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     Volume 4 Issue 73 | December 2, 2005 |

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Headlights Protect Pedestrians
A new (if unsurprising) study of headlight technology says switching to stronger headlights could reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities. According to the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, driving faster than 45 mph at night with standard headlights is not recommended because it may not provide sufficient reaction time. Xenon (or HID) headlights, which are available on more than 120 models, provide 45 percent more light. Adaptive front lighting systems, which are automatically repositioned in response to turning the wheel, let drivers see the road ahead more quickly. HID kits cost $300 or more, so concern for thy walking brethren isn't a cheap proposition.

Xbox 360 Hits a High-Def Homer
I lean back in my chair, press a button on my game pad and the console turns on. Why hasn't anyone ever thought of this before? Well, now they have. Microsoft has unleashes its next-generation video-game console, the Xbox 360. The $400 system promises a whole new level of graphics quality and a greatly refined interface with nice touches like remote on. Microsoft apparently hopes to usher in a new high-definition era with the 360 -- the Xbox 360 is HD-compatible out of the box -- where everybody has expensive high-definition televisions. Load a game like the Wild West shooter Gun, and in HD you can make out each individual leaf on a tree -- rather than the clumps of colour you get with a standard television set. Like its predecessor, the Xbox 360 is a beast. Although the slim white design makes it look smaller, it's just as tall and even wider than the original Xbox with the optional hard drive attached. The standard controller is wireless,
running on two AA batteries out of the box. An optional $20 accessory kit includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack and a USB cable that lets the controller charge while you play. Even if the console is turned off, the controllers recharge if left plugged in. And since the headset microphone for online voice chat attaches to a port on the bottom of the controller, you can charge, play and chat all at once.

Japanese probe gets almost to asteroid
A Japanese probe missed contact with an asteroid by just over 50 feet, not much in space but enough to delay its mission of collecting a sample. The Hayabusa probe aborted a descent some time back. Scientists are trying to determine if there was a technical glitch or if an automatic failsafe system was working too well. The probe was launched in 2003 and is scheduled to return to earth in 2007. Researchers hope to get it on an asteroid's surface for one second, allowing it to shoot a pellet into the rock and collect a sample of the dust kicked up by the collision. If it achieves its mission in another try and brings the dust back to earth, it would be the first material gathered directly from an asteroid. Examining asteroid samples is expected to help unlock secrets of how celestial bodies were formed because their surfaces are believed to have remained relatively unchanged over the eons, unlike those of larger bodies such the planets or moons. Hayabusa -- Japanese for falcon -- is also supposed to leave behind a metal plate bearing the names of 880,000 earthlings, including director Steven Spielberg and science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. The probe is scheduled to begin its earthward journey in December.

Babies Learning Language
A baby learning its mother-tongue is helped by following the gaze of adults, says a new study. University of Washington psychologists Rechele Brooks and Andrew Meltzoff have concluded that the developmental step of gaze-following begins somewhere in the 10th or 11th month of life. They found that infants who are advanced in gaze-following behaviour before their first birthday understand nearly twice as many words when they are 18 months old. Three years ago they reported that 12- 14- and 18-month-old infants were much more likely to look at an object when a person turns toward it with open eyes rather than with closed eyes. "Our work shows that babies can look where an adult is looking but that it isn't easy, particularly at home where there are a lot of distractions," said Brooks. "This line of research is important because following another person's line of sight is crucial for understanding the emotions of other people and, as we are now showing, learning about language," said Meltzoff. The new study is part of an effort by the researchers to understand the development of gaze-following in babies.

Cars Chat and Park Themselves
The 12th Annual World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems showcased some of the newest advances in automotive technology and offering glimpses at what the future might hold. Toyota displayed some of the most impressive demonstrations at the show, including its Intelligent Parking Assist, currently available in Japan and Europe. "The idea is to reduce the driver's workload," said Toyota engineer Masato Okuda, who demonstrated the Intelligent Parking Assist on a Prius. An ultra-wide-angle miniature camera is mounted in the back of the car, just above the license plate. When the driver moves into position to begin parallel parking and puts the car in reverse, a rear view comes up on the Prius' standard dashboard screen, displaying the available spot. The screen also uses the painted parking lines as guidelines and draws its own lines over them on the display -- similar to how television sports commentators draw on top of an image. When the driver clicks on the screen to let the Prius take over the parallel parking, the wheel moves on its own. The driver uses only the brake pedal to control speed. The whole operation takes just several seconds. The system will "take (away) the fear of parallel parking for new drivers," said Allan Pett, another Toyota engineer.

Toshiba's Giga Store House
Japan's electronics giant Toshiba employee displays the company's new hard disk audio player "gigabeat King Kong model" equipped with a 20GB HDD to store digital music contents of 500CDs at the company's headquarters in Tokyo. The HDD audio player in collaboration the new movie "King Kong" has preinstalled wall papers of the movie scenes. Toshiba has started to sell the player in Japan with a price of 290 USD.

But How Does It Clean Ketchup Stains?
In a bid to help save planet earth from impending destruction, two students at the National University of Singapore have designed a waterless washing machine. We suppose that roughly translates to a dry cleaning machine. In lieu of water, the waterless washer uses negative ions, compressed air and deodorants to clean clothes. "It's not meant to replace the traditional washing machine, but it's more a hybrid of the washing machine and the dry cleaner," says 21-year-old co-inventor Wendy Chua. It may not get tough stains out of your clothes, but it sure beats driving down to the dry cleaners every week.


Source: AFP, Wired and Webindia123

Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


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