Even though there are lots of renewable powered electric trains in existence, some still believe that hydrogen might be the answer for future locomotive travel. Fuel cell experts in Scotland are going to give it a try this year, and if all goes to plan, we will see the country test its first hydrogen powered train by November, Intelligent Transport reports. Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland, and the Hydrogen Accelerator from the University of St Andrews are working with hydrogen fuel cell experts Arcola Energy to bring the project to life. [Read: Meet the 4 scale-ups using data to save the… This story continues at The Next Web
This was the week when things fell apart. Rumblings of discontent about the government’s handling of the pandemic turned into open revolt as the Northern mayors – particularly Andy Burnham of Manchester – stood up and refused to accept proposals to place them at the highest level of the new three-tier system of Covid restrictions.Why? At first glance it seems eminently sensible that different areas of the country with different levels of infection should be subject to different measures. Why close the pubs in Lowestoft (where the case rate per 100,000 is under 50) because of the problems in Liverpool (where the rate is pushing 600)?Indeed, the general idea of local tiers is not in itself a bad one. However, we are not dealing with generalities.Somehow the tier system has managed to be even more unclear and generated a greater sense of inequity (and hence resistance) than before.Rather, we are faced with an acute crisis and we must consider whether the specific tier system devised by the UK government makes sense and whether it makes sense to impose it at this specific time. The answer to both questions is a resounding no.Let’s start by looking at the details of the present system. It has three core problems. First, a central justification for replacing the present hodge-podge of restrictions across the country with three tiers was to create clarity and a sense of equity. No-one – not even the prime minister – could remember who was allowed to do what and where, and there was a growing suspicion that some areas (the South) were being treated better than others (the North). In principle, a tier system would overcome that by creating a simple and transparent system where it was clear that the same rules applied to everyone. But that is dependent upon there being clear, health-based criteria for moving from one tier to the next, along with consistent restrictions within each tier. But in the event, the basis for deciding which tier you were in was far from clear and seemed dependent on political horse trading. Equally, the restrictions in a given tier were far from consistent, varied from area to area, and again seemed more a matter of politics than public health. Somehow the tier system managed to be even more unclear and generated a greater sense of inequity (and hence resistance) than before.Even if an effective local system might have been sufficient at some point, that point is now well past.Second, the notion of tiers is framed in an entirely negative way. It is all about the restrictions imposed on people – what they can’t do. This is encapsulated in the language of lockdown – a term we associated with prisons, with misbehaviour and with punishment. But infections are a function of exposure to the virus, and exposure is greater among those who are poorer and more vulnerable: they are more likely to have to go to work, more likely to use public transport, more likely to live in crowded housing. That is why the poorest areas of the country are four times more likely to be in “lockdown”. The reality is that infection reflects deprivation and the response should be greater support: support in terms of information, of testing facilities and, of course, financial compensation to workers and local businesses who are affected by the measurers necessary to combat the virus. That was the core of Andy Burnham’s concerns. On October 20, he tweeted: “I have fought for the ability to support low-paid people and businesses who will be most harmed by Tier 3 closures”. Had the government framed the tier system in terms of support and provided adequate funding, the disputes with the localities would not have happened.Related...
