Technology


If you don't put a piece of tape over your webcam, get used to being watched. adafruit, CC BY-NC-SA

By Gordon Fletcher, University of Salford

Bitcoin calls itself the new money and says it can be minted and exchanged on the Internet, faster and cheaper than a bank.

It's gotten a lot of attention but how anonymous is it? Not very, if you have computers and about $1,500.

Several groups worldwide have shown that it is possible to find out which transactions belong together, even if the client uses different pseudonyms but it has only recently become clear that it is also possible to reveal the IP address behind each transaction. 



Worry only if you have something to hide. Finchen

By Andrew Smith, The Open University

The computer-security firm Symantec says it may have found some of the most sophisticated malicious software ever made.

The cyber-espionage bug, called Regin, has been making attacks for many years without being caught.


When all your appliances are internet-enabled, whose hands are holding the remote control? Hands image/ Shutterstock

By Temitope Oluwafemi, University of Washington

By Sue Thomas, Bournemouth University

Looking over the landscape I could see an old tree standing frozen and seemingly dead, its branches coated with icy rime. Around it, mossy grass and small rocks lay beneath a coating of snow and in the distance glistening waterfalls tumbled down the sides of whitened mountains.

It looked like the wilds of Ireland in wintertime, but the view existed only in my phone. My task, using a handheld biosensor called PIP, was to bring summer to this deeply cold outdoor scene by the powers of mental relaxation.


Where it begins. Nature

By Andy Tattersall, University of Sheffield

Dirty Harry once said, “Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one”. Now that the Internet has made it easier than ever to share an unsolicited opinion, traditional methods of academic review are beginning to show their age.

We can now leave a public comment on just about anything – including the news, politics, YouTube videos, this article and even the meal we just ate. These comments can sometimes help consumers make more informed choices. In return, companies gain feedback on their products.

New artificial intelligence software uses photos to locate documents on the Internet with far greater accuracy than ever before, showing for the first time that a machine learning algorithm for image recognition and retrieval is accurate and efficient enough to improve large-scale document searches online.

The system uses pixel data in images and potentially video - rather than just text -- to locate documents. It learns to recognize the pixels associated with a search phrase by studying the results from text-based image search engines. The knowledge gleaned from those results can then be applied to other photos without tags or captions, making for more accurate document search results. 


Researchers have taught a computer program the outline of how a magic jigsaw puzzle and a mind reading card trick work, as well the results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks, and it created completely new variants on those tricks which can be delivered by a magician.

The magic tricks created were of the type that use mathematical techniques rather than sleight of hand. The tricks proved popular with audiences and the magic puzzle was put on sale in a London magic shop. The card trick is available as an app called Phoney in the Google Play Store.


Major leaks from oil and gas pipelines can lead to home evacuations and even explosions. The line of lawyers waiting to sue for millions of dollars even if nothing happens can be seen from space.

And though most pipeline leaks are small, America leads the world in safe pipeline construction and oversight, it's better for everyone if leaks are stopped as quickly as possible. A report in Industrial&Engineering Chemistry Research outlines development of a new software-based method that finds leaks even when they're small, which could help prevent serious incidents and save money for customers and industry.

Wearable tech isn't just for humans any more. whistle.com

By Clara Mancini, The Open University

With the likes of Google Glass, Fitbit, and Emotiv wearables are now a familiar concept. Perhaps less known is that animals have been fitted with wearable technology for decades.