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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Mindjack Media Recommendations
We've just added a new sidebar blog to Daily Relay featuring media recommendations from Mindjack staff members. Here you'll find tiny reviews of movies, music, books, games, and just about anything else we've been enjoying. As an added benefit, if you buy any of the products featured through these links you'll be helping to support Mindjack.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12:37 AM Comments (0)
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Monday, August 30, 2004

96 Processors Under Your Desktop
A small Santa Clara-based company, Orion Multisystems, today unveils a new concept in computing, 'cluster workstations.' In October, you'll be able to choose between a 12-processor unit for less than $10,000 or a 96-processor system for less than $100,000. These new systems are powered by Efficeon processors from Transmeta and are running Fedora Linux version 2.6.6.

Apparently, this new company has friends in the industry. You already can read articles in CNET News.com ("A renaissance for the workstation?"), the New York Times ("A PC That Packs Real Power, and All Just for Me," free registration, permanent link) and the Wall Street Journal ("Orion Sees Gold in Moribund Workstations," paid registration).

The company is targeting engineers, life scientists and movie animators. It's too early to know if the company can be successful, but I would certainly have to get one of these systems under my desk. In this overview, I've picked the essential details from the three stories mentioned above.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 8:52 AM Comments (0)
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Open-destination Quantum Teleportation
Even if you're not convinced today, quantum computers will replace silicon-based ones within the next twenty years. But how will you be able to check if these quantum computers give you the right answers?

An international team of physicists has entangled five photons for the first time in the world, reports Technology Research News in "Five photons linked." Why is this important? Because it's the minimum number of qubits needed for universal error correction in quantum computing. In other words, they found a way to check computational errors in future quantum computers. The physicists also demonstrated what they call 'open-destination teleportation,' a way to teleport quantum information within and between computers."

"They teleported the unknown quantum state of a single photon onto a superposition of three photons. They were then able to read out this teleported state at any one of the three photons by performing a measurement on the other two photons," adds PhysicsWeb in "Entanglement breaks new record". This will be used in about ten to twenty years to move information among quantum networks. You'll find more details and references in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 8:49 AM Comments (0)
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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Shrimp-based Bandages Save Lives
Unstoppable bleeding is one of the leading causes of death on battlefields. But now, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have a way to reduce bleeding when they're wounded. In "War Bandages," ScienCentral News writes that these new bandages contain chitosan molecules, extracted from shrimp shells.

These positively charged chitosan molecules attract negatively charged red blood cells, stopping hemorrhage in one to five minutes. As said one of the co-founders of the Oregon-based company behind these bandages, "You can have a hole in your heart and 60 seconds later it's sealed." The Food and Drug Administration approved these bandages for human usage, but today they are exclusively sold to the Army.

With a $90 price tag for a 4-inch-by-4-inch single bandage, would you buy them anyway? This overview contains more details and references. It also shows you how the red blood cells are attracted by the chitosan molecules.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:24 PM Comments (0)
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Face Synthesis Technology Makes Waves
The CTO of XID Technologies, a biometric security company based in Singapore, has been nominated for this year's World Technology Awards (WTA) for the development of an adaptive face recognition technology involving face synthesis. The technology, marketed under the name XID SmartID, permits for example to compare the biometric data embedded on a passport and the live data of a person at an immigration counter or passport verification booth.

This face synthesis technology is currently used in Singapore, SmartID has been deployed at the Immigrant Workers Dormitory in Kaki Bukit to provide access clearance for about 6,000 workers day or night across 16 channels of entry. This summary contains more details and a picture showing how the technology is used to grant access to a building for instance.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:21 PM Comments (0)
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Turn Your Photos Into Picasso Masterpieces
Computer scientists from the University of Bath have written a software which transforms your ordinary photographs and movies into cubist works of art and animation reminiscent of Picasso. They trained their software to identify important elements of a face, such as a nose, eye or mouth, until the computer learned how to recognize them on its own. This was achieved by giving the software a kind of 'aesthetic sense.'

