Archive for January, 2007

Electric car unveiled in Japan

January 31, 2007


This car served as the basis for new electric car.

Times Now reports on car developer and importer Yoshio Takaoka, who has launched — Girasole — one of Japan’s first fully functional electric town car.

Rechargeable at home and at the price of an average middle class car, an electric car built in collaboration by Italians and Japanese is aiming to be the first practical option for Japanese households looking for green personal travel.

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Local robot’s sad Super Bowl story

January 31, 2007

Detroit News article on a lovable but clumsy robot who will get the boot from General Motors Corp. in the company’s upcoming Super Bowl commercial.

The 60-second spot, called “The Robot,” features a small robot working on the assembly line at the Grand River Assembly plant, where part of the ad was filmed.

The robot, an oddly-cute digital creation capable of contorting its nuts and bolts into human expressions, mistakenly drops a screw while working on the line making Cadillacs.

Quirky commercial, but it shows that robots are truly going mainstream.

Space station may get support past 2016

January 31, 2007

Associated Press reports that NASA may fly its next-generation space vehicle to the international space station through 2020, four years longer than the agency had originally planned to fly to the outpost.

NASA is now building the capsule-shaped Orion with the assumption that the spacecraft will visit the space station twice a year through 2020 to rotate out crews or service the orbiting lab.

Fossil fuels are to blame, world scientists conclude

January 31, 2007

Rising sea levels could threaten low-lying Pacific islands, coasts from Bangladesh to Florida and cities from Shanghai to Buenos Aires.<BR>

USA Today on the international analysis of climate change due Friday, which will conclude that humankind’s reliance on fossil fuels — coal, fuel oil and natural gas — is to blame for global warming.

The new report will lay the blame at the feet of fossil fuels with “virtual certainty,” meaning 99% sure. That’s a significant jump from “likely,” or 66% sure, in the group’s last report in 2001.

Gotta love USA Today’s use of graphics. 

Bee-sized aircraft a step closer

January 31, 2007

An aircraft the size of a bee has taken a step closer to reality, according to scientists who have discovered the secret of insect flight.

A team of experts has been studying insects in the hope of discovering groundbreaking ways to build very small aircraft. Engineers have found that many insect wings have a flexible shape that increases the amount of thrust and makes flying easier and more efficient.

The aircraft would allow them to be used in traffic monitoring, border surveillance, fire and rescue operations and as spy planes.

Brain Stents Could Give Aging Minds a Boost

January 31, 2007

Doctors say older people who had a stent put into the main artery of their brain to prevent strokes got a real bonus: improved mental function.

The small study, which included 37 patients, found that 43 percent of them scored higher on a battery of 11 cognitive tests one year after the procedure.

One researcher attributed the improved mental function simply to better blood flow to the brain.

Spaceports spring up all over

January 31, 2007

Last week, Virgin Galactic announced plans to fly spaceships from Arctic Sweden.  News@nature.com looks at where else you can reach for the stars.

Yes, That Billboard Is Talking To You

January 30, 2007

Electronic billboards created by Mini Cooper are now personally addressing Mini Cooper drivers by name in Chicago, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

The Motorby system to build consumer loyalty is made possible by a small computer chip embedded in the key fobs of more than 1,000 volunteers. The chip can be detected at distances up to 500 feet by Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which triggers a computer to find a driver-appropriate message to display on the LED board.

The movie “Minority Report” wasn’t set as far in the future as we thought.  See related item on next page.

Buzz over futuristic war machine

January 30, 2007

What exactly is Russia’s ‘fifth generation aircraft project’?

The robot you swallow to test for cancer

January 30, 2007

UK’s Daily News article on a pill-sized robot that will be able to test for tumors inside the body and transmit findings back to a computer.

Researchers behind the revolutionary device predict it could eventually save thousands of patients from painful biopsies or surgery to investigate cancer of the gastrointestinal tract.  Because the camera images are instantly beamed back to a PC, there is no need to retrieve the robot once it has finished.

The device is already being used.