CANNES, France–Furry talking robot “carers” able to raise the alarm if their elderly owner needs help will play a key role in helping the world’s ever-growing aging population, trials in Japan have shown.

As well as playing faithful companion to older people living alone, this new generation of “live-in” domestic robot will also provide invaluable daily help to the average family–performing tasks from managing the family schedule to problem-spotting to guard-dog.

“The next generation of robots now coming on to the market will improve the daily life of our aging population,” Toshikazu Muroi from the Osaka Prefectural Government told Agence France-Presse in an interview.

Though many governments are beginning to grapple with the looming problem of facing ever-bigger ever-older legions of retirees, the issue is particularly acute in Japan, which has the biggest population of people aged 65 and over of the industrialized nations.

Muroi said that recent trials carried out in the Osaka region highlighted that cuddly hi-tech carers had a very useful role in providing valuable companionship as well as monitoring the safety of their elderly owners.

And the people taking part in the project “really liked the robots as they are like pets,” Muroi added.

Agence France-Presse (via

After the factory robots came Aibo, the robotic dog, and Ashimo, the humanoid robot, and now they are building the robotic maid. What’s next? Here are some according to the movies and televisionβ€”the robotic lover or child (Artificial Intelligence: AI). Robotic workers will replace the human working class and then overthrow their creators (Animatrix: The Second Renaissance). Sentient robots that want to wipe out humans (Terminator) or strive to be human (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Bicentennial Man).

From this point, we still have a long way to go.

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LONDON (Reuters) – Most Britons have never heard of nanotechnology and have no idea what it is, according to a survey released on Monday.

But the majority of the 29 percent of people questioned in the poll who were aware of it think the ultra-small scale technology will have a beneficial effect in the future.

The survey was carried out by the Royal Society, an academy of leading scientists, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

“Nanotechnology involves studying and working with matter at an ultra-small scale, and a nanometer is just one-millionth of a millimeter in length. It is not really a shock to discover that most people have not heard about nanotechnology, because it is still a relatively young field,” said Professor Nick Pidgeon, a member of a scientific working group on nanotechnology.

Only 19 percent of the 1,005 adults in Britain who participated in the poll were able to give a some sort of definition of nanotechnology. Sixty-nine percent of people who had an idea of what it was said it would make things better in the future.

Reuters (via Yahoo! News)

What is this survey done here in the Philippines? Here are my projections: less than 1 percent will say that they are aware of it, and 75 percent of those will say it has a beneficial effect in the future.

[trek_mode]The other 25 percent will say it would be used in assimilation! Did I hear the word Borg?[/trek_mode]

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By Ed Stoddard

SUTHERLAND, South Africa (Reuters) – Huge white domes make a jarring sight amid the landscape of South Africa’s arid Karoo region.

Perched on a wind-swept hilltop, they house telescopes of different shapes and sizes that search the star-filled skies in this remote corner of the Earth for the secrets of the universe.

Those skies will soon be scanned by a super scope that will probe far deeper into space than any of its neighbors — the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), which will be 12 yards in diameter.

“This is for deep space observation,” said Hitesh Gajjar, an electrical engineer involved in the project, as he pointed with pride at SALT — a massive hexagon filled with 91 smaller mirrored hexagons, of which 18 are in place.

SALT will enable scientists to view stars and galaxies a billion times too faint to be visible to the naked eye. The official Web site says that is as about as faint as a candle’s flame on the moon.

Reuters (via Yahoo! News)

This is a very good opportunity to explore the universe further.

[trek_mode]Can we see Kronos through this thing?[/trek_mode]

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By ANDREW BRIDGES, AP Science Writer

LOS ANGELES – It is a frozen world more than 8 billion miles from Earth and believed to be the farthest known object within our solar system.

NASA planned a Monday press conference to offer more details about Sedna, a planetoid between 800 miles and 1,100 miles in diameter, or about three-quarters the size of Pluto.

Named for the Inuit goddess who created the sea creatures of the Arctic, Sedna lies more than three times farther from the sun than Pluto. It was discovered in November.

AP (via Yahoo! News)

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Toshiba Corp said on Tuesday that Guinness World Records had certified its stamp-sized hard disk drives (HDDs) as the smallest in the world.

The electronics conglomerate’s 0.85-inch HDDs, unveiled in January, have storage capacity of up to four gigabytes and will be used in products such as cellphones and digital camcorders.

Reuters (via Yahoo! News)

Technology is getting smaller and smaller these days. How many mp3s or pictures can I store on my cellphone if it uses this hard disk for storage? Hell, I can’t count it.

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GENEVA (Reuters) – A leading environmental group on Tuesday warned that the exotic Sumatran tiger was bound for extinction if the government of Indonesia did not crack down on illegal trading in the endangered species.

The WWF said only 400-500 tigers remained on the island of Sumatra as hunters continue to kill the animal commercially and for sport.

Reuters (via Yahoo! News)

If these tigers became extinct, the next generation might not know what tigers look like!

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BREMEN, Germany (AFP) – A new deep-sea robot is to be deployed in the northern Pacific and send back images from the ocean depths to the Internet as part of a global research project on underwater ecosystems.

The International University Bremen (IUB) in northern Germany presented a prototype Monday of the Deep Sea Crawler, which can transmit measurements and video footage from depths of up to 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) below the sea to the Internet using a web camera connected to a fiber optic cable.

AFP (via Yahoo! News)

While there are robots that are busy crawling the Martian terrain, here is their sibling swimming in the Terran oceans. I hope to see good images, too.

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BANGKOK, Thailand – Asian governments are making greater efforts to protect marine turtles and their habitats, the United Nations said Wednesday at the start of a four-day meeting to review the status of the threatened species.

The meeting, sponsored by the U.N. Environment Program, brings together marine turtle experts from 25 countries and observers from private agencies.

AP (via Yahoo! News)

I just hope that the turtles found in the Philippines are also protected.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004
A small near-Earth asteroid (NEA), discovered Monday night by the NASA-funded LINEAR asteroid survey, will make the closest approach to Earth ever recorded. There is no danger of a collision with the Earth during this encounter.

The object, designated 2004 FH, is roughly 30 meters (100 feet) in diameter and will pass just 43,000 km (26,500 miles, or about 3.4 Earth diameters) above the Earth’s surface on March 18th at 5:08 PM EST (2:08 PM PST, 22:08 UTC).

NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office

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LONDON (Reuters) – Fears that the earth is undergoing a mass species wipe-out similar to that which destroyed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago gained new ground on Thursday with the publication of two British studies.

They found that the rate of loss of insect and plant species across Britain was running at several times what would be considered normal, and had been doing so for a long time.

Reuters (via Yahoo! News)

All I know is that man directly or indirectly causes recent extinctions of some animal and plant species. Will this trend continue to the future until all are extinct?

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