Posts about fun

Friday Fun: Kitten and Bunny

Just some fun for your Friday. Enjoy.

Related: Monkey and Kitten PlayingBunny and Kittens: Friday Cat FunCat and Owl Playing

New Blog with Simple Demonstrations and Scientific Explanations

Try this at home is a new blog by Dr Mark Lorch, a chemistry lecturer at the University of Hull, with instructions for the citizen scientist. This example shows how to move a can with a ballon without touching the can.

The posts include instructions on how to do these simple demonstrations and a nice explanation on the scientific reason for what is going on:

Rubbing the balloon on your hair charges it up with static electricity which makes the balloon negatively charged. When you put the balloon near the can it pushes electrons (which are also negatively charged) to the other side of the can. This makes the side which is nearest the balloon positively charged. Positive charges are attracted to negative charges so the can moves towards the balloon.

It is quite a nice site (especially if you have kids interested in science or are a kid interested in science – no matter how old you are), add it to your RSS reader. Here are some more science blogs you may enjoy.

Related: The DIY Movement Revives Learning by DoingHome Engineering: Building a HovercraftTeaching Through Tinkering

Friday Fun: Elephant Playing with a Smart Phone

An elephant plays with a smart phone (Samsung Galaxy Note).

Related: Friday Fun: Cats and Kids with iPadsInsightful Problem Solving in an Asian ElephantCrow Sledding, Flying Back Up and Sledding Down AgainCat Toy: Robotic Ball You Control with Your Smart Phone

Friday Fun: Monkey and Kitten Playing

If somehow you need more to entice you to watch the webcast, there are even cameos by a dog and people. But if you need to know more than kitten and monkey maybe you need to connect to your inner 5 year old self.

Related: Kittens Reminding You to Thank Your MotherFriday Fun: Cat and Owl PlayingCapuchin Monkeys Using Stone ToolsScuba Cat and Dog

Friday Fun: Exercise Wheels for Dogs and Cats

This would certainly give dogs that don’t have big enough yards to run in some good exercise.

Cats don’t seem to take to the wheels as naturally as a few dogs do. While the wheel is odd no matter what I would also wager the evolution of the animals is at play. Cats are use to stalking animals. You can see that trait play out in the kitten video above (and lots of other similar videos – so while this one is partially the kittens short attention span it also seems common that cats don’t just run for a long time). While dogs are evolved to wear our their prey in log distance chases. I’m sure getting dogs to use a wheel isn’t likely to be super easy but I think it will be easier than getting cats to do so.

Related: Kittens Reminding You to Thank Your MotherFriday Escape Dog FunFriday Cat Fun: Treadmill CatsDog and Duckling Fun

Kindergarten Students Pedel Their Own Bus to School

photo of kindergarden students pedaling their bus to school

Dutch kindergarden students pedaling their bus to school

Dutch Kids Pedal Their Own Bus To School

The Dutch are bicycle fanatics. Almost half of daily travel in the Netherlands is by bicycle, while the country’s bike fleet comfortably outnumbers its 16 million people. Devotees of the national obsession have taken the next logical step by launching what is likely the first bicycle school bus.

Built by Tolkamp Metaalspecials, and sold by the De Cafe Racer company, the bicycle school bus (BCO in Dutch) is powered entirely by children and the one adult driver (although there is an electric motor for tough hills). Its simple design has eight sets of pedals for the kids (ages 4 to 12), a driver seat for the adult, and three bench seats for freeloaders. The top speed is about 10 miles per hour, and features a sound system and canvas awning to ward off rainy days.

They have sold 25 of the busses so far for $15,000 each.

Related: Sports EngineeringGermany Looking to Kindergarten for Engineering FutureEngineering a Better World: Bike Corn-Sheller

Friday Fun: Crow Sledding, Flying Back Up and Sledding Down Again

Great video of a crow sledding down a roof on a small intertube like thing (a lid?). Then it picks up the sled and flies back to the top and sleds down again. Awesome. The curious crow then flies off with its sled to try it out elsewhere (maybe).