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Third, the measures in the tiers – even at the highest level of alert – were simply inadequate. On September 21, the government scientific advisory group SAGE met to consider the measures necessary to halt the start of a rise in infections. What they proposed went far further than anything the government is introducing: ensuring all but essential workers stay at home, closing all bars and restaurants, stopping contact between households in the home, moving all university teaching online where possible. On that day, new infections were at about 4,500 per day. Now they are about 20,000, some five times higher. If anything, even more would need to be done to bring things back under control. The government is doing far less.One might fairly retort that this is all very well, but would people actually accept such severe measures when many are already objecting to milder measures? But the objections are less to the imposition of restrictions than cynicism about measures, which people don’t believe will work and hence are not worth the sacrifice. This is backed up by recent research showing that perceived effectiveness is critical to adherence. What we have at the moment is the worst of all worlds: a fudge which has resulted in measures that do enough harm to damage livelihoods but are not effective enough to control the virus and save lives. People showed clearly in spring that they will make major sacrifices if they can see the point. What they won’t do is to make sacrifices just for the sake of it.So, the local tier system we have ruins a good idea through botched and half-hearted implementation. It would not be fit for purpose at any time. But it is especially inadequate right now.You don’t wait until your house is burning down before you call the Fire Brigade.The SAGE recommendations of September 21 weren’t just about what measures should be applied, but where they should be applied. They called for a national circuit breaker not just local action. And they called for it as the only way of bringing infections down to manageable levels across the country. The rationale for this position has only become clearer over time. It may be true that areas like Liverpool have far higher infection rates than places like Lowestoft. But infections are rising in every region of England, as are hospitalisations and deaths. It may be true that some areas have broken out into a blaze while others are just smouldering. But you don’t wait until your house is burning down before you call the Fire Brigade. Indeed, it makes far more sense to act early before the damage is too great. The longer you leave things, the more effort is needed to get things back under control, and the more is lost along the way. Even if an effective local system might have been sufficient at some point, that point is now well past. Each day now, indecision and fudge is costing lives. Remember the fateful week of 16-23 March when the government delayed going into a lockdown – a delay which probably inflated the deaths by many thousands. We must not repeat that mistake. Moreover, when the circuit breaker has done its job, when infections are brought down and restrictions are lifted, we must not repeat the mistakes of June when we failed to put in place measures that would suppress the virus and stop yet another set of restrictions being needed. Above all, we must demonstrate that the sacrifices we are asking for will not be wasted. Stephen Reicher is Wardlaw Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews and member of Independent SAGE.More in Opinion...
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(Tokyo Institute of Technology) Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology working in collaboration with colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of St Andrews and the University of New South Wales have developed a wrist-worn device for 3D hand pose estimation. The system consists of a camera that captures images of the back of the hand, and is supported by a neural network called DorsalNet which can accurately recognize dynamic gestures.
Everyone makes mistakes. No-one has handled this pandemic perfectly. The question is whether you admit to your mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and make sure not to repeat them the second (and third) time round. So it is welcome to hear from the Prime Minister a frank admission: “I got carried away by the coming summer and the general mood. That was a mistake I don’t want to make again”. Unfortunately (at least for those of us in the UK) those are the words of the Czech PM, Andrej Babis. And yet, what he says applies as much here as there. Remember all the hype about re-opening pubs on Saturday, July 4? It was dubbed ”Independence Day”, “Super Saturday”. That was no coincidence. The timing and the messages were deliberately managed by No.10 and designed to send a strong signal that things were back to normal, such that people should resume their traditional patterns of consumption. And just in case the signal might be too subtle for some, Boris Johnson exhorted us that it was our “patriotic duty” to go to the pub.Related...
