Have we found Cyber-Popeye’s Spinach?

Like a lot of techie oriented people I follow the evolving field of robotics and the things that feed into it. In order for a robot to perform work it needs to be able to physically manipulate things in the real world. And that means some sort of equivalent to  ‘muscle’.

Over the years we’ve seen various ideas and technologies come along with promises of being able to make these muscles happen. Nitinol wires that change shape under controlled stimulus is one of those. Now there’s a competitor that’s cheaper: Fishing line.

Read more in the abstract at Science Daily: Powerful artificial muscles made from fishing line and sewing thread


Bye Bye Cervical Cancer

Got a spare prayer or wish?
Use it to wish this works out …

A team of British researchers might be about to put and end to cervical cancer. That’s right, no more Cervical Cancer.

They’ve been working for the last decade to try and prove their solution works.

Why do they think their solution will end this particular version of cancer?

There is a strain of human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer. They have worked out a way to use an already existing drug, from the world of HIV treatment, to knock out HPV. Their treatment has had a better than 90% response rate in testing so far. With no side effects. But they need to do more testing.

Regulatory issues and reformulation costs do not lead to a business case for the big pharmacology companies who already produce it in another form. So the team has had to find other companies that can produce the drug and move off-shore to Africa to conduct testing. All this so they can prove the efficacy of a treatment for a disease that kills a woman every 2 minutes.

Read more here:


Just Dance that protest away

You’re the government and you are faced with protestors embarrassing you by protesting in front of another country’s embassy – what do you do?

In some countries it’s water cannons and riot police.

In Vietnam they tried something novel: Ballroom dancers and Yoga classes

Whatever you might think about government quelling protests you have to admit that this method results in far less violence and bad feelings. So give ’em kudos for trying it. Now I wonder who thought this tactic up?


Deer in the headlights

In the town I live in we have an urban deer herd. It’s existence crates controversy … it also creates vehicle-animal collisions.

In past times the population of animals in the surrounding area was higher but nowadays it’s the in-town population that crates the biggest headaches.
Putting aside the other issues an urban deer herd creates for a moment lets look at the collisions.

The deer are well adapted to be camouflaged in any landscapes that contain local flora. That makes them easy to miss until the last moment.
And in that last moment when you come upon that deer standing by the side of the road what often happens is the deer bolts. And half the time it seems they suicidally bolt in front of your moving vehicle.

But what if you could see them ahead of time? Give you time to slow down and honk to get their attention and provoke a response early enough for you to evade them without endangering yourself or others on the road.

In Scotland they have a similar problem with the sheep being dangers on the roads and some herders have taken to spraying them with fluorescent paint: In some Scandinavian countries they’ve tied reflective tinsel to the reindeer in an effort to make them more visible.

Well in Finland they’re trying reflective paint on the fur and antlers

Sometimes they come out of nowhere and there is no time to do anything. Case in point: the only time I was involved in a deer strike on the highway was on a curve at dusk. My side of the road (going downwards) had just one lane allocated to it. The slope ran downwards away from the road on the right side and there was a continuous abutment on that edge. So any deer on the other side would be on lower ground sloping away and be that much harder to see. Well my luck was to have one of those deer coming bounding over the abutment and run right out in front of me while I was coming down the hill at around 90 Kmh with vehicles coming up behind. You can watch the video and see for yourself. It isn’t sped up so the amount of time you have to see the deer is all the time I had. The deer shows up about 6 seconds into the video. Later around 16 seconds in you can see the other vehicles passing around me in the other lane.

In fact the official advice given out is to NOT try to use drastic measures to evade them on the road because you might then create a worse situation.


More to remember before I sleep

I’m one of those people who will have a zillion browser Tabs and more than one browser Window open. And I’ll leave my computers like this for … ever or until they need restarting. And if I’m not the one doing the restarting I can lose pages ‘I was going to come back to and re-read’. But when I absolutely have to hit the sack and know there’s updates and a restart called for I have to do something with those pages.

But what?

Well … I can remember them here. So here goes …

Off at there’s an article about a mysterious energy ribbon out on the edge of the solar system. Mysterious Energy Ribbon? Yep, and you can check it out for yourself here:

Over at New Scientist they have a piece about Black Hole Bombs. Aside from the ‘bomb’ aspect of it there’s a different take on aspects of the physics of ‘the radius observable universe’ and its relationship to the possibility of spacial regions achieving higher than critical energy density. Apparently leading to ‘Primordial Black Holes‘. I’m still not all that sold no some of the concepts but it is interesting reading.

And just the other day a milestone in applied physics was reached: A mad-made Fusion reaction produced more energy than they put into it. This has only taken decades to make happen. It was in many publications but this is a Sydney one:

And lastly something from my own back yard so to speak. Out here in Western Canada we have some of the best fossil beds around. In Alberta they’re famous for their big lizards – there’s even one named after the place! In the Rockies we have the Burgess Shale. And now hey have found something as significant in British Columbia in the Kootenay National Park.

Those first two items I found because I’d just tweaked my Google News feed. I added a new section that only reports stories that have the word ‘mysterious’ in them. This feature that allows you to have a personalized news feed with up to the minute sources is so Real-World Caught Up With SF. I Love It!