Archive for August, 2009

The future of technology may be the Good Enough

Posted in Technology Attacks! on August 30, 2009 by Gustav

There’s a technological revolution going on, but it’s not a revolution of faster, stronger and better. Instead it’s a revolution of cheaper, simpler and better.

High quality product are no longer necessarily defined by how advanced they are, but how accessible. That is the conclusion of Wired Magazine’s article “The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and simple Is Just Fine

They write:

The world has sped up, become more connected and a whole lot busier. As a result, what consumers want from the products and services they buy is fundamentally changing.

We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect.

These changes run so deep and wide, they’re actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as “high-quality.”

They give plenty of examples of successful technologies where accessibility is the virtue, but their prime example is Pure Digital’s simple camcorder Flip Ultra.

With the Flip Ultra you can’t zoom, you can’t adjust color, it has only a tiny viewing screen and lousy resolution, but it is also small, cheap and easy to use.

And two years after its release it already command 17 percent of the camcorder market.

Via Slashdot.

How many cartoon characters can dance on the head of a pin?

Posted in Humour, Images & Videos, Technology Attacks! on August 28, 2009 by Gustav
"Why you little!"

"Why you little...!"

Willard Wigan is a micro-sculptor: his creations, ranging from the Homer and Bart Simpsons above to Betty Boop, are all small enough to fit on the head of a pin or in the eye of the needle.

And it’s not just cartoon characters that Wigan sculpt, he’s created a mini-moonlanding, a mini-Mad Hatter’s tea party and a bunch of other artworks that you can only admire through a microscope.

It’s not easy creating these miniature works of art, when even traffic on the streets outside can make Wigan’s hand shake at a crucial moment. He has figured out how to slow his heartbeat and sculpt between pulse beats, and often works through the night when things are quieter outside. Once he accidentally inhaled the entire sculpture. His “brush” might be a single hair from a house fly, or a single shard of diamond attached to a pinhead. [The X-Change Files]

If someone will only commision him to sculpt some miniature angels we can finally put that deep philosophical question to rest, too.

Cnet has a gallery of some of Wigan’s work.

Robots don’t know anything about love?

Posted in Humour, Images & Videos, Robots & Cyborgs, Science Fiction on August 27, 2009 by Gustav
He should have gone with "we've grown apart".

He should have gone with "we've grown apart".

Robots Don’t Know Anything About Twitter is a comic by one Doctor Popular about things robots don’t understand: love, humour, world domination… didn’t the good doctor ever see Battlestar Galactica?

Via io9.

Scientist want to grow dinosaurs from chicken embryos

Posted in Nature Attacks!, The Ancient World on August 26, 2009 by Gustav
Will it cluck or will it roar?

Will it cluck or will it roar?

Hans Larsson, the Canada Research Chair in Macro Evolution at Montreal’s McGill University wants to make a dinosaur. From a chicken. Awesome.

Larsson believes by flipping certain genetic levers during a chicken embryo’s development, he can reproduce the dinosaur anatomy, he told AFP in an interview.

Though still in its infancy, the research could eventually lead to hatching live prehistoric animals, but Larsson said there are no plans for that now, for ethical and practical reasons — a dinosaur hatchery is “too large an enterprise.”

The idea for the project, Larsson said, came about during discussions with renowned American paleontologist Jack Horner, who served as technical advisor for the Jurassic Park films.

Horner recently wrote a book entitled “How to Build A Dinosaur,” in which he refers to the embryo experiment as part of a quest to create a “chickenosaurus.” [Physorg.com]

If he ever get around to create a dinosaur, I hope he do a T. rex. They are, after all, really chickens.

Via io9.

In what other ways is this robot anatomically correct?

Posted in Robots & Cyborgs, Technology Attacks! on August 26, 2009 by Gustav

I canĀ“’t believe I almost missed this one: the Eccerobot is a robot designed to be as close to a human being as possible, not in outwards appearances, but in anatomy.

It has plastic bones, kite-line tendons and elastic cord muscles put together so as to mimic real human anatomy as closely as possible.

The team building the robot also want to give the robot human-like intelligence, which is decidedly easier said than done. And they haven’t exactly perfected the anatomy aspect of the robot yet:

Mimicking human anatomy is no shortcut to success, though, as even simple human actions like raising an arm involve a complex series of movements from many of the robot’s bones, muscles and tendons.

However, the team is convinced that solving these problems will enable the construction of a machine that interacts with its environment in a more human manner.

“We want to develop these ideas into a new kind of ‘anthropomimetic robot’ which can deal with and respond to the world in ways closer to the ways that humans do,” says Owen Holland at the University of Sussex, UK, who is leading the project. [New Scientist]

Here’s a brief video of the robot explaining how it works:

The question remains, however, whether the robot have any Dystopian Undertones, ifyouknowwhatImean?

Wolf packs are not led by alpha males

Posted in Images & Videos, Love & Sex, Nature Attacks! on August 24, 2009 by Gustav

I didn’t know this, but apparently the leader of wolf packs should not gererally be termed alpha males, or alphas at all.

However, most of the early research on wolves was done on artificially built groups, e.g., wolves caught in various places all put together in a single wolf pen at a zoo. In such rare and unnatural situations, these stranger-wolves do indeed form social hierarchies (or “pecking order” – a term that arose from studies of chickens).

But such situations rarely if ever happen out in nature. A pack of wolves is usually composed of Mother, Father and their (sometimes quite grown-up) offspring: closely related individuals who know each other well. [A Blog Around The Clock]

Wolf researcher L. David Mech explains further in this video:

Science.

Robot hand dribble a ping-pong ball with fingers

Posted in Images & Videos, Robots & Cyborgs on August 24, 2009 by Gustav

This is a video of a high-speed robotic hand from Ishikawa Komuro Lab displaying some pretty amazing feats of dexterity:

It’s escpecially impressive to me how the robot toss the cellphone up in the air and catches it again with the fingertips.

Via Slashdot.