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Japanese Company Makes Low-Calorie Noodles Out of Wood 156

AmiMoJo writes: Omikenshi Co, an Osaka based cloth manufacturer best known for rayon, a fibre made from tree pulp, is expanding into the health food business. Using a similar process, Omikenshi is turning the indigestible cellulose into a pulp that's mixed with konjac, a yam-like plant grown in Japan. The resulting fibre-rich flour, which the company calls "cell-eat," contains no gluten, no fat and almost no carbohydrate. It has just 60 calories a kilogram, compared with 3,680 for wheat.

Japanese Rocket Launches Its First Commercial Satellite ( 31

schwit1 writes: Using its H-IIA rocket, upgraded to lower cost, Japan launched its first commercial payload today, putting Canada's Telestar 12V into geosynchronous orbit. UPI reports: "Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency said the H-IIA rocket was upgraded for the launch, permitting the satellite to stay closer to its geostationary orbit. Tokyo's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he hoped the launch would exhibit the quality of Japan's rocket engineering, and that the successful launch would result in more orders from other global corporations. Following the launch, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries vice president Naohiko Abe said the firm plans to actively promote the H-IIA for satellite launches."

Telemedicine: The State of Telepresence In Healthcare ( 34

Hallie Siegel writes: Telemedicine can let doctors and nurses check in on patients who might be recovering at home, or monitor people in remote locations where it's hard to access physician services. This article gives an overview of the different systems that are out there, what are some of the legal obstacles, and how various countries are investing in the technology. From the article: "The Japanese government has allocated about $23M USD to the core technology market in an effort to develop products for its aging population. Toyota, for example, is focusing on home living assistance robots that will allow those with limited mobility the opportunity to live at home. While Japan might have the largest market in the world of 65+ citizens (over 30 million as of 2014), South Korea is estimated to be allocating nearly $6B USD to their own robotics research. The Koreans are taking a different approach, using robots for mundane tasks of delivering food, allowing humans to provide care."

This October Was the Hottest Ever Measured ( 369

GregLaden writes: Scientists track the global surface temperature, an average of readings from thermometers at approximately head height, and an estimate of sea surface temperatures, in order to track global warming. Over the last year or so we have been seeing many record-breaking months. Now, both the Japan Meteorological Agency and NASA have identified October as an extraordinary month. October 2016 is significantly warmer than any other in the NASA record, which goes back to 1880.

Full Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership Released (Officially, This Time) ( 247

EmagGeek writes: The full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, has been officially released, and is available for the public to see. According to CNN, The TPP is a 12-nation deal that touches on 40% of the global economy. The provisions of the deal would knock down tariffs and import quotas, making it cheaper to import and export, and open new Asia-Pacific markets. Negotiations have been going on for years, led by the United States and Japan — with China conspicuously absent from the list of signees.

That "Unbreakable" Glass That's "As Strong As Steel" Isn't Either 74

TheAlexKnapp writes: A number of stories about a new paper in Scientific Reports claim that it describes an "unbreakable" glass that's as "strong as steel." In a report about the paper for Forbes, Carmen Drahl notes that these claims are exaggerated. But that doesn't mean that the researchers haven't produced a promising material. From Carmen's story: "According to their calculations, this glass performed about as well as a heavy duty commercial glass. What this report describes isn't some miracle material, but a well-above-average performing glass that seems promising on a tiny scale."

Analog Still Big In Japan ( 360

An anonymous reader writes: BBC News reports that Japan, the island nation famous for robotics, 4G phones, bullet trains and corporate tech giants, is actually run by fax machines, human traffic lights, and 4.2 million small to medium-sized companies. Wary of connecting to networks for fear of data theft and hacking, Japanese office workers average just half the productivity of their American counterparts. Whether this conservativism in IT can prevent automation and robots from replacing people remains to be seen. However, the use of cassette tape recorders, hand-written data disk mailers, and 1997-era e-mail systems with near zero storage definitely hurts competitiveness in the global market.

Experts Chime In To Explain Fukushima Thryoid Cancer Concerns ( 130

An anonymous reader writes: Experts and the lead author of the Fukushima study findings explain what the data really tells us and the flaws in claims that there is a link between the disaster and cancer rates. From the article: "It is too soon to determine the influence of radiation exposure on thyroid cancer risk among children and adolescents who were exposed to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, according to the lead author of findings presented at the 15th International Thyroid Congress (ITC) and 85th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) this week in Lake Buena Vista, Florida."

Should Japan Restart More Nuclear Power Plants? ( 313

Lasrick writes: Seth Baum, executive director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, writes in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that Japan should restart more of its nuclear reactors (the Sendai nuclear plant was restarted in August). The reason is simple, writes Baum: "Japan is now building 45 new coal power plants, but if it turned its nuclear power plants back on... it could cut coal consumption in half. And coal poses more health and climate change dangers than nuclear power."

