing reliance on technology, including GPS, that could potentially be affected by the effects of that weather.

“We’ve got more systems out there that might be vulnerable to space weather than ever before,” says David Willets. “This is the right time to be investing in space weather technology.”

What the government really fears is another “Carrington Event”, which was a solar storm that occurred in 1989. Astronomer Richard Carrington observed an almighty eruption from the sun’s surface that spewed a huge solar flare. It caused an aurora that was seen as far south as Hawaii and Chile, but in today’s technology-dependent world it could cause billions of pounds worth of damage. There is a 12 percent chance that another such event could occur within the next decade.

We are currently at solar maximum, and while this means there is more solar activity in general, the largest events don’t tend to cluster around the max — they could happen at any time.

The whole point of the system is to get warning out to businesses and organisations ahead of time, in order that they can put in place contingency plans to minimise disruption. One example given by Mark Gibbs of the Met Office was the National Grid, which could stop planned maintenance and make sure the backup service was switched on. “The more of the equipment you have working, the more you can spread the load,” he says.

The biggest concern is that the transformers could get knocked out, because it take a long time to restore them, he explains, but adds that the UK’s National Grid infrastructure is very well reinforced and far less susceptible to this kind of occurrence than the system in the US.

“A round-the-clock UK forecasting service for space weather is essential as part of National Grid’s procedures for running the electricity transmission network securely and safely. It is great news for National Grid that the Met Office has secured funding for its space weather forecasting operations,” said Andrew Richards, a risk and resilience analyst for National Grid, in a statement.

While the service is primarily concerned with these very extreme events, it will also be collecting information about smaller day-to-day occurrences too. If you’re finding all this talk of space weather a bit unnerving, please do check out the Wired UK guide to surviving a solar storm.
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France Implants Its First Artificial Heart

France Implants Its First Artificial Heart

France Implants Its First Artificial Heart. An artificial heart that can give patients up to five years of extra life has been successfully implanted for the first time.

The heart, powered by watch-style batteries that can be worn externally, was put into a patient at Paris’s Georges Pompidou Hospital.

It uses a range of “biomaterials”, including bovine tissue, to reduce the likelihood of the body rejecting it.

Unlike previous artificial hearts, created mainly for temporary use, the design by the French Carmat biomedical firm is intended to replace a real heart for as many as five years.

French medics said the unnamed male patient who received the device was awake and responding well after an operation on Wednesday. Marcello Conviti, the chief executive of Carmat, said: “We are delighted with this first implant, although it is premature to draw conclusions given that a single implant has been performed and that we are in the early post-operative phase.”

The artificial heart, developed with the help of engineers from the Dutch-based European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), weighs 2lbs — almost three times as much as an average healthy human heart. It mimics heart muscle contractions and contains sensors that adapt the blood flow to the patient’s moves.

Inside the heart, surfaces that come into contact with human blood are made partly from bovine tissue instead of synthetic materials such as plastic, which can cause blood clots.

The new device could help thousands of people who die each year while waiting for a donor, including many in Britain. Nearly 100,000 people in Europe and the United States are in need of a heart transplant, according to Carmat. The company claims its device should enable hospital patients to return home and possibly even resume work.

Prototype of the artificial heart

Prototype of the artificial heart

Alain Carpentier, the surgeon who performed the implant, said: “It’s about giving patients a normal social life with the least dependence on medication as possible.”

“We’ve already seen devices of this type but they had a relatively low autonomy. This heart will allow for more movement and less clotting. The study that is starting is being very closely watched in the medical field.”

Heart failure affects more men than women, and the size of the artificial heart means it can fit in 86 per cent of men’s bodies but only about 20 per cent of women. However, Carmat says it can manufacture a smaller version to fit the more petite bodies of women as well as patients in India and China.

The artificial heart will raise France’s reputation as a country at the forefront of medical innovation.

In 2005, surgeons in France performed the first face transplant on Isabelle Dinoire, whose features were badly mutilated by a dog.

Marisol Touraine, France’s health minister, was quick to praise the operation as a sign of the country’s edge in the field of health care.

“This news brings great pride to France,” he said. “It shows we are pioneers in health care, that we can invent, that we can carry an innovation that will also bring great hope to plenty of people.”

Carmat won permission from the French authorities to test the human implants on four patients in three hospitals last September.

All were suffering from terminal heart failure.

While the intention is for each heart to keep a patient alive for five years, the success of the device in the trials will be judged on whether they survive with the implant for at least a month.

Carmat hopes to finish human trials of the heart by the end of next year and to obtain approval to market the devices in the EU by early 2015.

It is expected to cost €140,000 (£120,000) to €180,000 (£150,000) if and when it goes on sale in Europe. The company’s shares have risen fivefold since floating on the Paris stock market in 2010.

Among Carmat’s competitors in the race to perfect artificial heart implants are the privately-owned company, SynCardia Systems, and Abiomed, both of the United States.

The longest a patient has lived with a SynCardia heart is just under four years.

A spokesman for SynCardia said: “We’re very happy for them and we wish them the best in their pursuit.”

