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     Volume 4 Issue 29 | January 14, 2005 |

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Oh! those Hate Mails
Think twice before you send a hate mail to anyone, as a survey has found that almost two-thirds of people save rude or incriminating mails to use as potential evidence against the sender. The poll conducted by Lycos.co.uk found that twenty-four per cent of 2,600 people questioned keep work-related emails with the specific intention of using them in any future dispute. "We've become a nation of email hoarders and people should be careful what they say." Emails to friends, colleagues or a partner could return to "haunt" the sender," Lycos spokeswoman Toni Smith said. "Sending a quick email is second nature now but, remember, you can be held accountable for your words," she added.

Geckos and their Feet
The super sticky feet of geckos allow the animals to cling easily to nearly any surface. In fact, a single toe contains enough foot hairs, known as setae, to support the animal's entire body weight. Researchers are thus hoping to employ the gecko's secrets to manufacture adhesives with similar properties. Now scientists can add another impressive characteristic to the list: setae are self-cleaning. Previous research had hinted at a built-in cleaning process for gecko feet but just how the creatures kept their toes tidy remained a mystery because they neither groom their footpads nor secrete fluids. A recent study by Kellar Autumn and Wendy R. Hansen of Lewis and Clark College found that it takes only a few steps for setae to shed tiny silica spheres. "Self-cleaning in gecko setae may occur because it is energetically favourable for particles to be deposited on the surface rather than remain adhered to the spatulae," they said. The findings indicate that gecko foot cleaning occurs even under extreme exposure to clogging particles. To best imitate this property in synthetic adhesives, the authors posit that an array of adhesive nanostructures should be made out of a relatively hard material having a small surface area and low surface energy for optimum performance.

Computer Tool for the Visually Impaired
An innovative tool that people with poor eyesight can use while handling computers is getting a massive response since its launch a week ago, says its 19-year-old creator Stephen Antony. "I am getting a huge response from people who are thankful because they have got over a major problem of using the net," says Antony, who has thrice won the Superior Coder of the Planet Award from the US. The tool can change colours and font sizes to suit those visually impaired and there is also a virtual newsreader for the blind. "The visually challenged can choose blue, red, green, yellow or white colour. The size of the font can be increased or decreased at the strike of a key," says Antony. For the blind, Antony has the virtual newsreader 'Charlie' that can read out the news. The new tool can be downloaded from the website www.webspidy.com that Antony launched three months ago. The site logs more than 100,000 hits a day. The biggest advantage of the tool is that it comes totally free and can be accessed by anyone from anywhere in the world.

Flexible Scanner works on Curved Surfaces
A bendy, credit card-sized sliver of plastic will let you scan where no scanner has gone before. The idea is that you will plug the scanner into a mobile phone which will both provide power for it and act as its display and storage medium. And because it is flexible, it will let you copy just about anything, even if it's on a curved surface such as an open book or the label on a wine bottle. The lightweight device, unveiled last week at an electronics conference in San Francisco, is the latest development in the field of flexible organic electronics, which exploits the electronic properties of conducting plastics. Light-emitting plastics are already being used in flexible computer displays, and organic LED-based TV screens are in development. But the new flexible scanner is using light-sensitive organic components instead of light-generating ones

Mysterious Signals from Light Years Away
When astronomers involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) pointed a massive radio telescope in Puerto Rico at the sky, it picked up an enigmatic signal that had been received several times before from one particular corner of space. It could have been generated by a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon, there was a slim chance it was a signal from aliens. "It's the most interesting signal from SETI@home yet," said Dan Werthimer, chief scientist for the project, which uses programs running as screensavers on millions of personal computers to sift through signals picked up by the telescope.

Source: Webindia123.com / NewScientist.com / Scientific America.com

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

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