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Solar eclipse gives NASA a rare opportunity to study Mercury

Engadget - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:02
While you're stuck on Earth during today's solar eclipse, NASA jets will be performing a tricky science experiment on the Sun and its closest companion, Mercury. A pair of them will take off this morning from Houston's Johnson Space Center and follow...
Categories: Nerd News

Simple Arduino Digital Clock Without RTC

AdaFruit - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:00

A great beginners project by Techno on Hackster.io

It’s just a simple digital clock controlled by Arduino without using any RTC module (Real Time Clock). Every time you switch on this clock you’ve to set it to the present time, just like the analog clocks found in homes.

My aim is to give beginners some understanding on how to work with Arduino using only simple materials and without lots of Incomprehensible codes. So let’s start.

See the full tutorial here.

Featured Adafruit Product!

Assembled Standard LCD 16×2 + extras – White on Blue: Standard HD44780 LCDs are useful for creating standalone projects. This product is similar to our Standard LCD 16×2 display but comes with the header soldered on! Read more.

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Barclays customers can now ask Siri to make payments for them

Engadget - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 05:10
In today's edition of companies making it all too easy for us to spend money, Barclays has added a feature to its iOS app that will debit your account after hearing you utter but a few words. Or, less sinisterly put, Barclays' mobile banking app now...
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Big Ben renovation: London’s famous clock tower is falling silent until 2021

AdaFruit - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 05:00

The clock tower will cease it’s normal ringing schedule for the sake of repair workers, from Quartz.

It has chimed on the hour for 157 years, but London’s Big Ben will fall silent next week until 2021.

Big Ben, the nickname for the bell inside the Elizabeth Tower of Parliament, will ring for the final time next Monday (August 21) at midday ahead of four-years of extensive renovation works.

The decision was taken to stop ringing the bell in order to protect the hearing of those working on cleaning and repairing the clock. And while Londoners will miss the familiar chimes of Big Ben on a daily basis, the bell will only ring for special occasions, including the city’s New Year celebrations and Remembrance Sunday.

Steve Jaggs, known as Keeper of the Great Clock (a pretty great job title we’re sure you’ll agree), told BBC News that the renovation works are “essential” and will “safeguard the clock on a long-term basis.”

Read more.

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Adam Savage Learns How Records Are Made with Jack White #MusicMonday

AdaFruit - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 05:00

This video takes you through the whole process of creating a vinyl record from recording, pressing and processing. Via Tested on YouTube:

In Detroit, Adam stops by Jack White’s Third Man Records, the first new record-pressing plant in the United States in three decades! In a truly immersive tour, Adam records his Brain Candy song and then follows his record’s eventual process from lathe to cellophane. Bonus: Adam also chats with Jack White about how recording this way impacts the creative process!

For more on Third Man Records, visit their site: https://thirdmanrecords.com/

See more.

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The Morning After: Monday, August 21st 2017

Engadget - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 05:00
Welcome to Monday. The new Xbox One X is ready for pre-order, and Microsoft's talking up its features.
Categories: Nerd News

Star Wars / Stranger Things Mashup #MusicMonday

AdaFruit - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 04:00

Yes, you probably want to to hear this Star Wars / Stranger Things mashup mixed live by Kebu, via MATRIXSYNTH

“Filmed live at Theaterhaus Stuttgart, T4, 4.6.2017.
Music:
Star wars ‘The Force’ theme by John Williams / Stranger Things by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Arrangement & performance: Kebu
Lights: Sebastian Baba Sjöblom (Bitoz.fi)
Visuals: Jørgen L. Ellefsen
cameras: Thierry Miguet, Antje Höhne

Categories: Nerd News

FBI reportedly advising companies to ditch Kaspersky apps

Engadget - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 03:33
Kaspersky Lab's tussle with the US government could have ramifications for its dealings with the private sector. A new report claims the FBI has been meeting with companies to warn them of the threat posed by the cybersecurity firm. The briefings are...
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Elon Musk Backs Call For A Global Ban On Killer Robots

