Sublime micro-sculptures made of mechanical junk. Looks like watch parts, silverware, other shiny bits. I could stare at these for hours. I used to take anchor bolts and turn them into giant machine guns for my GI Joes, but those pale in comparison to the intricacy of these bugs:

Muti-Valchev Dimitar Valchev on deviantART.

Share Button

They’re Taking Over! by Tim Flannery | The New York Review of Books.

Here’s a disturbing and fascinating book about the rise of the jellyfish. They’re destroying everything, which means, so are we. Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean by Lisa-ann Gershwin. (Actually, the link above goes to The New York Review of Books.)


Gershwin leaves us with a disturbing final rumination:


When I began writing this book,… I had a naive gut feeling that all was still salvageable…. But I think I underestimated how severely we have damaged our oceans and their inhabitants. I now think that we have pushed them too far, past some mysterious tipping point that came and went without fanfare, with no red circle on the calendar and without us knowing the precise moment it all became irreversible. I now sincerely believe that it is only a matter of time before the oceans as we know them and need them to be become very different places indeed. No coral reefs teeming with life. No more mighty whales or wobbling penguins. No lobsters or oysters. Sushi without fish.

Her final word to her readers: “Adapt.”

I read this a few weeks ago and lost a few hairs off my head, others turned white, then I saw this what-could-possibly-go-wrong idea:

These Robots Hunt Jellyfish–And Then Liquify Them With Rotating Blades Of Death | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

Includes videos. Maybe they didn’t read the book–what happens to the jellyfish “pulp”? And releasing floating swarm robots with blades? Swallowed the spider the catch the fly…

Share Button

Using a Robot to Ease a Child’s Pain –

The researchers randomly assigned the children to one of two groups: one with routine vaccination protocol administered by a nurse, and the other with the addition of MEDi in the room. In the MEDi group, the robot would converse with the child and pick up a toy, noting that it was dusty. As the nurse rolled up the child’s sleeve and swabbed the arm, MEDi would have the youngster blow on the toy to help clean it, timing the request to exhale for the moment the nurse injected the needle.

“The robot was distracting the child during distress, but also giving instruction for how to cope,” said Dr. Beran. “Deep breathing relaxes the deltoid muscle.”

I think this is fantastic. Sure, helping kids get injected is all well and good [there are other ways… and you can imagine non-patented ways to achieve this], but to me, this Soother-Bot suggests how robots will one day have a soul. [Or appear to have one (see Turing Test)]. It feels troubled, and it doesn’t presume it can solve all problems–these are, among others, fundamental qualities of beings that we can love. Why? Partly because we’re vain, and partly because we’re (rightly) scared by omnipotence.

It’s something like modern dogs, bred to be adolescent, eager but flawed. Needy. That’s how we’ll breed robots. Meanwhile, the government will keep doing this.

Share Button

It cannot, however, keep your cat from messing it up | MetaFilter.

Pretty clever. With tutorial.

Reminds me of two things: the useless machine and the barrier transfer machine, one of my all-time favorite vehicles.

Share Button

American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States.

It’s not a beautifully designed site, but it’s inordinately deep in content. If you miss the way people used to talk good, then read the best stuff here.

via MeFi

Once you’ve learned some high quality rhetoric, use this new bot at MIT called MACH to practice being a better public speaker.

At the heart of MACH is a complex system of facial and speech recognition algorithms that can detect subtle nuances in intonation while tracking smiles, head nods and eye movement…

The software then provides feedback about your performance… What’s particularly exciting is that the program requires no special hardware; it’s designed to be used with a standard webcam and microphone on a laptop.

Share Button

Video: Robo-Chopper Dives and Grabs Objects Like a Bird of Prey | Danger Room |

Gosh, I sure hope this ends well for us.

I’m reminded of something I read in the current issue of Lapham’s Quarterly:

Birds of prey do not sing –German proverb

Share Button

3D Printed Cell Technique Allows Material To Mimic Human-Like Tissue VIDEO.

Droplets of water and oil mimic cell membranes, bending like muscle and communicating like neurons.

Share Button

Boston Dynamics Equips BigDog Robot With an Arm Strong Enough to Throw Cinder Blocks | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Oh no. Why, why would you equip a robotic mastiff with an arm that can through cinder blocks?

Time to read up on futurism and the end of humanity (Nick Bostrom at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute).

Share Button

LaserOrigami Uses a Laser Cutter to Create 3D Objects Faster than 3D Printers | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Pretty clever. They defocus the laser to heat up the plastic, which then bends (by gravity). Many, many times faster than standard rapid prototyping.

Also has a pen tool for marking cuts by hand.

Share Button


From ETH Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, Research D’Andrea. Smart spinning discs inside a cube allow it to balance on a corner and conceivably jump to a different corner. See videos.

Check out the other projects, too. Balancing Cube is good. So is Distributed Flight Array. And watch the quadcopters throwing a pole at each other–and catching it. I feel like I’m looking through a time machine. But maybe that means I’m just getting old.


Share Button