Archive for May, 2011

May 27, 2011

Depersonalization Disorder

by Lucas Wilkins

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May 21, 2011

Legged robots haven’t come a long way since the 80s

by James Thorniley

I came across a video of some of the old robots built in the MIT Leg Laboratory in the 1980s by Mark Raibert and colleagues. Raibert’s work is quite well known and he wrote a good book back in 1986 describing how these robots were built. Anyway, because it’s so long ago you don’t come across the videos so easily as with newer robots that are all over YouTube. So here’s the link:

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May 12, 2011

Things whose existence is surprising. 1: FLIP

by Nathaniel Virgo

Sometimes you come across something which you never would have thought would exist.  I thought it would be fun to blog about such things as I come across them.  The first example in this series is this:

It’s a ship called FLIP.  The acronym stands for “Floating Instrument Platform”, but it also rather neatly describes what it’s designed to do: its entire 108m hull flips 90˚ in the water so that it’s standing on one end.  It does this because it’s a research vessel designed to study waves, and this gives it the vertical stability it needs in order to make its measurements, as well as being able to survive enormous waves.  Perhaps the coolest thing about it is the way everything is designed so that it can be used in both orientations – rooms have horizontal and vertical doors, and all the kitchen stuff rotates so that nothing gets spilt. It’s real Tracy Island stuff. More information about the boat can be found here.  (I came across this on this BBC programme about waves, which is intersting-ish.)

May 9, 2011

Is the second law of thermodynamics connected to the expansion of the universe?

by Nathaniel Virgo

This is just a bit of idle wondering, another little bit of amateur cosmology from someone who should probably know better. The question I’m asking myself today is, is the second law of thermodynamics connected to the expansion of the universe?

May 2, 2011

Scientific opinion has always been misrepresented…

by Lucas Wilkins

I found a poem about the apparent absolutism of science:

The Microbe is so very small
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope

I do too, even though I feel my temperament is probably better described as melancholic

His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teath;



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