Apr 20, 2015

Stunning footage of sperm whale checking out underwater robot at 2,000 feet

posted by Larra Morris

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This is some remarkable footage from the remotely operated underwater vehicle Hercules of a sperm whale that comes to investigate the bot off the coast of Louisiana. The robot is about 2,000 feet down at the time of the encounter, significantly shallower than a typical sperm whale dive (around 4,000 feet) and nowhere near their max depth (over 10,500 feet).
via Geekologie

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Apr 20, 2015

A strange whale sound recorded in Antarctica could be from a new species

posted by Larra Morris

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Last February, a research vessel towing four hydrophones sailed through Antarctic waters to listen for whale signals. Researchers found one particular signal, known prosaically as Antarctic BW29, as quite strange. They picked it up on 14 separate occasions, but Antarctic BW29 did not perfectly match any known species.

For example, the peak frequency was too high for Arnoux’s beaked whales. And strap-toothed whales aren’t usually this far south. The three other known beaked whale species also imperfectly matched the criteria. The author’s conclude, “the source of these Antarctic signals might be a species that has yet to be identified.”

Of course, it’s also possible the known ranges of other beaked whales are wrong or that there is more variation between whales of the same species than previously thought.
via Gizmodo

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Image: An Arnoux’s beaked whale in Antarctica. Soler97/Creative Commons

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Apr 20, 2015

A New York company materializes songs as 3-D printed sculptures

posted by Larra Morris

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As created by Reify’s 3-D printing programs, Wagner’s “Ride Of The Valkyries” twists in aggressive blue jags, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Spin Spin” swirls in diminishing circles, and Nick Drake lyrics swell into an asymmetrical growth. Reify’s program translates sound waves into computer code and code into molds, materializing songs into works of art using 3-D printers.
via AV Club

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Image: Reify

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Apr 17, 2015

An elegantly designed set of stemmed laboratory beaker wine glasses

posted by Larra Morris

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Periodic Tableware has created a set of elegantly designed laboratory beaker stemmed wine glasses that reflect the the clean lines and sturdiness of the scientific glassware used to create the set.
via Laughing Squid

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Image: Periodic Tableware

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Apr 17, 2015

In the future, spider silk may help grow your replacement heart

posted by Larra Morris

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Growing new organs and tissues outside the body is the bleeding edge of biomedical research. Just imagine: if doctors could grow replacement hearts or kidneys from a patient’s own stem cells, that patient would no longer have to face the agonizing prospect of waiting to find a suitable donor. The risk of organ rejection would become nil. But there’s a lot of R&D to be done before we get there. One initial challenge has been finding a scaffold material to grow organ tissues on—something that’s non-toxic, will not impede cell growth, and will not, itself, be rejected by the body. That, it turns out, is a pretty tall order.

But, as described in a study published recently in PLOS ONE, genetically engineered fibers of spidroin—the protein that builds cobweb strands—might just fit the bill when it comes to human heart tissue. Spidroin fibers have already proven themselves a useful substrate for growing tendons and cartilages. Researchers at the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology decided to see whether spidroin grown in the lab via genetically modified yeast cells can also be used to grow cardiomycetes, the cells that form heart tissue.
via Gizmodo

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Apr 17, 2015

Car safety system monitors your body language to prevent accidents

posted by Larra Morris

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Many collision avoidance systems watch out for other cars or pedestrians to keep you safe. But this new one called Brains4Cars being developed by Cornell and Stanford University researchers adds a camera that monitors you (or the driver's, if it's someone else) body language, as well. The computer that's watching you on cam can detect your face and head movements to find cues on whether you're turning or changing lanes. With data from a radar and another camera keeping an eye on the environment, the system can warn you if it's too dangerous to turn.

For instance, if you're turning left, the left side of the steering wheel or seat can vibrate as a warning -- the researchers believe sound and visual signals could be incorporated into the system, as well. In addition, the system can also pull GPS info and issue a notification if you've taken the wrong turn, or if you're driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
via Engadget

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Apr 16, 2015

A slithering snake robot that can swim underwater with unsettling ease

posted by Larra Morris

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A snake robot swims underwater with vaguely unsettling ease in this video uploaded in 2013 by IEEE Spectrum. The robot in question is an ACM-R5, a waterproof articulated robot designed for underwater inspection and search operations. The robot has a wireless camera and additional sensors can be installed “upon request.” Each modular segment has wheels, which allows the robot to slither out of water as well. It’s much larger than it appears on video–a standard arrangement of nine segments is about five-and-a-half feet long.
via Laughing Squid

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