Virtual Reality Helps To Solve Minor Problems

Virtual Reality Helps To Solve Minor Problems

A recent study shows that conversation with yourself embodied as Dr. Sigmund Freud works to improve people’s mood as compared to talking about your problems in a virtual discussion with pre-scripted comments. Some researchers claimed that this method could be used clinically to help people dealing with minor personal issues.

Usually, people are better at giving others useful advice when they are in trouble than when they are dealing with their problems. As much as people typically have a continuous internal dialogue, people are trapped inside their ways of thinking with their history and points of view, finding it difficult to take an external perspective regarding their problems. But, with friends, especially those who know people know well, it gets simpler to understand the bigger picture and help them solve their problems.

A team of researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB), IDIBAPS and Virtual BodyWorks, a spin-off of both institutions and ICREA used immerse virtual reality to see the effects of talking to themselves as if they were someone else with the help of virtual reality.

Mel Slater and Solene Neyret who are researchers at the Experimental Virtual Environments Lab for Neuroscience and Technology (Event lab) led the study, a research of the Faculty of Psychology of the UB. Guillem Feixas, a clinical psychologist of the UB Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology and the Institute of Neuroscience of the University of Barcelona, was also part of the study.

Studies in the past developed by the research team showed that, when people adopt a different body using virtual reality, their behavior, perception, and attitude towards things change. According to Mel Slater, they showed earlier that people could talk to themselves as if they were another person, body-swapping to two different avatars and that the moods and happiness of the participants improved.



Biomass Fuel Conversion Improved Through Supercomputing

Biomass Fuel Conversion Improved Through Supercomputing

Fuel produced from forestry or agricultural waste, also known as lignocellulosic biomass, has always been a champion in the process of reducing the use of fossil fuels. However, plant cell walls have some innate defense system, which makes the process of breaking them down to be costly and complicated.

To understand how plant biomass could be a game-changer and can be further broken down efficiently, a research team from the University of California, Riverside joined forces with groups at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Central Florida to create a chemical roadmap to breach the defenses.

For access the energy-rich sugars found in the plant cell walls to be possible, they renewed focus on solvating lignin, a complex polymer is found in plant cell walls that act as a natural shield, preventing both chemical and biological attack. Lignin is also useful in avoiding commercial enzymes from digesting cellulose that makes up the bulk of sugars in biomass.

Previously, different specialized chemicals and pretreatment methods had been used to improve enzyme access to cellulose; however, they were ineffective at removing lignin. Using strong acids, ionic liquids, ammonia, and sulfite treatments have somehow developed the digestibility of cellulose; however, the methods still leave lignin behind making cellulose costly to recover. Other methods used co-solvents like ethanol and acetone solvate to remove lignin. They still required very high reaction temperatures, which also cause the remaining sugars to degrade.

Due to this, economically viable methods of transforming biomass into biofuels are yet to be discovered. The assistant research engineer at the Center For Environmental Research And Technology in the Marlan called Charles Cai and Abhishek S. Patri, a doctoral student in chemical and environmental engineering and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside, led a team of researchers to focus on identifying highly specialized co-solvents, substances added to a primary solvents to make it useful and can facilitate milder temperature salvation, releasing lignin from plant cell walls.



Prosthetic Arm Which Can Sense Touch and Move with Your Thoughts

Prosthetic Arm Which Can Sense Touch and Move with Your Thoughts

For anyone, picking up an egg is nothing but typical, except for Keven Walgamott who had a good feeling when he picked up an egg without crushing it. It felt like a Herculean task for Walgamott who had lost his left hand in an electrical accident seventeen years ago. He was testing a prototype of a high-tech prosthetic arm with fingers that can do more than just moving; it can proceed with his thoughts.

This was made possible thanks to a biomedical team at the University of Utah. They made it possible for him to feel the egg well enough so his brain can tell the prosthetic arm not to squeeze it. The team led by a biomedical engineering associate professor Gregory Clark developed a way for the LUKE Arm, named after the robotic hand that Luke Skywalker had in ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ to imitate the way human hands feel on objects by sending correct signals to the brain.

According to George, they changed the way we are sending information to the brain so that it matches the human body. He added that by matching the human body, they were able to see improved benefits and is making biologically realistic signs.

This meant that an amputee wearing the prosthetic arm could sense the touch of something hard or soft, understand better how to pick things up and perform delicate tasks which would at times be possible with a standard prosthetic with metal claws or hooks for hands.

According to Walgamott, it almost put him to tears when he used the LUKE Arm for the first time in a clinical test in 2017. He felt that it was terrific, and he never thought he would be able to believe in that hand again. He is a real estate agent from West Valley City, Utah and was one of the seven test subjects at the University of Utah.



Is your supercomputer stumped? There may be a quantum solution

Is your supercomputer stumped? There may be a quantum solution

Some math problems are so complicated that they can bog down even the world’s most powerful supercomputers. But a wild new frontier in computing that applies the rules of the quantum realm offers a different approach.

A new study led by a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), details how a quantum computing technique called “quantum annealing” can be used to solve problems relevant to fundamental questions in nuclear physics about the subatomic building blocks of all matter.

The algorithm that Chang developed to run on the quantum annealer can solve polynomial equations, which are equations that can have both numbers and variables and are set to add up to zero. A variable can represent any number in a large range of numbers.

Chang said that the quantum annealing approach used in the study, also known as adiabatic quantum computing, “works well for fewer but very dense calculations,” and that the technique appealed to him because the rules of quantum mechanics are familiar to him as a physicist.

The data output from the annealer was a series of solutions for the equations sorted into columns and rows. This data was then mapped into a representation of the annealer’s qubits, Chang explained, and the bulk of the algorithm was designed to properly account for the strength of the interaction between the annealer’s qubits. “We repeated the process thousands of times” to help validate the results, he said.

While it will be an exciting next step to work to apply the algorithm to solve nuclear physics problems, “This algorithm is much more general than just for nuclear science,” Chang noted. “It would be exciting to find new ways to use these new computers.”