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Nasa Astronauts Finish ISS Repair Spacewalk

Nasa Astronauts Finish ISS Repair Spacewalk

Nasa Astronauts Finish ISS Repair Spacewalk. Nasa astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins have completed the first of three emergency spacewalks to replace a broken cooling pump at the International Space Station.

As the ISS orbited Earth at a speed of five miles per second, veteran spacewalker Mr Mastracchio led the way, followed by Mr Hopkins, who was making his first venture outside the global research lab.

From the inside, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata operated the station’s 50ft (15m) robotic arm, hoisting Mr Mastracchio and hefty equipment from one section of the lab to another.

“There are quite a bit of arm manoeuvres throughout all of these EVAs so I’m sure Koichi will be getting a workout,” said lead spacewalk officer Allison Bolinger, using the Nasa acronym for spacewalk: extravehicular activity (EVA).

While flight engineer Mr Mastracchio, 53, soared around with his boots attached to a foot-plate on the robotic arm, Mr Hopkins, 44, was the designated free-floating astronaut of the day.

The men’s first task was to disconnect the ammonia pump, which is about the size of a refrigerator.

On the second spacewalk, set for Monday, the astronauts are to remove the pump so it can be replaced with a spare that was already stowed at the ISS.

Mike Hopkins prepares for his first spacewalk

Mike Hopkins prepares for his first spacewalk

A third spacewalk is planned for Christmas Day, when the failed pump will be shuttled away and final installations made on its replacement.

However, there is a chance the astronauts will be able to complete all their work in two spacewalks, Nasa has said.

If not, the Christmas Day outing would be the first since 1974, when a pair of Nasa astronauts “stepped outside the Skylab space station to retrieve film from a telescope and photograph Comet Kohoutek”, the US space agency said.

The urgent spacewalks were called for this week due to a faulty valve that caused a partial shutdown in the system that regulates equipment temperature at the space station.

Engineers tried to fix the problem from the ground, but eventually decided they needed to replace the ammonia pump.

The six-man crew was never in danger, but Nasa wanted to fix the problem sooner rather than later, agency officials said.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield Hopes For Human Moon Base

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Hopes For Human Moon Base

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said the next logical step in space exploration would be a permanent base on the Moon.

He speaked following China’s successful mission to soft land a rover probe on the Moon’s surface.

Commander Hadfield found fame after posting videos of himself singing and tweeting about his experiences on the International Space Station.

And he has now claimed astronauts could be living on the Moon in 20 years or more if space nations work together.

The former head of the ISS said: “I hope we’re seeing the start of a new space co-operation. India has sent a probe to Mars. Other nations have sent probes to other planets.”

“The logical way is together. I hope it’s not just a race that will cross some finish line and stop.”

Commander Hadfield praised China’s mission as a “great step forward”, adding it was “extremely complex and demanding to land something on the Moon”.

The Moon

The Moon

On Saturday, China carried out the first successful soft landing there for nearly 40 years and is only the third nation to do so after the US and former Soviet Union. The last one was by the USSR in 1976.

The 140kg (300lb) “Jade Rabbit” rover separated from its much larger landing vehicle early on Sunday, around seven hours after the unmanned Chang’e 3 space probe touched down.

The six-wheeled rover will survey the Moon’s geological structure and surface and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will carry out scientific explorations at the landing site for a year.

“It’s a demonstration of the increased capability of China” and if Beijing can team up with other countries then the “next logical step” would be a permanent base on the Moon, he went on.

“As to when we could start moving there, my guess is it would be after the ISS has finished its natural life – maybe a dozen or 15 years from now.”

“Personally I hope the Moon is where we go. Twenty years hence I suspect we will have people not just visiting but living permanently on another planet.”

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Two Guys Made A Life-Sized Lego Car That Runs On Air

Two Guys Made A Life-Sized Lego Car That Runs On Air

Steve Sammartino and Raul Oaida built a functional car out of Lego bricks that runs on air.

The car is the product of the duo’s Super Awesome Micro Project, a crowd-funded effort that allowed them to take 500,000 Lego bricks and 256 pistons and design a hot rod-esque masterpiece.

The car, from engine to seats, is made completely from the tiny bricks, with the exception of a few structural parts including wheels, tires, and gauges. Sammartino and Oaida estimate they’ve dropped $60,000 on Lego bricks alone.

Lego Car made up of 500,000 Lego bricks and 256 pistons

Lego Car made up of 500,000 Lego bricks and 256 pistons

Forty Australian patrons funded the project after seeing a single tweet that Sammartino sent, as well as a tongue-in-cheek prospectus he wrote about the idea.

The car was built in Romania and then shipped to an undisclosed location in Melbourne, which was not an easy task.

“The car was significantly damaged during shipping,” Sammartino told an Australian podcast. “We were like, ‘Well it’s just Lego, we’ll snap the pieces back together,’ But it wasn’t that easy. The pieces were warped because it had gone across the Equator, pieces were freezing and heating up — it was worse than you’d think.”

But they were able to patch those damages up, and now they’re taking the car to the streets. It uses four radial engines for power and can currently reach speeds up to 20mph.

So for now Sammartino and Oaida are driving the car slowly, as to prevent any possible “Lego explosions.”


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