Mar 05, 2015

Hermit crabs line up in order of size to swap and upgrade shells with one another

posted by Larra Morris

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“They arrange themselves in an orderly queue, the biggest at the front, the smallest at the back; they're lining up with one aim: to exchange properties. But none of the crabs can make a move because the chain is not yet complete. They're all waiting for the right-sized crab to come along.”

The Hermit Crab vacancy chain, as featured in the 'Home' episode of Life Story, on the BBC.
via Boing Boing

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Mar 05, 2015

A quintet of paper origami cranes perform a choreographed dance routine using electromagnets

posted by Larra Morris

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Japanese hardware hacker Ugoita T. created a whimsical display of five origami cranesbusting a move with choreography provided by electromagnets, which were used to manipulate the feet of the paper birds into all sorts of dance positions. Ugoita T. has also created a behind-the-scenes video detailing how the display, which was exhibited at a Honda China art event, was created.
via Laughing Squid

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Mar 05, 2015

Here’s where to find Jeopardy!’s Daily Doubles

posted by Larra Morris

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FlowingData (a.k.a. Nathan Yau) has released the following chart that shows the places future contestants should focus on in their Ahab-like quest for the Daily Double. Using the fan site J! Archive (which has most clues for the first 14 seasons, and then every clue for every season after that), Yau was able to discern the placement of Daily Doubles through Jeopardy!’s 31 seasons and therefore the statistical probability of where to find them. Those interested can see the model play out by visiting the website. Once again math either helps elevate the game or sucks the fun out of it, but in either case it provides prospective Jeopardy!contestants with some tools for getting more money—assuming they can answer correctly.
via The AV Club

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Mar 04, 2015

This skeleton robot walks and swims exactly like a salamander

posted by Larra Morris

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When researchers at Switzerland's EPFL set out to build Pleurobot, they spent hours looking at 3D X-ray videos of a salamanders walking, swimming, and walking underwater. The videos tracked up to 48 points on the animals bodies.

The "bones" in Pleurobot don't match up one-to-one with a salamander's skeleton, but they're close enough to reproduce its many postures and positions. To match the animal's movements, the researchers applied neural network models that mimic pattern generators in the spinal cord to control "virtual muscles."
via Gizmodo

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Mar 04, 2015

The Eiffel Tower has new wind turbines, and they're beautiful

posted by Larra Morris

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The Eiffel Tower’s iron-clad frame turned slightly greener last week, with the installation of two new wind turbines along its lower deck. Perched some 400 feet above the ground, atop a ritzy, second-level restaurant, the slender turbines are part of a broader effort to make Paris’ most iconic monument more eco-friendly — even if only slightly.

When they go into operation next week, the 17-foot structures will provide enough electricity to power the tower's first-floor commercial areas — about 10,000kWh per year. Jan Gromadzki, an engineer who oversaw the project for New York-based Urban Green Technology (UGE), says that's enough to power an average American family’s home for one year. But for the Eiffel Tower — which consumes an estimated 6.7 GWh a year — “it's just a small drop in the ocean."
via The Verge

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Mar 04, 2015

Designer produces a 3D-printed edible morsel using both technical and natural processes

posted by Larra Morris

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In her 2014 experimental design project Edible Growth, designer Chloé Rutzerveld has created a 3D-printed edible morsel using a combination of technical and natural processes. The morsel is grown inside a 3D-printed edible structure, with plants and fungi sprouting out after about five days. The rapid-manufactured nature of the food limits environmental impact by shortening the food chain and limiting land and energy use. The food is nutritious because it is grown from natural ingredients using natural processes including photosynthesis and fermentation. And since it is intended for immediate consumption, no preservatives are needed.
via Laughing Squid

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Image: Chloé Rutzerveld

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Mar 03, 2015

NASA's super ball bot could be the best design for planetary exploration

posted by Larra Morris

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NASA’s Super Ball Bot has to be one of the most bizarrely and effectively innovative robot designs we’ve ever come across. It’s a tensegrity structure, nothing more (and nothing less) than a bunch of rods connected by a bunch of cables. It’s almost certainly not what you picture when you think of a robot, much less a robot that’s intended to head into space. At NASA Ames Research Center, they’ve been working on this project through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, and we have an update for you about what they’ve been up to.
via IEEE Spectrum

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