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     Volume 5 Issue 86 | March 17, 2006 |

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Building a Tourist Spaceport
A day after Space Adventures announced it was in a venture to develop rocket ships for sub-orbital flights, the company said it plans to build a $265 million spaceport in the United Arab Emirates. The commercial spaceport would be based in Ras Al-Khaimah near the southern end of the Persian Gulf, and the UAE government has already made an initial investment of $30 million. Space Adventures is best known for sending the first three space tourists to the orbiting international space station for a reported $20 million a person. Space Adventures' jump into the infant sub-orbital flight industry comes at a time when several companies already are designing spaceships to take paying passengers on short trips up into space and then back to Earth without circling the globe.

An Eye on Natural Plastics
Mitsubishi Motors is hoping to replace some of the plastics used in vehicle interiors with a natural alternative. The company is combining acid fermented from sugar cane or corn with bamboo fibre. The material would obviate the need for plastics based on petroleum products and cut the life cycle emissions for interior components by 50 percent. As petroleum continually gets more expensive, companies will continue to pursue alternatives. This isn't the first such effort by an automaker, but it does show a growing interest. One can be curious as to the safety tests regarding fire prevention and heat resistance for these materials since plastics tend to melt very slowly.

Sony Ericsson
The new mobile phone Sony Ericsson M600 is pictured in the first day of the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona This 15-milimetre-slim, 3G flip-less sibling of the P990 is a dual-mode communicator bringing UMTS and tri-band GSM/GPRS with a touch-sensitive, 2.6-inch 240x320 262K colour display. Another specialty is the dual-function QWERTY keyboard, RSS reader, and Bluetooth with A2DP stereo audio support for untethered playback of that MP3/AAC audio stored on the 80MB of internal memory or Memory Stick Micro expansion card.

Fluorescent Fishing Lines
An employee for Japanese electronics giant Matsushita Electric Industrial displays a small gadget for night lure anglers called the "Lumiline system", using an ultraviolet LED to view fluorescent fishing lines, at the Japan International Sports Fishing Show in Yokohama, Tokyo. The LED system can help a user view a fishing line, developed by Japanese chemical maker Toray, when an angler casts the line while fishing at night. The gadget will be put on the market at an estimated price of 110 USD.

Athletic Socks
University of Missouri-Columbia biology students have completed a study to determine what makes a sock good and which athletic socks are best. Knowing which socks are best could be meaningful information for diabetics, individuals with serious circulation problems and people who wear prosthetic devices. The biological engineering students started by developing a device to test 10 popular brands of athletic socks. The testing device uses a stepper motor to tilt a Plexiglas form that holds the sock material against a platform at a set pressure. The device calculates the point at which the material slips against the platform, which reveals its coefficient of friction. Blisters are more likely to develop the higher the COF where the sock and shoe meet. We found 100 percent cotton socks were usually the worst, especially when a person started to sweat, said Robert Mooney, MU biological engineering student. The team also found higher priced socks did not test any better than inexpensive brands. The material that composed the sock is the key. All cotton performed poorly, while nylon faired much better. The team is hopeful their device could help develop standards for use in sock manufacturing.

Fish while you drive
A company that with a Hummer challenger has signed actor/rapper Ice-T to promote its Rodedawg vehicles. The $5OK amphibious vehicle was designed by the Chinese military and could be used for off-road, hunting AND fishing. And boy would it turn heads on at the Wal-Mart. "Law and Order: SVU" star Ice-T gets $3 million in stock for endorsing the company's products, not bad cash for a second job.


Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


Source: AFP, Wired and Webindia123


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