Archives: June 2006

Exhibit puts poop on display

06 Jun 2006

Unchi hat"It’s dirty, but everyone is interested in poop. I wanted to give it a try," says Michinori Ueda, director of Himeji City Science Museum, which is hosting an exhibit that delves into the world of excrement. Entitled Za Unchi-ten ("The Poop Exhibit"), the exhibit showcases the dung of 100 animals and provides displays that explore the relationship between feces and health.

Display cases containing an array of droppings of various shapes and sizes provide visitors a unique viewing experience. The droppings were obtained from the local zoo and aquarium, from animals ranging from elephants and ostriches to hippos and snails. Each sample, which has been freeze-dried and hardened with resin to eliminate the smell, is accompanied by photos and information about its "producer."

Other attractions include the fossilized dung (coprolite) of plant-eating dinosaurs, information about the Hebeloma radicosum mushroom and other fungi that grow from dung heaps, and dung beetle specimens. The exhibit also features an display explaining what happens to food inside our bodies after we eat it.

Visitors to the exhibit have had a variety of responses. “The beetle poop was cute,” said one visitor.

On his occasional strolls through the exhibit, Ueda explains to visitors how the color similarity between bird and reptile feces indicates their close relationship to each other. Ueda notes that only the lion droppings still smell, even though they were freeze-dried and hardened along with the other samples.

"The exhibit should make people think about how nature works in cycles," says Ueda, "and it should cause visitors to think about why different foods and animals produce different feces."

The exhibit will be held until June 18 (the museum is closed on Mondays). Admission is free. There is no word on what sort of souvenirs will be available in the gift shop.

[Source: Asahi Shimbun]

Animatronic panda suit for rent

01 Jun 2006

Here's some welcome news for anyone not jiving with the whole 2006 "cool biz" fashion campaign that was officially launched today...

Multimedia production company Buildup Co., Ltd. has announced plans to begin renting high-quality animatronic suits in June. First up for rent will be the company’s panda suit.

Animatronic panda suit
(The panda suit appeared on NHK's "Tensai Terebi-kun MAX")

The realistic-looking panda suit consists of two layers -- an inner layer of padding to reproduce the panda’s muscles and an outer layer featuring a coat of high-quality fur. The eyes, ears and mouth are equipped with a total of 14 remote control servo motors, allowing the panda to make facial expressions ranging from pleasant smiles to angry grimaces. To add to the realism, the designers eliminated the peepholes for the person inside. Instead, the performer sees by means of video goggles connected to a CCD camera system.

Although Buildup generally loans its suits to production companies, the panda suit is available for rent to individuals as well. With the rental service scheduled to begin today (June 1), the company has yet to announce the rental price. Only one panda suit is available at the moment, but Buildup is looking into expanding its lineup with suits modeled after other animals.

You can see a short video of the panda frolicking on the side of a road on Buildup's panda suit webpage.

[Source: IT Media]