2012年09月04日

自動運転型自動車が2019年には手に入るという報告


Self-Driving Cars Available by 2019, Report Says
( TIME )

Forget flying cars. The next innovation will be vehicles you don’t
even have to drive. But would we actually put our lives in the hands
of a computer-controlled car?

Earlier this month KPMG and the Center for Automotive Research
released a report not only predicting that we’ll eventually be
driving -- or, rather, not driving -- autonomous cars, but that
they’ll be in showrooms as early as 2019. Maybe even sooner.

“In the early decades of the 21st century, the industry appears to
be on the cusp of revolutionary change,” the report’s authors
write. “The revolution, when it comes, will be engendered by the
advent of autonomous or ‘self-driving’ vehicles. And the timing may
be sooner than you think.”

The industry has been experimenting with self-driving elements for
years. In fact, the tinkering has been going on since the 1950s and
General Motors’ Firebird II, which was designed to be guided along
the highway by an electrical wire embedded in the road.

But a number of cars today have computers and sensors handling more
and more basic driving functions while increasing safety. Think of
vehicles that parallel park themselves or ones that actively avoid
collisions. And Google employees have driven some 200,000 miles in
the company’s experimental self-driving cars.

So it’s only a matter of time before some of these technologies are
combined in a way to create a truly driverless vehicle. Most industry
analysts think that time is at least a decade in the future. The
latest report is the first to predict that it’s only a handful of
years away.

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2012年08月31日

突然変異した蝶がフクシマの近くで発見される


Mutant Butterflies Found Near Fukushima
( TIME )

No matter how you cut it, finding mutant butterflies is hard to spin
as a positive result. But the knowledge gained from the pale grass
blue butterfly, a.k.a. Zizeeria maha, could potentially help down the
road as the country recovers from one of the world’s worst nuclear
power disasters.

According to a study published by Scientific Reports, researchers
started looking at butterflies near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
plant two months after the March 2011 tsunami damaged the reactors,
causing a potential radiation leak. Of the initial 100 butterflies
studied, 12% had mutations. But as the butterflies mated, the rate of
mutation in successive generations increased to 34%, showing that the
mutating genes were easily passed along to offspring.

The problems were widespread, with abnormalities found including
broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, problems with legs,
antennae, abdomen and eyes and even shifts in color pattern.
Intrigued by the initial findings, researchers took a look at 200
butterflies in September and found that the mutation rate was
increasing in the latest generation of butterflies -- the ones that
were likely larvae around the time of the disaster -- with more than
half of new butterflies showing some kind of mutation.

But butterflies can be particularly susceptible to radiation; not all
animals will suffer a similar fate, which is exactly why researchers
want more tests done on different species. “Sensitivity [to
irradiation] varies between species, so research should be conducted
on other animals,” Joji Otaki, an associate professor at the
University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, told the Japan Times.

Fortunately for humans, they generally fare better than butterflies
when it comes to handling radiation. Hopefully much better.

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2012年08月28日

戦争の遺恨に悩まされる日本と近隣諸国


War’s Legacy Plagues Japan and Its Neighbors
( TIME )

It’s been an eventful week in Japan, what with South Korea’s
President insulting the emperor, Cabinet members paying homage to war
criminals, Chinese protesters landing on a disputed island and local
citizens demanding an apology and compensation for a land battle on
Okinawa 67 years ago.

It’s just more evidence that the legacy of World War II is alive and
not well in Asia. While resumption of open hostilities seems
unlikely, the odds are getting better all the time.

“For China and Korea, the war is still unfinished business,” says
Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum CSIS in
Honolulu. “What we’re seeing played out now is the politics of
resentment and grievance. It’s emotionally satisfying, but in the
absence of genuine leadership, the situation is only going to get
worse. So when there’s another incident that sparks a confrontation,
does that become a sobering moment, or kindling for the fire?”

“From our point of view, this was the most offensive position [Lee]
could have taken,” says Kazuhiko Togo, director of the Institute for
World Affairs at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan. “We went through
a very difficult period of soul-searching after the war from which
emerged a general understanding among the majority of Japanese that
much was wrong with our colonization of Korea. And in totality, in my
view, the Japanese side has expressed a proper and sincere apology.”

