Feb 27, 2015

Watch a robot play the violin better than you can

posted by Larra Morris

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Wish you hadn't been so quick to give up violin practice as a kid? You may never get to turn back the clock, but retired engineer Seth Goldstein is showing that there's still hope of reliving those musical ambitions through technology. He recently showed off Ro-Bow, a kinetic sculpture that uses robotic fingers (specifically, electromagnetic actuators) to play digital music files on a real violin. While the machine won't have concert performers rethinking their careers, it's probably better with a bow than you were way back when -- it can handle a fast Irish jig as well as a slow, sentimental tune like "Amazing Grace." The Ro-Bow hardware would have to shrink and get a bit of polish to be useful as more than an art project, of course.
via Engadget

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Feb 27, 2015

Kitchen towels designed to look like sushi when properly rolled

posted by Larra Morris

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Designer Jenny Pokryvailo has created a series of kitchen towels that look like sushi when properly rolled. The design was submitted to Ototo, which previously produced Pokryvailo’s design for the Nessie Ladle, a soup ladle that resembled the Loch Ness Monster.
via Laughing Squid

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Image: Jenny Pokryvailo

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Feb 26, 2015

Astronomers discover mysterious black hole as massive as 12 billion suns

posted by Laura Domela

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In a galaxy far, far away—12.8 billion light-years away to be more exact—is a newly-discovered supermassive black hole that weighs as much as 12 billion of our suns. The most surprising thing about the black hole, though, is not its size but its age.

Black holes grow as they age, gobbling up gas and stars that foolishly venture too close. Astronomers have found more massive black holes before, but this one is surprisingly young. Because it is so far away, we "see" the black hole as it was 12.8 billion light-years ago, or only about 875 million years after the Big Bang. Astronomers are puzzled how this black hole grew so huge in so short a time.
via Gizmodo

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Image: Zhaoyu Li/Shanghai Astronomical Observatory 

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Feb 26, 2015

Researchers create world's first two 3D-printed jet engines

posted by Laura Domela

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Working with colleagues from Deakin University and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), researchers from Australia's Monash University have created the world's first 3D-printed jet engine. While they were at it, they created the world'ssecond one, too. One of them is currently on display at the International Air Show in Avalon, Australia, while the other can be seen at the headquarters of French aerospace company Microturbo, in Toulouse.
via gizmag

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Photo: Monash University

Feb 26, 2015

An ancient Babylonian customer service complaint inscribed on a clay tablet around 1750 BC

posted by Laura Domela

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photo via Joe Stump

Among the artifacts at the British Museum in London is this ancient Babylonian customer service complaint which was inscribed on a clay tablet sometime around 1750 BC. The complaint is regarding problems with two shipments of copper ore, as the museum notes in their description:

Clay tablet; letter from Nanni to Ea-nasir complaining that the wrong grade of copper ore has been delivered after a gulf voyage and about misdirection and delay of a further delivery; slightly damaged.

via Laughing Squid

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Feb 26, 2015

3D engineered bone marrow-like material produces functioning human platelets

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers at Tufts University School of Engineering and the University of Pavia (Italy) have developed a three-dimensional tissue made from porous silk, that’s capable of producing platelets for clinical use. The development is expected to have a significant impact on treatment of blood diseases.

Platelets are cell fragments containing no nucleus, produced by megakaryocytes found in bone marrow. They’re an essential component in the blood clotting process, but can also play a role in strokes and heart attacks, making an increased understanding of their production an important area of investigation. In the study, researchers aimed to create an artificial bioreactor that mimics the microenvironment present in bone marrow, facilitating the artificial formation of platelets.
via Gizmag

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Image: Tufts University

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Feb 25, 2015

Google’s AI wins Space Invaders, proves “human-level control”

posted by Laura Domela

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A new study has been published this week which suggests that artificial intelligence can now learn "human-level control." The team of researchers come from Google's DeepMind, where they're using Space Invaders - the video game - to show how the search for truly human artificial intelligence isn't too far off. The machine learns to play the video game, learns to win at the video game, and dominates all humans at the game they've created to help us defend our planet against the alien hordes. 

It's like The Last Starfighter - only this time, Google has created a computer that can defeat the invaders. Researchers at DeepMind suggest that Reinforcement Learning is one key to optimizing artificial intelligence.
via Slash Gear

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