Everyone's favorite headless bipedal bot is back, just in time for Halloween. Petman won't be riding any horses around Sleepy Hollow, though - just showing off his moves on a treadmill. Boston Dynamics is developing Petman to test chemical protection clothing for the US Army, and if he's joining the army, obviously he needs to get in shape. Watch as he plods along, with an impressively smooth gait, balancing himself when someone pushes him. He's also got a few new calisthenic exercises up his sleeve, working those glutes with some squats and lunges, then executing a far better push-up than any I've ever done.
You know that thing, electromagnetism? It powers your microwave, allows doctors to examine your insides, and lights up your surroundings so that you can see. It's great because it's so dependable. Except, according to an Australian research study, it might not be. Once you get away from Earth, at least.
We've spent a lot of time talking about quantum stuff lately. Some is just cool for its own sake, some of it could genuinely revolutionise the way we do things, but either way, quantum mechanics has already shown it can be applied to a range of practical uses. Add one more to the list - a US defence firm has come up with the idea of using photons to create highly-dense and principally unbreakable communications.
It's alarming enough when robots ingest plant detritus like twigs and grass clippings. It's another thing entirely when they can start chowing down on members of the animal kingdom. A pair of prototype robots are designed to catch bugs, a major step on the path toward robots that can hunt, catch and digest their own meals.
Windows announced earlier today that everyone will be getting mangoes. Or, maybe it's that everyone on the planet with an eligible Windows phone will be getting an OTA update to the latest Mango release, taking their Windows Phone OS to number 7.5. Both sound good - unless you're the holder of one of three capable handsets that don't fit the bill.
We all remember Blinky, right? The lovable and very-slightly-mutated fishy from The Simpsons? Well, it turns out he actually exists, having been found by Argentinian fishermen in a Cordoba lake. Points to Groening and co for what is now surely to be acknowledged as incredibly insightful prophetic comedy.
Another week, another scheme to clean up our bourgeoning space debris problem. This one, like many before it, calls for a powerful ground-based laser to remove orbital debris from low earth orbit. Using high-powered laser pulses fired from the ground, the system would create a small plasma jet emanating from the piece of junk itself, essentially turning each piece of debris into its own laser-powered rocket that would remove itself from orbit.
Among the many factors keeping wind power projects from getting their legs is the annoying and sometimes dangerous tendency for moving wind turbines to mimic aircraft on an air traffic controller’s radar screen. The problem has led to the stalling of some wind projects and criticism of others, criticism that isn’t helping the larger roll out of renewable energy resources. But startup Aveillant has a technological fix that could get things rolling again: 3D holographic radar that can spot even small aircraft flying among wind turbines.
Soft robots would be useful for a variety of things — they could grip objects with precision and sensitivity, and they could roll along more quietly than their counterparts with metal exoskeletons. Here is a new one that could do such tasks purely on its own, without any external power source or command center.
When I was your age, to get to school I had to walk uphill both ways, frequently during snowstorms. (It was good exercise.) Imagine walking downhill both ways — how easy that would be! Gravity would be a friend and not a foe! It’s so simple, even this bodyless robot can do it. Its golf club legs can amble in perpetuity, powered by nothing but its own forward momentum.
Organic light-emitting diodes, thin-film transistors, e-ink and other display technologies get plenty of ink — er, pixels — in these pages. But a non-traditional mechanical approach could be even more efficient, according to a researcher in Taiwan. Mechanical pixels, made of teeny micro-machines, would be visible in bright sunlight and can use far less power than familiar LCD screens.
Noted geneticist Snoop Dogg once said--and I’m paraphrasing here--that no matter where one goes in life, one’s surroundings during one's formative years stay with one for life. No matter where you go, you can’t change where you’re from (I think Prof. Dogg was actually calling back to an old Comrads lyric from the song Homeboyz--I’m sure you all will correct me in the comments). Findings published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggest that he may have been correct--socio-economic status and living standards early in life may actually cause changes to your DNA that you carry with you for life, regardless of how your living conditions change along the way.
Pluto may not be a fully fledged planet, but at least it’s not the dwarfiest of dwarf planets. Its sibling, Eris, is not as large as astronomers thought, according to a new study. A rare stellar blockage event last year helped astronomers obtain some new measurements of the distant icy world, and they say it is quite dense and it may develop a feeble atmosphere as it moves closer to the sun.