An Underwater Volcano Creates A New Japanese Island

Well this is certainly one way to increase your land base, though it isn’t anywhere near the fastest. As the result of an underwater volcano, Japan now has a brand new island to call its very own. There’s definitely less bloodshed involved in this than in your traditional land grabbing war, though this sounds like a difficult, painstaking way to expand the reach of your empire.

Located 620 miles South of Tokyo, the eruption went down a mere 500 meters away from Nishinoshima Island, an uninhabited subtropical landmass that is part of the Bonin Islands. You’d be correct if you assumed that this bit of geological action took place on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” as the archipelago does sit on the border of the Pacific tectonic plate. The string of islands number in the thousands, and ownership of them has come in handy in previous years to bolster claims to large areas of the ocean, as well as the energy and mineral resources those waters contain, which could potentially be very lucrative. In the past, Japan has used some of these islands to back territorial disputes with China.

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300-MPH Bullet Train May Come To The East Coast

MaglevFor a long time, North Americans have looked with longing and envy at Asia’s high-speed maglev trains, also known as bullet trains. Now it looks like this technology could finally be coming to American shores.

Japan developed this train system back in the 60s, when we were focused on space technology. Today they have the world’s fastest train, capable of traveling at over 300 miles per hour. Shanghai’s 268 mph train began service in 2004. China has the longest high-speed rail network in the world, with just under 6,000 miles of track for trains that run at speeds of at least 124 mph. South Korea’s got a high-speed rail system, as does most of Europe. Brazil has been working on a maglev system since 2009.

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Japan’s Kirobo Robot Talks To Us From Space

One small step for man, one even smaller step for robots. On August 21, Japan’s adorable Kirobo robot became the first robot to speak in outer space, putting to shame — at least linguistically — all the awesome rovers and satellites hanging out in our neck of the cosmic woods.

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Cheesus! Mouse Cloned From Single Drop Of Blood

cloned mouseI’m going to set up a line of chairs around the room, just in case anyone feels the need to squeal and jump on top of one of them once this story starts. Wearing long flowing dresses and carrying a broom are both optional.

While it’s known that mice can be cloned from many different donor cell sources, including bone marrow, lymph nodes and the liver, researchers at the Riken BioResource Center in Tsukuba, Japan investigated whether or not circulating blood cells could possibly serve the same purpose. Their goal was to find a source of donor cells that was easily available and didn’t end with the donor animal needing to be euthanised. Cloning valuable lab mice works a lot better when you don’t have to off the mouse whose initial value guided the experiment. And amazingly, the cloning was a success! (Squeal!)

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Someone Spent Seven Years Creating The Most Amazing Maze Ever

It’s amazing when you think about how long mazes and labyrinths have been around, their legacy as a lasting pleasure of puzzlement is matched by very few forms of leisure or danger, and few have the same amount of international appeal. The Greeks put a Minotaur at the end of theirs. At least one Spanish guy put a child-eating Pale Man in his. The Brits and Americans teamed up to give David Bowie one. But now a Japanese man’s maze has put all the others to shame.


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Japanese Communications Robot To Join Astronaut On ISS And Just Hang, Bro

Out in the cold, dark recesses of outer space, the stretches of desolate solitude would drive most people bonkers. We are rarely our own ideal company for any time longer than it takes to fully charge a cell phone. Even if there are other members of the crew, your own head is there, waiting for you to be alone so it can slam you with the paranoia of mechanical problems at the same time as making you nostalgic for your first kiss. Luckily, Japan is here to assist in introducing utter insanity to your psychological profile by presenting a communications robot to make space seem less lonely.

You may remember robotics genius Tomotaka Takahashi from his Robo Garage days, or maybe from his Evolta battery-powered robot that climbed part of the Grand Canyon a few years ago. Even if you don’t know who he is, it takes two seconds of looking at his work to make Robby the Robot look like a Robo Habilis.

His lastest project is the Kiro Robot Project, in conjunction with researchers from Tokyo University. The as-yet-nameless robot is 34 centimeters tall and will accompany mission commander Koichi Wakata for six-month mission aboard the International Space Station in the summer of 2013. It contains the technology necessary to recognize Wakata’s face and carry on a conversation with him, all while taking photos of the trip, relaying information back to the Kibo lab in Japan, and possibly complaining about how much worse the food is compared to back home.

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