Thursday, May 12, 2005

Gundam Seed Destiny

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Just last night the editor of this blog went to bed wondering if tomorrow would bring some science blog goodies and lo and behold, the blog fairy granted this wish! On the BBC was this picture without much information:r. Seems a Japanese group built a real working Gundam/Luke Skywalker style mecha. Yours for only a mere $280,000. It even shoots...tennis balls! Someone call Rummy and tell him about this.(there is a movie of the mecha at this url)

Recently, Sony made a robot that runs and jumps. It too, has a video on line.

In the past, when a robot walked, it was a big news. Now researchers are challenging to make a robot run. Sony demonstrated Qrio, a humanoid robot, running today," said Toshitada Doi, executive vice president of Sony and president of Sony's intelligent dynamics laboratories.

Attempts to make robots run and jump date back to hopping robots MIT in 1980s. Sony also developed a running Aibo in 2001. But Sony said Qrio could be the first autonomous robot with an internal control system and power supply that runs, jumps and walks.

Running is defined by robot designers as "the loss of contact," like speed walkers. Qrio stays aloft for about 40 milliseconds when jumping and for about 20 milliseconds when running. In a demonstration, it ran 14 meters per second. To make Qrio run, Sony engineers developed new motion control software and improved hardware with an enhanced actuator and processor.


Robot wheelchairs are being designed. This is very exciting research with wide open applications.

While many robots operate independently of their human users, some robots are built to have their users work very closely with them, even as a passenger. Robotic wheelchairs are being developed to assist people move through the world more easily and safely. Wheelesley, shown above, is an example of a robotic wheelchair. It uses sonar, infrared, bump and vision sensors to navigate through the world. The robot has two drive wheels in the center of the wheelchair with casters in the front and back for balance support.


While googling for information we found this:

Robots are being let loose in a colony of machines in an attempt to find out whether they can learn from their experiences.
The scientists behind this unusual experiment describe it as an evolutionary arms race for robots, with the machines struggling to collect energy.

The Living Robots experiment will be open to the public from 27 March at the Magna science adventure centre in Rotherham in England.

Visitors will be able to watch the real life Robot Wars in a purpose-built arena, designed to hold 500 people.


Several years ago I was asked to be on "Junkyard Wars" only they did the filming in LA during the school semester which made a four week trip out of the question. I do love doing this sort of thing. Wish it happened here in upstate NY.

Here in NY at Cornell comes this fascinating story last night:

Scientists have created a robot that can replicate itself in minutes. The team behind the machine says the experiment shows that self- reproduction is not unique to living organisms

The researchers add that the ability could be harnessed to drive major advances in nanotechnology, the science of the very small, and may even lead to space colonization by robots.

Developed by researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the machine was constructed from cube-shaped robotic units (modules) that functioned independently. A four-module robot could assemble an exact replica of itself in just two and a half minutes.


Hmmm. Replicating mecha military robots...reminds me of more than one Japanese anime...got to check out the library of DVDs.

I Can't Remember Where I Put My Memory Pill....

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Pill for brain power

The editor of this blog often laughs at the inability to remember past events or to keep them in a mental grid. Most people, seemingly, the memory stores information in a rummage box and the only items that are kept in any order seem to be those very things our professional propagandists hammer into the head. This is why people remember the wrong things or in the wrong sequence. This is also why everyone remembers commercial jingles heard in one's youth. Persistent repetition pays off.

So here is some amazing news, at least sort of, we think the moon/menopause news is pretty neat!--

US scientists have invented a pill that can boost memory.
The drug CX717 belongs to a family of compounds called ampakines and works by boosting the brain chemical glutamate that makes learning and recall easy.

UK trials on 16 sleep-deprived volunteers showed it improved wakefulness and mental ability.

Its creator, Dr Gary Lynch from the University of California, told New Scientist it could be used to treat jet lag and diseases like Alzheimer's.


Well, this pill doesn't do me any good. Alas, it belongs to that catagory of chemicals that are, like caffine, stimulants. Just like people drink coffee to be alert, so they can pop this pill. I pop the pill and end up in the emergency room. Far from being more alert, I crash...badly. So does my son. It so happens, this month I had to take pain killers for my injured arm and it had this class of drugs in the formula and now I am off the pills, sick to my stomach almost every day. It is slowly fading. It is like the flue or worse.

But I am delighted this pill now exists. So often when I write things that indeed happened, most right wingers will hotly deny this. Now we lefties can request they take their memory meds. Heh. This includes Bush. Maybe the pill will force him to remember all sorts of things he would rather forget.

Menopause and the Moon

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Venus of Laussel


The editor of this blog is a female. This means that from a fairly young age until recently, my poor body was at the mercy of the cruel moon. Menos and moon come from the same word in Indoeuropean proto languages. There is a famous carving of an ice age Venus holding a horn in one hand that is marked with thirteen marks up and thirteen down. Quite explict. In addition, the 23,000 year old carving has the Venus covering her vagina.

The month in which a woman is born can influence the age when the menopause begins, new research has claimed.

Scientists from the University of Modena in Italy claim that women born in March have the earliest age of menopause, while those with an October birthday have the latest.

Dr Angelo Cagnacci, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the university, said: "The age of menopause is influenced by the season in which the female is born."

The findings, reported in the European medical journal Human Reproduction, support the theory that environmental factors before birth have an impact on a baby▓s adult life, reports Reuters.

According to Xinhuanet. researchers have discorved that a woman's month of birth can affect the age when menopause begins, according to a Reuters report Wednesday.


Isn't that nice? My birthday happens to be the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Some of my more unpleasant ancestors were there. They spoke a debased form of Norse/French. Avunt!

Anyway, I wondered why the pesky "time of the month" went on and on and on. After my 50th birthday it was down right annoying. And then, virtually right on schedule according to scientists, it ended just like some frivolous goddess decided the calendar and the moon and the year all lined up just right. Bingo.

Well. One learns something new every day, no? Did this amazing news get spread by CNN or even the NYT? Why isn't it headlines in America? Could it be a conspiracy? Doesn't fit the "runaway bride" matrix? Are they hiding this information from us to tease us?

Your guess is as good as mine...heh.