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In the case of workplaces, things were even less subtle. Not only were people told they should go back, Johnson warned that if they didn’t they might lose their jobs. So many had little choice but to travel (often on crowded public transport) and mingle with their workmates. Sure, the workplace was meant to be safe and ministers repeatedly asserted that it was safe. Yet, the government did nothing to ensure that it was safe but rather handed the job over to employers with little guidance, minimal oversight and no support (hardly surprising since the number of Health and Safety Inspectors has been slashed by half in the last five years). The inevitable result? Employers themselves acknowledge that 46% of workplaces are not properly distanced and 38% of the most vulnerable employees report no Covid mitigations at all in their workplaces. So, a few weeks down the line, it comes as no surprise at all that infections are spiking again and that those who are most exposed to contact with others – the young – are most affected (for now at least). Young people are most likely to go to a bar (as they were told to do). Young people are most likely to go back out to public facing jobs in hospitality and retail (as they were pressured to do) and to use public transport to get there. Young people are most likely to live in multi-occupancy flats and so, if they get infected, to spread the infection to each-other. And how has the government responded? By acknowledging its mistakes? By learning the basic lesson that if you relax, this virus will come back and bite you? By apologising to people – especially young people – and acknowledging that its advice exposed them to danger?The notion that it is public misbehaviour that is the problem leads the government to put the onus almost entirely on us to change our ways.No. None of that. Indeed, it has done the precise opposite and accused them of being the cause of the present mess. According to this narrative, the problem isn’t that young people have behaved according to the government’s bad advice, but rather they have misbehaved and ignored the government’s advice. Not only is this wrong and unfair. It is also profoundly counter-productive. If you demonise one group as the cause of greater infections and greater restrictions, you alienate that group and make everyone else complacent (“we aren’t the problem, OK we may be having one or two more people over in an evening, but we aren’t having house parties like those dreadful youngsters”). In both ways, you undermine future adherence to the measures needed to control the pandemic.Still worse, such a false diagnosis leads to an ineffective cure. The notion that it is public misbehaviour that is the problem leads the government to put the onus almost entirely on us to change our ways and to threaten us with punishment if we fail to heed their strictures. On the one hand, this ignores the responsibilities of the government to support us in doing the right thing. While it would be a good start to stop encouraging us to increase our exposure to the virus, it would be far better to provide us with the resources we need to avoid getting infected and infecting others. Most obviously, provide a functioning test and trace system and make sure we can afford to self-isolate.On the other hand, if the government does take its responsibilities seriously, and if it does support us then it has a far more authoritative voice when it asks us to take our responsibilities seriously (which we must), and is far more likely to be listened to. Support us, and we will both be able and want to observe the new Covid measures that are necessary.Related...
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If we are to get on top of the pandemic, there needs to be a reset. Government must go from treating the public as a problem to engaging with the public as a partner. They must shift from a narrow focus on what the public must (and mustn’t) do to a broader focus on what we all (government, employers and the public) must do. And they must understand that the best way to get us, the public, to do our bit is to stop hectoring us and do their bit.Such a reset depends, of course, on realising and acknowledging their mistakes to date. Do they have the insight, the courage and the integrity to do so?Stephen Reicher is Wardlaw Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews and member of Independent SAGE.Related...
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Students at Scotland’s prestigious St Andrews University are being asked to voluntarily go into lockdown over the weekend. Amid fears that the UK could be heading towards a second national lockdown, the university’s principal said students should try and remain in their rooms from Friday night in a bid to “interrupt the chain of transmission”. The request came on the same day the UK recorded 4,322 new cases of Covid-19 – the highest figure since the start of May. In a message to students, Professor Sally Mapstone warned that with Covid infection rates surging across the UK, it was “very likely that we are very close to a form of further national lockdown”. Urgent Covid message from St Andrews Principal Professor Sally Mapstone to all students:"...I am writing to all of our students to ask you to please observe a voluntary lockdown this weekend, effective from 7pm this evening."Read the full message ⬇️https://t.co/tUvsUzzDH1pic.twitter.com/i2rna9MmZC— University of St Andrews (@univofstandrews) September 18, 2020“The First Minister of Scotland has today spoken of the urgent need to interrupt the chain of transmission of the virus,” she wrote. “In these circumstances, I am writing to all of our students to ask you to please observe a voluntary lockdown this weekend, effective from 7pm this evening.“This means that I am asking you all to remain in your rooms as much as possible, not to party, not to go to bars or restaurants, and to avoid mixing with any groups outside your own households.”Mapstone said that while some would consider the move “premature”, society had acted too slowly in the past during the pandemic and “thousands of people have died unnecessarily as a result”. “Early action saves lives, and we have an opportunity as one community to take action to protect ourselves, and those with whom we share this town,” she said. Stressing that it was a preventative measure, the principal said there was no evidence that coronavirus cases were surging among the St Andrews community. Last Friday, police were called to disperse a gathering of about 50 young people on a beach in Fife.Related...
