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     Volume 5 Issue 79 | January 20, 2006 |

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Military Women Can Hack It
Female soldiers have long fought off perceptions that their bodies just aren't equipped to handle the rigours of training and warfare. But a decade's worth of research suggests that women are hardly as fragile as critics once thought. A new study by military researchers found that many assumptions about female bodies are "astoundingly wrong." Women are just as good as men -- in some cases, perhaps even better -- at handling intense exercise and decompression sickness. The findings don't change the fact that women -- on the whole -- are smaller and less powerful than men. Still, they suggest "that human physiology is more consistent than would be suggested by the social embellishments and exaggerations" that come about when there isn't any actual research, said Col. Karl Friedl, commander of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and co-author of the report.
Friedl examined the results of more than 130 studies that followed a 1994 order from Congress to spend $40 million on biomedical research into women in the military. One of the most surprising findings "was the reversal of the age-old belief that high-volume exercise would be harmful to the reproductive system of women" and hurt their bones, Friedl said. Like men, women lose the ability to reproduce if they expend more in energy than they take in through food. "But if they eat enough to match the demands of work or exercise, everything remains intact," he said. In military terms, this finding means that women don't need to get a pass from certain kinds of high-impact exercise. So, are male and female soldiers essentially the same? Hardly, said LTC Rachel Evans, a bone health researcher with the U.S. Army. Men still have an advantage in brute strength, for example. "Women definitely have a place in the military," she said. "But we should look at men and women differently."

Internet Services through Lampposts
A Singapore company has devised a way to provide Internet services through lampposts. The company, Nex-G Systems, was originally hired to provide streetlights for the largest city in Cameroon in Africa. When the lights go on, the company will also be providing technology to connect people to the Internet, said chief executive officer Ronnie Persad, a 55-year-old Singapore-based Briton. The company won a $29 million deal earlier this month to provide "smart" solar powered lampposts to Cameroon. "Initially, the idea was to install street lamps that could be remotely controlled from a central point," Persad said. "We thought, why not put in telecoms infrastructure as well so people can go online and make telephone calls too," he was quoted. The company plans to install WiFi, a short-range wireless technology, on about 4,000 lamps in Douala, providing Internet access even to some of the city's remote areas. The project will bring the Internet to sparsely populated places where it is not profitable for telecommunications operators to lay telephone cables, Persad told newspapers.

Drivers getting cash for driving less
A ground-breaking study is aimed at finding out if people will change their driving habits if they had to pay a toll for almost every mile they drive. Since July, 400 volunteers in the Puget Sound Regional Council's Traffic Choices study have been paying virtual tolls based on when and where they are driving. Devices mounted on their dashboards track where they travel and transmit the information to a central computer. Charges are deducted from prepaid endowment accounts. Participants, who will get to keep any money that is left over when the experiment ends in February, can save money by not driving as much, by choosing less-congested highways or by staying off the road at rush hour. The charges, designed to discourage driving on heavily traveled roads at peak times, range from 50 cents a mile on freeways on weekdays between 3 and 6 p.m. to nothing at all between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Plastics Hit the Roof
Even minivan passengers may soon be able to feel the sun on their faces. GE Plastics and American Specialty Cars have teamed up to created a sliding panel system to create the new category of "sunvertibles." The InfiniVu system (as shown here on a Toyota Sienna) brings the sun into both rear and front passengers. According to the company the polycarbonate resin is tough enough to prevent break-ins and also lightens the weight of the roof so that vehicles won't be as top heavy. An advantage over glass moon roofs is that the plastic is less likely to shatter in the event of a crash. So far the technology has only been used in prototype vehicles and there's no word on commercialisation. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Mr. Scott's clear aluminium becomes reality.

Levi's Introduce iPod Jeans
Levi's announced that the company will be releasing a new line of jeans specifically for iPod owners. Called RedWire DLX, the new iPod-friendly jeans will include an iPod cradle sewn into a pocket on the hip. A built-in retractable headphone unit is designed to prevent tangled wires while making it easy to pull the iPod out of the pocket to view the screen. Integrating technology with clothing is, of course, nothing new. But a move like this from a company the size of Levi's bodes pretty well for the future of such fashions.

Game + Art = Musical Fish
Let's get this out of the way first: Electroplankton isn't a video game. The best way to describe Nintendo's latest software for its DS handheld system is that it's like an interactive art installation that you hold in your hand. Tiny life forms swim around a virtual aquarium, and you can interact with them by touching the screen or making noise. Electroplankton is a love-it-or-hate-it experience. I love it. When it's in my Nintendo DS, I keep reaching over and turning it on to experiment "just one more time." Mostly, I find myself playing with "Rec-Rec," one of 10 different musical playgrounds. You see four fish swimming across the DS' screen, to the rhythm of a thumping drumbeat. Tap on a fish using the stylus pen and you can record about four seconds of sound into it through the DS hardware's built-in microphone. One of the most addictive segments, called "Hanenbow," challenges you to spin the leaves on an aquatic plant so that a school of jumping fish will bounce perfectly from leaf to leaf, creating the optimum sound. If you don't want to play the music yourself, you can sit back and let the plankton entertain you with an Audience mode that jumps between aquariums, playing music automatically.

Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN

Source: Wired and Webindia123


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