Then, by "using photographs of a subject taken from multiple points of view, the software automatically picks out important areas within the image, which are cut out as chunks. The chunks are statistically shuffled and a few of them randomly selected and distorted into a 'cubist' composition ready for digital painting." The software is not yet publicly available, but software and animation companies have expressed interest. This summary contains additional references and images.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:18 PM Comments (0)
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wireless Grids
A new concept is emerging in networking: wireless grids. These grids connect all kinds of wireless devices, such as sensors or cell phones, with each other and with more traditional wired grids. IEEE Internet Computing has devoted a very long and thorough article about these wireless grids which can deliver new resources, locations of use, and institutional ownership and control patterns for grid computing via ad hoc distributed resource sharing.

The article says that applications for wireless grids fall into three classes: the ones which aggregate information from the range of input/output interfaces found in nomadic devices, those which focus on the locations and contexts in which the devices exist, and those that leverage the mesh network capabilities of collections of nomadic devices. The authors add that these grids "emerged from a combination of the proliferation of new spectrum market business models, innovative technologies deployed in diverse wireless networks, and three related computing paradigms: grid computing, P2P computing, and Web services."

If you're interested in the future of wireless networks, the original article is a must-read, but check this summary if your time is limited.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:36 PM Comments (0)
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A Big Jump for Quantum Teleportation
Many interesting new developments occurred recently in the quantum computing field. While IEEE Spectrum asked if quantum dots could compute, the Fraunhofer Institute offered Internet access to the world’s most powerful (31 qubit) Quantum Computing Simulator.

In "Spooky Spaceflight," Astrobiology Magazine suggests that "quantum entanglement could hold out the promise of a novel means of space propulsion, perhaps even making interstellar travel feasible." And EE Times is reviewing how quantum encryption is poised to tighten data security.

Elsewhere, in Austria, National Geographic reports that teleportation is going long distance with an experiment in which photons have crossed 600 meters over the Danube River, the first time outside laboratories. Please read all the above articles if you're interested in quantum computing. This summary is focused on the quantum teleportation experiment across the Danube River, with additional references and images.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:31 PM Comments (0)
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Monday, August 23, 2004

Nanorobots Inside Our Bodies?
In this very short article, Genome News Network (GNN) looks at the work of a Brazilian researcher, Adriano Cavalcanti, and his colleagues. Cavalcanti is working in nanorobotics, an emerging field in medicine which states that nanorobots soon will travel inside our bodies, digging for information, finding defects or delivering drugs. The GNN article contains spectacular images, and Cavalcanti's page about Nanorobotics Control Design includes additional ones.

Even if the computer-generated images are impressive, please notice that real uses of nanorobots for health care will only appear progressively within the next ten years. Finally, this summary contains more details and a third set of images of simulated nanorobots at work.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:06 PM Comments (0)
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New Robots and the Ten Ethical Laws Of Robotics
The robotics actuality is pretty rich these days. Besides the fighting robots of Robo-One and the flying microrobots from Epson (the best picture is at Ananova), here are some the latest intriguing news in robotics. In Japan, Yoshiyuki Sankai has built a robot suit, called Hybrid Assistive Limb-3 (or HAL-3), designed to help disabled or elderly people.

In the U.S., Ohio State University is developing a robotic tomato harvester for the J.F. Kennedy Space Center while Northrop Grumman received $1 billion from the Pentagon to build a new robotic fighter.

I kept the best for the end. A Californian counselor has just patented the ten ethical laws of robotics. A good read, if you can understand what he means. This summary only focuses on HAL-3 and one of the most incredible patents I've ever seen, so please read the above articles for more information about the other subjects.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:57 PM Comments (0)
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Saturday, August 21, 2004

NASA Helps Clearing the Fog
NASA's Aviation Safety and Security Program wants to cut fatal accident rates by 80 percent over the next ten years. To reach this goal, NASA researchers used "tunnel-in-the-sky" synthetic vision systems (SVS) in recent flights on a Gulfstream V over Reno, Nevada. A guest pilot for Aviation Week & Space Technology (AWST) went onboard and writes that "NASA Team Brings Synthetic Vision to Maturity."

