OmniTread is a snake-like robot capable of climbing high vertical obstacles such as stairs, of moving through rough terrain and of crossing over wide gaps. Developed by a group of researchers from the University of Michigan College of Engineering, OmniTread can travel along electrical conduits and inside large pipes. Thanks to its special capabilities, the robot has a variety of potential applications, such as industrial inspection and surveillance, military and intelligence operations, and urban search and rescue missions.
The OmniTread serpentine robot is designed to traverse extremely difficult terrain, such as the rubble of a collapsed building. The OmniTread can also drive over sand and rocks. It can pass through small holes and climb over tall obstacles.
Use of pneumatic bellows for joint actuation. Bellows are powerful, naturally compliant, and take up minimal space.
Maximal coverage of all sides of all segments with extra wide moving tracks.
Unique pneumatic control method allows simultaneous proportional control of stiffness and joint angles.
The "drive shaft spine" is powered by a single electric motor in the center segment. The spine runs through the center of all segments and provides torque to all tracks.
US scientists step towards nuclear fusion with laser shot
WASHINGTON — US scientists have produced a laser shot with an unprecedented energy level that could be a key step towards nuclear fusion, the US National Nuclear Security Administration said Wednesday.
The researchers for the first time delivered a megajoule of energy to a target by focusing 192 laser beams at the same time at a temperature of 111 million Celsius (200 million Fahrenheit), it said in a statement
"Breaking the megajoule barrier brings us one step closer to fusion ignition," said the body's administrator Thomas D?Agostino in a statement.
The world's largest and highest-energy laser, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), was dedicated on May 29, 2009. In 2010, NIF will begin experiments that will focus the energy of 192 giant laser beams on a BB-sized target filled with hydrogen fuel. NIF's goal is to fuse the hydrogen atoms' nuclei and produce net energy gain – the same fusion energy process that makes the stars shine and provides the life-giving energy of the sun. NIF is a program of the National Nuclear Security Administration. More on NIF ...
NIC Moves Into High Gear
The experimental phase of the National Ignition Campaign (NIC), a series of tests and simulations to prepare NIF for its first nuclear fusion experiments in 2010, is under way. Shortly after the dedication of the NIF facility in May, NIC began conducting test shots to fine-tune the performance of NIF´s lasers, calibrate its diagnostic equipment, and verify the sophisticated computer simulations that help to guide the design of NIF´s fusion targets. More on NIC
All of the energy of NIF's 192 beams is directed inside a gold cylinder called a hohlraum, which is about the size of a dime. A tiny capsule inside the hohlraum contains atoms of deuterium (hydrogen with one neutron) and tritium (hydrogen with two neutrons) that fuel the ignition process.
See How ICF Works for a more detailed description of inertial confinement fusion.
Runners who eschew shoes may be less likely to do serious injury to their feet, because they hold their feet differently, Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and colleagues found. Writing in the journal Nature, they said runners who wear shoes tend to hit the ground with their heels first, whereas barefoot runners put the balls of the feet down first. "People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike," Lieberman said in a statement. "By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike," Lieberman added
Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman has ditched his trainers and started running barefoot. His research shows that barefoot runners, who tend to land on their fore-foot, generate less impact shock than runners in sports shoes who land heel first.
The sneaky slugs seem to have stolen the genes that enable this skill from algae that they've eaten. With their contraband genes, the slugs can carry out photosynthesis — the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy.
The sea slugs live in salt marshes in New England and Canada. In addition to burglarizing the genes needed to make the green pigment chlorophyll, the slugs also steal tiny cell parts called chloroplasts, which they use to conduct photosynthesis. The chloroplasts use the chlorophyl to convert sunlight into energy, just as plants do, eliminating the need to eat food to gain energy.
It’s obviously the day for wireless ebook readers, with BeBook announcing that they’re taking preorders for their new BeBook Neo ereader. Packing a 6-inch E Ink panel with a Wacom touchscreen, the Neo may not have integrated 3G like some rivals we’ve seen, but it does get WiFi for accessing a range of third-party ebook stores.
World's first WiFi ereader with access to eBook stores worldwide.
Endless Ideas is proud to announce our new eReader: The BeBook Neo.
After our successful models 'BeBook One' and the pocket sized 'BeBook Mini' we collected suggestions from our customers and packed them into a new attractive eReader.
The BeBook Neo is using the latest patented ePaper E Ink technology for an amazing reading experience. Read anything, anytime, anywhere. The powerfull processor offers unparallelled reading and browsing speeds. BeBook Neo´s powerful battery allows up to 7000 pageturns on a full charge.
Easy eBook store access: Simply go to the Neo eBook portal and a worldmap will appear. Just click on your country and you will see a clear overview of third party eBook stores. The best part is that YOU decide where YOU want to purchase eBooks.
Connect to the Internet through WIFI. Besides shopping for eBooks online, you can access Google and Wikipedia on the go.
The BeBook Neo is the fastest eReader currently on the market. Offering up to 2,5 times faster browsing and operating speeds, due to its powerful Freescale processor.
The Neo features the latest WACOM touchpanel technology, which provides a very fast and more natural reading experience. The touch screen allows you to use your BeBook Neo for sketching, annotations and text mark-up; ideal for educational and business purposes.
The open architecture of the BeBook Neo makes it possible to expand its capabilities. Keep an eye on www.mybebook.com for firmware updates. We have some very cool features planned for the near future.
Popular file formats.
Just like our previous models most popular file formats can be read, including 'ePub' and 'PDF' (both with and without Adobe DRM), txt and even popular picture file formats, like JPG, are included.
A single-celled slime mould mindlessly foraging for food can create a network as efficient as the Tokyo rail system, researchers say.