First Cancer Case Confirmed From Fukushima Cleanup ( 138

AmiMoJo writes: Japan's labor ministry has confirmed the first cancer case related to work at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Following on from reports of elevated levels of child cancer and 1,600 civilians deaths from the evacuation, this is the first time that one of the 44,000 people involved in the clean up operation has been diagnosed with cancer resulting directly from the accident. The worker was involved in recovery and cleanup efforts at the plant after it suffered a meltdown in March, 2011. He was in his late 30s at the time, and has been diagnosed with leukemia. The ministry has approved workers' compensation. Radiation exposure has been linked to the onset of leukemia.
The Military

US Will Clean Area In Spain Where Hydrogen Bombs Fell ( 216 writes: Rafael Minder writes in the NY Times that almost 50 years after coming close to possibly provoking a nuclear disaster, Secretary of State John Kerry, following years of wrangling between Spain and the U.S., signed an agreement to remove contaminated soil from an area in southern Spain where an American warplane accidentally dropped hydrogen bombs. In 1966 a bomber collided with a refueling tanker in midair and dropped four hydrogen bombs, two of which released plutonium into the atmosphere. No warheads detonated, narrowly averting what could have been an explosion more powerful than the atomic strikes against Japan at the end of World War II. Four days after the accident, the Spanish government stated that "the Palomares incident was evidence of the dangers created by NATO's use of the Gibraltar airstrip," announcing that NATO aircraft would no longer be permitted to fly over Spanish territory either to or from Gibraltar. The U.S. later announced that it would no longer fly over Spain with nuclear weapons, and the Spanish government formally banned U.S. flights over its territory that carried such weapons.

Neither Kerry nor Spanish Foreign Minister García-Margallo said exactly how much contaminated soil would be sent back, where it would be stored in the United States, or who would pay for the cleanup — some of the issues that have held up a deal until now. Spain has insisted that any contaminated soil be sent to the United States, because Spain does not have plants to store it. Concern over the site was reawakened in the 1990s when tests revealed high levels of americium, an isotope of plutonium, and further tests showed that 50,000 cubic meters of earth were still contaminated. The Spanish government appropriated the land in 2003 to prevent it being used.


Video Game Music Is Saving the Symphony Orchestra ( 111

An anonymous reader writes: As music distribution has flourished, the popularity of live performances in certain genres has begun to wane. Symphony orchestra attendance has been dropping for years. A new report says ticket sales have dropped by 2.8% annually for the past decade. The downward trend has caused many performing groups to experiment with ways to appeal more to modern audiences. One way they're finding success is by including music from video games. "Orchestral videogame concerts first gained a following in Japan in the mid-1980s and spread to parts of Europe in the early 2000s. They began appearing regularly in pops repertoires in the U.S. about a decade ago as orchestras sought younger, more diverse audiences. Unlike classical-music performances, videogame shows feature arrangements that blend looping tracks of music designed to match various moments in a game, such as a slow, eerie medley of piano, percussion and string as the videogame character navigates a castle dungeon. ... The story of The Legend of Zelda isn't a far cry from such classics as Mozart's The Magic Flute. Both tales involve a brave fellow in a quest to rescue a damsel from a villain's clutches

The Life-Saving Gifts of the World's Most Venomous Animal ( 49

tedlistens writes: It was a terrible sting off the coast of Hawaii that inspired Angel Yanagihara, a biology researcher, to spend her life studying the bizarre culprit. Comprising some 50 species, box jellyfish are not like other jellyfish: they have 24 eyes, can move with intention and at surprising speed, and have something resembling a brain. They are also considered to be among the most venomous animals on Earth, killing more people every year than sharks do. Once inside the body, its venom acts "like buckshot" on blood cells. One species, the four-pound, nine-foot-long sea wasp, is said to have enough venom at any one time to kill ninety to one hundred and twenty humans.

As ocean currents and biomes change, various species of dangerous box jellyfish have shown up in places where they have not recently been abundant, including Japan, India, Israel, Florida, and the Jersey Shore. But compared to other venoms, research on jellyfish has remained in the dark ages. New methods for collecting venom—including one that relies on beer—along with a better understanding of box-jelly biochemistry may point to better non-antibiotic protections from them, and to novel defenses for humans against other fatal infections from anthrax and the antibiotic-resistant "superbug" MRSA, says Yanagihara. (Venoms are already the basis of a handful of FDA-approved drugs that have generated billions for the pharma industry.) Now the U.S. military is helping to fund Yanagihara's research, and applying a cream she developed to thwart box jellyfish, which have already left serious stings on a dozen Army divers at a training facility in Florida, and forced one diver out of the program.


