Posts Tagged ‘Science’

New Robot Walks Like You

June 1, 2008

TU DelftFrom LiveScience Staff posted: 26 May 2008 ET>>read more.           Flame weighs about 40 pounds (15 kg) and is 4 feet tall (1.3 meters). It moves at 1 mph and can negotiate slight steps down. Credit: TU Delft.          Flame’s moving joints are attenuated by springs. An inertia sensor (called an “organ of balance”) helps keep the ‘bot stable. Credit: TU Delft           A new robot that walks like humans is one of the most advanced of its kind.          Attempts to get robots moving like people typically result in very stilted gaits and limited range of motion.          Human walking is “really very similar to falling forward in a controlled fashion,” researchers at TU Delft in The Netherlands explained. “Adopting this method replaces the cautious, rigid way in which robots walk with the more fluid, energy-efficient movement used by humans.”          The new robot, Flame, weighs about 40 pounds (15 kg) and is 4 feet tall (1.3 meters). Its got several moving joints attenuated by springs. An inertia sensor (called an “organ of balance”) helps keep the ‘bot stable. Seven motors get it all going.          Flame can move at 1 mph (0.45 meters per second) and deal with steps down as long as they’re not more than one-third of an inch (8 mm).          As it walks, swaying side-to-side like a flat-footed human, Flame uses its organ of balance to dictate how far apart its feet are placed, to prevent falls.          Project leader Daan Hobbelen gets his Ph.D. this week for all the work. Hobbelen said Flame is the most advanced walking robot in the world, at least in the category of robots which apply the human method of walking as a starting principle.          Research done to build the robot provides insight into how people walk, the researchers say, and this could lead to better training and rehabilitation equipment.

‘Frog-amander’ Fossil Fills Evolutionary Gap

May 21, 2008

Michael Skrepnick.From LiveScience By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer posted: 21 May 2008 01:00 pm ET>>read more.     In its Early Permian habitat in Texas, Gerobatrachus hottoni would have lived on land and water where it could lunge after insects like this mayfly Protoreisma. Credit: Michael Skrepnick.     A frog-like creature with a stubby tail once paddled through a quiet pond in what is now Texas, snapping up mayflies while keeping an ear out for bellowing mates, new fossil evidence suggests.     That was about 290 million years ago.     In 1995, the amphibian specimen was discovered in fish quarry sediments in Baylor County, Texas, though it wasn’t until recently that paleontologists inspected and described the new species. Called Gerobatrachus hottoni after its discoverer Nicholas Hotton, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution, the creature represents a transitional amphibian, sporting features of both frogs and salamanders.      “This amphibian is from near to the point where frogs and salamanders first split,” said lead researcher Jason Anderson, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Calgary in Canada. “This is kind of an early frog-amander.”      The finding, detailed in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, supports the idea that frogs and salamanders evolved from one ancient amphibian group called temnospondyls.       Like modern salamanders, the fossil of Gerobatrachus has two fused bones in its ankle. And like modern frogs, the frog-amander sports a large ear drum, or tympanic ear, which Anderson said the ancient amphibian likely used for hearing calls from mates.     “I suspect that many of the temnospondyls have a similar sort of [tympanic ear] system,” Anderson told LiveScience. “But of course unless we were able to build a time machine and go back and listen to these guys call, we won’t know for sure.”      Rather than hopping, this amphibian likely walked on land and swam in water, with the ability to lunge after prey, Anderson said. In fact, along the evolutionary history of amphibians, frogs didn’t begin hopping until the Jurassic or Triassic period. (The most definitive hopping frog fossil is dated to the Triassic, which spans from 248 million to 206 million years ago.)      “It was found in sediments from a quiet pond with a lot of fish fossils, but I suspect it was equally comfortable on land or in water,” Anderson said.

WiFi on the Highway

May 19, 2008

Dash ExpressFrom LiveScience>>read more.   The information superhighway hits the real road, giving drivers interactive directions, real time traffic, entertainment, e-mail in the car, shopping and dining choices and emergency services.     Autonet Mobile an Internet service provider,Autonet in-car Internet router makes on-road surfing a reality via an in-car subscription based wireless router.     Dash Express, the first two-way, Internet-connected GPS navigation system. Dash delivers traffic and destination information in exciting new ways, and offers a wide range of new capabilities available from the car that makes a typical GPS practically obsolete. Dash is the smartest way to get from A to B, and find everything in between.

Cutting-Edge Robots

May 4, 2008

From LiveScience by Zina Deretsky, NSF>>read more about the other robots.
USC Humanoid Robot     This freaky looking USC-built robot head can learn facial movements from human teachers and watches objects it finds interesting. This collaboration between neuroscience, robotics, and computer vision is the first step to building full-body humanoid robots. Click to enlarge.

