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     Volume 4 Issue 56 | July 29, 2005 |

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Fingernails to Store Information
Japanese scientists are working to place microscopic information on fingernails with the goal of one day replacing credit cards. The team has only managed the feat on nail clippings so far, but they hope the process could one day be used to securely carry information on fingertips. Yoshio Hayasaki of the University of Tokushima and his colleagues said a single fingernail could accommodate approximately 800 kilobytes of data. That would not provide room for a high-resolution photo but would be enough to store basic identification information. Hayasaki and his team achieve the feat by using a laser that delivers very short pulses of infrared light onto a finely focused spot. When the nail is illuminated with blue laser light to excite fluorescence, recorded dots appear brighter than the material surrounding them, allowing the information to be read under a microscope. Because it is possible to adjust the depth of the writing, they say several layers of information can be superimposed within a single slab.

Paper Maps of the Future
Researchers in Britain have developed a system that augments an ordinary tabletop map with up-to-date information, photography and even video footage. The system developed by Tom Drummond, Gerhard Reitmayr and Ethan Eade at Cambridge University makes use of an overhead camera and image recognition software on a connected computer to identify the region from the map's topographical features. An overhead projector then overlays relevant information - like the location of a traffic accident or even the position of a moving helicopter - on to the map. The system can also project photographs or video footage on to a blank surface placed next to a particular geographical feature. And other information - such as useful web links - can even be sent to a handheld computer, through a wireless network, it said.

Hunger hormone linked to memory
Scottish scientists say they've determined the hormone that controls the body's hunger pangs which may also boost one's memory. The Dundee University researchers told the BBC they have found a link between the hormone leptin and the brain's memory and learning process. Leptin controls food intake and body weight and staves off the urge to eat. One of the researchers, Jenni Harvey, told the BBC: "The hormone leptin, which is known to control food intake and body weight, has been shown to exert a profound influence on learning and memory processes in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. Leptin enhances the level of communication between brain cells in the hippocampus in a process known as long-term potentiation, Harvey said, noting previous studies demonstrated people suffering from obesity have defects in their leptin levels and in the LTP process. The group's findings could, therefore, shed light on how obesity affects learning and memory.

Source: New Scientist and Webindia123

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan


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