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     Volume 4 Issue 68 | October 21, 2005 |

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Revolving Cars
This combo picture shows Japanese auto maker Nissan Motor's concept car "Pivo" at a press preview in Tokyo. The electric vehicle Pivo, which will be on display at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, features an innovative cabin that revolves 360 degrees, eliminating the need to reverse.

Tales from the Deep
Arobotic fish swims around its tank in The London Aquarium. The aquarium unveiled three aquatic robots which were developed by a team at the Univesity of Essex to teach the public more about robotic technology. Built to look like the real thing, the fish have sensor-based controls to navigate autonomously avoiding obstacles and reacting to the environment. Project Leader Huosheng Hu said, "This work has many real-world applications including seabed exploration, detecting oil leaks in pipelines, mine countermeasures and improving the performance of underwater vehicles."

Stroke Victims Drive Again
Researchers in Atlanta are using a computer-generated course simulator that helps stroke victims learn to drive again. The Medical College of Georgia scientists say patients receiving the five-week simulator training are nearly twice as likely as stroke patients without the training to pass an official driving test. Abiodun Akinwuntan, a physical therapy instructor and the study's lead researcher, said patients traditionally re-learn driving skills using conventional methods, such as paper-and-pencil-based training. Using a 20-mile computer-simulated course Akinwuntan developed, patients practised driving in virtual rural and urban settings, each testing a different skill level. The patients drive in a specially equipped car on a course projected onto a large screen. Mistakes are monitored both by computer and an observer. Akinwuntan plans to develop a simulator at MCG that would assist doctors and therapists in determining challenges patients face after leaving the hospital.

Supportive Spouse Eases Pressure
Arecent study suggests that a supportive spouse might help lower a person's blood pressure. The study concerned a Canadian study conducted with 216 male and female volunteers over one year. The study found job strain had a significant impact, both clinically and statistically, on blood pressure, said lead author Dr. Sheldon Tobe, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Job strain and low marital cohesion was reportedly related to an increase of systolic 2.8 millimetres of mercury of blood pressure over one year. High marital cohesion in the presence of job strain was related to a decrease of 2.5 systolic blood pressure millimetres of mercury over one year. The amount of support given at home in the relationship is a major definition of marital cohesion, Tobe said. "Health practitioners need to be aware that job strain does cause illness. The medical model of healthcare does not include job strain, but stress at work and at home can modify the health of patients, he added.

Machine Makes Dishes on Demand
When Barbara Wheaton, culinary historian and honorary curator at Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library, told Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers that she longed for durable dishes that didn't need to be washed and could be thrown away after a meal, she was surprised when they took her seriously. MIT Media Lab's Counter Intelligence Group, which develops innovative kitchen designs, has created a machine that makes dishes on demand and recycles them after diners have finished a meal. The dishes are made from food-grade, nontoxic acrylic wafers, which are shaped into cups, bowls and plates when heated, then resume their original wafer shape when they are reheated and pressed. Designed by MIT grad student Leonardo Bonanni, the DishMaker frees space in dish cabinets and reduces landfill trash. It also uses less energy to recycle dishes than factories use to make them. And, because the machine can produce up to 150 items, a dinner host would never be short of table settings when unexpected guests arrive: Cooks can select the number of place settings needed using a simple push-button control panel. The prototype DishMaker is the size of a standard dishwasher, and uses the heating element of a toaster oven to shape the items. To recycle the dishes, it heats them to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit to soften the acrylic and is then pressed to restore them to wafers for easy stacking. The machine holds 150 acrylic wafers and can produce a dish every 90 seconds. The wafers produce plates that are only 6 inches in diameter, the size of an average salad or dessert plate, but the machine can be adapted to use larger wafers. Bonanni says the DishMaker would be useful in restaurants, hospitals and other institutions that use a lot of dishes.

Apple Gives iPod Video Touch
Apple recently introduced a new iPod capable of playing video. A new version of the flat-screen iMac G5 with a diminutive remote control and new media software, called Front Row, was also introduced to watch music, videos and movies from the couch.
The video iPod will be available in 30-GB and 60-GB capacities for $300 and $400 respectively. The iPod has a 2.5-inch, 320-by-240 screen, and a video-out jack that can connect it to a TV using an optional cable, sold separately. "It really is very beautiful and it's very thin," Apple representative Jobs told the press.. "This is the best music player we've ever done.... The video quality is just amazing." The video iPod will play music videos, video podcasts and movie trailers downloaded form the updated iTunes Music Store, but will not play movies ripped from DVD, which are typically copy-protected. "This is going to be a landmark product for us," said Jobs, who wore a black polo shirt, pants and sneakers instead of his usual black T-shirt and blue jeans. "This is one of the best computers we've ever made."

Source: AFP, wired and Webindia123

Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


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