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Japan: The new pioneer of the final frontier?

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un 26Infectious disease researchers warn against kissing pets (Mainichi)
Researchers from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) are advising pet owners to avoid kissing their dogs and cats, or being bitten or scratched by them, citing a possible infectious disease caused by a bacterium in the mouths of animals. A study group led by Koichi Imaoka, general manager at the NIID's Department of Veterinary Science, recently revealed that since 2002, six people have died after being infected with a bacterium of the genus Capnocytophaga living in the mouths of dogs and cats.

Jun 25Hayabusa capsule yields gas (Japan Times)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Thursday it has collected a trace amount of gas, possibly vaporized material from asteroid surface samples, from inside the tiny capsule jettisoned by the Hayabusa unmanned space probe earlier this month. JAXA said it will thoroughly analyze the gas. The capsule was picked up June 14 in the desert around Woomera in southern Australia following the probe's successful seven-year round-trip to the asteroid Itokawa, about 300 million km from Earth.
Jun 25Japan has world's unhappiest scientists: survey(Mainichi)
Japan has the world's saddest scientists, according to a survey conducted by the British scientific journal Nature and published June 24. According to the study, unhappiness among Japan's scientists stems from lack of time off and little discretion in choosing research themes compared to other countries, especially Denmark, which ranked first in scientist satisfaction. Meanwhile, even as the government promotes the idea that Japan is a nation built on technology, scientists here are likely to call on more support from the administration for policies to support a happier research future.
Jun 25Japan lab finds trace of gas in deep space asteroid pod(AFP)
Japan's space agency said it had found a trace of gas Thursday in a capsule thought to contain asteroid dust that was brought back to Earth after a multi-billion-kilometre (mile) space journey. Researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Sagamihara Campus in Kanagawa began opening the Hayabusa capsule, a process expected to take about a week, JAXA said. Using an optical microscope, they plan to analyse the inside of the container, which was shielded by a Frisbee-sized capsule. Opening the capsule on Thursday, they collected a trace of gas, a JAXA spokeswoman said.
Jun 24Apple's all-new iPhone goes on sale in Japan (AP)
Apple Inc. on Thursday released in Japan the iPhone 4, the latest version of its popular smartphone, with sales agent Softbank Mobile Corp. saying demand has well exceeded expectation. More than 100 people were already lining up on the eve of the phone's release in front of the Omotesando shop of Softbank Mobile in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. "Since people began lining up Wednesday, there was a long queue of about 270 people including those who stayed overnight awaiting the iPhone 4, a Softbank official said.
Jun 24Can baby 'bot help Japan reproduce? (CNN)
Yotaro cries, giggles, and kicks when you tickle him. He sneezes and his nose runs. When he is upset, his rattle calms him down. An average baby -- sort of -- since Yotaro is a robot. His inventors hope he will help Japan's sagging birth rate, among the lowest in the world. "A robot can't be human but it's great if this robot triggers human emotions, so humans want to have their own baby," said Hiroki Kunimura, the project leader for the Yotaro robot. Kunimura and his University of Tsukuba team originally built Yotaro because they wanted to create a robot that would appeal across national and cultural lines. Since a baby doesn't have any language skills yet, they chose to build a robotic infant.
Jun 22Record-level downpours pound southern Kyushu (AP)
Record-level rainfall in southern parts of southwestern Kyushu caused five municipal governments in Kagoshima Prefecture to issue an evacuation advisory Monday and disrupted train services, affecting thousands of people. The Kagoshima prefectural government and local weather observatory warned of possible disasters from landslides. The Kagoshima city government said that in the five days since Thursday the city had been inundated by the same amount of rain that usually falls in the whole of the annual rainy season.
Jun 22Univ. of Tokyo team uncovers details behind unusual rodent with thorns that chirps (Mainichi)
How a rodent in Madagascar creates sound by rubbing the thorny hairs on its back together is the subject of a University of Tokyo research report in a journal of the Zoological Society of Japan. The rodent, a "shima tenrec" (streaked tenrec), creates the sound in a manner similar to how crickets chirp by rubbing their wings together. No other mammal is known to create sound this way. "It's the result of the extremely unique evolution on this island nation," a researcher said.
Jun 21Japan: The new pioneer of the final frontier? (New York Times)
The country that invented the Walkman may be back on track to burnish its image as a technological pioneer. Right now, more than 4.7 million miles from Earth, is a revolutionary spacecraft that could be the future of interstellar travel. Japan's space program, JAXA, confirmed on June 10 they had successfully unfurled the world's first solar sail - a spacecraft that uses the velocity of sunlight to propel it. Then, just three days later, Japan announced what could be an even more impressive accomplishment: a spacecraft that left Earth seven years ago had returned home.
Jun 21Monkeys enjoy watching TV as much as humans say researchers(Mainichi)
Monkeys enjoy watching TV just as much and in the same way as human beings, according to new research by Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute. The research team, led by professor Nobuo Masataka, tracked changes in the neural blood flow of a 3-year-old rhesus monkey (equivalent in maturity to a 10-year-old human child) by beaming near-infrared light at the animal's head and measuring how much light bounces back -- a technique called "optical topography." The monkey was then shown TV images while the researchers observed which parts of the brain became active.
Jun 21Sakurajima busts eruptions record (Japan Times)
A pair of explosive eruptions Sunday on Mount Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture brought the total to 550 this year, setting a new annual record, the local meteorological observatory said. Given that the volcano has been erupting roughly twice as frequently since last year, the number of eruptions could reach 1,000, the observatory said. The previous record of 548 was set last year.
Jun 21Japan promotes nuke exports with Monju tour (Japan Times)
Delegations from Vietnam and Malaysia, in Fukui Prefecture for a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, were given a tour Sunday of the experimental Monju reactor in Tsuruga as Japan attempts to promote its nuclear technology for export. Monju, a prototype fast-breeder reactor, resumed operations in May after a more than 14-year suspension caused by an accident.
Jun 20Rainy season seems to be over in Okinawa (AP)
This year's rainy season is believed to have ended in the area surrounding Okinawa Prefecture in southwestern Japan, the Okinawa Meteorological Observatory said Saturday. The rainy spell in the area, which began May 6, appears to be over four days earlier than usual and 17 days earlier than last year, it said. In some parts of the Okinawa area, there was more rain during the season than in an average year, with precipitation totaling 761.5 millimeters in Naha, more than twice in an average year, the observatory said.
Jun 19Japanese scientist wins Kyoto Prize for stem cell research without using embryos (Fox News)
A Japanese scientist who created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells has won one of this year's Kyoto Prizes and will receive a $550,000 prize. Shinya Yamanaka, 47, developed a way to reprogram skin cells so that they can be developed into all kinds of tissue, such as that of the heart or brain. This has vast potential to speed medical research, creating genetically matched cells for use in damaged parts of the body. He developed the method as an alternative to using embryonic stem cells, an approach that required embryos to be destroyed, raising complicated ethical questions that held back research.
By J.S. on July 2, 2010

tag : Science & Technology



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