Slashdot - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 02:30
An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Tesla boss Elon Musk is among a group of 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence companies who are calling on the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons. "Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend," the experts warn in an open letter released Monday... "Unlike other potential manifestations of AI, which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability," said Ryan Gariepy, the founder of Clearpath Robotics and the first person to sign the letter. More than a dozen countries -- including the United States, China, Israel, South Korea, Russia and Britain -- are currently developing autonomous weapons systems, according to Human Rights Watch.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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HTC cuts the Vive VR headset's price to $599

Engadget - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 02:01
You knew HTC wouldn't let the Oculus Rift's price cut go unanswered for long. As of today, HTC has permanently lowered the price of the Vive headset by $200, to $599. That's still $100 more than you'd pay for a Rift/Touch combo, but it's far easier t...
Categories: Nerd News

Intel's eighth-gen CPUs will be more powerful than we thought

Engadget - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 02:01
Earlier this year, we didn't expect much from Intel's upcoming eighth-generation Core processors. But at Computex in May, the company surprised us all by revealing they'll be 30 percent faster than last year's chips. That alone would have been notabl...
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TechCrunch on the Future of Drone Delivery #drone #droneday

AdaFruit - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 02:00

From TechCrunch:

The last obstacle the drone industry will have to overcome is trust.

To begin with, earning the ear (and goodwill) of regulators demands a demonstrable commitment to public safety. This means more data, more third-party validation and more edge cases covered. The industry will need more research to get the sign-off from regulators on autonomous flights.

Yet it may be equally challenging to earn the trust of customers. Like any new technology, the specifics of large-scale drone operations remain a mystery to consumers. If industry leaders aren’t 100 percent sure of how drones will work in society, it’s no surprise the average consumer still views the tech with healthy skepticism.

It will take time and effort to win the trust of potential customers. More flights are required to make the public aware of this new technology. Right now, consumer drones cause concern for some bystanders — imagine the chaos a fleet would cause.

Read more

Welcome to drone day on the Adafruit blog. Every Monday we deliver the latest news, products and more from the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), quadcopter and drone communities. Drones can be used for video & photography (dronies), civil applications, policing, farming, firefighting, military and non-military security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. Previous posts can be found via the #drone tag and our drone / UAV categories.

Categories: Nerd News

Impressive Wooden Domino Row Building Machine

AdaFruit - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 01:00

Fantastic build and write-up from engineer Matthias Wandel.

I first built a domino row building machine of this type in 1985 out of Lego, then built it again from memory in 2009 to make a video of it

The machine works by pushing a magazine full of dominoes forward along the table while a slider pushes them out one at a time as the machine slowly drives along.

Read more.

Categories: Nerd News

Microsoft Surface 3 10.8" 64GB Tablet

Woot Blog - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 00:00

On the surface, it looks like a pretty good tablet. But under the surface, it also looks like a pretty good tablet.

We gathered a panel of experts to evaluate the Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet, here's what they had to say...

EXPERT 1: Wow, look at this...is this a computer?

EXPERT 2: Excuse me, how long will this take? You said you have some information about my lost dog?

EXPERT 3: I am a dinosaur fossil expert, I don't know why I'm here.

 

Categories: Nerd News

Sound Reactive NeoPixels in a PC #NeoPixels #MusicMonday

AdaFruit - Mon, 08/21/2017 - 00:00

From Liz – Blitz City DIY on Hackster.io:

Foreword

For those that are not into PC gaming, you may not be aware that there is a large DIY PC community based around the idea that you should build your own PC to get the best price to performance for tasks like gaming, media creation and things like that. Attached to the performance benefits are also aesthetics. People spend a lot of time and money to make sure their PC looks the sleekest, whether it be a matching color theme for all of the components, cable management or one of the newer features: RGB LEDs. There’s even software and special headers on the motherboards to support the RGB craze. The issue though is that different bits of software have different features or require different hardware to control the LED strips. There are also different voltages of LED strips (12V vs. 5V depending) depending on the brand, so you end up committing to one version of a platform depending on your brand choice and of course there’s a premium for the options with the most features. The LED strips from these companies also tend to be on the shorter side, often requiring 3-4 to make it around the perimeter of your case and you’re paying a premium for the compatibility with that company’s software and/or hardware.

