Researchers convert a 3D printer into a sandwich making machine

April 14, 2021

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Mechanical engineer Yuto Kuroki of Meiji University and colleagues hacked a 3D printer head to use as a 3-axis robotic manipulator to enable more advanced fabrication techniques like assembling and actuating parts as opposed to merely printing them. They call it the Functgraph and to demonstrate it's abilities they did what all serious researchers do: they used it to make a bologna sandwich.

To achieve these manipulations, we customize a low-cost fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer that can attach/detach printed end-effectors which change the function of the 3D printer head (e.g. grab, break, and rotate printed objects). These techniques afford the 3D printer to fabricate and assemble complete kinetic objects such as automatons without manual processing (i.e. removing support materials and assembling objects). We conclude that a small modification to a standard 3D printer, allows us to fabricate and assemble objects without human intervention.

Not only does it make the sandwich, it makes the thing that makes the sandwich. The next logical step is to get the 3D printer to print and assemble another 3D printer and then convert that 3D printer into a sandwich-making machine.

Keep going for videos of the Functgraph in action; including making a sandwich, folding clothes, and assembling a toy car.

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Bear enters Pasadena home and is chased off by two small terriers

April 13, 2021

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A bear entered a Pasadena home on Saturday but was chased off by two small terriers.

Young bear visited our Pasadena hillside home and ventured into the house through open kitchen door. Our two small terriers Squirt and Mei Mei said NO.

I can only imagine the kind of teasing this bear is going to get after its friends see this video. Being chased off by a dog is bad enough, but two tiny terriers named Squirt and Mei Mei? I mean, better get used to wedgies, buddy.

Keep going for the full video.

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Monkey plays 'MindPong' with his Neuralink.

April 9, 2021

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Elon Musk's Neuralink startup has released this video of a nine year old macaque playing "MindPong" with his Neuralink.

Today we are pleased to reveal the Link's capability to enable a macaque monkey, named Pager, to move a cursor on a computer screen with neural activity using a 1,024 electrode fully-implanted neural recording and data transmission device, termed the N1 Link. We have implanted the Link in the hand and arm areas of the motor cortex, a part of the brain that is involved in planning and executing movements. We placed Links bilaterally: one in the left motor cortex (which controls movements of the right side of the body) and another in the right motor cortex (which controls the left side of the body).

Neurons in somatosensory cortex respond to touch, and neurons in the visual cortex respond to visual cues. Analogously, neurons in motor cortex modulate their activity prior to and during movement, and are thought to be involved in planning, initiating and controlling voluntary movements. Many neurons in motor cortex are directionally tuned, that is, more active for particular movement directions than others. Different neurons are tuned to different movement directions. An example of this directional modulation can be seen in the raster plot to the right (Fig. 2).

By modeling the relationship between different patterns of neural activity and intended movement directions, we can build a model (i.e., "calibrate a decoder") that can predict the direction and speed of an upcoming or intended movement. We can go further than simply predicting the most likely intended movement given the current pattern of brain activity: we can use these predictions to control, in real time, the movements of a computer cursor, or in the video below, a MindPong paddle. The neurons with upward preferred directions clearly increase their firing rates as the monkey moves his MindPong paddle upward, and the ones with downward preferred directions increase their firing rates as Pager moves his paddle downward.

There are a lot of words here. A lot of them big. As far as I can tell they put a bunch of stuff in a monkey, made the monkey move a ball around, analyzed how the movements matched up with its neural activity, and then created a pong game that was controlled by said neural activity. Assuming what we're seeing is real, this is pretty remarkable. I'm talking, of course, about this macaque's ability to operate a joystick while drinking a banana smoothie.

Keep going for the full video. The first couple minutes are the "training" and then the MindPong game starts around 2:15.

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Incredible cockpit view of the US Navy Blue Angels Team

April 7, 2021

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This is a compilation of footage from inside the cockpit of Blue Angels planes as they perform the following maneuvers:

The Blue Angels Diamond pilots perform the Double Farvel over Fort Lauderdale Beach at the 2019 Fort Lauderdale Air Show.

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, Diamond pilots perform the Diamond 360 over Lake Washington during the 2019 Boeing Seafair Air Show.

U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform over Seattle at the 2019 Boeing Seafair Air Show.

I was already impressed before just watching them but now I'm truly astounded. Maybe it's just a trick of the camera, but it's unbelievable how close they're flying to each other. It's crazy to imagine this level of skill and courage is being wasted to basically put on airplane dance shows.

Keep going for the full video.

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Soviet TV version of 'Lord of the Rings' rediscovered after 30 years

April 6, 2021

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A Soviet TV version of Lord of the Rings has been rediscovered after 30 years and abruptly posted on YouTube.

The 1991 made-for-TV film, Khraniteli, based on Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, is the only adaptation of his Lord of the Rings trilogy believed to have been made in the Soviet Union.

Aired 10 years before the release of the first instalment of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy, the low-budget film appears ripped from another age: the costumes and sets are rudimentary, the special effects are ludicrous, and many of the scenes look more like a theatre production than a feature-length film.

In case you're wondering, yes, of course this is better than Peter Jackson's adaptation. How could it not be with a fraction of the budget and the might of 90's Soviet filmmaking? Hollywood should be thankful it never got a full international release because it would've swept the Academy Awards and Peter Jackson probably would've quit the business entirely when he realized he could never come close to this achievement.

Keep going for the full "movie" which was broken into two parts because obviously its epic scale couldn't be contained in a single video. There aren't any subtitles, but you can use YouTube's auto-translated subtitles which sort of get the job done.

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Michael the Wizard goes on 'The Price is Right'

April 5, 2021

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This is a clip of the time Michael went on The Price is Right and his years of autistic-like dedication to the show paid off. And, yes, I'm referring to him simply as Michael as if everybody knows him because everybody should know him. According to a commenter on Reddit:

I was there for this live. Micheal knew every price of every item on the show that day. My friend (also named Micheal) beat him on the wheel spin only because it's the one thing this amazing dude couldn't win through his intellect. He was shouting out the exact prices for both the showcase showdown from the audience but my buddy couldn't hear him and overbid. Being in the audience that day represents one of the best days of my life, on vacation in Cali, endless laughter, entertainment and seeing Micheal do this remarkable feat of memorization.

If you told me this was a Zach Galifianakis sketch I would've believed you, because it's hard to believe Michael is a real person and that this actually happened. I mean, I just watched it and I'm still not entirely sure Michael is a real person.

Keep going for the full video.

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