Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Link List: July 30, 2013

Scientists dropping cats, John Williams scoring Star Wars, robotic octopi, hermit crabs carrying crystalline cities, and other wonders come your way on this week's link list!

1) In the 19th century, many of the most brilliant scientists around were fascinated by...dropping cats and watching them land on their feet.

It's complicated.

No--really, it is. Read the article!

2) John Williams is going to be writing the music for Star Wars VII! There's also a short interview with him about the work, which is great.

I've been more-or-less indifferent (in a sort of once-burned kind of way) to the news of the new movies, but--John Williams is writing the score. For that, I'll start paying attention.

3) The robot of the future may look more like an octopus than a human. At least, some roboticists are looking forward to duplicating the octopus's flexibility and mobility.

Says Carmel Majidi, of the Soft Machines Lab at Carnegie Mellon University “Like an octopus squeezing through a narrow opening . . . a soft robot must adapt its shape and locomotion strategy for a broad range of tasks, obstacles and environmental conditions.”

We're not there yet, but it's intriguing.

The above link is to the Scientific American article; Io9 cites the article in an oddly titled article "Your Cyborg Octopus is Almost Ready" --and they, of all people, know the difference between a cyborg and a robot. However, all is forgiven because they had the good sense to include an incredible space-octopus illustration by benttibisson (Also, I have to admit, it is a catchy title). In addition, they have a video of the Octopus Integration Project work on duplicating a single tentacle.

Incidentally: Isn't the "Octopus Integration Project" a great name?

Aaand, for those of you who missed it the first time around, here's a link to Robugtix's "Bio Inspired 3D Printed Spider Octopod Robot" It has nothing to do with the octopus project as such, being quite thoroughly solid and skeletoned and all the things they don't want their prototypes to be, but it's kind of cute--a sort of a cross between a spider and an octopus, and it dances.

4) Ooh, look at these designer hermit crab shells. Japanese artist Aki Inomata used 3-D printing to create crystalline cities for hermit crabs to wear.

See more of her work on her website.

I have a soft spot for anyone who takes her parakeet with her to French language-lessons. I can't find the video that's supposed to be there, though. Anyone else see it?

5) Fourteen facts about Beatrix Potter. She kept sheep. She self-published her first book...

I've never quite fully gotten the charm of the Potter books, but she is one of those lynchpin authors who inspire all sorts of interesting other stories. Also, these little snippets about her life are interesting in their own right.

Something to read

6) And, speaking of Beatrix Potter, Dave Elliott has some Weirding Willows shorts up on his site. Russel's Son; "Origins of Evil part 1 (featuring the Cheshire Cat!) and "Origins of Evil" part 2.

If you don't get the Potter reference: Elliott's Weirding Willows is, among other things, a wonderful mashup, mixup, and retelling of multiple nineteenth century tales. Benjamin Bunny is a significant character and assorted other Potter creations show up.

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