Stories tagged stupid


Non-robotic jellyfish: Engineering researchers at Virginia Tech are building robots that mimic the efficient way jellyfish get around.
Non-robotic jellyfish: Engineering researchers at Virginia Tech are building robots that mimic the efficient way jellyfish get around.Courtesy Andy Field (Field Offie)
Researchers at Virginia Tech are working on several versions of robotic jellyfish that someday could be used by the military, or for mapping the ocean floor, or cleaning up oil spills.

Known affectionately as RoboJelly, the silicone blobs range from the size of a baseball to a giant five-foot floating monster. Each mimics the swimming technique used by jellyfish, those huffing and puffing water-bags that populate the world's oceans.

In nature, most jellyfish propel themselves by the seemingly simple expansion and contraction of their umbrella, using it to push water out like a rocket blast that propels it forward. But the fluid dynamics are a little more complicated than than just expelling out a big blast of water and moving the other way. It's more like when your cigar-smoking uncle would blow smoke rings into the air to impress you. Remember that? I do. These are called vortex rings, and it's the efficiency of the hydromedusean's self-created fluid flow that interest the VT researchers.

Students at VT's College of Engineering use thin layers of silicone - the same material used for swimming masks - to construct the robots. Electric batteries in watertight plexiglass boxes are used to power the mechanical blobs. The researchers are also looking into ways of extracting hydrogen from water to power them.

“Nature has done great job in designing propulsion systems but it is slow and tedious process," said Shashank Priya, associate professor at Virginia Tech, and the project's lead researcher. "On the other hand, current status of technology allows us to create high performance systems in a matter of few months.”

The on-going project involves a number of U.S. universities and industries, and will warrant several additional years of research before any prototypes are released for use. Besides possible military application, RoboJelly could be employed for such things as monitoring ocean currents and conditions, cleaning up oil spills, and studying sea-bottom flora and fauna.

Story at
Virginia Tech website

Learn more about why water is important

WaterCourtesy José Manuel Suárez
National Geographic has lots of links and photos related to water issues(click link to learn more).

Water affects every aspect of our lives, yet nearly one billion people around the world don't have clean drinking water, and 2.6 billion still lack basic sanitation. World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22, was established by the United Nations in 1992 and focuses attention on the world's water crisis, as well as the solutions to address it.


Is texting too much of a good thing?
Is texting too much of a good thing?Courtesy Brandon ChristopherWarren
Physicians and psychologists are starting to worry about a new risk to teen health, this time it has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol or other risky behavior. According to some researchers, teenage text-a-holics are beginning to suffer health effects associated with too much time spent hammering away on cell phone keys. These effects range from injured fingers and hands to anxiety, sleep deprivation and poor performance in school.

According to information provided by major cell phone companies, American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in late 2008. That's almost 80 messages a day, and the number appears to be growing with the rise of unlimited text message plans.

Some researchers believe that this rate of text communication - and the feeling of constant contact with parents and peers that it provides - may be altering the way that teenagers develop socially. Psychologist Sherry Turlke is quoted in a recent New York Times article:

Among the jobs of adolescence are to separate from your parents, and to find the peace and quiet to become the person you decide you want to be. Texting hits directly at both those jobs.

In other words, in the past teenagers have needed distance from their parents and time alone to develop self-identity. But in the era of constant electronic communication, some worry that this path to development is becoming impossible for texting teens. So what will replace it?

Researchers are quick to point out that there are lots of good things about these new communication technologies, including the way that they make us all feel connected with one another, which is usually a good thing. But is it too much of a good thing?

Are doctors and parents worried because they just don't understand, or is texting really a risk to teen health?


A new analysis of passenger survival rates aboard the Titanic reveals interesting cultural differences. Behavioral economists, David Savage and Bruno Frey found that British passengers had a 10 percent lower chance of survival than any other nationality aboard the Titanic. These findings contracted their original hypothesis:

"The Titanic was built in Great Britain, operated by British subjects, and manned by a British crew. It is to be expected that national ties were activated during the disaster and that the crew would give preference to British subjects, easily identified by their language."

The survival rate for American passengers was 12 percent higher than the British. Americans reportedly fought their way to the lifeboats, whereas the British politely waited in line.

Savage and Frey's analysis revealed other disparities in survival rate. More women survived than men and children (aged 15 or younger) were more likely to live than elderly.

"Be British, boys, be British!" the captain, Edward John Smith, shouted out, according to witnesses.

The Titanic captain referred to the social norm of putting women and children first. The passenger survival data suggests that this did occur.

You can learn a lot more about one of the worst maritime disasters in history. The Science Museum of Minnesota is hosting an exhibit on the Titanic opening this summer.

I was very excited to listen to Barack Obama's inauguration address and hear him speak the words, science, data, and statistics with pride and emphasis. We will keep a watchful eye over the next four years to make sure that science policy adheres to the agenda and principles that our new president has set out.


In my opinion people under the age of 18 should not have even an opinion on president... or actaully should not flaunt who they like more. it only causes trouble in schools. i know people who are closet republicans,and i know that, well people who don't like that look at people differently, and THAT IS ALMOST AS STUPID AS DISLIKING A PERSON FOR BEING ABLE TO FINISH EARLY ON AN ASSIGNMENT THAT WAS JUST TAUGHT TO THE WHOLE CLASS!


there is plenty of science in baseball, especially physics as the bat hits the ball and the ball travels very fast.

I've just discovered MicrobeWorld, offering a cool series of audio and video podcasts on topics in microbiology. Today's offering? "How long does smallpox immunity last?"