Light Friday: Welcome to the Robot Internet
Credit: RoboEarth
Credit: RoboEarth

How to Bend Water with Your Stereo
Fungus Packaging Might Replace Plastic
St. Patrick’s Day by the Numbers

A group of European scientists have activated a World Wide Web designed specifically for robots, so now they too can spend their free time watching cat videos.

Scientists collaborating on the European RoboEarth project, intended to help robots better understand the human world, recently activated a portion of Rapyuta, an online Internet database for robots. Machines can access the Web-based service (which is named after a Hayao Miyazaki film) to obtain information and instructions for dealing with problems. This way, robots encountering events or hurdles for the first time do not have to learn how to overcome them on their own, but can access a hive-mind compilation of knowledge acquired by other automata.

The scientists theorize that Rapyuta can eventually aid drones, self-driving automobiles, and other robots to better and more safely navigate the world while remaining mobile and affordable.

“On-board computation reduces mobility and increases cost,” making this cloud-based information network considerably more cost-effective, Dr. Heico Sandee, RoboEarth program manager, told BBC News.

However, io9 notes two inherent problems with transferring robo-thinking to the Web. First, cyber security will need to be incredibly robust because anything connected to the Internet can be hacked. Additionally, robots might encounter the same problem humans might have when browsing the Web: finding faulty information.

How to Bend Water with Your Stereo

What happens when you run a stream of water and expose it to a loud 24 hertz (Hz) sine wave? It bends and contorts in amazing and beautiful ways. In a new video, science illusionist Brusspup shows how an enterprising do-it-yourselfer can manipulate water flow in remarkable ways.

“Run the rubber hose down past the speaker so that the hose touches the speaker. Leave about one or two inches of the hose hanging past the bottom of the speaker,” Brusspup explains. “Secure the hose to the speaker with tape or whatever works best for you. The goal is to make sure the hose is touching the actual speaker so that when the speaker produces sound (vibrates) it will vibrate the hose.”

Although the results may be difficult to see with the naked eye, setting a camera to capture the action at 24 frames per second and at a high shutter speed can yield an impressive water-warping video. Check out the mesmerizing project below:

Fungus Packaging Might Replace Plastic

Here’s an eco-friendly way to manufacture packaging: mushroom technology. In collaboration with an innovative packaging company, researchers are experimenting with fungi to fabricate a variety of natural packaging materials that may replace Styrofoam one day.

Mycelium – also known as fungi roots – are the key to the compostable material. When added to agricultural waste (plant matter and cotton gin waste, for example), the mycelium digest the material and acting as a biological glue, bonding the natural elements in a “cohesive mat,” a process that can take less than five days. Once they are dried to prevent further fungi growth, the biomaterials can then be molded into shapes. The result is fungi packaging.

Steve Horton, a biology professor at Union College, is leading a group of researchers to manipulate fungi to suit various packaging applications, many of which are available at Ecovative Design. He explains that the packaging can completely degrade biologically, thanks to the fact that it’s created with natural materials. Just think of the possibilities.

Here’s Professor Horton explaining the process:

St. Patrick’s Day by the Numbers

This Sunday, millions of people in the U.S., Ireland, and all around the world will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Amid the parades, parties, and green beer, it’s important to remember the long and rich history of this holiday, as well as the vast scale of the celebrations.

A new infographic, courtesy of, presents some of the fascinating statistics underlying St. Patrick’s Day. For example, it takes 40 pounds of dye to color the Chicago River green, and St. Patty’s Day spending can reach up to $4.14 billion in the U.S. alone. Surprisingly, 34.7 million Americans claim Irish ancestry today, more than seven times the current population of Ireland itself.



Have a great weekend, folks.



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