Cal Fire Uses AI to Detect Wildfires Without the Need for Human Eyes


Cal Fire, the firefighting agency in California, has embraced the power of AI in its ongoing battle against wildfires.


Captain Chris Africa, stationed at the Cal Fire Emergency Command Center in Grass Valley, is at the forefront of this technological revolution. The newly installed wildfire cameras, driven by AI algorithms, generate real-time alerts whenever smoke is detected. 


Africa explained, “These cameras are all auto-generated and have all moved based off AI indicators.” The dispatch monitors now prominently display a red box whenever the cameras identify smoke, which Africa referred to as “signatures.”


By clicking on the Raw AI option, he can access a comprehensive view of cameras currently detecting these signatures, indicating the potential presence of smoke or other anomalies the camera system perceives.


In addition to visual detection, computers equipped with cutting-edge technology are helping predict the trajectory of wildfires by considering various factors such as topography and wind speeds. 

Cal Fire Battalion Chief David Krussow, based at the Grass Valley Air Attack Base, relies on computer models accessible via his smartphone. This information provides real-time updates on the fire’s location and projected path, revolutionizing how firefighting operations are coordinated. 

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Liquid metal could turn everyday things like paper into intelligent objects


While paper isn’t exactly a smart material, it someday could be if it is covered in a new type of liquid metal. This liquid alloy has the potential to turn paper and other materials into gadgets that can do some things on their own. Liquid metal is already used in smart objects like circuits and wearable sensors—but not as a coating. Inspired by origami, a team of scientists led by Bo Yuan of Tsinghua University in China has figured out a way to formulate liquid metal and apply it with a stamp so it sticks to paper without an adhesive, which has never been possible before. In a study recently published in Cell Reports Physical Sciencethe scientists showed that paper coated in the metal can be crafted into origami shapes and re-fold itself. The metal coating also conducts heat and electricity. It’s like magic. Almost.

A sticky alloy

Because the particles in liquid metal tend to stay so close together, it is difficult to get it to adhere to any surface without something that acts as glue. But these adhesives usually have a negative effect on the metal’s properties, such as its conductivity. Yuan and his team wanted a liquid metal that could stick to paper without an adhesive. They used an alloy of bismuth, indium, and tin oxide (BiInSn) and tested how well it performed next to an indium/gallium alloy (eGaIn).


BiInSn turned out to be more effective. Unlike eGaIn, it doesn’t oxidize when exposed to air, so how well it sticks to a surface does not depend on the oxide film that forms on the metal. BiInSn is a solid at room temperature and has a higher melting point, so there is no risk of it liquefying at temperatures under 62° Celsius (about 144° Fahrenheit). It is also capable of stronger adhesion. However, getting optimal adhesion out of BiInSn required trial and error. “We needed to ensure the adhesion of liquid metal to be uniform in large scale on different paper, and to maintain the stability of the coating,” Yuan told Ars Technica in an email interview. “To solve these problems, we changed pressure applied on the stamp as well as the rubbing speed used in the experiments and finally found the most suitable parameters, which finally achieved fast, large-scale, and stable adhesion.”


The researchers tried stamping it onto paper with different amounts of pressure and found out that not much is needed for it to stay in place. They then created an origami cube out of the metal-coated paper, which required the edges to adhere to each other without any other binding agent. They even saw that when that square was unfolded, the coated paper could fold itself back into its original shape. Because the metal coating was self-adhesive, the edges that had been unfolded attracted each other until the paper became a cube again. Another shape they tried was a spring that could be stretched or compressed and would remain however it was adjusted. It was also possible for the team to build 3D structures out of individual pieces of flat, metal-coated paper. These structures could keep their shape without falling apart, and the coating could just be peeled off afterward without affecting the properties of its paper substrate in any way. The coating, which also lost none of its properties, could be recycled and used repeatedly. The paper just went back to being paper.

Next steps

Yuan thinks self-adhesion through liquid metal is an advantage, because, if it can be done with paper, it could be done with other thin, lightweight materials to create smart objects and soft robots that can fit into tight spaces. The next thing he wants to accomplish is finding a coating where the metal does not peel off once solidified. He is considering testing bio-friendly paint spray to protect the coating in materials that may eventually be used as packaging (boxes could open and close themselves just like the paper cube in the experiment), on human skin (bandages would come off painlessly without glue), underwater, and even in conditions seen on other planets and moons.


This substance could possibly be an asset to soft robots in alien environments. Some soft robots can already explore the deepest reaches of the ocean where the pressure is too high for humans and the cracks and crevices too small for larger machines. Soft robots are being designed with an eye for subsurface tunnels on Mars and other bodies in space. Autonomous soft robots that are thin and flexible would be able to venture into places where larger rovers are unable to fit or navigate safely, and the self-adhesion of the liquid metal coating would allow them to fold and unfold on their own.