Laptop concert linking Stanford and Beijing

May 1, 2008

A student uses the keyboard to control the sound produced from his 6-speaker array (seen at left) during a rehearsal of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra in the Knoll building on campus in Palo Alto, April 24, 2008. Ech of the 20 speaker arrays is built from an IKEA salad bowl, amplifier kit and car speakers.The ensemble of 20 musicians is comprised of under graduates, master's students and doctoral students from the university community. (David M. Barreda / Mercury News)Laptop concert linking Stanford and Beijing signals world has changed 6,000 MILES APART, PAN-ASIAN FESTIVAL MUSICIANS USE THE NET TO COLLABORATE IN REAL TIME FRom the Mercury News By Richard Scheinin Article Launched: 04/30/2008 03:55:21 PM PDT photo by (David M. Barreda / Mercury News)>>read more.     Do you remember the Jefferson Airplane doing a tune called “Fat Angel” in 1968? It was recorded live at the Fillmore (whether in San Francisco or New York wasn’t clear from the album jacket), and the lyrics went like this: “Fly Translove Airways, gets you there on time.” Very trippy, very mesmerizing, very new. You listened and knew the world was changing.     Tuesday night at Stanford University’s Dinkelspiel Auditorium, there was a concert titled “Pacific Rim of Wire,” and, 40 years after “Fat Angel,” it evoked similar feelings of mesmerizing newness. It was a night of electro-acoustic, trans-global music-making: Musicians at Dinkelspiel (the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, as well as players on traditional concert instruments) were literally – via the Internet, in real time – performing with musicians in China (on a smaller array of electronic and acoustic instruments).     The musicians in this “networked performance” – part of Stanford’s ongoing Pan-Asian Music Festival – could see one another, hear one another and respond musically to one another. The 200 or so listeners in Dinkelspiel could watch and hear not only the musicians on stage, but the musicians in China (6,000 miles distant and 15 hours ahead of California), whose images were projected on a giant screen at the rear of the stage. The small audience at Beijing University could see and hear everything happening in Dinkelspiel.     The combined sounds of two continents droned and pulsed, highly ritualistic, at times gorgeous, unfolding like electronic flowers, full of new moods and colors and tonalities – and, occasionally, they were a mishmash.     Still, the players were communing across the planet: This was the real Translove Airways.      I can’t say that Dinkelspiel is “the new Fillmore” – where all this goes is totally up in the air, and, besides, I’m a neophyte with this music.     But as was the case in the ’60s, what happened Tuesday night was about more than the music. It raised basic questions: What does it mean to “be here,” when here is there, and there is here? For that matter, what does it mean “to see” in this age of Skype and networked performances? After all, the musicians in China were seeing us, literally, and we were seeing them.     The concert was as much a technical as a musical coup, and the folks at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) deserve credit for instigating and carrying it off in conjunction with the technical people in Beijing – who could be seen sipping bottled water and waving to the Dinkelspiel crowd during the performance.

The amazing ‘pixie dust’ made from pigs bladder that regrew a severed finger in FOUR weeks

May 1, 2008

After cutting off the tip, Lee Spievack's finger was back to normal in one monthFrom the Daily Main By FIONA MACRAE Last updated at 23:22pm on 30th April 2008>>read more.
Scientists are claiming an amazing breakthrough – regrowing a man’s severed finger with the aid of an experimental powder.    Four weeks after Lee Spievack sliced almost half an inch off the top of one of his fingers, he said it had grown back to its original length.    Four months later it looked like any other finger, complete with “great feeling”, a fingernail and fingerprint.    Before and after: After cutting off the tip, Lee Spievack’s finger was back to normal in one month The secret to the astonishing regrowth is said to be the powder described by Mr Spievack, a Cincinnati model shop salesman, as “pixie dust”.     More properly known as extra-cellular matrix, it is bursting with collagen, the protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity, and is made from dried pig’s bladder.     It was developed to regenerate damaged ligaments in horses.     “The second time I put it on I could already see growth,” said Mr Spievack, 69.     “Each day it was up further.     “Finally it closed up and was a finger. It took about four weeks before it was sealed.”

Baby Boomers will need robots

April 26, 2008

University of MassachusettsFrom LiveScience Robot Dials 9-1-1 By Dave Mosher, LiveScience Staff Writer posted: 16 April 2008 ET click to read more.     The U.S. medical system faces an imminent crisis as baby boomers age into retirement, but an army of little helper robots might soften the blow.     Researchers designed a two-wheeled robot, known as uBOT-5, with two arms capable of picking up small objects, using a stethoscope and even dialing 9-1-1. Sensors near its video-screen head can also figure out if someone has fallen.     “For the first time, robots are safe enough and inexpensive enough to do meaningful work in a residential environment,” said Rod Grupen, a computer scientist at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst.     Grupen helped develop uBOT-5 in response to the growing crisis faced by the U.S. medical system as almost 78 million baby boomers begin joining the 65-and-older crowd during the next three decades.

