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     Volume 4 Issue 51 | June 17, 2005 |

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Destination Jupiter
U.S. scientists think they can unlock many of the mysteries of Jupiter's colourful atmospheric clouds and giant red spot by launching a NASA probe. Southwest Research Institute, headquartered in Texas, has been selected to build and launch the $700 million probe for NASA that will circle the giant planet and gather data about its clouds, rock core, atmospheric gases, auroras and other features. The mission, called Juno, is expected to launch in 2010. It will help scientists explain how matter gathered billions of years ago formed the planets, according to Scott Bolton, a scientist at the institute and the principal investigator for the mission. "The high-level question is, how do we make planets?" said Bolton. "Were trying to go back in time and Jupiter is our key to doing that. There is no other place in the solar system where we can go to learn this."

Remains of Ovulating T-rex
A Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur that died 68 million years ago has provided some of the strongest evidence yet that birds are the closest-living relatives of dinosaurs. Soft tissue found in the animal's thighbone strongly suggests it was a female and just about to lay eggs. The bone tissue is strongly similar to that made inside the bones of female birds -- and no other living type of animal -- when they are producing the hard shells of eggs just before they lay them, said Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. "In addition to demonstrating gender, it also links the reproductive physiology of dinosaurs to birds very closely. It indicates that dinosaurs produced and shelled their eggs much more like modern birds than like modern crocodiles," continued Schweitzer.

Dancing Robots
Takahiro Takeda, postgraduate student of Japan's Tohoku Univ. dances with Partner Ballroom Dance Robot (PBDR) at a factory of Nomura Unison robotic venture company in Chino city, 200-km west of Toyko. The prototype dance partner robot, developed by Japan's Tohoku University Professor Kazuhiro Kosuge, enables them to move in all directions with three special wheels by predicting how its partner will move with a sensor. The robot will be displayed at the World Expo Aichi 2005 from 09 June.

Nature-deficit Disorder
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows U.S. children spend 44 hours a week with TV, computers and video games. In his book, Last Child in the Woods, author and columnist Richard Louv says today's children are suffering from what he calls nature-deficit disorder. Children deprived of outdoor activity tend to exhibit a disconnection with nature. The author says he's interviewed thousands of parents who are concerned about their children spending way too much time indoors, who are looking for fun activities to get their children to spend more time outside.

Power Lines and Leukaemia Risk
Children living closer to high-voltage overhead electric lines may be at an increased risk of leukaemia. Researchers have found that youngsters living within 200 m of power lines were about 70 percent more likely to develop leukaemia compared with those who lived beyond 600 m. The study published in the British Medical Journal studied more than 29,000 children with cancer, including 9,700 with leukaemia, born between 1962 and 1995. Some researchers have suggested that low frequency magnetic fields, such as those caused by the production of electricity, could possibly be linked to cancer. However, researchers have said that the study is still on and once confirmed the findings would amount to about five of the 400 cases of childhood leukaemia occurring annually.

Sound, NOT Vision Behind Dyslexia
Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Southern California (USC) have outright rejected the popular notion that certain visual processes cause the spelling and reading woes commonly suffered by dyslexics. They say that a problem more generic in nature may be at the root of the learning disorder in dyslexics. Misfiring neurons make it difficult for dyslexics to pick out relevant visual and auditory cues from the expanse of surrounding sounds and patterns, or "noise". This, the researchers claim hampers their reading abilities also. Experiments revealed that dyslexic children were as able as their peers to pick out both displays, but when the patterns were partially obscured with patches of "noise," or television static-like bright and dark spots, the dyslexic children found it difficult to isolate the patterns. Researchers further say that while dyslexic children suffer little from spoken languages, they do suffer a great deal from in their reading abilities. "We really want to understand what is going on at the neurological level that's leading to reading problems. We think that if a child has a hard time ignoring 'noise,' it could distort speech perception and complicate [the recognition] of sound segments, which is essential for learning how to read," the journal quoted Anne Sperling, the lead author of the study as saying. Experts believe that this study will help them to better understand dyslexic children and also enable teachers to build categories for better helping them.


Source: AFP, ANI and Webindia123

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

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