Lost Packets

Man’s best friend replaced by chip

Every dog has its day and it looks like the police dog’s day has come. Researchers at Georgia Tech University have developed a new machine that can actually sniff out illegal drugs and doesn’t need to be fed or taken for a walk. The machine, dubbed the “Dog on a Chip,” can detect microscopic amounts of illegal substances from a few feet away. The machine is a plastic, rectangular box with two protruding tubes, which essentially breathe in and out. So far, the machine is only programmed to detect cocaine, but researchers say it could be tweaked to sniff out other drugs as well as biological weapons like anthrax. For information, visit www.gatech.edu.

Chess champ ties computer

Garry Kasparov, the world champion chess player, tied his computer opponent X3D Fritz last month, leaving the four-game series in a draw. The match is being called the first official world chess championship in virtual reality, according to the International Computer Games Association and the U.S. Chess Federation. To play, Kasparov wore 3D glasses and used voice activation to move the virtual chess pieces across the on-screen chess board. According to reports, X3D Fritz can compute more than five million chess positions per second. Kasparov earned US$175,000 for tying the match, but would have earned US$200,000 if he had won. X3D is preparing for a rematch, although no date has been set. Visit www.X3D.com for information.

Germans deploy “pleasant” garbage cans

In an effort to reduce the growing amount of trash that has been littering the streets of Berlin, city officials have decided to set up “talking” garbage bins, which thank citizens for their deposits. Officials added that the bins would show how modern a city Berlin is and how high-tech its services have become. The garbage cans are capable of saying “thank you” in a range of languages, but do not utter a peep after dark in order not to frighten passers-by. They simply light up to encourage people to throw in their waste as opposed to tossing garbage on the streets. Very “Jetsons” indeed.

Camera phones banned in Calgary locker rooms

The Calgary YWCA and another large Calgary fitness centre are banning camera-phones from their locker rooms to prevent their members from popping up on Internet porn sites without consent. Westside Recreation Centre in Calgary is banning all cell phones in general, because it says it is often difficult to determine which phones come equipped with the tiny digital cameras. The YWCA is doing it the old-fashioned way and using the honour system with its members. It has requested that all camera phones be checked at the front desk, but is not confiscating other cell phones during workouts. Both clubs said that there had been no incidents of illicit snapshots, but that they were putting their policies in place to try to forestall any such episode.

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