A parallel Worlds

Monday July 4 2016 / Science & Technology

Robots have been the stuff of science fiction for centuries and an integral part of many manufacturing industries for decades. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds so why are we still all waiting for the perfect robot home help?





One of the strongest incubators and developers of technology is the world's military, which is always on the look-out for anything to give their soldiers an edge. And robotics started to take off in a big way when DARPA, the American Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, started investing in robotics specialist Boston Dynamics to help develop robotic platforms that can carry heavy loads over uneven terrain. "Big Dog" is the most well known of these all-terrain load carriers and the machines eerily animal-like gait can transport loads of 150 kilograms at a fast walking pace across very rugged ground.




From L-R: Boston Dynamics Atlas, SpotMini, WildCat, and AlphaDog

But as disconcerting as watching a machine moving quite realistically like an animal might be, that's nothing compared to reactions of people seeing this video above of Atlas, a Boston Dynamics humanoid robot, being "mistreated". The internet exploded when this was posted on YouTube with people angry, not because they feared that robots would take their jobs, but because a robot was being "bullied".



 While these largish military-use robots are attracting attention, of more interest to home owners or patiently waiting sci-fi fans might be SpotMini.



Not only is this little guy designed more for the home than the battlefield, it's movements and mannerisms are likely to make SpotMini feel more a part of the family (like a pet) than an appliance to lock in the cupboard when not in use.


Will the future of robotics be chasing postmen? Watch this space. For more information, please visit http://www.bostondynamics.com/

Suggested by
Maximilian Büsser

Monday June 6 2016 / Art & Design

Nick Brandt has been photographing African wildlife since 2001 and during that time has observed that the animals' natural habitat was being destroyed at an ever-alarming rate.

To highlight this plight, Brandt conceived of a series of huge photographs called Inherit the Earth. To create them he erected larger-than-life-sized portraits of Africa's four-legged inhabitants in landscapes where they once may have roamed but no longer. Rubbish dumps, quarries and warehouses have replaced the wild plains.


Monday May 2 2016 / Science & Technology - A Little Levity

We've all been here, haven't we? Well, hopefully a few of you at least will have shared the following scenario with me in childhood: you have folded the perfect paper plane, which in your imagination soars effortlessly across the room to gasps of admiration (and a tinge of jealousy) from the rest of the room. But, in reality, when you release your plane (with just a little too much force) it flies straight down to the floor with a paper- and soul-crushing thwack, followed by a quickly rising volume of laughter and sniggers.

If only there was a better way.

Monday March 28 2016 / Science & Technology

Think about how we move in rough terrain for a movement: whether walking uphill, downhill, or across hills, we always try and stay vertical because that's how our bodies balance best.



However, we do tend to learn over when going around corners quickly because that keeps apparent forces vertical to our bodies. French company Swincar has now developed an off road buggy that operates in the same way on rough terrain and at speed as our bodies do.

Friday January 1 2016 / Art & Design

When the Eiffel Tower was erected for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, many outraged people averted their eyes from what they viewed as a hideous iron beast. But the construction that once turned away so many is now among the most recognisable monuments in the world.


In Seville, Spain, the challenge of convincing the public was no different but the materials and engineering were: try building the largest wooden structure on earth atop ancient ruins while creating an inviting space for everyone to enjoy . . . in addition to rehabilitating a dilapidated part of town. This was the Metropol Parasol project.

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