Category: UNCATEGORIZED

27 Sep 2021

HP ZBook Studio G8 Review: Rock Solid Performance, Painful Price Tag

HP’s ZBook lineup — which encompasses the lightweight ZBook Firefly, the affordable ZBook Power, the powerful ZBook Fury, and the best-of-all-worlds ZBook Studio brands — doesn’t attract a lot of attention. As a mobile workstation-class device, the ZBook Studio is not as flashy as most gaming laptops or as affordable as most “creator” laptops, but in many ways, it’s better than both.

In the parlance of the tech nerd, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is a “mobile workstation.” On the hardware side, that typically means that you’re getting a Xeon processor, error-correcting (ECC) RAM, and an A-series or Quadro graphics card, paired with some sort of reliability testing (MIL-SPEC or MIL-STD), software certifications from major developers like Adobe, and an extended warranty. All of this usually comes attached to a price so high you’ll get altitude sickness if you stare at it for too long.

We don’t normally review mobile workstations on PetaPixel because the price increase associated with things like ECC memory and an enterprise GPU doesn’t translate into a measurable performance gain for photo and video editing, but HP did something interesting with the ZBook Studio G8: the company sort of split the difference.

The Studio G8 doesn’t use ECC memory or an Intel Xeon CPU, and it can be configured with a normal GeForce RTX 30-series GPU, but it still comes with all the other workstation perks. In other words: it offers the same performance as a high-end gaming laptop and the same sleek, professional design as a high-end consumer laptop, with better build quality, guaranteed reliability, and a longer warranty than either of the other categories. As a result, it comes in a little cheaper than similar options from, say, the Dell Precision lineup.

That’s not to say it’s cheap. The model HP sent us for review still costs an eye-watering $4,400:

Even if you downgrade some of the components, you’re still going to spend a lot of money. We actually asked the folks at HP to send us “Good, Better, Best” configuration options that they would recommend, and the most affordable of the bunch will still run you almost $2,800:

But that’s not to say that the price isn’t justified, or at least justifiable. From design to usability to raw performance, this laptop is fantastic. It’s just important to set expectations from the get-go: We’re not talking about a budget laptop today. We’re not even talking about a semi-affordable laptop. We’re talking about a mobile workstation that charges a substantial premium in exchange for professional-grade reliability and guaranteed performance.

If paying a $1,000 premium for MIL-STD reliability testing, software certifications, and an extended warranty sounds crazy to you, then a mobile workstation is the wrong choice and there’s no reason to read on. However, if that sounds like a reasonable investment and you like the fact that HP isn’t forcing you to throw additional money away on certain enterprise-grade specs you don’t want or need, then read on, because the HP ZBook Studio G8 turns out to be an excellent laptop for creative professionals.

Design and Build

There are only a few laptops that can compete with the likes of Apple and Razer when it comes to chassis design, but the HP ZBook Studio G8 is right up there with the best. The magnesium-and-aluminum alloy chassis is as rigid as a tank, extremely thin, and carved into a sharp design language that I loved from the moment I set eyes on this laptop.

Build quality really is top-notch. HP’s workstation-grade “Z” devices all undergo MIL-STD-810 testing, ensuring a level of reliability that surpasses anything you can expect from a standard consumer laptop. The MIL-STD-810 standard includes a suite of tests that check for resistance against vibration, dust, sand, humidity, altitude, drops, temperature shock, and even a “Freeze/Thaw” test.

Adding to the laptop’s reliability quotient is a three-year warranty direct from the manufacturer, a perk that usually costs extra (if it’s available at all) when you buy a consumer laptop.

Crack the ZBook Studio G8 open, and you’ll reveal an excellent keyboard that combines a satisfying click with a good amount of travel, zero mush, and per-key RGB lighting that gives the laptop just a little bit of gaming flare. The lighting is controlled by HP’s “OMEN” dashboard, and it’s a fun touch on an otherwise very professional-looking laptop.

This is accompanied by a slick, glass-topped trackpad that provides a precise and extremely well-optimized experience that can compete with the best-of-the-best. Because the speaker grill is positioned above the keyboard, the trackpad isn’t quite as big as the ones you’ll find on the latest Apple and Dell computers, but it was plenty big enough for me.

