I have never understood why people who aren't circus clowns ride unicycles. They seem designed specifically to create wipeouts and, subsequently, schadenfreude (a lesson our writer learned all too well in 1967 when he undertook the massive challenge of learning to ride one). But who knew that tucked away in the pages of PopScis past were some of the weirdest, most delightfully retro-futuristic unicycles of all time? Now we all do. And I don't think it's a stretch to say our lives are all the better for it.
At this year's International Robot Exhibition, Masahiko Yamaguchi demonstrated a smallish robot--maybe a foot high or so--that is able to ride a fixed-gear bike, like a 2011 version of the opening scene from The Muppet Movie (and there's a Muppet movie coming out this year, too! Sorry sorry. Back to robots.) What's especially impressive is that the robot is capable of biking just like a human--it moves and brakes solely through the strength of its own adorable little body.
Why does an unmanned bicycle stay upright (for a while) when you give it a shove? Researchers from the United States and the Netherlands designed a riderless bicycle that shows that the various mechanisms scientists have long believed to be responsible for keeping bikes upright are actually not necessary.
Israeli researchers have created the tiniest-ever optical gyroscopes, as small as a grain of sand, but still maintaining the keen accuracy of their counterparts hundreds of times larger. Optical gyroscopes are generally used for navigation in airplanes, ships and satellites, in which they track movement without reference to external navigation points, by measuring the vehicle's rotation rate and linear acceleration. This is called inertial navigation.
By Jesse EmpakPosted 07.29.2010 at 4:52 pm 0 Comments
Charles C. Della Santina has unusual patients: disoriented chinchillas. As with many of the 4.5 million people who suffer from chronic imbalance, a damaged ear makes it nearly impossible for the animals to stand upright. This makes them perfect test subjects for a prosthetic inner ear.
The device, developed by Della Santina, an ear, nose and throat doctor at Johns Hopkins University, connects small gyroscopes and accelerometers to the brain to do the job of the inner ear.
Theodore Gray, the man behind our Gray Matter column and the amazing The Elements: A Visual Exploration periodic table app for the iPad (and in print), has just rolled out a version for the iPhone 4, which packs all the same info and photography into that Retina Display, along with a special trick. Here, Theo gives us the back story on what made this new edition possible.
Apple, through powers of both good and evil, always finds a way to captivate like no other with their new product launches. But in unveiling the iPhone 4 today, they had an unfamiliar challenge to deal with: a world that has already seen in great detail the new product they were about to announce, thanks to Gizmodo's mega-leak in April. So this time around, Apple had something more to prove: what exactly about the new iPhone 4 is new today?
MIT's experimental motion sensor would use simple physics to create a tiny, six-dimensional sensor that would cost ten times less than the usual motion sensors found in smartphones and air bag systems. It does that by replacing the intricate ballet of moving parts in motion sensors with a simple metal bead and an electric field.
An airplane's flight data recorder, or black box, saves stats from many different sensors so that pilots can reconstruct and analyze a trip after the fact, whether to find problems or certify that they completed a record-setting route. Now extreme-sports athletes can quantify a wicked ride the same way. Two new gadgets each pack a heap of sensors—GPS to measure direction and speed, accelerometers to measure tilt and pitch, gyroscopes to measure rotation—to record data throughout a snowboard, wakeboard or other sports session.