Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
So let's say you want to teach a robot arm how to flip pancakes. Robots aren't known for their pancake-flipping abilities. In this video, researchers show how they taught one robot, using a pan duct-taped to the robot arm. Note that it's a "simulated" pancake being flipped; no real pancake could suffer this much testing. There's more technical detail at this page, but the gist of it seems to be: first, hold the robot's arm and teach it kinesthetically (much like you'd teach a chef); then refine the... READ ON
What do you do when you get to the top of a mountain? Take a good look around, congratulate your buddies, and...shoot a video. Here's a collection of summit videos from YouTube, so you can see for yourself what it's like on top of various super-tall mountains.
Climber Krishna Patil briefly removes her breathing apparatus to narrate a video at the top of Mount Everest, the tallest point in the world at 29,029 feet.
This is the first... READ ON
Sun dogs (aka parhelions) are surprising visual phenomena which look like halos around the sun, or in other cases "false suns" some distance from the real sun. Wikipedia has a photo gallery of sun dogs -- my favorite is this one, taken in Antarctica in 1979. Apparently sun dogs are common in Antarctica, as Shackleton's 1912 expedition reported them. Here's a snippet from Jennifer Armstrong's Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance (emphasis... READ ON
Graboids are the fictional creatures featured in the movie Tremors (and its many sequels). In the movie, the graboid is apparently based on the cryptid Mongolian Death Worm, though the short film below proves that graboids are actually landsharks, another dangerous cryptid with mysterious abilities. Let's learn about their habits in the wild:
Monstrous Wildlife from Frank Robnik on Vimeo.
Of course, we all know the real landshark dates back to the... READ ON
Photographer Tom A. Warner managed to catch lightning strikes at 9,000 frames per second (that's 300x slower than realtime video). The capture is so insanely detailed that you can watch as one main band of lightning on the left strikes and stays in place while zillions of other strikes occur on the right; so much more is happening than the human eye could possible comprehend in realtime. The capture takes place in Rapid City, South Dakota, and the main strikes are hitting towers equipped with lightning... READ ON
Note: Since we started the day with a Bill Nye fact (he invented an improved ballet shoe!), let's end it with a round-up of Bill Nye videos. Higgins first posted this last fall, but he's traveling this week.
Quicksand is just really, really wet land!... READ ON
Set your DVRs: tonight (July 27) on the Discovery Channel, The Colony airs at 10pm. Read on for a first look!
What separates good reality TV from bad reality TV? For me, good reality TV raises questions -- most importantly, what would you do if you were the person living in the "reality" of the show? In bad reality TV, nobody cares -- it's pure entertainment, watching people goof around and make fools of themselves. But in good reality TV, like Discovery's The Colony, we are repeatedly confronted... READ ON
This is truly beautiful. In the video below, video artist Crumbs Chief mashes up an insane number of musical dance numbers, matching them to the mashup track "Come Again (Beatles vs Rare Earth vs Beaties vs Daft Punk vs Cypress Hill vs Boston)" by the Kleptones. Basically, if you can think of a famous dance scene from a movie, it shows up here somewhere. Yes, even Napoleon Dynamite. You can watch the video a bit bigger on Vimeo.
Note: the abrupt ending is intentional, as this comes from a section... READ ON
If you haven't seen the "double rainbow" video on YouTube, get ready for something, uh, intense. The video's YouTube description simply read, "It was rainbowing for at least an hour on January 8th 2010. It was incredible. The camera could not capture the vivid intensity and brightness." This dude was way excited about that double rainbow. The video has now racked up more than 6 million views, and I present, for your viewing pleasure, a series of expansions on the video that are a whole lot of fun.... READ ON
So this actually happened: on March 17, 2009, the United Nations sponsored a panel discussion that "explored some of the themes that are of importance to both the United Nations and the critically acclaimed television show: human rights; terrorism; children and armed conflict; and reconciliation and dialogue among civilizations and faiths." Yes, that's right, a sci-fi show generated high-level dialog within the U.N. The panel was moderated by Whoopi Goldberg, and the panel members included Edward James... READ ON
The most shoplifted food item in the U.S. is candy.