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Robotics

Bespoke processor gives robot movement a speed boost

In structured environments, such as on manufacturing lines, robots are able to carry out pre-planned movements much faster than humans, but in unfamiliar environments it takes a lot of time for robots to plan movements that humans make almost without thinking. To give robots a speed boost, engineers at Duke University have developed a new processor that enables robots to perform motion planning 10,000 times faster than conventional methods.Read More

Physics Feature

A long way from everything: The search for a Grand Unified Theory

The recent confirmation of gravity waves observed by the LIGO project represents a huge breakthrough in physics, verifying Albert Einstein's predictions regarding the effect of mass on space and time and supporting his general theory of relativity published in 1916. But what of his other grand hypothesis? Einstein's unified field theory consumed the last 30 years of his life without resolution, but how much closer have we come to a theory that brings every known force in the universe together into a single, all-encompassing frame of reference? Read More

Bicycles

Best electric mid-drive adds serious muscle and speed to existing bicycles

In addition to the hordes of e-bikes out there, the market has plenty of aftermarket kits designed to turn standard bicycles into electric-assist machines: electrified wheels like the Centinel and FlyKly, friction drives like the ConoDrive and Rubbee 2.0, and mid-drives like the Bimoz. With the exception of the rare powerhouse, like the 3,400-watt EGO-kit, these add-ons tend to use modestly powered motors for speeds between 15 and 20 mph (24 and 32 km/h) or so. The new mid-mounted Bikee Best kit packs more power potential and torque than average, aiming for better hill climbing capability and speeds up to 30 mph (48 km/h).Read More

Automotive

Water hazard – even big cars can be swept away in shallow floodwaters

News coverage of floods is inevitably accompanied by footage of stranded motorists who have attempted to drive through floodwaters, despite warnings from emergency services. The recent floods that hit the Australian east coast were no different, but a new study out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) may give drivers pause before risking their lives in the next downpour. Researchers have found that vehicles – even burly four-wheel drives – can be swept away in even remarkably shallow water.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Hug machine puts the squeeze on autism

Prof. Mary Temple Grandin is a high-functioning autistic, and is an outspoken advocate for people with autism spectrum disorders. Among other things, she invented what is known as a "hug machine," which reportedly calms hypersensitive people by gently exerting even pressure along their bodies. While some individuals have made their own over the years, Denmark's Gloria Mundi Care is now offering a commercial version, called the OrbisBox.Read More

Mobile Technology

Moto Z vs. iPhone 6s Plus

The Moto Z and latest iPhones tackle the smartphone from opposite directions. Motorola's new handset may be the simplest and most logical take on the modular smartphone to date, adding new looks or features just by snapping on a back plate. The most recent iPhones, meanwhile, have shied away from such bold changes – instead conservatively evolving the world-changing formula from Apple's 2007 original. Can Motorola's flagship shake up smartphone industry stagnation? Let's start by seeing how the Moto Z compares to the iPhone 6s Plus.Read More

Space

DARPA seeks to develop command and control center for outer space

The area in the outer reaches of the Earth's atmosphere is a swarm of manmade objects, moving at tens of thousands of miles per hour and traversing a region hundreds of thousands of times larger than all of Earth's oceans combined. This complicates the operation of satellites for military use. DARPA has just announced its plans to come to grips with this chaotic region with the launch of a project aimed at revolutionizing the US military's command and control capabilities in space.Read More

Space

Monster electric wind on Venus sends oxygen "kicking and screaming into space"

Although you could bake a pizza on its surface today, popular thinking is that Venus was once cool enough to hold water on its surface. Of course, as the planet heated, that water turned to vapor and should now be trapped in the planet's dense atmosphere – but it's not. So where did the water go? According to new research, the likely culprit is likely a super-strong "electric wind" that blows off the surface of Venus carrying ions with it into space.Read More

Music

Hand-made guitar dials in MIDI effects with the wave of a hand

Electric guitars that have MIDI control cooked in aren't exactly a new idea, as evidenced by the now up for pre-order Expressiv Infinity Guitar. Heck, even acoustic guitars are muscling into MIDI territory courtesy of the upcoming ACPAD controller. But controlling effects by waving a hand in front of a laser isn't something you see every day. That's precisely what's on offer with one of the three new hand-made Drop guitars from Lithuania's Lava.Read More

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