Apr 03, 2013

Researchers have taught a sea lion to keep a beat to music (video)

posted by Larra Morris

The Santa Cruz Patch reports that researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz have taught one of their resident sea lions, Ronan, how to keep a beat. In this video, you can see her bopping her head to “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire and other funky songs. Peter Cook of the University’s Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory confirms that Ronan is the “first non-human mammal shown able to find and keep the beat with musical stimuli” which “challenges earlier evidence from humans and parrots suggesting that complex vocal mimicry is a necessary precondition for flexible rhythmic entrainment.” According to the University’s Newscenter, Cook is the first author of the study which was published online April 1, 2013 in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.
via Laughing Squid

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Apr 03, 2013

Notre Dame students highlight method for 3D printing skeletons of living animals

posted by Larra Morris

ratskeleton3dprint.png

Can you really claim to love your pet if you haven't printed out its skeletal structure for your mantle? Sure everyone expresses themselves in different ways, but the "3D Printing of Preclinical X-ray Computed Tomographic Data Sets" outlined by a team of Notre Dame students and a rep from MakerBot certainly beats getting your pet's face printed on a sweater. The researchers have outlined a method for CT scanning live mice, rats and rabbits and printing out their skeletal structures in plastic. Sure there's some cool research applications for such functionality, but more importantly, who could ask for a creepier gift for the pet owner in your life?
via Engadget

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Apr 02, 2013

Mantis – a two ton turbo diesel hexapod you can drive (video)

posted by Larra Morris

mantis-hexapod.jpg

The term mad scientist gets thrown around quite a bit, but in the case of one Matt Denton it most certainly applies. His company, Micromagic Systems, has been working steadily over the past four years to design and build a walking robot that's big enough to carry a human passenger. The resulting beast is described as "the biggest, all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world."
via Gizmag

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Apr 02, 2013

Is Facebook losing its edge?

posted by Laura Domela

To see what Facebook has become, look no further than the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.

Sometime last year, people began sharing tongue-in-cheek online reviews of the banana-shaped piece of yellow plastic with their Facebook friends. Then those friends shared with their friends. Soon, after Amazon paid to promote it, posts featuring the $3.49 utensil were appearing in even more Facebook feeds.

At some point, though, the joke got old. But there it was, again and again – the banana slicer had become a Facebook version of that old knock-knock joke your weird uncle has been telling for years.

The Hutzler 571 phenomenon is a regular occurrence on the world’s biggest online social network, which begs the question: Has Facebook become less fun?
via Time/Tech

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Apr 02, 2013

I don’t care if it's not real: Bubba Watson’s hovercraft golf cart

posted by Laura Domela

This video was posted suspiciously close to April Fools’ Day and e-mailed to our tips inbox suspiciously nonchalantly. I don’t care. I want it to be real.
via Time/Tech

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Apr 02, 2013

New York Times builds Haiku-Bot, turns news headlines into poetry

posted by Laura Domela

haikubot.jpeg

Senior software architect at The New York Times, Jacob Harris, built a ‘Haiku Bot’ that scans through newly published articles in The New York Times for haikus. 

Published in the Tumblr Haiku.NyTimes.com, the five-seven-five syllabled found gems are short snippets of articles—and though they’re out of context, they provide an entertaining and whimsical point of view.
via Design Taxi

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Apr 02, 2013

DARPA ARM robot can now change your tires (video)

posted by Larra Morris

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Last time we saw DARPA's Autonomous Robotic Manipulation testbed robot, it grabbed one of our cameras by the face. That was fun, but it's not especially practical. Now, this—this is practical: using some low-cost (sub-$3,000) hands from iRobot and Sandia National Labs, the robot can now autonomously use tools to mostly change a car tire... 

There are two things going on here that are worth getting excited about. Thing one is that the ARM robot is learning to work in unstructured environments, which is a fancy way of saying that it's got a chance of being able to do stuff outside of the lab it was born in, potentially in either direct sunlight or partial shadow (but probably not both, let's not get crazy here), and without the assistance of a Vicon motion-capture system. Thing two is that the robot is learning to deal with high-level commands, which is what it's going to take for anybody who's normal who isn't a roboticist to get a robot to complex task. A high-level command is a command like "robot, change my tire" or "robot, clean my house" or "robot, get me a sandwich."
via IEEE Spectrum

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Apr 02, 2013

Symbiotic bacteria tell squid when to hunt, when to sleep

posted by Larra Morris

Bobtail.jpg

Glowing bacteria that live in the light-generating organs of the tiny bobtail squid play a key role in determining the animal’s circadian rhythms — the natural cycles that help determine when a creature sleeps, wakes, and eats — according to a study published this week in the journal mBio. It’s the first time a symbiotic bacteria has been found to determine the daily habits of its host, and could offer researchers insight into how the bacteria that live in more complicated creatures — including humans — may affect our day to day lives.
via Geekosystem

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Apr 01, 2013

The Easter Egg hunt on the International Space Station

posted by Larra Morris

easterISS.jpg

Cmdr. Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station tweeted, "Don't tell my crew, but I brought them Easter Eggs." The Easter Bunny delivers, no matter how far he needs to travel.
via Neatorama

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Apr 01, 2013

Drones could replace eager youths on paper routes

posted by Larra Morris

paperdrone.jpg

The postal service "La Poste Groupe" is using Auvergne, France as a test province for a new drone delivery program that will employ Parrot quadricopters to deliver local papers. Tests officially begin in May and will consist of 20 drones being controlled by 20 postal workers from iOS or Android devices. The goal is for the system to be ready for 7am deliveries.
via Gizmodo

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