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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as Shakespeare wrote, but erase just one little molecule in their flowers and you’d be lucky to catch a whiff of anything at all. In recent decades, commercial gardeners have bred roses that grow in different colors, are more insect-resistant, and have a longer vase life. But that manipulation has a trade-off: more visually appealing flowers often lose their strong aromatic fragrances.
What do roses need to make their pleasant odors, and more importantly, how do we get them back? A new study published Monday in PNAS identified a key enzyme called farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) synthase, crucial for driving the reaction that creates a rose’s fresh and floral scent. The findings could help with finding a way to create more mesmerizing and beautiful roses.
A chemical called geraniol is responsible for the sweet scent we associate with roses. Roses make the compound through a chemical reaction that involves FPP synthase plus several other enzymes. The process involves NUDX1 hydrolase, an enzyme found in the liquid interior of plant cells, or cytosol, that make up the rose petals. To create a strong and sweet aroma, flowers need a ton of NUDX1 hydrolase activity. This is only possible when there is enough of a binding molecule called geranyl diphosphate (GPP). GPP glues to the enzyme and propels it into action.
[Related: 7 edible flowers and how to use them]
But in order for this process to work, the binding molecule needs to be nearby. This isn’t the case for roses. Senior author Benoît Boachon, a plant biochemist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, says most plants keep GGP and NUDX1 hydrolase in another area called the plastids. These organelles act as key sites for photosynthesis. This motivated Boachon and his colleagues to figure out where roses get the GPP to make geraniol. He hypothesizes that GPP could have some mechanism transporting it from the plasmid to the cytosol, or there’s another pathway for the flower to generate its own supply of GPP.
To solve the plant mystery, the study authors studied the biochemical reactions that take place in a variety of pink roses called Old Blush. They isolated different plant parts and shut down chemical pathways involved with the creation or release of geraniol. If the altered roses no longer made geraniol, or the plants produced it in low amounts, that was a major clue to the scientists—they’d found a pathway that plays a role in supplying GPP. On the other hand, the team could rule out a process if geraniol continued to be made at normal levels.
Their search led them to a particular pathway in plant cytosol–where they took interest in a second, unknown role of the FPP synthase protein. When inhibitors blocked the plant’s ability to express this enzyme, it decreased geraniol levels.
[Related: How to preserve flowers in 4 easy ways]
The enzyme was found to create two chemical compounds. Plant scientists have known that it makes a chemical related to GPP, called farnesyl diphosphate, which contributes to a rose’s sweet smell. But the study’s biochemical analysis reveals the enzyme is capable of producing GPP as well. Natalia Dudareva, the director of the Center for Plant Biology at Purdue University and one of the coauthors of the study, says that roses must have evolved FPP synthase long ago to produce more readily available GPP. Protein sequencing of the enzyme revealed two amino acids that may have mutated to allow it to produce GPP instead of converting all the GPP to farnesyl diphosphate.
The next step was to see if the FPP synthase enzyme produced similar effects inside a plant in real time. They engineered tobacco leaves to express this enzyme and the chemical pathway used for making geraniol. As they expected, the tobacco leaves where they found the enzyme produced both GPP and farnesyl diphosphate.
Understanding the essential players involved in fragrance-making could restore the aroma of commercially grown roses. And by isolating the enzyme, Boachon says one potential application is to metabolically reintroduce the sweet fragrance into roses that have lost their iconic smell over time.
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Summer’s right around the corner, but the heat is already on. From unrelenting sunshine to sizzling grills, feeling hot (and cooling down) are part of the daily grind now. PopSci is here to help you ease into the most scorching season with the latest science, gear, and smart DIY ideas. Welcome to Hot Month.
Who can resist a pun-based holiday? Star Wars fans have adopted May 4 (or “May the Fourth…”) as “Star Wars Day.” The idea has taken hold enough to have even branched into purist factions who honor the day as a celebration of all things Star Wars, and stricter, more orthodox sects who choose to only acknowledge the Light Side on May the Fourth and all then dedicate a day to all things Dark Side on “Revenge of the Fifth.” No matter where you fall in this theological divide, there is one thing we can all agree on: Lightsabers are cool.