Port selection is solid, with only a little room for improvement. On the left side of the machine is an audio-combo jack, a USB Type-A port, and a Kensington lock; on the right side, you’ll find a sealable SD card slot, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4 port that’s connected directly to the GPU, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports that can carry 40Gbps of data, power, and a display signal.

My gripes are minimal. Mainly, I was annoyed that the Thunderbolt 4 ports are connected directly to the iGPU with no way to re-route that signal in the BIOS (this is according to HP). As a result, anyone using a high-end 4K external display will want to use the Mini DisplayPort for true 10-bit color or high refresh-rate gaming.

For that reason alone, I really wish that HP had included an HDMI 2.1 port in this configuration instead of the MiniDP port. None of the monitors I’ve ever reviewed came with a MiniDP to DP 1.4 cable in the box, wihch forces me to buy a new cable in order to get full performance out of the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG I was using when I reviewed this laptop and eliminates the option of using this as a “single-cable” setup with Thunderbolt providing data, display, and power.

Fortunately, the included display is more than good enough to do professional creative work. The model we’re testing includes a touch-enabled 4K AMOLED screen that was able to hit well over 100% sRGB, 99.9% DCI-P3, and 91.6% Adobe RGB with an excellent Delta E of less than 2 and a maximum brightness of ~400 nits.

If OLED isn’t your thing, the ZBook Studio G8 is also available with a 4K 120Hz “HP DreamColor” LCD display with an advertised peak brightness of 600 nits and 100% coverage of DCI-P3, or an even more affordable Full HD model that promises 100% coverage of sRGB.

It’s nice to see a manufacturer offer both a 4K LCD and a 4K OLED option with identical gamut coverage, as well as a more affordable (but still acceptable) Full HD option. If you’re sold on the peace of mind of a mobile workstation but hate the price tag it carries, the lower-end screen option opens the door to get creative with your configuration, especially if you plan to use an external display much of the time.

As for our 4K OLED unit, you can see the results from our DisplayCAL tests below:

The HP ZBook G8 covers 99.9% of DCI-P3 (left) and well over 100% of sRGB (right).

If there’s a big downside to the high-res screen on our model it’s probably battery performance, which is decidedly middle of the road.

As with other high-performance notebooks, the ZBook Studio’s 83WHr battery can’t support the computer’s full 110W TDP (30W to the CPU, 80W to the GPU), and when you’re pushing the computer to its battery-powered performance limit, you can expect no more than about two hours of intense photo editing. In a more reasonable, battery saver or balanced mode, I was able to get about six hours of use for writing, occasional content consumption, and light photo editing, but don’t expect this laptop to compete with something that’s powered by AMD.

Overall, I found a lot to love and very little to complain about when it comes to the design and build quality of the ZBook Studio G8. It’s an excellent laptop that felt like a little piece of military equipment with just enough design flare. The excellent keyboard and trackpad, the professional-grade display, and the dual Thunderbolt 4 ports all make it a solid contender for serious creative work.

Photo Editing Performance

Given the extremely thin design, I was skeptical that the HP would be able to squeeze every ounce of performance out of its Core i9-11950H and NVIDIA RTX 3070. I was only kind of right. In most of our benchmarks, the ZBook couldn’t quite out-perform the latest Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which technically uses an ever-so-slightly slower Core i9-11900H, but the thinner ZBook Studio was still able to churn out top-shelf performance numbers.

Whether you’re running Photoshop, Lightroom, or Capture One, you can expect the Studio G8 to fly through most photo and video editing tasks with ease, all while staying remarkably quiet compared to some of the gaming laptops I’ve tested.

For our comparisons today, we’re showing the results from the HP side-by-side with the same tests run on an M1 iMac, an AMD-powered ASUS Zephyrus G14, and the aforementioned Blade 15 Advanced. Full specs below:

Lightroom Classic

In our standard import and export tests, the ZBook clocked in a tiny bit slower than the Razer Blade, but faster than our other test machines. As a reminder, these tests consist of importing 110 61-megapixel Sony a7R IV and 150 100-megapixel PhaseOne XF RAW files, generating 1:1 (Lightroom Classic) or 2560px (Capture One Pro) previews, applying a custom-made preset with heavy global edits, and then exporting those same files as 100% JPEGs and 16-bit TIFFs.

