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02 Jan 19:00

Whoa: Watch Scientists Use Sound Waves to Make Things Levitate

by Kyle VanHemert
What we see in their latest proof of concept clip is fairly dumbfounding: Arrangements of tiny little beads lift into the air and glide around in perfect formation.
    






05 Sep 14:48

The Campbell's Soup K-Cup Is Everything Right and Wrong With Keurigs

by Andrew Liszewski

The Campbell's Soup K-Cup Is Everything Right and Wrong With Keurigs

Not content with only enraging coffee connoisseurs, Keurig will soon be expanding its K-cup empire with a new line of instant soups that are sure to have foodies shaking their heads in disgust too. First to the market will be an instant version of Campbell's chicken and noodle soup, using a combination of a K-cup for the broth, and a separate packet for the dried noodles and veggies.

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20 Aug 11:19

When wedding shoots go wrong, horribly wrong: Groom hit in face by quadcopter-camera

by Matthew Champion

It’s said that the only thing a groom needs to do on his wedding day is turn up on time and say the right name.

However, we can now add another requirement – dodge any helicopter-mounted cameras flying straight towards your face.

This unfortunate incident took place at a couple’s bridal shoot two days before their wedding, and left the groom with cuts on his cheek and the side of his head.

The photographer, who was using a GoPro camera mounted on a DJI Phantom quadcopter, wrote on YouTube: ‘I felt horrible. Luckily the bride and groom were able to laugh about it after and we continued the shoot. At the request of the bride and groom I put the video online.

‘Although it sucks that this happened. I have decided to own up to what I did, instead of try to hide it from the world.’

He went on to say: ‘I was still able to make a great video. This couple was so great to work with. Some of the nicest people I have ever met.’

You can watch the couple’s full video, with the quadcopter incident edited out, here.


20 May 15:30

Insert Coin: Linkbot modular robotic platform lets you quickly build a bot, skills

by Steve Dent

In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.

Insert Coin Linkbot

Everybody loves robots, but the initial ardor for building one can quickly be snuffed out by the complex reality of actually programming it to do anything. That's where Linkbot comes in, a new project from the Barobo team that brought us the Mobot. It's designed as a modular system that can be expanded infinitely with accessories like a camera mount, gripper, and wheels, thanks to three separate mounting surfaces -- which also have standard #6-32 screw attachment holes on the mounting plate to attach personality-enhancing cutouts. Despite the expansion potential, though, it can still be used right out of the box to do robotics without touching a lick of code. That's thanks to several built-in modes like BumpConnect, which permits wireless connections between the modules by touching them together; and PoseTeach, to program complex motions by hand in a similar (but less time-consuming) manner to stop-motion animation techniques.

For those who want to step it up a notch, the system lets you go far past basic mech fun. The Linkbot itself has two rotating hubs with absolute encoding, along with an accelerometer, buzzer, multicolored LCD and ZigBee wireless system with a 100m line-of-sight range. There are also optional breakout and Bluetooth boards to connect sensors like range finders, IR proximity sensors, photo detectors and thermostats. The outfit's BaroboLink software for Mac, PC or Linux is included to program the Arduino-compatible bot in several languages as well, and can even translate previously created PoseTeach motions into computer routines. So far, the company has created working prototypes and even shipped them to local schools, so if you're interested, you can pledge a minimum $129 toward the company's $40,000 target to grab one. That'll net you a Linkbot, two wheels, the BaroboLink software, access to the MyBarobo community -- and hopefully a jolt to your robotics confidence.

Filed under: Robots

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Source: Kickstarter

20 May 15:35

Oscar Pistorius ‘not ready’ to compete again this year

by Massimo Marioni
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius
South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius (Picture: PA)

Oscar Pistorius will not compete again this year as he awaits trial for murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, despite receiving a number of meeting invitations, his agent has confirmed.

The six-time Paralympic gold medallist had his bail conditions relaxed in March to allow him to travel abroad for competitions, but despite offers, the ‘Blade Runner’ will not return to the track.

‘There was never any pressure from me or his coach (Ampie Louw) to return to competition, it’s his decision and it’s his decision not to compete,’ Van Zyl said.

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp pictured earlier this year (Picture: Reuters)

Asked if he was mentally ready to race again, Van Zyl said: ‘No, of course not.’

Pistorius is next due in court on June 4, with a trial expected to take place before the end of this year.

The double amputee claims he shot 29-year-old Ms Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder, and denies premeditated murder.