Related: Bird Using Bait to FishCat and Crow Playing TogetherDolphins Play with Air Bubble RingsFriday Duckling Fun

Cool Robot Locomotion: Transforms from Wheeled to Walking For Stairs and Rough Terrain

This is a very cool engineering solution. Wheeled locomotion is very efficient on the right terrain. This transformation lets the robot switch to climb stairs and handle rough terrain very nicely. A team of mechanical engineers at National Taiwan University built this energy-efficient leg-wheel hybrid mobile robot. From their description:

Compared to most hybrid platforms, which have separate mechanisms and actuators for wheels and legs, our leg-wheel hybrid mobile robot, Quattroped, uses a “transformation mechanism” that deforms a specific portion of the body to act as a wheel or a leg. From a geometrical point of view, a wheel usually has a circular rim and a rotational axis located at the center of the rim. The rim contacts the ground and the rotational axis connects to the robot body at a point hereafter referred to as the “hip joint.” In general, with wheeled locomotion on flat ground, the wheel rotates continuously and the ground-contact point of the wheel is located directly below the hip joint with a fixed distance. In contrast, in legged locomotion the leg moves in a periodic manner and there is no specific geometrical configuration between the hip joint and the ground-contact point; thereby, the relative position of the legs varies frequently and periodically during locomotion.

Based on this observation, shifting the hip joint out of the center of the circular rim and changing the continuous rotation motion to other motion patterns implies the locomotion switches from wheeled mode to legged mode. This motivated us to design a mechanism that directly controls the relative position of the circular rim with respect to the hip joint so it can generate both wheeled and legged motions. Because the circular rim is a 2-dimensional object, the most straightforward method to achieve this goal is to add a second degree of freedom (DOF) that can adjust the relative position of the hip joint to the center of the circular rim along the radial direction. The motions of the two DOFs are also orthogonal to each other. In addition, the same set of actuation power can be efficiently used in both wheeled and legged modes.

Related: Big Dog, The Robotic Dog (2008)Robots That Start as Babies Master Walking Faster Than Those That Start as AdultsSelf Re-assembling RobotsSoft Morphing Robot (soft tissue)

Underwater Pedestrian Bridge

photo of a 'bridge' parting the waters to allow pedestrian to pass

The Dutch water line was a series of water based defenses conceived by Maurice of Nassau in the early 17th century, and completed by his half brother Frederick Henry. Combined with natural bodies of water. The line could be used to protect the economic heartland of the Dutch Republic behind difficult to cross water barriers, when in danger.

The Fort de Roovere was part of this defense. In 2010 the fort was renovated and the moat revived with a small extra bit of engineering: a sunken pedestrian “bridge.” Where once engineers used ingenuity to use water to keep people out, now engineers used wood to let people experience the moat while still reaching the fort.

via: Sunken Pedestrian Bridge in the Netherlands Parts Moat Waters Like Moses!

Related: Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-TunnelMonkey BridgeQuantum Teleportation

Friday Fun: Octopus Walks on Land

Just a fun video for your Friday. Octopuses are really very cool. Not quite as cool as cats but way up there in the realm of cool animals. Octopuses, octopi and octopodes are all acceptable words for plural of octopus?

A few year ago (2008) I posted about another very cool octopus, who liked to juggling fellow aquarium occupants.

I think I will devote more time to learning about octopuses and posting more about them.

Related: Hydromedusae, Siphonophora, Cnidarians, CtenophoresCritter Cam: Sea Lion versus OctopusRed octopus at a brine lake beneath the sea

Apply to be an Astronaut

Are you looking to change jobs? NASA is seeking outstanding scientists, engineers (job announcement closed so broken link removed), and other talented professionals to carry forward the great discovery process that its mission demands. Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. Curiosity. That’s what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government.

photo of astronaut's faceplate reflecting earth

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for Astronaut Candidates to support the International Space Station Program and future deep space exploration activities.

In 1959 NASA selected its first group of 7 astronaut candidates. Since then 20 additional classes have been selected; bringing the total number of astronaut candidates to 330.

The astronauts of the 21st century will continue to work aboard the International Space Station in cooperation with our international partners; help to build and fly a new NASA vehicle, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) designed for human deep space exploration; and further NASA’s efforts to partner with industry to provide a commercial capability for space transportation to the space station.

NASA is in the process of identifying possible near-Earth asteroids to explore with the goal of visiting an asteroid in 2025. With that goal, and keeping in mind that the plan is to send a robotic precursor mission to the asteroid approximately five years before humans arrive, NASA will need to select the first set of targets to explore within the next decade.

Requirement include: Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must meet the basic education requirements for NASA engineering and scientific positions, specifically: successful completion of standard professional curriculum in an accredited college or university leading to at least a bachelor’s degree with major study in an appropriate field of engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics.

Related: NASA Robotics AcademyNASA’s Mars Curiosity RoverAstronaut Drops a Hammer and Feather on the Moon

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