A man-made mini-star to power our future

Engineers and scientists are constructing a huge mini-star, which will produce the same reactions that happen in the sun to provide energy for the future. The project, known as Iter (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), is based in Cadarache, near Aix-en-Provence in southern France. It will weigh three times as much as the Eiffel Tower and be as big as 60 football pitches.

Inside the new building will be a nuclear reactor that scientists hope can provide power through nuclear fusion. In doing so it could generate clean, safe energy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Earlier this year, the team behind the project appointed a new leader, Bernard Bigot. “We are now entering into manufacturing and preparations for assembly,” he said as he joined in March. Bigot said that he had joined as part of a new management team that was set up to deliver “both a research and an industrial facility”.

Inside that facility there will be a smaller and controlled version of the same reactions that happen in our sun, nuclear fusion. That happens when two atomic nuclei collide with each other, releasing energy in the form of photons. The scientists hope to harness that energy and re-use it, to replace the dirty and limited forms of energy that we use today.

A super-hot cloud of hydrogen will rotate faster than the speed of sound while being bombarded with surges of electric current which will leave the hydrogen ten times hotter than the sun’s core.

According to the organization’s website, it is based on the tokamak concept of magnetic confinement, in which the plasma is contained in a doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel. The fuel, which is a mixture of two isotopes of hydrogen, will be heated to temperatures in excess of 150 million degrees, forming a hot plasma. By scorching it with concentrated waves of radiation, scientists believe they will be able to harness the energy (in the form of photons) which are created when atomic nuclei collide with each other. It is the same process of nuclear fusion which occurs on the sun.

The project was launched in an early stage in 1987. It is now being pushed forward by a group of seven entities — including the EU, as well as the US, Russia and China.

Since then, the project has repeatedly run into problems, with the schedule being pushed back. But scientists hope that early operations can begin in the 2020s, with harnessed energy coming sometime after that. the independent

This is the world’s most efficient solar electricity system, Swedish researchers claim

A Swedish technology company has installed a new solar electricity generation system in South Africa’s sun-soaked Kalahari desert, saying it’s not only the most efficient system of its kind in the world, but it doubles the efficiency of standard solar panels.

The system, which features a pair of huge, 12-metre mirror dishes, runs on a Stirling engine – a type of closed-cycle regenerative heat engine that was invented way back in 1816, and uses trapped gas instead of water to propel the internal pistons and flywheel. The dishes are slowly rotated throughout the day to capture the maximum amount of solar rays and focus them into a specific point, which kicks the Stirling engine into gear.

Adopted by the Swedish military for use in their submarines almost three decades ago, Stirling engines have since been touted as the perfect match for renewable energy systems because they can function with almost any heat source, are quiet to run, and don’t take up much space. Swedish-based company, Ripasso Energy, licensed the technology from the military, and together with their colossalparabolic mirror dishes, the system requires just 2 hectares to produce a megawatt of energy.

The researchers at Ripasso have been testing the system for the past four years, and hope that by basing it in the desert, they can get the best idea of its efficiency potential. And as of this week, they claim to have set a new world record. Jeffrey Barbee reports for The Guardian:

“This is the only working small-scale concentrated solar energy system of its kind in the world. Thirty-four percent of the Sun’s energy hitting the mirrors is converted directly to grid-available electric power, compared to roughly half that for standard solar panels. Traditional photovoltaic panels are able to turn about 23 percent of the solar energy that strikes them into electricity, but this is cut to around 15 percent before it is usable by the grid.”

In November 2012, the same technology set a record-breaking 32 percent efficiency rating.

The Guardian reports that independent tests have confirmed the system’s capacity to generate 75 to 85 megawatt hours of electricity a year, which would cover the electricity needs of 24 average UK homes, and would save approximately 81 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere via coal burning.

The challenge now is to show the potential of the system in environments where sunlight isn’t as abundant. It’s all very well for a solar system to work brilliantly in the middle of a desert, but it needs to be able to work in an urban environment in order to make an actual difference. But this team is no stranger to setting records using solar technology, so hopefully they’ll figure it out.

