Tag Archives: Science

MIT Researchers Create M-Blocks, Modular, Self-Assembling Robots


Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have created M-Blocks, a set of modular, self-assembling robots.

Each M-Block contains a flywheel that can reach speeds of 20,000 revolutions per minute that, when braked, provides momentum for the cube to move, flip, or even jump. Each cube face contains four pairs of magnets that help the M-Blocks line up with one another and connect, and each edge has a pair of rolling-pin-like magnets that come closer and act as anchors when the robots pivot.

Next, the researchers hope to build an army of 100 cubes that can be programmed to work together using algorithms rather than manual controls. “We want hundreds of cubes, scattered randomly across the floor, to be able to identify each other, coalesce, and autonomously transform into a chair, or a ladder, or a desk, on demand,” researcher John Romanishin told MIT news.

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What Happens When You Drop A Slinky?

How does a slinky fall when extended by its own weight and then released? We discover the surprising answer using a slow motion camera that records 300 frames per second.

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The McGurk Effect – Your Eyes Will Fool Your Ears

The McGurk effect is a compelling demonstration of how we all use visual speech information. The effect shows that we can’t help but integrate visual speech into what we ‘hear’.

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National Geographic Recreates The Flying Balloon House From Pixar’s Film “Up”

National Geographic has recreated the flying balloon house from the Disney Pixar film “Up” as part of the new National Geographic Channel series “How Hard Can it Be?” which premiers this Fall.

National Geographic Channel and a team of scientists, engineers, and two world-class balloon pilots successfully launched a 16′ X 16′ house 18′ tall with 300 8′ colored weather balloons from a private airfield east of Los Angeles, and set a new world record for the largest balloon cluster flight ever attempted. The entire experimental aircraft was more than 10 stories high, reached an altitude of over 10,000 feet, and flew for approximately one hour. (Thanks for the tip Don)

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Who the World’s Most Typical Person?

With the earth’s population expected to exceed 7 billion this year, National Geographic set out to describe the “world’s most typical person” in the video “7 Billion: Are You Typical?” The video is part of National Geographic’s year-long series on the world population.


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The Twinkie Deconstructed

The photographer Dwight Eschliman was never a health nut himself, but he was raised by one; his mom kept her kids away from meat, dairy, or any kind of processed food. When Eschilman went away to college, he loosened up a bit, allowing himself to indulge in all sorts of previously forbidden treats, but by the time he had kids of his own, he found a renewed appreciation for simple, healthy food—and a renewed skepticism of chemical-filled, preservative-laden snacks. He’d also developed a love of disassembling objects and photographing their component parts.

“Thus, this project,” he writes in his photography book 37 or so Ingredients. “It’s the product of a kid that was raised to be suspicious of foods that weren’t assembled in mom’s kitchen, and bordering on obsessive compulsive.”

Check out his photographs of a Twinkie deconstructed into its basic components and ask yourself if you will ever eat the golden cream filled sponge cake tube again?

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The Oil Crisis Might Be Solved With Mentos and Diet Coke

Almost four years to the day after Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe posted the (literally) explosive video featuring the Vegas-worthy fountains that they created from nothing more than Mentos dropped into two-liter bottles of Diet Coke, the pair has returned with a striking new endeavor.

What started out as a backyard gag of the “dude, do you know what happens when you mix Mentos and Coke” variety turned into one of the most viral videos of all time.

Their latest feat? A rocket car powered by Mentos and Coke Zero. After years of work, the Coke & Mentos guys have harnessed the explosive power of these geysers and achieved human propulsion! 108 bottles of Coke Zero and 648 Mentos mints combine to propel the internet celebrities into the annals of unusual records.

The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car uses a piston mechanism: a six-foot long rod sits inside a six-foot long tube attached to each bottle of Coke Zero. When the Mentos drop into the soda, the pressure tries to push the rod out of the tube. With 108 rods all pushing at once, that provides the vehicle a lot of power.

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What Are The 10 Most Addictive Sounds in the World?

You’re probably among the millions who have experienced it: driving in a car, listening to the radio, and suddenly this song comes on. It is not just any song–this was your favorite song when you were a teenager. As the first few notes strike up, you’re transported back in time. Everything is so vivid, and your mind wanders to parties, first kisses and sweaty palms. It’s as if time stands still and you suddenly realize that for the entire duration of the song, you haven’t seen a single thing on the road.

There’s no doubt about it, sound is immensely powerful. And yet 83% of all the advertising communication we’re exposed to daily (bearing in mind that we will see two million TV commercials in a single lifetime) focuses, almost exclusively, on the sense of sight. That leaves just 17% for the remaining four senses. Think about how much we rely on sound. It confirms a connection when dialing or texting on cell phones and alerts us to emergencies. When the sound was removed from slot machines in Las Vegas, revenue fell by 24%. Experiments undertaken in restaurants show that when slow music (slower than the rhythm of a heartbeat) is played, we eat slower–and we eat more!

Is this just coincidence, or does sound make us buy more, want more, dream more and eat more? Any 50-year-old American can sing a whole range of television jingles from the 1970s–they are all well stored in the recesses of our brain. Yet if you were to ask the same of those who have come of age recently, you will find them stumped. Has the magic of a television tune disappeared, or has the advertising world lost sight of the fact that people do indeed have speakers at home? I decided to put these questions to the test.

Buyology Inc. and Elias Arts, a sound identity company in New York, wired up 50 volunteers and measured their galvanic, pupil, and brainwave responses to sounds using the latest neuroscience-based research methods. We learned that sound has remarkable power. This may not be surprising for many, but it was certainly surprising to realize just how many commercial brands over the past 20 years have made their way into the world’s 10 most powerful and addictive sounds–beating some of the most familiar and comforting sounds of nature. Read more HERE. (Thanks for the tip Don)

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Make Your Own Tiny Ice Cream

The next time you are bored at Denny’s and you are craving something sweet but small, try this fun experiment.

1. Order water. You need two big glasses on the table. Drink all the water. Leave all the ice.
2. Add the salt in layers with the ice.
3. Add creamer cups. Do not open the creamer cups. Just throw ‘em right in.
4. Shake. Hard, but not so hard you make a mess.
5. After 10 minutes, remove creamer cups and wipe off salt water. Open. Add sugar (maybe some jelly too if you’d like to make strawberry) and serve.

LINK with detailed instructions: Indestructibles


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The Periodic Table of Awesoments

Click on the image for a larger view.


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