science

Panasonic may change the world with upcoming product…SAND!

When you think of the multinational electronics producer Panasonic, “sand” probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. However, if a new product they are looking to release meets its full potential, this new kind of sand may completely change the face of the Earth as we know it.

The picture above is not Panasonic sand, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at it anyways. Actually even if you examine their grains of soil under a microscope you wouldn’t see a difference. So let’s start by looking at what makes this dirt so special and how it could help everyone in one way or another.

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Has a Japanese company found the fountain of youth? One man’s youthful skin suggests so

The pursuit of beauty and the relentless quest to look younger is nothing new and has probably been around since the first human looked into a pool of water and realized that the disfigured beastly thing staring back was themselves. A couple of hundred thousand years and many medical technology breakthroughs later, we are spending massive amounts of money, time and pain on that quest to look younger and more beautiful. And last week a Japanese cosmetic company made an announcement that seemed to suggest they found the fountain of youth when they took 30 years off a 67-year-old man’s skin using a breakthrough technology.

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Is it time for Japan to get over trying to connect your personality and blood type?

When I first moved to Japan in college, every weekend meant a party and a new group of people to meet, with a standard set of questions I got asked. The logic behind “What’s your name?” was obvious, and “Where are you from?” also makes sense when you’re one of the few non-Japanese people in the room. “Do you like Japanese girls?” was another common one, based on the widely held, if not always true, theory that foreign guys like Japanese women, and vice-versa.

Those three always came first, but it wasn’t long until someone would want to know my blood type. No, my school wasn’t filled with vampires or hemophiliacs, nor hemophiliac vampires (the most tragic undead demographic). People just wanted to get a sneak peak at my personality, which is thought to be strongly connected to what runs through your veins by many people in Japan.

One man who’s not a believer, though, is Professor Kengo Nawata from Kyushu University’s Social Psychology Department, whose recently concluded research shows no correlation between personality and blood type.

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Moon set to vanish and turn red as part of tonight’s spectacular lunar eclipse

Wednesday has to be the least exciting day of the week. Your energy boost from the weekend is likely spent, and you’ve still got a couple more days of work until your next chance to cut loose and have some fun.

At least, that’s how things generally are. This week, we’re psyched about Wednesday, because October 8 is bringing a lunar eclipse to Japan, and as part of the celestial show, the moon is turning red.

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Awesome science trick: How to make a coin dance using a block of dry ice 【Video】

Dry ice is some pretty handy stuff. Aside from keeping shipments of groceries and other perishables nice and cold, it’s perfect for producing billowing smoke, which is always nice to have if you’re throwing a high school dance.

Dry ice doesn’t just have the power to compel teens to shake their bodies, though, but coins and spoons too, as shown in these awesome videos.

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Is it another creepy Japanese iPhone case? No, it’s a multicoloured hermaphrodite lobster!

You have to feel sorry for the uglier animals of this world. While kittens and bunnies inspire a universal chorus of “awwwwwww”, if you’re unlucky enough to be born a crustacean or insect, chances are people don’t think you’re so cute.

The Japanese spiny lobster, or Ise-ebi, is a bumpy, spooky-looking creature at the best of times. This one, which was caught off Tōshi-jima in Ise Bay this week, is a gynandromorph – one side of its body is male, the other half is female. Mainichi Shimbun reports that the creature is truly one in a million!

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Japanese team wins Ig Nobel prize for confirming that banana peels are in fact slippery

They feature so prominently in our Saturday morning cartoons and Charlie Chaplin movies that mankind has simply taken it as gospel that stepping on a banana peel will cause you to comically slip and fall with such a force that birds and stars will circle your head.

But did you know that until recently this was only a theory, unproven by a peer-reviewed scientific study? Thanks to the hard work done by Kiyoshi Mabuchi and his team at Kitasato University who were able to apply a frictional coefficient, we can unequivocally say that banana peels really are slippery when you step on them. Little wonder the group was awarded the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics.

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Crazy Japanese “doctor” thinks babies live in clouds, choose their mothers from the heavens

When a 4-year-old tells you his favorite hobby is riding dinosaurs with laser guns on their backs, you’d probably tend to laugh it off as the whimsical musings of a person whose brain hasn’t fully developed yet. But apparently one Japanese researcher thought taking the nonsensical ramblings of very young children seriously was an important research project lending insight into the pre-conception brains of recently born people.

