Interesting People Politics Science

Sea Shepherd

If you believe business as usual will work and you don’t need to do much more than pay your bills and drop your kids off to school, you may want to watch this. Human Governments and Big Business have squeezed out pretty much all that Earth can take and keep on giving. From here on out life as usual causes irrevocable damage. If the seas have mass die off and extinctions, what kind of world are we going to leave the children? Human children, it’s not just about the whales and krill and Ocean acidity.

Interesting People Science

Sam Shepard on requesting to use his horse for a film shoot, a stuntman, and a cactus

Sam Shepard was offered a role in the early 80’s for a film called The Right Stuff. The film was to be shot in the Mojave Desert of California. One of the reasons Shepard was interested in the film was a chase scene on galloping horses, a man (his character) chasing his wife through the cactus and stuff. Having his own horse, a roping horse named Roany which he had a good connection with he asked from the director if it would be okay to use his own horse. The director readily agreed. He is met by the stuntman and head wrangler upon arriving at the set for the first day of shooting. They are not keen on the idea.

Listen to Sam Shepard tell the story (WARNING: someone get’s hurt and it’s funny):

World Science Festival 2008: Toil and Trouble (Excerpt) from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Design Science

FlyFire – MIT’s micro-copter swarming pixels in the sky

Not sure if the double rotor copters seem quite as high tech and precise as the video footage, but if it’s MIT it must be real, right? And it would/will be amazing to see.


Robot muscle – YouTube


artist rendering of artificial muscle on robot frame is by dcldesign.

Electroactive Polymers or EAPs are polymers whose shape is modified when a voltage is applied to them. They can be used as actuators or sensors. As actuators, they are characterized by being able to undergo a large amount of deformation while sustaining large forces. Due to the similarities with biological tissues in terms of achievable stress and force, they are often called artificial muscles, and have the potential for application in the field of robotics, where large linear movement is often needed.

EAP can have several configurations, but are generally divided in two principal classes:

  • Dielectric EAPs, in which actuation is caused by electrostatic forces between two electrodes which squeeze the polymer. Dielectric elastomers are capable of very high strains and are fundamentally a capacitor that changes capacitance when voltage is applied by allowing the polymer to compress in thickness and expand in area due to the electric field. This kind of EAP typically requires a large actuation voltage to produce high electric fields (hundreds to thousands of volts), but very low electrical power consumption. Dielectric EAPs require no power to keep the actuator at a given position. Examples are electrostrictive polymers and dielectric elastomers.
  • Ionic EAPs, in which actuation is caused by the displacement of ions inside the polymer. Only a few volts are needed for actuation, but the ionic flow implies a higher electrical power needed for actuation, and energy is needed to keep the actuator at a given position. Examples of ionic EAPS are conductive polymers, ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMCs), and responsive gels. Yet another example is a Bucky gel actuator, which is a polymer-supported layer of polyelectrolyte material consisting of an ionic liquid sandwiched between two electrode layers consisting of a gel of ionic liquid containing single-wall carbon nanotubes. The name refers to bucky balls.

Information taken from Wikipedia.

Short YouTube video of a robot torso flexing and using it’s artificial muscles to do dumbbell curls and write “Hello”.


Time and Spacetime: The Crystallizing Block Universe

The nature of the future is completely different from the nature of the past. When quantum effects are significant, the future shows all the signs of quantum weirdness, including duality, uncertainty, and entanglement. With the passage of time, after the time-irreversible process of state-vector reduction has taken place, the past emerges, with the previous quantum uncertainty replaced by the classical certainty of definite particle identities and states. The present time is where this transition largely takes place, but the process does not take place uniformly: Evidence from delayed choice and related experiments shows that isolated patches of quantum indeterminacy remain, and that their transition from probability to certainty only takes place later. Thus, when quantum effects are significant, the picture of a classical Evolving Block Universe (`EBU’) cedes place to one of a Crystallizing Block Universe (`CBU’), which reflects this quantum transition from indeterminacy to certainty, while nevertheless resembling the EBU on large enough scales.
Technology Review