Sunday, 30 May 2010

The First Question - 18 May 2010

This week's panel

JoRoan Linden, Pebbles Hannya, Matthew Anthony, Zee Pixel


Man becomes man only by his intelligence, but he is man only by his heart.
-Henri Frederic Amiel

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.
-Salvador Dali

Word-UP of the week –
“Passmode” -- the state we put ourselves in when we arrive at an airport. In passmode normal expectations about customer service, personal space, and privacy are disabled, but sufficient functionality remains for us to pass through security, navigate to the gate, find our seats, and stow our luggage.
-Pebbles Hannya

Audience Quote of the week
“et tu brute'? naw I aint et nuthin”
-Diff Redenblack


For the answers go to The 1st Question blog at

1) It is a new Japanese weather probe and daring solar sail concept to study one of the planets close to us. Its name means "Dawn" and it has a solar sail named Ikaros. The solar sail's design should provide the first test ever of solar sail propulsion based on harnessing the pressure of sunlight during an ambitious three-year journey to the far side of the sun What is this named?

2) In this corner – a Huge company & in this corner a worker who designed a product to make his employed life better. Seems like a good match yes? Unless the huge company steals the little guys idea. Which Home Depot had done with Michael Powell who crafted an simple, yet ingenious, way to keep Home Depot employees from slicing off their fingers while cutting wood for customers. A federal judge calling the company “callous and arrogant,” ordered them to pay the former Boca Raton man approx. $25 million in judgments. What is the name of the gadget that is now affixed to radial saws at nearly 2,000 Home Depots nationwide?

3) students from NYU’s Courant Institute are looking to take on Facebook . They aim to address privacy concerns by giving users complete control of their details and content. To cut out the middleman, it will be a distributed network where separate computers connect to each other directly, instead of relying on a central hub plus it will aggregate content to the regular channels. They raised their 10K capital from Kickstarter in 12 days and plan to make the service available soon. What is it called?

4) You may recall a Nokia cameraphone application called Shoot to Translate from 2008, which worked only from Chinese to English- Today there is more & it’s from Google. Traveling in a foreign country means you carry your translator with you – but what if you want to know what a foreign language text like that huge sign over the bathroom door means? “Beware of Alligators in the toilet? “ “Do not use?” “Right this way for a massage?” You need to know! Google has a new feature that will help you with this - Point your phone at a word or phrase. Use the region of interest button -Press & If it recognizes the text, it will give you the option to translate in most western languages & soon Chinese, Hindi and Arabic – what is it called?

5) LED lights have not been able to achieve this color and it has proven a challenge. The U.S. Department of Energy predict that tungsten and fluorescent light will be phased out in four and ten years respectively, saving the U.S. as much as $120 billion over the next 20 years, leaving LEDs virtually the only player in the market. They need this color to create a white LED. When scientists applied their expertise in solar cell technology they solved this long-standing technological problem. What color LED has been recently accomplished?

6) This is an atmospheric electrical phenomenon, the existence of which is disputed. The term refers to reports of luminous, usually spherical objects which vary in size. It is usually associated with thunderstorms, but lasts considerably longer than the split-second flash of a bolt. Many of the early reports say it explodes, sometimes with fatal consequences, leaving behind the odor of sulfur. Is it real – a hoax or a hallucination brought about by the fluctuating magnetic fields which can make neurons fire in the visual cortex. Serious burns and deaths attributed to it need a material explanation. What is it?

7)Invisibility cloaks have been around longer than Harry Potter --Ray Cummings had one in his 1931 story Brigands of the Moon. An invisible dress has been created by University students in Taiwan. It is a textile-based display with an integrated camera in the back- When activated; the camera records the scene behind the wearer of the dress and then displays it on the textile display on the front. This design won what award at the first AiQ Smart Clothing Design Contest?

8) Working on an assembly line seems so 20th century but an alternative approach uses information-containing molecules . The "nanobots" are molecular machines made to "carry" different sizes of gold particles to create up to eight different products. And they don’t waste time talking on the assembly line about unnecessary things – like last night’s episode of LOST. These molecular machine nanobots are made out of programmable, what?

