Sci/tech

Vocal Joystick uses voice to surf the Web
October 10, 2007 05:50 PM - Hannah Hickey, University of Washington

Washington - Doctoral student Brandi House uses Vocal Joystick to control the movement of a robotic arm. The screen on the lower right shows how the software analyzes her vocalizations to create instructions for the arm's movement.

The Internet offers wide appeal to people with disabilities. But many of those same people find it frustrating or impossible to use a handheld mouse. Software developed at the University of Washington provides an alternative using the oldest and most versatile mode of communication: the human voice.

"There are many people who have perfect use of their voice who don't have use of their hands and arms," said Jeffrey Bilmes, a UW associate professor of electrical engineering. "I think there are several reasons why Vocal Joystick might be a better approach, or at least a viable alternative, to brain-computer interfaces." The tool's latest developments will be presented this month in Tempe, Ariz. at the Assets Conference on Computers and Accessibility.

German Ertl wins Nobel for chemistry
October 10, 2007 10:11 AM - Niklas Pollard -Reuters

German Gerhard Ertl won the Nobel Prize for chemistry on his 71st birthday on Wednesday for work which helped to develop cleaner car exhaust systems and explain the depletion of the ozone layer.

Nintendo to launch Wii Fit game
October 10, 2007 09:58 AM - Reuters

Nintendo Co Ltd said on Wednesday it would start selling its "Wii Fit" home fitness game in Japan in time for the critical year-end shopping season, sending its shares to a record high.

Nintendo's announcement comes just a day after Sony Corp said it would cut the price of its PlayStation 3 by 10 percent in Japan and launch a new, lower-priced PS3 model, to battle Nintendo's dominance.

China "e" bikes silently drive lead demand
October 10, 2007 09:48 AM - Lucy Hornby -Reuters

As the red light changes, Han Zhang turns the handlebar of his battery-driven bike, pushes off with his foot, and whirrs silently along a Beijing boulevard.

His yellow bike looks like something between a bicycle and a scooter, but to the lead industry, he's driving a car.

NASA probe discovers lightning at Jupiter's poles
October 9, 2007 07:05 PM - Will Dunham, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A NASA spacecraft observed lightning strikes at Jupiter's poles as it provided insights into the giant planet's dynamic atmosphere as well as volcanic activity on one of its moons, scientists said on Tuesday.

The New Horizons spacecraft, passing by the solar system's largest planet en route to the dwarf planet Pluto, also snapped images of the tiny rings encircling Jupiter, studied a huge, swirling storm and explored the planet's long magnetic tail.

NASA released full scientific findings from the mission in the journal Science after discussing highlights earlier this year.

Low-fat diet cuts ovarian cancer risk: study
October 9, 2007 06:25 PM - Will Dunham, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A low-fat diet may protect women from ovarian cancer, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Researchers tracked about 49,000 post-menopausal women from around the United States for about eight years. About 40 percent of them were asked to cut nearly in half the amount of fat in their diet. The others were asked to eat their usual diet.

No difference was seen in ovarian cancer risk in the first four years of the study. But in the final four years, the women who ate a diet lower in fat were 40 percent less likely to develop this cancer than the other women, the study found.

BitTorrent moves from piracy to video streaming
October 9, 2007 04:30 PM - Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) - BitTorrent Inc., which was co-founded by the developer of a software program widely used to share pirated music and video over the Web, plans to start helping media companies stream videos over the Internet.

The company unveiled the service on Tuesday, six years after its chief executive, Bram Cohen, created the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing technology.

BitTorrent is one of two key technologies used for trading files over the Web. The other, Gnutella, works using software programs including Limewire and MP3 Rocket.

Japan plans unmanned mission to the moon
October 9, 2007 11:07 AM -

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan plans to launch its first mission to land a spacecraft on the moon in the next decade, officials said on Tuesday, joining China and India in a race among Asian nations to explore the lunar surface.

Japan's first lunar orbiter is currently circling the moon, and the country is racing with China and India to land a craft on the lunar surface -- a feat so far achieved only by the former Soviet Union and the United States.

"We are aiming to carry out the project in the middle of the 2010s. It will examine geological features of the moon as well as natural resources available there," said an official from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Physics Nobel Goes to German, Frenchman
October 9, 2007 07:51 AM - Associated Press

France's Albert Fert and German Peter Gruenberg won the 2007 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for a discovery that lets billions of computer users store reams of data on computer hard drives.

The technology "can also be considered one of the first real applications of the promising field of nanotechnology," which deals with extremely small devices, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its citation.

UW undergrads discover more than 1,300 asteroids
October 9, 2007 07:37 AM - University of Washington

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