The lightsaber is simply the greatest fantasy weapon of all time. It’s iconic, it’s instantly recognizable (even by sound is recognizable), and it’s been the source of enthusiastic frustration for hardcore fans for decades. From toys that don’t quite cut it to DIY attempts at the real deal, they have been a puzzle for engineers and cosplayers alike. Let’s look at some of the fantasy and reality behind the ultimate Jedi weapon, and how close we are to wielding them in the real world.The first lightsabers were true DIY efforts
Way back in 1977, George Lucas was a scrappy young director with billionaire ideas and a hundredair budget (this is well before Disney opened its vaults to buy the Star Wars universe), so he had to get creative. The original lightsaber hilts were cobbled together from literal spare parts, with antique cameras providing most of the raw material. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s, Darth Vader’s, and Luke’s (well, Anakin’s) sabers were all made from flash handles—Luke’s and Obi-Wan’s from an antique Graflex, and Vader’s from an MPP Microflash. Obi-Wan’s saber was a real mutt, made up not only of the Graflex camera parts, but also bits of a jet engine, a World War I rifle grenade, and a faucet knob.Some of that signature lightsaber glow was a practical effect
In order to give the actors something tangible to fight with and to give the special effects department something to work while adding post-production firepower, the original prop lightsabers employed an innovative technique. The hilts had small motors in them that spun long carbon fiber blades coated in a material called Scotchlite. Because Scotchlite is reflective, it bounced light while the scenes were being filmed, and that gave the FX team a point of reference when they went through and added the color. Newer entries in the franchise did away with the reflective carbon fiber blades and achieved most of the effect through CGI.Disney is on the cusp of releasing the most realistic lightsaber yet
Disney teased a brand new, hyper-authentic lightsaber toy back in April. How, however, the company has offered a closer look at the device, which will debut with the upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel opening in 2023. Unlike Hasbro’s Force FX lightsabers, which are essentially just light tubes that switch on and off with appropriate sound effects, the new offering will have a simple hilt—like how they look in the movies when not in use—that unfurls a glowing blade. Intrepid fans located the patent for the toy, which utilizes a flexible LED “spool,” and even a video of a magic trick that employed a similar “unfurling” technique to illustrate how it could work.Lightsaber blades are so hot right now
Fans, of course, remember Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn using his lightsaber to melt through enormous metal blast doors in The Phantom Menace, so it’s obvious these thing are meant to be pretty hot.
But how hot is hard to determine, because we don’t really know what those doors are made of, or how hard it is to slice off an Aqualish’s arm. But when Force newbie Rey sliced a rock in half in The Last Jedi, it gave astrophysics and engineering enthusiast Brandon Weigel the base he needed to figure it out. Going deep into it, he arrived at a staggering figure: A lightsaber blade burns at 20,566 Kelvin, or 36,559.13 degrees Fahrenheit.
This info does make one wonder how characters manage to hold sabers without singing their eyebrows off. Some fans have speculated that sabers (or the Kyber crystals that power them) emit a kind of force field that protects the holder from bursting into flames as soon as they switch their weapon on. Sure, why not?Why don’t we have real lightsabers yet?
There are basically two factors that make actual, real life lightsabers impossible. One: There currently does not exist a battery small enough to fit inside a lightsaber hilt that has even close to the power needed to generate 20,566 Kelvin worth of heat. Secondly, we haven’t developed the technology to make a laser beam that stops at a certain height. Lightsaber “blades” ignite to a sword-perfect size, but the lasers we have at our disposal in the real world just keep going indefinitely (and are beams of light, so they wouldn’t really “slice” though anything. They could heat something up until it explodes, though!)Plasma could be the key to a real lightsaber
Plasma could be the key to making something sort of like a real lightsaber. Plasma is the superheated state of matter found in our sun and in a lightning strike. It could make for a good lightsaber blade if you could create a handle that wouldn’t melt instantly once you turned it on, and a magnetic field able to keep the plasma in a nice sword shape and length. But, once you had those, changing the color would be a snap. It all comes down to what kind of gas you add to the plasma (similar to how a neon light works)—you could add neon for a red Sith saber, krypton for a green Jedi one, and even mercury for a Mace Windu-esque purple blade. Of course, a mercury light would also give off ultraviolet rays, which would probably blind you.Does the color of a lightsaber indicate whether a character is “good” or “bad?”
