Modular Robot

The robot, dubbed PolyBot, is being built and experimented with at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), in California. Imagine a robot made up of a chain of simple hinge joints. It can shape itself into a loop and move by rolling like a self-propelled tank tread; then break open the loop to form a serpentine configuration and slither under or over obstacles; and then rearrange its modules to “morph” into a multilegged spider, able to stride over rocks and bumpy terrain.
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Microscopic Nanotubes Could Make Spaceships Lightweight, Superstrong

Super-strong carbon nanotubes may make space elevators feasible. NASA’s nanotube teams at the Johnson Space Center in Houston foresee the stuff playing a critical role in nearly every aspect of a ship – from speeding electronics to delivering drugs inside astronauts. But some of the first applications of the new technology of synthesizing carbon nanotubes may be as prosaic as building stronger and lighter wall panels for manned spacecraft and casings for automated probes.
More about nanotube research here
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Google Programming Contest

“Google has just announced its first annual programming contest! The objective is to write a program that will do something “interesting” with the about 900,000 Web pages’ worth data that’s Google provides. In addition to writing the program, contestants also have to convince the judges why their program is interesting (or useful) and why it will scale (that is, handle a constantly increasing load of data that grows as the Web grows). The prize is US$10,000 in cash, a V.I.P. tour of the Google facility in Mountain View, California and possibly a chance to run their program on Google’s complete billion-Web-page store.”
More about the contest here
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Turing Award – The Nobel Prize of Computing

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has presented the 2001 A.M. Turing Award, considered the “Nobel Prize of Computing,” to Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard of Norway for their role in the invention of object-oriented programming, the most widely used programming model today. Their work has led to a fundamental change in how software systems are designed and programmed, resulting in reusable, reliable, scalable applications that have streamlined the process of writing software code and facilitated software programming.
More about the Turing Award here
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The FIC AquaPad

“The 2.5lb AquaPad is a medium sized portable device centered around an 800×600 pixel TFT touch sensitive screen. The device is larger than a PDA, but smaller than a laptop. The actual dimensions are 274x164x26 mm, and walking around with it gives the impression that you are playing a bit part in the newest StarTrek spinoff. The smooth blue and silver AquaPad has several ports for expansion cards, but not much else, and fits easily into the left hand.” A really cool toy.
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Robot Bartenders

“Take a trip to Berlin, and visit the Automaten Bar to have a drink served by a robot. This members-only bar is completely automated. While this may sound rather cool, the part I find disturbing is the fact that the owner plans on webcamming the security cameras so you can check on who’s at the pub. The owner also wants to make it so you can have a SMS message sent to you when a particular person’s entrance card is swiped by the system. I guess the idea is that you can get an e-mail to let you know that Bob is having a drink so you can stop by and chat. While it sounds like a bunch of baloney to me, it appears to be pretty popular in Berlin, as they’ve already got 130 members after 2 weeks without any advertising.”
More about the robot bartenders here
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IBM Announces New Micro Mini Computer

IBM research division says it has developed a prototype of a portable computer module that is the size of a small pad of paper and has the computing power of a typical notebook or desktop computer.

The portable computing device includes 128 megabytes of dynamic random access memory, a 10-gigabit hard drive and a microprocessor — which is the brain of the computer — that runs at 800 megahertz, or 800 million cycles per second.
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MIT’s Robotic Helicopter

“MIT has a new toy, a remotely-piloted helicopter that’s agile, stable, and in the current public mood, perfect for urban combat and reconnaisance and surveying disaster sites. Oh, and it’s also good for aerial photography. It’s so good that it even does 360-degree aileron rolls at the flick of a switch. This cost $40k, excluding labor, because technically, student labor is “priceless” – so a nod to Kara Sprague, Alex Shterenberg, Ioannis Martinos, Bernard Mettler, and Vlad Gavrilets, who probably provided most of the labor. Stringfellow Hawk has not been reached for comment.”
More about the helicopter here
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Quicktionary Optical Translator

Just glide Quicktionary optical scanner over a word to automatically translate it. The scanned word immediately appears on the display next to its most common translation along with additional translations, idioms and phrases. Quicktionary recognizes over 400,000 words and expressions, and can instantly switch from language to language while reading a wide range of fonts of various sizes. More about Quickionary Here
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A Flashlight That Doesn’t Require Batteries

Here’s a unique product–a flashlight that doesn’t require batteries, has a “bulb” that doesn’t wear out, and is “almost” indestructible. It is powered by shaking it and can operate underwater.

The NightStar is powered by moving a powerful magnet through a coil and storing the charge in a capacitor. Of course, all of this is built into the more-or-less normal looking flashlight.
More About Nightstar Here

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Mission to Mars – Top Priority

Space.com reports “A public survey conducted for NASA shows overwhelming support for Mars missions.

Of the more than 54,000 people who responded to the online survey run by the Planetary Society, more than 90 percent ranked Mars exploration among the top five missions priorities.

Missions to the Moon and Jupiter’s moon Europa were the next most popular, were both ranked in the top five by more than 60 percent of respondents. The next closest contender for favorite destination was Pluto, along with its neighboring objects, at 37 percent.

More About The Survey Here

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A Flash Quicker Than You Can Say Zeptosecond

The world’s shortest bursts of light comes from a new device called the Lasetron. It’s a tool physicists in the United States have dreamt up to chop light into smaller pieces than ever before. If it works, pulses of light lasting just a few zeptoseconds could soon be looking inside atomic nuclei. A zeptosecond is one-billion-trillionth of a second (10-21 s).

More About the Lasetron Here

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