Aug 27, 2015

Self-healing material could plug holes in space ships

posted by Larra Morris

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As the movies have shown us, space travel is an intimidating prospect, what with the possibilities of running out of air, the rocket engines conking out, or the shipboard computer deciding to bump off the crew. Another danger is fast-flying orbital debris piercing the hull. Scientists may be on their way to a solution to that one, however, in the form of a new self-healing material.

Developed by a team from the University of Michigan and NASA, the material is made up of thiol-ene-trialkylborane liquid resin, sandwiched between two polymer panels. As long as the resin is contained in the airtight space between the panels, it stays in its liquid form.

When either of the panels are pierced by a projectile, however, the resin leaks out of the hole and polymerizes upon contact with the oxygen in the air. As a result, it instantly forms a solid airtight plug in the hole.
via Gizmag

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Aug 27, 2015

Robot learns how to cook pizza by watching Youtube and reading WikiHow

posted by Larra Morris

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A PR2 humanoid robot recently learned to cook pizza and pancakes after watching a series of Youtube videos and reading WikiHow articles. The experiment, which was part of a European project called RoboHow...

The researchers behind the four-year project see exploring ways to teach robots to understand language as the route to achieving their goal. They aim to enable machines to perform everyday human-scale activities as competently as humans. Put simply, they want to be able to tell a robot what to do rather than needing to program it to perform each precise movement.
via Geekologie

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Aug 27, 2015

Robotic microfish can sense and remove toxins from their environment

posted by Larra Morris

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In the not-too-distant future, tiny robotic fish could be cruising around inside our our bodies, delivering drugs and cleaning up toxins. This week, engineers at the University of San Diego unveiled the first prototype: a chemically powered, magnetically controlled swimmer.

It’s called the “microfish,” and true to its name, it looks quite a bit like its biological, macroscopic brethren. But that’s where the similarities end. This fish was manufactured using a clever new 3D printing technique — one that could allow engineers to built complex microbots capable of performing all sorts of sophisticated tasks, from targeted drug delivery to environmental cleanup.
via Gizmodo

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Image: W. Zhu and J. Li, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

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Aug 26, 2015

Photos with overexposed highlights could one day be a thing of the past

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers at MIT Media Lab have proposed a new camera technology which could see an end to overexposed images. The modulo camera would work by employing a sensor which can reset the sensor capacitors of pixels as they overexpose, and "unwrapping" algorithms to recover color information which would otherwise have been lost in blown highlights.
via Gizmag

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Image: MIT Media Lab

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Aug 26, 2015

Two artists bring James Bond's meals to life

posted by Larra Morris

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Agent 007 is known for his impeccable taste (shaken martini, anyone?). And yet, the extravagant food scenes that populate Ian Fleming's novels are for the most part missing from their big screen adaptations. Brooklyn-based photographer Henry Hargreaves... and food stylist Charlotte Omnès set to “return these lavish meals to the limelight,” as their project’s mission statement says, with a new collaboration: Dying to Eat.

Hargreaves’s connection to Fleming goes beyond his artistic proclivities: His grandfather served with Fleming during the second World War and subsequently consulted on sartorial details in Fleming’s Bond novels. As such, when Omnès approached him about this project, Hargreaves jumped at the chance. “She's a great cook and prop stylist,” he tells mental_flossof Omnès. Of the project, Hargreaves adds, “I'm good at shooting, lighting, and composing—so our strengths complemented each other!”
via Mental Floss

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Aug 26, 2015

An algorithm can quickly find the killer in an Agatha Christie mystery

posted by Larra Morris

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She’s still widely regarded as one of the greatest mystery writers ever, but coming up on what would be her 125th birthday, a group of academics has managed to create an algorithm that can accurately predict which character will turn out to be the killer in an Agatha Christie novel.

A panel of academics, including data analysts and researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast, analyzed 27 of the 83 novels published by Agatha Christie during her lifetime and discovered that the story’s location, modes of transport, and the nature of the victim’s death were all important clues to solving the mystery.

It was also discovered that how the culprit was introduced served as a key clue to the mystery. When the killer was a female, Christie tended to use a more negative sentiment when introducing the character. But when the killer was male, the word patterns used to mention or address the character were more neutral or positive.
via Gizmodo

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Aug 25, 2015

Citymapper travel app tells you the best place to get on the train

posted by Larra Morris

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Now, when you embark on a journey using Citymapper's Go mode, the app will tell you where best to get on a train in order to be close to the exit (or a connecting platform) when you get off. It's especially useful during the rush hour crush, but also for those who might not understand signage in foreign cities. While it may make for a more pleasant hop between trains or shave a few extra minutes off your commute, Citymapper can't yet tell you how busy those particular carriages might be (especially if everyone else is heeding the app's advice).
via Engadget

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Image: Tim Adams, Flickr

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