Thursday, December 13, 2007

Glow-in-the-dark Cats

Scientists have genetically modified cat clones to give them magic powers to glow under UV light, fight crime read HDTV signals - or something like that.

Here are some excerpts from the Telegraph UK online article:

Scientists have genetically modified three kittens so they appear fluorescent under ultra-violet light in a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases.

The fluffy white Turkish Angora cats now glow red when exposed to ultraviolet light and the scientists believe the process could be used to develop treatments for a range of genetic illnesses. The technology can also help clone endangered animals like tigers, leopards and wildcats.

To clone the cats the team used skin cells of the mother cat and modified its genes to make them fluorescent by using a virus, which was transplanted into the ova. The ova were then implanted into the womb of the donor cat.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Science and Technology in Seoul said: "The ability to produce cloned cats with the manipulated genes is significant as it could be used for developing treatments for genetic diseases and for reproducing model animals suffering from the same diseases as humans.

Mr Il-keun said: "This technology can be applied to clone animals suffering from the same diseases as humans. It will also help develop stemcell treatments."

Glow-in-the-dark cat could help cut disease - Telegraph

See also Transgenic Glow Pigs


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Regenerating Oil from Plastic

Eicoh will launch "YUKAKI," equipment that regenerates oil from waste plastic, on June 1, 2007. By mixing with heavy fuel oil A, this regenerated oil can be used in applications such as fuel for diesel generators.

Polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene that are collected in conformity with the Container and Packaging Recycling Law are used as raw materials. These plastics are crushed into pieces smaller than 15 mm, washed and then dried. The processed plastic is melted by heating, decomposed and then vaporized. By cooling it with water, the vaporized plastic turns into light oil. The use of a high-frequency induction heating method in the heating process results in safer operation in comparison with heating by fire. 100 parts of material will generate oil in a ratio of 70-90 parts, residue of 2-10 parts and waste gas of 8-20 parts

They are...priced at 28 million yen and 45 million yen.
(US $230,000 and $370,000)

Eicoh Launches Equipment for Regenerating Oil from Waste Plastic -- Tech-On!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

UN Atomic Agency New Radiation Symbol

The UN atomic agency on Thursday launched a new, more graphic symbol to denote dangerous radioactive material -- a skull and crossbones with a person running. The new design will stand alongside, rather than replace, the trefoil -- the original radiation symbol that resembles a kind of three-sail windmill, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

The pictogram was designed for the illiterate and the poor, who are most often injured in radiation accidents. It was tested on young children and in 11 countries around the world "to ensure that its message of 'danger - stay away' was crystal clear and understood by all," the IAEA said.

UN Atomic Agency Launches Graphic New Radiation Symbol

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Burning Our Food

By Mark Clayton | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Iowa's corn fields may seem like endless green oceans, but if dozens of new corn-to-ethanol biorefineries now in development are all built, they could swallow most of the state's corn crop.

Amid America's rush to replace gasoline with homegrown alternatives like corn-based ethanol, some researchers worry that the results may benefit motorists at the expense of higher food costs and fewer US crop exports. It also raises ethical and environmental questions about the best uses of crop land.

After languishing for years, corn prices are projected to rise about 25 percent from around $2.00 a bushel currently to $2.45 a bushel this next crop year, reports the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). But as ethanol demand for corn kicks in, prices could go much higher in the future depending on gasoline prices.

"Ethanol has had huge impact on corn markets," says Jason Hill, a University of Minnesota researcher and coauthor of a study on ethanol's environmental impact published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Science last month. "Competition between food and fuel is growing, along with the environmental consequences as more ethanol facilities are built," the study says.

About one-fifth of the 2006 corn harvest this year will be used to make ethanol, estimates Robert Wisner, an economist at Iowa State University at Ames. By 2012, ethanol's share of the corn crop could nearly double, he says.

"This is a huge transition [for corn growers] from being a food producer to being a major source of energy," says Dr. Wisner, who says ethanol may munch the state's corn crop in a few years. "Once these plants are built, they will continue operating and purchasing corn unless conditions become extremely negative."

One key impact is that the price of feed corn for cattle, pork, and poultry could rise 60 to 70 percent over the next two years, although meat and other grocery items may not see significant price gains for up to four years, Wisner says.

"Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year," writes Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental think tank.

These questions don't worry some corn farmers including Ken McCauley. He and his neighbors near St. Joseph, Mo., are partners in a new ethanol facility that goes online in January.

To them, ethanol is a breakthrough that means making a profit instead of just breaking even. "You hear a lot of talk about there not going to be enough corn, but we've created this new demand, and we're actually helping meet the energy security needs of the country," he says. "We'll grow enough for everyone."

