Saturday, February 18, 2012

Robot Round-Up

Is it me, or do robots seem to be more present in the news these days?

NASA's Robonaut politely shook hands with astronaut Dan Burbank, an event that was a test of its range-of-motion function. (I guess a handshake is a useful motion when repairing spacecraft?) It took a while for Robonaut to develop its fine motor-control skills enough to execute a "very firm" handshake, but even more exciting is that Robonaut is apparently making friends with other bot-buddies over the internet, via Twitter.  

While a gently-reared space robot is pretty cool, a handshake pales in comparison to the golf world, which is starting to develop robots to mow fairways and greens, as well as a robo-suit to help golfers perfect their swing. Pretty soon, it will be possible to be driven by your robo-car to the golf course, where you can don your robo-suit to golf on courses mowed by robots. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Illuminating Power

Radio silence is over... 

Are you going to be in London in the next month? If so, you should take yourself over to the British Library to check out Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination. Open until March 13, 2012, the BL is showing the best examples of the medieval and Renaissance manuscripts made for the kings and queens of England.
This excellent bestiary, Royal 12 C XIX, is part of the exhibit. One favorite of mine is this copy of the Secretum Secretorum made for Edward III. Here's Aristotle explaining the effects of celestial bodies on plants:

There's also a multi-part BBC Four documentary about the manuscripts in the exhibit, including this one.