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     Volume 5 Issue 114| September 29, 2006 |

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Fingertip Tech
A worker displays a strip of a hybrid silicon laser chip at company headquarters in Santa Clara, California. Intel announced that its researchers, teamed up with researchers from the University of California, have successfully used standard silicon manufacturing processes to build the world's first electrically powered Hybrid Silicon Laser, a key element in producing low-cost, high-bandwidth silicon photonics devices. These will be used in future computers and data centres.

Greening Cars May Do Harm
A model from Japan's robot venture ZMP unveils the world's first music robot "miuro", which can play various types formatted digital music, with four built-in stereo speakers, and is technically supported by Japanese audio maker Kenwood. The egg shaped robot can move automatically or by remote control with recognition of the map of the room and also dance to tunes. ZMP will put it on the market at the end of this year with a price of USD 950.

Seaweed may burn fat
Japanese researchers say a type of seaweed containing a compound called fucoxanthin can help burn away body fat. The research done at Japan's Hokkaido University says fucoxanthin is an antioxidant found in wakame, a type of brown kelp used in Asian cuisine. The study said fucoxanthin burned fat in lab tests on rats and obese mice, prompting the rodents to lose weight, says Dr. Kazuo Miyashita, who led the study. The team isolated fucoxanthin and added it to the animals' food. The compound appeared to boost the rodents' production of a protein involved in fat metabolism. Their experiment also found that levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA rose in the rodent livers. DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish that help protect against heart disease and depression. Miyashita says he hopes to develop a pill containing fucoxanthin. Studies in humans may be 3 to 5 years away.

Vocal Smoke Alarm
The ear-piercing shriek that emits from conventional fire alarms may be enough to get your rear in gear if your house is ablaze -- however your kids may sleep right through it. A familiar voice is more likely to rouse children from their slumber. That's the idea behind the KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm. A built-in microphone allows parents to record a message in their own voice that will wake the children and provide them with emergency instructions. And the device's photoelectric sensor detects smoke before a full-blown blaze breaks out. The alarm is available online for about USD 30.

Feather fashions may be in your future
U.S. scientists say some day it might be routine to wear apparel made of chicken feathers -- but, don't worry, they say the clothes won't resemble plumage. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln plan to convert not only chicken feathers, but also rice straw and other agricultural waste products into conventional-looking fabrics as a way to reduce the use of petroleum-based synthetic fabrics. The researchers say the feather-based fabric will resemble wool, while the rice straw fabric will look and feel more like linen or cotton. Both fabrics, however, are still in development and might not reach the consumer market for several years. With millions of tons of chicken feathers and rice straw available worldwide each year, the agricultural wastes represent an abundant, cheap and renewable alternative to petroleum-based synthetic fibers, Textile Science Professor Yiqi Yang and doctoral candidate Narendra Reddy who conducted the research said. And unlike petroleum-based fibers, such agro-fibers are biodegradable.

Isaac Newton was an Alchemist
Professor Kenneth Knoespel of the Georgia Institute of Technology says Sir Isaac Newton, known primarily for his work in math and physics, actually spent most of his time researching in alchemy. Alchemy, as Newton practiced it in the 17th and 18th centuries, was research into the nature of chemical substances and processes -- primarily the transmutation of materials from one type of matter to another. Newton and others conducted experiments, but also incorporated philosophical thought in their attempts to uncover the mysteries of the physical universe. Newton's extensive work on universal history (which presents human history as a coherent unit governed by certain immutable principles) provides an essential setting for linking his work on alchemy and his work heading England's mint in the 1690s.

Biohazard detection method
Scientists say finding bacteria, viruses and other substances in hospitals or airplanes may soon be as easy wiping a napkin across a surface. It's very inexpensive, it wouldn't require that someone be highly trained to use it, and it could be activated for whatever you want to find, said Assistant Cornell University Professor Margaret Frey, who developed the technology along with Assistant Professor Yong Joo. So if you're working in a meat-packing plant, for instance, you could swipe it across some hamburger and quickly and easily detect E. coli bacteria, she said. Once fully developed, the biodegradable absorbent wipe would contain nanofibers containing antibodies to numerous biohazards and chemicals, Frey said. It would signal by changing colour or through another effect when the antibodies attached to their targets. Users would simply wipe the napkin across a surface; if a biohazard were detected, the surface could be disinfected and retested with another napkin to be sure it was no longer contaminated.

Compiled by

Source: AFP, Wired and Webindia123

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