Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tests and snow

Walking to the test in the snow

Yesterday and today were two very important days in the lives of many young people in Japan. They were two days that actually shaped the future of the many thousands of Japanese students who wish to enter a Japanese collage.

It is not very easy to enter collage in Japan. There are many tests that have to be taken and essays that have to be written. The first (and some would say the most important) of those tests is the National Center Test for University Admissions.

That test is almost always held in mid-January. It might seem a mystery that the test is held in the middle of the winter, but keep in mind that the Japanese school year starts in April. If the test were any earlier the student would not have time to learn the material on the test (Japanese schools teach for the test...but that another discussion for another time) and if it were any later the results could not be used to apply for university.

The Center Test for this year just happened to over lap with a major snow storm that covered almost all of Japan with a lot of snow. 20 tests sites were effected by the storm with delays of 15 minutes to one hour for about 5600 students. There were also 17 students in all that just couldn't make it to the test on time because of all the snow.

Snow was not the only problem to hit the test takers this year. At one of the test sites in Nagoya there was a power outage that lasted about a minute and 40 seconds. The students had to turn their papers over and wait for the power to be restored. Also 98 students will have to take their English listening tests again because their listening apparatus failed.

What I love the most about news stories like this is the fact that they are news stories at all. This would not make a news paper or even an online news site if it happened in America. It just goes to show how important tests are to the Japanese I guess.

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 試験(しけん). It is pronounced shiken and it means test. I used to like taking tests when I was in junior high school. I guess I was a little weird.

See you next time at JJNN!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

When you got to go (play a video game) you got to go

I have seen many strange things in my life, but I got to say the video game in the video above takes the (toilet) cake. I think that most have you have heard of the new game controllers that were put out for the xbox and the ps3. Those controllers are innovative because they allow a player to control their character without the traditional controller. Sure, they are nice controllers and all, but they don't let a player control a game with pee.

That is exactly what "Toilets," the urinal video game system, lets players do. Notice that I didn't say it was a video game. It is actually a video game system that has a library of at least 4 games that are all controlled by a pressure sensor in the urinal.

As you probably expect, the games in "Toilets" are not the normal run of the mill games that you find for other game systems. The simplest of the games gives a score based on the amount of urine. Another game is a race against time to erase graffiti on a wall...with urine. The next game pits you against the person that urinated before you to see who had the highest pressure. The last one is the most controversial because the pressure of the urine determines how many pieces of clothes blow off from a woman in the game.

All of those games sound crazy, I know, but what is one factor that keeps most gamers coming back to their video game system over and over? I think it is probably that drive to get a high score. That leads to a tiny problem with these systems because one person probably won't be able to get back to the same urinal all the time to work on a high score. Worry not, though! It turns out if you have a USB memory stick you can plug it into the "Toilets" and save all your high scores to impress friends and family later.

As a side note I think that the name of the game system comes from the Japanese for "toilet" and "let's." I think it was suppose to be a play on words for "Let's go to the toilet."

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 小便(しょうべん). It is pronounced shouben and it means urine. Man, I really have to pee!

See you next time at JJNN!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A late happy new year

You know, it just occurred to me that I haven't wished all of you a happy new year. So from everyone at Jei's Japan News Network (that would be me) happy new year to one and all.

Every year is a special year, but 2011 is a special year in an emotional and numerical sense. I found this nifty article on wired vision and it goes into some of the reasons why 2011 is numerically special.

The one that grabbed my attention is 2011 is actually a sum of 11 consecutive prime numbers: 157 + 163 + 167 + 173 + 179 + 181 + 191 + 193 + 197 + 199 + 211. Not only that but 2011 itself is also a prime number.

Not only is 2011 a prime number but it is known as a sexy prime number. Why is it sexy? Well that is because the difference between 2011 and the next prime number (2017) is 6. If we go for the Latin, 6 is written as "sex" which automatically makes those numbers sexy.

I would write more about the year but I think I am coming down with a cold and I want to take it easy ( can I top a sexy prime number?)

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 素数(そすう). It is pronounced sosuu and it means prime number. I wish I had more sexy prime numbers in my life.

See you next time at JJNN!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Welcome back to JJNN!

Welcome again to yet another incarnation of Jei's Japan New Network. After having no time to keep up with this for the longest time I have decided to give it another try. Hopefully this time I can keep it going.

Today I want to look at an interesting news story I found on According to the story a scientist named Kawai Tsuyoshi from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology produced a molecule that changes color with just the slightest application of light. Professor Kawai and his team discovered the discovered the key to their light sensing molecule by examining many of light sensing molecules in the human eye. They wanted to find just the molecules that possessed the largest reaction (either changing of color or shape) in the presence of light. The resulting molecule has an almost 100% reaction rate to even the most minimal source of light.

That may not seem very exciting, but it actually has many different applications. One of the most exciting is in the field of optical media. Conventional optical media is written using the heat of LASER light to change the surface of a disc. If the disc uses this new material, those same changes in the disc can be made with just the application of the light. There is no need to wait for the area of the disc to heat up so it will be a faster process. It should be possible to produce "burn" (it no longer actually takes burning though) a disc in about 10 times the speed of a conventional disc using only about a hundredth of the power. Professor Kawai also says it should be possible to make a 100 layer disc with this material so the amount of storage should also go way up for they new type of disc.

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 光(ひかり). It is pronounced hikari and it means light. Anything seems more futuristic if it has LASERs in it.

See you next time at JJNN!