A team of Japanese and British researchers say the behaviour of the amoeba-like mould could lead to better design of computer or communication networks. The slime mould Physarum polycephalum grows to connect itself to food sources as part of its normal behaviour.
The mould "can find the shortest path through a maze or connect different arrays of food sources in an efficient manner," wrote Atsushi Tero of Hokkaido University and his colleagues in this week's issue of Science.
The left image shows slime mold growing out from an initial food source to colonize other food sources (white dots) arranged like a map of Tokyo rail stations. After 26 hours of growth, the mold resolved itself into a network of tubes that efficiently connected the food sources.
The work is "a very interesting example of how biology can inspire new methods in technological design," says Melanie Mitchell, a computer scientist at Portland State University in Oregon. But she's not quite ready to jump on the slime mold express. "This paper uses only one relatively simple example," she cautions. "It's not obvious that similar experiments would work as well for matching other transport networks."
Researchers Synchronize Blinking 'Genetic Clocks' -- Genetically Engineered Bacteria That Keep Track of Time
ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2010) — Researchers at UC San Diego who last year genetically engineered bacteria to keep track of time by turning on and off fluorescent proteins within their cells have taken another step toward the construction of a programmable genetic sensor. The scientists recently synchronized these bacterial "genetic clocks" to blink in unison and engineered the bacterial genes to alter their blinking rates when environmental conditions change.
Their latest achievement, detailed in a paper published in the January 21 issue of the journal Nature, is a crucial step in creating genetic sensors that might one day provide humans with advance information about temperature, poisons and other potential hazards in the environment by monitoring changes in the bacterium's blinking rates.
By synchronising our clocks, we can coordinate our activities with people around the world. Now, scientists have engineered bacteria to synchronise their molecular timekeepers, creating the stunning fluorescent waves you see in this video. Hear more about synthetic biology on the Nature Podcast (http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast) or read the original research
Hasty has been working on building a robust genetic clock from scratch since his years as a postdoctoral researcher in the early 2000s.
“We finally determined that a crucial aspect is a small time delay in the negative feedback loop of the genetic network,” explained Hasty. “This is an example in which synthetic biology can lead to a better understanding of the importance of specific aspects of gene regulatory networks. Because you can’t model every aspect of a genetic network, you have to figure out what needs to be accounted for in your models and what doesn’t.”
Network diagram of the dual-feedback oscillator. Adding a two minute time delay led to the synthetic biology breakthrough.
Even the finest super-soldier suit can end up as expensive deadweight if the batteries run out of juice. Lockheed Martin wants to avoid that fate for its robotic exoskeleton by turning to fuel cells that can power the suit for days, The Register reports.
Super-soldier exoskeleton to get 3-day fuel cell powerpack
Global arms behemoth Lockheed, developing the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC™) after buying the originating firm Berkely Bionics, announced this week that fuel-cell firm Protonex will "develop power supply concepts that will enable the HULC™ robotic exoskeleton to support 72+-hour extended missions". Here's a company promo vid about the HULC:
Lockheed Martin is a leading provider of advanced technology solutions for the Warfighter including ground Soldier systems such as wearable situational awareness equipment and mobility assistance systems.
Video Gamers: Size of Brain Structures Predicts Success
ScienceDaily (Jan. 21, 2010) — Researchers can predict your performance on a video game simply by measuring the volume of specific structures in your brain, a multi-institutional team reports this week.
The new study, in the journal Cerebral Cortex, found that nearly a quarter of the variability in achievement seen among men and women trained on a new video game could be predicted by measuring the volume of three structures in their brains.
The study adds to the evidence that specific parts of the striatum, a collection of distinctive tissues tucked deep inside the cerebral cortex, profoundly influence a person's ability to refine his or her motor skills, learn new procedures, develop useful strategies and adapt to a quickly changing environment.
Kramer, Graybiel, Erickson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Art Kramer (left) at Illinois, Ann Graybiel of MIT, and Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh found that the volume of specific brain structures could predict how well a person would perform on a video game. The study was conducted at the University of Illinois.
They used high-resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to analyze the size of these brain regions in 39 healthy adults (aged 18-28; 10 of them male) who had spent less than three hours a week playing video games in the previous two years. The volume of each brain structure was compared to that of the brain as a whole.
Participants were then trained on one of two versions of Space Fortress, a video game developed at the University of Illinois that requires players to try to destroy a fortress without losing their own ship to one of several potential hazards.
Space Fortress is an action video game that requires constant shifts of attention, memory retrievals, visual tracking, fine motor control, and dynamic decision making. We are creating a hybrid cognitive model to play the game, part of a larger effort in studying skill transfer.
Space cannon to shoot payloads into orbit (w/ Video)
(PhysOrg.com) -- A physicist has proposed using a 1.1 km (3,600 ft) cannon to deliver cargo into orbit, and says the cost would be around $250 per pound, a massive saving on the $5,000 per pound ($2280 per kg) it currently costs to make deliveries using a rocket.
Hunter plans to test a 3 meter prototype in a water tank in February, and a full-size cannon could be built within seven years, if Quicklaunch can raise the required $500 million. While this is a sizeable upfront cost, the potential savings in the long term are substantial, because the cannon is reusable. Its use would significantly reduce the cost of keeping the International Space Station in orbit.
STEP 1: HEAT IT
The gun combusts natural gas in a heat exchanger within a
chamber of hydrogen gas, heating the hydrogen to 2,600˚F and causing a 500 percent increase in pressure. STEP 2: LET THE HYDROGEN LOOSE
Operators open the valve, and the hot, pressurized hydrogen quickly expands down the tube, pushing the payload forward. STEP 3: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
After speeding down the 3,300-foot-long barrel, the projectile shoots out of the gun at 13,000 mph. An iris at the end of the gun closes, capturing the hydrogen gas to use again.