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Scorching temperatures were felt across Britain and Europe once again, following a Friday that saw the hottest August in 17 years.The Met Office said temperatures had already reached 34.5C at in Kent early on Saturday afternoon, adding there was a chance it could reach up to 36C in the south east later in the day.On Friday thousands flocked to the UK’s beaches including in Brighton, Bournemouth and Southend, with pictures showing hundreds of people packed on the sand despite warnings that social distancing guidelines should be respected.Temperatures are expected to remain high until the middle of next week, but the Met Office has warned thunderstorms could be on the way for Monday and Tuesday.On Saturday it issued a level three heat-level warning for the south and south east, meaning the public should look out particularly for the elderly, children and people in poor health.Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, a public health consultant at Public Health England (PHE), said: “This summer, many of us are spending more time at home due to Covid-19.“A lot of homes can overheat, so it’s important we continue to check on older people and those with underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re living alone and may be socially isolated.” Studies have shown that the vast majority of Covid-19 transmissions occurred indoors, while outdoor transmission was scarce.The current record maximum temperature for the UK is 38.7C, set last year on July 25 in Cambridge Botanic Garden.The record for the hottest August day is 38.5C, set at Faversham on August 10 2003.Experts have warned record-breaking summers will “absolutely” keep happening unless we take “drastic” action against climate change.Michael Byrne, lecturer in earth and environmental sciences at the University of St Andrews, said two near-record temperatures so closely spaced is “unusual”.He told the PA news agency: “But it’s not surprising given climate change is happening and accelerating.“Breaking temperature records year-on-year will absolutely keep happening, unless we take drastic action against climate change that’s a certainty.“We think in 50-100 years we’ll see 2-3C of surface warming, with more over land and over the Arctic, which will present huge challenges and implications for people’s health.“Parts of the Middle East won’t be habitable, which I find quite terrifying,” he added.The 10 hottest years in the UK all occurred since 2002, according to the Met Office.Ilan Kelman, professor of disasters and health at University College London, said rising temperatures will make it “highly dangerous” for people to be outside.He said: “These temperatures are unfortunately in line with the expectations for heat under climate change, which is one of the most concerning health impacts.”“Without stopping human-caused climate change, these levels of summer heat and humidity will become regular, making it highly dangerous for us to be outdoors and even indoors without continual cooling.“Air pollution can also worsen under heat with its knock-on health effects, such as for cancer and asthma.”Elderly people are considered the most vulnerable to hot weather, and have been advised to try to stay indoors during the afternoon and to take a bottle of water when they are out.Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We want older people to continue to enjoy the warm weather but, if it becomes uncomfortably hot, we advise some sensible precautions, particularly for anyone who has breathing problems or a heart condition.“It’s a good idea to remain indoors during the worst of the heat during the day. It’s also advised to wear thin, light clothing, drink plenty of fluids and to eat normally, but perhaps more cold food than usual, particularly salads and fruit which contain a lot of water and help us stay hydrated.“We know that extreme heat can aggravate lung and heart conditions so our advice is to take care and if you are breathless, even after you have rested, to seek medical advice.”Related...
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Not at all.New figures released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that there are over 460 million people living with diabetes worldwide today.That’s a significant proportion of the world’s population, and globally, diabetes is one of the top ten causes of death.1 This shows it’s now more important than ever that people know how to prevent and manage this chronic and life-changing disease.The good news is that type 2 diabetes can, in many cases, be delayed, prevented, or even reversed.1 Making simple lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, maintaining a ‘healthy’ weight, reducing the amount of refined sugar in your diet, reducing alcohol consumption and smoking, or taking a suitable medication, can help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.Yet so few people are aware of this, it’s alarming.An international survey of over 9,000 people we conducted at Merck across 9 countries for World Diabetes Day showed a worrying lack of awareness: Over half (56%) of respondents were not aware the condition can be prevented and 41% were unaware of the steps that can be taken to prevent or delay its development.Professor Nam H. Cho, Immediate Past President at the IDF, comments: “We are proud of our ongoing collaboration with Merck.We are delighted with the high engagement at our IDF Congress this year, where the global diabetes community is united again to share best practice and debate issues related to this life-changing condition.”When we caught up with Professor Ian Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of St Andrews, UK, at the IDF Congress in Busan, South Korea, he added “We know that type 2 diabetes, and the complications associated with it, are on the rise in most countries.
