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     Volume 4 Issue 74 | December 9, 2005 |

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Shower to the People
Suzuki is trying to whet the vehicle appetite of people who love to spend their time in the water. At an auto show in Florida, the auto maker is showing off the Sea, Wave, Blizzard and Dune concept cars targeted at a young physically active demographic. The Sea's youthful enhancements include a showerhead to rinse out the saltwater when standing behind the vehicle, and instead of keys, the owner's fingerprints are used to unlock the vehicle. There's also wireless Internet access and a combo DVD navigation system. The Wave includes a rear camera for simplifying parallel parking in front of your boat and the rear tailgate can be used for barbecue. For winter warriors, the Blizzard has an integrated boot/glove warmer and a camera that watches over the roof rack.
Ah, to be young with lots of disposable income. One can also wait for the baby-centric model that includes a portable playpen, diaper dispenser and tailgate that converts to a changing table.

Your palm just got smaller
A model unveils the latest of the line of PDA developed by Taiwan's electronics company Dopod International Corp during a press conference at Taipei. The product weighs 126 grams, is installed with a global positioning system and carries a price tag of 445 USD.

Dung study confirms dinos ate grass
Swedish researchers say their study of dung fossils proves dinosaurs ate grass -- dispelling the belief grass was uncommon 65 million years ago. The study suggests grass was possibly an important food for early mammals. Caroline Strömberg and her colleagues from the Swedish Museum of Natural History studied mineral particles produced by grass and other plants preserved in fossilised dinosaur dung from central India. The 65 million to 67 million-year-old dung fossils were from titanosaur sauropods -- large, vegetarian dinosaurs. Strömberg told the BBC News Web site dinosaurs seem to have been indiscriminate feeders making it difficult to determine how widespread grass feeding was. But she added that at least five different kinds of grasses were found in the droppings.

Sea Ice to Irrigation Water
Chinese scientists have developed a method of extracting fresh water from the ocean's winter ice.
Shi Peijun, head of the research team, said salinity of the water extracted from ice is below 0.2 percent, which is within the limits for potable water. The extraction process costs about 0.49 USD per tonne. Large-scale experiments will be launched prior to industrial production. North China's Tianjin plans to build a major 'sea ice' water utilisation demonstration project that will be used to irrigate various cash crops. Shi said processing the winter ice near Bohai Sea in north China would yield 30 billion cubic meters of fresh water annually. That's close to the amount of water that flows from the Yellow River into the Bohai Sea each year.

Butterflies evolved their own LEDs
A University of Illinois researcher invented the light-emitting diode in 1962, but butterflies beat Nick Holonyak by 30 million years, British scientists say. The University of Exeter researchers said they have proven that African swallowtail butterflies belonging to the Princeps nireus species evolved an identical method to signal each other in the wild. Unlike the diodes, the butterfly's system clearly doesn't have semiconductor in it and it doesn't produce its own radioactive energy, said researcher Peter Vukusic. "That makes it doubly efficient in a way. But the way light is extracted from the butterfly's system is more than an analogy -- it's all but identical in design to the LED. When you study these things and get a feel for the photonic architecture available, you really start to appreciate the elegance with which nature put some of these things together," Vukusic said.

An Ankle Bracelet for Cars
Here's a device that will prevent vehicles from going missing. The Cyber Tracker from Homeland Integrated Security Systems is a GPS device used to remotely track a vehicle's whereabouts.
The tracking software can be configured to alert the monitor by phone or email if the vehicle goes outside of a designated area or encroaches an off-limits area, and provides reports showing where the vehicle has traversed. Yes, it's a bit big brother-ish but necessary to make sure that company vehicles aren't taken to inappropriate places during work hours. California had a serious problem keeping tabs on state-owned vehicles, losing 30,000 of its fleet.

Polymer gel can block toxic leakage
North Carolina researchers have devised a potentially patentable method to arrest toxic leakages of genetically engineered viruses. These viruses have plagued attempts to use gene therapy against cancerous tumours, but the problem has been that viruses carrying anti-tumour genes have tended to leak from tumours, proving toxic to other body tissues. The Duke University researchers have developed a biocompatible polymer that briefly changes from a liquid at 39 degrees Fahrenheit to a gel at body temperature to block most gene-bearing viruses from being diverted through the blood stream to the wrong targets, the scientists reported in research journals. With this method we can reduce the misdirected virus dissemination by a factor of 100 to 1,000 times, said Fan Yuan, an associate biomedical engineering professor at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering who led the studies. That's enough of a reduction to solve the problem.


Source: AFP, Wired and Webindia123

Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


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