You can see the results for Lightroom Classic below:

Capture One Pro

The story is even better in Capture One, where the computer’s RTX 3070 finally gets to flex its muscle.

As we’ve mentioned in several of our past reviews, Lightroom does not use any sort of GPU acceleration during import or export, relying exclusively on the performance of your CPU and RAM to generate the numbers you see above. However, Capture One does take advantage of the GPU, so when it comes time to export the heavily-edited Sony a7R IV and Phase One XF variants in C1, the HP ZBook Studio G8 was able to close the gap with the Blade and trade blows at the top of the pack.

The results are essentially a wash between the three PCs, all of which benefit from NVIDIA RTX 30 series GPUs, with the M1 iMac falling way behind:

Photoshop

Finally, we ran our usual Photoshop test: Puget Systems‘ industry-standard PugetBench benchmark.

PugetBench assigns an Overall and four Category scores after timing a wide variety of tasks including basic stuff like loading, saving, and resizing a large .psd, GPU-accelerated filters like Smart Sharpen and Field Blur, and heavily RAM-dependent tasks like Photo Merge. As we have in the past, we ran version 0.8 of this particular benchmark, because it was the last version to include a Photo Merge test.

As you can see, the powerful GPU, 32GB of 3200MHz RAM, and the NVIDIA RTX 3070 GPU come together to put up impressive numbers in every category tested:

Performance Takeaways

There’s no questioning the HP ZBook Studio G8’s performance chops. Is it the most powerful laptop money can buy? Definitely not. HP’s own ZBook Fury lineup, the Alienware x17, and the Lenovo Legion 7i (to name a few) can all be configured with more powerful (and power-hungry) CPU/GPU combinations that would no-doubt outperform the ZBook Studio. However, it’s awesome to see this kind of performance across the board from such a thin device.

This is seriously impressive photo editing performance packed inside of a chassis that’s thinner than we previously thought possible for an Intel-based workstation.

Excellent Design, Great Performance, Painful Price Tag

If you can stomach the price, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is a phenomenal laptop for photo and video editors who want great performance paired with guaranteed reliability. That latter point really matters to working pros, who often opt for high-end gaming laptops with less-than-ideal build quality and lower-quality displays in order to achieve this kind of performance.

However, even when you understand the benefits, the Studio G8’s price is really hard to swallow. The variant I tested here costs about $1,000 more than you would spend on an (already expensive) Razer Blade 15 Advanced with basically the same core specs, a more powerful GPU, faster PCIe Gen 4 storage, and a next-gen OLED display that covers 100% of both DCI-P3 and AdobeRGB.

You really have to value those un-sexy mobile workstation perks if you’re going to justify that kind of price hike.

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Thin, light, rugged design
  • Fantastic trackpad and keyboard
  • Multiple color-accurate display options
  • Solid port selection with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SD card slot
  • MIL-STD-810 tested
  • 3-year warranty included

Cons

  • No HDMI port
  • SSD is PCIe 3.0, not 4.0
  • RAM is not upgradable
  • Sky high price

I hate to spend so much time addressing a computer’s price since a lot more goes into judging the real-world value of a computer than the cost of its components, so in most cases, I’ll focus on performance and usability and leave the economic calculus to individual readers who have individual budgets and don’t give an individual damn whether I think a laptop is “reasonably priced.”

However, “mobile workstations” like the ZBook Studio G8 exist in a different economic reality, and it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of that reality before you either a) spend way too much on a laptop you don’t need, or b) ignore features and benefits that could make the laptop worth every last penny.

For me, a well-built consumer laptop is reliable enough. I simply don’t use my computers hard enough to justify the price jump and there are some really fantastic options out there. But if you’re a professional photographer or video editor who needs a well-rounded, rock-solid machine that will go with you everywhere for the next three to five years, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is worth a very close look. It’s cheaper than many of its direct competitors in the workstation-class, gives you a wider variety of configurations to choose from, and it churns out better performance than we expected from something so sleek.

Are There Alternatives?

Several major laptop makers have a workstation brand that offers similar benefits to the ZBook Studio. The most popular are probably Lenovo’s ThinkPads and Dell’s Precision lineup. As I mentioned earlier, these laptops usually swap NVIDIA’s GeForce graphics for a mobile Quadro or A-series GPU, sometimes they use error-correcting “ECC” RAM, and often they include longer warranties, the aforementioned military-grade certifications, and displays that put an emphasis on color and/or battery life over speed and/or gaming performance.