He was able to see that SVS concepts, such as voice-controlled synthetic vision displays, a runway incursion protection system, database integrity monitoring technology, and enhanced vision sensors meshed with SVS images, were really effective in eliminating low-visibility-induced accidents. However, NASA doesn't say anything about the availability of SVS for commercial airlines. This summary contains more details and illustrations about key SVS concepts.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:33 PM Comments (0)
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Virtual Reality Helps to Treat Babies' Hearts
In Denmark, about 350 babies need to be operated each year because of heart defect. And their hearts are very small, so it's hard to know the exact kind of defect before the operation. This is why the Aarhus University Hospital is using virtual reality software to model babies' hearts, according to BBC News. Now, surgeons and doctors can visualize a magnified heart in 3D before planning cardiac surgery.

This also allows a better communication with parents which can understand what's wrong with their babies before the intervention. As the percentage of affected babies, about one per cent, is probably the same in many other countries, let's hope this software will be widely distributed. Congratulations to these Danish doctors and software writers for this brilliant usage of technology. This summary contains more details and pictures.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:29 PM Comments (0)
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Friday, August 20, 2004

NASA's Star-Trek-like Main Ship Computer
NASA is working on a set of software tools named 'Virtual Iron Bird' (VIB), which is really a knowledge-integrating virtual vehicle and could be ready by June 2006. It will evolve into a computer system which will contain all what is known about a spacecraft, and embarked in future spaceships, like HAL in '2001, a Space Odyssey' or in the 'Star-Trek' series. SpaceDaily says it will permit to analyze past events or to design and test new parts before they're built.

In fact, it is a 3D CAD-based visualization-model integrated with functional and behavioral models of the vehicle. It also will be used to diagnose the health of space vehicles. Here on Earth, VIB components could be used by engineering students and the automotive industry. This summary contains more details and pictures.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 6:01 AM Comments (0)
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A Radiation That Goes Faster Than Light
A new device built by physicists to generate radiation, and named a polarization synchrotron, is really making me scratching my head. The researchers say that the intensity of the radiation generated by their synchrotron declines more slowly with increasing distance from the source than would the emission from a conventional antenna. It "is proportional to 1/r, where r is the distance from the transmitter, rather than the 1/r2 associated with spherically decaying radiation."

Well, this is puzzling, but wait a minute, there is more. They also say "they can make the wave travel at greater than the speed of light (even though no physical quantity of charge travels superluminally)." In this article, PhysicsWeb reports that other physicists are skeptical.

Anyway, if they are right, this could pave the way for mobile phones communicating directly with satellites without any need for relay stations. You'll find more details and photographs in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 5:58 AM Comments (0)
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Thursday, August 19, 2004

EFF Wins Grokster Case
As Cory Doctorow reports on Boing Boing, the EFF has won its Grokster case in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
[T]his is the case that establishes that if you make truly decentralized P2P software -- like Gnutella -- you can't be held liable for any copyright infringement that takes place on their networks. This is the "Betamax principle," from the famous Supreme Court case that established that Sony wasn't responsoble for any infringement that its customers undertook with their VCRs.
The full decision is available for download in PDF format (128k link).
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 3:38 PM Comments (0)
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Bugmenot No More
Well, this doesn't exactly come as much of a suprise, but Bugmenot.com, a site that allowed you to circumvent the required registration on many websites, has apparently shut down. No reason was given.
(via MetaFilter)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12:53 PM Comments (0)
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Flickr Launches Organizr, Still Can't Find 'E' Key
Flickr, the online social network/photo-sharing service has just launched Organizr, a new tool to "help you more easily store, sort, search and share your photos." If that wasn't enough, Ludicorp has also just opened up Flickr's API for developers.

