Search results for: robotics

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A New Kind Of Robot: Soft-Bots

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Robots may most readily be associated with images like Forbidden Planet‘s Robbie the Robot and The Terminator, but George M Whitesides says robots don’t need to be the cold, unyielding machines they have been traditionally.  Whitesides is the Woodford L and Ann A Flowers University Professor at Harvard University and he has been doing work in “soft robots”. This new breed of robot draws its inspiration from creatures like squid and starfish and may have important real-world applications in areas from disaster relief to the medical field.

Whiteside and his team recognized that many robots are based on the human form (think assembly plant mechanical “arms”), but realized that there are “all kinds of animals […] that do things in very different ways”. These animals had been overlooked as potential robotic muses because we’ve had a kind of tunnel vision regarding robot form and function.  The team first looked to squid and starfish for inspiration, developing “gripper” robots that could perform such delicate tasks as picking up an egg without damaging the shell.

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Stranger In A Strange Land Turns 50, Skip It And Read These Better Robert A. Heinlein Books Instead

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Stranger in a Strange LandSci-fi master Robert A. Heinlein’s most famous book, Stranger in a Strange Land, turns fifty today. I’ve been reading Heinlein since I was far too young to actually be reading Heinlein and he is without question one of my favorite authors. And Stranger in a Strange Land is far from his best book.

Unfortunately, because the book had such an impact on the culture of its time, it gets tons of publicity and now anyone looking to explore Heinlein’s work usually starts by reading Stranger… and then they never read anything else. Stranger in a Strange Land is a huge turnoff: narratively unsound, full of more wild ideas than it is with actual story, for people new to Heinlein having them read Stranger in a Strange Land is a sure way to make sure they’ll never read anything else he’s written.

So with the 50th anniversary of Stranger in a Strange Land looming, now seems like the right time to recommend other Heinlein books which are not only completely different, but infinitely better, particularly as a way for new readers to gain entry into Heinlein’s world. Most of these come from earlier in his writing career, before he wrote Stranger. After Stranger Heinlein kept writing more books like, well, Stranger. If you want to read Heinlein, start with these 5 books instead…

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Asimov’s Foundation Becoming A Movie

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foundationIsaac Asimov is most often associated with robotics, for which he developed the three laws. But the sci-fi author’s real masterwork isn’t really focused on mechanoids, and if you haven’t, you should probably read Foundation. Or now, maybe you can just wait for the movie.

Sony Pictures has announced that they’re turning the first book in Asimov’s galaxy-spanning Foundation series into a movie. They’ve hired a mostly unknown writer named Dante Harper to adapt it, and presumably will decide on whether or not to greenlight it based in part on what he comes up with.

For the uninitiated, Foundation’s premise involves a genius mathematician named Hari Seldon who develops a way to predict the future, based on the idea that the larger the mass of people involved the more predictable their future is. Using that knowledge he forsees the fall of the human race, and so sets a series of things in motion in an attempt to save humanity.

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Aliens, Apocalypse And Robots: All The Fall 2011 Science Fiction You Can’t Miss

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Summer’s over which means it’s time to look forward to what’s coming this fall. Here’s just a few of the things we’re most excited about arriving in font of our eyeballs this fall, and if you’re even half the science fiction fans we are, you should probably keep an eye out for them too.

Read on for Giant Freakin Robot’s fall science fiction preview. Warp speed ahead, fellow nerds.

Doctor Who
While just about every other long-running science fiction series on television has either finished its run or ended up cancelled (thanks to SyFy’s obsession with ghosts and wrestling), The Doctor remains. The second half of Doctor Who’s current season begins on August 27 at 9/8c on BBC America, and hot on the heels of that cliffhanger which revealed the true origins of River Song… it’s not to be missed. With mysteries to be uncovered using science and romance, the show hasn’t lost a step, and Matt Smith has turned into a pretty great Doctor. I’ll always miss David Tennant but this Doctor is not to be missed. It’s one of the best shows on television. Be there to find out what’s up with that astronaut in the lake.