Japan Leads Push For AI-Based Anti-Cyberattack Solutions ( 34

An anonymous reader writes: Japanese firms NTT Communications and SoftBank are working to develop new artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, offering cyber-attack protection services to their customers. Up until recently, AI-based security systems were only used for certain scenarios, in online fraud detection for example. The new offerings will be the first commercially-available platforms of their type for use in a wide range of applications.

Researchers Say Fukushima Child Cancer Rates 20-50x Higher Than Expected ( 143

New submitter JackSpratts writes: According to the Associated Press, "A new study says children living near the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children elsewhere, a difference the authors contend undermines the government's position that more cases have been discovered in the area only because of stringent monitoring.

Most of the 370,000 children in Fukushima prefecture (state) have been given ultrasound checkups since the March 2011 meltdowns at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The most recent statistics, released in August, show that thyroid cancer is suspected or confirmed in 137 of those children, a number that rose by 25 from a year earlier. Elsewhere, the disease occurs in only about one or two of every million children per year by some estimates."


Team Constructs Silicon 2-qubit Gate, Enabling Construction of Quantum Computers ( 92

monkeyzoo writes: A team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney has made a crucial advance in quantum computing. Their advance, appearing in the journal Nature (abstract), demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate — the central building block of a quantum computer — and, significantly, did it in silicon. This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today's computer industry. Until now, it had not been possible to make two quantum bits 'talk' to each other — and thereby create a logic gate — using silicon. But the UNSW team — working with Professor Kohei M. Itoh of Japan's Keio University — has done just that for the first time. The result means that all of the physical building blocks for a silicon-based quantum computer have now been successfully constructed, allowing engineers to finally begin the task of designing and building a functioning quantum computer.

Neutrino 'Flip' Discovery Earns Nobel For Japanese, Canadian Researchers 58

Dave Knott writes with news that the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to Takaaki Kajita (of the University of Tokyo in Japan) and Arthur McDonald (of Queens University in Canada), for discovering how neutrinos switch between different "flavours." As the linked BBC article explains: In 1998, Prof Kajita's team reported that neutrinos they had caught, bouncing out of collisions in the Earth's atmosphere, had switched identity: they were a different "flavour" from what those collisions must have released. Then in 2001, the group led by Prof McDonald announced that the neutrinos they were detecting in Ontario, which started out in the Sun, had also "flipped" from their expected identity. This discovery of the particle's wobbly identity had crucial implications. It explained why neutrino detections had not matched the predicted quantities — and it meant that the baffling particles must have a mass. This contradicted the Standard Model of particle physics and changed calculations about the nature of the Universe, including its eternal expansion.
Hardware Hacking

Sensor Network Makes Life Easier For Japan's Aging Rice Farmers 91

szczys writes: The average age of Japan's rice farmers is 65-70 years old. The work is difficult and even small changes to the way things are done can have a profound impact on these lives. The flooded paddies where the rice is grown must maintain a consistent water level, which means farmers must regularly traverse the terraced fields to check many different paddies. A simple sensor board is changing this, letting farmers check their fields by phone instead of in person.

This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields has a big effect on the man-hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.

3 Scientists Share Nobel For Parastic Disease Breakthroughs 36

The Australian reports that a trio of scientists (hailing from from Japan, China, and Ireland) has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work in treating parasitic diseases. Irish scientist William Campbell (currently research fellow emeritus at New Jersey's Drew University), and Japanese biochemist Satoshi Omura, were awarded half of the monetary award for their work in defeating roundworm infections; the drug they developed as a result, Avermectin, has helped drastically lower two devastating diseases -- river blindness and lymphatic filariasis -- and has shown promise in treating other ailments as well. The other half of the prize has been awarded to Chinese researcher Youyou Tu, who discovered a novel antimalarial drug based on her research into traditional herbal medicines. (Also at The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, and elsewhere. The awards were live-blogged by The Guardian.)

Japan Display Squeezes 8K Resolution Into 17-inch LCD, Cracks 510 PPI At 120Hz 178

MojoKid writes: By any metric, 8K is an incredibly high resolution. In fact, given that most HD content is still published in 1080p, the same could be said about 4K. 4K packs in four times the pixels of 1080p, while 8K takes that and multiplies it by four once again; we're talking 33,177,600 pixels. We've become accustomed to our smartphones having super-high ppi (pixels-per-inch); 5.5-inch 1080p phones are 401 ppi, which is well past the point that humans are able to differentiate individual pixels. Understanding that highlights just how impressive Japan Display's (JDI) monitor is, as it clocks in at 510 ppi in a 17-inch panel. Other specs include a 2000:1 contrast ratio, a brightness of 500cd/m2, and a 176 degree viewing angle. While the fact that the company achieved 8K resolution in such a small form-factor is impressive in itself, also impressive is the fact that it has a refresh rate of 120Hz.