As Mindjack compeer Michael Boyle points out on his blog, Ludicorp seems to be pulling way ahead of just about every other company in the area of usable web interfaces.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 9:39 PM Comments (0)
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Google Cuts IPO Price
BBC News are reporting that Google has slashed the price of their mega-anticipated IPO from $108-135 a share to $85-$95 a share. That reduces the total possible value of the company to about $26 billion, a decline of more than $10 billion from previous estimates.(via Slashdot)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 5:55 PM Comments (0)
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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Building a Supercluster to Fight SARS
Yuan-Ping Pang is not your average chemist. At Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, he designed and built a supercluster composed of 800 Xeon processors. With this computing power at his disposal, he modeled the SARS viral enzyme. "Pang analyzed the SARS viral genome and built, atom by atom, the instantaneous 3D structures of the viral enzyme -- each of which is composed of 8,113 atoms -- just 20 days after the SARS viral genome was made public."

The next step is to find anti-SARS drugs to prevent SARS and to cure SARS patients. For this, he will need even more power. But as he says, "in 2002, we developed the computing technology that performs 1.1 trillion floating point operations per second. Now, we are working on new technologies that will give 1000x improvement and more ..."

You'll find more details and pictures in this overview, including a close-up view of the SARS viral enzyme.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:05 PM Comments (0)
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Anthropologist Looks at Uses of Technology in Asia
When you are a global company like Intel, you want to be sure that your technology can be used everywhere in the world and in a predictable way. But there are many cultural differences between someone living in California and, say, Indonesia. So, back in 1998, Intel hired an anthropologist, Genevieve Bell, to see how its products were used around the world. Now, after two years of extensive research and living with families in India or Singapore, Bell is almost ready to deliver her final report, which should be published later by MIT Press under the name "Other Internets."

In this article, the San Jose Business Journal writes that Bell found that some Chinese people take their cell phones to temples to be blessed or that Muslims in Malaysia are using GPS-enabled phones to find the direction of Mecca before doing their prayers. You'll find more details and references in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:02 PM Comments (0)
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3D Holograms Detect Fake Signatures
Several sources reported last week that a new technique that produces 3D holograms of handwriting could be used to detect fake signatures on checks, credit card receipts or other important handwritten documents. Here are pointers to Nature, Scientific American or BBC News Online.

Instead of using 2D techniques to look at the sequence of pen strokes in a signature, this new method is based on 3D micro-profilometry which permits to translate the writing into an image showing dips and furrows of the sample so that anomalies can be detected.

If you plan to imitate your spouse's signature, beware! Forensics have a new and very efficient tool. As an example, for the use of ballpoint pens on normal paper, the success rate was 100%. You'll find more details, references and pictures in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:59 PM Comments (0)
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Monday, August 16, 2004

Now in Mindjack
It's an all-media issue with reviews of Robert Greenwald's documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism and Dan Gillmor's new book We The Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 9:51 PM Comments (0)
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Tidal Flow To Power New York City
In the third stage of a project which started in January 2003, Verdant Power, a small energy company, will install six electricity turbines into New York's East River. These turbines will only deliver 200 kilowatts of power.

This will be the world's first farm of tide-powered turbines, according to Nature. And the company already plans to populate the tidal basin with several other hundred turbine units in the years to come, with a goal of 5 to 10 installed megawatts within three years.

The next step will be to install other farms in the US and in developing countries. The company plans to be present in ten sites by 2007. However, it will still be a very small company in the energy business, with a projected revenue of $37 million in 2007. You'll find more details, references and pictures in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 5:18 PM Comments (0)
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Saturday, August 14, 2004

eBay Buys Stake in Craigslist
In a joint press release yesterday it was announced that eBay has acquired a 25% minority interest in Craigslist, the popular classifieds/community website. Craig has posted his thoughts on the deal on his blog.
(via Susan Mernit)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 7:31 PM Comments (0)
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Friday, August 13, 2004

A New Use for Old Printers: Treating Burn Victims
Researchers in the US are using old inkjet printers to produce sheets of human skin to be used on burn victims. The printer cartridges are filled with living cells that are printed one by one into skin tissue. They think that this 'skin-printing' method will minimize rejections by patients and reduce post-operative complications. In this article, the Wall Street Journal (paid registration needed) writes that while the technology is still in its early stages, it could be used clinically within two years.

