Jul 15, 2013

This LEGO microscope actually works

posted by Larra Morris

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This working Lego microscope was built by Carl Merriman, a Lego artist who's been building for over 27 years. It's sleek, functional and even though you couldn't use it to study Ebola or the T-Virus, it's still a pretty sweet piece of kit.

The build was inspired by Lego X-Pod sets (now discontinued):

While trying to find a use for the pod itself, I realized that it was very close to a deep petri dish. I used a planetary gear system to allow both coarse and fine adjustment of the objective “lens”. A little more tinkering and I connected the focus to a magnifying glass and fiber optic light in the eyepiece, so adjusting the focus knobs would actually bring the writing on a LEGO stud in and out of focus.
via Gizmodo

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Jul 15, 2013

Anagramatron, a bot that finds and retweets twitter anagrams

posted by Larra Morris

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Anagramatron is a bot written by developer Colin Rothfels that finds and retweets Twitter anagrams. Rothfels has also made an Anagramatron Tumblr blog that embeds the anagrammatic tweets alongside one another.
via Laughing Squid

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Jul 15, 2013

First successful interspecies cell transplants could pave the way for future pig-to-human transplants

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers at Northwestern Medicine have successfully transplanted insulin-producing cells across species lines — removing cells from rats and implanting them in mice — without using drugs to prevent rejection of the foreign cells. While the transplant may seem like a small victory — mice and rats are pretty similar, after all — it marks a significant step forward in interspecies transplants that could one day save human lives by allowing the implantation of insulin-producing “islet” cells without necessitating the use of immunosuppressive drugs that can have dire side effects.
via Geekosystem

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Jul 15, 2013

Life-sized game of LIFE

posted by Larra Morris

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The life-sized Game of Life will be held from 20 July to 16 September on Yoron Island located just North of Okinawa. The impetus for this plan was the fact that the island is shaped like that hilly part of the game board where the spinner sits.

Throughout these summer months, players will be given a map showing the game squares and an allotment of fake money like that used in the game. The players will then spin one of four wheels located around the island and proceed to that spot. At the end of the game, any play money left over can be converted into gift certificates.
via Neatorama

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Jul 15, 2013

Artist turns Beijing's Water Cube into a massive emoji-based mood ring (video)

posted by Larra Morris

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What if you could see how people felt by looking at a former Olympics venue? In June, artist Jennifer Wen Ma and lighting designer Zheng Jianwei turned the "Water Cube," used for swimming events in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, into an art project based on Sina Weibo and the I Ching. Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube, as the show is called, uses the cube's lighting to simulate an extremely low-resolution screen, much as we've seen in other projects. From there, a team of specialists figured out a system that would illustrate each day through a combination of divination and data mining.
via The Verge

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Jul 15, 2013

Scientists developing a baby cry analyzer

posted by Larra Morris

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Although Homer Simpson’s brother’s Baby Translator may still only be a whimsical concept, Rhode Island scientists have developed something that could prove to be even more valuable. Researchers at Brown University teamed up with faculty at Women & Infants Hospital, to create a computer tool that may find use detecting neurological or developmental problems in infants, by analyzing their cries.

The software starts by breaking recordings of baby cries down into 12.5-millisecond “frames,” then analyzing each of those frames for parameters such as frequency and volume. All of that individual frame data is then combined to provide an overview of the cry.
via Gizmag

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Jul 12, 2013

Canadian team nabs top prize for human-powered helicopter

posted by Laura Domela

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When Todd Reichert settles into the pilot seat of the helicopter he helped build, there are no fancy electronic switches to flip, there’s no fuel tank to fill and certainly no computer to configure before take off.

What allows the 31-year-old to defy gravity is sheer human power, delivered to the craft’s four rotors through the bicycle pedals he steadily pumps throughout his flight.

It’s that fragile machine, built by Reichert’s Canadian team, which has now won a long-coveted international prize that lay unclaimed for years.

The AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition was established in 1980 for the first successful controlled flight of a human powered helicopter that could reach a height of three metres while hovering for at least one minute in a 10-square-meter area.
via National Post

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Jul 12, 2013

Apollo mission sites could become a lunar national park

posted by Larra Morris

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The landing site of NASA's Apollo missions may be transformed into a popular tourist destination, if a new bill in Congress is ratified. Two democratic congresswomen are seeking designate a national park on the moon, protecting abandoned Apollo artifacts, such as the landing gear, roving hardware, and the famous footprints.

The last manned lunar landing was in 1972, and no human has stepped foot on the surface of the moon since. But that might not be the case much longer as other countries and commercial space programs seek to replicate NASA's past successes.

The bill, dubbed the "Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act," was designed to specifically account for public access and tourism. Both visitor and administrative services are to be designated "within reasonable proximity to the Historical Park," and hint at a possible future of moon landing tours and public amenities.
via The Verge

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Image: NASA

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Jul 12, 2013

DARPA's ATLAS humanoid robot gears up for disaster response (video)

posted by Larra Morris

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DARPA has revealed the completed ATLAS humanoid robot, which is to star in the upcoming DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) – and it cuts a striking figure. Designed by Boston Dynamics (the guys behind the BigDog,Cheetah, and LS3 quadrupeds), it's being given to the top teams that recently competed in the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC). Now those teams have less than six months to fine tune their software with the real robot before they face the first of two live challenges.
via Gizmag

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Jul 12, 2013

Retreating Antarctic ice fuels surprising glass sponge invasion

posted by Larra Morris

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In the frigid, inky ocean depths beneath permanent ice shelves, life tends to move pretty slowly. But a recent expedition to the seafloor under a newly thawed Antarctic ice sheet has revealed an unexpected invertebrate invasion. Some of Earth’s strangest species, a group of ghostly pale sponges made of glass, have set up shop there in a hurry, upending much of what scientists know about these exotic creatures.

Thanks to changes in this ecosystem brought on by a warming climate, these gardens of glass sponges have sprouted up in only a few years, a veritable population explosion for species once thought to take decades or centuries to spread. It suggests that glass sponges could find themselves squarely on the winner’s podium when it comes to climate change.
via Wired

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Image: Thomas Lundalv, Alfred-Wegener-Institut

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