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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Five Latest Nature-Inspired Robots

When it comes to smart design, nature has had a bit of a head-start, well about four billion years. It's no wonder then that scientists have decided to use cheat-codes and copy designs that are already at work.

Zoobots- robots inspired by biological organisms are being created all around the world. From creepy, crawly spider-like bots to ape-like machines, engineers are creating a whole new family of robots that can survive in all conditions.

Seriously though, some of these designs inspire more fear than awe. They look like they've been developed to scare people rather than bots designed to assist search and rescue operations.

Here is a list of zoobots that made news this year.

Flight of the RoboBee-

A tiny machine, weighing less than a tenth of a gram, recently took its first flight in a Harvard University lab, ending a decade of cutting-edge research and taking robotics to a whole new level.

The fly-inspired bot has two wafer-thin wings that flap at a rate of about 120 times per second. According to its developers, RoboBee could be used in many fields from environmental monitoring to search and rescue operations to even crop pollination.

The bot that doesn't mind crashing

This crash-happy drone can survive many collisions. Designed and built by a team in Switzerland at the Ecole Polytechnique Federerale de Lausanne, the Gimball can assist in monitoring dangerous territories.

The bot weighs about 30oz and is nearly 13 inches in length. According to Adrien Briod, co-creator of the robot, Gimball can carry weights up to 30 grams.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Consumers line up for Xbox One

Xbox One consoles loaded onto armored trucks as they head to Best Buy Theater in Times Square for the launch of Xbox One.
Eager video game players lined up at stores across the country awaiting the arrival of Microsoft's Xbox One, a week to the day after rival Sony introduced its PlayStation 4.

The console, available for sale tonight at 12:01 a.m. ET, is Microsoft's first video game console since launching the Xbox 360 in 2005.

The device features an upgraded Kinect sensor, which allows users to control the Xbox by using their voice. Users can also plug the console directly into their cable or satellite set-top box to take control of their televisions.

Consumers across the country lined up to snag an Xbox One, available in limited quantities at retailers including Best Buy and Target. Like the PS4, the Xbox One is expected to be in short supply. The consoles are unavailable to purchase on the websites of Amazon, Best Buy and Target.

Microsoft is hosting an event at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square to kick off the console's launch and allow consumers to bring home the console.

"We're really gratified and humbled about the amazing interest there has been," says Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft senior vice president of interactive entertainment. "We've done everything we could to build as many units as possible. That said, there is a decent chance in the early weeks that we may be sold out in spite of the number we have built, which is the largest we have ever built."

At a Best Buy in Brentwood, Tenn., about three dozen people had already lined up by 7:45 p.m. ET on Thursday for the latest Xbox. Four people showed up before 10 a.m. to begin waiting. Some paid friends to secure early spots.

Ryan Brazzell, 23, of Brentwood, was one of them. He paid a friend $40 to wait in line starting at 10 a.m. He showed up at 5 p.m. to for the chance to buy the latest model.

He does not plan on playing games right away at midnight, but says securing one early was still important.

"I am excited to have this one," he said. "It is a new thing. It is family oriented."

Brian West, 36, of Nashville, Tenn., also secured a prime spot in the line. He first showed up during his lunch break.

"The main thing that sold me was to be able to play a game and watch TV on the same screen," West said. "I am tired of switching."

Will Solari, 17, of Lincoln, Calif., camped out at a Best Buy in Roseville starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday night to be the first in line to secure the next Xbox.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL INVADERS crash land on Earth's South Pole

No oxide, just neutrino ... The particle-catching lab in Antarctica
Dozens travelled here almost at warp speed to hit our snow slopes

Scientists at the South Pole have detected a collection of neutrinos from outer space that could help explain the origins of the universe.

A team from the IceCube telescope laboratory in Antarctica will reveal their findings in tomorrow's Science journal.

The experts believe that their 28 intergalactic subatomic particles, which were embedded within a cubic kilometre of polar ice, originated from outside the Solar System, and likely from outside our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Having identified the particles, the boffins believe that they can gain new insight into the workings of black holes, pulsars and other wonders of space that emit the subatomic particles.

The equipment is able to differentiate between neutrinos from outside the Solar System with those that may have originated from the Sun or the Earth's own atmosphere, which could reveal more about astrophysical phenomena billions of light-years from our home world. The extraterrestrial neutrinos screamed through the void almost at the speed of light before smashing in the Earth's snow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Long-term use of birth control pills may increase risk of glaucoma

Women who use birth control pills for three years or longer could have an increased risk of developing glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness, DailyRx News reported.

In a study presented at the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, researchers examined data from more than 3,400 women aged 40 and older in the United States, who had completed questionnaires regarding their reproductive care and eye health.