“Utilizing our method, one can quickly create smart materials with good thermal and electrical conductivity as well as stiffness-tunable ability, which greatly expands material options for soft robots,” Yuan said in the interview. “I think that this method may provide a new route for designing space explorers.”

Cell Reports Physical Science, 2023.  DOI:  10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101419 (About DOIs).

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Nuclear Power Hits the Road: Ex-SpaceX Engineers Are Building a Cheap, Portable Nuclear Reactor


Engineers at Radiant announced last year that they had received two provisional patents for its portable nuclear reactor technology. One of these was for a technology that reduces the cost and the time needed to refuel their reactor, while the other improves efficiency in heat transference from the reactor core. The microreactor will use an advanced particle fuel that does not melt down and is capable of withstanding higher temperatures than traditional nuclear fuels. Helium coolant, meanwhile, reduces the corrosion and contamination risks associated with traditional water coolant. Radiant has signed a contract with Battelle Energy Alliance to test its portable microreactor technology at its Idaho National Laboratory (INL).


“In some areas of the world, reliance on diesel fuel is untenable, and solar and wind power are either unavailable or impractical,” said Jess Gehin, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Nuclear Science & Technology Directorate at INL. “Clean, safe nuclear microreactors are emerging as the best alternative for these environments.” 


Radiant’s microreactor can be used in remote locations, such as arctic villages and isolated military encampments that would otherwise typically rely on fossil fuel-powered generators. Not only is the portable microreactor better for the environment, but it is also more practical as it doesn’t rely on constant shipments of fuel. Instead, the clean fuel used for Radiant’s microreactors can last more than 4 years. If all goes well with Radiant’s test campaign, nuclear power might soon hit the road. In doing so it will help to power countless remote communities, and will further bolster the resurgence of nuclear power in a world that needs clean energy solutions more than ever.

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Check out BMW’s color-changing concept car in action


The BMW i Vision Dee concept arrived at CES with an E Ink-powered color-changing technology that was much improved over 2022’s monochromatic display.


At CES 2022, BMW’s iX Flow concept was billed as “the world’s first color-changing car.” At the time, the special version of the iX electric crossover could shift its various panels between white, black, and gray.  Now, for 2023, meet the upgrade: actual colors. For this year’s CES, BMW showed off the i Vision Dee, an electric sports sedan concept that previewed a whole raft of technologies we could see in the immediate future, like AI-powered virtual assistants and full-windshield heads-up displays. But it also included a full-color version of the E Ink technology seen on last year’s concept for the first time ever. This means that the i Vision Dee — which looks like a kind of cross between a vintage BMW and a Tesla — can change colors on command. Instead of just black, white, and gray, 32 colors are now available. Not only that but the i Vision Dee is made up of 240 E Ink e-paper segments, all of which can be controlled individually. This means the i Vision Dee can shift to one solid color or put on one hell of a light show.


SlashGear notes that the brains behind the project, Australian engineer Stella Clarke and her team, have been working to develop and refine the e-paper since last year’s CES. 

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Enhancing Daily Life with AI: Tips for Integrating ‘s Tools

Let’s explore how AI can make your life easier and even make you chuckle.Harnessing AI Expert-based ResultsStruggling to find the perfect gift for your partner? Use curioustone’s AI to generate a list of creative gift ideas. The AI combines expert opinions from various sources, so you can be sure your gift won’t end up in the “return” pile.Gaining

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New finding: Plate tectonics not required for the emergence of life

The finding contradicts previous assumptions about the role of mobile plate tectonics in the development of life on Earth.


Scientists have taken a journey back in time to unlock the mysteries of Earth’s early history, using tiny mineral crystals called zircons to study plate tectonics billions of years ago. The research sheds light on the conditions that existed in early Earth, revealing a complex interplay between Earth’s crust, core, and the emergence of life.


Plate tectonics allows heat from Earth’s interior to escape to the surface, forming continents and other geological features necessary for life to emerge. Accordingly, “there has been the assumption that plate tectonics is necessary for life,” says John Tarduno, who teaches in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Rochester. But new research casts doubt on that assumption.


Tarduno, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor, is lead author of a paper published in Nature examining plate tectonics from a time 3.9 billion years ago, when scientists believe the first traces of life appeared on Earth. The researchers found that mobile plate tectonics was not occurring during this time. Instead, they discovered, Earth was releasing heat through what is known as a stagnant lid regime. The results indicate that although plate tectonics is a key factor for sustaining life on Earth, it is not a requirement for life to originate on a terrestrial-like planet.


