Gas Generator and Manifold. Photo: Bezos Expeditions
A space history project led by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has exciting news out today: Apollo mission F-1 engines have been recovered from deep beneath the surface of the Atlantic ocean, as the "F-1 Recovery Project" years in the making reaches a successful conclusion.
Here's video of the Remote Operated Vehicles recovering the engines from the ocean floor.
The F-1 rocket engine is still a modern wonder — one and a half million pounds of thrust, 32 million horsepower, and burning 6,000 pounds of rocket grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. On July 16, 1969, the world watched as five particular F-1 engines fired in concert, beginning the historic Apollo 11 mission. Those five F-1s burned for just a few minutes, and then plunged back to Earth into the Atlantic Ocean, just as NASA planned. A few days later, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.
"We're excited to be bringing a couple of your F-1s home," Bezos said to NASA.
And Boing Boing has a statement from NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden:
In April 1988, the LA Times Magazine published a cover article predicting what the spring of 2013 would look like for the typical Angeleno family. In a story that is bound to give you disconcerting flashbacks to Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains", a family of four (and their automated house full of whirring robots) goes about a full day — from mandatory staggered work times beginning at 5:15 am, to 11:00 pm, when the lady of the house sits down with her laser disc of The Collected Works of Jackie Collins. (Creepily, the story ends with the house catching fire. I'm not kidding about the Bradbury shout-outs.) Not all the predictions were totally off base, but, as a whole, it's definitely a neat example of how hard it is to look at current technology trends and correctly extrapolate them out to the future. — Maggie
Harvard University researchers show how simple, brainless "bristle-bots" (like those you can make yourself or purchase for $6 as a "Hexbug Nano") exhibit swarming behavior when contained in a small area. According to the scientists, when this kind of behavior is seen in the natural world, among termites for example, it's "linked with insect cognition and social interactions. Our study shows how the behavioral repertoire of these physically interacting automatons controlled by one parameter translates into the mechanical intelligence of swarms." "Swarming, swirling and stasis in sequestered bristle-bots" (PDF)
Poplocks are a very clever system for making movable papercraft fastenings with die-cutting and folding. The Paper Pose-Ables site has a bunch of downloadable papercraft toys you can print out and make, as well as pre-cut/scored kits you can buy, for making fabulous poseable robots and other cool figures.
The Pose-Ables people came out to one of my signings last month and gave me a couple of GUPP-E robots, which I've put together this week, with help from my five-year-old daughter Poesy. The robots were fun to put together -- just intricate enough to be challenging without being frustrating -- and the Poplocks system really makes for a great, semi-rigid joint for the toys.
The Poplocks themselves are CC licensed for use in your own models.
The Poplock pushes the two pieces of paper tightly together, creating lots of friction! It can also stay put, and won't pop out on it's own, unless a good amount of force is used to bend it out of place.
Combine the Poplock Wedge with the special Locking Flaps hole, and you will create a nigh-invincible connection. Seriously, you won't be able to get the connection apart with torsion or pulling forces unless you rip or crumple the parts. Even then, the Poplock will probably stay put... holding two mangled pieces of paper together!
Swiss social psychologist Bertolt Mayer views 'Rex', a two metre tall artificial human, at the Science Museum in central London February 5, 2013. Mayer, a who uses a prosthetic hand himself, was used as the model for the 'bionic man', whom the British roboticist designers claim is the world's first complete bionic man, featuring artificial organs as well as fully functioning limbs. It will be on public display until March 11. Photo: REUTERS / Toby Melville
Welcome to Your Awesome Robot is a fantastic book for maker-kids and their grownups. It consists of a charming series of instructional comics showing a little girl and her mom converting a cardboard box into an awesome robot -- basically a robot suit that the kid can wear. It builds in complexity, adding dials, gears, internal chutes and storage, brightly colored warning labels and instructional sheets for attachment to the robot's chassis.
More than that, it encourages you to "think outside the box" (ahem), by adding everything from typewriter keys to vacuum hoses to shoulder-straps to your robot, giving the kinds of cues that will set your imagination reeling. For master robot builders, it includes a tear-out set of workshop rules for respectfully sharing robot-building space with other young makers, and certificates of robot achievement. I read this one to Poesy last night at bedtime, and today we're on the lookout for cardboard boxes to robotify. It's a fantastic, inspiring read!
Gravity isn't uniform. Denser planets and objects in space — that is, things with more mass to them — experience a stronger pull of gravity. But even if you zoom in to the level of a single planet (or, in this case, our Moon), gravity isn't uniform all the way around. That's because the mass of the Moon isn't uniform, either. It varies, along with the topography. In some places, the Moon's crust is thicker. Those places have more mass, and thus, more gravitational pull.
This map, showing changes in density and gravity across the surface of the Moon, was made from data collected by Ebb and Flow — a matched set of NASA probes that mapped the Moon's gravitational field before being intentionally crashed on its surface last December. By measuring the gravitational field, these probes told us a lot about how the density of the Moon varies which, in turn, tells us a lot about topography.
This is Rex, a $1 million "bionic man" built in the UK by roboticists Richard Walker and Matthew Godden. Rex was the star of a new Channel 4 documentary titled "How to Build A Bionic Man." Rex is outfitted with a variety of synthetic systems and appendages, from prosthetic limbs to a cochlear implant, artificial pancreas to retinal implant. He's now on display at the London Science Museum but will visit America in October to promote the Smithsonian Channel's US premier of the documentary, retitled "Cyborg/Frankenstein."
The US Department of Defense is launching a research effort to develop underwater robots/sensor platforms that would hibernate on the ocean floor until they "wake up when commanded, and deploy to surface providing operational support and situational awareness." DARPA has dubbed the research effort the Upward Falling Payloads program. (The image below, from the DARPA press release, seems to be illustrating, um, a robot's-eye-view as it's surfacing.) From their announcement:
Depending on the specific payload, systems would provide a range of non-lethal but useful capabilities such as situational awareness, disruption, deception, networking, rescue, or any other mission that benefits from being pre-distributed and hidden. An example class of systems might be small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that launch to the surface in capsules, take off and provide aerial situational awareness, networking or decoy functions. Waterborne applications are sought as well.
Larry is used to study the way particles of puke become aerosolized, and how those particles spread and help infect other people. That's important, because it explains one of the ways that viruses spread by vomiting manage to end up in everyday things like, say, frozen raspberries. Aerosolized vomit isn't something you can spot. It doesn't clean up easily. And even just a drop of it can pass on plenty of viruses.