M.G. Sheftall, a military historian and associate professor of
culture and communication at Shizuoka University, says Japan is
viewed with some suspicion in the region in part because it retained
many of the trappings of its wartime identity and has avoided a wide
discussion of the role of the imperial family during the war.

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2012年08月24日

まさかの競技者たち 五輪での韓国の強さを説明すると


Unlikely Contenders: What Explains the Koreas’ Olympic Strength?
( TIME )

In the end, the Turk didn’t have a fighting chance. On Aug. 10, in a
sport native to her homeland, South Korea’s defending Olympic
champion Hwang Kyung Seon kicked her way to a 12-5 victory in
the-67 kg women’s taekwondo final over Turkey’s Nur Tatar. The
contest began in an exhilarating fashion after the pair traded
vicious head kicks within milliseconds. But by the end of the second
round, the 26-year-old Korean welterweight began to dominate, evading
her opponent’s attacks as she unleashed a relentless flurry of
kicks. The South Korean entered the history books as the first
taekwondo fighter to medal in three Olympics, having won a bronze in
Athens and the pair of golds in Beijing and London. “It feels like
flying,” Hwang said. “I’ve done something special for the country
and it makes me very proud.”

Taekwondo isn’t the only sport in which the Koreas -- both North and
South -- have been flying. So far in the Games, South Korea has
racked up 13 gold medals, seven silvers and seven bronzes. By
gold-medal tallies, South Korea is now fifth in the rankings, after
the U.S., China, Great Britain and Russia. The Asian nation struck
gold in everything from fencing and archery to shooting and
gymnastics. Traditionally, many of South Korea’s medals have come
from archery. In women’s team archery, for instance, the South
Koreans have won every title in the event’s 24-year history. “We
expect a record total of gold medals this year,” said Lee Kee Heung,
the head of the South Korean Olympic delegation, on Friday. “It’s
all thanks to the combination of people’s support, the government’s
assistance and hard work put in by athletes and their coaches.”

What explains the success of Korean athletes during the Games? Let’s
focus here on the South Koreans, not the North Koreans, who are
compelled by the totalitarian regime to produce medals or else. One
explanation credits a psychology borne of geography -- a position
sandwiched between China and Japan (the latter of which occupied the
Koreas for part of the 20th century) has bred a people with a keen
sense of self-preservation. A strong competitive spirit naturally
follows.

Then there’s official encouragement. The South Korean government has
built lavish training centers for national sports teams and gives
athletes financial rewards for medaling in the Olympics. Korean
conglomerates also sponsor entire sports teams, such as Hyundai Motor
Group’s 27-year, $26.5 million association with the winning archery
squad or SK Telecom’s financial gifts to the Korean fencing team.

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2012年08月21日

潔い敗者 日本女子サッカーが米国との再戦での銀メダルを喜ぶ


Gracious Losers: Japan’s Women Celebrate Silver in a Soccer Rematch
with the U.S.
( TIME )

When in doubt, bow. On Aug. 9, the Japanese women’s squad succumbed
to the Americans in the Olympic soccer finals 2-1. But on the victory
podium, as they collected their silver medals, the Japanese grinned,
waved and bobbed their heads respectfully to the near-capacity crowd
assembled at London’s hallowed Wembley Stadium. Then they raised
their arms in unison and danced an impromptu jig. What else was there
to do? Another bow, of course.

Both Japan and the U.S. enjoyed raucous support from the crowd, stars
and stripes sharing space with the rising sun, as 80,203 football
fans electrified the Wembley stands. It was the largest crowd to ever
gather for an Olympic women’s soccer match. There was little of the
kind of acrimony that had marred the U.S.-Canada semifinal. After the
match, I went to talk to Japanese fans, expecting to hear expressions
of disappointment or even frustration over a seeming hand ball by
Tobin Heath that was not called. But I couldn’t find anyone who
professed regret at the outcome. “It’s so nice to be here,” said
Mirai Kudo, a Japanese fan from Aomori prefecture, who had a rising
sun painted on each cheek. “There are so many Japanese here
cheering, and I am really enjoying the team spirit.” The loudspeaker
burst out with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” and Kudo
bounced right along.

