Thursday, May 27, 2010

The return of Hayabusa

Well that may sound like the title of a cheesy horror movie, rest assured, it is not. Hayabusa is the name of a satellite that Japan launched on the 9th of May 2003. The goal of the satellite was to go to and make scientific observations of an asteroid named Itokawa. There were many problems with Hayabusa but there were also a lot of firsts and successes. For example, Hayabusa was the first satellite to land and stay on an asteroid's surface, but it also failed to launch its lander. Another thing that is unique about this satellite is the fact that it is coming back home to Earth after it made contact with an asteroid.

There are some people in Japan, I guess it would be the portion that is a lot more geeky than me, that want to really celebrate Hayabusa's return. There are people that are drawing comic strips about the satellite and even companies that are making special Hayabusa sake (Japanese rice wine) to commemorate the occasion. Below you can see one of the comic strips and what the sake looks like.

The comic shows the Hayabusa (the girl in yellow...) being thrown off the face of Earth by an H2 rocket (the girl in red...). The sake bottles show an artist's representation of Hayabusa as it looks in real life and if it were an anime girl (gah...). You can see all of that stuff and more at website for the sake company that is making the sake. There is also a little clock near the middle of the page that tells when Hayabusa is suppose to land back on Earth (as of now it is 16 days and 6 hours).

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 隼(はやぶさ). It is pronounced hayabusa and it means peregrine falcon. I don't know why but I think it is a fitting name for a satellite.

See you next time at JJNN!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Interest in science

People are always looking for new ways to get people interested in ideas or products. It could be a new commercial, a movie, or just using something that is familiar to people in general. The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (NMESI) in Japan decided to use something almost every Japanese person knows, a cartoon hero named Doraemon. Doraemon is pictured (drawn?) below:

Basically, Doraemon is a robot cat from the future that loves a type of sweet called dorayaki, hates mice (one ate his ears off...ewww) and has lots of futuristic mechanical toys that he uses to help out his friend Nobita. Some examples of these toys include "small light" which is a flashlight that shrinks things, "Dokodemo (anywhere) door" which is a door that can be used to teleport someplace, and "4-jigen (4 dimensional) pocket" which is a pocket on his belly that he uses to store his toys in some sort of subspace.

Those are all very useful toys, but I don't think that science is close to being able to reproduce the effects. So, the NMESI looked at some of Doraemon's other toys and found some things that were close inventions that we do have now. They picked out 3 for the article I read. The first one is the "Take-copter," which is pictured below.

The basic idea is using a flying because a propeller is attached to your head. Well, that won't work for many reasons that I can think of off the top of my head. For example, your entire body weight has to be supported by your neck...ouch. The version of this that is real looks like this:

It is basically a personal helicopter. It is called the GEN H-4 and it can fly between 10 and 40 km/h (between 6 and 25 mph), and weighs a scant 75 kilograms (165 pounds). Different from the animation, but still damn cool. I think I want one.

The NMESI event also features this neat little (actually quite big) machine that can help lift heavy objects just like Doraemons "Super Glove."

Other parts of the event includes translation equipment (boo to it because it might put me out of a side business) and ASIMO, a robot that can walk smoothly on two legs.

All and all I think this will work well to help spread the love of science to the next generation. It is not like a bait and switch where they get a kid to come with promises of Doraemon stuff and disappoint them, but it is more like a bait and trade up. I think I might want to go down and take a look myself.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 未来(みらい). It is pronounced mirai and it means future. Hopefully the future of science will be bright in Japan and around the world.

See you next time at JJNN!

Back up and running (?)

This is just a quick post to let you know I am finally settled down in my new house and might have actually found time to start this blog up again. The next post should be in the next day or two. I am even thinking of adding a video component every once and a while, but that might take a long time to figure out.

Just wanted to let everyone know I haven't forgotten about this and I will be back.

See you next time at JJNN