By Natalie AvonPosted 09.21.2009 at 10:45 am 2 Comments
Images of the Virgin Mary have appeared on grilled cheese sandwiches, trees and now in a petri dish. But that last appearance was no heavenly manifestation. It was a sign that Christopher Voigt's photographic bacteria were working.
Mobility-impaired patients and layabouts alike can rejoice at the debut of Panasonic's robotic bed that transforms into a wheelchair. Human nurses and hospitals may also breathe a tiny sigh of relief.
The bed-shaped bot morphs upon command to sidestep the usual trouble of moving a bedridden person from bed to wheelchair, or vice versa. Yet unlike the Japanese bear bot nurse that carries patients, a self-controlled bed bot allows humans to regain some independence and dignity.
Robot swarms could someday hover, spin, and attack in response to a simple gesture or graceful pirouette from a human operator. And yes, Boeing has filed a patent on that future vision.
"The method may involve defining a plurality of body movements of an operator that correspond to a plurality of operating commands for the unmanned object," Boeing notes in its patent filing. "Body movements of the operator may be sensed to generate the operating commands."
Even though computer memory has become cheaper and cheaper, the materials chemistry behind storage has not changed significantly in a long time. Now, thanks to a breakthrough by Korean scientists, that's all about to change.
For decades, scientists have debated whether or not gasses could display the same magnetic properties as solids. Now, thanks to some MIT scientists, they know the answer is a freezing cold yes.
MIT researchers have observed magnetism in an atomic gas of lithium cooled down to 150 millionths of a degree above absolute zero. This experiment represents a point of unification between condensed matter research and the field of atomic science and lasers, and could influence areas such as data storage and medical diagnostics.
In theory, designing a robot that continuously juggles a single ball should not be difficult. Calibrating the machine would be a pain but once you got the thing running, it should continue to juggle the ball until some variable intervenes. In a perfect world, this would occur elegantly, but here on Earth things just don't come off so beautifully. However, through some smart design and precise math, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have created the Blind Juggler, so named because it juggles a ball continuously, even when variables are introduced, without the use of sensors.
Violins made by the Italian master craftsman Antonio Stradivarius are worth millions of dollars for their unparalleled sound. And that's great, for the handful of musicians who can afford these centuries-old instruments. This month, a new violin made from wood treated with a fungus actually trumped a Stradivarius in a blind listening test, offering hope for violinists who want high tonal quality at an affordable price.
The idea of extraterrestrial boating comes from planetary geologist (and sailing enthusiast) Ellen Stofan, who points out that one of Saturn's moons, Titan, is covered with lakes, and in fact is one of only two places in our solar system known to have surface liquid (the other being Earth, of course). So why not launch a floating probe? After all, to date all extraterrestrial endeavors have involved either flight or land navigation, so perhaps it's time to switch it up a little.
A few colorblind squirrel monkeys in ophthalmology professor Jay Neitz's lab at the University of Washington, Seattle have received an early Christmas gift: gene therapy has restored their ability to see red and green. Neitz and his colleagues say that the achievement provides hope for treating vision disorders in human adults as well.