Solar cars begin 3,000-kilometer race across Australian desert

Tokai University’s vehicle “Tokai” from Japan leaves the start line in Darwin for the World Solar Challenge. The university recorded the fastest time in the grueling 3,000km race in 2009, completing the transcontinental race in only 29 hours and 49 minutes. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2017
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Solar cars begin 3,000-kilometer race across Australian desert

SYDNEY: The World Solar Challenge began on Sunday with 42 solar cars crossing Australia’s tropical north to its southern shores, a grueling 3,000 km (1,864 mile) race through the outback.
The race from the northern city of Darwin to the southern city of Adelaide is expected to take a week for most cars, with speeds of 90-100 powered only by the sun.
The fastest time was achieved by Japan’s Tokai University in 2009, completing the transcontinental race in only 29 hours and 49 minutes.
Belgian team Punch Powertrain started first on Sunday after recording a trial time of 2:03.8 for 2.97 km (1.78 miles), hitting an average speed of 83.4 kmh (51.5mph).
But reigning 2015 champions Nuon from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands believes it has a good chance of retaining the prize.
“All the cars look completely different (this year), and all we know is we’ve got a good car, we’ve got it running perfectly the last couple of days and we’re confident we’re going to do everything to win,” tour manager Sarah Benninkbolt said Sunday.
Race director Chris Selwood said the biennial event has attracted one of the best fields ever, with teams from more than 40 countries.
“This is the 30th anniversary of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge and competitors want to be part of that. They have been drawn to the challenge of new regulations which reduced the solar array size without limiting the size of the solar car,” Selwood said.
Teams come from countries including the United States, Japan, Germany, Chile, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Belgium, Sweden, Iran, South Korea, India, Hong Kong, South Africa, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, Canada, Taiwan and Australia.
The Northern Territory Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss said her government’s A$250,000 ($194,150) sponsorship of the race showed it was committed to achieving 50 percent renewable energy for the territory by 2030.
“Innovation is at the heart of the event and the technology showcased this year will influence continuing solar innovation for vehicles and householders in the future,” she said.
“This event is a great promotion for the NT – it shows our ability to innovate to the world.”


Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

Updated 17 April 2018
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Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

  • Previous research has shown a new blood test has potential to detect eight different kinds of tumors before they spread
  • The research starts in April and will run until September

TOKYO: A Japanese firm is poised to carry out what it hailed as the world’s first experiment to test for cancer using urine samples, which would greatly facilitate screening for the deadly disease.
Engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi developed the basic technology to detect breast or colon cancer from urine samples two years ago.
It will now begin testing the method using some 250 urine samples, to see if samples at room temperature are suitable for analysis, Hitachi spokesman Chiharu Odaira told AFP.
“If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test, as there will be no need to go to a medical organization for a blood test,” he said.
It is also intended to be used to detect paediatric cancers.
“That will be especially beneficial in testing for small children” who are often afraid of needles, added Odaira.
Research published earlier this year demonstrated that a new blood test has shown promise toward detecting eight different kinds of tumors before they spread elsewhere in the body.
Usual diagnostic methods for breast cancer consist of a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected.
For colon cancer, screening is generally conducted via a stool test and a colonoscopy for patients at high risk.
The Hitachi technology centers around detecting waste materials inside urine samples that act as a “biomarker” — a naturally occurring substance by which a particular disease can be identified, the company said in a statement.
The procedure aims to improve the early detection of cancer, saving lives and reducing the medical and social cost to the country, Odaira explained.
The experiment will start this month until through September in cooperation with Nagoya University in central Japan.
“We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s, although this depends on various things such as getting approval from the authorities,” Odaira said.