Archive for March, 2012

Robotic Surgery

The facts support the belief that robotic surgery is safer than normal surgery. Sustained science experiments have made it possible for a robotic aides surgery to be less invasive and far more effective than regular surgery. So what is robotic surgery and how is it different from regular surgery?

Unlike the image that comes to mind, a robot does not actually perform the surgery on a human being. Rather it is a human doctor who is aided by a high precision robot to complete the surgical procedure. This makes it possible for the surgery to gain the expertise of the doctor and the steady hands of a robot.

The robotic surgical system which is most commonly used is the Da Vinci Surgical system. This involves a simple to use robotic interface for the doctor, good imaging systems with minute cameras which allow the doctor to see what he is doing in the operation and an instant feedback system on the condition of the patient on the operating table.

The truth of robotic surgery is that a human and a robot work together to give the patient the best treatment possible. It is the culmination of years of research and many science experiments that this medical system represents. It is also what the future promises to hold.

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Will Aliens understand our message?

For a number of years the denizens of Earth have hoped to contact creatures living on other worlds. Many science projects have been based on contacting alien life form, and yet if there truly are other life forms out there, will they be able to understand our message?

After all a simple sentence like¬† “Are you out there?” is not likely to be understood even by humans who do not speak the English language. The language barrier can quite often prevent human beings from communicating with each other.¬† So how do you expect an alien life form to make sense of the sounds that it hears.

In fact how can you be sure that the alien life form even has the the ability to hear? Can you be sure that the alien will also develop all the five senses that human beings use to perceive the world around us? They may have a couple of abilities more or less than us.

That is why even designing a simple message to beam out into space for possible contact with aliens can be quite a difficult task. It needs to be easy to pick up, and self explanatory. Does this sound like a science project that you would be interested in?

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What do a snake and a rescue worker have in common?

At first the snake and a rescue worker do not seem to have anything at all in common, but if you consider an interesting science project at the Georgia Institute of Technology you see how the reptile could inspire the building of a robotic rescue worker.

A group of mechanical engineers at the university have been studying the locomotion of a snake so as to produce it in a robot. The kind of robot that they have in mind will be better than a human rescue worker as it will be able to cling to a surface like the side of a wall.

What’s more the robot will also be fitted with equipment which allows it to find victims buried in rubble in the rescue operation with ease. The design is great in theory but the practical construction of this reptile inspired robotic rescue worker has been giving the research team some tough times.

The texture of the snake and the ground it moves on is what they are trying to replicate in what they termed the “Snakebot.” While the science project is no where near complete the research done so far does not make the finished product seem very unrealistic.

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Suicide Bomber Ant

The global terrorism acts that have caused such pain and devastation have been possible due to suicide bombers. However if this science project is to be believed suicide bombing is not limited to the human race, in fact the insect kingdom claims its own suicide bomber ant.

At the University of Leuven in Belgium researcher John Billen has been making a study of the southeast Asian carpenter ant which is known as Camponotus cylindricus. This little creature can turn into a suicide bomber to kill enemies of the ant colony.

The ant actually explodes sacs of venom when it is threatened covering the enemy with a sticky and toxic secretion. The explosion is triggered when the pressure on the glands placed under the length of the body is increased by the abdominal muscles. The explosion brings out the poison. This coating of toxins is usually enough to stall any enemy of the ant colony.

However the exploding of the venom sacs is a last resort of the ant as per the researcher doing the science project. The insect will first defend itself by biting the enemy. The bite will pass on a poisonous cocktail of aromatic hydrocarbons. If that does not work the ant will then pump its abdominal muscles to cause the sacs to explode ending its own life and saving its colony.

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Is Glass a Solid?

A crystal is a solid and as glass is made from crystalline quartz one would believe that it was a solid. As per scientific terms a solid must have its building blocks arranged in a three dimensional space. That means that the atoms, ions or molecules which make up the solid need to be arranged in a regular pattern.

The trouble with glass is that it is made by heating a mixture of quartz, soda and chalk the melting point of more than 1,100 degree Celsius. This means that even after it cools down the building blocks stay in a amorphous, non crystalline state.

It is only in liquids that the atoms, ions and molecules are found in an amorphous state. So this irregular distribution of the building blocks of glass show that it is actually a frozen liquid. At least in terms of scientific definition based on the arrangement of its molecules.

So then why is it called Crystal Glass? This is basically a misnomer as the glass is blown with lead oxide, zinc oxide or barium oxide in order to increase its refractive index. This gives the glass blown with such an additive a sparkle like a regular crystal, but it is still a frozen liquid as far as science is concerned.

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