Boston Dynamics is best known for its bipedal and quadrupedal robots, but it turns out the company has also been experimenting with some radical new tech: the wheel.
The company’s new wheeled, upright robot is named Handle (“because it’s supposed to handle objects”) and looks like a cross between a Segway and the two-legged Atlas bot. Handle hasn’t been officially unveiled, but was shown off by company founder Marc Raibert in a presentation to investors. Footage of the presentation was uploaded to YouTube by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson.
Raibert describes Handle as an “experiment in combining wheels with legs, with a very dynamic system that is balancing itself all the time and has a lot of knowledge of how to throw its weight around.” He adds that using wheels is more efficient than legs, although there’s obviously a trade-off in terms of maneuvering over uneven ground. “This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare-inducing robot,” says Raibert:
« Last Edit: Feb 2nd, 2017, 02:26am by Sys_Config »
In today's odd science news, researchers have shown that they can produce electricity by evaporating water from a chunk of soot. The research falls into the category of systems that extract electricity from waste energy around us—kind of like generating electricity from swaying buildings or powering your watch from your own movements. But this was a result that I did not expect.
The experiments that make up the new work are so simple that pretty much anyone can do them themselves. Take a hydrocarbon of choice and set it on fire so that it burns with a yellow flame. Then hold a bit of glass in the flame so that it gets covered in soot. Afterward, expose the carbon to an atmospheric plasma. Tape some electrodes to the carbon and then lower it into some water.
The porous carbon drags water into itself through capillary forces, and when the water later evaporates from the carbon surface, electricity is generated. Not much, admittedly, at 53nW per square centimeter, but still enough to raise eyebrows.
It turns out that there is a commonly known mechanism that could cause this effect. Water always has some ions in it, and as it flows, it drags these ions along. So you get an electric current associated with the flow of water. In this case, the flow is induced by evaporation, but you could get the same effect by making the water flow downward via gravity.
Oddly, however, that flow isn't generating most of the electricity. By controlling where the evaporation could take place and measuring the current due to flow only, the researchers behind these experiments determined that the streaming water contributed about one-fifth of the total voltage. Where does the rest come from?
It's pretty clear that the researchers themselves don't really understand where the charge is coming from, but they've made every effort to eliminate possible systematic errors. They used a fan to change the rate of evaporation, which showed that the voltage varied with the evaporation rate. They opened and shut the container to start and stop evaporation, which switched the voltage on and off as well. They used deionized water for most experiments, but they performed some with varying amounts of salt to show that the current was not simply due to ion contamination.
The team ran the experiment for hours, showing that as long as there was water to evaporate, the carbon sheet produced a voltage. They also placed multiple electrodes at different heights in the carbon sheet, and the voltage got progressively higher for electrodes higher on the carbon sheet. Current cut out when electrodes were placed beyond the height of the water column in the sheet.
So I'm pretty confident that the researchers are producing electricity—they even powered a small LCD display. But I don't understand why it works. Many possibilities
To explain the voltage, the researchers turned to the carbon surface. Carbon soot is pretty hydrophobic, meaning that it will repel water. So without modifying the surface, the water would not be drawn into the pores. By exposing the surface to a plasma—a plasma is a gas of ionized atoms and molecules, which are highly reactive—the researchers partially oxidize the surface, making it hydrophilic. The oxidized surface draws water in and provides a large surface from which it can be evaporated.
The researchers computed how water sticks to the partially oxidized carbon surface. The surface, as it is produced in the experiment, is nearly impossible to model. Essentially, it's a lot of tiny flakes of highly defective graphene, and the plasma produces a lot of partially oxidized carbon atoms in the graphene flakes. So the calculation was limited to a graphene sheet with a number of oxidized carbon atoms in the sheet, and the attachment of the water molecules to the carbon layer could then be modeled.
This is all a bit artificial, but it provides a hint. It turns out that for every three water molecules, the graphene sheet donates two electrons. The presence of water definitely results in a charge imbalance across the water-carbon interface. A charge separation across an interface sounds a bit like a fuel cell, where partial reactions are carried out on different electrodes, but this is not what is going on here. There are no reactions and nothing to drive a charge flow.
I wouldn't expect the water would carry its ill-gotten charges away when it evaporated, so I can't see how that would induce a current flow either. Furthermore, evaporation removes energy—the water absorbs energy to free itself from the surface and float away—so I'm a bit suspicious that it also generates energy in the form of a current.
The more I think about it, the stranger the results seem. The maximum current was measured to be 30nA per square centimeter. There are about 1015 carbon atoms per square centimeter (this is an underestimate because the surface is not flat). That comes in at about 100 carbon atoms per million that contribute an electron. You can also estimate the charge generated per evaporated water molecule. At about room temperature, you can expect on the order of 1021 water molecules per square centimeter to leave the surface. So one charge is generated per billion or so water molecules.