“Doctor” Akira Ikegawa – who is crazy and is possibly also hoping to defraud at least a few people – says his research in prenatal care has revealed that babies sit up in clouds looking down on the world picking and choosing which mother they prefer to be born to before spiriting themselves into those mothers’ wombs to be carried to term.

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Science museum’s elemental lockers provide chemistry lesson while you stash your stuff

The Nagoya City Science Museum, being located in one of the busiest urban centers of Japan, gets most of its visitors arriving by public transportation. Without a car to store their stuff in, most of them are carrying some sort of bag with their personal belongings, plus, in the case of tourists from out of town, any souvenirs they’ve been buying while in the country’s fourth-largest city.

For those who don’t feel like lugging their things around inside the museum, there’s a bank of lockers. Of course, a drab wall of solid gray metal wouldn’t be very visually appealing. At many other tourist attractions in Japan, you’d see a brightly colored mural featuring some local mascot character, but the designers at the Science System went with something a lot more original and appropriate by plastering the chemical symbols of the elements on them.

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Japanese cucumber glows in the dark, sparks concern from internet

One netizen in Japan created quite a pickle recently, after posting these photos online in an internet chat forum. The accompanying thread, titled “the pickled cucumbers my mum made are glowing in the dark”, caught the attention of hundreds of users, who began discussing possible causes for the mysterious luminescence. Speculation ranged from light-hearted banter, questioning whether the dawn of cognitive vegetables had finally arrived, to more serious concerns about radiation. What do you think caused the unique phenomenon?

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The science of Attack on Titan explained: Finally, a Titan tie-in that looks kinda cool

Who would win in a fight between a Titan and Ultraman? How were the Walls built? Seeing as Titans never eat or drink, are they surviving through photosynthesis? If these are the questions that keep you awake at night, then we’ve got some bedtime reading for you.

Kūsō Kagaku Dokuhon (空想科学読本, literally “fantasy science reader”) is a series that addresses, queries and explains the science behind popular Japanese anime and manga. This time around, writer Rikao Yanagita has turned his hand to the inescapable Attack on Titan series, in this 208-page illustrated work that promises to answer all your titanic scientific ponderings.

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Japanese netizens lament over the long, but sad life of sea urchins

Although the spiny, horrifying outside may scare you off, the insides of a sea urchin are one of the most delicious things to come out of the ocean. In Japan, sea urchin, or uni in Japanese, can be enjoyed with sushi, on top of rice or just own its own. Sea urchins are a treat for any seafood fan, but recently a group of Japanese netizens found out a little bit more about the life of the sea creature and began a deep discussion about the spiny little critters.

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Gigantic aquatic insect found in China has record-setting wingspan, possibly anal spray

Back in college, when it came time to pick an upper-level science class to get my general education credits, I settled on a class in entomology, aka bug science. The fact that it started at 10 a.m., instead of my other options at 8, played a big factor in the decision, but it actually turned out to be a really interesting course with an excellent teacher.

On the first day of class, the professor told us that one of his goals was to help dispel our socially-ingrained yet illogical fear of insects, arachnids, and all other sorts of creepy crawlies that I’ve since forgotten the scientific names of. If you can get past the knee-jerk, “Eew gross!” reaction many people have to, say, a beetle, you’ll find that holding one in your hands isn’t any more likely to give you a rash or a disease than a rabbit or hamster.

And yet, I still find myself terrified to hear that the world’s largest aquatic insect was just discovered in China.

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Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so

Everybody, go ahead and cross your arms right now. Done? Alright. Now, try to cross them the other way. If you’re currently crossed with right forearm on top, try to switch position so that your left forearm is on top. Feels incredibly awkward and unnatural, doesn’t it?

It turns out most people have a natural bias for arm-crossing direction, with slightly more than half of most global populations preferring the left-forearm-on-top approach, although the two preferences are basically 50-50. Some people apparently cross their arms either way without even thinking about it, although this population is exceedingly small.