This could be a life-saving technology for the 20% of burn patients who have the most extensive burns. Considering that each year, some 45,000 people are hospitalized with burns in the U.S. alone, this 'skin-printing' method is a very useful advance in regenerative medicine. You'll find more details, previous references and an illustration in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:01 PM Comments (0)
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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Nanotechnology Speeds Up Internet 100 Times
Using a new hybrid material made of nanometer-sized "buckyballs" and a polymer, Canadian researchers have shown that nanotechnology could lead to an Internet based entirely on light and 100 times faster than today's. This material allowed them to use one laser beam to direct another with unprecedented control, a featured needed inside future fiber-optic networks.

These future fiber-optic communication systems could relay signals around the global network with picosecond (one trillionth of a second) switching times, resulting in an Internet 100 times faster. Please note this discovery appeared in a lab: we'll have to live with our current networks for some time. This overview contains more details.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:24 PM Comments (0)
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Doom 3 Reviewed
After years of development and even more years of hype, Doom 3 finally arrived in the hands of legions of eager gamers last week. Reaction from critics, however, has been mixed to say the least. Tony Walsh weighs in with our review.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 1:08 PM Comments (0)
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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Howard Rheingold on 'new economic system'
The online version of BusinessWeek carries a recent interview of Howard Rheingold, the author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, about the "new economic system" he thinks it's emerging "from such seemingly disparate developments as Web logs, open-source software development, and Google."

If you read the interview, you'll see that "Rheingold is worried that established companies could quash such nascent innovations as file-sharing." He also says that the Nokias and the HPs of our world should give prototypes of their gears to 15-year-olds to discover what these creative young people can do with them, instead on relying on marketing people. You'll find selected excerpts in this overview.

And if you haven't done it before, don't forget to visit the Smart Mobs Weblog and to read a previous interview of Rheingold about the US presidential election of 2004, "A Major Change in the Political Equation."
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:36 PM Comments (0)
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RFID Lamps Provide Augmented Reality
By combining RFID tags containing photosensors with portable projectors, researchers from Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) are bringing a revolution to inventory control. In "Projector lights radio tags," Technology Research News (TRN) says that the "Radio Frequency Identity and Geometry (RFIG) system consists of a hand-held projector that shines dynamic images onto physical objects of the user's preference, and radio frequency identification tags augmented with photosensors, which identify objects for the projector."

The RFIG lamps are demonstrated right now at the SIGGRAPH 2004 Conference held in Los Angeles. This system, which also could be used to guide robots or track movement of items in health care settings, should be available at reasonable costs within two or three years. This overview contains selected excerpts of the TRN article. It also includes very interesting photographs of a possibility offered by this new system. You can 'copy' a scene shot by the projector and 'paste' it later elsewhere, for example to review a scene too difficult to inspect on site.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:30 PM Comments (0)
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

RFID Passive Tags Track Cars
A South African company, iPico Holdings, "has developed and tested RFID passive tags and readers that can be used to monitor vehicles at a read distance of 17 feet traveling at speeds of 160 mph," according to this article from RFID Journal.

The tags are attached to the windshield inside the cars while the readers are placed on the roadside or on bridges. When an equipped car passes in front a reader, at a speed not exceeding 250 kph, the unique 64-bit ID of the tag is read. The readers, which cost about US$1,000, can detect up to 7,200 vehicles per minute (a pretty busy road, isn't?). The tags cost currently 60 cents each -- for an order of 5 million tags.

The technology will be used to control traffic and speed, but also will enable immediate traffic ticketing or toll collection. You'll find selected excerpts in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:30 PM Comments (0)
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Bandai Hatches a Winner, Again.
The Japanese toy company Bandai is gambling big bucks on its new "Tamagotchi Connection" unit and the possibility of rejuvenating the Artificial Life craze.

