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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.

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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What's the Saltiest Water in the World?
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Saltwater is common around the world—indeed, salty oceans cover more than two-thirds of the globe. Typical saltwater found in our oceans is about 3.5% salt by weight. But in some areas, we find naturally occurring saltwater that's far saltier. The saltiest water yet discovered is more than 12 times saltier than typical seawater.

Gaet’ale is a pond in Ethiopia which currently holds the record as the most saline water body on Earth. The water in that pond is 43.3% dissolved solids by weight—most of that being salt. This kind of water is called hypersaline for its extreme salt concentration.

In the video below, Professor Martyn Poliakoff explains this natural phenomenon—why it's so salty, how the temperature of the pond affects its salinity, and even why this particular saltwater has a yellow tint. Enjoy:

For the paper Poliakoff describes, check out this abstract.

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