CAN IT: Rotten foodstuff in sealed tin cans will now be a thing of the past. Elbicon, a Belgian company which produces
equipment for food processing industries, has developed a new quality control technology which uses laser, infrared or X-ray to detect bone pieces in canned meat, bits of wood in green bean cans and even rodents in raisin jars.
NAVIGATOR EXTRAORDINARY: The Global Positioning System was created by the US department of defense to help its navigators locate the positions of their ships, planes and tanks -- but now the US-based Magellan Systems Corporation is all set to make it a household apparatus. It has launched a gadget, Magellan 2000, priced under L200 (convert to $) which a layperson can use while walking, driving or canoeing. The device displays one's current position both in conventional longitudinal and latitudinal terms, or according to the coordinates used on maps.
BROTHERS IN SPEED: Just how fast is a "fast train" in Europe? Two major players in the European high-speed train industry are planning to explore the limits -- together. Siemens AG of Germany and GEC Alsthom, a British-French company, are gearing up to manufacture and market a new generation carrier. If approved by the European Union's authorities, the plans would kick off the 2 companies into a race for a share of a virtually virgin market. Meanwhile, the Swedish-Swiss ABB group and sundry smaller companies are concentrating on magnetic-levitation and tilt trains.
THE TALL AND THE SHORT OF IT: Fed up with hungry cattle targetting helpless saplings, the Belgaum circle of the Karnataka forest department has crafted a technique which allows them to raise tall saplings. The department plants the seedlings -- which grow to heights of 10 to 14 ft within 12 months -- after raising them in large polythene bags measuring 14 inches x 20 inches. And in 3 years' time, they grow tall. Saplings earlier grew only to heights of 3-4 ft and were easily destroyed by cattle.
BREEDING MONEY: A bumper crop of bunnies in Himachal Pradesh has prompted the Union government to promote a "nucleus Angora rabbit project" with a proposed outlay of Rs 3.46 crore. From 1980 to 1989, over 2,000 farms, with rabbit populations ranging from 50 to 400 rabbits per farm, have come up in the Kullu valley alone. Angora wool is said to have 3 times the air retention of normal sheep wool. The most profitable breed is the German Angora rabbit, which give an annual yield of 1 kg of Angora wool a month. With the present market rate of Rs 750 per kg, that translates into a lot of money.
CASH CULTURE: Indian exports of tissue cultured fruits such as bananas, papayas and strawberries are poised for take off as India becomes a global player in the field of micropropagation. The number of tissue culture units have shot up to over 50, of which 14 are already into commercial production. A remarkable 22 million plantlets were produced in 1994, as against 0.5 million plantlets in 1987.
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