Random nanowire configurations increase conductivity over heavily ordered configurations

Random nanowire configurations increase conductivity over heavily ordered configurations
Sample networks of Ag nanowires for 140 μm × 140 μm domain with (a) concentration just above critical percolation concentration (C ~ Cp), and (b) concentration much above critical percolation concentration (C»Cp). The voltage is applied across the horizontal direction across the domain length. Credit: Tansu, Lehigh University

Researchers at Lehigh University have identified for the first time that a performance gain in the electrical conductivity of random metal nanowire networks can be achieved by slightly restricting nanowire orientation. The most surprising result of the study is that heavily ordered configurations do not outperform configurations with some degree of randomness; randomness in the case of metal nanowire orientations acts to increase conductivity.

The study, Conductivity of Nanowire Arrays under Random and Ordered Orientation Configurations, is published in the current issue of Nature‘s journal Scientific Reports. The research was carried out by Nelson Tansu, Daniel E. ’39 and Patricia M. Smith Endowed Chair Professor in Lehigh’s Center for Photonics and Nanoelectronics and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and lead author Milind Jagota, a Bethlehem-area high school student.

Transparent conductors are needed widely for flat screen displays, touch screens, solar cells, and light-emitting diodes, among many other technologies. Currently, Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) is the most widely used material for transparent conductors due to its high and high transparency. However, ITO-based technology has several issues. The material is scarce, expensive to manufacture and brittle, a particularly undesirable characteristic for anything being used in this modern age of flexible electronics.

Researchers searching for a replacement for ITO are increasingly employing random networks of metal to match ITO in both transparency and conductivity. Metal nanowire-based technologies display better flexibility and are more compatible with manufacturing processes than ITO films. The technology, however, is still in an early phase of development and performance must be improved. Current research is focused on the effect of rod on conductivity of networks to improve performance.

Random nanowire configurations increase conductivity over heavily ordered configurations
2-D color map showing voltage at different nodes in computational domain for network arrays with concentration much higher than the percolation concentration (C ~ 5 Cp). The dots represent voltages at each nodes. Left border voltage is 10 V, right border voltage is 0 V. Credit: Tansu, Lehigh University

In this work, Lehigh researchers developed a computational model for simulation of metal nanowire networks, which should speed the process towards idealizing the configuration of nanowires. The model predicts existing experimental results and previously published computational results.

The researchers then used this model to extract results for the first time on how conductivity of random metal nanowire networks is affected by different orientation restrictions of varying randomness. Two different orientation configurations are reported.

In the first, a uniform distribution of orientations over the range (-θ, θ) with respect to a horizontal line is used. In the second, a distribution of orientations over the range [-θ] ∪ [θ] is used, also with respect to a horizontal line. In each case θ is gradually decreased from 90° to 0°. Conductivity is measured both in directions parallel and perpendicular to alignment.

Researchers found that a significant improvement in conductivity parallel to direction of alignment can be obtained by slightly restricting orientation of the uniform distribution. This improvement, however, comes at the expense of a larger drop in perpendicular conductivity. The general form of these results matches that demonstrated by researchers experimenting with carbon nanotube films. Surprisingly, it was found that the highly ordered second case is unable to outperform isotropic networks for any value of θ; thus demonstrating that continuous orientation configurations with some degree of randomness are preferable to highly ordered configurations.

Prior research in this field has studied the effects of orientation on conductivity of 3D carbon nanotube composites, finding that a slight degree of alignment improves conductivity. Computational models have been used to study how percolation probability of 2D random rod dispersions is affected by rod orientation. Others have developed a more sophisticated computational model capable of calculating conductivity of 3D rod dispersions, again finding that a slight degree of axial alignment improves conductivity.

“Metal nanowire networks show great potential for application in various forms of technology,” said Jagota. “This computational model, which has proven itself accurate through its good fit with previously published data, has demonstrated quantitatively how different orientation configurations can impact conductivity of metal nanowire networks.”

“Restriction of orientation can improve conductivity in a single direction by significant amounts, which can be relevant in a variety of technologies where current flow is only required in one direction,” said Tansu. “Surprisingly, heavily controlled orientation configurations do not exhibit superior conductivity; some degree of randomness in orientation in fact acts to improve conductivity of the networks. This approach may have tremendous impacts on improving current spreading in optoelectronics devices, specifically on deep ultraviolet emitter with poor p-type contact layer.”

Perception of self: distinguishing autoimmunity from autoinflammation

Rheumatic diseases can be divided in two groups, autoinflammatory and autoimmune disorders. The clinical presentation of both types of diseases overlap, but the pathological pathways underlying rheumatic autoinflammation and autoimmunity are distinct and are the subject of ongoing research. There are a number of ways in which these groups of diseases differ in terms of disease mechanisms and therapeutic responses. First, autoinflammatory diseases are driven by endogenous danger signals, metabolic mediators and cytokines, whereas autoimmunity involves the activation of T and B cells, the latter requiring V-(D)-J recombination of receptor-chain gene segments for maturation. Second, the efficacy of biologic agents directed against proinflammatory cytokines (for example IL-1β and TNF) also highlights differences between autoinflammatory and autoimmune processes. Finally, whereas autoinflammatory diseases are mostly driven by inflammasome-induced IL-1β and IL-18 production, autoimmune diseases are associated with type I interferon (IFN) signatures in blood. In this Review, we provide an overview of the monocyte intracellular pathways that drive autoinflammation and autoimmunity. We convey recent findings on how the type I IFN pathway can modulate IL-1β signalling (and vice versa), and discuss why IL-1β-mediated autoinflammatory diseases do not perpetuate into autoimmunity. The origins of intracellular autoantigens in autoimmune disorders are also discussed. Finally, we suggest how new mechanistic knowledge of autoinflammatory and autoimmune diseases might help improve treatment strategies to benefit patient care.

Here’s The Scary Truth About Science & The Death Penalty

A recent pair of botched executions has renewed the debate over lethal injection and whether it’s actually less inhumane than other methods used to execute condemned prisoners.

In January, when Ohio used a new drug “cocktail” to execute convicted rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire, he reportedly gasped repeatedly and took more than 25 minutes to die. Days earlier, when Oklahoma executed Michael Lee Wilson, the convicted killer uttered these last words: “I feel my whole body burning.”

Leaving aside the issue of whether the death penalty itself is inhumane, one might think that science could be enlisted to help devise a method of execution that spares the condemned from needless suffering.

Certainly there are historical examples of scientists and physicians offering their execution expertise. In the late 19th Century, researchers in the U.S. developed the electric chair as a more humane alternative to public hangings. Despite their efforts, executions using the chair often proved to be quite grotesque. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote in a dissent to the Supreme Court in the case of Glass v. Louisiana (1985):

The prisoner’s eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on [his] cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, and vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner’s flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches on fire … Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber.

Roughly a century earlier, French physicians Joseph-Ignace Guillotin and Antoine Lois developed the guillotine to be a painless and efficient execution machine.

In any case, many doctors today are guided by the Hippocratic Oath, which forbids them from willfully inflicting harm on others.

“It is unethical for physicians (the only ones with the requisite knowledge) to participate in the unwilling demise of any human being,” Dr. David Lubarsky, anUniversity of Miami anesthesiologist who has conducted research on lethal injection, told The Huffington Post in an email. “We don’t kill people who want to live. We don’t help others kill people who want to live… Once you cross the line as an agent/enabler of the state to cause the death of someone not seeking to die, you are no longer a healer.”

When lethal injection got its start in 1977, the medical community certainly kept its distance.

As Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor who has testified in many lethal injection cases, said of the invention of the three-drug protocol typically used in lethal injection, “There was no medical testing of the drug combination. There was no science. I think it was the pretense of science and a medical veneer. It was basically concocted in an afternoon.”

Now, in some states, critical drug shortages have forced corrections departments to find new untested drug alternatives.

“It’s not like you have a scientific expert sitting there and saying ‘these are the drugs you should use and in this amount.’” Denno said. “To the contrary I think one of the reasons we see these constant problems and this jump from drug to drug is these people, either they’re getting no advice whatsoever or the advice they’re getting is very bad and it’s all under the table.”

Even if science could aid in the development of a more humane killing method, Denno said, those with the appropriate expertise are unlikely to get involved.

“In light of a long-standing history from the late 1800s up to the present time, I would be extraordinarily surprised if the scientific community ever got involved in this issue.”

Keep reading for a look at methods of execution in use at various times.

Steal these tried-and-true motivation tips and never lose your fitspiration again.

Finding motivation can feel like finding your headphones in a bottomless gym bag. You blindly dig and dig — you know they’re in there somewhere — but keep coming up empty. So we asked those seemingly effortless exercisers, the ultramarathoners, trainers, dietitians and exercise physiologists, who seem to have motivation on speed dial, how to hack it, hone it and own it. Turns out, motivation is not only way easier to find than those earbuds, but it’s also easier to untangle. Read on for their advice.

Everyone Needs A Kilimanjaro

“I hit a lull in my mid-40s. I was training Jessica Biel for The A-Team movie, and she was signed up to hike Mount Kilimanjaro for her charity. I hate outdoors stuff, but I signed up. Turned out, I so needed that moment to get me back on track. It pushed me in the gym in whole new ways, and when I accomplished it, I was empowered to try more unusual things. It got me on the road traveling and doing retreats, and now everywhere I go, I try something new, whether it’s camel riding in Egypt or a dance class. If you’re really feeling like nothing’s working motivation wise, you have to step into that ‘I-could-never-do-it-but-I-could-do-it’ zone and amazing things will happen.”

—Ramona Braganza, celebrity trainer and creator of the 321 Training Method

Success Feeds Motivation

“I live by the motto ‘something is better than nothing.’ Yesterday was a great example: I was planning to do a long workout that ended up not happening because of meetings, but I still jumped into the gym and did 15 minutes. It counts because 15 minutes of physical activity is better than sitting. It also counts because it means I didn’t skip a workout, it means I exercised regularly this week, and it helps reinforce that habit and routine. Doing exactly what I committed to do boosts my mood and motivation to continue. I am on track, in control and making progress, and it feels good. No matter what, I can make it work if I follow this motto.”

—Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute and creator of the 7-Minute Workout

The Ultimate “Prescription” For Motivation

“No. 1, get off your couch. No. 2, start moving. No. 3, smile. No. 4, keep moving. No. 5, keep smiling. No. 6, repeat daily. The truth is that being active is a behavior pattern: Once you start it, you keep going and going, and then it just feels wrong to stop moving.”

— Dr. Jordan Metzl, M.D., sports medicine physician, fitness instructor, 32-time marathon runner, 12- time Ironman finisher and author of Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Running Strong: The Sports Doctor’s Complete Guide to Staying Healthy and Injury-Free for Life

Silence Sticking Points

“Bolster your willpower in tough times. A lot of research shows that if blood-sugar levels dip, willpower takes a severe nosedive. That’s why when you go too long without eating, you’ll over-consume whatever is around you. Curb this by having a piece of fruit with nut butter or Greek yogurt with fruit. The same thing has been shown with a lack of sleep. That’s why I try to get enough sleep, and on those days I don’t, I make sure I start out the day right with a protein-rich breakfast to help reduce those sweet cravings.”

— Julie Upton, MS, RD, athlete and co-author of The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions

Don’t Give That Negative Voice The Time Of Day

“You have to have tunnel vision and not think sometimes. Like the other day: I really didn’t want to go to the gym, but I knew if I went through the motions, I’d eventually get there. I just have to get up, get moving and get my stuff together, and if I can make it to the car, I think I’m good. We all know how to put ourselves on autopilot, so get out and do it!”

—Toni Carey, co-creator of Black Girls Run!

Give Yourself A Pep Talk

“Some of the hardest moments for me are being out at mile 87 of 100 miles. My legs hurt and all I want to do is lay down. What gets me across the finish line? A lot of self-talk: Holly, pull it together, you can do this! Look how far you’ve come! When you believe in yourself, the motivation comes second nature.”

— Holly Miller, personal trainer, coach, yoga teacher, stationary cycling instructor and ultramarathoner who has completed two Ironman triathlons and has run more than 50 marathons

Change Your State, Change Your Life!

“When I’m unmotivated, feel bad about my body or not proud of myself, if I make myself of service to somebody else — How can I support you, how can I lift YOU up — I hear myself saying all the things I need to hear. I change my own state. Even when you feel low, if you can go and offer help to someone else, if you can be of service, that is the quickest way to change your state.”

