Light Friday: Reconstructing Richard III
Credit: Richard III Society
Credit: Richard III Society

Moth Drives Robot, Looking for Love
What (and How) to Eat on a Spy Plane
How to Wrap Your House in Bacon

Richard III was the last King of Britain to die on a battlefield, perishing in the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485. He was also widely reviled, a cruel and villainous figure, which is why his supporters buried his body ignominiously in a Leicester church. Five centuries later, that gravesite was beneath a parking lot, where archaeologists and scientists recently confirmed that they’d found the ignoble king’s remains.

Using Geomagic Freeform, a sophisticated 3-D modeling technology, along with CT scans, researchers were able to digitally reconstruct the king’s facial features based on his skull—revealing a surprisingly gentle-looking monarch.

“No portraits of Richard were used for the main facial reconstruction, although the clothing, wig, and some features such as eyebrows, eye color and skin color were based on paintings of the dead king,” Reuters explains. “Wearing a black felt hat, with hair down to his shoulders, one of which was slightly higher than the other – in keeping with the discovery his skeleton had a dramatic spinal curvature – the reconstruction depicted Richard, 32 at his death, with delicate, almost feminine features.”

Here’s a video showing how the team harnessed technology to recreate a 500 year-old king:

Moth Drives Robot, Looking for Love

A moth piloting a robotic vehicle, zipping around in a search of a lady moth, may sound funny, but it might also lead to a scientific breakthrough. In the latest example of nature-based engineering, Japanese researchers recently strapped a silkmoth into a mobile exoskeleton and let it steer the vehicle through a maze in pursuit of female moth pheromones.

“There is a serious point to this work. The researchers hope to learn how the moth tracks odors so they can better program self-driving robots to seek out hazardous chemical spills or leaks in the environment,” MIT Technology Review notes. “Airborne chemicals can be difficult to track because they leave an intermittent trail, dispersed in patches away from their source. But male silkmoths are adept at seeking out a plume of a potential mate’s pheromones, so the researchers developed the moth car to study the way the Romeos search for love.”

Male silkmoths have a unique way of tracking odors: they initially rush out toward the smell, then zig-zag back and forth in order to localize it. Although these motions may seem chaotic, they actually allow the moth to use its antennae to home in on an odor by turning in the direction of the antennae receiving the stronger chemical signal.

“Enter the robot. This two-wheeled vehicle had a polystyrene ball that functioned like the trackball on a computer mouse; the moth stood on top of the ball, and as it walked in any one direction, the ball would roll, directing the vehicle,” Ars Technica explains. “The robot was also equipped with a single motor on each side, as well as sensors and microcontrollers that could calculate the trajectory and turn radius. The moth was placed (actually, it was glued) at the helm, ready to drive the little vehicle.”

Check out the moth’s robotic joyride in the following clip:

What (and How) to Eat on a Spy Plane

Flying the U-2, one of America’s longest-serving high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft (also known as a spy plane), can be grueling. The plane is designed to provide day and night intelligence from up to 70,000 feet in the air, and missions can last upwards of 12 hours.

Naturally, it’s not possible to take the U-2 through a drive-thru window, so pilots have to rely on specialized food to keep their energy up. These meals are usually paste contained in a tube, with most pilots eating about one tube an hour. Among the options are peaches, hash browns with bacon, cinnamon applesauce, and key lime pie. The pilots’ favorite choices? Caffeinated chocolate pudding and chicken a la king.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Suzzett Stalesky, an airspace physiologist and U-2 launch and recovery technician, explains how the eating process works on these flights:

How to Wrap Your House in Bacon

If you love bacon and feel like you can’t get enough, why not try covering every inch of your house with it? Sure it sounds crazy, but for the true bacon fanatics out there, the folks at Movoto Real Estate recently broke down the logistics of how such a massive bacon-wrap would work.

According to their data, the average American house is about 2,500 square feet, giving it an exterior surface area of 5,004 square feet, when accounting for a door and two windows. With 36.55 bacon slices needed to fill a single square foot, it would take approximately 182,888 strips of bacon to cover an entire house.

The infographic below provides a more detailed (and hilarious) description of how it’s done:

Credit: Movoto Real Estate

Credit: Movoto Real Estate

Have a great weekend, folks.


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  • March 9, 2013

    [...] Light Friday: Reconstructing Richard III In the latest example of nature-based engineering, Japanese researchers recently strapped a silkmoth into a mobile exoskeleton and let it steer the vehicle through a maze in pursuit of female moth pheromones. “There is a serious point to this work. Read more on ThomasNet Industrial News Room [...]

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