Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Not quite Artificial Intelligence: the mating of junk + mail

Friday, February 27th, 2015

The Huffington Post reports another misstep on the road to Artificial Intelligence: “Man Who Tried To Have Sex With Mailbox Found Dead“.

(TECHNICAL NOTE: This male-on-mail sex where one participant is alive and the other is not, does not qualify as homosexual necrophilia.)

Here’s a medical journal report about a similar, perhaps simpler attempt, 28 years earlier, by a different investigator:

A case of incarceration of the penis” [article in Japanese], M. Kamizuru, T. Nakatani, M. Maekawa, M. Asakawa, R. Yasumoto, and Kiyo Hinyokika, Acta Urologica Japonica, vol. 34, no. 3, March 1988, pp. 514–6.

The author, at the Department of Urology, Osaka City University Medical School, reports: “A 38-year-old male patient had been suffering from incarceration of penis with a milk-bottle for about seventeen hours. It was successfully removed by means of a glass cutter and hammer without any complication. Fifty-seven Japanese cases of this entity including our case were reviewed and discussed.”

Electric tortoise robots – the Bristol originals

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

If you haven’t come across Elmer and Elsie (c. 1948/49), William Grey Walter’s electric tortoises (or possibly turtles), may we recommend this video ‘Bristol’s robot tortoises have minds of their own’

More info here, courtesy Bristol Robotics Laboratory.


Bold experiments in human-sourced probiotics

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Two recent, imaginative, slimy experiments are advancing our knowledge of how to use bacteria to make possibly-healthgiving foods.

The newest is reported by Janet Jay, writing in Motherboard:

How to Make Breakfast With Your Vagina

westbrook-cecelia… Cecilia Westbrook [pictured here] is a friend of mine, and an MD/PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We had joked before about making yogurt from vaginal secretions…. Curiosity piqued, Westbrook began to research in earnest. What choice did she have but to try it herself?

Every vagina is home to hundreds of different types of bacteria and organisms. These organisms—collectively known as the vaginal community—produce lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other substances that keep the vagina healthy. The dominant bacteria is called lactobacillus, which also happens to be what people sometimes use to culture milk, cheese, and yogurt….

A slightly earlier experiment, in Spain, resulted in the awarding of the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition to Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, and Margarita Garriga, for their study titled “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages.” They published details of their experiment, in the journal Food Microbiology, vol. 38, 2014, pp. 303-311.

Dr. Pain’s Kung Fu Kicking Robot

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Dr. Pain is a Reader in Biomechanics at Loughborough University, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. His 30 yr. martial arts training undoubtedly helped in the creation of a martial arts kicking robot, which aims to faithfully replicate the roundhouse kick in Taekwondo. It was developed along with Dr. Felix Tsui, also at Loughborough. Kung-Fu-BotTheir paper, ‘Utilising human performance criteria and computer simulation to design a martial arts kicking robot with increased biofidelity’ in: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, part p-Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, 226(P3-4), pp.244-252 – explores how much damage a (human) roundhouse kick can do, and whether a robot can successfully deliver such a kick. It concludes :

“Multi-segment mechanical impactors can be simple yet still replicate complex human movement, such as a roundhouse kick in Taekwondo. Using simple segments and joints, data in the flexion–extension axis can be evaluated to obtain the key components of the impact. At three kick velocities (12.0, 14.0, 16.0ms21), a multisegment mathematical model was able to match the coordination of the knee and ankle at impact, producing linear velocities (as a percentage of impact velocity) at the knee (8.4%) and ankle (44.8%) which were close to human performance (7% and 47%, respectively). Moreover, introducing additional segments was able to reduce maximum stress concentrations in the impactor by ; 68%, allowing for future development. Properly addressing the coordination and masses of an impactor could help to improve upon the future design of PPE to allow evaluations to be conducted more closely to competition conditions.”

For more info, see Dr.Tsui’s thesis ‘Determining impact intensities in contact sports’


The jet powered maple seed (new patent)

Monday, February 9th, 2015

In 1992, Litos et al. patented their bio-mimic throw-in-the-air toy called the ‘Autorotative Flyer’. It might not occur to everyone that the passive toy could be updated, and militarized, with the addition of a supersonic jet pack. But occur it did to high-tech weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin Inc. which has just received a US patent for its Active Maple Seed Flyer.


The flying jet-seed, which can be used for transporting a miniature video camera for remote surveillance purposes, can also eject an (unspecified) ‘payload object’ on demand. The (unspecified) ‘payload object’ carries an adhesive causing it to stick to surfaces when it lands.

The remote-controlled, 10 gram, 3.5 cm long vehicle can fly for 20 minutes or so, and spins 250 times per second thanks to its supersonic jet thruster. Onboard (or offboard) electronics can de-spin the resulting images says the patent. For the convenience of the human-in-the-loop the seeds come in a blister-pack of 5 or more.

Bonus question: Is this the first time that a children’s toy has has been adapted to form a military device – rather than the other way around ?