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Plants are always swinging in the wing, which means they have to be pretty flexible. But they also have to be very strong not to break when flexing. On the other hand, plants also have to be pretty rigid to be able to stand upright and grow towards the sun. How do they manage it? Well, fibre is the answer. A new study from the University of Queensland and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden revealed how fibre shapes the structure of plant cell walls.

Scientists found out what regulates flexibility of plant fibre

Young trees swing in the wind very freely – they are very flexible and yet rigid enough to grow upwards. Image credit: Nirajan pant via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Fibre in question is cellulose. It provides the strength to plants and is able to stretch and compress, providing that crucial flexibility. Cellulose is also what paper is made from. And it is a lot of what doctors tell you to eat when they say you need more fibre. It sort of works like a broom – it sweeps out all the unnecessary stuff from your body. However, there is still a lot we don’t understand about how fibres are shaping cells of the plants.

Now scientists discovered that hemicelluloses, a family of cell wall polymers, are key in balancing the need for rigidity with the flexibility. Hemicelluloses, alongside the cellulose and lignins, constitute building blocks for the core of the plant. Lignins provide the water-proofing, cellulose creates rigidity and hemicellulose until now was a bit of a mystery. Scientists took a closer look into two of its main components – xylans and mannans – and found that the hemicellulose is responsible for regulating plant’s ability to stretch and compress. These findings could have huge implications – from wound healing in plants, to better crops to our own gut microbiome.

Mike Gidley, one of the authors of the study, said: “Our work creates the basis for a new cellulose chemistry in which xylans and mannans are added to make composites with useful properties. This means new possibilities for developing better, environmentally-sustainable plant-based materials, as well as selecting natural plant fibres with desirable properties in agriculture and food.”

More than anything, this is a basis for new research. Scientists hope to find out more about how fibre helps our gut microbiome. They want to know how plant cells walls, or fibre, break down in the gut. At the same time humans depend on plants a lot for food and feed, which means it is important to improve our crops, make them more resilient and nutritious.

It is interesting how much we still don’t know about plants and our interactions with them. We need to know more in order to feed the growing population and create better fibre for various products.

 

Source: University of Queensland




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Xbox Series X restock for Cyber Monday: Where to buy the next-gen gaming system

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Cyber Monday is the next opportunity to score the in-demand Xbox Series X. Here’s when and where to find it at Target, Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon.

Image: Microsoft

Cyber Monday will offer new opportunities to buy the Xbox Series X gaming system at retailers in person and online. Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart and GameStop are some of the key retailers that have been restocking the next-gen gaming console.

Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, which costs $500 and looks something like a skyscraper, debuted on Nov. 10 along with the $300 Xbox Series S, but it’s been in such high demand that it’s nearly impossible to snag a unit. Priced at $500, the Series X is the first major Xbox release since the Xbox One in 2013. Gamers are anxious to nab the Xbox Series X, because it’s new with blistering fast performance and load times, and an amazing frame rate. It can run games at 120 frames per second (fps), which is about double what the Xbox One could do. This kind of refresh rate makes games look unbelievably clear and also reduces any chances for motion sickness that some people experience when gaming with lower refresh rates.

When the Xbox Series X debuted, it was offered both in person and online, unlike the PS5, which was only sold online on its first day. But that hasn’t made it any easier to buy an Xbox. 

SEE: Guide to becoming a digital transformation champion (TechRepublic Premium)

Where to buy the Xbox Series X on Cyber Monday

Many retailers offered some stock on Black Friday, but are likely holding back additional restock units for Cyber Monday. This is the time to keep your finger on the refresh button and try to score a unit. Checking at unusual times such as 12:01 am and early in the morning around 4 am and 5 am seem to be fruitful. Because really, who needs sleep when it comes to buying a holiday gift, right?

At Best Buy, the Xbox Series X has been available periodically, and on Nov. 28, there were some units available, but for in-store purchases only. The retailer is also offering various bundles with additional games and accessories, such as one with the Xbox Series X with the Halo Infinite game for $560, or with the Xbox Series X console, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 3-month membership, a controller and a 1TB SSD Seagate storage expansion card for $783, or another with the Xbox Series X console, a $100 Xbox gift card and the 1TB SSD Seagate storage expansion card for $810, and a bundle with the Xbox Series X console and the Cyberpunk 2077 game for $560. Keep in mind that Best Buy is one of the retailers that likes to restock at midnight. 

On Twitter, some people reported that Walmart offered in-person stock of Xbox and PS5 for people shopping at the store, but it hasn’t been confirmed by Walmart. 

