Rodney Brooks Shows Off Awesome Robots

Rodney Brooks is one of my favorite scientists: he's brilliant, accomplished (his research led to the Roomba vacuum cleaner robot), and full of predictions. Brooks is a master of robotics, having designed a wide variety of robots over the years, and he also made a memorable appearance in one of my favorite documentaries (the title Fast, Cheap and Out of Control came from a research paper of his). So it's fair to say that I'm a fan.

Brooks gave a TED Talk on robotics in 2003, and it's just been posted to the web. In it, he demos the (then-new) home cleaning robot Roomba, the military utility robot PackBot (which can climb stairs and survives being thrown down hills and through windows), and the anthropomorphic Kismet. Beyond these demos, he demonstrates how robots and humans can communicate, which he believes will form the future of robotic interaction.

Watch the video to learn a bit about state of the art robotics (well...five years ago), and what might be coming next.

For more on Brooks, check him out on Wikipedia.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
'Lime Disease' Could Give You a Nasty Rash This Summer
iStock
iStock

A cold Corona or virgin margarita is best enjoyed by the pool, but watch where you’re squeezing those limes. As Slate illustrates in a new video, there’s a lesser-known “lime disease,” and it can give you a nasty skin rash if you’re not careful.

When lime juice comes into contact with your skin and is then exposed to UV rays, it can cause a chemical reaction that results in phytophotodermatitis. It looks a little like a poison ivy reaction or sun poisoning, and some of the symptoms include redness, blistering, and inflammation. It’s the same reaction caused by a corrosive sap on the giant hogweed, an invasive weed that’s spreading throughout the U.S.

"Lime disease" may sound random, but it’s a lot more common than you might think. Dermatologist Barry D. Goldman tells Slate he sees cases of the skin condition almost daily in the summer. Some people have even reported receiving second-degree burns as a result of the citric acid from lime juice. According to the Mayo Clinic, the chemical that causes phytophotodermatitis can also be found in wild parsnip, wild dill, wild parsley, buttercups, and other citrus fruits.

To play it safe, keep your limes confined to the great indoors or wash your hands with soap after handling the fruit. You can learn more about phytophotodermatitis by checking out Slate’s video below.

[h/t Slate]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Why Eating From a Smaller Plate Might Not Be an Effective Dieting Trick 
iStock
iStock

It might be time to rewrite the diet books. Israeli psychologists have cast doubt on the widespread belief that eating from smaller plates helps you control food portions and feel fuller, Scientific American reports.

Past studies have shown that this mind trick, called the Delboeuf illusion, influences the amount of food that people eat. In one 2012 study, participants who were given larger bowls ended up eating more soup overall than those given smaller bowls.

However, researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Negev, Israel, concluded in a study published in the journal Appetite that the effectiveness of the illusion depends on how empty your stomach is. The team of scientists studied two groups of participants: one that ate three hours before the experiment, and another that ate one hour prior. When participants were shown images of pizzas on serving trays of varying sizes, the group that hadn’t eaten in several hours was more accurate in assessing the size of pizzas. In other words, the hungrier they were, the less likely they were to be fooled by the different trays.

However, both groups were equally tricked by the illusion when they were asked to estimate the size of non-food objects, such as black circles inside of white circles and hubcaps within tires. Researchers say this demonstrates that motivational factors, like appetite, affects how we perceive food. The findings also dovetail with the results of an earlier study, which concluded that overweight people are less likely to fall for the illusion than people of a normal weight.

So go ahead and get a large plate every now and then. At the very least, it may save you a second trip to the buffet table.

[h/t Scientific American]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios