The anatomy of the PNB fraud | Livemint

[India]


To topple a bank, at least three persons need to conspire—the so called maker, checker and verifier or authorizer of SWIFT messages. Banks across the world use SWIFT, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, a messaging network for securely transmitting information and instructions for all financial transactions through a standardized system of codes. The maker keys in the message in the system, the checker checks it and, at the third stage, the verifier transmits it after he is convinced of its genuineness.

Even three persons aren’t enough to topple a bank.

This is because after the SWIFT message is sent to an overseas bank for a financial transaction, the bank which receives it and transfers the money (to the overseas Nostro bank account of the exporter or the importer), it sends a SWIFT message back confirming the creation of the loan.

The person who receives this message is a different person; not any of the three—maker, checker or verifier. The message comes to a secured room and gets printed on a separate printer; everybody does not have access to this secured room.

Source: The anatomy of the PNB fraud – Livemint

Fast-Spinning Spider Could Inspire New Robots


Researchers from the University of California Merced and the California Academy of Sciences have documented how individuals from the spider family Selenopidae—commonly called flattie spiders—can sense prey approaching from any direction and whip around in just one-eighth of a second to strike.

“We are documenting and modeling their fast spins, to help chart a course for making robots and other machines more maneuverable,” lead author Yu Zeng, PhD., of UC Merced, said in a statement.

The team found through high-speed footage that a swift flex of the flattie spider’s long legs helps them accomplish the quick strike attack, which is considered the fastest leg-driven turn of any animal on the planet at up to 3,000 degrees per second.

Source: Fast-Spinning Spider Could Inspire New Robots

Engineers Develop Smart Material That Changes Stiffness When Twisted or Bent


A new smart and responsive material can stiffen up like a worked-out muscle, say the Iowa State University engineers who developed it.

Stress a muscle and it gets stronger. Mechanically stress the rubbery material – say with a twist or a bend – and the material automatically stiffens by up to 300 percent, the engineers said. In lab tests, mechanical stresses transformed a flexible strip of the material into a hard composite that can support 50 times its own weight.

Source: Engineers Develop Smart Material That Changes Stiffness When Twisted or Bent

New Semiconductor Technology Could Yield Better Sensors


Researchers from the TU Wien in Vienna have generated extremely fine porous structures with tiny holes—resembling a kind of sponge at the nano level—in semiconductors using monocrystalline silicon carbide, opening up new possibilities for the realization of tiny sensors or unusual optical and electronic components.

“There is a whole range of exciting technical possibilities available to us when making a porous structure with countless nano holes from a solid piece of a semiconductor material,” Markus Leitgeb from the Institute of Sensor and Actuator Systems at TU Wien, said in a statement. “The porous structure influences the manner in which light waves are affected by the material.

“If we can control the porosity, this means we also have control over the optical refractive index of the material,” he added.

Source: New Semiconductor Technology Could Yield Better Sensors

Jump-Starting the Dark Grid | SIGNAL Magazine


A new project headed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory aims to use microgrid resources to boost the electric grid’s ability to bounce back more rapidly from blackouts or cascading outages, such as those following major storms or earthquakes.

In less than three years, researchers will attempt to demonstrate the potential of distributed energy resources, including the energy produced by solar panels on homes, to help restore power to the grid from scratch, an effort commonly known as a black start. The black start process is now done manually using special generators that can provide power to slowly bring other generators back online.

Source: Jump-Starting the Dark Grid | SIGNAL Magazine

Kerala Temple Sets An Example By Replacing Elephants With Wooden Structures For Festivals

[Kerala]


Elephants are the vital part of temple festivals in Kerala. They are used as a tribute to the God and are major attractions during these festivals. Most of the elephants are kept in captivity. The abuse and isolation that they have to face have been a much-debated topic.

.. Nalapathenneeswaram Sree Mahadeva Temple in Cherthala, situated in Alappuzha district has decided to go against the tides as they said that they will replace elephants with wooden structures.

Source: Kerala Temple Sets An Example By Replacing Elephants With Wooden Structures For Festivals

Elephant dies in Kerala after eating plastic: Who is to blame? | The News Minute

[India]


Every year, thousands of pilgrims trek through dense forested hills in the Pamba River basin to the abode of Lord Ayyappa during the annual pilgrimage. Sabarimala is part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, a rich biodiversity home to several species of wild animals and plants.

However, pollution caused by pilgrims, especially dumping of plastic waste, has emerged as a threat to the ecosystem in and around the famous temple.

When a group of wildlife and environment volunteers from the state visited the path leading to Sabarimala a few days ago, they found huge amount of plastic waste in the forest, including wrappers, bottles, carry bags, etc. They allege that the cleaning staff responsible for clearing garbage from the pathways usually dump it in the forests after collection.

Source: Elephant dies in Kerala after eating plastic: Who is to blame? | The News Minute

Germany considers free public transport to address air quality crisis


Germany will launch a pilot project offering free public transport in five cities to address environmental concerns, local media reported on Tuesday.

Among the cities considering the municipalization of transport services are the former West German capital, Bonn, and Essen, Reytlingen, Mannheim, and Herrenberg.

Source: Germany considers free public transport to address air quality crisis

The offloading ape: the human is the beast that automates | Aeon Essays


The chimp is the opener in a relay race that repeats itself time and again in the study of animal behavior.

Scientists concoct a new, intelligent task for the chimps, and they do it – before passing down the baton to other primates, who usually also manage it. Then they hand it on to parrots and crows, rats and pigeons, an octopus or two, even ducklings and bees.

Over and over again, the newly minted, human-defining behavior crops up in the same club of reasonably smart, lab-ready species.

We become a bit less unique and a bit more animal with each finding.

Source: The offloading ape: the human is the beast that automates | Aeon Essays

Photo of an atom: A scientist captured an incredible photograph | Quartz


Using long exposure, PhD candidate David Nadlinger took a photo of a glowing atom in an intricate web of laboratory machinery. In it, the single strontium atom is illuminated by a laser while suspended in the air by two electrodes.

For a sense of scale, those two electrodes on each side of the tiny dot are only two millimeters apart.

Source: Photo of an atom: A scientist captured an incredible photograph — Quartz