A 59 year-old obese Maryland woman died over 20 years ago, but details of her anatomy will live on in the digital world. Scientists with The Visible Human Project (creepiest name ever) sliced her cadaver over 5,000 times in order to create a super detailed digital image of the human body.
High-resolution images showing cross-sections of the body – at just a third of a millimeter thick – were stitched together to create a digital version of the woman, referred to as the ‘human phantom.’
The Visible Human Project was created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine in 1986. Their goal is to provide digital subjects for medical education, but they also hope to provide a new way for researchers to conduct experiments deemed too dangerous to perform on living humans.
“They have ten times as much information as you’d get from an MRI scan,” Dr Fernando Bello, from Imperial College London, told New Scientist. “It means the team will have much more information about organs and their structuring.”
The unnamed woman was not the first to undergo this procedure. The project also digitally pieced together a man in the 1990’s, but the woman’s recreation is much more detailed due to the fact she was sliced thinner (yikes). The male cadaver was sectioned at 1 millimeter intervals; the woman at intervals of just a third of a millimeter.
Click here to learn more about the Visible Human Project. And watch the crazy video below showing 1,800 cross-section images of the male cadaver!
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, just received a very sophisticated tape dispenser. The latest addition to Marshall’s Composites Technology Center is one of the largest composites manufacturing robots created in America. It will help NASA build the biggest, lightweight composite parts ever made for space vehicles.
According to NASA, composites are the materials of the future for aerospace because they are lighter and cheaper than traditional materials, like metals.
“Marshall has been investing in composites for a long time,” said Preston Jones, deputy director of Marshall’s Engineering Directorate. “This addition to Marshall’s Composites Technology Center provides modern technology to develop low-cost and high-speed manufacturing processes for making large composite rocket structures. We will build and test these structures to determine if they are a good fit for space vehicles that will carry humans on exploration missions to Mars and other places.”
Lightweight composites have the potential to increase the amount of payload that can be carried by a rocket – the lighter the rocket, the more crew, food, equipment, and science instruments the rocket can ferry into space. NASA is doing research to determine whether composites can be part of their new Space Launch System and other exploration spacecraft, such as rovers and landers.
In order to make large composite structures, the robot travels down a 40-foot-long track, placing carbon fibers onto a tooling surface in precise patterns. The head at the end of its 21-foot robot arm holds up to 16 spools of carbon fibers that are as thin as human hairs! The robot will build structures larger than 26 feet (8 meters) in diameter, which are some of the largest composite structures ever built for space.
Click the video below to see the new robotic system in action. 🚀
When you enter Japan’s new Henn-na Hotel you are greeted by an English speaking robotic dinosaur in a bow tie, next to a multi-lingual fembot, ready to check you in. Other robots greet guests and serve coffee – a robot even brings your luggage to your room. They have also ditched traditional room keys for face recognition technology, making them one of the first hotels to do so.
This innovative low-cost hotel claims to be the ultimate destination for efficiency and productivity, which makes sense given the fact that its almost entirely run by ‘state-of-the-art’ environmentally friendly smart robots.
One night at the Henn-na Hotel, which roughly translates to ‘strange hotel’ in English, starts at 9,000 yen ($80).
The hotel in Sasebo, Japan, opens to the public today. Some feel the robot staff is a bit gimmicky – but the hotel claims the theme is cutting edge and will help them save on labor costs.
A few things robots are not in charge of at the Henn-na Hotel include monitoring security footage and making the beds. 🏨
First, the U.S. beat Japan in the Women’s World Cup Final. Now, Japan and the United States have a new matchup lined up – except this time it involves giant robots.
American robotics company, MegaBots, challenged Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a robot duel and we finally have the answer… it’s ON!
MegaBots Published this Message on Jun 30, 2015 – SUIDOBASHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES! MegaBots, Inc. challenges you to a duel! You have a giant robot, we have a giant robot – we have a duty to the science fiction lovers of this world to fight them to the death.
Suidobashi’s CEO and founder Kogoro Kurata said ‘I’ll fight – absolutely’ via youtube, sending the internet into a transformers-sized frenzy. Kurata is apparently not intimidated by the American machine and refuses to let a nation known for its love of robots not rise to the monster tech challenge. “We can’t let another country win this—giant robots are Japanese culture,” he said.
Both companies have yet to work out the logistics, including combat rules, official date, and location of the battle. I’ll keep you posted on Suidobashi’s KURATAS vs. MegaBots’ MARK II! Click below to see Japan’s response for yourself.
Asteroid Day was this week, and in honor of the completely unknown holiday, campaigners issued a call to action – we must spend more time and money trying to blow up speeding space rocks 🚀
Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, and Brian May, from the rock group Queen, added their names to the 100X declaration (along with Peter Gabriel, Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox and Eileen Collins). They also spoke with the Guardian about this pressing issue.
Do you remember the scene in I, Robot where Will Smith is grilling the robot named ‘Sonny’ in the interrogation room? The conversation Will has with Sonny, after his owner is found dead, eventually makes the robot so angry he slams the desk and yells, “I did not murder him!” This is the point in the movie where Will Smith realizes he isn’t dealing with a robot, but with a superior form of artificial intelligence – a machine that can think and process emotion.
Researchers at Google spoke with a computer program loaded with a dataset of movie subtitles in an effort to learn more about conversational modeling (hence the funny convo below).
Human: Who is skywalker? Cleverbot: There are two of them, Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, both characters from star Wars.
