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WASEDA University Newsletter from WOL No.9 (2011-10-03)

Opinion Weekly Opinion

Smart Grid Creates the Future

Yasuhiro Hayashi
Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University

The accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the East Japan Great Earthquake Disaster has made it necessary to fundamentally revise the existing nuclear-centric energy policy. In addition, though it has been said that Japanese electricity system is highly reliable, unprecedented and extensive planned power outages were implemented within the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in March, partly due to the loss of a considerable portion of capability for electricity supply. Facing such an unparalleled situation, how should Japan develop energy policy and electricity systems?

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News

Pterosaur fossil confirmed as nation’s largest by Professor Hirayama of the School of International Liberal Studies

A fossil (16.8cm long, 2.0cm wide) unearthed in the Amber Excavation Experience Site of the Kuji Amber Museum in Kuji City, Iwate Prefecture, and believed to be part of a pterosaur, has been identified to be an 85 million year old fossil from the Cretaceous Period by Professor Ren Hirayama, School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University. This is the largest ever pterosaur fossil discovered in Japan and the first to be unearthed in the Tohoku region.

Pterosaurs were reptile-like creatures that were thought to have soared through the sky with enormous wings and are said to have become extinct at the end of the mid-Cretaceous Period about 65 million years ago.

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Research Knowledge Co-Creation – Profiles of researchers

Promoting a shift to next-generation energy through catalytic chemistry in electric fields at ambient temperatures

Yasushi Sekine
Associate Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University

From the field of catalytic chemistry, I am working with themes related to the solution of global problems such as energy and environmental issues. In order for the entire planet to achieve sustainable growth, the shift to a non-carbon society is an essential issue. Catalytic technology holds an important key to realizing such a society. Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal are hydrocarbon compounds which are combinations of carbon and hydrogen. Currently, such hydrocarbons compose 70% of energy resources in Japan. Researchers are working feverishly to develop technology to shift from hydrocarbons to hydrogen, which is expected to be a next-generation source of clean energy. My research is based on themes concerning solutions for next-generation energy. For example, I am researching the catalysts required for shifting away from hydrocarbons and revolutionary shifting process using electric field.

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Reviews Fine Arts

Japanese Art Scene 5
“Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha and Buddha”

Keiko Sakagami
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University (School of Culture, Media and Society)

It seems it wasn’t just us who were reminded of “Astro Boy” by the nuclear power issues that arose from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident after the earthquake. I saw several programs where foreign media had taken up the Fukushima accident in which Astro Boy appeared. It is probably an image indispensable to linking “Japan” and “nuclear power.” The original comic was made into a cartoon with “Astro Boy” first being screened on television in 1963. Extremely popular both at home and abroad, it was Japan’s first homegrown animated cartoon.

Even so, I can’t help but feel that there is no coincidence in the timing of holding an exhibition of Astro Boy’s creator, Osamu Tezuka. “Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha – The Story in Manga and Art” exhibition opened on April 26 (until June 26) at the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno.

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