Let's have a look at the countdown of "The Most Expensive Weddings Ever".Elizabeth Taylor and Larry FortneskyThe bride was a British-American actress who won the Academy Awards for Best Actress for Butterfield 8.The $25,000 pale yellow wedding dress of Taylor was a gift from Valentino, an Italian fashion designer.In this one of the most expensive wedding ever, Michael Jackson himself escorted the bride.Liza Minnelli and David GestLiza Minnelli, a famous American actor and singer married David Gest, an American concert promoter and media personality on 16th March, 2002 at the Regent Hotel in New York with 850 of their closest superstar friends.Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor were the best man and matron of honor.Pop icons Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston entertained 600 guests, charging $3 million per gig.Andrey and Aleksandra spent $29 million on their wedding making it one of most the luxurious wedding ever.Prince William and Kate MiddletonPrince William first met Kate Middleton in 2001 at the University of St. Andrews and began dating since early 2002.When Prince William, Duke of Cambridge announced to marry his long time girlfriend, Kate on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey, whole world was eager to see the royal wedding.The wedding was beyond the expectation of the world.
There are now less than 19 individual vaquita porpoises left in the wild, according to an alarming new survey.If fishing nets continue to be used illegally off the coast of Mexico, vaquita porpoises (Phocoena sinus) will likely become extinct within a year, according to new research published in Royal Society Open Science.As the new research shows, and despite measures taken by the Mexican government in 2015 to crack down on the use of illegal nets, the population of vaquita porpoises continues to decline.On average, females measure around 140 centimeters (55 inches) in length, while males are slightly shorter at 135 centimeters (53 inches) long.Vaquitas, which translates to “small cow” in Spanish, have a gray or white complexion, a tall dorsal fin, dark eye rings, and long flippers.To that end, they recorded the echolocating clicks made by vaquitas across a large grid of acoustic sensors spread across the water.
Listening to grey seals recite vowel sounds and sing the melodies to Star Wars and 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' makes for excellent entertainment, but for the researchers who trained these aquatic mammals, it’s serious science.The mockingbird, for example, famously mimics the sounds produced by other bird species, and sometimes even noises produced by human activity, like car alarms and police sirens.Some parrots and ravens are really good at imitating human speech but, for the most part, this is an ability that eludes most animals.That’s a shame, because it prevents scientists from studying vocal learning, a trait critical for language acquisition in nonhuman mammals.As new research published this week in Current Biology shows, grey seals appear to be an exception.In a series of tests, these mammals demonstrated a remarkable capacity to copy simple melodies and human formants, suggesting they’re very capable vocal learners.
Scientists in the U.K. have revealed that gray seals can mimic the sound of human words and songs such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and even the “Star Wars” theme.Researchers from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland worked with three gray seals, monitoring them from birth to determine their “natural repertoire.”The seals were then trained to copy the key elements of human sounds.MYSTERIOUS 'CAT-FOX' DISCOVERED, MAY BE A NEW SPECIESVideo footage of the project shows the seals’ remarkable musical talents.One of the seals, named Zola, can be seen copying the notes of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Another seal copies the famous “Star Wars” theme music.
Scotland’s University of Saint Andrews has been training seals to mimic human speech and songs.Seals Zola, Gandalf and Janice have been exercising their vocal chords for the study, which researchers hope can be used to study speech disorders in humans.HuffPost is part of Oath.Oath and our partners need your consent to access your device and use your data (including location) to understand your interests, and provide and measure personalised ads.Oath will also provide you with personalised ads on partner products.Select 'OK' to continue and allow Oath and our partners to use your data, or select 'Manage options' to view your choices.
A wearable non-invasive device based on near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) can be used to investigate blood volume and oxygenation patterns in freely diving marine mammals, according to a study publishing June 18 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by J. Chris McKnight of the University of St. Andrews, and colleagues.The results provide new insights into how voluntarily diving seals distribute blood and manage the oxygen supply to their brains and blubber, yielding important information about the basic physiological patterns associated with diving.In response to submersion in water, mammals show a suite of cardiovascular responses such as reduced heart rate and constriction of peripheral blood vessels.But investigating dive-by-dive blood distribution and oxygenation in marine mammals has up to now been limited by a lack of non-invasive technology that can be used in freely diving animals.The authors hypothesized that NIRS could address this gap in knowledge by providing high-resolution relative measures of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin within specific tissues, which can in turn be used to estimate changes in blood volume.In the new study, McKnight and colleagues adapted NIRS technology for use on freely diving harbor seals to investigate blood volume and oxygenation patterns specifically in the brain and blubber, using a device that they dub the PortaSeal.