— Kiya Knight, creator of Weightless and Air Bar, certified personal trainer and fitness instructor

Check Motivation Off The List

“I’m a check-it-off-the-list kind of girl! I write everything I’m planning to do that day in a little book: Work out, take SLT, go to yoga. That’s a great motivator because I don’t like going to bed without almost everything from the day crossed off.”

— Amanda Freeman, founder and owner of New York City boutique fitness studio SLT (Strengthen, Lengthen, Tone)

To Err Is Human, To Forgive Is Motivating

“If you stray, whether it’s eating something you shouldn’t have or skipping a workout because you’re tired, be forgiving. When you start being hard on yourself, it takes the fun out of it, which is a sure way to zap motivation.”

— Katie Warner Johnson, dancer and Physique 57 trainer and co-founder of activewear site Carbon38

– See more at: http://www.oxygenmag.com/article/9-secrets-super-motivated-10060#sthash.sXXDyGBG.Itr80Ozp.dpuf

A Promising New Immunotherapy for Advanced Melanoma

A small, early-phase trial of a new immunotherapy yielded “durable responses” for patients with advanced melanoma and ocular melanoma.

Each year some 2,000 to 2,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with ocular melanoma, a serious cancer of the eye.

In about half of those diagnosed with this form of cancer, also called uveal melanoma or intraocular melanoma, the disease spreads, often to the liver. The prognosis for patients with metastatic ocular melanoma is poor, with median survival of just two to eight months.

So the report at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015 in April, of results from a phase I/IIa clinical trial of a new type of immunotherapy – albeit in a small group of 17 patients with advancedmelanoma and ocular melanoma – is promising.

The trial was of a first-in-class immunotherapy called IMCgp100. This therapeutic has “two functional ends,” explained Mark R. Middleton, PhD, professor of experimental cancer medicine at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. “The targeting end attaches to melanoma cells and the effector end locks on to any neighboring killer T cell [a type of immune cell], resulting in directed destruction of the tumor.”

In essence, IMCgp100 connects the immune cells to the melanoma cells, encouraging them to destroy the cancer.

“Among these patients, we observed lasting tumor responses for both cutaneous and ocular melanoma,” said Dr. Middleton. “Importantly, responses were even observed in patients with advanced melanoma that was resistant to the immune checkpoint inhibitors that have recently become standard of care in many locations.”

Among the 17 patients, three partial responses and one complete response were observed; two of the partial responses are still ongoing and have lasted more than 18 months, Dr. Middleton and his colleagues reported. The complete response in one patient with advanced ocular melanoma lasted over four months.

“It is too early to say if IMCgp100 is particularly effective in ocular melanoma, although the results are encouraging. These observations will be investigated further, both clinically and experimentally,” said Dr. Middleton. “We look forward to continuing to follow all the patients who remain on the trial and to enrolling more patients to firmly establish the utility of IMCgp100 as a treatment for advanced melanoma.”

These Disturbing Truths Shed Light On The Cruelty Of The U.S. Death Penalty

Disturbing details about the botched execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett have sparked a new debate on the death penalty.

Lockett died of a massive heart attack on April 29, after prison officials administered drugs in a new lethal injection combination that left him writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney, though it’s unclear if the drugs were to blame. Lockett and another death row inmate, Charles Warner, previously had sued the state for refusing to disclose details about the execution drugs, including where they were obtained.

But the uncertainty about the new drug cocktail isn’t the only reason people should be skeptical of the death penalty …

The death penalty is likely taking the lives of innocent people.

According to a new statistical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, almost 4 percent of U.S. capital punishment sentences are wrongful convictions, meaning about 1 in 25 people who are sentenced to death are likely innocent. This could mean that approximately 120 of the roughly 3,000 inmates currently on death row in America might not be guilty, and at least several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent.

Executions can take longer than they should.

Prison officials told The Associated Press that, of the last 19 executions in Oklahoma, the average length was 6 to 12 minutes. Lockett was pronounced dead 45 minutesafter his execution began due to complications with the lethal injection procedure.

But Lockett’s not the only one to suffer on the gurney: On Jan. 16, Ohio executed convicted rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire by lethal injection with an untested combination of drugs including the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. It took him 25 minutes to die.

