Summer vacations for a class of California seventh graders might pale in comparison to the class trip they recently took to Mars.
At least that's what astronomers might say after the class' discovery of an opening into a cave on the Red Planet.
The science class from Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, Calif., found the opening while working on a research project with the Mars Space Flight Facility run out of Arizona State University in Tempe.
"The students developed a research project focused on finding the most common locations of lava tubes on Mars," said their teacher, … Read more
As the BP oil spill enters its 63rd day, word comes that the worst-case scenario of the amount of oil gushing from the damaged well, has climbed to 100,000 barrels a day. Initially, BP put the daily tally from the Deepwater Horizon at around 1,000 barrels.
Journalists have reported on the spread of the spill in print and video. As the anecdotal evidence of a mounting environmental disaster accumulates, the challenge of quantifying the enormity of the problem is made that much harder by the piecemeal nature of this developing story.
But now, several hundred miles above the … Read more
Hitachi is showing off an improved version of its Emiew humanoid robot that's better at understanding what you say and rolling over all the junk on the floor of your apartment. Those two functions may or may not be related.
According to Hitachi, Emiew 2 can now distinguish voices in a noisy setting and roll over cables and floor tiles of different heights while maintaining its balance (see the vid below).
Equipped with a 14-channel microphone system in its head, Emiew is also able to cancel out noise generated by its own innards to hear people better.
Japanese researchers are probing the mechanics of insect flight by creating artificial butterflies. The above video shows a wooden contraption gracefully flapping its wings in high-speed footage.
Hiroto Tanaka of Harvard University and Isao Shimoyama of the University of Tokyo made the ornithopter out of balsa wood, polyurethane, and polymer film. It has the same mass and form as a swallowtail butterfly, including the planar shape of its wings.
The wings are powered by a crank mechanism. A rubber band is wound up to make the wings flap vertically at a frequency of 10Hz. It seems to fly for only … Read more
Scientists have recovered part of a Japanese space probe that returned to Earth after landing on an asteroid to collect samples, and they're preparing to open it. At least The Andromeda Strain inspired them to wear helmets and body armor.
The sample container from the Hayabusa probe parachuted to a soft landing in the Australian Outback on Sunday. The fridge-size probe burned up in spectacular fashion on reentry (see the NASA video below).
There was no damage to the mushroom-shaped container, and the probe's heat shield was also found, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
We all have some kind of relationship with our bodies.
Sometimes, let's admit, it can be abusive. We put cupcakes, cocaine, cognac, cauliflower, and cigarette smoke in there (well, not always all at once), and we somehow expect our bodies to love it.
One man, though, has perhaps stood above all others when it comes to testing the body's limits. That is Ozzy Osbourne, former lead singer of Black Sabbath, husband of Sharon, and one-time spokesman for World of Warcraft.
Japanese engineers are developing robots that look like kids to study human cognition. They may be creepy enough to be understudies for Chucky, but these humanoids may pave the way for better robot-human interaction.
The researchers led by Osaka University professor Minoru Asada and colleagues at the University of Tokyo recently introduced Noby, based on a 9-month-old baby, and M3-Kindy, modeled on a 5-year-old child, respectively.
The aim is to advance knowledge of cognitive development--and by extension, artificial intelligence--by getting robots to mimic human growth through interaction.
Noby is infant-size and weighs about 17 pounds. It's embedded with 600 … Read more
Lighting up the predawn Kazakhstan sky, a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a veteran Russian cosmonaut and two NASA astronauts roared to life and vaulted into orbit Tuesday, kicking off a two-day flight to the International Space Station.
Station veteran Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronauts Douglas Wheelock, a shuttle veteran, and rookie flight engineer Shannon Walker lifted off aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft at 2:35:19 p.m. PDT Tuesday (3:35:19 a.m. Wednesday local time) from Yuri Gagarin's launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Riding atop a torrent of fiery exhaust from its multiple … Read more
Some American robots heading to Singapore to battle it out at the RoboCup 2010 soccer tournament may be as surprising as the U.S. national team in the World Cup. They have a new weapon in their bag of tricks--a physics-based algorithm that lets them calculate where the ball will go so they can bend it like Beckham, or at least like R2-D2.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are confident their robots will outperform rivals in the tournament's Small-Size League because the bots' improved coding takes ball dynamics into account. By predicting how the ball will behave instead of just reacting to it or relying on programmed plays, the bots seem to have an advantage. They might even score through bank shots.
CMU researcher Stefan Zickler, who wrote his thesis on the algorithm while working toward a Ph.D. in computer science, said in a release that robots had never before been able to know when they will lose control of a ball while performing moves like turning and dribbling. The vid below shows a robot programmed with the algorithm outscoring against one without it.
Zickler works on the CMDragons, a team of five cylindrical wheeled robots under 6 inches tall. The group tested an earlier version of algorithm at RoboCup 2009, outplaying rivals until a glitch doused their hopes in the quarterfinals. This time, Dragons leader Manuela Veloso, a computer science professor at CMU, is confident of success, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I don't see any reason why we won't win." … Read more