The Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (LIS) directed by Prof. Dario Floreano focuses on the development of robotic systems and artificial intelligence methods inspired by biological principles of self-organization. Currently, we address three interconnected research areas: flying robots, artificial evolution and social systems.

Link! Be sure to check out their projects page (which I would link to directly, but they’re using frames…. Tsk! Tsk!). Via this post on Current.

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Posted by Shannon

A wonderful homage to my favorite movie, John Carpenter’s The Thing. Via MeFi

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I have a healthy appreciation for bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally very anti-bullshit, especially when it comes to things like justifications for war, regressive anti-science and scaring people to (literal) death. You know: things that matter.

But I must confess, I do take a certain amount of pleasure in watching bullshit separate fools from their money. If it’s audacious enough, it can be like watching a well-crafted crime caper.

Which leads us to H2Om.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Atomic John

Posted by Shannon

The New Yorker:

In the decades since the Second World War, dozens of historians have attempted to divine the precise mechanics of the Hiroshima bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, and of the bomb that fell three days later on Nagasaki, known as Fat Man. The most prominent is Richard Rhodes, who won a Pulitzer Prize, in 1988, for his dazzling and meticulous book “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.” But the most accurate account of the bomb’s inner workings—an unnervingly detailed reconstruction, based on old photographs and documents—has been written by a sixty-one-year-old truck driver from Waukesha, Wisconsin, named John Coster-Mullen, who was once a commercial photographer, and has never received a college degree.

Read on.

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New Scientist:

Elementary physics tells us that we actually can move the planets. Launching a rocket into space pushes the Earth a bit in the opposite direction, like the recoil from a gun.

Science-fiction author and trained physicist Stanley Schmidt exploited this fact in his novel The Sins of the Fathers, in which aliens built giant rocket engines at the South Pole to move the Earth. (Read about other sci-fi novels and films that have tackled the problem of moving worlds.)

In real life, however, the Earth is so massive that a rocket would have little effect on its motion. Launching a billion 10-tonne rockets in exactly the same direction would change the Earth’s velocity by just 20 nanometres per second – peanuts compared to the planet’s current speed of 30 kilometres per second.

A few astronomers have tackled the problem of moving planets, but not for dealing with emergencies on human time scales. They’re actually devising thought experiments to understand the dynamics of planetary systems, says Greg Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz. So processes that occur on geologic time scales work perfectly well.

Link! Via MonkeyFilter

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That would have been the headline in the Autumn of 1872 if the journalists in New York could have correlated the information pouring into The New York Times about the spread of the worst equestrian catastrophe in the history of the nation – and perhaps the world.

Imagine an equestrian health disaster that crippled all of America, halted the government in Washington DC, stopped the ships in New York, burned Boston to the ground and forced the cavalry to fight the Apaches on foot. It was an equine tragedy so deadly that one wave of the infection swept south like a Biblical plague from its origin in Toronto, Canada, down the Atlantic Seaboard to Havana, Cuba, leaving everything in its path in ruins in weeks, while another branch simultaneously raced west to the Pacific.

Now imagine if knowledge of the greatest equine epidemic in North American history had been lost – until now.

Link! Via MeFi.

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Spain’s modern ghost towns

Posted by Shannon


Sesena was designed as a major urbanisation for Spanish professionals who could not afford city prices, with more than 13,500 flats built on scrubland.

Fewer than 3,000 have been sold. Hugh Pym takes a look at this modern ghost town.

Link! Via Ballardian

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For the humans co-ordination is important, but for the zombies it’s absolutely vital. Slower than the living (and with only a couple of seconds of “lunge” ability), the zombies must use teamspeak servers to flank their opponents. It feels odd to charge a machine-gunning foe with nothing but your rotting fingers - but the fact that you’ll come back from the dead is good. Watching your teammates creeping up behind your killer with your meaningless life as a distraction is better. And the fact that your newly-zombified former enemy will then help you kill his former teammates is absolutely priceless.

How have I never heard of this?! Link! Via Reddit.

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Zombie outbreak on Twitter (0)

“Spaced,” the apparently brilliant comedy show from the creators of Sean of the Dead, is finally crossing the pond. Can’t wait.

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