Archive for February, 2019

Risk Taking Marine Robot

Taking calculated risks was not part of the skill set of a robotic exploration vehicle. It was much more of a human trait to assess every input and then take action. However, the researcher engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with an algorithm that can teach a marine robot to take calculated risks when exploring an unknown region in the deeps.

The undersea landscape is one of the least explored and known areas on the planet. There are expansive canyons, towering seamounts, deep trenches, and sheer cliffs which we have no idea about. The robotic marine explorers have opened up the underwater topography to humans in ways that were earlier simply not possible. However, being able to keep the robot explorer safe while entering the relative unknown was a problematic issue.

One which these researchers with their fancy software seemed to have solved. The autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) can now use the algorithm to decide the reward and the risk level of travelling down a slope or up a cliff face underwater.

Benjamin Ayton, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics said there’s a tradeoff between the reward of what you gather, and the risk or threat of going toward these dangerous geographies, they can take certain risks when it’s worthwhile. Now this is a true pioneer in science experiments.

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Low Sleep, More Pain

Having a good night’s rest has been essential to having a productive next day. The proverb ‘early to bed and early to rise’ is based on more than common sense. Scientific studies have established that cognitive functioning can become impaired with the lack of adequate sleep. Even simple tasks can become challenging when you haven’t had the requisite sleep.

In a sleep lab experiment at the University of California, Berkeley, 25 adults were tested on yet another aspect of sleep deprivation. A single night without sleep showed a 15% reduction in the pain threshold of a person. A small heated pad was pressed on the skin of the volunteers near their ankle. This was done two times. Once after a regular night’s sleep and the second time after being kept awake for the full night.

The two measurements were taken at least a week apart. The general consensus after taking the readings was that post the all nighter the level of pain registered was higher. The pain centers of the brain were triggered faster and with more intensity. This science project shows that if you want to manage chronic pain, getting a full night’s sleep is as important as the medication you take.

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Reconsider Drinking Fruit Juice

Fruits are always considered one of the healthy foods, and for parents of fussy eaters, fruit juices have been a great way to get some vitamins and minerals into their kids. However, as more people shift to packaged fruit boxes compared to freshly squeezed juices, the health factor in the food is considerably lowered.

In fact most fruit juice boxes have a high content of sugar and much lower nutritional values than fresh juice. If that was not enough for a conscientious parent to reconsider boxed juices, a consumer study report has highlighted the presence of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, mercury, and lead found in them.

Out of 45 juices that were tested from those available in the market, every single one of them was found to have at least one of these metals present in a level considered unhealthy for children to consume. Daily intake of these fruit juice boxes are bound to lead to health problems for the children. In fact the study even recommends that adults avoid these products.

If the findings of this science project are to be trusted, there needs to be an immediate curtailment of consumption of these fruit juice boxes. Eating a whole fruit may be a much better alternative if you are unable to do freshly squeezed juices at home.

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Ice Music in the Alps

If it’s a unique experience you are looking for, it doesn’t get any more interesting than attending a musical concert in sub zero temperatures inside an Ice Dome in the Italian Alps. What’s more the musicians are not playing their regular instruments, but these are made out of ice by
Mr Tim Linhart , a US born artist.

When Mr Linhart first began constructing musical instruments out of ice they were more likely to burst into icicles than to become soulful conduits or music. However over the years he has honed his skill and now produces a wide range of perfectly tuned musical instruments.

They are showcased at the Ice Dome on Presena Glacier near Trentino in Italy. It is a custom built igloo high in the Alps. A series of concerts are regularly played at the Ice Dome all through the year. Tickets can be booked online to hear the ice orchestra in person.

At present the ice orchestra boasts of ice made violins, viola, timpani drum set, xylophone, double bass, mandolin, cello, percussion pipe and a giant rolandophone. That’s quite a huge accomplishment for the ice artist. This science project has been in the making for 16 years.

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Self Driving Bar

Ever felt the hankering for a cocktail and didn’t have the time to go down to the bar and drink one? Felt frustrated waiting for something to happen and needed a drink to fortify you? Italian architect Carlo Ratti has your back. The man has come up with a self driving bar called Guido that should be able to deliver cocktails to citizens in the city, no matter where they are.

Put your smart phone to good use by downloading the app which can summon Guido. Then put in your location for Guido to drive itself to you. Once the bar has arrived at the location, continue to use the app to book a drink. Now sit back and relax as Guido uses it’s two mechanical arms to fist fix and then serve you your drink.

Underage drinkers beware that Guido will not serve you alcoholic beverages. The system has been designed so that the potential customer must provide an ID to be scanned before being served liquor. Needless to say, this is simply a prototype right now that is undergoing trials. Now that’s one science project a number of people would love to get on board with. Not sure how soon it will be available on the real streets of your city.

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