In November 1996, Bandai released the first round of Tamagotchi (pronounced tah-mah-go-tchi; a concatenation of the Japanese words for "egg" and "friend") virtual pets and over the product's life time went on to sell 40 million units world wide. This estimate does not take in to account the millions of knock-off units that could be found in EVERY swap meet and convenience store around the world.

If you count sites like Neopets.com, it could be argued that the fad never really went away. It's not hard to see signs of its popularity surfacing on sites like eBay where original Tamas are being sold at more than twice the price of the new units. You can purchase a Tamagotchi Plus (the Japanese name for the NexGen units) on eBay, but wide release of the domestic version won't happen until August 15th.

The new Tamagotchi Connection is a mix of the classic toy with some new modern additions. The biggest feature is an infrared port that allows tamas to talk to one another. They build friendships, exchange gifts, get married and even have babies. Now pet owners are going to have to consider the impact lack of social interaction has the Tama's happiness. No doubt this will force Tama owners to be more sociable themselves. The tama forms bonds with other tamas and prefers certain pets over others. Now owners have to spend more time with the owner of a preferred pet just to satisfy its social need. This kind of forced social contact is not unfamiliar to parents that set up "play dates".

This may end up being the "Tickle-me-Elmo" of the 2004 Christmas season. The new tama has been on sale in Japan since March and Bandai's estimates are that it will break one million units by the end of August. American customer interest has been overwhelming and supplies are expected to sell out very quickly.

My only gripe is that they didn't take advantage of some more modern technologies. They could have used Bluetooth connectivity and added a mini-USB jack. It would be nice to introduce your tama to another tama on the other side of the world. Last time imitation vPets added new features and more options, I'm confident that they will out do Bandai this time around as well.

:: posted by Ben Jarvis, 12:52 PM Comments (2)
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Monday, August 09, 2004

Watches of Futures Past
Thanks to Boing Boing for pointing out this amazing collection of space age style watches. Does anyone know of a company that makes reproductions of any of these? The vintage models are way out of my price range.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6:02 PM Comments (0)
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The Wireless Robotic Gas Worker
Assessing and repairing old gas pipes is difficult and costly, representing about $650 million per year in the U.S. alone. So robotic researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed a remote-controlled, untethered, wireless prototype crawling robot, designed to inspect underground gas mains.

This robot carries the trademarked name "Explorer" (How original! There are about a thousand trademarks in the U.S. which include "explorer" in their names!) It looks like a link sausage with front- and rear-fisheye cameras and lights and is remotely controlled by an operator sitting in a truck. In a world's premiere, this robot has been successfully used to inspect gas pipes dating from 1890 in Yonkers, N.Y.

If you want to purchase one, it will cost you between $50K and $75K providing you buy at least ten units. You'll find more details, references and illustrations in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:39 PM Comments (0)
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The First Interplanetary Laser Communication Link
NASA and MIT are teaming together to build the first interplanetary laser communication link between Mars and Earth. "In 2010, the Mars Laser Communication Demonstration (MLCD) will test the first deep-space laser communication link, which promises to transmit data at a rate nearly ten times higher than any existing interplanetary radio communication link."

In fact, the speed will largely vary depending on the respective positions of March and Earth. The minimum expected speed will be one megabit per second during daytime and when Mars is at its farthest point from Earth. But when Mars is at its closest approach and reception is at night, the rate could be thirty times higher.

Before 2010, a number of challenges need to be solved, including the fact that the optical frequencies of the laser can be partially be blocked by clouds. You'll find more details, references and illustrations in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:37 PM Comments (0)
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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Salmon Gives Birth To Trout
I'm always amazed by the imagination of scientists. Can you believe that Japanese researchers have created an animal species from another one? The Independent in the UK reports that "salmon gives birth to trout in scientific leap that gives hope to endangered fish."

The scientists injected "germ cells from young trout into young salmon. Thirty days later, when the salmon became sexually mature, they produced sperm and eggs of trout. What is even more puzzling is that the researchers worked with North American rainbow trout and masu salmon, which is only found in east Asia. Only 0.4 percent of the offspring were healthy trout while the other 'children' were hybrids which died at a very young age.

