Weekly News Bites: Smell-o-vision, solar superflares, and satellite-disrupting volcanoes

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a new sense added to VR, huge solar flares that may have helped spark life, and a volcanic eruption so big that it disrupted satellites.

Virtual reality could now extend beyond sight and sound and allow users to smell their virtual surroundings. City University of Hong Kong, Beihang University, and Shandong University created a rechargeable device that releases scents under the wearers’ nose. This device uses paraffin wax mixed with perfumes that is heated to release the desired scent.

Efforts to protect tigers in India are producing some positive side effects for the environment. By saving tiger habitats from deforestation, these efforts avoided carbon emissions of over a million metric tons, says a study by the National University of Singapore

Researchers in Thailand found a new species of landlocked crustacean in a roadside canal, confirmed Mahidol University scientists. The small crustacean lives in freshwater and never migrates to the sea. It also has a distinctive beak-like protrusion and “intriguingly” large eggs.

The ingredients for life may have gotten a jumpstart from solar “superflares” according to a study by Yokohama National University and NASA. Charged particles from the solar wind combined with gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere may have created the building blocks of life. The researchers used particle accelerators to simulate these prehistoric conditions.

If you’ve noticed that the location settings on your devices are a bit strange, then it may be due to a huge underwater volcanic eruption that disrupted satellites, according to Nagoya University. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai submarine volcano erupted in 2022 and released plasma bubbles that interacted with the atmosphere.

A team of researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tohoku University, RIKEN, and Fujitsu aim to use the powerful supercomputer Fugaku to create a Japanese language learning model for generative AI. The researchers aim to produce a model similar to ChatGPT but more precise for the Japanese language.