Actually, yes. According to the expanded Star Wars universe—material beyond just the movies, like cartoons and comics and novelizations—a kyber crystal will “call” a Jedi to come claim it, and change color once it attunes with its owner. Blue is usually associated with bravery and green with harmony. Sith sabers are red because the crystals don’t call to the Dark Side types, so they have to take the crystals by force. Doing so makes the crystals “bleed” and turn red.Does that mean Luke Skywalker becomes more “harmonious” and “brave” once he crafts his own lightsaber?
Not exactly. Luke was supposed to have a blue lightsaber in Return of the Jedi (he’s even shown with one on the posters) but it was changed at the last minute to green. The reason was practical, not philosophical: During the outdoor desert battle that starts the movie, Lucas felt the original blade got lost against the bright blue sky.Lightsabers were almost called “lazerswords”
Seriously. In the first draft of Lucas’ script, they’re called “lazerswords.” It’s one of many changes that probably saved the project (Han Solo was also going to be an alien lizard).
If you are planning to take your PC for a repair because your keyboard has stopped working suddenly, wait – your keyboard might have got locked accidentally. Yes, the keyboard gets locked if you use Win+Ctrl+L, there are a few other reasons like an outdated driver, dirt, physical damage, or lose connection, if you are using a wired keyboard. Let’s see how can we fix this.Keyboard is locked on Windows computer How to unlock a Locked Keyboard on PC
Try the following suggestions to resolve the issue on your Windows computer:
Restart your computer
Check for physical damage or dirt
Check for the connections
Update your drivers.1] Filter Keys
This is the first reason why your computer keyboard gets locked accidentally. Filter Keys turn on if you press the right shift key for 8 seconds, which of course can happen accidentally. When your Filter Keys are on, your keyboard won’t work at all. All the keys including the function keys, and num lock key, everything will stop working.
To turn off the Filter Keys–
If your keyboard is still not working, check the other fixes below.2] Restart your computer
Restarting your computer can fix most of the temporary bugs and that includes your locked keyboard too. Simply close the applications running on your system, save your work and restart your computer. If your keyboard is stuck due to any temporary bug or issue, this will most definitely solve your problem. If it didn’t, check the next Fix.3] Check batteries
If you are using a wireless keyboard on your PC or laptop, make sure the batteries aren’t drained out. Change the batteries and check again if it is working or not.4] Check for physical damage or dirt
Check if your keyboard is physically damaged or broken. Check if there is dust or dirt under the keys blocking them. Clean your keyboard and check again. If you can’t see any damage, try using another keyboard with your PC and see if that works. If it does, it means the problem is with your keyboard and not the computer.
Read: Tips to physically clean your PC, mouse, and keyboard5] Check the connections
If you are using a wired keyboard with your system, check that it is properly connected and if you are using a Bluetooth keyboard, check if the Bluetooth connection is working fine or not. A bad/damaged USB cable or port can also be the reason why your keyboard is not working. Plugin your keyboard into another USB port and check. Again, you can check this by using another keyboard on your machine. Fir Bluetooth keyboards, unpair your keyboard, restart the Bluetooth and pair it again. It should work if there was an issue with your Bluetooth connection.
Read: Bluetooth keyboard or mouse keeps going to Sleep6] Update your drivers
If none of the above-mentioned fixes is working for you, the issue might be with the keyboard drivers on your PC. A faulty or outdated driver can certainly be the reason why your keyboard has stopped working. Follow one of the methods below to update your device drivers:
You may check for Driver & Optional Updates via Windows Update to update your drivers
You may visit the manufacturer’s site to download the drivers.
