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SCI-ZONE

By Dr. Freak

Toronto Gets Cooled By Lake Ontario
Ir cooled by the frigid waters deep in Lake Ontario started bringing relief to buildings in downtown Toronto after the valves were symbolically opened on the multi-million-dollar project. The project, which is believed to be the first of its kind in North America, could be cooling significant parts of the downtown by the time the heat and humidity hits Toronto next summer. Enwave, co-owned by the City of Toronto and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, will draw cold water from far out in the lake, using three intake pipes 83 meters below the surface to collect fluid that is barely above freezing. Brought to the John St. Pumping Station, the lake water is used to cool down other water that will then be used to lower the temperature in downtown buildings. The original water continues on into the city system, is treated and enters the drinking supply. Compared to traditional air-conditioning, Deep Lake Water Cooling reduces electricity use by 75 per cent and will eliminate 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off of the streets of Toronto. The company says that they have the capacity to air condition 100 office buildings or 8,000 homes the equivalent of 32 million square feet of building space.

Digital Camera Gets Disposable
In our country, one-time-use inexpensive cameras aren't usual. But in other countries, people who don't like to spend some bucks for cameras buy those disposable cameras for occasional photography purposes. And now, in USA, they have got another step ahead and guess what, disposable digital cameras are out in the market by Pure Digital Technologies. Pure Digital is a $19.99 2.0 mega pixel digital camera, with a colour preview screen and the ability to delete pictures. After you bring it in for processing, you get a free picture CD along with your prints. This is quite a bargain for a digital camera. Moreover, its reusable, so after its disposed, the manufacturer recycles, refurbishes and repackages the camera.

Epson Introduces Flying Robots
Epson has developed a very small (8.6g without battery) flying device, something like a bluetooth-controled palm-top helicopter. Epson made the robot light-weight by developing the world's smallest and lightest gyro-sensor. Also helping to shed weight is the high-density mounting technology used to package the micro-robot's two microcontrollers including the Epson-original S1C33-family 32-bit RISC processor. To top it off, Epson added an image sensor unit that can capture and transmit aerial images via a Bluetooth wireless connection to a monitor on land, and they also devised two LED lamps that can be controlled as a means of signalling. Since it can carry 5 grams for only 3 minutes, I can't imagine much practical use, but it's still neat. Epson says that the key concept behind the efforts is "to expand the horizons of micro-robot activities from two-dimensional space to three-dimensional space" (whatever that means).

Scientists Create Artificial Retina
Restoring sight to the blind is a Biblical miracle, a sign of divine powers. Now it is being tested at the Boston Retinal Implant Project by neuroophthalmologist Joseph Rizzo III and MIT electrical engineer John Wyatt Jr., with very limited success. These scientists have planned of a retinal prosthesis an implant that would take a wireless signal from a video camera, bypass the light receptors of the retina, and stimulate the healthy nerve cells directly to feed the image to the brain. They only have fifteen electrodes implanted, but it's a start. By 2006 they hope that a permanent prosthesis will be possible. Their research is quite a breakthrough in this field and this will definitely bring hope to the blind people. Will artificial eyes and retinal replacements someday be as good as good human eyes?

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