Aug 15, 2014

Underwater crocheting

posted by Larra Morris

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Olek is an artist noted for her bold and public use of yarn. She practices extreme crocheting by covering entire rooms, statues, and even a 4-car train with yarn. Recently, Olek took her crocheting passion to new depths at the Underwater Museum of Art, which is located off the coast of Yucatan. She coated two bomb-like sculptures in yarn (or, you could say, she yarn bombed them) in order bring attention to the endangered whale sharks that live in the area.
via Neatorama

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Aug 15, 2014

A thousand kilobits self-sssemble into complex shapes

posted by Larra Morris

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When Harvard roboticists first introduced their Kilobots in 2011, they'd only made 25 of them. When we next saw the robots in 2013, they'd made 100. Now the researchers have built one thousand of them. That's a whole kilo of Kilobots, and probably the most robots that have ever been in the same place at the same time, ever.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Image: Michael Rubenstein/Harvard University

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Aug 15, 2014

Organs-on-Chips emulate human organs, could replace animals in tests

posted by Larra Morris

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The search for more efficient tests of pharmaceuticals without animal models is taking a stride forward, with a new technology being developed in the US called Organs-on-Chips. The new miniature platform and software, which mimic the mechanical and molecular characteristics of human organs, were developed by bioengineers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

The device, about the size of a small computer memory stick, is created using microchip-manufacturing techniques. It features a porous flexible membrane that separates two channels at the center of the device. The channels are filled with living human cells and tissues cultured in a fluid that mimics the environment inside the human body. Micro-engineering and automated instrumentation allows the system to perform real-time analysis of biochemical, genetic and metabolic functions within single cells.
via Gizmag

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Aug 14, 2014

How the sun sees you: people discover what they look like under ultraviolet light, and the startling power of sunscreen

posted by Laura Domela

Amazing.

Artist Thomas Leveritt recently setup a special UV motion camera in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with the intent of filming random passersby. Ultraviolet rays have the ability to expose not-yet-visible changes to human skin, namely freckles, that turn even the most unblemished faces into dark explosions of dots. Leveritt installed a monitor above the camera so people could instantly see the results, and then to heighten the effect, supplied them sunscreen in a vivid demonstration of why you should probably never again step outside without it. 

via Colossal

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Aug 14, 2014

What it takes to win the world's highest computer science honor?

posted by Laura Domela

One summer afternoon in 2001, while visiting relatives in India, Subhash Khot drifted into his default mode — quietly contemplating the limits of computation. For hours, no one could tell whether the third-year Princeton University graduate student was working or merely sinking deeper into the living-room couch. That night, he woke up, scribbled something down and returned to bed. Over breakfast the next morning, he told his mother that he had come up with an interesting idea. She didn’t know what it was, but her reserved older son seemed unusually happy.

Khot’s insight — now called the Unique Games Conjecture — helped him make progress on a problem he was working on at the time, but even Khot and his colleagues did not realize its potential. “It just sounded like an idea that would be nice if it was true,” recalled Khot, now a 36-year-old computer science professor at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
via Wired

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Aug 14, 2014

British Airways adding cat videos to its roster of in-flight entertainment

posted by Larra Morris

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In the newspaper trade, August is traditionally known as silly season, for its lack of serious news. The latest company to indulge in some silly-season silliness is British Airways, which has learned that looking at pictures of kittens causes people's heart-rates to slow. That's why the company is adding a Paws and Relax channel to its catalog of in-flight entertainment from September. Rather than a continuously looping video of a room full of newborn kittens and puppies, however, the channel will just show the cartoon Simon's Cat, documentary The Secret Life of Cats and Animal Planet's America's Cutest Dog.
via Engadget

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Aug 14, 2014

Tip this robo-bellhop in tweets for delivering your room service

posted by Larra Morris

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Dubbed the Botlr, this fleet-wheeled robot will serve a variety of front and back end tasks for the hotel. It can guide guests to their rooms as well as deliver toiletries like toothbrushes and razors in a fraction of the time it would take a human to do so. It zooms about at speeds up to four miles per hour and wirelessly communicates with the hotel's elevator system (carefully minding the feet of any meatsacks already in the lift) to reach any floor and any of the 150 rooms in just 2-3 minutes.

When it arrives at a room, it will automatically ring the suite phone in lieu of knocking. And when it's not running errands, it returns to its charging station in the lobby for a quick energy boost...

And the best part? You don't even need to tip it for performing these tasks—aside from mentioning how awesome it is in a tweet.
via Gizmodo

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Aug 14, 2014

Scientists turn sweat into electricity with a temporary tattoo

posted by Larra Morris

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What if running a 5K could do more than just burn calories? A team at the University of California San Diego have developed a temporary tattoo-like sensor that keeps tabs on exercise and converts sweat into electricity. The removable device monitors lactate: a substance that's present in perspiration and increases with more strenuous the activity. Athletes and some medical patients need to keep an eye on lactate levels for a range of reasons, but testing currently involves an invasive blood test during an exercise session. Here, an enzyme on the sensor collects electrons from lactate, and in turn, generates a modest electric current. What's more, the researchers turned those findings into a biobattery that's powered by the collected charge. The most energy produced by one person during the test was 70 microWatts per square centimeter of skin, but work is already underway to boost the system so that if can be used to power small gadgets like watches and heart-rate sensors.
via Engadget

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Aug 13, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani becomes 1st woman to win Fields Medal

posted by Larra Morris

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Iranian-born mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani on Wednesday became the first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal, mathematics' equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

The professor at Stanford University in California was among four Fields Medal recipients at the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Seoul, and the first female among the 56 winners since the prize was established in 1936.

"This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Mirzakhani was quoted as saying on Stanford's website.
via CBC News

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Image: Maryam Mirzakhani/Stanford University

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Aug 13, 2014

Cone-shaped speaker learns your musical preferences

posted by Larra Morris

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The Aether Cone is magically simple: Tap it to play a song. Don't like what you hear? Rotate the ring around its edge—a tiny twist skips the current track, and a big one adjusts the overall mood of the playlist. By studying your listening habits on streaming services, Aether's algorithms can learn what kinds of music you like and even where and when you prefer to hear specific genres. It's an expert guesser, but if you want to listen to a particular artist or song, just press the center button and tell it what you want to hear. The point, according to Aether cofounder Duncan Lamb, is to eliminate the forest of choices forced upon us by phones.
via Wired

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Image: LUPINE HAMMACK

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