Project Background

I wanted LEDs in my case but didn’t want to go down the routes that were available from the various companies, especially when I saw a demo of the effects that the different software suites were capable of. I quickly realized that you could achieve the same effects with Adafruit’s NeoPixels and an Arduino with nicer looking results, more control and a lot cheaper. This is a great sub-in solution for probably the PC community’s best option at this time: an NZXT Hue+, which is basically a microcontroller in a box that mounts in a hard drive bay and controls your lights with a software suite. I actually entitle my videos for this project on YouTube with a reference to this product in an attempt to let the PC DIY community that DIY options are available.

One thing that I wanted to achieve with my iteration of the lights was to have them react to music. This was an effect that was really lacking in the commercial offerings and I was pretty sure I could do it with the MSGEQ7 IC from Sparkfun, which allows you to build audio spectrum analyzers by taking an audio input signal and splitting it out into 7 bands on the audio spectrum. I had used the MSGEQ7 in my very first Arduino project that wasn’t just an example sketch. I had built a circuit with 14 LEDs (2 for each band on the audio spectrum) and had it react to music. At the time I was still in college so this was quite useful for parties. I basically wanted to port this concept over to the NeoPixels so that individual pixels on the strand would react to different bands on the audio spectrum.

Read more and see more from Blitz City DIY on YouTube

Featured Adafruit Product!

Adafruit Pro Trinket – 5V 16MHz: Trinket’s got a big sister in town – the Pro Trinket 5V! Pro Trinket combines everything you love about Trinket with the familiarity of the common core Arduino chip, the ATmega328. It’s like an Arduino Pro Mini with more pins and USB tossed in, so delicious. (read more)

Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strips – See our full selection here!

Categories: Nerd News

#BackToSchool Accessories to Get You in the Groove for Going Back to School

AdaFruit - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 23:30

It’s nearly time to go back to school! Whether it’s in your backpack or on your maker-bench, below are my top choices for #BackToSchool accessories – and yes, I consider a book an accessory. (Frankly I consider books a necessity, especially the first one listed below!) Leave a comment below if you know an accessory you highly recommend!

For the second year in a row this book graces the top of my #BackToSchool necessities list. This book is an absolute essential. From knots to airport codes to glues & solvents to volcanic explosive indexes (VEIs, because hey, when you need to know VEIs you need to know VEIs!), this ‘pocket reference’ book has a little bit of everything. And I guarantee given the wealth and depth of information contained in this pocket-sized book that what you don’t already know you will be intrigued by!

Have you ever wanted comprehensive information on a diverse amount of subjects in a pocket sized, well-organized format…and not had a cell phone signal or internet connection?

Look no further! This pocket reference book is actually incredibly cool – even if you have a smart phone, wear a pair of Google glass, have read all of Wikipedia, etc. It’s 864 pages of comprehensive tables, maps, formulas, constants, conversions, everything! There are knot tying diagrams, pictures of airplane signals, the dictionary of American sign language, spice scales for hot peppers – the list goes on and on and on.

Open to a random page and learn something new. Or use its comprehensive index to find exactly what you’re looking for. The book’s been around since 1989 and has gone through numerous printings and refinements – to the point now where this edition contains just about the best, and most concise, amount of information.

Best of all, it weighs about a half a pound, fits in your shirt pocket, and has a sturdy black cover. It’s kind of the perfect addition to your everyday outfit.

Get it here.

In stock since earlier this year, Encyclopedia of Electronic Components Volume 3 is, as the name suggest, volume 3 in the series – volumes 1 & 2 are here and here respectively. Volume 3 focuses on all-things-sensors and is as good as they come from Charles Platt, with fantastic pictures and illustrations, and easy-to-read (and understand!) text.

