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     Volume 4 Issue 47 | May 20, 2005 |

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Spycam Force
Chicago's two-fisted street cops have a new kind of backup: a point-and-click surveillance network tied to a citywide crime-fighting database. Smile for the camera. On a warm afternoon on Chicago's West Side, a young man leans against a wall at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Homan Street. Thirty feet up, a camera mounted on a telephone poll swivels toward him. Three miles away, in a bunker-like, red granite building near Greektown, Ron Huberman watches the young man on a PC screen. "You see that guy?" asks Huberman, the 33-year-old chief of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. "He's pitching dope -- you can tell." No cop, even undercover, could ever get this close for this long. But the cameras - housed in checkerboard-patterned, 2-foot-tall boxes -- the police here call pods - can zoom in so tight I can see the wisps of a moustache. Chicago has evolved. A pilot network of 30 cameras keeps watch over the West Side, capturing images that have been used in more than 200 investigations. It's the first step on the way to a 2,250-camera system. And the electronic eyes are merely the most visible part of a strategy to completely remake police work in Chicago. A massive set of databases now collects and collates the minutiae of law enforcement -- everything from mug shots to chains of evidence. Installed in patrol cars, it turns every PC in every station house into a node on a crime-fighting network. At headquarters, superintendents and commanders use it to pore over patterns of criminal behaviour, figuring out how to deploy swarms of cops. By embracing the cameras, the network, and this immensely powerful database, Chicago's once-creaky police force has become an inspiration for departments around the country looking to get spry. "There has never been another comprehensive program like this in a major police department," says Northwestern University political scientist Susan Hartnett, who's been studying the CPD for more than a decade. Whether it means the end of crime or the beginning of the surveillance state, or both, Chicago is building the future of law enforcement.

Tapping the brain to control human behaviour
Scientists' understanding of the brain will one day be so profound that the brains of serial killers and paedophiles could be "rewired" to prevent their offensive behaviour. Discoveries involving how genes control the growth of the brain should also be able to find treatments for epilepsy, motor neurone disease and schizophrenia, said David Price, a professor of Edinburgh University, one of only two-dozen something researchers in the world working in the field. The human brain is staggeringly complex -- 15 billion cells with about a thousand billion connections between them. "Understanding how the development of such a complex structure is controlled might seem an impossible task but research in the past 20 years has made us more optimistic." Although, it might take several decades, most of the brain's functions would be eventually unravelled, he said. This would even include correcting behavioural flaws in serial killers and paedophiles to make them harmless. "I think the next 20 years will be really exciting." One reason is the ability to use genetic engineering to produce mice with tiny differences in their genetic make-up. This allows scientists to see how their brains develop and therefore discover which genes control which areas.

Twelve New Moons for Saturn
Astronomers trying to perfect a model for how the solar system formed got a dozen tiny steps closer to their goal last week, thanks to the discovery of 12 additional moons around Saturn. The moons were discovered by a team of astronomers at the University of Hawaii and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, with the help of several powerful telescopes atop the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii. Astronomers believe the retrograde orbits may be a sign that the moons were captured by Saturn's gravitational pull rather than formed from the same material as the planet. If so, they could reveal clues as to how that capture took place. "It's kind of a window on a process that's ancient and no longer happens," said co-discoverer David Jewitt, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii. Because scientists have only recently begun to study captured moons up close -- for instance, with the Cassini spacecraft -- they have yet to perfect a model for how planets capture objects and turn them into moons. Particularly thorny is the issue of what causes objects travelling through space to slow down, enough to get pulled in by a planet's gravity. The findings bring the total number of Saturn's moons to 46. Jewitt believes astronomers could spot as many as 50 more over the next several decades as improvements in telescope and camera equipment allow researchers to detect smaller and smaller objects. "At some point, you have to decide when to quit," he said. .

Time Travellers
If John Titor was at the Time Traveller Convention last week at MIT, he kept a low profile. Titor, the notorious internet discussion group member who claims to be from the year 2036, was among those invited to the convention, where any time traveller would have been ushered in as an honoured guest. The convention, which drew more than 400 people from our present time period, was held at MIT's storied East Campus dormitory. It featured an MIT rock band, called the Hong Kong Regulars and hilarious lectures by MIT physics professors. The profs were treated like pop stars by attendees fascinated by the possibility of travelling back in time. East Campus house-master Julian Wheatley, also a senior lecturer in Chinese at MIT, wore a name tag suggesting he had come back from 2121 to attend the convention. "East Campus is known for taking a certain kind of zany approach to science," Wheatley said. The East Campus dormitory house students with a reputation for turning out offbeat inventions, such as a person-sized hamster wheel and a roller coaster built from two-by-fours. This dorm's peculiar reputation and the Time Traveller Convention's far out theme may explain why so many people made the effort to travel in driving rain to a two-hour event. A fan of the Cat and Girl internet comic strip, which Dorai credits with giving him the idea for the convention, drove a band of jugglers up from the Yale University campus. "We thought it would be cool to be visited by ourselves from the future," said Shauna Anthony, who travelled from New York. The MIT convention was the second public attempt this year to draw time travellers to a specific place at a more-or-less specific time.

Latest Anti-thief Device
Vivek Hari a, student of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur has devised an anti-thief devise to be used on two and four wheelers. The devise based on the integrated circuit principal. It is user-friendly and can be used a s simply as an ATM. It works with computerised safety system. The user will just have to enter a password to use it. The vehicle engine cannot be activated until and unless one enters the correct password. The software developed by IIT was co-ordinated by the Director, Research and Development, Prashant Kumar who's supported Vivek to achieve the feat. " It's really a great feat. We will be applying for its patent. In the mean time we are looking for some one to manufacture the device in commercial basis," said Prashant Kumar.


Source: Wired, ANI and Webindia123

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

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