Facebook built a new fiber-spinning robot to make internet service cheaper

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Facebook has designed a robot that can install fiber on traditional power lines, as shown in this rendering.

 The robot’s code name is Bombyx, which is Latin for silkworm, and pilot tests with the machine begin next year.

The robot rests delicately atop a power line, balanced high above the ground, almost as if it’s floating. Like a short, stocky tightrope walker, it gradually makes its way forward, leaving a string of cable in its wake. When it comes to a pole, it gracefully elevates its body to pass the roadblock and keep chugging along.

This isn’t a circus robot. Facebook developed the machine to install fiber cables on medium-voltage power lines around the globe. The aim is to make it cheaper for internet service providers to build out their networks using super-fast and reliable fiber connections. Installing fiber is a pricey endeavor, limiting where it can be deployed. If the cost of installation goes down, says Facebook, so too does the cost of service for the end user.

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‘Twisted’ fibre optic light breakthrough could make internet 100 times faster

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A new development in fibre optics could make internet speeds up to 100 times faster – by detecting light that has been twisted into a spiral.

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, can be used to easily upgrade existing networks and significantly boost efficiency, scientists say.

Fibre optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information, but currently information can only be stored through the colour of the light, and whether the wave is horizontal or vertical.

By twisting light into a spiral, engineers effectively create a third dimension for light to carry information: the level of orbital angular momentum, or spin. “It’s like DNA, if you look at the double helix spiral,” said Min Gu from RMIT University. “The more you can use angular momentum the more information you can carry.”

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Optogenetics: Decoding the Brain with Light

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Scientists use fiber-optic cables to control neural activity in mice

Molecular “light switches” can reveal exactly which neurons are involved in creating a memory, allowing scientists to trigger that memory using only light. The finding, presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago this week, is just one example of how a novel technology called optogenetics is allowing scientists to tackle major unanswered questions about the brain, including the role of specific brain regions in the formation of memory, the process of addiction, and the transition from sleep to wakefulness.

 

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Electrifying Photography

Electrifying Photography

  Robert Buelteman uses high voltage photography

Forget the notion of a reverent nature photographer tiptoeing through the woods, camera slung over one shoulder, patiently looking for perfect light. Robert Buelteman works indoors in total darkness, forsaking cameras, lenses, and computers for jumper cables, fiber optics, and 80,000 volts of electricity. This bizarre union of Dr. Frankenstein and Georgia O’Keeffe spawns photos that seem to portray the life force of his subjects as the very process destroys them.

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Lumitop: Fiber Optic Illuminated Clothing

Lumitop: Illuminated Clothing 

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Fiber optics are, well, fiber. Makes sense to weave those fibers into haute couture fashion clothing. Not exactly designed for shrinking violets, the Lumitop clothing line will make a statement on any dancefloor or red carpet. Check out the gallery below for more samples of this latest stab at tech fashion. There’s even something for the guys… well, only if your name is “Gunther.” You have to wonder where the battery pack goes.

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