VISTA: Code Named 'Longhorn'
U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. will call its new operating system, which has been code-named Longhorn during development, Vista. The name seeks to underscore the emerging software's purported ability to let users view information stored on a PC far more easily than is currently possible. Besides revealing the new name of its latest computer operating system, Microsoft also disclosed release dates. By Aug. 3 the beta version of Vista will be distributed to about 100,000 enthusiasts for evaluation. A beta 2 version may be released by year's end. A final consumer version will be on store shelves in the fall of 2006.
New Hawaiian caterpillar captures dinner
A newly-named species of Hawaiian caterpillar sneaks up on snails and spins silk strands around them to capture them for dinner. Daniel Rubinoff, an entomologist of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, says the larvae of the Hyposmocoma molluscivora, are the first mollusk-eating caterpillars that scientists have officially described. The overwhelming majority of caterpillars are vegetarians but a few feed exclusively on insects. When these caterpillars come across a resting snail, they begin spinning silk of the type they use to make their cocoons. They wrap the silk around the snail, trapping it so the snail cannot escape by dropping off the leaf. Then, the researchers say, it's snail-snacking time. "They wrap 'em, up and then they go in, the snail doesn't really have a chance," says Rubinoff. The caterpillar "wedges its case next to or inside the snail shell and stretches much of its body out of the silk case, pursuing the retreating snail to the end of the shell from which there is no escape," Haines and Rubinoff report. The researchers observed 18 different snail attacks by 10 different caterpillars. It reminded me of Gulliver's Travels, where the Lilliputians bind him while he's sleeping, says Rubinoff.
Device to help elderly people avoid falls
A group of Stanford University students is developing a vibrating ankle brace designed to assist elderly people in avoiding falls. The smart brace is fitted with a tiny chip that continuously monitors the position of the wearer's ankle, CNN said. If the chip detects a roll greater than normal, it vibrates, thereby sending a signal to the wearer's brain that they must change the position of their foot or shift their balance in order to avoid a fall. The students -- Tim Ramsey, Ryan McDonnell, Buzzy Bonneau, Tejas Mazmudar, Jeremy Dittmer and Surag Mantri -- told CNN they wanted to develop something that would detect a body's position in relation to its surroundings -- a sense that decreases as people age. They wanted their device to be more discreet than current devices used to prevent falls, such as walkers and canes. The students are participating in the California school's Biodesign Innovation Program. Officials said the design is in its preliminary stages.
Source: CNN Online, BBC Online, Science and Webindia123
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