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Science News: September 2004

Author: Nicolas Delerue, Issue: September 2004, Topic: Science News, Science

A Kickboxing Tournament ... For Robots
Robo-one is a kickboxing tournament held twice a year in Kawasaki. But unlike in other kickboxing tournaments here the fighters are not humans: they are 40 cm tall robots. During the latest tournament held last month in Kawasaki 90 robots mainly built and programmed by amateurs fought for the 1 million yen first prize. According to one participant it is amazing to see the progress done by the robots in the last few years. This year robots could cheer the crowd or raise their fists in the air in sign of victory...
More details at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nb20040818a6.htm

When salmon give birth to trout
Japanese researchers have succeeded to make male salmon produce trout sperm and have trout offspring. At an early stage of the salmon's development the researcher have injected him special cells (called primordial germ cells) from a trout. These cells can develop into eggs or sperm. Thus when the salmon became mature, it started to produce trout's sperm that produced an offspring (but with a high failure rate). This technique was also used to produce female salmons with trout's eggs but the results will only be known next year (the females need one more year than the males to become mature). The researcher expect to be able to extend this technique to other species and thus one could imagine to use cheap-to-farm species to produce expensive fish like bluefin tuna...
More details at http://www.nature.com/news/2004/040802/full/040802-10.html

How you view colours depends on what you saw when you were young
Researchers from the Neuroscience Research Institute in Tsukuba have discovered that the way we perceive colours probably depends on our early experiences. To make this discovery, they have raised monkeys in different lighting environments: some monkeys were raised in a room where the illumination was constant whereas some other were raised under normal (varying) illumination. They discovered that the monkeys raised under constant illumination had much more difficulties in judging colour similarities than other monkeys.
More details at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040727085636.htm

More hints on the difference between matter and anti-matter discovered in Tsukuba
Everyday at KEK, physicists produce many particles called "B" as well as their antimatter counterpart. These particles have a very short lifetime (a few trillionths of a second) after which they decay into other particles that can be detected by a special detector built at KEK called the "Belle" detector. KEK has produced more than 274 million pairs of "B" (including 122 million last year). By studying the way these particles decay, the physicists working with the Belle detector have shown that matter and antimatter do not behave exactly in the same way and they have quantified this effect.
More details at http://www.interactions.org/cms/?pid=1014312

Warmer nights mean less rice?
Last year's rice production in Japan was affected by the cold weather, but according to a study made by the International Rice Research Institute Farm in the Philippines, warm weather - especially warm nights - can also negatively impact the rice production. Researchers have compared the rice production in the Philippines over 12 years and have noticed that the years with warmer weather had lower production. A difference of 1 degree Celsius can lead to a reduction in production of 10%. That's one more reason to fight global warming!
More details at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13637-2004Jun28.html

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