9) Lego has made its mark on us, and now we are internalizing Lego principles with some research MIT has done with artificial organs. Tissue engineering that encapsulates living cells in polymer cubes and assembles them like Lego blocks is taking place and the process solves one of the biggest problems facing tissue engineers: Getting cells grown in a lab to assemble into three-dimensional shapes. The new technique, involves tiny blobs of a gel-like material which stick together in a desired structure. What is it called?

10) It ordinarily guides visitors in museums and exhibitions, but has been upgraded to be a robot minister. Pronouncing man and wife last week. The groom remarked, “robots are what caused us to first begin going out, and as suggested by my wife, we decided that we wanted to try this sort of wedding," the bride said she wanted to use her wedding to show people that robots can easily fit into their daily lives. "I think having a robot minister is a great idea," said Bill Ingraham, pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ann Arbor, MI. "In some cases, it might be an improvement. What robot just performed a wedding in Japan?

11) It can tell you where you are, now the Department of Homeland Security is examining whether mobile phones can be adapted to do this. San Diego is working overtime and has successfully finished the first phase and It works a little like our nose, "We have a set of sensory cells that detect specific chemical properties. What will the smartphone be able to do next if the Dept of Homeland security has its way?

12) By creating specific kinds of tiny structures on a material’s surface, researchers can make a liquid spread only in a single direction. This has potential HUGE implications and this new system developed by a team at this University say that in principle such systems could provide new ways to manipulate biological molecules. As the components on a chip continue to get smaller and thermal management becomes ever more critical. Which school is behind this liquid management system? (MIT)

13) German researcher, Sami Haddadin, is concerned with robot & human behavior. He was actually behind a study to find out what happens when a robot punches a human in the face. He now is conducting a study to see what would happen if robots suddenly started slashing, poking, stabbing, puncturing and cutting people. The intent of this study is to understand what happens when you give robots sharp objects when in the vicinity of human beings. Where do robots currently carry knives in the line of duty?

14) Researchers have succeeded in building a molecular computer that, more than any previous project of its kind, can replicate the inner mechanisms of the human brain, repairing itself and mimicking how our brains process information like no silicon-based computer can. . A computer is made of organic molecules instead of silicon. Chips built this way are not only potentially much smaller but also, because of the way they can be networked, able to do things that no other traditional computer, regardless of its speed, can do. What is this new kind of electronics called?

15)This is the first experiment to show that a sense of body ownership can be transferred to an entirely virtual one. Over 10 years ago, body-transfer illusions were first demonstrated using a false hand. In the so-called rubber hand illusion , researchers found that if they put a rubber hand on a table in front of a person, and then stroked the rubber hand and the person's own hand at the same time and in the same way, they could convince the volunteer that the rubber hand was their own. More recently, the illusion was replicated using full-body manikins and it works! Volunteers' skin conducted more electricity when their manikin double was attacked with a knife, indicating fear. The experiment which also included stroking of the arm, demonstrated the strong connection the volunteers felt to their new, virtual bodies. At what university was this just carried out?

16) Dog and cats eliminate and how to turn that into a harvestable product isn’t easy. UNTIL NOW! This allows you to pickle your pet’s poop, turning it into a harmless plant fertilizer –it consists of two airtight containers, a liquid fermentative accelerant, and a dry culture mix made from wheat bran, molasses and microorganisms. Once full, you allow the container to sit for a few weeks Et voila What you should end up with is innocuous, nutrient rich soil. What is this?

17) Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is not good-- it’s in plastic and causes health problems. A new study, however, indicates that fungus could be used to eat it. Researchers discovered that white rot fungi could absorb BPA as a source of energy instead of being released into the environment. If the fungus decides to grow, get spray on skin, plastic muscles and a rat neuron controlled brain we might be in trouble but so far we are just looking at less BPA from Scientists Trishul Artham and Mukesh Doble, of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, which conducted the research. And they just published in the journal Biomacromolecules. Who publishes this journal?

18) Robots and people - the love that dares not speak its name okay, I exaggerate- but robots do need to learn manners. Beeping & insistent ringing isn’t going to get you on the Robot welcome wagon. Behavior modification might be in order - Where a human trying to deliver a message to a colleague might pause if the other is on the phone, for instance, robots do not, and robots don’t even say “I’m sorry,” when they push you out the way. Can you drop a robot untrained into the real world but equip it with the smarts to study and mimic the behavior of those around them? Possibly Peter Henry and Christian Vollmer’s team at what school will try to do this?

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