03 May 14:00

The Science of Hoarding

by Alex Santoso


Image: Grap/Wikimedia

The next time your mom complains that you don't throw junk away, tell her that you're in good company: nearly 15 million people suffer from varying degrees of hoarding disorder. But what causes hoarding?

A few years ago, Samson (not his real name) unplugged his refrigerator. It had, he says, “got out of hand.” He didn’t empty it, and he hasn’t opened it since.

That's how Bonnie Tsui's journey to understanding the science of hoarding began:

In a National Public Radio interview a couple of years ago, Frost talked about the reasons hoarders might collect certain items: a decades-old newspaper because it could be useful in the future; an array of bottle caps purely for their fascinating physical characteristics; a seemingly insignificant postcard because it reminded the owner of a loved one or a specific event. Frost saw universality in the way the beliefs seem to be tied to information processing. “There are some problems with attention—that is, distractibility and sometimes a hyper focus, problems with categorization, the ability to organize things,” he explained. “People who hoard tend to live their lives visually and spatially instead of categorically, like the rest of us do.” One of his patients, Irene, would put an electricity bill on top of a pile; if she needed it again, she would remember where it was in space, rather than filing it away—mentally and physically—in a “bills” category.
“We don’t know the nature of the emotional attachments that people who hoard have to objects,” Frost told me. “How do they form, and why are they so? What are the vulnerabilities that lead up to it?”

Read the rest of Bonnie's article over at Pacific Standard Magazine: Link

30 Apr 14:09

Bedding Your Plants by Geoff Lewis

by Geoff Lewis
shutterstock_130195571

Photo courtesy Shutterstock.com

Guest Rant by Geoff Lewis

I would like to speak to the curious sport of bedding plants. Bedding plants – you know, big pansies, dwarf marigolds and their ilk. One’s vision is of an orgiastic colour melee: Vast flocks of the vegetative equivalent of Pekinese and/or Schitzu-Poodle crosses (schit-poos) carpeting hallowed garden plots. Presently, our commercially available selection of plants for bedding consists of a short a la carte list of chubby little overfed seedlings. A verdant kindergarten of dwarf, goggle-eyed munchkins hiccoughing their first hideously over-bred rack of sterile genitalia at the proud height of 5cm.

“Aw, Honey look: their first flowers!”, the consuming couples gush at their new, extremely temporary, vegetative pets.

By itself, an unfair view I agree. What about those bold, startling splashes of colour? What about armies of bedding plants spread, icing-like, over otherwise dun-coloured slopes of bare soil? Why not turn your yard into a stationary but flower-festooned parade float? Your house could become the smiling queen of something-or-another, waving and searching the crowd for her friends. If you’re lucky enough to live in a mobile home, you can grow bedding plants on your roof, cooling your narrow abode in summer and drawing envious stares from passing Shriners, clowns and marching bands. If you grow them in the bed of your truck, you can obtain insurance under parade float’s more economical category.

As sarcasm is the lowest form of humour, so bedding plants are the lowest form of horticulture. And who doesn’t like a little sarcasm, now and then? Just not all the time; it’s wearying and tends to make one edgy after a while, as do bedding plants for me. Useful in the hands of well-funded parks staff and landscapers with a reasonable budget, they can shock, enchant, brag wealth, and soften the eyes of even the most fastidiously obsessive-compulsive dickhead. Big bedding displays epitomize the tyranny of order; The Beauty-through-Repetition axiom taken to absurd new worlds. We can dominate the subtle, confusing and possibly dangerous natural world. We can bring order. We control the horizontal. We control the vertical… oh no, sarcasm again.

I like the astoundingly perverse idea of bedding a plant. What do you bring on a first date? Not flowers! Compost, perhaps. And just how sporting is it to stalk something that is rooted to the ground? The parents of most F1 hybrid bedding plant seeds are vastly inbred wrecks bearing little resemblance to their bastard offspring except in name, though I guess one can skip the step of meeting the folks.

Although bedding plants are mostly sterile, and there are some other small physical and genetic barriers, what plant-human monstrosity would emerge from such an unholy union? One imagines a staggering, blind dwarf repeatedly producing grossly inflated testicles etc. in a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues until mercifully extinguished by disease, neglect or autumnal frosts. There aren’t even laws against this activity yet, unless you bypass the dating scene entirely and go straight to gene-splicing.

Bedding plants are so easy to poke fun at, defended only by cloth-hat wearing trowel-wielders. Such adherents are no match against a rake or long-handled shovel. All this aside, next time I shall only sing praises to the very lowly bedding plant. At least it’s gardening, sort of.