Robots have been developed to do lots of useful everyday tasks. But how about marrying people? Earlier this month a couple in Tokyo took their vows in the presences of I-Fairy, a robotic preacher. Above is video from the ceremony, but you'll need to speak Japanese to know exactly what's going on. Here's more info on the robot wedding, including why this couple would select an electronic version of the clergy.
This very cool video on the TED (Technology, Entertainment, & Design) site features Dennis Hong explaining and demonstrating his award winning robots. Hong is founder and director of the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech, where he and his students build these amazing machines. My two favorites are CLIMBeR, which can scale escarpment walls (good for planetary geology exploration), and the amazing soccer-playing DARwin. By 2050, Hong expects we’ll have a team of full-size robots that will be able to play against world-class human soccer players – and win! Place your bets now.
Check out the awesome Triceracopter over at Gizmodo.com. The saurian-machine hybrid is an imposing sculpture created in 1977 by artist Patricia Renick. Now it's for sale. You should buy it (for me) - collectibles are a great hedge against inflation.
Courtesy PROFESSOR EMERITUS PETER BAGNOLO'S FILESI won a Ford Foundation Fellowship in Physical Anthropology and come from a family of scholars and medical people, so I know a bit about human structure and about drugs like steroids. Steroids tend to interfere with eye-hand coordination eyesight and reflexes of many who take them and becoming muscle bound is a detriment to the lightening reflexes needed in hitting a baseball. As Ted Williams proved, eyesight and stellar reflexes along with incredible eye-hand coordination and pitch selectivity, are the secrets of hitting a baseball frequently. Hitting it far depends on one more thing the ability to hit the bottom half of the baseball, as Ruth pointed out. Muscularity and brute strength are neither a necessity nor a prerequisite, and, in fact are sometimes a determent.
There are several factors which caused the phenomenal rise in home run production. But was it really phenomenal? Not according to historical data, which reveals that technological discoveries often lead to an increase in that which is favored among human endeavors. Below are some examples of the gradual and sometimes herky-jerky rise in home run hitting.
In Babe Ruth's era the average distance from home plate to the center field fence was 450 feet, today it is 405 feet. Back then the alleys were, on average 400-415 feet, today they are 368-385 feet. The balls were livelier in 1991 and again in 1998. The mounds are now ten inches high, in Ruth's time and mine, they were 15"-18" (reg's said 15" but most teams cheated to 18"). Ruth’s home production in 1920/1921 was phenomenal, because at the Polo Grounds, which at the time was the Highlander’s/Yankees home park shared with the Giants, the center field fence was 490 feet from home plate . I suggest reading Bill Jenkinson’s book, THE YEAR BABE RUTH HIT 104 HOME RUNS. In it he displays charts showing doubles, triples and sacrifice flies as well as fly outs which today would all have been home runs. I did a similar computer study/chart based on ball park size, which over his career, were it played out in the era from 1986-2009 and played all of it as an outfielder, he would have hit more than 1500-1650 home runs. Bill Jenkinson shows Ruth, if he simply had the same career, pitching included, in the modern era, would have hit about 1150 home runs. My totals give him a few more years in the outfield and exclude the pitching. When I added the pitching as did Jenkinson, I showed Ruth hitting 1250-1400 home runs.
Many great hitters like Ted Williams increased their home run per times at bat as they grew older, as did Ruth in 1927-1928. In Ruth's youth both leagues hit about 400 HR's per year, the average to lead the league by a player was 9.5 HR's from 1901-1918, both leagues gradually increased HR production in starts and jumps and now both leagues hit 13 times that figure or over 5100 HR's per season. That increase has nothing to do with drugs, the people who are ignorant of the realities of such data and the natural evolution of sports records, viciously cling to accusatory slanders. Basketball and Football have seen records expand as well. Human beings are bigger, faster and have better health than they had in 1920. It is the natural evolution of human events.
When Ruth hit 54 in 1920/59 in 1921, he hit more HRs, than 14 of the 16 entire teams. When I was a kid very few guys hit 25 HR's in a season now many do every season. Barry Bonds and others, if they took steroids, hit HR's, in spite of Medicines and drugs containing steroids. By the way, at age 32, in a game, I hit a brand new Spaulding baseball 436 feet. In my prime the farthest I ever hit a ball was 420 feet. I was NOT stronger at age 32 than at age 18/19/20.