More than 30 firefighters are tackling a major blaze in a science building at the University of St Andrews.Eight fire appliances were sent to the scene after reports of a fire involving suspected hazardous materials just before 5pm on Sunday.The biomedical sciences building is in the North Haugh area of the Fife town.The university said there were no reports of any injuries or anyone in the building.Images posted on social media showed flames in the windows of the building.Police are also at the scene.
The dream of the smart home is that every object in our houses can communicate with every other one.It also comes with security and privacy risks — not to mention the current smart hub war being waged between companies like Amazon and Apple to establish a dominant smart home platform.The miniature radar technology has been released from its Mountain View, CA, birthplace and is being explored by some select universities around the world.The results are pretty darn exciting.As exciting as the idea of gestural interfaces certainly is — allowing users to control their smart home devices through a kind of user interface performative dance — it took researchers based approximately 5,000 miles from Google’s main campus to truly get us excited about radar-powered computing.“Suddenly, every object in your home becomes a way to communicate with your computer.”
This is a big year for the Periodic Table of the Elements as the world celebrates the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev's creation.We can now lays eyes on a fascinating relic of its history.The University of St. Andrews in Scotland says it found and restored the world's oldest periodic table chart.St. Andrews detailed the find on Thursday, though chemist Alan Aitken uncovered the chart among a collection of old chemicals and lab gear in 2014 while cleaning out a storage area in the university's School of Chemistry.The chart was big and fragile and started to flake when handled.The university says the chart is similar to a second version of the table Mendeleev produced in 1871.
A classroom chart bearing an early version of the periodic table of elements has been discovered in a University of St. Andrews chemistry lab.Dating back to the 1880s, the chart is thought to be the world’s oldest.The storage room of the chemistry department at the Scottish university hadn’t been properly cleaned since the facility opened in 1968, prompting a months-long effort to tidy up back in 2014, according to a news release issued today by the University of St. Andrews.Among all the clutter that had collected over the years was a stash of rolled-up teaching charts.At top was a title written in German: “Periodische Gesetzmässigkeit der Elemente nach Mendeleieff,” which translates to “Periodic Regularity of the Elements according to Mendeleev.” The table was extremely brittle and fragile, and some pieces crumbled in Aitken’s hands during this initial handling.A detailed investigation into the chart and its origins has affirmed these suspicions.
Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health.But is this actually the case?A recent study from the University of Oxford, which analyzed data from 350,000 subjects in the U.K and United States, suggests we may be overstating their significance.While the researchers don’t deny that digital technologies can have a negative impact on young users, they conclude that it contributes just 0.4 percent toward a young person’s negative well-being.According to the study, digital technologies are far, far outstripped by other influences — including binge-drinking, marijuana use, and even the importance of a good breakfast.“I started working on this project in about September 2017, when there was massive coverage in the press of social media and its effects on teenagers, because of Jean Twenge’s book iGen,” Amy Orban, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends.
This is what the company is exploring via Project Soli, an experimental hardware program which uses miniature radar to detect movement, and which recently won approval from the FCC for further study.Imagining exactly how this tech will be put to use is tricky, but a group of researchers from the University of St Andrews in Scotland are exploring its limitations.In a paper published last month, they show how Project Soli hardware can be used for a range of precise sensing tasks.These including counting the number of playing cards in a deck, measuring compass orientation, and even discerning the specific configuration of a stack of Lego bricks.All this is done using the delicate radar readings from Google’s hardware, which the researchers incorporate into a system they call RadarCat.As with radar used to detect aircraft, the sensors fires harmless electromagnetic pulses at a target object, some of which are bounced back.