Statistics Link Candidacy and Insanity

April 26, 2008

Josh Neuman www.surrealart.comFrom Archaeoporn Posted on April 23, 2008 by archaeologyknits Click to read more.
Well, not really, but the news today concerning the presidential candidates and vaccine denialism goes a long way toward that conclusion.     McCain jumped on the band wagon a while back, and we really can’t be surprised considering he had already come out against evolution and loves popular issues like a hyena loves corpses.     However both Democratic candidates have outed themselves as apparently unable to read current scientific conclusions. (see here and here also, check out denialism blog on the issue)     Obama is quoted as saying     “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.” [the ‘This person’ refers to the individual who asked the question Obama was responding to.]     Maybe I missed the news, but I understood that science, ie that stuff people do in labs or using statistics, was pretty conclusive on the issue right now, and that vaccines were safe and that most of them no longer used thimerosal anyway.     Clinton has pretty much parroted the same missunderstanding     Yes. We don’t know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism – but we should find out.     This was in a question regarding her willingness to fund studies of vaccinated and unvaccinated children.  I can tell you the answer now, the second group probably has a higher rate of a variety of viruses, strangely enough the exact same ones they weren’t vaccinated for.     Now, there is every possibility that the candidates are just acting like cranks to get the nut vote, but it’s certainly scary even if this is the case, because it gives support to unscientific and repudiated claims and could potentially lead to the next president wasting our money on this research.     To conclude though, I would like to concede that these autism cranks aren’t always wrong.  The author of the first article linked to above, is himself a nut, and, inadvertently, he provides us with a valid statement on the issue:     So there you have it, our next President will share the views of such radical fringe crazies as, well, me, Democrat Robert Kennedy, Jr., Republican Joe Scarborough, former NIH and Red Cross chief Bernadine Healy, and several researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the Universities of California and Washington and elsewhere.

Cheney: Leaving No Tracks

April 24, 2008

GottlichFrom the Washington Post Leaving No Tracks by BARTON GELLMAN & JO BECKER 27 jun 2007 Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report click to read more.     Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the 19th-ranking Interior Department official, arrived at her desk in Room 6140 a few months after Inauguration Day 2001. A phone message awaited her.     “This is Dick Cheney,” said the man on her voice mail, Wooldridge recalled in an interview. “I understand you are the person handling this Klamath situation. Please call me at — hmm, I guess I don’t know my own number. I’m over at the White House.”     Wooldridge wrote off the message as a prank. It was not. Cheney had reached far down the chain of command, on so unexpected a point of vice presidential concern, because he had spotted a political threat arriving on Wooldridge’s desk.     In Oregon, a battleground state that the Bush-Cheney ticket had lost by less than half of 1 percent, drought-stricken farmers and ranchers were about to be cut off from the irrigation water that kept their cropland and pastures green. Federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act left the government no choice: The survival of two imperiled species of fish was at stake.     Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in.     First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.     Because of Cheney’s intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.     Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.     The Klamath case is one of many in which the vice president took on a decisive role to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business.     By combining unwavering ideological positions — such as the priority of economic interests over protected fish — with a deep practical knowledge of the federal bureaucracy, Cheney has made an indelible mark on the administration’s approach to everything from air and water quality to the preservation of national parks and forests.     It was Cheney’s insistence on easing air pollution controls, not the personal reasons she cited at the time, that led Christine Todd Whitman to resign as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she said in an interview that provides the most detailed account so far of her departure.

Bush Administration Suppressed Science

April 24, 2008

Image from www.grinningplanet.comHot Politics Suppression of Science From PBS Frontlinee by Oriana Zill de Granados click to read more and see video and check your state’s CO2 output and see who is doing the most to curb emissions.  Hot Politics Web site reports by the Center for Investigative Reporting, Inc.     Profiles of three scientists and one official who say their work on climate change was suppressed by the Bush administration.     Since 2004, a string of government scientists have charged the Bush administration with attempting to suppress scientific data concerning climate change. The alleged tactics vary from case to case, but taken as a whole it appears that White House officials have tried to tone down the connection between climate change and human activity, such as burning fossil fuels.     According to current and former government scientists, Bush administration officials worked to bury a major report on the possible consequences of rising temperatures; improperly edited major reports to downplay the role of human activity in rising temperatures; and tried to keep scientists working on hard-hitting climate research from speaking to the media.     A 2007 probe by the nonprofits the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Government Accountability Project surveyed nearly 300 researchers and found that nearly half experienced — or perceived — pressure to purge references to global warming and climate change from reports and other documents.     Congressional investigators in both the House and the Senate are now examining the allegations and requesting documents from an array of government agencies.