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     Volume 5 Issue 95 | May 19, 2006 |

   Cover Story
   Straight Talk
   Water Crimes
   Food for Thought
   View from the Bottom
   Book Review
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   Dhaka Diary
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Get Perfect Shots in Tight Spots
Yes, it looks like some post-atomic-blast-mutated insect from a '50s sci-fi flick, but it's actually a camera tripod. The incredibly flexible Gorillapod can hold up to a 12.5-ounce digital camera and doesn't even need a flat surface on which to sit. Attach it to a rocky outcropping, wrap it around a tree limb or hang it from a chandelier. This thing is built to help you get the perfect shot no matter what the angle.

Power Up with Magnetic Bacteria
A 16-year-old high school student has invented a new way of producing electricity by harnessing the brawny power of bacteria. Kartik Madiraju, an 11th-grader from Montreal, was able to generate about half the voltage of a normal AA battery with a fifth of an ounce of naturally occurring magnetic bacteria. And the bacteria kept pumping current for 48 hours non-stop. "No one has ever used magnetic bacteria to produce an electrical current before," Madiraju said. The experiment is being presented this week at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, an über-science geek competition in which the chipmaker annually hands out $4 million in prize money to students. Magnetotactic or magnetic bacteria have extremely small crystals of magnetite inside their bodies. Only discovered in 1975, these aquatic bacteria are quite common and found in fresh water and saltwater around the world. Madiraju put the free-floating bacteria, which are essentially tiny magnets, into plastic boxes less than a fifth of a cubic inch. Metal strips on two sides act as electrodes and get them spinning, generating a magnetic field and an electric current.

Juiced up Headphones
Employee for Japanese electronics giant Sony, Masayo Endo, displays a new high-performance inner-ear style headphone called the "MRD-EX90SL", which has a diagonally earpiece with a large 13.5mm driver unit to deliver smooth bass and clear treble sounds, at the company's headquarters in Tokyo. Sony will put it on the market mid May with a price of USD 104.

Car Steels Itself for Impact
A car that can anticipate a side-on impact and subtly alter its body shape to absorb the force of the crash is being developed by researchers in Germany. The car will use hood-mounted cameras and radar to spot a vehicle on course for a side-on collision. Once it realises an impact is imminent it will activate a shape-shifting metal in the door. This reinforces the bond between door and frame, which is normally a weak spot, and distributes the force of the blow more safely. Side impacts are as common as front or rear ones but cause many more injuries, says Joachim Tandler, a car safety researcher at engineering firm Siemens who is working on the EU-funded project. "It's because there is so little crush zone, and less energy is absorbed before the passenger compartment is crushed," he said. There is also insufficient time for a conventional safety system such as a built-in airbag to react and protect a passenger. Tandler's team is working on a solution that will help protect those inside a car even before it is struck. The researchers have begun testing the impact-sensing system on experimental vehicles and have built prototypes of the shape-changing, frame-reinforcing system. "Starting next year we will have a fully integrated system on a car," he says. "In 2008 we will start full crash tests.".

Tag - You're a Criminal
Police officers in hot pursuit of criminals will be able to shoot the fleeing vehicles with sticky GPS devices to make sure they don't lose the trail. The StarChase Pursuit Management System, will be tested later this year the Los Angeles Police Department and will be available to law enforcement next year. Tagging the bad guys makes sense as it reduces need for the police to stay just a few feet behind at high speeds. This should result in fewer accidents and higher arrest rates. I'd like something similar for civilians to be able to tag bad drivers. Many times I've had the urge to paintball the idiots who cut me off or drive recklessly.

Chair Puts the "Motion" in Motion Pictures
Ever wonder what it's like to be charged by an army of orcs? Or to be chased by a hungry T. Rex? The Sybaris is likely as close as you'll get to finding out. This luxury recliner from Armed Chair Motion Simulators incorporates a motion simulation system that mimics the action on screen as it happens. There are currently almost 500 movies that are compatible with the Syrabis, and the chair is available in 83 colours and two leather finishes. Of course for the USD 11,999 the chair costs, you could finance a small film of your own.

Stun Gun Shoes Dominate Aggressors
There's nothing quite as sexy as a scantily clad vixen with 100,000 volts of paralysing power packed into her slippers. The Electric Cinderella Shoes can stop an attacker in his tracks when activated by a necklace transmitter, delivering a single zap before needing to be recharged. So make sure you hit the target the first time around. We're absolutely certain this footwear won't make it through airport security, so you'll have to come up with a more clever self-defense system for those days when you're travelling by air.


Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN


Source: AFP, Wired and Webindia123


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