This Robot Has Better Balance Than You

comanFor a robot trying to get a metal toehold into modern times, there’s no room for ones that fall all over the place like an alcoholic on broken roller skates. A sense of balance and a reliable set of limbs are what the bots of the future need. I mean, for the ones that aren’t just washing dishes and keeping you company. But maybe for future RobOlympic events.

The Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) is among the first teams on the planet to create a robot with such realistic arm and leg joints, calling it COMAN (COmplant huMANoid). The robot has 25 degrees of freedom, in most of the areas humans do: the neck, shoulders, elbows, etc. The more flexible joints use a series elastic actuators custom designed by IIT, which allow for realistic flexing and extending of the limbs. The feet include a six-axis force/torque sensor that gives it the ultimate advantage of being able to keep its balance no matter where the pressure comes from. I’m assuming if the thing got hit by a rhino it would tumble, but as far as light pushes from humans and ramped walkways, COMAN has got most other robots beat. Check out the device in action below, and place your bets on when IIT will invent the Bully Bot to promote “real dink-shoving action.”


Amy Pond’s Novel Is A Real Thing You Can Buy

There was a lot to like about Doctor Who’s spring premiere, “The Bells of Saint John,” which was a much-appreciated return to form after last fall’s disappointing episodes. But one of the cooler things was a simple throwaway moment that you could easily have missed. Namely, that new companion Clara at one point name-checks one of her very favorite books: Summer Falls, penned by one “Amelia Williams.” As in “formerly Amy Pond,” that lady whose TARDIS closet Clara just recently took over.

Summer FallsAs Whovians know, Amy and Rory were stranded in 1930s New York in the episode “The Angels Take Manhattan,” where a sphere of technobabble prevents the Doctor from rescuing them. The couple settles into their new home in the past and live out the remainder of their lives together, even adopting a son at one point. And somewhere along the way, Amy wrote a children’s book, one that would later capture the imagination of Clara Oswin Oswald. Gotta love Doctor Who.

Well, now you can actually purchase your very own copy of Amy’s Summer Falls. It’s the same idea as when the Lost folks published Bad Twin, a book ostensibly written by “Gary Troup,” a fictional author who died shortly after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 (he was the poor sap who got sucked into the engine). There’s no word whether Summer Falls contains any easter eggs for Who fans or if it’s just a straight-up kids’ book with a fictional character’s name on the cover.


Pacific Rim Viral Picture Warns You That Kaiju Are On The Loose

Pacific Rim Warning Sign

The giant monsters in Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming sci-fi flick Pacific Rim, called Kaiju, are bad news. You can tell because these warning signs had to be made in order to, well, warn you about impending Kaiju attacks. Considering the ferocity of the image on the sign, and the size of that beak/claw thing, by the time you see the sign, you may be out of luck.

This image is the latest in the viral marketing onslaught for Pacific Rim, and if you need such a thing, it comes with this translation: “KAIJU WARNING: Seismic activity around The Breach. Prepare for battle.” In the film, the Kaiju come from deep beneath the ocean, through a portal between our dimension and one apparently full of massive, rampaging creatures.


Apple Bans Issue Of Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga Due To Small Images Of Gay Sex

SagaWe all know how well rampant homophobia helps out people’s careers, mostly by making all the rational people around them back the hell away. Yeah, I’m talking about Orson Scott Card here. But he’s far from the only person out there with obvious discomfort when it comes to all things homosexual. He’s just damned vocal about it.

But having something against two human beings of the same sex having a relationship is still a world away from having a problem with seeing such a thing represented in a drawing, right? Because no one could be that shallow, right? Well, we know where Apple stands, because they’re refusing to sell issue #12 of Brian K. Vaughan’s brilliant space opera comic Saga on any of their iOS apps.

Saga, by no means a comic for all ages, made our Best of 2012 list due to its highly intriguing tale of love in a universe that allows for everything but. I wonder where Vaughan got the inspiration for that kind of universe. It’s probably the one where one of the most successful companies on the planet can’t handle two artistic images of gay sex. Apples are known for having little worms in them, so perhaps Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook has a little secret tucked up in his multi-million-dollar closet.


Defiance Trailer Features Interspecies Fisticuffs

Syfy’s Defiance is an ambitious project. Not only does it involve the TV series that premieres on Monday, April 15th, but the action also unfolds across an online multiplayer game where the world changes according to what goes down on your TV. We’re less than a week out, and the network has released another new trailer to pique your interest.

Defiance is set in the year 2046, after an alien invasion, and this latest video really plays up the frontier Western vibe of the show, as well as the immigrant drama nature of the story. St. Louis, now known as Defiance, has become a new kind of melting pot. Instead of settlers from all over the world, the residents of Defiance are a hodge-podge of races and species from all over the universe. It’s the kind of place where you occasionally need to fight a big, shirtless blue dude in an underground arena.


Cross The Streams: The Hunger Games, Fringe, And More Come To Netflix Instant

Let’s make a few things clear right away. We love theaters, we love television, and we love DVDs and Blu-rays. That said, we also love online streaming. And so we present this new weekly feature spotlighting the more important new science fiction-related releases of the past week from such sites as Hulu, Crackle, Redbox Instant, and the granddaddy of them all, Netflix. So without further ado, here is the best that legal streaming has to offer…

The Hunger Games The Hunger Games (Netflix)
This ridiculously popular first entry adapted from Suzanne Collins’ mega-hit franchise tore up theaters, making it the 13th highest grossing film of all time, not adjusting for inflation. Though the sequel will of course be bigger and better, Gary Ross’ efforts here are accommodating for almost all audience types. Boys like Jennifer Lawrence’s hottie heroine, girls like Liam Hemsworth, and someone probably likes Lenny Kravitz dressed like “Prince from outer space.” Chances are, you’re beyond sick of hearing about this flick, so just know that if you’re into watching kids beat the shit out of each other, watch Battle Royale. For slightly less violent urges, this is the film for you.