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     Volume 4 Issue 34 | February 18, 2005 |

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Now...Store Hundreds of Movies
Six leading technology companies have formed a consortium to make an optical disc that could store a few hundred movies. The Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) Alliance, which includes Fuji Photo and CMC Magnetics, will let consumers conceivably put a terabyte (1TB) of data on to a single optical disc, reports Cnet news.com. The consortium said an HVD disc could hold as much data as 200 standard DVDs and transfer data at over one gigabyte a second or 40 times faster than a DVD. HVD is a possible successor to technologies such as Blu-ray and HD DVD. Single layer Blu-ray discs hold about 25GB of data while dual layer discs hold 50GB. Ordinary DVD discs hold about 4.7GB. Sony unveiled a home server with 1TB of storage for the Japanese market last year. Half the capacity would be enough to record six channels of TV for five and a half days non-stop, Sony said.

Pollution Fighter turns Clot Buster
A material normally used to clean up car exhaust fumes could one day be used in dressings and surgical equipment to prevent severe skin infections and blood clots. It might even help combat infections by the MRSA superbug, a newly filed patent claims. What these medical problems have in common is that they can be treated with nitric oxide (NO). This gas is able to regulate blood pressure, stop thrombosis - blood clotting in the vessels - and is a powerful antibacterial agent. However, applying NO to the right areas and at the right levels is a major challenge. "As nitric oxide is toxic in large quantities you have to be able to deliver the right amount to the right place," says Russell Morris, a chemist at the University of St Andrews in the UK. And because the gas is very reactive and quickly breaks down in the body, it is hard to find a way to deliver it to a specific site. But Morris thinks it will be possible to release NO onto the skin at precisely controlled rates using the same technology that catalytic converters use to scrub the gas from car exhaust. Some converters do this by trapping NO in a compound called a zeolite, then breaking it down into harmless nitrogen and oxygen.

Surround-sound Tailored to Individual Ears
Virtual surround sound systems in MP3 players, TV sets and games consoles take an ordinary stereo headphone signal and boost and delay some frequencies to mimic a surround-sound effect. But how realistic the resulting sound appears varies from person to person, as we all have differently shaped ears and heads. A joint project between the University of York in UK and the University of Sydney in Australia has worked out a solution. A modified photo booth takes 3D images of the listener's head to measure the shape and size of their ears. These measurements are then used to compute how much to boost and delay the sound to create an ideal effect for that person. The calculated surround-sound profile is then stored on a smartcard which will plug into a new generation of compatible gadgets.

Easy Slow-motion
Users of a new camcorder will be able to intercut bursts of slow motion as they shoot, without the need for tricky editing and without the blur which spoils most home video slo-mo. When the "Live Slow" button on the £500 JVC camcorder is pressed, the camera temporarily stops recording pictures direct to tape and instead starts feeding four copies of each frame into a memory chip. When transferred to tape and played back at normal speed, the sequence contains frames to show smooth action at a quarter of normal speed. The effect can be used to highlight someone swinging a cricket bat, say, or an athlete jumping over a bar. When the slow-motion clip ends, the recording jumps back to normal speed.

Left-handers View World Differently From Right-handers
Researchers have said that left-handed people view the world differently from right-handed people.

Studies conducted by researchers from the University of Birmingham, has stated that left-handed persons use opposite sides of their brains for looking at and making sense of an image compared to right- handed people. For their study, researchers used a technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), which momentarily disrupts brain activity and applied it over either the left or right parietal lobe at the back of the brain while volunteers concentrated on the details of a visual stimulus. The findings revealed that stimulation of the left side of the brain made it harder for right-handers to attend to detail, whilst stimulation of the right side had this effect on left-handers. "In right-handed people the right hemisphere sees the whole picture, whereas the left hemisphere attends to the details. However, we have found that in left-handed people, this is completely reversed. Not only our language function, but even the way we see the world can depend on our handedness," said Prof Glyn Humphreys from the University's School of Psychology. He further added that hence brain damage would affect left and right-handers' ability to make sense of detail in different ways. The research further stated that not only are left-handed people more susceptible to a range of problems, including allergies, auto-immune diseases, depression, drug abuse, epilepsy, schizophrenia and sleeping disorders, but are also thought to have poorer spatial skills, rendering themselves more vulnerable to car crashes and other serious accidents. (ANI)

Scientists Discover Flying Ants
Scientists have discovered a species of ant found in the tropical forests of Panama to be the only wingless insect capable of controlled flight. The Cephalotes atratus worker ants typically live on tree trunks more than 90 feet above the forest floor. If they fall, it means a long climb back to their nest. But scientists found that the ants hardly ever hit the ground. Instead they go into free-fall and like sky divers steer their way through the air. The team of researchers led by Steve Yanoviak, Robert Dudley and Mike Kaspari of Smithsonian Institution in Washington, painted the ants' legs white and captured their falls on film. The ants were seen to glide backwards, abdomen first, towards their tree and typically rejoined their nest-mates within 10 minutes of a fall. "For an ant, a 30-metre fall to the forest floor is akin to me falling three-and-a-half miles. An ant falling to the forest floor enters a dark world of mould and decomposition, of predators and scavengers, where the return trip is through a convoluted jungle of dead, accumulated leaves. "Gliding is definitely the way to go, and we won't be surprised if we find more examples of this behaviour among wingless canopy insects," Kaspari said.


Source: Webindia123.com / Newscientist.com / Cnet.com.

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2004