Use a free driver update software
If you have the INF driver file already on your computer then:
Open Device Manager.
Select Update Driver.
Follow the on-screen wizard to finish updating your audio drivers.Why my keyboard has stopped working?
There can be many different reasons like Filter keys turned on, outdated keyboard drivers, dirt clogging your keyboard, etc. Check for the fixes above to unlock your keyboard.How to open the On-Screen Keyboard?
2023 Land Rover Discovery gives iconic SUV a high-tech upgrade
At the front, there’s now new Matrix LED headlamps, which get a revamped lower daytime running light (DRL) signature. It’s intended, Land Rover says, to be readily recognized from at a distance, leaving no confusion as to what SUV you’re driving. The grille in-between is more purposeful, its reworked mesh connecting the dots between the 2023 Discovery and the Discovery Sport. New 20-, 21-, and 22-inch wheels are available.
There’s a new lower front bumper, with an integrated body-color graphic, intended to visually lower the SUV’s stance, and that’s echoed at the rear with a new lower rear bumper too. New LED rear lamps wrap around the fenders, while a new black panel connects them across the split tailgate; that panel is the new home for the Discovery badging, too. Opt for the R-Dynamic package – a first for the Discovery – and you get gloss black accents on the lower door claddings, the wheel arch moldings, and the roof, along with on the grille.
R-Dynamic Discovery models also get two-tone leather and contrast stitching inside, with the 2023 model year bringing a number of changes to the cabin. Seven seats are available – select trims getting a third row option – with a fully redesigned center console. That makes space for a much larger, 11.4-inch touchscreen and Land Rover’s Pivi Pro infotainment.
It promises to be faster in use and easier to operate, not to mention swifter to load when you first get in thanks to a backup battery. Dual LTE modems mean the 2023 Discovery can simultaneously download OTA updates and stream media, as well as offer a WiFi hotspot for up to eight clients. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included, and wireless, and there’s support for two simultaneous Bluetooth connections. A wireless charging pad – that can deliver up to 15W – with a built-in signal booster is available.
The new HVAC system offers PM2.5 air filtration and cabin air ionization, and can pre-clean before you get into the car. Both first and second rows get seat heating, and there are now HVAC vents in the center console for the second row. That also has 160mm of sliding travel, fore and back, and extended seat cushions for extra comfort.
It’s not the only new, practical feature. An optional hands-free Gesture Tailgate opens when you wag your foot under the rear bumper, and there’s up to 74.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third rows folded. With all seven seats up, you get 9.1 cubic feet. The seats themselves can be remotely stowed or popped up via the Pivi Pro touchscreen, and the lower tailgate is sturdy enough to support more than 660 pounds of weight. Instead of a key, the second-generation Land Rover Activity Key has a touchscreen and acts as a watch now, and can lock, unlock, and start the 2023 Discovery.
Either way, air suspension is standard – with 115mm of possible adjustment – as is the Land Rover Terrain Response 2 system with multiple drive modes. There’s a new Wade Mode, which can deal with up to 900mm of water. Towing capacity is up to 8,200 pounds, the automaker says, and there’s an available powered rear tow bar and Advanced Tow Assist. ClearSight Ground View is available too, using a front camera to give a view “through” the Discovery’s hood on the infotainment screen.
The 2023 Discovery 2.0L S kicks off at $53,900 (plus $1,350 destination), while the 2023 Discovery 2.0L S R-Dynamic starts at $56,400. The 2023 Discovery 3.0L S R-Dynamic begins at $61,900, while the top-spec 2023 Discovery 3.0L HSE R-Dynamic is from $68,900.
Vinegar has been helping humans preserve foods and clean houses for thousands of years. But a perhaps unexpected culprit is responsible for this ubiquitous acid: bacteria.