Amazon has offered the Xbox Series X for sale, but it’s the first place many people look, so it’s one of the toughest places to get lucky. 

GameStop has offered the Xbox Series X at regular intervals, and will likely restock on Cyber Monday. GameStop often bundles the Xbox and the PS5 with games and accessories such as headsets, so search for bundles as well as individual units. 

Target is offering online sales and curbside and in-store pickup of the Xbox. Refresh the page frequently to see if your regional stores have available inventory.

This article is being regularly updated with the latest information on Xbox Series X sales.

Also see

  • Raspberry Pi: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
  • Technology in education: The latest products and trends (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
  • How to securely erase hard drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) (ZDNet)
  • Gift Guides for Techies (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

  • PS5 restock for Cyber Monday: When and where to buy the next-gen gaming console

    (TechRepublic)

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    Deep Smartphone Sensors-WiFi Fusion for Indoor Positioning and Tracking

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    While outdoor navigation services are widespread, there is no reliable and universal service for indoor positioning. A recent approach to tackle this problem has been recently published on arXiv.org. It employs a number of different sensors of a smartphone. Network sensors and observed landmarks allow estimating an absolute position. Then, motion and position sensors, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, are used to estimate user displacement (an approach known as Pedestrian Dead Reckoning, PDR).

    Image credit: Mohammed Hassan via Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

    Image credit: Mohammed Hassan via Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

    A novelty of this paper is applying a deep learning approach to PDR. Convolutional and recurrent networks extract hidden correlations between different sensors, thus allowing them to cope with sensor noise. Moreover, barometer data is used to recognize the floor change. The system outperforms the International Conference on Indoor Positioning and Indoor Navigation challenge winner’s performance by a wide margin.

    We address the indoor localization problem, where the goal is to predict user’s trajectory from the data collected by their smartphone, using inertial sensors such as accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer, as well as other environment and network sensors such as barometer and WiFi. Our system implements a deep learning based pedestrian dead reckoning (deep PDR) model that provides a high-rate estimation of the relative position of the user. Using Kalman Filter, we correct the PDR’s drift using WiFi that provides a prediction of the user’s absolute position each time a WiFi scan is received. Finally, we adjust Kalman Filter results with a map-free projection method that takes into account the physical constraints of the environment (corridors, doors, etc.) and projects the prediction on the possible walkable paths. We test our pipeline on IPIN’19 Indoor Localization challenge dataset and demonstrate that it improves the winner’s results by 20% using the challenge evaluation protocol.

    Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2011.10799




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    Moto G9 Plus Spotted on BIS Certification Site, Hints at India Launch: Report

    moto g9 plus 1606568632746

    Moto G9 Plus has reportedly been spotted on Indian BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) certification website, hinting at a future launch in the country. The phone has already gone official in Brazil in September, and since then there has been no clarity on whether it will be launched in the Indian market or not. However, the fresh BIS listing raises hopes of an India launch in the future. The company has already launched Moto G9 model in the country, and Moto G9 Power is tipped to launch in the second week of December.

    MySmartPrice spotted the Moto G9 Plus listing on BIS site. The phone has been listed with model numbers XT2083-7 and XT2087-3 that are reportedly associated with Moto G9 Plus. There is no clarity on when the phone will be launched in the country, but the BIS certification does offer hope of its arrival in the imminent future. If we were to speculate, the phone could arrive alongside Moto G9 Power that is expected to launch in India sometime in the second week of December.

    Moto G9 Plus was launched in Brazil with a price tag of BRL 2,249.10 (roughly Rs. 31,000) for the lone 4GB + 128GB storage model. It should arrive in India within a similar price range. The phone was launched in the Brazilian market in Rose Gold and Blue Indigo colour options.

    Moto G9 Plus specifications

    As for specifications, we already know that Moto G9 Plus runs on Android 10 software and features a 6.8-inch full-HD+ Max Vision display. It is powered by the 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G SoC, paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

    For photography, Moto G9 Plus has a quad rear camera setup that includes a 64-megapixel primary snapper, an 8-megapixel 118-degrees ultra-wide-angle shooter, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. At the front, there is a 16-megapixel selfie shooter.

    Moto G9 Plus has a 5,000mAh battery with 30W TurboPower fast charging support. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, GPS, USB Type-C, and a 3.5mm audio jack. There is a side-mounted fingerprint sensor on board.


    Mi TV Stick vs Fire TV Stick Lite vs Mi Box 4K vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Which is the best budget streaming device for TVs in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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