So why do we humans find one way so natural and the other way so incredibly weird-feeling? It may have something to do with your psychological composition, according to the (admittedly somewhat unreliable) Japanese Internet.

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What color do you see? It may not be the same as those around you

Apologies for the headaches the above GIF may induce but it’s an interesting little example of not completely known human biology and currently all over the internet here in Japan. If it’s not spinning now then just click on the image to start. Once the animation gets into full swing you should be able to see some colors flickering around with those black lines.

Now, what if I told you that other people see different colors than those you do? Moreover, what if I told your there aren’t any colors at all, and it’s just your mind playing tricks on you?

Before you go shoving a pencil in your ear to punish your brain for such trickery, let’s take a moment to see what’s going on here.

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Why did we blow into NES cartridges? 【Video】

It’s 1987. You’re looking awesome in your oversized Michael Jackson “Bad” t-shirt as you slot a chunky, grey game cartridge into your NES console. But instead of the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt title screen, all you see is a jumbled-up mess of an image that looks like an 8-bit Picasso. What do you do? The same thing everyone did – you take the game cartridge out, blow into it, and put it back in. Lo, and behold: this time the game loads perfectly and you can squish goombas or shoot ducks to your heart’s content.

But in the pre-internet age, how did we all “know” to blow into cartridges? And like rubbing the magnetic strip on a credit card or shaking a Polaroid photo, why did we keep doing it even when product manufacturers and scientists insisted that it didn’t work and could actually cause damage? Joe Hanson, biologist and author of the popular science blog It’s Okay To Be Smart, offers up some answers in a neat YouTube video asking just that.

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Newly discovered plant might allow us to recover from devastating post-apocalyptic worlds

How many times have you heard the phrase “in a post-apocalyptic world…“? Movies, books, comics and games draw upon that all-too-common setting to dream up stories where man is pushed to the brink in order to survive in a unforgiving environment.

What makes a world post-apocalyptic though? There are plenty of ways to get there – nuclear apocalypse, asteroid strikes, zombies, giant robots, but one thing is pretty common: Food is scarce and people have to scavenge for it because the land is just too polluted to grow anything edible. But what if you could plant something in the ground that would allow other things to grow? What if nature already had its own answer to this problem? What if you could make that “every man for himself” world back into a “let’s work off the land together!” love-fest? Sounds to us like a billion dollar industry! Do they still have dollars in a post-apocalyptic world?!?!

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The reason Tokyo Disneyland has no mosquitos (plus three other cool things about its water)

Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea can both make pretty strong claims for the “Happiest Place on Earth” title. Combining the cast of the animation pioneer’s collected works with Japanese sensibilities results in some of the most unbridled and deep-rooted enthusiasm for cartoon characters you’re likely to find anywhere. Adding to the experience is the attention to detail and hospitality that comes from the world’s preeminent amusement park operator and the country with the highest customer service standards on the planet.

But while all those things go a long way towards helping visitors enjoy their stay, the excitement they bring just might pale in comparison to the joy guests feel when they realize there’s something Japan’s Disney theme parks don’t have: mosquitos.

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NASA’s new leek-like supersonic jet design would be perfect for Hatsune Miku’s personal plane

I always feel a little sad whenever I stop and think that NASA’s Space Shuttles are no longer in service. For decades, they served as symbols not only for the pioneering spirit of their mission crews, but for NASA itself, an organization that serves as a gathering point for some of the brightest and boldest scientific minds on the planet.

NASA hasn’t completely gotten out of the high-tech transportation field, though, as it’s moving ahead with a project to develop a supersonic passenger jet. As impressive as its specs are, though, it looks like something quite a bit more down to earth: a root vegetable.

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“Ugly” South Korean woman goes from “Old Lady Face” to “Dream Girl” with help of cosmetic surgery

Le sigh… Sorry guys, it’s time for yet another South Korean tale of cosmetic surgery woes. I know I write way too much about South Korea’s penchant for cosmetic surgery and how things can turn towards the uncanny valley a little too quickly. I know you guys wish I’d just get off the topic because it’s depressing.

Wait… What? WAIT WHAT?! There’s a person who got serious cosmetic surgery and it actually worked out really well?!

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