Tech Universe: Thursday 24 May

By Miraz Jordan

PROTEIN RANK: Google's known for its algorithms that choose relevant pages for search results, but the same algorithm could help find cancer. Researchers from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany modified Google's PageRank algorithm. Then they used it to rank 20,000 proteins by genetic relevance to the progression of pancreatic cancer. Their study found 7 proteins of particular interest. Like web pages, proteins connect via networks. Those connections helped the researchers determine which proteins had important roles. It always comes back to the maths. Medical Daily has more.

CLOUD DRIVE: Dragon Drive is a virtual personal assistant for your car. The software works over 3G or 4G with cloud-based language servers to understand and interpret commands. For example, you may dictate and send an SMS message to an address book contact, or have the app read you the news. Or you could ask for a particular music track that the app would find online so you could buy, download and play it. So long as it doesn't turn into a back-seat driver. GigaOM details. Check out the video.

THUMB TV: The Chinese MK802 a $74 USB thumb-drive sized computer.

It has a 1.5 GHz Allwiner A10 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and ships with Android 4.0. It also has an HDMI port, a microSD card slot, full-sized USB and micro USB ports and WiFi. It's being marketed as an Internet TV device. But someone's bound to come up with a much more interesting use for it soon. Liliputing explains.

CLEAN FOOD: Africa's first bio-ethanol cooking fuel plant has opened in central Mozambique. It produces clean, safe and cheap cooking fuel, replacing charcoal. Cassava from local farmers is refined into ethanol which is then distributed as cooking fuel. That should boost income for farmers, reduce pollution and save the lives lost to accidents with charcoal cookstoves. Presumably it saves a few trees too. Treehugger explains.

HUG A TURBINE: We think of wind turbines as those huge towers with majestic sweeping arms. Not the Enessere Hercules Wind Generator though. Its blades are curved in a spinning helix design like a hug, and stay close to the central tower. The 7 metre 5 kW wind turbine is intended for urban settings and can capture wind coming from any direction. Self-contained energy generation: beautiful. For further info visit Gizmodo.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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