Want to know how to use an electronic component? The Encyclopedia of Electronic Components Vol. 3 by Charles Platt and Fredrik Jansson includes key information on electronics parts for your projects–complete with photographs, schematics, and diagrams. You’ll learn what each one does, how it works, why it’s useful, and what variants exist. No matter how much you know about electronics, you’ll find fascinating details you’ve never come across before.

Check it out here.

The 6″ version 2 Adafruit PCB ruler looks and feels great – fabricated on FR-4 PCB. It’ll definitely catch the eyes of your peers, and it’s functional too – note the inches are spaced in 1/10th sections.

The first time you soldered up a surface mount component you may have been surprised “these are really small parts!” and there’s dozens of different names too! QFN, TDFN, SOIC, SOP, J-Lead, what do they mean and how can you tell how big they are? Now you can have a reference board at your fingertips, with this snazzy PCB reference ruler.

Measuring approx 1″ x 6″, this standard-thickness FR4, gold plate ruler has the most common component packages you’ll encounter. It also has font size guide, trace-width diagram, and a set of AWG-sized drills so you can gauge your wire thicknesses.

New! As of Sept 15, 2014 we’re now shipping v2 which is basically the same thing as the original but Inches are marked with 1/10″ rather than the more common 1/8″. The centimeter side is still 0.1cm marks.

Check it out here.

We sell a straight-tip version of this hand tool as well, but I absolutely adore these curved ESD-safe tweezers. You can use them to pick up all types of teeny tiny components with relative ease.

When soldering small surface-mount (SMD/SMT) components, one thing you’ll need is a good pair of tweezers. These are a great pair of every-day tweezers. They’re anti-static, anti-magnetic and made of hard stainless steel. The tips are fine and pointy to pick up any size component. This particular model is 120mm long with a 9mm / 0.35″ gap at the tips while open, this allows it to pick up components with better precision for placement and steadying during soldering.

Check it out here.

This ‘Pana Hand’ add-on will revolutionize your Panavise-based assembly. It attaches to the multi-purpose work center or junior with ease, and will make you into a Hecatoncheires of making with more arms and hands than you can count!

We’ve really gotta HAND it to them, the Third Hand Pana Workstation brings the benefits of the Super Fancy Third Hand Kit to the PanaVise line of work holding vises. This is the most luxurious desktop work-holding solution we’ve laid our hands on.

Check it out here.

If you don’t have a Panavise work center or junior but do have a metal top (or side) on your workbench, consider this helping hand with a magnetic base – it’ll securely attach to any ferrous surface and quickly gives you an extra pair of hands to work with.

This Mag Helper features a neodymium magnetic base and a Y-connector to support two arms to help you in the tightest of situations. The clips can swivel 360 degrees and are covered in heat resistant silicone to prevent melting or marring while you work.

Check it out here.

OK now for some fun stuff: components! (aka toys!) For starters I’m plugging the discreet and incredibly useful photoresistor. I cannot exclaim this component enough. Whether it’s integrated with a digital microcontroller or part of an entirely analog circuit design, you’ll have so much fun experimenting with and tinkering with this component – check out our Learn Guide on them for some inspiration.

CdS cells are little light sensors. As the squiggly face is exposed to more light, the resistance goes down. When its light, the resistance is about 5-10KΩ, when dark it goes up to 200KΩ.

To use, connect one side of the photo cell (either one, its symmetric) to power (for example 5V) and the other side to your microcontroller’s analog input pin. Then connect a 10K pull-down resistor from that analog pin to ground. The voltage on the pin will be 2.5V or higher when its light out and near ground when its dark.

Check it out here.

Another under-rated component that’s incredibly useful once you tinker and experiment with it is the PIR sensor – these components also come with a fantastic Learn Guide for … learning about them.

PIR sensors are used to detect motion from pets/humanoids from about 20 feet away (possibly works on zombies, not guaranteed). This one has an adjustable delay before firing (approx 2-4 seconds), adjustable sensitivity and we include a 1 foot (30 cm) cable with a socket so you can easily reposition the sensor or mount it using the two drills on either side

Check it out here.

