Cornellian Roboticists Celebrate, C3P0 Yawns

April 8th, 2008. By Dave Oei. 3,719 views.
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Cornell’s Robot, Ranger Given this day in this corner of this galaxy, this certainly qualifies as a feat. Cornell’s little Ranger ambled a record-setting 5.6 miles in an indoor track, untethered, using only internal power sources (batteries). It didn’t utilize nav sensors to get around the track, rather, Ranger was remote controlled.

It’s previous record was set in 2006 where it walked just over 1/2 a mile, peanuts by comparison. In fact, extrapolated out, in less than a decade Ranger will be giving C3PO a run for his money.

Source: Cornell

Aviation First: Fuel-Cell Powered Flight

April 8th, 2008. By Dave Oei. 2,687 views.
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Fuel Cell FlightFor the first time, an aircraft has flown powered by nothing other than fuel cells. Granted, this little Boeing bugger needed a boost from its batteries to get into the air, but once airborne it flew for about 20 miles using fuel cells alone. Its not a bad idea, considering the only exhaust is water, but unfortunately Boeing does not see this type of technology entering mainstream commercial use any time soon.

In the grand scheme of aviation firsts, I’d rank this as a so-so accomplishment. Read more…

In Defense of Intelligent Design?

April 6th, 2008. By Dave Oei. 3,308 views.
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Ben Stein, ExpelledWhat do Ben Stein and Intelligent Design (ID) have in common? More than a little bit, apparently. Ben’s newest movie to be released later this month is titled, “Expelled. No Intelligence Allowed.” And while I haven’t seen it, I’ve read a good number of reviews from mostly Intelligent Design proponents who generally all agree on it’s merits as a fine documentary.

The premise is simple. Various faculty at various universities or other academic institutions were allegedly forced from their positions after attempting to or actually putting forth a positive opinion on the concept of intelligent design. The movie tries to show an apparent disregard for intellectual freedom and a staunch close-mindedness perpetrated by the intelligentsia.

In my mind, this sounds like fairly interesting stuff.

Read more…

SciFriday Fun: Battlestar Galactica Returns

April 4th, 2008. By Dave Oei. 3,106 views.
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Battlestar Galactica

All work and no play made Jack a dull boy? Better than a cylon, right? Who knows, we’ll find out shortly, as after nearly a year in hiatus, Battlestar Galactica returns! Be ready for an update including a quickie review and post-mortum…in about 2 hours.

Update: SPOILER WARNING

Unlike some previous BSG shows, the start of season 4 which premiered yesterday on the SciFi channel was unapologetically geared toward it’s fan base. Absent were the narratives and flashbacks detailing previous story lines. Which means if you’re new to the show and you missed, “What the Frak is Going on?” (Curious, link is dead for now), you probably also missed a good deal of what the rest of this entry is about.

Read more…

How Long Should “It” Last?

April 2nd, 2008. By Dave Oei. 2,887 views.
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A WatchThat’s the question, and Dr. Eric Corty wanted to know. So he asked a number of folks at the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, received 34 responses, and found that the most desirable duration lasts between 7-13 minutes. Which seems to fit well with a study in 2005 which found that the median time for sex was just over 7 minutes.

Of course, those queried were likely a highly biased group.  And, I have to imagine things like, profession and age were not controlled for, but I don’t really know because I can’t see the study without paying for it.  And, because this is still a blog written on my spare time, there’s no budget for this sort of thing.

Now, I’m not saying go out and see for yourselves, but hey, if you have other ideas of “best” durations, feel free to write in a comment.

Source: Journal of Sexual Medicine

New Anglerfish Found off Ambom Island, Indonesia

April 2nd, 2008. By Dave Oei. 2,328 views.
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New Frogfish from Ambon Island in IndonesiaWhat swims, has binocular vision, leg-like appendages, and can squeeze into the smallest of spaces with ease? This guy can, a newly discovered species of anglerfish which is so unique that scientists speculate it may belong to a new family of fish, which in itself is somewhat rare with only 5 new fish families having been added to our general taxonomy in the last 50 years. Though anglerfish in general are not uncommon, any fish with front-mounted eyeballs generally are, implying that these little dudes may see the way we do.

Source: University of Washington
Photo: M. Snyder, starknakedfish.com / divingmaluku.com

Tiny Black Hole makes way to TinySci

April 2nd, 2008. By Dave Oei. 1,955 views.
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Black Hole, Small

At TinySci, it’s only natural for us to get excited about all things small, even if it means, relatively small. In this case, Nikolai Shaposhnikov and and Lev Titarchuk of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center announced the tiniest black hole ever discovered, one weighing in at only 3.8 solar masses. If you were wondering, that translates to approximately 7.6E+30 kilograms, or about 1,270,000 Earths.

I know what you’re thinking: It doesn’t sound quite that small, right?

Read more…

Human-Animal Hybrid Makes Waves in the UK

April 1st, 2008. By Dave Oei. 3,068 views.
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Splash with Daryl Hannah Researchers in the UK beat the bullet and managed to grow human – cow hybrid embryos which lived for three days in a tube before dying. The researchers are not happy because they were shootin’ for six days. The Pope’s upset, though I’m not sure why. Look, worse case, we have werewolves and vampires rummaging through my trash at night. At best, Daryl Hannah shows up, except not the actress, but a mermaid. It could be worse, right?

Source: BBC

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