Science briefs – Nov. 16, 2010

By Jeremia Schrock
Sun Star Reporter

Japanese holograph on tour

Crypton Future Media, based in Japan, is changing the way people listen to music and attend concerts. The company has released a realistic (and holographic) singing idol: Hatsune Miku. Miku is a byproduct of Japan’s Vocaloid software craze, in which individuals create their own music, which they can then program their computer to sing to. Think Microsoft’s “Speak This”…except it sounds good. The difference is that Crypton took the Vocaloid craze to the next level, making the character into a hologram and then putting their avatar on tour, playing to crowds of thousands. According to, “the spectacle of a hologram performing on stage, with a live backing band in front of thousands of screaming fans is pure science fiction brought to real life.”

Whales need sunscreen

A team of European scientists has found that whales off the coast of Mexico are enduring severe sunburns that may be attributed to a damaged ozone layer. The group studied a group of mammals for three years off the coast of California. They collected skin samples that showed the creatures exhibited dead-cell patterns that seemed to stem from ultraviolet radiation. The link to the ozone layer rests in the fact that the Earth’s stratosphere is essential in blocking UV rays. The lack of protection has resulted in perilous ramifications for mammals, included the whales.

Luminescent trees, not streetlamps

Scientists in Taiwan have discovered that gold nanoparticles can induce the leaves in plants to emit a reddish glow. They discovered the process while searching for a way to create high-efficiency lighting (like LED lights) but without the use of toxic chemicals. One use envisioned by researcher Yen-Hsun Su is the cultivation of gold-treated roadside trees that would provide street lighting while saving energy and absorbing carbon dioxide.

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