Of those five gold medals, four have been courtesy of women. Earlier
in the day that the Japanese female footballers won silver, Japan
claimed its third women’s wrestling gold of the Olympics, when Saori
Yoshida captured the 55-kg title. It was the nine-time world
champion’s third-straight Olympic gold, a hat trick also
accomplished a day earlier by fellow Japanese Kaori Icho in the 63-kg
weight category. Given that Olympic women’s wrestling only debuted
in 2004, the Japanese pair has been utterly dominant.

For a nation that perennially undervalues women in the workplace,
it’s worth noting how essential Japan’s women have been in bringing
gold medals home. The country has lost two decades to economic
stagnation and political atrophy. Imagine if women were more involved
in shaping the country’s future.

For Norio Sasaki, who has helmed the women’s team for four years,
his squad’s strength is a given. Japan’s female footballers are
known as the Nadeshiko, after a frilly but hardy alpine flower. What
was the legacy of his team, the coach was asked after its silver-
medal performance? “It’s teamwork,” he replied. “We have played
with a bright and open attitude, with justice, with a sense of fair
play, with a respect for our opponents. Even though it’s a team of
small girls, they are very strong. That shows the beauty of Japanese
women.”

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2012年08月10日

中国チームが男子体操団体を制し、日本は銀を取る


Team China Dominates in Men’s Gymnastics as Japan Takes Silver
( TIME )

Their reign isn’t over yet. As the Chinese went into the men’s team
gymnastics final having placed an astonishingly poor sixth in the
qualifications, naysayers began to whisper: did a squad that was the
reigning Olympic champion and world-title holder for five consecutive
years finally lose its luster?

The Chinese squad has profited from a system that culls pliable tots
from kindergartens nationwide and deposits them in state-run sports
schools where they live and breathe gymnastics year-round. But the
gymnastics assembly line has slowed in recent years. After the
retirement of Yang Wei, the all-around veteran with the lopsided
smile, no one on the Chinese team has been quite able to replicate
his range.

A change to the Olympic rules also had the potential to undercut the
Chinese. Previously, each team could field six athletes, meaning that
squads could cultivate specialists in individual apparatuses (the
pommel horse, the rings, the vault, the parallel bars, the horizontal
bar and the floor), as well as fielding one or two all-around
athletes. But in London, teams were limited to five competitors,
meaning that athletes who can perform well in more than one event are
needed.

But none of that mattered on Monday. Clutch performances on the vault
by Zou Kai, Feng Zhe and Zhang Chenglong sent the Chinese from sixth
to first place after the second rotation. They never relinquished the
lead after that. There were no major mistakes by any of the Chinese,
just a consistent racking up of points. Even substitute Guo Weiyang
resisted further embarrassment, turning out respectable performances
on the pommel horse, rings and parallel bars.

The Japanese squad was anchored by Kohei Uchimura, the only male
gymnast in history to have won three all-around championships. But
the 23-year-old, with his rock-star looks and technically jam-packed
routines, has looked distracted in London. In the qualification round
on Saturday, the reigning all-around champ spun off not one but two
apparatuses. During the final, however, he competed in all six
apparatuses and churned out solid results -- until he got to the
pommel horse, the Japanese squad’s weakest event. Uchimura botched
his dismount and was left shaking his head and wincing.

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2012年08月07日

五輪でメダルが取りたい?日本のジュウドウを試してみよ


Want to Win an Olympic Medal? Try the Japanese Sport of Judo
( TIME )

What do South Korea, Russia, Japan, France, Brazil, Georgia, North
Korea, Slovenia, Cuba, Germany, Romania, Hungary, China, Belgium,
Canada, Colombia, Greece, Italy, Mongolia, the Netherlands, the U.S.
and Uzbekistan all have in common? Each nation has won a medal in
judo at the London Games -- and there are still two more days of
competition. Few Olympic sports have such a wide spectrum of
countries competing and medaling. There are no powerhouse nations in
this Japanese martial art, which was introduced for male competition
at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Even Japan, which used to maintain a death
grip on the top ranks of judo, must battle with a United Nations’
rainbow of worthy competitors.

