Another Email of Awesome Awesomness!
What a week! I’m RATHER excited about heading to this S.T.E.A.M, Sci Fi and
Comic Books geekfest called TriCon KW up in
Kitchener Waterloo this weekend! I’m just doing a talk, but plan to roam the
vendor aisles looking for cool stuff and fellow nerds! A BIG source of my
excitement is that I’m finally getting to meet YouTube engineering marvel
The Hacksmith! James
will be joining me on-stage and I can’t wait to geek-out with him about his
extremely cool maker
builds! If you’re in the hood, come by, check out the event and
join us for a chat on Sunday!
What with wretched Valentine’s Day and jet-setting Jane leaving for her fancy
Berlin Film Festival today, I’ve decided to move TechBandits to my lonely
Thursday this week…plus, by then we’ll have even more to discuss!
What’s with all these crazy floating
invaders all of a sudden and what does it all mean!?
Apparently we've been using $400,000 sidewinder missiles to shoot these
things down. It's also possible that we may have missed the UFO
the first time and lost a missile into lake Huron! There's a
heck of a lot of debate about what is going on and why, right now!
Moon dust solar space shield
Speaking of Crazy…how about this idea: Using moon dust as a solar
space shield. A few scientists are proposing, as an admittedly
“out-there” idea, to fire 10 billion kilograms of moondust out into space, from
the surface of the moon, using what is basically a tshirt cannon! The idea is
the moon dust would diffuse sunlight and rid the Earth of about 6 days of sun a
year…of course we’ll have to keep dusting as the particles wouldn’t stay where
they’re supposed to for long. The whole project seems a bit unlikely. But even
the MOST viable idea right now is still pretty radical; Geoengineering the
planet by injecting aerosols into the stratosphere. The idea is to reflect
sunlight back out into space and thus cool down the planet (like what happens
with the ash from a volcano eruption). I’m just a lowly TV scientist but I have
seen this movie before… there’s a few things that can go horribly
wrong here, don’t you think?
But wait! Here’s another crazy idea! A translator for animals,
insects and plants!? Back in the 80’s, science hippies thought
it would be cool to teach sign language to chimps and gorillas like Koko (it
just feels kind of creepy and wrong seeing the poor creature now, doesn’t it?!)
Today’s scientists are taking a different, more data-driven tack. Using deep
learning AI and “deep listening” with the help of fancy new tiny cameras,
sensors and trackers, they are amassing huge amounts of information about how
animals, like bats, insects, like bees and even plants, slime sensing tomatoes,
"communicate". The AI looks for patterns in movement, sounds, scents and
secretions (yuck!) and turns that into a “language” that we can understand.
They’ve got so good at watching bees, for example, that they’ve created
a robobee that
waggle-bee-dances to communicate the location of nectar. This
buzzy dance machine actually managed to convince some real bees to go check out
the nectar planted by scientists. Not so crazy now, is it!?
A great (nice and short) read for you!
I wanted to share a fascinating article I found on prosthetics by Britt H. Young, an
author who actually uses them. The Bionic-Hand arms
race points out a gradually changing perspective on design and
engineering of prosthetics over the years. Specifically, this
engineer-centric...not user-centric...approach that tends to result in really
cool futuristic, newsworthy, "replacement" robotic hands and arms. Britt goes
on to suggest that the best designs, from the user’s perspective, aren’t always
the sexiest, most challengingly complex engineered solutions. My favourite
quote was the robotics and machine learning expert Ad Spiers saying “In the
anime Gundam, there are so many close-ups of gigantic robot hands grabbing
things like massive guns. But why does it need to be a human hand? Why doesn’t
the robot just have a gun for a hand?”. The article was was a refreshing
perspective change for me...and gave me some insight into my engineering bias
towards this area of design and development…fantastic read!
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