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Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov.)


Contributing to society through science and technology

"Waseda Research" transmits steady success

Anticipating results in technology for generating clean energy through solar power
Research of Professor Homma (Faculty of Science and Engineering) selected for the CREST program of JST

The research theme "construction of manufacturing processes for new, ultra-pure silicon materials through solid-liquid interface reaction design" by Professor Takayuki Homma (Faculty of Science and Engineering) was selected for the CREST (Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology) program during recruitment of 2011 research proposals (1st period). CREST is a program for promoting strategic creative research at the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

Professor Homma's research was selected as a theme for the CREST research field "establishment of technology for generating creative clean energy through solar power." The long-term, ultra-high temperature reactions required for manufacturing highly-pure silicon (Si) are in major issue in both production and cost. Professor Homma's research seeks to achieve clarification from an atomic level and realize an intricate reactive design, thereby developing a clean process for quick and low-energy generation of highly-pure Si. Also, by developing new manufacturing processes which use diatom, a plentiful resource in Japan, his research is expected to contribute to resource secure strategy for stable supply of highly-pure Si.

Developing spectral image equipment for supporting investigations
Research of Professor Takayuki Sota (Faculty of Science and Engineering) selected for Strategic Grant for Promoting Science and Technology

The Council for Science and Technology Policy conducts planning and overall adjustment for comprehensive/fundamental national science and technological policy. The council fulfills the role of a "control tower" for science and technology policy, leading various ministries and strategically promoting independently formulated policy for science and technology innovations. In order to fulfill these objectives, the Strategic Grant for Promoting Science and Technology (MEXT) is used to implement policy based on a birds-eye view of policies by each ministry. A proposal for which Professor Takayuki Sota (Faculty of Science and Engineering) acts as research leader was selected during the 2011 recruitment period for the grant.

Professor Sota's project "development of spectral image equipment for supporting investigations" was selected for the "program for practical application of security and anti-terror technology in order to realize a safe society." Based on the theme of "developing imaging equipment for onsite crime materials," his project focuses on the practical application of equipment for non-destructive and non-contact multifaceted analysis of human substance left on crime scenes. Such substances include fats and proteins (amino acids) contained in fingerprints and bodily fluids. The project seeks to develop equipment which possesses data compatibility with already installed devices and which can easily be transported to crime scenes. Professor Sota plans to conduct development through the cooperation of institutions such as the National Research Institute of Police Science and JFE Techno-Research, as well as research centers for scientific investigation within the Gifu Prefectural Police, the Hyogo Prefectural Police and the Mie Prefectural Police.

Presentation by Professor Hirayama (Faculty of International Liberal Studies)
Discovery of pterosaur fossil and of appraisal of Japan's oldest turtle fossil

On July 7th, a fossil believed to be part of a pterosaur from 85 million years ago in the Cretaceous period was unearthed in the Amber Excavation Experience Site of the Kuji Amber Museum in Kuji City, Iwate Prefecture. Professor Ren Hirayama (Faculty of International Liberal Studies) has confirmed that this is the largest ever pterosaur fossil discovered in Japan and the first to be unearthed in the Tohoku region.

Furthermore, on July 28th, Professor Hirayama announced that a turtle fossil found in 1994 is from a new species which existed during the evolutionary process from the turtle family to the Trionychidae family. Until now, Trionychidae family fossils discovered in Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture and Uzbekistan were thought be the oldest such fossils with an estimated age of 110 million years. However, the newly discovered fossil is thought to be even older by about 20 million years. Two fragments of the fossil will be on special display at the Hakusan City Matto Museum until August 21st.

"The recent discover has dated the origin of the Trionychidae family back about another 20 million years," said Professor Hirayama. "Currently, I am conducting surveys in locations such as Ishikawa Prefecture in order to search for new fossils. I fully expect us to make another important discovery in the future."

Fourth left finger metacarpal fossil of pterosaur

The discovered fossil (Photographs A to C show the fossil from multiple angles)

First in the world to use atom resolution to clarify the crystal structure at the center of human chromosomes
Professor Kurumizaka (Faculty of Science and Engineering) takes first step for clarifying the cause of hereditary disease and carcinogenesis

The centromere field is pulled by spindle fibers during cell division. Genetic information is inherited by two sister cells without being lost.