For photographers, we’d recommend avoiding anything with ECC memory, an Intel Xeon processor, or an A-series/Quadro card, simply because these upgrades tend to increase the price significantly without adding much to real-world photo and even video editing performance. An 11th-gen Core i7 or Core i9 CPU, DDR4 RAM and a GeForce RTX 30 series GPU is just fine. Instead, if you’re interested in a mobile workstation, focus more on features like a solid manufacturer warranty, standardized reliability testing, and a killer LCD or OLED display with close-to-100% coverage of either AdobeRGB or DCI-P3.

Many of HP’s ZBook-branded laptops, Dell’s Precision laptops, and several of Lenovo’s ThinkPad models trade blows here in a variety of price brackets and configurations, depending on the kind of CPU, GPU, and display performance you need.

If you’re not interested in a mobile workstation, you can find similar performance and solid build quality for a lot less money by purchasing a high-quality consumer or gaming laptop like the Dell XPS 15/17, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced and Razer Blade 17, or the ASUS Zephyrus G14/G15 (just to name a few). You’ll get a lot more performance-bang-for-your-buck by going with a “consumer” or “creator” laptop vs a proper “mobile workstation,” just be aware of what you’re giving up.

Should You Buy It

Yes.

The caveats above apply, but other than a few minor gripes that I mention above, I cannot fault this laptop. For creatives, it’s a workhorse. The ZBook Studio G8 delivered a lot more “umph” than I expected from such a thin and light chassis while staying relatively quiet, it looks and feels great, and it offers a good variety of configuration options that help you dial in a ratio of price-to-performance that works for you.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide if the un-glamorous benefits of a mobile workstation are worth the inflated price tag. But if they are, then I have no qualms recommending this laptop.



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27 Sep 2021

Bermuda Triangle mystery resolved?

A Science channel has reported that the mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle may have been solved.

The region is located near North America and has seen the disappearance of countless aeroplanes and ships.

According to a report, a group of scientists from the University of Colorado in the United States observed and studied the weather images, taken via satellite, where they saw unusual clouds over the region.

They claimed that the clouds are acting as “air bombs.”

Watch: Dajjal arrival, truth behind Bermuda Triangle mystery

It has been further mentioned that the wind speed can go above the 170 miles-per-hour mark and the waves can go over 45 ft. The report added that no ships or planes will be able to survive the wind force.

The Bermuda Triangle is unique as the clouds have straight edges.

The recent theory has laid the foundation for further investigation and research for solving the abnormalities surrounding the area.

Earlier, the wreckage of a coal ship that vanished in the Bermuda Triangle with 32 passengers onboard has been found by underwater explorers after nearly 100 years of its disappearance.

The steam-powered bulk carrier, SS Cotopaxi, set off for a journey from Charleston, South Carolina to Havana, Cuba and disappeared near Bermuda in 1925.

As usual, no one knew what happened to the ship or its crew as they were never found.

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27 Sep 2021

Instagram hits pause on kids version of app

Instagram is pausing work on a version for children younger than 13, called “Instagram Kids”, the Facebook-owned photo sharing app said on Monday.

Instagram Kids was touted to require parental permission to join, and provide ad-free, age-appropriate content, but US lawmakers and advocacy groups alike have urged the social media giant to drop its launch plans, citing safety concerns.

“We won’t stop pressuring Facebook until they permanently pull the plug,” said Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, an advocacy group focused on kids.

Instagram said in a blog post that building Instagram Kids was the right thing to do, but it was pausing the work and would continue building on its parental supervision tools.

“The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” it said.

The Wall Street Journal published a report earlier this month, focusing on data suggesting Instagram had a harmful effect on teenagers, particularly teen girls and that Facebook had made minimal efforts to address the issue. However, Facebook has said the report is inaccurate.

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27 Sep 2021

The social life of a vampire bat

When one thinks of vampire bats, friendship and cooperation may not be among the qualities that come to mind for these blood-feasting creatures of the night. But maybe they should.

