Starting off our news round-up with art, Japanese and British artists have been working together to offer their skills to help communities in Tohoku. These programs, coordinated by British curator Kevin Whittle, include innovative architectural designs that utilize new high-tech materials and tsunami debris, and art exhibitions that offer both moral and financial support. Artists such as Kate Thomson, Kaori Homma, Ichiro Endo, and others from the London-based Japan Foundation have been offering their help to schools and community centers. This has encouraged interest in the planned 'Temporary Autonomous Zones' - communities who design their own cities, and distance themselves from central government in Tokyo.
Japan's manga artists have also been lending a hand. The "Heroes Comeback" project consists of renowned manga artists releasing new stories in various magazines, and donating their loyalties to 3/11-related charities. Names include Rumiko Takahashi (creator of Inu Yasha and Ranma 1/2), Masami Yuki, Sensha Yoshida, and the whole concept has been organized by Fujihiko Hosono.
Now - for SCIENCE!!! On Wednesday 17th October, researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory in the USA announced they had developed a method to locate molten nuclear fuel in the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors: cosmic rays. Placing a pair of muon particle detectors in front of and behind the containment vessels would provide detailed images of the interiors, they said.
(They did not mention whether hats made out of tinfoil would be provided.)
The day after, in Tsukuba city, Japanese industrial manufacturer Cyberdyne Inc. revealed a robotic suit (see picture) developed to help workers wearing heavy protective gear at nuclear accident sites, specifically Fukushima. The HAL suit weighs 70 kg, is made out of secret metallic material, and contains servomotors, radiation monitors, thermometer, heartbeat monitor, cooling system and air filters.
(The press conference was briefly interrupted by an unnamed 'doctor', who claimed that Cyberdyne Inc. was engaged in secret projects that could endanger the public. Cyberdyne Inc. declined to comment.)