The aptly named acetic acid bacteria are the variety of microbes solely responsible for the production of the acid that characterizes vinegar. These microorganisms take ethanol, guzzle it up for fuel, and release molecules of acetic acid directly into the developing mixture—which means vinegar is basically bacteria compost.
In ancient times, the condiment was often a by-product of the fermentation of alcoholic beverages. Its original name “vin aigre” simply means “sour wine” in French. Even after it became a process unto itself, the production method was essentially controlled spoilage. Producers would fill wood barrels three-quarters of the way full of the desired ethanol source, leaving holes at the end of the barrel covered with a fine screen to let in oxygen. The acetic acid bacteria were introduced to the mixture from the air, from the raw material mixture, or were simply left over from the previous batch.
The different varieties of vinegar available depend on the starting material. Apple cider vinegar starts with apple cider as the main sugar source; malt vinegar starts with malt grain; balsamic vinegar starts with whole crushed grapes. Yeast first need to ferment these sugars into ethanol, at which point acetic acid bacteria can take over. The production of wine vinegars begins with the typical wine fermentation process, which is then taken a step further with the addition of acetic acid bacteria. Red wine, white wine, rice wine, and champagne can all transform into their vinegar counterparts through this method.
This entire process takes anywhere from one to three months. The investment of time, however, allows for the slow development of a rich flavor and aroma and yields a high quality vinegar, according to a 2008 study from researchers at University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
Today, though, most vinegar isn’t made by French artisans using wooden barrels. Industrial scaling requires massive, stainless steel vats. Once the sugars are fermented, producers add one of four kinds of acetic acid bacteria: Acetobacter, Gluconacetobacter, Gluconobacter and Komagataeibacter. Then a little bit of oxygen is pumped in to kickstart the microbes, and constantly aerate and stir the mixture at a precise temperature (generally 86 degrees Fahrenheit) to ensure optimal bacteria functionality. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, the bacteria completely replace the ethanol with acetic acid.
[Related: Grime-loving bacteria could save priceless art]
At the end of the process, the acidic mixture is diluted with water to achieve the desired quality and flavor. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration requires the final product to be at least four percent acetic acid by volume in order to be sold as “vinegar.” Five percent acidity is standard, while most wine and balsamic vinegars fall in the six to seven percent range. Anything above 15 percent is reserved for cleaning and weed killing.
During conversion, the bacteria strip electrons from the ethanol molecules, then use those electrons to power their own cellular machinery. They can do this efficiently because all of the machinery required is anchored on the surface of their cell membrane. The ethanol molecules don’t have to go through the arduous process of entering the cell, being converted, and leaving the cell again; all the enzymatic action takes place right there on the surface.
Like all of the tiny interactions happening in a single cell at any given time, the conversion performed by acetic acid bacteria requires very specific operating conditions to most efficiently churn out vinegar. Simply tossing microbes into a vat of ethanol won’t do the trick; in addition to constantly aerating the mixture, the temperature must be carefully controlled.
To help with this, researchers are exploring thermotolerant strains of these bacteria, meaning particular strains that exhibit optimal performance at temperatures higher or lower than the typical 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
In hot places, producers must invest in a cooling system to ensure the bacteria remain cool enough to operate, while colder regions face the opposite problem. On both ends, energy input and proper infrastructure are key for ensuring the bacteria remain comfortable. The introduction of thermotolerant strains has the potential to eliminate the need to invest energy in heating and cooling, making the process more sustainable and cost effective overall.
Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant is changing the paradigm of online consumer shopping experience by applying artificial intelligence (AI) technology throughout its core operations. Use of AI has helped Alibaba to increase its scale of operation more efficiently and has resulted in cost-effective outcomes. The technology is still in its infancy state, according to Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba but if properly harnessed can change the way online shopping is done.How Alibaba is applying AI in business
Alibaba Group evolved from an early e-commerce company into a giant conglomerate pioneering in terms of technology and big data analytics and uses. It is among the top 10 most valuable and biggest companies in the world. As of November 2023, Alibaba’sSmart Product Search and Recommendation
Search engines are getting modified by incorporating not only customer history but also accommodating all data sources to determine individual customer-specific wants. Recommendation engines are then recommending similar products bought or searched recently. To make the search engine and recommendation engine more specific, Alibaba has developed a software called “E-commerce Brain,” which uses real-time online data to predict consumer wants, and the models are constantly updated for each individual through AI to take into account purchase history, browsing history and online activities.Smart Customer Service
AI-driven assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home have gained its fair share of popularity. At Alibaba, this is done through chatbots. Any common queries and questions asked are automatically redirected to a computer system called Ali Xiaomi (Ali Assistant). Other than answering frequent questions and delivery status, it can help users find the right products when provided with a text or voice description or even a photo. It is capable of handling 95% of the customer service queries. This could be the future of all shopping platforms. Chatbots resolve consumer complaints without requiring human intervention.Pervasive Personalization
The key to successful e-commerce business is engagement and interaction with consumers. Alibaba is doing highly targeted, AI-assisted marketing to achieve this. Merchants selling on Tmall (a consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform) and Taobao (a business-to-consumer e-commerce platform) can now personalize their virtual stores for individual customers based on their taste and preferences. This can lead to higher conversion rates. The system is fast and self-improving.Smart Supply Chain
Alibaba has upgraded its supply chain management developing the Ali Smart Supply Chain (ASSC). It uses AI to help online and offline merchants and sellers to predict product demand, help in preparing inventory for optimal turnover; choosing appropriate pricing strategies and offering the right product to choose. This helps in automated quick business response to shifting consumer tastes based using all data sources and integrating the system across all the units.Smart Logistics
Alibaba’s logistics affiliate – Cainiao Network, creates a logistics information platform that links a wide network of partners, warehouses, and distribution centers. As of August 2023, Cainiao processed data for 70 percent of parcel deliveries in China using 10 percent less vehicles. This was made possible by Cainiao’s big data and AI enabled smart technologies. The company is using GIS (Geographic Information System) and AI techniques to determine the fastest and cost-effective delivery routes, thus enabling faster delivery.Smart AI-Powered Interface
Alibaba developed FashionAI which provides a recognizable interface for customers to use while trying on clothes. It’s a screen interface that makes clothing and accessory suggestions to customers based on the items they try on. Putting up AI-powered screens in dressing rooms may ultimately save a lot of human jobs.Deep Learning and Machine Learning
Deep learning technologies allow the AI to make connections in real-time by accessing massive quantities of data and making effective decisions. In implementing AI, Alibaba is applying numerous complex machine learning methods and disciplines.Secure Payments
Alibaba’s fintech affiliate has developed an AI-enabled face-recognition technology that helps in secure electronic payments.Cloud Computing
According to Ma, “Large-scale computing and data are the father and mother of artificial intelligence.” Alibaba has increased focus on cloud computing heavily. The company’s cloud computing subsidiary has developed an operating system called Apsara and can process more than 175,000 transactions a second. Alibaba’s revenue from cloud computing and Internet infrastructure is growing rapidly.Implications and Future
The way Alibaba is integrating AI in e-commerce will lead to significant changes in the future. The company has vast resources and sources of data from millions of customers which enables it to use several complex machine-learning methods. So, the company is well-suited for implementation of modern technologies. Technology now can perform things which are not humanly possible – like memorizing shopping preferences of millions of consumers. These features will change the whole shopping experience. These technologies are helping the company to realize economies of scale more efficiently and produce innovative new features. All these imply a wider variety of choices for consumers and more personalized shopping experience. With increased focus on virtual reality (VR), computer-generated 3-D imaging, and augmented reality (AR), Jack Ma believes that customers would be able to photograph an outfit they like on a stranger and be immediately redirected to the page where the clothing can be purchased. As mobile commerce increasingly becomes a trend, more data will be generated which will help in efficient implementation of AI. Here is an interview featuring Jack Ma who concurs that technology specially AI and machine learning will change the way business will work in future.Conclusion
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