Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Links!

Leading off this week is a link sent in by Andrew B to a website called tweenbots. It's a brilliant social experiment, and here's a description:
Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

These robots are quite small--less than a foot high--and the video of strangers helping them is just remarkable.

From Matt Teets, a link to an article about Columbine--10 years later, the true story. Basically, most of what we believed was just plain wrong, and the article made me curious enough to buy Columbine (which is excellent).

From Sirius, a link to an amazing story at Wired: Computer Program Self-Discovers Laws of Physics. Here's an excerpt:
In just over a day, a powerful computer program accomplished a feat that took physicists centuries to complete: extrapolating the laws of motion from a pendulum's swings.

Developed by Cornell researchers, the program deduced the natural laws without a shred of knowledge about physics or geometry.

The research is being heralded as a potential breakthrough for science in the Petabyte Age, where computers try to find regularities in massive datasets that are too big and complex for the human mind.

It's one of those articles that makes your head explode in about ten different directions.

Also from Sirius, a link to one of the strangest stories I've ever seen, and here's an excerpt:
A 64-year-old woman has reported to doctors at Geneva University Hospital the presence of a pale, milky-white and translucent third arm.

...Supernumerary limbs are rare. There are only nine known cases of a patient both feeling and seeing an arm.

Here's one more link from Sirius, to an amazing collection images from the best telescopes in the world.

Here's a quite stunning link from Vahur Teller, demonstrating how frequently Disney used identical animations in its earlier films. I had no idea how many were copied, but the video demonstrates it quite clearly.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, a link to another one of those stunning moments in Britain's Got Talent. This time, it's a 47-year-old woman with zero professional experience, and believe me, it's worth seeing.

From the Edwin Garcia Links Machine, a link to a timelapse video of Tokyo that is just absolutely beautiful (that's a link to the HD version). And here's one more, a fantastic link to a video about Isao Machii ("modern samurai"). Seriously, this video is so remarkable that you have to watch it (as an example, he cuts a bb in half--in flight).

From Michael O'Reilly, a link to a story about the preservation and restoration of images taken by the lunar orbiter program in the 1960's. Plus, a link to a site where you can see some of the restored images. Finally, here's one more--a story about propaganda in the 1950's that sought to establish civilian uses for nuclear weapons. That's worthy of a long discussion on its own, about trying to turn a "bomb" into a "tool" in the public's eye.

From John D'Angelo, a link to something very few of us have ever seen: shadows cast from structures inside Saturn's rings. Yes. Wow.

After writing about donkeys earlier this week, Matt Van Sickler sent me a link to a donkey sanctuary--on Bonaire. And no, I didn't know where that was, either--it's a former Dutch colony next to Aruba and Curacao.

Bonaire is a great diving spot, by the way, and in a related link, researchers have discovered the world's largest forest of black coral.

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