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In gadget-crazy Japan, Sony president Ryoji Chubachi is somewhat of an aristocrat.

At a recent press briefing in Tokyo, he is met by a crowd of more than 50 journalists. They hang on his every word.

"Thank you for coming," he greets them, as he steps up next to one of firm's new super thin televisions.

"Amazing technology isn't it," he says with obvious pride.

Lost lead

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Environment correspondent Richard Black joined researchers on board the yacht Song of the Whale as they looked and listened for whales around the Canary Islands.

Here, Richard and the research team from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) answer your questions on beaked whales, which are probably the least understood large mammals on the planet, and what the team discovered during the week at sea.

Whale size comparison graphic (Image: BBC)

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Japan's cabinet has agreed to provide 1.81 trillion yen ($17bn; £9bn) to stimulate the economy, in what analysts say could be the prelude to elections.

The money is intended to help Japan cope with high energy and food prices at a time of global financial turmoil.

Prime Minister Taro Aso also promised tax cuts and urged the opposition Democrats to support his plans.

Mr Aso's government is less than a week old, and the Japanese economy is on the brink of recession.

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Police investigate the scene where 12 bodies were discovered

The authorities in the Mexican border city of Tijuana have found 16 bodies in 24 hours, in what police believe is part of a wave of drug-related murders.

Twelve of the bodies were found on a patch of wasteland near a school just before it opened. Most showed signs of having been bound and tortured.

A wave of murders linked to the drug trade has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people in Mexico this year.

Tijuana is a key area for smugglers aiming to get drugs into the US.

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Researchers studying the decline of the bumblebee have trained a dog to sniff out the insects in the wild.

Toby, a three-year-old Springer spaniel, can find the bees' nests, hidden in dense

undergrowth or in the ground, using only his nose. 

Toby is the only dog in the world trained to find bumblebees

Researchers studying the decline of the bumblebee have trained a dog to sniff out the insects in the wild.

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The number of women holding senior posts in politics, the law and the media has fallen compared with last year, a report suggests.

Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says that in 12 of 25 job categories studied, there were fewer women holding top posts.

Women's representation had increased in eight areas, including company directors and the civil service.

The EHRC said some women face a concrete ceiling, not a glass one.

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A British couple whose two-month-old daughter was taken into care after a "misguided" suspicion of abuse have been awarded £8,000 in compensation.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled their rights had been infringed because they had no legal redress for the loss of their child.

The girl, from Oldham, was taken into care in 1998 after breaking her leg.

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Car sleepers in California, hard hit by the housing crisis

By Rajesh Mirchandani
BBC News, Santa Barbara

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Just ask this poor pencil

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By harnessing the power of trees, scientists figure out a way to transform them into batteries capable of powering sensors.

Trees may be able to protect themselves from forest fires by serving as living batteries—housing small devices, which would measure temperature and humidity and broadcast the data from tree-to-tree.

Current Forest Service fire sensors are spread widely, and gaps in the network can miss localized temperature and humidity changes. Researchers at MIT have proposed a solution to those gaps—using the trees themselves to power a web of additional sensors. The scientists, a group of students and teachers from MIT’s Center for Biomedical Engineering, figured out that trees carry an electric charge due to a difference in acidity between the tree and the soil it sits in.

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Adverts for unhealthy foods are still appearing during TV programmes seen by children, despite curbs introduced in January, a consumer watchdog has said.

Which? said the five programmes with the most child viewers and only four of the top 20 most popular children's shows were covered by Ofcom's rules.

These state that ads for "less healthy” foods are not allowed in or around programmes which "appeal" to under-16s.

But advertisers said Which's list included shows "not aimed" at children.

A programme is defined as being of particular appeal to children if the proportion of those under 16 watching a programme is 20% higher than the general viewing population.

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The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva will be out of action for at least two months, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) says.

Part of the giant physics experiment was turned off for the weekend while engineers probed a magnet failure.

But a Cern spokesman said damage to the £3.6bn ($6.6bn) particle accelerator was worse than anticipated.


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A vitamin found in meat, fish and milk may help stave off memory loss in old age, a study has suggested.

Older people with lower than average vitamin B12 levels were more than six times more likely to experience brain shrinkage, researchers concluded.

The University of Oxford study, published in the journal Neurology, tested the 107 apparently healthy volunteers over a five-year period.

Some studies suggest two out of five people are deficient in the vitamin.

The problem is even more common among the elderly, and recent moves to supplement bread with folic acid caused concern that this could mask B12 deficiency symptoms in older people.

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Workers redeveloping the site of a former steelworks near Wrexham have uncovered a fossil forest believed to date back 300 million years.

Geologists are now overseeing the excavation of the site, which is 50m long, at the old Brymbo works.

The forest pre-dated the dinosaurs and was from a time when what is now Wales was hot and humid and over the equator.

It is hoped the fossils can be conserved as a heritage attraction alongside new homes and industry.

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When the San Joaquin Valley was an arid grassy plain, giant kangaroo rats were the seed-hording gardeners that helped propagate native plants. Now scientists are turning to satellite technology to determine how climate change and rainfall patterns are affecting the endangered species' remaining habitat.

FRESNO, Calif. - Scientists plan to use satellite photos to count Giant Kangaroo Rats, the first-ever monitoring of an endangered species from outer space.

Scientists will examine images taken from the same satellite used by Israeli defense forces to find the circular patches of earth denuded by the rats as they gather food around their burrows. From that they plan to get the first-ever accurate population count of the rodents, a bellwether for the health of a parched plains environment.
By comparing the photos to 30 years of satellite images being released this month by the U.S. Geological Survey, researchers hope to better understand how the population has fluctuated in response to climate change and as the arrival of state and federal canal water turned the arid San Joaquin Valley into a patchwork of intensely cultivated farms and forced Giant Kangaroo Rats to concentrate on higher ground.

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Sports gaming takes a major leap forward with daily roster updates that affect the outcome of plays


Dynamic DNA : It's a whole new (virtual) ball game. Photo by EA Sports

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The first mobile phone to use Google's Android mobile operating software will cost $199, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Wednesday.

The phone, which features a slide-out keypad, is being manufactured by Taiwan's HTC Corp  and will be sold by Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA unit, which plans to unveil the device at an event in New York on September 23.

AT&T Inc., the only U.S. operator selling Apple Inc.'s iPhone, set the price of the latest version at $199 in July, setting a benchmark for smartphones that can surf the Web, manage email and other multimedia features.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said T-Mobile USA plans to release new data service plans in conjunction with the Google phone that will be "aggressively priced."

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