The upshot is that if this result really is due to a surface reaction of some sort, then it is highly inefficient. But that doesn't really matter at the moment (it may not even be a surface reaction, after all). What is important is that the researchers have confirmed electricity generation in a very simple system. The generation may be due to some other effect like osmosis, a thermal gradient, or any number of other things. But it may also be possible to optimize this system to generate larger amounts of electricity. Even at low efficiencies, it might be enough to keep low-power devices chugging along in the background.
Well, it's official...according to a note from Politico, the White House has confirmed that surrogates of the Trump administration will no longer appear on CNN and will instead go to "places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda."
GREAT SPIRITS ALWAYS ENCOUNTER THE MOST VIOLENT OPPOSITION FROM MEDIOCRE MINDS E=MC2
Re: Stuff and Nonsense Unleashed
« Reply #772 on: Feb 2nd, 2017, 08:26am »
GOOD MORNING ALL
James Cameron links find of bronze-age anchors to lost city of Atlantis
January 26, 2017 1:40pm
TITANIC director James Cameron thinks he’s found Atlantis. His documentary team has stumbled upon a cluster of six 4000-year-old anchors just outside the entrance to the Mediterranean.
Myth? History? Or just a good storytelling opportunity?
The idea of an advanced ancient civilisation lost to history certainly has eternal appeal.
It’s certainly been a favoured subject among documentary makers.
Now Oscar-winner James Cameron joins them.
His National Geographic series Atlantis Rising goes to air in the United States this weekend.
Suitably, he’s got a tantalising find to pin his narrative upon.
Is there more to Atlantis than just an ancient fireside tale?
The idea exploded among the modern popular imagination with pseudoscientific books such as Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods in 1968 and, more recently, the likes of Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock.
Atlantis has been linked to just about everything: The pyramids were really an astral power station to charge its technology. Its survivors seeded just about every ancient civilisation. It was buried under Antarctica’s ice (or off the Bahamas, or Japan, or just about any mysterious place).
There are more plausible, though equally unproven, theories.
It could be a distorted memory of the Black Sea Flood which saw a vast swath of Europe engulfed about 5600BC. Or a memory the Minoan palace vaporised on the island of Santorini erupted, sending tsunamis through the Eastern Mediterranean at some point around 1600BC.
That last one looks particularly enticing.
But the fact remains all we really have is a few throwaway lines included in two moral tales written by the Greek philosopher Plato. Most academics feel this was likely to have been an allegorical warning to the then vibrant city-state of Athens not to turn its back on the gods.
UFO ‘splits’ mid-air in bombshell footage that has internet baffled
By Simon Green 3 February 2017
My initial thoughts are a large balloon containing smaller ones. Any 3 objects not in a straight line will form a triangle so that's not unique to me. The biggest hurdle is, of course, that BAFFLED word.
The internet is too easily baffled, shocked and amazed these days.
"The concept of shaking hands is absolutely terrible, and statistically I’ve been proven right."
"My initial thoughts are a large balloon containing smaller ones."
THOUGHT THE SAME THING! IT WOULD BE PRUDENT TO CHECK WITH 'GREYFIB' AS TO THE WINDS ALOFT
ZETAR, A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME THAT GRAYFIB IS BUSY WORKING ON AN EXPOSE THAT IS GOING TO BLOW THE TOP OFF THAT MILO PROTEST FALSE FLAG EVENT. HE IS SAYING IT WAS ALL PLANNED AND STAGED BY THE FAR RIGHT IN ORDER TO MAKE PEOPLE THINK IT WAS THE FAR LEFT.
HE IS LITERALLY AND CLINICALLY IN SHOCK THAT NO ONE HAS PICKED UP ON THE OBVIOUS CLUES LIKE THE NON-UNION ACTORS, CHEAP PROPS AND WHY THE PRESS JUST HAPPENED TO BE THERE TO RECORD IT. TOO MANY COINCIDENCES FOR GRAYFIB TO IGNORE.
HE CAN'T BELIEVE PEOPLE ARE FALLING IN LINE AUTOMATICALLY BELIEVING THIS PROTEST WAS REAL AND DONE BY THE FAR LEFT. HE'S IN SUCH BAD SHAPE OVER THIS THAT WHITELIE HAD TO COME HOME EARLY FROM HIS VACATION IN BARBADOS.
Sorry hit modify instead of quote!
« Last Edit: Feb 3rd, 2017, 12:12pm by LoneGunMan »
"The concept of shaking hands is absolutely terrible, and statistically I’ve been proven right."