Another fun component to learn with is the TMP36, an analog temperature sensor – also with a great Learn Guide here. Housed in a TO-92 package, these resemble your more common NPN or PNP transistors, but have ‘TMP’ for temperature stamped on them. Temperature correlates to output voltage, and the operating Celsius temperature range is from -50 to 125, so they’re useful for a wide range of applications.

Wide range, low power temperature sensor outputs an analog voltage that is proportional to the ambient temperature. To use, connect pin 1 (left) to power (between 2.7 and 5.5V), pin 3 (right) to ground, and pin 2 to analog in on your microcontroller. The voltage out is 0V at -50°C and 1.75V at 125°C. You can easily calculate the temperature from the voltage in millivolts: Temp °C = 100*(reading in V) – 50

Check it out here.

Thinking ahead to projects on your horizon, if you want to do anything that moves you’ll likely want a servo motor. As the name implies these are small, but that makes them able to fit in tight places, with the unit being not much bigger than an American quarter coin! So if you need motor control in a face mask, costume prop, or small robot you’ll want to check these out.

Tiny little servo can rotate approximately 180 degrees (90 in each direction), and works just like the standard kinds you’re used to but smaller. You can use any servo code, hardware or library to control these servos. Good for beginners who want to make stuff move without building a motor controller with feedback & gear box, especially since it will fit in small places. Of course, its not nearly as strong as a standard servo. Works great with the Motor Shield for Arduino or by just wiring up with the Servo library. Comes with a few horns and hardware.

Check it out here.

I’m gonna finish with perhaps the best underdog of them all: the perma-proto boards. Once you build on perma-proto you’ll be hooked. We sell all kinds of boards, from 1/4 to 1/2 to full-size proto-boards, from flexible ones to ones that fit in mint tins. Perma-protos solve the issue of transplanting your prototyping circuit off the breadboard by essentially replicating the layout of the breadboard with a through-hole perfboard solution.

Customers have asked us to carry basic perf-board, but we never liked the look of most basic perf: its always crummy quality, with pads that flake off and no labeling. Then we thought about how people actually prototype – usually starting with a solderless breadboard and then transferring the parts to a more permanent PCB. That’s when we realized what people would really like is a proto board that makes it easy!

Check them out here.

August is Back to School Month here at Adafruit! Each week we’ll be bringing you a two #BackToSchool posts on the blog! Stay tuned for product and gift guides, tutorials from the Adafruit Learning System, and inspiration from around the web! Get started by checking out Adafruit’s educational resources, such as our kits and project packs, suggested products for young engineers, blog posts for educators and an extensive selection of books to help you learn!

Categories: Nerd News

Adafruit Featured in Smart Company’s 5 Female-Led Tech Businesses Aiming to Change the World

AdaFruit - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 23:00

Nice write up from Smart Company!

There has been lots of media coverage about sexism in the tech industry lately, and while it’s important to highlight and discuss these issues, it’s also important to acknowledge some of the good news stories too.

The struggle for recognition and reward women face, in the tech sector especially, is being played out in a very public and acrimonious Silicon Valley culture war.

We’ve seen the toxic culture of sexism exposed at Uber, leading to the depature of its co-founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick. Major figures in the Silicon Valley startup culture Dave McClure and Chris Sacca have faced allegations of making inappropriate sexual advances towards female startup founders. And only last week, Google fired one its employees for publishing an essay that was critical of the company’s progressive policies in regard to gender and diversity.

These incidents are no doubt just the tip of the iceberg and we’ll probably see more as Silicon Valley and the broader tech sector attempts to build a more inclusive and equitable culture.

However, it’s worth highlighting the people doing great things too, if only to remind us that so much is possible for women now. Things have actually got better. I know, it’s happening too slowly. But it is happening.

In an inspirational essay written two years ago titled “Tech Women Choose Possibility”, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder and chief executive of video shopping enterprise Joyus, says it can be easy to focus entirely on the negative, which ends up obscuring the positive stories about women in tech businesses.