In 2006, it took Joseph Lewis Clark, who was executed by lethal injection, 86 minutes to die.

Executions are often botched.

Amherst law professor Austin Sarat examined every execution from 1890 to 2010 and found that 3 percent of all executions during those years did not go according to protocol. Though Sarat says these botched executions included decapitations at hangings and defendants catching fire in electric chairs, he also notes the percentage of executions not done properly hasn’t gone down with the adoption of lethal injection.

“Botched executions have not disappeared since America has adopted the current state-of-the art method of lethal injection,” Sarat wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed. “In fact, executions by lethal injection are botched at a higher rate than any of the other methods employed since the late 19th century, 7 percent.”

An attempted execution in 2009 was so botched that inmate Romell Broom actually lived. Broom’s execution was stopped after an execution team tried for two hours to find a suitable vein, sticking him with needles at least 18 times with pain so excruciating he cried and screamed.

The people being executed often feel discomfort or pain.

Michael Lee Wilson, who was executed by lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in January, told prison officials he could feel the combination of execution drugs just before his death.

I feel my whole body burning,” Wilson said before succumbing to the drugs.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains a website devoted to executed offenders, which includes each inmate’s last statement. Many of the statements contain phrases like “it’s burning“; “I feel it“; “I’m feeling it“; “I can feel it, taste it“; and “this stuff stings.”

“My left arm is killing me. It hurts bad,” said Jonathan Green, executed in October 2012.

Sarat noted that pain may be inevitable in executions.

“A close look at executions in America suggests that despite our best efforts, pain and potential for error are inseparable from the process through which the state extinguishes life — and that the conversation about capital punishment needs to take that fact into consideration,” Sarat wrote.

Death penalty trials are expensive.

Death penalty trials can cost millions more than non-death-penalty trials — a cost that’s placed on taxpayers. The Economist reports:

An execution itself is not expensive, but the years of appeals that precede it are. Defendants facing death tend to have more, better and costlier lawyers. Death-row inmates are more expensive to incarcerate, too: they usually have their own cells, with meals brought to them and multiple guards present for every visit. “It’s because of this myth that these people will be executed in a couple of months,” explains Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Centre.

The price of execution drugs became 15 times higher from 2011 to 2012, costing nearly $1,300.

Very few countries perform executions, and we’re in some questionable company with the ones that do.

The United States was 1 of 22 countries to report executions in 2013, and it is the only country in the Americas to have carried out executions that year, according to Amnesty International. Japan and the U.S. were the only countries in the G-8 to have carried out executions that year.


We’re considering lowering our standards for how to execute people, rather than re-considering the idea itself.

A short supply of lethal injection drugs have led states to consider other methods of execution, including the new drug combination that left Lockett writhing on the gurney in the execution chamber.

Aside from sedatives and heart-stopping drugs, some lawmakers are considering execution methods of the past, including firing squads, electrocutions and gas chambers. Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin (R), who in January proposed firing squads as an option for executions in his state, said his suggestion wasn’t an attempt to “time-warp.”

“It’s just that I foresee a problem, and I’m trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet most economical for our state,” Brattin said, noting he thinks it’s unfair for relatives of murder victims to wait years, even decades, to see justice served.

5 useful apps for college freshers

The data charges will be paid by the application providers (Representational Image)

The data charges will be paid by the application providers (Representational Image)

So you’ve done it! You’ve successfully graduated from the routine of school life to the excitement and independence of college life. No wonder, you must already be finalizing your check-lists before D-day at your new college. The right clothes have been chosen, the accessories have been finalized and even the new gadgets have been bought. But you might be missing out on one of the very important must-haves and that happens to be the apps on your phone. College life isn’t easy and you could use some help from the bunch of apps available today that will help to make it more convenient.

We’ve put together a list of apps that can help you hit the ground running and save you time, money and tears, as you start your life at college –

SwiftKey (Android, iOS)

As you make the transition from school to college, there a are number of tasks you’ll have to do faster and better. Typing on your device has to be one of them and your default keyboard may not be the best bet for it. SwiftKey is the app of choice for the productive smartphone typer, creating a uniquely accurate predictive and auto-correct typing experience. It covers 15 Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and Marathi, and users can type in up to three languages at any one time. Chatting with friends during those lectures or taking notes on your mobile in class will be a walk in the park with this one!