Scientists have provided a deeper understanding of social relationships among vampire bats, showing how those that have forged bonds akin to “friendships” with others will rendezvous with these buddies while foraging for a meal.

Researchers attached small devices to 50 vampire bats to track nighttime foraging in Panama, when these flying mammals drink blood from wounds they inflict upon cattle in pastures. The study involved female bats, known to have stronger social relationships than males.

Among the bats were 23 wild-born individuals that had been kept in captivity for about two years during related research into bat social behavior. Social bonds already had been observed among some of them. After being released back into the wild, the bats were found to often join a “friend” during foraging, possibly coordinating the hunt.

“Each bat maintains its own network of close cooperative social bonds,” said behavioral ecologist Gerald Carter of the Ohio State University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, who led the research published in the journal PLoS Biology.

Social bonds among vampire bats as they roost in trees include grooming one another and regurgitating blood meals for hungry pals. The study showed that the social bonds formed in roosts extended into the hunt.

“This study opens up an exciting new window into the social lives of these animals,” Carter said.

The researchers suspect that the bats, while almost never departing on foraging forays with their “friends,” link up with them during the hunt – perhaps even recognizing one another’s vocalizations – for mutual benefit. They hypothesize the bats might exchange information about prey location or access to an open wound for feeding.

Vampire bats, which inhabit warmer regions of Latin America and boast wingspans of about 7 inches (18 cm), are the only mammals with a blood-only diet. They reside in colonies ranging from tens to thousands of individuals.

“People’s first reaction to vampire bats is usually, ‘Uh, scary.’ But once you tell them about their complex social lives, they are quite surprised that we can find such behavior that is somewhat similar to what humans do – and which one would maybe expect in primates – in bats,” said study co-author Simon Ripperger, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute post-doctoral researcher.

Ripperger called them “amazing creatures” for several reasons.

“Even besides their social lives, vampire bats are quite special: specializing in a diet of 100% blood is already quite rare among vertebrates,” Ripperger said. “They are amazing runners, which you wouldn’t expect in a bat. They have heat sensors in their snouts that help them find a spot to make a bite. They have a protein in their saliva that prevents blood from coagulation, which is actually being used in medical trials to help prevent blood clots in patients who suffered a stroke.”

The bats attack prey from the ground, using their sharp teeth to open a wound, lapping up blood with their tongues.

Carter said there is reason to fear vampire bats because they can transmit rabies to livestock and people.

“But I do think they are beautiful and interesting animals in their own right,” Carter added. “In this way they are a bit like grizzly bears, sharks, rats and venomous snakes: animals that might not help people in any way and might even endanger them, but should still be appreciated for their own sake.”

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27 Sep 2021

Study shows antibody growth from AstraZeneca, Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine mix

A small-scale clinical study of the combined use of the AstraZeneca and Sputnik Light vaccines against COVID-19 has shown strong antibody growth in a majority of the study’s participants, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said on Monday.

The data was collected from 20 people who took part in a 100-person study in Azerbaijan that began in February. They first received the AstraZeneca shot followed by the one-dose Russian-made Sputnik Light shot 29 days later, RDIF said.

“According to the results of the interim analysis, a fourfold or higher increase in neutralising antibodies to the spike protein (S-protein) of the SARS-CoV-2 was found in 85% of the volunteers on the 57th day of the study,” RDIF said.

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27 Sep 2021

Windows 11 gets an update for the better experience of Android users

Microsoft window 11

Your Phone software by Microsoft, which serves as a bridge between Android devices and Windows 10, is all set to get a makeover for Windows 11.

While things do not seem to have changed dramatically like new functionality is on the cards in the short term, we know a bit into the app at Microsoft’s recent Surface event as it still reminds us of its existence.

Your Phone app, too, gets a new look as do the other apps updated for Windows 11, with softer set of colors and rounded corners. However, it’s in the interface where the real improvement lies.

If you go into the app right now, you’ll see separate sections for Notifications, Messages, Calls. Also, Apps if you own a supported Samsung device or a Surface Duo. With the new version, XDA Developers spotted that notifications now feature along the left-hand side of the app, with can respond directly from your desktop or laptop.

Other items to have been relocated are Messages, Photos, Apps and Calls that now appear at the top of the screen. The now little less cluttered look should make the app a bit more accessible to newcomers. Although, it can be a bit confusing to those who have got used to the current layout.

