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Acrobatic Quadrocopters Balance And Juggle Poles

Remote-controlled quadrocopters are slowly taking over the skies. Beyond looking like an awesome James Bond tool from the late 1980s, they’ve been adapted to do a whole host of things, not the least scary of which is an army of quadrocopter drones spelling out “Big Brother” in mid-air. They’ve put on light shows, they’ve played catch, and now they’ve launched their first assault in their goal of taking over one of the most respected jobs on the planet.

Okay, so maybe “juggler” isn’t so refined a career choice, but only because a human one could never match the wow factor of ETH Zurich’s Dario Bresianini, whose master thesis project, titled “Quadrocopter Pole Acrobatics,” features two quadrocopters throwing a pole from one machine to the next, catching it on its end in perfect balance. The first time you see it, it’s almost too stunning to believe. Check out the video below, and try not to break anything attempting the maneuver yourself using your hands.

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Read Nebula-Nominated Novelettes For Free

Nebulas

If you’re like me, your desire to read exciting new science fiction almost certainly outstrips your actual free time to do so. Hell, I’m still catching up on books I bought a decade ago, much less anything that came out in the last year. Still, if you want to sample some recent sci-fi goodness, you could do a lot worse than checking out some of the stories nominated for Nebula Awards this year. Now the folks at Tor have decided to make your life easier by offering their three nominated novelettes as free downloads for a limited time.

Of the seven nominees in the novelette category, three were published on Tor’s website: “The Finite Canvas” by Brit Mandelo, “Swift, Brutal Retaliation” by Meghan McCarron, and “Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia” by Rachel Swirsky. They’re now available for free on multiple different platforms, although there’s no word on how long the free offer will last. If you miss out on the deadline, you can still read them for free on Tor.com. Here are the links.

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Mass Effect 3 – Reckoning Teases Final Multiplayer DLC

With the one-year anniversary of the release of Mass Effect 3 fast approaching, BioWare is putting its final touches on their ambitious, sprawling space saga. The future of Mass Effect is inevitable but undefined, but there are still a few more adventures left to have. The massive Citadel single-player DLC is set to arrive on March 5th, but the game is also getting one last expansion for its surprisingly entertaining multiplayer component as well. Mass Effect 3 – Reckoning will be available for download free of charge tomorrow, February 26th, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Here’s a rather badass trailer featuring angry Krogan, big damn Geth, and what I’m pretty sure is an “omni-crossbow.”

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Mars Could Harbor Microbial Life Even Now

Mars

The recent news of microbes being present in at least one lake beneath Antarctica has reaffirmed many suspicions that some form of life exists among the harsh climates of our red neighbor, Mars. I’m not sure why no one believed me when I started saying this 15 years ago. I mean, I took the aluminum foil off my head and everything.

The NASA Astrobiology Institute and the UK Centre for Astrobiology hosted a “Present-Day Habitability of Mars” conference earlier this month at the University of California Los Angeles, which included various presentations from astronomers and scientists from all over the country.

Chris McKay of NASA’s Ames Research Center focused on microbial life, and the similarities between Antarctica, the Atcama desert, and Mars in terms of cold and arid conditions and radiation levels, which Antarctica gets hit with due to the hole in the ozone that opens up from August to November. McKay also theorized that organisms shielded from UV rays by deeply embedding themselves in rocks may still be close enough to the surface to experience the benefits of photosynthesis. He also discussed a process called deliquescence, during which salt and other compounds on the ground use moisture from the air to turn into a liquid.

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This Shark Has A Lightsaber

A shark with a lightsaber? What more could you possibly want? Researchers have found that the velvet belly lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax) uses “lightsaber-like” spines in order to ward off potential predators.

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This variety of lanternshark is just a little guy. The largest of the species tops out at around 60cm in length, though most adults rarely exceed 45cm. You can see why wielding the preferred weapon of the Jedi Knights might come in handy from time to time.

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Revolution: Enemies Of The State Webseries Wants Blood On The Floor

We told you there was going to be a bunch of Revolution talk today, and we weren’t lying. After wrapping up the animated Wheatley’s Letters series of shorts, NBC dropped the first episode of a brand-new webseries in our laps. Revolution: Enemies of the State serves as a prequel to the first-year series. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think.