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Square watermelons are growing in Japan?

Several years ago, a farmer on the island Shikoku noticed one of his watermelons had grown between two cinder blocks. The pressure forced it to assume a confined shape, resulting in a rectangular watermelon. Now, farmers are trying to create that effect on purpose. They are growing the fruit in glass boxes, causing it to grow into a cube. The watermelons are supposed to be more consumer-friendly, since they fit neatly in refrigerators and don’t roll around. They don’t come cheap though. Tokyo markets were pricing them at about 10,000 yen, or US $83.

Sonic “Fish-dar” is helping to track endangered Atlantic salmon?

The number of inner Bay of Fundy salmon, which are genetically different from the more common wild Atlantic salmon, has dwindled to an estimated 200 in recent years. No one is really sure why they are disappearing so fast, but a new sonic device may lead to clues. 140 fish so far have been fitted with a signal-bearing tag that “pings” with a unique sound for each fish. The tracking program works by attaching receiver units to buoys floating in a grid on the surface of the bay. The receivers pick up the pinging sound from nearby fish and note the sound signature and time. Researchers can then ‘connect the dots’ to see where and how quickly the fish are swimming. The signal can be tracked for up to eight months, depending on battery life. The project hopes to continue for at least two more years, making it easier to spot trends in salmon behaviour.

The Queen’s Solar Car isn’t the only solar vehicle making the news these days?

On Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic, engineers from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh are working on a solar-powered rover that will one day travel on Mars. The island’s barren terrain is similar to that of the Red Planet. Named Hyperion, for the Greek sun god, the robot has been designed in collaboration with NASA. Its four bicycle wheels are not intended for use in the snow and slush that comes with a late thaw in the arctic, but the local airport runway has proved to be a good place for early tests. The researchers hope to use the robot to explore other planets in upcoming missions.

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