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     Volume 4 Issue 49 | June 3, 2005 |

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The seven metre tall WEEE man
The WEEE man isn't so wee. What is he? A seven-metre tall human figure made of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE, for those of you who hadn't guessed). The WEEE man, unveiled by Canon Europe and the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts) is built out of three tons of electronic and electrical waste, apparently about what the average consumer will produce in a life time. Canon, who jointly launched the event, said in a press release that it will "help promote and encourage better waste management and recycling in the community. It is in a bid to make the disposal of electrical and electronic goods as widely accepted as the recycling of newspapers, glass bottles and aluminium cans." James Leipnik, chief of communication and corporate relations at Canon Europe added that "Last year, 1,000 business machines a month were either reused or recycled by Canon's UK operation to prevent them being added to landfill sites. The WEEE man also draws attention to legislation going through the European parliaments at the moment, which would ensure that retailers would have to take back WEEE, inform customers of their WEEE recycling schemes and ensure that that the WEEE is recycled. A joke here would be cheap, so don't even think about it.

Education = Sound Sleep
A new study suggest that the better educated a woman is, the better she sleeps at night. The findings are based on a nationally representative Taiwanese survey on social trends, involving nearly 40,000 people aged 15 and older. Questions included marital status, employment/occupation, educational attainment and household income, as well as the number of family members under the age of 15. Insomnia was assessed using criteria developed by the World Health Organisation, and scored on a scale of 1 to 5. Insomnia was more common among those who were older, divorced/separated, had low educational attainment, poor health, or low income. Children living at home also increased the rates of insomnia. These findings applied to both sexes but rates of insomnia were still significantly higher among women, who averaged 1.22 more points on the insomnia scale than men. Sex differences in insomnia score were most noticeable for divorced/separated women. The stress associated with single parenthood, loss of income or the stigma of a marriage break-down could all be possible factors, suggest the authors.

Using Your Head
A study on rats by US researchers has located a brain circuit that encodes decision-making behaviour and could lead to better treatment for stroke victims. Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University reported they have located the circuit in the orbital frontal cortex of rats, just behind the eyes. The area is crucial in both animals and humans to encoding visual and other cues that help make decisions. Victims of stroke or other brain injury often have problems adapting their behaviour to new circumstances, instead repeating old patterns. The new research shows why that happens. Rats with damage to that area of their brains proved unable to process new information to help them choose a sugary treat instead of an unpleasant tasting one, the researchers found. "Though we still don't know precisely what it is about damage to that area of the brain that causes this, we now know where it is happening, which is an important first step," said co-author Michela Gallagher.

Robot that eats flies and stinks of poo
What could be better! A robot that eats flies and then uses the energy generated from that to power itself. The robot lures the flies in with a bait made from human turd, making it probably the best robot ever invented. The fly-eating poo bot is the product of Chris Melhuish's ripe imagination, along with his team of experts at the University of the West of England in Bristol. And while you may think a robot such as this is typical from a nation fixated with toilet humour, they haven't just come up with the idea for the sake of it. The EcoBot II (as they've rather spoil-sportingly dubbed it - think of the fun they could have had) is being designed so that it can go bumbling off on its own into remote or inhospitable areas to measure things like toxins in the air. The eating flies bit is just a sideline for this "release and forget" machine.

Software to combat hi-tech crimes
Cyber criminals and terrorists, beware! New software for "digital document fraud detection and fixing" has just been developed. The brainchild of Gaurav Gupta, a researcher of Jadavpur University in West Bengal, the software does not augur well for the criminally inclined. "If we live in the information age, so do the criminals. The threat of document frauds like counterfeiting of currency, faking stamps, fraudulent generation and alteration of judicial papers challenges our forensic readiness," Gupta. Gupta, who is only 25, also deals with detection and deciphering of secret information that criminals communicate using novel innovative methods like hiding information in images, sound files or other types of files known as steganography. The 9/11 attack, for instance, was planned using steganography. Conventional fraud like manipulation of and tampering with documents has seen a paradigm shift in the form of Digitised Document Frauds (DDF) through the digital technological advancements. The current trend of using hi-tech methods to generate fraudulent documents was considered to be safer. "Combating DDF is like a cat and mouse game between malicious people and law enforcement and other investigative agencies," he said.

Mapping methane from space
Using satellite technology, researchers have for the first time mapped how much of the greenhouse gas methane is being emitted and from where. The highest methane emissions come from the Gangetic plains in India, Southeast Asia and parts of China, according to researcher Christian Frankenberg and his colleagues at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. The main source seems to be rice and cattle farming - both activities widespread in the tropics - and the production of fossil fuels in the industrialised Yellow River basin in China. Although methane makes up one-fifth of the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities, researchers agree that human emissions of carbon dioxide pose a greater threat to the global climate.
The researchers used a satellite to measure the intensity of sunlight that reached the satellite after passing through the earth's atmosphere. Gases in the atmosphere, such as methane, absorb light energy. Different gases absorb different amounts of energy.
By measuring the 'leftover' energy after the light has passed through the atmosphere, the satellite was able to calculate which gases the light has had to pass through.


Source: TechDigestUK, IANS, and Webindia123

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2005