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     Volume 4 Issue 3 | July 9, 2004 |


   Cover Story
   News Notes
   Slice of Life
   A Roman Column
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   Book Review
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Mobiles turn into ‘juke boxes’

Technological advancement has now made it possible for users to use the mobile phone as a "jukebox" to download rock music. According to the New Zealand Herald, due to the trend shown by many youngsters who regularly keep changing their ringtones to be in sync with the charts. T-Mobile has recently launched "ear phones" which will enable users to download CD-quality tracks and store the tune on the phone for instant playback. Downloads, however will not require any computer, MP3 player or iPod.


Laptops that run on spinach

Popeye might swear by spinach for giving him his power but if scientists are to be believed, this green vegetable could soon be the driving force behind laptops. According to Nature, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created biologically based solar cells, which convert light into electrical energy. According to co-creator Marc Baldo these should be efficient and cheap to manufacture and could even be used to power laptops, providing a portable source of green energy. Baldo's team isolated a variety of photosynthetic proteins from spinach and sandwiched them between two layers of conducting material. An electrical current was generated when the cell was exposed to light. The proteins are extracted from the chloroplasts of spinach leaves, which help plants convert light into energy. As the reaction proceeds, electrons move around and create electrical currents. The prototype cells can generate current for up to 21 days and convert only about 12 percent of the absorbed light energy into electricity.

James Bond makes life safer for seniors

Scientists have invented a device, straight out of a James Bond movie, that uses sensors to raise an alarm automatically. The device is called Supporting Independently Living Citizens (SILC) and has been developed by Austrian and British scientists. It took three years to develop and was sponsored by the EU. It is a portable device, which is worn on the wearer's wrist and is ideal for elderly people. It contains sensors and monitoring devices and automatically triggers an alarm when its wearer is in life threatening situation. Earlier alarm systems required a person to push a button to contact an emergency centre because of which elderly people would hesitate to raise an alarm. The SILC watch is better because it alerts the emergency centre before it is too late for a person to push a button on their own.

Birds make better musicians than man

Canadian researchers have found that birds are better at identifying, classifying, and memorising absolute pitches than both humans and rats, with humans performing just slightly better than rats. "It's amazing how dissimilar the results of this test are when you compare humans and birds. Humans and rats are weak by any standard and they're just awful when you compare them to the songbirds," said Dr. Chris Sturdy, a psychology professor at the University of Alberta. Human beings performed better in tests of relative pitch, i.e. two sounds played back to back, providing them a reference to identify another. But, when asked to comprehend absolute pitch, which is played alone, they failed to recognise it. Human beings were rewarded in monetary terms when they memorised or recognised the pitches that were played for them, whereas the birds and the rats were given food rewards.

News for users of electric toothbrushes

The people who think their latest hi-tech tooth brushes with "rotation-oscillation" are helping them fight tooth decay and gum diseases must think again. The largest study of its kind by researchers in UK found that electric toothbrushes are no better than traditional brushes at preventing tooth decay and gum disease. They also found that the reduction of plaque and gum disease was "modest" while the benefits were "borderline" in the very long term. Prof Bill Shaw, from Manchester University dental school's orthodontic department, who led the research, was quoted in The Telegraph as saying: "People who enjoy the feel of a powered toothbrush and can afford one may be assured that it is at least as effective as traditional brushing and that there is no evidence that it will cause more injuries to the gum."

Dried cells may aid remote medicine
In a latest development, researchers are honing a technique to create dried stem cells that can be revived just by adding water making the 'instant' cells an aid in mobile therapies for remote regions or the battlefield. According to Nature, the theory was based on the fact that since some stem cells can make fresh bone, muscle or blood, doctors hope to use them to repair tissues. But, like transplant organs kept on ice, their shelf life will be limited without an easy way to store and transport them. Today several scientists are looking for a way to air-dry cells, comparable to the technique that turns grapes to raisins. Dried stem cells might be stored in portable packets that can be ripped open and their contents mixed with water at the scene of an accident, says Ann Oliver of University of California. In their latest advance, Oliver and her colleagues dried out mesenchymal stem cells, sucked from bone marrow. After drying, less than 40 per cent of the cells was water. When rehydrated immediately afterwards, up to half grew and divided. Her team soaked the stem cells in an anti-freeze sugar called trehalose. This sugar sloshes around in organisms that survive dehydration, such as brine shrimp, baker's yeast and certain drought-resistant resurrection plants. Adding a second protective compound called arbutin boosted cell survival further. What's more, 80-90 per cent of rehydrated cells must be revived before the technique can be put into practice. It's unclear when it'll come along.

Paintings help in Visualisation of Text

A new study conducted at the University of Toronto has revealed that famous writers used various forms of visual images such as paintings, drawings and photographs to express what language. Professor Julie LeBlanc studied the diaries, notebooks and memoirs of such famous writers as Carol Shields, Frida Kahlo, Roland Barthes, Anny Duperey and Marie-Claire Blais. "Language is sometimes deficient when it comes to the textual representation of reality and it's an arbitrary system of communication, which cannot always express what a novelist or autobiographer wants to communicate," she said. Even the most talented of writers (Zola, Baudelaire, Kafka, Grass) have resorted to creating 'picture books' in the manuscripts of their novels and diaries to help them, many never meant to be seen by an author's fans. Published or not, this process can and did help many famous writers visualise their finished product, she added. "I think they often came to the conclusion at some point that they had to call upon another medium, such as drawing or painting the faces of their characters or using a photo of an actual geographic location, in order to help them in the textual representation of these elements," she concluded.

Source: Webindia123.com /Google.com






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