Overall, women who took the pill for three years or more had double the risk of developing glaucoma, compared to women who used the pill for a shorter period of time or who never used the pill at all.

"We believe at this point, by analyzing the data, there is an association between long-term birth control use and glaucoma," study author Elaine Wang, of Duke University, told CNN. "Why? We're not sure. The next step is to examine the eyes carefully and look at exactly what is happening to a woman's vision when she's on birth control pills. We need to verify these findings."

Additionally, researchers found that other factors such as age, race, eye health history and age of first menstrual period were associated with increased odds of glaucoma.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Can a Creature Ever be 'Perfect'? Bacteria Mutating Since 1988 Still Improving in Simple Environment (VIDEO)

Evolution may never reach an ultimate phase of perfection, but continue to make small improvements throughout time.

Richard Lenski of Michigan State University started growing cultures of the Escherichia colibacteria back in 1988. Since then, over 58,000 generations of bacteria were born on the simple nutrient medium, a Michigan State University news release reported.

"When hiking, it's easy to start climbing toward what seems to be a peak, only to discover that the real peak is far off in the distance," Michael Wiser, lead author and MSU graduate student in Lenski's lab, said. "Now imagine you've been climbing for 25 years, and you're still nowhere near the peak."

The metaphorical "peak" the researcher was talking about refers to what is known as a "fitness peak." The peak occurs when a population finds such a great set of mutations that any new mutations would cause a decline in the strength and quality of the species as opposed to an improvement.

Linky's bacteria have not reached that point, even after living in a simple environment for about a quarter of a century.

Most species are exposed to changing environments which forces them to keep finding new mutations in order to adapt, but researchers had believed organisms would eventually reach a state of "perfection" if kept in the same environment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scientists create another invisibility cloak

A clocking device is created
Who didn’t wish he/she had an invisibility cloak after reading Harry Potter evade Professor Snape’s detection in precarious situations? Well, that cloak remains in fantasy books, but scientists are closer to making it a reality with a “broadband” invisibility cloak capable of hiding object over a wide range of frequencies.

Not as wide reaching and far more plausible than the Harry Potter’s cloak, the old models of cloaks work by bending microwaves around objects. The first successful one in 2006 concealed a small copper cylinder.

The best designs so far are only capable of hiding objects under specific wavelengths of microwaves and light. According to some US physicists those invisibility cloaks even make objects even more visible under different frequencies.

So these physicists devised a new ultra-thin electronic system, explained in Physical Review Letters.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Exercise During Pregnancy Gives Infant Brain a Head Start

As little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week during pregnancy enhances a newborn’s brain development, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Montreal note this head start could have an impact on the child’s entire life.

“We hope these results will guide public health interventions and research on brain plasticity,” said Dave Ellemberg, Ph.D., who led the study.

“Most of all, we are optimistic that this will encourage women to change their health habits, given that the simple act of exercising during pregnancy could make a difference for their child’s future.”

While in the past obstetricians would tell women to rest during their pregnancy, it is now commonly accepted that inactivity actually increases the risk of complications during pregnancy, noted Daniel Curnier, Ph.D.

“Being active can ease postpartum recovery, make pregnancy more comfortable and reduce the risk of obesity in the children,” he said.

Friday, November 8, 2013

FREAKISH' SPACE OBJECT sighted by Hubble telescope: Boffins BAFFLED

'Weird' astro-thing squirting mysterious jets of stuff
A bizarre object far beyond the orbit of Mars, described by NASA as "weird and freakish", has been spotted by the Hubble space telescope spewing jets of gas which cause it to move.

The mysterious rock, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, was seen spewing matter from its surface by the telescope on September 10. Then in a second image taken on September 23 the asteroid, dubbed P/2013 P5, appeared to have swung around significantly.

Spaffing all over space ... What happens when the Sun gets pushy

Professor David Jewitt – of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles – told The Register that the appearance of the asteroid is unique, and the team has some ideas of how it came to exhibit such unusual characteristics.

"One idea was that we were seeing ice on the asteroid outgassing, but the object is too hot, around 170 Kelvin, for ice," he explained. "An impact with the asteroid was discussed but that would leave one large plume, not six."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Alien planet is just like EARTH - except for ONE tiny detail

Four hundred light-years away in the constellation Cygnus there lies a G-type star very much like our own Sun. Orbiting it is a world scientists believe is very similar to Earth in both size and composition.

This faraway planet, discovered by the Kepler space telescope and so dubbed Kepler-78b, is not a potential second home for humanity (or alien life along the same general lines as that of Earth). That's because it orbits its sun at a distance of just a million miles, rather than the 93 million that lie between us and Sol. And it's this which has top astro-boffins around the world baffled.

Everything you could want in a planet ... except location, location, location
"This planet is a complete mystery," says David Latham, a top brainbox at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "We don't know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it's not going to last forever."