"Socially interactive" robots are being developed that can interact naturally with people, such as turning toward a person to give the impression of paying attention. The goal is to have such machines perform assistive tasks from hugging to encouraging stroke victims to perform important exercises or children with autism to imitate behavior. Researchers designing what such robots will look like also have to avoid the "uncanny valley" -- a phrase based on the idea that people are most comfortable with robots that look either completely human, or identifiably not human.
Also in today's links: blaming quants, mapping science, imaging religion, and more.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.