Ethanol's rise prompts worries of a corn crunch |

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Human Brain Assists Computer

By Lakshmi Sandhana

A new brain-computer-interface technology could turn our brains into automatic image-identifying machines that operate faster than human consciousness.

Researchers at Columbia University are combining the processing power of the human brain with computer vision to develop a novel device that will allow people to search through images ten times faster than they can on their own.

The "cortically coupled computer vision system," known as C3 Vision, is the brainchild of professor Paul Sajda, director of the Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing at Columbia University. He received a one-year, $758,000 grant from Darpa for the project in late 2005.

The system harnesses the brain's well-known ability to recognize an image much faster than the person can identify it.

"Our human visual system is the ultimate visual processor," says Sajda. "We are just trying to couple that with computer vision techniques to make searching through large volumes of imagery more efficient.

The brain emits a signal as soon as it sees something interesting, and that "aha" signal can be detected by an electroencephalogram, or EEG cap. While users sift through streaming images or video footage, the technology tags the images that elicit a signal, and ranks them in order of the strength of the neural signatures.

No existing computer vision systems connect with the human brain, and computers on their own don't do well at identifying unusual events or specific targets.

Future Job: Image processor for computer company. Computers do not necessarily put people out of work. They just change the jobs. This image processing application may be a good job. Go to work in the morning, strap on your wired-up electrode cap, watch a stream of pictures flash by all day.

Wired News: This Is a Computer on Your Brain

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Monitor at Every Power Pole

An Iowa State University research team led by Arun Somani, chair and Jerry R. Junkins professor of electrical and computer engineering, is working to develop a network of wireless sensors that could monitor the country's electricity transmission system. While the sensors could pick up suspicious activity at power poles, they'd be especially useful at quickly locating any breakdowns.

America has a lot of transmission lines, substations and generators that could use some monitoring. The Department of Energy reported the country had 157,810 miles of transmission lines in 2004.

The monitoring system depends on sensors housed in black boxes just a few inches across. Somani recently picked up one of the sensors inside Iowa State's Wireless and Sensor Networking Laboratory and showed off the electronics capable of watching out for conductor failures, tower collapses, hot spots and other extreme conditions. A tiny camera can also be mounted in the sensor to look for suspicious movements around power lines.

This might leave the ordinary person with the choice of having a monitor camera outside their window or having no electricity.
Just hope that your activities do not look 'suspicious' to your power company monitors.

News Service: Iowa State University


From New Scientist:

Engineers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan are building an odour recorder capable of recording and playing back smells. Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse its odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals.

While a number of companies have produced aroma generators designed to enhance computer games or TV shows, they have failed commercially because they have been very limited in the range of smells they can produce, says Pambuk Somboon of the Tokyo team.

So he has done away with pre-prepared smells and developed a system that records and later reproduces the odours. It's no easy task: "In video, you just need to record shades of red, green and blue," he says. "But humans have 347 olfactory sensors, so we need a lot of source chemicals."

Somboon's system will use 15 chemical-sensing microchips, or electronic noses, to pick up a broad range of aromas. These are then used to create a digital recipe from a set of 96 chemicals that can be chosen according to the purpose of each individual gadget. When you want to replay a smell, drops from the relevant vials are mixed, heated and vaporised. In tests so far, the system has successfully recorded and reproduced the smell of orange, lemon, apple, banana and melon.

"We can even tell a green apple from a red apple," Somboon says. Smell researchers are interested in the institute's work. "It would be interesting to know just what range of smells this new system can detect and recreate," says Stephen Brewster, a computer scientist at the University of Glasgow, UK, who is studying whether smell can be used to help people quickly identify digital photos without opening them. "This could be an interesting delivery system for our work."

Record now and smell-back later

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Guidelines For Robot Conduct to be Written

Japan's industry ministry plans to compile safety guidelines for next-generation robots that will be providing services in areas like nursing, security and cleaning, ministry officials said Saturday.

The guidelines will require manufacturers to install enough sensors to minimize the risk of the robots running into people and use soft and light materials so they do not cause harm if they do so, the officials said.

They will also be required to install emergency shut-off buttons, they said.

Calls have been mounting for safety guidelines on the next-generation robots as they may be used for various purposes because of possible labor shortage due to Japan's sharp population decline.

While safety guidelines are set under the Occupation Health and Safety Law for the current generation of robots, which are typically used on factory production lines, there is the opinion that different guidelines are necessary for the advanced models.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to complete the guidelines by the end of the year, the officials said.

The ministry will also consider establishing an independent organization to conduct safety tests on robots and legal systems to provide insurance in case of accidents.

Safety guidelines to be set for next-generation robots