“Looking at the press, one might think women entrepreneurs are not only hard to find, but struggling to succeed. If we want to progress the path of potential women founders, it is equally important to bring this perspective to the table,” she said.

There are thousands of women out there proving they can built great tech companies too. We don’t always hear about these businesses, but if you take a little time to go looking (as I did) you soon discover all kinds of vibrant and inspiring stories about women building companies that have the potential to be world-beaters.

Here are five businesses led by women all at different stages in their journey, from community-based startups through to billion-dollar enterprises. While they come from a variety of industries, the transformative power of tech is definitely at the heart of each of these businesses….

Adafruit — founded by Limor Fried

Adafruit makes DIY electronics kits that combine electrical engineering with an eye for the arty. Founded in 2005 by Limor Fried, Adafruit aims to make learning about electronics fun and creative for people of all ages. In 2011, Fried was the first woman ever to appear on the cover of Wired magazine and she was Entrepreneur Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. She is regarded as one of the leading lights of the “maker movement”, which encourages people to make their own tech-inspired projects and is an advocate of open source hardware community.

Read more.

Categories: Nerd News

Replacement screens can be used to hijack your phone

Engadget - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 22:58
A new study has shown that one of the most common fixes to a stock smartphone ailment can be used to steal your data, and compromise your device. In the newly published paper, researchers from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev reveal how a...
Categories: Nerd News

Plex Responds, Will Allow Users To Opt Out Of Data Collection

Slashdot - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 22:34
stikves writes: This weekend Plex had announced they were implementing a new privacy policy, including removing the ability for opting out of data collection and sharing. Fortunately the backlash here, on their forums, Reddit, and other placed allowed them to offer a more sensible state, including bringing back opt-out, and anonymity of some of the data. Plex CEO Keith Valory wrote Saturday that some information must be transferred just to provide the service -- for example, servers still check for updates, they have to determine whether a user has a premium Plex Pass, and "we have to provide accurate reporting to licensors for things like trailers and extras, photo tagging, lyrics, licensed codecs and so on... [W]e came to the conclusion that providing an 'opt out' in the set-up gives a false sense of privacy and feels disingenuous on our part. That is, even if you opted out, there is still a bunch of data we are collecting that we tried to call out as exceptions." But to address concerns about data collection, Plex will make new changes to their privacy policy: [I]n addition to providing the ability to opt out of crash reporting and marketing communications, we will provide you the ability to opt out of playback statistics for personal content on your Plex Media Server, like duration, bit rate, and resolution in a new privacy setting... we are going to "generalize" playback stats in order to make it impossible to create any sort of "fingerprint" that would allow anyone to identify a file in a library... Finally, in the new privacy tab in the server settings we will provide a full list of all product events data that we collect... Our intention here is to provide full transparency. Users will have one place where they can see what data is being collected and where they can opt out of playback data that they are not comfortable with." And he emphasized that "we will never sell or share data related to YOUR content libraries."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Nerd News

EGG – Gut Monitoring Using Electrical Signals

AdaFruit - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 22:20

Photo Credit: Biopac Systems

Found on QuantifiedSelf :

Our guts can be monitored much like our brains thanks to the number of nerve endings which produce electrical signals. The technology that allows for this is called (EGG) electrogastrogram.

PubMed Abstract:

Despite its simplicity and noninvasiveness, the use of the electrogastrogram (EGG) remains limited in clinical practice for assessing gastric disorders. Recent studies have characterized the occurrence of spatial gastric myoelectric abnormalities that are ignored by typical approaches relying on time-frequency analysis of single channels.

Read More @ PubMed

Wikipedia for EGG:

Slow wave frequency varies in the different organs of the GI tract and is characteristic for that organ. They set the maximum frequency at which the muscle can contract:

  • stomach – about 3 waves in a minute,
  • duodenum – about 12 waves in a minute,
  • jejunum – about 11 waves in a minute.[3]
  • ileum – about 8 waves in a minute,
  • rectum – about 17 waves in a minute.[4]
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