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SociBot Can Wear Anyone’s Face (And Act The Part)

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SociBotRobots that can provide humans with a telepresence at conferences, weddings, or other places or events they can’t physically attend are nothing new, but scientists are developing new variations of that idea, including the SociBot, which can display any face — and not on a Skype-like computer screen.

Socibot uses projective technology to wear any face — even the user’s own. Socibot also displays emotions via its expressions, so if you make it angry, you’ll know from its face. It’s got a plastic head with controllable features, a neck that can move like a human’s, voice recognition, facial tracking software, and the ability to understand and translate speech into over 20 languages. The goal was to create “social hardware,” as distinct from social software and the internet.

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Captain Janeway Helps Teach Earth As The Center Of The Universe

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UPDATE: Find out what Mulgrew had to say about her part in the documentary right here.

One of the great things about Star Trek over the years is that it’s helped inspire passion for science in fans both young and old. So it makes sense that various Trek actors have lent their talents to films and programs promoting astronomy, biology, math — you name it. But one place I never expected to run across Star Trek: Voyager’s Kate Mulgrew was narrating a trailer for a movie arguing for a geocentric model of the universe. As in “the Earth is the center of the universe and everything else revolves around it.” Yeah.

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Robotic Crabs And Clams Will One Day Inhabit The Ocean Floor

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CrabsterThe shipwreck investigating robot turtle is pretty adorable, but not all robotic sea creatures follow this cute and cuddly model. In fact, the new robo-crab is gigantic and terrifying. Even though it presumably doesn’t have any predatory programming, you can never be sure.

The six-legged Crabster CR200 weighs over 1,000 pounds and is nearly 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It was developed by the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology in order to explore the deepest, darkest, and most dangerous depths of all the oceans. Crabster solves two problems with one crustacean. First, human divers can’t go as deep or as long as something that doesn’t need to breathe. Second, propeller-driven submersibles often get pushed off-course by strong tides and currents. So the scientists modeled their creation after lobsters, crabs, and other sea creatures that walk around on the bottom of the ocean despite those feisty waters.

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Chinese Company 3D Prints 10 Houses In One Day

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3D printed houseHere’s another post celebrating the wonders of 3D printing. We already know pretty much anything can be 3D printed, so these stories are largely about people imagining something new and awesome to make, which is happening more and more. Our aspirations for 3D printing are becoming bigger and more complex — NASA’s using one in space and will soon be using Contour Crafting technology to print structures on the moon. But before that happens, it seems reasonable to practice 3D printing some houses here on Earth, which Shanghai’s WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company has just done, putting up 10 3D-printed houses in Shanghai in under 24 hours.

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Norwegian Skydiver Has A Close Call With A Meteorite

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skydiver meteoriteI’m no Felix Baumgartner, but I have been skydiving, once. It was, of course, incredible, and the most intense and disparate mix of emotions and brain signals I’ve ever received at one time. When you’re up there in the plane, every muscle in your body, every thought in your head, urges you to do anything but throw yourself out the open door. You naturally fight death, which is what your brain naturally thinks will happen when you fall into the sky. But you go anyway, mostly because you’re strapped to a skydiving instructor who’s pushing you from behind and won’t let you wuss out or stall. For the first ten seconds, it feels like your head is going to explode in a mixture of fear, adrenaline, cognitive dissonance, and more. Sheer exhilaration takes over, at which point you realize this is the most fun you’ve ever had doing anything. Until a meteorite clocks you in the head. Luckily, that last part didn’t happen to me. You wouldn’t think it could happen to anyone had I not seen a video of Anders Helstrup, a Norwegian skydiver who barely escaped a collision with the cosmic debris.

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Scientists Map A Mouse’s Brain For The First Time

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mouse brain

Connections between four distinct visual areas in the mouse cortex (green, yellow, red, orange) are visualized in 3-D. These areas are highly interconnected with each other and with additional areas involved in vision in the thalamus (pink) and midbrain (purple). Credit: Allen Institute

In order to understand our own brains, and eventually create artificial ones, scientists are trying to first get a grip on the slightly less complex brains of smaller species, such as mice. Scientists at Seattle’s Allen Institute for Brain Science have just finished creating the first detailed maps of the mouse brain, including neural networks that join neuronal clusters.

While not as complex as a human brain, a mouse brain has more than 86 million neurons, each of them connecting in at least 1,000 different ways to other neurons, clusters, and groupings. Scientists liken such an arrangement to a complicated road system with different highways and paths from each place to the next. Scientists created a connectome, or a diagram of the wiring of a mouse brain, which is the first map of a mammalian neural network.