In London, 386 judoka, as judo athletes are called, have competed or
will be fighting. Forty-two medals are on offer, meaning that at
least one in 10 athletes will go home having stood on the medal
podium. Those are pretty good odds and partly explains the sport’s
popularity at the Olympics. At the London Opening Ceremony, 20 of the
205 flag-bearers -- from Montenegro, Benin and Palestine to the
Seychelles, Kyrgyzstan and Fiji -- were judoka, a dominance outdone
only by athletics. The flag-bearers included Chad’s only athlete in
the Games, Carine Ngarlemdana, a 17-year-old entrant in the -70 kg
category. (On Aug. 1, she lost in the round of 32 to Great Britain’s
Sally Conway.) “The world will hear from Chad, through judo,” said
Chadian judo federation president Abakar Djermah, in a statement.

Drawn from the ancient samurai martial art of jujutsu, judo, which
means the “gentle way,” was codified into a sport in the late 19th
century by a strict Japanese educator named Jigoro Kano. He later
became the first Asian member of the IOC. Judo matches last a maximum
of five minutes and are governed by a complex set of rules, making
refereeing and judging key. The women’s sport was added to the
Olympics at the 1992 Barcelona Games. (Originally the men’s sport
was to be added at the 1940 Olympics, but World War II got in the
way.)

But is judo actually any fun to watch? At its most exciting, the
sport can climax in thrilling throws and brawny grapples. But all too
often judo devolves into a series of baffling hugs and confusing
penalties in which points are awarded or subtracted in a system that
is impenetrable to a neophyte viewer. The terminology, which uses
Japanese phrases for various throws and grips, can be as esoteric as
chess moves. Britain’s Conway, for instance, vanquished the Chadian
judoka by an Ippon throw and the Kuzure-kesa-gatame technique. The
eventual gold medal winner in the -70 kg women’s final, France’s
30-year-old Lucie Decosse, won by the Ko-soto-gari technique, after
an early Wazari. Got that? Luckily, judoka from dozens of countries
competing in the Olympics do.

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2012年08月03日

鉄の円盤と鋼の神経 五輪が重量挙げで決まりなわけ


Disks of Iron and Nerves of Steel: Why Weight Lifting Rules
( TIME )

I’m not joking. When people ask what my favorite Olympic spectator
sport is, I answer “women’s weight lifting.” There’s usually a
pause, as people assume a punch line will follow. After all, this is
a sport that invites ridicule, with its unfortunate English
terminology: snatch (in which the athlete raises the weights in one
movement) and clean and jerk (in which the athlete first brings the
weights to the shoulders before thrusting the bar into the air).

But weight lifting is one of the most spectator-friendly events at
the Olympics because it strips sport down to its purest essence.
Every sinew, every pulsing of the temple displays itself, as does
every murmur of doubt and blaze of confidence. There’s a common
misconception that weight lifting is simply about brawn. Strength is
obviously key, but so is explosive thrust. Chinese coaches, who have
assembled remarkably strong squads since women’s weight lifting
became an Olympic sport in 2000, say that what they’re looking for,
above all, in terms of physical attributes is agility and jumping
power. Muscles can come later.

The most important ingredient, though, is mental fortitude, a belief
that one’s body can surmount even the most crushing of burdens. To
watch weight lifting is to suspend belief in gravity. In the 53-kg
weight class, could a 19-year-old Kazakh with a sweet dollface and
thighs of steel truly clean and jerk 131 kg, roughly 2 1/2 times her
body weight? On the second day of Olympic competition, Zulfiya
Chinshanlo did just that to set a new world record. A packed audience
roared its approval as she blew away the competition to capture the
gold. Chinshanlo, who is the reigning world champion, later earned
praise for her remarkable composure from two vaunted sources: London
Games organizer Sebastian Coe, who looked tickled to have witnessed a
world-record performance at his Olympics, and Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev, who promised the young lifter a considerable
financial reward, according to Chinshanlo. “I won’t tell you how
much money he will give me,” jokes the young lifter. “I am afraid
I could be robbed.”

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