Cell Phone-Controlled Household Robot Revealed

Cellular News reports that Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a new robot for the home, the MARON-1, as a follow-up for the HOAP-1. MARON-1 is equipped with a wide range of functions including telephone, camera, remote control, timer and surveillance equipment, and can be remotely controlled by a cell phone to operate home electronic appliances or monitor household security.

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Space Elevators

The current issue of Science
features a cover story
that discusses the current developments in space elevator technology. NASA has been
working on such devices for many years, but private companies such as Highlift Systems are now jumping on the space
elevator bandwagon, no doubt seeing the huge potential profit in a low cost per pound
delivery system. PhysicsWeb has a somewhat
older, but much more technical article
on the formation and structure of the carbon nanotubes that form the basis of the proposed
tether cables. With a development like this, we could shoot entire boy bands into space and make
the world a better place.

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Kids More Familiar with the Internet than Books

The Internet is an important homework tool and a more familiar medium than books to UK children, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by NOP Research for MSN.co.uk, involved 1,000 seven to 16 year olds from across the UK.

Some of the study’s most striking findings include the following:

  • Terminology: Fully 60% of children knew that “homepage” was the front page of a Website while only 9% could define “preface.” As well, 60% could identify a “hard drive” as part of a computer but just about 33% knew that “hardback” was a type of book.

  • Homework help: Nearly 75% of kids used the Internet to find information for a project. More than 50% said that what they learned online directly improved their grades.

  • Generation gap: A possibly worrisome finding for educational systems is that kids are more advanced than many teachers in their Web use. Almost 66% of children surveyed helped an adult use the Internet and 20% helped a teacher.

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Engineered Plant Sucks Up Arsenic

An engineered plant that safely sucks up arsenic could restore toxic soils and provide insight into producing biological tools for absorbing chemical pollutants.

By inserting two genes from the bacteria escherichia coli into the plant thale cress (arabidopsis thaliana), scientists at the University of Georgia in Athens created an arsenic-tolerant plant that stores the toxin in its leaves. The inserted genes make enzymes that digest arsenic compounds, allowing the plant to absorb them.

The plant could prove important to phytoremediation — the technique of using plants to clean toxic sites. Metal toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, copper and zinc don’t break down into non-toxic forms and must be removed from industrial and mining sites, where they’re concentrated. Typically this involves excavation and burial, which is messy and expensive. With phytoremediation, plants can be grown and then incinerated when they’ve sucked up toxins.
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Think Tank Calls for Ban on Engineering Super Intelligent Children

Warning against the potential impact of behavioural genetics research, a UK think tank is urging a ban on selecting babies with genes linked to high intelligence.

This is just one of the recommendations from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which contributes to public policymaking by addressing issues such as genetic screening and stem cell therapy.

In an October 2, 2002 report called “Genetics and Human Behaviour: The Ethical Context,” the group deals with the ethical, legal and social issues raised by behavioural genetics — the search for genes that influence such things as intelligence, violence, personality traits and sexual orientation.
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New Planet Discovered

BBC, Sydney Herald, and the Indian Express are reporting a new object, which is one-tenth the diameter of the Earth, and lies well beyond Pluto in an area of the Solar System known as the Kuiper Belt. The new world, which has been dubbed Quaoar, is about 1,280 kilometres (800 miles) across. Quaoar orbits the sun ever 288 years and is 1250 Km wide, about the size of all the asteroids combined. This discovery is being hailed as the most important solar system discovery in the past 72 years.
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Inventor Boot Camp – October 26th

Inventing: Success is the Greatest Form of Revenge.

EVENT: Inventor Boot Camp
PRODUCED BY: The DaVinci Institute
DATE: Saturday, October 26th
TIME: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

LOCATION: Omni Interlocken Hotel,
500 Interlocken Blvd.,
Broomfield, Colorado 80021

SPEAKERS: 7 Powerful Speakers, each a successful inventor

COST: Only $99 for members, $129 for non-members, with Early Registration

ENROLL TODAY: Online or call 303-666-4133

The Inventor Boot Camp is all about bringing your product to market. Come and learn how!
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UN: Robots Will Have Major Impact Over Next 5 Years

While mechanical servants aren’t yet available at Wal-Mart, a United Nations report says automated, intelligent household robots will become common in the next five years.

According to the World 2002 Robotics Report by the UN Economic Commission for Europe, there were 21,500 domestic robots sold in 2001. Between 2002 and 2005, says the report, that number should hit 700,000.

The reason: Technological improvements and falling prices. Automated vacuum cleaners hit the market in 2001 for about 1,400 euros. But new models have recently come out at far lower prices.

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Geneticists and a Tiny Worm Win Nobel Prize

Ground-breaking work on the genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death has won three researchers the 2002 Nobel Prize in Medicine. The research led to a new understanding of diseases ranging from cancer to strokes to AIDS.

The trio have “opened possibilities to follow cell division and differentiation from the fertilised egg to the adult” and identified “key genes regulating organ development,” the jury said. “The discoveries are important for medical research and have shed new light on the pathogenesis of many diseases.”

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Tags Reveal if Frozen Food is Rotten

A simple plastic disc designed to sit inside food packaging changes colour when exposed to the noxious vapours given off by rotting food. Its developers hope it will provide a simple way for consumers to tell whether food has gone off.

Dwight Miller and his colleagues at the US National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, created the polymer discs. They contain complex organic dyes that change colour drastically from clear to telltale pink, blue or yellow, depending on the type of food. Reference colours printed on the packaging will let people judge if food has gone bad.

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Burn Your Genes on CD — for $500,000

Mapping and reading J. Craig Venter’s genome took 15 years, $5 billion and some of the world’s most sophisticated computers.

Wouldn’t you, too, like your genome decoded?

Venter says he plans to offer the service, with the goal of burning individual human’s entire DNA sequences onto shiny compact discs.

It will cost about $500,000 per person, says the entrepreneurial scientist who helped decode the human genome.
More here.

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