From this brief glimpse it’s encouraging to see that the app hasn’t been forgotten about even if it doesn’t get so many changes, and while it’s understandably not as impressive as the synergy between iPhones and Macs (where things like iMessage and Photos are always in perfect sync), it’s still useful for those that spread their working life across form factors.

And with Microsoft fully on board with Android, having waved the white flag on Windows Phone some time ago, a lot more people can benefit.

Is it necessary?

Many have reportedly said they installed the Your Phone software for Windows 10 upon release, but haven’t booted it up again since. Why? Because the stuff they thought they needed it for already has perfectly good systems in place.

But for some it will prove invaluable, and that — combined with the upcoming Android app support for Windows 11 — makes Microsoft’s OS a natural home for Android users.

Microsoft Windows 11 will be released on October 5 as a free upgrade to Windows 10, but the rollout is going to be staggered, so don’t expect to see it on your screen immediately unless you buy a new device — such as Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 8, Surface Pro X, Surface Go 3 or the innovative new Surface Laptop Studio.

27 Sep 2021

WhatsApp will stop working on some Android phones

Another year is about to end in the next three months, which means there is another cycle of WhatsApp’s end of support for some Android smartphones and iPhones. After November 1, 2021, the messaging app will not work on some of the Android versions. 

WhatsApp is used to removing the support for specific Android versions. This is a common technique because developers always prefer to support the newest OS updates, and it’s hard to always support old versions. It’s the case of Android OS 4.0.4 and older versions: WhatsApp has announced that they will no longer support Android phones running those versions after a new WhatsApp beta for Android update.

Read more: This WhatsApp feature lets users quickly access important messages

What can you do to continue using WhatsApp on those versions? Unfortunately, you won’t be able to update WhatsApp after November 1, 2021, and your current WhatsApp update is going to expire after a certain date.

You need to switch to a new Android device on a supported Android version if your device is old, so be sure to back up your chat history. Note that WhatsApp is also going to support chat history migration from Android to iOS in a future update if you’re interested to switch to iPhone.

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25 Sep 2021

How a plant virus could help stop cancers from reaching the lungs

Using a virus that grows in black-eyed pea plants, nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego developed a new treatment that could keep metastatic cancers at bay from the lungs.

The treatment not only slowed tumor growth in the lungs of mice with either metastatic breast cancer or melanoma, it also prevented or drastically minimized the spread of these cancers to the lungs of healthy mice that were challenged with the disease.

The research was published Sept. 14 in the journal Advanced Science.

Cancer spread to the lungs is one of the most common forms of metastasis in various cancers. Once there, it is extremely deadly and difficult to treat.

Researchers at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering developed an experimental treatment that combats this spread. It involves a bodily injection of a plant virus called the cowpea mosaic virus. The virus is harmless to animals and humans, but it still registers as a foreign invader, thus triggering an immune response that could make the body more effective at fighting cancer.

The idea is to use the plant virus to help the body’s immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells in the lungs. The virus itself is not infectious in our bodies, but it has all these danger signals that alarm immune cells to go into attack mode and search for a pathogen, said Nicole Steinmetz, professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and director of the university’s Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering.

To draw this immune response to lung tumors, Steinmetz’s lab engineered nanoparticles made from the cowpea mosaic virus to target a protein in the lungs. The protein, called S100A9, is expressed and secreted by immune cells that help fight infection in the lungs. And there is another reason that motivated Steinmetz’s team to target this protein: overexpression of S100A9 has been observed to play a role in tumor growth and spread.

“For our immunotherapy to work in the setting of lung metastasis, we need to target our nanoparticles to the lung,” said Steinmetz. “Therefore, we created these plant virus nanoparticles to home in on the lungs by making use of S100A9 as the target protein. Within the lung, the nanoparticles recruit immune cells so that the tumors don’t take.”

“Because these nanoparticles tend to localize in the lungs, they can change the tumor microenvironment there to become more adept at fighting off cancer — not just established tumors, but future tumors as well,” said Eric Chung, a bioengineering Ph.D. student in Steinmetz’s lab who is one of the co-first authors on the paper.