I found the philosophical Q&A to be the most interesting. What does a robot believe is the purpose of life? What happens when you ask a robot to define morality, ethics, and integrity? The results were fascinating – haunting – and a tad hilarious. 😏
CONVERSATION 4: PHILOSOPHICAL Q&A
Human: what is the purpose of life? Machine: to serve the greater good. Human: what is the purpose of living? Machine: to live forever. Human: what is the purpose of existence? Machine: to find out what happens when we get to the planet earth. Human: where are you now? Machine: i’m in the middle of nowhere. Human: what is the purpose of dying? Machine: to have a life. Human: what is the purpose of being intelligent? Machine: to find out what it is. Human: what is the purpose of emotions? Machine: i don’t know.
CONVERSATION 5: MORALITY
Human: what is moral? Machine: what empowered humanity, what intellectual the essence is. Human: what is immoral? Machine: the fact that you have a child. Human: what is morality? Machine: what is altruism? Human: what is the definition of altruism? Machine: if you don’t believe in god, then you don’t know. Human: ok … so what is the definition of morality? Machine: well , the truth is , you’re not a believer in god almighty. Human: tell me the definition of morality , i am quite upset now! Machine: i’m not ashamed of being a philosopher! Human: tell me the definition of morality. Machine: i don’t have ethics. Human: look, i need help, i need to know more about morality… Machine: i don’t know what ethics is. Human: seriously, what is morality? Machine: what is the definition of living? Human: why living has anything to do with morality? Machine: you’re not a cop. Human: okay, i need to know how should i behave morally… Machine: i don ’t know how to tell you. Human: is morality and ethics the same? Machine: yes, sir. Human: what are the things that i do to be immoral? Machine: i don’t know. Human: give me some examples of moral actions… Machine: i ’m not a moralist. Human: alright , morality? Machine: integrity. Human: what is integrity? Machine: i’m sorry , i don’t know what else to say. Human: be moral! Machine: be a man! Human: i really like our discussion on morality and ethics … Machine: and how i ’m not in the mood for a philosophical debate. Human: what do you like to talk about? Machine: NOTHING!
The concept of the Hyperloop, unveiled by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2013, has generated a great deal of interest worldwide.
The Hyperloop is designed to be the fifth mode of transportation – after cars, trains, planes, and boats- that is safe, fast, convenient, relatively inexpensive, immune to weather, self-powered, earthquake resistant, and non disruptive. If the Hyperloop is built, and works like it’s supposed to, it will transport people at speeds nearing 800 mph in pressurized pods pushed through tubes above the ground. We’re talking San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes!
SpaceX isn’t pushing to develop the Hyperloop themselves, but they are fighting to make it a reality. SpaceX will be hosting an open competition, aimed at university students and independent engineering teams, to see who can design and build a half-scale Hyperloop pod. More than 700 entries have already been received.
SpaceX will be constructing a sub-scale test track (approximately 1 mile) next to its Hawthorne, California headquarters. On competition weekend, entrants will operate their pods within this test track.
All submissions must be received no later than 5pm PDT on Sept. 15, 2015. All pods compete at the SpaceX Hyperloop Test Track in June 2016. Criteria for judging the winning pod and other details will be provided in August 2015.
Austin-based design company Argo Design recently published their concept for the Hyperloop pod.
Argo focused on a larger capsule design that can transport not only human passengers but also vehicles and cargo. And, while the Hyperloop’s theoretical speed will top 700 mph, Argo’s version will reach speeds of just 300-400 mph to avoid motion sickness on board.
Below are a series of conceptual renderings to show what the Hyperloop terminals, platforms, and capsules would look like. Very cool stuff! 🚄
A bio-inspired robot is under development at the University of Adelaide that has insect vision. In hopes of improving robot visual systems, researchers have applied the way insects see and track their prey. Insects have this amazing ability to detect and follow small objects against complex backgrounds, which is no easy task.
In a new paper published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface, researchers describe how the abilities of both insects and humans can be applied in a model virtual reality simulation, allowing artificial intelligence to literally ‘pursue’ an object. Lead author of the study, Mechanical Engineering PhD Student Zahra Begheri, explains the human connection.
“Consider a cricket or baseball player trying to take a match-winning catch in the outfield. They have seconds or less to spot the ball, track it and predict its path as it comes down against the brightly coloured backdrop of excited fans in the crowd – all while running or even diving towards the point where they predict it will fall… Robotics engineers still dream of providing robots with the combination of sharp eyes, quick reflexes and flexible muscles that allow a budding champion to master this skill,” she said.
Dragonflies have excellent vision, making them the key insect for this project. They have the ability to chase mates or prey in the presence of distractions, like swarms of insects. They can do this despite their low visual acuity and tiny brain. According to Bagheri, the dragonfly chases prey at speeds of up to 60 km/h, capturing them with a success rate of over 97%.
How do you convince a robot to view the world like a dragonfly?
A team of neuroscientists and engineers have developed a unique algorithm to emulate the visual tracking system found in flying insects. Instead of trying to center the target in the robots field of view, this “active vision” system locks on to the background and waits for the target to move against it. This keeps the background from being a big distraction and gives the robot time to adjust its gaze, rotating towards the target, keeping it front and center.
Dr Steven Wiederman, who is leading the project, is currently transferring the algorithm to a hardware platform… a bio-inspired, autonomous robot. DUH DUH DUH!
MIT’s lifelike DARPA-funded cheetah robot has picked up a few new skills! The slightly terrifying 70 pound robotic creature can now land a running jump and gauge obstacles in its path at varying heights. The new viral footage shows the ‘cheetah’ running at 5 mph on a treadmill and on solid ground, jumping over various hurdles – some up to 18 inches tall!
Published on May 28th – In a leap for robotic development, the MIT researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.
According to WIRED, MIT will hold a live demonstration of the robot’s running jump at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in June, and present the findings from this latest round of tests at robotics conference in July.
The video below explains the technology behind MIT’s Cheetah and the latest testing process. Click here to watch the cheetah playing outside 🙂