Zomato (Android, iOS, Windows)

You are new to the college life and always on the lookout for new exciting places to try around you with your new friends. But you’ll never have enough time and that’s when you make use of Zomato. It is the platform that will cater to all your hunger and party cravings. The app provides you with information on home delivery, dining-out, cafés and nightlife in no time at all and also gives you access to a number of reviews, making decisions a whole lot easier. Zomato can be your one stop shop to finding the perfect yummy destination!

Dictionary.com (Android, iOS)

You’re going to be around new people and your vocabulary can certainly help you make an impression. This is the perfect application for words enthusiasts and everyone who has to read a lot of books with a lot of new and tricky vocabulary. Dictionary.com makes it easy to find the definition of every word you aren’t sure about. You can take advantage of more than two million definitions, as well as synonyms and antonyms at any time, wherever you are. All you need to do is install the app on your phone to decode the confusing notes from your last lecture.

Evernote (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac)

Our lives at schools and colleges are often busy and disorganized, resulting in a lot of stress and angst when exam time nears. With an Evernote account, things change for the better. All your notes are tagged and saved into one of your notebooks, making you super-organised. With the audio recording feature available on Evernote, there’s no need to worry about missing notes if you don’t feel up-to-speed with your note-taking skills. Just sit-back, pay attention and hit record during those long and seemingly never-ending lectures


When everything else is gone, music endures. Saavn offers over 2 million songs across multiple languages, ensuring your daily dose of music and entertainment through your mobile phone. It also lets you snoop out the best trending chart toppers so that you’re always updated with the latest tracks. You can even create your own playlist, tag your favourite music and share them across social media. We think Saavn will be your companion throughout those difficult all-nighters before an exam to keep you entertained.

Hippocampus Shape, Not Bulk Volume, Indicates How Well Our Memory Functions

Is bigger always better? A new investigation of the hippocampus — the brain structure where we consolidate factual memories — may not overturn the usual bias in favor of size, but it adds a new spin to the argument. A group of neuroscientists demonstrated that broader hippocampal shape related to better working memory, while greater hippocampal volume, the usual measure of brain size, did not.


Memory is not handled in a uniform way by our brains. Different regions and systems sort and collect our declarative memories, while other systems within our brains handle procedural memories. Declarative memory includes the facts we remember — for example, I ate a cheese sandwich while sitting beside the river on Tuesday. Procedural memory, sometimes referred to as implicit or unconscious memory, governs the recollection of learned skills — riding a bike, for instance. Due to this mental division of labor, the hippocampus is king when it comes to declarative memory, yet plays no part in procedural memory.

Notably, the hippocampus, which is shaped like a seahorse and hidden beneath the surface folds, is the first brain region eroded by Alzheimer’s, a disease that steals our memories. Learning more about the hippocampus, then, may have direct implications for this disease.

Shape vs. Volume

Typically, scientists view the size of the hippocampus as a way to determine the integrity of an older person’s memory, while neglecting all consideration of this brain structure’s shape. For the current study, scientists led by Dr. Mallar Chakravarty, an assistant professor at McGill University, collaborated with researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to explore the relationship between hippocampus size and memory. Chakravarty and his team began by developing an algorithmic technique to map the hippocampus.

After they identified a variety of hippocampus shapes, they performed a close analysis and then characterized and sorted hippocampal types based on relative appearance of head, tail, and body.

Strangely enough, they discovered stereotypic shapes exist for the hippocampus.

Taking this observation one step further, they found that people with a broader shaped hippocampus tended to perform better on memory tests than others. In fact, shape differences were better predictors of memory function than volume.

“This exciting new finding may help us improve our understanding of how to preserve the memory circuit and its function,” Chakravarty stated in a press release. For all who fear Alzheimer’s, this study represents new hope for future treatments and prevention.

Source: Voineskos AN, Winterburn JL, Felsky D, et al. Hippocampal (subfield) volume and shape in relation to cognitive performance across the adult lifespan. Human Brain Mapping.2015.