This doesn't discourage the researchers. Now they want to use mackerels to produce bluefin tuna, a fish loved by Japanese sushi lovers, but poised to extinction at current fishing rates. You'll find more details and references in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 11:17 AM Comments (0)
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Friday, August 06, 2004

Fish & Chips
I don't know why there are so many stories about tracking animals these days. After telling you about how satellites are used to track pigeons and koalas, CIO Magazine reports that computer tags are used to track Pacific coast salmon.

The salmon have two homes, the river home and the ocean one, largely unknown. So, as part of the Pacific Ocean Salmon Tracking (POST) project, computer chips called acoustic tags have been implanted into 1,200 young salmon. And receivers have been placed on more than 120 kilometers of seabed around Vancouver Island. When a tagged fish passed near a listening station, the tag emits its serial number and data such as position, speed and direction is collected by the receiver.

With this data, it will be possible to improve the sustainable use of Pacific salmon resources. You'll find more details, references and pictures in this overview.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:35 PM Comments (0)
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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Tracking Koalas From Space
A week ago, I told you that GPS-equipped pigeons followed highways. Now, the University of Queensland and mining company Rio Tinto Coal Australia (RTCA) are using satellite technology to track koalas from space.

Their partnership, Koala Venture, started about 15 years ago to study the habitat and diet of the koalas living near the Blair Athol Mine. In a new stage of the partnership, koalas will be fitted with special satellite tracking collars. They hope to understand the way a koala sees its surroundings, and of course to better manage the koala population, their safety and security.

Apparently, these koalas are lucky, because other studies say that they could be extinct in 15 years. You'll find more details in this overview, including a photograph of a koala receiving a regular health check as part of the Koala Venture program.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:37 PM Comments (0)
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Nanotech Hits the Roads
When you hear the word 'nanotechnology,' I bet you immediately think about nanochips or ultra-small medical devices. But do you know that nanotechnology is starting to be used in highways, bridges and other buildings? In "Small Science Will Bring Big Changes To Roads," a very long article from Better Roads Magazine, you'll discover that "research in structural polymers could lead the way to guardrails that heal themselves, or concrete or asphalt that heal their own cracking." Nanotechnology is also used to design better steel or concrete.

And there are even nanosensors in place on the Golden Gate Bridge to monitor its behavior. The nanotechnology revolution is on its way in the construction business, even if self-healing potholes and guardrails are still science fiction. This long article discusses nanotechnology advances in concrete and cement, self-cleaning traffic signs or better steel. This shorter overview contains selected excerpts about embedded nanosensors, self-healing pavements and smart dust.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:34 PM Comments (0)
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These Shoes Are Made For Walking On Water
We have always dreamed to fly freely or to walk on water. This second dream is now possible, thanks to an invention by Yoav Rosen, who lives in Massachusetts. In "Inventing a Way to Walk on Water" (free registration, permanent link), the New York Times writes that more than 100 patents have been granted for water-walking inventions in the last 150 years -- and none of them worked.

But apparently, this new invention works fine, at least according to some pictures. Rosen's company doesn't know where to sell such a product because "it doesn't fit into an existing paradigm for sports." So it has not decided a release date for this product. Please read this overview for more details and illustrations.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:31 PM Comments (0)
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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Have you ever been tempted to try acupuncture, a traditional Asian therapy using stainless steel needles? Maybe yes, but you didn't like the idea to have a bunch of needles planted in your body. But what if acupuncture effects were accomplished through the ingestion of a pill? A Singapore-based firm aims to put power of acupuncture in a pill, according to TODAY, a Singapore newspaper. And the story is now corroborated by Associated Press. The first target for this pill is to heal migraine sufferers, a worldwide market of US$3 billion annually.

But don't rush to your drugstore yet. The company, Molecular Acupuncture, expects to identify the gene responsible for acupuncture healing by 2006 and will put the pill on the market around 2014. Please read this overview for selected excerpts of the two articles.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:34 PM Comments (1)
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