A group led by Assistant Professor Hiroaki Tachiwana and Professor Hitoshi Kurumizaka of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University, has succeeded, for the first time in the world, in determining the crystal structure of the centromere, which is a structure at the center of human chromosomes. Since the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to the scientists who clarified the structure of telomeres at the end of chromosomes in 2009, the structural clarification of centromeres had been attracting worldwide attention as the next key target in research.

The research was an important success which is expected to provide an important clue to the clarification of the mechanisms underlying the development of hereditary diseases and carcinogenesis due to chromosome nondisjunction.

Cooperation by the Faculty of Human Sciences and Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.
Development of note-taking support system to increase class participation by students with hearing disabilities

The newly developed note-taking support system.

The Faculty of Human Sciences and Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. cooperated to develop support technology for new "information insurance*" which targets students with hearing disabilities. The support technology uses Anoto Pen, digital pen technology developed in Sweden, and OpenStage速, a presentation system developed by Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.

Currently, 13 students with hearing disabilities are studying at Waseda University (as of the end of July, 2011). By skillfully combining existing technology, the new system eliminates inconveniences associated with the receipt of "information guarantee" by hearing-impaired students during university classes. The system makes it possible for disabled students to participate more actively in classes and seminars. In the future, further consideration will be given to a system which combines handwriting and note-taking via computer.

*The concept of using alternate methods to supply information to individuals who cannot gather information due to physical disabilities (in particular, the vision-impaired and hearing impaired).

Other research results are introduced on our university's website (http://www.waseda.jp/jp/news11/).

■Discovery of audio recordings from Helen Keller's visit to Japan in 1937: From the survey of a research team from the Collaborative Research Center for Theatre and Film Arts
■Measurement of ultra-high speed electron motion within molecules: World's first measurement at time resolution of 1/1016 (100 attoseconds) -Professor Hiromichi Niikura (Faculty of Science and Engineering).
■Clock hands can be moved even if clock gene expression is stopped: New knowledge regarding regulations modes for biological clock-Professor Kiyotaka Iwasaki (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
■Development of techniques for early verification of results from reform measures for customer support business: Joint research by Professor Shingo Takahashi (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and Fujitsu Laboratory Ltd.
■Research by Professor Tetsuya Osaka (Faculty of Science and Engineering) on batteries for stabilization of power systems: Selected for NEDO project to develop large-scale battery systems

Oldest known Noh film, taken in 1912 in Kyoto
Discovered during survey by the Global COE Japanese theatre research group from the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum

A Noh film in the collection of the Albert Kahn Museum in France was determined as having been filmed on October 30th, 1912 at Bukkoji Temple in Kyoto. It was filmed by a crew sent to Japan by millionaire Albert Kahn (1860 to 1940). According to a survey conducted by a research group (led by Professor Ryuichi Kodama (Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences) and Research Assistant Masumi Harada (Tsubouchi Museum) of the Global COE Japanese theatre course at the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, it is the oldest known Noh film.

The film is of great significance to several research fields including Noh, dance and film. "It is extremely difficult to replicate past performances by imaging how dancers might have moved 100 years ago," said Professor Kodama. "This film is very valuable material because it shows elements which cannot be understood through written materials."


Hashi Benkei

Institute of Egyptology and Professor Emeritus Sakuji Yoshimura
Start of project to restore "2nd solar boat"

The "1st solar boat" is carried out of a large tent (photograph provided by Akht Corporation)

A project to excavate and restore the "2nd solar boat" from Giza in the suburbs of Cairo, Egypt is being conducted by the Waseda University Institute of Egyptology and Professor Emeritus Sakuji Yoshimura, director of the NPO Institute of the Solar Boat.

The solar boat is the world's oldest large wooden boat. It was designed to carry the spirit of ancient Egyptian pharaohs on a never-ending journey throughout the heavens. On June 22nd, the excavation team started work to remove stone lids (average weight of 17 tons, total of approximately 40 lids) which cover the pit of the boat. The pit measures 5 meter in width, 30 meters in length and 3.5 meters in depth. After removing one stone lid per day, the team will perform sampling of materials used in the "2nd solar boat," which has been dismantled and buried. Then, after performing a survey and analysis, the team will start full-scale preservation work. Complete excavation and restoration is scheduled to take about 4 years.

The "1st solar boat" has been excavated and restored by the Egyptian government. It is currently displayed in a museum near the pyramids.