December 28, 2012
Robot Boy Is More Appealing Than Traditional Robots – The Daily Orbit
Who’s cuter than your average robot?
See our prediction for the biggest star of 2013…
Is it an alien or is it Dan Aykroyd in Coneheads?
All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit, I’m Emerald Robinson.
It’s Roboy to the rescue! We’ve seen Nexi-bot and DARPA’s animal-bots, but engineers in Zurich are cooking up a robot like we’ve only seen in movies. This new robot, called Roboy, is a tendon-driven “soft robot” modeled on human beings. Roboy will move quicker, look friendlier, and have smoother skin than robots past — making him more appealing to humans for interaction. The goal is to build Roboy in 9 months and unveil him at the Robots on Tour in Zurich in 2013. Engineers say that the robot could be particularly helpful to an aging population allowing them more autonomy in their old age. So I guess it will be Roboy to the rescue after all. At least he’s cuter than the prototype for the ISS humanoid robot from Japan.
And who will be the biggest star of 2013? Oh stop, it’s not me. Scientists are calling it the comet of the century and say it will be brighter than a full moon. Its name – Comet Ison. And it’s coming to a sky near you in 2013. Having traveled millions of years from the Oort cloud to reach Earth, Ison will become visible in small telescopes and binoculars by the end of next summer. Its surface, now very dark, will dramatically shift when it passes by Mars in October. As Ison passes Earth, ice below its surface will turn to gas and erupt, causing it to brilliantly reflect the sun. No need for a telescope by November, as Ison will be visible to the naked eye in the same direction as the setting sun. But once Ison approaches the Sun, watch out! Its intense brightness will make viewing dangerous without special instruments. I’m going to have to upgrade my telescope for 2013!
And a new study is throwing a bone in commonly held theories about the extinction of Late Pleistocene Saber-tooth Cats and Lions — or ‘taking a bone out of’ maybe I should say. Previously, researchers attributed starvation to the disappearance of these large cats during the Megafaunal Extinction approximately 12,000 years ago. They proposed that the animals had to consume more of the carcass, including bones, due to food scarcity. But new research using 3D imaging shows that patterns on Saber-tooth and American lion teeth recovered from La Brea in Southern California resemble the present day African lion, which indulges in some bone crunching when it eats, and that any wear on the teeth was likely due to the taking down of prey. So these big cats ate plenty of fat and didn’t starve to death. I’m glad, that would be a horrible way to die.
“Back in my days, sonny, we had to walk 10 miles to school and we didn’t have Google to tell us everything.” How many times have you heard a story like that from your Grandpa? Well, 75-year-old Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind-up radio, is calling Generation Google “brain-dead” as he reminisces about the good ole days. The 1997 OBE award winner says that kids nowadays are just too dependent on Google searches and that if they keep it up they won’t be able to do things the good old fashioned way – like build with their hands and invent things. What does Mr. Baylis propose? Bring back tinker toys and Meccano says Baylis. Well, Mr. Baylis, while I understand where you’re coming from, I love me some Google!
Okay wait, let’s not everyone get too excited here? Is it an alien-skull? Ugh, no. But it’s still pretty cool. Archeologists in New Mexico unearthed this cone-shaped skull from 1,000 years ago. The skull was unearthed accidentally while digging an irrigation system in El Cementario in Sonora, Mexico. Oh man I was hoping it was an alien! Thirteen of twenty-five found skulls are deformed which archeologists explained that deformation of human skulls was part of an ancient ritual in which they bound a person’s head between two blocks of wood wrapped tightly by bands. Skull deformation has been seen in other cultures as a ritual practice or as a social distinction. Most of the skulls found in Mexico were children leading the team to believe the practice is dangerous. Um, well duh. Wonder what story future archeologists will come up with when they see the mangled feet of stiletto wearing women 1,000 years from now? Ha!
Well, that’s all for today’s Daily Orbit! Ouch…ouch…why do we do this to ourselves?