Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 5 Issue 85 | March 10, 2006 |

   Cover Story
   Time Out
   Straight Talk
   Food For Thought
   Dhaka Diary
   New Flicks
   Write to Mita

   SWM Home


Think Large
Japan's electronics giant Matsushita Electric Industrial employee Satoko Kubo displays the world's largest 103-inch plasma display panel (PDP) television in Tokyo. Matsushita announced a surge in third quarter profits as plasma televisions and other electronic goods flew off the shelves. The group, which recently unveiled plans to build the world's largest plasma panel plant to meet booming demand for flat-screen TVs, also upgraded its full-year outlook and announced the sale of stake in a media company.

Technology may revolutionise kitchens
Food poisoning may become a thing of the past under a European Union project that would link commercial kitchen appliances to the Internet. The idea of remotely monitoring and controlling catering equipment over the Internet isn't new, said Stephen Read, coordinator of the EU's project I'MOK -- Intelligent Monitoring of Kitchens. But nobody succeeded in doing it. Our plug-and-play software and hardware is a major step forward, with the potential to reduce cases of food poisoning in the European Union by more than 113,000 annually, said Read. Researchers from Belgium, Germany, Italy and England developed a system linking each kitchen appliance with a local area or wide area network control station that's connected to the Internet. When a problem is detected, the system alerts kitchen managers via an email or text message. Designers say the system can work with anything from a single appliance in a cafe to thousands of machines owned by a large company.

Fungus Defuses Explosives
AUS scientist claims to have identified a fungus that can degrade and thus defuse unused explosives safely. Robert Riggs of Texas claimed he uses the white-rot fungus 'Phlebia radiate' (a type of mushroom) that can eat up explosives and thus silently exterminate them, avoiding environmental problems. When explosives are used for mining or demolition, some may fail to detonate and get lost in the rubble. Several methods exist to degrade explosives that have not been detonated. Many of these involve the use of chemical compounds, which are a potential environmental hazard. Avoiding these problems, Riggs' approach employs micro organisms to metabolise and degrade the explosives' compounds.

Plants to Battle Pollution
Chinese scientists are now growing poison-accumulating plants to 'suck up' poisonous elements, mostly heavy metals like arsenic, copper and zinc, from polluted soil to repair contaminated lands. "In some parts of China, scientists have grown poison-accumulating plants, widely regarded as a 'hyperaccumulators' in academic circles, on poisonous soil to accumulate heavy metals," said Chen Tongbin, a researcher with the Geographic Science and Resources institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Chen's research team has begun to renovate about 333.3 hectares of arsenic polluted fields in south China's Huanjiang County. " Soil contamination is the most dangerous because it is hidden, slow and fundamental," said Chen. A global leader in technology for collecting arsenic from soil, Chen's team proved that a brake fern widely found in southern China, with strong ability to draw arsenic from the soil.

Earth Hurtles Toward 6.5 Billion
The planet's population is projected to reach 6.5 billion at 7:16 p.m. EST Saturday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and its World Population Clock. Thomas Malthus, the 18th-century thinker who famously predicted the human population would outrun its food supply, would be astounded. Back in 1798, when Malthus penned his classic An Essay on the Principle of Population, barely a billion Homo sapiens roamed the planet. Today, Earth's population teeters on the brink of a new milestone: 6.5 billion living, breathing humans. "Malthus would be astonished not only at the numbers of people, but at the real prosperity of about a fifth of them and the average prosperity of most of them," said demographer Joel Cohen, a professor of populations at Rockefeller and Columbia universities. "He wouldn't be surprised at the abject poverty of the lowest quarter or third." The clock, which operates continuously, estimates that each second 4.1 people are born and 1.8 people die. The clock figures are estimates, subject to error, given the difficulties of maintaining an accurate global population count. However, the key concept -- that population levels are growing, but at a slower rate than in the past few decades -- reflects the consensus view of demographers. But such formulas are subject to tinkering. Changes in agricultural practices, more efficient water-desalination technologies and a host of other factors can increase the number of people the planet can support. Shifts in behaviour -- such as acceptance of new food sources that are cheap to produce -- can have a similar effect, noted Cohen.

The Disinfecting and Deodorising Washer
Tomoyo Nonaka, chairman of Sanyo Electric, shows off the company's latest washing machine, "Aqua," the world-first drum type washing machine with "Air Wash" function. The Aqua has three key features, World-first disinfecting and deodorising using Ozone function, "Air Wash"; World-first purifying water using Ozone function, "Aqaualoop", Easy-to-use design from the kitchen, "Kitchen Work Style." Sanyo will put the Aqua washing machine in Japanese market from mid March this year with a price of about 2,110 USD.

iShirt Says it With Music
We love iPod-friendly clothing, but most of the 'Podwear out there comes in either jacket or jean form, which just won't cut it when summer comes around. Now PodShirt has a tune-a-riffic t-shirt that you can wear year-round. The 29 USD iShirt not only lets everyone know just how iPod obsessed you really are, it also holds an actual iPod Shuffle right on the front. The iShirt comes with two caveats: "People who use pacemakers should never wear this shirt," and "This product can only be used with the iPod Shuffle. Any other model of iPod will not work and may be damaged."


Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


Source: AFP, Wired and Webindia123


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2006