“We found there wasn’t plate tectonics when life is first thought to originate, and that there wasn’t plate tectonics for hundreds of millions of years after,” says Tarduno. “Our data suggests that when we’re looking for exoplanets that harbor life, the planets do not necessarily need to have plate tectonics.”

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New COVID-19 Human Challenge Study Reveals More Insights into How the Virus Spreads

A new analysis published in The Lancet Microbe shows how the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from the nose to the air and surfaces in the immediate surroundings. The findings are the second batch of results to come from the COVID-19 Human Challenge Program, led by Imperial College London and partners, and provide granular insights into how people infected with SARS-CoV-2 spread the virus to their immediate surroundings. In February 2021, 36 healthy, young participants with no previous immunity to the virus were infected with SARS-CoV-2 under controlled clinical conditions in a residential facility at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where they could be carefully monitored. They remained at the facility until they were no longer infectious. The facility enabled researchers to track the course of infection in great detail, with the clinical team taking daily swabs from participants’ noses and mouths, as well as environmental samples of the air and swabs of surfaces in their rooms.

Viral emissions

Out of 36 initial participants, a total of 18 became infected. Analysis showed that two individuals emitted substantially more virus into the air than the other infected participants, but displayed no significantly worse symptoms. The researchers suggest this may represent the small proportion of individuals who have potential to be highly infectious, sometimes described as “superspreading.” Analysis found large amounts of viral RNA in air samples, in exhaled breath, as well as swabs of participants hands and on surrounding surfaces, including frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and TV remote controls, showing how an infected person contaminates their surrounding environment and can spread the virus. Viral emissions correlated strongly with the level of virus detected in people’s noses, more than in their throat, highlighting the nose as a significant route for infected people shedding virus into the air and environment. According to the researchers, the latest analysis further highlights the routes by which the virus is transmitted from person to person—directly into the air, depositing onto nearby surfaces, and transferred from contaminated hands to frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and remote controls.

Reliable indicators

They also show that positive lateral flow tests and visible symptoms were reliable indicators of when people were infectious and emitting virus into the air and environment. The vast majority of virus was emitted after people noticed their first symptoms, with very little virus released into the environment before that (pre-symptomatically). They found no significant link between the severity of participants’ symptoms and the amount of virus they shed into the environment. According to the researchers, the findings highlight the need to reinforce public health messaging around proper face mask use, hand washing and surface cleaning, as well as how human challenge studies continue to add to our knowledge of COVID-19 infection and transmission. Dr. Anika Singanayagam, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, and joint first author of the study, said, “Our latest findings add to the existing body of knowledge on COVID-19 transmission. By studying infection in a controlled environment, we can collect unique, detailed measurements of virus emitted that allow us to understand how and when people with COVID-19 are contagious to others. These types of measurements are challenging to collect in real-world studies. “Our data indicate that much of the virus people shed comes from the nose, further highlighting the importance of face masks covering the nose as well as the mouth when they’re used. But it also shows how virus can be transferred from hands to contaminate surfaces, like door handles or remote controls, which become a source of infection.”


Dr. Jay, Jie Zhou, research associate in the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, and joint first author of the study, said, “Understanding when infected people are contagious and how to detect when they are contagious is important—it can help us to use interventions like face masks or social distancing more effectively. The data in our study highlights that being aware of, and acting on, the first minor symptoms that signal an infection, coupled with frequent self-testing with lateral flow tests, can effectively reduce onward spread.” Professor Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, said, “One of the most important things we need to know for controlling the spread of respiratory viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, is when are people who are actively infected with the virus most likely to infect others? That information can help to tell us how the virus will spread, and how best to use interventions to stop the outbreak. “Human challenge studies enable us to gain granular insights into the infection which we might not otherwise be able to. They play an important role in our understanding of infectious diseases, and should be considered a part of future pandemic preparedness.”


Previous findings

The latest findings add to several key clinical insights already gained from the COVID-19 Human Challenge Program, published in February 2022. These include that symptoms start to develop on average two days after contact with the virus, that infection first appears in the throat, infectious virus peaks about five days into infection and, at that stage, is significantly more abundant in the nose than the throat. The first analysis also found that lateral flow tests (LFTs) are a reassuringly reliable indicator of whether infectious virus is present in the nose and throat (i.e., whether they are a likely to be infectious to other people).


Original research published (June 9, 2023) at The Lancet Microbe: 

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Generative AI for Streamlined Content Creation with curioustone

In this article, we will explore the benefits of using generative AI web tools for content creation, discuss AI platforms, and provide tips on how to get started with these innovative tools.What is Generative AI?Generative AI is a branch of artificial intelligence that focuses on creating new content or data based on existing information. It uses machine learning algorithms to analyze patterns in data and generate outputs that closely resemble the original input.

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