To make the nanoparticles, the researchers grew black-eyed pea plants in the lab, infected them with cowpea mosaic virus, and harvested the virus in the form of ball-shaped nanoparticles. They then attached S100A9-targeting molecules to the surfaces of the particles.

The researchers performed both prevention and treatment studies. In the prevention studies, they first injected the plant virus nanoparticles into the bloodstreams of healthy mice, and then later injected either triple negative breast cancer or melanoma cells in these mice. Treated mice showed a dramatic reduction in the cancers spreading to their lungs compared to untreated mice.

In the treatment studies, the researchers administered the nanoparticles to mice with metastatic tumor in their lungs. These mice exhibited smaller lung tumors and survived longer than untreated mice.

What’s remarkable about these results, the researchers point out, is that they show efficacy against extremely aggressive cancer cell lines. “So any change in survival or lung metastasis is pretty striking,” said Chung. “And the fact that we get the level of prevention that we do is really, really amazing.”

Steinmetz envisions that such a treatment could be especially helpful to patients after they have had a cancerous tumor removed. “It wouldn’t be meant as an injection that’s given to everyone to prevent lung tumors. Rather, it would be given to patients who are at high risk of their tumors growing back as a metastatic disease, which often manifests in the lung. This would offer their lungs protection against cancer metastasis,” she said.

Before the new treatment can reach that stage, the researchers need to do more detailed immunotoxicity and pharmacology studies. Future studies will also explore combining this with other treatments such as chemotherapy, checkpoint drugs or radiation.

Paper: “S100A9-Targeted Cowpea Mosaic Virus as a Prophylactic and Therapeutic Immunotherapy Against Metastatic Breast Cancer and Melanoma.” In addition to Young Hun (Eric) Chung, co-first authors of the study include Jooneon Park and Hui Cai. Nicole Steinmetz serves as the corresponding author of this work.

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25 Sep 2021

New tech to prevent Li-ion battery fires

Materials scientists from Nanyang Technological University Singapore have found a way to prevent internal short-circuits, the main cause of fires in Li-ion batteries.

Billions of Li-ion batteries are produced annually for use in mobile phones, laptops, personal mobile devices, and the huge battery packs of electric vehicles and aircraft.

This global battery demand is set to grow, with electric vehicles alone requiring up to 2,700 GWh worth of Li-ion batteries a year by 2030, equivalent to some 225 billion mobile phone batteries.

Even with an estimated failure rate of less than one-in-a-million, in 2020 there were 26 power-assisted bicycle (PAB) fires and 42 cases of personal mobility device fires in Singapore.

In most Li-ion battery fires, the cause is due to a build-up of lithium deposits known as dendrites (tiny wire-like tendrils) that cross the separator between the positive (cathode) and negative (anode) electrodes of the battery when it is being charged, causing a short-circuit leading to an uncontrolled chemical fire.

To prevent such battery fires, NTU scientists invented a patent-pending “anti-short layer” that can be easily added inside a Li-ion battery, preventing any future short-circuits from occurring during the charging process.

This concept is akin to adding a slice of cheese to a hamburger’s meat patty in between the buns, thus the new “anti-short layer” can be rapidly adopted in current battery manufacturing.

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25 Sep 2021

Here’s how you can upgrade to Windows 11 early

Microsoft will begin rolling out Windows 11 on October 5.  However, the company has finalised the new version and released it to its Release Preview channel.

You can switch to the Release Preview in Windows 10 and get the free Windows 11 upgrade early.

Here’s how you can get the free Windows 11 upgrade:

  • First you need to see if your PC is compatible with Windows 11 using Microsoft’s PC Health App (download here).
  • If your PC is compatible, you will have to register as a Windows Insider at Microsoft’s site to get the upgrade early.
  • On the existing 10 PC, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program

  • Click the “Get Started” button and link the Microsoft account you used to sign up to be a Windows Insider
  • Select the Release Preview ring when asked to pick your Insider settings
  • Agree to Microsoft terms and then reboot your computer
  • Go to Settings > Update & Security, and you will see a new banner with the option update to Windows 11
  • Download and install option and follow the prompts to get the new operating system early

After upgrading to Windows 11, you can then go to Settings > Windows Update and select “Stop getting preview builds” to unenroll from the preview updates for Windows 11 and remain on the final version.

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