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Watch This Robot Navigate Like a Rat

Watch This Robot Navigate Like a Rat

Specialized neurons in a rat’s brain may be the key to autonomous robot navigation Rats are nimble navigators, able to find their way around, under, and over obstacles, and through the tightest spaces. Roboticists have long dreamed of giving their creations similar navigation skills. To be useful in the real world, robots must be able(…)

This Giant X-Ray Generator Helped Set Safe Doses for Radiation

This Giant X-Ray Generator Helped Set Safe Doses for Radiation

Physicist Lauriston Taylor also found X-rays effective against athlete’s foot and bursitis Photo: National Institute of Standards and Technology Photo: National Institute of Standards and Technology In 1940, the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS) built this 1,400,000-volt X-ray generator, the most powerful of its kind at the time. The machine was designed to deliver X-rays(…)

This Self-Poofing Fabric Transforms from T-Shirt to Parka

This Self-Poofing Fabric Transforms from T-Shirt to Parka

Otherlab’s self-fluffing fabric changes its insulation in response to temperature Evan Ackerman A small team at Otherlab, which does all kinds of weird things, has been using ARPA-E funding to develop what they’re calling “thermally adaptive materials.” We’ll call it self-poofing fabric, for its ability to dynamically change its insulation in response to temperature. The idea is that the fabric(…)

5 Things You Missed This Week at IEEE Spectrum: A Bio-Inspired Drone, ARPA-E’s Energy-Saving Innovations, and More

5 Things You Missed This Week at IEEE Spectrum: A Bio-Inspired Drone, ARPA-E’s Energy-Saving Innovations, and More

Highlights from the week of 6 March 2017 Image: EPFL 1. This Hard-to-Destroy Drone Goes From Rigid to Flexible When It Crashes Image: EPFL Drone operators don’t wonder whether they’re going to crash their aircraft; it’s a matter of when, not if. With that in mind, designers are looking to nature for cues regarding how(…)

Is This Twilight for the Golden Age of Earth Observation?

Is This Twilight for the Golden Age of Earth Observation?

NASA’s new geosensing satellites may be on the chopping block. The timing could hardly be worse Illustration: Goddard Space Flight Center/NASA When leaders of the Congressional committees that approve NASA’s missions and budgets put forth their priorities in February, only space science and deep space exploration made the cut. Conspicuously absent was Earth science—a US(…)