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     Volume 4 Issue 48 | May 27, 2005 |

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This combo picture shows the amphibious snake-like robot "ACM-R5 (Active Cord Mechanism-Revision5)" developed by Tokyo Institute of Technology Professor Shigeo Hirose, enabling it to sidewinds on the ground and glide through water with screw motion during a press preview of prototype robot exhibition at the 2005 World Expo AIchi at Nagakute town near Nagoya. The snake-shape robot, equipped with a video camera on its head, was developed to find victims among debris in a disaster such as earthquake prone Japan.
An engineer of the Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries operates the radio controlled leg-wheeled mobile robot "IMR-Type1", enabling it to move with wheels smoothly. It can also go up and down the stairs with its three-legs as shown during a press preview for prototype robot exhibition at the 2005 World Expo AIchi. The hybrid mobile robot is developed for the patrol in the plant or public space such as hospital and school with gaps or stairs on its routine-run course.

Scientists confirm planet outside solar system
Scientists in Chile have confirmed they have photographed the first planet outside the solar system. The planet, known as 2M1207b, and its parent star are about 230 light years away from the earth, in the southern constellation of Hydra. It is about five times the size of Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet, and is orbiting at a distance of five billion miles - nearly twice as far as Neptune is from the sun. The photograph of the planet seen as a reddish speck near a dim and distant star - believed to be a failed star known as brown dwarf - was taken using the Very Large Telescope facility in Chile. Spectroscopy measurements show water vapour in the planet's atmosphere, suggesting it is cold and not hot like a star. "This discovery offers new perspectives for our understanding of chemical and physical properties of planetary mass objects, as well as their mechanisms of formation," said Gael Chauvin of the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

Computers Grade Students' Writing
Student essays always seem to be riddled with the same sorts of flaws. So sociology professor Ed Brent decided to hand the work off -- to a computer. Students in Brent's Introduction to Sociology course at the University of Missouri-Columbia now submit drafts through the SAGrader software he designed. It counts the number of points he wanted his students to include and analyses how well concepts are explained. It used to be the students who looked for shortcuts, shopping for papers online or pilfering parts of an assignment with a simple Google search. Now, teachers and professors are realising that they, too, can tap technology for a facet of academia long reserved for a teacher alone with a red pen. Software now scores everything from routine assignments in high school English classes to an essay on the GMAT, the standardised test for business school admission. Though Brent and his two teaching assistants still handle final papers -- and grades -- students are encouraged to use SAGrader for a better shot at an "A." "I don't think we want to replace humans," Brent said. "But we want to do the fun stuff, the challenging stuff. And the computer can do the tedious but necessary stuff."

Games Inspire Otherworldly Art
Fine art has been in video games for decades -- at least since a cartoon mouse rescued the Mona Lisa in the early-'80s arcade game Mappy. But are video games themselves fine art? At E3, a juried exhibition of art from video games called Into the Pixel addresses that question. The show features 16 pieces of video-game art, chosen from among more than 140 submissions. Game engine renderings and concept art are both represented and the subjects range from moody landscapes to an expressionistic painting of Nintendo's bulbous pink mascot, Kirby. One of the pieces, created by a team from Electronic Arts, is a rendering of an Orc from Lord of the Rings: The Third Age in battle stance. Another, Hakha the Hunter, depicts a futuristic soldier from the game Killzone with requisite huge gun. These aren't just character-design showcases, however. The jurors' comments indicate that composition, colour and light were all concerns in selecting the pieces. The works aren't just free-standing renderings of bad guys and busty women, but reflect the emotional and immersive content that video games can offer. All told, while the works are often striking and even beautiful, there is one important omission. While there are renderings, drawings and paintings, there are no actual screenshots from games. Even the orcs and soldiers are more likely to be something you'd see on a video game's packaging rather than in the video game itself.
It's an odd choice to remove the video game from the video-game art, and the underlying message is that while video games can inspire art and art can inspire video games, what you're playing on your screen doesn't qualify to hang in a gallery, even a gallery located at E3. The attendees clearly cast their votes with their attention: While Into the Pixel gets a share of traffic, the static images in their frames don't get a fraction of the consideration given to the moving, flashing art displayed on the thousands of game screens at the expo.


Source: IANS, BBC Online, Wired and Webindia123

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

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