By Gregory MonePosted 09.19.2007 at 4:27 pm0 Comments
Robots are very good at doing the same thing over and over again, with ridiculous precision. They don't get bored and, as long as you keep the power on, they don't get tired, either. Still, it's pretty startling to watch the industrial arm in this clip toss in mid-range jump shots with such ease.
The arm, manufactured by a company called ABB and normally used on auto assembly lines, has been touring the country's science museums for more than ten years. Modified and programmed by a group at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, the robotic arm scoops up each basketball with two long metal rods, or tines. Then it executes one of a few pre-programmed motions—a scoop shot, a hook and a standard jumper—rolling the ball off those artificial fingers and tossing it skillfully through the rim.
But Tom Flaherty, the Director of Exhibits, Facilities and Operations at the Carnegie Center, spearheaded the development, says the robot isn't 100 percent accurate. Not because of a mechanical or software glitch. The robot runs through the same steps with each shot, but the ball itself can change. The robot is programmed to sink shots using a ball with certain specifications. If one of the balls is deflated slightly, its flight pattern might be different, and it might not slip through the net. Which really doesn't seem all that different than those NBA players complaining about the league's new basketballs at the start of last season.
Apparently all good shooters, men or machines, are picky.—Gregory Mone
Jake demonstrates how to keep prying coworkers out of your secret stuff with this Altoids-tin storage box, complete with an "alarm" fashioned out of the guts of one of those musical greeting cards. Ah, the "sound of punishment." Enjoy.
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One from the "why didn't I think of THAT" department: a fisheye lens from a standard peephole just like in your front door. You can pick up a peephole (sans door) for around $10 at most hardware stores and be shooting cool ultra-wide-angle, amusingly distorted images with your point-and-shoot digicam in the time it takes to simply tape it to your lens. Adding similar capabilities to a fancier DSLR can easily cost 50 times as much. Yay, cheapness! —John Mahoney
Who hasn't looked for the silver lining of this whole climate change fiasco? (Spring-like Januarys! Lucrative shipping passages! More cod in Greenland!) And now that always-optimistic bunch, surfers, are turning Alaska's crumbling glaciers from a frightening harbinger into the setting for perhaps the greatest extreme sport ever invented. Last week champion surfers Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala made history by being the first people to ride a glacial wave. After camping for weeks (and spending hours at a time bobbing in the frigid water), they caught the wave made by a 400-feet chunk of Child's Glacier crashing down and rode it for about a minute.
Garrett's conclusion? "I wouldn't recommend it for anyone. I won't be going back. This is not a new sport." Fun!—Abby Seiff
As more and more credit cards and other documents come equipped with RFID tags—the tiny radio-frequency identification chips that beam your account or ID info to readers used by various services (public transportation, toll road fees, etc)—the more speculation has surfaced on how malicious ID thieves could potentially use similar readers to lift your personal data without your knowledge. Thankfully, it's pretty simple to keep your info protected right in your wallet. Web editor Megan Miller demonstrates above.
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As more and more credit cards and other documents come equipped with RFID tags—the tiny radio-frequency identification chips that beam your account or ID info to readers used by various services (public transportation, toll road fees, etc)—the more speculation has surfaced on how malicious ID thieves could potentially use similar readers to lift your personal data without your knowledge. Thankfully, it's pretty simple to keep your info protected right in your wallet. Web editor Megan Miller demonstrates above. —John Mahoney
Chances are, if you've been using computers for more than a few years, you've encountered a hard disk failure at some point or another. And if you don't have your data backed up, these failures can be heartbreaking to say the least.
To help you forget about the loss of those priceless photos of your child's first steps and the great American novel you were writing in your spare time, know this: a dead hard drive is a great source of some sweet and powerful magnets! Behold:
At the base of the arm that rapidly whisks back and forth over the spinning data platters inside your hard disk are two strong rare-earth magnets (the area labeled "actuator" in this drawing). At the end of the actuator arm is a coil which acts as an electromagnet, moving back and forth within the magnetic field created by the rare-earth magnets allowing for quick and precise movements without any moving parts. These are your prize—all it takes is a special star-shaped Torx screwdriver set and a little patience to reveal them. Check out the video above to see how it's done. —John Mahoney
Hello and welcome to our new recurring video feature--the PopSci 5-Minute Project. In every issue of the magazine, we highlight a quick and easy project that anyone could tackle in the time it takes to, well, read this blog post. We'll be expanding our favorites here into handy instructional video form here on the How 2.0 blog, showing you first-hand how to build some seriously useful stuff—and it's so easy, even the clumsiest of the clumsy can succeed. To prove that point, the PopSci 5 team is made up of editors from all walks of the DIY circle—from How 2.0 editor Mike Haney (who definitely knows his way around a soldering iron) all the way down the spectrum to folks rating fairly low on the handiness spectrum (like yours truly). If we can do it, so can you! And you don't even need a custom PopSci jumpsuit (although it definitely helps). Yes, we wear them around the office all the time.
First up is PopSci's deputy editor Jake Ward and the bottle cap tripod. When we first spotted this over on Jake Ludington's MediaBlab blog, we were hooked—such an easy and inexpensive way to utilize the often-overlooked tripod mount on the bottom of your digital point-and-shoot to take beautiful, rock-solid shots in low light (thanks Jake!). So check out our video how-to above, and stay tuned right here for more 5-Minute Project videos rolling out in the coming days. —John Mahoney
By Michael MoyerPosted 07.17.2007 at 12:43 pm3 Comments
Back in July of 2003 we published "The Flight of the Bird Men," a story with the tag line "For Jari Kuosma and Robert Pecnik, skydiving wasn't enough—they wanted to strap on wings and fly. So what if 96 percent of their predecessors had died in the attempt?" After seeing this video, I can't believe it's only 96 percent:
On Friday, we dispatched our crack team of videographers to witness the iPhone madness at the Manhattan Apple flagship store on 5th Avenue, the Soho Apple store, and several AT&T stores. They made a little documentary so we could relive the launch of the decade's most overhyped gadget again and again, forever. And it's funny stuff: Don't miss the slow-mo jog to glory as the first iPhone recipient enters the hallowed glass cube... and the receiving line of congratulatory Apple employees on his way out is also a sight to behold.
We've got three iPhones circulating around the office today, and, well, frankly everyone's a little bored with them. Has anyone started working on a hack to make these things run third party software? Tell us in the comments: PPX traders are dying to know. —Megan Miller
The incredible innovations, like drone swarms and perpetual flight, bringing aviation into the world of tomorrow. Plus: today's greatest sci-fi writers predict the future, the science behind the summer's biggest blockbusters, a Doctor Who-themed DIY 'bot, the organs you can do without, and much more.