Nov 20, 2014

Stanford University makes its own Gecko-inspired wall climbing pads

posted by Larra Morris

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Military types are obsessed with the Gecko because of the unique structure of its feet, which enable it to climb walls like Spider-man. Earlier this year, DARPA told the world that one of its labs had built a pair of pads that would enable a 218-pound person wearing 50 pounds of gear to pretend that they're Tobey Maguire. Of course, the method for building the pads was a closely guarded secret, but a team at Stanford University believes that it's cracked the formula. In essence (really paraphrasing here), the group started with PDMS --polydimethylsiloxane -- a composite more commonly found in water-repellant coatings, skin moisturizers and at least one franchise burger joint's chicken nuggets. The substance was then molded into microwedges to increase the surface area, and crammed into a hexagonal plate with a handle.
via Engadget

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Nov 20, 2014

Floating off-grid greenhouse can feed two families

posted by Larra Morris

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Italian design office Studiomobile has teamed up with the University of Florence's Professor Stefano Mancuso, who is the director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, to produce a prototype floating greenhouse in a bid to improve food security in areas with little arable land. The Jellyfish Barge operates off-grid and produces its own clean water via an onboard system of solar distillation.
via Gizmag

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Image:  Matteo de Mayda


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Nov 19, 2014

Will your next best friend be a robot?

posted by Laura Domela

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The Japanese crowd sits hushed and somber as the character on stage turns away from his co-star, an actress seated on the floor in front of a small table. He lowers his head, then turns to face the audience with a look that is both blank and inscrutable, yet somehow conveys a profound sense of alarm. Something here is very wrong.

The dimly lit theater somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo is packed. Young couples on dates, elderly theater connoisseurs, and even a few teenagers have crammed into the rickety building to catch a glimpse of the future, as visualized by playwright and director Oriza Hirata. They entered in good humor, chatting and laughing. But now they’re quietly transfixed.

The character at the center of the tension is a three-foot-tall robot with an oversize plastic head faintly reminiscent of a giant kewpie doll. He is one of two robots in the play. The other has just rolled off the stage wearing a floral print apron.

“I’m sorry,” the robot says, lifting a pair of orblike eyes to address the actress. “I don’t feel like working . . . at all.”

The robot is depressed.
via Popular Science

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Image: Pepper, courtesy Softbank. 
Pepper, Japan's first affordable social robot, goes on sale in February.
It can read emotions and will be a platform for new apps.

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Nov 19, 2014

$170 million island park planned for the Hudson River

posted by Larra Morris

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There isn't much free land left in Manhattan, so Barry Diller is building his own. The New York Times is reporting that the IAC billionaire is currently raising money to build 2.4 acres of new land off the west side of Manhattan, designed as a combination park and performance space. Diller will be raising $130 million himself, and plans to gather an additional $40 million from the city, the state and additional donors.

The curved structure would rest on 300 concrete pylons, ranging from 70 feet to 15 feet, the recommended sea level rise for post-Sandy constructions. Building on a curved platform allows designers to mimic the rise and fall of natural land, as well as allowing sunlight into the underneath the platform, enhancing the possibility for marine life to take shelter among the pylons.
via The Verge

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Image: Pier55, Inc. / Heatherwick Studio

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Nov 19, 2014

Watch 'Starry Night' emerge from falling dominoes

posted by Larra Morris

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Knocking over dominoes can be a very therapeutic experience. Even more enjoyable is watching 7000 dominoes fall to create Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night. The entire process took about 11 hours (as seen by the clock whizzing by).
via Mental Floss

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Nov 19, 2014

Artist creates nanosculptures smaller than a human hair

posted by Larra Morris

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A sculpture so tiny that it cannot be seen by the naked eye is claimed the smallest sculpture of the human form ever created. Measuring a picayune 20 x 80 x 100 microns, artist Jonty Hurwitz’s tiny human statue is part of a new series of equally diminutive new sculptures that are at a scale so infinitesimally miniscule that each of the figures is approximately equal in size to the amount your fingernails grow in around about 6 hours, and can only be viewed using a scanning electron microscope.

Sculpted with an advanced new nano 3D printing technology coupled with a technique called multiphoton lithography, these works of art are created using a laser that uses the phenomenon of two photon absorption. In this way, an object is traced out by a laser in a block of light-sensitive monomer or polymer gel, and the excess is then washed away to leave a solid form.
via Gizmag

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Image:  Jonty Hurwitz

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Nov 18, 2014

Martha Stewart launches a line of custom 3D printing designs

posted by Larra Morris

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Martha Stewart's affinity for drones has been well-documented, and now she's trained her domestic eye on another buzzy emerging technology. Stewart has launched a line of custom designs with 3D printing darling MakerBot...

Stewart has been talking up her love for 3D printing lately. At her American Made conferencelast week, she paid lip service to several U.S. companies using the next-gen manufacturing. "With a 3D printer, you can design a product and immediately do a small production run without having to create an expensive mold—and without forfeiting your individual design touches and personal aesthetic," she wrote at CNN. "No wonder 3D printers have become so popular among artists and designers."
via Gizmodo

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