Perhaps some senate committee ought to investigate if Baseball executives lied about the increased liveliness of the baseballs and is so put the commissioner on trial. Did they liven the baseballs to avert the strike in 1991/1994 and again in 1998 onward? They wanted to fill the ball parks and make enough money to hold them in a short season. They also hoped that the players hitting so many home runs would deter them from striking, they were wrong and never forgave the union for that. Take a look at the short season stats and the year Bagwell had. Superballs were flying out of ball fields like Geese in a park. If most players took steroids how come they all didn’t hit as many HR’s as Bonds, Sosa, ARod and McGwire? Why did everyone’s HR production gradually rise to 13 times what the leagues hit before 1920?
Maybe the non-scientific accusatory naysayer’s can understand one thing. It is not news if everyone can do it. When Ruth made his run or 12 home run championships, that was tremendous, that was genius, that was miraculous. When Hank Aaron, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, ARod, Ken Griffy Junior and those who followed were blasting 50 home runs with ease, they were surrounded by a huge number of other hitters who were hitting 25. 30, 35, 40 and 45 home runs. The leader of that parade is not really a very special one because it was not as difficult as it was in 1920/1921, 1927/1928.
In 1920 all of the players in Major League Baseball combined hit a total of 630 home runs, Ruth hit 54 of them, or 8.6% of the total. In the year 2000 all of the players in Major League Baseball combined hit a total of 5,693 home runs or more than nine times as many as were hit in 1920. Jeff Bagwell led the NL with 47 not quite 1% of the total. Was every one on steroids? No, shorter fences, lower mounds, and much livelier baseballs made the records, not drugs.
In this age of über-social networking via the internet and assorted technologies the folks at CollegeHumor.com have come up with a rather clever (and nicely-produced) spoof of the classic American musical "West Side Story". Inter-gang relations just ain't what they used to be.
The Sony Whatnow? Yes, geezers, it was 30 years ago today that Sony introduced the portable, personal tape player. Greg Beato argues that this now-obsolete device paved the way for all future programmable, customizable technology, essentially changing forever the way we interact with media and culture. Not bad for a clunky hand-sized gadget. Meanwhile, a teenager in England put down his MP3 player for a week and went roughing it, using his Dad's old Walkman. Stories of walking ten miles to school, through the snow, uphill both ways, turn out to have been exaggerated, but only slightly.
NOVA - MUSICAL MINDS at 8PM ET/PT (please check local listings)
Can the power of music make the brain come alive? Throughout his career Dr. Oliver Sacks, neurologist and acclaimed author, whose book Awakenings was made into a Oscar-nominated feature film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, has encountered myriad patients who are struggling to cope with debilitating medical conditions. While their ailments vary, many have one thing in common: an appreciation for the therapeutic effects of music. NOVA follows four individuals—two of whom are Sacks’s case studies—and even peers into Sacks’s own brain, to investigate music’s strange, surprising, and still unexplained power over the brain.
NOVA scienceNOW hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson at 9PM ET/PT (please check local listings)
The fast-paced science magazine series NOVA scienceNOW returns on
June 30 on PBS with a new, 10-week season full of fresh new perspectives, fascinating
scientists, cutting-edge innovations, and provocative stories from the frontlines of science,
technology, and medicine. Hosted by renowned author and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse
Tyson, the series also introduces a brand-new correspondent this season, Ziya Tong (former
host and producer of Wired Science).
"Biased" is such a loaded word. Let's just say men appear to be better adapted to the parameters of this medium.
Did you know that there's a Robot Hall of Fame? I didn't either. But five new cyborgy creations are being inducted bringing hall membership up to 18. Robots can be real or fictional to gain induction and one of this year's class members is probably near and dear to the governor of California. Here's a photo gallery showcasing this year's hall of fame inductees.
Maybe I've been watching "Speeders" too much on TruTV, but this item in the new caught my eye. A group of volunteer engineers are converting a jet plane into a car, if you can call it that, to try to smash the land speed record. A similar group of professionals are attempting the same thing in the U.K. Click this link to learn more, including photos and video.